Saturday, July 30, 2011

Optimizing Your REM Cycle

As a college student and dental school hopeful, sleep is something that is often put on the back burner. Between taking 18 units, studying for the next midterm, writing a 10 page paper, part time jobs, extracurricular activities, trying out new restaurants in Los Angeles, and those chaotic Thursday night parties, there isn't much time left for sleep.

This summer is particularly grisly.

I wake up at 6am and start heading out on my one-hour drive on the 405 around 6:50am. I have physics from 8am - 12:15pm before making the traffic-ridden drive back to the city. I have a part time job from 3:30pm - 10pm, after which I return to my apartment, crank out a lab report, work on a few Mastering Physics problems, and collapse in bed by 1:00am.

That gives me a grand total 5 hours of sleep every day.

My supervisor recommended, a program that lets you optimize your REM cycle. You tell the program when you plan to wake up and it tells you when you should go to bed.  Or vice versa - you tell the program when you are going to bed and it will tell you when you should wake up. The great thing is that it seems to be working for me (at least psychologically). Despite getting minimal sleep each day, I don't feel quite as tired and groggy after waking up anymore!

p.s. I bought a new Nikon 35mm 1.4 lens last week. It put quite a dent in my savings account but I don't regret the purchase. I'm having someone hold it hostage for me until after my physics midterm on Tuesday but I can't wait to play with it! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The UCSF Supplemental Application Countdown is Hella Nerveracking

I was elated to see an email from UCSF about supplemental applications. I was not elated to see the countdown clock ticking away as soon as I opened the supplemental website. Apparently, each applicant has exactly 14 days from the time UCSF sends you the email to complete the supplemental application.

If you miss the 14-day deadline, your application is down the drain.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Scenes from My Hood

It was a gamble. Rather than paying $125 per month for a tandem parking spot inside my apartment complex, I chose to park my car on the streets of Los Angeles. Finding street parking in Los Angeles is no easy feat, but it would save me a lot of money each month. But with all the random street parking rules that are enforced (i.e. no parking on the right side of street A on Wednesday and no parking on the left side of street B on Thursday, but no parking on the left side of street B - which is next to street A - on Wednesday and no parking on the right side of the street B on Thursday, etc.), at some point in time, a parking violation was inevitable. Between my roommate and my boyfriend, they have accumulated more than two dozen parking violations this past school year.

I thought I could break the curse. And I did, until yesterday.

I returned from physics lecture at 1:07pm to discover that there was an ominous envelope on the windshield of my car. Sadly, it was a parking violation - $68 for parking on the wrong side of the street during street cleaning.

What's irritating is that the street didn't even look cleaner after the so-called "street cleaning" that is scheduled to take place every Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm - 2pm. Honestly, I see more parking enforcement personel on the streets than street cleaning vehicles. We understand that California is currently in a fiscal crisis but isn't this a cheap shot way to generate revenue?

While I'm on the subject of transportation in Los Angeles, here's a scene from my daily commute on the 405. You thought Carmageddon was a 53-hour affair? Think again.

This is the daily Carmageddon in Los Angeles, where it's actually possible to be traveling at 0 mph for long stretches of time.

There are a few roads in Los Angeles that I particularly hate driving - the 405, the 10W, and Vermont Ave. We were driving back home from a morning of physics lecture at Northridge only to find the Vermont was completely blocked off. Now, I dislike driving on Vermont because there are only two lanes - the right lane is perpetually blocked by busses and the left lane is perpetually jammed by drivers attempting to make an unprotected left turn. Today's jam on Vermont was due to something else:

A police car crashed into the traffic light on Vermont, causing it to topple over. I'm not sure how that happened...

