Recent Entries by Joe  

"And we therein begin to focus on DNA, the structure of life..." the teacher drones on. I am trying my hardest to focus on the Central Dogma of life, but for some reason the entire room has been bobbing up and down for the past few minutes. Maybe it's because the physics of gravity is off, but being a Teacher's Assistant for Introductory Physics helps me to know that this is not likely. What is likely is that I am more tired than I should be at 8:00am on a Tuesday. A sip of my coffee ought to help. As that cup hits my lips, I notice that I have an email from the girl sitting across the table from me. She had been sitting and whispering with a few of my friends since class started, so I figured that they had been concocting a scheme of some sort. Lo and behold, the Subject Line reads "Family Thanksgiving Dinner".

I should stop the story here and explain what "Family" means in this context. You see, I have two families. I have one family that raised me from when I was a baby, provided for me, and still encourages me to succeed. But I have found myself another family here at the University of Minnesota Rochester. I have my mother, the one who emailed me, and my brothers and sisters who were whispering about the dinner with her. Everyone at UMR is my family, but not everyone is in my immediate family. I have my cousins who I see on occasion and we get along well, and I have my aunts and uncles (read: professors) who I get along with but am still not as comfortable around as I ought to be. Many students worry about leaving their family and going to college, but I now worry about leaving my family when I graduate from college. Not every college is like this, and I know that not everyone has the same experience at UMR that I do, but I know that UMR not only provides me with opportunities to excel, but it also provides me with a family to encourage and support me through it all.

Our family dinner is this Saturday, and I am almost as excited as I am to have Thanksgiving dinner with my first family.

Freshmen are a thing of the past

In the interest of altering the structure of our education with the advance of time, it was brought up to my attention that the term "Freshman" no longer applies to students who are coming to our campus for the first time. These people may be "fresh" to our campus, but a majority of them are not "fresh" to the college experience. Many of our students (including me, when I first came here) are entering our college with PSEO (Post-Secondary Enrollment Option), AP, and other credits that apply to their education here at the UMR. In this case, these students are hardly "fresh" to higher learning. However, this is their first year here at UMR, leading me to think that a better term for them would be "First-Year Students". Everyone with which I discussed this idea agreed with me, so I decided to push this idea through the administration to see what response I would get.

The first step was an obvious one; talk to the Chancellor. The Chancellor at our school is very friendly and approachable, especially since I have been working with him for three years already and I work closely with him as President of the Rochester Student Association. He was very receptive of this idea and immediately promised to me that he would do everything in his power to make this change. Lo and behold, a few weeks later I was standing in front of the entire administration of my college, microphone in hand, regaling them with my thoughts on why we should make this change. I could barely get a word out about the change I was attempting to make before they started clapping in support of my idea. After a brief discussion, we had solidified the process through which we would make this change, and set out to accomplish this goal.

While we are pushing that the term "Freshman" will never again be uttered on campus, our initiative is not yet finished. I am working with my Representative to the Board of Regents, the Representative to the Board of Regents from Crookston, and several other people to push this agenda so as to institutionalize this change throughout the entire University of Minnesota. Wish me luck, as this will not be an easy feat. However, I am confident in my abilities to make a difference in the world in which I live.

Ah, it is that time of year again! The sun is high in the sky, shooting photons into the Earth's atmosphere at an alarmingly high rate, the male birds are a hootin' and a hollerin' at the lady birds, and many of the male humans are doing about the same (although it is directed at lady humans, not birds). We are closing out the final weeks of school here at the University of Minnesota Rochester, and things sure are heating up. You would think all of the students are concerned about finals, and you are right. However, there is a good deal of concern about the presentation of our research projects in this upcoming week, especially in my case as I currently have three presentations to work on. However, these are coming along nicely and are great fun to work with. Finals will soon come and go as they always do, but the next event is the great summer. Some people are heading back to their hometowns for this summer, some are heading out to new places (one of my friends is going to Washington D.C. to work in the White House), and some are staying here with me in Rochester. I cannot advise those going to their hometowns and I cannot even hope to imagine what the White House has in store for my friend, but I can advise on summer activities in Rochester.

The summer is a lively time here, and is becoming more lively every year. This year there will be the popular and recurring Thursdays on First and Third where vendors come from all over to set up shop in the downtown area every Thursday throughout the summer. This is a wonderful opportunity to see what the community has to offer since the vendors are from every background and come from all over the state while the people attending the event are always great fun to meet and talk to. I, personally, will be spending as much time there as possible.

