Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The last two weeks have been pretty stressful for me. I didn't even realize how stressful until the moment I got my grade for my Safety and Sanitation midterm. That singular moment literally made me feel a million times lighter and slightly giddy. I have been working so incredibly hard to do my absolute best, and I was weighed down by the worry that it wouldn't have paid off and that I was going to get a sub standard *at least, to MY standards* grade for all that hard work. On Sunday, I finally resigned myself to the fact that even if I got a C on the midterm, I tried my hardest and that I would do better by the ServSafe exam at the end of the year. Marc also reassured me that even if I failed the midterm, he still wouldn't be disappointed in me. That helped. I am mostly working so hard to prove something to myself, but another part of me is also not wanting to let down any of the people who have supported me so much this time around. Marc has been my biggest supporter, and I especially care about his opinion of me.

The Safety and Sanitation class has ended up being my hardest class. Most of the information is easy to retain, but there are over twenty causative agents that we are required to know the names, type of agent, onset and recovery times for the illness caused, symptoms of the illness, foods that cause the illness, and prevention methods. I will give you an example. Feel free to skim or skip this part, I am simply trying to help you see the extensive amount of information that I am trying to retain.

Scombrotoxin- fish toxin originating from histamine producing bacteria.
Onset time- a few minutes to a 1/2 hour
Recovery time- 8-12 hours
Symptoms- dizziness, headache, teary eyes, runny nose, peppery taste in the mouth, burning in the mouth, facial rash/hives, difficulty breathing
Foods that can cause illness- Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Bluefish, Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Amberjack, Abalone
Prevention methods- purchase fish from a reputable supplier, store fish between 32 and 39 degrees F to prevent growth of histamine producing bacteria. Toxin is NOT inactivated by cooking.

I've never been very good at this type of information. I did wonderful in Chemistry *the second time around when I took it in college. When I took it in high school, I got a C and that was truly not for a lack of trying. Understanding of the mole concept eluded me until right at the end of the year and when so many things in Chemistry are based on that concept, you are kind of screwed.* My point is, that Chemistry is a hand on class and, aside from the mole concept, you can SEE the things right in front of you and why you do what you do. Kind of like cooking and baking, you add A to B and C happens. Biology is much more abstract to me because you can't SEE the pathogens at work. That is why this is so difficult for me. All of these technical terms and the things that go along with them are difficult for me to separate. Also, the sheer volume of difficult information that is so similar, yet so different, was extremely overwhelming to me and I wasn't quite sure how to approach learning it. I have finally come up with a plan of attack for learning the information, however. Every night, I am writing one causative agent and all of it's information over and over again until I am able to write it all from memory. The next night, I write the previous causative agents that I have memorized, refresh my memory if needed, and then take on the new one for that night. So far, it is helping and it is making me less stressed than I was before.

I figured out this approach the day before the exam, however. Because of this, I was extremely nervous about the exam. After taking the exam on Monday, I still wasn't sure how I did, but I thought I probably at least got a C. When I went to my Pastry class on Tuesday, taught by the same teacher, she informed me that she had graded my midterm. She knew I was stressed about it and wanted to give me my grade so I could relax a little bit. I received, no, I EARNED a 94%! I was extremely relieved and texted Marc immediately. A weight lifted off my shoulders and I was grinning the rest of the class.

I was also happy on Monday when I found out my grade on the Pastry midterm. I, again, EARNED a 110% by getting all the questions right and then thoroughly completing the bonus essay question and receiving all possible points available. That alone made me extraordinarily happy during class. That evening, I pulled the test out to look it over, and saw a note on the back of the paper that I hadn't seen in class. I got the gold star for the week! She knew that the genoise was making me mad the week before, and I kept my cool. That earned me the gold star! I went from happy to giddy and called Marc immediately.

All that is left is to get back my Concepts midterm and I am fairly certain I did well on that test, as well. We will see on Friday.

I also, finally, managed to nag one of the partners in my Concepts group into finishing his part of the research paper due Friday. I put it all together last night and even finished the source citations. I also finished my vocabulary terms that are due Friday. I can actually breathe a little this week and not have culinary information constantly rolling over and over in the back of my mind no matter what I am doing. That is a huge relief.


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