Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The waiting game

I think the absolute worst part about the college application process is that you spend all of high school planning it out and thinking about it and waiting eagerly for the day you submit your applications (and are finally done with the Common App forever!) without really thinking about the interim between applying to college and hearing back from colleges. It's this nasty little period of roughly three months, and currently, it's driving me nuts. To add to the agony, I've been getting emails and brochures and reminder letters in the mail, as if I've somehow forgotten about having applied to college. Trust me, I haven't. In the mean time, I'm really just stuck here counting down the days until March, the month when I will obsessively await the mail man every day (and sprint to the mail box, even if it means an asthma attack. Some things are just worth it.). I'm also hoping the weather brightens up. This rainy and snowy concoction of February weather is rather damp and depressing, and it's also a constant reminder that it's not spring yet, and with spring comes college decisions and more planning.

Until then, I'll just continue the usual routine, including physics, stats, a ton of lit essays (and I mean a ton...thankfully we're swiftly approaching our 10 page spring semester paper, so that will be longer and more fun), my never-ending battle with Java (not that I dislike Java or programming, I love it, just not when it's 2 am and I realize the program isn't working because I forgot to throw in a test for null in the if statement in one of my for loops in one of my methods. It was a long night.), and all the other fun things in between. Happy waiting to people who applied to college and haven't heard back yet!


Friday, December 21, 2012


Today, my aunt received by far the best Christmas present ever. No, it was not an iPad. It was not a new phone, or a new purse, or jewelry, or chocolate, or silly things like that. She received PajamaGram--specifically, a full out leopard pajama body-suit. Yes, you read that correctly. And yes, it truly is as fantastic as it sounds. It is complete with a detachable tail, a hood with ears, and paw prints for both the hands and feet. Unfortunately, I was busy working on college applications when she opened it. This is rather sad, seeing as my mom told me her expression was priceless. There is only one obvious thing to do when a leopard pajama bodysuit resides in your home: photo shoot.

My sister was the first one to try it on. She fell in love with it and proceeded to look up other pajamas like it on the Internet. Apparently they make panda and bunny versions, for all you panda/bunny lovers out there. After hearing my sister gush about the aforementioned pajamas, I felt the only natural thing to do was try them on myself. Were they really as comfortable, soft, and warm as my sister had described them? To put it simply, yes. The suit was incredibly comfortable. It's always cold in our house (at least to me), so I'm constantly wearing sweatshirts and socks. This leopard suit eliminated the need for those two things. The hood with ears, the tail, and the pockets made for a nice touch. My sister and I took turns posing in the suit, because seriously, who wouldn't? I actually thought it would be great for college/Halloween. It's just that comfortable.

For anyone interested in PajamaGrams, this is the website:  http://www.pajamagram.com/ (You can see the Panda/Leopard/Bunny pajamas pictured on the bottom of the main page.).

Happy Holidays!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pillow egg. Yes, you read that correctly.

I'm incredibly sorry for taking a long break. These past 2-3 weeks have been the roughest academic weeks yet for me. I didn't think anything could be worse than the combination of chem and calc last fall semester, but I was sadly proven wrong. I've been doing a ton of stats and physics in the past two weeks, and now I'm very tempted to make a bar graph for the readers of this blog, with the categorical variable being either OS or country. Yeah. I'm obsessed. For one of my college apps, I need to say how your friends would describe me in x amount of words. I"m very tempted to do a survey, create a dotplot of the answers, and then choose the words with the highest frequencies. Mainly I just want to do that so I can say I mathematically chose my responses.

Physics is mindblowing. I will repeat: mind blowing. We were covering kinematics the other day, and I was just stupidly standing outside dropping two tennis balls to see if they really did hit the ground at the same time. Which leads me to the most awesome thing that has happened to me in the past couple weeks: egg drop. Who doesn't love a good egg drop? Build your little egg a nice contraption to keep it safe, watch it fall from a large height, and then watch as other people's eggs smash into little bits of yolk and shell. Really, at one point, my friend and I had to step back from the "splash zone." Anyway, so the egg drop occurred on a day when I got very minimal sleep the night before. I was resolved that our egg would die and break and crack. Then it happened. My team got an idea and it was awesome. The people running the egg drop (hi Oliver and Simon if you're reading this!) had given us a limited amount of supplies, which we were supposed to use all of. So our inventory basically consisted of a few flimsy pieces of paper, some stuffing/fluff, a square of foam, some straws, some popsicle sticks, and unlimited tape. Oh and a cork that we really had no idea what to do with. The catch was that we had to build a contraption in which we could easily insert or remove the egg. So unfortunately, we were not able to just wrap the egg up in a big ball of tape and fluff and foam. Originally we were going to make a pocket by taking the different layers of sheets, stuffing foam between each of them, and then taping it up. And then it hit us: pillow. We essentially made a pillow out of 5 pieces of paper, fluff, and tape. Then we built a little nest for our egg by cutting up foam and wrapping it around the egg. We cut another piece of foam for the bottom of the nest. Then we taped popsticle sticks all around the "nest" so that it would hold the top foam piece in place. And then we taped the entire contraption onto the pillow. It was a little box made out of foam glued onto a paper pillow, and it was beautiful in my eyes (mainly because I was unmotivated in the first place).

