December 19, 2010

A Party for the Holy Days, pt. 1

For the past few days, I've been in D.C., preparing the RSI christmas party. We had a buttload of people come (and, unfortunately, a lot of people who didn't (miss you Leila, Zsa, and everybody else)). Apparently there's a number of people who want more mentions here, who I'm going to need to talk about, but I haven't had a good sleep in a considerable number of hours, so it's hard to keep track. I'm also going to have to share the spreadsheet...I'm starting to think it'd be a good idea to compile RSI nicknames separately, but, well, effort. Meh.

Anyways, I went in with Hyumni and Gopika--though I've pretty much been with Hyumni nonstop, since she's staying with me--and Gopika was, per usual, completely and utterly exhausted. Hyumni and I came bearing unnecessary chocolates, but the trip was fun (including the $20 cab fair *insert emoticon involving Html-prohibited characters here*). We arrived in a relatively punctual manner, and then I, at least, proceeded to spend a good long while trying to reacquaint myself with everybody.

I had no idea how awkward it was all going to be (I love that you're all going to see this now and be like "lol, Tea's awkward", but that's hardly news). It's weird to see all of these people and assimilate the changes in the social structure--i.e. who I've been talking to online along with who I used to talk to in person. It turned out to be alrgiht--I ended up in a crew of ten-ish people fighting over couch space. We spend a solid quantity of time ignoring Ash because he had skipped Rocky Horror to sleep (laaaame), as he was planning to skip the majority of this event. Ash decided to rebel by trying to steal James's spot, which, naturally, involved forcing James horizontal, lying down on top of somewhat-horizontal James, wedging James's head into my collarbone (ouch) and Ash's head into my skull (double ouch), and me into Iditri, who was actually relatively untroubled by this complete invasion of personal space.

Ash caved before James did, so we all managed to keep our spots, but our ability to keep Ash from sleeping turned out to be very, very limited. We eventually left the couch--videogamers took over the TV, and it's very difficult to resist the lure and remain in the same room, so we moved first to the third floor (we here refers me, James, Greg, Hyunmi, Iditri, Zorah, and Tramar). We spread out on the fantabulously plush carpet, and Zorah started fiddling about with her laptop. James, Tramar and I spread out under the table, and I continued making Greg pass me things (he's very useful like that), and I don't totally remember this portion of time, other than that I recall being very comfortable.

This shall be finished at a later date, because I am so goshdarned tired.

December 11, 2010

Shopping For Shirtsies


Please note that I am not actually purchasing said shirts...just looking for geeky ones. Some awesomes:

  • A Fibonacci sequence...in BUNNIES
  • Our beloved Ginny probably likes this one
  • Awesome on a number of levels
  • Someday, I will exist in an environment where I can wear shirts that say things like "bitches" on them'
  • Chemistry win
  • Physics win
  • If it weren't for the inaccurate Bohr model of the atom and the color I can't quite pull off, I would want this shirt
  • Kathrya would like this one
  • SO PUNNY
  • And one for Julie
  • Lolz
  • Redundancy!
  • This one may never get old.
Okeedokee, that's enough for now.

December 5, 2010

Reasons

REASONS WHY I COULD NEVER MANAGE A TRADITIONAL HIGH SCHOOL RELATIONSHIP

1) I am way too busy
2) The people involved in them always seem really into it. I take one look at romantic and think "sappy, sappy, sappy." Unless it's in romance novels, but even then, there are times when I just end up yelling NARM in my head. Like I did out loud during the HP7 movie when Ron was going on and on and on about that ball of light. For reals, I'm a big Ron/Hermione shipper, and I thought it was too much.
3) That busy thing, again.
4) I can't remember the last time I had free time.
5) But really, if I did, I'd rather spend it reading webcomics.
6) We'll ignore the fact that my last relationship did a very good job subsisting on webcomics.
7) Including during the breakup.
8) That goddamned idiot.
9) Seriously, if that's what high school has to offer, I am more than happy to leave it alone.

REASONS WHY I AM WAY TOO BUSY

  1. I am smart.
  2. But not smart enough to only work hard enough to skate by.
  3. In fact, even when I could work a lot less hard than I do, I put in a lot of effort.
  4. I like to think of it as dedication.
  5. Also, I'm kind of trying to hold down jobs.
  6. It's a fun time.
  7. I talk online too much.
  8. I don't know how to "reflect" in a timely fashion.
  9. I take too much time to draft my English papers.
  10. I get distracted and read books.
  11. I get distracted and play tetris.
  12. I develop headaches and lie down.
  13. I don't have effective time management skills.
  14. Except when I do have effective time management skills, but then I forget to eat
REASONS WHY I ONLY ATE ONE MEAL TODAY
  1. Scones are really filling
  2. I've eaten five scones during the course of the day.
  3. After eating half a pack of blueberries, I forgot to eat breakfast.
  4. Then we had Channukah Brunch at 2:30.
  5. At that point, it didn't make sense to eat dinner.
  6. Then I wrote my Lit X paper again.
  7. That made me forget about food
REASONS WHY I AM STRESSED OUT
  1. I really want to go to MIT
  2. I applied early action to MIT
  3. I don't actually know when the early action decision comes out
  4. It's probably not far enough away for me to finish my list of things I need to get done by that date.
  5. My college essays are crappy.
  6. If I don't get into MIT, I'm going to cry, and I don't particularly enjoy crying.
  7. My room looks like a tornado blew though.
  8. No, seriously, a tornado. It's getting really bad.
  9. All I want to do is read.
  10. Then sleep.
  11. I miss sleep.
  12. Also, I want to sit at home and work instead of going to school.
  13. Because school is not productive, and I need to have complete productivity until I finish this shit.
  14. I'm actually kind of looking forward to winter break, because even if I don't get in early anywhere, I can work uninterrupted. Kind of.
REASONS WHY I SHOULD NOT BE STRESSED OUT
  1. Probability states that I will get into MIT
  2. Even if I don't get into MIT, I have lots of solid backup plans, and it's a hard school to get into, and no one will think less of me if I don't get in.
  3. If anyone does think less of me, I will take them down.
  4. Well, I'll try to get Nyx to beat them up, which is kind of the same thing.
  5. I have super awesome friends (like Nyx), who would totally be mean to people if people were mean to me.
  6. People are not, generally, particularly mean to me. As a nerd, I could have it a lot worse.
  7. Early Action decisions might come out late, in which case I'll have more time to finish my to do list.
  8. I will edit my college essays until they are not crappy.
  9. I always get all my work done. This will be no exception.
  10. I can sleep when I'm dead.
  11. I can also sleep next semester.
  12. It's almost CHRISTMAS PARTY TIME
  13. and then it's CHRISTMAS TIME
  14. I AM SO EXCITED
  15. WHOOO
  16. YAY
  17. LOOK HOW NOT STRESSED I AM RIGHT NOW

December 2, 2010

I wish that I wrote something other than college essays

Because then I would have interesting things to put here. As it is, all I have are not-so-interesting stories, bad jokes, and rants over nothingness.

I think I'll go write a backpost.

December 1, 2010

I do not want to do my homework

I don't want to deal with life, or my endless to do list, or my room, or my family, or really just about anything.

I hate that I get like this sometimes, and I hate that I don't know what triggers it. I just need to stay calm, and keep working, and hope that it all blows over by the morning.

Which it will. Because it always does. Then, in another week, all I'll want to do is curl up in the fetal position and cry, like I do now.

I hate feeling like an emo teenager. When I say that I want to be "more normal", I mean that I want to drive around on Saturday nights with a car full of screaming teenagers, and dance like a maniac to bad pop songs, and sigh over boys, and cry about silly things, and be rude to my parents and talk on the phone too long and maybe, every now and then, actually fail a test.

Sometimes, I want to stop being responsible, and figure out what living is. As Louise Gluck wrote in Meadowlands, "Those/with the smallest hearts have/the greatest freedom" (Penelope's Stubbornness). Because if I didn't care for the world, or my future, or my family, or my friends, or the people who care, I would run off somewhere and die in an errant attempt to find myself.

What has the world come to, that teenagers suffer from midlife crises?

November 28, 2010

I Cried Last Night


It's funny, because I thought that I ran out of tears a month ago. It felt like I did, during the service, because there was so much happy in with the sad that tears would be difficult--though a cold made the sniffling easy.

