Thursday, December 29, 2005


Josh graduated this December with a MS in Marriage and Family Therapy. He has a real job now...the first time either of us do since we've been married!

Josh and Amanda Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Surprise

We were on our way home Friday for Christmas weekend. We stopped in Stillwater to get gas and went to look at the puppies. We couldn't leave her behind so we took her. We had to go back home, eat, and get her a box. We didn't name her until Sunday. Pistol Padme Nichols is her name; Pistol for Pistol Pete (OSU) and Padme from Star Wars. I know, we're dorky!

Our Christmas puppy Padme Posted by Picasa

Newman and Padme Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Last Lab Session

I had my last lab today for the semester. The students only had to check out of their lockers. Today check-out went quickly. Even my slow students, moved it today. I was done in an hour, as oppossed to my usual over 3-hour-long-labs. Apparently, everbody in the lab was ready for it to be over.
Friday-Monday I'll be grading lots and lots..and then I'm done for the semester! Well at least with TA duties.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Ok, so I went a little overboard on my Thanksgiving picture. BUT I just figured out how to post. I had to put pictures on my blog!

Dad and Josh shotting hoops Posted by Picasa

..and Josh shoots! Posted by Picasa

Showing my basketball skills on Thanksgiving day! Posted by Picasa

Josh and Cowboy Posted by Picasa

Me and Mom Posted by Picasa

Peggy and Josh Posted by Picasa

Mom and Dad Posted by Picasa

Eating Our Thanksgiving Meal Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Back From Thanksgiving Break

Well, I had a great Thanksgiving break. We took an extra long one...more relaxing and fun! My first day back (yesterday), I TA-ed all day long. It was a long day since my students had a lab final to complete. They had to solve this forensic crime scenario. Two bodies had gotten mixed up, and they had to figure out what body came from what lake and the cause of death: accidental or murder. Two girls found alcohol in the blood, but didn't know if that meant it was murder or an accident. I asked them if they had ever seen CSI or Law and Order.
That's how I would know it was an accident. Hopefully, they ended up figuring it out even though they had somehow managed to never see a forensic show.

Monday, November 21, 2005

New Daylight Savings Time!

Did you know that in 2007 our dates for daylight savings time will change? To save energy, daylight time will start 3 weeks earlier and end a week later. People who have already heard about this change are already worried. It's another (smaller) Y2K scare. Our computers won't change on time. When will our cell phone anytime minutes begin? What about new VCRs that change automatically for daylight savings time?
Don't worry. We got through Y2K...I think we can handle this without riots and social breakdown.

Nitrogen Misconceptions...An Education

So I'm about to get on a soapbox. Misclaims about science. I was reading this article in C&EN about how people are advocating that we put pure nitrogen into our tires instead of just plain air. This is proof that you should not believe everything you hear on the news...the following claims are from newspeople along with the scientific (real) answer.

1. "Nitrogen is four times heavier than oxygen, so those molecules are bigger and won't be able to escape through the small leaks in your tires."
Actually, nitrogen is lighter than oxygen, but it's such a small difference, it wouldn't make a difference in this case.

2. Because "nitrogen is very dry", "your tires stay inflated longer." "There will be less pressure fluctuation than you get with oxygen."
So water vapor could build up in your tire from moisture-laden air, but the water should escape from tiny leaks.

3. "The moisture in oxygen can prematurely corrode your tires."
What??!! Far-fetched and never has been seen.

So now you can say, "That's not true!" when you hear people say we should put nitrogen in our tires instead of air. You can give them nerdy reasons why not.

Friday, November 18, 2005

You Might be a Chemist if...

• you wash your hands BEFORE going to the bathroom.

• you put your coat on after you get to work.

• you think Chemistry is pHun.

• you can't see the word molasses without thinking of a joke.

• you think mathematicians are less nerdy than physicists.

• you think about designing a container for a universal solvent.

• you can't watch a pharmaceutical commercial without correcting the pronunciations.

• you become preoccupied thinking about the wave function of a duck.

• the only lab experiments you remember are those that you screwed up.

• the only lab experiments you talk about are those that somebody else screwed up.

• you read the word "unionized" without any thoughts of labor and management.

• you look at yourself in a mirror and try to decide which is D and which is L.

• you truly believe that a neat desk indicates a frightened mind.

• you observe National Mole Day on 10/23, and have even calculated the "mole second".

• several of your colleagues remind you of John Forbes Nash, Jr. in the movie "A

Beautiful Mind" - without the brilliance, of course.

