Saturday, May 30, 2009

Enthusiasm makes all the difference

Throughout my academic career, I've taken a fair number of classes from professors who seemingly couldn't care less about the material that they had to teach. Those were the toughest classes to make it through, let alone earn a decent grade. Its hard to care about the material when the professors, who were supposedly experts, didn't care. My undergraduate physics professor comes to mind. I have no doubt that he did at some point love physics, but he was clearly PISSED that he had to teach it at the undergraduate level. That was a tough class. His teaching energy was all kinds of whack.

Every now and then, though, I was lucky enough to get a professor who truly loved the subject they had chosen to devote their lives to. My exercise physiology professor, Dr. George Brooks, though despite being damn near older than dirt, LOVED the things he taught us and made lectures and labs exciting. I wanted to learn. I wanted to earn good scores on the exams. Class was fun. It wasn't really work.

Recently, my pharmacology professor, Sally Brooks (hey, maybe it has something to do with the name) reminded me just how important enthusiasm is for a teacher to be truly effective. She loved what she was teaching and it rubbed off onto myself and the other students. Most of all, she had a unique way of explaining new concepts:

"I always say that Prozac likes to talk. No action. No, thank you! No sex here! Just talking. Lots of talking." This was her way of explaining that sexual dysfunction was one of the more unfortunate side effects of anti-depressant therapy.

"For all beta blockers we'll be discussing, just remember that they end with 'Oh Laugh Out Loud'. Or for all of you that aren't as versed in internet speak, that's -olol."

This next one is my favorite, but it's a bit vulgar when taken out of the medical context it was intended for, so try to keep it clean, mmmmkay...

When asked why vaginal yeast infections are common with antibiotic therapy, she replied with this gem: "Think of it like this...Normally, there's both bacteria and yeast cells living in the vagina. The yeast live over here in their little section of condos, and the bacteria live over here in separate condos. When the bacteria is killed off by the antibiotics, that leaves a whole new section of condos vacant. The yeast see these vacant condos and say, 'Hey! More space to live!', and so they multiply and take over the condos...and so on, and so forth."

Yeah. Freaking hilarious. But it made sense. I looked around the room and saw people nodding with sudden understanding. That's the sign of an excellent teacher. If people fail to grasp the original concept, re-word it and find different ways to explain it until people do.

I learned this highly valuable tool during my early athletic training days and would frequently integrate it into my high school class when the kids just weren't getting it. It also demonstrates just how well one comprehends the subject matter at hand.

Sally Brooks teaches several classes in Contra Costa College's nursing curriculum and the fact that I would get to see her again is a big part of my decision to apply to this particular school. I really feel like I could learn a lot from her. Her enthusiasm makes learning a pleasure.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Worth sharing...

While trolling my fave internet sites earlier (instead of studying for my final tomorrow), I came across a link for possibly the AWESOMEST site in all of the world!!

Please click to experience the joy and pure hilarity that is Fuck you, Penguin. The only way this idea could be any better is if it were called "Fuck you, snot-nosed child", "Fuck you, smelly hippy" or "Fuck you, hipster". Of course, all of those things are easy targets and the butt of many a joke. Cute animals, however, get suck with, well, cute comments and jokes (a la "I Can Has Cheezburger", which I do love). It may be weird, but I like the idea of telling cute animals what's what. Clever. And oh so funny.

When I excitedly told DJC about it, he flippantly said, "Oh, I've already seen that". Of course he has. I'm always one step behind the cool internet kids...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Back!!

Ok, so its been forever since I've updated this thing. Yeah, I've had a lot going on recently. Here's a brief rundown of just the last week:

Saturday: Hit up the Wine Mine's two year anniversary party. We partook of the BBQ and $1 tasting. I came home with 5 bottles of wine for under $50. My new favorite grape is the torront├ęs. So light and delicious on a hot summer day. Believe me, Saturday was definitely a hot summer day. DJC and I were supposed to start cleaning the house. We didn't.

Sunday: Despite the outrageous Bay Area heat, we spent nearly all day cleaning our house. His father was due in town the following day and we had accumulated sooooo much stuff over the years that needed to go. Somewhere in the mix of everything, I needed to study for my first final, pharmacology. I didn't get much studying done, but thanks to a mad sale at Kohl's, our house looks pretty nice. BTW, thanks to square pieces of foam, I DOMINATED the slip cover on the couch. WOOT!

Monday: Laundry. Finishing touches on cleaning. Studying...in theory. Dinner in San Francisco at Farmer Brown with DJC's dad. Man, what a great night. If you live in the area and like cool restaurants, Motown tunes spun by a live DJ, unique drinks and good food, you really should check out Farmer Brown. What's interesting, though, is that it was nearly empty. We didn't have reservations and we were seated right away. In past visits, its been so crowded that we can hardly move around, especially near the bar area. I guess the economy is such that SF's hipsters prefer to drink their shitty cans of PBR at home now (which really isn't a bad thing). Anyways, dinner was great, complete with red velvet cake at the end. Oh, how I love red velvet cake!