I should have noticed that it was becoming too much. I should have noticed that something was amiss, because Gretchen usually can't make me laugh hysterically for fifteen minutes, she usually only manages seven or eight. But I was grinning, and my insides were warm, and sometimes it's easy to forget.

There needs to be a word like happysad, or angrykind, or hatelove, for when there are so many emotions that all of them exist at once.

I didn't even realize that tears were going to come until I got home and saw Dad lying on the couch. I put my bag down, walked over to him, sat down, and curled up, my head on his shoulder. We lay like that for half an hour, my crying, barely able to talk, and Dad rubbing my back, then just holding me.

It helped, as much as anything could.

I love you Dad.

November 27, 2010

More on those RSI essays


Now, unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to post my essays or those of anybody else here, because all of us liberally copied from them for our college applications. Now, all advice here is the opinion of one former participant--I make no promises as to its veracity

In each Research Field selected in Question 2, please state what you perceive as the one or two most interesting questions/problems in this field. Explain why they interest you.
I'm happy to email my answers to this question to anyone who will tell me what fields they're applying with (I don't want anyone to feel like they can't use a response because I already wrote about it). My answers to these questions took up almost the entirety of my first page. These answers have three purposes:

  1. The are used to match accepted students to prospective mentors.
  2. They provide you with a vehicle with which to illustrate your critical thinking.
  3. They provide you with a vehicle with which to demonstrate your knowledge.

I realize that the last two points are relatively similar, but they're significant in separate ways. As far as the knowledge goes--you should know what you're talking about. Don't just pick some random topic because it sounds cool, go into what interests you, what you already know about. Do some research. My secondary field was the part of my application I put the most time into, because I hadn't done research on it in well over a year, and I had very little information on the topic I decided to write about. I did some research, talked to a teacher in the subject to double-check that my proposal hadn't already been answered, then wrote about it. For me, the first question was answered to show knowledge, because it was one that I'd studied. The second one included many more questions and suggestions, pointing out a number of avenues for research. In both cases, I focused on the complexity of the issues at hand, and why I found that interesting. My two very, very different fields were tied together by a more unified interest in systems/networks, but this tying together (which wasn't done explicitly, and which I've only just noticed) is unnecessary.

Even though the research for the questions may take time, these should be the easiest to write because, for once, it's a chance to write about something more interesting than yourself.

What are your long-range goals?

This answer, for me, was about 2/3rds of a page. First, I discussed a desire to continue some research I'd already done, mentioning how I really need more experience to do what I've tried to do (and RSI would be super helpful, wink wink nudge nudge). Then I said that, as I'm rather young, I'm still flexible about what I want to be studying. I talked about my major interests in the past, going back to the first scientific paper I ever read, the summer before my sophomore year, and how that really threw into light the fact that no matter where I end up, I want science to be a major part of my existence.

The big thing with this is that it's okay to say that you don't have everything all planned out--I don't think that anyone expects you to, but if you do have a fascinating future mapped out, that's cool too. This question is both wide open and very specific, so you have a lot of leeway. I'm inclined to advise that you talk about science here (or, if you don't, keep it brief. You only have a limited number of pages, and you want to focus on your passion for math/science/research/life). If you're really into your research questions, this would be a place to reiterate your interest in pursuing them over the long-term. If you want to use engineering to save the world, put it here. If you want to grow up and be an oddball professor who make Rube Goldberg machines in her backyard, again, that goes here. When you go to sleep at night, what do you dream about?

Because me? I'm going to continue dreaming about electricity.

What extracurricular activities and/or hobbies demonstrate your interest and ability to undertake scientific or mathematical research? (Give some measure to the extent of your participation and/or accomplishments in math or science competitions, research internships, and awards received.)

Remember: it's not a list. You have three pages to indicate promise as a scientist. If you've won enough awards and done enough super-legit stuff that your promise as scientist is super duper evident, then you can make a list. However, if you've won that many awards, then you've probably got your application under control, and you're probably not going to bother reading this.

For the rest of us, this is a chance to further reiterate whatever point we're trying to make--and that is, more or less "Why You Should Accept Me." I talked about only two organized extracurriculars and two hobbies (if you count summer-research-in-my-room as a hobby), but I went into depth about each and how they demonstrated by ability and interest. This is mostly because I didn't have a lot of experience--I had to go into depth, because I didn't have the laundry list that other people do.

My best advice for this question is to be yourself. Talk about what you've done that has mattered to you, and don't be afraid of mentioning something just because it isn't a traditional extracurricular. It's about what you do, outside of class, to improve scientific understanding. This is a chance to take whatever it is you've done and use it to shine. Even if what you've done is super lame sounding (sometimes, I like to stargaze, for example), you can make it into something bigger (the feeling that the universe is bigger than me had really inspired me to go out and try to learn more about it, as I did in y internship or by reading z textbook (no, I didn't use that one, I'm just making up an example)). Accomplishments in science competitions, etc., should be mentioned if they exist, but don't flip out if you don't have them.

Describe your involvement and participation in extracurricular and community activities that do not relate directly to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Hi, my name is Tea, and I have a life. I play a musical instrument. I sing in church choir and help out with outreach stuff there. I am a person beyond my research.

I grant you, I wrote a bit more than that, with a lot more depth (i.e. specific piano pieces, that time I played for a show, how I sing at church because school choir got ditched for science research) but it was only a quarter of a page. Athletes probably went into sports, people who do major charity stuff probably went into that, but this is mostly a "are you well rounded? Are you spread too thin? Have you done something really cool that you couldn't mention anywhere else but would like to say here?" opportunity.

Briefly describe any past experience with computer programming, modeling, and data analysis.

My response:

I excel at data analysis with Excel. I did a project in my science research course this fall analyzing sunspot data over the last hundred years. I had enough data points that I ended up having to dig into Excels slightly technical series names and split them in half, because it was overrunning the graphing limit. I did boxcar smoothing, modified standard deviations, and used a few other methods to examine relative peaks. My modeling abilities max out at what I can do on paper using concepts learned in algebra and calculus. For programming, I’ve just begun learning perl, teaching myself with a book appropriately titled Learning Perl. If I keep working my way through the text at my current rate, I’ll be through the book by February. My hope is that perl will give me enough grounding to work my way further through the puzzles on projecteuler.net. All of my manipulations in Excel are proving insufficient in getting through the fourth problem, since, although I managed to trick it into identifying primes, I still haven’t figured out a way to get it to recognize a palindromic number.

So, to answer that question, no, you don't need to know much in the way of programming to answer this. (Though it should be noted that, unfortunately, I stopped progressing at that current rate once holiday vacation ended). This response was, again, about a quarter of a page.

How did you hear about RSI?

Options:
Person at my school went last year, says it's amazing, I'm applying.
Friend went some year, says it's amazing, I'm applying.
Teacher knows students who went...
Teacher is obsessed with MIT...
Looking for summer programs on the internet...
Stalking MIT on the internet...
I did USABO, and it's run by the same organization...
I accidentally entered an RSI game of Mafia on efnet...
This random chick in my astronomy class told me to apply...
The guy in the white van told me to apply before I stole his candy...
I won my position in a national science fair, so this response is unnecessary...
My parents went to RSI...
My sibling went to RSI...
My cousin went to RSI...

That's probably a sufficiently long list of options. This can be a sentence, so as to limit its effect on your ability to write a ton of stuff for everything else.

November 26, 2010

Some Tips for a Successful Research Science Institute Application


It's application season. This means that I am frantically writing my college apps (which is unfun), but it also means that this year's batch of juniors is starting in on their summer program applications. Well, this year's batch of prepared juniors--I sure didn't start mine until mid-December, and I did just fine program-wise, but I've started getting messages of "omg plz hlp me so confsd!" except spelled a lot better than that, because these are intelligent, motivated individuals.

Regardless, RSI applicants are getting nervous, and I'd been telling myself I'd get this blog to be a good resource (we'll ignore the fact I haven't finished writing up my posts from the last week of RSI, which was months ago), and, I think, showing some parts of a successful application would be helpful.

First, though, we should look at another blogger's post from last winter, about how not to write this very application.

I have no idea what the name of said blogger is, so we'll call him Joe. Or her, I suppose, since I don't know the gender, but Joe it is. Italics are quotes or paraphrases of Joe, non-italics is yours truly.

