Assisting assignments

During the 4th quarter of the year, an important course of our research group is taught. Part of the course is a case study which the students have to carry out. The task of us PhD students is to assist students with their cases.

Since I am very busy starting a new series of tests and delivering all the reports from my first large series of tests (127 in total), I've been forced to streamline my procedures as much as possible with regard to assisting students.

I benefit from the fact that I have been assisting this course last year as well, and I had more time available to dedicate to my teaching duties. However, I still want to deliver the same results to the students and make sure they learn from the exercise.

Here's how I've been trying to streamline this task:

1. Have a clear workflow scheme

For all teams which I am assisting, I've made it clear how I prefer to work. I let them know that I prefer to:
- schedule appointments beforehand and if possible, I try to batch them together in one afternoon to keep my mind focused on the subject),
- to receive written material at least one workday before the meeting so that I can have a first impression of what needs to be improved
- have students neatly prepared for the meeting, and prepare myself as well for the meeting (fair enough, I'd say).

2. Know the common errors

From talking to senior PhD students and lecturers, I've been able to identify a few typical mistakes. I start by checking if the plots and graphs in the report "make sense", and then I check if the common errors have been made. If all this looks good, I can proceed and look at the report into further detail. If I can spot weaknesses early on, I know that I can point these out for the students but I don't need to go over the details of the report.

3. Schedule undisturbed chunks of time to correct

I've tried to grade reports in the middle of the day, while people are walking in and out of my office and I need to run up and down the stairs to the lab a few times. The result is that spend too much time trying to find my train of thought again. I've now made it a habit to read the reports either before 9am, after 4pm or from home.

4. Keep the pace of the students

I'm preparing the material at the same pace as the fastest group of students. I haven't prepared the entire case before it was even handed out (at least, not in detail, I did read through the assignment and an example solution before starting to get the general idea). While I'm checking the report of the fastest group of students, I spend some more time on the topic to be fully prepared to explain it again.

I'm planning to write about my method of approaching this matter again around this time next year to see if I've changed much of my ways...

The alliteration in the title is to keep the spirit of my previous post alive

Welcome William!

On June 22nd, 2011 Amber Heintzberger and Juergen Grosserhode welcomed William Henry Grosserhode into the world. He was born at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, weighing 9 lbs. 2 oz. and measuring 22" and joins big sister Emily Katharina, who will be two years old at the end of July. We are so excited to welcome him to our family!

Read Amber's blog for You & Your Family magazine here.

The Pinoy Culture’s Coming Of Age

I suggest that before you read this, you read this first: The Unpinoy Filmmaker by Wincy Aquino Ong