I'll be honest, when our egg was dropped I looked away. I get so pathetic about these competition sorts of things. Luckily, since our "nest" was in the center of the pillow, it balanced out and it fell straight down so that the impact was taken by the pillow. And our egg didn't die! It was great. The only problem was I had that  jingle for pillow pets stuck in my head. All. Day. All I could think about was "it's a pillow, it's a pet, it's a pillow pet!" And then I swapped out the words so it became, "it's a pillow, it's an egg, it's a pillow egg!" In my defense, it was a long day and I was running on coffee.

Happy beginning of fall!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fathom is my new best friend.

I'm sorry. I've been so remiss about loving and caring for my blog. Please forgive me...It's been a crazy week--classes are officially in full swing, and college apps are right around the corner. On the other hand, because classes have started, I've discovered a whole new world of math and science-y goodness. I also found out for comp sci that we're going to be creating a program for an art character who dances the hokey pokey. Epic.geek.out.ensued. I'm so incredibly sad that I have to wait for November until that happens. Expect a blog post on that in ~2 months.

Anyway, how many of you out there have had to graph something at some point in your life? Ever since precalc, graphing paper and a ruler have always been within an arm's reach. It was good to get the experience graphing functions and data by hand, really. I'm not taking away from that. But there were some days in chemistry when my lab partner and I would stare stupidly at the paper for fifteen minutes trying to figure out an adequate scale for our graphs. It was kind of amazing really. We had just spent 3 hours using I don't even know how many formulas, and hand us a piece of paper and a bunch of data, and we were like a bunch of lost puppies trying to find our way home (literally--we didn't want to leave the lab until we had our graph scale approved by our professor).

But then our professor introduced us to using the computer to record data and create graphs, which we used when we were using things like pH meters, calorimeters, and thermometers. It was awesome, to put it frankly. After spending an entire first semester recording data and graphs by hand, it was pretty neat to see the little dots of data pop up onto the computer screen as the experiment timer counted down. After chemistry ended, any thoughts about using a computer to graph such data disappeared. Actually, I wasn't thinking about it, honestly. My summer was blissfully graph-free.

Enter physics. And stats. And Fathom. My very first physics lab involved graphing two graphs. At the same time, my statistics teacher had just introduced us to the statistical software Fathom, and she taught us how to take data and data tables and transform them into graphs. After spending 30 minutes working on my physics graph by hand, I had an epiphany. Why not try using the computer software to graph it? So I did, and it worked beautifully. I still have to graph a bunch of stuff by hand for statistics, and I'll practice doing some graphs by hand for physics, but I do love the convenience of Fathom when I'm short on time. What's really cool about the program is that there's an option to import data from the Internet. You can literally drag the webpage with the data over the Fathom window, and a little "S" button pops up next to the data website's URL. If you click it, the data is automatically imported into its own little collection in Fathom. It's awesome. My stats teacher had us try it out with data online about hot dogs. For some reason, I found that very amusing. The only downside is Fathom does have a cost. What other stats software have people used? Any cool open-source ones?

Happy start of classes/September!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Woo. I finally got my Technorati code, as seen in the title. For those unfamiliar with Technorati, it's this awesome site filled will all kinds of cool techy stuff that I'm trying to submit my blog URL to. And to do that, I had to post a code to show that I'm actually the author of said blog.

Enough about blog directories. Let's talk chocolate, specifically M&M's. Yesterday I had to count a ton of M&M's for stats. Specifically, over 640. Yes, there really are over 600 M&M's in each 19.2 oz bag. Hard to believe, huh? For the record, counting the number of M&M's for each individual color in the bag is not for a neurotic person like myself. I messed up (or at least, I thought so) my counting about 5 times, so then I had to recount again (I didn't want to screw up my results). In short, it took about an hour just to do a few simple things with a bag of M&M's. I felt pathetic. Thankfully, the information that I needed has been submitted, and now my bag of M&M's sits on my desk for me to eat while working. Oh statistics, how I love you so. Math and chocolate? It doesn't get much better than this.

