مرحبا عليكم!

I study languages.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Every day I can feel entropy tugging behind my skin, separating the outermost cells and sacrificing them to the universe in contribution to my continual offering, the tribute that keeps me alive. The environment harvests heat from my chemical reactions, and in return, I keep my consciousness, my ability to speak and think and act. I give more to the universe than I take and organize within my body, so it lets me live. And the moment those weighted scales fall out of balance--when for once I sequester more than I produce--the indomitable force will eat me alive. I will decay; pieces of me will disseminate to feed its insatiable lust for disorder. This is death; entropy dissolves anyone who can't pay tribute. As long as it destroys more than you create, it's satisfied, but don't try and come off conqueror, because there's more of it than there is of you.

And ΔS(universe) must always be positive.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I genuinely enjoy teaching.

People always thank me profusely for holding the bio test reviews I'm becoming known for, but I'm surprised to find that it's really no trouble--I honestly love doing it. I have so much fun explaining the things I love to a group, expanding on the concepts I most enjoy and including interesting applications and theories. I love answering questions and trying to respect everyone's opinions while making sure everyone knows what they need to know to pass the test. It's fun to try and combine the best things about my educational experience into a lecture that will benefit everyone--I make sure to warn people before elaborating on something that isn't going to be on the test, I base my lecture on questions that will involve my audience, I create hypothetical situations so everyone can speculate about what might happen given some interesting conditions, and I answer practice test/homework questions didactically, not just to give people the right answer.

Needless to say, I have fun.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Here's what I have so far for next semester:

Neuro 205 (neurobiology)
PDBio 220 (anatomy with cadaver lab)
PDBio 494R (mentored laboratory research)
Chem 106 (second semester inorganic chem)
Chem 107 (inorganic chem lab)
Rel A 122H (honors Book of Mormon, second semester)
Honrs 292R (honors lecture seminar)
Dance 180 (social dance...hey, it's PE credit!)

I'm most excited to take neurobiology and anatomy and to continue my research.
I'm most scared for the religion and dance classes (go figure).
I'm indifferent about continuing inorganic chem.


Wow, I suck at posting lately.
That said, let me move on to CHRIS MARTIN!!!

Yes, be jealous--I had floor seats to Coldplay in concert, and it was quite possibly the most phenomenal two hours of my life. I have seen a good number of live shows, but let me just tell you that Chris Martin alone blew them ALL out of the water. He was all over the place--grinning, running, jumping, spinning, and dancing with seemingly limitless energy, his smooth, mature voice sliding up and down his impossibly wide vocal range. The control he has over that voice is indescribable--it alone can plunge you into a mood spectrum ranging from relaxed (Fix You) to rocking (Politik) to nostalgic (Yellow), laid back (Strawberry Swing), colorful (Lovers in Japan), classic (Clocks), intense (Death and All His Friends), quiet (a slow, solo piano version of The Hardest Part), whimsical (a unique version of The Scientist with Martin on a harmonica), awesome (Lost?), sweeping (Speed of Sound) loving (Violet Hill), and magical (Viva la Vida, the show's crown jewel). The show opened with Violet Hill and closed with a rock-ish, upbeat encore adaptation of Yellow. Needless to say, I was on my feet screaming the ENTIRE time. The lights were shining bright colors onto descending, beach-ball sized sky props, and there was second-by-second video editing flashing live images of the band across the background screen in dramatic black and white. Chris Martin honestly gave it everything he had; seeing him live, it is wonderfully obvious that he puts his entire heart and soul into his music and the shows he plays. I mean, Coldplay is the number-one band in the world right now, and to see that Martin puts that level of effort into every single show is deliciously unbelievable. His accent was fun to listen to as he talked and joked with the audience, making up lines that involved our city ("Salt Lake City, won't you let me know?"). At one point (The Scientist), the band ran up into the far reaches of the audience, grabbing guitars and harmonicas to play from a different perspective. For his solo performance of The Hardest Part, Chris Martin pushed a piano into a sidebar that extended into the audience about five rows from where I sat. It was AMAZING--he literally played so close to me I could see the sweat on his face as he poured his soul into the soft, lilting piano version of the song. It was beautiful--I nearly cried. And during Lovers In Japan, crepe paper, neon and Mylar butterflies were poured into the audience from the rafters, filling the arena with pieces of glittering, vibrant color. Martin really got into the newest album's title track, Viva la Vida--he crooned the last few notes from flat on his back after skipping spastically all over the stage. I still can't believe I saw him live.
Chris Martin!

