Applications

After months of filling forms, your doctor’s appointment will begin to read like your latest college application.

Name: Mr. James Owen
Age: 18 years old
Sex: Male
Date of appointment: Freshman, undergraduate, 2019-20
Reason for visit: Ever since I was a young child, I have wanted to visit the doctor. This selfless man with the white coat and the stethoscope asking me to take a seat as a four-year old on Christmas morning with a Thomas the Tank Engine play-set stuck in my mouth, shoved in with Thomas and a few of his mates intact (or maybe not) in pure excitement of the sort only a four-year old high on Nesquick on Christmas morning could be, I was enraptured by this man and his love for his art, and the enigmatic pearls of wisdom he occasionally sprouted.
He spoke seldom, and when he did, it almost wasn’t ordinary human English.
“Aaaah”, he said, and while that should have made no sense at all, somehow, I understood the man. His command over his subjects was complete, his composure and dignified mannerisms subtle, yet screaming.
He nodded ever so slightly and passed me an ancient puzzle, a few scratches on a paper. Once again, while none of this made any sense to me, mum seemed to understand, he was universal; she nodded, although I felt her body relax for some reason, as in defeat.
I—

‘Oh shit, I think I’m close to the word limit, I gotta end this!’

*scratch, scratch*
“—That incident left a very deep impression on my younger self, and for the last fifteen years, I have only had one thought every night that I go to bed: I would like to study medicine at Harvard.”

‘There we are, now we just sit and await that call.’

Ten minutes later, a nurse walks out holding a clip pad and a wearing a concerned expression.

‘Mr. James Owen?’
‘Yup, that’ll be me. Tell me, did I make it?!’
‘Mr. Owen, it’s alright, I’d like you to come with me.’
‘Definitely!’

‘Nurse, where are we headed?’
‘We read your profile, James, and there may be a slight problem,’
‘Oh dear! Would you need an additional portfolio? Recommendations? My thesis from summer research?’
‘No Mr. James, you’re really sick, and just to make sure you’re not a hazard to yourself or anyone around you, we want a little check up.’
‘Nurse, you must have made a mistake, I’m perfectly fine! Take a look at my athletics! I played for Junior Varsity, I’m very fit indeed!’
‘Don’t worry kiddo. It’ll all be okay.’
‘No, no, what does that mean? I’m perfectly fine, I told you, I’m not crazy! Are you rejecting me?!’
Nurse smiles sweetly
‘We only wish the best to you now, and in all your future endeavours. Come with me.’
‘What?! Nooooooooo!!’

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Random Free Verse Rant

Assignments can be a little woozy sometimes
Especially at 4 in the morning
I get that
I also get sleepy
And I care, you know?
I’ll see us through
For sure,
I need to see me through too
And I have a strong back
And a stronger stomach
I’ll carry you
Sure I will
But not if you press down on me
And pretend you’re a hundred and four fucking kilos
And if you’ve a lot on your mind
Mine has blanked from exhaustion
And if I say, sure, I’ll take the heavier load
It means you take a load too, good sir
We learned in class
Of divide and conquer
That doesn’t work if the only dividing is between us
It’s slower if I need to look behind us
And go back to pick up the pieces of a mess
And when I say you get shit done
You get shit done, okay?
Because it might be my assignment too
And incomplete outputs might fail a test case or two
But I wonder what it’s gonna be like
When assertEqual returns an error:
“Expected return: True
Got “This method ain’t implemented cuz my partner didn’t do shit”.

This isn’t me, and I’m super thankful, but one of my friends is seeing a slightly less specific variant of this. It amazes me, and while I’m no one to judge how you’ve planned out your semester, why on earth would someone do that? It’s horrible. It’s disgusting. I try to imagine how many hours of my life I could’ve saved had I not spent all my weekend in a study space working on a problem set. How many more nights I am just not going to be able to sleep because we have an assignment due next week, and it’s big. It just irks me. It irks me a bit that I’m working. There’s no getting around it for me, sure thing. I’m not planning to. I’d feel awful if I did, and if I’m being honest, as hard as they might be, there isn’t too much to resent them for but time and the stress. I learn a lot from them. But someone absolutely shirking off their share of the work and still getting a grade, then flying high and coming down crashing after the final and then bitterly shitting on our school, that just disgusts the fuck out of me, it’s horrible.

And rant almost over.

As for my own case, I sometimes feel like my own assignment partners are more moral support than actual working partners. Some days, it just feels like I’m doing a proof or writing an algorithm or something, and they’re nodding along going, “yes, that makes total sense!” Sure it does, buddy, but can you also write the next proof so we’re done quicker? I really, really, want nothing more than an unbroken, undisturbed 11 hours of sleep. Just one night that I can sleep without planning for and booking off the first thirteen hours of the next day. Once.

Okay.

Rant over.

Now for the better stuff! I’m going to see Muse this Thursday! I’ve been waiting for this day since November, and after five years of absolutely adoring the band, I’m finally going to be able to go see them live, and I almost can’t believe it!

