Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Report Finally Finished

This morning I woke up at 8 AM got ready and then went to get a quick breakfast because I was going to be late to class. By the time I got down to the dining hall it was 8:30 AM. For breakfast I just had pastries and some coffee. I know, it's surprising that I'm drinking coffee but I only had 4 hours of sleep because I had to finish my lab report before the deadline at 3 PM. I didn't have that much left but still had to finish it and ended up finishing it by the end of class.

I got to class right on time and my class was walking to the classroom when I got there. In class we had to wait for the tech guy to come and bring our teacher another keyboard because someone took it from the classroom. That took only 10 minutes so even if I came late, I wouldn't have missed anything. One of my classmates, Jeng, came in late while we were waiting to get another keyboard and our professor made a joke about Jeng taking it and he was so confused on what she was talking about. He didn't get it until another classmate named Max told him that we were waiting on the keyboard to be brought to the class.

When we got to the lecture, Dr. Fineschi talked about activated and inactivated immune cells. I learned that active immune cells cause damage and that activation occurs when other surface receptors change with antigens. After the lecture we went to the lab and finished the HIV testing experiment. Then we had extra time left in class so we were let out early to go to lunch. While I waited for the dining hall to open at 11:30 AM I went to the fifth floor lounge to try and finish most of my report that I had left. Then I went down for lunch at 12 PM and ate meatloaf, fries, and mashed potatoes. I ate with Lila and then she went to go work more on her report because she had more work to do than me. After I finished I went to class and this time we started in the lab. In the second part of the lab we finished the recording of the results fr our enterotubes. We also left early since we finished early.

When I got back to the dorms I worked with two of my classmates with the next lab report that we had to do after I had finished doing citations for the other report. I only got to do half of the report but I have until Thursday to finish it so I have time to do it. At 6 PM I went to dinner and had fries, fruit, and chicken nuggets. I sat with Alexa and Oyin for the majority of the time and then Dani came to eat a little before we all left. I ended the night in my room and took a shower before I went to bed.

Working on my Personal Essay

Today in class we continued doing our open critics about each other personal stories. My class has very creative minds. Evan story was about species racing in the galaxy, Shannon story was about Russians and I really liked her story because she made the story more vivid with sensory details. I also liked that she use Russians words making it more descriptive.  Lisa story was about a teenager girl who is in love with her best friend that is a girl. Her best friends found about her crush on her, she rejected her, cusses her out. The girl also doesn't like her nationality, Chinese. Her parents have a restaurant; she hates the place and her parents.

I found out that doing revision on story is very hard because you have to pay close attention to the text and what is the meaning/purpose of the story. While doing a revision you have to ask yourself, what are his strengths, what are his weaknesses, what can make this story a better story, is the pacing of the story good, is he giving out too much or to little information to the reader, is he being descriptive enough, does the POV makes sense and etc… There’s a lot of question you need to ask to yourself while doing a revision.

Then Achy let us out to take a big break from revision because our minds were tired. I went to get lunch at the Dining Hall. After I was done eating, I went to my room to work on my opposite of me story because it was due today at four in the afternoon.  I was almost done, but I needed to go to class already. When I got to class we started doing the three of the story that we had left to revise.  We were all completely tired. The critics didn't go as good as in the morning, I think we all tired and forgot about the stories that we didn't have any opinions to give. When we were done with the rest of the stories, Achy gave us the following work that we have for the rest of the week. First, is for the people who had their stories workshop today have 24 hours to turn it in. The reviewers need to write a summary about the story that they had to review. Pick a three minutes reading to present on Thursday. Write about what your grade should be for the class. We also did the evaluation on the class online, if you don’t do that you won’t be able to see your grade until September 23.

After that I came to my room to finish working on my opposite story. When I was done with the story, I emailed it to Achy. Then, I started working on my personal story. I did a strategy that worked for me. It was that I copy and paste two paragraphs from the story and focus on those two paragraphs first, that’s how I kept working on my story.