Moral of the story: drive safely and avoid driving into traffic lights.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mac OSX Lion - Photobooth Fun

I bought a copy of OSX Lion yesterday for $29.99. Technically, it was free since I received $100 credit to the Apple App Store through the Back to School Promotion. The OSX Lion has a few more functions than its predecessor, including a new log-in screen, launchpad, mission control, new touchpad scrolling functions, and a revamped look for iCal. However, I had the most fun with the new Photobooth effects!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cheesecake Brownies

I have an unhealthy obsession with cheesecake, cheese puff pastries, and cheese Danish - the Boy knows all about it. The cream cheese, rich and dominant, makes desserts that much better. The subtle richness of the cream cheese balances the sweetness of the brownie - a perfect pairing.

But sometimes, opposites have issues attracting. For the past few months, the Boy and I have been sparring (verbally, emotionally, physically) about petty issues. Last night, he stormed out of my apartment after I refused to sleep over at his apartment. It was 3am; I was exhausted and wanted to collapse in my own bed; I had slept over at his apartment the night before. Now, we're apparently engaging in a war of silence.

It's slightly unnerving - I've never heard silence quite this loud. I tried to send a conciliatory text message to no avail. Instead of sitting at my desk and staring at my cell phone, I decided to bake cheesecake brownie and watch an episode of Friends with my roommate instead. I can play the game of silence just as well as anyone can.

The cheesecake brownie was wonderful straight from the over - warm, fudgy, and fresh! I got lazy and used a box of brownie mix instead of making brownie from scratch. They make wonderful comfort food for people having a bad day or engaging in silent warfare with their significant other.

Cheesecake Brownie


6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces (115g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (70g) flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (80g) chocolate chips

8 ounces (200g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons (75g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Line a 9-inch (23cm) or 8-inch (20cm) square pan with foil, making sure it goes up all four sides. Use two sheets if necessary. Mist with non-stick spray or grease lightly.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C).

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in the 2/3 cup (130g) sugar, then the eggs.

4. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then the vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

5. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the yolk, 5 tablespoons (75g) of sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

6. Distribute the cream cheese mixture in eight dollops across the top of the brownie mixture, then take a dull knife or spatula and swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter.

7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the batter in the center of the pan feels just set.

8. Let cool, then lift out the foil and peel it away. Cut the brownies into squares.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

With that, I bid thee farewell, Harry Potter!

I was emotionally devastated to watch the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II last night  at 10:00pm. A thousand thoughts were running through my head as we sat in the second row of Regal Cinemas in LA Live, watching the 130 minute countdown towards The End. This final movie is bittersweet and heart-wrenching - not because I particularly enjoy the Harry Potter movie series, but because it puts a definitive close on a chapter of our childhood.

I was 9 years old when my dad bought me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which opened me to a world of magic. For me, "magical" was not even a big enough word to describe the novels. Today, the paperback version of the book I own is a tattered mess with pages falling out - a testament to how often I have reread the novel.

Ten years ago, the summer before I started 6th grade, I truly believed that I was going to get an owl with an admissions letter to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I would be whisked away into a world of magic - a world of excitement and limitless possibilities, a complete antithesis to the mundane suburbia in which I lived. My dreams of attending Hogwarts never materialized, but I never wavered in my religious devotion to the antics of my childhood best friends - Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

I nearly cried during the "19 years later" scene, which featured Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione standing on the platform of Kings Cross Station, sending off their children on the Hogwarts Express. As if the thought of graduating from college in less than a year and entering the realm of adulthood weren't hard enough, I just watched the door shut on the past 12 years of my life last night. My younger brother's generation will never truly understand the extent of Harry Potter mania. Gone are the days of midnight parties to celebrate the release of Harry Potter novels. Gone are the days of donning taped spectacles, drawing thunderbolts on our foreheads, buying gear in scarlet and gold, reading Mugglenet religiously, and truly believing that a magical world exists beyond the walls of Platform 9 3/4. Gone are the days of eagerly anticipating the next saga of Harry Potter's adventures in his quest to champion good and vanquish evil.

With that, I bid thee farewell, Harry Potter.

Harry Potter premieres, then and now.
Then and now

Friday, July 8, 2011

Working on Friday Nights Suck

Here I am, stuck in the library on a summer Friday night. Not studying, mind you - it's actually my job to sit here and attend to all the overachievers who believe in studying on Friday nights.

