Planning…

Hola UIC!

I hope your school week, is going AWESOME! It’s the third week; things are starting to really pick up. I had my first lab report for my Inorganic Chemistry class due today. I love it when we get rubrics; they really help me get started. I have a lot of trouble with art and writing, it takes me a while to finish an art or writing project, that is why I have to start those assignments early.

I had a good weekend with my family. My mom babysits my youngest nephew everyday so I rarely even see her. It was good to spend time with her and my oldest nephew, Alex, who can only visit us sometimes. He is a really sweet kid. We took him to the Flea Market. Although we did not buy anything special, we did have time to sit down and enjoy some diablitos. They are a shaved ice drink that is made with: tamarindo (tamarind), chamoy (no translation), red pepper, pineapple, lemon, cucumbers, and a Mexican tamarind candy. It’s spicy and a better summer option but it is very delicious. The person who sells them is from Morelos, a state in Mexico, where diablitos are commonly made.  Another thing native to Morelos, Chinelos, a form of dance that uses big costumes and really upbeat music, it is mostly performed during the carnival season during lent and other festive occasions. I strongly encourage you to look up some of the videos from the festivals. They look like so much fun.

Speaking (or should I say writing) of fun, I got to see my co-worker, Christian, in action last Friday. His student organization, Movimiento Latino, performed at a variety show. They are all talented dancers and their passion is transmitted with every step they take. They brought a lot of flavor and energy to the event.

I received some wonderful news today. I was selected to attend Alternative Spring Break (ASB) to Appalachia with the Newman Center. We, the volunteers, get the opportunity to build homes for low income families in Eastern Kentucky. It will surely be an unforgettable Spring Break.

This week was extremely packed. With a lot of upcoming events like: The SHPE-UIC Meeting (January 31st), The Illinois Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ILS-AMP) Conference (February 3-4 ), the CHANCE Ambassador hosted Fun-A-Thon (Look out for the date), Regional Science Bowls (Middle School February 4th and High School February 25th), I am Woman Conference (March 3rd and 4th), the ASB volunteering week (March 16-20), and the SHPE Region 6 Regional Leadership Development Conference (March 29-April 1), it was a week full of planning meetings, proposal writing, and inspiration. I had the opportunity to speak with some of the students from our high school component (SHPE Jr.) at Juarez Community Academy and Roosevelt High School, they are truly admirable. I did have a lot of support from my co-chairs (Anthony and Victor) they are also looking forward to the students’ success.

Sorry for only one picture. Next Week I promise there will be more. Comment below for any questions or suggestions for next week.

Thanks for reading this week. (Especially my “Super Mega Fan”, Erika Ayala)

Under Pressure, Overwhelmed, and Without a Plan: Making an Endless To-Do List Work for You.

I’ve been thinking recently about the colloquial phrase, “Putting things on the back burner,” a line commonly used when people are trying to prioritize and make sense of the seemingly endless list of tasks that lies in front of them. But it got me thinking, even on the biggest, heavy-duty, industrial stove there are only so many back burners. And even in the hypothetical case in which there are, in fact, an infinite number of burners, logic follows that too many pots on the stovetop will burn the kitchen right down.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “OK, really? Pots and stoves? What the hell is this guy talking about?” But bear with me for a second.

What I’m really talking about is being able to keep a cool head even when you’re completely overwhelmed by the million commitments and obligations weighing on you.

And though it may seem like I’m going off on another tangent, let me set up another analogy: any packed schedule is like a busy emergency room. In both cases the key is triage. From the French “triere” meaning to separate, sift, or select, the term refers to the process of prioritizing the issues at hand (in the case of the ER, literally prioritizing the patients) by certain criteria to ensure that the most pressing matters are taken care of first. So big deal, right? This doesn’t sound all that different from everything you’ve been told about time management before. But if you take it to the next level, it really does make some sense.

In the ER you triage based on urgency, i.e. which patients have the least time before they take a turn for the worst or whose treatment is time sensitive, letting everything else kinda hang out in the waiting room for a while, knowing that they can be assessed AFTER there’s been some stabilization of the acute matters. Treat your obligations the same way.

