Friday, May 27, 2011

My idea of a good book: One that make you cry and hate people

I read Unearthly by Cynthia Hand the other night (a long time ago because I left this entry unfinished). Actually that's a lie, I got to the second chapter then gave up. Below are my thoughts of the book written in real time while I read it:

Let this be a reminder to me to never judge a book by a cover.

Main character has been established (to me at least) to be a Mary Sue. Key note: being suppressed in school (Pg. 6: Called a “dorkina”) while secretly being capable of doing great things (Pg. 7: Ran too fast because she “wasn’t holding back”) and being of angel blood. The angel blood I don’t mind, picked the book up for it, but the entire mention that she was a fast runner was completely unnecessary. It was as though Hand was looking for an alternative to just having Clara tell us she was awesome, which she does anyways (pg. 12: Ohh, she heals faster and can randomly speak in other languages; awesome but there MUST be some other more creative way to tell us that).

The fact that she is suppose to look good (Pg. 13-14) is also unnecessary, I suppose it’s just a personal pet peeve when the author goes into a deep discussion over how wonderful their character looks (Comparison: Twilight). Note that what Clara believes are her short comings are actually traits that  considered impressive: being skinny “in a storklike, all-arms-and-legs sort of way” doesn’t change the fact that she’s skinny; a figure that today’s society considers attractive. And after going to such detail describing the magnificence of her eyes and their variety of colour changing abilities, she says they’re too big for her face. The hell; note that today big eyes are also considered attractive (Google “Circle Lens”). And after saying her hair is her best feature, she goes on to complain about it. Bella Swan (wait, that was the name of that girl from Twilight right? I can't remember...) anyone?
Oho! Her parents are split up as well… MORE Bella Swan anyone? And she seems to have a bad relationship with her father… my gosh I don’t know how many more clichés I can take here!
However I’m liking the idea of people with angel blood having a purpose in life. Good idea, done before I’m sure but the visions and general concept seem to be well set in place in the first little bit. Generally easy to understand the plot as it’s going along; character development… needs some work.

Finding it strange that all the information I get about Clara’s mother is that she looks angelic and acts angelic and while I understand she’s got angel blood, where’s the human side? Is there some dark sin she committed that is not being told yet? There had better be otherwise the lack of character in this book will infuriate me.
Also noted that Clara is the narrator… just realized I’m reading the inside of a teenaged mind… like she keeps like using the like word ‘like’ the way like a teen would like use it. INFURIATING!! However it does go along with the fact that she’s 17 and in that stage of life; more difficult for people who aren’t generally fond of YA fiction (like me) to cope with though.

Oh she just met him! Ahhh!! Cliched first love scene alert! Also she’s in a school with "pretty people" apparently… so unrealistic. And she’s good at math too but she also has to hide that...Why bother?
So she categorizes people as either pretty or not pretty… this is very effective as a YA fiction except putting an angel in with the “invisibles” is almost going against some rule here… By definition angels are suppose to be beautiful, in fact there was a section dedicated to Clara explaining her physical appearance which I have previously explained makes her an attractive person. Why is she not considered a “pretty” one? I have deeply confounded.

Wait wait... they named their clique? AHAHAHAHA!!! Ok, so I also named little friend groups before, but not anything like the "invisibles", are they somehow proud of it? I don't understand the logic of that name other than to make poor little Mary Sue seem like she's such a pitiable thing. And besides, group names should be a more intimate matter, not something to go around telling random newbies. This books seems like an adult take on what they believe high school now days is like.

Oh he's talking to her... Why is he talking to her randomly? Why could he not find sometime after school in private to talk to her? Why is this so cliché? NOOO!! SHE’S DESCRIBING HIS PHYSICAL APPEARANCE AS HOT!! Twilight Alert Triggered! Ok book officially dropped. Will Wiki rest of plot which actually might have been good if there was less clichéd teen fantasy romance. 

---End of real time reading frustrations---

I seem to highly dislike books that are meant to be read for fun. I actually often feel that my deep hatred of the Twilight series stemmed from the fact that it was such a happy book with a girl leading such an (dare I say it?) ideal life. Honestly I'm sure lots of hormone raged teenaged girls got their giddies reading the book; I skipped a good half of the book (probably more...). And now on GoodReads this Unearthly crap is getting only good reviews. Probably because most of the people who read it enjoy YA fiction in general. I only enjoy YA fiction it if it's got another genre thrown into the mix somewhere.

