Things are going well for me. Dr. M has slowed down my work on the organic matter project to a crawl while Jenn runs an experiment. Either that, or I am supposed to be crunching the data already, and I just don’t know it yet.
That leaves me with energy to work on the TiON project (the semiconductor), which is good, since P., who is really supposed to be the principal student investigator at Rose, just started his position as a counselor at a Calculus program Rose runs, reducing his hours to maybe three hours a day. He was kind enough to leave me with a botched actinometry experiment I must re-run today. Where I go after that, I don’t know. We don’t have the TiON we’re supposed to, although we do have some TiO2 we can perfect our methods on.
Quite frankly, I’m concerned for Rose-Hulman’s position in this research. Dr. M is on this project as an experienced photochemist, and her name on the proposal (along with the goals of the experiment, of course) must have gone some way towards getting it granted. (As an interesting sidenote, this woman has been getting 100% of her proposals granted since coming to Rose, according to the Department Head of Chemistry; I think she did some awesomeness when she was getting her doctorate.) The problem is, I question P.’s ability; this guy has had at least an entire year’s more chemistry experience than me, and in all the fields with which we’re dealing: a deeper-level general chemistry than I took, analytical chemistry (including HPLC and gas chromatograph operation and solution-making), and organic chemistry, all of which give him a grasp of the fundamentals of chemistry that leaves me in the dust.
So why is he hurrying through solution-making, double-dipping pipettes, setting us back days at a time, and being difficult about dedicating time? Dr. M and I wasted two entire days running an actinometry experiment and trying to get a calibration curve on the HPLC, only to find we had multiple peaks (suggesting multiple compounds in our standards), and a big ol’ peak in pure water. It turns out the acetonitrile we were using as the mobile phase in the HPLC had been contaminated with the analyte we were looking for. I don’t mind the guy personally, despite his clingy, “I need a babysitter/mommy” attitude (okay, so maybe I do mind him), but this won’t fly in the Fall, when I won’t be there to clean up the messes (that sounds really arrogant, but at this point, it’s what I’m doing). Who’s going to do it? Dr. M, who will then be managing four projects? She might as well be doing all the hands-on stuff herself, and pocket that extra grant money. (Which, of course, she doesn’t have time to do, since she’s teaching “anal chem”, as Mae and I have dubbed it.)
Ah, yes. Mae. She disappeared from these annals a couple of months ago when she swept the proverbial rug out from under my feet and we ceased to talk. (This would have been shortly before I moved into the Thorn office.) Things were mended some weeks later, but school was ending and I was hesitant to simply dive back in as though nothing has changed. Things seem to be the same as they were before–conversation flows just as well and on just as many topics as it always has, but if she knocked me off balance once (and at a bad time for my mental health, at that), she can do it again, and one thing I value in my friends, including Mae, is stability.
But then, strangely enough, I have never been one to hold myself in reserve with potential and actual friends. “Strangely”, because that’s a decidedly optimistic trait, and I think usually I fall more into the “realist” category. When I want to get to know someone, I have no problem offering up personal details to promote free trade. This lack of reservation gets me odd looks from some, I think. This has also gotten me burned occasionally when I hadn’t quite ascertained the incompatibilities in personalities, but that will always happen. I refuse to be a secretive, mysterious person, on whole; “ask and ye shall receive” and all that goodness.
So things are good with Mae again, and I am damned glad. Who else’s shoulder am I going to cry on when I do poorly in class or am generally feeling like shit?
Speaking of reservations, how’s this for some shit: my father bought a new car, some Dodge Neon sports car that’s got more horsepower than the second engine he had them drop into his old Acura RSX. My mother’s purpose for telling me was that the car is a stick, and she suspects the Old Man will be sleeping with one eye open when I return in a few weeks, trying to check which key I took and where I’m going. So I get off the phone, and tell Jenn that my Old Man got a new car (and that he traded in his ’97 Camerro to do so, leaving them with still only two cars). She said something to the effect of “But don’t you need a car?”
