Archive for April, 2011

Some Statistics

Time for another math related post because I haven’t done one in a while!

Currently I’ve been really busy working on this huge arse project for my math education class (it counts for a ton of my grade).  I’m in a group with five other people and we have to teach our class a unit on probability, and fill a 5 inch binder with lesson plans and other educational goodness. We already taught our first two lessons and have three to go.

During our first lesson we talked about new ways of visually representing data, aside from xkcd’s awesome maps of the internet (2007) and (2010) we also showed them word clouds. Word clouds are clouds of words, where the most frequently used words are the biggest and less frequently used words are smaller. You can make them at wordle.net . Here are some that I’ve made of my blog and the blogs of two of my friends.

Here are links to their blogs if you’re interested: http://kristinamirasol.net/, http://chubbyriceball.wordpress.com/

Another interesting thing that I recently rediscovered is some of the other things wolfram alpha can do besides act as a super calculator.

If you put in your gender, age and height it will tell you what you should weigh. And what your appropriate lung capacity should be and how much blood should be in you and other interesting tidbits of that source.  (I don’t know where they got 131lbs for a 5’5″ woman though. I had been told that healthy weight was 100 lbs for the first 5 feet and 5 more pounds for each additional inch, give or take 5 pounds, was a healthy weight from my cousin who is a nutritionist. That would make a healthy weight be between 120 and 130 pounds.  I don’t think I’ll ever weigh 130 pounds. I’ll be lucky if I can get back up to 117.)

It will also tell you how many days and weeks you’ve been alive if you put your birthday in it. It’s also a dictionary! And for those of you that didn’t grip the meaning of “super calculator,” it will do integrals for you *and* show you the steps! It will factor huge expressions and expand them among so many other awesome things!

Comments (4) »

What Vegan Food Should Be

Something I’ve come to notice is that vegans tend to always stress that the food they eat is delicious. After telling you about a certain dish, they must always add that it tastes good. This may be normal as far as food goes, but I think that they do this to make themselves believe that the substitutes they eat taste better than the real thing.

Once I was exploring a health food store and stumbled upon vegan cheese, I shrugged and moved along. Then I saw a second vegan cheese, only this one said “it melts!” I realized that the other ones must not melt. It left me wondering how the hell that stuff was made and what crap was put in it to make it “melt.” Since PETA somehow managed to get my email, they send me things on occasion. This past St. Patrick’s day they sent me a recipe for vegan Irish soda bread, it contained fake egg and fake every other animal product. I can only assume it would taste no where near as good as the real version.

I think if you are processing non-animal products to the crazy extent that they resemble meat, butter or eggs, it defeats the purpose of being vegan. It’s completely stupid to give something up if you’re just going to replace it with a crappier version. The only thing it shows to me is a lack of creativity.I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but I’m making an effort to eat less meat. One way I’ve done it without the use of crappy substitutes is by realizing just how awesome hummus is.

I used to think hummus was just a dip, I was wrong. When combined with a tortilla, carrots, red onion and lettuce, it makes an awesome wrap. It wasn’t until after I had been eating them for a while did I realize that they had no animal product in them. This is what vegan food should be. It should be food that’s good without making you think about justifying it being fake because it isn’t fake. It’s food that you don’t need to feel bad about there being no meat or animal product in it because those things were never there to begin with.

These are pictures of a wrap and a half that my mom made. I ate the half not pictured :D. That aside, the green tortilla is spinach flavored and the orange one is tomato flavored. They make awesome lunches.

For those of you that don’t know, hummus is easy enough to make. Put simply, throw canned chickpeas, olive oil, garlic (chopped or in powder form) and lemon juice into a blender and blend it. You now have hummus! You can also add roasted red pepper, or hot peppers or just about any other vegetable you think will make it delicious!

