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Laugh It Up: Stanford’s Comedy Takes the Stage

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

With finals just around the corner, laughs are a much needed commodity on campus.  And while that witty pun your Chem TA pulled about how you’ll all “polymer-ace the course” is well and good, sometimes it’s better to leave it to the professionals…er, professionals-in-training.

So what’s on the menu in terms of Stanford comedy?  Quite a bit actually.

Stand Up Comedy Competition, Friday, Feb. 25

Saunter on over to Toyon at 8pm to see the Campus-wide Stand Up Comedy Competition, hosted by Spiked Punchline.  It’s free and any student can enter, so whether you are laughing histerically with them or at them, it’s guaranteed to be entertaining.  Not to mention that if you stay to the end, the audience gets to vote on who should be the winners who advance on to the National College Comedy Competition hosted by Rooftop Comedy.

And as a reminder, Spiked Punchline also hosts a monthly Comedy Night at the Coho on Tuesday night from 8pm-10pm.

The Pillowman, Thursday, Feb. 24 – Sunday, Feb. 26

And for you fans of the darker side of comedy, a student production of The Pillowman, produced by Nathaniel Nelson, is showing through Sunday.  I can’t tell you too much about what happens, but apparently it involved child murder (that may not sound funny, but don’t even pretend you’ve never told a dead baby joke).  Tickets are $5 at the door.

Showtimes are:

Thursday Feb. 23 at 8pm
Friday Feb. 24 at 8pm, 12 am (midnight)
Saturday Feb 25 at 2pm AND 8pm
Sunday, Feb 26th at 2pm

at Prosser Studio Theater

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The Search Virus: What Your Online Activity May Say About Your Viral Load

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Solve this riddle: Student A sits in Humbio 151: Introduction to Epidemiology (i.e. the study of disease outbreaks), listening to a representative from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) discuss how his organization conducts epidemic surveillance.  Student A’s eyes are drooping slightly due to sleep deprivation, a consequence of her participation in the hallowed “Full Moon on the Quad” celebrations the night before.  Between bleary-eyed blinks, Student A decides to Google “flu shots” and “become effective.”

The question: does this student have the flu?

Okay, let’s be real.  If I didn’t already lose you back at Intro to Epidemiology, you are probably thinking “WTF? That makes no sense” right about now.  You probably think you don’t have enough information to answer that question.  And that’s where Google comes in.

That’s right, it’s the G-word.  The giant Mecca of search engine has the answers again.

Let’s break it down.  Here’s what we sans Google know: Last night at Full Moon, Student A was likely exposed to massive quantities of bacteria, viruses, and a variety of scarring mental images.  Her Google search terms suggest that she only recently received a flu shot (I’ll give you a hint: it was yesterday) and she wants to find out if she is successfully vaccinated yet.  For those of you who might care to know, the flu vaccine takes approximately 2 weeks to kick in (it isn’t lookin’ good for Student A).

But here’s the missing link that the average blog reader doesn’t know but Google does: what is everybody ELSE searching online?

Allow me to introduce you to Google Flu Trends (also known as the hypochondriac’s newest enabler).  The brainchild of Google Insights (which tracks how the volume of specific search terms is distributed geographically, seasonally, etc), Google Flu Trends tracks certain flu-related search terms to estimate when and where flu outbreaks are likely to occur.  So, to solve our riddle, all you need to do is pull up Flu Trends in your browser, zoom in on California, then on San Jose (sorry Palo Alto, you don’t qualify with your puny population) and look at the predicted flu levels based on search terms.

BAM.  The reult?  LOW.  Seeing this, Student A does a victory dance in her chair, much to the displeasure of the CDC representative who is still talking to the class about lime disease outbreaks.

Blissfully ignoring her professor’s warning about applying statistical generalities to the individual, Student A breathes a sigh of relief.  Her poor planning and free-spirited promiscuity are unlikely to result in the flu any time soon (I’m aware all you statistics peeps are groaning in agony as this flawed logic, but roll with me here).

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I say “Dalai,” You say “Lama”

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

I’ll be the first to admit that I am woefully ignorant when it comes to the Dalai Lama (although less full of woe thanks to Kristi’s great background post on His Holiness), but I was still jittery with excitement as I flocked to Maples Pavilion this morning with hoards of students and visitors.  I was eager to hear the man himself speak, and in my opinion, he did not disappoint.  After a brief introduction by President Hennessy, the Dalai Lama began to address the packed arena (but not without a bit of jovial debate beforehand about whether he should sit or stand while speaking.  For those of you salivating to know, he did, in fact, stand)

