Pen + Paper = Planning Power!

TGIF, y’all! I don’t know about all of you, but work has been pretty busy ever since I got back from the new year. Even though we are down in the factory, I’m catching up on all the things I had been ignoring while on shift! Lots of protocols, data pulls, reports, and staring at the computer for extended amount of hours ._.

I’ve been sooo caught up, I totally didn’t realize that it has been a year since I first visited this part of Virginia to interview for my job! It blows my mind it’s already been 1 year since I started my final quarter in college. WHOOSH.

Anyways, as you can tell by today’s blog post title, I prefer using the old fashioned way when it comes to planning. Whether it be a day planner or my notebook I use at work, I prefer writing on paper first. I am  suuuuuch a lover of lists. It can be so daunting filling up a page so easily with a huge list of tasks or due dates, but once you start accomplishing what you need to, it can be addicting to cross off those items!

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Figure. Here is my planner for 2014! A pretty standard planner setup from Barnes and Nobles, but I like to cross out bills and due dates as I pass them.

Plus, what I love most about using pen and paper is that you are not restricted how you want to make your lists. I think it’s more fun and engaging. Electronic means sometimes limit my creativity because there is usuallya template that can only be manipulated so much. Or if it’s a portable device, you need to use a touch screen to type >_< I am way faster at scribbling notes with a pen than using a confounded touch screen (ask my cell phone).

Also, I am a very visual person. When I list tasks initially, I will associate a items on my to do list with sketches to jog my memory. Also, sometimes it helps me to organize my tasks in a chart. Then, I can put them into buckets that help me figure out how high it ranks on my priorities and how long it will take to accomplish. I also like to make up my own icons 😛

I take about a half hour to an hour every Monday making my lovely lists. Here is what I do:

  1. Brainstorm Cloud or List – Throw everything and anything on here! Just make sure to capture what you want to get done that week or near future so you don’t forget about it. Sometimes I’ll start clumping tasks if they are related to the same report or area (so I don’t run back and forth too much across the site, wasting time).
  2. Leave No  Man  Task Behind – Turn back and search! I look through old lists of yester-week to see what I have not addressed or crossed out. If old tasks are still being relevant or important to do, it makes it to the new week’s list so it doesn’t get forgotten.
  3. List for the Week – I write down all tasks I want to do and throw due dates on them: either Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
  4. List for the Day – As each day rolls around, I make daily lists every morning very quickly, pulling from tasks from List for the Week section. I usually dedicate a page per day. It also has my notes and thoughts from the day.

One downside I have with my notebook system is that it’s hard to recall past information, even if I the dates on all my lists.

One notebook system that is similar to my own, but quite a bit more organized and systematic is the THE BULLET JOURNAL. It would solve my recalling issue since it’s designed with an index. I stumbled upon this video on someone’s Facebook earlier this week:

I think electronics are great at saving us paper, carrying less heavy books, or hey eliminating paper diaries and allowing us to blog on the web! But at the very least, I think I will stick to toting around a notebook with me everywhere for my daily thoughts.

Want more reasons to like paper and pen? Go here for an article for “Why pen and paper is still the best productivity tool”

So what’s your stance on the paper versus screen debate?


Always a city girl at heart.

My friend sent me a quiz: “What City Should You Actually Live In?” from Buzzfeed. If you want to take it, here is the link:

I don’t really put much stock into Buzzfeed quiz results, but found it ironic I got home city as a result:



A greater sign from above to go back to the Big Apple?

Hell no.

I’m not quite done with this small town yet 🙂

Why Gen Y Yuppies Are Unhappy

First off who is Generation Y? This article defines it as the generation born between the late-1970s to mid-1990s. I was born in 1990 on the dot, so I fall in this category and find this bit of info pretty relevant. 

I had to post this link, despite the somewhat somber connotation the title gives off. It gives some interesting views (and sarcastically funny stick figures) on why post-college-graduation or young adult life may feel like its taking a larger toll on your mental health and happiness. If you are just starting off, like me, on the long and arduous path to full-fledged careerhood, just understand this:

The struggle is real. We are all experiencing it. Don’t feel like you are the loneliest, unlucky person out there. So stop comparing yourself to your peers. It will do you no good, man.