While driving along Roxas Boulevard, my boyfriend asks me, “What is it that RA Rivera has that I don't?". 
Is this another one of our usual stuck-in-traffic conversations? I ask myself. But I had a feeling that if I give my no-fuss, honest reply, this won’t be just a conversation - this will be something stuck in both of our heads. For quite a while.
“He’s probably more Pinoy than you.” Yes, that’s what I said.
I remember my 15 year-old self, suddenly. I was trying to come up with a concept for my entry for Converse’s Chuck Taylor design contest. Then it hit me - people wear shirts with pseudo-stenciled faces of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevarra and Communist Leader Mao Zedong, but I haven’t seen anyone wear the face of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio or Gabriela Silang. Of course this was around 2001, almost the same time as Team Manila launched its 1997 Swiss design inspired graphic shirts and bags. (Which probably made a significant shift in making Philippine History actually part of the Pinoy pop culture. This is a new, equally interesting topic, baby.) So I painted the faces of the Philippine heroes I knew on a pair of Chuck Taylors. Then on, I felt that I may have a tinge of nationalism in me. Well, maybe.
Then I went to UP Diliman three years later. I felt lucky (and proud) that I can take classes that seemed extra interesting: PanPil 17 (Philippine Pop Culture), PanPil19 (Sexuality in Philippine Literature) and Malikhaing Pagsulat 10. I remember writing this in my index card for Malikhaing Pagsulat 10:
Q: Ano ang layunin mo sa pagkuha ng klaseng ito?
My answer: Higit sa makapagsulat sa Filipino ng maganda, gusto kong makapag-isip sa wikang Filipino. Kapag nag-iisip kasi ako, nasa Ingles. Nakakatawa ‘di ba?
And more that getting the education, I got immersed in the culture. Justifying why I told Wincy, "The UP education does something to your brain. It turns you Pinoy."
I realize, I may be using the term Pinoy too conveniently. What is Pinoy? What makes a film, a song, a TV series Pinoy? If I define it in face-value, I will retort to the flavors Tito, Vic and Joey, Lino Brocka (and Brillante Mendoza?), Mara Clara and The Eraserheads made us taste. But I’d like to believe that the term (and the identity it stands for) is beyond that. Call me optimistic, but yeah, it’s probably more than that.
Because I think that the Pinoy idea is a work-in-progress. It’s the more than a century old dilemma Ibarra and Elias had been arguing about - Are the Filipinos ready? And to make it more specific to what I am talking about, are the Filipinos ready to define themselves in terms of culture - taste and consumption?
We haven’t gone past our coming of age. How are we going to form ourselves and our taste? Definitely, I see the hope in the mavens of our current culture - the high brow and the low brow. We need responsible, tactful and thoughtful influential people to idolize and listen to.
And it’s never wrong to actually love the other cultures we expose ourselves into - through plane, through paper or through our screens (big screen, small screen, LCD screen). In fact, it could contribute into our own cultural growth. I admire Wes Anderson and Truffaut but I look up to Mike De Leon. The Beatles and Blur take my breath away, but Sugarfree and Gorgoro are also on top of my playlists. What I’m trying to say is that appreciation for art, for beauty, knows no nationality. If it is beautiful and impressive, whatever it is, it has every right to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Now I ask myself, why did I say “He’s (RA Rivera) probably more Pinoy than you.” 
I said that because I see that the likes of RA Rivera, Ramon Bautista, Lourd De Veyra and Jun Sabayton knows the status quo of the “Filipino” pop culture really really really well. In fact, they know it so well they could draw us a map to its grimiest. I personally think that The Word of The Lourd: How to Make an Indie Film is attempting to make a criticism of what is currently happening. But it makes itself accessible to its target audience. Change can happen if the right people are listening your message, presented in the right way. Again, I go back to one of my principles: know the construct by heart before you deconstruct.
We are in puberty. We’re in our most vulnerable - too old to copy and imitate, but too young to come up with something solely our own. So I would suggest we expose ourselves to everything beautiful (and create, hopefully) - that way we would learn to discern and build our own taste.

Preview: Ikaklit Sa Aming Hardin

“Ikaklit Sa Aming Hardin” ni Det Neri 
Preview of one of the projects that I do during the weekends - my book illustration project with writer Det Neri.

Thanks Horse Junkies!!

Great Dressage Tips From Boyd Martin!

Boyd looking cheeky and Remmy looking realxed as they warm up for Rolex Kentucky, 2011. Photo by the awesome Calina.
Recently, Boyd and Silva Martin have released a series of training videos. Guess What!? We have completed the first series in their videos and we are on to the next one, as one of my hero’s Jay-Z would say.
I just about did a backflip when I saw which video was up next:  Managing a Nervous Horse in their Dressage Test.  Been there done that, got the ribbon for a ‘completion’.   Part 1 of series 2 takes us through the motions of attempting to get it together before entering at A. Yes, breathing is important.
First of all, this video shows Boyd and his horse at an actual Horse Trial warming up for their actual dressage test.  Ummm, COOL!  That was something I wasn’t expecting at all. As we all know, our biggest challenge as a rider is getting our super fit event horses who would much rather be running around a cross country course, relaxed and supple for what we all consider to be the longest 6 minutes of our lives.
Here are some of the tips:
1. Familiarization. If you can get there the day before, PERFECT! If not, get there bright and early and ride around the area where you know your test is going to be.
2. Nutrition. Boyd avoids certain hay and feeds. I’m not going to tell you which ones though!  A calming supplement is also a good recommendation.  However – ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR VET FIRST to be certain nothing will be a surprise on drug test.
3. The Warm Up. This is KEY to relaxation.  As much as possible, stick to the same program as you would when warming up at home.  Stretch a LOT, don’t create any pressure and just cruise around until you can feel your horse relax.  As Boyd says, “Make them think it is just another day at the office.”
4. Introduce Movements From The Test. Once your horse is relaxed, slowly work them through some of the movements they are going to be required to do.
BREAK TIME!! Make sure you allow your horse to take a break, walk, stretch and reassure them that everything is okay.
5. Move Closer To The Ring. About 12-15 minutes out, Boyd makes his way closer to the actual arena that the test will be ridden at.  Because you took to time to familiarize your horse to the ring, this change in scenery, shouldn’t be a problem.  Boyd suggests keeping your horse’s mind entertained’ and ask him to always keep working.
6. The Test. As soon as the competitor before you salutes, Boyd suggests getting your butt going around the ring ASAP.  This will allow as much time as possible in the test area before the bell rings.  SMILE AND NOD at the judge.  In Boyd’s opinion, that is always good for an extra mark or two…then again, it is also Boyd who is tall, good looking and speaks with an accent.  I’ll try it next time anyway.
What was awesome about this video – is that you literally get to see each and every phase of the steps as mentioned. INCLUDING his actual dressage test.  Which was a nice surprise!
I did mention which tip Boyd thinks is most important for achieving that state of relaxation above, but, well, you’re all going to have to watch the video yourself to find out what that is!
Thanks for the awesome tips Boyd! Can’t wait for my next Dressage test!!

