Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Two Equals One?

I feel well rested again. Sleeping at 11:30 PM last night and waking up at 7:30 AM today gave me eight hours of much needed rejuvenating sleep. After showering and eating a banana, I headed for class with Emily. We saw our professor walking across the street from us and quickened our pace to beat him to class. In class, we divided into groups for our group projects and picked topics. I’m in a group with Emily, Ellen, Thomas, and Johnny, and our topic is BRIC economies. BRIC stands for Brazil, Russia, India, and China, and this group of countries has rapidly developing economies that will be interesting to research.

During lecture, we covered chapter 3 in our book, which consists of the supply and demand curves and the competitive market. Mr. Coleman also talked about consumer and producer surplus and Arthur Laffer’s curve, which assumes that after a certain tax rate, government tax revenue will decrease. On a side note, Mr. Coleman showed us a proof for the ridiculous notion that 2 = 1. The equation looked right, but the only problem was that it called for dividing both sides by 0, an impossible feat. So in the end, while the concept was interesting, 2 does not equal 1. I snapped a couple of pictures in class with the permission of our teacher.

After our usual lunch after class, my macroeconomics friends Kimberly, Emily, and Rachelle and I went to Rockefeller Library to work on our homework. The chapter assessment questions our teacher assigned were long and required a lot of critical thinking. I applied what I learned about supply and demand to effectively graph the hypothetical questions I faced. After three productive hours, I finished my assignment due tomorrow and began to work on a worksheet due Friday. Grace, a student taking Themes from Existentialism, came later and joined our study table. Her class discusses the “meaning of life” so she brought up questions presented by her teacher. This actually led to profound, intellectual conversations about love, freedom, abortion, and stem cells. Our discussions were thought-provoking but at the same time, hilarious. I had so much fun during our study session. Before we left the library, we all added each other on Facebook!Rachelle and I went to dinner at around 6 PM. There, I met up with Erinn and Huiyang, a friend from China. Fadeka and Susan, two of my floormates, also sat down at our table. Our RAs were holding a “girls night in” at 7 PM for the Marcy House so Erinn, Fadeka, Susan, and I finished our dinners and found our way to Caswell Hall, where our event was held. Many girls were there, and we had the option of drinking root beer float, eating popcorn and cookies, watching Jeopardy, and painting nails. I personally love Jeopardy so I sat on the couch sipping my root beer float with a bunch of other girls trying to answer the esoteric questions. After Jeopardy was over, we started watching What Happens in Vegas. I would love to have stayed, but I rushed back to my dorm to video chat with my parents because my mom and brother are leaving for China tomorrow.

At 9 PM, Erinn and I walked over to Salomon Hall for the showing of Freakonomics, a documentary adaptation of the mega-hit book Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. I was already planning on buying the book before I came here and watching the film makes me even more eager to read the book. For those who haven’t read the book or seen the documentary yet, I won’t spoil it for you, although there isn’t much to spoil. I highly recommend Freakonomics if you’re interested in explanations or experiments for random but very interesting topics, ranging from baby names to cheating in sumo wrestling to incentives for high school freshmen to succeed.The weather took a turn today. It has rained all day, but unlike Bay Area rain, the air is still warm, although cooler than it has been the past few days. Fortunately, I listened to Don and brought an umbrella.

Unfortunately, I left my umbrella in my dorm when going to watch Freakonomics, and right after the documentary ended, it was pouring outside. Erinn and I literally sprinted back to our dorms in the rain, splashing in deep puddles that drenched our shoes and socks. I was soaking from head to toe by the time we finally made it inside. Note to self: bring an umbrella at the slightest chance of rain.

I look forward to tomorrow as always!

Rain Rain Go Away

It’s been three months—no it’s only been three days. My entire perception of time has been distorted. Usually when school is in I am able to remember the date, the time, but at Brown my class has such small influence on my day it is a completely separate from the rest of my day. Instead of worrying about what will be covered in the next lecture or lab, I am thinking of ways to occupy my time until I sleep. It may be the irregularity of the day, so I know that in college I must organize my classes in a way that flows with the rest of the day.

In class today, Professor Hall first discussed the results and errors of the lab from yesterday. She did not tell us the information about the lab beforehand because her teaching methods involves completing the assignment and then answering questions and problems when the student cares about what he is doing. I think her teaching method reflects the attention spans of students, but I would have liked to know what to do during the lab so I would not be confused.