Good Advice from Joe
  • Send application in a punctual manner. Rumor has it that someone in my year got wait-listed (then accepted) because his application came in late.
  • The odds are really slim. Joe seems to view this as something discouraging (and claims that applications are, as a result of high interest, given less attention than they would otherwise). This is probably not true--the number of applicants we usually hear numbers well under 5,000, and everyone (aside from the international mathematics olympiad silver medalist) could be heard at some point during the program worrying that they were the stupidest one there, and that everyone was so much smarter, and why were they accepted, etc. Including a guy who had "only published one scientific paper" (for comparison, I have published no scientific papers). So all the odds do is guarantee that everyone who is accepted is totally shocked, and the people who aren't accepted know (or come to realize) that it's not the end of the world. I don't remember what the point of this paragraph was....oh, right. Odds are slim. It's worth applying, because no one expects to get in, but disappointment if you don't get in should not be allowed to crush you.
  • Ask for teacher rec letters well in advance.
  • "Go on a brag fest without exaggerating to levels you can't actually follow up on." Don't understate your achievements, yes, but don't turn the application into a list of every single thing you've done awesome on ever. Talk confidently about your potential as a scientist, about your abilities in research, about mathematics competitions, whatever. But avoid avoid avoid making a resume.
  • "StarCraft is not an acceptable extracurricular." Joe is underestimating the amount of StarCraft played at RSI . I'd say that one line about StarCraft, relating it in a positive way to yourself as a scientist, is acceptable. That said, don't allow StarCraft to interfere with your mentorship work at RSI. Because your privileges will be revoked.
  • Don't lie. Duh.
Bad Advice from Joe
  • Scores are everything. This is not true. The CEE, like any high end college, wants to see that you're smart on paper, so you need to have reasonably high scores. Top percentile scores. On SATs, you should break 700 on each subject. If you're the sort of person who wants to spend his/her summer totally entrenched in scientific research, you probably have those scores. If you don't, you were probably so busy designing nanobots that you didn't study for the verbal portion of your SAT (that's a joke. Seriously, if you're crap at testing but love doing research/learning science, talk about that in your app and hope that it balances out, but don't not apply).
  • Don't ask your junior year math/science teachers for recs. If you're top of the class, hang out afterwards to talk about quantum mechanics, know the teacher, whatever, don't be afraid of doing this. Pick someone that knows you, but that doesn't mean junior year is bad. Also, if you're a science person, don't be afraid of picking two science teachers to write your letters. I did it, and it worked for me.
So, that is some advice. Now, Joe also made A Formula designed to determine if someone will get into RSI. I think we might as well dig through that, and then, tomorrow, I can give you the blow-by-blow of my own application. My comments are bulleted underneath.

Start at 50.

Take Dec-01 2010. Check your application’s date of submission. Subtract 0.2 for every day of difference if submitted later, or add 0.2 for every day earlier. Subtract 5 more points if sent a week before the deadline.

  • People who overnighted it got in. People who got it in way early got in. You're better off getting it in sooner, but I'm not sure how much it matters.

Subtract 15 if living on the East Coast or in a state with above-average student performance.

  • What, no points off for Cali?

Subtract 2 if not a US citizen. Subtract a further 8 if nationality is East Asian.

  • It's a meritocracy. This shit don't matter.

Add 15 if URM.

  • Would you like me to repeat myself? We had 1.5 URMs my year. It doesn't matter.

Add 25 if female. Swear silently if male.

  • What part of "this is a meritocracy" do you not understand? My year was only 1/3 girls for the Americans. The international situation is almost worse, because Singapore and Saudi Arabia (12 total students) send only guys.

Add 3 for each AP/IB course taken, except Calculus and Computer Science (add nothing in those cases, unless Computer Science AB was taken, in which case add 1).

  • Okay, this is legit. Even though I'd only taken 1 AP test (and I'd taught myself the difference between my non-AP music theory class and that test).

Subtract 1 for each mention of non-AP courses completed on or prior to 2007.

  • I'm too lazy to figure out what's significant about 07.

Add points for each 200+ university course taken (CHM 304, MAT 217, COS 226, etc.); exact amount of points added is the leading digit times 2 plus one-tenth the numerical designation mod 100. (For example, COS 226 would be worth 2 * 2 + 26 / 10 = 4 + 2.6 = 6.6)

  • This is probably legit.

Subtract 1 for each “Other” field with non-AP/IB courses irrelevant to engineering/math.

  • But what if you think the courses are realllly cool?

Add 0, 2, 2.5 points (beginning, intermediate, advanced) in each programming skill level chosen.

  • If you're not doing anything with programming, this doesn't matter, though I did talk about how I was learning perl. Unfortunately, I stopped trying to lear perl around April, so I'm still terrible at it, but I don't feel bad about saying it because I was learning it at the time.

Add 5 bonus points for mentioning Python, but subtract 5 for mentioning BASIC regardless of skill level.

  • I'm going to pretend I know what this means.

Add 1/2 extra points each if intermediate/advanced in the following: Java, C++, Mathematica, MATLAB, SQL, XML, PHP, Delphi, and Ruby. Disregard Assembly/TOY, HTML and Flash.

  • Computers. Heh.

Add 5 bonus points for advanced LaTeX use, or add 2 for intermediate LaTeX use. Double the bonus received in this section if you used LaTeX in your short responses.

  • Using LaTeX for free response is beast (and indicative of geekiness), but they teach everyone LaTeX regardless--this is mostly used to place people into their first week computer courses.

Add WIN for mentioning StarCraft in any way in your application.

  • Dude, I *told* you it's a legit extracurricular.

Subtract 2 points for every 10 points lost on the PSAT/SAT II tests (disregard language/history/English tests).

  • I'd say to start this countdown after you get below 700 or 750. Because perfect vs. 1/2 wrong is not a big deal (except on SAT-IIs, where you've gotten more than one wrong)

Subtract 5 points for each use of a test score from 2007 or prior.

  • Unless used to demonstrate severe precociousness a la Gabriel See.

Subtract 8 if research field choices were copied from this.

  • I see nothing wrong with copying field choices so long as you can write coherently about them.

Subtract 5 for each failure to meet “PSAT math scores should be at least 75, and combined math, verbal, and writing PSAT scores should be at least 220.ACT minimum math scores should be 33 and reading, 34.”

  • Okay, yeah, sure.

Add 5 for pointing out the grammatical mistake on the teacher’s recommendation form.

  • No! Don't do this! Rude rude rude rude! Hide your head beneath the sand!

Subtract 15 if at least one of your answers to question 3 was one of the six remaining Clay Math Institute Millennium Prize Problems. Disregard if you included proof/disproof as supplement.

  • Lolz, math.

Add 10 for each research internship with a reputable organization. Subtract 5 for each deliberate mention of petri dish washing internships or paper shredding internships.

  • Legit.

Subtract 3 for mentioning programs that depend on ability to pay and not merit.

  • But what if it's ability to pay *and* merit? (I have no idea how to answer that question)

Add 5 for being a Intel STS semifinalist. Add 15 for being a STS finalist.

  • Yes

Add 8 if undertaking of personal research is demonstrated. Add 12 more if said research has been published or reviewed.

  • Hear, hear! However, this should be worth a lot more points than being female.
Add 8 for every piece of creative “supplement” sent with the application that demonstrates personal talent.

  • Kevin Hu! Google him, he's legit.

Add 17.5 for each non-frivolous patent held (Meaning not including any of these or similar)

  • If you're just applied for one, I think that counts, because the review process is long enough that for you to have one, you'd have to have filed before high school.
Add 1/2/4 for every bronze/silver/gold medal (or equivalent honor) received in reputable competitions (USAMTS, HMMT, PUMaC, etc., and not just math ones.)

  • Helpful, yes, but not necessary for acceptance. Plenty of non-competition people attend.
Subtract 5 for each long-range goal that alludes to money, power, or cars.

  • Yeahhhh.

Subtract 4 more for each long-range goal not involving science.

  • Unless it's saving the world.

Subtract 3 for every other piece of “padding” content.

  • What is this padding you speak of?

Subtract 2 for deliberate inclusions of school-wide extracurriculars or exclusively in-school recognitions.

  • DON'T MESS WITH MATH TEAM GODDAMNIT!

