A brief touch on dialect

So I’m now reading Walt Wolfram and Natalie Schilling-Estes’s American English: Dialects and Variation, and I love the way they explain the details and quirks of the dialects as though the reader has never heard them. Not that that isn’t a good thing, because it’s generally known what assumptions can do to someone, but it’s highly entertaining to read:

Another Southern American helping verb form which serves to convey a meaning which is not readily indicated in standard English is the word liketa, as in It was so cold out there, I liketa died. Historically, liketa comes from like to have and seems to have been equivalent in meaning to almost. However, in some American dialects which use this form today, the meaning has been altered in a subtle way, so that liketa cannot be used to refer to things which almost took place in real life but only to things which almost happened in a figurative sense. Thus, when a speaker utters the sentence, It was so cold, I liketa froze, she is not conveying that she was in any real danger of freezing but only that she was very, very cold (45).

So simple, and, to me, so natural (to hear, at least; I’ve long since lost all but the dredges of any Texan/Southern speak). I like the writing style of this book, because, if nothing else, I have to grin when they describe the pronunciation of New England or “Southern American” speech, or lay out the dialect in simple rules that I “know”, but that I don’t know, like the above specific uses of “liketa”. I know how and when to use it (although if I ever do, I’m shooting myself for letting Luke bleed off on me), but I never thought of the rules as such.

And then I have to laugh at their examples. In a completely dead-pan-seeming book, they bust out with “It was so cold out there, I liketa died” followed by “but only that she was very, very cold”. Well, no shit.

And so we begin…

I’m not sure where I want to go with this. I want to track my workouts in a journal-like form to allow me to better track progress, problems, and conditions.

I’m also not sure how regular I will be with this. The goal, of course, is to post after every workout, running or weights, to achieve the benefits of running this here blog. We’ll see.

Current workout schedule:

Monday thru Friday, 05:30: Run intervals for three to five miles on school track. Problems to track: splints, asthma/sinuses, upper-body posture problems.

Tuesday, Friday, 17:00: Weightlifting with upper-body focus. Bench/ground base jammer, lat pulldown, shoulder press, tricep pushdown. Follow by ten minutes on rowing machine.

Saturday or Sunday: Neighborhood run. I don’t track distance or pace. This is usually just a fast 30 minute run to break the monotony of my weekends.

More about the money

Jenny’s comment (will open in new window) got me thinking about that old issue I love to ponder: when and where and how parental limits are defined with regards to responsibility and, yes, money.

First, I’m fairly certain I’m over any bitterness I felt towards my parents for their choice to drop college financing on my lap. In part, this is due to the fact that I completely understand their decision (and did even as they made it–it was not a surprise to me), and in part this is because they did, in fact, help me when I needed it during the school year.

Second, I don’t think Jenny is spoiled (necessarily) for having parents that buy her things. I know I am spoiled, actually, but that isn’t a reflection on Jenny; my parents bought me a car, they kept me well supplied in toys as a child and books when I wanted them. I never lacked for clothing, my mother was almost always willing to transport me when and where I needed it, and my father kept me supplied in the latest and greatest computers and Internet connections. I have lived like a princess because we had the money to do so and because my parents are generous.

The problem, or, rather, the difference in opinion, comes in expecting these things, and in feeling that those that spawned me and spoiled me are obligated and should continue to spoil me, despite the fact that I am of legal age and fully capable of working (although, yes, it would be very hard to work enough to be completely independent). For me to run home and say, “So, Daddy. Where’s my new car?” since I trashed mine never crossed my mind.

Even bigger yet, though, is my issue with mental separation of child from parents. I continue to feel that around the ages of eleven to thirteen, morality between parent and child diverges (or can very easily diverge, if the kid so chooses). With this divergence, however, comes the parental choice to give the kid space or to forcibly attempt to mold them into their image of an ideal adult. That’s not to say that “giving a kid space” means letting them run wild, although occassionally it seems to, but rather to back off on the moral/religious posturing and constant attempts to fix things and to let the kid learn some lessons on her own. It’s all about the parents seeing the kid as a separate, thinking, entity, rather than this overprotective “flesh from my womb” mess that can hinder development. (Of course, this is slightly exaggerated–my mother was overprotective, and my development is hindered in that I run the next nearest person when a bug needs to be killed. Not that this is my only flaw, but…)

So if parents are going to treat their kids as separate entities capable of making rational decisions (even if the rationality behind these decisions seems somewhat foreign to the parents), then that kid is certainly free to develop a sense of responsibility along with those morals, and the two may be [frequently are?] entangled. With “certainly free” meaning that she better get on that real quick, or else she’s going to become one of those twenty-five year olds still living in the attic/basement. “Certainly free” also means that to complete the separation from the parents, this needs to be done, at least to some extent. Can someone’s parents ever see her as a “real” adult if she has yet to wean herself off them, in terms of responsibility–getting them to clean up messes (financially, socially, legally) or relying on them to provide for her “needs” (car, non-campus food [if she’s a student with a meal plan, for instance], leisure reading)?

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with parents doing these things, certainly. Should I spawn or raise a child, you can bet your ass I’m saving for that child’s college, at the very least, and I’m always friendly with book money. There’s nothing wrong with wanting an adult spawn to live comfortably, and providing for them to do so. The problem lies in there being some societal obligation to do so, or in the adult spawn expecting to live comfortably off their parents. In all senses, my parents’ “obligation” to me ended when I turned eighteen, and it is by their fortune or kindness or some self-imposed sense of obligation that they continue to aid me. No more, no less.

Ain’t that some shit?

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.

Bleh. Optimism.

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…

Absorption…

…coefficients can be determined by multiplying the measured absorbance of your sample at each wavelength by 2.303 (which comes from a log transformation) and dividing by your pathlength, which is usually 0.0100 m (1.00 cm)…

Right. Sorry. Wrong kind of absorption.

So I went out for coffee and sno-cones last night with this guy, who I shall call the Cool CS Guy for a lack of imagination, and we’re talking, as most people tend to do when sitting down and drinking chai, and I had a small epiphany about myself: much of the extent of my more pleasant social interactions involve what I’m [now] terming “absorption”.

When I meet people that are different, I want to absorb them. I want to know what their quirks are, and then I want to know enough to be able to derive how the quirks develop–history, personality, everything. And since these are constantly changing over time, I never tire of this process. I want to know people as well as I know myself (or as close as I can possibly get), and the only thing that frustrates or deters me are people that clam up.

I’ve done this time and time again over the years, with all of my current friends and many of my “enemies”. Even when/if things go awry eventually, since personalities (particularly when mine is in the mix) do clash, I’ve still had the benefit of the experience of some absorption of their personality, which makes the whole thing worth it.

Conversation to fill silence annoys me, and makes me wonder about the speaker’s dislike/fear of silence. People that must comment on everything from every single car on the road to each little sound they hear to all the small-talking conversations they had that day irk me. I figure I just lack the skill to extract the meaningful background information from such chatter, and I until I learn, I just suffer in silence or with the occassional grunt to show I am still conscious.

In fact, I’ve found I get pretty damned stressed and bitchy when social interactions are limited to the above less pleasant types, which has been something I’ve been struggling with since my return to Terre Haute. It’s something that keeps me locked in my room and silent rather than engaging in idle chit-chat, or running out to spend time with Bob, Luke (despite the fact that I put Luke into the frustrating “clam up” category much of the time), or, quite possibly, the Cool CS Guy (if we keep hanging out).

So ends my small epiphany, of which the only thing really epiphanic was the high contrast between the pleasure derived from each category of interaction.