Started Working for a Law Firm

Obviously I am not a lawyer, but I have been thinking about becoming one some day. I am going to graduate from college in about a year and a half if all goes to my plan. With high school AP credits and good planning I should be able to graduate in three years and after that I may go to law school. What I am doing is pretty boring, this firm is involved in mass tort advertising, which obviously means that they have commercials on the TV and radio telling people that they should sue some entity. In this case they want you to sue drug companies, mostly they are involved in something called Pradaxa right now.Read More

Changing is Coming: Are We Prepared for It?

The world is changing. It’s always changing. It’s in a perpetual state of change that we humans are prone to taking for granted. Climate is in transition, a very slow transition on a geological time clock, which means that it’s difficult to perceive on a human scale. However, with the presence of human and our globe spanning civilization consuming resources in order to fuel our drive for industry we are causing that pattern to change even more quickly than it once had. Even here in Texas we’re responsible for the change of weather. With the help of http://www.texasenergycompanies.net/ we might be able to change this for the better if we come together in order to educate each and every citizen on responsible habits of home ownership. Energy expenditure if something that don’t necessarily think about effecting us but it’s going to become a facet of social life that we’re going to have to start considering as being more important than just the present or ourselves.Read More

A Year of Savings on Electricity Can Really Add Up

I think Texans need a cute little character to advertise how much money can be saved on your monthly electric bill. It is working for that car insurance company, and they do not even have the lowest rates! I used to think that your local electric company would naturally have the lowest rates or people living in the area would get upset. Well, you can click here to see for yourself what the facts are about electricity savings. I did not see any cute company mascots or other characters, but the per kilowatt hour rates are interesting.

Get out your electric bill and search on it to see how much you are paying for every kilowatt hour used. Then look at the other rate plans that are available to you by clicking here. The only way I could see my family getting into a issue with switching is if we did not use the minimum amount of electricity different providers require each month, or if we signed up for a variable rate.Read More

Just Got Down to Texas City

I have just got down to my new job location this morning, in fact right now I am thinking about digging out my fly fishing rig and going to the beach to fish for some speckled trout. I am working near the Houston Ship Canal right now, but I am out on the Gulf of Mexico near Texas City and not too far from Galveston. Of course this is the center of the Texas energy industry and they have a whole lot of refineries and other oil facilities around here. That is where the company makes it’s money.Read More

Backyard Gardening Update 2015 Blooms!

I’ve been meaning to write and publish this post weeks ago, but I’ve decided that today’s the best day because I had to take very recent photos of our backyard garden.

But first let me say that the start of the year looks good especially when it comes to our backyard plants. I think I’ve already conquered my brown thumb and I’m on my way to becoming a better home gardener. Plants don’t just die shortly after I plant them, or when I move them from one place to another, or whenever I fuss and prune haphazardly. I’ve overcome my impatience and learned to control myself from unintentionally harming the plants.

2015 is indeed a blooming one. Even though not every flowering plant has flowers or buds, this is still a great month for some of our flowering plants especially the one plant that I’ve been moping for for so long.

Let’s start the parade of colors and blooms…

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Backyard plants

The combination of flowering and non-flowering plants is a great way to constantly have color in the garden. Colorful, vibrant, and patterned foliage plants such as Persian shield, schefflera, aglaonema, ti plants, and variegated pothos and mini caladiums are just few of the best plants you can have in your own backyard garden.

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Backyard plants

The plant with purple flowers on the above photo collage is the one I’ve been moping for for 2 years. The first and last time I saw it bloom was the day I bought it at the March 2015 garden show. After a week or so, the flowers were gone and the plant didn’t bloom until late February this year.

Here’s a closer look…

Blue twilight
Blue twilight

This plant is called Pseuderanthemum graciflorum or ‘blue twilight’ or ‘Florida twilight’. Its origins are Malaysia, India, and Sri Lanka and it thrives in tropical regions like the countries I’ve mentioned, as well as here in the Philippines. This plant survived 2 years of hot summers and super typhoons. And I was already losing hope last year ‘coz it hadn’t flowered for a long time.