I'm stuck working at the dental school library on a Friday night. I should be frowning instead of smiling. 

And this is where I'd rather be:

Honestly, I'm thinking of starting a comic about all the stuff dental students leave in the library. You know, because these are the smart future doctors of dentistry in our society who should know better than to leave their junk lying around the library. I may work at the front desk of the library, but I am NOT their maid. Let me share one of the fine items that I always find lying around on the study tables: floss.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Belated 4th of July

It was a beautiful sight. Sitting on the roof of my apartment, we had a 360 degree view of seven different firework shows going off throughout Los Angeles. My physics professor was one crazy man, scheduling a physics midterm on July 5. How many people could actually study amidst the chaos and celebration on July 4th?

The burning question I have: how do you take pictures of fireworks? The firework mode on my Panasonic point-and-shoot fails - every time I use it, I end up with a pitch black screen of darkness.

Song of the Day
God Bless the USA (Cover by: Carrie Underwood / Original Song: Lee Greenwood)

Fun fact - back in 2004, I became addicted to American Idol. I dreamed of becoming a professional singer and I idolized Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice. This is one of the songs Carrie Underwood covered for her demo CD when she was 14 (?) and this is one of the first songs that I learned how to sing. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Status: Dental School Application 2011

  • AADSAS E-Submitted: 06/14/2011
  • Transcripts Received: (1) 06/22/2011; (2) 07/06/2011 - it takes Cal State schools a VERY long time to process/mail out transcripts.
  • GPA Verified: 07/20/2011
  • Application Mailed (by AADSAS): 07/22/2011
  • LOE Received: 07/26/2011


Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health (ACCEPTED)
  • Received: 07/22/2011
  • Sent: 09/15/2011
  • Status: Application Complete
  • Interview Invite: 01/26/2012
  • Interview Date: 02/21/2012
  • Acceptance Date: 05/2012
Boston University Henry M Goldman School of Dental Medicine (WITHDRAWN APPLICATION)
  • Received: 07/25/2011
  • Sent: N/A
Creighton University (REJECTED)
  • Sent: 07/15/2011
  • Rejection: ??
Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine - Arizona (REJECTED)
  • Received: 07/22/2011
  • Sent: 09/28/2011
  • Status: Application Complete
  • Rejection Letter: 01/27/2012
New York University (REJECTED)
  • Received: 07/26/2011
  • Sent: 08/04/2011
  • Status: Application Complete
  • Rejection: 07/2012
The Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, Temple University (REJECTED)
  • Received: 8/19/2011
  • Sent: 09/16/2011
  • Status: Application Complete
  • Rejection: 06/2012
  • Withdrawn Application
University of Buffalo (REJECTED)
  • Received: 07/25/2011
  • Sent: 08/12/2011
  • Status: "Continuing Review" - 09/22/2011 
  • Rejection Email: 01/25/2012
University of California, Los Angeles (WITHDRAWN APPLICATION)
  • Received: 08/25/2011
  • Sent: N/A
University of California, San Francisco (WITHDRAWN APPLICATION)
  • Received: 07/26/2011
  • Sent: Withdrawn Application
University of Louisville (REJECTED)
  • Received: 08/02/2011
  • Sent: 08/02/2011
  • Status: Application Complete
  • Rejection: ??
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (WITHDRAWN APPLICATION)
  • Sent: N/A
University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry (ACCEPTED)
  • Status: Application Complete
  • Interview Invite: 10/24/2012
  • Interview: 11/16/2012
  • Acceptance: 01/13/2012
University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (ACCEPTED)
  • Sent: 07/29/2011
  • Status: Application Complete
  • Interview Invite: 01/27/2012
  • Interview: 02/13/2012
  • Acceptance: 04/16/2012
Western University of Health Sciences (REJECTED)
  • Sent: 06/30/2011
  • Status: Application Complete
  • Rejection Email: 02/2012