May 30, 2011

Eeenteresting

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I absolutely love babysitting elementary-school aged children. There are few things as wonderful as being paid to watch TV or do my homework after they've gone to bed. And even before the kids crash, they generally make perfectly good conversation. Aside from that, making $90 on a Saturday night is totally worth missing a night out with friends.

I saw that nasty substitute teacher who I saw on a flight to Florida at the deli near my house. This was the second time I'd done so. Let me just say that I will never, ever be happy to see her. Never never never.

I'm trying to work out the order of dorms for my housing lottery form. I have a paper to read for internship that I really need to actually read. I have some free time on my hands and very little to fill it with.

I have a lot.

The actual Thiel Fellows got announced a few days ago.  I suspect that they were going to have 25, and I wasn't replaced, but perhaps not. 24 is a nice round number in its own way. I don't feel that I regret the decision I made---I wasn't ready, and I recognize that. Unlike some people (I kind of want to make a comment about Jeff here), I've been trying not to let all of this go to my head, though I'm uncertain as to whether I've succeeded. I suppose if I'd actually taken the Fellowship, and I'd spent recent days giving interviews and whatnot, I'd probably be even worse in the arrogance department than I am now.

I'm trying to figure out how many pegs college will knock me down. I know it'll be hard, but how hard? Hard enough that I should take regular-level multivariable calc? I've been looking at the psets, though, and they're manageable. I'm thinking I might not work during the days this summer. I won't make that much money in comparison to what I already have, and there are too many productive things I want to do.

I want to make those black box cost estimates I was told would be a good idea. I also want to use the online resources to teach myself the difference between this year's multivariable calculus and 18.02 (yeah, the school anonymity thing is totally not working out), because I'd like to try to ASE out. I think that, given the fact that I only have a month, those are sufficient goals. One is less structured, one is much more regimented, but I like it, and I like the idea of spending my days learning. And the fact that my parents are buying me a laptop saves me the equivalent sum of money to what I would have spent buying one.

So, on the whole, I think it's a good idea, and I think the productivity will mean more to me in the long run than the extra cash (my savings have been doing pretty well after this year, despite the rather large crash-related hit).

These are my plans. They may not be grand, but I think they'll be just as good.

May 26, 2011

A Wonderful Feeling


Today, my grandparents got back from their winter in Florida, so, of course, they had to come over for dinner. Mom made something yummy, and Grandma found a way to make a dessert that Mom wouldn't object to.

My grandparents, having been in Florida, naturally had not yet seen my prom ensemble. So I left when we were about halfway through washing up to zip myself in and slide (or, erm, wrestle) on my shoes. I love the way the dress feels when I put it on---just the right weight, just enough give in all the right places, the perfect shade of purple. And it's soft on me, and light, unlike the layers I've been piling on for lab every day.

I went into the kitchen and did my best imitation of a model's strut. I stood still and twirled while they preened, Papa being his typically skeevy self and Grandma being nothing but kind. It was nice to be preened over, nice to be the center of attention. When I was, at length, dismissed, I went upstairs rather than back to my room---the closest full-length mirror to my room (discounting my younger sister's, which is small enough that I can't see my entire person in it) is in the exercise room upstairs.

I clacked up the stairs, and I stood on the rubberized mats, and I looked at myself, and I was beautiful. That's how I looked to me, anyways. The right balance between legs and curves, the perfect dress, the perfect shoes, the somewhat glowy smile---perhaps I wasn't wearing glasses, so I couldn't see the flaws, but, in that mirror, I was as sexy as sexy could be. I looked at myself and I saw that ugly duckling daydream, of the great nerd---who is really only nerdy because of her glasses and involuntary participation in some variant of Quiz Bowl---showing up at prom and being suddenly beautiful, suddenly breathtaking, and leaving them all in awe. It's ridiculous, I know, but I felt like I could be Taylor Swift at the end of that cheesy, cheesy music video.

And I didn't care. Seriously. I was more excited about getting into Harvard than I was about this---which is saying something, since the only reason I was even glad I got in was that it meant that Bryant hadn't fared any better than me. I looked at myself, and I could see the dream existing, that little thought in the back of my nerdy mind that I was the belle of some imaginary ball, and I didn't care.

