Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spaghetti Bridge

Growing up, there have always been several “stereotypical” school projects that I would hear about from others as well as from the T.V. One such project was the classic spaghetti noodle bridge.
About a month ago, I, as well as the rest of my class, was assigned to construct a bridge out of nothing but spaghetti and glue. The bridge had certain height, width, weight and span requirements, and the finished product was expected to hold 1000 kg for ten minutes.
It was one of those projects where the idea behind the assignment seems fun, (who doesn’t want to make a bridge out of noodles?) but once the project is started, it is not fun at all.
My group and I (four people) worked many hours on trying to make a decent noodle bridge that would get us a decent grade, but all we accomplished was meeting all the project requirements except being able to hold the 1000 kg weight for ten minutes. Which surprisingly only docked five points off our overall grade. We ended up with a B for the project, a grade we were all very pleased with!
Our bridge ended up looking very elementary, and overall the experience was very embarrassing (some of my classmates had very, very good bridges!) I am so glad this project is behind me, and I hope I will never have to construct anything like that out of noodles and glue again! (Though if I ever did have to make another noodle bridge, I would have a better idea of how to go about doing so!)

Here’s a picture I found of a really good bridge. Ours turned out looking nothing like this one! The site I found the picture on can be followed through the following URL:


I have never planned on attending one of the local colleges in Cedar Rapids. None of them have ever really appealed to me. The University of Iowa sounds like a pretty good school, and I love the Hawkeyes, but I don’t think I would ever want to go to a university with such a big population! And I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’m not sure I would be able to bring myself to go to Iowa State University partially because I’ve grown up with a disdain for the Cyclones. None of the smaller local colleges have appealed much to me either.
I have never really had anything against the University of Northern Iowa, and have never looked into attending this University. I am going to research more about UNI because it’s close to home, not a huge college, but at the same time is not a ridiculously small college.
I found the UNI’s website to be very unique and helpful. You can view their site by following this link:
I have friends that are at UNI right now, and I’m sure some of my friends will attend UNI next year after graduation. UNI has a tennis team, but unless I play a ton over the next year and I half, I probably wouldn’t make the team. What I like about UNI is that it is fairly close to where I live now, about an hours drive. I am going to keep UNI in mind when I apply for colleges, and when I go on college visits next summer.

Rabies Survivor

I was looking through an issue of Scientific American magazine when I came across an article about rabies. The article was called “A Cure for Rabies?” and was about a teenager who survived an encounter with the deadly virus. I found this article very interesting, and it has made me think again about becoming a lab technician, or pursuing a similar occupation.
I read this article right out of the magazine, but the beginning of the article can be read at the following web address:

Jeanna Giese was an un-immunized fifteen-year-old when a bat bit, and infected her with rabies. Now she is the first known person to survive rabies without the immunization. Rabies is a RNA virus, and is usually located in the brain and nerves. The immune system is unable to detect the presence of a rabies microbe when first contracted because it doesn’t enter the blood stream, or the lymph nodes. If caught early enough, death from rabies can be prevented, but since the symptoms don’t start until after the treatment would do no good, lives that could be saved aren’t.
While the results of Jeanna’s tests were being analyzed, Infectious Disease Consultant, Rodney E. Willoughby, Jr., started doing some research in the event that her tests for rabies came back positive. Willoughby Jr. learned that the brains of victims who have died from rabies have virtually no visible problems, and when a victim dies after spending weeks with having intensive care, traces of the virus cannot be found. This means that a human’s immune system is capable of ridding the body of the rabies virus over time, but the body just doesn’t have precisely that; time. Apparently, this virus is able to gain control of the brain and cause it to kill the body without damaging itself. If the brain could be “stopped” for long enough for the immune system to get caught up with the disease, death may not be inevitable. After Jeanna’s tests came back positive, she was induced into a coma for a week, and during the duration of her coma, her blood and spinal fluid was tested to determine whether or not she was creating antibodies. Awaking from her coma, Jeanna was completely paralyzed, but steadily regained control of her body.
The treatment Jeanna underwent came to be known as the Milwaukee Project, and has been unsuccessfully attempted six times, so the question of whether or not there is a cure for rabies still remains.
The results of this experiment have made an impact on the world. The procedure has been tried without success in Germany, Thailand, the United States and India, though not all of the attempts followed the hypothesis used when curing Jeanna. Some experts are opposed to this therapy because it appears as though Jeanna’s survival goes against studies that have shown that brain cells are killed by the rabies virus. But the results of these studies may not be accurate because a different strain of rabies could have been used then the strain that is found in nature.
I found this magazine article to be very fascinating. I just think it’s so interesting that by putting Jeanna into a coma, her body was able to fight of the rabies virus. This is the type of science news that makes me want to major in science in college. I just don’t know if being a doctor or lab technician is something I’d be good at.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The youtube video I wanted to have displayed on my last post wouldn't embed, so here is the link to the webpage to the same video.