Honestly I feel like the point of a book is to take me to a place I haven't been before, or into a situation I could not imagine for myself. Hence my love of Fantasy and Sci-fi. But I've also found that some of the best books I've read involves a very good catharsis; usually proceeded by extremely agonizing pain.

-Book spoilers begin here for: Mists of Avalon, A Little Princess, Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre-

I loved Mists of Avalon; in the middle section I utterly despised Arthur for listening to his pious wife and her little close-minded pleas. The injustice of their belief that Morgaine sneaked into court to do evil when it was she who they had beheld as the angel that had passed the Holy Grail around was so aggravating and made me want to stab them all. There's really no other way to explain my anger. I was in complete and utter distress knowing that I, as the reader, could do nothing to make these imbeciles see the errors of their thoughts. However at the end, it was Morgaine who forgives them and she acts truly as the better person; offering me consolation that though injustice was done, she has overcome her suffering and so all is well again. It was a saddening thought but at the same time offered a much needed relief from my mental anguish.

A Little Princess started off happily enough; a nice mindless kind of thinking involved. But soon I was again in extreme mental disarray as the poor girl got abused and used just because she suddenly had no money. Honestly, I wanted to attack Miss Minchin, except that would harm my delicate book. I actually had the mindset to just throw the book against a wall in my frustration with her. Of course in the end happiness ensues and justice is somewhat served. I seem to enjoy happy endings, but only after a plot full of evil.

Currently getting through Oliver Twist, not a lot of time so it's going slowly. Still, the beginning was terrible, not as in it was badly written, but I felt that same burning anger and hatred for the antagonist of the story. And it didn't help that Oliver was so naive and innocent, I was melting with agony and sympathy for the boy. Unsure about the ending so far; hope the people who wronged him die though.

Jane Eyre I just started; her childhood was miserable too. At where I am right now that misery is over and done with, but its results you can still see in Jane's actions. Hoping that she gets with this rich guy and goes back to show off her foster mother though... unlikely to happen it's not something she would do but every good thing that happens to Jane now feels like justice.

Actually looking now at all these books that I really liked I think I understand why I liked them so. They all presented me with either an innocent person, or one who wished to do good, and placed them into terrible situations where the world was against them. And to see a 'good' person abused for petty reasons seem to strike a chord with me.

Now people can say that this Clara from Unearthly is an innocent, good-hearted person who was being bullied by society. I disagree. She's being bullied by her own lack of sense and good judgement. She's an angel darned it! If she wants to lead an awesome life, she can do it! Don't give me any BS about her having to hide her powers so she doesn't get discovered, she can hide her powers while making use of them. Is it so terrible an idea for her to do well in math? Will people see that she does well in math and hence make the connection that she must be "unearthly"?

And all the 'abuse' she undergoes completely lacks deeper meaning. In all the books above I enjoyed the protagonist was being abused due to a conflict in morals or values, or spite. No matter what the reason is though, it is clear and feels valid (maybe that's not the best word because validation almost seems to justify the action... but you get my point). Clara being called a dorkrina out of no-where leads me wondering why this random girl (who's name I was not even given) decided to insult her. There's no background to explain why she isn't "popular", especially given that she's generally pretty (even though she doesn't have the sense to see that) and from her action seems like a nice girl. Hell she struck a random conversation in another language with a stranger, don't tell me she's shy.

Guess it's another pet peeve of mine when the main character has low self esteem or is otherwise very unsure of herself. I prefer my protagonists to have a strong will and set out to do something with their life. Think that gives the story line more moral, "look this person got a happy ending because they never gave up and worked for it" rather than "look this random girl who's doesn't really try and has no real dedication to a long term goal in life somehow ended up with a happy ending". I guess I value the idea that we have to work hard for our own happiness rather than sit around waiting for it to be handed to us.

So now that I have completed this long winded rant (which took me over a week to write out), I encourage everyone to read books that make you cry and want to hate people: because if it can make you feel that strongly, then clearly it's been written realistically.

Now this doesn't count if you end up crying because the book sucked and hating the author for wasting your time. 

MCAT Frustrations 1.0

  • Shoots the physical sciences part is hard... wait I didn't learn this stuff yet!
  • What the heck is a bremsstrahlung?!?
  • Why the heck is it called Verbal Reasoning? Are they going to read the passage to us? 
  • Aha, Verbal Reasoning section is easy! As long as we're reading the passage ourselves... 
  • Where do I find answers for this test?
  • Where do I buy old tests with answer keys?
  • Must... find... for... physical sciences...
  • FOUND PAST EXAMS!!! Must... get... answers...
  • Answers for $4! My gosh this is a good business... 
  • Aha! I can do 1/2 of the biology questions! 
  • I should start a study group or something for this... wonder if UOT already has one...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It all started on the bus

I was sitting on the bus yesterday enjoy my ride home so I could eat. Being the classy person I am, I was also listening to Chopin at the moment. However sometime along the bus ride I realized that I could not enjoy Chopin as I usually did. No, something else was disturbing me.

