End of the term musings

*Initially this was to be posted at the beginning of the week, but I wasn’t happy with the many iterations that came before it. I’ve scraped it many times and I finally decided to stop stressing over it and just publish it*

The end of the term is always such a strange time for me. The last three or so weeks before finals I get into a routine that involves a lot of frantic studying and worrying about papers and projects. Then the last week (dead week as we like to call it) arrives and I descend into the “OMG i’m not going to pass any of my classes” phase. At the end of finals week, when I should I be feeling some sort of relief, I end up feeling a little lost. I get so used to having my back to the wall, that, when said wall is taken away, I have to figure out how  to stand again. So, instead of feeling some sort of relief, I just wish for something else to stress over.

Thankfully, that only lasts for a few minutes before the post-finals adrenaline rush settles and my sanity returns. Not to mention an overwhelming need to sleep.  And have a few beers.

But there’s also that time to reflect on the things that I could have done better. Let’s take my calculus class for example. Statistically, at PSU, about half of the  Calc one students will need to retake the class. At the beginning of the term I told myself that I would not be in that category. However I struggled with a lot of concepts and inefficiently spent my time grinding through the text instead of simply talking to my instructor. To be honest, I did have an excellent calc tutor (who also happens to be my best friend) whom I didn’t utilize as much as I could have, but that probably would have required her moving in with me. So now I find myself retaking calculus next term. I didn’t fail, but I’m certain that my grade won’t be high enough to count towards my bachelors. Even if I do escape the class with a C, it’ll be in my best interests to retake it. Calculus is far too important for me to just be content with getting by.

My other two classes were a bit of toss up. I found the concepts in the second round of chemistry to be easier to understand than last term, but the tests were brutal enough to make me doubt what I actually knew. Sadly enough, this spring will be the last mandatory chem class I have to take for my degree. In spite of some of the difficulties I’ve had, chemistry has been a lot of fun and, if the time permits, I may take a couple more classes.

Mineralogy was about the same. It started off rather slow with us covering crystallography and the various crystals classes, structures, space groups and how it all plots on a stereonet. It wasn’t the easiest part of the course. Trying to visualize the inversions, mirror faces and the symmetrical aspects was rather challenging because I’m not terribly good at recognizing spatial features. Once we got into the microscope work things got really interesting. You don’t really know a mineral or a rock until you’ve studied its thin section under polarized and cross polarized light. Nothing is cooler than seeing the undulatory extinction pattern in quartz or the zebra like twinning features of plagioclase.  Next term I’ll be taking petrology which seems like it’ll be an extension of mineralogy. There will be lots of microscope work and time spent with thin sections and the hand samples from which they came. Not to mention a daunting amount of memorization of crystal classes, structures and chemical make-ups.

With all that being said, i’m gonna wrap up this post. I wanted to end it with something inspiring or at the very least a proper closing sentence, but I can’t think of anything. So, I’m just going to hit the publish button and call it good.

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Still Alive

Things have been rather quite on the blog lately. My initial goal at the beginning of the term was to squeeze out at least a post a week, but as the semester picked up and midterms started, my time to actually write something of substance decreased in a rather linear fashion. I didn’t want to put out a ton of short posts with little content just for the sake of blogging. Too many short posts lend a feeling a vapidness to the blog.

I do have a longer post planned about the stuff I’m learning in mineralogy. We’ve been doing  a lot of optical mineralogy and the last lab dealt with processing electron microprobe data. The latter is particularly exciting because I now have the tools necessary to deal with the EMP data from my meteorite analysis last summer.  So, I’m currently slogging my way through that in order to create some ternary diagrams that I plan on posting with the next update. And I’ll possibly geek out over the two pieces of software I played with to create the diagrams. With any luck I’ll have that post up in the next couple of weeks before finals week rears its ugly head.