I liked the way I looked, sure. I hopefully will still like it once I get through the actual event (with any luck, it'll be enough to allow me to survive prolonged contact with Peter's mother). But it paled in comparison to my academic accomplishments. RSI, MIT, April 30th, Thiel, even last night's High Honors dinner, was worth more to me than the discovery that someone pretty lurked underneath my cargo shorts. What matters to me is exactly what I have.

It's a triumphant feeling, somehow. I'm not at all certain that I'm expressing it properly, though maybe it doesn't matter. I feel, to use something Meg Cabot liked to have Mia worry about in those Princess Diaries books (the books, mind, not the movies), self-actualized. I'm not sure Mia ever realized what it was---or maybe she did, and I wasn't old enough to appreciate it, so I've forgotten whatever life lesson she picked up---but it was something about knowing who one is and being excited about it. And being an adult, or mature. But I think it was understanding of oneself and satisfaction in that understanding. And right now, I feel like I get it.

It's a wonderful feeling.

May 24, 2011

For Science!

As far as the title goes: please click (link credit goes to Greg).

Science Symposium today. Stupid Jeremy beat me out for a physics award (insert grumbling here). At one point, Billy received an award for being generally great (or something like that...I was sitting in the back reading Quicksilver and not really paying attention). In the department head's explanation, he mentioned that "Billy does an excellent job of showing people that science isn't nerdy---it's awesome!"

I was like, "Wait, what? Science is nerdy!"

Yuma turned to me, his face shocked. "It's awesome because it's nerdy."

Thank you to Yuma for selecting the appropriate response.

May 22, 2011

Progressive Progress

Having a life is substantially more time consuming than I'd originally anticipated.

Since going on internship--well, really since I decided to stop putting effort into schoolwork--I've actually been going out, seeing random movies, shopping, treating myself to tacos, begging Chao to come visit me (I'd count "watching my grandmother get married", but if that had happened first semester I'd still have gone). It's nice, but I feel busy. Which is, I suppose, a good thing. Being not-busy makes me go all twitchy in my head, and then I feel unproductive and silly.

Business is best.

My internship, too, has been phenomenal. I'm learning about obscure genes, and I'm learning biology lab protocols. I successfully didn't contaminate my cells on the first day (though I did flub up on the final step and accidentally suck most of my sample into the vacuum pipette). I also apparently show a talent for tissue culturing, so hopefully that will pan out.

Though I have another paper to read today, and I need to work out some lab protocols, I think. So this post is going to be short.

I really need to devote some time to the mafia game. I keep getting wrapped up in unrelated things. It's a good thing I decided not to be god.

May 17, 2011

Whhheeeeeee


Chem. We learned organic nomenclature. Yuma still does not appreciate being hugged.

Science Research. We watched interviews with Feynman on youtube. I read more of that bio paper I really need to read even more of.

Fiction. Boredom. Book talks.

Math. Again, nothing was done. I think I did four practice polar integrals before the boredom overwhelmed me. But then we went to lunch, which involved food, which is always nice, and then I got Yuma and Ginny and Brian and Nyx to play Contact, which made everything still more better (and the multiple ands? Totally necessary).

Then I at last made up my David Copperfield essay test--for some reason I was required to answer two essay questions, and she only gave me one test booklet, so I wrote two separate essays, each crammed onto two double-sided pieces of extra-wide margin paper. Yay! Talking excessively about Uriah Heep and making uninsightful points!

I then went prom dress shopping with my mother. We went to a bunch of stores, and decided on something that is pretty and purple and not-too-short-not-too-long, which was pretty much exactly what I wanted anyways. Then I went home and didn't do homework.

Not doing homework is becoming a disturbing trend.

The fact that I'm not longer willing to use this medium as a mode of expressing my general sense of "gahh, boys are stupid, mrgh" has made this post somewhat boring. My apologies.

An Actually Somewhat Grand Finale

My last day of high school is now over.

Well, technically, it's still underway--I have a month of internship before I graduate. But no more classes. No more awkward lunches with Peter (though, really, I need to just get comfortable talking to him, because if I don't get over myself prom is going to have a high suckiness potential). No more terrible talent shows, no more "quiet in the halls", no more permissions to enter public spaces of the building.

