Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 042: Getting into the new groove

Chem II is a HUGE wake-up call from Chem I.

This professor is a lot more organized, a lot more structured and all together put together. It's good and bad. Good because I'm learning a lot and in an orderly fashion. Bad because this is a lot of difficult material and it's based on things we should have learned in Chem I so as you can imagine, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Grateful for a decent professor but overwhelmed nonetheless.

8am is freaking early...just throwing it out there. Now I know what my dear teacher-friend must feel like getting her butt up at the crack of dawn to get to school on time. I woke up at 6:15 this morning. No joke. I wasn't sure the sun was awake. haha

The lab instructor(s) seem like hard-asses. Which is lame. And apparently there are quizzes in lab? What? We didn't have that with the Bobblehead. Anyway, tomorrow we're doing Beer's Law -- something about absorbance and food dye and stuff like that.

What? No real beer? Lame.

I should probably read the lab instead of just perusing it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 037: The end of Chem I! (My one day off)

Today I hung out with the "post-bacc party" as Chris deems it. It was nice to relax and not worry about chemistry.

Ahh, lovely.

However, the fun is over so fast because Chem II starts bright and early tomorrow morning at 8am. Yes, A-M.

Anyway, this professor really has his stuff together. He's already put up everything I could possibly ask for on Blackboard -- syllabus, notes, practice problems, everything. Michael and I have decided he's going to be tough but it'll be a wonderful, organized, structured tough.

We are done with Shazam. I didn't like him, then I liked him and near the end I decided I don't really like him. Every day was an adventure in chemistry. Would we cover valence electrons? Would we make it through electron configurations? What exactly is happening for the final? Lots of questions that any good professor should have answers to. (He didn't.)

And of course, test and quiz days were always fun. The post-bacc party ultimately figured out how he tested. ...badly. He would mention something for literally four seconds and expect us to a) grasp the material and b) memorize it. Then he would put in on the test/quiz and make it worth an absurd amount of points. It doesn't matter that he spent 45 minutes on electron configurations. He wants you to remember nodes and degenerate orbitals and blah blah blah. Thank goodness the madness is over. And good riddance.

However, I made an A (unless he scales funny). In both Shazam's class and the Bobblehead's lab.

It's gratifying to know that all my hard work pays off (especially when presented with two really weird and not-that-great professors). It's also wonderful to go on to an MD on the right track.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day 031: Test results, studying and the upcoming schedule

We got our tests back yesterday. The fantastic four (that's what Michael's wife calls us) did not do so good. The highest any of us got was a 90 ... this test kicked our ass. It was pretty much for stupid mistakes -- not converting units, not reading the problem all the way through, et cetera, et cetera.

The apathy's still around and I was a little affected by my grade on the test so I'm studying even more to make sure I ace these next two (big, fat) quizzes.

Today, Michael and I studied and got a better hang of electron orbitals and electron configuration.

Can you believe I actually know what this means?!

What that translates into is knowing how to read the periodic table and [warning: geeking out] let me tell you, the periodic table actually tells you a helluva lot. I won't bore you with details but it's pretty cool.


Upcoming schedule:

Monday: quiz on quantum mechanics [note: how (fake) smart do I sound? haha]

Tuesday: Whatever we learn on Monday. (I know, so stupid and random and fairly useless.)

Wednesday: Day off ... where I'll probably read the chapters we need to catch up on.

Thursday: Chem II starts!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day 029: The third test and more clarification

The test was fine. It felt a bit difficult -- I probably left one question blank on each page the first time around and that's pretty intense for me. I got through everything and, like I said, it was fine. This apathy is still hanging around but it didn't really hinder my studying or test-taking ability. I'm just "meh" about everything.

After the test, a group of us were talking and we decided this test was tricky and annoying and was a little taxing (basically, a very Shazam-like exam) but I think we all did well enough.

Uhh, B? No, I think it's C. ...eeny, meeny, miney, mo!

Nick joked that none of us got a hundred so he's quitting our study group. (Oh, I forgot to mention that Chris made a hundred on the last exam.) Nick also got the lowest score on the last exam out of our foursome -- a 97. Ouch. I know, pretty pitiful, right? That's why he's ready to quit ;)

So since we didn't get through enough of Chapter 7, we're not getting quizzed tomorrow. We're getting quizzed Monday and our 7, 8, 9, 10 exam on Tuesday is going to be a "whatever's leftover" quiz. However, Chris and I decided that there is no way he's going to get all the way to Chapter 10 by Monday (our last official day of class) so we're probably going to finish Chapter 8. Tops.