Although flanked by his long-time interpreter, His Holiness spoke to the crowd in English in a low, raspy voice.  During his lecture – entitled “The Centrality of Compassion in Human Life and Society” – His Holiness discussed both the religious and secular justifications for compassion in life.  He argued that regardless of faith, there are numerous reasons to engage in compassionate behavior (my favorite being low blood pressure).  The Dalai Lama stressed that in order to achieve happiness for ourselves, we must incorporate not only compassion, but also trust, into our lives.   The argument was simple, but the message powerful.  In our wildly complicated world, the Dalai Lama can serve as a reminder that sometimes the path can be clear and simple – even if following it isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

While I could go into more detail about the specifics of what was said during the lecture, I’m sure a script will soon be available online for the interested, so I’ll defer.  His Holiness’ talk was followed by a question-and-answer session led by James R. Doty, Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research (CCARE), which hosted the event along with the Stanford School of Medicine and the Office for Religious Life.   Questions were submitted by attendees prior to the event, and included topics such as “Does scientific research on human qualities such as compassion reduce human morality to mere chemical reactions?”  To which the Dalai Lama replied that the mind, at least at the moment, appears to be a far more complicated thing than simply the combination of physical occurences.  How else, he pointed out, could different emotions – happiness, laughter, sadness – result in the same physical reaction of tears?

Although many interesting things were said during the talk, the most striking part of the experience from my perspective was His Holiness’ absolute lack of pretense.  I find it amazing that as renowned and revered a man though he his, his demeanor is completely free of pomp or stiffness – his shoulder sans chip, you could say.  Even from my seat way in the upper deck, I could easily feel his famed humility and good humor.  From unabashedly asking to be reminded the title of his talk to happily recounting anecdotes about his childhood, the Dalai Lama managed to set a informal tone without compromising the sincerity of his message.  His entire attitude was that of someone who doesn’t take himself overly seriously – a true anomaly at a place like Stanford, where taking ourselves seriously just might be a prereq for admission.

Hidden Treasures: CCSR Cafe

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

The bustling CCSR cafe at lunchtime

My hidden treasures series would not be complete if it didn’t highlight one of the most important elements of student life at Stanford: food.  We are all aware of the not-so-secret Olives or the newly opened Coupa Cafe, but few have heard of Lutticken’s Deli.  Located on the ground floor of the architecturally awe-inspiring Center for Clinical Sciences Research (CCSR), the deli – also known as the CCSR Cafe – offers, in my opinion, a delectable lunchtime option.  Forget Subway, the CCSR Cafe can whip you up a mouthwatering sub that you can then sit and savor amidst the swaying bamboo and warm sunshine filtering into the outdoor lobby of the CCSR.  A perfect getaway from the Tressider (or in my case, Stern dining) scene, the CCSR Cafe is a gem – both for it’s economic and delicious mealtime options (I personally recommend the meatball sub, but that may be the Italian in me speaking…) and for its visually-stunning location.  Definitely worth the walk.

A night time view of the CCSR

Directions: Just head keep heading past the Clark Center (that building with the glass walls east of Campus Dr.) and it’ll be the second building on your left.  For superior directions, I suggest campus map (just type in CCSR as your search term).

So Many Deadlines, So Little Time

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

If you are like me, Spring Quarter is not just a time of sunshine and frolicking…it’s also a time of brief bursts of panic (or long bursts depending on my mood, level of hunger, and/or the seriousness of the issue) as I realize that I’m moments away from missing one deadline or another.  So to help spare you from some of the anxiety – or at least prepare you for it – here is a heads up on what is going down deadline-wise over the next few weeks:

Thursday, April 15: Deadline to file tax returns (you are most likely too late to mail it in, but e-filing is always an option)

Friday, April 16: Deadline to apply for disability housing for 2010-2011 Draw

Sunday, April 18 (11:59 pm): Deadline to apply first round for Overseas Study for Winter 2010-2011 or for Kyoto Program Spring 2010-2011

Thursday, April 22: Deadline to apply for pre-assignment for 2010-2011 Draw (that includes theme houses, focus houses, and Co-ops)

Sunday, May 9 (6:00 pm): Deadline to apply for regular housing Draw for 2010-2011

*This is just a preliminary list of deadlines I happen to think are particularly relevant.  Feel free to add other important dates in the comments section!

Stanford’s Hidden Treasures: Jasper Ridge

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

In my three years at Stanford, I’ve come to discover just how much there IS to discover on our beautiful campus.  Like a lot of students, I tend to stick to my normal haunts without too much variation: Stern dining, my dorm, the gym, the Row, Hewlett 200.  On  the plus side I now know that I can leave lunch at exactly 1:11 pm and arrive perfectly on time for class in the Quad at 1:15 pm,  but the downside is I often miss taking in some of the many wonders our campus has to offer.  So in an effort to savor my last year at Stanford, I’ll be writing a series of posts for your viewing pleasure (or viewing apathy) illuminating some of the lesser-known and/or under-appreciated parts of Stanford.

