Back from Antarctica

It was awesome, I’m still processing it and trying to figure out what it is I want to say about it. The drama that is my life now continues pretty much unabated, I don’t really want to talk about that right now, or maybe ever, I haven’t decided yet.

What I want to talk about is Christian privilege. Let me start out by saying I don’t really like talking religion or politics. I like talking Science, Geekdom, and sometimes beards.

Well, in my Google news feed I have a section on beards, there’s a surprisingly large amount of facial hair news, if you know what your looking for. Today that section of my news feed had two articles both from Fox News, I tolerate Fox News as a news source because I understand how it is biased, and that is the next best thing to it being unbiased. That said their online articles actually tend to be pretty good. Both articles were on changes in the military to allow for greater religious latitude in the wearing of beards, piercings, tattoos and headgear. One was an opinion piece and I skipped it, don’t care just want news. The other described the basics of how the new policy put out by the pentagon is going to work. I approve of it, I think it is a great step towards making a more inclusive military, I know there are a lot of people out there who would be great assets to the military but hold themselves to the standards of their faith, which occasionally preclude shaving or require the wearing of some symbol of faith, like headgear of some kind.

I wanted to read more so I looked at other sources and found one by Stars and Stripes.

http://www.stripes.com/news/pentagon-oks-religion-based-grooming-standards-1.263435

I thought this was cool partially because I thought Stars and Stripes was no longer being published. I read the article and was amazed at how well written it was considering that it is the military’s private newspaper. Then I read the Comments, never read the comments.

They were so full of Christian privilege, I almost wanted to choke. Don’t get me wrong I like Christians, I’m not one but I can pass. I respect everybody’s beliefs and I have beliefs of my own which do not fit neatly within little dogmatic boxes. I am aware that we live in a very Christian country, I accept it, it’s a thing.

I hate seeing how often the same toleration that is being extended to Christians by default in this country being extended to non-Christians, so often is interpreted as an attack on Christianity. Get the fuck over yourselves. You rule the roost, you win, you have won. You don’t get to play the victim every time somebody else gets their way, especially when it affects you precisely not at all.

Against gay marriage…Don’t have one.

Against turbans and yarmulkes…Don’t wear them.

Against beards…Don’t grow one.

Other people doing any of these things does not affect you in the least, get over yourself. You aren’t loosing anything. When you are Christian living in a country that espouses religious freedom, but where your beliefs and practices are the norm, you don’t get to complain about other peoples beliefs that don’t affect you, that’s what religious freedom means. That’s why these men in beards and turbans are fighting, for your beliefs and theirs. Precisely one US president as of this writing was not Protestant, and he was Catholic, you haven’t lost anything, stop whining.

Hello Old Friends

Well, shit.

It’s been a long time. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. I’ve had a lot to say but I didn’t want to talk about it.

Before my son was born, he’s five now, I had a shitty job. It wasn’t hard, physically, it paid well, it had good benefits, it was okay for a while. Unfortunately the job itself was customer service for a satellite tv company. So it was kind of and endless string of listening to people bitch and feel entitled over what is at its core a luxury service.

There’s a limit to how much of that a person can take. I put up with it for several years. I put up with it until I started to feel physically ill. I started seeing a psychologist for depression, and I was on a downward spiral. One day I decided I was going to kill myself, it wasn’t that simple, but that’s enough to understand the events that followed.

I didn’t kill myself, I didn’t even attempt it. Instead I drove myself to the ER and I was admitted to a counseling facility in a nearby city. That was the beginning of the end.

My marriage never recovered from that. There are details that it would be unkind and unnecessary to relate. We started on a path to what felt a little like recovery but we never made more than a few steps down that path.  I felt like I had to push her every step of the way. Then I felt like I couldn’t be the only one who cared.

I felt like I was being punished for not killing myself. I know that isn’t what she felt but it was how I perceived things. After a while I felt like not killing myself was the biggest mistake of my life. Things are going fairly well for me all things considered and I’m not suicidal now. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that every breath I took was a mistake. If I had to do it over again, knowing what I do now, I would have done it, there would be no turning back.

How do you stay with someone that makes life feel like a mistake? How do you get over that? How long is it reasonable to expect somebody to put up with feeling that way?

I don’t know but five and a half years is too long. By any reasonable estimation five and a half years of feeling like a worthless loser is too long. Just because your strength almost failed , and you almost gave up. Living life this way has been a mistake, I have a certain sympathy for people who commit suicide. I don’t intend to join them, but having survived not committing suicide, I certainly have sympathy.