It was the guy sitting right in front of me. Loud, irksome music of some form was coming from his general direction. I was displeased.

Now normally I would not have minded much, after all I've had people tell me that they can hear my music randomly. But the problem this time was that this guy was purposely forcing the rest of the lovely bus-riders to listen to his music!

How do I know this? Because only one earphone was in his ear; the other one rested on top of that same ear facing outwards towards the general public. If he wasn't forcing us to listen to his music then why the heck was his second earphone pointing out at us?!?

Oh, maybe he was just trying to look cool, the old, "I can wear my earphones however I want". Fine, I respect that, but at least do us all the favor and find a way to wear them so your music doesn't force its way into our ears! Why does the earphone have to face us? Make it face behind you or something!

Ok, so I'm taking this out of hand and maybe he just didn't want to listen to his music with both ears. But seriously, if your music's that loud of course you wouldn't want both earphones in; turn the volume down!

I guess I'm just annoyed by this because I myself always consider the strangers around me when I'm on public transport; I mean I don't want to annoy them anymore than we're all already annoyed (by the slow moving traffic). And personally I see no reason to need to put on an air of any sort with these random people so I don't try to make an impression of myself. There's no point in that.

Now I can continue this little rant by explaining that as this guy left the bus his pants were much too loose. I don't understand the attraction in that, if you want to show the world your boxes, just don't wear pants. If you're just too lazy to pull your pants up, just don't wear pants. If you think it's a fashion statement to have your pants on and flash your boxers... actually no I just don't understand that. Is it more comfortable to have your pants half on? I do not understand. It was a warm day too so he can't be showing off his boxers with pants on because it was too cold to not wear pants... This is all just too complicated.


AHA! I just found a blog dedicated to writing letters to annoying people on public transit:

I was throughly amused.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Avoid Divorce: Force yourself to fall in love


Summary: Dr. Epstein does not believe in love at first sight, or "the ONE" or anything of that sort. Instead he claims that humans cannot expect love to hit them suddenly and must learn to fall in love. So basically he signed a contract with this random woman saying that they would try for the next 4 months (though according to Helen Fisher's book it was 6-12 months) to fall in love with each other.

For those who don't know, I'm currently reading Helen Fisher's book:

I'm writing a book report on it for a random scholarship I found. Good book though, lots of interesting things in it, though a bit too much psychology and not enough raw biological science. Still does the job of explaining Love quite nicely.

In the book Fisher talks about Dr. Epstein's project, she mentioned it in passing without really expanding on the subject, so I decided to google it.

Dr. Epstein is quite a lot more keen on the molecular of Love than Fisher is. See Fisher took the evolutionary approach to Love, she did mention about hormone levels and did some MRIs of the brain in Love as well. But This Dr. Epstein seems to believe that love is based solely off hormone level and how the brain functions.

I find myself more in agreement with Fisher's evolutionary approach; it makes sense and allows for human love to adapt to changing environments. Dr. Epstein's belief that love can only be learned seems to go against the point of the falling in love in the first place. Fisher made it clear that love at first sight was quite possible; given the correction conditions. Human beings have evolved to be able to tell a lot about a person's personality on a first glance. First impressions say a lot, and though admittedly they aren't always true, they can be startling close to the truth.

Now Fisher seemed to rank Love into 2 categories, lust and attachment. Lust is that growing passion at the start of relationships while attachment is what follows (probably into marriage). I've then found that lust seems to come about due to instinctive nature while attachment is nurtured. For example there might be someone you feel very attracted to even though your personalities are in clear conflict; that's lust. Then there's the someone you get along with perfectly but you don't generally think of them with any want; that would be attachment. Now of course the two intertwine no doubt, but let's just leave the definitions at that for now.

Dr. Epstein's project seems to be more about falling into attachment rather than in lust. Of course if he can learn to love this random woman for all her characteristics then good for him, but can they truly have that burning passion and desire for each other if they don't genuinely feel that way to begin with? I feel like he is trying to prove not that you can force yourself in love, but that attachment can proceed lust in a relationship.

