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Thanks to LMFAO, I have been feeling sexy these days for many reasons.  Not because I’m high on testosterone and that I am horny, but because many wonderful things have happened since the last time I wrote.

My cousin Mel, the Texan native, visited last weekend and we hung out for a bit.  The visit was on a short notice, so we did not have anything planned.  My brother and I were excited though, since we have been telling her to come visit Madison.  She came with three friends (one is working here in a software company and engaged to his gay fiance who visited as well, and the other is a lady who is interested in psychology and sociology).  Although their flight was postponed and the arrival time changed from 11AM to around 11PM last Friday, we still managed to meet on Saturday.

The gang arrived at 6PM, and everyone chillaxed a bit at my place while my brother poured some of the New Glarus Wisconsin Belgium Red for the guests.  Similar to Ben’s Wisconsin friends whom I met in Chicago over New Year’s Eve, the UT-Austiners loved the drink.  We chatted a bit more and then headed out to dinner at 7PM.  Unfortunately with no reservations, we could rarely find a spot for six without a more than forty-five minute wait.  We walked along Capitol Square and State Street, and then my brother and I decided to take them to The Nitty Gritty.  My brother left when we got to the establishment since he needed to go to an 8PM discussion, so the five of us dined there.

Dinner was nice with conversations, and I was surprised by the two gay couple who are engaged.  They were not too handsome or hot, one of them has some gastrointestinal related illnesses and some other diseases, they were nice folks, and yet they look so wonderful next to each other.  I really do admire the both of them since that is true love right there.  They did not love each other due to lust or bed-related actions, but they looked beyond each other’s imperfections and linked their hearts together.  The strong support they provided for each other fascinated me, and I just hope that I will be able to find the special one too.

After dinner at around 8:50PM, Mel’s three friends decided to go back to their place since one of them needed to finish writing a paper.  I was going to send my brother a burger I bought for him, and Mel decided to come along and stick around!  We met up with my brother at 9PM when he was on his way home.  He was going to have a short night and head to bed soon since he was under stress with exams and studying, so Mel was left with me.  I took Mel for a walk, which she enjoyed with the fresh air although ’twas a bit chilly.  We walked around Memorial Union, then hiked up Bascom Hill, then onto Observatory along the lake, then to Tripp and Adams (where I resided during my sophomore year and first year of house fellowship), and then we took a break by the lakeshore area for some ice cream since Mel had not have ice cream from the Dairy State.

We shared a sundae with chocolate peanut butter ice cream, Heath, pecans, and Reeses…and sat on a booth and started catching up with life.  We did talk a lot about academia, her plans after graduating in May, law school, her trip to Italy, dating, and many more.  ‘Twas a great break with many exchanges of thoughts.  At first, I was worried that our four to five year age difference will not have too much in common since Mel was a bit more talkative to my brother earlier during the evening, but I was wrong.  Even my aunt told my parents (who told me later) that Mel has always respected me as a big brother and valued my conversations with her since when she was in high school.  She is hoping to work in Chicago through a law firm after completing an internship through the firm, and I will be glad to take her around Chicago with my brother!

After the break, we walked along Linden, passed by Henry Mall, and went into Union South.  Later, we walked along Johnson and Park Street, and then went into Library Mall and started walking along State Street.  ‘Twas the weekend of WIAA High School Wrestling, and there were many topless youngsters running past by us as celebration after the tournament.  Mel and I even laughed when one of the youngsters slapped my ass so hard that we both heard it.  If I were in an office, that could be sexual harassment, but ’twas fun for the both of us to see youngsters bearing the cold and cheering for their accomplishments.

Mel’s friend called at around midnight indicating that he would be going to bed soon and would like to pick her up since she was staying at his apartment with the others.  We then walked from the Capitol to my place, and she was off at 0:35.  She said bye before she boarded her plane on Sunday, and she enjoyed her visit too.

This visit also affirms my view that family members are the greatest and closest support for one another.  During the period of mourning for my grandma, whose funeral took place on Monday in Taipei, the visit reunited all the youngsters from my mother’s side who are in the United States.  Each visit, similar to the one in Chicago with Ben and those meals and walks with friends, are ways to renew relationships of any sort.  Even a small sundae with great ice cream and Heath toppings could make one smile for a day too… ‘Twas a great visit, and I could not believe that I had not seen her for five years, with the last time being before I went to Germany!!! I do hope that my brother and I will be able to visit her in Austin soon before she leaves that campus.

On a different note, I heard back from my advisor regarding my research proposal two days ago.  I am glad to finally see progress since he had the document for more than a month.  He made some great changes, and I am glad to learn from them and see his thoughts and intentions.  I am hoping to have that done soon so that I can meet with committee members to get their approval and take my qualifying exam soon!!!

Teaching has been going well too.  Students are learning about arthropods this week, and many of them were squeamish and excited.  Some of them were similar to Dora the Explorer (English and Zoology Edition) when observing hexapods, crustaceans, chelicerates, and myriopods with curiosity.  Some of them even dissected the destroyed the entire crayfish, which would need to be used by the next class too 🙂  Anyway, my students (especially the Monday and Tuesday ones) have been doing great this semester, and I hope that they will continue to be this motivated!