I needed to go meet up with Pamela at the International House. We talked about my day in class and how I felt being the center of attention for the critics. I really liked it, I mean is not that bad I appreciate everyone who gave me a comment about my story because is my last week and I want to make this story the best as possible as I could. She also went through the sentences assignment that she left me last night. I was impressed that I didn't have a lot of errors, only three of them. That made me feel comfortable about myself that I am soaking everything that she had taught me. I only need to keep on practicing every day to get use to the past tense verbs, regular and irregular.  Pamela also gave me a sheets of papers that would help me developed my vocabulary. That was one of the first thing I asked from her. Today I didn't have a lot of time to work on it, but if I do have the chance tomorrow I will.

I went to dinner at the Dining Hall where I saw Alexa, Oyin, and Vicky. Alexa, Vicky and I were talking about that we only have three more day and we go back home. Oyin asked if we were going to see each other again when we back home. Joking around, I told her that I had enough of her these past four weeks. But, she knew that I was just playing around with her. I didn't have a lot of time to hang around with them because I needed to keep working on personal story. 

I stayed in my room the whole time, until I was done with my personal essay and went to sleep.

Final Presentation Preparation

Today was just like every other day here at at UChicago, I woke up, got breakfast and then I went to class. We discussed annual reports that companies disclose yearly. We compared them to sustainability reports and we found that annual reports are mainly for anybody who is looking to invest in a company while the sustainability report is for the stakeholders. Diving into our further knowledge of sustainability reports, we were introduced to another form today. An Integrated Report, <IR>, communicates how an organization’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects lead to the creation of value over the short, medium and long term. In other words, Integrated Reporting attempts to show the connection between a company's annual report, and its sustainability report.

Before we went for lunch, my professor gave us a assignment that I thought was very enjoyable. She divided us into groups and we were each given a million dollars to invest in any green company that we want. With our new knowledge on annual reports and stocks, we were to decide on which company we wanted, and we were to report back and share the stock price and how many shares we would invest in. I chose to invest in Ormat Technologies, which is the world leader in the geothermal power plant sector, and in Enel Green Power, which is a jack of all trades renewable energy company because they provide solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal energy.

My professor, Aleen, gave us a lot of time to do this assignment but she didn't anticipate that we would finish early and we did so we got to have an extra long lunch today. When we came back from lunch, we reported back on the companies that we wanted to invest in and we moved on to the afternoon lecture. Aleen introduced CERES, SASB, and ISO. These groups either provide a framework for sustainability reporting or they advocate for sustainability leadership. The point of all of this is that there are so many different sustainability reports available that cover a wide spectrum of topics, that it is hard for some companies to choose which standard to report by. 

After our afternoon lecture, as a final group assignment, we were split up again and each group had a different task that they had to accomplish. My group had to think of a new sustainable beef standard and we were to draft an email and send it to the women from McDonalds who came to talk to us yesterday. We discovered that McDonalds already goes by a beef sustainability standard which was very sound to us. We decided that we would add some suggestions to those standards. When we were done drafting the letter, we shared it with the class and sent it to the two women.

We ended class by going over our company comparison assignment. We are to pick two companies and do research on them and compare their sustainability and triple bottom line practices. I originally wanted to choose Google and Yahoo but both companies don't have a tangible product which would have given me difficulty. I changed my topic to Amazon and eBay. When class was over, I went to my dorm room to take a nap before dinner. I woke up and I ate dinner with a few friends and then I spent the rest of my night working on the comparison. 

Neural Development and Mental Illness

Today was like Monday to me, since I did not have class yesterday. I was unsure of what today's class was going to be on, but Cassie told us as we all arrived that today would be spent doing a lecture on neural development, and then for the second half of the day, we would work some more on our results and discussion. Before we started our lecture though, we went over our second quiz of the course. I did better on this one than on the first quiz. I got an A, so that's good, but there is still one more quiz to study for. Since there are only three more days of class and on Friday we will be celebrating our last day and presenting our projects. That means that the quiz is either tomorrow or Thursday. Cassie said that the class improved as a whole which is good. She offered a fourth quiz so that each quiz would be worth less, but I chose to stick with just the three quizzes.

