Recap on Weeks 5-6

Sorry about the wait.  Like I said before though, I may not get to post every day or every week.  Things move very quickly at RIT, and there is little time for much else besides studies.  Weekends are more relaxed, which is why I am writing now while I have the time.

So here is a recap on weeks 5-6 for me:

Week 5:

Monday, as the classic rock band Foreigner would say, was a day like any other day.  I went to classes from 8-2, and then did homework, etc.  Tuesday I decided not to go to Judo because my knees were still extremely sore from the week before, where I had hyper-extended one knee, and strained the other.  The week trudged along...I can't recall anything special happening.  Thursday I went to Biology Lab Review for an hour or so, to study for Friday's Biology Lab Practical (Exam).  Friday, I took the exam, and then relaxed.  Saturday, Maria came up after her SAT in the morning.  Before Maria arrived on Saturday, Kyle and I went to brunch at Gracie's, and on my way in the door, I ran into a friend, Rachel (my friend Nick's girlfriend), who was visiting from ESM.  Apparently Saturday was another RIT Open House for prospective students, and she is a Senior at ESM looking to go to RIT to major in Visual Arts.  So I wound up talking to Rachel and her mom for about two hours, giving them a tour of the residential side of RIT.  Add that to my list of recruited students (on top of Alvaro)...I should get paid to be an RIT recruiter.  Anyways...over the weekend we ate with friends at Paradiso's Pizzeria, and T.C. Riley's Irish Pub, and went to a birthday party of a friend's friend.  

And,I finally got to give Maria her promise ring this weekend!  Remember when Maria and I went to Herkimer Diamond Mine?  Well, I took two of the stones that we found (the two biggest/clearest), and tried to have them cut by a jeweler.  It took me two months of nonstop phone calls to get a hold of the owner of Herkimer Diamond Mine to have it done (It is too difficult to look elsewhere because the stone is quartz and outside cuts would have been very expensive).  The stones were shipped to Colorado and one of the stones was cut into a 0.5 carat round cut, and the other stone which could not be cut was mailed back to me with the cut stone.  I then contacted Tommy Marini's father who owns Jewelry on James in Syracuse (Tommy was our class valedictorian), and asked him if he could set the stone into a custom 14k white gold band for me.  I shipped him the stone, and he set the stone for me.  Then, over the weekend, I read Maria a poem that I wrote, and gave her the ring as a promise ring (In case you are wondering what a promise ring is a promise to propose in the future).  The reason I did this, instead of an engagement ring is because I do not want to propose while in college, and I do not have the money to afford the ring that I would like to have made for an engagement ring.  I would much rather propose in the future when money isn't so tight, and we have a more special setting than a dorm room at RIT, haha.  Anyways, here is a picture of the ring:

I know you cannot tell; however, the ring twists slightly on either side of the bracket holding the stone.  Here is a picture from the Internet that shows how it looks:

Week 6:

