Why New Years Eve is Worth Celebrating

New Years Eve… If I had to pick a favorite holiday, this would probably be it. That may seem like an odd choice, but the grand ideas of shedding away the previous year’s sins to embrace a whole new outlook has always been so inspiring to me. So much more than just a reinvigoration to lose weight or make improvements, I feel like New Years Eve embodies the human spirit of transformations and change.

I always used New Years Eve as a celebration of self freedom. So often do we enclose ourselves into self imposed rules and regulations of what we should do and how we should act. Too stuck in these revolving doors of rat races to realize that we have far more choices than we typically think. Every year, and realistically, every day, we have this amazing chance to cease all of those things that we dislike, that bring us down, that disrupt our peace. We can wake up and begin again as a person with a more beautiful soul, an open heart and endless freedom. The choices and chances really are there every day. Just waiting for us to stand up and seize them. Your previous choices don’t doom you or define you as a person. The only things we truly own are the choices we make now, in the present. Consider Les Miserable for a moment. What matters most is what we do today. And we are all capable of so much.

If that isn’t a reason to celebrate and enjoy a night of festivities, then I don’t know what is. I hope everyone has an excellent New Years Eve, celebrating in whatever way they see fit. May we all wake up to a better world tomorrow.

Yours,

Ze Tsarina

A “Sheldon” Approach to Fashion

A demonstration of how frightening my mind is at times.

Sheldon Cooper of the Big Bang Theory is definitely a fan favorite.  Outlandishly geeky and hilarious, he is simply a fictitious joke to most.  However, his struggles with everyday things are quite real for people like me who are too “analytical” for their own good. I can’t even tell you how many times my inner monologue has announced things like, “Hmmm… It seems as though my catalog of phrases appropriate for ‘small talk’ with strangers is lacking. I need to increase this to avoid future awkward encounters.”

Since many of my friends and family have got a kick from my story on how I learned to “dress like a human being,” I figured I would share it here to bestow some amusement.

It all began last summer.

I don’t believe in taking summer breaks off of school, like Bill Gates before me advised, the real world doesn’t have summers off. But being so close to graduating college, I simply had no more classes I could take! During this time, I decided to embark on a project.  Unlocking the mysteries behind the art of fashion!

Growing up as a girl with no mother around, all of these “woman things” such as hair, makeup, and fashion have always been very alien to me. After realizing somewhere along the line that despite my feeble attempts, the way I dressed myself never quite seemed to be up to par with that of the stylish, I decided I finally wanted to change that.  Apparently appearances mean a lot or something.  Who knew?  Anyway, this is what I did.

Over the course of one month, I researched feverishly. I discovered the websites of all the women’s fashion magazines found at the supermarket.  I combed through these carefully and learned about seasonal trends and made mental notes. I dissected what constituted an aesthetically pleasing attire. What looked sexy and what looked skanky. Though a lot was hard to quantify,very disturbing for my numbers driven mind, I identified that most of all, the key was to correct fitting clothes.  Don’t want that muffin top exposed, but you do want to show that you are in fact a woman.

At the conclusion of my literature research phase, I moved on to field observations. Perching in the mall and other public places, I people watched. Specifically, I observed the clothing of women. At least I didn’t have a huge notepad, or ask anyone to pose for pictures, but I made countless mental notes on what really looked good and why that was, and what outfits could use work. And stared like a creeper throughout.  In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t land myself in trouble.

Finally, after I felt as though I fully understood what constitutes nice looking clothes and appearance, I went boldly into my closet to try to reproduce my findings.  I went to work putting together a nice looking attire from head to toe.

I was not completely convinced of my results until I had it peer reviewed. Upon taking my attempt at proper fashion into public, the response was very positive! Apparently the project was a resounding success and in the time since, I have received numerous compliments. My friends and family feel like it was an overnight transformation, but it was much delicate research in the making.

Something as simple as dressing, to the Sheldon Coopers of the world, is still the same learning process as anything else.

Stay classy!  And don’t forget that military chic is in this season.

Yours,

Ze Tsarina

My Pursuit of Graduate School Part 2

I feel as though it has been ages since I last posted, but final exams roared through (So engrossed was I that rent had accidentally gone unpaid!  A first for this creature of excellent credit habits).  This was immediately followed by my graduation ceremony which was utterly surreal.  Since I am still one class away from my official undergraduate degree, the full effects of graduation were lost on me.  Oh well, it was nice anyway I suppose.  Finally, after much delay, I am able to return to my keyboard once more!  “Yippee!” *spoken like Irritating Small Child Anakin Skywalker*

So here is the situation, as played out by many tense stomachs, clenched jaws, and embarrassing flatulence on my part.  (Anxiety.  It’s just a bitch.)  Despite my application being one month late and without the final recommendation, I was able to play email tag with the graduate program coordinator and he told me that he would give it his full consideration!  This is such welcome news, and realistically, all I can ask for.  Now I just sit and wait on that letter in the mail.  My future will unfold from there.