Not that hacking is going to be allowed, just that it'll be different. I look forward to the entire experience.

That said: no more homework, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks.

On the plus side, though, my beloved friend Julie wrote me a poem that was read aloud during the pilgrimage. I'm typing it up here so that I don't lose it, because it was far to sweet and far to lovely for me to let myself forget it.

Her name's but one way she is always known:
Her purple hair, her brains, her happy tone,
What other ways are there, the color green?
That, too, is a descriptor often seen.
And our Tea towers over most of us,
Though when we comment, she may make a fuss
And say she'd not prefer to be so tall.
Admittedly, she tends to trip and fall,
The only little drawback to her height.
I know that she has college in her sight;
She'll be somewhere in [redacted] in a year,
or sunny Cali. She's a pioneer
and has a plan for the electric grid:
Flow batteries! She just received a bid
To spend two years and start a company,
That's far beyond the reach of you and me.
Between these two she now will have to choose:
Start college, save the world? She cannot lose!
Oh, our Tea, we all know, does love to read
Those math and physics texts, though she will plead:
It doesn't suit her to be just a geek;
Conviction's what you hear when she does speak.
Politically, her goal is women's rights:
One of her main concerns is thus the plights
That girls, when in her field, will sometimes face.
Impostor syndrome: they feel out of place
And never understand what they can do.
She says: if I can do it, you can, too!
In many classes, Tea, she always draws;
Her doodles on her paper are not flaws,
They're simply an expression of her thought,
And still she takes her nots. She really ought
to concentrate a little more in class,
But does well anyway: give her a pass!
Before she graduates and leaves this school,
She'll be on internship at someplace cool:
For four weeks she'll be in a bio lab 
And know cells microscopic as a dab.
Before I also say goodbye and leave,
I'll tell her she'll succeed---to just believe.


This continues to make me all warm and fuzzy inside. It also seems to sum up a lot of what I do, which makes me love Julie all the more for knowing me so well. For the record, any of the rhymes/syllable counts that sound silly were created by me in an attempt to account for changes in my name and location.

I also wrote my own little piece for Yuma.

Oh dear Yuma, from not quite here, his hair's
Not long nor short and neither is it fair---
It's black! His glasses once were rimmed in wire
But then they broke. He used some glue and fire
To make them whole, but bought a different pair.
Today, more stylish glasses he does wear.
He serenades beloved Gin upon
His uke or small guitar. When she bent on 
A-polishing his nails, she made them shine
Gray-silver like robots of his design.
Each week he spends much time a-working hard
To train the frosh to be of high regard.
I say---a lab partner beyond compare
Except, perhaps, in Gretchen, to be fair.
He's great at stats and all things math. I think
His random samples are quite neat. The clink
Or thud of Frisbee falling to the ground---
It is to him familiar a sound.
I wish you luck in measuring the height
Of rolling coins. Do keep your smile bright.


I think I should win some sort of prize for the number of hints to my identity I managed to squeeze into it without being obvious about the hintiness to people other than Yuma. Regardless, the pilgrimage was quite fun, and now I've got the poems recorded for posterity. Good is good.

May 16, 2011

A Very Much Not Grand Finale


Well, I've finished my last high school homework assignment. It's a piece of almost-shit. The characters are still trying to find consistency, the events don't quite flow, the end isn't really even the almost-ending that short stories can get away with. But I'm sleepy, and I'll still pass the class just so long as I find something to hand in. Thus:

Sarah and Charlie were sitting in the airport. She sat up straight, her ankles crossed, her back not in contact with the back of the chair. Her straight brown hair was in a low, smooth ponytail. Her clothes managed to look neat and unwrinkled despite the four hours they’d just spent in the air. Charlie was pressed back, as far as he could go. His legs were stretched out in front of him, his arms fanned out onto the back of the two adjacent seats, Sarah’s included. He looked tired at best, exhausted at worst. His hair—also brown, also straight—was overgrown, half covering his eyes. He made no effort to remove it.

“This is crazy,” said Charlie.

Sarah remained quiet, her lips tight together.

“Seriously, what are we doing?”

“Waiting for the van service,” said Sarah.

“You know that isn't what I meant.”

