Making Bread

Mmmm... Looks so tasty... And I didn't get to have any!
Mmmm… Looks so tasty… And I didn’t get to have any!

Yesterday I went to my wife’s class in the morning and baked bread with her students.

This is apparently a big thing at her school. Last year a parent came in and helped he kids bake bread.

Unfortunately, no parents volunteered to help in my wife’s class this year so I’m doing it!

The actual process for making bread is pretty simple. Throw all the ingredients into the breadmaker, program it according to the recipe, and let it go.

The more exciting part is that the kids get to work their teacher’s husband who is a scientist! My wife told me the kids were excited about that part.

Before school started I came to her classroom and anybody who had arrived early was welcome to help me make bread.

I met a few of the kids. I’d imagined more energy, but they were mostly quite subdued. I was surprised at first, but my wife reminded me that the kids haven’t met me before even though she’s told me lots about them. They were all just shy.

One of the kids volunteered to read the recipe while the rest of the little chefs added one ingredient each.

After we got everything in the breadmaker I let them pick how crunchy they wanted the breadmaker to make the bread. They chose medium.

We quickly cleaned the measuring cups and spoons we’d used before putting everything away as school started.

The picture above is from after my wife cut the bread around lunchtime when it was done. Delicious!

It was really cool to be working with kids again. I haven’t done it since the summer after my Sophmore year when I taught gymnastics at the YMCA with my mother-in-law.

Things I’d change next time:
We forgot hotpads for taking the bread out. There are some towels in the classroom, but hotpads are always better.
There’s no dish soap in the classroom. Hand soap works, but it was a little weird.
I got the butter out of the classroom fridge right as we needed it, but that meant it was quite hard and difficult for the kids to cut into smaller pieces. Next time I’ll bring the butter out earlier.

I’ll do those things for now and hopefully the kids won’t be so shy next time as well. I’m looking forward to the improvement of the whole process next week!

-Mister Ed

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First Day of Graduate School

Woo! Yesterday I had my first day of graduate school and it was amazing!

For awhile I’d been worried that I wouldn’t like going back to school once the semester started. All of those worries went away once I stepped out of my car onto campus.

I unfortunately arrived late to my first class. I live in Davis and driving to Sacramento has never taken this long in the past.

I thought I’d budgeted enough for rush hour traffic. I guessed the time accurately except for the time to leave the freeway.

Everyone and their mother wanted to get off the freeway at the Howe Ave exit right by Sacramento State.

Next time I go in the morning I’ll get off at an earlier exit and dodge all that traffic. Hopefully that will get me to school with time to spare.

Anyways! I got approved to be a TA in a lab course which meets Tuesday mornings. This semester I’m in training, but in the future I’ll be paid.

The lab class is a GE fulfilling course, so its filled with students who are not biology majors.

The course is also taught by my graduate adviser, which is a huge plus. We’ll get to know more about each through teaching together which will help a lot later in the graduate school process.

I assisted the students with a simple discussion lab which tried to define what life is.

After the discussion each student took a sterile swabbed and rubbed it on something before rubbing it on a petri dish. Whatever they rubbed onto it will grow over the week and we can take a look at it next Tuesday.

When the lab finished I walked around campus. I found the bookstore, the activities fair (no I don’t want to join a fraternity), the student union, and the library. I at my lunch on the quad and then went to read in the library til my next class.

I have two other classes on Tuesday. The first was about how to be a better TA. I met the other students and the teacher told us a little bit about herself, her teaching style, and some resources we could use to improve ourselves as teachers.

My last class, Molecular Biology, was in the same room as the class on how to be a TA. I was surprised when the teacher walked in because I recognized him!

The teacher for my Molecular Biology class is also the post-doc who works in the same worm lab as me at Davis!

It was a pretty cool coincidence. Apparently he had already known for awhile, but hadn’t told me yet.

I was unfortunately the only person who consistently raised my hand to answer questions in his class. I’m hoping that will change in the future. Maybe everyone else was just shy because they hadn’t met the instructor yet.

At the end of the day the instructor and I discussed carpooling together.

Turns out that won’t work because he lives in Sacramento and I live in Davis. At the end of the day we want to be in different places.

Altogether it was a great day. I loved being back on campus as a student and as a teacher. I love learning and helping other people learn. I’m looking forward to the next two or three years at Sac State!

-Mister Ed

Streaming and Stress

I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m doing with my website and how to balance that with the upcoming responsibility of graduate school.

Last year I was employed while my wife went to graduate school for her elementary school teaching credential.

At the beginning of September we’ll switch and I’ll  be going to graduate school for molecular biology while my wife teaches 5th grade at the neighborhood public school.