Tuesday: More studying...this time for real. I staked out an area of the local Starbucks and didn't move for several hours. Later that night DJC and I headed out to a farewell party for JZ, who is now in Hawaii for her Masters. The party was held at her father's house up in the hills and was just breathtaking. Recently, they had added a new full kitchen to the garage, which opened to a lovely open-air patio/BBQ area with plenty of comfy seating. JZ christened it the "garage-mahal". So clever and funny she is. I will miss her dearly. I guess we'll just have to go to Hawaii one of these days to visit.

Wednesday: Took the pharmacology final first thing in the morning. Bombed it. I needed at least a 90% on the final to maintain my A in the class. Needless to say, I ended up with a B+ after a dismal 82% on the final. I wanted an A in that class so badly. I just wish I would have budgeted more studying time instead of spending hours dusting and vacuuming. Oh well. The rest of Wednesday was wonderful, though. we picked up DJC's dad and took him to La Note for a late brunch. Mmmmmm...pancakes. Wednesday night, we traveled out to the East Bay to have a delicious mexican dinner with my parents. We ended up at my parents' house for dessert...port, brie, fruit and American Idol (Adam, you were ROBBED!!). It was a great night.

Thursday: After picking DJC's dad up, we met up with BL, who had brought his Ferrari up for service. But before that, there was some high speed frivolity to be had in the Berkeley hills. DJC's dad had never ridden in a Ferrari, and he was thrilled with this part of his trip. After many twists and turns, all four of us settled down for lunch at the Paragon Cafe at the Claremont Hotel. It was a sunny day, and there was nothing on the schedule but soaking up the rays on the deck, and enjoying a few cocktails (white grape martini!!) and each other's company. The food was so-so, but it didn't matter. Later that night, we hit up Swig in San Francisco for a night of Below Zero beats and a tasting of Ploom's innovative products. I'm not a smoker at all, but this stuff was pretty cool. It was like a small, hand held vaporizer for tobacco and herbal pods that produced zero smoke. As we puffed away, we all commented on how we were standing in a very small circle and no one was blowing smoke on one another. We liked the flavor called "Gold", which tasted of honey and cognac. Again, it was an excellent night.

Oh yeah, at some point on Thursday I took a tumble down the back stairs of my house. It hurt my pride more than anything, but I did hit pretty hard. I laughed then, but Friday morning was a different story.

Friday: Seeing as that I did nothing but eat for the past week, I hit the gym. I was SORE from my fall (back, right hip and ribs), but I tackled a 90 minute class of kickboxing, dance and yoga. It hurt, not gonna lie, but it also felt really good. Check out the new video from my gym!! Its awesome, although the music leaves a little to be desired. The rest of the day was spent doing things that I didn't have time for earlier in the week.

Today, I'm catching up on the blog thing. Sorry for my lack of posts. I promise to get back on track this week after my lame communications final on Tuesday. We're heading back out to the East Bay today for a birthday BBQ for my mother...and then, at some point I should try to care about this next final and study a little. We'll see how that goes. LOL. Talk to you all soon!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The great slipcover debacle of 2009

Our living room couch is ugly. I mean REALLY ugly. It was once green "leather". It's now a sorry shade of grayish green that is most certainly cannot be found in Crayola box. DJC and I have considered investing in a new couch for some time, but with me being in school and not working, our only option was to buy a fairly expensive stretch slipcover and suck it up for a little longer. Luckily, Target had a sale on slipcovers this weekend. I jumped without looking, apparently.

We decided on a lovely (not so much, actually) shade of brown called "oar" and anxiously drove home to give it a shot. Thankfully, the package included directions and markers on the front and back center, and the arms to ensure correct alignment. DJC and I placed the cover over top of the couch, lined up the seams and according to the instructions, tucked. And tucked. And pulled. And stretched. And cursed. And tucked. There seemed to be no limit to how much the fabric would stretch! Pretty soon, both of us were a little out of breath and visibly sweating. How'd the couch look? Wrinkled. And wonky. Covered and somewhat better, but wonky.

So, we removed the slipcover entirely and decided to take another swing at it. We followed the directions very closely and resumed tucking and pulling, more tucking, more sweating, infinitely more cursing and still more tucking. The result? I can live with this attempt. The couch looks pretty good. Not perfect, but OK.

Then I sat down. All that hard work...GONE! Gone as soon as I planted my ass on the velvety soft fabric! NOOOOOOOOO! As nice as the cover has made the couch and the room look, I think it's going to be a hell of a lot more work than its worth to keep it looking like an elephant didn't just sit on it.

Has anyone ever tackled one of these before? Any tips you'd care to share? Please. Help me. I feel like I'm drowning in yards of stretchy fabric....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pennsylvania thoughts and stories

Ok, Ok. So I've totally been slacking when it comes to updating this thing. Its not that I haven't had things to write about. I just haven't had the time or the will. Most of my writing mojo these days has been directed towards my little side project with my good friend, LoveBadReality. We have fun talking smack. Good times, good times.

But, I realize I owe you all some long overdue Pennsylvania stories. Yes, they're old and not really relevant anymore, but some are still pretty remarkable. I'll keep them brief, though, so you don't lose interest...