--From the University of Missouri-Rolla Chem. Dept. page (

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Banana Oil

In lab today, my students made banana oil. How many people actually like the smell of bananas? I was sick by the end of class from the smell. A few weeks ago, they isolated a compound that smells like black licorice. I loved it. It made most people have asthma attacks though.
I always wonder if I smell like an organic lab when I leave. I hope not. I don't want people thinking I smell like bananas today. Gag me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Journal Writing

I spent all afternoon working on a journal article over my research. It's really hard to organize all my research and interpret it. Kudos for others who have successfully written a journal article! I feel like a first grader trying to write a coherent story. It's just sentences strung together that kinda make sense. At least, this will help me out when it comes to writing a dissertation. I don't even want to think about that!

Sickly TA

So two weekends ago I got pretty sick. I think I had the flu. I dragged myself up to school on Tuesday for my lab I teach. Looking back, I was pretty pathetic. Besides giving all my students my flu germs, I was pretty sickly looking I'm sure. I just sat on a desk against the wall the whole 3 hours and tried not to pass out. The professor came in and announced, "Amanda feels like poo (yes, that were her words) so don't bother her with questions." Of course, I still got questions. I just coughed on my students and probably gave incorrect information since I couldn't think straight.
This week I'm much better thank goodness.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Lab Summary

So my lab section just finished a 3-day difficult lab where they have to identify an unknown compound. It freaks them out. They can't ask the TA's really anything so they're on their own. (Well, kinda. They have checkpoints where they talk to the prof to make sure they're on the right track.) I was just there in the lab to make sure nobody blew themselves up. Here are some of my favorite things I saw or heard the past few lab periods:

1. I had to titrate 12 times! (They only needed 3 trials.)

2. So what do you think my data means? (Stop asking me that! I can't answer any questions!)

3. One group figured out what they had by luck, and then realized they had some wrong test results. They just go back and scratch out their old results and change their results. A big no-no in the science world.

4. One group decides they are almost done so on the 3rd day, they decide to come the last 45 minutes of lab (out of 3 hours) so they can sleep in. Nice plan...they ended up just guessing at their compound's identity.

5. Me: What was the volume of the base you added to your acid during the titration?
Clueless Student: 20 drops.
Me: Uh, you need an actual in milliliters. That's why you use
that glass tube with numbers and markings on it. (Also called a buret.)
Oh, and that's what your directions tell you to do as well.
Clueless Student: Oh, well, I'll just estimate. 2 milliliters sound good.

When Scientists Say (and do) Nerdy Things...

So scientists can be nerdy. Let's not add to it with nerdy sayings. Here are a few actual things I've heard chemists say recently...

1. Let's take a look at a spectacular spectrum. (I think he was trying to wake us up in seminar.)
2. I conducted my own experiment at home. (This one is quite common.)
3. I created my own excel sheet to solve this critical thinking puzzle. (For fun.)

I think it's common for scientists to talk to themselves in public. I found myself doing it not too long ago while I worked in the library trying to figure out some chemistry. I stopped myself. Today, one of my fellow chemists was talking to himself the whole morning. No wonder people classify us as wierdos. It's uncomfortable when you see somebody arguing with him/herself. It makes you run away very quickly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Forever Band Nerd

So apparently band nerdiness is with you forever. I was in lab yesterday talking to a few girls. It came up that I was in band in high school. When I went to the other side of the lab, some other girls asked me what I had played in band because they had overheard me. I said clarinet. One girl says she had pegged me as a colorguard girl. Whatever that means. I confessed I was in winterguard for a semester but that was enough for me. Then one of them says she thought I was drum major because she could imagine me blowing a whistle and giving out orders. I tell them I was drum major for 2 years and they exclaim, "I knew it!" Obviously, I'm a big nerdy, bossy TA in the lab. Glad my students notice it. Ha!

