Archive | January 2010

Obama’s State of the Union Address

So as I was watching Obama’s first State of the Union Address (SOTU) as president earlier, education was high on my list of things to note. As a college student right now who is planning on pursuing higher education (via law school), it is probably one of the two most important issues (healthcare being the other one) that I am concerned with… and I’ve mentioned that on this blog time and time again (like here and  here for example).

Even with grants and whatnot, I am still going to be in TREMENDOUS debt… and that’s just from the past four years worth of education. For the past four years, tuition has increased EVERY year and it has definitely added up. I don’t even want to think about what I’ll owe after law school.

One of the reasons I’ve been contemplating on whether I should go to law school right after undergraduate or work for a few years first is because of this debt! This is especially because of the state of the economy nowadays… it’s not like before where if I had a pretty decent education, I would most likely find a decent job (barring any unforeseen circumstances).

Nowadays, I know so many people who have been laid off in the last year or so that it is ridiculous. To think of the competition of people from an older generation looking for jobs and the young people vying for the same jobs is pretty scary. All I know is I’m not too comfortable with the idea of being in such a huge debt and being uncertain of a plan to pay it back.

Quoting a part of what Obama said tonight about the education aspect:

‘To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer-subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let’s take that money andgive families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. And let’s tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only ten percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after twenty years – and forgiven after ten years if they choose a career in public service. Because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. And it’s time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs’ 

My thoughts on this:

  1. The tax credit and increase in pell grants will go a long way and help many families.
  2. Students being only required to pay 10% of their income on student loans and their debts being forgiven after 20 years will take a HUGE burden off of a lot of people! This one is a biggie in my opinion.
  3. Calling for colleges/universities to cut their own costs. I could not agree more! One of the annoying things at Rutgers is that as a part of our tuition, we pay some money to use the printing services at the libraries and computer labs. We are given about $30-32 dollars (i think) worth to use in printing twice a year (one for the fall and winter semesters and another one for the spring and summer semesters). However, we are not given an option on whether we want to do this or not! I, next to never, use the printing services (because I don’t usually have the time in between in classes and whatnot to use it  up). And we don’t get the amount we don’t use back either, so I am being gypped of about 60 dollars each year for this. And this is just one of those ridiculous fees we pay… so they all add up!

Now by no means am I naive. So in no way am I expecting a hundred percent of what was said tonight to happen in reality. However, I want SOMETHING done! As Obama said today: “In the United States of America, no one should go broke because they decided to go to college”.

Here are the other important highlights from his address (VERY briefly):

  • Obama called for a crack down on the violations nationwide of the equal pay acts so that men and women get equal pay for an equal day’s work. As a women, of course, I find this to VERY important. It’s so sad that even now women are still fighting for just basic things!!
  • A call for doubling the child care tax credit; expanding tax credit for families with children.
  • Healthcare! discussed very briefly though.
  • The state of the economy and the ENORMOUS deficit the country faces.
  • Obama said he plans to work with Congress to repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country in the armed services. No matter what your religious and/or political views are on gays and lesbians, they are people and they have rights 

What were your thoughts on his speech and some of the issues in general?

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Um, Why Does This Guy Speak Better Urdu Than Me?

I came across this blog yesterday and I was hooked. Like I have been constantly reading it every chance I get and will probably be done catching up on all the past posts by tomorrow (even though I should be reading for classes…). It’s written by an American women who is married to a Pakistani guy who is narrating her experiences. Some are HILARIOUS observations, others are explanations of her different experiences, but most of all – all of them are honest insights on how this women sees it.

It’s so neat to read from the perspective of someone from the outside looking in and thinking oh-so-many-times ‘I know what she means’ and ‘haha, she’s so right about that’. I mean, even though we live in the United States (and lived in and grew up in Canada before), we have still lived this life style from day one in some senses… this women came into it a few years ago – so she notices things a lot more.