Comments (11) »

Don’t Get Your Ears Pierced At Claire’s

Sometime early yesterday morning I awoke to pain around my right earring, but I’ve had pain there before so I made myself go back to sleep. When I went to clean it after I woke up there was a lot of blood. Ironically the same thing happened to me last Easter with the same exact ear. I blame it on Claire’s.

In December of 2009, I got my ears pierced for my birthday. I had wanted it done for a while, but I wanted it done by a jeweler or by a doctor. My pediatrician used to do it but she had retired, and every jewelry store that my mother called suggested Claire’s as the place to go.  I also hadn’t heard of anyone I knew having problems with them, and I wanted my ears pierced, so I did it. I NEVER SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS. At the time I didn’t want to go to a tattoo/piercing parlor but now I realize that even though the people in them may appear “scary” this is something they do *every* day, and something they know a lot about. That would have been the smarter option.

The girl that pierced my ears was nice enough, she helped me determine where the holes should be placed and explained to me how to care for them afterward. First she did my left ear, which I know hit a nerve because I felt that same kind of surge you get when your funny bone is hit.(Later I also found that this one was pierced not in a straight line, but at some weird angle).  Next she did my right ear, which didn’t hurt so much. What pierced my ears was the actual earrings, not a gun or a one time use needle. Hell it would’ve been better if I had my uncle do it for me (he was in the Navy and pierced his own ears).

After the thirty days, or however long I was supposed to wait to put new earrings in, I tried putting new earrings in. I found it pretty hard to do. If the post was not perfectly straight and did not have a rounded tip I couldn’t get it in because of the pain it caused. The weight from dangling earrings also gave me some pain and just didn’t feel right. So I got in the habit of wearing different studs.  I still continued to clean them, even though I didn’t need to at that point. I did this because at times they would get itchy or irritated.

Then last Easter, when I went to change my studs, puss and blood came out of my right piercing. At that point I wanted to let my piercings close up, the only thing stopping me was the expensive pair of earrings my parents bought me for my birthday that I never got the chance to wear because they weren’t studs. My mom convinced me to not let them close up because I wanted to get them pierced for so long. She told me to clean them out with alcohol and put my original earrings back in. I did this. I didn’t change them for months. After a while I had less irritation, but it was still there from time to time.

My mom suggested that they might me irritated because I sleep on my side, and pressure from the studs could be giving me irritation. She said I should try sleeping without them to see how I do. So I did. Next morning when I tried to put earrings in the left side was fine, but the right side, was so inflamed I thought it closed. I managed to gently force the earring I had with the thinnest post through it, but took it out because the posts were too short. I put back in my original earrings and there they stayed.

Then this past December my parents got me some expensive studs. Those I put in and they never gave me any problems. Until I lost the back to one of them. So I put another pair of studs in with long posts. I eventually found the back of my nicer stud a week ago, but didn’t change them back because I’m lazy when it comes to things like makeup and jewelry. I put the expensive pair back in after my right piercing bled yesterday.

My mom suggested that I let the piercings close and get re-pierced at a piercing parlor where they know what they’re doing. I really don’t want to do that.  If I let my piercings close I am not getting re-pierced because I don’t want any chance of having to deal with this bullshit every again. They were technically never “infected” but they’ve been so much more annoying than they’ve been worth. It’s also only been the right one that’s given me major problems. I don’t want to let just one close because I’ll look stupid with just one earring.

Yesterday I was at the point where I wanted to throw all of my earrings out the window and let my piercings close up. Once again the expensive pair my parents bought me, in addition to a nice pair Scott bought me were the only things stopping me. After rationalizing I think I might see a jeweler about having my earrings made into charms, or something that I can make a necklace into.  But for now I have the nice studs my parents got me in, and I’m hoping eventually they’ll stop giving me problems but I don’t see it happening. One more strike and they’re out for good.

Don’t get your ears pierced at Claire’s or by any kind of a piercing gun. Have it done with a single use needle by someone who has a crapload of experience in the area.