Maria went with me to classes on Monday, and before Calculus II at 10am, we hung out in my professor's office for an hour, solving cool puzzles and talking.  Maria had a lot of fun; she likes my professor...and so do I, of course (or we wouldn't have been in his office for an hour, haha!).  After classes on Monday, Maria came with me to my first research meeting with Dr. Cody.  Dr. Cody had phone calls that he had to take, but he gave me a binder with all the lab rules, safety requirements, etc, and planned to meet with me again later.  Tuesday, Maria met with someone in Packaging Science at the Admissions Office to discuss potential opportunities in the field.  Then, we went to classes again.  My Biochemistry First Year Symposium class was moved to Thursday, so I didn't have a class on Tuesday until 12pm!  That was a nice chance to get some sleep in.  We went to Biology at 1pm, and had to leave a little early and run to get Maria back to the Amtrak station in time for her train home.  Then, the rest of the week was HELL.  I had tons of homework to get done, including a lab report which wound up being 11 pages long!!!!!!!  I studied my ass off too because I had a quiz in Organic Chemistry on Friday, an exam in Biology on Thursday, and an exam in Calculus II on Friday.  I didn't get very good sleep this week.  I would be up late doing work, and have to get up at 7am for my 8am classes, then I would run back to my dorm for a 20 minute nap before my next class, and sometimes, after all of my classes were over, I would take an hour nap before jumping into work for the rest of my night.  My sleep was very unscheduled and sporadic, but I'm still alive.  Friday was extremely busy.  After my quiz in Orgo, my exam in Calc, and my Biology Lab, I went back to my dorm and cleaned.  I did two loads of laundry, vacuumed my room, folded my clothes and put them away, did some dishes, dusted, and showered.  Then, I ran to pick up the tickets for all the events that I would be doing this weekend during Homecoming (Brick City Weekend) at RIT.  On my way back from walking to get the tickets, I met up with Gary, Erin, Kyle, and Heather.  Gary and Erin were up from Syracuse to pick Kyle up, so that was nice.  Then my mom, sister, and Maria arrived, after a perilous journey involving a flat tire, and bringing a stranger to RIT.  We ate at Commons, and went to the comedy show.  The show was awesome!  Then, Maria stayed the night, and early yesterday morning (Saturday), I drove us, and three friends to a Judo class at the new dojo, where our Sensei teaches, down the road from RIT.  We were there from about 8:30 to 10:30, and then came back to shower.  My dad met us around noon and we went to lunch at the Longhorn Steakhouse on Jefferson.  We hung out for a while, and then grabbed a few sandwiches at the Dinosaur Barbecue in downtown, and went to the RIT vs. UMASS Lowell Homecoming hockey game.  I am pretty sure that this was my first hockey game, and it was awesome!  The game had lots of intense moments, including someone breaking a glass panel, and sudden death overtime.  Speaking of the sudden death overtime...that was ridiculous!  We were up 4 to 3, with 1.3 seconds remaining on the clock when UMASS scored a goal to tie us.  Sudden death resulted in nonstop action, but no goals were scored, and the final score was 4 to 4.  I expected RIT to dominate the rink, since they went to the Frozen Four national semifinals last year; however, it was a really good match.  Maria and my dad drove home, and here I am now Sunday morning writing.  I will post more soon, as more happens.

^Friday, we had a bear on our campus!  A wild bear wandered onto RIT in the courtyard right outside my window...I didn't get to see it because I must have been at class at that time; however, here is a video:

& Here are some photos:


Also, here are some pictures from this weekend's activities:


Maria and I practicing newaza (ground grappling techniques in Judo)


Here is Maria with Sophia practicing newaza (I am in the background with Manny [by the ropes]) :

Here is Manny on top of me: 

And again, Manny and I practicing newaza:

Here is a photo of Greg and I practicing nagewaza (standing grappling techniques):

For a better idea of these techniques in motion...
Here is a Judo  video of newaza:
Here is a Judo video of nagewaza:

Homecoming Hockey Game:

Research with Dr. Cody

After speaking with several professors about their research, and attending several discussions where research opportunities were presented to undergraduates, I have decided to start research this quarter with my Organic Chemistry professor, Dr. Jeremy Cody.  Dr. Cody is a great guy, and he has agreed to help me start a new project that he currently does not have anyone working on.  This quarter he will teach me techniques and instrumentation, etc, and I will most likely run through one reaction.  Henceforth, in the second, and third quarters, we will be cooperating with a local pharmaceutical company, who will provide materials for our lab, to examine why an azido ( N3−) group attached to an arylboronic acid has a rare tendency to form a nitrille (-C≡N) group, a much less stable substituent.  Not much is known about this, and as far as we know, only a few teams around the world are presently working to discover its significance.  We currently only know of three publications in which this phenomenon is mentioned.  One of which, Azidosubstituted arylboronic acids: synthesis and
Suzuki–Miyaura cross-coupling reactions
by Sviridov et. al. states,

"For example, nitrile 16 was
obtained in a yield of 32% in a parallel experiment
involving boronic acid 9 and 4-bromoanisol, when all the
reagents were loaded simultaneously into the reaction vessel
(entry 6). In some other experiments, this phenomenon
could occur when the reaction mixture was accidently
exposed to air, or when less active and sterically hindered
hetaryl chlorides were used, that is, when the catalyst
system has been somewhat different. Palladium-catalysed
conversion of azidomethyl group into nitrile is not
unprecedented (Pd/C or Pd black), although rare, the
yields being generally modest. Detailed investigations
revealed that this reaction is balanced to 2/3 of nitrile and
1/3 of amine that may suggest red-ox disproportionation of
the azidomethyl moiety; the use of an oxidant, however, did
not allow raising the yield of the nitrile product."