20 Random Things

Ok, April S. tagged me for 20 random things about myself...
1. I'm a sucker for chai lattes.
2. I have the smallest bladder in the world. I freqently have to walk down the hall from my lab to the bathroom; I'm sure the people in their labs think I'm a slacker always walking around.
3. I wear long johns from about October to March.
4. I'm currently on a make-up kick...buying more than usual and wearing more often.
5. I'm OCD about card on the back of pews at church. The membership cards, etc. need to be organized and straight.
6. I won't buy any vanilla mint or cinnamom flavored toothpaste because I think it'll make my teeth dirty again...I'll need to brush them again!
7. I have to sleep with my closet door closed.
8. I like to dip my french fries in Wendy's frosties.
9. I have to go outside and play the first time it snows every year.
10. I would get another tatoo but can't find a good spot on my body for it.
11. I frequently dye my hair...I haven't seen the natural color in years.
12. I really like the TV shows: 24 and Lost.
13. I like to lift weights. I really like it when I lift the same barbell that some guy is using.
14. I'm pretty girly. One week a year at camp is all I can take.
15. I love the sunsets here in Stillwater.
16. I make good homemade basil tomato pasta and chocolate coffee cake from scratch.
17. I went to every football game in high school. I've gone to almost every home football game in graduate school. I still don't know the rules. All I know is that getting the ball to the endzone is good.
18. I really would like to get a weimaraner for my next dog.
19. I know a lot about narcolepsy and marriage and family therapy (via my husband) for not being in either field.
20. I want to live in a country neighborhood one day and keep horses.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Just Call Me Alias

So working in the lab today was so interesting, I fell asleep at my desk for awhile. I dreamed that I was Alias (Sydney Bristow, CIA agent) trying to gather information off the computers in my research lab. People kept bugging me though. Students talking to me. Professors asking me questions. Everytime somebody came into my workspace, I had to stop what I was doing and pretend to work. I couldn't gather important information for the CIA! Then I woke up and was quite confused for about a minute.

That dream was a lot like real life though. People preventing me from pretending to work. Well, you get the picture.

Anyway, just call me Alias. At least in my dream, I could kick butt if needed.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Welp, it's fall break for us, but Josh and I are not going anywhere. Work is calling our name. I so need some motivation to study and work...I think 7 years of college is finally catching up to me. Only 2-3 more left!
Here is a list of things I would rather be doing on my fall break than work...(in no particular order):

1) Go to the beach. Hawaii would be nice. But I would take Padre Island too.
2) Veg with my pal April S. in SA, Tejas. Oh, and eat real Mexican food again.
3) Shopping spree. Anywhere but Stillwater. I could get xmas shopping done.
4) Vist my other friend April in Germany...I could crash the newlyweds' apt.
5) Run away with Josh...leave school behind and all our responsibilities. Oh, and we would take Newman our dog too.
6) Road trip down to Lubbock to see my new friend Monica. And while we're at it, we'll fly April and April over too.

So I guess that's my motivation. Work now, travel and spend mula later.
Happy working!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Lab Entertainment

Ok, I might have the slowest lab section ever. But they are entertaining. We might have to stay late everytime, but at least I laugh during lab.
Case in point, this last week, I stepped out of the lab briefly to speak to a professor. When I came back in to make an important announcement, I was stopped by a sight. Apparently, this girl was trying to take off her sweatshirt, but it got stuck since she forgot to take off her lab goggles and cap. So this guy was trying to help her take off her sweatshirt over the goggles and cap. But he was having a struggle with it, too. That's when I walked into the lab. It just looked wrong.
Then I have some heavy flirting going on between two students. It's like watching some teeny-bopper movie unfold. The same guy that tried to take the sweatshirt off the one girl, different girl though. hmm, interesting.
Well, at least the time flies when I'm laughing.

Monday, September 19, 2005

What Scientists Watch on TV

So apparently there are surveys done that ask scientists random questions about their everyday lives in The Scientist magazine. I was eating lunch and picked up an old issue today. The poll question was asking scientists what they spend their time watching on TV. Most of their time was spent watching science documentaries. Really? Really? Are we lying here fellow scientists because we think that's what we're soppossed to watch on TV? Well, I can honestly say that science documentaries are NOT high on my TV watch list. I'm gearing up for LOST beginning again this Wednesday night.
I will say that watching comedy shows ranked fairly high with this group too. That's surprising. I would venture a guess that us chemists don't usually watch the comedy shows; I don't think we would follow it.

Favorite Quotes by a Chemist I Know

"Oh, that group is definitely organic chemists...they're still wearing their conference nametags in the restaurants...what nerds."
(The person that said this is an inorganic chemist.)

"He's like a camel. If you let his head in the tent, pretty soon his whole body will be there in the tent with you."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

No Embarrasing Moment Today

I just want to say that I managed to do a review session for a couple of hours without ripping my pants off (see two entries before if you're confused). I did run into the trashcan (a few times) walking backwards while I was explaining something...but hey, I'll take that over flashing a group of students anyday.

