Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Baking Failures

Christmas is normally a time when you smell pies and cookies baking in the oven.  You see the commercials of the beautifully made dishes families made and are setting the table with.  In my household the picture has been the opposite.  I've had the task of baking the desserts this year and have batted a thousand in failures:

Failure 1:  Apple Crisp
I love the apple crisp at St. Mike's so I thought I'd make a dish for my family.  I Googled a recipe and it all went well until my dad and I sat down to eat some.  I forgot to peel the apples.  It wasn't a major snafu but it was the first sign of the rest to come.

Failure 2:  Pumpkin Pie
This has to be my worst failure.  I made the pie all fine an well.  I went to put it in the oven and it spilled all over the cookie sheet that was below it.  Well that was strike one.  I didn't clean the pan right away so it burned and now is no longer usable.  Next failure was that the pie itself burned.  Third failure was that I did not flour the pie pan so it doesn't come out cleanly.  Yep, I failed on this one.

Failure 3:  Ice Cream
So, I didn't attempt to make ice cream but I ate some.  I made a huge boo boo and put the scooper in the dishwasher.  Hey, some ice cream scoopers are dishwasher safe!!

Failure 4:  Brownies
So, I went to redeem myself by making boxed brownies.  I thought it all went well until my mom went to try to remove them....I forgot to grease the corners of the pan so some pieces got stuck.  My mom ended up shooting me with brownie because I was to close as she tried to pry the brownies from the pan!

Failure 5:  Apple Crisp Take 2
This time I was determined to peel the apples and not mess up.  Well, I failed miserably at peeling.  My dad kept taking the knife out of my hand and trying to correct it.  At least it all taste the same!!  In the end my dad successfully did teach me to peel and apple.

Moral from this story:  Ask for help!!  I know nothing about baking and have learned a lot from trial and error.  Also, my mom likes the fact that I replaced her cookie sheets (I bought a set even though I ruined one!), bought a new ice cream scooper (dishwasher safe this time!), and she has a good story to make fun of me with.  As for me, I think I'll stay out of the kitchen during the holidays so I'm not running to and from the store replacing things I've ruined!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Love at St. Mike's

Everyone apart of St. Mike's always mentions how thankful they are for the closeness and love that comes from the community.  This is one of the greatest aspects about St. Mike's.  No matter what goes on in my life I know I have community which has a continuous out-pour of support and love for me.  I was reminded of this especially over the past two weeks.

Two weeks ago about this time I was studying hard for final exams.  It was a grueling task, one which I wish we could all just click our heals and be done.  But I made it through!!  That is with a little help from my friends.  Since St. Mike's is a resident campus and most students eat in Alliot, my friends and I coordinated meal times to help de-stress after studying or taking a final exam.  Alliot even covered their tables with paper one night and put crayons out so we could color while we ate!  During the long week some clubs or departments put out cookies or hot chocolate in random places on campus for students to enjoy.

The weekend I got home was relaxing with my family and I procrastinated on unpacking but it was nice to just spend time with my parents.  However, as the week progressed I kept getting hit with sad news.  I stayed strong for most of the week but come Thursday night I broke down.  I was reminded this week on how short life can be and how much my friends mean to me.  I sent out a mass message Thursday night to a core group of friends at school telling them about all the saddened news and how much they mean to me and how thankful I am to have them as friends.  Well, what I received back by the next day (and I wasn't entirely expecting) were notes from each one of them.  All expressing thanks for the reminder and how much they love me back.  It has given me the strength to press forward after this hard week to smile again and make the best out of situations you have no control over.

I thank my friends at St. Mike's for always given me a place to turn to when I need a shoulder to lean on.  I don't know what I would do without all of you guys.  You guys are my rock and I love you all so much!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Life of a Computer Science Major

Studying can be fun!!
Growing up I never thought I would actually be a Computer Science major.  I'm a very artsy person and always participated in theater, or doing crafts, or was very athletic.  I'm still all of these things (athletics has gotten put on the back burner lately but I want to start again!) plus now I get too add in another cool piece to my identity:  Computer Science.  To give you a little insight to how this adds into my life I figured I would interview myself:

Maura:  Why did you decide Computer Science (CS)?
Maura:  Well, I grew up with a knack for computers.  I participated in a computer club when I was in 7th and 8th grade but never thought much of it.  I do think of the moderator all the time and give him credit to mostly inspiring me.  When I was in high school, a teacher said I may be very good in a computer field.  In addition to this my grandfather was one of the first generation computer scientists.  I started to talk to him a bit more and was like: why not try it?  And so I did.