After working yesterday, I decided to take a walk in the afternoon and even call the afternoon off.  I left the lab at 2PM, and then bumped into Megan!  She was a former co-TA and a friend, and I was surprised when she walked by me and yelled out my name since she usually has a soft voice!  She was on her way to the library, so we walked together for a bit and caught up with one another.  ‘Twas great to hear that she missed teaching and that she is planning to come back too.  After she left, I continued walking, and eventually revisited Bakers’ Window.  I got to chat with the couple who baked the goodies since the wife started talking to me about organic milk in glass bottles and their use of organic materials.  The husband chatted more with me when the wife went to deal with the delivery man, and I discovered that they went to Munich together before.  They also learned to bake in Paris and also in San Francisco, and they are aiming to open a bakery under their names in the future without another owner or landlord.

My first visit to Bakers’ Window was last Saturday, and I had a great impression of the pain au chocolat.  There were more selections this time, since I went there during their normal hours when compared to thirty minutes before opening.  I got some pain au chocolat for my brother and Michael the co-TA, a Danish for myself, and carrot almond cake.  I am a big almond lover, and I loooooooove carrot cakes as well.  The mix of both made it an expensive dessert to make, and the cake made by the couple who baked all the goodies looked marvelous.  I tried some, of course…and ’twas surprisingly dense that I could only eat one-fourth to a third of a slice each time to feel fulfilled.  The cream cheese frosting and the cake overall was not too oily and sweet as the carrot cake made in other places, and the almond was a great compliment.  In many places, even those in the Farmer’s Market, the pastries and cakes would be swamped with frosting or sugar, but the baked goods from Bakers’ Window have always been simple.  ‘Twas not too plain, but the sweetness tasted came from the ingredients inside the pastry instead of a huge sugar-coating.  The cake was delicious and was worth it.  I am a food lover who would bike or drive for miles just to taste some dishes, and I can now say that Bakers’ Window is the best bakery I have experienced in Madison.

After being indulging on pastries for a while, I finally decided to visit the gym in case if I become a fat jolly Buddha.  I still go to the gym to play volleyball, such as my four-hour session last Saturday.  However, I have not been great at going to the gym on weekdays due to things to do, meetings to attend, and bad weather.  I finally made it to the gym at 7:30PM, started stretching, rowed 5000m, ran and hiked on the treadmill without phobia nowadays, and finished with sit-ups and stretches with an exercise ball.  I then saw Danielle, a grad student I know from a course I took last semester, and we started catching up with one another.  ‘Twas great to see a familiar face in the gym who is striving to live healthily too 🙂  So other than the awesome feeling of perspiration and meeting a familiar face during the work-out session, I felt wonderful after coming out from the shower.  I felt so relieved and clean, and I smelled great! 😉  I even flexed myself in front of the mirror, and boy were my arms getting larger and larger compared to the scrawny and flappy ones I had when I was bigger.

So yes, I’m sexy and I know it…I work out!!!!  Life and God have been good to me, and I just hope that I can continue visiting the gym and started going five to six days again like my usual routine.  I am doing well with my Lenten sacrifice: giving up alcohol.  I wonder if I can survive to forfeit having baked goods or sweets, but we can find that out in another Lenten period.  I hope that I can continue to make more progress with research, teaching, and in social life…and become more muscular soon, especially if I will need to put on swim wear and show my body if I go to Hawaii one day!

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The first week of the semester is flying by quickly, and my days are getting longer and longer.  After arriving back home or doing work until 9 to 10PM each day, I felt awfully tired and would just want to hit the sack.  Fortunately, I stopped by the gym tonight to finally prevent myself from becoming a fatter ass, and hopefully I can start my routine of going to the gym at least five times a week.

The inspiration of this entry actually sparked since last weekend, when I received emails from one of my co-teaching assistants expressing his nervousness in teaching.  He is a Master’s student, twenty-nine and married, and worked part-time in a chemical company.  However, he did his best to avoid public speaking-related courses as an undergraduate and finally had to face his fear on Monday.  I replied to his emails with tips, met with him before the session to go through the agenda, and spent quality time with him after the session.  His anxiety definitely shows with his words and degradation of himself in front of students, his voice was a bit soft and folks in the back might not be able to hear him, and his volume could easily be engulfed by students when they were discussing and chatting with one another.  He did not believe in himself in that he would be able to survive through the three-hour lab session.  Surprisingly during the forty minutes we spent after the lab session, he could easily tell me how to make chili without fear and would start interacting with the board.  When we changed the subject into something lab related, he did a lot better!  Although it seemed to be a small step, ’twas actually a big progress for him.  I will be teaching with him tomorrow, and I hope that things would go better for him.