The flowering plant beside it is called Aglaia adorata or ‘Chinese perfume plant’ or ‘Chinese rice flower’. The tiny yellow flowers have very mild lemony scent. It’s been flowering for years and it’s very sturdy and tolerant of hot and cold weather, and rain.

We love aglaonemas or Chinese evergreens because they’re easy to propagate and care for. I’ve given my grandma and a close family friend (more like an aunt to me) two small pots each of young aglaonemas which I separated from the mother plants. Those are only 4 variants and I promised I’ll give them additional pots once the other variants can be divided.

Our backyard garden is still thriving after all these years – after all the rains and hot summers; the plants that have come and gone; and the fauna, both domesticated and wild. It’s still a work in progress and this semi-green thumbed gardener is still learning the ropes of proper home gardening with all the challenges included.

All of these are a culmination of hard work, patience, persistence, and of imbibing lessons through experience as well as online research and talking to other home gardeners and garden shop sellers. Backyard gardening takes time to learn, but it’s all worth it!

UPLB Garden Show Updata

It’s been two weeks since me and my sis went to second leg of the bi-annual LBHS / UPLB Garden Show. Went to the college town of Los Banos, Laguna on the 10th and met with my sister within the campus, at the show’s venue. However, it was too darn late to take good pictures, so we went back the following morning which was just the second day of the show.

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bromeliads, ferns, aglaonemas, colocasias. and a cute kid

It’s kind of disappointing to find very minimal exhibits that revolve around this moth’s theme: Fruit-bearing trees.  I’m not sure if there were more exhibits on the days that followed til the 19th.

The venue’s pavilion did not disappoint with the usual exhibit of tropical plants that greet attendees. It was truly a wondrous site to see. The lovely gigantic bromeliads and colocasias, colorful aglanoemas (Chinese Evergreens), ferns, anthuriums, and ornamental reddish-brown grass are stunning.

giant colorful bromeliads, ferns, chinese evergreens, colocasias
giant colorful bromeliads, ferns, chinese evergreens, colocasias

The outdoor exhibits, as I mentioned, were minimal in terms of variety and presentation. But that’s probably all there is during the first days of the garden show. I do hope the last few days had additional species on display.

These are the plants and fruit trees on display during our attendance at the 2nd installment of the 2014 UPLB garden show.

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chico-ambarella

citrus-variants

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kalamansi-variegated-and-regular

lime-citrus-variants

musaenda-flowering-tree

I just can’t get enough of the bromeliads. We took lots of shots of the display in the pavilion due to the monotonous green color of the fruit trees on display outside.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

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bromeliad-aglaonema-anthurium-ornamental-grass

bromeliad-fern-aglaonema

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giant-bromeliads-and-colocasias green-pink-striped-brown-bromeliads

I will be posting another Part  of the 2015 UPLB Garden Show within the week and it will feature lots and lots of plants and flowers.

Until then.

Backyard Gardening Newest Update

Since we started gardening in mid 2012(2015 Updata), I was truly determined to keep it alive and well no matter the weather and challenges.

We’ve lost several plants because of my brown thumb and for lacking enough knowledge on how to properly choose and care for specific plant species. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. But as I’ve learned, I understood that gardening is a learning process and a bit of experimentation in order to see which plants will survive on specific conditions.

Our tiny backyard garden doesn’t receive enough sunlight especially during the end of the year – during the ‘BER’ months – since our residence is surrounded by taller houses and walls of our neighbors. We’re in between two residential lots with a couple of houses at the back with two to three floors. Our backyard garden is like the inside of a shoe box – surrounded by walls, just like a fort or a shoe box without a lid.

Many of our plants took hard beatings of super hot summers and unforgivable typhoons. Even if I want to plant more flowering varieties, many factors deter me from doing so. But there’s always an option if we want to have color in the garden even without the flowers. In our case, we can only choose hardier tropical plants or those that can withstand extreme weather conditions.

Over the past three years, we’ve replaced a lot of plants in our backyard garden. But you’ll also see that there are varieties that stood the test of time and weather. They’ve been there for years and thrived despite the challenges of our location and weather conditions.