Alvin and the Chipmunks

If you came home from school one day to find your twenty-two year old brother watching Barnie, you might think it was a little weird. Well, at my house, that wouldn’t be considered weird at all. My brother, Ben, is twenty-two years old and has Down syndrome. I’m not writing this post to describe what it’s like to live with someone with a mental disability, or to fantasize about what life would be like had my brother been born without this disorder, because I love my brother just the way he is. What I want to write about is the fact that movies I’ve forgotten about, or haven’t even seen, are brought to the surface by my brother and his taste in movies.
When I find my brother watching a cartoon movie that was popular when I was a kid, I can’t help but stop and watch it with him. With all the different movies he picks out to watch, in a sense, I relive part of my childhood. Movies that I haven’t seen in years, or new release movies that I wouldn’t other wise see are brought to my attention by him. It's kind of weird to think about how I'm seventeen years old, but still get a kick out of watching movies that are meant for audiences much younger than I am. One such movie is Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Granted, Alvin and the Chipmunks is one of those movies that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages, but was just another one of those movies I saw by accident, because of my brother.
I came home one night and caught the end of this movie with my brother, and I liked it so much I watched it again the next night. Alvin and the Chipmunks is perhaps one of the cutest movies I have ever seen! I loved most of the movie and can’t wait to see the sequel—I mean Squekal.

Embedding disabled by request

Class Schedule

This week was the start of the agonizingly stressful process of signing up for classes for another year of school. I hate signing up for classes, and signing up for next year’s classes is proving to be particularly tricky. The past three years, which class to sign up for has been pretty obvious. This year however, I am finding a particularly hard time trying to decide what class to take for each subject area.
Senior year. I can either choose to take regular classes, and take it easy my last year of high school, or I can push myself to take harder classes. This is proving to be a fairly difficult decision to make, because on the one hand, I would like to take things easy next year, and not have to stress out about homework and AP exams, but on the other hand, I think I might feel really lazy taking classes that aren’t very challenging. The only thing I relish about signing up for classes this year is the fact that next year I wont have to sign up for anymore high school courses!
Another problem I am having with choosing which courses I should sign up for is the fact that I have no idea what I want to major in, and what type of career I want to pursue. If I had a better idea of what I want to mo later in life, choosing courses would be a lot easier, because I would simply sign up for courses that correlate with what I want to major in. But because I am very undecided in what I want to do later in my life, I am having a much harder time trying to decide what classes to take next year!
It also doesn’t help my decision making process much that my high school has tons of courses to choose from. I have so many options for classes next year, that choosing each individual course for each individual subject area is a nightmare for indecisive people like me.
Check it out at this web address, this link has a list of all the classes offered at my high school.

College of the Ozarks

I have a friend who is currently going through the college application process. Her first choice in college is the College of the Ozarks, and she is currently waiting (anxiously I might add) for an acceptance letter. I don’t want to choose a college to apply for just because I know someone that is already planning on attending, but since I really don’t have many other colleges on my mind at the moment, I have decided to take a more detailed look into the College of the Ozarks.
The information I used in writing this post came from the following web address:

The College of the Ozarks is a Christian college that could be viewed as very different from other colleges and universities. Rather than paying for their tuition, students who attend College of the Ozarks full time work for it. This is probably one of the reasons the College of the Ozarks is also called “Hard Work U.”
The idea behind “Hard Work U” is that students will work about fifteen hours a week at an assigned job to help pay for their education. This job not only helps students in need of financial assistance, but also helps develop working skills that may help prepare students for jobs after graduation.
Another positive aspect of the College of the Ozarks is that it is on many different lists proclaiming some of the nation’s top colleges. The student to faculty ratio is 13:1 which is also something I can appreciate about a college, because I really like being in smaller classes.
Although the College of the Ozarks has many positive aspects about it, it also has a couple characteristics that I don’t really care for.
Like so many of the colleges I have considered attending, the College of the Ozarks does not have a tennis team, and while I am not for sure whether or not I want to play college tennis, I don’t want to commit myself to a college that doesn’t have a tennis team, just in case I decide I want to play in college. Another aspect of the college that I’m not sure if I would like is the fact that if I went to the College of the Ozarks, I would have to get a job. As a freshman in college, it would be nice to have extra cash supplied by a part time job, but I also don’t want to have to worry about being too busy my first year of college, and I’m not sure if having a job would be too much for me to take on.
The College of the Ozarks seems like it is a really good college, and I am disappointed that it doesn’t meet all of my standards, because I think it is a really good college, but just doesn’t quite have everything that I am looking for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Growing Up

The following video is the novelty song Happiness Inc. did in 2004, when my sister played piano for the show choir.