Uhh, it'll be tons of fun when Summer Session II starts and we start on Chapter 13. FUN, I say.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Day 028: Final clarification and the end of lab!

Professor Shazam clarified things today.

Since he is sprinting to the end (a chapter a day), on the day of the final, everyone will be taking a test.

Instead of giving us a quiz everyday (as he intended), people with a 90 or below are going to take the final (Chapters 1-10). People with a 90 or above will be taking a test on chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10.

So, I don't really have a choice of taking a test come final day. It's not really a problem but I'm in this weird state.

We're rushing to the end and I'm not feeling stressed out. I think I am, but I'm not feeling it. I'm rather apathetic about things. Not in a Jessica's-being-lazy way, more like Jessica's-getting-her-stuff-
done-but-doesn't-feel-like-anything-is-processing way.


Anyway, today was the last day of lab. The bobblehead instructor decided not to give us tomorrow's lab so we're done. We have labs to turn in on Thursday but there are no more new labs. Huzzah! The bobblehead is out of my life! All I have to do is finish these labs and then life will be good.

Oh yeah, and the test tomorrow (did I forget to mention that?) and then the quiz on Thursday and then the other test on Tuesday and then I'm done.

And then Summer Session II starts next Thursday.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Day 026: Sprinting to the end

Shazam finally realized that we only have six days of class left and with more than half of the alloted subjects/chapters to cover ... well ... "we're sprinting to the end."

What does that mean for the class?

A lot of reading. Little to no examples to do in class (to help ingratiate (probably not the correct use of the word but the same concept) the material). Lots and lots of note-taking. Probably not a good grasp of whatever's left to learn.

The group and I are now in mild cahoots with Shazam so it'll be a bit of a bummer when we have a new professor for Chem II and we'll have to figure out what kind of lecturer he is, what kind of tests he gives, et cetera, et cetera.

Oh, and if you have a 90 or above in the class, we don't have to take the final. The group and I are trying to figure out what we want to do -- to take or not to take, that is the question?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 022: Second test results and titrations

My lecture professor was on his game yesterday. He graded all of the tests and handed them back today.

I got the multiple choice wrong, as I expected, but I got everything else right so another A. That was really gratifying because I studied a lot with my friends and just like test numero uno, I felt over-studied. Which really just means come test day, I was ready to just take the darn thing.

We've been doing more real labs which is pretty sweet. Lots o' science happening.

In regards to today's lab, I think if someone told me that titration was going to be such a hassle, well, I would have told them to suck it up. But it really is a huge hassle. Chris and I did about four titration test runs before we said "screw it" and went ahead and did what needed to be done.

Chris was all ready to make a joke about the stopcock.

Honestly, who the hell would have thought that one freaking drop would make a difference between faint pink (which is the desired result) and bright-look-at-me pink (which means you've gone past the endpoint and just about driven off the bridge). I mean really.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day 021: The second test and then some

This test was quite a doozy. It was a lot of information to deal with and regurgitate and all that good fun but it went fine. I made an annoying multiple choice error and those are pretty much you know it or you don't. And it was a toss-up between B or C and of course I picked the wrong one. Bah! Overall, I think I got the rest of them so we'll wait and see.

I had a meltdown in lab today because my California lab partner (let's call him Chris) and I screwed up. We fixed it, eventually, but I was having a serious panic attack because there's a difference between slight error and huge f-up, you know? Luckily things worked out in the end.

This is the perfect segue into how much the Enforcer sucks.

Hmm, I wonder how many significant figures are in the word "soup"?

She's a despot about stupid pointless crap (like maintaining significant figures) and so I did fine on the first lab and so-so on the second. Since labs are all I have ... well, now I need to talk to that bobbing idiot to make sure I have my reports together. So, in case I haven't actually stated it, she sucks. And I do not like her. However, one must triumph and prevail and whatever crap people say when life throws you really annoying curve balls.