But wait, there's more to Thursdays on First and Third than just vendors! There are also live bands and shows playing in the evening. These can range from an amateur rock band, to a well-known acoustic band, to a performance featuring break-dancing, juggling, and drums. I only got to see a little bit of the last one, but I wish I could have seen the entire performance.

Long story short, if you're looking for something to do on a summer Thursday in downtown Rochester, you're not looking anymore.

Ball[room]ers Be Ball[room]ing

In yet another example of how the University of Minnesota Rochester is different from any other campus (and there are many examples around), the most competitive sport on campus is Ballroom Dancing. Allow me to re-iterate, the college that I go to has only one sport where students compete against others outside of our University; Ballroom Dancing. While students at other universities are shelling out too much money to go cheer on their division level football, soccer, hockey, or other team, the University of Minnesota Rochester students are sauntering into a cozy ballroom with plush seats to cheer on their friends with countless other friends and fans. I am fortunate enough to be one of the competitors on our team, I have been this fortunate for two years now. I must admit that I enjoy competitive ballroom dancing far more than the football, soccer, hockey, and track that I used to play and watch in high school.

In this past month we competed in the annual competition, and we dressed to impress. We donned our flowing gowns, slinky dresses, and gentlemanly tuxedos and paraded onto the dance floor, devoted to the idea of showing our best effort. Let me tell you, we exceeded that effort in almost every dance (I had to learn one of my dances 5 minutes prior to competing). We had couples placing in almost every criteria and even those who did not place did very well. On top of it all, we looked magnificent and had a wonderful time. I had more fun those two days of competition than I had at any of my other sports competitions throughout my entire life. I am a very firm supporter of the UMR Ballroom Team and look forward to the incoming freshmen next year!

My Less-Than-Graceful Descent Into Madness

When I was in high school, I went to school, sat in class, took notes, paid attention, and did all of the homework that the teachers assigned me. I was a star student, always getting good grades and paying attention in class. My teachers all loved me for this, but if only they could have known how hard I truly tried in school; I didn't. The notes that they thought I was taking was really the homework due tomorrow because I didn't care to pay attention in class. I got perfect grades in all of my classes (except art) without trying or applying myself. High school was a breeze. My parents, on the other hand, knew that I was not applying myself. They didn't much mind though, as long as I was getting good grades and staying out of trouble (which I did not do as well at as the good grades thing) but they had their concerns. "College will be different, Joe," they'd tell me, "You will be challenged and have to dedicate yourself to learning." I just nodded and smiled, telling them I'll take whatever college can throw at me. Personally, I thought they were full of something unsanitary. Now here I am in college, getting the best grades in all of my classes, and I have more time to put my feet up and whistle than I want. Of course there's nothing I like more than to put my feet up and whistle, but you get my point. Now I know what you're thinking; So his parents were wrong! He's not trying in college, look at all the free time he has! Wow, my voice echoes weird in my mind. Hey, how does he know what I'm thinking?!? You, my unnamed friend, have never been more wrong. My parents were more right than you can imagine. I am being challenged here in college, and I am dedicating myself. But now you are thinking; If he is challenged, how can he have a lot of free time? The reason is because I am enjoying the challenge that college is giving me. I am learning so much new information here at the University of Minnesota, Rochester that I want to learn! Whenever I go to class or pull up my notes for my homework, I get a little excited. Some classes get me more excited than others. Pray that you never have to sit in a physics class with me; I am likely to giggle with enjoyment when the teacher gives us a difficult question. He's just exaggerating, nobody does that. Yes, I do. My friends get concerned about me when I start discussing physics or chemistry around them because I get actively excited. This guy must be certifiable. I very much am, but I'm not sure if I'm a certifiable lunatic or a certifiable genius; probably a healthy mixture of both of them. I spent a solid hour the other day discussing in detail a single chemistry problem with one of my teachers, and we did it in our free time. My point here is that my parents were right, college is challenging, but it is a challenge I am enjoying.

