Archive for the ‘tribute’ Category

Insects On Crack

Ever since I’ve been little, I’ve never really paid attention to insects. In my house I would encounter the occasional daddy-long legs spider or see a cockroach creeping across the floor and get the urge to kill it. I’d think, “No, you nasty spider! This is my domain!” and pick up a Kleenex and dispose of that trespasser. I never actually had the ambition to join a club based on something that I don’t really have an interest in. At the beginning of the college year, I was given the task for my Engineering 100 course to join a club or organization and report what you plan to do with such a club in the future. I didn’t really think of it much at first, but then I realized that all throughout high school, I never really ever -not a single time- branched out and stuck with something that was out of my comfort zone and gotten to know other people with strong ambitions in another field. This thought ignited my interest in exploring other options during Quad Day (where all of the clubs join in for an event at the beginning of the year and try to recruit students) and find that one club that would give me a view over that wall. When I saw Club Insecta, I may not have immediately known that that was going to be my outreach group, but after reviewing my other options, I knew it was the one I wanted to “tag along with” and discover what exactly the world is like through the eyes of an Entomologist.

During the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, I went on a trip with the club to Kennekuk Illinois in western Illinois, and later Turkey Run State Park in Indiana, initially to observe. Knowing me, I was easily interested in how easily these students (mainly seniors and graduate students) know how to collect and identify insects in the natural environment and get to see up close insects that I’ve never heard of. I am absolutely surprised by their amazing ability to spot such small caterpillars, spiders, or millipedes in a field of grass with short a short time-span of observation. I had a lot of fun getting to know these students and learning about entomology. Several members still haven’t gotten over the fact that I am the only engineering major in the club, and lighten up conversations by asking questions about what civil is all about and why I chose it. Despite being the minority of the club, I still enjoy coming in to the meetings of the club. During one, we had a graduate student specializing in the psychology of bees give a talk about his research with these insects.  I never knew that certain varieties of bees only do their dance on a horizontal plane, while others only do theirs on a vertical plane, or that the scientific name of the bumblebee literally translates as nectar carrier, yet as a big misconception, bumblebees actually carry pollen, which is converted into glucose within the hive. Although I didn’t get as “hands-on” in the field as a lot of the other students, I still had fun learning from experts in the field about the tricks-of-the-trade, and of course, taking incredible insect photos. I got to know this one student in the club named Tyler, who is also in Horticulture Club with me, show me how to get an Orb Weaver spider to stay still if you want to get a photo of it. I think it was absolutely hilarious how the web from the spider continued to be spun around Tyler’s hand as he tired out the spider. On the side is my absolutely incredible photo that I took – with a camera phone- of this Orb Weaver, a natural insect of the prarie environment.

Knowing many of my friends, this sort of practice of spending time with insects or learning is rather creepy or bizarre, and the club understands that. We have recently been trying to branch out and get people to be interested in insects. The club sort of lightens the subject by hosting events such as the Insect Fear Film Festival or Insect Day, in which a booth is set up in the middle of the Quad and the club explains the “Wow Box” which is basically a box full of curated insects with pins through them and labels added to help bring in the crowd. I’m not exactly sure if my own outlook on insects has changed due to the club. I definitely think a lot more about them now, investing time in videos such as “spiders on crack” or reading the posts on the Club Insecta blog, clubinsecta.wordpress.com. I’m not exactly sure how I should treat the situation when there is an insect crawling on the floor now. Maybe I’ll play it cool and let it out the window or something, as I would respond in a perfect world. No… not on the twelfth floor of a residence hall building. For now I’m resorting to Kleenex-ing them.