Chemist Competitiveness

I really think chemists are naturally competitive with each other. If someone had to stay up all night in the lab running a reaction, you know that person will tell you about it the next day. Then your reply will one-up that chemist by saying, "Yeah, well I was up all night writing a proposal." It's not totally uncommon for a chemist to take a stab at some other chemist's research and point out the defects (in a jokingly way). This competitiveness flows into other aspects of life of a chemist. Case in point, I was playing dots with a collegue of mine during a boring meeting. I was constantly scanning the dots looking for an edge and cringed when I would make a bad move. After I lost the game, I realized how competitive I became at a simple game of dots. I don't think I would have been as competitive if my opponent was a non-chemist. Later this month, our chemistry department will play our rival school's chemistry department at an annual softball game. Are chemists athletes? Uh, usually not. But that doesn't mean we won't get out there on the field and become competitive wannbe jocks. So do chemists become competitive from the program or are chemists naturally competitive and attracted to this field? I think it's probably a combination. We chemists are probably a bit gun-ho anyway, but the department just brings it out more. So for all you chemists (and other people that are in similar fields)...we've got to slow down and relax. It's okay if we're not the best. I say we need to chill on our competitiveness.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pretty Panties

It's pretty common knowledge that I'm not the most graceful person. It's not uncommon for me to stumble or run into furniture. Today was no different. During my office hours, I was tutoring several students (about 20 or so) in a large classroom. I kept running into tables and what not. Then I ran into this cabinet and somehow the handle caught hold of my back jean pocket. Yep, you guessed it. My jeans got ripped open with one butt cheek falling out. Oh, but do I notice right away? NO! I walk across the room and sit down to help another student. Some girl in there had pity on me (bless her!) and came and whispered the truth to me. So I finished with my chemistry explanation with one hand over my butt and then ran to my office two floors down and across to the other side of the building. I run into a friend of mine who sees me in a frantic rush. I quickly tell him, "I ripped my pants open - I'm going for my jacket!" He yells after me, "Are you hurt?" I yell back running down the stairs, "No! Just incredibly embarrassed!" I retrieve my jacket and wrap it around my waist. But I have to go back to my office hours. My time isn't up yet. Students are completely lost in chemistry. So I swallow my pride and walk back in there. Nobody said anything, but I'm sure everyone in the class will know soon enough. The class is over 100 students. Exciting news. Well, I guess it could have been way worse. At least, I was wearing pretty panties. Granny panties would have been more embarrassing. A thong would have been mortifying.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

7 Things

So my buddy April S. has requested me to fulfill the following lists of 7 things each (in no particular order and with a slight list change):

7 Things I Want to Do Before I Die...
  • Learn to play guitar.
  • Be a mom.
  • Go to Europe.
  • Finish grad school.
  • Benchpress my weight.
  • Learn kickboxing or some other martial art fighting.
  • Learn to water ski.

7 Things I Can Do..

  • Explain chemistry (at least the basics).
  • Do the Karate Kid Crane kick.
  • Order Mexican food in the real language.
  • Clean like a professional maid (I just usually choose not to!)
  • Type correctly and quickly (thanks to high school keyboarding and IM on OC laptops).
  • Direct a marching band.
  • Bake some yummy desserts.

7 Things I Can't Do...

  • Camp in a tent.
  • Sing the harmony.
  • Whistle a tune (I can simply whistle).
  • Cut hair (and it look good).
  • Sleep with my closet door open.
  • Fully comprehend quantum mechanics.
  • Eat jalapeƱos.
7 Qualities I Like in the Opposite Sex...aka my husband Josh...
  • Strong Christian faith
  • Ability to make me laugh until I'm on the ground in hysterics
  • Smile with dimples
  • Talk about anything with me
  • Super strong
  • Systemic thinking compared to my linear thinking (that one's for you Josh!)
  • Encouraging attitude

7 Things I Say Most Often...

  • "Awesome!"
  • "Get out!" (not literally)
  • "No way!"
  • "What the crap?"
  • "Hellooooo!" (in the Kool-Aid Man voice from Seinfeld)
  • "Where are the lines?" (or anything with a hispanic accent; that one's for you April!)
  • "What in the world?"

7 Favorite Movies....

  • Shining Through
  • Braveheart
  • Walk in the Clouds
  • The Mummy Movies
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Cable Guy
  • Serendipity

7 People I Think Need To Do This List...

  • April E. (I stole you off April's list!)
  • Monica
  • Josh (you need to get a blog!)
  • uh, I don't know anybody else with a blog!
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?

