The Illuminated Graduate

Recording the opportunities, possibilities, and adventures of a USA student studying neuroscience in the UK.

MRI: Everything You Possibly Wanted To Know (And Maybe More!)

MRI.  That fancy acronym doctors use, fewer people understand, and even fewer people actually explain.  Until recently, I was one of those middle people, not fully understanding what exactly an MRI machine did.  Now, thanks to University of Glasgow, I’ve been enlightened.

I honestly wish neuroscience was more accessible to everyone; I think it’s why I like writing little articles like these. I’ll start with some of the basics of MRI and provide nuggets of details.  You can shout at me if you want to hear more detail about something specific – I love questions and thus they are encouraged!

So, what in tarnation is going on in a such a massive machine that makes all of these ridiculous sounds that sound similar to a construction site (or dubstep music)? Just view the 45 second video to see what I mean:

We’re gonna find out together.

What is MRI?
MRI = Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and the machine is basically an extremely fancy camera used to take a 3D image of the body, giving a unique look at what the insides look like. MRI can be used to study any body part – but of course, I’m going to focus on how it’s used on the brain.  On a most basic level, the MRI machine takes many photographs at different depths (think of it as an invisible piece of paper slicing through you bit by bit) and then combines those images to show a full 3D picture of what’s going on in someone’s brain or other body part.  See the below short video showing a sagittal (sagittal = fancy word for “side / profile view”) MRI scan of someone’s brain, uploaded by an awesome person on Wikipedia:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Structural_MRI_animation.ogv

Why is MRI used?
MRI is an important tool both for research and clinical purposes.  Even though most people don’t like being put in an MRI scanner, you might feel more appreciation when realizing what the alternatives to MRI would have to be.  Without MRI, we couldn’t get clear pictures of what’s going on in your head! The alternative would be to actually open you up and have a look inside.  CT scans can take images of the body, but they are not nearly as clear and detailed as MRI images are, and MRI scans can be performed over and over again without exposing your body to radiation (as opposed to x-rays and CT scans).

How does it work?
I’ve listened to hours of lecture regarding this question. I’m a nerd though, so I really enjoyed it!  I’ll try to simplify things though, I promise.

By looking at the name, (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), we can infer quite a few things. Magnetic infers just what it sounds like – the machine uses magnets (BIG ONES) to take the pretty pictures. Resonance refers to radio frequency pulses which are emitted as a part of the process (more on that in a minute). Imaging, of course, is the end result we want.  But we need to get down to an atomic scale to understand how it works.  I’ll explain in steps:

  1. The human body is primarily composed of hydrogen atoms; these are the atoms which are used in MRI to take images. Hydrogen atoms are positively charged. The name for the process of an atom circulating around its own magnetic field (and they all have their own magnetic fields) is called precession. Precession works via a magnetic charge; the term used for this magnetic charge is called magnetic moment. In everyday life, all the hydrogen atoms in a human body are doing their own thing, having unique magnetic moments, precessing at different rates, having a good old time!
  2. When a body is placed in an MRI machine, all of the atoms are affected by the magnetic fields created by the magnets in the machine.  They all line up like little tin soldiers, aligning themselves to the magnetic field created by the magnets in the machine. They will point either “up” or “down”, north or south. They go from being random to being one or the other.
  3. The machine emits a radio frequency pulse using the magnets. This positively charges all of the atoms, sending them into a sort of energized, excited state. So exciting!! They flip to the opposite direction of where they were lined up a moment ago.
  4. As the protons relax from the radio frequency pulse, an image is created by monitoring the amount of time it takes for the protons to relax and move back to the state they were in during step 2, aligning with the original magnetic field.  The amount of time it takes to return to that state depends on the tissue the hydrogen atoms are bound in. This is kind of easy to imagine; different tissues like grey matter, white matter, cerebrospinal fluid in the brain’s ventricles, create different types of tissue.  Anyway, an image is composed based on this.

Edit: I originally wrote this post when I had a bit of trouble sleeping, and mixed up the terms protons for atoms themselves! Made the appropriate corrections. Oh, science, why must you be so complicated? Don’t write things at 2am, kids! :)

And that’s it! After the images are collected a little bit of preprocessing is done, just to clean things up a little bit for doctors or researchers to see things more clearly… but by that point, whether you’re a participant in a research study or a patient getting medical tests done, you’re already out of that giant machine and on your way!  It’s a painless process, you’re given earplugs to drown out most of the noise, and there’s no radiation involved. I honestly fell asleep during my brain scan (oh, what I do for research..). Oh, and by the way, all those loud noises the MRI machine makes? As far as I understand, it’s actually the sound of the magnets combined reacting to the different radiofrequency pulses. Bang, bang, bang! Cool science is loud!