The concert was worth the $110 ticket a million times over. I only wish I'd bought more than one commemorative t-shirt--this'll live in my memory for a LONG time.
Viva La Vida world tour = ultimate win!!

Monday, November 17, 2008


This morning, I sat on the front row of my calculus lecture and just cried.
It was interesting; I wonder if my teacher noticed. I couldn't pinpoint what was wrong; it was just one of those mornings when bad things seem to culminate and run together like wet watercolor paint, dripping into a brown-grey smudge and ruining the picture. It felt strange copying down definite integrals through the large, warm teardrops that streamed freely from my eyes, but what else could I do?

∫(12,13)jessica dx = overactivetearducts + c

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stress equation.

I pull up this page at least once a day and stare blankly at the screen, searching my mind for something to write. I've figured out that my writing-creativity is inversely proportional to the time I spend doing math and science, which makes me sad.

W = k/S

where W is "creative writing ideas (in observations/day)," S is "time spent doing science (in hrs/day)" and k is a constant of proportionality that represents the derivative of the equation for my stress level at the midpoint of the interval of how many hours of sleep I get (currently d/dx (y= ln(x)) evaluated at (7-3)/2 ==> 2/5). Today, though, it's tricky; W is undefined (S=0) because it's Sunday. Ha.

Monday, November 10, 2008


By popular request, I held a well-attended test review session for my biology class last night, where I talked through everything from chi-square tests for Mendelian ratios to population ecology and the finer points of meiotic cell division. I had a good number of people sitting before me on the basement floor as I scribbled all over our white board, defining terms, elaborating on concepts and providing relevant examples as requested. These days, I genuinely like to teach. It's a way to feel important, to feel necessary and even impressive. Since coming to college, I don't get much recognition anymore--in huge lecture classes, I have no chance to actively expand the things I know in front of a teacher or group of students, which is the way I learn best. Being a math tutor over the summer really fine-tuned my teaching techniques, I guess; before then, I felt like I couldn't adequately explain anything. Now, I don't get frustrated when people can't understand--it's a fun and interesting challenge to present material in different ways, and I honestly enjoy explaining the things I love to people who care to listen.

*Self esteem 1up*

I got some nice compliments from my biology teacher today. I went after class to ask whether he needed a TA for next semester, but he isn't teaching the bio class I'm in again until next fall. :-( "I'd take you as a TA in a heartbeat, though," he told me, grinning. "Can you wait around till next fall?"
He also said I would be a good Genetics TA after I'd taken the class (PWSci 340). We got into an interesting conversation about learning styles and educational philosophy, and I told him some of my ideas for utilizing Fridays in our class (currently, the TA does a superficial review and we get out early, but if I were the TA, I'd prepare an actual lesson based on an interesting, real-life example and use that as means for review while teaching new concepts and applications at the same time). He seemed to like my ideas, and asked me a little about myself, my major and my life plans. Upon hearing my current/future schedule, he asked if he could give me some advice. "You are bright enough to blow through BYU in three years," he said, "but don't do it. Take your time. Have some fun. Meet some people." Basically, this is what my parents have been saying to me for the past three months. People keep telling me this--I should probably listen, but it's hard for me because I see the world through such clear-cut lenses: I know exactly what I want (medical school), and I know exactly how to get it (kill myself with three straight years of perfect classwork, service learning, mentored research, heavy scheduling, etc.). It's that simple for me. I see my goal, and I see a clear path to reach my goal. It would tear me to pieces not to step on every last cobblestone I've ordered so perfectly to provide me with the most efficient path from Point A to Point B.

Hopefully, though, my biology teacher will prove right: "You're bright enough to do anything you want to do, Jessica. Just make sure to have a little fun in the process."

