Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday 29

So originally my plan for this blog was strictly to discuss designs for things I've made, plan to make more things, and connect my contributions from sites like instructables to one another. I intended to show very little of me and certainly never talk about anything personal. I've since realized that what I crave (at least from time to time) is someplace where I can be what I'm not the rest of the time: as the band Fuel put it, someplace where I can be something like human.

It's probably something deeper and more tragic, but I ascribe my irl departure from humanness to the two semesters I spent earning A minuses in organic chemistry last year. This is a class that (at least at UPS) meets four days a week at 800am, with an additional 4 hour lab one day of the week. In Tacoma, from November to Febrary, the sun has not risen at this point. Those two facts coupled with the ensuing love-hate relationship with caffiene and pressure of other classes (of which at least one other has another four hour lab) make ALL ochem students TOTAL ZOMBIES. Being a zombie isn't as bad as it seems, especially when you're taking ochem. In fact it's a necessary part of writing any lab reports for any college level chemistry class.

The chemistry lab report is a torture device designed for use against bio majors, especially those minoring in chemistry; those with a dangerously intimate relationship to the field see it more as an instrument of autoerotic masochism. For the former group, the point is to spend days and days discussing a laboratory experiment through groups of letters, numbers, punctuation, and the occasional word arbitrarily named "sentences" such that the end product (maybe 3 pages long) appears computer generated. Here's an example:

"Uncatalyzed Diels-Alder Reaction of 1-methoxy-1,3-butdiene and acrolein. Acrolein (20 μL, 18.3 mg, 0.33 mmol) and 1-methoxy-1,3-butadiene (30 μL, 25 mg, 0.30 mmol) were dispensed into an NMR tube in CDCl3 (1 mL) and heated in warm water at 38oC for 1 week. The reaction was followed by NMR spectra taken daily. The racemic product was then characterized by chiral GC (figure 5). 1H-NMR: δ 1.85 (m, 2H), 2.01 (m, 2H), 2.55 (dt, J=5.50, #, 1H), 3.35 (s, 3H), 4.07 (t, J=3.66, 1H), 5.96 (m, 2H), 10.07 (s, 1H)."

So you did that about 10-15 times during the year. You notice it starting to affect your other writing. Your sentences start out passive, and you start inserting "active" words on purpose to make up for it. Your vocabulary narrows, and you can't describe anything elegantly. You can't write poetry. It starts spreading to the rest of your life; your automatic function is zombie, and you start inserting "human" signals on purpose to make up for it. But just as the comics and novels end up revealing, underneath the rotted flesh and behind the moaning demand of "BBRRAAAIINNNSS" there is indeed an amygdala in a functioning lymbic system. Play the you zombie a song like King's Crossing or Twilight off of From a Basement on the Hill while you're sitting at a table in Diversions waiting for your tall cappucino with english toffee (because she insists there is no gingerbread--she's lying) only to find that she took your order for a 20oz drink. Oh, and you don't know anyone there and everyone else knows everyone else. It's a small school, it's pretty typical.

I've been listening to Elliott Smith a lot lately, but I feel it affects me differently than it would for other people. It would probably be too heartbreaking for most...I need to remember to send it to my brother. just where is he....Honestly, I wasn't interested in him or his music until I heard how he died. It just wouldn't have had the same allure if he were still alive; think of the guy from The Cure and Michael Akerfeldt from Opeth. They got so lame, and so too would Elliott had he survived his withdrawal from alcohol and everything else he was quitting cold turkey at the time, including red meat and wheat. When I listen to his interviews, it's hillarious how much of a sad bastard he is. It's just so foreboding, and you can't help but know he liked to make himself miserable, and everything went the way everything would have gone if he could have done it all over again. He was the sort of person who needed to be horribly depressed despite being widely worshipped. He always depicted himself as somekind of shellshocked war hero, who looked forward to a bitter and tragic end. I guess that's why he pulled the knife out and stabbed himself a second time; I totally believe his girlfriend had nothing to do with it, except being involved in a really crazy fight. Let's just say I can relate.

Things turned out alright after geology. Our substitute professor was hillarious, let us out early, and relieved me of my current event presentation responsibilities. I think I'll put up a post later today with those croquis. It won't involve any whining.

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