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.

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” »

Grades Came Out Today

I’m hard on myself. Harder than I should be, but not harder than I need to be. I’m capable of quite amazing things sometimes, but I need to be driven to do it.

I’m sure I’ve posted this in the past, but I slacked off a lot the first few times I tried college. My GPA heading into this semester was about 1.7, pretty terrible. I didn’t try, I didn’t care, I just wanted the piece of paper at the end and I didn’t figure it mattered what my grades were.

That’s why I’ve set my sights so high. I’m aiming for medical school, because I must do well to get there, it’s the doing well I really want. Fortunately so far this time through I have done well. I’ve gone from Academic Probation to the Dean’s List, my overall GPA is now 2.58. That’s not necessarily something to write home about but it is a huge improvement.

My lowest grade was not terribly surprisingly, Geology in which I received an A- or 3.7, across the board everything else that counted was an A or 4.0. My Algebra was an RA+, but because it was a remedial class it doesn’t figure into my GPA, which is a little disappointing given that I did so well.

I knew I was looking at an A in psychology, I hated the course but was doing exceedingly well in it the whole time. I knew I  had an A in Algebra, but wasn’t sure whether or not it mattered. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get in my Biology courses I needed a C+ in both of them and figured I had it and was hoping for a B at least in the lecture, but wasn’t sure if I would exceed that threshold by much for the Lab. Geology I felt like I was drowning the whole time, I was set to be happy with any passing grade just to clear the previous two failed attempts at it from my GPA.

My half-assed attempts will always remain on my transcript, but they will no longer count against my grades. Fortunately I had a chance to speak to my Biology Professor while he and my wife were both a little ill in the same clinic. He told me that my poor performance previously followed by dramatic improvement may actually work in my favor, when it comes to getting accepted to medical school. I hope that he is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him. He’s seen this attempted thousands of times in his over twenty years of teaching he knows how often it succeeds (rarely), and how often it fails (usually). Apparently every Biology major is planning on going to be a Doctor someday, and his usual attitude is jokingly dismissive of them. I always find it amusing because I’ve done the research and I know how few students are accepted each year.

I’m looking forward to taking Anthropology over winter-session, mainly just to get another class out of the way, and hopefully to bump my GPA a bit more.

Completely Done With Rocks

The first two times I went to college I was not a science major. I took Geology 101 to meet my science requirements, because it was widely considered to be the easiest way to meet them. I rarely attended the lecture except on test days, where I showed up completely unprepared and took the test simply on my ability to take a test. I got a C in the lecture class. The lab on the other hand was absurdly early in the morning and I almost never made it to class, so I failed.

When I first tried to come back to school I retook the lab, again it was at about five in the morning and I was working until midnight at the time. So again I failed it.

Of course that means I needed to take it for a third time. I made sure that I got a better class time, and attended religiously. This time though the class is much harder. Over all I was doing pretty well. Going into the final I was looking at a 90% for the class. Though my final lab score was my worst yet, which was disappointing for me since I felt pretty confident about it.

When I started the final I kind of started to freak out a bit, the questions required that I recite loads of Geology terminology, that I had forgotten. It struck me that, that’s one of the things I don’t care for in Geology, there is a lot of memorization. Memorization is not knowledge. I understand the concepts, concepts are easy and make sense and to me I see that as the important part. So where I didn’t know the word I tried to get away with explaining the concept for partial credit.

There is a limit to how negatively that can effect my grade. There where quite a few answers that I did know and I don’t want to give the impression that I feel like I did horribly. I would estimate that I’ll probably get a B on the test which should overall bring my grade to a high B or low A. Celebration is really in order because unless I am severely mistaken, I will never again need to know a god-damned thing about rocks.

Today is my last Final of the semester, in Algebra. I’m feeling pretty confident going into this, there is very little chance that I will come out of this class with anything but a high A. It’s a “Remedial” class so I don’t know how much that can effect my GPA, but we’ll see.

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.