Oberlin Blogs

# Fourth Meal: Dascomb Dining Hall, 10:00 PM - 11:30 PM

November 19, 2010

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

When I started writing my post for this week, it was largely going to be a rant about how I have so much work to do between now and Thanksgiving. That's still definitely true, but since then a minor miracle has occurred and my thermo exam has been moved from Monday to Wednesday. I also have an archaeology exam Wednesday, but the extra time for thermo will be amazingly helpful.

With this happiness in mind, I won't rant about everything that's happened since Monday (Shansi interview, a dead end in my research, lots of thermo) and everything that I have to do before Thanksgiving (edit one of my nonfiction pieces so that it's a bit closer to deserving to see the light of day, orchestra rehearsal, lots of thermo). Instead, I will talk about happy things, namely camaraderie through all of this.

For most of the semester, I've been working on thermo problem sets with the same two people. They are both very helpful and more than willing to talk me through all the multivariable calculus that continues to confound me. Thermo problem sets are due Friday, so we spend Thursday nights together in the Science Center, frantically trying to understand what the textbook wants us to do. Incidentally, Thursday nights are also when Fourth Meal at Dascomb is chicken wings and mozzarella sticks. And cheesecake. Unless it's a particularly bad week, once we're done, or nearly done, with the problem set, we go over to Fourth Meal together.

As someone who doesn't particularly enjoy crowds, I often find Fourth Meal a bit intimidating. There are definitely crowds, particularly if you go at the wrong time. We're working on figuring out what the right time is. But, for the promise of mozzarella sticks and pleasant company, I am willing to brave the mad crowds in Dascomb. Usually I can't manage to stomach more than three mozzarella sticks, or maybe four if I remove the breading, but that's beside the point. It's a nice break from calculators and the viral YouTube videos we watch when the math gets to be too much.

Yesterday, anomalously, we had all finished the problem set by 4:30. Thursday night found us together in the Science Center anyway, working on papers. Or, they were working on papers and I was working on revising my nonfiction piece, which I like to call a paper when I want to feel legit.

And, when it was time for Fourth Meal, we once again made our way to Dascomb to partake in the mozzarella sticks. We got our respective tasty but fatty foods and sat down in a booth. The best part of the evening came when it was time to eat the cheesecake. One of my fellow thermo students realized that he didn't want all of his piece. My other fellow thermo student offered to eat a third of his piece. His piece was roughly hexagonal. So, necessarily, the only appropriate thing to do was figure out what was exactly one third of a hexagon, consider sketching it out on a napkin just to be sure, and then meticulously mark out and cut said third on the piece of cake itself.

It was a good night.

## Responses to this Entry

"Minor miracle"?!

Other than that ugly detail, I'm very touched *wipes stray tear*

Now back to materials.

Posted by: Fellow Thermo Student on November 19, 2010 11:44 PM

I love Oberlin students' precision. I had a similar debate on Facebook about how to calculate the exact odds of a spider appearing between the only two arachnophobic people sitting at a circular table of five.

If you assume the spider can appear only at five distinct nodes between people, and that the seating arrangement is purely random (i.e., the arachnophobes have no strong tendencies to avoid or attempt to sit near each other), and that seating is not affected by how many seats at the table were already filled when the second arachnophobe arrived, it's about 1/20.

Posted by: Tess on November 21, 2010 5:49 PM

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