The abstract from this article is the following (the last sentence being the focus of our experimentation):

"Abstract—Arylboronic acids having a remote azido group were prepared from the corresponding azidosubstituted aryl bromides via
lithiation and treatment with trialkyl borates. Preparative yields were achieved when the starting aryl bromides possessed ortho-alkoxy
groups, which would stabilize the intermediate aryllithium species. Conventional Suzuki cross-coupling of the arylboronic acids proceeded
generally well with retention of azido group; however, sometimes azidomethyl fragment underwent oxidative transformation into a nitrile."

Also important to mention is the introduction which helps to explain the significance of this research:

"1. Introduction
During the last decade the Suzuki–Miyaura cross-coupling
leading to biaryls has become a widely used technology in
target synthesis, and in particular, medicinal chemistry. In
the synthesis of complex molecules, the organoboron
component is usually less structurally complex than the
more complicated aryl halide, which is due to the difficulties
in preparing arylboronic acids bearing certain functional
groups. On the other hand, the employment of sophisticated
arylboronic acids will be useful for combinatorial
chemistry, that is, they may serve as multifunctional
templates for the preparation of a broad variety of related
compounds. The application of such arylboronic acids in
medicinal chemistry is not unprecedented.
The preparation of structurally diverse arylboronic acids
bearing functional groups of electrophilic type from the
corresponding aryl halides using organolithium protocol
remained limited until Li and Nelson proposed an improved
‘in situ quench’ procedure when n-butyllithium was added
to a mixture of aryl halide and triisopropyl borate. Using
this technique, arylboronic acids with nitrile, ester and nitro
groups, as well as certain hetarylboronic acids, were
prepared directly from the aryl/hetaryl halide precursors in
reasonable yields.
To the best of our knowledge, organoboronic acids bearing
an azido group are not documented in the literature. The
azido group is a well known precursor to various nitrogen
containing compounds. On the other hand, it is very
convenient from the point of view of multistep synthesis: it
may tolerate a variety of reagents and conditions, and its low
polarity does not bring complications to isolation and

And, that is all I know for now.  I will post more when I have more than literature to read from.  My first meeting with Dr. Cody is next Monday at 4:30pm to discuss the commencement of our research.



Sviridov, S. I., Vasil’ev, A. A., Sergovskaya, N. L., Chirskaya, M. V., & Shorshnev, S. V. (2006). Azidosubstituted arylboronic acids: synthesis and suzuki–miyaura cross-coupling reactions. Tetrahedron, (62), 2639–2647.

An Update on the Death of Nick Murray

RIT students received an email today about the death of Nick Murray.  I will copy it below.  Please note that the link provided, which should provide details about his passing, will not be available until tomorrow.  Here is the message I received: 


To: RIT Community

From: Mary-Beth Cooper, Senior Vice President of Student Affairs

Subject: RIT mourns the loss of Nicholas F. Murray

I am saddened to report the death of one of our students, Nicholas F. Murray. Nick was a 3rd year student in the microelectronic engineering program. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this sorrowful time.

Calling hours will be held in the Albany area, Thursday, October 7th from 4:00-7:00pm and funeral services will be held on Friday, October 8th at 11:00am. Details regarding location and directions can be found starting tomorrow at The RIT flag will be lowered in Nick’s memory on Friday, October 8th.

Contributions in Nick’s memory can be made to the Nicholas F. Murray Memorial Scholarship at RIT, Office of Development, 116 Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623.


Terrible News

I just got back from a mandatory floor meeting...

I learned that one of the upperclass boys residing in the double two doors down from me passed away this week.  I never knew Nick, but this news has brought me great sorrow.  I am not sure if it is the shock, or my empathy for those who knew him; nevertheless, it is a tragedy that no one should have to endure.  My condolences go to everyone who is grieving, especially Nick's  family, and his roommate, Chris.

