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Here I am over a year later.

I went to Antarctica, it was an amazing life changing experience. I desperately want to go back someday. It would be awesome to be able to take my family with me.

When I last posted I was married to the mother of my children, though not for long. Since then I had a falling out with my mother, I will never look at her the same way again. If I never even see her again I am okay with that. As a consequence of that falling out I was homeless for a time.

Shortly before becoming homeless I got a job at a local car dealership as the service and parts manager. When I say shortly I mean the day before. I came home from my first day at work and loaded my future wife her daughter and our three dogs into the back of a Ford Windstar that has clearly been in some sort of accident. We lived for a week camping at a dog park where the police didn’t make us move at night. After that a friend of my employer allowed us to stay in a condemned building he owned. We had no power or water but it was dry as long as we weren’t on the top floor. It took a couple months to save up the money to rent the cheapest trailer we could find. Even at that I had to take out a loan to get the deposit.

Living in the trailer was less miserable than being in the abandoned building, which was better than being in a minivan, but it was miserable none the less. Worse was the realization that if we didn’t change something we would be there forever. The trailer was 12 miles out of town, very near my folks actually but on the other side of the river. Gas into town every day is very expensive, and we barely make ends meet. There is no money to save up for a better place or a place closer to town. I work ten and a half hours a day but because I’m salary that doesn’t amount to much money.

So I was going to join the Air National Guard. This has been my plan for years, it was how I planned on paying for medical school. The extra couple hundred bucks a month would have made all the difference in the world to us. Unfortunately my hearing is too poor to for me to serve again.

Since I was going to join the military again and I wanted full benefits for my Fiance we bumped up or wedding. It was a small ceremony in front of a judge in the local court house. Our Witnesses were my now step daughter and my boss’s son who is one of the technicians in my shop.

So now I’m married and living in a place I can barely afford. My wife and I are both unhappy while one of my step daughters lives with us the other lives across the state, in the same town as my own children. We rarely get to see them and our trailer isn’t really big enough for them to visit.

So, I won’t be earning more money, and living as frugally as we can there is nothing left over to save. I went back to the place that loaned me the money for our trailer and they were willing to loan me just enough to put a deposit on a new place.

Before I was called into active duty back in 2003 I was going to trucking school. This was a career I had considered before I dug down and realized I had it in me to goo to school, hopefully to be a doctor. I like my current job well enough it’s interesting, and challenging. Unfortunately it involves being responsible for people who I would rather not be responsible for. It’s hard working for somebody else’s bottom line when you are barely scraping by. So I looked again into driving a truck, It seems like the perfect job for an introvert. I looked into it and hired on with a company that trains its own drivers, quite well if the reviews are to be believed.

So I have a new job lined up and money for a deposit, what do I do? Driving a truck it doesn’t really matter where I live. So the new wife and I decided to move to her hometown of Butte, MT. The cost of living there is less with the new job I should be making more, we’re pretty optimistic. We will be closer to our children, and for about what we are paying now for a rundown trailer we will be in a 4,000 square foot three bedroom house.

My last day at the dealership will be the end of the month, then we will be moving at the beginning of next month, with my training beginning near the middle.

So there it is, an entire chapter of my life, a year and three months in one blog post.

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.

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” »

Three Down Two to Go.

I had my biology lecture final today, and received my biology lab final back as well. I did study today and felt pretty good going into the lecture. During the test there were only two questions that I stumbled on (out of sixty-four, if I recall correctly) and one of those was dyslexia related. The question as written just didn’t make sense to me and I was unsure what it was asking. All-in-all though I’m very optimistic about it.

I missed only one question on my lab final, but got the bonus question so there I got 31/30. I still felt pretty bone-headed for missing the question I missed, if i had taken my time and actually looked in my lab notebook I wouldn’t have missed it.

The lower image is in essence what appears in my notebook, and the question was about the nerve cords, which like in most arthropods are ventral, I put dorsal. It’s a silly mistake.

Almost there

I’ve almost reached the end of my first semester back in school after a several year break. It’s time to start reflecting back on it all. Two classes are over and done with.