Make a list and ask yourself, “What are the deadlines that absolutely MUST be met?” and, “What can I (to come full circle) put on the back burner while I get the pressing issues dealt with?” You’ll be surprised how well his first step of delineation sets the stage for clearing out your to-do list. This is because an honest assessment of the various commitments you’ve made (regardless of whether they’re personal, work-related or otherwise) accomplishes two separate tasks simultaneously: it is both an accounting of all that you have to accomplish, and an assessment of what’s most important to you and at least some assessment of the reasons why.

Once this list is made the next step is to make some plausible estimates as to how long each of the most urgent tasks will take, and (if they exist) what points are safe to stop at. Think of it as the point when you’ve finally stabilized the patient who’s been bleeding all over the place and can step away for a few minutes to take care of other business. Splitting seemingly insurmountable tasks up into bite-size portions like this not only makes it easier to stomach, but also allows for more flexibility in fitting everything in. If you’re sure you’ve stopped in a good place AND have a set time slated for when you’ll get back to working on the project, there’s no reason to fear, or feel guilty about, stepping away from a big task. In fact, often times just starting a big project and making some headway alleviates a good deal of the initial anxiety and may help with that overwhelmed feeling.

And guess what, once you’ve done all this and the groundwork is laid, much of the heavy lifting is done. Admittedly, you have to leave some room for flexibility. But with a plan of action which is well-thought-out and straight-forward with regards to the amount of time and effort it is going to require, your chances for success are much greater. Even better, by getting the pressing stuff out of the way first, your workload only gets better as you go, until before you know it, your rough period is done, and you can relax a little bit. Like the ER doc who’s faced with a waiting-room-full of patients, by facing your overwhelming schedule head-on you’ll get through it and live to breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief when it’s all done.

Finding your quite place at UIC

So once again my day was off to a busy start, waking up at 5:30 am just to ensure my timely departure from my humble abode (just a side note, I love my man cave). In order to make my 8 o’clock class on time I must be on my way by 6:45 am. This then means I have an hour to get ready and wait for the CTA, well to be honest most times its 25 minutes because I like to over sleep. I don’t know what it is with over sleeping but it gives me some type of feeling as though I had a long productive day the day before, and that’s not always true. Do you every have those days when it’s long but not productive? Yeah I’m talking about those days when you decide to watch all the installments of the Lord of the Ring trilogy, yes those days. So as I was saying, I have approximately 25 minutes to take a shower and lay back down in bed for another 10 minutes. Lol that’s pretty slothful right? So this then leaves me with about 10 minutes to get ready and about 1.5 minutes walk to the bus stop.

Not a bad routine! What makes my trip in the morning more “delightful” (that was sarcastically said by the way) is my magical golden ticket. If Willy Wanka was really thinking straight he would have offered the kids a CTA U-Pass as their prize. But I guess a tour of his chocolate factory will have to suffice. So as I was saying, thanks to my trusty U-Pass I can now travel with ease until May 09, 2012, and being a marketing major I can tell you what a huge savings this is ( anyone can see that). Finally I get to school and off to class I go, rushing like a madman on fire, as if nothing else in the world matters and this class will make or break my entire future, it might be true in some cases.

I get to my accounting class and try to stay awake; at times I feel comforted to know that I’m not the only one falling asleep in my 8 am class, but this is not to say I condone it. After this I head to my other classes with the same intensity I had for my first, but not before stopping at the UIC snack shop—yes the one in SCE by the Dunkin’ Donut. With a 20 ounce cup of black coffee in hand I feel invisible, ok well not invisible more like a kid who just had 30 pixy stixs.

Needless to say it is now time for lunch, so by this time I’m coming down off my caffeinated high and everything is now in slow motion even my speech, it’s really astounding. So I get my lunch and guess what? There is no place to sit in the Inner-circle. But as of the last two months or so I have found the perfect location to have my lunch. A place where there is always a seat and it’s typically not as noisy.