Subtract 3 for mentioning non-national MATHCOUNTS trophies.

  • Math, lolz.

Subtract 5 if you asked a teacher who did not know you well beyond the course to write your recommendation. (Subtract 15 if both teachers fall under this.)

  • True dat.

Subtract 10 if question 6 was not answered in a straightforward manner.

  • How do you discuss extracurriculars in a non-straightforward manner? I'd love to see this.

Subtract 25 if you flagrantly mention that you are applying to TASP.

  • Poor form.

Subtract 10 if answer to question 7 fails to use any of the languages mentioned.

  • I DID THAT!

Subtract 2 if postcard was not enclosed.

  • Why?

Add 10 for each USA_O contest attended, minus ones open to public registration.

  • Kk.

Add 15 for each I_O contest training camp or contest attended.

  • Legitimate, this.

Add 25 for each I_O medal, +25 more if gold.

  • Okay, these metals should be worth way more than being female. Seriously.

Add 5 for mentioning Project Euler. Add 0.1 for each problem completed.

  • I did that! I need to get back to those problems.

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tea sits on her bed, studying chemistry. She idly scratches a freckle on her leg with her pencil as she thinks. The freckle moves. Tea panics.

Then she realizes that the freckle is actually dust.

I am thankful that my freckles haven't fallen off.

I am also thankful for my wonderful friends, then many opportunities in my life, the fact that in less than a year I will be out of this town, and the really awesome desserts I'm going to eat tonight.

November 20, 2010

Super Hot Physics


AKA learning about stars...at SHP! (am I clever or what?).

I took the train in with Clara, who is by far the calmest person I know about college decisions (well, it might be close on Kathrya, but she is nonetheless very chill). This is in marked contrast to my own behavior...which we're going to try not to think about. Because if I don't write it down, it didn't happen.

For your entertainment, I've compiled some quotes by my astro professor:

"The moon looks like a barren Italy...sort of like Afghanistan. I mean, really, why is anyone fighting over that place? Its three major food groups are metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary."

"Fools and Galileo do not suffer each other gladly."

"The Galileo spacecraft looks like someone put it together with an erector set while drunk."

"Atoms are like tuning forks."

"Thermal physics is kind of like Sweden."

"So, if I assume that the sun is made of doughnuts, I can use this assumption to calculate its lifetime."

"Rivers are instrumental to the gradual destruction of life as we know it."

November 16, 2010

STS


It's like four college apps. Plus a thesis paper. Wait--it *is* four college apps plus a thesis paper.

What am I getting myself into?

In other news, MIT? Please take me. Not that I'm anonymously begging or anything. Because we all know that would be silly.

November 15, 2010

Things I Do Not Like


People who willfully cause pain to others.

Computer software with a trial period.

Ubuntu partitions that don't function.

Cellphones with diminished battery capacity.

Poorly written books.

Poorly written fan fiction.

Poorly written scientific papers.

My lab partners.

My scientific paper.

My inability to properly work a scanner.

The lack of image editing software on my computer.

My innate stinginess.

The fact that I still haven't practiced piano.

How loud my leg-twitching habit is.

Undercooked cookies.

My ex-not-boyfriend.

Mean people.

Whoever invented menstrual cramps.

Evolution deniers.

Feminist haters.

Feminist haters who argue incompetently.

People who talk faster than I can think.

College applications.

The fact that I am still obsessed with MIT (even Yale couldn't break me).

Headaches.

Menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps.

November 7, 2010

Why are English papers so much work?

Because I devote hours and hours (and pages and pages) to the following drivel:



The intersections of morality, religion, and sex.


How does an individual define what is right? When people choose a path, what makes them determine in which direction they want to bend? Society influences, yes, but in what ways? How so?


The power of religion. Decisions are made around it, people join or flee it. Yet it is defined, more often than not, but the individual.


Religion and the conscience. How do we decide things?


Tess of the D'bervilles

-innocence destroyed by rape

-rape defines a marriage


The Purity Myth

-goodness of women is defined entirely by what they have between their legs.


But is it? Really? Truly? The fallen woman can be seen in so many places, but she redeems herself in the eyes of the reader. But what is redemption for the men?


Gender and atonement: what sins are worth a life?



Jane Eyre—he's redeemed himself, but has she?

Orlando—a man, a woman, both at once, but he is not a man who ever needs redeeming

Tess of the D'ubervilles—Tess, obviously, spends a lifetime trying to make up for a sin that wasn't hers, but it seems, in the end, that it is religion understanding, not atonement, that drives her (with the death of her 'husband' she returns to her husband). For Alec, though, what is there? He turns to religion, then believes that the only way he can make it up is through marriage, a life's commitment.


Redemption is sacrifice.


What is it that makes an individual good? How do people define what is right and what is wrong, and to what extent is this dichotomy of thought present in our everyday lives?


The Purity Myth, by Jessica Valenti, centers on the idea that the societal perception of a woman's morality stems entirely from her chastity. No quality is as important, no trait as worth protecting, as virginity.


Is this true? Judging by the books, the answer is resoundingly yes. In Tess of the D'ubervilles, we have a woman who, after she is raped, is a ruined woman; her eventual marriage falls apart, her life is spent searching for redemption.



When old books—centuries old, not whatever your grandmother considered popular literature—are read, it becomes very clear that from a modern perspective, with its own take on what is morally upstanding and politically correct, the good can be far more evil than the author intended. Who today would consider the ivory trade savory, the oft-said 'nigger' polite? This is made even more clear when considering opinions that haven't changed. In past centuries, marriage has shifted away from a sacred institution, defined by God.


The lack of stagnation in moral perceptions is demonstrated clearly by shifting perceptions of marriage. In days of yore, marriage was defined by sex.


You should see how much worse the handwritten crap is.

November 6, 2010

The Difficulty of Remembrance


Delayed my train by 23 minutes. Quite a nuisance (though I hope whoever was unwell has improved). This, of course, meant that we got stuck behind a local train, which in turn meant that I was really, really late to class.

Which I care about. Clara and Helga care less, so I bid them goodbye at the campus gate and proceeded at a very brisk walk, mostly because I couldn't take another minute of not talking. As I was approaching Pupin, I heard the slapping sound of someone running in flip-flops and thought to myself "well, at least I'm not as hurried as whoever that is."

Moments later, a slightly breathless (which means he was probably running for a good while) Rube pulled up (yes, I'm using vehicular terminology) next to me.

"Hey," he said.

I blinked. "Hi."

"I'm late."

"Me too."

"I woke up really early, and I assumed that my parents were going to make me breakfast, so I lay down on the couch for a few minutes--"

I wished that I didn't know what his couch looked like, that my mental picture was less vivid.

"--And then I woke up, and it was 9:47," he continued. "So I got a cab, and here I am."

"There was a medical emergency on the train. Before I got there."

"I didn't eat breakfast."

"Oh."

We continued walking, his pace slightly faster than mine, because my shoelace was undone and I didn't particularly want to stop long enough to fix it. I looked down.

"Your feet must be freezing," I said, because, as I'd thought from the sound, he was be-sandaled (yes, that's a word).

"Eh."

"My toes would be blue. Or purple. Probably purple."

"When they go numb I can't feel it."

I believe I snorted. Let us pretend that it was a lady-like snort.

Anyways, we eventually got inside, and I went for the elevator, to which he said "elevator, really?" and I said "I'm on the thirteenth floor" and he said "reasonable, then."

Because it is reasonable. Eight flights of stairs is a lot.

He entered the elevator with me, even though he didn't need to. He'd held the door, too, when we entered the building. I can't think when that trait stopped annoying me when present in males. Perhaps when I realized that there are better outlets for feminism.

I flopped against the wall of the elevator, and he did the same, against the other. I realized, abruptly, that we were alone, and then, just as suddenly, that he wasn't wearing a hat. It was messy, too long, curling while flat against his head in that horribly adorable way, and I wanted--I squelched the thought.

"I'm sleepy," I said, though I wasn't.

"I'm not," he responded, as the elevator stopped for him. I stood in the elevator by myself as it rose the last six floors.

I walked out, across the hall, stood in the bathroom, alone. I began to laugh, perhaps just because of how fittingly him the exchange was, but also because I didn't need it. It was interesting, yes, fine, good, but uncomfortable. More comfortable than that last night, but not something I wanted more of.

