Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Sad Thing Is, I'm Actually Not Exaggerating

People get into relationships in the first place because they make them happy. Indeed, the first phase of any relationship is a joyous one- cute little surprises from your spouse, long meaningful conversations, mindblowing love-making- it can make life worth living on even the toughest of days. But sadly, relationships don't always stay that way. People take others for granted, neglect them, or just downright change. Eventually, the relationship becomes too much of a hassle to deal with than it is a joy, and that's when you have to ask yourself the pivotal question- just a rough spot, or not worth continuing all together?

I can't exactly explain what happened between me and Chemistry. Maybe it was because for the first time in a long time, the intro class came really easily to me. I was doing science, and I wasn't sucking at it! Maybe it was because I soon learned that this actually had a lot to do with some of the cooler aspects of physics, like quantum mechanics and entropy. Maybe it was the thought of understanding what makes things react and fizz and bubble, and being able to synthesize any thing I wanted if given the right ingredients. Maybe I just liked the sound of it and can picture myself doing it. Hell, maybe it was just cuz I go to a women's college.

Anyway, registration has already closed so in all liklihood I'm already sucked into taking the continuation next semester. But with dad freaking out over how much I'm killing my GPA (hopefully Pass/Fail will ameliorate that, plus its only one of three classes, though ironically the class will still take up most of my time) my social life seriously suffering, and my overall well being on the hinge, I have to wonder if this is really all worth it.

So here it is, it's time for the list. Chemistry: what I like about it, What I don't like about it. I know this must make for incredibly boring blogging, but I REALLY need some advice.

*learn really cool stuff that is relevant to my daily life. Deeply satisfying.

* Possibly the most I've ever been drawn to any class. (Though comporable to AP US History)

*get to go to lab and do fun lab experiements! ( highlight of my weekdays when it's not stressing me out, which it doesn't do too often.)

*If i get good grades in it after all, I will feel accomplished and be able to synthesise stuff! Yes it will take a lot of work, but I'll know chemistry! And people don't do much on weekends here anyway.

*Can teach it to women in countries dominated by archaic patriarchies.

*Won't have to look back and think "Damn I loved that class, but I gave up because I'm just too dumb to do chemistry. Silly me, thinking I could actually be good at a science."*shudder* (Warning: might also lead to intense bitterness around the subject for the rest of my life)

*manipulating it in its entirety is something that might not be mastered without much more concentration. (WTF is with all these isomers?) Plus, if I am desperate to synthesize something, there's always the internet.

* Inevitbly falling behind, then COMPLETELY devoting EVERY OTHER WEEKEND to studying for exams, realizing there's no way I can organize then cram all this information in my head even after spending at least 12+ hours studying, bursting into tears at least 3x, and still getting Cs.

*Missing out on social engagements and the possiblity of enjoying my young life because of said exams.

*I could teach the humanities too, or be a better lawyer and just fight for human rights as a whole.

* I can always go back to school and learn this stuff when I'm older (If I have the time and money)

Again, any advice is greatly appreciated here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Adventures In Academia: Taming the Scanner

When I was in 8th grade, I was doing a project on a local University and spent a decent amount of time in that institution's library doing research. It was here when I first discovered the Microform. Though off limits to me at the time, I knew that one day in my future as a grown up (barely) , intellectual (sorta), responsible (snicker), college student I might embark on a project so intellectually profound that I would have to resort to using whatever kinds of special data was stored in such a way. Yesterday was that day. As you might have guessed, aside from feeling as if I too had now completed some sort of bizarre right of passage of college students everywhere since our parents graduated, the experience really wasn't too glamorous.

In case you were wondering, a Microform reader looks something like this:

As you can see, the Microform reader is one of those fantastically awkward pieces of technology that came into a shortlived prime right after we perfected the analog computer, but just before fully digital technology was mainstream. No matter how you try to spin it in your head, there really isn't anything too dignifying about sitting in front of a burly, beige piece of equiptment like that and staring at it's oversized, blaring screen. It was a truly ghetto experience. And speaking of the ghetto, they're friggen scary too. Just one little flip of the power switch and the large, blank screen lights up right away as you hear whizzing fans and ancient circuit boards awaken, hungry for tasty young college students.

Indeed, for most of yesterday, I was the microform scanner's bitch. Comically, I had to often resort to manually adjusting the tape, and even putting an entire roll back on the reel when the machine disfuctioned and I ended up surrounded by about five yards of loose film strip, no joke. Thank you 1970s technology, really. Let's not even begin to talk about printing.

But today I mastered the Microfilm reader. Today not only did I demand that its spinning feed wheel do my exact bidding, but I even mastered the art of printing out beautifully contrasted and focused copies (Albeit at the OBNOXIOUS price of $ .15 per page) and assembling them into quality source materials. Hey, you know those hand outs they've been passing out to us for years since grade school? Except for the ones from text books, I think this might be where the rest come from. Who knew?

While I was in the process of scrolling through a reel of materials (FYI: You know you've spent too long studying when you see a really ripped up document and think "Hey, that's really badass!") I couldn't help but think about something else that always occurs to me when I'm in the large, main library at my college. In this specific case it was: where did all these random documents come from and who decided which ones were special enough to go here? More generally: Half of this stuff seems like random junk. Who would have thought that a pamphlet advertising opportunites for women with PhDs at Radcliffe in the 50s would make its way to the shelves of a respectable library alongside encyclopedias, thesises, and novels? 50 years at least before cultural studies and SWAG had probabaly gained any recognition, who bothered to keep it? And 50 years from now, what about our life will, essentially by pure happenstance, find its way to the shelves of our grandkids' schools?

