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*

19. November 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Cooking, Random · Tags:

…and yes, I realize it’s only Monday. I’m pretty sure this won’t be beat, unless we’re quoting stuff either of the Fords said at the special council meeting today. And then it’s just a laundry list of quotes; but those aren’t as fun as I never heard them in person.

Grad student 1 to me: Jamie, you’re the only white person I know that cooks with wood ear mushrooms.

Grad student 2 to grad student 1 in a deadpan tone: [Grad student 1], you’re such a racist.

Since there have been interested parties for a while, I finally took some pictures of the apartment setup that I have going right now. It’s nothing too fancy at the moment; pretty simplistic, much to my mother’s dismay. But for someone who is still in the transitory stages of his life, there’s no point to get too emboldened with potentially frivolous1 decorations.

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The other day, I was introduced to this video illustrating1 the distracted intrusion of the Internet into our day-to-day lives thanks to smartphones. Coincidentally recent in my social media feeds, I have seen the Einstein-attributed2 quote; “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” I watch the invasion of these devices day-to-day (especially during transit commutes), and have been there to some extent myself. However, as much as I love being connected to the Internet all the time, I’m finding I pull into these potentially “addictive” trends less & less.

I pull more and more away from them because more and more they feel like work. I fall behind keeping up with Twitter on a frequent basis; I just don’t have the time to read it unless I’m sitting at my computer work, and even then I probably shouldn’t be entertaining it other than a temporary distraction. Facebook is much the same, but I find myself on there instead restraining myself from correcting terrible information that people are blindly reposting/distributing. Foursquare just doesn’t have the appeal to check in to anymore; it feels like work remembering to check into establishments, ergo I only use it when I want to find something. GetGlue has changed their intentions for their site so substantially such that I’ve quit using it altogether.

I feel more and more that I just don’t have anything to contribute of worth to these streams anymore. I’m consuming the information, but I lack the energy or conviction to contribute. The tedium of my daily life seems a waste for Facebook3, so I keep the random bouts of it to the microblogging nature of Twitter. I have a hard time even plugging in to keep up with my texting as much these days. I am leaving my phone on my desk shelf more and more because it is a distraction when I’m working, and the conversations are usually not so time-sensitive that I cannot afford to wait until I’m done with whatever is at hand.

This feels like a hallmark of getting old. Or more a hallmark of being desensitized to electronic communications and the modicum of satisfaction they provide. The new job has been nice so far, but it has left me starved for the intimacy of personal communication with friends & colleagues that I have after years at an establishment. To which if I was just job-shifting within a city, wouldn’t be so bad; the occasional weeknight dates & weekend meet ups with friends keep that drip alive. But I’m beating a dead horse again now. Anyhow…

I am going to roll with this spontaneous shirking away from the electronic mediums that I used to so frequently dabble in. I’m curious to see what other ways I may find to occupy my time without those entrenched neurological vices; see if my mental focus comes back around without so much ridiculous over-analysis. Reminds me back to Watterson’s last Calvin & Hobbes strip, since I heard about the Bill Watterson documentary Dear Mr. Watterson on NPR’s Weekend Edition this past weekend.

It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…
…let’s go exploring!

I’m 32. I’m still refining my scientific interests, skill sets, and expertise. I’m in a huge, multi-cultural city, full of industry and research and cuisine. Not to mention all of the other countries I’m still interested in visiting. Hell, I might even consider attempting to learn German again. Pick back up into a racquetball league. Find a pool hall to shoot in.
I’ve got a lot of exploring left to do…

1A bit exaggerated at times, but at others all too true.
2There is no clear evidence whether he said it or not; which happens to be a pet peeve of mine, when people blindly spreading “catchy media.”
3Although clearly not for many, it would seem.

Starting my work with radioactivity1 again today, I took it upon myself to try and track down a lab coat that fits. The lab has a small collection of archaic2 lab coats that I looked through, but unfortunately none of them fit. Because they were just all wadded up & shoved into the shelf (and because I’m a bit of a neat freak), I opted to fold them back up to save some space. As I was working through them, one of the lab coats crunched when I smoothed it out.

I tracked down the culprit: one of the pockets was harbouring an (extremely) old latex glove that was falling apart. As I was explaining what the source of the crunch was to the technician, I exclaimed that it looked rather terrible and it was “old and crunchy.”
At which point, it could be subsequently heard in my head being voiced by my good colleague Tom still back in Buffalo, “Like your mom, yeaaaaaahhhhhh!” Despite that immaturity, still one of the most rational & logically minded individuals I know. And a great sounding board when I need it.

Zetti’s may have been shitty pizza more oft than not, but man I kind of miss those escapes from the lab for lunch. Thank god we started going to My Burger Bar during my last year there instead!

1Having worked with tritium in the past, I sort of loathed radioactivity; no convenient means by which to detect it. Thankfully, 32P is way easier to detect & monitor! So I can go home and not be worried about sucking radioactive wing sauce off of my fingers to mutagenize my gonads & germ layers, 2-week half-life or not.
2These lab coats are very likely older than the undergraduate students in the lab, and likely threatening to be older than myself, I’d hazard.

“…because you can’t vote here yet.”

That was the (inadvertent?) kicker I was told earlier this week that got me thinking about considerations of settling in Toronto. I have already had this notion creeping around in the back of my head, but more in the context of settling in Canada, not specifically Toronto. Toronto originally struck me as too metropolitan in scope & scale, but living here has changed that misconception.

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