Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 068: So close to the end

Two tests down, one to go. And by one, I mean a final. Meh. I was a little worried about it earlier this weekend but it shouldn't be too bad.

To be honest, I'm just ready for all this crap to be over. So I can go home. And see my beautiful family and friends. And just relax. Like that shirt/reference I don't actually understand, "Frankie says relax!" That's what I'm looking forward to.

The second test on Thursday was fine. I made a crapload of mistakes but I saw them all and corrected them during the test so ... we'll see. At least there's that.

Anyway, this final chapter is on chemical kinetics (the rate at which chemical reactions happen) and it's pretty math heavy. We discussed derivatives/instantaneous rates on Wednesday and I was reminded that I really need to get my calculus mind back into gear.

Oh, and I hate formal lab reports. They're annoying, mainly because they expect them to be immaculate but they only give us two days to do it. Whatever, lab's over on Tuesday. So close.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 064: Studying...supposedly

I'm done studying.

Well, not really, but I'm not burnt out anymore. I listened to some music, baked a little and just realized I'm fine. There's nothing to really be stressed about. I know the material. I think I was just sleepy yesterday.

Anyway, I got my test results back from Monday. Una A. We have this new kid in our study group, David, who keeps kicking my ass on these tests. And by kicking my ass, I mean he always gets 105 on each test (it's out of 100 with a 5 point extra credit question), so that's annoying. I suppose it's something to strive to though, haha.

Tomorrow's test is on oxidation-reduction stuff and voltaic cells and other stuff? I forget. Whatever, I just want to take it and start studying for the final and go home. I'll keep you all posted.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 063: Burnt out

I had a test yesterday which I think went fine. To be honest, yesterday feels a million years ago. I've been studying for my upcoming test on Thursday (yes, two days from now) and just doing problems and reading and the usual. I don't know what happened, or how it happened, but class is over in nine days. That's crazy.

We're about to start the last chapter/subject (Chemical Kinetics) tomorrow and I'm completely burnt out. Earlier today, I was sincerely insane -- I'm running on bad sleep (I'm not sleeping well for some reason) and then I had iced coffee so it wasn't good. I was singing random songs outloud (more so than usual) and talking a billion miles a minute and yeah.

I don't know what's going on with me. I think it's time for this all to end. The end is so close but like my friend Chris said, three tests in two weeks -- that's a little extreme. One down, two to go. And we'll probably have an in-class assignment tomorrow that I just can't even think about right now.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 061: Feeling caught up...for now

I'm sensing a pattern of blogging when class is over for the week (Thursday) and then again before the week starts (Sunday). Huh.

Anyway, I'm finally feeling caught up. I'm all studied out for our test on acids and bases tomorrow. I've done all the suggested and practice problems. As well as reading the book chapters and my notes. I'll probably read my notes again tonight before bed but at this point, I need to look ahead to Thursdays test on electrochemistry. We did a lab relating to it on Thursday which was kind of fun -- we used baby-baby spark plugs (essentially) and measured voltage of different metals and it sounds scintillating I'm sure. haha, well, considering our lab on Tuesday and Wednesday was more annoying than the song that never ends, well, it was quite refreshing really.

Luckily, the lab reports for those two weren't so bad. I'm really impressed with myself. I usually feel like I'm trying to catch up to what's going on half the time (because of this weird 8am class, I have a theory I will elaborate on in a second), and I finally feel caught up. Right now, I'm reading what he taught us on Thursday (the beginning of electrochemistry, focusing on oxidation-reduction reactions)

OIL (Oxidation, electron is lost) RIG (Reduction, electron is gained)

and hoping to actually read ahead? (Knock on wood) We'll see.

As I mentioned earlier, I think our professor teaches our 8am class like a 5pm class. He presents information as if we should have read about it beforehand so I feel he doesn't always delve as much into things as he could. Then the rest of the day (after lab) is dedicated to teaching what he should have taught me? Does that make sense? He's really clear and if you're 100%-focused, then you should be able to follow along. It helps to read just in case you weren't 100%-focused and it just helps to clarify concepts that he may not have covered well/thoroughly. So instead of being ahead as he seems to think we are, we're all really trying to catch up, every single day. This isn't a bad thing really. I'm just grateful he's so on top of things and helpful and organized (I really can't stress how important organization and structure is) and as long as I learn the stuff (a third through him, a third through the Fantastic Four (Five-ish; we have a "new" kid who studies with us sometimes) and a third just by myself), that's all that matters.

Until Thursday and then one more week! Time sure does fly. I'm sure you'll all depressed summer is coming to an end soon. Summer's almost here (for me), haha.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 058: The second test results and lab info

We got our tests back today and I did fine. An A for those of you that are wondering so, again, fine. I missed this question that was obvious but my brain was malfunctioning and switched the concepts/ideas (bonds forming = exothermic, bonds breaking = endothermic) and got the problem wrong. However, that was the only problem I got wrong so there's not much to complain about.

I really am terribly sorry I don't blog as much. I've realized that lecture and its accompanied homework/practice problems are not what's keeping me busy. It's lab. Let me fill you in on the 411...

Lab is worth one credit. Class/lecture is worth three credits. However, I swear to you, I am spending more than 50% of my time every single day working on lab. The lab reports are waayyyy more involved than they should be and they take forever and a half because reports are the only grades you can get and it's just ridiculous!

