Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Fragile Mind

I’m not exactly sure when I went insane, but I guess that probably comes with the territory. I don’t think it was before this afternoon, but really, it’s hard to say for sure. I can’t seem to sleep for very long without waking up, and it’s not the good kind of waking up either. It’s the kind where you come to while in a free-fall, think your heart has stopped, become startled by a loud noise, or realize the alarm clock has died, and both the time and your 8am exam moved on without you. Of course none of these things actually occurred, but it takes some time to filter them out of reality.

I remember studying pictures of yeast cells and bacteria colonies from something like 5:15 to 7:30 this morning, which was probably a good thing. The microbiology lottery was fairly good to me today – I got the process water analysis, a culture yeast, and what I strongly believe to have been Zygosaccharomyces (yeast) and Micrococcus (bacteria). The process water analysis is easy as pie (some gets pour plated into Standard 1 agar and the rest gets membrane filtered onto wort and VLB S7 agars), but there’s a bit of a trade off in which, having gotten off light today likely makes for a more difficult analysis of the post-incubation results next week. As long as I don’t screw that up next Wednesday, I should be in good shape for the practical portion.

After the practical, I joined the usual suspects for lunch outside of the imbiss and we lounged around, waiting for the theoretical portion of the exam to begin at 2pm. I didn’t have any idea what the answers were to the first five questions or much of what followed. I didn’t expect to ace this one, but whatever securities I had about my ability to pass it, must have bypassed my clogged reality filter. After struggling through the exam, I turned it in, went outside and took a look at my manual to see what (if any) points I might have eeked out of my guesses. I had made an effort to try to memorize some of the questions that I was clueless about and managed to hold 4 or 5 of them in short term memory, but a quick browse through the manual yielded no answers. I decided to try again once I got home and proceeded to a scheduled meeting with Dr. Ahrens for part 2 of the "him helping me decide how to treat the brewery water in Roanoke" sessions.

Still reeling from the test, I sat down with Dr. Ahrens who began going through lab results, notes, and a schematic…that I had never seen before. I told him that I thought he may have had me mixed up with someone else, but failed to get my point across. I tried my best to wrap my mind around what was going on, thinking that maybe he had new data from the lab, and was taking things in a different direction, so I did my best to follow. We might as well have been speaking different languages. He was just as sure that I had given him the schematic and data table on his desk as I was that I had not. I’m not sure who was more confused when I left, me or him. I walked home blasting Buena Vista Social Club into my ears to relax and hoped that I would soon wake up from whatever messed up dream I must be in.

I took a more thorough look through my microbiology manual when I got home, but only found one answer to the stumpers from the exam. So I’m either blind, have the wrong book, or am still insane. I fell asleep staring at some strange, fast moving clouds through the skylight above my bed. Not 2 seconds after I woke up, an airplane jetted silently across the otherwise cloud free, bright, blue sky. Reaching for my little 2 Euro alarm clock, I knocked it and sent it flying as if I had been trying to grab a moving target. I tossed some returnable bottles in my empty backpack and headed to the grocery store, which I was certain closed in 30 minutes. I turned down the wrong street, but didn’t notice for a while. A bug flew into my eye and became wedged under the lid, adding to my discomfort and disorientation. I got to the store with 8 minutes to spare, but it had been closed for 52 minutes. My eye hurt worse than my stomach, so I walked back home to deal with that rather than eating, which I believe was the original goal. As I waited to cross the crosswalk, a car with a green light slowed, thinking that I somehow had the right of way despite their green light. They were almost rear ended by a fast moving, horn blaring car which would have sent the first car tumbling into me had they connected. I froze. Time to go back to sleep.

I just got some emails from the homebrew club listserv back in Blacksburg discussing a barley wine with a Final Gravity of 1.044. Maybe I’m insane, but that’s a normal Original Gravity. What a waste of extract and an unpalatable sugary hangover in a glass. I can't believe that people make that style of beer intentionally. Is it possible that I am the main character in an unpublished Kurt Vonnegut novel? Plant Equipment final tomorrow. Surely, it can only be better than today.

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