After going over the quiz, we began our lecture on neural development. It was different from most lectures because it was more about biology and scientific. Usually we learn more about theories and ideas, not concrete facts. We went over the neuron, dendrites, axons, and other details. What always surprises me when I hear it, even though I have heard it numerous times is the fact that a neuron, a single cell, can go down a portion of the length of your spine. She said that when she studied giant squids, they had neurons the length of a table going down their tentacles. It is strange to think about because when one usually thinks of cells, they think of the smallest building block of life, something completely unseen by the naked eye.

 Then we learned about white matter, or glia. Glia makes up the myelin sheath. This is what covers the axon and allows for electrical signals to be sent much quicker. When something goes wrong with the myelin sheath, serious problems will result. For example, multiple sclerosis, or MS, occurs when the myelin sheath is attacked by the immune system. Usually the cells that attack the myelin sheath do not even enter the brain, but when something goes wrong and they do, the myelin sheath can be attacked. Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder, have also been found to have connections with what is happening to the myelin sheath.  

We also learned about a device called the TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Basically what this device does is it sends strong magnetic waves into someone’s brain, and messes with the electrical connections happening in the brain. We saw a short clip of someone with a TMS on a certain part of their brain, and all of a sudden not being able to pronounce anything. They knew what they were trying to say, but it was very difficult to understand them. As soon as the TMS was taken away, they were able to speak normally again. There was a case where the TMS was used as a therapy for severe depression as a last resort. The people that used the TMS had already gone to therapists and taken medications, which all did not work. After multiple weeks of this TMS therapy, about one third of the people getting the therapy showed big signs of improvement. While we discussed this in class, many, including myself, were worried about how safe the TMS is. Could this have any dangerous side effects? It is temporarily changing the electricity in your brain, so could this have long term changes too? There is no concrete evidence, but Cassie said that in the depression case, the benefits were probably worth more than unknown consequences. She did say earlier though, that if she were given the chance to participate in a study involving the TMS she would decline because of not knowing what the side effects could be. 

 We went over the different lobes of the brain, synaptogenesis, neurogenesis, synaptic pruning, and myelination. It was a lot of vocabulary and I have a feeling that this material will be on the next quiz. After a dense lecture, we broke for lunch at about 11:30, giving us a little extra time if we were to be back at one o’clock. 

 I was getting a little tired of the dining hall food, so I went to a small café in the basement of the theology building. It was called Grounds of Being. What is cool about this café is that they have lunch options for not too expensive from all of the nearby restaurants. The first time I went there I got yellow curry. Today I god a roasted eggplant sandwich and a lavender flavored sparkling water. After I ate and read for about an hour, I went back to my class, which was only about a five minute walk.

 I got there early so I just started working on my results and discussion, which is what we were going to do for the rest of class anyway. Writing the discussion part was definitely a challenge because everything you write you have to be able to back up with your data. I couldn’t even make the simplest assumptions about the participants emotions, without my discussion becoming too opinion based. I got through it, and before I knew it, it was three o’clock and we were free to return to the dorms.

When I went back to the dorms, I worked some more on my results and discussions before turning them in for Cassie’s revisions. By that time it was about six, and I went to dinner with Oyin, where we saw Victoria and Jimmy. Later Dani stopped by too, but she was in a rush because she had a project to complete. After dinner, I went back to my room so I could start on my reading for tomorrow’s class.

The reading was an article from the New York Times called the Americanization of Mental Illness. This was the first reading in the class that I could stay very engaged in, and I think it is because although it dealt with the subject of psychology, it was not using psych terms that I did not understand and it was written for a more general population. It discussed how before globalization, different cultures over different time periods used to have different mental ailments. It describes how mental illness all over the world has become westernized and how now it is thought of as diseases and illnesses in biological terms rather than spiritual problems. An interesting story it told was about how in Hong Kong, anorexia was described by some girls who had it as they did not eat and they felt their stomachs were always bloated. There was almost never anything said about the fear of being fat, which more how anorexia is thought of in western cultures.  After a girl died from anorexia and the media got to it, they took the western definition of anorexia, and so because of the exposure, the definition shifted, and a doctor reported seeing more cases of anorexia, and more often a phobia of being fat being described. It was very interesting to read about how different cultures looked at mental illnesses, and how that is changing now because of Americanization and globalization.