I made another post-bacc friend, Michael. He's also from North Carolina, married with kids, and he's going to be a dentist. He's great because we're kind of on the same scientific memorization (or whatever you want to call it) level so it's good to work with him because we keep each other in check. All in all, I'm feeling good about my post-bacc friendships and new study circle :)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Other 001: Doctors Without Borders and Brave New World

I realized something yesterday. None of the people I've spoken with about Doctors Without Borders actually knows what it is.

To preface, right now at this very second, I really want to work with Doctors Without Borders. I think there are too many doctors in the United States and I read somewhere that if a third of them took their work abroad, the world's health (and care) would be a lot better off.

So, when the inevitable question comes (why do you want to be a doctor? Or "why did you decide to switch?" or something along those lines), I usually tell them that Doctors Without Borders is my ultimate goal. And it's so interesting that no one down here in North Carolina seems to have heard of the organization.

I wonder what it means.

Sans segue, I'm currently reading Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. While reading it last night, they were mentioning a lot of chemicals and I found myself trying to figure out the molecular formulas for them. Immediately after that, there was a molecular formula and I, again, found myself trying to decipher which compound it was.

Is that not crazy? Science/chemistry is pervading the "fun" parts (reading, e.g.) of my life and you know what? I kind of like it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 016: Stoichiometry, the first test results and then some

Stoichiometry is "the process of relating quantities of reactants and products to one anotehr in a chemical reaction." In English? Lots of chemical equations, how to balance them and basically a lot of information in a few not-so-random numbers and symbols.

What it all means

The point of telling you what the heck it is, and why you should pretend to care, is that this is a big freaking chapter. There is a lot to learn, a lot of conversions to grasp, more things to memorize (solubility rules -- joy :/) and just a lot of chemistry.

However, It feels like we're really starting to do chemistry. In lecture, we're learning how things fit and why things have to balance (The Law of Conservation of Mass) and how everything combines to, well, work. In lab, we made some aspirin! It's amazing what some chemicals, hot and cold water, and a good mixing technique can create. I'm extremely excited to keep learning because I feel like it's starting to make sense in the broader scheme of things. ...well, it does when I blog about it, not so much during lecture and lab, but whatever. I'm learning.

Getting my first test back (with an A, phew!) was comforting in the sense that I'm on the right path. I'm studying hard. I'm studying properly. I'm grasping the material. I'm applying the material. I just need to keep this up and we'll see how things go.

On a personal note, the North Carolina post-bacc guy that I met (let's call him Nick) is turning out to be a fascinating person as well as a wonderful study partner! We're both suffering through this post-bacc thing together so we support, push and help each other on all scientific frontiers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Day 014: Infrared Spectroscopy

Today was an awfully long day.

We did a "dry" (read: no chemicals) lab today and it was the longest lab ever. It was annoying and slow and, in typical "Enforcer" fashion, had nothing to do with what we've been learning.

If I could convey the sheer and utter absurdity of figuring out stuff you've never actually read about ... it's pretty freaking bad. That and figuring out Lewis structures for isomers (I don't even know what that means) you've never heard of and couldn't even pretend to draw ... well, again, completely useless.

The Lewis structure for ethanol

I wish we could do things in order so they coalesced instead of divided.

Dear Summer Session Professors,

Please communicate with each other so that know what the hell we're doing and we can actually, gosh, learn. I know. It's a completely crazy idea. Who would have thunk right?



Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 013: The first test....dun duh duuuunnn

Things that are true:
  • The stable ion of potassium has a charge of +1.

  • Come Monday, I was beyond ready for this test. I wanted to take it when I woke up at 9:45am...that's how much I studied.

  • "In the periodic table, the elements are arranged in b) order of increasing atomic number."

  • I made some stupid mistakes on my test (250000001 has 9 significant figures and is NOT ambiguous, as I thought).

  • One mole of water weighs b) 18 g

  • I kicked that test's ass!

This was a good first test. It gives me an idea of what kind of tests he creates and what to look out for. Some questions had questionable wording and I'm actually rather annoyed that I got some questions wrong due to unclear wording, but hey, it's all in the learning curve.

In other news, I met another postbacc guy. He's from North Carolina and was non-science like me so has to take ALL the sciences...we'll be seeing a lot of each other. I talked to another Asian kid! He has a southern/North Carolina accent and everything! ...definitely a little weird.

Other than that, it's a new week. More lectures and more labs. There will probably be some "not-pop" quizzes and two lab report collections so...yeah.