Comments (32) »

Mission: Orchid Revival

A little over a year ago my family went to a garden show. There we bought a baby orchid (by baby I mean it was just roots and leaves, and very small). It never flowered, and is currently in bad shape. After I started reading The Secret Life of Plants I’ve begun to think about them a lot differently. I’m really determined to help this plant out. The shells were there to help weigh it down since when we bought it, it wasn’t in the pot.

As you can see its in bad shape

Heres a close up of the poor thing 😦

Here’s what I’m doing to help the orchid:

1. I bought special orchid food to help make it happy. Once it’s happy I’ll buy the food that’s supposed to help it flower.It’s supposed to make small purple flowers and I really want to see them!

2. I make sure to open the curtain near it that my mom always closes at night. I plan on researching the species and seeing what amount of light would be optimal for it, since I just found out that the black spots on the leaves are sunburns.

3. I am willing it to live and talking to it a bit. This may sound crazy but The Secret Life of Plants has convinced me that this will help and that plant will appreciate it.

I WILL MAKE THIS PLANT HEALTHY AGAIN I SWEAR!!!

On a happy note, I will end this with pictures of some of the happy plants in my garden 🙂

Comments (4) »

Things I Do to Manage Crohn’s

Since I allowed my blog to show up in search engine results I saw that I got a fair amount of hits from people looking for information on Crohn”s Disease. I never wanted to make this blog be about Crohn’s Disease (I refuse to be defined by my physical condition) but I wouldn’t mind helping out other people who have Crohn’s. And before you read any of this note that I am not a doctor, I’m just a young adult with Crohn’s Disease. If you think that you may have Crohn’s or IBS or Ulcerative Colitis, do not self-diagnose, go see a gastroenterologist. Anyway, here’s stuff that has helped me.

1. Medication – Initially I was taking Asacol (an anti-inflammatory) and some very expensive steroids that I forgot the name of. After a few months he took me off of the steroids and kept me on Asacol. Roughly a year later he switched me from Asacol to Lialda. Lialda is basically the same thing as Asacol, only you need to take it once a day instead of three times a day.

2. Supplements – Everyday I take 500MG of Glutamine, a probiotic with 16 strains of bacteria and 500 mcg of B12.

I started taking the Glutamine after reading that it can help heal ulcers, I find that it helps. I’ve always strongly believed in probiotics as well. The one I have pictured doesn’t have patented GMO bacteria in it like the ones you see advertised on TV. I really feel like the GMO probiotics are just the pharmaceutical companies trying to make more money, and I’ve never liked the idea of GMOs anyway. Lastly, my mother was the one who forced me to start taking B12. She read that people with Crohn’s can have trouble absorbing B12, and that B12 is very important for one’s mental state. I have realized that times when I’ve gotten extremely irrational and stressed myself out as a result, I hadn’t been taking my B12.

I should be taking a multi-vitamin every day as well, but I end up forgetting to most of the time. I hate taking so many pills in the morning and plan to take my multi later on in the day but that never happens.

3. Stress Management – This is the hardest thing out of all of them.  I could talk about deep breathing and meditation but that’s not what helped me, what helped me was finally changing my mindset. For me this meant realizing what it really meant for me to do my best. I used to have the mindset that I would either get an A on an exam or fail it, B’s weren’t possible. This wasn’t because I couldn’t accept the grade of  a C or a B, but because I felt that if I didn’t know everything, I knew nothing and would fail.

My father has always told me that he’s happy as long as I do my best. But if I got an 80 on an exam I felt that it wasn’t my best because I could have studied more. I have now learned that that is not true. I can only study so much without going insane. When I was getting straight A’s (I’m not exaggerating) at an engineering school I had no social life and I was miserable. I was always on edge with school work and couldn’t let myself relax. After a year and a half of that I transferred to a college where I could enter a math education program. When I got there I was finally able to let myself relax a little. Then I came to see that doing my best didn’t mean getting 100’s, it meant studying without going crazy and getting whatever grade that earned me.

