02. May 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Random · Tags: ,

Concentrated stares…glowers unbroken…

I sat down next to a fellow on the streetcar on my trek home this evening. He was collecting his bag to make his adjacent seat available for the filling streetcar. Keeping his pad/binding of paper close to his bag, face down into it, pen still in hand. He’d stare off into space, then fixate on people standing up to leave.

Unwavering gaze, before he would suddenly break focus and scribble on his paper. Put it back face down. Stare. Occasionally focus on someone else in the forward view. Scribble away briefly. Put it away.

I fear he was taking notes on people…scribbling away random observations about them as they left…or potentially worse…

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…my tonsils around, apparently. Fighting off something, but it’s trashing my tonsils more than anywhere else. One in particular; I’ve never seen it push out a crypt like this before. I fear one of these days I really will have to get them removed. In my mid-30s. Not looking forward to that.

Work has kept me crazy-busy again. The chapter review is almost done. I’ve been frying my brain comparing & working on protein structures. I’ll be ecstatic to be off my ass and back on my feet doing experiments this week. Maybe sneak some walking breaks in at work when we thaw out again.

I’ve been taking a crash course of sorts into Python. The new graduate student who joined my doctoral lab just before I left is taking the bioinformatics course I took when they first started offering it. We used Perl at the time to do most of the data/text manipulation, but they’ve since switched over to Python (with good reason, too, as it’s more useful to the sciences). The first year for that, apparently! The students are struggling through it, and the prof hasn’t completely adapted the homework (and corresponding lectures on commands) to the new language. I’ve been helping her work through that, which has necessitated a crash course on much of the different syntax & commands to work with it. At least this will leave me well situated to take advantage of Python to write those data-manipulation scripts I was looking to make for pruning PDB files for APBS calculations.

I’ve also had some cooking experiments that came to fruition. Particularly on the pickling front. I will have to get those jotted down when I get a longer moment to catch up on things!

I’m also getting stir crazy from the winter, and my knees are feeling the weather a bit. Walking in the wet snow is rougher on my legs than I expect (especially when I’m walking a mile or two in it), and I’m anxious to get to cycling again (hopefully easier on my knees). It saves me time getting to/fro work (seriously, takes half as long as transit), and obviates the avoidance of the rush hour commute, since I won’t be riding on sardine cans anymore!

Time to nurse this malaise—whatever its source may be—with some sleep!

I keep feeling an impulse to tweet irks & ires: things that frustrate me, be they online or in real life. But honestly, being unable to it forces me to think about why I want to tweet those remarks.

I only want to in order to connect, to find sympathy, to find others who share in my disdain for whatever it is that I am displeased over.

That’s clearly not how social media should work. Some use it as such, but ridiculously altruistic me continues to (selfishly) believe otherwise.

So here I sit, bottled up with frustrations after an emptied bottle of wine. But perhaps—instead—it will teach me to not worry over such “trivial” matters.

If not…someone better me making a special delivery of some hard liquor so I know how to truly purge on such an endeavour.

10. January 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Rant · Tags:

It’s bad enough when people try to test me when I’m sober, coherent, and “on my game.” But when people try to seduce (through whatever means available) me, (try to) catch me at my weakest, and attempt to test me then? That’s just dirty, under-handed, and malicious. If you want to try & test me, be forthright and out with it: don’t guise it under another illusion to “see how I perform.”

I am sure people fail to realize my paranoia is exacerbated when I’m intoxicated. I am all the more easy-going; I am all the more gullible; but I am all the more skeptical1. A subtle test is a more than clear indicator that you’re not attempting to indulge, but you’re instead attempting to pry.

Get out; you’re not welcome. I understand trust is a hard thing for new acquaintances in unfamiliar or out-of-the-average surroundings. However, you’re not new; you’re not anywhere unfamiliar; you decided I needed a test, and I’ve clearly dictated where we stand in the past (repeatedly). Nothing beyond x, yet you’re testing beyond it. Clearly, you haven’t accepted where you said you stand.

I repeat: get out; you are not welcome. If you do not abide, you will be disappointed beyond expectation as you (attempt to) dig further.

1Yes, I realize the latter two are a bit at conflict with each other, but I am prone to just “going with the flow” all the more often while drunk, but at the same time highly suspicious of any slightly unusual reasons for “going with the flow.”

The past plods along, unwavering & unreceptive to influence. It cares not what we do; it continues on with itself as expected.

While in contrast, the future waits patiently, watching our every move, dynamically plotting its intercept course.

The past—the irresolvable soldier of our lives—cannot be forced to stray its course. We can only follow its trek & learn from it.

The future bends—to some extent or another yet it always does—to our whims & our actions. We can model it as a young child and turn it into something amazing.

Yet why do so many people fixate on the past as if it was some slumbering thing that we can simply reawaken or rekindle? There is no fuel left to rekindle; the fire has to be fed anew, and only the future bears fresh fuel.

Someone get me some blasted sunglasses. I can see the damage & desolation, the missed rest stops & scenic overlooks, behind me, but I’ll be damned if I can see anything ahead because of all this blasted glare…

I know it’s a broken record to revisit, but I was surprisingly enlightened into some of the social politics amongst the younger members of the department. I know I’ve been distraught previously over the difficulty in socializing with graduate students & postdocs in the department. Friday garnered a little more than coincidental information about that.

