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Picasso and Chicago

Picasso and Chicago

Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Blogs

One of my favorite places in the city is the Art Institute of Chicago, on Michigan Avenue in the Loop. The Art Institute’s vast inventory–the permanent collection is one of the largest in the country at more than 260,000 works–is housed in eight buildings that total nearly one million square feet. The museum also hosts hundreds of gallery talks and lectures each year, and it’s home to a terrific research library for art and architecture. I’ve been to the Art Institute countless times–due in part to my complimentary membership from the University of Chicago–and I always appreciate the art I’m immersed in. Among the 30 or so special exhibits at the museum each year, there are always a few that make my must-see list.

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Rating Chicago’s Pizza Joints

Rating Chicago’s Pizza Joints

Posted by on Feb 25, 2013 in Blogs

I’m very lucky this year, as I got to celebrate my birthday during break week when we don’t have anything to study for (unlike blogger Michelle!). My friends came to Chicago to visit me, and we decided to try out the food that Chicago is best known for: deep dish pizza. When it comes to eating, the number-one thing anyone should do while visiting Chicago is to try the pizza. I don’t know if it’s because we’re so close to Wisconsin, but if you’re a cheese lover, our pizzerias are extremely generous with their portions of cheese.

We couldn’t decide on a single pizza place to try out, so we decided to choose three popular spots and decide which one served up the best pie. We settled on Lou Malnati’sConnie’s and Giordano’s.

First stop: Lou Malnati’s


The Lou Malnati's menu. One of the few times the real thing looked better than in the pictures.

The Lou Malnati’s menu–one of the few times the real thing looked better than in the pictures

We visited Lou’s first because  it was on the way to the Shedd Aquarium. I guess it depends on which of the 35 locations you go to, but at the South Loop restaurant, the decor was like any other average restaurant. The atmosphere was casual and there wasn’t a line, even at the height of the lunch hour. We ordered the Malnati Chicago Classicbutter crust deep dish, with spinach, sausage and mushrooms.



My slice of pizza in its full cheesy delicious glory

I wish I could say that the pictures do it justice, but they don’t. The cook time for the pizza was 30-40 minutes, but it was worth it. The cheese was perfectly melted and stringy, topped with fresh, chunky tomato sauce. The toppings added great flavor but didn’t overpower the cheese or sauce. I’m not normally a crust-lover, but the butter crust was flaky and soft like a delicious freshly baked biscuit. It was so good that I cleaned my plate. I must note that I’ve tried Lou’s on other occasions, like ordering it for delivery when I was too lazy to go outside. It was good in the past, but not like this time. I’ve also tried on another occasion to order the classic without the butter crust, and again, it wasn’t the same. The only complaint I have is that the pizza seemed smaller than the average medium that I would get from any other pizza shop.

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The Luxuries of Home

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Blogs

View out my front door at Lake Chataqua... ice-covered of course.

View out my front door at Lake Chataqua… ice-covered of course.

Another quarter over and alas, we get our ever-so-coveted break week. The one week where the only thing that matters is getting 15 hours of sleep per day, and trying in vain to re-grow all the hair that was accidentally pulled out while studying for finals. After a few days of well-needed rest I have successfully replenished my sleep… the hair not so much.

This break I decided to head back and visit my parents for a little R&R back at the homestead. Home for me is now Bemus Point, N.Y., which is in the Empire State’s very southwestern tip. This area is known as the Southern Tier by anyone living within 200 miles and is absolutely nowhere near New York City, a common mistake made by those living on the opposite side of our incredibly large nation. In fact, we are relatively close to the city of Buffalo and Lake Erie, and as such receive huge amounts of snow. These frequent whiteouts can be a perfect excuse to stay indoors and relax; however, a perfectly timed snowstorm after my arrival turned that plan into incessant shoveling in the bitter cold. Though truthfully, I really don’t mind shoveling, it brings back memories of growing up and can honestly be therapeutic in itself.

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Optometry School Survival Kit

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Blogs

We’re in the middle of finals right now. First year finals were rough, but maybe because some of it was still review from undergrad, it still went great for me. I always pictured things would get easier, but alas, I was wrong. A wise upper year student once told me, “It doesn’t get easier, we just get more and more used to things.” I must say, after finishing half of my second year, I couldn’t agree more. Part of it is really getting into a routine that works, and finding ways to be more efficient.

So here are a few tips that help me succeed to the best of my ability–or at least make my student life at ICO a little easier.

Disclaimer: The following things have been helpful for me personally, but effects may vary from person to person.

1. Invest in stationery and writing utensils
You are going to be writing a lot. Believe me, I used to type up notes, but that just isn’t fast enough, and with the paper slides that gets printed out and put in your mailbox, I would say the majority of students here handwrite notes on the slides as the professors give lectures. Good stationary could perhaps make studying notes more fun to read. It  doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Ebay, Amazon, and even certain stationary stores sometimes have things on sale (like stacks of lined paper for just a penny, or 10 white-outs for $10).

Staedtler Fineliner marker-pens for flow charts and simple diagrams
I’ve had my eyes on these for about two years during undergrad before I finally decided to buy them. They were a bit more pricey back then, but I can honestly say I’ll probably keep buying them as they run out. They don’t bleed through the page, they are ultra-fine, colors are bright, and every stroke comes out sharp and crisp for those times when I really need to outline something. I actually prefer these over highlighters sometimes, just because they don’t even dry out if you forget to put the cap back on.


They even have a stand case to make picking colors and taking the pens out a lot easier.

Fineliner diagrams and flow charts

Twistable crayons to replace highlighters
I really wish I tried these out when I was studying for anatomy last year, since I spent so much money on coloring anatomy pictures with highlighters. I would recommend buying these in the brighter color sets and use them as highlighting tools instead. Again, they don’t bleed, they don’t dry out! Better yet, if you need to sketch images for ocular disease class, or any other class that’s heavily visual, they work great. The only down side is that you can’t sharpen these, so it’s hard to do any fine outlines of anything. However, if you’re quickly jotting down notes in class, you’re probably not going to have time to sharpen anything.

Here’s a comparison between what my notes used to look like, and what my notes look like with these awesome crayons:


Before: bland notes with dried-up highlighters


After: many colors to choose from in order to easily color code notes and draw pictures, and no more drying out or bleeding

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