I’ve come to realize that the mistake was not necessarily, not killing myself, but rather putting up with someone who made me feel like that was the mistake. Well that mistake is being rectified. It is throwing everything else in my life into chaos. I’ll probably move halfway across the state back to the home I grew up in. I’m still going to Antarctica, the tickets are bought and paid for there. I’m still going to go to school though I’ll likely go to MSU rather than UM, the main problem with that is that MSU doesn’t have a Biology Department, so I’ll have to pursue another degree that still logically feeds into Medical School.

Things are bad, they are going to be bad for a while, but then they’ll (probably) get better.

That’s where I am now, that’s why I haven’t had much to  say. Now that I’ve talked about it I’ll probably have more to say.

This is by far the hardest semester yet, hopefully it is the hardest semester I’ll have to do at all.

Autumn Semester 2012 Is Now In The Bag (Why didn’t I publish this last year?)

Finished my final, final just a bit ago. There were a few questions I wasn’t prepared for, but I mostly remembered how to do it, and my answers worked, so I feel pretty good about the whole thing.

This semester just flew by, I guess time flies when you aren’t just going through the motions. As is appropriate to college, I learned quite a bit this semester. Not necessarily the things I was taught, but you take what you can get.

I learned that good grades are easy to get if you are intelligent and willing to do the things you need to do. I’m usually a perfectionist and I think that is something that gets in my way some times. Perfection is good, but good is almost as good. There’s nothing wrong with partial credit.

Instructors, be they TAs or professors are people too, and they are subject to the same mistakes everybody else makes. Many times it isn’t crystal clear what they expect from their students. They do seem mostly willing to help students understand what they weren’t clear on.

That wild ride has ended.

The semester is finally over and grades are in.

I did well, I shouldn’t complain, I will anyway, but I shouldn’t. I came out of the semester with a respectable 3.23 GPA. That’s good by any measure.

It does fall short of my 3.5 goal though. 3.5 is important to me because that is the cutoff for the Dean’s List and I set myself very high standards.

I would like to be able to shift blame for not doing as well as I would have liked to my Bullshit nutrition class, or the inscrutable standards of my Public Speaking class, or as other people like to complain about the impossible standards of my Biology professor. I got Bs in all of those classes and that’s why I missed 3.5. The reason for it is blindingly obvious to someone who tries desperately not to lie to themselves, I earned those Bs. I did B work.

I had other stuff going on, my son had very scary health problems, stuff like that. The inescapable bottom line though is that I got the grades I deserved.

I rarely studied, I did all of my homework at the last minute and I missed assignments in all of those classes. Some of those assignments, particularly in Biology were easy to miss or forget about because a very small portion of them was online and under a moving time limit. Other students did them though, so who can possibly be to blame here?

My biology professor, despite a reputation he earned very early on for being a hard ass, was extremely fair. He told us at every turn what we were expected to know and where to find the information we were responsible for.

The standards in my Public Speaking class were inscrutable. I rarely knew even with a rubric for sure what I was being graded on. On the other hand there were days I didn’t go to class. We had assignments that I didn’t end up doing because of that. Those hurt me in the end, and it is completely justifiable that they should do so.

I’m not going to lie to you Nutrition was a bullshit class. I didn’t learn much of anything. however I did awesome on all of my assignments with the exception of a few quizzes with questions that had no right answers. I missed one quiz and one weekly assignment because I forgot about them. There were hard times during the semester like I said and my mind was often elsewhere. That’s not what, I want to say killed, my grade but, lightly wounded is more apt. Considering all of that I came out with a 93% overall. That was until our participation points were added. I hate, hate, hated, the class and any excuse as feeble as it could possibly be not to go, and I wouldn’t. I knew we had “iClicker” questions occasionally and it would severely hurt my grade if I missed to many of them, yet still I chose not to go to class.

So I missed my mark, because I didn’t do A work, I did B work, and it showed.

I have college Algebra over summer session and the writing class I withdrew from early in the semester to retake as well. I’m going to be doing my damnedest to do A work in these classes. I’m not taking enough credits to qualify for the Dean’s List because I have to pay for summer classes out of my own pocket. I need to make this up to myself though, I don’t owe the Dean anything.

Almost in the bag

The semester is almost up. It’s been rough and it still is. It’s going to be a hard push right through to the end. Things will ease up a bit on Thursday. I have my last chapter math test Wednesday, which gives me Monday and Tuesday to wrap up four math homework assignments and another quiz. It shouldn’t be too bad, I’ll probably stay late at the library to get myself to a semi finished state. Then I have my final speech on Thursday, then there’s nothing left but finals.

I’m expecting a B in public speaking and somewhere in the range of an A in the rest of my classes, Nutrition might also be a B, but I don’t think so. I don’t know how people who aren’t as smart as I am do this. I don’t have to work that hard, things come easily to me, and I have no time for anything. This would be murder for a lot of people.