It really is a crazy piece of technology, isn’t it? Again, this is a pretty simple explanation, but I try to not let these posts drag on. Again, if you have questions, feel free to comment or contact me!

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If You Want To Study In The UK: Read This!

Hello everyone! Did you know that I’m not dead? I’m not dead! I’m sorry I disappeared for so long. I have been in a funk for the past few months, but I’m now remembering that I feel better when I write – and oh, my, I have so much to catch up on!

In future posts, look forward to all these things:

  • Details of my travels in the UK
  • Opinions on Europe vs the US
  • What I’ve been dealing with in terms of counter-culture shock (some hilarious realizations about American culture have been discovered since my return to sunny California)
  • Random UK stories (there are some doozies)
  • Falling in love abroad (one of my dreams came true!!)
  • Details about University of Glasgow (because it’s an amazing university and you might want to study there!)

But this post is actually for my comrades – I’m talking about the people who are being adventurous, people around the world who are considering studying in the United Kingdom.  Whether it’s for undergraduate or postgraduate study, I want to encourage you!

Right now, it’s nearing the end of January. Right now is a great time to be putting in applications, and by this time in January 2013 I had applied to and was accepted by UoG. It is GO TIME for applications!

I’ve noticed that despite my lack of posts the past few months, people worldwide are visiting – Brazil, Italy, France, and the USA, just to name a few. You all appear to be looking at posts about the process of studying in the UK as an international student, and I applaud your research! I learned so much about doing this whole thing just by reading others’ blogs. I plan to link you to some of these blogs very soon.

Studying in the UK has been one of the best decisions of my life despite the  debt I had to go into to do it, but because of the rich experience I had, I can seriously call it an investment. And believe me, you will be able to call it an investment too. So if you’re hovering on the edge between clicking the “submit application” button or not… just. do. it. already!

Cheerio for just now!

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (AKA: Zapping Peoples’ Brains)

Quick note, Jan 25th 2015: I originally wrote this post in April 2014. I can tell you now that the project went very well, and I had a great time learning TMS research techniques! I thought I should post it anyway, in case you lovely readers are interested in transcranial magnetic stimulation.

This is the topic of my second neuroscience project.

For obvious reasons I cannot and should not go through all of the details of the research I am doing here, but I just wanted to talk about TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) because not too many people seem to know about it.  I didn’t even know about it until I arrived at my current university!  TMS is a method of noninvasively stimulating (fancy way of saying ‘messing with but not cutting into’) a live human brain.  Interestingly, this procedure cannot be tested or used on small animals like rats, the animals usually used for lots of neuroscience research, due to the physics of how it works.  I can get into the details of that in the comments if anyone really wants to know. :P  TMS is, for the moment, only usable on animals with larger brain mass, and it is primarily used on humans! How bass-ackwards can you get… .

TMS can create temporary “lesions” or simulated cuts in the brain, disconnecting some brain areas from others for a short time (sometimes mere fractions of a second) to study how connectivity might work between certain brain regions.

So, how does it work?  A metal coil (copper, of course, is a great conductor) gets an electric current passed through it, which creates a momentary magnetic field.  This magnetic field passes through the coil and penetrates the brain through the scalp, causing neurons to spike (or have ‘action potentials’, the proper term) when they normally wouldn’t.  This is a very simplistic explanation, but that’s the gist of it right there.

So, basically, I’m changing peoples’ visual perception by interrupting action potentials in two different regions of their brain, the FEF and visual area V5, which is the part of occipital cortex associated with perception of movement. I can’t even tell you how much fun it is, but man.. it is FUN! …When done responsibly, of course. ;)

Questions about how TMS is used in research or for clinical treatment? Comment below, and thanks for reading!

International Job Searching

I’ve been rather lucky in the past to be able to find jobs fairly quickly whenever I was looking for new employment.  But as with many things in life, things get more difficult after a while. 

This is the case, certainly, with my current job search!

