Homework, Coffee, Settlers of Catan, and Color-Coded Stuff: A Tale of a Night When I Didn’t Sleep

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9:39 PM

Cups of coffee: 0

M&Ms: 0

Homework done: None

Games of Catan: 0


The pattern is now familiar. I make a list of homework and a plan of attack, I get some M&Ms and make some coffee, and I sit down in front of my computer to document my sleepless night by writing random and rambling things about it, which shall then appear on my blog for all the world to see. Generally, these all-nighter chronicles begin with a remark that I wasn’t expecting to need to do this. That is certainly the case in this situation; I really thought that this semester wouldn’t call for any all-nighters. Academically, this is the lightest semester I’ve ever had. But around midterms, there’s no such thing as an academically light semester.

To be honest, this all-nighter probably isn’t necessary. I think that I could be ready to call it a night by about two O’clock or so. That’s really late for me, but it is much less drastic than pulling an all-nighter, especially since I don’t even need to be up at a reasonable time tomorrow. This semester, I only have morning classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, and tomorrow is a Tuesday. I prefer to be up at a reasonable time anyway, but I could make an exception to that habit if I felt it was necessary.

But, after giving the matter due consideration, I decided to pull an all-nighter. That way, I have all the time I need and don’t have to feel stressed about finishing by a certain time. Besides, it gives me an excuse to eat M&Ms, and it makes it possible for me to take the time for Catan breaks. Anyone who has been reading my blog regularly may have noticed a bit of a pattern lately, which is that I have a tendency to mention Catan quite frequently.


I didn't win. Life is tough.

I didn’t win. Life is tough.

11:26 PM

Cups of coffee: 1

M&Ms: 10 blue, 7 red, 3 yellow, 3 brown, 8 green, 8 orange

Homework done: All of my calculus homework and one single-spaced page of a paper that shall be double-spaced later

Games of Catan: 1. I lost. It wasn’t fair. I totally should have won.


I would say that I was making pretty good time, except that I’m supposed to have three pages of this paper done by midnight. That is, I’m supposed to submit a three-page draft online. Three pages really isn’t a big deal, especially because this draft isn’t going to be graded. The professor is just having us submit it to make sure that we actually have that much done. Originally, the paper was going to be due tonight, but now it’s due on Wednesday instead. Compared to certain papers from last semester, this will be quick and easy; it’s basically a paper on a project that was already presented in class today. But I’m a very slow writer. For me, any paper is a long paper. That’s a little ironic, considering just how much writing I do, even outside of schoolwork. I’m also very slow at math. I’m slightly proud of myself for being done with my calculus homework for tonight, even though it was a pretty easy homework assignment. It was on the partial derivative. Partial derivatives are pretty simple. Incidentally, I really don’t seem to have many yellow M&Ms here. That’s a little odd.


11:57 PM

Cups of coffee: Still just one

M&Ms:  12 blue, 9 red, 4 yellow, 3 brown, 9 green, 9 orange

Homework done: All of my calculus and that draft of that paper

Games of Catan: Still just one. I still think I should have won.


An incredible and very good thing as happened. As I logged onto the thingy to submit my paper draft, nothing went wrong. This is rare indeed. My college’s internet system doesn’t like me; whenever I try to log into something that’s through the college, it won’t accept my password the first few times I try. Sometimes, I keep on trying over and over and over and never even get in because it eventually blocks my access because of so many failed attempts to enter the password. This is extremely frustrating. But it didn’t happen tonight, which is good because I submitted that draft at 11:54, which was cutting it pretty close. The uncool part is that it’s a pretty lousy draft, but that’s not a big problem. I still have two days to finish it and clean it up, and I’ll probably be able to dedicate a significant portion of tonight to it. But I do have to concentrate on my algebra homework for tomorrow first.


Here's why the number of green M&Ms isn't a whole number.

Here’s why the number of green M&Ms isn’t a whole number.

1:57 AM

Cups of coffee: one and a half

M&Ms: 21 blue, 10 red, 8 yellow, 4 brown, 12 ½ green, 10 orange

Homework done: All of my calculus, that draft of that paper, and practically all of the computer assignment for linear algebra

Games of Catan: Just one. I really want to play another one now, but it isn’t time yet, according to my detailed plan for tonight.


