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.

Daggers

You there? December just called. It wanted its gimmick back.

It said, October, what the (expletive deleted)?! You have Halloween! You freaking have falling leaves and back-to-schools! You even have your own rains! Why are you stealing my thunder!?

October could just sit there coolly and not care less.

Coolly might be an understatement though. October’s defying all patterns known to and loved by psychologists and meteorologists.

The leaves and still here, and half of them are still green. The temperatures change every day, but this has taken the cake:

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The first snow showers, in October. It was admittedly more like a few chunks of ice, but you see the one piece that doesn’t belong here, don’t you? It’s only still October! My sister back home is sweltering in the plus thirties, and here, there are ice daggers falling from the skies. It’s ridiculous. It’s October.

And all the chemistry they taught me was a lie. Water doesn’t freeze at zero degrees. It froze at four (to be fair, ice does melt beyond four, but). All those benzene rings, for nothing. All that hyperconjugation and moles of pain for nothing. All those wasted chemistry puns.

Fuck you, high school chemistry, and no deleted expletives.

If you want me, I’ll be in the corner crying in denial and writing more chemistry poetry.

For real though, it’s my first time in the snow, so you’ll probably find me out at four in the coldest hour of the morning hunting for ice shards with a ridiculous determination on my face (it was only 9 PM, but that’s exactly the state my friend found me in, so it’s no exaggeration!)

I dunno, should I say happy fall, like I usually do? It’s more like ‘kiss your expectations goodbye’ now…

So happy curveballs, y’all!

Just for the record, that tree is losing leaves like I’m losing steam.

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It doesn’t look all that bad from one angle…

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But just wait till you get to know its other side. 

Quite like a certain someone I can think of.

Up In Smoke

There was an idea, a seemingly foolproof plan, that had lurked in my head for a while. During the last few months of school, I’d been thinking of trying to study in the hours that no one was around to disturb me– early morning and late at night. At least so far, there’s no construction at 3 AM!
The only reason my foolproof plan kept failing was that I couldn’t sleep in the day.

Regardless though, I’d been taking to the night. Four years ago, I couldn’t have possibly stayed up past one. But I think, when I look back on my high school years, I may just associate 2 AM with thermodynamics. Go figure.
Unless I am super distracted, in which case I give up at 2 and go to sleep, at least the studying at night part of the plan still doesn’t fail me. (One minute… I’ve done nearly zero studying since school ended, this statement has no evidence backing it up.)

But as always, there’s an exception to the rule, and I’m not even talking chemistry.
Mum sometimes checks up on me if she momentarily wakes up at night. Sometimes she gets me a water bottle or yells at me to go to sleep (“it’s already 3 AM!”) or comes with the dreaded question: “Did you/Will you have your milk?”
This one particular night though, she decided, after checking up on me, to make something to eat, possibly for my sister’s tiffin the next morning.
She wouldn’t tell me. Maybe it was one of the protein powders she’s trying out on my sister. I’d know if I heard her scream the next day.
I was sitting with some chemistry, only half awake. I’m scribbling down reactions of burning salts, high ignition temperatures and product gases when I smell smoke.
I realise it’s probably too late in the night. So I glance at the clock for permission to leave, and it laughs back in my face.
It’s only 12:30 AM. What?
So I get up and go outside to grab a bottle of water.

There’s actually smoke, I can’t hallucinate a smell and cough! I frown.
My turn to check up on mum.
Mum says, don’t open the kitchen door.
I say, someone outside’s burning something?
Mum says, I was cooking…
I realise something.
You burned something? I ask.
“If you need a water bottle, take it from outside.”
“What were you cooking?” I ask.
Mum doesn’t answer that.
“I thought it was late, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
“But what could you possibly have burnt this late at night?” But she won’t say.
I begin to laugh. This could end up worse than mystery meat! In that moment, I forgive my sister for everything.
Smoke on the water
A fire in the sky

Man, mum makes it possible!

The laughing soon turned to coughing though, and I had to open every window in the house. Diffusion of gases. Middle school chemistry.

I did eventually return to my (new and improved) high school chemistry, only to find that it was 1 AM. Half an hour? My foolproof plan nosedived out the window.
I remember sitting down with a sigh, thinking, ‘spoke too soon’.

The Next Day…
The Burnt Magic Potion had revealed itself.
It was a mixture, just as I’d suspected. Like mystery meat though, I don’t know what it is. I can’t know the ingredients, that’s just the way it is. Of course, I only came to know from the scream.

As I sat with a chemistry text book, I heard coughs and screams. By the time I rushed out to see who needed a paramedic though, no one was there. My sister, the lab rat, was in the bathroom, possibly puking. What she’d left behind was a sight to behold.

It looked like a scene straight out of Trainspotting.
There was disarray at the table, some spilt liquid (water), overturned glasses, oh, and powder. A lot of powder, sprinkled over the table like someone had recently had a hurried session. All I needed to do to complete the scene was draw the curtains and darken the room.
I didn’t stick around and sniff though, but headed back to my chemistry books. [Fun fact for geeks and junkies: this chemistry text book of mine almost teaches you how to prepare herion, codeine and morphine. Almost. I know the structures. It’s under a section called “Everyday-life Chemistry. Come talk to me. 😉 ]
I did later hear something about puking up breakfast. The Magic Potion’s done it’s job, I’d say!

Sherlock’s In A White Lab Coat

They blindfold you and hand you a substance.
Then they start a time bomb and set it for three hours.
The countdown begins, the clock’s ticking, your life depends on it, any moment, your beaker might explode.
You have got to find out what they gave you.

You’ve been framed, and you know it. All the evidence stands against you.
There is only one way you can prove yourself: take the interrogation.
They’ll try to trick you, they’ll try to break you, it’s up to you to stand by your word and worth.
They have all the records.
But you might have the answer… Or a doughnut.
You’ve one chance to win… Can you acquit yourself?

Alright, so they maay not blindfold you. But apart from that, I’ve described our chemistry practicals.

We have a test where, like I mentioned above, you’re given a beaker full of mystery liquid, and you must find out what’s in it.
Sherlock’s got work to do.
Sniff it, (don’t) taste it, run tests on either it, or your buddy. But solve the mystery.

One of the possible organic compounds we could be given is an alcohol.

Yes, no one talks about it, but most of us are under-18.
Can’t tell them that, though.
Besides, phenols are kinda banned too.
Not in our lab, though―anything’s possible if you just try!

So, back to the alcohol.
We’re on a mission to identify the alcohol.
It’s a project I call Alcohols Anonymous.

But this is the prelude.
The real symphony is to be played tomorrow.
The apparatus is set.
There’s a look in the glint on the beakers and test tubes’ glass that says, See you there. The final chemistry practicals begin.

Tomorrow’s the big day.

Tomorrow, Sherlock will smoke a pipette in a white lab coat, and alarm bells may ring.

The game has begun!