Michael

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Experiment

Of Brilliance and Mediocrity

(April 29th, 2010)

Dear amazing teacher-filled Planet Earth,

Imagine: coming into English one day expecting a rather dull discussion on the usage of a semi-colon and realizing that by the end of the class period, all the students have their cell phones out marveling at the outline of a dead body under a rug. Well, that’s exactly how the scenario played out today! My English teacher pondered over what to make out of a slightly used pair of sweatpants left over from another class period. Before you know it there is a group of high-schoolers helping her stuff the pant-legs with construction paper and creating a crime scene in the middle of the classroom floor. These quirky mannerisms are what make this year so captivating.  Everyone’s had that teacher who has created some wild, unforgettable moment to shatter that absurd boring aspect of education. There is an amazing, unique person that always adds light to the confines of the dull cement block walls or the painstakingly over-original shade of slumber brown reflecting off of the bulletin boards. I’m talking about the person who really captures a vivid environment for their students by hanging random paper mache molds of ham, a giant sculpture of a green egg from the book by Dr. Seuss, a festival of lights from the dry-erase board or a small stuffed pair of toddler jeans disguised as a flower planter and referred to as “the half girl”. I’m talking about the teacher who will make every occasion count by bringing in an enormous glowing elephant lawn decoration during the week before winter break and set it up with a group while one classmate reads from the instructions, the one who puts up a Youtube video of a blazing fireplace on the overhead projector and dims the lights when the temperature in the room is cold. This is the teacher who adds random images of dopey-looking horses or adorable squirrels on intermittent slide shows to loosen the scene or cut out a shape of a duck from paper after she asks you to blurt out any animal from the top of your head. I hope I’m not gloating by saying that my English teacher is among some of the most wacky of all the figureheads at my school. I don’t want to spread the idea that nothing work-related gets accomplished. Instead, my teacher just makes it an enjoyable experience. Before assigning a five-paragraph essay, my teacher once acted out a skit based on the television show, CSI. She blows away the previous definition that school is a place solely of study and learning and makes every day memorable.

By the way, Connor recently had his entry accepted on GraphJam, a downright hilarious website full of charts, diagrams, and of course, graphs. I recommend that you check it out, he would really appreciate more viewers! Anyway, click here to see it.


A Much Anticipated Post

(April 27th, 2010)

Dearest Planet Earth, our exotic and beloved home,

I had a ball celebrating this year’s Earth Day with the annual feature-length film by Disneynature. I have found that it is a tradition to go with my friends each year to see nothing more than landscapes and animals on planet Earth. I treated myself to the film, Oceans, which came out on Thursday and was rather impressed. My friend interested in Zoology pointed out the names of sea creatures mentioned and kept me fed with random facts throughout the film. Even though the film did not have a distinguishable plot, line of characters, or special effects, all I can say is that the visuals truly capture your eye  and keep you attentive to this documentary. Every once in a while we would feast our eyes on the impressive feat of a whale or dolphin shooting out of the depths of the water or gasp at the ocean-floor-dwellers devouring their innocent prey. We would laugh at the penguins sliding on the ice into the antarctic waters or stare in awe as the baby sea turtles slowly dug their way to the surface of the sandy beach.  There was some brilliant footage of certain parts of the ocean that I never knew existed. It is such a vast area, and there are probably parts in the dark depths that man has never travelled. I wouldn’t say that I am that interested so much as to watch the entire volume of Planet Earth CDs by Discovery, but I just feel that every Earth Day we should treat ourselves to a little piece of the grand world that surrounds us and understand the power of protecting the environment and promoting life of all living creatures. Just like almost every nature documentary, Oceans talked about how pollution of the waters  has disrupted the lives of innumerable sea-creatures. It was rather sad to see a transition from crystal clear blue ocean to rusty, dirty pools of trash. At one point it showed a whole shopping cart on underwater on bed of sand. I mean, really, of all things? It would be rather nice if humans could just get along with this other parallel dimension. For a small segment at the end of the film, it showed a scuba diver approaching an innocuous shark swimming freely through the water. The diver followed the movements of its tail in a peaceful way as to not frighten it and kept up for it for some time. Such a bond between man and shark clearly shows how people can come closer to animals and stop abusing them.

