Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spaghetti Limbs

It has been two weeks since I left California to come to the East Coast. I feel like I’ve been in Providence for two years. Every new day is full of opportunity and adventure. Back home, I have already experienced a lot that Pinole has to offer. Providence and Brown University is ever-changing with activities and culture. I am embracing it all with an open mind. Brown is beautiful.

In class today, we turned in our homework and broke into groups to work on final projects. My group (with Jose and Andrew) came up with the issue, “The California budget deficit can be eliminated by decreasing spending.” We still need to research and take a side, but we split up the workload so that we all have equal amounts of work. I am in charge of presenting the background information about the budget deficit as well as creating a handout for the class to follow along with.

After Professor Coleman’s two hour lecture on unemployment, John the TA took over the class and reviewed homework. I wish that I could have my homework in front of me as we rocketed through graphs and logical definitions. It was hard to remember all of the specific problems that we were going over. I tried my best to keep up in my book while John’s speedily went through about twenty homework questions. Class ended at an early 11:15AM, so I had time to nap after a quick waffle brunch.

College life has a lot to offer. In addition to the academics here at Brown, there are also a lot of extra activities. Erinn and Kathleen had been raving about this full body workout program in Sayles Hall. I met up with them with Steph and we all endured an hour of strenuous exercise. Our instructor, Anthony, had warned us that the workout would burn. I have a feeling I will know what he meant in the morning. My arms and legs feel like jelly right now.

Our macroeconomics class met up again at 7:00PM to watch “Blood Diamond”. Unfortunately, there were technical difficulties and we were unable to finish the movie. Perhaps we will finish it up during the week.

During my stay at Brown, I have kept a healthy balance of work and play. It is very important to get all the homework done before going off to play Frisbee in the main green. There are a lot of resources to take advantage of at Brown when it comes to studying. There are several libraries on campus along with various study halls and empty classrooms. There is always somewhere to go.

I am learning how to manage my time while also getting enough sleep. I compensate my late nights with afternoon naps once in a while. Of course, there are some people on my floor that do not get enough sleep. For example, my floor mate Steph is very asleep on my bed as I type. I will have to wake her up soon to reclaim my territory. I have learned the ropes at Brown University, and for the remainder of my stay I plan to use them to keep my balance.

Yin and Yang

It was another hot day on the east coast. In class today, we did more lab work. I followed the procedure, and did very well exercising sterile technique. It was new to me, since we never sterilized equipment in labs at Pinole Valley. Performing lab has become more familiar to me. The class is extremely lab-heavy, lecture-light.

Tomorrow, we're preparing to extract blood in the morning. I'm excited, because I've never had blood extracted before. We're going to use the blood to extract our own DNA. Tomorrow, I'm going to drink plenty of liquids so that my blood is extracted easier.

I don't want to leave Brown anytime soon, it is a lot of fun here.

Movie Night—Or Not

We divided into groups last week in our macroeconomics class, but we decided on topics for our group projects today. My group consists of me, Emily, Ellen, Johnny, and Thomas. After much deliberation, we narrowed our pick from BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries to just China, allowing us to examine one country’s economic growth in more depth than we would have with four countries. China’s economic development is also very relevant to our current society. Our topic statement was “Globalization is the driving force in China’s economic growth”, but we have yet to take a side. We are presenting on Wednesday so we have a little more than one week to complete a quality PowerPoint and presentation. I’m confident our group can accomplish this.

We covered chapter 8, which was on the different types of unemployment including frictional, structural, and cyclical, and reviewed the homework due today. Unemployment is a concern because without jobs, people don’t have the income to consume, leading businesses to fail and lay off workers, which increases unemployment and leads to a downward economic spiral. After two hours of lecture, our TA, John, came in and reviewed homework problems for the remaining hour. This assignment was slightly more difficult than the first and required more thought put into each question. John clarified our uncertainty and helped me better understand the material.

We were supposed to have a movie night tonight to make up for the class we will miss next Monday due to the Fourth of July. Instead, we had a brief night with half an hour of Blood Diamond before the screen retracted and the DVD stopped playing. John tried to fix it with no luck so we had to postpone the movie. This was terribly unfortunate because the movie stopped at a cliff hanger, leaving me at the edge of my seat. I guess I will have to wait for another day to finish the intense movie. Hopefully we will resume watching it tomorrow.


Yesterday we created recombinant DNA by cutting two plasmids with two enzymes, which was used in today's lab. After a time of incubation in both cold and hot water, we tested our DNA in an electrophoresis gel to determine whether our DNA was completely digested. The results of my gel said that one of the plasmids was not completely digested, but with the DNA incubated during the time of the gel analysis, I assume that it was enough time to have complete digestion. Then I added some DNA ligase to bond the cut plasmid together, which was the recombinant DNA that we were working with today.

We also prepared a culture of E. coli cells. It was not a long process to prepare, but it took a long time to get the cells to the ideal culture density. After getting the ideal density, we had several treatments of CaCl and then incubation to prepare the cells for transformation—this preparation increases the efficiency of the transformation ten-fold because it neutralizes the negative membrane. With the incubation the DNA is facilitated into the cell.

In the continuation of our lab from the previous day, we transformed some cells with our generated recombinant DNA. It was a long process with a lot of waiting. I am concerned if the cells will have grown by tomorrow because I would have to start the lab over, which is the equivalent of one day plus whatever we would be doing the day I reconstruct my culture.

Later in the week, we will get to see the results of our transformation and test whether or not our transformation was successful. We will test the cultures by pipetting antibiotics into the cultures. The plasmid encoded for antibiotic resistance, so to be successful the transformed cells should survive in an environment with antibiotics. Before we test our cultures, we will be analyzing our own blood samples.

Movie with the Professor

Today I was woken up prematurely by the gleaming sun right in my eyes. But this was quite alright because I was ready to begin my day. The majority of class today was spent by discussing things such as inflation, minimum wage, and unemployment. One thing that I learned today that I thought I already knew was the definition of unemployment. In the United States unemployment is defined as those who are actively searching for a job, but do not have one. Hence everyone who is just not working is not calculated into the unemployment rate. I also learned today that as prices become more inflated, minimum wage increases because the money needed to live a semi comfortable lifestyle is greater with inflation. I am learning so much more each day in this class.
As I stated in my previous blog I was not too clear in the difference between nominal GDP and real GDP. But today I uncovered the difference, Nominal GDP is the total GDP without regards to inflation, whereas real GDP factors in inflation and hence is a more accurate and comprehensive calculation.
Also today I was able to clear my mind by going to the athletic facilities that Brown has to offer. The sporting complex was amazing, and it was quite fascinating to see all that they had to offer. It felt good to acquire some physical exercise after so many hours dedicated to strengthening my mind. I had never been in a gym with so many athletic, yet brilliant people at the same time. It was quite an experience that I think you could only acquire in a college setting.
Tonight all of the macroeconomics students will watch a movie pertaining to economics with our professor. It should be interesting to interact with the professor for the first time outside of the class room setting. I am truly pleased with the student to professor interactions at Brown. Many of the RA’s and Brown alums mentioned that predominantly all of the professors at Brown love to talk and just hang out with the students. They build great relationships to the point that some professors have sign-up sheets for students to babysit their kids, or just stop by their house for dinner. As a perspective student this really is enticing to me.
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