Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm not dead yet!

I know, I should really save that particular Python reference for when I disappear for longer than a week, but still. My computer has been at the Apple store for a week getting repaired-- part of the charger had broken off inside the computer, and they needed to replace it.

Of course, I wouldn't have had to have it replaced at all if my dorm room had been better designed. There are only outlets on one half of the room, and we're technically not allowed to have extension cords. As a result, my laptop charger has to be stretched all the way across the room so that I can charge it while I work on my bed.

It fits, but barely-- the cord runs along the ground, but it's pretty taut. Usually, people just step over it-- hell, even standing on top of it's not going to break the damn thing. Unfortunately, coordination and common sense are inversely related to alcohol consumption, as can be seen in the following graph:
It's a little fuzzy, but you should get the idea.

As a result, Party Roommate and her posse, when they stumble in at various times in various states of inebriation manage to trip over the cord and pull it out of my computer. Over time, people have done this so often that the tip of the charger snapped off and was lodged inside, so that I couldn't charge the battery, and thus could not use my computer.

However, I have my baby back now... and I'm bringing an extension cord back with me after break.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sad news.

I just got home for winter break, and my mother informed me that my cat died last Thursday.

There won't be an entry tomorrow for this reason.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Printer Debacle

I’ve been learning a lot about people since I started living with two of them. Three teenaged girls sharing a room that measures approximately 13’x18’ can never go well. It can go horribly, it can go badly, or it can go without major incident, but it can never go well.

The three of us are about as different as it is possible to get at our school—one’s a hard-partying artist who sleeps during the day and schedules her classes as late as she possibly can, one’s a quasi-hippie oboist who spends her time talking to her Harvard boyfriend or at swim practice, and one’s me. That Girl.

We’ve rearranged the furniture at least three times, trying to maximize the fung shui (read: trying to get the most available floor space possible). We have a nice room, but the fact remains that there is just too much shit in it—three beds (two bunked), three desks (two against one wall and a third smaller one by the door, where I sit now), a wardrobe (for the unlucky girl who doesn’t get a real closet), and a minifridge add a lot of clutter. It probably doesn’t help that none of us are fastidious about our things, so each area looks like a small zone of organized chaos.

I actually don’t want to rant about my roommates in general—we have our moments, but they’re good people. I’m just amused by a single incident that happened one morning.

Since I’m completely insane, I have classes before 9:15 three out of five weekdays. Monday is my 9:05 class, and I had to print out my final paper to hand in before I went. It was about 8:30, which is admittedly too early to be out of bed, but not too early to be awake in bed. I printed out the 20-page monstrosity, did my hair, collected my work, and slid down the snowy path to the student center so I could get tea before class.

After class, I get back to my room and fall on my bed in the universal “exhausted student” manner, not realizing that my roommate was sitting on her bed. I am startled by a voice descending from the top bunk. The conversation goes as follows:

Hippie Roommate: You know you almost got killed this morning
That Girl: …What?
HR: Your printer is fucking LOUD.
That Girl: I’m… sorry?
HR: Like, I know you probably got caught off-guard or something, but could you not print things before, like, 8AM?
That Girl: (muttering) It was 8:30.
HR: (not hearing) We’ve got the software for Party Roommate’s printer, so you can put that on your computer so you don’t need to have your printer here anymore. It takes up space. And it’s loud.
That Girl: O…kay. Yeah.

Now, am I alone in thinking that this is a weird complaint? That my printer is too loud, and that I should not print things before my class? If I were up all night maniacally printing a copy of the full text of War and Peace while cackling loudly, sure I could see them asking that I don’t do it anymore. But printing a paper at 8:30 before I go to class? Is that so wrong?

Have I lost touch with reality that much?

If I have, I really don’t think I care. Just watch, I’m going to instigate my own little Printer Rebellion. Even when I don’t have papers due, I’ll print them out anyway! I’ll kill the environment, and piss off my roommates simultaneously! EULALIA!

