Sunday, August 12, 2012

I've Moved! To Tumblr, that is.

Hello everyone! I've got a few updates for you. I've moved! No, not countries, blogging platforms! From now on I will be posting updates, pictures, funny quotes and random melodramatic thoughts from I hope you like Tumblr. I'm very pleased with it and enjoy using it. All of my previous blog posts are available on my tumblr. I'll be able to update much more often and with greater ease now!

As I settle into my house here in Mexico, I'll update my tumblr as to what I'm up to and how things are going. Look for more pictures and funny anecdotes!

your very own Melodramatic Science Major

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cooking Adventures with Megan

Taking a break from more serious posts, I have been exploring and playing around in the kitchen! While not all of my experiments have turned out wonderfully, I am only going to tell you about the successful ones. Muahaha! The power of controlling information!

This all started when a friend posted a link to this recipe site: It is a dangerous website filled with all sorts of delicious unhealthy goodies.

They may have looked a little strange but they were wonderful!
Back when I was up at Notre Dame, the last friday of my archaeology dig was approaching. It just so
happened that National Archaeology Day fell on the same date. To celebrate, we made these delicious oreo truffles. They were a dig favorite and I left with barely a crumb out of the forty-five that I brought to the site. The making was almost as exciting as the eating in this case. Because we were cooking using the dorm kitchen, we were missing a few supplies. A food processer, for instance, to crush the oreos. In lieu of actual useful tools, we intellectual college students combined saran wrap, a mini-Crisco bottle and pizza cutter to chop up whole oreos into minuscule bits. Inventive, eh?

Oreos add deliciousness to everything. Who could refuse oreos? 

But that's not all! My cooking adventures continued on vacation in Texas where my Nana taught me how to make an easy no bake cheesecake. I was able to be fancy and cocky impressive when I made it a second time for the cousins as the recipe was so simple that I recalled it from memory! I'm sure I ate most of it but that is beside the point. Food is meant to be enjoyed -- even if only by the chef!

Served with a side of marinara.
Since I have already gloated over my small skill with desserts, I decided to take a big step and try and make an actual meal! My parents served as my guinea pigs and as far as they will tell me, they were happy to do it. First up, I wanted to create a twist on a Carraba's favorite: the Zucchini Fritti, aka zucchini fries! Instead of frying them I baked up a blend of Italian bread crumbs, parsley, oregano and sunshine to get this yummy appetizer. 

But! My dinner was not complete without a main course. Because I am still learning what on God's green earth I am doing in a kitchen, I decided to make a skillet meal of pasta, broccoli and chicken. Using fresh broccoli, a lot of spices that I don't remember the names of and a half cup of white wine, I came up with this beauty:

Serve with a dry white wine for added tastiness!
Even then, my adventures in the kitchen weren't over. Today I had a surprising amount of energy and the day off from volunteering so I decided to try something new: Pepperoni Pizza Puffs! Unfortunately, we were missing a few key ingredients like whole milk and I improvised. Mixing 2 tsps of butter with skim milk replaced the whole milk and bacon replaced the pepperoni. Served with some of the marinara left over from the zucchini fries (yay leftovers!), they came out of the oven piping hot!

Ok, I'll admit it. I (attempted to) plate the dish and staged the picture. 
To wash these puff pastries down, I whipped up a peach lemonade which I don't have a picture of but is definitely in the "Make Again" category. I'm starting to have fun now. Can you tell? I've got a few different desserts waiting to be made so who knows? I might just become a pseudo-chef. As long as I've got guinea pigs to be my tasters (thank you, my dear parents), I'll keep this up! Happy cooking!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Indiana Jones and the Bailly Homestead

"Mark Shurr stood in the dry sun outside on the grounds of Bailly Homestead, holding a pole with a prism on top like Indiana Jones out of a scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark." -Heather Augustyn, Times Correspondent

Having your professor compared to Indiana Jones on the second day of the dig is some of the best encouragement a budding archaeology student could ask for. A picture of yourself on the front page of another newspaper doesn't hurt either. The first article describes the dig while the second one just has a picture with an article that is not related to the dig. I may or may not have bought several copies of the paper with my picture on the front... 

