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Archive for January, 2011

Radiolaria

I’m not really sure when my fascination with radial symmetry began. I do remember that, as early as four or five years old, I spent many an uncoordinated hour with my spirograph, attempting to make those ever-elusive perfect and delicate forms.

Several years later, I came across a box of engineer’s graphing paper in my grandfather’s house. The vellum paper was so finely lined that filling in the tiny boxes with a gel ink pen almost gave the effect of pointillism. Before long, with the aid of the (borrowed) graphing paper, I had begun to develop a method of drawing that I still use today, almost twenty years later. Over the years I have refined that method to look typically something like this:

Beginning with a single center dot I progress outward with the most precise geometric forms that my fine motor skills will allow. It’s a painstaking and meditative process, and one that I don’t often have the patience for lately.

These days, however, I’ve been spending a lot of time studying life and all the little bits and components that go into making living things work. I’m fascinated and inspired continuously by the images that crop up in my biology and chemistry texts.

Plant histology can really get my gears turning..

And I was bowled over when I first heard about (or saw about, rather) radiolarians, the delicate, glassy-shelled marine invertebrates also known as zooplankton.

Tonight I am inspired by the works of Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist/artist who made enormous scientific strides in his day, all the while appreciating and conveying the beauty of what he found in his intricate illustrations:

My efforts may not be so skillfully executed or breath-taking, but I’m content that I’ve been able to free up my rigid style a bit in order to infuse my typical radial dial “doodle” with a bit of life. To make it less of something you might find carefully drafted onto the miniscule lines of an engineer’s notebook, and more like something you might find looking back at you from under the lens of your microscope.

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One of my resolutions for 2011 was to make more art. I won’t mention the other resolutions because most of them haven’t been going so well thus far. And honestly, I can’t really say much for my art-making progress either. But I’m taking it slow, dipping my feet in and appropriating other people’s ideas to create the two priceless works seen below:

This gem of a triple portrait is something I threw together for an invitation to an impromptu birthday pizza party that I will be hosting in honor of my family’s January birthdays. (Don’t worry, if you are in town and blood-related, you will be receiving your exquisitely decorated summons soon.)

My second attempt at creativity this year is, I must admit, not my own idea. But I think the results are kinda cute. That is, until someone sabotages my carefully executed set-up by tagging me in another dang picture!

So, there’s the best I have to offer so far. Stay tuned for more blossoming creativity in the Bee household. Cheers.

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Thanksmas

Today I am thankful for many, many things.

I am thankful for a tolerant boyfriend who understands that when I hiss “leave me alone!” in the bathroom at 7:30am, I’m not being malicious.

I’m thankful for the demure “I-love-you-mommy” eyes that the kids give me when I make my morning rounds to pet them.

I’m grateful that Evie never manages to ingest enough of my houseplants to poison herself, and never breaks any(more) bones while scaling bookshelves and countertops to get to my poinsettias.

I’m glad that there are alternative ways to transport documents when I can’t find my flash drive or portable hard drive ANYWHERE.

I’m very thankful that the ink in printer cartridges is water soluble.

I’m thankful that there are worse mistakes I could have made when applying for a job than forgetting to sign my cover letter.

I’m indebted to all the catfish who bravely give their lives to fill my belly at lunch time.

I’m grateful for all the Mariemas gifts that make me look uncharacteristically stylish.

I’m thankful for not getting a parking ticket after I realized that I had completely forgotten to purchase a parking permit for school.

I’m thankful that I’m not the only one who was completely lost in our first day of Physics II.

I’m thankful for awkward situations that make me laugh at myself.

I’m grateful that none of the crazy-ass drivers out there managed to run into me today.

Most of all I’m thankful to have a warm and loving home to come back to after a long, long, hard day.

 

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Sometimes it feels as if trying to get into veterinary school is a grand adventure, a mysterious journey, a magical trip that will bring me way more than I had imagined or bargained for. Other times, it’s just plain exhausting.

Preparing for application to veterinary school has been the most difficult undertaking of my life thus far. And that’s only because I have yet to actually undergo the application process, which I’m sure will trump my current efforts in magnitude of difficulty. After which, pending the very tentative possibility of acceptance, I get to contemplate enduring the torture of actually working toward getting my DVM. And then? Well, it’s anybody’s guess as to how difficult my future will keep getting from here.