It’s the bowling alley, yes the bowling alley, most people don’t even know that UIC has a bowling alley. So I go there and eat in peace and if I have time I play some of their arcade games. The bowling alley is my oasis, it’s quite, clean and the staff is always willing to help. So when I have had a long day I head to the UIC bowling alley and unwind and think of how to apply my marketing goals to making me some money. Over the last two months I have had some of the most brilliant business ideas, and it happened mostly at the bowling alley. I encourage all students who have the available time to find a quite area such as the bowling alley and explore the creative ideas that lingers in your mind. This campus is filled with great resources go out and explore. And always remember that no idea is ever too stupid to try, if you fail at business just try again. Failure only means an opportunity to do it right the next time.

Top 5 Quotes: I live by from UIC Professors

Breezy afternoon in Chicago!

If you’re ever near by UIC, come checkout the Flames Athletic Events! Checkout the calendar on http://www.uicflames.com/ They give out tons of free stuff: Domino’s Pizza, Lucky’s Wings, Flames Shirts/Scarves, etc.

UIC vs. Loyola on Martin Luther King weekend. Free UIC Snuggies to the first 400 students. Free Lucky's Sandwich wings to the first 100 students.

It was a great weekend because UIC won against Loyola that weekend and I got a free UIC Snuggie.

So here’s my “Top 5 Quotes: I live by from UIC professors” 

1.) “Teaching vs. Discovering” Political Science 101
The first sentence from my first professor at UIC. He goes on to say that UIC is not a teaching school, but enable you to discover.

2.) “Never mistake leadership for popularity” Military Science 202
In ROTC, our military instructor said these famous words. In his 30 years of combat, he saved lives by knowing when to make an unpopular decision.

3.) “Not about where you’re at, but where you’re going” -Psychology 101
My professor was talking about how to walk on railroads. She said, “if you want to get far walking down a rail, then don’t look at where you’re at, but where you’re going.

4.) “There’s two types of people you can’t hire: #1 The guy who thinks he’s God, and #2. The guy who knows nothing” -Civil & Materials Engineering 310
I believe this to be very true. I hold true to this philosophy whenever I’m applying for internships or whenever making a hiring decision.

5.) “Out of the 3 options: Love, Faith, and Hope– Hope is the strongest” Philosophy 101
Hope is where the other two derive from. It can make any person survive months on end without food or survive sub-zero temperatures for days if they have hope.

Stay classy Chicago! See you all next week,
-Darren

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TOPIC NEXT WEEK: “The Big Dream (After College) Everyone Needs”

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What’s your future dream in 10 years?

ANSWER FROM LAST WEEK: I’m CRAVING Lucky’s Sandwich Co., on South Campus

“Cheese Tia!”

Hello UIC!

It is the second week of school (January 16-20). Do not forget, this is the last week to submit any changes to your schedule without a “W”, declare any pass or fail classes, or petition for grade recalculation (this is standard with most colleges but check with yours just to make sure). Now that all of the schedules are finalized, the semester can truly start. So far I am quite impressed with my classes.  My Energy classes in particular are extremely interesting, they give me new insight on alternative energy and it really makes me think about the future of energy.  It makes us the students assess ourselves and allows reflection on our way of thinking and how narrow minded we can be sometimes. I cannot wait to start my project; we have to design a new alternative source of renewable energy.

Now that classes have started I do not have as much time to spend with my family. I do however try to visit my nephews whenever possible. This past weekend, I visited my two nephews and was invited to make my first snow man with my nephew, as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Here is our product and my nephew. Every time he says, “Cheese Tia!” my heart melts a little. Although, his mom and I did most of the work, he shows true signs of leadership, he delegated and motivated us throughout our construction.

This week was full of extracurricular activities. On Wednesday was our first Spring General Meeting for SHPE-UIC, I was extremely happy to walk into a full room. It is always good to see the chapter growing, it allows for the sustainability of the chapter. We are lucky to be housed in the College of Engineering and to have admirable advisors and leaders. Our dedicated advisors always take time out for us and help our members out in every way possible. Our leaders are always willing to take time out for the betterment of our community.