I am not saying all colleges are challenging (some are not) or a challenge too great for me does not exist (did I mention art?). There are colleges out there that do not challenge their students as much as I would enjoy, and there are colleges out there that would chew me up and spit me out without a second thought. This is why I go to UMR. Not only does it challenge me like I want to be challenged, there are also many resources to make the challenge enjoyable. The teachers of my classes are just like me, they get excited by their subjects! I have teachers who take time out of their days to sit and discuss hypothetical curriculum-related situations with me. Not only does this make the challenge easier for me to handle, it also makes it much more fun for me! Even thinking about the times where a teacher and I fill a whiteboard with frantic scribblings of some abstract scenario get my feet twitching with excitement! I have even gotten so excited by writing this I haven't even been touching on my main point. My main point is that if you or someone you know is looking for an education in the medical field that will be both challenging and exciting, UMR is the school for that education. The professors, the students, the administration, and even the community want us to succeed and enjoy our time here and that is a wonderful thing. There we go, I was waiting for the shameless plug! You're not wrong, it is a shameless plug for UMR. However, everything I have written has been the complete truth. I made sure to tell the truth because if anyone reads this and is considering going to UMR, I want to make sure that they know that they will be challenged and be prepared to accept the challenge.

When the UMR students engage the community

There are, as with all colleges, benefits and disadvantages to attending such a small school. There are far less people here at the University of Minnesota, Rochester, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. I like having so few people around because I truly get to know my fellow student far better than at any massive college. Historically at UMR, there have not been as many venues of entertainment (as in clubs, hang-out spots, or bars for those of age). There are plenty of restaurants in the area, quite a few scenic hang-out spots, and a few bars downtown, but there is not much variety because there are only a few in this size of a city. These places are also seem to be aimed at the surrounding Rochester community more than they are aimed at the student body, however, this is changing very rapidly!

Companies are moving into the 318 Commons building to boost their revenue by appealing to the college age. Local businesses have started offering discounts to students. One good example of such businesses is one of our local movie theaters, the Paragon Chateau theater, which offers students a $5 movie ticket if we provide our student I.D. This has made the theater much profit because students will form groups to go to movies quite frequently. One such instance of that is the Twilight premier, where 90% of UMR attended. For the record, I was one of those that went to the premier. We arrived two hours early for a reason that is entirely unknown to me. Apparently that wasn't enough time because the lobby had already been filled by then. It was actually quite entertaining to watch the mob of teenage girls swirl around and listen to the shrieks of enjoyment at seeing a friend, or the screams of enjoyment as somebody mentions Edward or Jacob (that's right, I know their names). These were not the only noises present, thank goodness, because the theater had the foresight to hire a D.J. This was the only reason I did not go completely insane from the noise. The UMR students, being bored with two hours of time to burn, started ballroom dancing to the music. It's just what we do here. We quickly gained a crowd of UMR students and the occasional local parent or high schoolers watching and cheering us on. This was a beautiful occasion where the college students and the community were interacting. A few gentlemen actually asked some of the people watching to dance, and most of them accepted. It was a wonderful occasion, filled with cheering, laughter, and joyous smiles. Then the electric slide came on, and the theater erupted. Every UMR student in the lobby jumped in line next to the parents and children who live in Rochester. Before long, half of the lobby was occupied by lines of people dancing the electric slide. People on the outside were even in danger of getting pulled into the maw and being taught to dance. It was a beautiful moment for the community and the college, all brought on by a discount that the theater offers to college students.

Physical Chemistry

When you think of physics and chemistry, one can usually find a general relation between the two in that chemistry is large-scale application of small-scale physics. By that, I mean that physics is the interaction of substances from the atomic level to the visible level, whereas chemistry is the application of the interaction of particles. Therefore, chemistry is applied physics. Now if that made no sense at all, I apologize, I have a very extensive background in physics and chemistry. I'll even admit to taking extra physics and chemistry courses in high school for fun (I know, it's embarrassing). Due to this, I have a very advanced understanding of physics and chemistry. If you do not understand what I said, that is not necessary to understand what I am about to say, just know that chemistry and physics are related vaguely.
Today, during my physics class, the general chemistry teacher joined our class to relate our discussion of energy to how that energy is gained from molecules of food. From the second the teacher stepped in the door, I realized that this is a perfect moment to show just how unique the University of Minnesota truly is. First of all, in any other college a teacher's day is filled with lecturing, grading papers, and sitting in his/her office avoiding students. Here at UMR, teachers are willing to take time out of their own day to come and teach to a class that is not their own. At any other college this would require a 15-minute trek to the other classroom. Here at UMR, it is a matter of the 15 seconds it takes to walk up the stairs from his classroom to ours. When the teacher walked in the door, he was warmly greeted with smiles and friendly hellos from all of the students. Every student knew this teacher even though this was not his class, and every student loved this teacher. At any other college, most of the class will have never heard of this other teacher and those that do usually have the other teacher for a class. Here at UMR, we know our teachers on a very interpersonal level. The teacher then proceeded to teach us what a Joule of energy was. We had been working with energy for a week but still had no idea what it actually meant, and this teacher was able to relate the two ideas in our head. This is a perfect example of UMR for many reasons. Firstly, two potentially different courses have been brought together to better the learning of all students. Secondly, a teacher is willing to take his own time to teach to a class that is in no way his own class. And lastly, every student knows and loves this second teacher, even if they have no classes with him as is my case. These are more reasons on the long list of reasons that I truly love learning at UMR.