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What to Know – Fiji

What is the Weather & Climate like in Fiji?
Fiji enjoys an ideal South Sea tropical climate and can get hot in the summer but seldom reaches above 35°C (96°F). Winter temperatures range from 72-84°F. Trade winds from the east southeast bring year long cooling breezes late afternoon and early evening. Tropical rains fall December to March, coinciding with the hot summer months

Do I need to have a Passport and Visa to enter Fiji?
A valid passport for at least three months beyond the intended period of stay and a ticket for return or onward travel is required. Entry visas are granted on arrival for a stay of up to 4 months for US citizens.

What is the customs quarantine procedure like when entering Fiji?
There are strict laws prohibiting or restricting the entry of drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms, protected wildlife and associated products. If you are unsure about anything declare it to Customs upon arrival.

What languages are spoken in Fiji?
Almost everyone in Fiji speaks English – as it is the official language, but the Fijian language is preserved and widely spoken in many different dialects. Almost everyone is bilingual and many Fijian terms are included in everyday English usage.

What is the time difference between Fiji and the U.S.?
Fiji is +17 EST/+14PST and currently does not operate daylight saving at this time.

What currency is used in Fiji?
The Fijian dollar is the basic unit of currency, available in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50. Coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c and $1. There is no limit to the amount of money to be brought in. Visitors are allowed to take out currency up to the amount imported. Most airports, banks and large hotels have facilities for changing foreign currency and travelers’ checks (commissions and fees may be charged) A passport is usually adequate for identification.

When and how much should I tip in Fiji?
Tipping is not encouraged in Fiji and it is left to the individual to determine whether to make a gratuity. In lieu of daily tipping, some resorts operate a staff Christmas fund where “tips” are shared.

What electric voltage does Fiji use?
240 volts, 50 Hz, 3 pin plugs. Fiji has three pin power outlets identical to Australia and New Zealand. If your applications are 110v check for a 110/240v switch; if there is none you will need a voltage converter. Leading hotels and resorts offer universal outlets for 240v or 110v shavers, hair dryers, etc.

Do I need to get any specfic vaccinations before entering Fiji?
Vaccinations are not required unless you have come from, or visited a yellow fever infected country or zone within six days before arrival. No other health certificate is required to enter Fiji.

Is all water safe to drink in Fiji?
Fresh water reticulated in Nadi, Suva, Lautoka and other major towns has been treated and is safe to drink from the tap. Bottled water is also widely available.

What precautions should I take to protect myself from the sun in Fiji?
The sun can be strong all year round, be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat.

Fiji – When to go

Best time to go diving in Fiji
April – November, although you can dive year round from most resorts in Fiji. Coral spawning occurs on the full moon either November or December each year (mother nature likes to keep us guessing). Although this is a highlight for many divers, it reduces visibility immensely for a period afterwards. The diving also varies greatly by region in Fiji and it is important to let us know your experience level and what you hope to experience in your dives. We can then assure we match the right location.

Best time to honeymoon in Fiji
April – October. Perfect for a gorgeous beach available just to the two of you all day. You can stretch into November if you want to explore the waterfalls as well as the beach areas. Be sure to ask us about Adult only resorts in Fiji.

Best time for a family vacation
Year Round. Fiji Islands are popular for Australian and New Zealand family vacations. Some luxury resorts offer family weeks which usually occur Janaury and June. Ask us for a cuurent list of offers and dates. Free meals for kids and free babysitting are not uncommon either.

Best time for an adventure vacation
March – November, to enjoy the rainforest as well as the beaches. The rainfall in March and November bring the waterfalls and flowers to their peak. Bamboo river rafting, ziplining, island hopping and visits to local villages are all fine during these times. Let us know if you have a specific interest in mind.

Best time to stay in overwater bungalows in Fiji
April-November. Warm tropical waters make a delight for swimming out from your private stairway into the ocean. An adults only resort, it is the perfect location to celebrate a honeymoon or other special occasion.

Best time to visit New Zealand and Fiji
We like this combination for adventure and beach relaxation. Best done August – November or March – May. But great to do year round, we simply pair resorts and locations you visit by the time of the year you travel.