*Thanks to Perla Rodriguez for the group picture*

On Thursday, we attended our second basketball game together. The flames did a good job against Butler. Along with having sometime to bond during the game, we also had the opportunity to win some money for our student organization. If we had the most students attend the Basketball Game, we would get money for our programming. Although we have a large mirage of ideas and motivated members, money is always needed for our outreach events, scholarship opportunities, and our robot. We hope that the results are favorable.

Thursday was also a very important day for my support program, CHANCE. We had our Informational meeting where we gave new students insight on how they could benefit from the program and showed the success of our programming through examples and success stories from our own students. I also had the pleasure of telling the Women in the room about our upcoming I am Woman Conference, which is sure to be full of networking and novel opportunities for all women on the UIC Campus. If you would like to attend, let me know and I will gladly send you a personal “e-vite” and keep you informed about workshops, companies represented, and the agenda.

I am looking forward to another trip down Latin American gastronomy with some of my favorite kids. So far we have visited restaurants that represent the following countries: Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Guatemala. Our next visit will most likely be to a Chilean restaurant for “empanadas”. I love living in Chicago, we are very fortunate to have so much diversity. If you have any good suggestions for a restaurant or would like to come, let me know.

This was a very full week, next week already seems pretty hectic but we will have to wait and see.

Thanks for reading this week!

Tips on Better Time Management

I might not be the smartest when it comes to academics, but I know what I need to do to understand information while keeping a healthy balance of work (soon to have four jobs), research, and extra-curricular activities. While I do agree I’m busy most of the time, I always feel like I can do so much more!

9am microbiology lectures are great. I'm so glad I don't have any 8am lectures this semester!

9am microbiology lectures are great. I'm so glad I don't have any 8am lectures this semester!

I’ve noticed a lot of college kids know what they have to do for their optimal performance in school (getting good grades and all that jazz), but they just don’t do it! I’m guilty of one of those things, like not eating breakfast in the morning or skipping lunch because I’m busy in class or at work. Luckily, I decided this semester to force myself to get up early and make a quick and tasty breakfast to see how my concentration and focus in classes would be. Nothing like Nutella on whole wheat bread to get me going! I’m not sure if it’s really a part of a “balanced” breakfast as it is advertised, but it sure is yummy. I also grab a GoGurt on my way to my class or work. Do you guys remember GoGurt? I love that stuff.

Anyway, what made me want to write a quick spiel on time management was influenced by my Health Activism Committee meeting because most of them are freshmen and still needed help adjusting to college classes. By the way, our group is so close to being fully done with the materials! I’m e-mailing the schools this weekend and we will begin our training sessions soon with the presentations, which will be posted later on the SFP Website.

So, I suppose I’ll tell you the most obvious but not so common thing that is used to manage my time. You’ll probably say, “Well that was unhelpful. I already knew that.” But do you do it? Do you keep a calendar? I would assume so. Do you USE it? I wonder about that one.

I’m assuming most phones have a calendar, so I advise you to either get a paper one that you can carry around or just your phone (I just the one on my phone frequently). I don’t have Android or anything fancy (although I hope to get a smartphone this weekend with my family) so I couldn’t possibly use Google Calendar or whatever kind of apps they have out now (go on a searching spree if you do). Things I input on my phone:

  • Doctor Appointments (Dermatologist, Dentist, Allergist)
  • Things to do (Write Blog, Fill Out Scholarship Form, Print out slides, etc.)
  • Due dates (Scholarship due, Final Paper due, E-mail schools, etc.)
  • Meetings (Writing Club, SFP Club, HAC, etc.)

With everything listed above, I will also make a side-note in addition that says the location (for example, I would write BH for Burnham Hall) and also put the time if applicable. Unfortunately, my phone only lets me input 15 characters, so if I were to put “fill out scholarship form” in my phone calendar, I will most likely just type “scholarshipform” with no spaces. I’ll go to UH sometimes to visit a professor or employer so in those cases I type in my phone “UH ####” where the #### is their room number. Sometimes it’s super cryptic. I obviously know what it means, but I don’t think anyone would really understand unless you’re in research. For example, I have this for Tuesday: Cd36mc5nlrp3mf2. I’m not sure how other phones work in terms of character limit but you get what I mean.

