For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
What a busy beaver I have been the last days! Yesterday I started the day off wearing an incredibly hideous orange shirt emblazoned with GOT PAPERS? on the front at wpi.edu/+writing on the back. I went to campus early with a package for the people at Commonside Community Development Trust. A couple people had mentioned things they could only get from the US, or that were very expensive over there – Celestial Seasonings teas, candy corn – so I rounded those things off and shipped them off in a $15 spending-spree. Interestingly, the nasty mailroom lady actually commented that she felt bad charging a student so much to send a package.
Immediately after that I betook myself to the Writing Center (WC), where I expected to give a group tour about the Center. I waited and waited; and then, 25 minutes into the hour, a lone Freshman appeared asking whether he had come to the right place to get his papers edited. I told him I would be busy shortly, but I could help him sign up for a later session, at which point it came out that his paper was due at 2:00 that afternoon but it was only 500 words. So I sat right down with him and we did a 10-minute speed tutoring session. I felt it went very well, considering it was my first time doing this for real. Then, as we were finishing up, who should appear but a horde of students headed by their professor: the long-lost tour group. I hurried through the closing details with my tutee, then rushed to give the tour. The irony of me giving a tour of the Center is that I barely know it myself. As of yesterday I had spent three hours there. But I think I gave a decent showing and at least failed to look like more of a fool than somebody wearing the brightest, orangest shirt on campus could.
Because of the press of people at the end of the session, and my having to fill out confusing digital forms for the drop-in tutee, I was almost late to Social Psychology. In that class she helpfully outlined the type of material covered on her exams; then we talked about Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane itself is, of course, long gone. But the aftermath in New Orleans remains terrible…and fascinating, from a social psych perspective. Immediately after that class I hustled over to Plant Diversity, where we talked about how speciation can occur (polyploidy and backcrossing being two fascinating ways that only plants can do).
You might think that I wore this orange shirt just to stand out in the crowd. Or to look particularly awful one day. But in fact I wore it because all the tutors were supposed to wear them to advertise for the Writing Center. In conjunction with that, we set up a table by the fountain with a raffle to win $25 to Best Buy (“Just add a sentence to our story!” The story being one of those where each person writes a sentence and you see how weird they get) and gave away lots of pens that said Writing Center – wpi.edu/+writing on them. I had volunteered to spend an hour, from 12:00 to 1:00, giving out those pens and recruiting people to enter our raffle. During my hour, I stuck our Writing Center business cards – which all just say Writing Tutor on them; no personalization for students who will spend less than a year working there – in the pens. Then we gave away the business cards along with the pens, which did wonders for reducing our ridiculous stack of business cards. As it turns out, I am fantastically good at getting people to take the pens and enter our raffle. My spiel went something like this:
Me: [Approaching a person walking by]“You want a free pen?”
Person: [Pausing] “Uh…sure.”
Me:[Taking advantage of the pause] “You want to win $25 to Best Buy?”
When they paused, I usually got them to add a sentence to the weird story. If they kept walking by at the same pace, I just handed them a pen and business card and considered it good.
After that hour I had sweated up a storm, so when I got to my Social Imps class and found the room unair conditioned, I complained rather vociferously. We discussed ad populum arguments. I am also more confused now about what makes an argument valid/invalid, sound/unsound, and inductive/fallacious than I was when I went into the class. That extra-long class passed in fits and starts. We argued about whether people would ever accept a computer deciding when to unplug somebody; many people thought that we would never trust a machine to make life-or-death decisions, but I’m not so sure. We already trust computers far more than we imagine, even to the point of life-or-death situations.
I got home and finished making some of the revisions my Uncle Gerard suggested on my MQP. This took a while, by which time I had to leave again. Back to campus, I went to Friday Night Fellowship with the Christian Bible Fellowship. I figure that since I’m leading the Women’s Bible Study with them, I ought to get to know some of the other people. Back home at 9:30, I read Cryptonomicon and slept very well (probably because I’ve slept horribly lately, mainly due to the video game war zone that is the apartment upstairs).
Today Ian and I went hiking with about 20 CBF people at Mount Monadnock. We met at WPI at 8:15, left WPI at 8:50, and started hiking at 10:25. As you might imagine, we had to leave the state of Massachusetts to find anything that could remotely be considered a mountain. We found the ascent short in miles but arduous in elevation gain, much of which took place as we climbed up steep, slick rocks on the White Dot Trail (marked with a reflective dot of white paint). Cool wind dried our sweat and made the whole hike bearable, especially after we got above the treeline and had a gorgeous sweeping view to compliment the breeze. We could see all the way from that southern New Hampshire hill to Boston, with only high clouds casting their shadows on the carpet of green trees below. I, and the thousand other people climbing Mt. Monadnock that same day, found it quite picturesque and lovely. Ian found it hard and sweaty, but when we got to the top and ate sandwiches and snacks everybody recovered and enjoyed themselves. The hike down (White Cross Trail, so named for the white + shaped paint marking that trail) went quickly and easily compared to the hike up. We drove the hour or so back to Worcester, but it only felt like about 30 minutes because I fell asleep some time after we left New Hampshire and woke up as we entered the Worcester miasma at around 4:00 in the afternoon.
UPDATE: A CBF person posted pictures of the Monadnock hike. Click here to view them. Probably the last 10 pictures would be the most interesting for those of you who don’t know any of these WPI students.
And that brings us up to date. I have kept busy, as I expected I would, with CBF and tutoring; this year I intend to reach out and avoid the isolation that plagued me last year. But now I hear the shower calling my name (or is that just our leaky toilet?), although my MQP work, Social Psych project and exam, Plant
Diversity project, and Social Imps reading and response paper are all vying with the shower rather loudly. My stinky armpits and sticky legs win out and thus I take myself off to become clean.