How did it end? Well I did more research:

Basically she bailed on him. She had 'second thoughts' about the project and decided to not sign the Love contract.

Actually read a bit more; it seems out of all the women who had applied to be the test subject for Dr. Epstein's project, he had rejected them all! Why does this seem like he was just using his job as an excuse to find an easy girl?

Also, the previously thought random woman was not so random, apparently he was 'smitten' by her after meeting which clearly indicates to me a passion before the attachment.

This brings me back to the reason I feel psychology should not be classified a science (note this blog entry has no sciencey label!), the experiments in this field of study are much too personal and subjective. Science should be only about sure known facts and not based on speculations that cannot be tested without bias.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Scientific Lab Book Keeping

I just committed one of the biggest faults in research journal keeping. I wrote on the first page.

This is killing me inside since I knew that the first page was suppose to be left blank for the table of contents. Look at my chemistry lab book this semester and you'll note that I left the first 3 pages blank. Well not anymore since I wrote the table of contents in on the first page, so now there's just an awkward 2 blank pages afterwards.


Worst part is as I wrote on the first page I had a slight feeling that I should stop writing and leave that page alone. But alas recording observations of the babPR72 Drosophila mutant was too distracting at the time and so I not only continued writing on the first page, but I wrote over the WHOLE page and then CONTINUED to write on the NEXT page!

By this point there was no way to leave a random page blank because I already had a bunch of information written in the first two pages. So where am I going to put the table of contents now?!?

Luckily there's this precessor page before the lined pages start that is blank on its back side. The front side is for contact information in case I lose the lab book. I figure if worst comes to worst and I need a table of contents later I'll just use this random blank page.

However to remind myself to never repeat this grave error again, I'm going to list all the rules of research journal keeping so I will be able to look at it later and remember.

  • Lab book must be hard cover
  • Pages much be stitched into cover, no loose-leaf or spiral bound
  • Pages are to be numbered
  • First page(s) left blank to act as table of contents later
  • All entries to be dated
  • When an entry is complete it should be initialed to prove that it was your own entry (and not that of some competitor trying to ruin your data)
  • Changes to past entries should also be dated and initialed 
  • Only write on the right hand page; leave the back (left) blank (so if you need to change things afterwards you have space to write on)
    • This might be another reason to leave the first page blank because there is no left side page accompanying it (woe is me...)
  • Cross out errors or in-corrections by drawing a single line through it so it is still legible (to ensure no data was hidden or purposely changed to alter results)
    • If a large paragraph or diagram needs to be deleted, put a big X through it but make sure it's still legible afterwards
  • Never rip pages out of lab book 
Hopefully I didn't forget anything important. Hopefully I'll remember to consult this list next time I need to start a new lab journal. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I still dislike electron movement

So I have this nice mouse. It's wireless. It also runs on battery power. The AA batteries to be exactly (those are the big cylinder ones yes?) Sadly my household supply of AA batteries is limited to broken rechargeable ones. Broken meaning they don't recharge anymore.

So I started using AAA batteries (the little cylinder ones). I figured it works just as well since it's the basic same setup of a galvanic cell, just smaller and therefore lasts for a shorter amount of time. But the AAA batteries still recharge, so I had a basically limitless supply of them.

This still got me wondering why the hell my AA batteries weren't recharging when the charger clearly worked for the AAA batteries. Given my first year knowledge of galvanic cells, I could come to no conclusion. I was throughly confounded and too lazy to search it up on google (searching is easy, reading the result of the search requires time).

Then I tried to put both batteries on the charger to see what would happen. And I noted that my my previous observation was incorrect. In fact neither batteries charged. So I suppose this means they aren't broken, but the charger has some problem.

This makes me VERY tempted to create my own charger, just grab some silver and zinc per say... As long as I get the electrons to flow in the other direction for a while right? Even if I'm wrong it'll be an interesting experiment.


So I used the normal lemon set-up:

Of course it totally failed but that might be because I mixed up my anode and cathode... zinc is the cathode yes? And so the plus end of the battery should be with copper since I'm trying to do the reverse reaction for the battery yes? Maybe if I actually took sometime to sit down and think about it I would have a better idea, for now I'll just exhaust my household supply of charged AAA batteries.

This just in: my charger actually does work, apparently the dead battery I got from it was only charging for an hour or so. Silly parents changing the batteries on the charger w/o telling me... 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Random Thoughts

I was going to call this another Random 20.... but this probably won't be 20 actually... I'll just stop it when I think it's long enough to be a valid post.