I'm trying to reclaim the music he sent me. I went down to the beach last night, after leaving Cammie's. I played the Los Campesinos song that is so much fun, You! Me! Dancing!, with its wonderful exclamation points. The one that I played whenever I missed him over the summer.

I stood on the cannons, the song loud, looking at the sky. I thought about him, briefly, but then about the stars. About the sky, about the world, about where I wanted to be and how, in a moment, in this chill cold air, I could just feel. I jumped from the cannons to the ground, then danced, as erratically as if I were drunk, down to the water, singing lines that felt right. I thrust my hands into the water, splashed it on my face, then twirled back up to my truck.

It sounds like a baptism, now. I'm going to call it that. A new beginning. A fresh start, not for him, not with him, but for me, for myself, with, well, anyone other than him.

I am made clean.

November 5, 2010

Today, Today

Oh Friday. Beautiful Friday, lovely day at the end of an oh-so-lovely week.

Someone said something funny during Chem. But I don't remember what it was. It was probably something about how if you sit on a pencil hard enough and for long enough, you make diamonds. Fun fact!

Please disregard that at the forces that can be provided by the human body, this would take millions of years.

I'm currently at Cammie's house, hanging out with her and Kathrya. We're making cookie dough. To eat, like, just the dough. It's gonna be delicious.

I'm going to mention Nyx now. And the fact that I have an English essay to write this weekend. Because I'm trying to even out the tag numbers, even now.

Frisbee club was fun. Ginny is indecisive about everything, but it's a trait that's adorable in her and obnoxious in Rube. It's odd, how that happens.

November 4, 2010

Lemocy



What a beautiful, beautiful captcha. I bet Dino cried at that.

So, what is occurring in my life? I'm reading The Purity Myth and freaking myself out.

"Have you already unwrapped the priceless gift of virginity and given it away? Do you now feel like "second-hand goods" and no longer worthy to be cherished? Do you ever wish you could re-wrap it and give it only to your future husband or wife? Guess what? You can be abstinent again! You can't change the past, but you can change the future. You can decide today to commit to abstinence, wrapping a brand-new gift of virginity to present to your husband or wife on your wedding night."

--from this website, from which we can also learn that people who have sex like to do so "when there's no one around."

"Your body is a wrapped lollipop. When you have sex with a man, he unwraps your lollipop and sucks on it. It may feel great at the time, but, unfortunately, when he's done with you, all you have left for your next partner is a poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled sucker."

This is a) a mixed metaphor and b) sexist. Because nobody bothered to compare men to these. Unless they're saying that men would become one of those if they have sex with other men. In which case we should all just be lesbians. Screw men.

I'm not sure I can take much more of this.

November 3, 2010

Overheard in the Library

Girl: You look like you need a hug.

Boy: Um.

Girl: Doesn't he look like he needs a hug?

Boy: Uh...

Girl: I would hug you, but I don't like touching people.

November 2, 2010

Doughnut Fun


Today, Ginny and Yuma came over. We made doughnuts. It was fun.

Apparently donut and doughnut are both acceptable spellings of this delicious food. I blame dukin' donuts. I also apparently make all of my paragraphs of my college essays too short, and admissions officers will see this and assume that my writing is imperfect, when I see the shorter paragraphs as a way to hold attention.

I think I've been reading internet news for too long.

Anyways, the donuts (yes, I am defaulting to the one with less letters) were a lot of fun, and the recipe worked out well, though I'd recommend halving the amount of nutmeg. Also, for future reference, the sugar is 7/8s of a cup, or something along those lines. It took the three of us, gifted math students that we are, an age to go from the recipe's grams to our manageable cups.

We are so talented.

Also, Ginny? I tell you this now so that you'll blush less if it gets brought up in person. During dinner tonight, Dad said, "How long have Jennn"

"Ginny"

"Yes, how long have she and Yuma been a, how do you say it these days? An item?"

"I thought they were just friends," said Mom.

"They are," I said, then gave Dad a funny look.

"So why isn't she allowed to go to his house again?"

"Because he's a boy."

"Right."

November 1, 2010

Monday, Lovely Monday


There's a title that will probably never get repeated. Oh, how happy I am that there is no school tomorrow.

My younger sister's carpool buddy for swimming got a foot through the sclera and she's at the hospital. My stomach churns just thinking about it.

Ginny and Yuma are coming over tomorrow and we are cooking chocolate donuts. If Ginny's mother asks, we are working on physics. All of you, remember this.

In other news, I should be practicing for math team, but I'm putting it off because I'm busy. I should be working on college applications, but I think I'll be able to get my drafts done by tomorrow morning. I should be talking to people, but I'd rather read.

I hope that Kathrya is doing well, and that she continues to do well in the coming days.

I need to get going on The Purity Myth, which I think I'm going to add to my Lit X paper. The first three books (Orlando, The Scarlet Letter, Tess of the D'ubervilles) are from very different eras, but I think I can make it work, and I'll possibly be able to incorporate Lolita as well, in which case I'll be done with the reading phase of the paper. My current plan, though I haven't yet read the nonfiction text, is to focus on marriage and virginity through time. My main point is that the definition of marriage has changed considerably, granting much more power to the female counterpart (I'm going to have to think of any modern books I've read that would support this well, but I'll hopefully be able to find something...I wonder how Jane Eyre would fit into this analysis. I'd also rather like to read The Age of Innocence, which seems applicable. There are so many things I want to do in so little space!), while the societal perspective of virginity, placing it on such a pedestal, giving it this grand significance that is so similar to the power it has in Tess of the D'ubervilles (loss of virginity is equated with marriage to the partner in the text) is in a marked contrast.

Yay for plans!

October 31, 2010

Sniper No Sniping!


So I nerd sniped myself last night in the middle of dinner by derailing to entire conversation to prove that twin primes always surround multiples of six (answer: in a given set of three numbers, one will be a multiple of three, and this cannot be one of the primes, so it's the middle value. Additionally, primes are odd, but odds and evens alternate so the middle number must be even. Even multiples of three are multiples of six. Proof made).

Last night I also didn't sleep enough (shocker) because it was my beloved Cammie's birthday. Well, birthday party, but it amounts to the same thing. We had a Harry Potter role-playing battle at the park, then went back to her house, watched Moulin Rouge (or however it's spelled), and stayed up until 3 am talking. In our defense, we thought daylight savings time was applied, and it was actually 2 am, but this turned out not to be the case.

Aside from that, MIT applications are due tomorrow, but I already finished mine, so this doesn't really matter. I ought to be studying for my chem test, and I think I need to read Candide this weekend, and I should figure out where I'm going with my Lit X, and write my college essays, and do a thousand other things on my to do list.

They'll get done. Someday.

October 10, 2010

Yeah, yeah, yeah


I've been a very bad blogger, I know. I'm working on it. I am, I am, I am.

To start with making it all up to you, I'm going to dive into my old schoolwork. Because I know you all really enjoy that (I know that a lot of you don't. But I'm doing it anyways.) Yay!

From what I can tell, I left off work in the middle of the Science Research folder of freshman year. So, basically, back when I actually did work for that class, instead of just continually reformatting my paper.

The first article is a study which found that leukemia with slower cell division is more successful, partly because it allows them to avoid therapies designed to destroy cells that divide quickly (this is why hair falls out during radiation: it divides quickly. At least, I think that's why...). Scientists found this by studying the p21 gene. I wonder if all p-genes are related to cancers.

The second article is about which transcription factors must be turned on to render somatic cells pluripotent. Prior to this study, Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4 were needed to change fibroblasts into stem cells (genes have such fun names). This work found that Esrrb can replace the last two entirely, as it regulates expression of Klf4 in stem cells. It can also bind to the reprogramming factors Nanog and Oct4, thus inspiring (not the right verb, but whatever) pluripotency.)

The third article is no longer at the link I have. According to my notes, embryonic stem cells are derived from preimplantation embryos, which I've known since I did my independent study project on stem cells in sixth grade, but it apparently is still a piece of information that needs to be included in discussions of science. These cells have normal karyotypes, but I don't remember what karyotypes are (google newsflash: it's the number and appearance of chromosomes in eukaryotic cells). These cells have high telomerase activity, and telomerase is that protein that reverses telomere reduction and is totally going to cure aging someday. The cells have pluripotent markers and can divide for an ├╝ber-long time. If they differentiate into neurons (or, as Sadie would say, nyoo-rons), various growth factors, antagonists thereof, and morphogens become activated. I miss bio, but not enough to give up physics. Apparently, though scientists try to control this, they have trouble making all cells differentiate to the same thing. It still sounds cool, though.

