Oberlin Blogs


February 20, 2011

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

It often seems a bit lame to me to write a blog post just about what I did in any given day, but sometimes there's so much going on in a twenty-four hour period that it seems like I should just talk about my day because it gives a hint as to what's happening every day at Oberlin. My Thursday was one of those days, so I'll give you a summary.

8:15 AM - 8:30 AM
I wake up from some sort of dream about a dystopia. A large number of the dreams that I remember deal with either dystopias or apocalypse scenarios. I don't really know why. Despite my resolution to write my dreams down as soon as I wake up, I do not do this.

8:30 AM - 9:15 AM
I convince myself that I need to get up. This is difficult because I was up late the night before trying to write fiction. The writing process is often painful when you have to force it.

I eat Raisin Bran, try to figure out what to do with my hair, pack my backpack, and leave the house. I am pleasantly surprised to find that my computer was not lying and the temperature is indeed above freezing.

9:30 AM - 10:50 AM
I spend most of Astrophysics, as I do every Astrophysics class, trying desperately to grasp at any piece of information that I understand.

Excerpts from my notes:

  • flux--collecting all the ~something~ streaming toward us, perpendicular to flow, amount/unit area "flux of power"
    (man, I wish my organic solar cell was getting 20% efficiency)
  • there are beautiful derivations of the Planck Law.
  • "a wall doesn't get brighter as you walk toward it."
  • 202-762-1401, 202-762-1069
    you can call that dude on the radio. the one who tells time, I mean.

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
I arrive at my Intro to Qur'an class still reeling from Astrophysics. I actually really like the juxtaposition of these two classes. I go from thinking really hard about what makes up the universe to thinking really hard about what makes up the universe, just in a different sort of way. The contrast between the two always leaves my brain quite pleased.

12:15 PM - 12:23 PM
I take a photo with the other Shansi fellow going to Indonesia. We're taking a photo together every day. It was her idea, not mine. This is easier on Tuesday/Thursdays because we are both taking Intro to Qur'an.

The photo done, I rush off to Wilder where I think there is about to be a math lecture on the topic of math and art. I am wrong, but I check my email and see that it's occurring in the Science Center instead. I rush over there.

12:23 PM - 1:05 PM
I spend a pleasant time sitting beside one of my housemates, eating the pizza she saved for me, and looking at various permutations of the Mona Lisa done with tiles of various colors and shapes. There is also math involved. What I learn from this talk: mathematicians really love the travelling salesman problem, and it does make nice pictures.

1:05 PM - 1:30 PM
I frantically type up the bits of a story that I've handwritten so that I can turn it in to my capstone adviser. I find that I write better quality things longhand but that I produce material much more quickly when I type it. It's a fine balance to strike.

1:30 PM - 1:35 PM
I make the quick walk from the Science Center to the Creative Writing House to turn in what I've written so far. I include a note about how it feels weird to be writing fiction again.

1:35 PM - 4:30 PM
I read an article for Bioanalytical about how capillary electrophoresis could be used to sequence proteins. It's from 1988. Right now, we're reading a lot of older articles describing science that, at the time, was cutting-edge. It's interesting to compare them to what's going on now.

Once I (mostly) understand the article, I attempt to figure out what I will write my research paper on this semester: mummies or paper-based diagnostics of diseases. After reading more abstracts to journal articles than I care to count, I pick mummies.

4:30 PM - 5:45 PM
I attend a talk sponsored by the physics department on dark matter and dark energy. Chemists are picked on more than once because we're interested in matter, which makes up only 5% of everything in the universe. I maintain that, since physicists don't even have a clear idea of what dark matter and dark energy are yet, then they're still pretty grounded in that 5% of reality as well. I am, however, surrounded by physicists, so I keep my mouth shut.

5:45 PM - 6:30 PM
I return to Love Lounge to pick up some of my chemist friends. We go to dinner in Stevenson.

7:00 PM - 7:50 PM
Bioanalytical Chemistry begins with all of the students clustering at the whiteboard to claim which days at the end of the semester they will present. I get my first choice, which I pick solely based on when it falls on the schedule and not because of what the paper topic will be. I may regret this decision later.

We then move into discussing the assigned article for the day. I am pleased to find that it connects (in a small way) to the research I was doing last year involving a gas chromatograph that my research adviser built himself.

7:50 PM - 8:10 PM
I write a poem heavily involving science and experimental poetry techniques. I blame my double major.

8:30 PM - 10:00 PM
Oberlin College Arts and Sciences Orchestra has our first rehearsal of the semester. It doesn't go quite as badly as I thought it would. We do spend a long time handing out music and going over expectations (especially important now that we're an ExCo), but we also read over all the pieces we're playing and don't sound bad at all. My pleas, however, for someone to become my Padawan learner in the art of treasury fall on deaf ears. It looks like I'll be writing the budget for next year myself.

10:00 PM - 11:00 PM
I go to the Feve to celebrate the fact that one of my friends just got a job offer. I'm taking oral typhoid vaccine pills at night, so I am unable to eat anything. This is sad because the tater tots and chicken fingers look delicious.

11:00 PM - 12:00 AM
I return to my house, chat with my housemates, try to figure out what I still need to accomplish, accomplish some of it, and go to sleep.

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