When I watch videos of performances given by Happiness Inc. from years prior to 2010, it’s hard to believe that I am now a part of this performing arts group. Sometimes when I am watching older shows given by Happiness Inc. on “you tube” I can hardly believe that I am in a show choir that performs at the level that it does, and has such a prestigious history.
When my older sister was a freshman in high school she played piano for Happiness Inc. I was in the fourth grade at the time, and going to some of the show choir performances to support my sister, I never dreamed that one day I would be performing on stage for hundreds of people as a member of one of the top show choirs in the nation. It was never really something that interested me. So when I think about how close I was to not trying out for show choir, it’s kind of scary thinking that I almost missed out on something that has brought me so much excitement.
I’m not sure if my sister impacted me anyway to audition for show choir, but the feeling I get when I think about how my sister and I were in the same group (performing different roles) is one I can relate to my everyday life.
I have three brothers and sisters. My oldest brother is twenty-two, but was born with Down syndrome, so mentally he is about seven years old. My older sister is three years older than me, so its my memories of the decisions she had to make while growing up that keep coming to mind when I am faced with making the same decisions she had to make.
I remember my sister working on various high school projects, getting ready for prom, and trying to determine what college to go to. I never fully realized that one day I would be put in her shoes, preparing for some of the same things, and having to make some of the same decisions she had to make. It’s a lot easier to sit by and watch someone else make life-impacting decisions (when you have no say in the matter) than it is to actually be the one making the decisions. That’s what I’m finding out now. Soon, I will have to make all of these major decisions, and I really don’t like having to make decisions that will have a major impact on my life.
I have really been loving my junior year of high school so far. I’ve made some awesome new friends, and have been able to be apart of something that makes me really happy-show choir. When I think about how next year is my senior year of high school, I can’t help but think that I’ve wasted part of my life, or at least let it slip by too quickly. I like the way things are right now, and I don’t want them to end. I can’t stand the thought of moving on, and starting as a freshman in college. I just don’t want to come to terms with reality. I don’t want to grow up.

Grove City College

Grove City College, located in Pennsylvania, is a Christian College that has a women’s tennis team. These are two of the main things I have been looking for in the colleges I may or may not want to attend. Their website can be reached through the following URL: and is the website I used to research Grove City College, or GCC.
As I went through the various pages and links found on the Grove City College website, I found some really great things to be admired in a college, but as I was looking throughout the college’s website, I really did not feel any desire to attend GCC. I don’t know if it’s the fact that its so far away from where I live now, or if its as simple as that I didn’t like the format of the website, but I just really found myself thinking that I did not want to Go to GCC. And so, my search for the perfect college continues!

University of Dallas

My older sister Jane graduated from high school three years ago, and is very happily attending the University of Dallas in Irving Texas. I remember when she was still trying to decide what college she wanted to go to, and now that I am in the same position that she was in, I understand just how stressful the decision is! What makes it even harder is that I don’t know what I want to major in.
As I was finishing my a recent post about Quincy University, I started thinking that the University of Dallas sounded like a University I might like to apply for. I’m not really feeling that way right now, but it is only 7:12 in the morning, and I don’t feel much of anything right now!
So I guess now would be as appropriate of a time as any to say that is the link to the University of Dallas’ homepage, and is coincidentally the website I used to research the University.
What I like about the University of Dallas is that it is located in a huge city, without making it feel like it. My sister has mentioned before how being on the campus of the University of Dallas, or UD, doesn’t make you feel like you are in an over-populated city. I don’t like being in big crowds, but I do like the occasional trip to a major city, and I think I would really like the University of Dallas for that reason.
Another thing I like about UD is that it is a smaller Catholic school. I think being a freshman at a college like the University of Iowa would be terrifying. Being a part of an enormous class is something that has never really appealed to me. The average size of a class in the undergraduate program is twenty students, which is just about perfect according to my standards. I think that the size and faith of UD also contributes to its’ sense of community among students and professors. My sister once told us that she was eating breakfast by herself in the cafeteria, and a group of students that she had never met came and sat with her simply because they didn’t want her to eat alone. This is community. When I go to college, I don’t want to be in an environment filled with stuck-up peers, I want to go to a college that encourages meeting new people. UD is small enough, and is based on principles and beliefs that would defiantly encourage those values.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saint Vincent College

The start of the new year, and as far away as it seems, summer really is just around the corner! My mom wanted me to have some colleges in mind to visit this summer, so I figure I should probably get on that.
I still haven’t decided if I want to play tennis in college, but I have decided that I think I might want to participate in the performing arts in college. I don’t really want to major in music, but I don’t want to stop singing after high school, so now, I am looking for a college that:

-is preferably a Conservative Christian college
-has a decent tennis team
-a good music department
-isn’t overcrowded, but isn’t really small at the same time

While searching online for a college that meets my standards I came across Saint Vincent College.