The way my PSYX 100 class is graded there is no point in attending the final on Wednesday. I’m looking at 431 out of a possible 430 points on the grading scale in that class. Even if the extra credit points don’t work that way I’m still looking at 426/430 which is still in the tier of the highest grade possible. The class allows the lowest score of the five tests administered including the final to be dropped. There is no score that can possibly be gotten on the final that will make a 98% worth dropping.

Aside from that my BIOB 171 (biology lab) class is completely over. I’m not sure how I did in it, I know that my score will be sufficient that I will not have to retake it to continue on in my Major, but I’m not much more optimistic than that. For being only a 2 credit class, it has easily required more time devoted to it than all of my other classes combined. Other sections did not have it this rough, it pretty much comes down to the instructor and what he expected from his students. To be fair I learned from the experience, and I’m fairly certain I will do better in my upcoming classes because of it. I don’t think that trial by fire is the best way to handle a 100 level biology lab.

I have my biology lecture final on Monday. My grades to this point are fine, I’m looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of a B if things continue to go as they have. I would like to do better than that, and I think if I knock my final out of the park I will. I have had problems with studying for the other tests in that particular class, they are all simple multiple choice tests and I am familiar with the material, I knew I would pass every one and had other classes with more immediate demands on my time. Now I really can devote the necessary time to study to do really well on the test.

Then Thursday I have both my Geology and Math finals. I’m not terribly concerned over my Geology final, I’m familiar enough with the concepts to do well enough. If I can replace the failing grade I’ve gotten in Geology in the past with any passing grade I’ll be happy and so will my GPA, that’s a fairly realistic goal. My current overall grade in the class is in the mid nineties, so I don’t foresee any situation that could arise on the final that would greatly change that. Math is more of the same my current grade is in the high nineties, I’m familiar with the material, and I’m allowed a single page of notebook paper hand written front and back of notes to help me with some of the trickier aspects.

Things are in short going well and I expect that trend to continue.

Fallen Behind

I managed to fall pretty far behind on my schoolwork.

I hit a wall of depression and let things lag, that could lag, until I was really far behind and had to scramble to catch up. Yeah, let’s not do that again. I was pretty down on myself about that Algebra test I posted about last time. Well I still got a low A on that test so it wasn’t so bad. It reminded me about some of the test taking strategies that I’ve known forever but wasn’t using.

I did the questions in the order they appeared on the test. That last question on the test was a 10 point question so it was a bad one to stumble on and I wouldn’t have stumbled on it if I had more time to work on it. So in all the tests since I’ve done the high value questions first it reduces the risk. If I don’t have time to finish a question it will be a lower point value question now.

I also delayed doing a two to three page paper for my Biology lab. When I finally did it two days before it was due it had only taken me a total of maybe six hours including reading a number of scientific studies. Again lesson learned.

I am finally on track again and I’m looking at a significantly improved GPA after this semester.

I Hate Today

I had an algebra exam today, I think I did worse than I’ve done on any test since 7th grade. I stumbled on the last question and couldn’t come up with the answer (35/13). It was a 10 point question, the best I can possibly do on the test without that answer is %90 assuming I got every single other question correct, which is a pretty big assumption, I felt rushed on a few of the questions.

Observer Bias

Right, my week.

We received the word on Sunday, that Josie’s Grampa Santa had died in the night. Indeed his funeral is today. Wayne Putz was his name, and he’s a hero, in really a lot of ways. To just touch on the high points, he was one of the earliest frogmen in the navy in WWII. He was also a father and grand father to a lot of good and kind people, so what if my mother-in-law is bat-shit-crazy, other than her his success ratio was pretty high there. In Boulder City Nevada, he was Santa Claus. He could walk into a convenience store to buy a six-pack of beer in shorts sandals and a t-shirt in July and all the kids would still marvel at him and tell their mommies to “look it’s Santa!” He pretty much brought joy with him every where he went. Though I never loved him like my wife and her family does, I will always hold him in very high esteem.

I ended up canceling my hotel and preregistration for the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous that was unfortunate, I was really looking forward to going and witnessing the birth of a new convention.