Start Date: May 2, 2011
End Date: May 16, 2011

  • I need to move my office stuff into my room and turn my office room into some other room... 
  • Do subway drivers take the subway to work?
  • So now I have 2 desks, one for day use and one for night use; good thing my laptop's light enough to carry around
  • A year behind on med school keening... must double keen next year...
  • I want to press flowers... but I'm not sure what to do with them afterwards.
  • Last night I woke up frightened again... this has been a repetitive thing for a while now
  • If a complete stranger walked up to you and confessed his/her undying affections for you; how would you react? At first seems pretty creepy but after you think about how many romances use it as a cliched love-at-first-sight thing... well actually it's creepy no matter what (unless you have a dream about it, nothing seems odd in dreams unless you want it to be...)
  • Someone just asked me if I was pregnant and did a DNA test on my unborn child to find that it was going to be autistic, would I abort. What would you do?
  • Can you be a bad person if you don't want to be bad?
  • If only there were two of me, then I could experiment with my comfort levels without any discomfort
  • I think we refuse to believe we're special because we think that everyone else must feel the same way... 
  • Actually, why do we even care so much about being special? Is there an evolutionary advantage to it?
  • Okay maybe there are many evolutionary advantages to it... but by wanting to be special it makes us the same as other people who also want to be special...
  • Screw individuality! Let's all be blobs!
  • Oh my gosh my throat doesn't hurt! I can swallow w/o pain again!!!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Let no one doubt my culinary abilities

So today was mother's day. Instead of spending money buying things my mom probably will never use, I decided to make her something really useful. Like a cheesecake. It's useful because it fills the tummy with cheesy goodness. And because I've perfected my cheesecake technique over the years of practice creating less extraordinary cheesecakes.

But today I created perfection! Not really but it looked really pretty:

Actually it was so nice that I became slightly obsessed with it for a few minutes. Taking some more pictures of it's beauty.

Then I realized I forgot the icing sugar I bought earlier, so I added that:

It didn't really look anymore impressive than I already was. Still I took more pictures.

Then my father started looking at me strangely for taking so many photos of this cheesecake. Sure I realize it's not the most amazing cheesecake ever made, but for those who've had my cheesecake before, they'll know that I don't usually decorate my baked goods. I always find that a waste of time since well... it was going to get pretty ugly when it's all in your stomach anyways.

But it was mother's day today, and I had berries. So I figured why not give topping the cake a try. Best. Idea. Ever.

Funny though that the actual cheesecake tasted the same (actually not really; usually my cheesecakes are plain, I added some berries to the base of this one), only having the toppings there made it look much better. And it did add a nice addition to hint of berry in the actual cake. Funny how food can look so much more appetizing with just a few final touches. I shall keep this in mind when I am entertaining guests in the future and/or making more cheesecake.

Next task: Oreo cheesecake. A recent trip to a little cake/coffee house has somewhat inspired me. Figure it won't be as good as the one I ate, but good nonetheless.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Human Chimeras

So I recently came across an article about Human Chimeras.


Fraternal twins: two eggs, two sperms, two different babies. So basically if 2 eggs get released during ovulation and then sex occurs, you get fraternal twins:

Idea is simple, and in fact many people were actually fraternal twins at one point early on after fertilization. Oops, but you're not a twin now are you (unless you are...). So what happened? I'll tell you what happened: You ate your twin.

No joke, sometime along the early reproduction period your fertilized egg "fused" together with that of your twin, but your DNA survived... or so was supposedly the case. Not so for Human Chimeras, whose twin's DNA still exist in some part of their body.

If you read the article, it talks of a woman who's children are not really her children, but rather that of her 'dead' twin. This is because her twin's DNA survived in this woman's ovaries. Shock. There was also a case of a man who had ovaries because his twin was female. Rare cases, but pretty awesome.

So this got me thinking, what if we could take the DNA of these Chimeras' twins and use in vitro to create a 'clone' of said twin? It would allow these Chimeras to apologize for eating their sibling. Of course I suppose the dead twin's DNA would have to be less specialized cell, not sure if ovary cells would work. Still, just a thought.

Also thought maybe people who hear voices in their head might be hearing the voice of their twin whose DNA may have sneaked in through the brain or something... probably not, but I wouldn't mind hearing the voice of my twin once in a while.

This being said, I don't believe there is yet any way to know if you were in fact a twin-eater. So let's all just continue to live in blissful ignorance for now! I'll make sure to have my children's DNA analyzed upon birth just to be sure though.