Anyhow, here I am enjoying reading her old posts, and I get to one where she links to the video below where an American speaks such clear Urdu that it is ridiculous. Not to mention, embarrassing for me!  Urdu is my native language yet  there are times I have to think in my head (or out loud) for what the correct terminology would be in Urdu for the phrase I’m thinking of in English. Or half way through a sentence in Urdu, I’ll find myself suddenly and automatically speaking in English. I was in awe of how well this man – this foreigner- could speak it with such great stamina, pronunciation and whatnot!

Here’s the video:

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Remarkable Rescue in Haiti

I saw this on my brother’s blog and i had to share it as well. What a remarkable story : a seven year old boy and his sister were found alive and in relatively good shape seven days after the disasterious earthquake that hit their region in Haiti.

Here’s a clip:

(The previous link I put up was only viewable from within the United States – and I’m not sure if this one is the same or not. I would appreciate it if you let me know whether you can see it or not).

I found myself tearing and smiling at the same time. What’s more amazing is stories like these are still coming out. And it just goes to show you to never underestimate life.

As Faraz said: ‘stop taking what you have for granted.’

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

My Last First Day of College!

Tomorrow is my last first day of college! Classes at Rutgers actually began today, but I have no classes on Tuesdays and Fridays this semester – so tomorrow will officially be my first day of the semester. It will definitely be a long day with work in the morning and then classes from 1 to 7:30 P.M and Mondays are going to be even worse (I have classes ALL day from 10 A.M. to 7:30 P.M), but then I only have one class on Thursday mornings – so it makes up for it. I’ve been working pretty much all day every day for the last few days, so to say that i’m tired is an understatement.

Let’s get the negative out of the way first – one thing I’m definitely not going to miss about Rutgers is the scheduling annoyance i faced EVERY SINGLE semester. This time was no different. Seriously, I can’t remember (um, because it didn’t happen) one semester where I had no problems scheduling classes for the next semester. The frustration and the stress during planning my schedule, registration, the week leading up to class and the first week of classes were something I will not miss. Neither will my family as I’m pretty sure I drove them crazy every time for all of those times I just mentioned all eight semesters long. I’m sure a lot of other Rutgers student will agree with this problem as well.

Okay, enough of the negative.

I’m one of those people that are sentimental/emotional and cherishes the ‘moments’… and this is definitely one of them. It’s amazing to think that in a few short months i’ll ‘graduate’ into the real world. Whoa. Pretty scary, huh?

Sure, i have graduate school ahead of me – but that’s just different.

Time sure flies by, doesn’t it? The last seventeen years of schooling (kindergarten through 12th grade and these past 4 years to get my B.A.) sure have. I was actually just looking at old photos from back when we were little kids this past weekend when my aunt and uncle were over and talking about old memories – I don’t know about you, but I LOVE looking at old pictures and reminiscing.

While I don’t actually remember my first day at school, I definitely remember my first day of school. You know – school bag on my back, wearing the school  uniform, crying like crazy as my mom takes me to school? Ha.

Hopefully this semester goes by smoothly. Not that I’m expecting it to, considering my last seven semesters at Rutgers… but I guess, that’s part of the ‘experience’. More importantly, I hope that I make the most of this last semester at Rutgers. In hindsight, sure there are things I would have done differently – but wouldn’t most people? One thing is for sure, everything can be a learning experience if you choose to look at it like that.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Thoughts on Earthquake in Haiti

I’m sure, by now, everyone has heard of the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti earlier this week on Tuesday that has caused so much destruction, left so many people homeless and without food, injured countless people, and killed over 45 thousand people (and counting; the number is expected to sky rocket tremendously). Not to mention the amount of ‘missing’ people that are still unaccounted for.

I keep reading in the news and through twitter that government officials in Haiti are pleading for basic essentials like water and food, and aid to treat the injured. That they don’t have the capacity to treat the injured. That they lack the technology in so many aspects, such as being able to locate people and notify their families elsewhere that they have been accounted for in one sense or another.

