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.

 

 

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Unedited Ramblings, Episode Two

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warningAs I pondered the many reasons that my life is meaningless and pointless, my mind latched onto the topic of how much I dislike a certain cliché. ‘Tis often said that one’s self-worth should not be defined by other people. This idea, which is related to the self-esteem trend, is used to negate the insecurities of people who feel disliked, to critique the opinions of people who feel lonely, and to undermine the unrealistic and superficial definition of love that is prevalent in pop culture. The last of these three objectives is the only one that has any merit, and even then, this cliché phrase addresses this cliché idea in the wrong way. I may or may not explain what I mean by that later. I can’t be sure at this point, since this is an unedited and unoutlined blog post. (Otherwise, it would be destined to forever remain an unfinished blog post, ‘cause I am kind of busy and stuff.)

disclaimerThe point of the aforementioned cliché about self-worth is that you shouldn’t worry about what other people think, that your relationships with other people don’t define who you are, and that you can live a good, happy, and purposeful life without other people being an important part of it. The first of those three points is often (but not always) true, depending upon the context. The second is kind of a philosophical point that you could argue either way; but I would argue that it’s false. I think that the relationships between family members, friends, classmates and coworkers, and even random strangers are so significant that it really is fair to say that a person is largely defined by their relationships with other people. After all, we describe people’s personalities based upon the way they interact with other people. The obvious example is that introversion vs. extroversion is one of the basic personality distinctions in every personality model with which I’m familiar. (Certainly in both the Myers-Briggs and the Big Five, which are the only two that are widely considered to be useful) Furthermore, most people’s moral values, opinions, interests, and tastes are at least strongly influenced by those of their family and friends. I realize that the “other people don’t define you” cliché doesn’t mean quite what I’m taking it to imply, but it seems to be that those implications are definitely present even if they aren’t intended. And then the third point mentioned above is definitely untrue. It’s meaningless to even try to argue that life is meaningful without other people.

triangle warningsI don’t mean that in a corny way. I’m not talking about emotional validation coming from the support and affection of other people. I’m questioning what it means to talk about meaning and purpose in life, and as far as I’m concerned, the answer to that question is pretty obvious. You accomplish meaningful things in life when your existence and your actions have a positive impact on the world around you. “The world around you”, of course, means other people. I suppose you could argue for the value of environmental work, but I would counter that even then, the reason it’s good to protect the environment is that it helps other people. Your personal talents, abilities, and situation in life will determine how exactly you’re supposed to make this impact, what degree of influence you will have, and how many people will be affected by you. But if nobody else is benefitting from you in any way, you’re either living only for your own enjoyment or accomplishing literally nothing at all. I don’t mean that to be a moralistic statement; I just think that it’s the obvious definition of purpose in life.

trianglesI didn’t intend to make that into a religious statement, either, and I feel like it’s necessary to point that out, because if this was supposed to have religious connotations, it would be terribly legalistic. The fact of the matter is that sin negates any good and purposeful things that we do, and that any individual’s net value is negative until you bring God’s forgiveness and salvation into the equation. And by Christ’s crucifixion, we are clothed in His righteousness, and it’s therefore no longer necessary for us to wonder whether we are living good and purposeful lives. That is, it’s not necessary for our salvation. That certainly doesn’t mean that we’re actually supposed to spend the rest of our lives doing nothing but lazily sitting around, playing Settlers of Catan online, and watching Mythbusters. (On a related note, guess what I did with my Friday night yesterday?)

tangent lineThe above paragraph, by the way, was not where I was intending to go with this; it was just a long tangent, which is what happens to one’s writing when one decides that one doesn’t have the time to decide what to write before one writes it, or to edit one’s writing afterwards. As I trace the tangent back to the point where it meets the topic at hand, I find that I seem to have gone off-course at the point that one’s purpose in life is in fact not independent of one’s relationship with other people. So I’ll go back to that point and follow it in the direction I had originally intended, until my brain gets distracted by another tangent. (I blame it on calculus. It’s hard to avoid tangents when you’re taking a calculus class and are expected to look for tangents.)

trigonometrySo, I am disagreeing with the idea that a person’s value is independent of other people, and instead saying that a person’s value comes from their relationships with other people, and that a person’s purpose is to make life a better place for other people. And just for clarification, I will add that by “relationship”, I’m not talking specifically about romantic relationships. I’m talking about any connection between people, whether it is between family, friends, acquaintances, or random strangers who briefly interact in a public place and never meet again or even remember the encounter. If I’m going to stick with my definition of purpose, then I have to come to the conclusion that any of these relationships can be used to do something purposeful.

scrabble and speed of lightHowever, since I have already used the term “romantic relationships”, (even though I used it only to say that I wasn’t specifically talking about it) I actually have something else to say about it, and that is this: I really don’t like the English word ‘love’. It’s not that I’m not opposed to the idea of romance, as anyone who knows me on tumblr would attest. (For some reason, tumblr seems to bring out an overly sentimental side in me, the kind of side that probably would have liked Titanic even if it didn’t have a great soundtrack and exploding lights. For example, the other day, I informed tumblr that I needed to fall in love with someone so that I could use the line, “The only thing that will ever come between us is the word ‘and.’“)The reason that I don’t like the word ‘love’ is that it has too many meanings that are very different. The Greek language has the right idea when it distinguishes between αγαπη, ερως, and φιλια. Incidentally, can you tell that I recently figured out how to use Greek letters in Microsoft Word? This, in my opinion, is extremely cool. I have now forgotten what I was about to say, and I think it was completely irrelevant anyway.

voicesThe general gist of what I’ve been saying here is that it’s not true that a person’s value has nothing to do with other people. And the reason that this seemed relevant is that it offered a somewhat more specific way for me to tell myself that my own life is pointless. I mean, I’m a full-time student, so pretty much all of my effort and energy goes into the attempts to make myself more knowledgeable. This has absolutely no impact whatsoever on the world around me. If I just randomly decided to stop trying and to instead dedicate my life to internet games, nobody except me would even notice any difference. It’s a depressing thought. Yeah, I think that’s where I was going with this whole thing. It may have looked like I had more positive and/or interesting things to say, but I didn’t. I warned you that this was a very disorganized and rambling blog post.

catanAnd now, the next thing I need to do is to decide whether Settlers of Catan or homework is more important tonight, and to rewrite a version of my to-do list that reflects this priority.