In preparation for our lab tomorrow, Professor Hall explained the significance and purpose of enzymes—both endonuclease (on the inside of the DNA) and exonuclease (on the outside of DNA)—in bacteria and electrophoresis. Electrophoresis is an analysis of the lengths of DNA strands after the strands are cut by enzymes. She also gave out an assignment that required groups of four students to interpret a graph in a scientific journal. I think my group had the hardest graph to interpret; it had two strands at points named lox1 and lox2 and had the abbreviation of dem/3 and rem/3.1. It took a while, but my group figured out it proved that the pluripotent cell (cells that can differentiate, similar to stem cells) could survive after removing methyl levels and then restore methyl levels after a RNA strand was removed. What I just said was difficult to understand, I understand, but this is the type of work we do during lectures—at least in a nutshell.

I was warned by some of the participants who went last year that I would seek every opportunity to find air conditioning. So far I am trying to avoid it. The weather is not the scorching heat that I was warned about. I try to find the elements that tell me summer, but I find clouds that stretch across the sky. The humidity is still present, but the rain combined with the blowing of cool airs sends chills down my spine. I like this kind of rain. It is warm enough where I don’t need an umbrella, which was convenient since I did not bring an umbrella with me when it started to rain, and it was light enough that I didn’t hear water squish through my shoes. What did surprise me is that when I walked along Thayer Street water nearly flooded the street.

I was looking forward to sitting on the communal green and explore some of the scenic features around the center of Brown. Instead I settled with studying in my room and the Science Library, and trying to find some activities I thought I might be interested in. During dinner, one of my friends said there was an event held by my housing cluster, so the curiosity and rumor of food got to me, and I investigated further. I was contemplating whether or not I should go, but the lure of root beer floats was too strong.

The event was a “Girls’ Night In.” At first I was expecting something really girly: a teen show, which was considered, a chick flick and gossip. Yet the group passed over Teen Wolf and chose Jeopardy, and talked mostly about what happened today in class. Coincidentally “Jeopardy” had a section about college and —guess what—it mentioned Brown; the entire group screamed, “What is Brown?” and I laughed. After Jeopardy was over, there was essence of a “Girls’ Night In” in the choice of What happens in Vegas; I left shortly after the movie began—I had to get ready to go to Freakonomics.

Freakonomics was a great movie. It discussed financial corruption, incentives, housing market, the consequences of a name a baby has and interesting anecdotes pertaining to the subject being discussed. At one point in the movie I reflected that being an economist is like being a scientist but focused on social interactions, and I thought I would enjoy doing those types of studies. Then I changed my opinion again because I prefer working with animals; humans have too many flaws and I have seen enough of the worst of human nature to last a lifetime. I think I would prefer a friend that studies economics, and then he could tell me all of these amazing discoveries. I would take an economics class in college just to try it out because researching is my passion, but I need to find the right subject to study.

As I mentioned the weather was gloomy and I experienced the worst of the day after the movie. It was raining so hard that there was a flood on George Street, and even after running to my dorm, I was entirely soaked. Despite the rain, the sky had a beautiful orange glow that made the rain bearable. Tomorrow I will bring my umbrella even if it does not seem to rain—I do not want a repeat of tonight.

Wednesday at Brown

Thanks to Andrew, I made sure to bring an umbrella for the first rainy day at Brown. Well prepared, we made our trip to the dining hall. We ate breakfast with our friends, and made sure to get our fill before class. At class, we listened to Ms. Hall's lecture on electrophoresis and prepared for our laboratory on the 23rd.

Class went smoothly, and we all learned a lot about complicated topics that left our brains puzzled. By the time class ended, the rain had picked up and was heavily falling upon us. Luckily, the Bio-med building, where we take our class, is located just across the street from the dining hall. We arrived at the dining hall for lunch around 12:15 PM (our class always runs a little over-time). It was crowded because of the rain, more people stayed inside to chat.

After lunch, I went to my dorm to relax and get away from the rain. After an hour, I went to the science library to study with my friends Justin and Jason. I tried deciphering the homework using a computer to look up the technical terms in my homework. I was relatively successful and a good night's rest will let the information sink in.

