Saturday, August 30, 2008


Psychology Building A- My Home for Four to Five Years

With classes starting next week, I had graduate school orientation this week. Wednesday was psychology department orientation. There was a barbecue, featuring avocado pineapple chicken teriyaki sandwiches, to introduce the incoming students to the rest of the department. Unsurprisingly, I, as a male psychology student coming straight from undergrad, am in a distinct minority in the department. It seems that most of the incoming class spent some time working before coming to graduate school, this isn't surprising given how ridiculous the application process has become. I guess its even worse for humanities students whose departments receive less external funding and are often forced to pay their own way towards a doctorate. Anyways, after the barbecue we toured the psychology buildings and claimed our office spaces. Finally, there was a party at a house shared by some of the 4th year graduate students. I'll post about my housing situation eventually, but lets just say if all of the off campus housing is like that... I'm moving off campus as soon as my lease is up.

Thursday was Stony Brook orientation which was much longer and a whole lot less fun. From nine to five all incoming graduate students were lectured on how to use the library, the campus computer system, and other things that were virtually identical to what we all had to use as undergraduates. Still, there was a significant amount of departmental bonding as we all had to suffer through an hour lecture on how to make copies. I also joined the TA union which is apparently trying to negotiate a better contract for all graduate teaching assistants. Although all of us in the psychology department make significantly more, the minimum wage for a graduate teaching assistant is a paltry 8,000 a year. Which is clearly much to low to live on, even for graduate students. The union is also trying to institute a graded payment system for which more experienced TAs are granted a higher stipend.

Classes and my teaching assistanceship start next week. So expect a post about that sooner or later. From what I've been told, the first semester of graduate school is the most stressful, so I am trying to force myself be even more organized then I was as an undergrad. Some students are able to fit all of their grad school activities into an (often extended) 9-5 workday. I'm going to try to do the same... or at least try to sleep, eat, and do nonpsychology-related activities on some regular schedule.

Where was this John Kerry four years ago?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Periodic Table of Videos

Chemists at the University of Nottingham have created a version of the periodic table with a short movie clip detailing some of the unique properties of each element. It sounds pretty dry, but the clips are actually really entertaining as they are chock full of geeky science humor. Each clip combines a description of the element as well as an (often explosive) demonstration of its chemical properties.

Here is a trailer made to give people a feel for the project.

This is the clip for sodium. In it, sodium is reacted with water (twice!) and sodium is described as motherly.

The project's website contains links to all of the videos as well as biographies of all the chemists involved. Check it out.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

First Post

I think its all the research reports I've had to write in the last couple of years, but I feel that I should begin this blog by outlining its purpose. Initially, I was just going to make a blog to let people know what I was doing while I live and study here on Long Island. However, I will likely be spending the vast majority of my time just going to classes and doing research... not terribly interesting things to read (and write) about every week. Therefore, I will probably write about a wider range of topics than just my own life. For example, if I see an interesting movie or find a really good chili recipe look for a post about it here. Of course, I will also post pictures and updates about what I am actually doing, I just won't do that exclusively.