So, the hell that has been my thesis proposal is essentially over. Getting mine approved took a few weeks longer than usual because I got FUCKING SANDBAGGED BY MY GODDAMN BOSS DURING MY PROPOSAL. But whatever, I’m (somewhat) over it now that I have a project that’s been approved by my committee. The project is damn near impossible and almost certainly not going to work, but it’s better than not having a project. I’m still going to have to throw out 8 months of research, but I still think things could somehow be worse.
For the first time in years I’m actually making time to have fun and meet people. I’ve been going on freaking boatloads of dates the past two months and am loving the chance to go out and meet new people. I do feel somewhat bad for the first half-dozen or so of the women I went out with since I was still just working out the awkward out of my system. Never going on a real date as an adult will do that to you. I was FULL of awkward. Like, to the brim. Okay, not that bad, but it wasn’t pretty. Sorry, first six or so ladies, I really am.
But even though research isn’t going well I’m not letting it bring me down since life in general is actually quite enjoyable. I still have a few friends who either can’t or won’t see the world this way and that is really beginning to rub me the wrong way. I’m just now beginning to realize that happiness is largely a choice for those of us fortunate enough to be in our situation. I mean we’re doing bleeding-edge medical research at one of the best freaking labs in the field, in one of the best cities in America, and we’re getting fucking PAID to get our degree. This is, of course, a very rosy view of our current situation, but it’s one that helps change a possibly shitty situation into one that is at least tolerable.
So, life is decently good and I’m happy. That is all that really matters right now.
Companionship, internet, a bed…
Break-ups, especially long ones, are particularly difficult in the early stages. This is something I have been living for the past few days since I moved out of the residence my quasi-ex-wife (still working on the paperwork. We’re lazy) and even though I’ve been though a similar situation in the past this time is particularly difficult since I know there is no possible chance for a reunion. We are both very happy with the outcome, but that does not mean that the transition to true single life is going to be an easy one. So far it’s been fine, but it’s also novel and that alone is enough to keep me happy for the time being. The problem with novelty is that it is by definition temporary and will at some point be lost and I will have to deal with the mundane existence that is the dating/single life.
For some reason I find this both exciting and terrifying. I find it to be exciting since this very situation forces me to meet new people, and that is something I like to do that my previous life actively kept me from. And to be quite honest, I simply love meeting women. The chase is an amazing game that I at one time loved to play. This is also what scares the living bejesus out of me. I have a number of friends who have been in the dating game for a long time and who have had absolutely terrible outcomes with multiple relationships. Mind you, these are the tails of the normal distribution and I completely realize this, but it still frightens me.
However, I do have an advantage in this whole situation: my attitude. I’m going into this new stage of my life with a completely rational attitude. If I ask someone out with someone and she denies me? No problem and no hard feelings, that’s just the way things work out sometimes. So be it, no reason to waste a possible friendship due to hurt feelings that really weren’t there to begin with. I understand this may seem like a naive perspective, but the people who know me understand that if anyone can pull it off I can. Another reason I feel this way is that I’m a relatively good looking, relatively young, goddamn neuroscientist living in motherfucking Chicago. If I can’t find someone here in my situation then that’s my own goddamn problem.
I’m still optimistic about the whole situation and I feel that is good at this point. We shall see how long it lasts, but at least it’s how I feel right now and that type of outlook has to count for something.
Yay! I’ve been added to the Dawkins Out Campaign blogroll! This, like, makes me famous now, right?
Apologies to the dozen of you or so who have stopped by in my absence the past monthish. I’ve been in a lot of terrible places due both to personal issues and grad school issues. Both are being taken care of, and at least one of them will be over tomorrow. I have to retake a portion of my qualifying exam tomorrow to determine if I’m allowed to stay in the program. No worries though, I’m much more prepared now than I was the first time around. I worry more about my other friends who also have to retake portions of the exam. I hope they are now as prepared as I am.
Well, off to do some slice staining and talk prep. I’ll be back soon.
Look, I know that all kinds of people are up in arms about this autism “epidemic,” but few of these idiots have actually been thinking rationally. I came across this idiot over in the comments at this post from a great blog I regularly frequent.
I try to understand these people. I really do. But when they start invoking Godwin’s law and just start spouting crazy I can no longer take them seriously. These people seem to be completely devoted to the fact that their son/daughter cannot be developmentally delayed due to anything other than vaccines, environmental “toxins,” or some other bullshit excuse. I’m not saying that those things may not play a role in their development, but to blame those things, and ONLY those things, with little to no empirical evidence is irresponsible at best. Development is a fickle beast affected by many things, but genetics plays the largest role. In fact, most teratogens have a relatively narrow window during which they have the terrible effects of which you hear.