Looking for a Nicer Place to Live

Hannah and I have been saving up our money for a good while. We had been staying in one of the least expensive apartments in Columbia SC that we could find, even though we did not like it all that much for a variety of reasons. I never liked living in apartments, mainly because I sleep lightly and most of them have very poor sound insulation properties. So if you have a neighbor who is noisy you know it and the big thing is when you have a different schedule from the people around you. It seems like the people who lived around us must have worked until 10 PM and then partied until the break of dawn every day. I got to the point where I want to do something overly dramatic about it, but the fact is that it is your own fault for choosing to live in the same complex with random people.

Of course our plan all along was to save up enough money for the down payment on a house in the suburbs, but we got to thinking that we could likely rent a house for less than we are paying in rent for this apartment. It was something I learned from a guy I know who dabbles in real estate. The houses he rents are not as nice as what we would want to get, they are more modest and aimed at lower income families I guess. However he only charges a fraction of what an apartment costs and says that he makes good money off it so long as all of the places stay fully occupied. The master plan is to slowly pay down all of the debt on the houses and then at some point all of the money that comes in he gets to pocket.

RELEVANT PUBLICATIONS

Beebe,D.J., M. B. Wheeler, H. Zeringue,  E.M. Walters and S Raty, ” Microfluidic technology for assisted reproduction,” Theriogenology ,  Vol. 57, No. 1, pp.125-136, 2002.
Hester P.N., H.M. Roseman, S.G. Clark, E.M. Walters, D.J. Beebe, M.B. Wheeler, ” Enhanced Cleavage Rates Following In Vitro Maturation of Pig Oocytes Within Polydimethylsiloxane-Borosilcate Microchannels,”  Theriogenology, Vol. 57, No. 1, p.723, 2002.
Zeringue H., E.M. Walters, L.L. Leibfried-Rutledge, M.B. Wheeler, D.J. Beebe, “Development of Bovine In Vitro Produced Embryos after Cumulus Cell Removal with a Microfluidic Microchannel Device,” Theriogenology , Vol. 57, No. 1, p533, 2002.
Zeringue, H., M. B. Wheeler and D. J. Beebe, “Removal of cumulus from mammalian oocytes using microfluidic techniques,” Biomedical Microdevices, Vol. 3, pp. 219-224, 2001.
Glasgow, I., H. C. Zeringue, D. J. Beebe, Seong-Jun Choi, J. Lyman, Natalie G. Chan and M. Wheeler, “Handling individual mammalian embryos using microfluidics,” IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng, Vol. 48, No. 5, pp. 570-578, 2001.
Walters, E.M., D.J. Beebe, M.B. Wheeler,  “In Vitro Maturation of Pig Oocytes in PDMS and Silicon Microfludic Devices,” Theriogenology, Vol.55, No. 1, p.497, 2001.
Raty, S., J.A. Davis, D.J. Beebe, S.L. Rodriguez-Zas, and M.B. Wheeler, “Culture in microchannels enhances in vitro embryonic development of preimplantation mouse embryos,” Theriogenology, Vol. 55, No.1, p.241, 2001.
Clark, S.G., J. Davis, D. J. Beebe, M.B. Wheeler, “Biocompatibility of Porcine Sperm Cells in Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS),” Theriogenology Vol. 55, No.1, p.421, 2001.
Beebe, D. J., “Microfluidic systems for assisted reproduction,” Lab Automation, January 27-30, 2001, Palm Springs, California.
Davis, J. A., S. Raty, D. T. Eddington, M.B. Wheeler, I. K. Glasgow and D. J. Beebe, “Development of Microfluidic Systems for the Culture of Mammalian Embryos,” First International IEEE EMBS Special Topic Conference on Microtechnology in Medicine and Biology, October 12-14, 2000, Lyon, France.
Zeringue, H., I. Glasgow, S. Raty, K. King, M. Wheeler and D. J. Beebe, “Embryo manipulation and zona pellucida removal in a polydimethylsiloxane microfluidic system,” World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Chicago, July 23-38, 2000.
Zeringue, H. C., M. B. Wheeler and D. J. Beebe, “Removal of cumulus cells from mammalian oocytes in a microfluidic system,” Solid-State Sensor and Actuator Workshop, June 4-8, Hilton Head, S.C., 2000.
Zeringue, H. C., K. R. King, I. K. Glasgow, S. Raty, M. B. Wheeler and D. J. Beebe, “Zona pellucida removal of mammalian embryos in a microfluidic system,” µTAS 2000, May 14-18, The Netherlands.
Zeringue, H. C., I. K. Glasgow, D. J. Beebe, J. T. Lyman, and M. B. Wheeler, “Micro fluidic single embryo culture systems in PDMS,” presented at 21st Ann. Int’l. Conf. of the IEEE Eng. in Med. and Bio. Soc. and the 1999 Ann. Fall Meeting of the Biomed. Eng. Society, Atlanta, GA, Oct. 13-16, 1999.
Chan, N.G., J.T. Lyman, S. J. Choi, H.C. Zeringue, I.K. Glasgow, D.J. Beebe, and M.B. Wheeler, “Development of an embryo transport and analysis system: material biocompatability,” Theriogenology Vol. 51, No.1, p.234, 1999.
Glasgow, I. K., H. C. Zeringue, D. J. Beebe, Seong-Jun Choi, J. Lyman, and M. Wheeler, “Individual embryo transport on a chip for a total analysis system,” Third Conference on Micro Total Analysis Systems, Banff, CA, October 13-16, 1998.
Zeringue, H. C., I. K. Glasgow, D. J. Beebe, S. J. Choi, J. T. Lyman, M.B.Wheeler, “Impedance-based detection of individual embryos, ” Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Cleveland, OH, October 10-13, 1998.
Choi, S-J., I. Glasgow, H. Zeringue, D. J. Beebe and M. B. Wheeler. “Development of Microelectromechanical Systems to Analyze Individual Mammalian Embryos: Embryo Biocompatability.” Biol Reprod. (Suppl.1), Society for the Study of Reproduction, 1998.
Wang, L., D. J. Beebe, A. R. Williams and K. Easley, “Electrothermal branding for embryo labeling,” IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng, Vol. 44, No. 11, pp. 1128-1138, 1997.
K. D. Easley, A. R. Williams, D. J. Beebe, L. Wang, “Micro-labeling of bovine embryos: polysilicon micro-chip biocompatibility, J. Animal. Sci., vol. 75 (suppl. 1), pp. 18, 1997.
Wang, L., D. J. Beebe, A. Williams and K. Easley, “The application of surface micromachining to embryo labeling,” Late News Paper, Solid-State and Actutator Workshop, Hilton Head, SC, June 2-6, 1996.
Wang, L., D. J. Beebe, A. Williams and K. Easley, “Electrothermal branding of bovine embryos,” Proc. 18th Annu. Int. Conf. IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Soc., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 31-November 2, 1996.