She ignored him and removed a folder of travel information, pulled out a paper labeled “Airport Transportation,” then used her cell phone to call the number.
Charlie, now, was the stationary one.

“It's waiting outside,” she said, standing up, her back remaining in a forced straight line. “Come on.”

They didn't talk at all during the van ride; they merely looked out the windows. Sarah's eyes focused on each building, and she seemed to be cataloguing everything as it flashed by. Charlie's hair was still in front of his eyes, which were open but not moving in time with the van.

They eventually arrived at the house they'd be staying in. They walked together down the halls, peering into each bedroom. There was the master—large, well-furnished, where their parents would stay when they arrived. A second room had a queen bed and was covered in pastels. It bore a remarkable resemblance to Sarah's bedroom back at home. The next room had two twins, and the entire space was bright. The walls were a deep red, the bedspreads yellow.

“This would be Sia's room.”

“Charlie.” Sarah's voice was sharp.

“It's just like her. She always says her favorite color is 'sun.'”

“Said.”

“What?”

“It's 'said,' Charlie. She always said.”

“Do we have to do that?”

“You can't just pretend she's not dead,” said Sarah, her voice still even.

“Well.” Charlie took a breath, paused for a moment, searching for the words.

“You can't just pretend she never existed.”

“I'm not trying to pretend that.”

“Then why do you get angry as soon as I mention her?” Charlie's voice, unlike Sarah's, was raised.

Sarah inhaled and exhaled slowly.

“Why?” His voice broke in the middle of the short word, slipping up an octave.

“Because for whatever reason, Mom and Dad decided to send us off on this godforsaken vacation while they sorted out the details. They want us to be happy. Sia would be screaming at us to be happy. And I can't be happy when I think about what happened to her.”

“Then think about her before!”

“It's not that easy!”

“Really? I thought controlling her own thoughts would be easy for Ms. Always-in-Control?”

Sarah turned away from him and walked to the room she'd claimed as hers.

The next morning, the two ate breakfast silently—Sarah an omelette cooked perfectly, Charlie an overflowing bowl of cereal. He pushed his hair back a few times and looked at her. He opened his mouth to speak a few times, but seemed to decide against it. She kept her eyes trained on the food, following each bite as it entered her mouth. She finished eating, washed her plate and pan, then went to the door.

“Charlie, I'm going for a walk.”

“Okay.”

“I'll be back later.”

“Okay.”

She walked down the unfamiliar streets for quite some time. The houses varied—in some places, they were simple, cookie-cutter imitations of their neighbors, but in others, they towered behind hedges, each home sculpted differently. Sarah didn't look at the houses, though. Her eyes focused directly ahead, and she walked with even steps, carefully. She didn't know where she was going, not really; she only knew that she had to go somewhere.

She walked on. She walked past neighborhoods and streams, coffeeshops and boutiques, locals and visitors. She saw what she passed, but could not recollect where she'd been even moments before. At some point, she reached a road with an end. The dead end turned into a parking lot, and nested next to this parking lot was a small church.

It wasn't grand at all, just a simple stucco building painted the same color as those around it. Sarah wouldn't have known it for a church at all if not for a billboard behind glass outside.
Sarah had never been one for churches. Dead men on crosses seemed silly, the lessons of the Bible seemed unnecessary explanations for innate wrongs. Yet here she was, at the end of a walk, and here was the church, at the end of a road, so she walked up to the door and entered.
She hadn't realized while she was walking that there was sound, but when the door thudded shut behind her she was startled to discover that here it was silent, quieter than breakfast, quieter than she had been these past days. The windows were dusty and almost-dark, and the light flooded out from them as a dull gold. The pews were empty but for evenly spaced Bibles, and at the front of the room stood an intricate cross, the very sort that usually made Sarah uncomfortable.

Here, though, it fit. She walked forward, her steps echoing through the room without breaking the calm. When she reached the front, she sat down slowly, crossing her legs like a child—like Sia—would sit. She sat there for a long time—seconds, minutes, maybe hours. Her head was tilted up, her body every bit as still as it had been. After a time, though, she began to move. Her spine drooped, her eyes dropped, her hands fell to the ground. She began to cry—quietly, but with tears—and then to shake. Her hands clutched at the floor as she let the rest of her self release, quake, and then calm.