Ever since the end of winter break, the focus of junior year has been on achievement in the upcoming test: the ACT. So far I’ve gone to classes for the five sections, just so that I can work for a higher score. We’ve taken a practice five-paragraph essay twice in English class. This test is just looked upon so seriously: it decides the level of college that you get into and decides the direction of your life. The intimidation starts with the fact that juniors have to sit in a room for five hours with one twenty-minute break in the middle. Electronic devices are denied entrance; not even a book or a snack out in the open.  The test alone is not even built to finish on a humane level. Having to look down at a bubbling sheet for hours, the neck gradually starts to suffer from such pain. The rather mind-numbing part, the essay question, is right at the end: the last thing that one wants to think about at that point of the test. The reading section is what I am mainly worried about. It is preposterous that the test only supplies thirty minutes to complete four readings and answer questions on each, in no particular order of difficulty or appearance in the reading. My weakness of reading fights against me in this test. Luckily my strength in mathematics helps me a bit. The math section is not only simple, but actually enjoyable. I finished the practice test with plenty of time to spare since I viewed each question as a puzzle or brain-teaser. Well, this test is tomorrow and I hope to say that I feel ready for it. Sleep and a healthy breakfast is what every adult has to tell you to do the night before, so I will definitely strive for that. I just hope my brain can deal with the intellectual burden that the ACT forces upon everyone.


I discovered something rather new this weekend: the intense flavor and texture of a homemade pizza. A couple of months ago a new pizza delivery service, HomeMade Pizza Co,  was erected in our neighborhood. Without a doubt, they have a unique style of preparing dishes. The company pools all the dough and toppings together and allows customers to cook pizzas from home in the oven or on the grill to truly press the title of “freshly baked”. This literal interpretation becomes profoundly visible when this bakery-fresh delicacy arrives at the dinner table. Beforehand, the customer is given a variety of options on the structure of their pizza: from breading to cheeses, sauces, and toppings to spices. It is now perfectly acceptable to call this a finely crafted piece of art, suited to the consumer’s taste. I absolutely loved the first time I tried my own. I decided on a sausage pizza with basil and oregano spices; I could already smell the sticky dough brim when I tore the plastic wrap off. Overall, this pizza has a natural taste, unlike the greasy fast-food pizzas from places like Dominoes or Pizza Hut. The bread is just like heaven: it is nice and fluffy inside, feels and tastes fresh on the outside. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to any pizza lover, since the restaurant gives you the freedom to experiment with different flavors. Their website is located here.


The Less Taken Path

(March 12th, 2010)

Dear Car Riding, Gas Guzzling, Ignorant Planet Earth,

I’d like to make every day a day open to adventure. One where the eyes shift around the diverse landscape in every direction, admiring all of the earthy colors and natural architectural masterpieces.  And one breathes in the aroma of the trees and the after-effect of a rainfall to be fully enveloped in the real world. The world that we are provided, not one constructed solely by man. I’d like to step inside a consistently shifting world that shines a cheerful expression at the coming of the following season. In order to fully appreciate such a majestic world, it is really as simple as opening your eyes. What I mean is, opening up to the world around you and using all of your senses to admire it. This, I fear, is something left out of a busy work day: the simple ability to be conscious of your surroundings. A contemporary worker is droned out under the barbaric noise of a Blue-tooth headset or trapped inside a car: such an object that shields oneself from the outside world. As for myself, I feel that almost every day I can manage to catch a mighty breath of the outside world. I walk about 1.67 miles every day to get home from school. This type of activity has given rise to questioning of some students that I am familiar with. They are so used to driving from place to place in the nick of time or at least catching a ride from their friend. I do agree that driving would make the process of transportation largely smoother, but without my daily walk I just feel like a large part of me is left out of each day. As a person strongly opposed to any sort of athletic sport,  I do believe that walking is enough to get myself into shape. Physical education just forces people to do activities that they don’t want to do, so there is little, if any motivation. On my walk, I just feel so alive since I am in touch with what is around me. Walking just leads to this feeling of strength and power.  I feel as though every stride that I take has meaning towards something great. Some days I eventually feel like running to release all the strength I have accumulated from this path, this winding sidewalk that I follow for 1.67 miles. I take it all in: the trees, the grass, the sky, and I feel something that others may not experience on a day-to-day basics. I look at the cars zooming past me and I just ignore it. Not once have I felt any sort of jealousy that they could get to where they are heading faster. I look at them and see all of their suffering. I watch them wait in traffic and I can just feel the negative vibes flowing from their automobiles. I feel like smiling, I feel as though I’m doing the right thing by getting exercise, by not wasting gasoline, by taking in my surroundings. People in the cars that zoom past think they have all the power, but they are wrong. I know there will be a day, though, when I follow in their footsteps. When I get my license and my walking days would just flow out the window. Poof! All of the memory lost. I cherish it now because I am young and I know that at heart I am the champion of the sidewalks.