Foxhill Eventing Fund Raiser!

Mogie Bearden-Muller is holding a summer eventing lecture series at her farm, Foxhill Eventing, in Centreville, MD. 
The first one is Weds. evening, July 6 - 7:30 p.m. No horses necessary! Topic is Walking Courses for Competition, and how to set lines for schooling at home. Mogie is a USEF "r" course designer (Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy), an Advanced level rider, H-A Pony Club, USEA ICP Level III instructor and walking a course with her is quite eye-opening -- a great learning experience. This is a great opportunity to fill in the holes in your competition skills without worrying about riding or caring for the horse! 
The fee is $25 per person, with $5 of every fee donated to the Boyd Martin barn Fire Recovery Relief Fund!  Thank you ladies!! 
RSVP to for directions and more information. These are open to everyone, all levels. Further ones will include the use of studs, walking a cross country course, and more! Check the website for dates.

In defense of Latin in secondary schools

After reading some thoughts on the upcoming reforms in the Belgian/Flemish secondary school system, I was particularly upset by reading that Latin has to be replaced by technical courses. And more technical courses are required because our society requires more engineers.

I'm an engineer but I studied Latin - Mathematics in secondary school. I'm as much interested in history, philosophy and poetry as I'm interested in concrete and bridges. Every now and then I need to rant about how we are more and more pushed towards narrow-mindedness by society.

I won't go into rant-mode today, but I will sum up a few benefits I enjoyed from studying Latin, despite my choice for technical studies later on.

1. Develop analytical skills

To understand a Latin text, it is necessary to analyze the sentence in detail before its meaning is clear. Most sentences need to be broken down, and then analyzed from its core to all extra parts. In fact, studying Latin seems to me a great way to develop general analytical skills, which are necessary also in technical studies.

2. Learn to pay attention to details

When reading Latin poetry, the metric in which it is written (eg. the dactylic hexameter for the Aeneid) determines the poetry. The consequence of long and short syllables is fixed when the metric scheme is chosen. I've spent hours marking the short and long syllables in Virgil's Aeneid, and it helped me to focus and pay close attention to details.

3. Personal growth

Secondary school is the time when your personality is developed. I think that general courses, which allow time for discussion, such as history, Latin and other language courses are key to developing your own ideas. I clearly remember how I learned to form a point of view and then argument it in class discussions in these "cultural" courses.

4. Develop writing skills

Latin brings your awareness to every single word, every single syllable. In Latin courses, elements of style are also often discusses. Having a background in this material surely helps developing general writing skills.

5. Learn other languages faster

This is the most commonly cited benefit of studying Latin. I also experience that Latin helps me to understand other languages. It helped me to develop a very basic level of Spanish.

That Coral Matte Lipstick

Me, blogging about make-up? Rare I guess.