No assignment, not even the finals could have kept me away, and nothing will!

I am so pumped!

Spent

The brain 

It does the best it can

But light as it is on its feet

It can’t always make it in a heartbeat 

So it calls up a friend

To take care of the backend

And clean up the mess

Before it begins

And finds a partner in crime

In the spine. 

And sometimes I wish

Good a partner as it may be,

The spine shared more of the brain’s workload

Because mine’s spent

Before I can afford it to

And I need a little more juice to push on

Come on, brain, come on

Me, I’m spent 

Somehow got to make it to the end

Might just stubbornly pull through

But man, I wish I could do that with you. 

Gurgling

Gurgle, gurgle; bubble, bubble.

It’s an odd way to be spending my last few uncertain moments before the proverbial gong is struck.

I’m sitting in a mental space that may well be leagues away from the physical space I’m in: a drab, grey old building that’s known as the place where hopes and dreams go to die.

Right, it may be a bit of an overstatement, but it is what it is. I didn’t give it that reputation.

I’m in our uni’s exam centre here for a math midterm. My last midterm of this year. No more midterms after this, nor any reasons to put off my problem set or studying for the finals.

Which just adds to the reasons why I don’t want this hour to end.

I’ve gotten here a whopping hour early, when I’ve been known to challenge uni-wide records of running to the exam centre in a record five minutes– from home.

It is a bit of a sight seeing me run past buildings with an eye on my watch, expertly dodging unsuspecting university goers who don’t happen to also have a midterm in the same hour.

So in a fashion almost dismissive of my lengthy past records, I’m here early, after having spent a while at the bookstore gazing at how far human civilisation has come:

Bendable scales. Never fear a scale snap in half again! Draw your sine graphs in a jiffy! What a phenomenon.
No, I didn’t say sine graphs, you’re dyslexic. I’m not that much of a nerd.

I gaped and gaped and settled on a regular scale. Bourgeois, welcome me home.

And now I’m probably gonna run back to the bookstore tomorrow and buy me that fancy ruler. I’m a sucker for stationery, as you know.

[An edit added a few hours later: I didn’t even use my ruler. What a shame, there must have been a sine graph on that test just waiting to be drawn. What a shame. I spent my entire test flying high on proofs.]

But as of right now, I’m here, and in a good space. Sample this.

I’m sitting next to something of a waterfall. The sound is pretty calming, and I’m feeling weirdly good about this test. That doesn’t normally happen, and that’s either a good sign or a scary one.

But it looks good, and I feel ready. Kind of. Maybe. Here goes!

Mmmmm. Green. Perfect environment for an epsilon-delta proof.

And so I head in. A good picture deserved a good post, and hopefully a good post deserves a good proof.

QED!

[Post midterm edit: It wasn’t bad! Hooray for bubbles and good proofs!]

Chewing On Nothing In Particular

Have you ever entered a library with the intention of staying and studying all day, determined to last as long as the summer sun (which lasts a while once the DST cycles kick in again, which is also a royal pain when you happen to be up and studying at 1:50 AM, comfortable, only to find that ten minutes later, it’s 3 AM), garner sole attention from the librarian when she comes around at 9 PM to specifically kick you out since they need to close, and then trudge home with the feeling that you’ve done something simply because you weren’t at the table beside your bed, in your nightdress all day?

Oh come on, come finals season, you will see someone in their nightdress down here. It’ll probably be me, for all you know. 

Well, if you do plan this like I do, you probably bring everything you can think of with you and try to find the sunniest, most comfortable spot. You’re gonna be here a while. 

And then you notice, there’s someone sitting next to you 

Or at least, there should have been. But they’ve probably gone to the restroom, and/or asked their neighbour to please watch their stuff for them. 

Do you sit there and wonder who’s sitting next to you?

Do you sit by, and ignore your proofs to play Sherlock on someone else’s major? Wonder what they’re learning, what they find hard, what assignments they’re working, grinding on today? 

I probably shouldn’t. 

I plan on being here a while, and I’ve a midterm tomorrow. I should be curious about my proofs. 

What goes into a Big Oh proof? Can I play Sherlock and sniff out the shape of a graph? What might I deduce from this squiggly line on a paper that my cat would produce as art?

(That’s the point. I don’t have a cat. No cat in their right mind would draw a graph that’s Theta of n squared. Not even accidentally.)

But I should. I should go do it. 

The library’s probably thankful that it’s midterm season and not yet finals. 

They’ve seen me till 12:30 before, and they sure would see me again once the library’s finals-only 24 hour runs begin. 


Where I sit in the library, albeit a strange angle, I admit.

Granted

I sat alone
With the humming of vents
Buzzing in my ears
Familiar chain of events

Everybody’s gone and
I’m the only one left
With a head up so high
And a mind bereft

Of any new thought
Running on rewind
Shutting out the time
I left behind

I wish I may
I wish I might
Just for a few hours
Stop time tonight

And I sat gazing
In endless gloom
Five AM
My predicted doom

Just a day that I might
Be spared the sleigh of time
And she smiled a twisted smile
That wish shall be mine

She came and sat beside me
And smiled like the sun
And my watch stopped working
At a quarter to one.