Cool!  Why did you pick St. Mike's for CS?
I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to go into CS so I wasn't to keen on technical schools.  I felt like if I don't like CS, I will have to transfer schools.  When I looked at St. Mike's I liked how everyone got a strong liberal arts background along with their major.  Talking to one of the CS professors during a visit, I felt like I could fit into their curriculum.  I remember the feeling I got when the professor talked to me directly and not my dad who was also in the same room.

Poor dad feeling all left out.
Well, I wouldn't say he felt left out but rather he was proud his daughter was being respected as an actual person rather than the professor trying to please the "parent."

Nice point.  What kind of courses have you taken since you've started?
My first year I took two semesters worth of learning Java and basic programming techniques.  Sophomore year I took courses about data structures and machine language.  These two courses taught C++ and a bit of C.  I also took a database management course which taught mySQL.  This semester I'm finishing up a course in programming languages and another in operating systems.  I learned more C, some prolog, some COBOL, some Perl, and some Pascal.

Wow, such a variety.  Which of these is your favorite? and why?
I would have to say database management has been my favorite.  It was probably the first time I could really picture myself doing this in the real world.  I thought about it a lot but this time I could see myself actually doing it.

I heard you have a minor.  How does it fit in?
I have a mathematics minor.  Being a CS major, it is basically a shoe-in.  You have to take Calculus I and II, Theory of Computation, Discrete Mathematics, and Probability and Statistics for the major.  To complete the minor I just needed to take Linear Algebra and Calculus III.  I will have officially finished my minor this semester.

Congratulations on the minor.  So, what is your typical week like for work?
Gigabyte helping me out
I don't really have a typical week.  It all depends on how much we've learned.  This semester I've basically have a programming assignment due one every 2-3 weeks.  It is manageable if you keep up with the work.  In between I have simple assignments, almost daily which don't take too much time.  There are some late nights when I find I procrastinate or both classes assign two assignments due the same day.  But I generally get it done and the professors are very helpful.

Any insights you have for others?
Read the news!! Keep up with what is popular in society.  I struggle with this but it is going to be my new years resolution that I start when finals end!  It will help you relate your learning to real world situations.

Well, Maura, thank you so much for your time.  I look forward to hearing more from you soon.
No problem, Maura.  I'm glad I could share some of my insights with you.  Any other questions about a CS major let me know and I'll be happy to answer them!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Snow and Snowflakes

Last night had to be one of the most fun nights of the semester.  It was the VITA Snowflake Semiformal!!!  All week we were getting into the spirit with all the snow we've had.  I walked to and from class this week through a winter wonderland (or at least the start of one!).  It was also a really crazy week since the semester is coming to a close so I really didn't get to enjoy the snow outside.  I do have to say though that Alliot Hot Chocolate hit the spot for dessert this week to warm me up!

All the hard work from last night was worth it when the party started!!  VITA team members headed out early to set up decorations and place settings.  Everything turned out beautifully thanks to our lovely decorator, Alex.  Her vision for last night was perfect.

Everyone also looked spectacular!!  We all got dressed up for an evening of dancing.  It was perfect.  The guest list consisted of VITA participants and their "dates" (or friends whom they thought would have fun.)  We had some awesome music played by two of our team members Kelly and Lauren.  Everyone was dancing the whole night with only stopping for short breaks or food.  For food there was an assortment of cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, and a chocolate fondue fountain!!  It was a blast!!  I want to just say thank you to everyone who made the night possible and came out for some fun!

Here are some pictures from the night:
The AWESOME assortment of food

Mike and I
Me and Anna, our AWESOME moderator!
My two besties :-)