Oh, and here's a fun, Nexusy fact: the microfilm collection I was using was assembled in my old hometown where I lived in middleschool, same zip code and everything. This is significant seeing as, as the blog buddies can vouch for, I used to live in the middle of nowhere with literally nothing but a cornfield and a church. Wonder how that happenned.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Only At My College....

Last weekend, it was sexibition: An event where everyone is invited to have nude or partially nude photographs taken of themselves ("anonymous vagina shots welcome! ({})" ). Some of these photos are used to advertise for the event around campus (including full frontals), and all are put on display during the dance that is sexibition itself.

This weekend, it's this. And yes, these flyers are all over campus:

Don't worry, I coudn't stop staring either.

It's ironic that on a day dedicated to bodily respect the first verb in the list is "Fuck It" (as opposed to "pleasure" or "make love to" or another word that doesn't have like 39 derogatory, hateful, or apathetic implications.) But hey, it's college; whatever tickles your clit. Apparently that's the point too... If you can't read the print, they also had "hump it" and "explore it," so we get the point already. And why else would there be a workshop with the local sex toy store? I don't think I even want to know what a "radical menstruation workshop" is.

Oh, and for the record, those are "body part cupcakes" they're referring to. Wonder where...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Post 123: Go Fibonacci. And More Juicy College Tidbits

Ever wonder what your grade will be on an exam that hasn't been handed back yet? Here's a nifty way to find out. Simply check all the following that applied to you as you took the test:

1. At one point in the test, you only had 10 minutes left. ____

2. At that point, you had not yet started the final problem. ____

3. At that point, you had not fully completed more than 1 or 2 of the problems ____

4. Most importantly: At that point, you found yourself shouting expressions under your breath that you never actually use in daily life (in this case, "BitchesAndHoesBitchesAndHoes!") while mildly flailing your writing implement and slightly disturbing other library patrons. _____

Now, add up one point for every check. If many people you talked to about the same exam responded with 2 or more points, subtract a point from your score for a generous curb. Compare your final result to the table below:

1- maximum A *

2- maximum B+

3- maximum C+

4- heads= pass, tails= fail.

*Subtract major life points, and go back to MIT where you came from. Seriously, stop using the rest of us just so you can feel good about not being a total visionary.

NB: Don't leave such a crucial calculation up to Blogger, as it clearly sucks at counting.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Post 121: Go Pascal. And screw 42, the Answer is Benzene

Every now and then, something happenns in life that gives me the slightest glimmer of hope in the unseen. This "nexusy" thing proves (though perhaps somewhat nonsensically and esoterically) that life is not all random entropy, and that sometimes the karmic energy we put into things can actually come back to us for the better. True, it's all a philosophical fallacy, but it's nice to think that there are powers from above and that they might be listening to you for once instead of seeing how best they can position to magnifying glass to scald your little peon ass.

I have spent the past week stressing/studying (probably more of the former) for a chemistry exam coming up. I am actually fortunate however, because had my professor not spontaneously developed a kidney imfection and been rushed to the ER, I would have already failed it. Godsend? Most definitley. Remember that uber cliche Carry-Bradshaw-like post in which I mused about protons and people? Apparently, the answer to my silly metaphorical question actually does have chemical back up. (If you're wondering, the answer is Benzene.) Bizzarre coincidence? In all liklihood yes, but I really need all the optimism I can get right now, and it does work a little too well.

What was I going to write about again? Oh yeah, pessimism. Today I realized one of the reasons why I like science so much. (aside from needing something to distract me from the lack of other things going on in my life...testosterone synthesis anyone?) By technical definition, you cannot have faith in science, because the whole point of scientific research and discovery is that things can be tested, proven, and repeated.You could argue, however, that you can have faith in science. The scientific method is a direct product of the science that it attempts to justify. Since people can really beleive in anything they want, someone could choose to not beleive in science all together, thus making the method debatable, thus making it possible to actually have faith in science since you can no longer prove anything. But semantics aside, I do have a sortof faith in Science and its solidarity. I have faith that if I do well academically and learn lots of science, it will do me nothing but good in life. Any energy put into learning science is guaranteed to be both rewarding in the future, and personally satisfying now. There is no chance of false hope. But having faith in science is such a fucking safe route, no matter how you spin it. I need faith in something else. No, I don't need born again christianity, I just need faith in life. (0r people, or at least something that doesn't involve electrons) Seriously, where did that go? And more importantly, how do you get it back?

C'mon, you know you had it once. When you were little and wanted to be the next Einstein or Fitzgerald or Kurt Cobain. When hard work and honesty paid off in your small, synthetically structured little world. When "Shit" didn't "Happen." When you didn't spend every moment in the present thinking about what it would bring in the future and trying to selfishly strategize for the best possible outcome just so you could be "happy" in the one little life you get; because now you know better than to think that everything will just fall into place.

This brings us back to the beginning of the post. (Fitting, since most paradoxes of life seem to work in cycles anyway.) Nexusy things prove that you can have faith in life, but they only prove it if you beleive in the fallacy of divine proof to begin with (as opposed to random coincidence.) In this way, having faith in life is actually just as certain (or uncertain) as having faith in science. Suck on that. Maybe in the end just having faith is enough to make something work out, at least it can be for a little while, unitil it backfires. After that you're fucked.

Faithful optimists say just give it time and look at the big picture. What they really mean is wash your hands of your own life and be willing compromise everything you really want out of it. It's the pessimists who carpe the fucking diem. Here's to you, Pessimists. Shit happens, and you get it done anyway. Amen to that.