Normally, whether I’m staying up all night or just staying up really late, I don’t actually leave my room in the middle of the night. Tonight was an exception, though, because the aforementioned computer assignment for linear algebra required a computer program that I can only use on the computers in the math building. So I headed over there a little after midnight and spent about an hour and a half on that assignment. It was weird being outside at that time of night; for once, it was quiet. There were a few people in the math building, because that happens to be a favorite late-night-studying place and all-nighter place. The assignment in question was actually pretty cool; it had to do with ciphering. I made a slight mistake on a cipher that I was supposed to be deciphering, so it came out correct except for one word in the middle, which said ‘rMOk’. This amused me greatly. But I redid the exercise anyway, and it came out with real words that time. I couldn’t quite figure out how to do the last exercise, though, so I’ll have to do that one later. I’ll probably do it right before class, because that’s the only way I’ll have a chance to ask the professor about it.


3:08 AM

Cups of coffee: Two and a half

M&Ms: 31 blue, 14 red, 14 yellow, 14 brown, 22 ½ green, 18 orange

Homework done: All of my calculus, the draft for that paper, almost all of that algebra assignment, and the reading for my postmodernism class on Wednesday

Games of Catan: Still just one. But the time for game number two is near at hand. First, I have some algebra homework to do, but Catan is next after that.


Colored index cardsThere are five greatly awesome things that are within inches of my hands right now, all of which I have used quite a bit within the past few hours. The list is as follows: coffee, M&Ms, colored index cards, sharpies, and dry erase boards. A few minutes ago, I was surprised and confused to discover that my fingers were speckled, but a moment’s reflection enabled me to realize that this was because I had been using my fingers to erase numbers off of my dry erase board in order to replace them with other numbers. I love using dry erase boards to keep track of random and inconsequential details of my life. ‘Tis an entertaining thing to do. The appeal of colored index cards and sharpies, of course, is that they allow you to color code stuff, and color coded stuff is automatically cooler than non-color coded stuff. As a matter of fact, this point also can be extended to explain the coolness of M&Ms, and to relate to my interest in keeping track of M&M colors on my dry erase board. But coffee isn’t colorful. The coolness of coffee is independent of its visual appearance. Maybe someone should invent colored color-coded coffee. By definition, that would be incredibly cool, but I can’t actually think of a good purpose for it. I’ll have to think about this.


4:06 AM

Cups of coffee: Two and a half

M&Ms: 31 blue, 18 red, 14 yellow, 15 blue, 26 ½ green, 19 orange

Homework done: See above, plus just a couple algebra problems. But those couple that I did took a really, really long time.

Games of Catan: Two and a half. The website’s down, so that last game was aborted. That’s okay; it was making me really mad because I was losing really badly because nobody was rolling fours, sixes, eights, or nines, which just shouldn’t happen. People were basically just rolling tens every single time, which was very much in orange’s favor and did me no good at all. It was really unfair, especially since I had had a very similar problem in the previous game. Sometimes I wonder if other people have discovered ways to rig the dice on internet board games. It seems feasible, since those are just imaginary dice anyway. Presumably, if someone was really good with computers, they could figure out a way to trick the system. I’m not necessarily saying that’s what happens, I’m just saying that it sure seems like it.


101_9851Aside from the Catan problems which I have lamented in the previous paragraph, I’m also frustrated that this algebra homework isn’t going well. I still have several hours before class, but I don’t want to spend that entire time on this one homework assignment. At the rate I’m going, that’s how long it’ll take.

The weird thing is that it’s almost morning now, and it really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since I got back from dance class at around eight O’clock. It’s no wonder I always feel tired; apparently nights go faster than days, and so one doesn’t get a lot of sleep by sleeping through the night. But it wouldn’t be any better to sleep during the day, since I have just determined that nights aren’t long enough for doing homework.

