May 21

Graduation Finally Arrives

mom-and-jimmyThe last semester has been rough in more ways than one, but this weekend, it all came to an end! My courses are all over and my exams are finished. I’m done with Alpha Phi Omega and the American Society for Microbiology, the two organizations I put the most time into while at GMU. The last several days have been dedicated to that completion and also to the conferral of my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. I concentrated in Microbiology.

It was strange saying goodbye for the last time to many friends who are either going off into the working world or moving to other states for graduate school. I for one am a bit relieved, not to lose friends, but to have a chance at a fresh start and a new opportunity to present myself. I feel like I’ve changed a lot since freshman year and am trying my hardest to “cast aside childish ways,” etc.

Activities this long weekend included ceremonies for the Honors Program in General Education (essentially my gen-eds), the Scholars Program, the Biology Department, College of Science Convocation, and finally, University Commencement. I heard numerous speeches, several by our University President, Alan G. Merten, as well as those by Steve Case of AOL and Professor Bakash from my new Alma Mater.

Interwoven with my graduation exercises, my mom graduated from VCU’s School of Nursing! We drove down to her convocation after mine and then back up to Fairfax for my Commencement. All in all it was a great experience, but by the end of it I had no more energy at all. When I got home after move-out, I immediately slept for 3 hours.

Here are the pictures some of you have been DYING to get your hands on!  If I get more I’ll add them to the album.

I’ve put together a little slideshow for your enjoyment:

Wish my mom and I luck on our post-graduate futures! Hopefully everything will be smooth sailing from here on out! ;)

May 13

Science IS Sexy! [GAS]

the-pen-is-mightierRecently I figured out that while I may not be an expert on anything in particular, I AM more knowledgeable about science than most of the people out there on the internet.  This is only because I’ve studied the subject and they have, presumably, studied something else.

For this reason, the idea of writing science articles occurred to me and Yan over at GeeksAreSexy.net (or [GAS] as he calls it) has been gracious enough to let me try my hand at it.  Thus far I am calling the column “Science is Sexy” as a play on the site’s name.  The response has been very warm for the most part and some of the articles have garnered great interest and praise from the readers.

Here are the first three that I have gotten from brain to keyboard to blog:

The last one was kind of a challenge because I’m really no physicist.  For the moment I may stick with either general science or bioscience topics.  If you have any requests I’d love to hear them (though I can’t promise anything…my knowledge is more limited than people expect).

[“I tend to scribble a lot” from Unhindered by Talent on Flickr, CC]

May 12

Finally Finally Done! [Final Exams]

One down...Today I took the last of my dreaded senior year exams.  My last “real” exam, Ecology, was yesterday, but today, with the completion of my IT 103 exam, I’m no longer under any academic tether of George Mason University.

That being said, I don’t feel any different than before.  Maybe the stress is gone, but I’m still going to UMD in the fall and I’m still going home for part of the summer.  I’m hoping that graduation exercises will really help me realize where I’ve gotten in my life.  Yes, I’m one of those people who benefits from those sorts of pomps and circumnstances.  Plus our commencement speaker is one of the co-founders of AOL I think.

Anyway, be on the lookout for lots of great graduation pictures…if I can remember to bring my camera!

[Image created by Jimmy Rogers, constructed from GMU’s Logo and a checkmark]

May 08

Star Trek Premier with the ThinkGeek Staff

[My longer review of Star Trek can be found at Geeks Are Sexy.]

Yesterday, ThinkGeek twittered that they were having a big company viewing of the new Star Trek movie today.  Not only that, but they had a few extra tickets and generously put them up for whoever wanted them first!  Well I tweeted my fastest to @thinkgeek and happily I grabbed one of them!

Long story short, today was awesome.  I got to the theater around 1pm and piled into to the stadium seating with all the other geeks there.  On my row were John Frazier (aka, Fraize), Hans, Carrie, and a bunch of other cool people.

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That empty seat in the middle is mine…I was right in the thick of it.  All the red shirts are Star Trek “red shirts,” the ultimate symbol of expendability.  Fraize and the guy next to him were apparently the captain and Bones, respectively.  I also saw some Defcon and coding shirts in there too.  Personally I had on my Back to the Future shirt, which was the geekiest thing I had, but in the end it worked well with the movie (spoiler: it’s got time travel!).  [Another pic with me in it has since been posted…can you find me?]

I really enjoyed the new Star Trek.  I feel like it really breathed new life into the old franchise.  The casting was awesome for sure.  I was most surprised by Bones because he’s a kind of subtle character, in my opinion, but the guy playing him did a great job evoking McCoy’s spirit.

What did everybody else thing of the movie?

And thanks again to ThinkGeek for treating me!  Here’s their blog post about it.

May 07

Writing About Science (Part 1)

I figure I’ll start out this blog with my take on science writing.

the-pen-is-mightier

Scientists construct papers and journals all the time that make validated statments about the nature of the universe. These publications serve as permanent records of scientific research.

Journalists, on the other hand, have to answer to different standards.  The role of the journalist, on the other hand, is essentially to inform. This puts the science writer into a strange position, because in some respects he is informing, but in others he is actually educating.  To top it all off, the science writer needs to add a level of relevancy to the piece so that readers will see how it applies to their own place in the world.

When I first began blogging, I was exclusively a technology blogger, writing about the news and general minutia that makes up the bulk of the tech side of the internet.  Low level tech blogging essentially consists of taking other stories, digesting them, and regurgitating them as a new, slightly updated story.  It didn’t teach me all that much about journalism of any kind, but it cemented my skills in blog editing and getting a lot written in a short amount of time (many of the stories were time sensitive).

After several iterations of freelance blogging, I got the opporunity to write about more general topics.  Instead of geeky technology news, I branched out into other geeky areas as well.  I wrote an article about how magicians use the internet.  Since that didn’t receive much acclaim, I tried out a few science articles.  I was surprised by two things immediately:

  1. How easy they had been to write
  2. How many people seemed to really have benefitted from them

Now I don’t want to oversell myself here, I only have an undergraduate education, but it was at that point that I realized how important it intelligible science could be to everyone, not just genuine scientists.  People are naturally seekers of truth.  Most are hindered by the immensely complex nature of the universe.  It is up to specialists to parse out that complexity and allow people to do what comes naturally to them: seek out the truth.

Later on I will continue this article in Part 2…

[“I tend to scribble a lot” from Unhindered by Talent on Flickr, CC]