Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Saad is a contestant on JEOPARDY! [part 2 w. In-Game Thoughts]

July 12, 2010 29 comments

Welcome back! In my last post, I described the lead-up to becoming a contestant on Jeopardy! including a section about what you don’t see on tv. Here, I will provide a “director’s cut” with my thoughts during the game.

By the time of my game, I wasn’t concerned about its outcome because just being at the studio as a contestant for a whole day made for an unforgettable experience, one that I knew I would be telling friends about for a long time.

**SPOILER ALERT** Everything after this point will reveal actual details from the game. Read more…

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Saad is a contestant on JEOPARDY! [part 1]

July 4, 2010 25 comments

(I updated the entry on July 8 to provide more detail about what you don’t get to see on TV.)

The Essentials

What: watch JEOPARDY!

In the 2nd commercial break, everyone gets their photo taken with the man.

Date: Monday, July 12

Time: check your local listings

This blog post [part 1] describes (a) the lead-up to how I ended up being a contestant on Jeopardy! and (b) my experiences at the studio in Los Angeles.  After the show airs on July 12, I will post [part 2] describing my in-game thoughts.  To get the [part 2] post by email, use the link on the right sidebar “Sign up to receive email notification of new posts!”

The Lead-up

Becoming a contestant on Jeopardy! was a happy accident, because I didn’t know the online test even existed until January 2008. I had driven from Nashville to New Mexico for an internship and I was staying with my friend Guillaume while I searched for my own place to stay. His wife, Raea, told us that the online test would be open that time, so I decided to try it with them. All I remember is that the test questions went by quickly. Four months later, I received an automated email inviting me to an audition in Dallas the following month. The timing for the audition was not great, because I was presenting at a conference in Phoenix the day before and would have to fly out very early the day of the audition. Inevitably, I overslept and got to see my plane back away from the gate, but luckily I got on the next plane and was able to grab a quick lunch before getting to the audition site.

There were several parts to the audition. We started by completing interview fact sheets and being photographed with a Polaroid camera by the Jeopardy! staff. Next was another test, this time written. Finally, we stood at the front of the room, three at a time, and played a mock game. In the game portion, I struggled with the buzzer, reaching a point where I just wanted to ring in first. I remember buzzing in at least once with no notion of the correct answer, happy only to get the timing correct. After the game portion, the contestants were interviewed by the staff including one producer, Maggie. I thought I did better on this part (thanks, in big part, to having started Toastmasters three months earlier) but nothing about my game play suggested that I could compete on the actual show. On top of that, I thought I looked frazzled from my travel. I figured that I had no chance of passing this stage. They told us that we would be placed in a contestant pool for 18 months, and if we didn’t hear from them in that time, I inferred that things ended there. Read more…

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Doing Things in Sweden

May 29, 2010 3 comments

This is a smoked reindeer sandwich. You can find smoked reindeer in the deli section of your local grocery store where it’s called rökt renstek. I didn’t remember the Swedish word for turkey, so everything in the store was mystery meat except for renstek – see the logo on the packet. Also, it is delicious and I will probably eat a lot of it in my time here.

Props to scientist Carl Linnaeus for getting himself on the C-note.

This is Swedish money. In addition to the bills there are coins for 10, 5, and 1 kronor. The 10 kr coin is worth a bit more than $1 US, so it’s useful for tipping in bars and restaurants. The other coins are as useless as pennies.

Elsewhere: I lined up a 1-BR apartment for the summer and I stopped by the office (here) to apply for my key, access card, and online passwords. Got to chat with a few colleagues, and the conversations reinforced my belief that this was the right place to come work. The scientists are talented and the work in the group leans more toward applied science. I am excited to get started.

Future blog posts will revolve around my work and adventures in this new place, so if you’re interested in reading my stories and seeing my photos, take a moment to subscribe to the email notification on the right sidebar.

Getting things done.

May 28, 2010 3 comments

1. Finish PhD. Nothing more needs to be said after five years.

Dr. Sameer Mahajan (left) and Dr. Saad Hasan (right) with PhD advisor Prof. James Dickerson (center).

2. Vanderbilt Toastmasters club receives charter. Congratulations to the 21 chartering members of the new Vanderbilt Toastmasters club! The new-member materials arrived last week and will be distributed to everyone at the next meeting. This is the culmination of a year-long effort to grow the club’s presence at Vanderbilt. I am excited to see what the new officers will do next year, in terms of both cultivating amazing speakers who win at competitions (and job interviews and cocktail parties and dates) and staging campus-wide events that raise the club’s profile at Vanderbilt.

Categories: Life, Nanotech, toastmasters

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