Summer session is going to be a lot simpler than I thought it was going to be. I’m taking two classes but not at the same time. I had forgotten that summer session is broken up into two parts. It turns out one class will be in the first part and the other in the second, which is fortuitous it will give me a chance to recharge my batteries a bit.

As time keeps slipping by me I keep thinking of the things I should be doing but am not. I should be finding employment as a CNA, it looks good on a med school application. As I keep watching the money from the two stories I have published, well one published and one half-assed published trickling in I keep thinking I should write more. It would be nice to get better at it, and I need to think about my future. That income could really help. I need to be getting in shape, I’m pushing 260 lbs. now and my goal of being back to nice solid Nordic 200 is getting farther and farther away.

It’s getting late and I have a lot of school work to do tomorrow so I should finish my musings another time.

Boulders and Ash (Spring Break part 2)

I’m not sure I mentioned this back in August, but my folks live in Pine Creek in Paradise Valley just a bit south of Livingston Montana. This is relevant because there was a fire. I followed the fire through news reports looking at online maps and comparing what I read in the news to what I knew from personally from growing up in the area. Continue reading “Boulders and Ash (Spring Break part 2)” »

It Drags On (Spring Break 2013 pt 1)

This is the last night of Spring Break.

It’s been a rough semester, like I said last time, every class is more work than I expected. Then a little over a month ago we took my son to the eye doctor. His optics discs were bulging a bit. This led to a series of events that ended in the little guy getting a spinal tap and me not getting a lot of work done.

So my Spring Break has largely been a wild ride of getting caught up on the things I should have done previously, but for whatever reason did not. Then I got one of the better pieces of news I’ve had this semester.

A little back ground.

Taking a quick run through the University Center (at other schools, it might be called the student center or student union) I passed a table for the school’s various study abroad programs. I noticed out of the corner in my eye, in small letters in a lower corner of a poster I saw the word Antarctica, it stopped me in my tracks.

I’m not a cool guy, never have been. So I like a fair number of things that uncool people like. Most relevantly here the works of Lovecraft and Poe. As a kid I always wanted to be an explorer. I was disappointed in about fifth or sixth grade when I realized that people had been just about everywhere on the planet and if I was going to be an explorer I would have to be an astronaut or something. This might make me a little weird as nerds go, but that didn’t really appeal to me.

As I grew older though I realized that yes people have been everywhere but there are places few have ever been and there are many discoveries to be made in those places. For the past few years Antarctica has been near the front of my mind at all times. When I turn on my computer in the morning one of the first things I do is to check my Google news feed.  Down near the bottom just before facial hair, technology, and business, I have Antarctica. I read every day about these amazing discoveries being made down there and I want to be a part of it.

If the truth were to be told my initial push to go back to school and to shoot for medical school, is largely in an effort to go to Antarctica.

Anyhow the nearer past, the kids at the booth were just starting to pack up, but I did manage to pick up a copy of all the brochures they had available. When I said that I was interested in Antarctica, they kind of mumbled something about applying through hrmnhrmmkrmrhrrrf. Apparently the requirements to go to Antarctica are a bit stricter than the other programs and one needs to apply directly through the school that handles the trip. A few minutes with Google and I discovered that that school is SUNY Brockport. I went to their web page and applied, rounding up all the documentation they require and sending it in.

With the things going on it took me quite a while to gather up the fairly simple documentation they require. I was a little nervous because My GPA is not awesome. Even with making the dean’s list last semester I only pulled my GPA up to 2.58 or so I forget exactly. The program requires a GPA of at least 2.5, so I knew I was pretty close to the bottom of what they allow.

Just as I was finishing up an assignment for my Nutrition class I got an Email saying my application status had been updated. But it didn’t give me any more information than that, When I checked on my application I had a hard time finding the right link and it just told me that a decision had been reached, and nothing more. I was starting to get frustrated because I wanted this so badly. Then I noticed a hyper link  and followed it to discover that I had been accepted into the program. It also gave me a laundry list of things I need to do. As you might expect I haven’t even had the chance to really look it over yet.

The next day I had to go over to my folks place and hopefully find some morels.

Spring Session 2013

This semester is a lot rougher than I anticipated it would be. Every single class has a higher workload than I expected. That’s not to say that the workloads are unreasonable, generally speaking they aren’t on an individual level. However when every class has a higher than anticipated workload it gets overwhelming pretty quickly.

I ended up dropping my writing class, which I think I was only one of maybe two or three people who have had a 100% on all projects so far, just because it will be the easiest class to take at another time. I’m going to be working on my bachelor’s degree for another four and a half years and as much as I would like to get some of the bare bones work out of the way for it like this writing class, I need to keep in perspective that I have plenty of time. I am constantly looking for ways to reduce the overall time this is going to take because My GI bill is going to run out long before I’m done, and I’m on the hook for the rest.