School has been a little rough this week, mostly because of the death in the family. I’ve been trying to catch up on my school work as well as be there to comfort my wife and daughter who are taking this particularly hard. My son doesn’t really seem to understand, but perhaps he will understand better when he and Josie come home from the funeral in Nevada. He’s had to endure this without the benefit of having had a pet die, I’ve been thankful that my daughter did have that experience to put this death into context.

Tuesday is pretty much lab day for me, I have my Biology Lab from 0800-1200 and then my Geology Lab (formerly known as rocks for jocks) from 1500-1700. We went outside (in Biology) and attempted some science, which was pretty frustrating for me largely due to the way my group was running around like crazy and not approaching anything in a logical quantifiable way.

I rather thought that when our instructor handed out our syllabus that he was expecting too much from a 100 level class, but I have always done well under pressure so I was basically OK with it. As time goes on we are expected to think like scientists without a frame of reference for what that means, and I find it increasingly frustrating. It’s not that I don’t understand what’s expected, I do, it’s that we work almost exclusively in groups and the others in the group often don’t, and would just rather half ass things than find out or listen when they are told what is expected.

My lecture classes are going pretty much as well as one could expect I think. I did last night have a chance to talk to Psych Girl and I admit that it’s possible that last weeks flirtation incident, the one I recall as “unmistakable” could have been nerves of another sort. We had a chance to chat before class, and I’m glad we did.

Which brings me to the title of this post, Observer Bias, it is possible that I cast the nervous gestures I saw in the light of flirtation, because that’s how I wanted to see them? Going back and looking at the gestures objectively in the context in which they were presented I see a girl who…

  • Is looking at me almost every time I look over at her.
  • She leaned over to ask me a question regarding the test, despite the presence of somebody else as close or closer on her other side.
  • She blinked more than I would consider normal as she did it

The environmental elements that must also be considered are…

  • It was a test day.
  • She had missed the preceding week and therefore two of the three chapters covered on the exam.
  • This years fire season has been not quite as smoky as seasons in the past, but it has been very long, and the air is filled with irritants, the cumulative effects of which are becoming quite harsh and harder to deal with.

In this light I’m forced to ask is this flirtation or not? Our conversation could not necessarily eliminate it as a possibility, but it did certainly open up the possibility that it could have been more to do with the context of the incident than the incident itself.

My goal for our conversation, if I could be said to have one, was to kind of “freind-zone” each-other. I think that can be said to have gone swimmingly, and I am now much less distressed by her presence.

Now I must clean house before people come over for Pathfinder tonight.

As Promised a New Post

This week has been a pretty rough one, mostly due to poor decisions I made over the weekend.

I largely opted not to do homework over the weekend. This was knowing that I was going to have two exams on Wednesday. I waited until the last minute to do basically everything. I didn’t do my Prelab work for my Biology lab until the night before. I didn’t finish a reading asignment for my Biology lecture until the day before the exam. I didn’t really finish reviewing for my Psych exam until fifteen minutes before class.

Psych kind of brings up a predicament for me.

Not the class but one of the students. Many students in this class are straight out of high school, very immature, very annoying. This problem student isn’t one of them. Quite the opposite in fact. She seems intelligent, and thoughtful, She was even flying her geek flag the first day of school in a Batman T-Shirt.

That first day she did something that I interpreted as flirtatious. At the time I just chuckled quietly to myself, because she was about the eighth or so girl to do that to me that day. Most of these girls are clearly freshmen, and I don’t know, maybe looking at the older men because they happen to be off the leash for the first time in their lives. I’m not an expert I don’t know why but as a bald thirty something with a big beard, I get hit on a lot.

Anyway I took notice of Psych class girl, there was something about her I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I gravitate towards her, I’m more likely to engage a subject if she is engaged with it. I have started to find it all quite annoying.

Then last week she was absent, a bunch of even more annoying kids showed up, and altogether I was happy with the trade. That ended today, she was back, and unmistakably flirting with me. Tousling her hair, asking what she missed batting her eyes at me. I was really uncomfortable.

Here’s why. She looks like a mid-twenties version of my wife, and it turns out that I have a type.

I guess if the worst problem I have at school is that a girl I find attractive is flirting with me, things are going pretty well.

Now I have about seven or eight homework assignments to catch up on.