The fourth article is about how the reprogramming factors work. Scientists examined when in the cell cycle and to what genes the pluripotency factors bind, and they found some nifty stuff. I just got really distracted by the fact that I now have access to Cell, where the actual journal article I couldn't read way back when I was doing this research is located. There are pictures. I can see them! I love summerschool's database access.

The last article is basically investigating the whole chimeric embryo thing. It found that differences in karyotypes and mitochondria will prevent inter-species hybrids from being formed. These scientists made a bunch, and none of them divided particularly much. I was kind of confused, because I thought human-animal hybrids were illegal, but apparently not.

I have now relearned something today.

October 3, 2010

Your Beloved Tea...

Is depressed. Again.

Fuck.

In other news, Rube is engaging in a cyber-barage of friendliness, and I've set a busy auto-reply to avoid him. Because I'm conniving like that.

Yay!

Now I'm trying to write a prewrite, which is a surprisingly difficult endeaver. Especially considering that all I really want to do is curl up and sleep.

I blame college-related stress. I could do a long drawnout I-feel-like-I'm-losing-control-of-my-life, thing, but I think I'll just link to this post instead. Bubbles summed it up rather nicely.

Gretchen's "no one should be allowed to leave people in suspense for that long" was pretty good as well. Please, please let the early application work out. I don't want to spend any more time than I have to with an entirely mysterious future.

Aside from that is the not-good-enough grade in English, which, in the scheme of things, and considering my really, really good AP science grades, shouldn't be an issue, but still bothers me.

That sentence makes no sense.

I'm going to cover it up with a cauldron-full of faked enthusiasm, then go write a paper. I'm (not really) looking forward to it.

September 26, 2010

Memories, Diaries, and Youth


Last night, when I was going to sleep, I decided to open up my diary again, and, well, write. I meant to write about Connor, about the funeral. I ended up calling myself and idiot about the Rube thing, again, then worrying that the only bits of Dawson I could remember were the bad ones, near the end.

I then, of course, proceeded to spend half an hour compiling memories of Dawson. Because I am seventeen, and hormonal, and I do stupid things like that.

I want to say "I'm such a girl," but the feminist in me is getting grumpy, so perhaps "I'm such a stereotypical girl" would be preferable.

Regardless, I, per usual, have work to do.

So, as Rube always used to say, back before we embarked on this spree of mutual ignorance, farewell for now.

September 15, 2010

Grief is

Crying, then talking, then gazing into space occasionally when the memory comes back. Then, when the slightest joke is told, a suggestion that Kathrya's former beau (oh, Tybalt) is actually a robot, laughing almost hysterically for ten times as long as the joke merits, because it feels so good to finally laugh.

September 13, 2010

Dear World, Fate, and What Have You


Why are you so fucking stupid? I don't like having to write two grief posts in one year.

I'll miss his bedhead.

September 12, 2010

Another weekend draws to a close


I had a sum total of five hours of real, true relaxation this weekend. I spent these hours eating chinese food and playing 1984-themed Mafia while talking to Kathrya in person and Leila via skype.

The theme ended up not really functioning in practice, since we didn't have enough people, although it's possible that the second round, after I had left, went better.

I've decided to drop A.P. Spanish and take two frees. Getting my homework done not including Spanish still had me swamped, so I'm thinking that's a good idea, although once I get my college and science fair stuff in, I'm going to have a lot time on my hands.

Maybe I'll learn perl.

Well, that or sleep. I have a feeling I'll end up alternating between sleeping and reading trashy romance novels, just like I typically like to do. Predictable me.

I at least got round one of the Sieman's paper rewrite done. On second thought, I'm not sure if that competition name should have an apostrophe. Ah, well.

Yay for blogging! I'm going to go write another RSI post :)

September 10, 2010

Marvelous Mubbles

In homeroom, during receipt of planners.

Mubbles: When your home alone and you don't feel good, who are you going to call?

Class: GHOSTBUSTERS

Class looks around and realizes that *everybody* said ghostbusters.

Mubbles: No, the school attendance line. Nice guess, though.

September 6, 2010

The Silent Boy


The first part of a story that will hopefully grow longer:


When he was born, nobody heard his cries.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


In November, Lana found(knew) that she was pregnant. She told her husband David. He rejoiced. They held each other and were happy.


In March, the small swell between her breasts and her hips began to grow. She rounded like an overripe balloon. Her husband stood behind her, her back pressed against his front. He pushed(slid) under her shirt, splaying(spreading fanning stretching) his fingers across. The fetus(baby child) kicked. He felt it. She smiled.


In April, the kicking stopped. David lay for hours with his ear on Lana's watermelon(cantaloupe) stomach. She shook and swore that she was feeling the rumble of a body inside her, but David could not hear it, could not see it, could not feel it.


In May, Lana was kicked and David was nothing. He(they) touched to make him feel it, made love to make him feel it within her. She shook and David was empty. The ultrasound moved but the heart was missing.


In June, David argued with the obstetrician. He wanted the baby gone before Lana felt the pain.

Lana refused to believe that the baby was dead. She swore that she would try to nurse the dead child before she let him be put in the ground, swore that his life remained.

David cried for the sadness that Lana would feel.


In July, Lana went into labor. David rushed her to the hospital. The way a good husband(father) should. Lana pushed for a day and half a night.

In August, the other half of the night came, fast and hard. David held her hand, and she screamed the silent scream of the undead. The baby came. His mouth fell open as the medic held the child in his sterile arms. The baby shook ore than a dead child should. David hater of horror cringed at the sight.

Lana held open her arms. She reached for the child. When he touched her skin, Lana began to shake again, as his cries sounded behind her ears. She put him to her breast. He squabbled closer to nurse, and his little mouth began to work.

Only Lana heard him as he sucked her tit(teat breast).

David put a hand on his wife, a finger brushing the child to ask her to give in to death. When his hand came down, he heard it to, the suck suck sucking of a silent mouth.

When Lana and David brought Christopher home, they held him always, for as soon as they put him down, his cries vanished.


In September, in October, in forever, Christopher grew.



September 3, 2010

Week's End, The


Well, referring to this as a week is a stretch, but I feel more dead than my typical Friday self does. Hopefully this doesn't last all year, because that would be very, very unfortunate.

And I'm on fb chat, talking to Sadie and Bart, separately, and Sadie wants to skype, and then I'm going over to Nyx's, so I believe y'all are gonna get a highly abbreviated post.

My apologies.

September 2, 2010

School, Miserable School


I need to keep writing.

Right, blogging. More writing. More work. I need to keep it from becoming that, because that would qualify as a Bad Idea.

I still have all this weird capitalization left over from God of Small Things.

I still have 10,000 things to do. College shall be the death of me. So will school. But mostly college applications.

I like that school and college are somehow different. In the world that is in my head, anyways.

I like A.P. Physics because it is a review, and I can read during it. I like A. P. English because it involves books. I'm worried I'm more of an English geek than I originally intended to become.

Ah, well.

August 31, 2010

The God of Small Things (Arudhati Roy)


Paradise Pickles and Preserves

I can't keep track of the names. Thus far, the story feels simultaneously broken and beautiful.

Pappachi's Moth

A viable dia-able age. I love the slips of poetry. I love this little chapter, for some reason. It reminds me of Rememories, this splintering of sections. Beautiful.

Abhilash Talkies

Boy. Poor boy. So sad. The story begins to twist, but the words themselves have yet to become ugly.

God's Own Country

"While father's played sublimated sexual games with their nubile teenaged daughters" (121) Wait...what?

Cochin Kangaroos

I like that nostrils are never held, they are always clamped.

I'm not sure what to put here; my questions are of plot, not substance.

Wisdom Exercise Notebooks

Q498673. How much did Arundhati Roy think to arrive at that number?

Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol

"Bright, like cheerful, pink condoms" (163) which character's mind has gone there?

The Love Laws. These are important, somehow.

This is making more and less sense, although the everywhere time seems almost to be vanishing.