Later on, I ate dinner with Andrew. We did our laundry and I engaged my artistic outlet by drawing a poster. In my opinion, the cold weather was much nicer. After we finished sorting our freshly cleaned clothing, we went to watch Freakonomics. Our AP Language teacher had shown it to us before, and I wanted to watch the documentary again. The night ended with many students running through the rain to their dorms.

Where is Thy Spoon?

Today started off rough, because of the rain and gloomy weather. It made my bed feel oh so comfortable, and irresistible to leave. I got up promptly anyways and began my usual pattern here at Brown. Today was the first complete day of the new game we are playing in our dorm rooms: “You got served.” The contents of my mission is to not be released, but because of the prestige of the blog I will spill some information, but not all. Basically for defense you have to carry a plastic utensil in order to defend yourself from an ambiguous person who is trying to catch you off guard without your utensil. It is a little difficult to understand, especially given that information, but the game is quite fun.

Class today was exceptional because we got to arrange ourselves in groups of three or four and decide upon our actual topics. My group chose the budget deficit in California. At lunch our group met to see as to how we were going to “attack this research project.” We decide to show the degree of the problem, who it is affecting, and finally the plan we would enact in order to solve the problem. I feel that our method of approaching this is solid, so I really look forward to completing the project.

After the discussion at lunch I headed back to my room to complete my homework. Though it was a little tedious it felt good putting in hard work on something that really interests me. In my down time I tried to catch up on some rest, but this only worked to a certain extent because hunger had struck again. So Frank and I headed down to the dining hall to eat dinner.

After dinner we went to do some laundry. If I don’t say so myself we were well versed and skilled in the art of washing and drying clothes. But during the time when the clothes were washing Frank took advantage of the activity planned in the wash room. There were poster board decorations and things of that nature. I learned today that Frank is quite the artist, it did surprise me.

After laundry we went to watch the movie/documentary Freakonomics. I had previously seen this film in AP Language and Composition, but even seeing it a second time was great. Because I was so tired, I left the movie early and headed back to my dorm to get some sleep.

Here Comes the Sun

My roommate told me that it was supposed to rain today. I brought my umbrella along with me doubting this, but I didn’t mind the extra weight in my bag.

I walked to class with Andrew after a light breakfast at V-Dub. I have yet to try the homemade waffles. Class started off rolling today. We assigned our official groups for our projects. Andrew, Jose, and I are researching the budget deficit in California. Andrew and I are being true California ambassadors. Jose is from New Jersey, but he is okay with researching whatever we picked.

Today, Professor Coleman discussed competitive markets and we started graphing supply and demand situations. I am really starting to enjoy this class because the information we are absorbing is finally starting to click into comprehension. We also talked about complements and substitutes and my professor brought up my favorite quote of the day:

“We’re not arguing about Coke and Pepsi. Which are different... apparently.”

Supply and demand are actually very complicated. We discussed how much of a good or service would be supplied at different prices. We graphed supply and demand on a graph. When the lines intersect, that is known as equilibrium. Equilibrium in a competitive market (not the equilibrium in my previous blog) is when the quantity of a supplied and demanded good is equal.

We took a survey in class to see how much people would pay for an iPad. A Russian student started us off at $1000. I voted for $400. Since the actual price of an iPad is $500 that would be the equilibrium price. Anything between $500 and $1000 would be a consumer surplus. Basically, the Russian guy that would buy an iPad for $1000 but only paid $500 would in theory get $500 in surplus. Get it? It took a while for me to understand that, but it was actually quite simple.

Macroeconomics is a really fast paced. We’re taking a 9-week course in a 3-week period. The work is rigorous. I’m about to head over to Andrew’s dorm to work up on the group project.

I met a lot of design students at V-Dub for lunch and they’re going to teach me some of the stuff they are working on. They showed me all their ideas for business cards (which was their homework). When I got out of V-Dub, it was raining. Scratch that, it was pouring. I had an umbrella but I still managed to get soaked to my socks. I am blogging in my pajamas right now while my shoes are drying out by my window. The rain has let up, so I’m headed to the Bronson Dorm to meet with Andrew and Jose.

“Freakonomics” is playing at Salomon Hall tonight. I can’t wait to understand all the economics lingo in the documentary. I also signed up for a tour at the Rhode Island School of Design which is Friday. Until then, stay dry.

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