Making Life Easy


What would you do if life had an easy button? If only all the pain and misery of life could be whirled away with the touch of a button. Unfortunately, we can’t always take the least difficult method to get out of that jungle of chaos and stress. In fact, that is what most attracts us to life: the adventure, the dare-driven stunts that keep us out of a world of complete boredom and dullness. Now that Winter Break is in effect, that is what this world has turned into: a shriveled up mess of unaccomplished, bleak, labor-less people who stay home all day and play games or watch movies. Winter Break is when the easy button comes into effect at full-throttle: relaxing people to a level way below the standard, causing them to procrastinate, become lazy, and ignore work when we come back in the New Year. I’ve been a victim to this labor-free routine for quite some time, and I hope that blogging will help keep me on track and disciplined so that I don’t get smacked with an overload of stress when I return from break. At its zenith the easy button would destroy the work ethic of humanity. At a lower setting, it would keep workers from going insane, which makes it welcomed quite sparingly in the form of a weekend. Although it is powerful when used, the easy button would be beneficial to our world, especially for over-worked people who wake up before the crack-of-dawn and come back late at night, exhausted. Let’s all ease life down a little bit.

Interior Design (I’m Finally Back!)

I would like to start off by saying how glad I am that Winter Break has started. It seems as though it has been on everyone’s mind for weeks and finally the day (or more accurately week) has come for celebration. So far my break has been quite hectic because of my move. I am proud to announce that we have finally settled in and I am thankfully starting to enjoy the comfort that this house has to offer. I never realized how much I adored the power of internet until I was stranded without it for a couple of days. Luckily I found things to keep me occupied. I started to decorate my walls and put lights up around my room and it is starting to feel like my own private paradise.  In a tragic way I was reminded of when I was decorating my igloo on Club Penguin: I think that is what started me to have interest in interior design, quite sadly. Well, to continue, it was a nightmare having to go through all the boxes and picking out things from the large assortment. After countless experiences, I’ve realized that the greatest thing about a bedroom is a theme that is clearly visible, since it electrifies the personality of the one staying in the room. I know it seems a bit odd to pay so much attention to a single bedroom, but I found that it was worth it in the end. I have to admit that I am a huge fan of everything tropical and beach-y, and this part of me is reflected on the walls and shelves of my personal space. Over the years I have collected wall ornaments and other decorations in the shape of palm trees, fish, dolphins, surfboards, and islands. I’ve always felt this warm sense of comfort when I decorate like this. It helps, especially since we are in the dead of winter. I think everyone ought to find something to spice their surroundings up with. Just be creative! Here’s a picture of my back wall of my room:

Anyway, Christmas has just passed, and I’m sorry I wasn’t there to make everyone’s holiday wishes come true on account of my lack of internet. I hope everyone had a nice time with family and friends this season. and I hope everyone is excited for New Years as much as I am! Can anyone believe that a new decade is coming? 2010 all the way!