They told me I could write about anything I wanted to on this blog, and my therapist has been telling me to write out my feelings. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and write about my feelings in this blog. I'm just kidding! I don't have feelings; those are a sign of weakness (again, kidding). I would instead like to discuss the pros and cons about working outside of class. I am currently holding two jobs, one on-campus work-study job, and another at Mayo Clinic. On top of this, I am taking 16 credits. What's that you say? I'm absolutely insane? You and my therapist would get along great. I did this last semester, working 40+ hours a week on top of acing all but one of my classes (I got 89.8% in Biology). But as they say, the Sophomore year at UMR is the hardest year. My plan this semester is to work just enough hours to avoid getting fired for not working enough, but work enough to pay the rent and tuition. Then I can pick up my hours over the summer. I have just crunched the numbers, and it looks like I'll have to work overtime every week to stay out of debt. I am, of course, kidding again (can you trust anything I say by now?). I have, however, compiled a list of the benefits and drawbacks to working while in college. That's right, it's a list blog:

Benefits:
• Extra spending money for that pretty girl/handsome gent
• Less/no debt after college
• Builds character and teaches maturity
• Helps (forces) learning to manage time
• It sets you apart from the rest of the people who rode through college on scholarships, loans, and their daddy's wallet (although I am jealous of them)
• Builds a work experience history long before getting out into your field of choice

Drawbacks:
• Say goodbye to either your social life or sleep
• Develops an unhealthy addiction to coffee (causation versus correlation?)
• Stressful life
• Sometimes you can't handle both work and school, and one will have to take a back seat and will not be happy about it

That about sums up everything I could come up with. I am fairly certain there are other reasons for and against working so much, I just can't seem to find them at the moment.
In the tradition of leaving you with a quote, so here is a quote on love from one of my favorite authors, Jarod Kintz:

"If loving someone is putting them in a straitjacket and kicking them down a flight of stairs, then yes, I have loved a few people."
-Jarod Kintz, It Occurred to Me

Signed,
Joe Inhofer

This blog has no title

As I sit here in the 318 Commons lounge, wondering why I am so cruel to myself as to purposely deprive myself of much-needed sleep and how the construction workers figured out the perfect spot to drill so that it was the most annoying noise possible, I am reflecting on my times as a Freshman and how times have changed. I am now a Sophomore (that's right, big-time now) so it has been a full year since I was in the shoes of what I have been calling "baby freshmen". My first reflection is just how much I hated it when an upper-classman made fun of me with a demeaning name just for being a freshman. Yet here I sit doing the same to them, does that not strike you as odd? My next reflection is that this year's freshmen are far better off than I was as a freshman, mostly in the commodities sense. The aforementioned drilling is actually part of a renovation in this building that has been going on for many months now. They are expanding the study area, adding new faculty offices, building a bank and a medical clinic. These are things that I did not have when I was living here, and I believe I greatly missed out on. Maybe it's the lack of sleep talking, maybe it's the 13 cups of (free) coffee, or maybe it's just me being sentimental, but I think that I am secretly jealous of these freshmen milling about. I wish I was one of you, experiencing this place for the first time, and getting to feel the thrill of finally being on your own as a college student. Alas, I cannot be a freshman this year (for many fiscal and social reasons), but I can still help you maximize your pleasure, which is why I became an OWWL (an OWWL is an Orientation and Welcome Week Leader who helps the incoming freshmen get acclimated to a new environment and meet new friends). And that, in turn, is why I am sitting in the 318 Commons lounge looking around for cameras because I am convinced that these pounding noises of construction are part of twisted entertainment for somebody using the cameras to watch me.