Slow Group

So I love my group I have for lab. They are hardworking and fun. They follow the rules about appropriate lab wear and wearing their goggles. I don't have to be on their case about dumb stuff like that then.
But they're slow. Out of 6 labs, we have finished last everytime. And if you finish early we get to leave early! Yay! But we're usually there extra by a whole hour. I give them directions beforehand and ways to be efficient. I call out time warnings. I'll have to think about some ways to get them to quicken their pace. I got scared today when I overheard one student saying, "In all my labs, I always take the whole time...I'm always the slowest."
Maybe I should offer bonus points if they finish their labs in two hours instead of three...just kidding. At least, they have successful labs. Most of the time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Top Things Heard in the First Experiment

1. Can I just pour the powdered chemical onto the balance? (NO, that is why you have a spatula in your lab drawer.)
2. I spilled some acid.
3. CRASH! (Somebody drops a beakers and it breaks.)
4. Oh! Uh, water is coming up the drains and flooding the sinks. (Thanks to our building's lab pipes that are older than time.)
5. Where's the filter paper/pH paper?
6. I don't have any product! (In essence, your experiment didn't work.)
7. My calculations are way off. (Density of water should be around 1 g/mL; some people's densities were around 0.5 g/mL.)
8. I added acetone instead of water twice; I didn't read the bottle label (twice). I had to repeat the experiment three times.
9. Oh, I'm so behind!
10. Am I done yet?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Nerdy Quotes

So I was reading my handy dandy C&E (Chemical and Engineering) News yesterday (and yes, I read nerdy news magazines in my downtime). Anyway, in this book review I read I came across some great scientific quotes. See my blog summary for one of my favorites. I think the chem nerd stereotype maybe began with Linus Pauling. This is what he wrote (he was born at the beginning of the 20th century), "I try to identify myself with the atoms...I ask what I would do if I were a carbon atom or a sodium atom."
Maybe I should try that in my research...but if I do, I won't be telling anybody about it.

I Should've Asked...

So I volunteered to be on this committee through our graduate student organization. I should have asked for more information; I assumed it was a committee made up of students. So I show up for the first meeting wearing jeans and a T-shirt (my usual lab attire). I also have a muffin and a chai latte - I was hungry. Uh, I was the only student in the meeting. Apparently, I am the graduate student representative to a committee full of faculty members. They all are wearing suits and professional-looking clothes. I'm in old lab clothes munching on a muffin. Great first impression!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

TA-ing Inspiration

So I found out yesterday I get to TA this semester. I should have plenty of good stories coming soon. Like the student I had one year that offered me a business card about joining some organization that works at legalizing drugs. He liked to wear hemp bracelets. Or the student who couldn't figure out how to acquire 1 gram of a chemical and weigh it (he got confused and didn't know that he could scoop out the chemical from the big jar). There's also the good feeling you get when somebody understands chemistry from what you've explained. So here's to TA-ing!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Clarifications Between Geniuses and Smarties

Okay, so maybe I should clarify a couple things (see the comments on the previous post). There are smart people at all universities. And dumb people persist everywhere. I don't think you can get around it, sad to say. I have found that in my graduate program, it seems everybody else is smart. We're talking geniuses here. Or at least almost-geniuses. Oh, and yes, I guess I do talk to myself outloud as well, as my husband Josh has so kindly reminded me. I try to only do that in private though. One of Josh's new responsibilities when I entered grad school is to tell me when I start going over the line towards complete, socially-inept chemnerdness. I guess that's why I'm okay with not being a chemistry genius. I can still keep my thoughts silently in my head (most times) and have socially-stimulating conversations that have nothing to do with science. You know the kind I'm talking about...conversations about shoes, movies, and my puppy. Ha!

Friday, August 12, 2005


So I decided to jump on the blog bandwagon and start my own. I've finished two years of chemistry graduate school and still have at least a couple more to go. Graduate school at a large, public university was a totally different ballgame than my undergrad experience at a small, private university. Everybody was smart...really smart. Most everybody is all about work...that's their life. So to get through the stress, I have to laugh at the craziness around me. Case in point, my first week at school I run into the eccentric professor who talks to himself outloud in the hallway. I was embarrassed for him, but nobody else seemed to notice. Now I don't even notice it anymore. I guess I'm getting used to the "eccentric-ness" of my field.