-During an extended coloring session with my little second cousins N and V, ages 3 and 5 respecitvely, they informed us that they had just seen "The Wizard of Oz". My sister asked what the Wicked Witch of the West says and right as N was beginning her answer, my uncle, who has been a prosecutor for his entire professional career, popped his head in the kitchen and said, "The Wicked Witch of the West?! Don't you mean Nancy Pelosi?". He was serious. 100% serious. My jaw dropped and I shot my sister a look that said, "For the love of god, AGREE. Do not get into this right now. Or EVER, for that matter". Fortunately, she read my face correctly and agreed. My uncle trailed off out of the kitchen, satisfied with the "funny" he'd just made. My family and I would talk about this moment for weeks after the trip.

-After more family time than we could handle, my sister and I hijacked the rental car and headed down to Quaker Steak and Lube. This place is famous for its ridiculous selection of wings, but we had just finished a dinner of cabbage rolls (ick) and needed a cold drink (or 3) to wash them down. Plus, there was hockey on and it had been made very clear that there would be no sports watched in my aunt and uncle's house other than golf. I didn't even try to argue that golf is not a sport. Upon arriving at the 'Lube, sis and I each ordered the most obnoxious drink we could think of. For me, that translated into a Ketel One and tonic...in a PINT GLASS. For sister, it was a 24 oz. Bud Light. After round one, we decided that we were in fact hungry so we ordered a basket of fresh pretzels and some fried zucchini strips. Sis went for another beer, but I decided on a mango Lube-N-ade, which is one of the most ridiculously wonderful, but lethal, things I have imbibed in recent memory. If you're keeping score, that's two huge drinks each and two appetizers between us. The bill? $34. TOTAL. My vodka pint nightmare was a whopping $6. LOL! You can't get a bartender in San Francisco to spit on you for $6. It was a good night.

-One night, sis and I were supposed to stop by Cousin D's house to check out the digs and meet his kids, Lil' D and MJ, ages 5 and 18 months. When we got there, we were greeted by a very distressed D and wife J. Apparently, D had just tripped over the baby gate in a Superman effort to save MJ from the top of the stairs. In the process, he hurt his thumb, although he could not tell me how exactly. Upon examination, I decided a trip to the local ER was in order, as the thumb at the base was about the size of a golfball. D downed a 9% beer, two Advil and begrudgingly got in the car. Once at the ER, we didn't wait long to see the triage nurse, who actually asked him if he objected to having an X-ray. "Ummmm, that's why we're here", I said. Seeing as that I know my way around a thumb and an ER, D let me do all of the talking. When the ER doctor, who did not introduce himself, came in to the exam room, I told him exactly which parts of the thumb were affected, pointing to the swelling. Mid-sentence, he cut me off and hauled D off to get an X-ray, stating, "I'll X-ray it, but I know its not broken". He didn't even touch D's thumb. We waited all of two minutes before the "doctor" came back to say, "Yup. Not broken. I've been doing this for 30 years and the minute I looked at it, I knew it wasn't broken. You want to know how I knew? When bones break, they bleed. Where's the bruising? Mmmm hhhhmmmph". He was so sure of himself. All I could do was sit there with my mouth hanging open. He then continued, "All you need to do is start moving it around, and put some heat on it tomorrow". At that point, I grabbed D's good hand and told him that I'd heard enough and we were on our way out. Fortunately, D knew a good hand surgeon, and I advised that he get a second opinion in the morning. Sure enough, D showed up to dinner the following night with a cast on his hand. Fuckin' A.

-If I have to sit on an airplane for more than two hours, I always pick up a copy of In Style magazine in the airport before boarding. Its the only mag with enough substance to both keep my occupied and put me to sleep, all at the same time. I had just paid for May's issue when a book caught my eye. Before I knew what I was doing, I turned back to the register and purchased Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans. Yes, the woman also known as "Superhead" in the hip-hop industry had apparently written a controversial tell-all book about damn near EVERYONE and I had to have it. As I read the opening pages, I learned that this book was written not only as a tell-all, but as a way for young girls to avoid making the same mistakes that the author had made in her lifetime. I felt badly for her in the early chapters. But as I eagerly turned page after page, devouring juicy gossip about everyone from Shaq to Fred Durst to Ice-T to Ja Rule to Jay-Z, all I got out of it was that this chick slept with A LOT of men for money and that she lived a super up and down life, without taking much responsibility for herself or her actions. The tone of the book was not at all one of "Don't do what I've done. Do better for yourselves". Steffans seemed to be bragging about all the shit and people she'd done. There was no lesson to be learned, here. During the last few pages, I hoped for light at the end of the tunnel. When none came, I ended up feeling like I had just put money in her pocket to allow her to continue living the exact same life depicted in the pages of the book. In retrospect, I should have just stuck to my copy of In Style, which remained in my carry-on for the entire flight. I feel like I got played by the author the same way all the men in her life played her. Not cool.

Ok, that's all for now. Hopefully, you're still with me. Sorry for the length of this post. I probably should have broken all the stories down into separate posts, but I can't say that I'd have had the motivation to write that much in separate instances. Meh. Hope you enjoyed, anyways...