At the same time, technology has gone so far in our part of the world through the White House blog people learned that they can donate ten dollars at a time by simply texting ‘HAITI’ to ‘90999’ and confirming their donations when prompted. The ten dollar donation will appear on your next cell phone bill and a 100% of it will go to Red Cross to help those effected by this earthquake.

It gets you thinking about how much you take for granted on a daily basis and how much we have to be thankful for. It also got me thinking about the fact that it takes a catastrophe like an earthquake for people to really count their blessings.

But you know what – I also thought about the fact that it was once again proved that when we really need to… we can rally together as one collective group of people for a worthy cause. A couple of hours ago I was reading on twitter that through cell phone donations alone the Red Cross and Yele organizations have received donations of over six million dollars combined! Pretty amazing, don’t you think?

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Winter Break ’09

Why is it that it seems like we wait for vacation for so long and then when it finally comes, it just flies by… no matter how long (or short) it really was. It feels like winter break just started, but it is going by so fast and already coming to an end and classes start again on January 19th (and I start working on the 17th after requesting the winter break off to study) – and it’ll be my last semester as an undergraduate. SO hard to fathom!

This break was pretty low key – we didn’t travel anywhere too far… but did a lot of little things here and there (and had A LOT of dinner parties!).

Oh and i think i made up for the fact that i watched like no movies throughout last year (read this post from last month), by watching both Avatar (with a lot of my cousins and Faraz) and Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel (with my parents and Faraz) in my winter break.

I also got a chance to catch up with Yasmin on Monday of last week. I’ve known Yasmin since the seventh grade (when I first moved to New Jersey) and she’s been a great friend since. We went to different schools for the first time last year when she decided to transfer to a different college. Even though I don’t get a chance to see her too often nowadays, everytime I do – it’s like I see her all the time. Some things, fortunately, don’t change.

And of course, I studied, studied, studied for the LSATs. I can’t even stress how much I’m looking forward to February 6th to get them over with (and hopefully with a decent score, of course). It sucks that I spent a lot of summer break and now my winter break studying for them. Hopefully, it pays off this time. Once I get my scores three weeks after taking the exam, I have some serious decision making to do.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

The Baby-Sitter’s Club

The Baby-Sitter’s Club (BSC). You remember those books? If you are a female around my age (21) or even plus/minus a few years, you probably do. I don’t know about you, but i LOVED those books. They were my all time favorite novels to read growing up and I definitely grew up on them.

Even more than that, there are so many memories I have connected to them. For one – my cousin Samia and I would ALWAYS read them with a bowl of soup (whether it was breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an in-between snack)… just for the sake of it. They were almost interconnected. It could be ninety degrees outside, but we would still have some soup and read the books with them. The strange thing was – we did this mostly at breakfast time! Crazy, huh? But you know what – I’d do it all over again and wouldn’t change it one bit.

I remember heading to the library all the time just to see if they had a new BSC book that I hadn’t read yet. If I got lucky, there were a few new ones! I remember coming home so many times with so many books and finishing them all in the same day.

As years passed by, I would buy some and my cousins would buy others… and then we’d switch.

The BSC collection, for sure, inspired my love for reading that continues to this today.

Yes, I realize how unrealistic the story lines were most of the time – but then again, times were different back then. And even if it wasn’t realistic, who cares? Certainly not me. It’s not often a book is so intriguing or fun that you finish it in one sitting, let alone a whole collection of such books.

Ever since my brother shared this CNN blog post with me on Monday about how the author Ann M. Martin is writing a prequel to the the BSC books, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the classic BSC books and how much I used to love reading them. I gave a lot of my BSC books to my little cousin (ironically whose name is also Samia) many years ago, and when i ‘shared’ the CNN blog post on facebook – I learned she still had them (or at least some of them)… so that’s pretty cool.

