Category Archives: home

Moving on.

I’m on vacation.  Mind you, it’s not exactly the vacation I had planned, but it’s a surprisingly good one nonetheless.

You see, about two weeks ago my wife and  made the decision to amicably split after 5 tumultuous years of marriage. Not gonna lie, that first week was brutal on me emotionally for a number of reasons, but in the end I never was and never could be upset with my wife for this. Doing what I usually do and taking a completely rational look at the facts it was hard (neigh, impossible!) to deny that this was in fact the correct decision for the both of us.

Thankfully, the split has thus far been about as good as a divorce can be. We’re still living in the same apartment, but I do plan on moving out as soon as possible. The real fun will begin when divorce proceedings are actually beginning to take place, we have to split our stuff, and all that other jazz associated with breaking up after a long time together. It could be much worse. We don’t have kids, a house, a huge bank account, or even really much stuff to fight over to begin with. And even more importantly, I still want to have some sort of healthy relationship with my soon to be ex-wife so I feel I have a duty to keep this as civil as possible as to not ruin our relationship entirely. I’m not expecting a miracle or anything, just happiness for both of us. If mutual happiness means giving up some stuff I like then I’m all for it.

Now it’s time to move on. Fresh start. Get my life back on track and somewhat in order.

Time to start kicking some ass. And maybe getting a little ass.

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Filed under home, life, marriage

When work is life

I get a little depressed.

All I do anymore is read textbooks, papers, and everything else I can get my hands on to prep for a single fucking exam. Oh, and what little time I take off I spend thinking about how I can approach my thesis project.

My life is so boring. I need a hobby outside of research.

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Filed under biology, disease, grad school, home, neurobiology

Ze Qualifier

So, the time has come. My grad school qualifying exam is quickly approaching and that fact has me shitting my pants. For those of you who are unaware, the qualifying exam (“comps” at some schools) is a comprehensive exam that is supposed to test knowledge that a graduate student should have gained in the first two years. Mine is a grueling two hour oral exam split up into two sections: fundamentals of (subfield of neuroscience) and research.

I’m worried about both sections and really have to begin cranking out data and setting aside study time. This means I’ll be spending even less time at home and more time away from my wife which will probably not end well for me… I’m already spending 60-70h/week at the lab and much of my time at home I spend playing with images, reading papers, and all that other grad school junk, so I’m not exactly sure how spending even MORE time away home will work out. I really just want the next few months to be over.

 

Oh, and I hope to still be in grad school by the end of it.

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Filed under grad school, home, just sad

A post worth reading, I promise. You’ll learn a some important things.

In place of the post I was going to write about my fantastic weekend I decided to write one about (go figure) evolution, religion, and my mom.  The idea about this post came about through a conversation I had with my parents over dinner and the ride to the bus station.

A reoccurring theme in my time since college has been a low-intensity war between me and my mother over our disagreements in the science vs. religion wars.  This current episode was sparked by an article in my parent’s local newspaper by an old scientist with “fifty years experience” whatever the hell that means (couldn’t find it online, but I’ll add a link if I do in the future).  I read his opinion piece and much of it made perfect sense.  He correctly, if simply, described what science is and then went off the deep end.  Huge jumps of logic were made by describing biological features and then, with no explanation given, attributing those features to his idea of God (which happens to be the standard Christian one).  This gentleman then finishes his article by calling evolution an “invalid theory” and attributing everything to God.

I think my mother thought she had me cornered when she had me read this op-ed.  I mean, here is a guy who apparently has some credentials (but so do these people, and they’re all nutjobs) and is arguing against what she believes to be my position.  Largely, she was correct in that assumption, but when it comes to something as complex as science and religion the devil is in the details.  Through the conversation I had with my parents (though mostly my evangelical mother) I had to continually correct a number of false ideas about their understanding of science.  Namely, science never does, and never can, PROVE something.  This is a subtle, yet critical point about science that is often overlooked by those not intimately involved in the process.  Over and over I had to correct my mother when she said the word “prove” because science doesn’t “prove” anything (at least in the strict definition of the word).  The word “prove” can be, and often is, used colloquially within certain circles out of simplicity.  If I find, through rigorous scientific trials, that there is less of a certain protein in cell A I will often tell other scientists that I “proved” it because I know they understand what I mean.  However, outside of those circles syntax and semantics become increasingly important and slip-ups need to be corrected.

(I swear this rambling is going somewhere.  This is getting to the crux of my argument with my mother.)

While most people are taught about the scientific method at some point very few are taught about the basic premises of the philosophy of science.  One premise essentially states that natural processes have natural causes (go figure).  This is called methodological naturalism and is the basis of scientific thought.  My mother has a problem with this premise because it leaves no place for a god to exert it’s will upon the natural world.  Now, this is a very important distinction that I am going to explain.  Gods are, by definition, SUPERnatural (OUTSIDE/ABOVE nature) while methodological naturalism (science) is based only upon nature.  Therefore, if you add the premise of a SUPERnatural being in a scientific argument you invalidating it due to one of your premises being inherently flawed.  Science has no preconceived notion about the existence of a supernatural being (one may or may not exist), but it acts as through all natural processes have natural causes.

That was my mother’s main problem (though she had many others), but I was able to get through to her.  I made her honest as a Christian by admitting that her problems with science, and particularly evolution, were not scientifically based, but were instead based only on theology.  Science didn’t back her story up, so she decided to believe what she wanted to in order to continue believing in her idea of God.  I showed her what science has proven beyond a reasonable doubt (but not an unreasonable doubt) and she has decided to reject it based on her understanding of the Christian God.