I still get stressed out before some exams, but that’s still better than getting stressed out before *every* exam.

4. Avoiding Trigger Foods – This differs from person to person. For me, I can eat these things in controlled amounts if I’ve been feeling well for an extended period of time and am not under stress, if not I must avoid them like the plague.

Carageenan – This is an additive that comes from seaweed. It’s in ice-cream, vegan meat substitutes, soy milk and other processed foods. This is the ingredient that got me reading the ingredient labels of everything. If you’re fine drinking milk and eating yogurt, but ice cream bothers you, you could have an issue with carageenan. Likewise, if you think you may have a soy allergy because soy milk and vegan soy meats have made you feel sick, carageenan may be your real problem.  I recommend googling “carageenan” most of the results on the first page will be about it’s negative aspects. You can expect me to devote an entire blog to this horrible additive in the future.

Insoluble Fiber – Bran, seeds, popcorn, etc. This will give me diarrhea. Soluble fiber on the other hand is a good thing.

Greasy/Fried Foods – This will also give me diarrhea and stomach pains. On the bright side I can enjoy these foods if I’ve been feeling well for a while as long as I don’t eat too much. If I’m not feeling well, the taste of the grease has a way of alerting my brain which then alerts me to stop eating whatever I’m eating.

This is all I have at the moment. If you want to get active in spreading awareness about IBD I suggest taking a look at CCFA’s website, and donating or participating in a walk.

Leave a comment »

Another Trip To A Closing Blockbuster

As I had mentioned in a previous post, all of my local Blockbuster’s are closing. Today I went with Scott to one of them after I got done doing my class observations.It was pretty sad to see how empty this one was. Most of the movies they had left were crap, but I found a few good things.

The Rocker – I caught bits and pieces of this movie on cable. It stars the guy who plays Dwight on the office. The parts I saw were pretty funny, or at least funny enough for me to feel that this film was worth they $3 they were charging for it.

Vampires Suck – I never got a chance to see this. Being a spoof film, I know it has a 50% chance of sucking, but $3 is cheaper than a bootleg. So I went for it.

Team Jacob Candy Hearts or crap of the like – originally these were $2. I got them for 70 cents. This was the only kind of candy they had left. I think that these will be fun to throw at people. The descriptions on the box are full of lulz, and if they end up tasting good it’s only a plus.

B-list movie backers – You know those paper things with pictures of the movie’s box art? They were 5 cents each. Scott got a bunch of ones for B-list movies that looked ridiculous and I got a few that had Michael Cera on them for my sister and her friend (her friend is into Cera)

I spent roughly $7.50 on the whole deal.. and as happy as I am that I got this stuff cheap, I’m still pretty sad to see all these Blockbusters closing 😦

Comments (4) »

Update On My Classes

I realized that I never posted what classes I was taking this semester when the semester began. Anyway, here it goes. I’m listing them in order of greatest difficulty.

Intro to Number Theory – I absolutely love this class. But I may drop it. I’m pretty sure I flunked the test I took yesterday. This is the kind of math I can do well on my own if I’m allotted enough time. But I just don’t have enough time to think things through on exams. I would if I had more time to study for this class, but I do not because of the second class I’m going to list. I could probably pull a D, but then if I retake the class I’ve already earned the credits and that creates problems with me being a full time student.

Mathematical Foundations of Secondary School Curriculum – This is a very fun class, it also isn’t difficult, but is placed here because of the heavy workload. Students teach the class in groups in this class. We make up lesson plans, homework, quizzes and have to fill a 5 inch binder with stuff on our topic. Yes a 5 inch binder. It is a group effort, but still very intimidating. Now, this class screws with how much time I can put into number theory, but I need this class to student teach next year, so sadly this one must take priority.