If anyone knows where I can find the whole collection, PLEASE let me know – because I really want to try and get them… just for old times’ sake.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Traffic without Reason

For those of you familiar with the New York area, you will for sure agree with the fact that there’s almost always traffic to and from New York. It’s almost as if you are lucky if you somehow escape it.

I don’t know if there’s anything I despise more than traffic. Oh wait, there is… traffic for no reason!

If there’s a car accident and one (or two, or more…) of the lanes are closed, fine.

If there’s construction going on, fine. At least they are attempting to make the roads better (and hopefully extending them to be bigger).

If it’s peak commuting rush hour, fine.  People do have to get to work or back home from work.

It’s still going to annoy me, but at least there’s a reason for the traffic I’m stuck in in those situations.

Then there’s my favorite (yeah, right!). You know – the ones when you are not moving at all for some period of time or going at like two miles an hour for a little while (or sometimes a LONG while), and then out of nowhere you finally start moving at a pretty decent pace – you realize there was absolutely no reason for the traffic in the first place.

Sure, it’s possible that there was one of the above mentioned problems earlier and it has just cleared by now. But then again, I doubt it would clear up so fast that you would go from barely moving to being able to drive at a pretty decent speed.

I don’t know if that is worse or when cars start moving at an incredibly slow pace because of something (an accident, for example) that is happening on the other side of the road! Come on people! I know your curious individuals and all, but seriously…

It drives me absolutely crazy! Not only is everyone on the opposite side of the road stuck in traffic because of whatever occurred, but both sides – which is totally unnecessary.

By the way, this rant was a long time coming – it just took me going to New York twice within the span of a few days and facing these problems both times (going there and getting back) to actually rant about it.

On the belt park way, going to New York we were stuck in traffic because everybody on the road decided it would be nice to stop and watch someone who needed a simple tire change (but not actually help them or anything like that). On the way back from New York (we were just going to pick up my grandfather and go right back), we noticed that the traffic streched for MILES because of the same tire changing guy! Ridiculous, i tell you.

Same Blog; New Domain!

I bought my own domain name yesterday and was finally able to start using it tonight.

The old summaiyahhyder.blogspot.com is now summaiyahhyder.com (the old one should redirect you automatically).

I’ve been wanting to get it for the longest time (well over a year), and i finally got it. I’m actually glad I waited to make sure I was going to continue to blog for the long run before I made the investment.

The process turned out be quite long and in many different steps to do the conversion (and took over a day to complete) – thankfully my brother Faraz did it for me, because I’m not sure I would even know how to do it.

When I have some free time (which means after graduation), I want to turn it into more than just my blog – but a website. We’ll see how that goes.

Palindrome Day

This is pretty neat: today’s date 01022010 is a palindrome (reads the same backwards as it is forward).

01022010 and 01022010

Talking about palindromes in this sense makes me wonder though if it only applies to words (meaning, i wonder if there is another word for the same idea in numbers). I’ll have to find that out when i get home tonight.

Anyhow, back to the numbers. I don’t know about you but i find this kind of stuff pretty cool. This will only happen twelve times in this century, which makes it even better.It has already happened once (in my lifetime)  in october 2001 but i was too young to care then.

The article I linked to in the last paragraph notes that before 2001, the last time the Western civilization experienced a palindromic date was more than 629 years ago, on Aug. 31, 1380 (or 08-31-1380).

Here are the dates ‘palindrome day’ will occur in this century (US format):

  • Oct. 2, 2001: 10/02/2001
  • Jan. 2, 2010: 01/02/2010
  • Nov. 2, 2011: 11/02/2011
  • Feb. 2, 2020: 02/02/2020
  • Dec. 2, 2021: 12/02/2021
  • Mar. 2, 2030: 03/02/2030
  • April 2, 2040: 04/02/2040
  • May 2, 2050: 05/02/2050
  • June 2, 2060: 06/02/2060
  • July 2, 2070: 07/02/2070
  • Aug. 2, 2080: 08/02/2080
  • Sept. 2, 2090: 09/02/2090