Happy Sunday from a reasonably happy (at the moment) yuppy 🙂


GYPSY expectation

Figure. Image is from “wait but why” article on “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy.” Lucy is our example Gen Y girl.

The Empty Cup: A Learning Philosophy

The movie “Forbidden Kingdom” was on really late last night Sunday night, I think. It’s not a fantastic movie, but I really love Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and the whole kung fu movie genre.

One scene really caught my eye however:

In this scene, Jackie Chan’s character reference’s the metaphor of “emptying your cup.” What exactly does that mean?It refers to the way you approach something new. If you want to learn something new, you need to look at it with an open mind. You need to disregard all previous notions and preconceptions and focus on learning this something new. If your cup is “filled” with previous knowledge, there is no room to grow and learn. Your cup will “overflow” with knowledge instead of being contained.

I first learned about this concept during a religion class in school called “Body, Mind, and Spirit.” In fact, I think I would more so call it an early philosophy class than a religion class. My teacher wrote this quote by the master Bruce Lee himself in large, cursive letters on the board.

“Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”

I think sometimes it can be difficult to pin point when something really impacts a person to mature. While big events can shape a person, like a family member being in the hospital or making the decision to change career and study paths while in school, some times more subtle moments can help, too. In he last 15-20 mins of this lecture, I was enlightened on how to better myself, and it open my eyes to how arrogant I can be as a 16 year old kid.


Figure. And a picture version of this quote because I really like it.

I now live and breathe this “empty your cup” philosophy. I have used it in school and in the jobs I have had. Other people probably think I am dumb when I say “I don’t know” or “It’s okay, explain it to me again as if I don’t know anything.”

While I value the previous experiences and things I have learned, the best way to embrace a new experience is to treat it like it is indeed brand new and special, with a mind ready to absorb like a sponge. If you are going to act like you know everything, then why bother asking to learn more?

Something to think about the next time you have a few moments over tea or om nomming some ice cream.

What Makes Being A Nerd Awesome? By Wil Wheaton

This is so amazing. And what I love most about it is that it was on the spot, impromptu, and genuine.

What makes being a nerd awesome? The way you find other people who love [something] the way you do.

Words of wisdom by Wil Wheaton. A mouth full of alliteration, and it’s totally worth it.

Thanks to my friend, Naomi for sending this to me.

Reached 100K Hits!

Just a quick post to say I’m happy to say that “Looking Through The Test Tube Glass” has achieved over 100,000 hits, earning 128 wonderful followers in it’s time running!


Figure 1. Celebration time!

Also, with the recent surge of followers, I just wanted to say hello & welcome! And to my old followers, thanks for sticking around!

Thanks to this blog and those who read it, I have an outlet. I have a space to reflect on different jobs I have had. I have a place to display things that I have made proudly. I have motivation to ask questions and share what things I learn. I get to gain insight from comments and other bloggers.

It’s really rewarding having an audience because even in the smallest way, I feel like I can impact someone by what I write. And when you write with that perspective, it really helps you grow a lot as a person.

So thanks for lending me your ears (more like eyes & brains, but then I can’t use the following pic :P)!


Figure 2. Robin Hood Men in Tights – one of my favorite comedies ever. Bless you Tumblr for having this gif.

It’s 2.5 years and still blogging on, ever strong!

My Year in Review (so far)

Well, its been about one week since I got home, so I think its time for a personal update! I must say, 2013 has had some amazing things for me in store academically and career-wise already, though stress and other personal issues have taken a big toll on me. Thus is life though, ups & downs. Some highlights I’d like the share since I have fallen off the face of the planet:

1) My laptop has been broken since December. I stupidly spilled coffee on it one morning before a phone interview while stressing out about the call and thinking about the pending doom of a project due that same day. I had gotten a USB keyboard whose life was short lived when it started to fizz and smoke one night while doing homework. Then I ran out to my local university Radio Shack (couldn’t wait for Amazon to ship!), and I got this cute Logitech wireless one. It’s still been a pain in the ass and a half lugging it around campus though along with books and having to explain to people why I have an extra keyboard. At least it survived til the end of term. Hopefully my computer does not clonk out any time too soon. I can’t afford another one for a while ;_;

wireless keyboard

Figure 1. My cutesy Logitech wireless keyboard! And stop judging my desktop background. It’s entitled “SUPERnova” from Threadless.