I’d also like to note that they do things that piss me off, too. I just haven’t yet seen fit to sit down and talk about most of them.

For example, Party Roommate just bought a little Mr. Coffee maker. Fair enough, I have an illegal hot pot and make tea about thirty-two times a day. However you need your caffeine, I’m not begrudging you that.

The problem is that the smell of coffee gives me a headache. Especially hazelnut blends.

The laws of irony being as they are, guess what Party Roommate drinks! She doesn’t usually make it until after I leave for my first class of the day, but then I get back to the room and am overwhelmed by a scent that nearly knocks me over.

You know how some people associate pleasant smells with pleasant experiences and sensations—something that reminds them of the beach, or their grandmother’s house? It’s like that, except instead of sunshine, sand, and waves or cookies and love, hazelnut-blend coffee instantly transports me to Hell. I can almost see Satan there, laughing at me as I wince in a haze of hazelnut-blend induced pain.

But I’m not going to say anything, because I’m the nonconfrontational one. I’ll just bitch about it to everyone else until one day, something really trivial sends me over the edge and I’ll be sent off to the psych ward.

At least then my headaches will stop.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Occam's Razor and Stupid College Students.

People are fucking stupid.

I know, I know, I know. That’s a well-established fact. It’s practically my mantra. It’s almost incontrovertible enough to get it tattooed across my body for all the world to see. The only things you can count in are death, taxes, and the stupidity of the human race.

But I recently got an e-mail that just further cemented that belief. It combines two of the most popular rant topics: human stupidity, and the state of American education.

For one of my classes, I had to give a presentation of a YouTube video that had something to do with science. I chose the ever popular “spiders on drugs” video (just search for “spiders on drugs” at YouTube). During my presentation, I went through the scientific method, and mentioned something about Occam’s Razor. It was completely in context and appropriately used—I made sure of that.

During the presentation, my classmates wrote down comments, which the professor typed up (presumably to remove the temptation to analyze the handwriting and corner those who didn’t like our presentation in a dark alleyway on campus) and e-mailed to the entire class.

He didn’t just send us the comments pertaining to our own presentations-- that would have made sense! Instead, he sent us a thirteen-page word document of every single comment written about everyone. He didn’t even separate them by person—just one long list, which left us to figure out which of the approximately 325 comments were about us.

A saner person might have said ‘fuck it.’ I, of course, read all thirteen pages.

Most of the comments were bland and unhelpful. “Don’t read off the powerpoint slides.” “Don’t shuffle around.” "Cursing is inappropriate in a classroom environment."

There was one, however, that caught my eye. I read it about three times before I understood what my classmate was trying to say:

“Still confused, talked as if the reactions were real. Acombs razor? What did that have to do with anything? How do we know this is true. Should have had better explanation of elements of science”

I still don’t quite understand the first part—I think that they were asking if I thought that spiders exposed to THC actually built hammocks and lazed around, watching other spiders work.

What astonished me was the phrase “Acombs razor.” Not Occam’s razor, to be sure. Acombs razor.

If I ran into you on the street and you didn’t know what Occam’s razor meant, I would probably be nonplussed. But this was not an encounter from some banal reality TV show. This was a comment from someone who had ostensibly met rigorous academic criteria to get into college—someone who was supposed to be elite. Judging from the makeup of the class I was in, someone who was planning on majoring in the natural sciences.

And they had no idea what Occam’s razor even meant.

For those of you who don’t, I’ll explain. Occam’s razor is a principle often invoked in discussion of theories. It states that “all other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” Effectively, if you have several theories that result in the same phenomenon, chances are good that the simplest will be the real explanation.

I just can’t get it through my mind that someone who is supposed to be intelligent has no idea that this principle exists. They didn’t say that I’d misused the term; they didn’t ask me to clarify what I meant by it; they had no idea what it was. They didn’t even know how it was spelled!

No one teaches logic anymore. The only reason I know most of what I do about logic (you can interchange many topics with the word “logic” here, but that’s yet another rant) is because I research it on my own time. I’m incredibly self-educated—I read everything I can get my hands on, and I look up almost everything that I don’t understand. I hate not knowing something—why is that not the case with other people?