The most important thing about this is implementing or actually inputting the information the second you hear about it or are informed of it. If you just see something and brush it off with “oh I have a meeting on Friday…well I check my e-mail a lot so I’ll remember it when I see it,” then you’re most likely going to forget, unless you keep it marked as unread (another great tip of mine). I get so many e-mails each day and I’ll read them all of them but obviously won’t have to time to reply all at once. If I do, then less work for me! But most of the time, I hold it off until I can think of a good answer, in which case I mark is back to unread so that I know to go to it again.

My nutrition and metabolism class is located at PEB, which is conveniently next to my dorm! The class is from 3:45pm-5:00pm so I usually get there kind of early since my classes before end at 3pm.

My nutrition and metabolism class is located at PEB, which is conveniently next to my dorm! The class is from 3:45pm-5:00pm so I usually get there kind of early since my classes before end at 3pm.

I hope this information is useful to someone out there, even if you don’t go to school. Anyway, nothing much going on with me besides intense studying for organic chemistry II and nutrition and metabolism (first exam on the 23rd!). Speaking of the 23rd, that day is Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the dragon, and my dad’s birthday is this weekend (he’ll be sixty…so old). My mom says it’s going to be his lucky year since he was born in the year of the dragon.

Oh, and I am going to redesign the website for iiClothing soon…when I make time for it, haha. I didn’t have many controls over the coding at WordPress.com so I switched over to our own host with WordPress.org and I’m excited to start! For now I just put a static page, acting like a portal to the store and stuff. I’m actually kind of proud of it, hehe.

Storyboards: The Story.

They’re ugly. They’re rough. They often don’t look at all clean or polished. In fact, you would never want anyone important to see them. But they are an essential step in the process of animation. They are storyboards!

introduction, page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4

page 5

If you’ve never done an animation, (and I fall into this category until this semester) a storyboard is the mapping out of still frame images–aka sketches–as they correspond to dialogue. Sounds easy, right? Yes, the purpose is clear. But the storyboard is the most important and most difficult step of animating. It’s where you have to THINK! Not just draw. It’s where you work out all the camera angles, the zoom ins and outs, the style, not to mention all the characters and background scenes.

I am creating a relatively simplistic animation for a doctor at UIC to teach patients about diabetes. There will be no 3D, no fly-thoughs at a molecular level, no dramatic music. It’s going to be a 2D animation about how diabetes works, which will accompany a simple narration. Way over on the opposite side of the spectrum of complexity, however, things can get difficult.

The animation wil explain how glucose and insulin work in the body, and what is going on in the bodies of those with diabetes. To portray the complex interplay between glucose and insulin using cartoons to a population of adults with sometimes a sixth-grade literacy level is… tough. Anatomical context, clarity and simplicity are important elements to such an animation. I’ll be leaving out a lot of information, and it kills me.

But who cares about the science behind the disease, when it doesn’t help anything? It’s true, not everyone needs to know. BUT, to take an hourly medicine for the rest of your life, you need motivation. And part of that motivation might come from knowing what will happen, at a molecular level, if you don’t take your insulin.

Can’t wait to keep working on this. It’s fun!

My AICE (all i can eat) day

This past weekend was by far the most filling weekend I have had since the start of the year; and when I say filling I do mean filling. I designated Saturday as my all I can eat (AICE) day and placed myself up to the challenge. I decided to do nothing but eat out all day and enjoy Chicago for what it really had to offer. To begin my weekend I started off by going out for breakfast to a place called Einstein Bros Bagels, located at 180 North Michigan Ave. Needless to say this venue offered some of the most unique combination of ingredients for a bagel that I didn’t realize was possible. I ended up getting an egg sandwich Panini, which was amazingly delicious.

After breakfast I decided that it was time for me to work off some of the excess mass that I had gained. So I did, I went to the gym and stayed there for about 1.5 hours but only mustered up the strength to work out for about 35 min, lol. It’s relatively hard to do when your full and relaxed, so don’t judge. After this I figured some hot soup would do the soul some good on a cold winter’s day such as this past Saturday. So my next stop was Panera Bread, to be quire frank i don’t understand why they offer you a side of bread when all of their sandwiches already come with an ample helping of bread. However, I went in for soup and had myself a large bowl of cheddar cheese and broccoli soup that did wonders for my taste buds, after burning all that mass and calories at the gym I deserved that bowl of cheddar cheese and broccoli soup.