After a time—minutes, seconds, or hours—her tears stopped and her body stilled. She looked up, again, at the cross she still didn't quite understand. “Take care of her,” she whispered.”
“Take care of her,” she said again, louder this time.

She turned and walked out of the church, then walked back to the house, step after step after step. Charlie was inside, still at the table, an empty bowl of cereal in front of him. He spun his spoon, round and round and round, and he peered at a spot on the table in front of the bowl.

“Charlie?” said Sarah.

He looked up.

“I'm home.”

May 15, 2011

Minor Happenings


This evening, I went on an event that resembled a date with our (not so) dear friend Peter. It was boring and not really worth much of the worry that lead up to it. On the plus side, I've emerged with renewed confidence (I can do better!) as well as improved comfort in my independence (I'd have had more fun by myself or with a friend!). Great success!

In other news, we're beginning a new game of mafia. I can say no more without risking death by beheading from Frank, our beloved overlord, so that is all I can reveal with regards to that specific category.

Last night's girly sleepover was quite fun and extremely enjoyable. Organic soda is delicious. Air mattresses are comfy. The companionship of Julie, Cammie, and Gretchen is wonderful.

Why is it that a bad date makes me so happy? More importantly, is this analysis worth performing? Probably not.

I also have a fiction assignment due Tuesday. I have to fictionalize the following memoir and hand it in:

Last summer, on August 2nd, Annie died. She was six years old. She was the child of my father’s stepsister, but I’d known her for all of her six years. I could remember, way back when, visiting her family after she’d just been born, looking at this teeny tiny baby and marveling at how any human being could be that small.

She’d died of a brain hemorrhage. It was bizarre, completely uncontrollable, completely incapable of being healed. There was nothing we could do, though, and I’d never seen death before, never been to a funeral. I hadn’t reached the place where I am now—I suppose it takes a second death for that.

But, regardless, my family had splurged on airline tickets to Colorado months before, flying away for the first time in two nearly two years.

We didn’t want Shelby to have to go to the funeral—Shelby, my baby sister, who already thinks that she’s psychic and is about as emotionally overwhelmed as it’s possible to be already. So my parents stayed for the funeral, and they sent my sisters and I jetting off across the country. The three of us spent a week in a house by ourselves, learning independence, messing up the cooking, wandering off, looking for our own sources of closure. Sometimes, the funeral doesn’t help.

May 14, 2011

Q&A

Question: Have I always been insane?

Answer: Yes.

Question: I would like to put a label on this so I know what's going on.

Answer: So, should we go this week or next week?

Notice the differences.

May 13, 2011

Whhheeeeeee


Chem. We learned organic nomenclature. Yuma still does not appreciate being hugged.

Science Research. We watched interviews with Feynman on youtube. I read more of that bio paper I really need to read even more of.

Fiction. Boredom. Book talks.

Math. Again, nothing was done. I think I did four practice polar integrals before the boredom overwhelmed me. But then we went to lunch, which involved food, which is always nice, and then I got Yuma and Ginny and Brian and Nyx to play Contact, which made everything still more better (and the multiple ands? Totally necessary).

Then I at last made up my David Copperfield essay test--for some reason I was required to answer two essay questions, and she only gave me one test booklet, so I wrote two separate essays, each crammed onto two double-sided pieces of extra-wide margin paper. Yay! Talking excessively about Uriah Heep and making uninsightful points!

I then went prom dress shopping with my mother. We went to a bunch of stores, and decided on something that is pretty and purple and not-too-short-not-too-long, which was pretty much exactly what I wanted anyways. Then I went home and didn't do homework.

Not doing homework is becoming a disturbing trend.

The fact that I'm not longer willing to use this medium as a mode of expressing my general sense of "gahh, boys are stupid, mrgh" has made this post somewhat boring. My apologies.

May 10, 2011

Developments

So Yuma came off the waitlist of [school of choice]--I really need to come up with a nickname for said school, but I'll get to it later. Anyways, I am adding Yuma to my list of college buddies, and I'm probably going to get even more annoying about talking about [school of choice], but I am super duper excited and really proud of him for being one of a very small number of students admitted off of said waitlist.

