So. I'm twenty-one. I went and had my first shot (rum and orange juice, plus a series of tiny jello shots to see what the effect of alcohol on gelatin's ability to coagulate was - turns out that pineapple has a bigger effect thatn alcohol does.) Oh. And alcohol... tastes... nasty. But really, birthdays - not such a big deal any more. An occasion to mark the passage of time, an occasion to have some nice food (with my family later tonight) and to reflect a bit, but otherwise like any other day - which means that... yes, I'm working. Writing papers. YAY PAPERS.

Gui's post captures how I sometimes feel about the educational system. My comment captures what I (try to) do in response.

Guy: "And so you can see that the shell is injection-molded ABS, a low-cost plastic that's..."
Me: "Oh whoa, a toaster! Hey, what does this button do?"
Guy: "Well, you're supposed to-" *smoke comes out of toaster*
Me: "COOL! Okay, so that lever is the..."
Guy: "We cover that in unit three, where..."
Me: "Wait, is there a toaster book somewhere?"
Guy: "The recommended list of textbooks..."
*reading manual* "Ohhhhh, that's the darkness setting. Okay, I'm going
to need some more slices of bread... hey, is your toaster okay?"
Classmate: "I can't get an image of Elvis burnt onto my toast! What am I doing wrong?"
Me: "Well, you have your setting on 'Apparition Of The Virgin Mary.' But if you turn..."
Guy: "Wait! That's not approved! The evaluations are next Tuesday!"
Me: "...and there you go! Elvis."
Classmate: "Whoa!"
Me: "I know!"
Classmate: "Thanks!"
Guy: "But you don't know how it works!"
Me: "I think I've figured out how to use it - okay, so tell me, what's this nichrome wire stuff?"
Guy: "The nichrome wire has a linear resistance of 1.75 ohms per foot, which, at 120 volts..."
Me: "Oooooh. Hey, that must be why that burnt. Why nichrome, why not... I dunno, tungsten or something?"
Guy: "We don't cover that until -"
"What's the thermal mass of tungsten? Wait, don't tell me, I'll look it
up and you can holler if I'm wrong. I gotta go read. Ooh!" *distracted
by shiny*
Guy: *shaking head* "She'll never learn."

My John Holt books came in the mail today, along with one called "Talking About Leaving," which is on a study about why undergraduates leave the sciences. I'm looking forward to reading that this summer. Right now... papers. Yes. And two 3x5ft posters for SCOPE.