It was a very difficult two hours explaining this to my parents, but in the end it was all worth it.  My mother is no longer delusional about science and I am happy with my efforts to defend what I have come to know and love, but I can’t help but feel a bit sad at my mother’s dismissal of the only way of truly knowing what goes on in this world around us.  It’s sad really, and I hope other Christians (and all other followers of religions) can one day be as truthful as my mother and admit that they don’t “believe” in evolution based solely on theological principles and stop hiding behind pseudoscience in order to sound more legitimate.

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Filed under Biology and Evolution, christianity, crazy, home, religion, Those Other Sciences

Amazing week

The week didn’t begin well.  I knew that I had to get as many hours in as possible since I was leaving Thursday night to got back to rural Michigan and see my family for the 4th.  That meant waking up extra early so I could be in the lab by 6 and start doing the monotonous task that is pipetting.  On top of it all it didn’t look like the data I had been collecting was all that good (a bit too variable to be of much use).  All in all it didn’t look like it was going to be that good of a week.

But then, just like out of a movie it began to turn around.  I found out I was approved for the rockin’ apartment I looked at last week which means I no longer have to worry about finding a place to live for the next two years.  It’s huge, fairly cheap, halfway between the two campuses I have to go to, has a full size kitchen, gorgeous wood floors, and is close to two modes of transportation. Chadwick 1, housing devil 0. (pictures will come eventually)

Then I go back to work removing and crushing up brains, extracting RNA, and checking transcript levels in a new mouse my lab developed.  Turns out the next few samples I ran tightened up my error bars and became much more convincing which made my current advisor and grad student mentor very happy with my progress.  If you’re not keeping track of the score it’s now Chadwick 2, pseudoscience 0.

Then I took a night off and spent it with the “wife/girlfriend/whatever she is now” at my place.   I made a simple dinner while we caught up on what’s been going on with our lives while having a few drinks.  It was just very nice knowing that I can still have a decent relationship with my wife after we eventually get a divorce.  It won’t be easy, but knowing us I’m sure we can pull it off.  Chadwick 3, disastrous relationships 0.

To top it all off my dad comes to pick me up Thursday after work (the busses and trains were all booked out of the city and it was a last minute decision to go home) and on the way back we had some amazing father/son time that was long overdue and I think really helped us understand one another on a level most parents and children get to.  I essentially got my father’s Christianity deconversion story and then shared how I felt about religions and…  well, it was just a very good and thoughtful talk that I feel made me closer to my father than I ever have been in my life.

And I didn’t think it could get any better, but I was wrong.  However, I’ll save that for the next post.

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Filed under childhood, christianity, home, religion

On perspective

For at least the past six years I have always ended my self-pity with the line, “it could be worse, I could be on fire.” It’s kind of a joke, but it does really keep me grounded; no matter how bad my problems seem there are plenty of ways my life could be much worse. The vast reach of the internet has made that line even more applicable. Now, every chance I can I downplay the relative bad stuff that has happened in my life because, well, it is only RELATIVELY bad. No one died, no one was crippled, no one was permanently hurt.

It doesn’t make how I feel about a personal situation hurt any less, but it does put it into the larger world perspective which, in my mind, is a good and grounding feeling. For instance, I recently contacted a sweet girl I went to high school with about a fairly unimportant conversation I had and she mentioned that I was one of the few people to take the time to contact her about anything beyond the general “hey, how’s it goin???” bullshit since her father had died. Her father succumbed to cancer late in our senior year roughly seven years ago and she still feels it everyday. Even with everything that has happened to me in my life I have never felt anything like the hurt that she has felt. I know that feeling such sorrow is part of being human, but knowing how much it has hurt her I hope to never feel it and that is why I put all of my sad life happenings into perspective with, “it could be worse, I could be on fire.”

Her story also struck a chord due to my current situation. I am writing this post sitting in a house with my mother and father quietly sleeping in their second-floor bedroom knowing full well I will see them in the morning, and I take that for granted. I shouldn’t, but I do. Most of us don’t appreciate the little things that a surprising number of people lack: the ability to breath properly, walking, not having to worry about a family member, etc.

Yes, I’m getting divorced and I’m almost broke. However, my wife and I still have a great relationship, I have savings I can use to help the financial troubles, I and my family are still healthy and prosperous, and I’m beginning grad school this August. As bad as things may look from a single perspective, when you take a look from all perspectives many times your life looks much better than you could possibly imagine.

Just remember: it could be worse, you could be on fire.

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Filed under cancer, childhood, home, life, morality, sleep deprived

Baguettes and gay marriage

Well, since I’ve had a lot of free time hanging out at my parents house on an extended mini-vacation I’ve taken to doing a few things I’ve wanted to do for a long time. One of those things is learning how to make a fantastic baguette.

Please note, I am not a baker. Far from it. I don’t bake shit, but I got on my computer, researched the hell out of baguettes, bought some yeast and flour, and went to town. I failed many times, but every time I have learned something from my mistakes. So far I have the flavor I wanted and the crumb structure (the bubbles inside) is ~80% figured out, but the dough consistency and the crust are still far from perfection. So, I got a lot of work ahead of me, but as soon as I figure out where I’ve gone wrong I’ll type up the recipe for all to use and enjoy.

Much like my baguette battle, gay marriage in this country is making progress as well. Four states now allow for same sex marriage!!! Fuck yes, score one for the good guys! I can honestly say that if you have a problem with the equality of allowing homosexuals to marry then you and I are probably not going to get along (my last boss had to travel back to England to marry his boyfriend; he should have been able to do it here).

Progress is being made not only on the baguette front, but also on the civil rights front. Both of those things make me a very happy man.

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Filed under christianity, food, home, marriage, morality, religion