The only solution I can think of is that days just need to be longer. Since the length of a day is determined by the amount of time it takes the Earth to revolve around its axis, we just need to slow the Earth’s rotation. I wonder what kind of an impact this would have on the Earth’s climate. Of course, in order to minimize these effects, it is important that the Earth’s orbit around the sun should not be changed at all. I think years are a pretty good length.

Although it would be nice if the number of days in a year was something a little nicer than 365 ¼. That’s such a random number. I would like to suggest 350. That’s close enough to the current year length that it wouldn’t make a big difference, but it’s easier to remember and it has more factors than 365 or 366. We could divide the 350-day year into ten months of 35 days each, which I think is a lovely length for a month to be, and ten is a nice number of months. And there will be exactly 50 weeks in a year, which would be convenient. It would also mean that holidays and birthdays would fall on the same day of the week every year, which is an appealing idea and would make it very easy to keep holiday traditions the same from year to year. And Advent would always be the same length, so Advent calendars could actually be Advent calendars instead of December calendars that call themselves Advent calendars.

It would seem that I don’t feel like returning to my algebra homework.


Between various math problems, you can see my M&M statistics.

Between various math problems, you can see my M&M statistics.

5:08 AM

Cups of coffee: Three and a half. Now my coffee is gone, but that’s okay, because I’ll be able to go and get some more from the cafeteria in just a couple hours. It is worth noting that, on days when I sleep, I hardly ever drink more than one cup of coffee.

M&Ms: 43 blue, 22 red, 19 yellow, 24 brown, 38 ½ green, 26 orange. This is a final count; my M&Ms are now gone.

Homework done: All I have accomplished since the last update was another couple paragraphs on that paper.

Games of Catan: Two and a half.


It’s still dark and will be for a while, but I hear birds singing. Some people on campus complain about how loud the birds are, and I am puzzled by their annoyance. Personally, I don’t mind the birds nearly as much as I mind the leafblowers and lawn mowers, which are also noises that one hears almost constantly on this campus, and frequently right under one’s window when one is trying to do homework.

I think I’m going to go take a shower now. After that, I have to get back to my algebra homework, and then I’m allowed to take a break to check tumblr.


6:26 AM

Cups of coffee: Still at three and a half.

Homework done: See above, plus a couple more algebra problems.

Games of Catan: Still at two and a half.


I actually didn’t take a shower shortly after five, like I said I would, because my roommate was in the shower. In my residence hall, we have suites, and each suite has its own shower. I definitely prefer that to a communal bathroom, but it’s more than a little annoying hearing water running when I’m trying to do homework. It’s weird how some noises, like showers and squeaky doors, drive me crazy, while other noises, like ticking clocks and the strangely loud hum of my desk light, don’t bother or distract me at all.

Right now, I’m a little annoyed at the world in general for the fact that it’s morning. I don’t know where all the time went last night. I was expecting that I’d get more done. Now I still have homework to finish and stuff to study for midterm exams later this week, but I have lost the quiet and solitude that the nighttime offers.


7:34 AM

Cups of coffee: A little more than three and a half. I just came back from breakfast in the cafeteria, and I brought back a cup of coffee with me. Coffee is good stuff.

Homework done: None since I last gave an update, actually. Unless I’ve done a couple algebra problems since then. I can’t remember how many I’d done before that point. I’m still less than halfway done with what I have due today.

Games of Catan: Two and a half


This is what one of my dry erase boards looked like by morning.

This is what one of my dry erase boards looked like by morning.

Today’s sunrise was disappointingly nonspectacular, but that’s okay, because now that the sun’s up, it’s a really beautiful day. Maybe it’s a bit chilly, but it’ll probably be really nice in a few hours.

Next on my agenda is the game I like to play where I use a random number generator to get twenty random digits and then try to memorize them in under a minute. Lately, I’ve only been doing this once a day. I’m on a good streak now, though. I’ve gotten a perfect score four out of the last five times. This may not be an achievement that means anything to anyone besides me, but I am rather proud of it. I just hope I can keep this streak going. Considering the fact that I haven’t sleep in over a day and I’m dead tired, my brain might not be at its best this morning, though.

I really wish I was playing Settlers of Catan right now. And I really wish I was winning.