I think this is the first time I will actually post about make-up. Haha. I wasn’t that vocal before, but I like make-up - since high school. Probably because I like painting? :) 

Anyhoo, bright lips are quite in now, I overheard my officemates Paulina and Ladytalking. I tried on the bright pink (magenta) lips before and I liked it. Now I’m gonna try the matte coral. ;) Hahaha, writing about this is like an out of body special. Not quite like me, but really, it’s me. :)

Dancing Horse Challenge and Ride for Life.

We had a great weekend at the Ride For Life show at the Prince George Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. Stately, of course, was his normal awesome self! We won both Fourth level tests and got High Score, Fourth level at the show.

Duvent placed second and third in both Prix St. Georges. I was so happy with him going into the big, scary arena; a few months ago there would have been no way that I would have even been able to get him into that arena. He was very good in all the trot work and in the walk - the canter started well but he got got a little excited towards the end. We are getting closer and closer to being great.

Kymmy and Markie did very well: they won Fourth level, test 1 on Saturday with 66% and finished fourth in Fourth, 3 on Sunday.

Devon and Ballatale had a great test on Saturday, finishing second in Third level with 66% and placing fifth on Sunday.

Sea Lord ("Big Bird") was the real star this weekend!!! The organizers for the Breast Cancer Benefit asked me if I would perform in the Dancing Horse Challenge at their Gala night on Saturday. The Dancing Horse Challenge is getting bigger and bigger every year.

We had to think about a theme and organize a costume and a freestyle. Charish Campell,(Big Bird's owner) and I thought of going as a jockey since BB is an off the track Thoroughbred and is now at the Grand Prix level, which is very unusual.
We got a freestyle together with the soundtrack from the Secretariat movie and my friend Cheryl Griffith made me a fabulous outfit.

Big Bird loved the packed arena and the people loved us! It was soooo much fun and it felt good to be able to help raise money for breast cancer and help people who need help, especially now since we have experienced so much generosity and help from everybody in the last few weeks.

Here is the video :


Software review: Codeform and Codeproof

Over the past week, I’ve been trying out a software package for structural engineering which combines a traditional calculation program (Codeform) with preprogrammed spreadsheets for all Eurocodes (Codeproof). Over a 1000 prefabricated formulas are available in the Eurocode library.

When I learned about this software, I became very curious to test it out. I download the 5-days trial version and, as an example, used the predefined Codeproof sheet to calculate the shear capacity of a concrete slab under a concentrated load (as shown here).
I used the trial version which can be found at Technosoft’s website for Codeform en Codeproof.

Here are my first impressions of the software package:


Very easy to learn

It took me only 20 minutes to turn the existing Codeproof sheet into a sheet which can be used for calculating the expected values of my experiments according to Eurocode 2. I had never used Codeform before, but it is very easy to operate.

Presentation format

The sheets are preprogrammed and look very professional with respect to their layout. In the two printscreens I took, you can see how it looks. The sheets are ready to be printed out and implemented in a report. The calculation is made clear by displaying the formulas at full, in contrast to the ‘hidden formulas’ which result from printing out Excel output.

Flexible format

Since Codeform is a very user-friendly engine, it is very easy to make changes to the existing Codeproof sheets and develop them into your own spreadsheet.

Suitable for design offices

Since this software package contains standard sheets for all Eurocodes, it is the perfect tool for design offices. No more need to spend hours on developing in-house standard spreadsheets for frequently used calculations. The interpretation of the Eurocodes has also been done and the right links to previous chapters or paragraphs were made.

Learn to use the Eurocodes

For designers abroad who are not familiar with the Eurocodes, this tool could be a great way to get acquainted with the Eurocodes. It shows you how to use the code, how to calculate with it, and how to interpret it.


Dimensionless calculations

Unlike some other packages, CodeForm does not use dimenions. If you would need to switch between English and SI units, then you’ll have to add the right conversion factors yourself.

Are you curious to test out this software too? You can head to the website and use the 5-day trial of the software.

National Universitary Champs.

11.740m (240m), 40controls, 75'21 - A nice mass start with 3 loops. It was a fast map with a detailed eastern area and I felt tired from "Escalada do Mendro" and a rough friday session.
Huge mistake to 19th and 24th, those kind of forbidden ones(my map had the 2 second loops by the opposite order, but it doesn't matter). Stupid option to 34th, big loss of time to 35th once my control description was covered, and too much path to 30th. With some luck, I was able to become Portuguese universitary orienteering champion with a performance that didn't satisfy me.

