Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Pizza Fairy Flies at Midnight

Today was a Saturday, so breakfast wasn't until nine and we got to sleep in an hour. (Wooo!) We then only had two hours of class before lunch, and two hours of a TA-led (non-class-related) activity period. In class, we learned how to do Jones polynomials for knots, which take forever and are a lot of work (seriously--figuring out the Jones polynomial for just the trefoil, which has three crossings, took almost an hour) but I think they're kind of fun. They're not particularly hard, just require an eye for detail and the patience to work through them step by step. For the last hour of class, we watched a video of a lecture on the Jones polynomial given by a well-known physicist and mathematician who was doing research relating to it. The lecture was an hour long, and he may have been a brilliant mathematician, but he was an absolutely terrible public speaker. His entire presentation consisted of reading of of PowerPoint slides, and even so he stuttered, spoke softly, quickly, and unsurely, repeated himself, and said sentences wrong then had to go back and start over. It was painful to watch and listen to.

For the TA-led activity, Jeff decided we'd have what he called "casino day." There were decks of cards and we could play whatever games we wanted. The group of five that I was in played a few rounds of BS, then one of the girls taught us a game called capitalism. It is exactly what it sounds like, and it's terrible. Basically the goal is to have a good hand so that you can play higher cards than the other people who go before you. After the first game, whoever wins by getting rid of all their cards is president, the second person to get rid of their cards is vice-president, then there's the citizen, the vice-idiot and the idiot. The problem is that after the next round is dealt, the president gets to take four of whatever cards they want (the highest ones, obviously) from the idiot's hand, and give back whatever four they want (generally the lowest ones the president has). The vice-president takes and gives three from the vice-idiot. It's technically possible to move from idiot to president if you have a lot of luck, but basically once you've lost once you'll keep losing. In the many rounds we played in that hour, I got lucky and had an excellent hand the first round and so I won, and I remained president the entire time. The other positions did occasionally switch (in one memorable round, someone went from being idiot to being vice-president) but not often and not usually drastically. (This is why it's a terrible game. It's exactly like capitalism.)

This is what I learned! It was surprisingly good for a first try.
Then we had two hours of free time before we all met our proctor groups to have pizza in the lobby and then go to the baseball game (a required activity for everyone). During this time I went to the fourth floor and learned a new pattern for making friendship bracelets! I'm very glad I did, because then I took my just-started bracelet to the baseball game and managed to almost finish it in that time. (Trust me, no one was paying attention to the game itself. By the end, everyone else was complaining about their phones dying. Luckily, tying string doesn't use any battery power.) It was also very hot and humid, but fortunately, about halfway through the game I remembered that I had a small hand-held battery-powered fan stuck in my purse, and so that made a big difference.

At the bottom of the ninth inning, it was still tied, but all the kids just got up and started leaving anyway, and the staff couldn't do anything but go with us. (If we'd known we had that power, we probably would have left a lot earlier.) After we got back, the director named herself "the midnight pizza fairy" and came to all the floors with the leftover pizza from dinner. There was a lot of leftover pizza.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow (firstly, because we get to sleep an extra hour again, but also because in the afternoon I'll be working with fusing glass, which should be fun.

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