9:13 AM

Cups of coffee: Four and a half

Homework done: More algebra, but I’m still not done with today’s assignment yet. I am actually making progress; it just really takes that long. Seriously, math is hard.

Games of Catan: Two and a half. But I’m getting close to my next Catan break. This excites me greatly.


Here is a picture of outside, despite the fact that the picture doesn't look as pretty as it really is.

Here is a picture of outside, despite the fact that the picture doesn’t look as pretty as it really is.

I just opened my window. It’s so ridiculously beautiful out there today. The thing about Alabama is that you never know from one minute to the next what the weather is going to be like. On Sunday, it was nice like this, but yesterday, it was gloomy and wet and rainy and just really ugly. But then it suddenly cleared up in the middle of dance class, very shortly before it got dark. And last night it was pretty chilly. As clear as the weather is now, there’s no telling whether it’ll rain again. For all I know, it could snow tomorrow.

I’m trying to remember what I normally write in my all-nighter blog posts. I seem to recall that they aren’t normally about the weather, but right now, the weather seems to be the most noteworthy thing. I tried to take a beautiful picture from my window so that I could show the beautiful weather, but it didn’t turn out looking very beautiful because most of the trees still don’t have leaves yet. I’m guessing that will happen soon.


10:28 AM

Cups of coffee: I’ve stopped at four and a half.

Homework: A couple more algebra problems


CatanOkay, I admit it, I just played several consecutive games of Catan; I don’t even know how many because I lost count. Most of those games were ridiculously short because one person got all the luck and won before I’d even had a chance to do anything. It was getting quite frustrating. I mean, here I’ve been awake all night, working long and hard in an effort to learn stuff. I feel like the universe at least owes me a few lucky rolls. So I just kept playing until I finally won.

And now, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to put this on my blog, then I’m going to finish my algebra homework (which is finally almost done), and by then, it’ll probably be about time for me to get all my books and stuff together, go to the cafeteria for lunch, check my mailbox quickly, and then head off to math class.



College blurs the line between today and tomorrow

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Time: 9:29 PM

Cups of coffee: 0

This is where I’m starting tonight.

I was kind of hoping that this wouldn’t have to happen this semester. After all, I got through two and a half years of college before I ever had to pull an all-nighter, and last semester was an unusual situation because I was taking an absurd number of classes. Nevertheless, despite the comparative ease of my schedule this semester, it has become necessary for me to stay up all night writing stuff tonight. Unfortunately, today is a particularly bad day for an all-nighter, and by that, I mean that I really don’t feel like it. I really, really, really don’t feel like it.

The coffee maker is running and I have an enormous pile of M&Ms on my desk. ‘Tis time to get to work.

Time: 10:57 PM

Cups of coffee: 1

It had been my intention to include my M&M count along with the coffee count, but I have eaten such a ridiculously large amount of M&Ms already that I don’t feel like releasing the exact number to the internet. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that I have been keeping count, mainly for the purpose of calculating the proportion of each color. It has always slightly annoyed me that packages of M&Ms do not have an equal amount of each color. This is not the way it should work.

Also, I have made some progress on my paper, but not nearly enough. I technically only have a couple pages left to go, but I also have several hours’ worth of editing and cleaning to do. And I have two papers due next week that I need to work on if I can find the time.

Time: 11:58 PM

Cups of coffee: 1 ½

In just a few minutes, November 7 will end and give way to November 8. At least, it will if we assume that the new day begins at midnight. My question is why we say that the new day begins at midnight. According to Jewish tradition, the new day begins at sunset, which is really convenient on Christmas Eve and the day before Easter when you don’t want to wait any longer before starting to celebrate the holiday. Actually, what makes more sense to me is to think of the new day as beginning when I wake up. But then, on a night like tonight when I don’t actually sleep, does that mean that the new day never actually begins?  The answer to this question is obviously no, which is unfortunate because obvious answers abruptly kill the question. Ambiguous or conditional answers allow the question to live on, or at least to gently transition into another question.

On an unrelated note, I think my M&Ms are going to run out before the nighttime runs out. Also, I think now would be a good time for a scrabble break. I’d better win.