Well, there was someone on here whose nickname was Clay prior to today...I've decided to change it. So, now it's Peter. This made no difference in anybody's life, I'm sure, but, trust me, it was necessary. People whose blog names look like real-life names of different people get to be confusing, particularly in light of current developments (why yes, I did just insert the title of the post into the post in a deliberately cheesy fashion).

Lucas told me a story today about Gunnar, one of my campers this summer. Apparently, one time in his younger years, Gunnar ate so many tootsie rolls at Lucas's grandmother's house that he upchucked. This is funny because Gunnar is very intelligent and does not usually do things with such clearly negative consequences.

Yeah, terrible story. I'm going to change all the Clays in the archives to Peters now.

May 8, 2011

Things Found While Cleaning My Room

  • Five buckeyballs
  • My RSI Summerbook
  • The block of wood I cut when first learning to use a table saw (note: this was two weeks ago)
  • Money
  • More money
  • Saudi Arabian money
  • JSHS Pen
  • A broken watch
  • My Princeton Preview lanyard, which I'm keeping for the summer because it is very high quality.
  • A "This is what a feminist looks like" bumper sticker
  • A sexy silver lanyard I have no recollection of previously seeing
  • 5 towels in various stages of dirtiness
  • The bookmark I got for buying a prom ticket 
  • 70 more buckeyballs
  • Approximately 600 tampons (note: hyperbole)
  • My MIT CPW folder (MIT! <3 <3 <3)
  • This was the point at which I became fed up and threw everything remaining into one large bin.
In other news, I went prom dress shopping and came home with two new pairs of shorts and some chocolates for my beloved mother, but no prom dress. Sweet success!

May 7, 2011

A Not-So-Grand Finale

Today was my last SHP class ever, and I missed all but the last 40 minutes of it. My wallet somehow managed not to be in my bag when I got on the train. I didn't get my ticket checked until the train was in Stanford, which meant that I waited 50 minutes for the next train, then rode another half hour back to home, where I removed my wallet from the truck--my parents, blessed beings that they are, had found it and brought it to the station for me--and sprinted to the tracks in hopes of catching a train that had just arrived.

I was, unfortunately, unable to catch that train, but I managed the one about 15 minutes later, so that was alright. However, in the process of chasing after it, I discovered that I am, in fact, very much not in shape. This means that, if ever I run after something important, I will not be able to reach it, which is, of course, undesirable. I am going to attempt to use this as an impetus for further athletic activity. Whether or not I am successful remains to be seen.

Regardless, I was able to meet two of my future charges after class--they are adorable. I am already mentally babying people less than a year younger than me! So excited!

May 5, 2011

Musings on Nothing

I am cold. For some reason, the temperature of the air when I'm walking outside in the sun doesn't translate well to the inside of my room.

I am hungry. Apparently the cupcakes I devoured during lunch were not sufficient to hold me over. The dry rice crispies that my tutor-ee and I ate while I was teaching her to classify triangles was also not enough...Shelby just came in to call me to dinner. More later.

It is now later. Dinner was chicken parmesan, and it was delicious. I wish that I was capable of spelling delicious without the assistance of spellcheck, I really do. I'm now trying to think of what happened today in an attempt to come up with something halfway worth reading. The squabbles in the truck on the way to school with Genie and Shelby, for example, do not qualify as interesting. Nor does the fact that our household ran out of 2% milk.

I keep wanting to add \ to the front of the percent. LaTeX is slowly doing me in.

I have been be-ticketed for prom. I let Peter pay for my ticket--I'm not sure that I should have, but he said that he was in a brook-no-arguments sort of tone that really ought to have bothered me but didn't. Dad advised me, when I was worrying over it later, that his mother was probably paying for it, and she'd given me at least eighty dollars of grief over the years, so I really shouldn't worry. Ginny and Yuma have also both be-ticketed themselves--I'm not totally clear on whether her parents are aware that she's going with Yuma, though I don't know how much they'd care at this current point in time anyways.

I hope Ginny starts blogging again when she gets to college, because I'd like to have some way to keep up with her life. Hopefully I will have more to write about than just psets, and this will be a decent medium for keeping up with my life.

The second half of my physics final was uneventful. At least, I think it was uneventful--first period isn't usually clear enough in my memory for trustworthy recollections. My free periods in the caf dragged on for far too long. Facebook ate a bunch of notifications. I should probably play the piano but lack the motivation.