This news has made me realize something that I think everyone should take the time to think about.  I realize now in this moment that life is more of a blur than I had ever imagined.  All I remember about Nick was that his door was always open and his room was always full of energy and loud noises, and that whenever I walked by, Chris and Nick would be gaming on their computers or cheering over the present soccer/football game.  I recognize that before I may have cast judgement upon them, thinking that they were a bunch of goofs or computer nerds who didn't leave their room very often...and when I think about it now, I am thankful that Nick made lots of noise down the means he was having fun, and this has taught me a great deal of tolerance and understanding.  Do not get me wrong, I never thought negatively of him or his roommate, but I never took the time to go ask what all the raucous was about...Life's a blur...One day Nick was yelling at his TV screen, the next, his room is empty...and none of us knew until it was too late.  On a campus of some 15,000 students, there will be death...but it will never come easily.  Someone so young should live to complete their education and pursue their goals...Life's a blur because when you don't stop to look around you...the next moment, things have changed, and people two doors down the hall from you have passed away.

Rest In Peace Nick Murray.

Recap on Orientation + Weeks 1-4

Orientation (Pictures to Come):
If you didn't know, I arrived at RIT on August 28th, four days prior to Freshman Orientation for my Honors Orientation.  My mom, dad, Laurie, sister, and Maria all came to help.  When we arrived, there were tons of people helping to carry stuff, and in simply two trips to my room, three cars had been unpacked.

Speaking of my room, here is the original layout (I eventually changed this [see below]):

Returning to the topic of Orientation now...
Honors Orientation was extremely monotonous! We spent four days playing ice breaker games and eating hamburgers. We did a 2 hour scavenger hunt around RIT where we were handed a packet of pictures with clues, and we had to run to find each picture and take a photograph to prove we found it. If you found the most pictures, everyone in your group would receive a $25 gift card to the RIT Barnes & Noble. My team figured that if we had to do it, we were going to do it to win, and we basically ran from place to place (mind you RIT is over a mile long). In the end, we had found all but ~4 of the ~60 pictures, including bonuses. We lost by one point because another team found an extra bonus...This just made me hate Honors Orientation even more. However, some good things did come out of it. I met a guy named David Wennersten, who I immediately named Texas due to his origins. Texas is a lot like me in many ways. We both love metal, Sweedish metal to be exact, and we both have very similar philosophies, hobbies, tastes in movies, etc. For instance we both love Tolkien…and well, we are geeks! Also, one of the Honors Orientation days we got to go to a YMCA camp and mess around. Again, the ice breakers SUCKED…but I got to play Ultimate Frisbee, swim in a lap pool at night, and scale a 20 foot wall. I was one of the three guys who hoisted everyone over the wall…and there were a few dozen to go. Then, I asked if the counselor would allow me to try and run up the wall, and he did…so I ran up the wall and grabbed onto his hand and he helped pull me up the rest of the way (cool pictures to come). So that was pretty much Honors Orientation…I discovered how socially awkward most RIT students are, learned the layout of the campus, banged my head against a wall a few times (just kidding), and met a cool dude.

Now on to Freshman Orientation…
Pretty much the same thing…Although it started with me moving Kyle in and setting up his computer. Besides that…more ice breakers with a new mentor and new kids…and the occasional speech we had to attend. Convocation was a huge gathering of all the incoming freshman, and we got to hear a bunch of people talk about NTID (National Technical Institute of the Deaf), and how 1 in 10 of us is deaf…diversity, etc, and we got to hear President Destler speak. Later in the week, we had a speaker talk about how he killed his three best friends by driving drunk. He had a video of the whole night, and yeah, it was really depressing…necessary for the asshats who do that shit…but simply depressing for myself. Besides all of the hoopla, I met some more cool people: Amber and Michelle (roommates…and ironically enough…live at the end of the hall on the fifth floor, directly across from Texas!). I taught everyone texas holdem, and we played volleyball at night.  Volleyball was always fun and interesting because we frequently wound up playing against large groups of deaf students.  It is a cultural experience all in itself to practice communicating in different ways besides orally.  It is a great way to learn patience, and to build problem solving...everyone is usually very nice and cooperative too.