To follow the tradition of Jarod Kintz quotes:

"I think the key indicator for wealth is not good grades, work ethic, or IQ. I believe it's relationships. Ask yourself two questions: How many people do I know, and how much ransom money could I get for each one?"
― Jarod Kintz

Signed,
Joe Inhofer

E-mails from a Madman: namdam a morf sliame

When I tell you I was raised in Plymouth, MN, have no misgivings about who I am. I am not a city boy, I strongly dislike large amounts of people all placed in one spot at the same time. I am more comfortable out in the country-side, with no worries about that person walking unnaturally close to me and wondering what he is holding in his pocket. I do not intend to insult the Twin Cities, nor any other city (although Chicago and New York City scare me even more), I am merely displaying my opinion. When it came time to choose a college, my parents left it up to me to motivate myself and find a college. I did my research and found the University of Twin Cities. I applied and was accepted into their College of Science and Engineering for Chemistry. After a brief discussion with a friend about what college she is going to, my eyes were opened to the University of Minnesota, Rochester. I decided to do some more research, and found some fairly interesting facts. UMR has an entirely medical geared undergraduate program, a small student body, and very near the Mayo Clinic. This was very attractive to me. I toured both campuses, and noticed a very large difference. When I entered the Twin Cities, I was lead by a smattering of signs to a table where they asked my name, searched through a pile of nametags, and handed me one that had my name on it. When I entered UMR, I was greeted by a smiling face that leapt to greet me by name although I had no nametag or identifying characteristic at all. I had to make my decision, and I chose UMR for the following reasons: Twin Cities has about 60,000 students going for many different majors from chemical engineering to beer drinking, I would become lost in the sea of people, and I would wake up every morning scared to go outside and greet the city. UMR had about 300 students all going into the medical field, I can be recognized as me, and I would love the surrounding city (especially Mayo).

No student of UMR is "just a student". Many students get involved in the community, in the school, or both. I decided to take the course of getting involved in both the community and the school. I quickly joined the recreational Soccer Club, the Ballroom Team, the Rochester Student Association, got a job on campus, and I also got a job off campus at the Mayo Clinic. Doing all of these greatly cut back on my time with my roommates, and I was greatly worried that I would lose my social life. Instead, my social life blossomed like a spring lilac. I was going out to dinner after work with my Mayo coworkers, all of the teachers and students got to know me through my on-campus job as I was the one they called to fix anything. Being on RSA helped me meet other active members of the school and those who want an opinion expressed, the Soccer Club and Ballroom Team kept me physically active and helped me meet other people looking to be physically active but still have fun. I have become great friends with many people I met at these events. As a student, you will be forced (it's not so bad, quit groaning) to work together in groups. Being forced to work with someone offers you the opportunity to talk to that cute boy/girl across the table from you that you are too shy to ask out to dinner. Anything can happen over a group discussion.

Being an Orientation and Welcome Week Leader has given me the chance to meet all of the bright incoming freshmen. I admit, my reasons for volunteering were selfish. I get free food, something to do during the day, and I get to meet all of the incoming freshmen so I can them. Those were my original reasons. I quickly discovered that those reasons were not the only factors at play. Not only was I getting to know the incoming freshmen, but they were getting to know me, a big and intimidating upperclassman who is actually really soft and shy. Not only was I helping myself, but I was helping the new freshmen feel more comfortable attending UMR. I was inadvertently doing was I was supposed to be doing.

I assume by class project you meant the Biology Symposium. If not, then let me know which one you meant and I'll rewrite this part. When I was in middle school, I was assigned a project where I had to reach into a hat and pull out a topic. That was my topic I had to write my project on, and I was given a sheet of how and what to write. I hated my topic, and therein hated my project. When we were told that we would be doing a presentation on a topic for Biology, Writing, and Philosophy, I immediately assumed it would be the same. They even gave us a lay-out and an example project. I was already having war-like flashbacks. Then the teacher said the greatest thing I've ever heard: "These are just suggestions, you can do your project in any way you want." We had been given complete freedom in what to write about and how to write it. So my group and I chose a topic we were actually interested about. When our project was finished, there we were in our Sunday best, beaming smiles on our faces, very pleased with our finished product because it was ours. The teachers not only got to see just how much we learned over the semester, but we also learned even more while working on the project. At times, it was even fun (*gasp*).

I believe I will create a habit of leaving you with a quote. As you may have noticed, I took a page from Jarod Kintz while titling this blog. For a while, I believe I will stick to quotes from Jarod Kintz:

"I'm not waiting until my hair turns white to become patient and wise. Nope, I'm dying my hair tonight."
― Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale

Signed,
Joe Inhofer