Tuesday, August 23, 2005

One of my favorite things is when I have trouble writing something (often as small as one sentence), I mull it over, finally settle on it and people still pick up on the issues that plagued me in the first place.

Yesterday morning I wrote:

"Along with swimming in the morning will be chemistry class in the evening. I presume that I'll do well since, from what I understand, I am mostly chemicals."

Two lines. Seems a simple enough statement. Straightforward. But the time that elapsed between the writing of the first sentence and the second was at least 10 minutes.

There are two reasons: 1. My computer is rather slow. 2. The same reason that caused DC to comment that I am also mostly water.

Originally I planned to say I was mostly chemicals because I just thought it was funny. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I could legitimately make that claim for the simple reason that I wasn't sure exactly what a chemical is.

I have always had this image in my head of a mad scientist's laboratory (pronounced "lah-bore-a-toe-ree") filled with flasks and beakers over Bunsen burners while their exotically-colored contents bubbled, hissed, and belched clouds of noxious gases.

But I think that deep down inside, I knew there had to be a little more to it than that.

So I enlisted the help of the Google search engine and began the hunt for understanding. Google ran ahead into the surrounding shrubbery to flush out our quarry and I fired wildly at everything that moved until I finally hit this:


1. Of or relating to chemistry.
2. Of or relating to the properties or actions of chemicals.


1. A substance with a distinct molecular composition that is produced by or used in a chemical process.
2. A drug, especially an illicit or addictive one.

Google came back wagging its tail but I knew we were not finished. This definition was only the appetizer. For the main course I wanted something much more filling. I decided to set a few traps designed to ensnare compound nouns.

After waiting impatiently for .14 seconds, I checked the traps. Success!

Chemical reaction, process by which one or more substances may be transformed into one or more new substances. Energy is released or is absorbed, but no loss in total molecular weight occurs. When, for example, water is decomposed, its molecules, each of which consists of one atom of oxygen and two of hydrogen, are broken down; the hydrogen atoms then combine in pairs to form hydrogen molecules and the oxygen atoms to form oxygen molecules.

Google and I ate well that night.

Water, I decided, was indeed a chemical since it is capable of undergoing a chemical reaction. I felt worn out from the hunt but the sweet reward was mine: After all that effort I now felt justified in using the word "mostly".

This, all this is why I hold my tongue when people tell me I should write more. I'm usually happy if I can make it through a few sentences.

And yet, here I am writing several lengthy paragraphs about the trouble I had writing that single line. Hell, that single word. "Mostly". Pshaw. Who goes around saying "mostly" anyway?

Ah, well. I suppose writing is an exercise in neuroses. (Yes, neuroses, plural form of neurosis.)

neu·ro·sis (nʊ-rō'sĭs, nyʊ-) pronunciation
n., pl. -ses (-sēz).

Any of various mental or emotional disorders, such as hypochondria or neurasthenia, arising from no apparent organic lesion or change and involving symptoms such as insecurity, anxiety, depression, and irrational fears, but without psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations. No longer in scientific use.

Then, after all that, you go back and re-read the DC's comment and realize you very likely simply misunderstood the context and he was probably referring to success in swimming due to my water content and not at all contesting my flagrant use of the word "mostly".

And let's check the scoreboard, shall we?


Scientific Use-0

and Nueroses still holds a strong lead with 8 bajillion.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Four thirty in the morning. And it's a school night. Heh, this feels familiar.

Tomorrow I begin my first day at Arizona State University. I suppose there should be a certain element of suspense but I don't quite see it that way. This morning I will have a swim class. I presume that I'll do well as long as I don't drown. I also have this class on Wednesday morning. This is designed to get me out of bed at a decent hour on the days when my class load is the lightest.

Along with swimming in the morning will be chemistry class in the evening. I presume that I'll do well since, from what I understand, I am mostly chemicals.

My Tuesdays and Thursdays will be filled with a couple of biology classes, a creative writing class, a fire ecology class, and then the labs for the chemistry class. These days will be long. When winter comes I do not expect to see much of the sun.

Such will be my semester. Again, I'm not too worried. The next few months will be filled with writing, trying to figure out what life is exactly and how it's supposed to work, and, of course, not drowning.

In essence, all the things I thought I was doing anyway.

But at least now I'll have a towel handy.