Mrs. Pillai, Mrs. Eapen, Mrs. Raja Gopalan

I can't tell at all when this last scene is ocurring. Oh, there, now I can, but it is difficult. I thought the teachers said this would get easier!

The River in the Boat

Children discover the "blissful delights of underwater farting" (193)

The God of Small Things

I want the future now, beyond Sophie, beyond Ammu. I want Rahel to make Estha speak.

Kochu Thomban

Rahel is in a temple. Rahel is a bad christian.

The Pessimist and the Optimist

"A Wake" (226) for the prettypretty deadgirl.

This story would be just as sad if it was only Margaret, the woman surrounded by death.

This is why discussion of Sophie Mol's perspective is odd. Because Sophie Mol is dead.

Work is Struggle

For a story which blatantly acknowledges that large portions of it have already happened, this sure is suspenseful.

The Crossing

I love miniature so-lovely-they're-almost-poems interludes.

A Few Hours Later

I still haven't quite got the bit about Velutha's leaf making the monsoons come on time.

What a sad, sad death. There and gone. Lonely. Gone.

Cochin Harbor Terminus

"I love you I love you" (281) Baby is still young Kochamma.

The History House

I honestly don't think that I want more explanation on the taking of Velutha.

I can't read the description of BrokenVelutha. It makes me sick. Oh oh. Oh.

Saving Ammu

Oh Baby. Oh Esthappen. Oh Ammu, so sad.

The Madras Mail

I want to blame Baby for everything, but is that fair? If you let her persuade you, are you guilty?

"The Love Laws" (311) all that is broken now makes me think of only Lolita.

This time lets you see the broken in one thousand places. I hurt.

The Cost of Living

Now that is how a sex scene is meant to be written. Go Roy!

I'm not sure what the "Yes, Margaret"...oh wait. It returns.

Oh, oh, oh! So lovely. Glad to end there in place of a death. Love lives on because time is irregular, again and again and always like spaghetti in the sky. Ammu, Baby what have you done? Where did you go? A broken world of pieces that fit. How did Roy make you, in order or apart, in snatches or a fit? You were born. Love-in-Tokyo.

I am Lost

---------

End notes.

In short, I know that this book was good, because it reduced me to complete and utter incomprehensibility.

August 25, 2010

Another Day, More Work


I've almost (almost almost) got the patent finished up. Just have to rewrite the claims and do a final figure description. I'm rather looking forward to getting it all submitted.

I also finished Summer Reading Book #3, also known as Tess of the Deubervilles. This adds on with 1984 and Lolita, and now I've just got to get through God of Small Things. At the moment, my biggest topic linking the three books is something regarding perceptions of purity and attractiveness, because, for some reason, all big books seem to come back to sex.

Today, I did some (but not enough) cleaning, some (but not enough) talking, and a fairly reasonable quantity of work, although, like I said, I have the figure description to write up, and I think I might try to make a bit of a dent in the summer chemistry work, and I'd like to do another one of my RSI blog posts (I must remember ALL!!!!!)

Anyways, that's today's update. Sorry it's brief, but I'm pouring my energy into far too many things at the moment.

Oh, right, last night I hung out with Nyx, and then Dad got mad at me for how much crap I still had in his office. Tonight, Gretchen is coming over. Tomorrow, Kathrya and Nia are coming over. I am in no way listing these to increase the number of tags held by particular individuals. No sirree, I wouldn't dream of it.

August 24, 2010

Homecoming in August


I'm back, finally.

I'm working frantically, as usual. Missing flashdrive, non-backed up due to lack of internet access.

FML.

Although that seems wrong to say, since it's my own damn fault that the thing is gone. And, as evidenced by the previous post, worse things have happened.

Regardless, after a long break, I'm here again. I have 16 more RSI posts planned, because I don't want to forget all of the little funny things that happened while I was there, so I'm sorry that my regular posts are going to be somewhat brief for the time being.

Here I am, working again, hoping to manage to squeeze out enough free time in the next week to go visit Rube (who hasn't called or texted or anything in 24 hours and oh, wait, he texted yesterday afternoon, just kidding. Too bad I spaced on responding).

And now, time for breakfast.

August 2, 2010

Goodbye Annie

I'm using your real name here because you are dead.

That still sounds wrong.

How can a seven year old bundle of energy, always yelling and dancing in circles around our grandmother's kitchen, possibly be gone? How can a little bit of blood let loose in the brain destroy so much so quickly? How can there be death that is so utterly unpreventable, so entirely beyond our control?

There is nothing I can do to make it better, nothing I can do to staunch the wound. The family bleeds.

The tiny fractions call endlessly, searching for reprieve, searching for news. I know nothing.

The funeral is on Saturday. It is a funeral for a girl still living.

How can her glassy eyes be truly real?

July 27, 2010

Despicable Me


Once the final papers were all in, it was movie night. The options: Salt and Despicable Me. Sucker that I am, I elected to go see the animated children's movie, a decision I do not regret--for realsies, that movie was soooo cute! (in the words of Kathrya, though she didn't see the movie).

We broke into two groups in the theater--the loud people (Keyuri, Astrid, and others) sat in the back, and I sat somewhere closer to the middle, between Bart and Ravi, who are both wonderful, kind, and popcorn sharing.

The movie was, as I said, basically totally adorable. I have such a weakness for animation (anyone else excited for Tangled? I know Bing is psyched about the hair super awesome hair), and small children, and adorable monster type things, and, well, basically I loved the movie. So...yeah. That's about all I have to say on that one.

I'm having vague recollections of the walk to the movie, now, where we misplaced Dominique, so Dill and one of the counselors waited for her, but she took a cab instead. It made me laugh. Also, I'm totally not sure if that actually happened, I just kind of vaguely think that it did.

After the movie, we split into a burger/pizza group (it was one of the two...) and a dim sum group, which was headed by Hannah, her random friend, and a bunch of other counselors. The only students were me and Remus, and Remus and I didn't really talk much, so basically I stared at my plate during most of the extremely delicious meal, which was lame. Then I talked to Hannah's random friend, who went to school with Maxwell, about Maxwell's issue with tucking in his shirts.

Then Remus and I talked about gossip. About me. Which was weird, because usually I gossip about other people. Then I went back to the dorm. I probably slept at that point, seeing as I had pulled an all-nighter the evening before, but I don't really remember. It all blurs together after a while. This may have been the time that Leila didn't make it back to our room until 5 am, but, again, I don't remember. I hate how little I can put in order, now.

I am sad.

July 26, 2010

Buddy Reading and Real All-Nighters

Immediately after the frisbee game ended, I went back to the dorm (oh, how much lovelier life would be if I possessed a bike) to get my paper, then went to W20 to meet my peer editing group. I was with Dill and Anwar, both bio people. We started off outside, shooting glares at Vanessa and Ash's group because they had stolen our idea to experience the great outdoors. Anwar read his out loud first, and I lay down and stared at the clouds and focused on staying awake, then offered a very short list of constructive comments (his paper was phenomenal; very clear, highly technical, about using stem cells to grow retinas or something like that). It's fun to listen to him talk, because he's Singaporean but speaks English with a very good English accent; basically, the cross between Asian and british is entertaining. Then I read mine, which they both gave criticisms on while acknowledging that they didn't really understand the subject matter, since, as I mentioned, they were both doing biology.

At that point, the hammock freed up, so we ran over there and then spent about five minutes arranging ourselves so that we could all fit. Dill and I were on the ends, and Anwar was in the middle, and he's heavy enough that he was basically sitting on the ground. I'm sure that we looked rather silly. Dill took forever to read, because he had a lot (and I mean a lot) of typos and grammatical errors that he hadn't noticed until he read it out loud, so every two sentences he had to go back and change things, and then he'd go back a couple more sentences and read them all again. I was ready to scream (I have an extremely low level of pickle tolerance), and even Anwar was getting annoyed, and I was getting hungry and didn't understand the paper anyways, so Anwar loaned me his meal card and I went to get a bagel, as I was sick, and still operating on a diet where the primary foods were oranges, orange juice, and toasted bagels.

I ran into Olive and Hassan at La Verdes, and Olive advised me to "be assertive!" when ordering sandwiches. I need to work on that assertiveness thing. I got my bagel and went back outside, where we sat while Dill read until it got so dark that we couldn't see, so we moved inside and began passing the papers around for grammar markups.