Par example, we have a (formal) proposal due in Monday for lab. A proposal! We don't even know what we're doing half the time (because lab rarely correlates with lecture and we're doing stuff because they tell us to -- nothing conceptual and nothing really gets taught) so you somehow expect us to create a proposal? And of course they're freaking scientists so they don't tell you length or any of that crap. Here's how you source, look here, go! ...UGH.

Basically, lab is consuming my life and it sucks.

On another note, I really like my professors/instructors this session. I like how methodical my lecture professor is and he's really helpful and succinct and organized and methodical and basically all things one wants in a professor.

The wand is just for effect. It's all in the chemistry.

He's so cute, he makes these dorky chem jokes and then he laughs at them and my friends make fun of his laugh because its a little bit like a bark and a little bit like Butthead's laugh (or is it Beavis? I never watched the show, thank goodness) from "Beavis and Butthead". An awful show and an awful reference but its the truest one there is. My only true critique would be that he has a very monotone voice so its easy to not pay attention and realize you missed a chunk of something. My lab instructor is so much more organized and actually teaches in pre-lab so we're not going in blind (like we did most days in Summer Session I). She's really friendly and she knows my friends and I 'cause we work and study hard and ask her for help on lab reports so she knows what's up.

I know this is long but I thought I should get everything in while I have time and it's still fresh on the mind. I'm serious guys, all I eat, live and breathe is chemistry right now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 054: Enthalpy, entropy and (Gibbs free) energy

I thought I would take a break from studying and attempt to blog more. I really do apologize for not blogging as much because this really is the sole means of communication between us so I reiterate, sorry.

Our test tomorrow is math-heavy. A lot of formulas and concepts are tied together. I know them all, it's just a matter of sorting everything into its appropriate little box and then after that, fitting all the boxes together to make a pretty picture.

Just to give you an example (feel free and skip to the next paragraph in case this bores you) ... Enthalpy is the amount of heat given off (or taken) by a system.

Looks like everything is in proper disorder...

Entropy (the amount of disorder/disorganization within the system) relies on enthalpy -- the amount of heat tells us what kind of reaction it is and other cool tidbits. Gibbs Free Energy is a combination of enthalpy and entropy and it tells us how much energy is "free"/left over to do actual work (e.g., how gasoline works/is used in the piston of a car).

I know, it all sounds pretty dry and random but it's pretty cool how everything relates to one another. However, it is also a little overwhelming to have to keep all these concepts and deltaH, deltaS, and deltaG's straight. Much less the different kinds of deltaG. No worries though, I've got a handle on it, just wanted to keep you all in my chemical loop, haha.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 051: Tests, labs, and such

Hey everyone,

I know it's been awhile but this new schedule is pretty intense. I'm up at 6:15-6:30 every morning. I have class from 8am to roughly 1pm (depending how long lab runs). Then I study until ... oh, evening time ... 6? 7? 8? Then I come home, work out, watch some TV to destress and then sleep. And then I do that again. And again.

We got our test results back on Tuesday. I did A so I'm happy. It's been good to take his tests (which are quite fair) and also see how he grades (also fair -- when he takes off points, he tells you why). We have another test on Monday (happy birthday Mom! Happy Bastille Day!) which is going to be calculation-heavy -- enthalpy, entropy and Gibbs Free Energy, in case you were wondering -- and then more learning. Coming up, we have two tests the week after that and then the last week of class. Whew! This has been quite a sprint!

The labs are fine. They're a bit cumbersome at times (both the procedure/performing the lab and also the lab reports) but I like that this time around, everyone seems much more organized. Which is always, always welcome.

Anyway, I should probably get back to studying/doing my labs. Thought I'd (finally) drop a line!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Day 045: The first test of Chem II and a freak out

I had my first test yesterday.

It was an extremely fair test. If you understood the material, you were pretty much set. He also offers extra points on test (as a way of getting extra credit) and I think I nailed that so I know that I at least got five points out of a hundred. Yes! Anyway, I think I did okay. We'll have to see how he grades but I feel like I prepared properly (studying, practice problems, etc) so, yeah.

Labs have been going fine. I like that this instructor has her stuff together. She preps thoroughly during pre-lab so that most of the time we get a good sense of what we're getting ourselves into. Do we know why we're doing such and such lab or how it correlates or any of that? No. But that's okay, at least we're doing it with some instruction.

In other news, I had a minor freak out the other day when we were learning about hybridization (it has to do with how electrons of different atoms bond together) because I didn't get it right away and the professor zoomed past it like he was in a sports car on the 17-mile drive. I was freaking out.

How carbon and hydrogen electrons form methane (riveting, I know)

Thank goodness for the Fantastic Four. Chris helped me figure it out and Michael (bless his heart) was trying to help me but he has a way of teaching in a demeaning tone sometimes so I was pretty frank with him when he was "teaching" me. "Michael, I know you want to help but you like to tell me everything I don't need to know about things and right now, I just really need to understand what's going on with all this orbital hybridization, ok?"

After two hours, I finally had a grasp on it. Luckily, I had Tuesday and Wednesday to solidify the material before our test yesterday and I gotta say, I finally get it. It is always, always a gratifying experience to overcome a mental block on stuff so yay hybridization!