I've continued reading Woolf's The Voyage Out. Her characters are remarkably realistic. I feel like I know them, and they're tangible, and yet they're far too complex for me to predict their behaviors. It's a big departure from Sanderson's characters--his women in particular seem to all be somewhat similar, a complaint that's frequently been made of Jordan's work, which is interesting. But, then again, Woolf is on a whole different playing field.

I'm going to go back to my reading.

May 3, 2011

Finishing The Way of Kings

Brandon Sanderson sure is good at writing an ending. His beginnings can get confusing--I feel like he occasionally forgets that not everyone has an extensive background in the worlds inside his head, but hanging on through well-written confusingness is far from a chore. There was a period in the middle that lagged; because so many characters were started up at once, it took a while to figure out and care about where the plot could actually be going. But the ending? Awesome. Tied together plot lines cleanly without the barrage of Elantris, while still leaving room to grow. And just generally amazing. I'm seriously desperate for the next one to come out, now.

I keep coming back to what someone told me a few weeks ago, that all of his books--at least, I think it was all, though I'm not certain of Warbreaker (or whatever the one with the colors was)--exist in one universe. I feel like there are connections there that I'm only just beginning to piece together, overlapping bits and pieces that half make sense...I love that feeling. It's like the moment of embarking on a good research project, once you've working out your direction and know that the answer is there, and you know where to look, you just need to figure out precisely how, and then get down and look for it.

I love that feeling.

Mom wants help with dinner, so I've gotta go. Think of Ginny and her "day of wreckoning" construction hat while I'm gone.

May 2, 2011

Physics Study Party

Things I have done since embarking on this ridiculous task:

  • Chatted on facebook with Leila
  • Gchatted with Maxwell
  • Talked about testicular tension with Nyx and Josh, the my two fellow participants in this party of ridiculousness.
  • Drank tangello juice
  • Read over the list of MIT housing seminars
  • Attempted to find a complete online physics test
  • Gave Nyx unnecessary advice on how to study
  • Removed 96% of the clothing on my floor from my floor
  • Spot treated my mattress pad
  • Listened to Nyx explain rref in matrices to Josh
  • Facebook chatted briefly with Jordan, who is on my list of people I want to be friends with when I get to college. 
  • Stopped chatting with Jordan because she said that the AP Physics test was hard, and she went to physics camp, so I figured I should study--though she's probably just one of those people who says stuff is hard that isn't, I dunno.
  • Played with Buckeyballs
  • Ate dinner
  • Started one AP Physics problem
  • Got bored
  • Announced intention of not studying
  • Gossiped
  • Sent emails about prom dress shopping
  • Worried about prom being awkward
  • Laughed at the spelling of the word awkward
  • Worried about the fact that this list is probably not as funny as previous list
  • Noted that nearly all of Josh's clothing is logowear related to his future college
  • Congratulated self for using the proper where/wear in the above bullet point
  • Listened to Nyx talk to herself

May 1, 2011

Societal Implications

When I visited Princeton, my host Eve had to ditch me to go to crew practice pretty much exactly when everyone arrived. I also managed to arrive while all of my fellow prefrosh were involved in a mandatory activity, which meant that I was alone. I was also in an unfamiliar place, and tired, and Princeton is always pretty quiet, so there weren't even random people around for me to go talk to, so I was lonely.

I went to a meeting of the entrepreneurial society. It was boring--most of the people seemed like they were leaping after whatever idea could net them a lot of money. It bugged me, since my motivation was to make a difference in the environment and electricity distribution and generation anywhere I could (at this point, I was still deciding whether to take the Fellowship, so this was relevant). At some point, another prefrosh (I don't know his name, but he had an orange lanyard and was very attractive (not that the second bit is at all relevant)) left, so I waited about a minute and then skipped out. I texted Julie soon after that, and went to meet her in a courtyard (Princeton has a lot of courtyards. So many that I think they may cease to be courtyards and just turn into a giant field of grass that happens to be occasionally interrupted by buildings). It should be noted that chronology is loose, and events may not have actually occurred in the order they appear here.