While I’m not stressed now with work, my day-to-day responsibilities, and all the other things I do for fun, that might change.

I saw what my wife went through for her graduate program. Her typical weekday was waking up at 6, leaving at 7:30, and not being done with her classes or her homework until 8PM.

If I have to do the same thing… I might not have time to do blog posts every day, stream every week, or improve the website and attached video channels as often.

I have to add descriptions to half these videos... So much work!!! #sarcasm
I have to add descriptions to half these videos… So much work!!! #sarcasm

Updates won’t stop, but I expect they will reduce in frequency.

I don’t want to make a commitment I can’t keep. I’ve already slipped a little bit on doing updates every weekday.

I usually miss a post because I’ve had a long day and don’t have the mental energy to write something worth reading.

Typically I make up a missed post on the weekend, but I’m still behind by two posts.

I’ll try to make those both up by September, but after that I think I’ll be switching to weekly updates.

I hope my schedule will allow me to write posts more often, but I can’t guarantee that until I’ve started my classes and know for sure what my workload will be.

-Mister Ed

Teaching Graduation

 

My father-in-law's picture of the banner behind the graduation stage.
My father-in-law’s picture of the banner behind the graduation stage.

I wanted to write about two things today, but I’ve only got space for one.

My wife had her graduation ceremony for getting her California teaching credential yesterday.

But today the World Cup started!

I decided I’d write about my wife because I am married to her not to soccer.

My wife’s teaching program has several different groups within it.

There are the doctoral students with their PhDs and EdDs.

There are a few people who got their credentials already and are coming back to school to get a Master’s.

Most of the people are getting a Master’s and a teaching credential within the same program.

The program takes two years to complete. The first year ends with a teaching credential, the second ends with a Master’s of Arts in education.

The teaching credential allows you to teach children in California. The MA gives you a pay raise.

The program thus has two groups, one getting their credentials at the graduation ceremony and one getting their MAs.

Those two groups are split once again based on whether they are studying to teach multiple subjects in elementary school or single subjects in middle school or high school.

My wife got her credential in multiple subjects and will be teaching children on her own next year at a elementary school a few blocks from our apartment.

She said that despite the graduation ceremony she doesn’t feel “graduated” yet because she still has another year of school left to get her Master’s (Saturday school as she will now be teaching fulltime).

Her family came into town for the ceremony. We sat through the speeches and clapped when she went up on stage to have her honor cord placed on her shoulders.

Afterwards we went out to eat at a great Mexican restaurant and had to wait super long because everyone else had the same idea.

My grandma-in-law got to meet our new cat and see our apartment too!

It was a pretty cool day, but its sad to say goodbye to that part of your life as well.

World Cup news coming soon!

-Mister Ed

Acceptance Wall

Normally I’d post something about D&D on Monday, but this week I’ll be showing off something that came in the mail recently.

My first graduate school acceptance letter.
My first graduate school acceptance letter.

I got into graduate school! Hurray! Validation!

This year I only applied to local schools as my wife is in the first year of a two year program for her teaching credential.

I applied to two programs at the college I got my undergraduate degree from and a third program at a nearby CSU (Sac State).

I’ve been rejected from one of the programs and have yet to hear back from the other one, but Sac State has accepted me! Woohoo!

Assuming the other program doesn’t accept me, I will be driving to the capital every day to learn and research science stuff.

The professor I’ve been placed with studies salmonella. I haven’t read up a lot on it, but what I saw on the papers she’s published was interesting.

Salmonella typically hurt your body in many ways one of which is by attacking your macrophage cells. Macrophages are the part of your immune system that eats bacterial invaders.

The salmonella bacteria don’t like being eaten by macrophages though. They protect themselves by putting poisons into your macrophages.

The professor has helped discover how this process works and she is attempting to harness the power of salmonella for good, not evil!

You see, if salmonella are so good at invading macrophages and killing them, they can also be used to invade macrophages and help them.

We can modify salmonella to make it deliver medicine to macrophages. This could do a number of things.

It could protect against auto-immune diseases like HIV. It could also super charge the immune system to assist the fight against other bacterial infections. These two things are some of the most sought after effects in medicine right now.

HIV is a huge problem throughout the developing world, so the interest in that is obvious.

The second effect, of boosting the immune system is even more amazing in my opinion.

Bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, STIs, and many others are currently treated with antibiotics. But bacteria can evolve and become immune to these antibiotics.

Researchers can come up with new antibiotics, but in a few years the disease will have evolved immunity to it again.

But what if you treated the disease just by making the immune system better? The bacteria can still evolve past this, but it takes much longer to do that than to develop antibiotic resistance. Possibly long enough that the disease can be eradicated entirely? That would be astounding.