Essentially what this comes down to is what you are willing to believe based on the evidence. Using the best evidence we have (and it’s damn good evidence) vaccines don’t cause autism. I’m far from an expert, but being in neurobiology for as long as I have I do know human cognition and other basic medical principles very well. Here is my take on this.
What is currently known as autism (or ASD) is a wide range of relatively mild to severe cognitive disorders that have been common in humans for centuries. The reason for the wide range in autism disorders is due to our relative lack of knowledge about the origins of the disorder and our current need to classify anything and everything that isn’t “normal” as a disorder (don’t get me started on the fucked up reasons why), so we just lump them all into the super-diagnosis of what the DSMIV (and soon to be V) calls ASD. There hasn’t been an increase in the number of people with autism, but there has been an exponential growth in the awareness AND diagnosis of autism, making the overall numbers appear to be skyrocketing when in fact they have probably been pretty stable for the past few decades at least. Those kids you used to make fun of for being weird back in the ’70s and ’80s? Yeah, they’re now diagnosed with mild autism or Aspergers. Does that mean that the number actually rose? No, it doesn’t, we’re just changing what it’s called.
Do I have any fool-proof evidence of this? No, I do not, and I don’t pretend to (unlike those anti-vax freaks). I’m using personal observation and common sense to piece together information that doesn’t appear to make a whole lot of sense otherwise. For instance, if mercury poisoning is what was causing so many autism cases then why did the numbers continue to grow even after taking thimerosal out of the most prevelent vaccines? Oh wait, you’ll just blame it on the other “toxins” in the vaccines. Sorry, I forgot that logic doesn’t play a part in your thought process. I shouldn’t be surprised though considering nearly all of you “vaccine caused my baby’s autism!” people lack even the most basic understanding of biological principles and yet still talk like you know something.
My advice: shut the fuck up, love your child for what he/she is, and do your very best to raise him/her regardless of the circumstances.
I have been terrible at keeping up with this blog and I would feel bad about that were anyone to actually read it, but since very few do I don’t really care all that much.
Essentially, grad school has been kicking my ass all over the place and I didn’t have time to really keep up with writing. Things have slowed down a bit leaving me with precious free time I can now use to occasionally write. Unfortunately, in order to get to this slow time took a ridiculous amount of work the past week and a half. Three exams in six days to be exact.
How’d I do? I’d rather not discuss that other than the fact that I’m probably going to have to retake one of the two courses (hopefully not both…) I’m currently taking next year. I will take what responsibility is mine: it was my own damn fault I didn’t get the grade I wanted in my anatomy course. It was taught very well and I thought I knew the material, but I just turned out to be wrong. Oh well, no big deal, I’ll just take the two exams next year without going to class, get a better grade, and be done with it. That was not the case with the other class I’m taking.
You see, in the sciences the professors have two duties to the university where they work. Their primary purpose is to bring in loads of grant money and do research to get even more grant money. Their secondary purpose is to teach students (mainly grad students). This is a FAR second. Essentially, you can be the worst teacher in the world but as long as you keep bringing in money you can still get tenure, but the school, for some fucking reason, still wants you to teach the occasional class. In theory, this is a fantastic idea. World renowned experts teaching students about what they know better than practically anyone else in the world. In practice, it’s one of the worst ideas ever. The reason is simple: most people are terrible teachers and no amount of knowledge is enough to counteract that lack of teaching ability. So what happens is SuperProf comes in to teach a class on something like the somatosensory system and spends nearly two hours going over what appear to be random powerpoint slides. People ask questions and SuperProf tries to answer, but s/he can’t really get the point across to the students because s/he DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO TEACH. Then comes exam time, and even though you’ve read the book and spent hours pouring over SuperProf’s slides you still can’t make sense of anything but the most basic information s/he tried to teach you and you get fucked on the exam questions.
Haven’t gotten the grade back on that exam yet, but at least everyone else in my class felt just as clueless as I did on the questions from terrible profs.
First, grad school does not appear to be easy. Should have paid more attention in my undergrad physics course when we were learning about circuits. Kinda kicking myself for that one.
Second, if you don’t know how to use the self check-out line in the supermarket then DON’T FUCKING USE IT! I swear to god most people get up to those things are become bumbling retards.
Finally, I need to stop going out thinking I’m just going to drink “a few” beers and should just embrace the fact that chances are good I’m going to go out and get pretty messed up. Happened both Friday and Saturday. Not good.