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Generally, I like BYU.
This past week, though, we had an evolution unit in my bio class, and I was reminded why I didn't want to be here. The teacher prefaced the 'discussion' with a lengthy disclaimer about reconciling science and religion, and then opened it up to the class. It's not that I mind discussing evolution--on the contrary, I think it's interesting and definitely worth explaining. Much to my dismay, our conversation quickly swung from fascinating areas of structural homology to controversial religious hearsay, and I was sad to hear my colleagues ask questions like "What do we think about this?"

I mean, what a question.
Listen to yourselves.
What do we think??
Wake up, sheeple!

Look. I am religious. Very religious, by some standards. However, I cannot emphasize this enough--no one is telling me what to think. And no one should. Religion is the result of a conscious personal choice. "We" don't think anything. My religion is not based on people telling other people what to do. If you take part in my religion, you understand that each person thinks for themselves, and you can take the alignment of our thinking on some issues as a sign that God really does reveal truth. Okay? Whatever you do, don't ask someone else what you should think. Ever. (insert Gob Bluth: COME on.)

In other news, I got my third perfect score (on a bio exam I barely even looked over material for). :-) I have another calculus test and a Book of Mormon test coming up this week, and I am not excited. I'm sick of tests. I've learned that in college, you really do have to do well on every single test. There is no room for failure or even mediocrity. This does horrible things to my nerves, no matter how prepared I am.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I didn't expect college to do this to me.

Sifting through the old files on my computer tonight, I realized that I miss the intellectual stretches I performed so often in high school. I read over specific poem explications, in-depth historical criticisms and intense literary analyses, and I marvel at my words. Did I write that? Did I think that? How? Why?
College classes so far have proven to be exhausting, but not enlightening. This stems mainly from the fact that I am not taking any classes that I haven't been fully exposed to beforehand, so I am quite literally bored all day. I sleep through calculus, space out in biology, take writing lightly (though I do enjoy it) and sit passively through Book of Mormon. Chemistry is the only class that requires even mild attention, but there isn't anything I can't get from lecture that the book won't tell me faster.



I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the Socratic method. I miss answering questions incorrectly and being guided toward a different response. I miss the satisfaction that comes from being publicly right. I miss competition--I have found none here. I'm pre-med, for heaven's sake--challenge me! Take me on! Tell me I'm wrong! Please! My only choices at this point are insanity and apathy.
Take your pick.

On the other hand, I don't know enough to be considered intelligent in my lab. I'm a freshman, but I'm treated like a senior--something I'd usually love, but I honestly feel like I don't know enough to take on my responsibilities. I haven't taken a molecular biology class (ever), but molecular biology is what I'm doing every day, and when the molecular biologist my lab is collaborating with tells me I've interpreted my experiment incorrectly because the residue I worked so hard to see on my gel is excess genomic DNA, not badly-inactivated nuclease-cut fragments like I supposed, I don't feel qualified to further troubleshoot the process. Plus, why didn't I include another positive control? Two proven-viable samples are not enough as a contrast to my experiment; I should have lysed another two living adult tails and run them against two additional fetal isolations from my last successful set. Oh, and I should have used a 10-basepair ladder, not a 100 one, because for this mutation, the fragments are 20 bp apart, not 200 like the others. She exclaims disparagingly over my cloudy cell lysis solution, but I didn't make it, and I didn't know it's really supposed to be clear. My DNA primers are eight months old; how am I to know they expire in six?

This is what I see:
There are smaller fragments than I want to see on my gel, so somehow the DNA is being cut before I introduce any secondary enzymes (???).
Proteinase-K inactivates nucleases at 55 degrees Celsius. Ours is old, but has been kept frozen at -20 degrees C, so it should be fine (right?).
PCR seems to amplify more than I want to see on a final gel. Could the DNA be folding back on itself because it is so highly concentrated? Is the annealing time too short? Is there not enough primer? Is the primer nonspecific? Should I include an additive?
I need to fix this--people need results, and when I can't deliver, everything piles up.
I need to know more to fix this--I feel like I'm wasting valuable resources in my vain attempts at experimentation. Polymerases aren't cheap, and neither are primers, dNTPs, ladders, gel rigs, or even agarose.