My masters program will be coming to an end in Scotland in a few months, and as much as I miss California and being at home, I am wondering if I can contribute to more stroke research in Scotland for a little while longer. After all, the Scots granted me a scholarship worth £5,000.  Aside from that, I have this new life established here, and really don’t want to give it up so quickly if there is a way for me to work, earn some money to begin paying off student loans, and stay here with so many people I’ve gotten to know over the past 9 months.

But the job search is difficult! I’m not going to lie about that.  In addition to finding potential jobs of interest and going through the application process (which I am getting better at, something positive!), an American applicant must work out whether the company supports international applicants and can supply a tier 2 visa to allow me to stay here for longer.

Because of the tier 2 visa requirement, it is sometimes very difficult to even find one position I am eligible to apply for. I send out emails the question, “Do you accept international applicants for tier 2 visas?” or “Are you a tier 2 visa sponsor in the event that you hire someone from outside the EEA?”  Overall, the result has been positive, with only one HR department sending back some confusing information that really didn’t make much sense salary-wise and working-hours-wise about a position I was really hoping to apply for.

I hope I can find some stroke research work here soon, but otherwise, I can see from some job searches that I am pretty well qualified to do some stroke research work. I would hope so, at least; I’ve been in the psychology field for 5 years now, and the neuroscience field for at least 1 of those 5! :P 

I hope all the rest of you are doing well. Scotland’s ticking along fine, but currently chucking down loads of rain. (Are we really that surprised, though?)

Cheers!

Aiport Transfer: Amsterdam Schipol (Finland Adventures)

Note: The following comes from some random writing I did during the second leg of my flight to Helsinki. I wrote this on the plane shortly after taking off from Amsterdam. Please read and (hopefully) be amused. :)


-Hillary

 

 

Because typing is far easier than writing by hand whilst on an airplane, I am going to make a small record of my travels here.

So far, things have gone pretty smoothly. I had to walk extremely quickly through the Amsterdam-Schipol airport, because my gate was so far away – and then I hadn’t realized that I would need to go through security again at Amsterdam airport! I went through airport security at Glasgow International, and all was well – but going through Amsterdam airport there was a bit of a snag. After the nice blonde (presumably Dutch) guy chatted with me, commented that I study in England, and promptly stamped the other side of my visa page with another stamp (presumably the visa-free Schengen stamp?), I got to the security line. I did the usual security line thing – take laptop out of backpack, take laptop out of its protective sleeve, throw bag into a separate bin, take off jacket and scarf… yadda, yadda, yadda.

What I forgot to do – and was one of several things in my backpack that they found particularly suspcisious – was take my epi-pen out of my backpack. Moreover, my epi-pen (with its needle showing up on the X-ray machines as about 3-4 centimeters long) had come out of its box and nestled itself in the bottom of my bag.

Another friendly blonde (presumably Dutch) guy was nice enough when going through my bag. “Can you unzip the large compartment please, without putting your hands inside?” he asked.

“Yes, sure, of course I can,” I replied, feeling nervous even though I knew I didn’t have anything explosive or illegal in my bag, only worry in the back of my mind that I was going to be late for my flight. I did so, and he poked inside. I’m too worried about being late for my flight to be all that concerned with him seeing my black boyshorts (always keep spare undies in case your luggage gets lost, folks). He pokes around as I say, “Just so you know, there is an epi-pen in there, if that’s what you guys saw – I also just wanted to let you know that there’s a potential sharp, even though it’s in its protective case.”

“That’s fine.” He took a look at the prescription box, then mentioned offhandedly, “It looked like you had a lot of metal – probably coins. Can you open the smaller compartment please, without putting your hands inside?” I did so (“of course,”) and he poked around in there as well. He grabbed my coin purse and opened it up, poking around inside. There were quite a few coins in it, even though I had thrown a lot of the coppers into my spare change box this morning in my room. He seemed to have an “aha, that was it” moment, before putting it back in my bag and poking around a bit more. “Can you open the smallest front compartment for me please?” he asked. Why the hell not, I guess. I did so, and he poked in there for a few seconds.

“All right, it’s fine,” he said, smiling. “You can go. Have a nice trip!”

And then I was off! Run, run (okay, walk quick, walk quick) to gate D78! (When I started searching for D78, I was at gate D8.) Walk quick, walk quick!!