Oh, and in the end, I could not stand the lofted bed, so I rearranged my room (and added posters!)...

And that was pretty much Orientation…

Summary of Week One (of Ten per Quarter):

I can’t remember everything from week one exactly, seeming as how I am writing now at the end of week four from the basement of my hall sitting on a bench watching my clothes spin in circles, but I will do my best:

I remember meeting all of my professors, and liking them all, and I remember that on Friday I went to the wrong room looking for my Organic Chemistry class because apparently there was a schedule change. Thank God RIT has wifi everywhere; I used the internet on my iPhone and looked up my schedule, and made it to class only 3 minutes late. Speaking of Orgo, I was delighted (sarcasm) to discover that we have a quiz at the end of class everyday (not to mention it’s an 8am class). Besides that, week one went well. I played some more volleyball, went to the ballroom dancing club on Monday, and started my Judo classes on Tuesday. Friday after my Bio lab got out at 5, I picked Maria up from the downtown Amtrak station. Maria, my friends, and I went out to dinner at TC Riley’s Irish Pub, and we got fat. It’s cool because most local stores and restaurants take Tiger Bucks off of our RIT IDs. We all played volleyball too. On Sunday, my mom and sister came up. Again we got fat by eating at Five Guys. They also brought me my mail and some stuff I needed. We went to BJs, Wegmans, and the Dollar Tree to get food supplies. Speaking of going to the Dollar Store…I ran in to buy some spoons and the creepy cashier kept joking about why I might be buying two metal spoons…pretty sure she thought (or wished) I was a coke dealer/user.

That was pretty much week one…

Summary of Week Two:

Went about the same as week one. I met professors during their office hours for help, started a small hw group for Project-Based Calc II, and got into the swing of things. On Saturday my dad visited and we went to Red Robin to eat, and then to the theatre to see Resident Evil Afterlife in 3D. We ended the day by killing zombies in my room (L4D2).

Summary of Week Three:

Week three stepped things up a notch again. Being 1/3 of the way through the quarter meant test time. I studied my ass off and took a Project-Based Calc II exam, as well as a Gen Bio exam. I got a 96 on my Bio exam, and an unbearably, embarrassingly low grade on my Calc exam; however, I still have a B+ in the class, so I am not too worried. Maria visited again on Friday, and Saturday we went to the Fall Open House so that she could learn more about RIT and the major she is interested in (Packaging Science). We spent most of the morning to afternoon walking around, checking out the labs, and talking to a Packaging Science professor. It seems like an extremely fun major, and a high-paying, in-demand job. Then, in the afternoon, I had a very exciting visit from Ana and Alvaro Galan (old friends from my NOLA [New Orleans, LA] trip). We all went to eat at TC Riley’s Irish Pub, and we talked about a lot of things, including Keats (spelling?), their cute puppy in training for the Seeing Eye Dog program. We also talked at length about Alvaro’s college planning…I tried to talk him into choosing RIT over U of R, haha. I also gave them a quick tour of the campus…it was a nice visit. Sunday was a relaxing day with Maria, that ended in me driving 90mph (just kidding mom…I meant 65) to get Maria to the Amtrak on time for her to head back to Syracuse…I kind of fell asleep while she doodled a fake tattoo on my back…waking up to see that we were out of time…

Summary of Week Four:

This last week was pretty much studying and dragging myself to classes. Everyone at RIT is sick…in fact I picked something up last week (forgot to mention that) on Tuesday at Judo…poor Maria got the RIT sickness herself to bring back to Baldwinsville. Thursday was my busiest day. I did HW/studied from 2-6, ate dinner, and then went to a talk by Rebecca Skloot about her novel The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It was very interesting…I recommend that you take a look at what it is about (I will post a picture). The talk made me think about my options when I graduate and start looking for a job. I think that on top of research, and scientific writing, I would like to immerse myself into the moral discourse that surrounds science. I could see myself as a scientific politician who builds a case for the morality, or lack there of, for controversial issues related to research. Anyways, after the talk, I went straight to Organic Chemistry review from 9-10, and then rushed back to my room to study all-night…and when I say all night, I mean it. I had about 45 mins of HW to finish up, and then I studied/periodically face planted (fell asleep) on-and-off until 2am (at which point I decided I wasn’t accomplishing anything and decided to power nap and get up early), and then got up at 5am to study some more before my test at 8am. As The Four Seasons would say, “Oh what a night!” The exam went well…I wasn’t having any trouble, and I kept moving at a solid pace through the exam…I didn’t get hung up…but then I looked up and noticed that we had 15 minutes left and I had two pages of unanswered questions (questions that take drawing molecules, etc)…so I rushed to finish, and wound up with an 80…so not bad at all for how lengthy the exam was. The class average was a 73. 11 people scored higher than me, and 28 scored lower. My overall in Organic Chemistry at present is a 94. The class average is an 89. So all and all things are going pretty well…besides the fact that teachers seem to take points off for everything known to God. My first Orgo Lab report, which took me seven pages, and hours of research mind you, came back as a 78. After speaking with my professor, he concluded that I am too worried, and that it was a good grade to start with…these people are clearly crazy…nevertheless, my grade was exactly what the class average was…so most of us are in the same boat. On a different note, I decided to go play volleyball Friday night as a stress reliever, and got to play with the RIT Saudi Arabian group again (forgot to mention I did that before in like week two), which is a ton of fun! The group is an absolute riot…there are frequent ten minute pauses in the middle of each game where everyone argues about something in Arabic while I just laugh and watch. Nevertheless, they are all very kind and cooperative with speaking in English so that I know what is going on.

And finally, I have caught up to today. Today, Saturday, I spent cleaning and washing, and cleaning…and washing…I did four loads of laundry (two of clothes, one of bedding, and one for my Judo gi). Then I folded all my clothes and put them away, and made my bed. I also hung my Judo gi to dry (it can’t be machine dried or it will shrink), and washed all of my water bottles/dishes. After that, I tidied up my room/put everything away, and went around using Chlorox disinfecting wipes to clean everything off. The day ended with me going with Kyle, his mom, and sister to Olive Garden for never-ending pasta, salad, and bread sticks…and pit stopping at BJs.

^^Clean Room^^

Besides all of this, I have been really exploring music further since I have arrived at RIT. On average, I listen to two new albums per day while I work. I am enjoying this thoroughly. I also plan to start going to Avi Nardi (for Judo), which is right down the road from RIT. My Sensei will be teaching there, and for $65/month you can go as many times as you would like per week, and practice any of their martial arts programs: BJJ, Judo, Iaido, Kendo, or Kapap. I am very excited. Also, I have spoken to two professors, Dr. Lea Michelle, and Dr. Jeremy Cody about research opportunities, and I think that I have decided to start research in the Organic department with Dr. Cody because I will have the chance to be the first to start the project. And being the attention hog that I am, I will get all of his attention and training in the area of synthetic organic chemistry. My goal will be to discover why a synthetic molecular chooses to do what it is doing (which is very strange and completely new/mysterious to the scientific community). And that is as basic as I can put it…haha…more info to come when I’m published :P.

Also, two more things everyone should know:

1) I decided to give up swimming in order to pursue bigger dreams. In the end, I realized that dropping four seconds, going to Nationals to compete, and breaking a school record or two would not help me in the long run when it comes time to start a career and a family. In the end, I realized that coming to college opened up many more avenues for me to explore hobbies I have never been able to before, and that if I did not take advantage of these opportunities, I would be regretful in the end. Such hobbies are Judo, Archery, and undergraduate research. There is only so much time in a day, and I calculated that I would not be able to commit to swimming as well. Especially not when I am also looking for an on-campus job to help with tuition…which I currently do not have.
2) I am working with the Journal of Chemical Education to publish the research that I did in high school on vanilla. I plan to use my Thanksgiving break to prepare a magazine article for the journal. I was told that my material is definitely publishable…I am very excited!

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more periodic updates than this one!

Okay, Here's to Something New...

I have decided to revive my decrepit live journal, and to use it this time as a means to let everyone know what is going on with me here at RIT. So that being said, I shall try to post regularly...maybe once every couple of days or so, to let you all know how things are check back regularly!