Andy Lavalley | Sun-Times Media
The Times reporter was actually very close in her description of my professor. An inquisitive man and wonderful teacher, Dr. Shurr was in the process of teaching us how to use a Total Station also known as a transit. The machine is used to create a topographical map of an area by measuring elevation. A prism pole, which bears startling significance to the one used in the Indiana Jones movie, is positioned above the location you wish to measure. Using the instrument, you sight the prism on the top of the pole through the instrument and calculate the elevation, distance, location on the grid (northing and easting), and bearing with the push of a button!

Jon L. Hendrix | The Times
If you can't tell, I'm having an absolute blast. I've learned how to establish a topographical map, build a grid for resistivity surveying, and dig shovel probes. One of the most fun things has been surveying underground using the resistivity instruments. By taking resistance measurements between the probes on the instrument every meter, we were able to see whether something was hiding underground. This type of surveying revolutionized archaeology allowing archaeologists to "see" underground so as to not waste any digging units. The technology is rather exciting. 

We start digging 1x2 meter units on Tuesday. We're hoping for more of what we have found thus far and even more exciting historical artifacts. We've found handcut nails, decorative glass, 18th century pottery and a metal object that could be a mirror frame. I can't wait to discover more!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

EMR: Electronic Medical Records or Extraordinarily Malicious Requirements?

It was with a heavy heart that I left the Notre Dame campus just a short while ago. The feeling was rather absurd because I have just this afternoon returned but I know I will experience the same feelings at the end of June. Why have I returned to Notre Dame, you ask? To play in the dirt, of course! I am thrilled to spend the next three weeks working on the Bailey Homestead excavation here in northern Indiana. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let me fill you in on what has been going on for the past month.

I was lucky enough to shadow my own primary care physician a few days a week these past four weeks. In just a short time, I have learned so much about medicine and the life of a physician. I also discovered three dreaded letters: E-M-R better known as electronic medical records. My first day on the job just happened to coincide with the second day of launching eClinicalWorks, one of many EMR programs.

Now, the common consensus states that EMR is the way of the future and will make everything easier on physicians. In the long run, sure, I can see it speeding up appointments and keeping things organized. However, on the short term, every single patient is a new patient. Even if they have been seeing the same doctor for thirty years, they are required to give their entire family history during their visit. Couple that with staff who were not raised with computers and it tends to cause a large headache.

Some physicians won't have too much difficulty with this because they have only a few patients who return every few weeks. But for family medicine physicians, some patients only have to come in every six months! This means that the transition will last for over six months, providing that all patients keep their appointments. It seems a big hassle now, but I still bear a shred of hope.

Even so, there are other issues with EMR. Doctors are some of the highest employing bosses. They need lab technicians, diagnoses coders, medical record keepers and more. With the advent of EMR, most of these roles are becoming automated. A nurse will not need to call down to medical records for a chart when a few clicks will pull it up. Nurses won't be needed to call patients with lab results when they are securely posted online and emailed.

I'm not sure about may benefit us in the end but from the evidence I've seen, I don't like it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Same Space, Different Feel

As some of you know, last semester I got involved with a group called TransPose. TransPose is a contemporary dance company that is completely student run and student choreographed. Now, some of you may be asking yourself, what is contemporary dance? Lord knows that I had no idea when I joined. The style of contemporary dance draws from different types of dance and innovates them, adding something new. You have probably heard of ballet, (I would hope) so let me start there. Ballet is characterized by leading movements with your feet or your hands and is very focused on flow. There are few sharp or abrupt movements in ballet. (Disclaimer: This is only my basic understanding. Please don't throw rotten food at me if I make a mistake!)

At its basic level, contemporary dance explores movement led by other parts of the body. Say, an elbow. Making your body follow your elbow out to the side and back over your shoulder opens up your torso for another movement while also changing the direction your are facing. These types of movements embody contemporary dance.