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First on my list?  Japser Ridge Biological Preserve.  I first stumbled upon this gem, located about a 20-minute Marguerite ride from the Oval, as a result of my Bio 44Y class (or as I sometimes like to think of it, “Introduction to Nature Walks”).  At approximately 1,100 acres, Jasper Ridge constitutes of about 1/7 of Stanford’s total land and has been host to the research of 9 different Stanford departments in the past five years.  Although my natural inclination whilst wandering the trails was to keep my eyes glued to the ground for poison oak, I could help but be awestruck by the rolling hills, lush greenery, and sparkling lake down below.  With the wildflowers just about to burst into bloom, now is the best time to take advantage of this stunning biological preserve.  Contact Carolyn Taylor at (650) 851-6813 to schedule a tour.  And for the real nature enthusiasts out there, think about taking the two quarter sequence Bio 96A/B: The JRBP Docent Training program.  Whatever you do, just make sure you make your way to Jasper Ridge at least once before you graduate – the view alone is worth it.

TUSB’s Spring 2010 Course Guide (because napping in the sun can’t be taken for credit)

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Sleeping-on-the-grass1.jpgThe floodgates of Axess have opened and course signups for Spring Quarter are upon us. For those of you looking for a cool class, a GER fulfiller, or just a temporary distraction from your paper due tomorrow, here is the TUSB Spring 2010 course guide. Feel free to add your own additions in the comments section!

Courses you won’t forget (In a good way):
Bio 150: Human Behavioral Biology
Find out why we act the way we do and fulfill that NatSci GER. Taught by Professor Robert Sapolsky – don’t let his mountain-man appearance fool you; this guy’s a neurobiology god and quite the comedian.
English 90: Fiction Writing (also check out English 91: Creative Nonfiction and English 92: Reading and Writing Poetry)
In order to snag a spot in these always-popular courses, enter the lottery at http://creativewriting.stanford.edu
ArtStudi 70: Introduction to Photography
Learn everything from how to turn on your camera to developing your own prints. A bit-time intensive, consider this course a license to spend an afternoon wandering around snapping photos and calling it “homework.”

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Stanford’s Total Undergraduate Charges to Go Up by 3.5%

Monday, February 15th, 2010

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Last week the Stanford University Board of Trustees approved a move to raise next year’s total undergraduate charges by 3.5%, raising it to $50,576. The breakdown for the 2010-2011 academic year will be $38,700 for tuition and $11, 876 for room and board. The increase will also be applied to general graduate students, engineers, newly entering MBAs, and current medical students. Law students will see an even greater increase of 5.8%. Not included in the rising costs is the newly instituted and somewhat controversial Campus Health Service Fee, a mandatory $167 fee that covers numerous health care services at Vaden Health Center and which will remain in effect next year as well. The board was quick to assure students and families that need-based financial aid will not suffer due to the increase, adding that the estimated annual student budget (used in determining aid) will be increased by $1,700 to reflect rise in undergraduate charges.

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Let the Search for the Summer Job Commence!

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

It may only be January, but already the pressure is on to find those resume-boosting summer job opportunities. These past two weeks, the focus was all on consulting and investment banking internships as the Career Development Center played host to reps from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Bain and Co., McKinsey, and the Boston Consulting Group. But with resume deadlines for these positions past, this week appears to be centralizing on more service-minded internships, at least judging by the mighty influx of emails on the subject flooding the dorm chat lists.
So if you want to volunteer abroad, work with urban youth, or cure all diseases known to man while simultaneously kissing babies, then keep your eyes peeled over the next few days as these summer volunteer opportunities pop up, including, but by no means limited to:

  • Be A Good Doctor – for all those eager premeds looking to lend a helping hand and gain some insight into the field of medicine and healthcare both here and abroad
  • Volunteers in Latin America (VILA) – for those interested in promoting human rights and working with children in Quito, Ecuador
  • Plus a multitude of other opportunities or applications for individual service fellowships on the HAAS Center website

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Oh, and on a somewhat related note, for all you engineers out there, don’t forget to stop by the Opportunity Job Fair this Saturday, January 30 at the Alumni Center (10:30 am – 4:00 pm) for a look at some cool summer jobs and internships in your field.

Susan Rice Named 2010 Commencement Speaker

Friday, January 15th, 2010

In an email earlier today, Senior Class Presidents revealed that Susan Rice (’86) will be responsible for imparting words of wisdom to the Class of 2010 on their graduation day. A Stanford graduate herself, Rice serves as the newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN, a member of Obama’s Cabinet, and a national security advisor. Not to mention she can lay claim to the illustrious Rhodes and Truman Scholarships.
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Also named in the email were Debra Satz, a Stanford professor of in the department of philosophy, as Senior Class Day Speaker, and Eboo Patel, a member of Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, as Baccalaureate Ceremony speaker.
Perhaps not the star-studded affair of the Oprah Winfrey days, the 2010 speaker line-up boasts some pretty accomplished individuals. Let’s hope they can give us all – and particularly the class of 2010 – some good advice about facing the “real world.” Best of luck Oh-ten.