Just so you know, this is a true story, except no one comes and smiles at you at 1 in the morning. That’s the sort of nightmare I don’t need in my life.

Also, are my circumstances kidding me?! I have two back to back midterms coming up next week, and I do not have the time to replace a battery now!

Just my luck.

—This post was presented to you at 12:45 AM 1:31 AM

I Call Dibs

Yeah, no, I don’t in fact know why I’m writing this in the first place.

So I’ve been slacking off schoolwork recently in the most counterintuitive, dumbly geeky way possible (it’s almost recursive, except I can no longer use that term ironically being a CS student, except when I’m using it HYPER-ironically): I’ve been shirking off my CS work to work on my own little CS project.

It’s a tiny little thing. It was something I started working on last weekend at a hackathon that focussed on sustainability. As a tiny contribution to a team of first years in a sea of third years, I started working on a search engine enhancer that randomly adds sustainability hotwords to your search.

So if you were trying to be a little more environmentally conscious with your day to day choices, looking up a coffee through my little code might lead you to organic coffee, or sustainable coffee, or something related.

Of course, given I’ve been working on it in little snippets, it doesn’t do anything super impressive. At the moment, the code doesn’t know enough about your search term to add sustainable words related enough to your search. It simply picks a random word from a bunch of hot words my team and I spent half a day googling up.

So we’ve had some pretty funny results coming in (and it’s no surprise we won peanuts at the hackathon– actually, we did pick up pizza. Tons of pizza. Pizza’s practically a ritual at any computer science event. Heck, half the people only attend for the pizza. So we did get pizza. I suppose that’s a win), with some pretty strange bedfellows showing up in my search bar: we’ve had waste management coffee, and degradable pillows (who knows, that may be a thing some day! I’m cocky enough about my blog that I amn’t deleting this for quite a while: to you all reading this in 2525 now, don’t laugh and think me a backwards 21st century douche with nothing but primitive technology as you sit by hugging your short-lived, 150% sustainable, biodegradable pillows sipping your flavoured AirPuffs™©® (requires no containers and leaves no waste behind!) reading on your no power consuming Apple next-gen iCanreads (but can you anymore?).

Just to be perfectly clear, there was more a reference to a White Stripes song hidden in there than an actual expectation that anyone in the year 2525 will still be able to read.
And any 26th century readers that have a beef with me can take it up in the comments.

So yes, we had some funny results coming up, and here’s one that’s particularly stuck with me.

My friend was testing my search function out today, and decided to see what kind of sustainability a cat could have.

Mono-unsaturated fat cats.

I’m pretty sure that came from mono/unsaturated fats being not so healthy and having somehow snuck into my Ctrl+C.

Either way, this one just stuck. I like the name. Drop one unwieldy “un” and it sounds even better.

Monosaturated Fat Cats.

It’s brilliant. It’s chemical, its edgy, and it’s the perfect band name.

If I ever do numb my brain long enough to go bandmate hunting (and I really might), I call fucking dibs on this name, it speaks to me.

So, in summary, the point, if there is any at all, in this long, pointless post, is that you all know where you heard it first. Watch out, world. ∀ n ≥ n0, I mean, eventually, the Monosaturated Fat Cats are taking over.

Just you wait.

Philosopher’s Look

12 AM math be like

I have a soundtrack

That keeps track

Of how far I’ve gotten

And a playlist scroll

To tell me how much further I have to go

And its meant to be stimulating

And to pick my mind

Till I can search its depth and find

The answers I need

Visualise my graphs and proceed

Get ahead with calculus homework

All courtesy of the good professor

And it ends up being

A soundtrack of white noise

Sleep’s rejoice

As it conquers this no-resistance city

And so if you see me

Hunching backwards

Eyes skyward

With a deep, blank stare,

Stop admiring my philosopher’s look

And know that I’m not there.

Hi, thanks for stopping by and thanks for reading, and at this hour too! Wish I had a coffee to offer you. How’s a greeting instead?

May the snow melt before it falls on your head.

Or maybe,

Sunnier days are ahead!

Or perhaps something I wish people wished me more often,

May you not dream of math again tonight.

I’m sticking with the last one.

This poem wasn’t so much a poem as me awakening at 2:15 AM to a math video for school playing in my ear. It was more of a ramble that accidentally ended up almost rhyming.

And that’s the story. So I’ll let you have your promised greeting now,

May you not dream of math again tonight.

I’m Done

I’m so ready for today to end.

I’ve yelled at a toilet seat and have two midterms tomorrow.

As Green Day sang on Brain Stew,

My eyes feel like they’re gonna bleed

The clock is laughing in my face

My mouth is dry

My face feels numb

And goodnight.

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