The announcements in Amsterdam-Schipol airport, by the way, are amazing. “Mr. Kevin Xiong… YOU ARE DELAYING THE FLIGHT. REPORT TO GATE D52 IMMEDIATELY, OR YOUR LUGGAGE WILL BE OFF LOADED. Thank you. :) ” There was more than one announcement like that in the remaining 10 minutes I had in that airport. I couldn’t help but start cracking up while standing on the flat people mover thing, even though I was still running on a tight schedule. Kevin Xiong, how dare you delay your flight…. (**I don’t remember the guy’s actual name, Kevin Xiong was just the first name that popped into my head, sorry if I have offended any Kevin Xiongs!)

To be honest with you, I knew for sure that I was at the proper gate D78 not only by the annuncement board (KLM 1171 TO HELSINKI), but by the appearance and behavior of the majority of the people waiting at that lovely gate D78. Reserved. Quiet. Avoiding looking at each other. Trying to keep as much personal space as possible in a confined space. Yep, here were the Finns! I was in my happy place, and made sure to make no eye contact whatsoever and stay out of any obviously uncomfortable Finn’s personal space wherever possible. Not easy, but do-able. It’s the least I can do when visiting their home country!

I arrived at the gate somehow 4 minutes before beginning the official boarding time at 20:05. We were fully boarded at 20:25 and pushing off from the gate by 20:30… and were in the air by 20:35, precisely on time. I’ve gotta say, even though I’ve only taken two KLM flights (and I’m on the second one right now), they know how to get boarded and in the air on time. Such maximum efficiency!

Or maybe all of that credit is more deserving of the Finns.  To Helsinki I go!

 

-Fin-

Visual Auras / Ocular Migraine (WTF?) Experience

April 15th, 2014 – that’s today!  Most Americans are stressed on this particular day of the year because it’s tax filing day. Deadlines from the IRS… thanks a lot for creating that stressor, guys.

I, however, was stressed this morning for a completely different reason (I filed my taxes last Saturday, like a good American citizen). I went to my doctor to check in about a medicine I started taking a few months ago, just to ensure that things were fine and to renew my prescription. All went well, and I said that the medicine hasn’t caused me any problems…

Or so I thought!

I made sure to mention to the doctor, just out of curiosity, about a weird thing that happened to me about two weeks ago (the day I traveled to Finland, actually, but before I boarded my first flight so it couldn’t have been travel related). I experienced my first ever symptoms of either an ocular migraine without headache, or the symptoms of a migraine aura in general.  A visual aura. What happened was blurred vision particularly in my right eye, although my left eye was somewhat affected as well. Blurred waving multicolored vision hit front and center, making it impossible for me to read my Facebook messages on my laptop while waiting for my flight. Thinking it was the bright outdoor sunshine affecting my eyes, I moved myself and my laptop to a darker corner of the terminal – but then I realized that I just felt weird overall. I had felt strange all day, but contributed it to the excitement and slight nerves of traveling. But now this blinking, waving, obstructing, blinding visual phenomena was spreading from the center of my vision to the periphery, a bright and blinking and blinding spectacle. My first ever visual aura? I tried to look up information on the internet, but found it nearly impossible to read or type in search terms; I was essentially blind. Slowly, it cleared up, and I continued on my flight. I haven’t experienced any of those symptoms since; so far, it has been a one time deal. It was fascinating and terrifying at the same time, and internet sources told me to not really worry about it. I didn’t think to even mention it until this morning’s doctor’s appointment.

“Well, I’m sorry that the medicine was working out for you so well – unfortunately, we have to change the prescription,” the kind doctor told me. I was initially somewhat irritated. “What do you mean? Why?”

“The fact that you had aura symptoms without the actual migraine combined with this particular type of medication can be associated with increased changes of stroke, so it’s probably best if we are careful and switch you to this different medicine,” she said.

Now, I’ve had several generations of relatives die of stroke. But me, having a stroke at 24? I don’t think so. I don’t want to increase my risk of that, either. The fact that the doctor was particularly concerned and asking me how soon I could switch to the new medication was telling. So I agreed staight away to switch (hopefully without experiencing any or too many side effects), and will be beginning the new medicine as quickly as possible. Have any of you experienced visual auras?  What other types of auras are there?  I’m just curious, both as a neuroscientist and a (victim?), about what they are like for people. I’m just glad I didn’t actually get a migraine afterwards… or worse off, a stroke.