Time: 1:16 AM

Cups of coffee: 2

The joyous news is that my paper is now officially long enough. That is kind of a big deal because this is kind of a long paper. The sad part is that it isn’t very good; it’s still going to take me a few hours of work to make it semi-decent, and semi-decent is not the same thing as good enough. I don’t think this paper will ever actually be good enough because I tend to define good enough according to a pretty high standard. So I’ll just keep on editing it, rearranging things, adding citations, and adjusting my sentence structure and word choice until I run out of time, and then at least it’ll be as good as possible, even if it still isn’t as good as I’d like.

Google tells me that today is Bram Stoker’s birthday. That’s interesting. Facebook tells me that many of my classmates are still awake. That’s not surprising.  Tumblr tells me that many of my sisters are still awake.  It’s amazing how much you can learn from the internet.

Time: 2:17 AM

Cups of coffee: Almost 3

Here is an interesting moral dilemma: When one stays up all night long, at what point should one brush one’s teeth? ‘Cause I haven’t yet brushed my teeth tonight. I’m thinking that I might as well wait until morning to do that. Here is another dilemma: Should I close my window? I want to leave it open, but it’s getting kind of chilly outside. And here is yet another dilemma: What the camaduka am I going to do about this stupid paper? I don’t like the way it’s going, but I’m already more or less done with this draft, so I can’t exactly just scrap it and start over. Even if I had the time to start over, I don’t have the motivation. I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to get much more done before I have to just go ahead and turn it in.

On an unrelated note, I would like to point out the importance of sorting M&Ms according to color before eating them. This is very, very important. It is not important, however, to sort the milk chocolate ones from the peanut butter ones. They’re supposed to be mixed together. If they were meant to be separate, I never would have mixed them together in the first place.

Alas, my coffee is cold. I don’t like cold coffee.

Time: 3:33 AM

Cups of coffee: 3

I haven’t done the all-nighter thing many times because I don’t function well without sleep, but I have decided that I like the time of night when almost everyone is asleep and staying-up-late has officially transitioned into staying-up-all-night. It’s about that time now. Also, I like the part where I don’t have to wake up in the morning, because waking up just isn’t much fun. I’m not the biggest fan of sleep, but I really dislike waking up.

How, you may ask, is my paper going? And I will tell you: the answer is, leave me alone, I’m working on it. Granted, I’m not working on it as efficiently or productively as I was a few hours ago, but I am working on it.

Time: 4:26 AM

Cups of coffee: 4

Here is my hand holding some M&Ms. Note how awesomely I painted my fingernails a few days ago.

The coffee is gone, and at this point, I’m not going to make more. After all, it will only be a couple hours before it’s time for me to start my day tomorrow, and then I can have more coffee. Of course, that might not be the best idea after all the coffee I’ve just had, but staying up all night is tough.

I kind of wish I’d been keeping track of how much writing I’ve done tonight, all totaled. It’s been several thousand words; I know that much. It also would be interesting to know how many words I’ve written in the last week, or the last month, or the semester, or my entire life. And I wonder how much I’ve written if I were also to count words that I then deleted. It would be a really enormous number.

Time: 4:50 AM

Cups of coffee: 4

Results are in. If life was fair, each color of M&Ms would be at approximately 16.66 %. As the accompanying list shows, this was not quite the way it worked out. The order of colors here is important, by the way, because they’re in order of how much I like them. Blue M&Ms are the awesomest and orange are the least awesome. As you can see, the two colors that I like the least were over-represented.  This is unfair. I believe in equal rights for all M&M colors.

Now, if I’m ever in a situation where such a topic might come up, I can say that I once spent an entire night counting M&Ms. Ah, college. Surely I shall look back upon these days with nostalgia for as long as I live.

So much for watching the sunrise this morning. But here is some lovely fog.

I think I’m going to take a shower relatively soon so that I don’t miss the sunrise. There’s no point in staying up all night if you don’t get to see the sunrise.

Time: 6:43 AM

Cups of coffee: 4

Goodness gracious, self, this paper is terrible! What the camaduka were you doing all night?