There now you are caught up on where I am. i actually logged on here today because I wanted to talk about one of my classes in particular this week. This started as a G+ post but was starting to edge towards the ridiculously long so I decided to transplant it over here. Continue reading “Spring Session 2013” »

My Winter Project

I’m back up to about 250 pounds, which with my build gives me a noticeable paunch, but there are few who would call me fat. I would rather weigh about 200 pounds instead, I feel like I look and feel my best at about that weight.

So, I’m being more active, I’ve switched to not a vegetarian diet, but a more produce centric diet I would say. I have not yet figured out how to work in multiple small meals a day yet and do still eat just two or three big meals, which from my own experience as well as just about every study I’ve ever seen is not good for weight control.

My Anthro class I’m taking right now is not in the least bit challenging. My professor for the winter-session is using the simplest grading structure known to man. We have three exams of roughly equal weight each with 33 or 34 questions. These will be combined to give us our grades. Between the two exams we’ve had thus far I’ve missed a single question. The material is only moderately interesting to me, but it does provide me with little tidbits that spark my scientific imagination.

One of those tidbits was homeothemogenisis (that we maintain a constant body temperature). Of course as a biology student I am aware that humans are mammalian and part and parcel of that is being warm blooded. These are facts we are taught in elementary school and we tend not to think about again. When the professor was talking to us about cold adaptations in humans he mentioned in passing the energy requirements to maintain a constant body temperature and that got me to thinking about all the things we as humans can do to “waste” energy.

I looked at quite a few studies on these things and the question of wasting energy and its effect on weight loss has only been just touched on lightly. I think there is a lot of room for study in this area.

I found quite a few studies that looked at the energy costs of maintaining homeothermogenisis in a cold environment, they are surprisingly staggering, but only one of them seemed to consider the effect of this on weight loss and there it was only as a side note as a possible subject to examine further. It is quite cold in Montana in the winter our days have been having highs in the high teens or maybe low twenties these past couple of weeks. It was notably colder when I was growing up but I think it is subjectively reasonable to say that it is cold now. Given that I have been making an effort to go outside without a coat for a few minutes a day.  I wear gloves and boots to protect my extremities as well as a hat and scarf, but I leave my trunk exposed (more or less).

I also looked at the effect of sleep on weight loss. There has been a lot of work here, it is well documented that sleep deprivation can be linked in a positive correlation to obesity. However it takes energy to be awake. In trying to figure out how to use this I decided to try sleeping six hours a night, less than I’m used to but it shouldn’t be so little as to trigger sleep deprivation.

It turns out that six hours really works for me as a sleep schedule. I’ve been going to sleep at midnight and waking at 06:00. I’ve been waking refreshed and ready for the day. This is as opposed to going to sleep whenever I feel like it (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) and actually forcing myself out of bed at around 07:40ish.

I’m making an effort not to increase my food intake. My diet is garbage in general, but it is improving. I find it is a lot easier to make small incremental changes (and data supports this) than to try to make sweeping changes.

Unfortunately I don’t own a scale so I can’t measure what progress if any I’m making towards weight loss. I got my initial weight of 250 from my Wii Fit (as well as the fact that that’s up from about 236 a month and a half ago. The ancient television that it is hooked up to gave up the ghost a few days ago, and nobody in the household can be bothered to get the other even older TV from the master bedroom and bring it downstairs. This is especially true since our general quality of life has improved since the TV went out.

Subjectively it does seem like my pants are fitting a little better, which is what I’m really using as my measure for diet success anyway.

First Day of Winter-Session

Winter Break is over, for me at any rate. I played a lot of video games (damned Steam holiday sales). I played (am playing actually) Mirrors Edge, FTL, a little bit of STO, a lot of Minecraft, replayed The Walking Dead, and fell in love with Closure. I, surprisingly, didn’t play much in the way of Guild Wars 2, though I thought about it a lot. I also added quite a few new games to my to do list (I won’t list them that would get pretty tedious).

I did some stuff, such as going to my folks house for Christmas, with the kids.My folks have lived in the same place my whole life, well my father has any way, there was a divorce and my mother and I moved around the state a bit, then they got remarried and once again live in the same place. They have some pretty nice views now. That wasn’t the case last year. Over the summer there was a forest fire, one of the largest in the country and the deep forest around my folks place was pretty heavily burned back. There were quite a few neighbors who lost their homes, and my father who lost his paper boxes and that’s it gained some survivor’s guilt. Funny that, he fought in World War II, he is roughly of an age with my wife’s Grampa Santa, he never liked to talk about the war, but I never got the impression he had any survivor’s guilt from it, though to be fair I don’t think his ship really lost many men, but this fire in which nobody was killed (one person received some minor burns) has deeply affected him.

We have some family drama going on with the house, there. Continue reading “First Day of Winter-Session” »