I should be celebrating and utterly overjoyed at all of these wonderful things, yet I can’t help but feel weighed down by other considerations.  First of all, my final grades for the semester were dismal and brought down my already floundering GPA.  Usually I try not to sweat it, it is what it is, but I’m so disheartened that despite my valiant attempts for high achievement this semester, that nothing much came of it.  I accomplished copious amounts of studying, I did not sit on my ass the entire semester.  I just don’t know what happened there…  and I feel upset about it.  Every time I think of my final grades for this term, a dark sickness stirs at the pit of my stomach.  As if there is a real potential for vomit if I dwell on it enough.  Eh, I should just repeat my mantra, “it is what it is,” and think of kitties and other cute animals.  Seems to work well enough.

Secondly, after going through all the jumps and hoops to finally make it to graduate school, and obsessively researching every angle so as to be as prepared as possible for what is to come (my MO), I have come to realize something.  I am completely terrified of the prospect of graduate school.  With my anxiety, this is not unordinary, but it’s still a big hurdle I will need to pass if I wish to actually make it.  For the past four years, it’s all I have been seeking.  And I love chemistry and lab work so much, I know it would be a good fit.  But the prospects of playing nice, teaching undergraduate lab, achieving those perfect grades and not being an awkward mess sounds so daunting, I just don’t know if I can hack it.  In the end, I bet will force myself into it, shaking and resisting to the very end.  I assume I will thank myself later for it.

After I receive the ultimate news from this application, I have Plans B, C, and D lined up and ready to go.  I have this next and final semester to enact them and see how those will pan out.  And if everything utterly falls apart, I guess there is always this “housewife” gig I have going on.  But I think I would rather be one of those kids with a four year degree and flipping burgers full time rather than to resort to that.

Time is on my side and it’s just more of the waiting game at this point!  I’m so happy to have made it this far with such good fortune, but we’ll see where life takes me from here.

Yours,

Ze Tsarina

Arsenic in “Pick Yer Poison! … then let’s talk about the science behind it!”

Everyone has heard stories about scorned people getting the ultimate revenge through poisonings and just nearly getting away with it.  It’s an age old tale that is slowly fading out due to modern advances in science, but it’s a familiar one, and it always gets the best of our morbid curiosities.  The scientist in me always wants to know why a specific poison works and how.  Why is arsenic so toxic but not selenium?  I mean, they are close enough on the periodic table, right?  Let’s find out and take a closer look at some infamous poisons and investigate why they are so deadly!  Let’s begin today with arsenic and at another time we can look at other fun ones like thallium, mercury, etc.

Arsenic was the poison of choice for a good long while.  In low doses over long periods of time, it can mimic other ailments and death by arsenic poisoning can appear to be a “natural death” if no suspicions are aroused.  Then modern science came roaring in.  Nowadays a quick autopsy will reveal obvious deposits of arsenic throughout the body and any would-be discrete murderer will soon become acquainted with a jail cell (unless they leave the country immediately, in which they may have a fighting chance… just saying).  But why is arsenic so lethal?  Check out this side by side comparison of an arsenic (As) compound with that of a phosphorous (P) compound:

Image

Pretty similar.  So similar, I bet if those letters in the center were removed, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart at all!  The problem is… neither can your body.  Worse yet, phosphate is an extremely important compound used in the most basic and fundamentally necessary processes carried out in the body.  In other words, if your body did not have phosphate, it will die.

When arsenic is present in your body, it sneaks in like a secret agent and replaces phosphate with itself in the arsenate form.  Once it has been misidentified as phosphate and integrated in, the bodily functions try to take place like normal, except, arsenic can’t carry out the same tasks as phosphorus, it just looks the same, so those key processes that are vital to life can’t occur anymore.  Multiply this onto a large scale and your body is no longer able to work, resulting sadly in death.

And that’s it.  A case of mistaken identity that has tragic consequences.  The truth is always stranger than fiction.  At least in my opinion.  So if there is one thing you can learn today, it’s that it does not pay to murder with arsenic, you’ll inevitably get caught and you’ll go to prison, unless you do it exceptionally well, but that’s still more trouble than it’s worth.  Hey, I’m just telling it like it is!  Let’s be practical about this.

I think next time we should discuss thallium.  With a nickname like “the Poisoner’s Poison,” what’s not to love?  ((my curiosity knows no bounds))

Yours,

Ze Tsarina