San Lazaro: Teaser Photo

Limuel (Bautista) and Sigfried (Ong) hears something that gives them the chills.

One of my favorite scenes from the teaser screen shots Wincy just released the other day. I’m quite excited to see the trailer. 

In the meantime, please LIKE the San Lazaro Facebook Page!

San Lazaro (2011) directed by Wincy Aquino Ong
Starring Ramon Bautista, Nicco Manalo, Alan Forte, Bianca King, Ely Buendia
Screening Schedule:
  • 16 July/Sat 6:30PM Greenbelt 3 - Cinema 5 (with talks from cast/crew)
  • 18 July/Mon 4:00PM Greenbelt 3 - Cinema 3
  • 22 July/Fri 6:15PM CCP Tang. Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theatre)

Escalada do Mendro

Yesterday, we were at the track without any will to do the intervals.. so we organized a 5athlete team (Sergio Silva, Marco Povoa, Paulo Franco, Manuel Horta and me) in 5min to participate in today's race. It was an interesting one with a mix of road race (2k+2k) vs. moutain race (7k). The prize money was interesting so all the moutain race and road race guys appeared in a far village 2h away from Lisbon (Vidigueira).
In this interesting duel, the moutain guys dominated the races (1º, 4º, 5º, 8º) even with some 1h03-half-marathon guys from road races. I considered it impressive, knowing that they have opposite methods of training. You may find the first page of results:
About my performance, I was just too slow in the flat parts - probably related to my breathing difficulties in the last days due to my chronic asthma. However I behave well in the "moutain part" and caught many guys from athletics that passed me when the course turned flat again. To end in glory, the last 2k were really painful once, for the first time in my life, I've experienced this entity that affects, at least once, 40% of athletes: "the evil runner's trots".

Our last-minute team (Mendro Team) was 2nd overall and it ended being a well-spent morning.

August Clinic in NH to Benefit Fire Relief Efforts!

Many thanks to Denise Lahey of Stoneybrook Farm in Peterborough NH for organizing an August clinic to benefit the fire relief efforts!!

August 20th & 21st
Stony Brook Farm
Peterborough, NH
$375 for 2-day clinic
All proceeds will be contributed to the Boyd and Silva Martin Recovery Fund

To access the Clinic Information and Registration form, please visit their blog:

July 12th & 13th Clinic with Boyd

Boyd Martin
CS&W Farm
July 12 and 13, 2011
October 18 and 19, 2011
Clinic with the 2010 Horseman of the Year
Boyd is a 4 star eventing competitor that finished 7th overall on the USEA Rider of the year leader board in 2007. He was shortlisted for the Australian Olympic team on two horses, Yin Yang Yo and Neville Bardos. Since becoming a US citizen, Boyd has had great success competitively. He was named Rider of the year by the Chronicle of the Horse and in 2011  is ranked number one on the Nutrena leader board. For more information go to 
Boyd Martin is one of the best clinician I have ridden with in a long time. People who ride with him feel they and their horses were challenged mentally and physically without being overfaced. Your confidence reaches a new level. He demonstrates imagination in the exercises he teaches. He explains techniques for both stadium and cross country clearly and logically. Both my horses excelled during the class and I have used many suggestions afterwards. This is someone you don’t want to miss riding with.  
Semi privates - $225.00 per day
Groups of 4 - $165.00 per day
Tuesday - Flatwork/Gymnastics
Wednesday  -  Cross Country 
Our XC includes Water/Ditches/Banks for levels BN-Prelim
2011 new sunken road complex and additional new jumps
Registration must be received with payments in full prior to clinic to reserve your spot.  Any questions call Claudia Winter @ 518-537-4417 or email
Visit us on the web at

Update on Horses Recovering from Fire

The Best View in the World: Between Neville's Ears

The last three weeks have obviously been a tough time, picking up the pieces and rebuilding from the tragedy of the barn fire on Memorial Day. With the surviving horses from the fire we have had good news and bad news.