Julie was sitting with two of her host's suitemates as well as another prefrosh (I actually ran into this prefrosh again at Visitas. She recognized me. I didn't remember her. First, I blamed it on thinking she wasn't a prefrosh, then on the fact that she'd been wearing sunglasses). The girls started talking about the best places to party on campus--not a topic of great interest to the three prospective physics majors. Then we got a detailed description of the eating clubs, including some rude words about the fact that the engineers just like to hang out at their's on your average Friday night.

I have to admit that, by that point, I wasn't particularly fond of them.

I know there was a reason that I decided to tell this story. I have this recollection that the point of the story was the conversation with Julie and the others.

I remember! The students asked us what we did as extracurriculars--how do we occupy our time not at school?

Forgotten prefrosh said dance, or something like that.

Julie said track and The Challenge, I think.

They looked at me expectantly. "Um...science?"

"No, outside of school."

"I do research. Or go to different classes. Or read about science or apply for sciencey things."

They looked at me as if I were some sort of alien. It was disconcerting, to say the least.

--------------------------------

I believe that I also promised the complex manifolds story, so here goes that.

Once upon a time, long, long ago (so long ago that it was, in fact, the weekend of April 9th-10th of 2011) and far, far away (so far away that it was, in fact, in Cambridge, Massachusetts), James fell asleep.

Now, James is the sort of person who does not like to admit that he would fall asleep unintentionally. However, his good friends Tea and Hyunmi, as well as his new acquaintance Victor, were aware of this fact. Thus, Hyunmi recorded a video of Tea talking about the fact that James was sleeping, as well as the visual of James sleeping.

When James awoke, he claimed the video was a forgery, but I'm sure you all know who was the right in this argument.

Regardless, the following weekend, the group--not including Victor, who had had the good sense to make his college decision early--was reunited. They spent much time in each other's company, not sleeping.

On the second night of not sleeping, it was 3:30 am, and they were very tired. However, they knew that this would be their last night together for a very long time. They also knew that if they left the common room of this random dorm that Felix had so kindly let them into, they would be unable to return.

Thus, it was with heavy hearts that they decided to take a two hour nap. Tea fell asleep quickly. This storyteller is unable to comment on the time to sleep of James and Hyunmi, but is confident that it was quite short. Tea awoke two hours later to the quiet conversation of Hyunmi and Felix. James, however, was still asleep.

Tea, Hyunmi, and Felix attempted to wake James. They spoke his name loudly. They laughed loudly. Tea poked and prodded him repeatedly. Hyunmi also participated in some quantity of poking and prodding. Eventually, it reached a point where his eyes were open, but he was not yet capable of logical conversation.

However, Tea embarked on the ambitious task of keeping his eyes from staying shut. Whenever they dropped, she would poke him again. This went on for some time. Eventually, Tea grew tired of leaning all the way over to reach the other couch. She pushed James's legs over and sat on the other end of the couch on which he was no longer sleeping. The next time his eyes were open, she informed him on no uncertain terms that, in the event that his lids fell again, she would sit on him. Even this attempt proved unsuccessful--both threats and actual sitting were insufficient cause for wakefulness.

Tea settled back onto the other end of the couch, annoyed at the ineffectiveness of her methods.

Then, James began to speak. "What are my soles connected to?" he said.

"What?" asked Tea.

James mumbled. She poked him.

"What did you say?"

"What are my soles connected to?"

She looked at his feet. "My hip?"

Hyunmi and Felix were watching him, somewhat concerned.

"No, no," said James.

Tea looked to Hyunmi and Felix for help. They laughed, but could provide no further clues.

James questioned them a few more times before they decided to leave him be for a little while. When he eventually awoke, they asked what he had been asking.

He tilted his head, his eyes looking at the same far away place that people examine when they perform mental calculations. "I thought," he said, "that we were in a non-euclidian manifold."

The others laughed. Few people other than James would use that sort of vocabulary to describe early-morning hallucinations.

"But what does that mean?" asked Tea. "I don't speak math."

"Oh," said James. "It's a manifold that doesn't always simplify to a plane. Some of its points are connected to points that aren't necessarily nearby, as we'd think of it. Like, I might drop my cellphone and it would reappear above my head, because points below were connected to those on the top."

"But what were you asking?"

"I thought my feet were connected to something else, and I was hoping one of you would know."