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The holiday drive home to North Dakota will likely not be coming to fruition. Discovering a bulge on one of my car tires, I probably need that addressed before I take it on a 1300+ mile road trip. I don’t quite have the dispensable cash on hand for an entire new set of tires, since they’re all ~2/3–3/4 worn at this point (in the event the bulge’s origination isn’t reparable). So, driving isn’t an option right now.

Being that new tires aren’t exactly affordable right now, nor are plane tickets. Flying around Christmas is rather much a nightmare, anyways, so I guess my best option is to forego the trip (for now), and just hang low in Toronto. Conveniently, this at least ensures I can make a Christmas party in a couple weeks down in Buffalo, so at least I’ll have that!

I can’t wait to hear the bemoaning from (most of) my Fargo friends who were anxious to see me again for a change. Ironically, they’re the ones who precipitated my ire over neglectful friends, and needing to do something about them. Thankfully, my strongest network is clearly the Buffalo crowd (who I’ve known half as long), with a few choice individuals in the midwest still. I keep hoping to finally incorporate a person or two from Toronto, but it feels like a game of whack-a-mole: as soon as I’m about to get a hold of one, it disappears for a while. Along that same analogy, I’ve got more “moles” rearing their heads, but with equal uncertainty. Running around trying to catch them just isn’t working; maybe I need to take an old stratagem from my college dating days.

Quit trying, and just let life happen.

I found Holly during that period, and a few more good friends, and it was great. Between my frantic mental attempts to try & make time for things in the hopes I can interest another person or three to go, and the ever distracting workload of my postdoc, I’m probably better off just not trying. Pull my head & neck back in, stick to my own, and just trod on. Don’t neglect to be engaging when prompted, but definitely no need to try and “put myself out there.”

Would it really be the end of the world coming out of a three year postdoc here with just one friend, and a bunch of professional acquaintances? Probably not. Especially if I end up moving elsewhere afterwards for my next step professionally. If I don’t end up moving out of Toronto? Well. I’ll just be that much better at enjoying what the city has to offer as a lone individual; nothing to hold back my interests, and no one to judge my idiosyncrasies (amusingly or crassly).

Sounds slightly depressing, but the better I can make the end result look, the better I can be in accepting the plan.

So. I wonder what the hell there is to do in Toronto as a one-man show on Christmas day?

This weekend was a needed reminder I need to be mindful of my friendships. Some need more investment; some need less.

Some lack the time. Some lack the communication. Some lack the follow through. And 3/4s of the time, I’m oblivious to this in the moment. Then I stop, I think, and I realize how things have been going for weeks, or even months. Why did I never notice this before?

I know I shouldn’t be viewing them selfishly, but really, I shouldn’t be wasting my time & fretting if I can’t do anything about it, right? Might be time to sit back, quit trying too hard, and just “roll with the punches,” so to speak? *sighs*

27. November 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Rant · Tags:

Just woke up from a brief fragment of a dream that woke me up—not in the frantic sweat like most night interruptors lately—and left me wide awake with an unfamiliar kind of horror.

I was reading my email in the lab, and received an email (3 small paragraphs or so) from the 2nd-year undergraduate female who works as a work study student in the lab, doing general cleaning chores, and the occasional experiment.

“I wanted to thank you so much for going through doing X and Y with me the other day, and explaining how those experiments work. I was really hoping that those stories of grad students & postdocs taking advantage of interested undergrads to teach them how “chemistry works” were true1.”

What the fuck?!?

There was some other paragraph of nonsense in the middle that I didn’t even look at. I was still too much in shock over those first two sentences in the first paragraph. I was starting to tune out reality at the horror of the realization until I saw the following lines constituting the last paragraph.

“I had some questions about how to put together experiments into those nice figures in posters and papers like you were showing me, and what I have to do for these poster sessions at the end of our undergrad research periods. If you have some time to kill and want to talk about that, I would much rather do that right now than deal with filling tip boxes.”

I know I’m going through some rough stuff emotionally going on right now, but this is just downright twisted & disgusting of my subconscious to be manufacturing. Some elements are real amalgamations of the current state of affairs2, but the overall message—like some twisted Japanese manga plot3—is beyond anything I’ve ever feasibly considered. She & I never talk in the lab (yet the other undergrad loves to strike up conversation with her). This whole brief fragment of a dream feels like my subconscious trying to play a sick, twisted joke on my conscious.

What on earth does it mean when my subconscious is trying to scare me so? Or is this just some ill-fated consequence of having only one beer an hour before bedtime?

Can’t really get back to sleep with that haunting me right now, so I guess it’s going to be an early lab day today…

1Mind you I have never assisted this girl with anything in the lab in reality. My mentor & the technician essentially manage her (she’s much more care-free about the work in the lab, much to the contrast of the project student who can ask me unending questions on a Friday night), so there’s no need/desire for me to help and I can just continue on with my experimentation uninterrupted.
2Thanking for scientific assistance, and the email confessional.
3The kind I have long since steered clear of. It’s just bizarre to have these fictional stories that promote taking advantage of innocence. It gets under my skin & gets me irate people think like that. But despite how small a number there may be, these people exist on both sides of the playing field, scarily enough. Doesn’t mean I approve of it any more than I do right now; I just have to accept it’s a reality for some. *twitch*