I proceeded to give her a short lesson in personal responsibility; since when is it their fault that I don’t have a car?
Her reply was (again, paraphrased), “I’m glad my parents are generous whenever I need something. I needed a car, and they got me one.”
That’s cute. Funny, so did mine. I just happened to kill the engine in it and then ask them to go out of their way to come get me. They also dropped about $400 in my mouth, $300 for the round-trip plane ticket to Terre Haute, $300 for first rent/supplies upon my moving into the house, and close to a grand (if not over) during the school year when I needed it, all without the stipulation of me paying them back. How much money are they obligated to throw at me before they cut off their nearly twenty-year old daughter? And Jenn is twenty-one. Is this continued dependence something to be proud of? I am going to give them about a grand (more, if I can cover it, after setting aside for books for first term) of this research money when I get back to Charlotte, rather than overloading to get my chemistry minor or buying a car. This will only cover the money they spent on me in the four weeks I was in Charlotte.
Speaking of Jenn, I discovered in the middle of last week that the only way I’m going to be able to get in running reliably is if I start going early in the morning with Jenn. She changed her schedule last week such that she goes early in the morning, meaning I don’t have any weight-lifting or set-aside running time in the SRC anymore. I’d planned on running after work, then, around the neighborhood. Nuh-uh. Not going to work. This I discovered when Dr. M kept us until 18:00 when I had a Thorn meeting (or maybe the coffee thing with the Cool CS Guy–last week was a long one) at 19:00. One cannot get in an hour run and a shower in only an hour, and just a half hour run basically adds up to junk miles unless I really push it. That’s just not zesty because I’m still aiming for endurance, not speed. The day before that, I was just fucking tired, and I think it was pouring outside. So as of last Thursday, I’m up at 05:15 to run at 05:30 on the campus track. Jenn hits the bike path that I used to walk on last year, but I still want the structure of knowing the distances and being able to track shoe mileage and pace. The bad thing is that I’m still limited to an hour, because that’s how much time Jenn allots for herself. Ah, well. C’est la vie.
I use weekend runs in the neighborhood for more “relaxed” runs, where I don’t watch my pace. I go as fast as is safe on the broken sidewalks around here, I don’t track distance (they’re pretty much junk miles, anyway), and I don’t worry about controlling my breathing–I zig-zag through the neighborhood, letting things just flow. It’s a very “weekend” thing to do, I suppose. The nice thing is it’s never hot enough here to keep me from running, even at midday or in the afternoon.
Speaking of nothing slowing me down, I ate chicken for dinner Thursday night. Ain’t that some shit? My first meat in four years. I didn’t get sick, and it tasted good. I don’t know that I’ll do it again, but there was no psychological explosion or anything. I ate, I stayed up for the next hour in case I got sick, then I went to bed. Labelling aside, I don’t know quite where to go from here; I’m much more comfortable not eating meat, since it’s easier to avoid food poisoning in preparation, and since my hankering for it has dissipated. However, there remain those old health concerns with regards to protein and iron. It’s something to think on, at least.
In other news, I’m taking time off from reading chemistry articles to tear through Steven Pinker’s Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. Very, very interesting book, and I’ve already filled one bookmark with references I’m going to try to hunt down. Right now Pinker is going into the two major schools of thought (Chomsky, et al. versus Rumelhart and McClelland) in language development in order to present his own theory. Despite the fact that Rumelhart and McClelland’s theory touches on neural networking and some computer science-esque stuff, this isn’t what fascinates me. What has me wanting more is the history of the English language and languages in general–the Proto-Indo-Eurpoean language that Pinker uses to very lightly trace the development of our (Indo-European) strong-verb vowel changes–bear, bore; sink, sank; and drink, drank. I want to know the splits and schisms. I want to know the sociopolitical reasoning behind them, as far as can be told. Better yet, I want a work that does this delving into the regulars and irregulars of a language for the French language. Or, even better, a comparison on English and French.
My interest is piqued and my curiosity is whetted. ISU needs to lock up their library…