Since Monday, I have been wondering why many folks I know would be nervous and even discouraged in themselves without having any confidence.  Yes, it can be personal, but it seems to be a trend among many college graduates nowadays.  Fast forward to Wednesday.  I hopped onto the bus heading to campus, and I heard a hi aiming towards my direction.  ‘Twas Kelsey, one of my students from last semester.  I sat next to her, and we started chatting about our winter breaks, Chicago, and her school work.  She is wondering about her next step in life, and is considering nursing school.  However, a staff at nursing school told her that she would not be admitted due to her GPA not being a 3.8 or above, and so she was thinking of transferring to Oshkosh.  Kelsey was not a really bad student though.  She did quite well in lab last semester, and she would also ask questions and do her best on quizzes and assignments.  She also worked well with groupmates…and so I was just shocked that she would feel discouraged by the GPA-eyeing staff from nursing school here.

Perhaps ’tis due to facing obstacles and challenges bit by bit that make us stronger with more confidence.  However, telling oneself that one can never overcome the barrier in the heart will not solve the problem.  Many educators today have become quite demanding of students, and that can be good.  ‘Tis good to be realistic and to push students, but an educator or a friend should also give others hope and even some suggestions or recommendations.  A lost soul will not be able to get onto a path unless if there is light or some guidance.  Dimming the light would blur the vision and create more confusion, but strengthening the light with encouragement and implanting faith into individuals can allow them to do greater things and even pass on the torch as well.  Even in a classroom setting, an intimidating atmosphere will not be as productive as one with a welcoming and collaborative atmosphere.  Sure, there are some individuals like me who would want to challenge themselves to show the intimidating professor that we can improve on our performance and even do better than them, but many folks would be beaten since day one.

I kept thinking about my co-TA and Kelsey, and apparently I do care about them since I want them to be able to do well and to accomplish their goals.  Although a teaching assistantship or nursing school is only a step to reach a greater goal, I just hope that they will not be bombarded and that they would lose their own character.  I then thought back to myself and became grateful to God.  He made me go through many challenges and hardships since at a young age.  I was never a straight A student although my grades were not terrible, but I aim to face difficulties and grow from those.  I was also fortunate to have great teachers in life, including my current advisor too.  Perhaps not hiding from sources of fear is another main message that should be delivered.  Many people are just scared of difficult times, but that also encourages folks to look broader at some life skills with organization, time management, planning and preparedness, and more.

We also need to be patient of ourselves and with each other.  Perhaps there is a reason why many of my friends would approach me to share their frustrations or concerns, and I would share my shoulder for them to cry on and offer them some suggestions.  Even Matt, who has been texting and chatting with me on Google since he is in Spokane for an interview for a faculty position since Sunday/Monday, would tell me that I am a good listener.  He was nervous before he left, but he viewed me as a support who would listen to him to make him feel a bit more relieved.  We as educators and even great friends need to be able to listen to one another and provide support as well instead of being an authoritative figure and take hopes away from one another.  With ourselves, the accumulation of small progress would lead to a great achievement.  It does not take one person a day of exercise to lose all the weight he wants but months and even years of work-outs and constant maintenance.

Perhaps one of God’s mission for me is to stand and deliver.  I can be an inspirational source according to many, and with my loud voice and entertaining teaching style, perhaps I really am suited to become a teacher or a professor in the future.  I still do not think that I would want to be a priest, although the statement from my friend and former student in which I should become a priest still rings in my head and would make me chuckle.  Hopefully, I will be able to motivate people around me to teach and help one another with love and care instead of a meter stick aiming at the palms of one another.  Perhaps this is why I have been a teaching assistant since my undergraduate years.  Although I first viewed a teaching assistantship to be a main financial support and an ordinary job, I am glad to see my progress each year.  The relationships I have with students and coworkers are rewarding, and I just hope that I can continue to stimulate people to think critically and apply concepts instead of memorizing them with notecards.

With the education system, a grade inflation for admissions is unfortunate.  In the good ol’ days of my advisor, a person with a 3.0 could easily get into medical school or graduate school, and ’tis just funny that one would place such heavy emphasis on a grade point value.  Sure, the GPA will mean nothing in the long run, but using the GPA as the main weed-out source for applications is just sad.  One can take really easy courses and get a 4.0 while learning nothing, where another could challenge themselves with higher level courses and get a 3.5 but learn a lot more with the materials.  A grade point does not indicate if one is a hard or efficient worker, and it does tell nothing about a character other than that how he or she did in a course.  Grade inflation creates more competition…and ’tis also impossible for everyone to get As in a course unless if they deserve it.  I have students who would miss class due to oversleeping last semester and I did give out Fs and Ds, so it would be unfair for other students who got As and ABs to have their class-skipping peers get the same grade.  However, even for those who would not get an A or AB, we still need to teach and encourage them to do better.  Perhaps setting an alarm clock or registering for a lab that meets at a different period.  There is no end to the world due to a specific issue, and we have to tell each other that.

Many people always tell me that the world needs more lovin’.  However, those folks who told me that might not necessarily be doing anything that would create more love.  Even for those who go to church, some can be self-centered and take others for advantage or for granted.  Showing love does not require materialistic goods but simple words and thoughts.  In this new lunar new year, I hope that I can continue to stand and deliver with strength and God’s guidance, and that I will be able to create and spread light into people around me.