I was elated to finally hop on Neville today for the first time; I took him for a 20minute walk. He’s been spending an hour a day in a hyperbaric chamber, breathing pure oxygenated air, at Fair Hill Therapy (link). He got a scope this morning by Dr. Keane, who was astounded at the improvement in his throat. The burns in his esophagus and wind pipe are healing and it’s great to be riding him again.

Caitlin Silliman’s Catch a Star has also been heading to the hyperbaric chamber every day and her burns are healing with every treatment. Her spirits are high and after a few colic symptom scares she looks to be solidly on the road to recovery.

Otis Barbotiere started tack walking a couple of days ago. He has a few tiny burns on his body and his scope looks fantastic. His future recovery looks promising.

Ambassador’s Rose was the least wounded in the fire; she competed at Plantation Field with Courtney Cooper of C Square Farm (link) and was subsequently sold last weekend.

Poor old Minotaure du Passoir has had the most disheartening recovery: late last week he had a violent attack of colic and was rushed back to New Bolton Center where he underwent a brutal colic surgery, which was very distressing since we thought he was through the danger of the trauma. He arrived back home yesterday and the vets are optimistic for his recovery.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to shout out a huge thank you to everyone who has helped Silva and me out through this tragedy. The support we have felt from this country has been amazing: it seems like every person we know has chipped in and helped out from financial aid to the local farmers donating a bit of hay to the blacksmith not charging on the last shoeing and even the local Amish men donating some time to help muck out some new stalls.

Everyone’s support immensely appreciated. It looks as if we lost about a hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment in the blaze, not including the horses, and the fundraising we’ve received is going toward that and the astronomical vet bills of the recovering horses. Every penny makes a difference; I truly don’t know how I would have got through this without the generosity of the individuals, companies, and generally the equestrian community who have given us the encouragement and ability to press on in our quest to continue with the horses.


Heartbreaker (The Cardigans Cover) - Patience Dear Juggernaut featuring Cj de Silva

Heartbreaker (The Cardigans cover) by Patience Dear Juggernaut featuring yours truly.
My boyfriend and I collaborated this weekend, just for fun. This is our cover of “Heartbreaker” by The Cardigans (we also share the common love for this 90’s band)
Hope you enjoy and feel free to share!

Portuguese Middle and Sprint champs.

Middle, 30c, 5.4k (230m) - I was portuguese middle distance champion with a regular race. I gave priority to navigation rather than running with slow first controls, giving no chance to luck. 13th- hesitation, 15th- misunderstood the high as low, 16th- big deviation, 20th- ~1'30 stuck in the greens (V1) once I was too careless in the approach of the white tunnel, 22nd- ran too far and I was once careless in the approach to the 25th.
Sprint, 16c, 2.4k (35m) - Easy map where the best part (the fort) wasn't availed. In a sprint the "slow start" approach doesn't work that well. Bad option to the 2nd and the worst possible option to the 9th without correct anticipation. I had a lack of attitude in the final flat part and settled in an average pace. In the end I was 2nd, ex-aequo with Diogo Miguel and 6'' from the winner. It was a tight race with the first 7 athletes in a 23'' gap.
Beside the nice events, it was an enjoyable weekend in the portuguese surf capital with nice weather and friends.

Reviewers' comments

The past 5 days, I've been completely immersed into replying reviewers' comments to a paper which will be published as a special publication after a conference in October.

Previously, I did receive some comments from reviewers for other conference papers, but the effort they required to reply was typically negligible.

Wednesday evening, however, I received 3 pages of commentary on my paper, 19 sections with comments in total. I was both terrified (it looked like a lot of work) and enthusiastic (the reviewers really analyzed my paper and provided valuable input) at the same time.

I was googling around a bit for some advice on how to reply to reviewers' comments, since I had never done this before, but I couldn't find anything. Please point me to interesting posts online if you come across them, I'll be more than glad to read them and implement their advice in the future. And I'm sure I'll have to reply reviewers' comments many more time in the years to come.

Now that I've sent out the revised version and my 13-page reply to the reviewers, I've spent some time reflecting on this process, and here are some points which were to me the most striking ones.

1. Don't panic

I felt a slight sense of panic when I received the email with all the comments. It appeared to be a lot of work to me, and it was requested to be done as soon as possible. However, I took a deep breath, and decided to print out the comments, and finish the task I was carrying out before jumping to the comments.

