Copper Capers and Tranquil Tunes

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

It’s been a long day. School has gotten to be quite monotonous, and even moreso when Chemistry class is an entire hour of just standing there watching clear liquid drip through a filter. We’ve been doing an ISU lab for the class, and it’s looking as if it’s going to take a full four days for me to finish it. Today was day three, so I suppose the end is in sight, but it’s certainly been a cruel lab.

Basically, the whole idea of the lab is to go through a series of reactions to turn copper into…copper. Yes, we start with copper, and we end with copper, and the idea is to have as close to the original mass as possible. The first reaction was pretty cool. Taking the piece of copper, we poured in some concentrated (and highly corrosive) nitric acid. The thing starts emitting toxic brown gas, and the copper starts bubbling and turns a bright green. That was the cool part of the lab. However, in the next reaction, we have to pour sodium hydroxide into the solution. This is supposed to cause a reaction that pulls the now-formed copper (II) oxide out of solution, settling to the bottom of a clear liquid. That’s how it’s supposed to be, anyways. If any is left in solution, the liquid is a blue colour, with the brownish-black sludge of copper (II) oxide on the bottom. Most people’s worked fine. They then went through the process of filtering out the brown sludge. Mine was blue. Yay. So I added more sodium hydroxide. I let it settle, and it was still blue. Hooray. So I heated it some to try to get the reaction going. No dice. I heated some more, and added even more sodium hydroxide, then kept it heating until the end of the class. I then let it settle overnight.

That was the end of day two of this lab. By this time, most people were in the middle of or already done filtering. Today was day three. I had yelled at my beaker at the end of the previous class, saying that if it wasn’t clear by tomorrow, that I was going to be very angry with it. Unfortunately, my beaker either doesn’t understand English, or it is quite rebellious. It was still blue. So Mrs. Ham told me to just go ahead and filter, and then try putting more sodium hydroxide with the filtered solution. Of course, none of the blue stuff filtered through. The liquid that went through the filter paper was nice and clear, and my paper was quite blue, with lots of brown sludge in there too. That means that the blue stuff, which I need to react to get the brown sludge, is pretty much stuck as blue stuff. Which hurts my percentage yield quite a bit. Anyways, because I had put in so much sodium hydroxide, I had plenty of liquid to filter, so I set up two funnels today and got to work. By the end of the class, it was completely filtered. As for my copper, I’m expecting perhaps a 50% yield at best. That’s my prediction anyways, as long as nothing else goes wrong.

So if you could understand any of that, you can understand my frustration. This is probably worth quite a good chunk of my mark, and things don’t seem to be working out too well. Andrew and Becky are also in my situation, though, so Becky and I were venting with each other today. She explained how she would rather be poking her eye out with a blunt pencil right now, and I certainly understood and sympathized with her. And now, I have tomorrow’s class to do the final step, which had better work according to plan, or I’m just going to hand in a penny as my result. But I guess, on the bright side, I’m sitting on a 97 or 98 in Chemistry right now. That means that even if this goes horribly wrong, I still have a good mark in the class, and will continue to have a good mark. I just never knew that turning a piece of copper into copper could be such a headache and such a frustration.

Even with all those chemical annoyances, today was still a good day. I choose to separate my school stuff from the rest of my day, so that I can still enjoy something in the midst of a bad situation. I played some guitar today, something I haven’t done at home here in a while. It felt good. I realized how much I’ve missed out, not worshipping God with my music. I mean, I’ve never really bought into that whole “we only worship with music” deal, since that’s just such a small part of what worship is, but at the same time, it still has merit in and of itself. I find that sometimes I end up worshipping the songs more than God. I always cringe when people say, “Oh, I love this song,” or, “Let’s not play that one, I don’t like that song,” in regards to worship music. It makes it seem as if the music is an end in itself, when really the song is just a means to worship God. Sure, some songs may better facilitate that, but if we really mean the words that we say, does it really matter what the tune is or the instruments played? I don’t think so. And so, this morning was just a nice little time between God and me, and I quite enjoyed it. There’s something to be said for getting away somewhere quiet and talking to Him. It’s not the external silence that’s really needed, but a lot of times it’s much easier to quiet our souls when the surroundings are quiet also. It’s then when God speaks to us best – when we’re listening for Him.

So, with that, I leave you all for today. I have to go to work at 8:30 PM tonight to do my usual marquee stuff, but that’s pretty much my favourite thing to do around there, so it’s fine with me. To connect to my previous thought, there have been many times when, just standing up on a ladder going through the monotonous task of switching letters around, I’ve had my own private conversations with the God of the universe. Whether it’s the general silence, or whether it’s because I’m about ten feet closer to heaven, I’m not really sure, but something about it just lends to the whole quiet attitude. So, hopefully tonight will be some more of the same. God’s awesome. Never forget that.

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