Vitae LLC

History:
Vitae LLC is a biotech company founded in 2000 (formerly Micro Agri Systems, 1999).  Intellectual property has been exclusively licensed from the University of Illinois-Champagne in order to ensure a technical advantage in the field of microfluidics.   
Founders:
Dave Beebe:
Dave is a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisonsin-Madison and is involved with three biotech start-up companies (Vitae LLC, Ratio Inc., BellBrook Labs).  He is the recipient of the IEEE EMBS Early Career Achievment Award, the Romnes Award at UW-Madison and the inaugural Pioneers of Miniaturization Award from Lab on a Chip.  He has published extensively (over 100 peer reviewed journals) including publications in Nature, Science and PNAS.
Matt Wheeler:
Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Matt has a doctoral degree specializing in physiology and biophysics and has conducted more than 20 years of research on embryo biology and transgenic livestock.  He has published 74 papers in peer-reviewed scientific papers and more than 60 book chapters, proceedings and technical articles.  He has served as Vice-President and President of the Board of Governors of the International Embryo Transfer Society (IETS).
Steve Brauer:
Steve received an M.B.A. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a B.A. from Luther College.  He has 15 years of successful experience as CEO of life science companies including new ventures in therapeutics, health care services, and medical devices.

Ian Glasgow:

Ian earned degrees in engineering from M.I.T., the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   He began his career with fabrication and testing of commercial fluidic products (10 years) before transitioning to the development of health care instrumentation (20 years).  In 2003 he founded Next Advance, Inc., which develops and manufactures laboratory instruments for molecular biology.