Most dance performances happen on stage. At Notre Dame, they can be in Washington Hall or on one of the stages in DPAC. A unique thing about this group, TransPose, is that they strive to never perform on an actual stage. Last semester, our show took place in the ballroom of the LaFortune Student Center and this semester in the Jordan Hall of Science. Not only are we performing in unique places but we are doing it in unique ways.

In the fall, the opening number took place with the audience eagerly crouched in the center of the ballroom while the dancers of the first piece, including myself, danced in a circle around them, rotating the circle as the dance progressed. Despite a brief and uncomfortable encounter with a pillar during a jump turn, it was thrilling as a dancer. From the reactions of the audience, I think they enjoyed it too. In Jordan, the audience entered from the north entrance and with each dance moved further down the grand galleria until the finale in the reading room on the opposite side of the building.

Dancing in these places has changed how I view them. Excluding the fact that this post is essentially a shameless plug for TransPose, this aspect of the group in particular has affected me personally. When I walk into Jordan, barely awake for chemistry at 8:30 in the morning, I walk over a spot where I performed. I trudge toward class remembering how I jumped and twirled for an audience not three feet away. I think it is wonderful that the University allows groups like TransPose to use these spaces because it gives it that little something extra. When I attend a lecture in the LaFortune Ballroom, the pieces I performed there run through my head. When I show people the fancy Jordan Hall of Science, I can speak not only of the hours of classes and labs that I attended there but also of the dance and emotion that flowed through an otherwise academically devoted building.

This is part of why I love it here at Notre Dame so very, very much. I would be nowhere else, but at Notre Dame.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Test of Distance

As we get closer and closer to finals, the levels of stress seem to increase exponentially. Not only do we have exams to take, papers to write and projects to finish but for some of us, we have to say goodbye to our friends for a while.

I was selected to participate in Notre Dame's study abroad program in Puebla, Mexico this upcoming fall. Before you get all antsy on me, let me tell you that there is no travel warning in place for the state of Puebla nor any of the nearby states. Additionally, I went to India by myself and survived. I can handle Mexico with sixteen of my fellow Notre Dame students, an onsite coordinator and the international students branch of UPAEP, the university where I will be studying. Promise. As I picture in my head the hypothetical devil's advocate conversation, I have a well thought out and supported response for each point. Also, I speak the language! I do appreciate the concern though.

As excited as I am to go to Mexico, I do not want to leave Notre Dame. Several of my friends are studying abroad next spring in London, France and even Japan but after the last day of finals this semester, I will not see them until fall semester senior year! That's 1.3 years! 16 months! 70 weeks! 486 days!

Now, unlike when our parents went to school, we have cell phones, texting, Skype and even Facebook to keep in touch but it still feels as if half of my friends here at Notre Dame are going to vanish! It puts things in perspective. Who would have thought that time would become so precious so quickly? As I approach the halfway point in my time here at Notre Dame and see seniors that I've come to be great friends with prepare to leave our Home under the Dome, I can't help but stop and think. How will distance from Notre Dame and from our friends affect us? Which friendships will span the miles and stay strong and which will fade?

Seems like I have a lot to ponder while I'm "paying attention" during chemistry lecture. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?

Dearest reader(s?),

I have been away for far too long. To help catch you up on how wonderfully busy my life has been, I have composed this little poem just for you. I can only hope that my poor attempts at rhyming bring a smile to your face.

As swiftly as the weather,
this spring semester has come together
They started out as six little courses,
but transformed quickly into overwhelming forces.
Campus bloomed with the promise of spring
only to have snow flurries and clouds tightly cling
 Through the clouds, saw one repast 
after forty days sans makeup, my Lenten fast,
Easter Sunday dawned bright and sunny
and the congregation hopped about just like a bunny.
Exams came and exams went 
and still three more this week! Will they ever relent?
Finals approach under spell of darkness,
the end of the semester has come with abruptness.
As I look forward to Mexico next fall,
I cannot stand to wait at all!
But in the meantime there is work to be done
shadowing physicians and archaeology fun!
As for this blog, do not despair
"One post a week" says the optimist, as if in prayer.
For your patience you shall be rewarded,
There are posts to come, I am not to be thwarted.