I almost wouldn’t be so pissed about this if anyone had any common sense whatsoever. The other night, at around 11:30 PM, the fire alarm went off. Silently thanking whatever god may exist that I hadn’t been in the shower at the time, I made my way downstairs and outside, where I learned that the alarm had been set off because some idiot had left popcorn in the microwave for too long and started a fire.

How the fuck do you get the be eighteen years old, moderately intelligent, and not know how to make a bag of microwave popcorn without burning down an entire dorm building? It’s not that complicated—you take off the plastic, make sure the side that says “this side up” is facing up, and set the microwave for three minutes. Then you stay in the kitchenette until the popcorn is done, take it out, open at the end that says “open here,” and enjoy the buttery goodness. I've been doing it myself since I was six-- are you really stupider than someone who hasn't yet encountered the concept of multiplication?

Sometimes, I wish I lived in an island community that you had to pass tests to get into. Intelligence tests, common sense tests, and personality assessments. Problem is, the rest of the world would probably go to Hell and drag us down with them.


Monday, December 10, 2007

I am That Girl-- No Bullshit.

I am That Girl.

No bullshit. You’ve heard about square pegs and round holes? Fuck that. I’m a heptagonal peg—that’s seven sides for anyone out there who failed geometry-slash-never read the Sideways Stories from Wayside School series—and I have yet to find a heptagonal hole.

Although technically, I think I’m the heptagonal hole waiting for a heptagonal peg.

I’m currently just over halfway through my first semester at a well-respected liberal arts college (meaning that I have the phrases “liberal arts” and “creative thought” bombarding me from every conceivable direction), and it’s taken me less than a semester to realize what a freak I really am.

In high school, I kept holding out for that magical, mystical land of college, where I would be free to go gamboling through fields and cavorting with other people who were just like me, while we drank lots of alcohol and wrote brilliant essays that changed the world.

I suppose one out of four isn’t too bad.

Suffice it to say, I thought that when I left the safety zone of my suburban hometown, I’d meet other weird people like me. After all, we’d all chosen to go to the same college, right?

Yeah, except that I’m apparently strange on a whole different level than the rest of the human race. It’s not that people dislike me, though I’ve been described as abrasive in the past, it’s that they don’t get me. I have an extremely odd sense of humor that really shouldn’t be defined, and no real filter between my brain and my mouth—although the filtration system inside my brain might rival Costner’s contraption in Waterworld.

I’ll use last night as an example: I went to the school’s improv comedy troupe show and yelled out increasingly obscure suggestions (Captain Planet makes a fascinating party guest, if you care). Then I was told there was a theater party later that night, with a theme of dressing up as someone else from the department. I unfortunately couldn’t get my friend to agree to switch clothes with me, so we went to the party and lied about being each other. No one was sober enough to care. It didn’t take long for me to realize: I’m on the fringe of most groups. I fit… sort of.

For those of you who don’t remember the wonderful years of your life known as ‘adolescence’ (which anagrams to “cad cones eel,” which sounds about as dirty as adolescence ought to be), the theater kids are the ultimate in mixing popularity with oddness. We have themed parties, we spend far too much time together, and often have a reputation as the most oversexed social group as a whole, matched mostly by the gay-straight alliance group.

There is a sizable overlap.

The result of being That Girl is that I look at the world with a rather unique blend of bemusement and amusement (that description makes me sound like an exotic tea. I like tea.) leading to observations that I tend to think are mildly profound.

Of course, that means that they’re not. I can still dream.

I don’t hate people, really—they fascinate me. I just don’t get them. It’s like Jane Goodall with the chimps, but if she actually looked like a chimp. I just want to watch them and try to figure out what the fuck they’re doing all the time.

That’s a really shitty analogy. Sorry.

Regardless, I am That Girl, and welcome to my blog.

Mind you don’t slip on the dripping sarcasm.