That evening, I made those changes and went to bed. The next morning, I assembled a draft of slides so that I could give a practice talk for my mentor. I used Beamer. It was epic. I gave said talk. It went badly, very badly. Then I realized that the final draft of my paper was due the next day, and I was not even close to being done.

At 3 pm, I went to Simmons, showered, and assembled my supplies. At 4, I sat down to work. I got up occasionally, but I did not truly stop work until 9:30 the next morning. It was torture. It was bliss. It was so much fucking work.


I started out sitting next to Sadie, but then Bashir came over and started talking to her and moaning about how his paper was being so difficult, when the issue was really his very limited grasp of English language mechanics. I found the talking so annoying that I got up and moved next to Grace, who, despite having finished her rough draft two weeks in advance of the due date, was working quite diligently.


The next few hours are lost in a swirl of very focused work as I made edit after edit, including massive structural changes to my introduction and diffusion sections. Some time around 2 am, when I finished said changes to part four, I noticed a major hole in my analysis: I'd never definitively proven that products would not diffuse, I'd merely illustrated that they'd diffuse less than they would out of a standard reactor. I looked panicked, so one of the very wonderful nobodies, Rocky (so christened because somewhere in the annals of livejournal, there are photos of him at seventeen, all dolled up for the midnight showing), came to help me. He worked magic with mathematica while I cracked open my can of caffeinated beverage, and some forty minutes later, the image, the oh-so-perfect graphical representation of an equation that I'd hastily derived in the margin of an old draft, was done.


It was beautiful, and it is 86% of the reason that I printed my paper in color. Not that I had anything in the way of a legend to explain what color went with what element. It was just so darned pretty.


Soon after that, I was approaching my non-functioning stage, so I drank some more caffeinated beverage and went to take a twenty minute power nap, moping about my cold, solitary loneliness. I eventually woke up and stumbled back to the lab, where I started working again. I soon got a number of zephyrs from Kaylee and Hannah, who were trying to get together a late-night (well, early morning) fake Chinese food order. I zephyred (is there some other word for this?) Hyumni, and she reluctantly pulled herself from braid theory (I would love to watch her tear down anyone who saw the whole 'braid' thing and went "look, when girls do math, all they do is talk about hair") to help pick out food.


I finished the work-through on the redesigned diffusion section and left to take another nap, passing by Didge, who for some reason enjoyed working on the couch, with piles of papers surrounding him. We agreed to proof each others papers later (not that we ever actually did so), and then I went to get some sleep (well, fifteen minutes of sleep, but they were lovely minutes nonetheless).

By the time I stumbled out, Hyunmi had already obtained and paid for our veggie/tofu noodles. We ate them, and they were delicious. Something about tofu drenched in soy sauce and salty pasta is just very, very delicious.


I went back to work, after that. People gradually trickled out. By morning, the ranks were thin. Hassan was still present, as were Jasmine and Comrade Vito. I needed to wake up enough to move, and to clear out the stuffy morning feeling from between my ears.

I don't remember who suggested it, but a bathrobe-clad Vito and I ended up running laps around the lab for at least a few minutes, until I felt prepared to proof my paper. I printed it, then went about trying to find people to read it; if I remember correctly, Tramar was agreeable, and I read his as well. It was without doubt one of few that was written so clearly that it really made sense, though it's frustrating how, too frequently, clarity is confused with a lack of difficulty.


I had a donut and a coffee for breakfast, printed a copy of my paper, emailed another copy to Kaylee, then went back to the dorm and slept for four hours. When I woke up, I showered, then proofed the entire document before heading out. I made my changes at the Simmons cluster before going to W20 and having a second breakfast. Around two, I finally got Kaylee to myself, and we spent the time I should have been at my last meeting with my mentor frantically making changes to my paper. I then went to mentorship, proofed it one more time, just myself, then emailed it to my mentor's phenomenal assistant for color printing.

At five, when others were panicking, I had been done for over an hour. Which was fortunate, because W20's printers were not being cooperative. Many, many people did not have printer success, but they were fortunately (and most likely due to sheer volume) not disqualified from the competitive paper analysis.

Huzzah!

I only later heard the story of those who did not work with the rest of us. Susan, for example, stayed holed up in her room, working to devise the optimal method for preventing high temperatures and wind-related paper organizational losses. Bing did the same, though his room was less breezy. He also later informed me that he did not move from his chair for the entirety of the night, not even to use the bathroom. I responded with a "TMI" look which he took for confusion, and began explaining that since he wasn't eating or drinking during the time period, it wasn't an issue. At the very least, he's logical.

July 25, 2010

RSI vs. PROMYS


This is one of those posts that probably would have been more fun to write before I developed this miserable dissatisfaction with a certain boy (note: not the one who went to RSI).

Anyways, on this particular morning, I slept until, if I remember correctly, 10:30, or something along those lines. We were having a counselor group breakfast, leaving at 11, because that was pretty much as early as you could possibly get all of us to be awake. (Didge? Tem? This is why your 9 am Breakfast Club Farewell was a failure. At least, I assume it was a failure. I wasn't there, since I was sleeping off my sleep deprivation).

Well, that assumes that all of us were awake. I got up showered, got dressed, then proceeded to stand on one of the strange blocks that came with our room and jostle Leila enough for her to tell me that she'd get up in five minutes.

I went downstairs. Keyuri and a few others were there. Keyuri and I went on a search for the rest. Miles and Vito didn't answer the door, so we walked up a floor and checked for Miles in Ava's room. A tired looking Zorah answered the door, and informed us that nobody--not even Donny--was in her room. We went downstairs, banged on Vito and Miles's room a few more times, until eventually one of them emerged.

They'd had, for once, the good sense to hide Ava (I say 'they', but Vito was more passive about the whole situation, since she's Miles's girlfriend). On one particularly memorable occasion, Ava and Miles had only just woken up when Becton knocked on the door. Ava, who was closer, opened it before remembering that she was not supposed to be cohabitating with Miles and hiding behind it. Miles, who was then standing inexplicably six feet from the now-open door, waved at Becton, who said "wow, that's creepy," before getting on with his life. Anyways, on this day, they were much better behaved.

Then we went back up to my floor, and I dragged Leila out of bed, and Keyuri bothered Kareem, until, eventually, enough of us were assembled that we figured we could go to breakfast. I ate pancakes. They were extremely delicious.

We took a bus back to campus, and then rushed over to Killian Court, where PROMYS students and the rest of RSI had already arrived. By this point, I had a massive caffeine-withdrawal related headache (I hadn't had a coffee in about two days, and it was two days too many), but was fortunate in that PROMYS wasn't in the mood to play girls, so I could go in search of said coffee. Hyunmi came with me, and we berated Bart for hanging out in W20 instead of cheering before rushing back to the game.

When we got back, Keyuri was in full force, yelling very, very rude insults across the field. Most insults involved either the fact that PROMYS guys couldn't get girls, that they were too ugly to take their shirts off (our team was playing skins), and that the only reason that they were at PROMYS in the first place was because they couldn't get into RSI. While watching the game, I made a joking comment to Nicholas that the entire affair would be better if both teams were shirtless, and he proceeded to make fun of me for this for the remainder of RSI.

Eventually, when they were kicking our asses by a lot, we decided to play girls, in hopes that our girls were better than their girls (which I say they are. I think we scored more points than they did, anyways). We did a lot of running about, but it was eventually decided, when some of their girls didn't want to play, that we wouldn't make them match all of our girls, so they added in some guys and scored on us pretty quickly. Gopika and I stayed in for a little while after that, but we eventually ended up on the sidelines again.

At some point, Livny, who was playing with a shirt on his head to add to the intimidation factor of his extreme muscular definition, got into a fight (there was one slight violent incident followed by a lot of yelling/intimidation attempts) with someone on the other team. Rube continues to believe that Livny takes steroids. I also have vague recollections of some loud noisemaking device from their team, an invasion by our girls into their audience, and someone from their team petting Hyumni's hair.

Regardless, they eventually won, and then the counselors played. I left around the time that Rube did, but, reportedly, we lost that game too.

We continue to contend that we're so busy having lives and doing real research that we didn't have time to practice, and are therefore better than they are. We still haven't decided whether the research or the lives argument is more persuasive.