2) I will be presenting a poster at my university’s Research Day! It’s always been my dream as a freshmen to participate, and when I didn’t get a chance to do join in academic research because of my coop program, I thought it was hopeless. I was wrong because my former coop employee (DPI) is awesome! The data I compiled from working on one of their lab projects was enough to get my abstract approved for my poster presentation! The poster is a collaboration with another student from the University of Maryland, and it is about plasma treated water with the addition of propylene glycol and its antimicrobial effects.


Figure 2. I love how colorful the Research Day logo is!

3) I was coauthored on a real scientific publication! Another debt to DPI! With some hard work and lots of guidance from my former lab managers & supervisor, I’m lucky to have my name squeezed onto there. I’m still in awe! Never thought as an undergrad I would have my name in anywhere else, but “special acknowledgements” haha. Look for my name in an issue of Applied Physics (free to read if you have university access!). The article is about the use of water treated with the Glid-Arc plasmatron, and its benefits to plant biology and growth.


Figure 3. Yes, I am that silly undergraduate student who screenshots their name on an article so they can show their parents. Shoot me, I am happy!

4) I have successfully made two types of pie recently, one of which on Pi Day (3/14)! The first is a retake of the Caramel Apple pie recipe that caused all the fire alarms in the land of Philadelphia to go off. The second is Caramel Pumpkin Pecan pie.

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Figure 4.1. Unbaked Apple pie with lattice crust. So pretty!
Figure 4.2. Baked Apple pie with caramel encrusted crust. Kind of ruined the pattern in my opinion 😦
Figure 4.3. Baked Pumpkin Pecan Caramel pie. Took forever for it to stop jiggling! haha.

5) I am finally finished with my undergrad! Graduated a bit earlier than anticipated, taking about 4.5 years with 3 full time internships, a ton of volunteering, and part time jobs to boot 🙂 I could rant on about the blood, sweat, tears, and lack of a normal college life I had to get this degree, but I will leave it at “I am content” now that its mine and extremely appreciative for the learning experience, knowledge, and people I have been fortunate to meet. I am still waiting for my diploma and my actual walking ceremony is not until June, however.

6) I actually scored a job already! I have been a bit hush-hush about it because I am still in shock. After passing the phone screen in December (SO WORTH sacrificing my laptop as an offering; see bullet #1), I was offered a job back in the end of January with Merck & Co. down in Virginia as an Associate Specialist Engineering. I’m really humbled that anyone thought I was a good fit, especially in such a big and reputable company. I took a two day trip in the earlier part of the term to interview in Virginia, leaving Philly and school behind for a bit. I had met with about 10 people throughout the day, representing different teams within the department. It was intense, but I’m glad I made an impression on someone/some people!

7) Things still to come…! So right after I finished exams last week, I have been (re)learning how to drive. I need to pass the road test, which I will be taking on in about 2 weeks (eek!). Then, another wisdom tooth extraction, apartment hunting, car bargaining, and then the big move! Not to mention squeezing in seeing people I may never see again/for a very long time in both Philly and NYC 😦

So much for a break, but this is real life! I feel like everything is happening in a blur.I legit just finished taking exams less than 7 days ago.  I’m anxious, nervous, and excited to see where it takes me. I would be lying if i said the life transition doesn’t scare the crap out of me (and I like to take risks). It’s sad that I have got to leave behind friends and family and places so familiar and dear to me. I had always thought that I could come home to NY for a bit to relax and catch up with people I love, and then eventually find a job. Even hanging around Philly seemed like a cool idea, especially if my roomies were willing to hang around with me. Perhaps if I stayed long enough I would have caved in and applied straight to grad school.

But if there was ever at time to be daring, here it is. I have spent so much time planning for the real world that I am almost confused as to what to do now that “the big time” is here! Adventure is out there, and I’m lucky to have this opportunity, though it seems scary and lonely right now. Time to grow up and get a pair of real ovaries! For now, I’m taking it one day at a time until I leave for my new job.


Figure. Screen shot image of Winnie the Pooh movie  from Disney’s Facebook page. Their caption was “It’s always good to have a plan.” So true!