After which my aimless wondering led me downtown where I went perusing through stores such as H&M and others. I did this for about 3 hours with a friend, after which she said that she was hungry, unaware that I had been indulging in the art of eating all day long. In addition she stated that she was not just hungry but super hungry which meant that the only right thing for me to do was to join her on this quest and eat just as much as she did so she wouldn’t feel self conscious, lol at least that’s what I convinced myself. She picked a place to dine and I followed.

So our next stop brought us to a place called Bat Toma, this place was really trendy and right off Michigan Ave. Pretty upscale a guy like me, if you asked, moreover the food was mostly organic which kind of scared me at first, partly because some of the names on the menu I had no idea what they were. Good thing for the internet on my blackberry, with this I was able to search the names and answered questions about my food choices as if I were “highly sophisticated”. Anyways we ordered a Margherita pizza and a few drinks and decided to see a movie afterwards to work off some of my new found mass through visual stimulants—if there is such a thing. Food in Chicago is always great but it is even better with a friend.

And so it begins…

Spring semester has arrived!

I call Spring the “senioritis” semester. With the weather in freezing temperatures and snow everywhere, students find a challenging to commute to UIC. However, facilities are doing their best to keep the sidewalks and entrances clean.

Professor Issa speaking to us about concrete and testing.

Here’s my spring schedule (definitions of class are from UIC Catalog),

CME 300: Composition of Concrete 
Design of metal structures, behavior of members and their connections, theoretical, experimental and practical basis for proportioning members.

CME 310: Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures
Analysis and design of reinforced concrete structural elements: beams, slabs, columns, and foundations.

CME 311: Water Resources Engineering
Groundwater hydrogeology and transport; surface water transport and modeling from an engineering perspective.

CME 405: Foundation Analysis and Design
Site characterization; analysis and design of shallow foundations, deep foundations and earth retaining structures; foundations on difficult soils; effects of construction; instrumentation and monitoring.

The professors at UIC have an incredible wealth of knowledge and will lead to my next article, “Top 5 quotes: I live by from UIC Professors

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QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which fast food place are you craving, right now!? I’m hungry…

ANSWER FROM LAST WEEK: In addition to the classes I have above, I am also taking Chemistry 100 for fun.

First Week of School!

Hey Y’all!

I hope your first week was the bomb. I am super excited about my schedule this semester; two Energy classes, Linear Algebra, Inorganic Chemistry, and Communication. All of my teachers are AWESOME, they are truly committed to their work and it shows in the way they conduct class.

Choosing the right classes was not at all easy, especially since I was able to register just this week. That old UIC saying, “you have to keep checking for open spots”, was truly evident here. I cannot recall the amount of times I refreshed the page on myUIC, eventually nature took its course and my perfect classes opened up.

Speaking of nature, the first snow of the winter season started today. I love how the city looks covered in snow. I especially like the campus, the trees look so beautiful. Here are a couple of pictures I took on my way to make a delivery. I am glad we get a U-Pass to move freely, I can’t imagine how bad the driving conditions were. If you figure out where these pictures were taken, you get a chocolate.

With school comes the school work, although it’s only the first week, my first speech is due today; I hope I don’t get super red in front of the class. I do have a lot of reading to do this weekend, good thing the readings are on a really interesting topic, energy.

On a side note, I was introduced to the Google Calendar on my phone this week. It is very helpful, I was thinking of just getting a new planner, but this is more convenient. Sometimes I do get a little apprehensive about writing down things to do. I do not think I can go completely paperless forever.

Next week more pictures to come.

It’s going to be a busy week along with more assignments, here are other events. Come out!

-SHPE-UIC’s First General Meeting on Wednesday 1/18 at 5:30 in the Latino Cultural Center

-The CHANCE Program’s Informational on Thursday 1/19 at 4:30 in SCE Room 302

Thanks for reading this week!