Cheers for health, and I hope you all have a lovely Tuesday/Tax Day!

Tier 4 Visa Application: Here to help! :)

Hello, all! :)  Hope all is well!

I just wanted to put a quick update about this online because I have not mentioned it in a while: Tier 4 visas!  They are a type of visa issued by the UK Border Agency to students who are planning to study in the UK.  I went through this process starting at about this time last year, so if anybody is reading this while ripping their hair out in stress about this application, don’t worry! I’ve got your back! I managed to successfully apply for and receive my visa in plenty of time before I hopped on my plane to Scotland.

IMG_0711

Freshly printed Tier 4 Visa

If you need help, if you have any questions whatsoever, please, PLEASE feel free to just drop them here in the comments box!  I would be more than happy to help. I stay pretty up to date with the changes involved, so even if things have changed since my application last year, I should still be able to help to some extent. I’m best at answering questions for US applicants, but I’d be willing to help someone from any country. :)

For the basic process I went through, feel free to click this, it will take you to my original step-by-step process of applying for the visa.

Whatever you need, just holler! :)

-Hillary

David Tennant: The Encounter (London, January 2014)

Well well well…. I just realized I never posted a proper blog about my London trip, which was taken back in early January! However, rather than waste a lot of time telling you about lovely London buses and black cabs and all the things I did, I will discuss one specific thing: Getting to meet David Tennant.

Ah, David Tennant! He’s a popular name these days. I will start off with the exact words I wrote in my diary on the train ride home from London, sitting in a first class seat I managed to buy for only £2 more than a regular seat. (Yay for cheaptraintickets.co.uk!) The entire weekend in London was wonderful, but this centers around seeing Richard II in the Barbican Theatre in early January 2014. Seriously, I do think that was one of the best weekends of my life, both past and future!

Friday afternoon I arrived, got on the Piccadilly tube line, rode my way to my gorgeous hotel and got checked in… and when it got dark I headed to Piccadilly Circus. My oh my, was that such a sight to behold! It’s like the Times Square of the UK.

And then, Saturday came along. I saw so many things! Big Ben + Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace… all of which were just absolutely too amazing! It didn’t even feel real to be in those places.

So then I went back to the hotel, freshened myself up to go to see the play… I could feel my excitement building befoe I even left the hotel. I got all beautiful. I then took the Circle line up to the Barbican stop, found that blessed Barbican Theatre, collected my blessed ticket from the front desk, and after a bit of a wait, was finally allowed to go in. I decided to go ahead and dig £4 out of my coin purse to purchase a Richard II programme. All I thought was, “It’ll be nice to have a program for a piece of memorabilia from my London trip. And maybe I will be able to see David at the stage door, and just maybe I can get him to sign it! Okay, probably not… but still… Maybe I can see a glimpse of him up close! Just to see him in person, just as a regular person..” Anyway, you get the drift. I bought the programme and made my way down to my totally first class seat in the fifth row.

Before I go on, let me say that the play istelf was absolutely phenomenol. I don’t think I can ever see a better production in my life. Every role was well played, the story was articulate yet easy to understand… and Mr. Tennant, playing a king going mad, was so absolutely PERFECT. Who could better play a melodramatic king going mad? I don’ know how he plays insanity so well… but it really is accurate.

So after 3 hours that seemed to go by in 3 minutes, the show is over. I know that in order to have any change of seeing David, I need to move quick and get a spot as close to the front of the area as possible. I suddenly see two girls, running. I know where they’re going – I was so unprepared, not knowing where the stage door was AND not having a pen or marker on me, either. But still, it was worth a shot, right? London sometimes seems to make you get crazy ideas. I rushed out at a fast scuffle behind those girls, and found myself 4 people back, all crowded in at the dimly lit stage door. Oh no!! I was dismayed. But then, slowly, through patience, as people shifted, I got closer. And a little closer. Close enough to maybe get a signature if he had a pen, and if I was lucky.

Well, the moment of truth came around. He came out the stage door! People lost their minds. I couldn’t believe I was seeing him in person, a mere few feet away. It is quite something else to see someone in the flesh who you see so much on television, or viewing old Doctor Who episodes on iPads while working on research proposals in a dorm room… you get the idea. But then, something even more amazing happened – the man standing in front of me got his programme signed, and he then MOVED OUT OF THE WAY! Oh, my god! There was an open spot, and David has his own pen on him, signing away at programmes!