While my original goal was to get entrance into a PhD program, working on making people immune to disease doesn’t sound that bad either. I think I’ll be quite happy at Sac State.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

Rejection Wall

This morning I was making a mustard deli meat sandwich. I normally make peanut butter and honey sandwiches where I can put down as much peanut butter as I want and then put it back in the jar. I got really disappointed when I couldn’t put my mustard back in the squeeze bottle.

My first and hopefully only reject letter for 2014.
My first and hopefully only reject letter for 2014.

Just like I got really disappointed when I got this in my email inbox today.

There was a cool tradition at my high school. Everyone took their rejection letters from colleges and taped them to the windows inside the library. When you walked by you’d see all the places other people hadn’t gotten into. I put up three of my own there. A few people put up fake ones as well, rejections form the Pokemon Academy or Hogwarts. I don’t go to high school anymore, but I can still post my rejection letter on a different rejection wall.

I had expected this email for awhile, but its still disappointing. Last year they’d replied by mid-January saying I’d get an interview even though their website had crashed and applications only got in on January 10th or so. This year applications got in by December 1st.

One of the professors I work with also knows the guy running the application show. She’d talked to him about my application and said it was in the “borderline” pile, meaning they’d choose me for an interview if someone else declined that part of the process.

As you can see in the letter, my academic work isn’t as good as the other applicants. I’ve got a 3.5 GPA and made Dean’s list a few times.

I used to be a peer adviser at my school, so I got to see the grades of other people applying to grad school in my field. There are people with better grades than me obviously, but not very many. I feel cheated that I didn’t get an interview this year when I got one last year.

My professor told me that there were twice as many applicants this year. There was already a record number last year. I imagine many of them are in the same boat as me, rejected last year and reapplying. With that happening I can understand why they’d set aside my application. The school does have limited funding for grad students. I don’t know what their quota is, but they do have one. I’m still sad that I didn’t make the cut.

My original plan was to reapply this year and next year as well when my new letters of rec have solid evidence of my research skills. I’ll just stick with that plan and go around the merry-go-round once again. If grad school doesn’t pan out then, there are always other options available.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

Marriage and Gender

I had an internship for my last two years of college. I worked in a biological research lab studying rice genetics. After I graduated I left the lab, hoping for newer and brighter things. Sadly, I did not get into grad school as I planned. My backup of finding a biotech job didn’t work out either. I started a new internship studying nematode genetics and was rehired back at my old job working with rice.

In the time since I’d left the people working in the lab had rotated somewhat. A few people had left and a few had joined. The core of the lab knew that I was married, but the new people did not. I ended up in the position of training a few of the new student hires, a man and a woman. The woman is studying to be a pharmacist. The man was originally a pre-med student. He even joined a pre-med focused fraternity. Then he took some plant biology classes and joined the rice lab. Now, he wants to be a plant biologist.

I was working with each of them separately today and the topic of my marriage came up. I am twenty-two years old, married to my high school sweetheart, and barely out of college. This throws a few people off. While after college marriages were common a few decades ago (and still are), many people see it as rushing into a relationship. I’m confident that I made the right choice. I’m also sure that there’s some person who’ll say, “Blah-blah percent of marriages of people under 30 end in under blah-blah years. What will you do if you get divorced?”

Honestly? I never prepared for divorce. It’s not something most people plan for when they get married. Why would you? Marriage is supposed to be forever and getting a pre-nup makes it seem like you don’t think it will last forever. If that’s the case then why get married? Our eight month anniversary is coming up on Valentine’s Day and I have a feeling that it’s gonna be great. Both of us are extremely happy to be with each other and we recognize that every day.

I mentioned my marriage to the pre-pharm student and she did not react in the typical ways (“You’re married?!” “What?” “Really?” etc.). She didn’t really react at all. She thought it was perfectly normal to get married right after college. So normal in fact that she didn’t even mention the timing of it.

When I mentioned my marriage to the plant bio student he said, “I was wondering what that ring on your finger was for.” He’d thought it might’ve been a wedding ring, but he wasn’t sure. Maybe when he saw the ring he thought, “That looks like it could be a wedding ring, but how could a guy that young be married?” He’d considered the possibility, but he wasn’t sure.

The thing that struck me most about these conversations was that the woman had thought it normal to be married after college and the man had not. It matched perfectly with traditional paths after college. Society pressures women to get married after college while men are pressured to advance their careers. In a few years, the man finds a younger woman just out of college and they get married. The pre-pharm student, being a woman, projected her own expectations onto me and reacted differently than others have in the past. The plant bio student reacted as other men have in the past to the news, with shock that I’d tie myself down so soon and not focus on my job.

Just a little slice of life that I liked.

-Mister Ed