Nonlinear Programming – This is basically an optimization course. It’s an interesting area of applied math, I can really see how so many corporations would need people who understand the approximation techniques we’re learning. But this math is a bit too applied for my tastes (number theory totally spoiled me).

Intro to Human Evolution – An anthropology course. It’s like watching the History/Discovery channel, only you get to ask questions! I’m getting B’s in this class though because I suck at memorizing terms.

Language, Literacy and Culture – This is my ESL education class. It gets very boring at times but as long as you participate in class the teacher is happy. It’s also not super heavy on writing. I made sure to take a prof that wasn’t heavy on writing.

 

The last day I can drop is Monday. If anyone has been in a similar situation with dropping a course, please offer me advice!

 

Comments (2) »

NYC Vegetarian Food Festival!

Today Scott and I went to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival in Chelsea. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian but I wanted to go because admission was free and I was curious about what they would have.While waiting online to get in I started to worry about what I was getting myself into after seeing a bunch of hipsters and parents who had dressed their kids up in shirts promoting being vegan and not wearing fur. But after I went inside I felt totally fine.There were representatives from vegan and vegetarian companies and restaurants, meditation groups and animal rescue organizations. There were also lots of free samples!

One of the first things I tried was some raw vegan icecream from Raw IceCream Company.

No carrageenan! Hooray!

I tried their mint chocolate chip flavor. It tasted a bit more like cookie dough than ice cream. Then Scott and I bought a scoop if their chocolate ice cream for a dollar. It was pretty good and didn’t melt as fast as regular ice cream, though it did have a bit of a taste, but it wasn’t a bad taste at all. Two other vegan icecreams that I was able to try were Coconut Bliss and Organic Nectar’s Cashewtopia. Both were really good, but out of the three Coconut Bliss was my favorite! It had somewhat of a grainy texture, but tasted wonderful.

I got the chance to try some vegan sushi courtesy of Beyond Sushi by Espirit Events.

 

vegan sushi!

In all honesty, this was way better than I expected it to be. I was thrilled that they had some that were rolled in soy paper instead of seaweed because I’m allergic to seaweed. It was the best piece of sushi that I ever had in my life, and I’m not exaggerating. The piece I tied had brown rice instead of white rice, and I was surprised at how good it was… normally I can’t stand brown rice.  I’m definitely planning on going to one of Beyond Sushi’s locations as soon as I find one.

 

Then there were vegan marshmallows and baked goods, but most of them had carrageenan so I didn’t try them. But they were cute so I took pictures.

Two other interesting things I got a chance to try were raw chocolate and kombuncha (fermented carbonated tea). I had tried kombuncha in the past and thought it tasted awful. Today I gave it another go and both brands that I tried Bao and Kombuncha Brooklyn tasted great! They had nice flavors with a little bitterness as opposed to the pure bitterness my first experience with kombuncha had.  Raw chocolate was something new and interesting. It’s considered raw because they don’t roast the beans over a certain temperature, giving it a taste much closer to that of the original cocoa bean. It has a somewhat fruity taste to it. I tried raw chocolate from a few places but Gnosis was the only place that I got a card from. I would’ve bough some, but most of these places were charging at least $5 for a bar. As far as non-raw chocolates go, Rescue Chocolate was giving out samples. They donate 100% of their profits to a different animal rescue each month. For April they’re donating their profits to a rabbit rescue.

There are many more things I could write about, but now I’m just going to say what I bought. A lot of things there were pricey, but I managed to find these reasonably priced items.

Wholesome Creations Green Tea/Ginger dressing: I sampled a few of their dressings and this one was pretty good. It was only $3 for a 10oz glass bottle so I went for it.

Peeled Organic – much-ado-about-mango and paradise found: It’s some dried fruit. The samples were delicious. The first one is just dried mango and the second is a mix of dried mango, pineapple and banana. Normally I detest bananas but I found that they didn’t taste so bad in dried form. It was $5 for the two bags.