You know I jumped at the chance. My patience had paid off. My heart pounding in my ears, I scuffled forward, almost slowly now due to some kind of shyness. However, he was coming quick, signing furiously, saying hello, taking photos with fans, looking tired but content with finishing his second show of the night. He made his way further and further toward me, close enough for me to see the faint laugh lines around his eyes, close enough to actually hear that Scottish accent with my own eardrums, past the furious beating pulse thumping in my head. Here he came. I laid my programme out. He reached out to sign it, and amongst all the other voices chattering incessantly, I decided to speak in the most calm voice possible. I said something simple, simply “Thank you for the wonderful show, Mr. Tennant – it was wonderful.” Well, something stood out about it I guess. He looked up. Maybe it was the American accent, or the fact that I was mentioning something about the show rather than simply saying his name. He looked up at me while signing mine, and smiled. ß

“Why, thank you very much! So glad you enjoyed it!” he replied. I smiled back and said, “It truly was fantastic, thank you.” He had already moved on to signing the next programme, but said “Thank you very much indeed, glad you liked it.”

And that was it! Not that it wasn’t much. I stepped back quickly, hoping to give someone else an opportunity just like the guy who had done the same before me. I stood, in shell shock, for just a moment. I clutched my programme to me, somehow terrified that someone might steal it. Knowing it was later in the evening by this point, I was slightly weary of walking ten minutes back to the tube and making connections back to my hotel, especially not with cargo that seemed so precious to me. A black cab was waiting, and it had my name all over it. I piled in, and proceeded to have a pleasant ride home talking to the driver with the fabulous London accent. I was on such a rush, everything was wonderful.

And it still is wonderful, even as I sit in my dorm room now, writing up another research proposal for yet another project. I can look at the programme, which sits on the shelf above my desk, and precisely remember that moment in time, the smile I got, the beautiful play I got the chance to see, and just how lucky of a person I really am. I would say thank you to Mr. Tennant again, but I doubt he reads blogs about fangirls meeting him. It was truly a wonderful experience, and lifts my spirits every time I feel down in the dumps.

There you have it, everyone! David Tennant fans, unite! I loved reading other peoples’ meetings with Mr. Tennant, so hopefully mine will be fun to hear about. As for London itself, the beautiful city I so long to visit again… I may write another post about that another time.

All right, fun post over… Time to go work on some science now! :P Cheers..

Title: Suomi (Traveling Again)

Where is Suomi? It’s a question lots of people might ask. I asked it myself, silently in my head, before the question was answered for me by my beau. Suomi means “Finland,” in Finnish! But why am I mentioning Suomi?

I am leaving to visit Suomi tomorrow!

It will be my first visit to another European country aside from the UK (Scotland and England), and my first visit to a nordic country. I am very much looking forward to it!

I am taking the trip now because on Friday I handed in my final report for my work on my first research project. I want a mental break to fully recharge before finishing up my second project proposal. Time flies when you’re having fun working on research projects! Time will likely fly in Finland as well, but because I am having so much fun sitting in the sauna and exploring the woods. I get a full Finnish experience since my beau happens to be Finnish, and his parents are generously allowing me to stay in their summer home and their flat in Helsinki. A lucky, lucky girl I am!

I hope all is well with everyone here. I may be writing another blog post from the airport, because I certain do love airports! I wrote a post about it a while back (see if you can find it).

Cheers, folks!

Songs For A Hard Time

Due to recent events in both my life and in the life of others I hold dear, I am making this post.  Lots of people love music, and I’m one of them – I collect bits and pieces and scraps of songs from everywhere, with a wide range of genres in my collection.

At any rate, this list of songs is for getting through a tough time.  I find it fitting to post this now, because recently was the two year anniversary of The Illuminated Graduate – I made my account exactly two years ago last week, and it was because I was going through a tough time!  How fitting, then, to look at the bright side of darker times by listening to some happy songs.

Note for music nerds: I place more emphasis on the instrumentals and melody of songs than the lyrics at time, but some of these songs have quite happy nice lyrics.  At least, I don’t think any of them have  unpleasant lyrics, at least! Come on. Tubthumping is always a winner.

Here they are, in no particular order, in a nice Youtube playlist. Enjoy, and add your own favorites via the comments! I’ll add them to the playlist. :)