Check it out at

Saint Vincent College is located in Pennsylvania, and even though that is a little further away from home than I wanted to go, I still think it might be worthwhile to look into.
One of my main concerns when looking into colleges is the student to faculty ratio. I don’t want to be in a classroom full of a hundred other kids. I like being in smaller classrooms, and at a college like Saint Vincent College whose faculty to student ratio is fourteen to one, I think I would be able to be in that smaller classroom environment.
Some more things I like about this college is that they have a tennis team, a music program, and a wide selection of undergraduate programs, which is good, considering I don’t know what to major in.
All in all, I like Saint Vincent College, and will defiantly keep it in mind when trying to figure out which colleges to go visit this summer.

Growing Up

When I think about my life, and all the things that I have done, and activities I have partaken in, it’s hard to believe that I was once a little girl who only wanted to build snowmen and play “Candy Land.” Now my interests have changed, and I no longer beg my mom to play “Candy Land” with me. But I guess everyone is like that, everyone outgrows what they once held near and dear to them, it’s just hard to believe how fast I have grown up! In another year I’ll be an adult!
It’s crazy, how when your younger, you always imagine what you’ll look like, and what type of person you will be like when you grow up, but time moves so slowly at that age, that you never feel like you’ll grow up. You never truly realize that one day you won’t be living with mom and dad anymore, and you will have to go out in the world. You don’t fully grasp that one day you’ll be the one comforting your child when they have the flu. Or at least that’s true for me, until now.
More and more lately I have been thinking about how I really only have about one and a half years before I go to college, and that thought is terrifying. After high school, everything changes. For the past fourteen years or so I have been doing the same thing each week for about nine out of the twelve months in the year. Wake up and go to school, various after school activity, go home, go to bed. Repeat. It is really hard for me to grasp that I am going to have to go to college where my life will be totally different from what it is now.
I remember, when I was younger, I used to think that I could stop, or slow time simply by sitting down, and pressing my feet against the floor or air, like the breaks on the car. Well, surprisingly enough, it didn’t actually work. Time didn’t slow down, or come to a stop, it went on, and I with it. Sometimes I wish I could start life over from when I was about five years old, knowing then what I do now. I know what I would do differently. But if I were to do things differently, I wonder how I would be different from who I am now. I guess I just hope that these past seventeen years have prepared me for anything that life throws at me.
“The hardest part about growing up is letting go with what you have been accustomed to and moving on with something that you haven't experienced yet.” (
I really think this quote sums up a lot of my feelings about my future. But I know that even though sometimes it seems as though I walk alone, God is always at my side.
Last night was the first show choir competition of our season. The competition was in La Crosse, Wisconsin, at the University of Viterbo, and was a good opening to our season. We were awarded second runner-up, and even though that is not the placement we all would have liked to have received, the competition was a good experience that will ultimately help us grow as individual performers and as a group.
Ever since freshmen year, when I started becoming more involved in musical theatre, coming back from Christmas break has always meant one thing: show choir season. Competition season entails early morning bus rides to different cities, wandering around the halls of different schools with a head full of curlers, and watching different top notch varsity show choirs compete for the title of “Grand Champion”. And it was at our first competition, Viterbo that I truly realized just how much I love show choir. I know that probably sounds corny, dorky, and probably just a little bit lame, and I don’t want to come across sounding like one of those kids whose life revolves around show choir, but being in a varsity show choir and traveling to all these different competitions has really added a ton of excitement to my life. That being said, when I think about how next year is my senior year, and so also my last year of show choir, I feel really disappointed that the ride is almost over, I don’t want it to end.
As far as I can tell, show choir is a regional “sport.” Show choir is especially prominent in the Midwest, but there are also several non-Midwestern groups that are traditional powerhouses at show choir competitions. All the good show choir groups I have ever seen and heard of were all high school groups, but I have heard of college show choirs too, and last night, at Viterbo University, I saw Viterbo’s show choir, “Platinum Edition” and I’m not saying that they made me want to do college show choir, but I do think that it may be something to consider.

Here is a video of a song performed by Viterbo’s “Platinum Edition,” it isn’t one of the numbers I saw them do last night, but it’s done by the same group.