Nutivia – Hemp Chocolate Organic Bar: I couldn’t resist. Alright, I probably could resist but it was only $1. Plus I can have fun sharing it with John and Peter during free hour this week.

Overall, we had an awesome time. But we ended our time in the city completely non-vegan. On the way to the train we saw this:

 

that's right, $1 a slice

If that’s what these guys charge for pizza, they truly are bros! You could get two slices and a can of soda for $2.75 or get one pepperoni or mushroom slice for $1.50.

I would say that’s all, but the best thing to happen today was hearing Scott say, “I wouldn’t mind being a vegetarian in the future,” and then seeing him bullshit his response, then eventually say yes, when I asked if he said that because in the past he though all vegetarian food tasted bad or was extremely boring. I don’t think I’ll ever go vegetarian, but when I’m living on my own I want to not eat meat frequently. The meat that I will eat will come from animals that had happy lives and weren’t confined to small pens. I’d like my eggs and dairy to come from kind sources as well. Anyway, that’s all for now!

Comments (2) »

Educator.com

As a BzzAgent, I’m given the opportunity to try out new products. Most recently, I got to try out the website Educator.com for a month. Educator.com has tutoring videos in a decent range of high school and college level math and science courses. Since I’m finished with all of my undergrad math classes and science requirements, I can’t really use this website to help me study. But since I’m also studying to become a math teacher I thought I would take a look at some of videos for high school level math.

After I typed “logaritms” into the website’s search bar and hit enter, I was directed to links for many videos concerning logarithms. I clicked on the first one, and learned what the format of their videos was like. Click the screen capture to enlarge.

Basically, you see a video of the teacher on the right, see how they work out the problem in the center, and see what sub topics the video is divided into on the left. What I like about this is that you can easily skip to a certain topic in the video by clicking on it on the left part of the screen. If you feel like the teacher went too fast or didn’t catch something, you can pause the screen and let the math sink in, or you can rewind the video and listen to his or her explanation again. Many of the videos also have a nice summary of what was covered underneath them.

I also took a look at some of videos for multivariable calculus. I wish I knew about this website when I was taking multivariable calculus. My professor was horrible and I had difficulty finding tutoring videos. I used Paul’s Online Notes and Cramster for the most part, but I wished I had more. This website would have made my life a lot easier when I was taking that course because it gives you a thorough review of the subject in addition to solved practice problems.

Since a friend of mine is currently taking (and having difficulty in) Physics, I shared the code BUZZFA626 with him so he could also take part in the free trial.  He said that the physics videos were great because the professor is very relaxed and doesn’t go over things too fast. Since the professor is so relaxed, it helped him feel calm and relaxed, which helped him gain more from the online lectures. I also watched a physics video and found that this was true. I think the physics professor could possibly be the best for this reason.

Pros:

They have a decent range of topics. Their search function is very useful. You don’t need to look through anything, just type in the topic you want to learn about. You also have the ability of asking the teachers questions about their videos if you wish. I haven’t taken advantage of that aspect of the website, but I can only assume its a very good thing.

Cons:

Their prices. I don’t think any of them are really targeted at college students. A normal semester is about 4 months long, and from what I’ve seen, an “average” student wont start looking for online resources until about a month into the class when they realize they need to learn whats going on before midterms. If they had a three month plan that cost around $60 I could more easily imagine students going for this. Also, the only programming language they have that I’ve seen offered in colleges is Java. The website would have more appeal if they also offered Pearl, Python and C++ or C#

Overall:

In the end, I would say that Educator.com is a good resource for a student that needs a through review of a subject without spending hours pouring over small details. The professors are good and are able to give you a general idea and some examples in less than the time of an actual lecture. However, because I’m not too crazy about their prices, I would be more likely to buy a month subscription the month before finals to help me review, rather than pay for six months and only use the website for four months at most.

Comments (3) »