Not that I’m complaining. I still have a good 264 days left for me to prepare for my first attempt at applying to veterinary school. 264 days to complete an internship, to get as much clinical experience as possible, to work and save as much money as possible to pay for my final semesters, to get an A in physics 2 and thus raise my suffering GPA by a helpful fraction, to finish writing a 3000-word personal statement, to take a 4-hour test (hopefully just once), to write out every single class, activity, award, and experience I’ve managed to tuck under my belt in the past nine years.

For now, however, I feel that it is best to suppress  those futuristic visions of challenges to come and to focus on the tiny, daily baby steps that I am making. Slowly shuffling my way toward my goal.

Today, I studied five hours for the GRE. Baby step.

I decided to try my hand at practicing the analytical writing section. I chose a random “Issue” from the list of topics so generously provided by the GRE website, and took every second of my allotted 45 minutes to write a somewhat coherent response to what I thought about the topic presented. The results are a tad amusing, as I managed to cull my mind and pull out interesting tidbits such as Christopher Columbus, and incest. It’s amazing what your mind will come up with when you are desperate for supporting examples and don’t have google at your fingertips.

For my own amusement, here is my result. The format is not bad, if I do say so myself, and I think it might have earned a rating of “generally thoughtful analysis supported with logically sound reasons and/or well-chosen examples”.

??

I dunno, you tell me:

GRE ISSUES

  1. “Important truths begin as outrageous, or at least uncomfortable, attacks upon the accepted wisdom of the time.”

While it is true that the discovery of important truths often arise amidst great controversy and opposition, there exist those revelations that are born to an accepting society. Some of these discoveries may be happy accidents that cannot be denied. Others may be belief systems that have grown and evolved over the years and occupy an appropriate space in the accepted mainstream. To believe otherwise would imply that any long-held established belief is, in fact, a fallacy.

In the relatively modern realm of science we see perhaps the greatest number of examples that would support the claim that important truths begin as attacks upon accepted wisdom. From the days of Copernicus and Galileo, to Darwin, and including the contemporary issues such as stem cell research and assisted euthanasia, science is continually pressing the boundaries of accepted truth and daily creating a new world view which is, understandably, feared and rejected by many.

However, science is a novelty, prone to intense scrutiny and skepticism by its very nature and process. When we consider truths of a different nature, there is less evidence to support the claim that truths are always initially resisted by society.

For example, consider the many universal truths that have been found to be ingrained in every society. Anthropologists study the phenomenon of universal taboos. Every society since prehistoric times has frowned upon–outlawed if you will–the notion of incestuous relations. It seems to be accepted as a universal rule that incest is a dangerous and prohibited activity. While it makes sense to avoid incest for the sake of preserving genetic diversity and preventing genetic mutations, this reasoning was not explicitly known by earlier societies. My point is that no one person made the discovery that incest is harmful, presented it to a society, and was ostracized. It is simply an inherent belief, perhaps ingrained in our very instincts as a species, that has been persistently and universally accepted by all known civilizations.

In addition to accepted truths, we must consider those discoveries that have been embraced by the societies in the eras in which they were made. Columbus departed from Europe to make an astonishing discovery that would drastically alter the course of history. As far as King Ferdinand and Queen Isabela were concerned, Columbus “discovered” this immense truth that a new continent existed. Instead of rejection, Columbus’ new truth was embraced and celebrated. The importance of the discovery of America is undeniable. The fact that the discovery was well received and acted upon by Columbus’ contemporaries would be difficult to deny, given the evidence that surrounds each of us in our daily lives.

While it happens often that important truths are met with controversy and sometimes derision, it is not correct to assume that all truths are born in this manner. New discoveries, most often of the scientific nature, are often considered outrageous and offensive until they are more widely accepted and incorporated into the mainstream. However, those fundamental truths of humankind, which have arisen and become accepted by the very nature of humankind, cannot be ignored. These truths have always been present, and have had no need for discovery. Thus there are some truths that have never been anything but accepted wisdom; neither outrageous nor uncomfortable.

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