Other than lots of counting, chocolate, and sig figs, I have developed a bad case of the senior jitters. It's terrible. I'm slightly terrified of all the applications I need to fill out and submit. It doesn't help that I feel like I'm suffering from an incurable case of writer's block. I really hate writer's block. It just feels like I can't find a way around it. I'm reading "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" for lit, and the author talked about how long it took him to write one of the chapters in the book. He said something about baking bread to get rid of the writer's block. Maybe I should do that. It goes beyond just writer's block for me though. I have ending block. It's that little thing when you spend a ton of time writing an essay, and you think it's really good, and you love the way it flows, and then it hits you. You can't think of a proper ending. You try, and you try, but everything that you write sounds trite, lame, or Disneyesque. And that is currently the phase I'm stuck in. Hopefully the creativity bug will return soon, and I'll have some amazing spark of inspiration to write about something interesting. Until then, I'll just have to keep trying.

Hoping all the other seniors out there are not suffering from anxiety/writer's block,

Monday, August 27, 2012

The sig figs strike back.

Okay, the title is a really bad pun based on "The Empire Strikes Back." Forgive me. Anyway, "sig figs" (significant figures) really have returned into my life via the first chapter of my physics book. Can I just say I really dislike the first chapter of any science book? I swear that most of them are all the same. (Insert science here) is broken into many different areas x, y, z. Then it goes into scientific theories and observations and the whole point of being a scientist. Then they go over units and significant figures and how to properly show work. Seriously. The first chapters of my chemistry and physics books, other than the fact that they have a little more emphasis on their respective sciences, are strikingly similar (notice the reappearance of strike? It's just that type of punny day.). Anyway, sig figs. They were the bane of my existence the first couple months of junior year. My chemistry professor all but hammered them into my head, which was good, just slightly painful. I hate to admit it, but the first quiz I took in chemistry, I was so nervous that I miscounted the significant figures. It was really quite sad. I think I counted 5 instead of 7. It's amazing that I made it past basic arithmetic. Even after I felt like a pro at sig figs, they still reared their nasty little heads on complicated lab calculations. It got to the point when my lab partner and I hung our heads in shame over missed points on our lab because of sig figs. It was really depressing. It's like, you did everything you were supposed to do in the experiment, you didn't light yourself on fire with the Bunsen burner, you didn't break the crucible, you didn't fall off the lab stool in front of your professor (unless you're me), and bam. A couple tiny little numbers get you every single time. Okay, not every single time, but it sure felt like it was happening more than it should have been.

At this point, you're probably wondering what my point is. My point is very simple: obey the sig figs. Really. They are like the rulers (rulers as in dictators, not the measuring devices) of all scientific calculations. That's a bit extreme, but seriously, it helps to know the rules and to apply the rules when performing calculations. I'm not going to delve into these rules because professors and textbooks and teachers are much more well-versed in the realm of sig figs than I am. For me, they just kinda clicked eventually. It was the ultimate "aha" moment, at least within the time span of the first two weeks of class. And thus ends my rant about sig figs. They are important, but that doesn't mean I don't get to rant about screwing them up every now and then.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The title is a reference to the fact that I've made it through the chapter on binary signals today for my comp sci reading. Whoohoo, 2 chapters down, 2 to go. I feel so productive.  It's actually kind of sad since I took about 5 pages of notes just for a fairly short chapter.....I like to think I'm being thorough, but I'm probably killing three trees in the process. The nice thing about my computer science class is that the textbook is online, which seems fitting. You can find it at: http://chortle.ccsu.edu/CS151/cs151java.html. So far, I think the explanations are pretty easy to understand; of course, I'm still going over the relatively simple basics of computers, so all of that could change when I actually start getting into the meat of programming. Until then, I'll enjoy the seemingly easiness of it all. I actually really enjoyed the first chapter, which talked about things like the CPU, main memory, hard disks/secondary memory, the motherboard, and the role of the OS in running a computer system. Even though I had spent a lot of time on the computer before then, it was pretty cool to get a basic idea of how my computer actually works. If you're interested in learning about your computer from a functional standpoint, I would definitely recommend the first chapter, even if you aren't interested in actual programming.

On a slightly different note, I've become very acquainted with the Kindle application for the computer in the past couple days. I downloaded my Latin book for the Kindle, but I wanted to be able to access it on my computer (bigger screen, easier to read), so I also downloaded the app available through Amazon. In my opinion (which you can take with a grain of salt), the Kindle app is definitely worth the download, especially if you have a book with a lot of dense material (read: textbook). It also makes flipping back to past chapters fairly easy, seeing as you can just click a button and go to the table of contents. I thought this was a little easier than navigating the book on my mom's traditional Kindle. I have a Kindle touch, but I didn't have it with me when I downloaded my Latin book, so I can't really speak to the navigability of the Kindle app vs. the Kindle touch. The app is also nice if you're taking notes/doing problem sets since you can just glance up at your computer screen, instead of having to look down at the Kindle. I definitely love the portability of the Kindle vs. my laptop, but if I'm set up in a relatively stationary work position, I prefer the computer app. Anyway, that's just my two cents. Check it out if you're interested. You can download the app at: PC app or Mac app.