2. One remark at a time

Rome wasn't build in a day. I've taken several slots of time over 4 days in total to reply the comments one by one. When necessary, I went to look up some additional references to give a solid basis to the reply I was working on.

I wasn't sure about my writing style though. I'm not sure in which voice to write, and how much information to include in the replies. Hopefully I can learn this in the (near) future.

3. Take it serious

The reviewers has obviously taken time and effort to work through my paper and point out paragraphs which were not clear, graphs which looked confusing and to offer some fresh ideas on my research.

It is at least polite to take it serious, and spend enough time to chew on this to provide them with a solid and founded answer to their comments, and, where needed, add the requested revisions to the paper.

4. Remember you are not alone

Even though I took quite some time to reflect on certain questions, I did feel that for some of these I needed some affirmation and good ideas from my co-authors.
After I drafted up the first version of the revised paper and the reply to the reviewers, I sent it to my co-authors with some extra comments and points for them to look at.

Today, I got all the necessary input and thoughts to finish up the revised version of the paper. I'm quite curious to see what will be next.

To conclude this post, I would like to point to Hidde Ploegh's post "End the wasteful tyranny of reviewer experiments" and Eva Teuling's discussion (in Dutch) "Peer review versus de idealistische wetenschapper." There's a lot of food for thought related to the review process in there, and the merely ethical discussion on the impact of recommending additional experiments. Highly recommended, now that we're at the topic.

Festa Junina

Michael Barisone Clinic Tomorrow

Reminder: Tomorrow (Monday, June 19, 2011) is the Michael Barisone clinic at Silva's farm! Auditors welcome, $10 per person, please bring your own chair.

The farm is located at 57 Gibble Road, Cochranville, PA.

Ride times are as follows:

9.00 Kymmy Pullen
10.00 Silva Martin / Sea Lord
11.00 Boyd Martin
12.00 Silva Martin/ Aesthete
1.00 lunch
1.30 Alex Robertson
2.30 Ashlea Day
3.30 Alex Robertson
4.30 Silva Martin / Duvent
5.30 Jacky Kenny

Note: times may change a little - depending on how hot it is the lessons might not an entire hour each.

How to make your autobiographical essay stand out

When applying for a scholarship, you typically will have to add an autobiographical essay. If you want to stand out as an applicant, it is important to show more than good grades. Here is some advice on how to use one sheet of paper to make a lasting impression and be invited for an interview.

1. Polish your writing style

If you are at the point of applying for a scholarship to study abroad after your first cycle of higher education, chances are small that you've been going through application or interviewing processes before.
Likewise, chances are small that you have experience in writing, other than homeworks and essays related to your study course.

Writing an autobiographical essay takes more than just summing up what you've been spending your past years on. It requires a style of writing you might need to get used to. Even though I've always enjoyed writing, composing my autobiographical essay took me a lot of frowning, rewriting and rephrasing.

Make sure you allow enough time to go through this process, don't write it out the night before the deadline.
To give you an idea: I spent two months between my first trials and the final version in my application.

2. Ask a senior academic for advice

Look for a professor or senior academic with a clear writing style to whom you can turn to for advice. I was lucky enough to receive great ideas from one of my professors, which took my essay five levels up.

3. Show the link between your extracurricular activities and your studies

You might think that fellowship institutions are not interested in your talent for sports or music. However, you can use your extracurricular activities to show how it reinforces some of your talents in your studies.

In my essay, I linked composition courses to math. Following the classical rules of composition requires indeed a lot of "calculating" and counting distances between notes to come up with allowable chords.

4. Let your personality shine through

If you're applying for a prestigious fellowship, you are most likely already a very good student. To show that you are ready to take most advantage of the opportunity which might be offered to you and to become an ambassador of a sponsoring institution, it is important to show that you are a fully grown individual with a personal range of talents and interests.

5. Point out the skills you've learned from your extracurricular activities

Depending on the extracurricular activities you've chosen to spend your time on, you will have developed certain skills. Use the description of your activities to point out which skills you've learned.

Playing team-sports or playing in an orchestra teaches you how to work in a team, for example. Combining several activities with demanding studies teaches you time management skills.