Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Grad School Post

Hey everyone,

This is my first post from grad school. It's been a really long time since I posted but I figured why not write one, even if I don't have much to say, just to start my grad school posts. So here is a little of what has gone on in the last few weeks.

So far I have two classes. One is taught by one of the professors I will be in lab with and it is about aerosols (I'm in a lab for atmospheric chemistry for those who don't know) and I actually am presenting a paper on Tuesday. Woo hoo. And my other class is on nanoparticles and it only very slightly involves the stuff I am going to be research, in that aerosols are technically classified as nanoparticles. Regardless the classes are not too bad. I kinda enjoy only having two. Aside from class I am a TA now (yay on the road to being a professor). It's actually really enjoyable. I like teaching the kids about how things work and what things they should look out for. Although it's kinda scary to think I (and 6-8 other people) am responsible for all these kids lives. So safety is a huge deal that I am trying to help them with as well. Other than those responsibilities I don't have much going on. I do shadow people in the CAPS labs so I can get accustomed to doing the research aspect of my grad school career (essentially the entirety of that career). But that is the school stuff I have been up to. Outside of that I have been involved with the MCS Future Leaders in Science which is an outreach group for chemistry and it's really awesome. This weekend actually there is a chemistry carnival and I am really looking forward to it and doing the demo with people. I am also hoping to see lots of kids and teaching them about science. Should be fun. =]

What else is happening? Good question. Honestly not much. My time at home is basically spent reading stuff for class and research, watching Youtube, and talking to my girlfriend. Not too much else. I have started watching Achievement Hunter/Rooster Teeth series on Youtube, for those who don't know they are a bunch of guys who play video games as their job. They are quite hilarious and I really suggest you watch them if you even remotely like video games and/or enjoy people-getting-mad-at-each-other humor. Oh another thing I recently did was purchase my first Humble Indie bundle. Probably the most awesome idea anyone has ever had. You get a bunch of games for whatever you want to pay. Ten bucks got me almost 10 games and I just beat one of them and it was probably one of the most awesome puzzle games I ever played. I really suggest it to people who have not learned about it yet. Those people do great work. I also started an anime last night called Steins;Gate. Very strange time travel/conspiracy anime. Not sure about it but I hope to finish it this week and I can give thoughts then.

One piece of bad news I just learned of a few days ago. My stream from Extra Life 4 Kids was not saved on the website I used and now it's gone forever. I am really upset about this, but we all move on. So if anyone has any plans to do a stream for the cause let me know I am totally game. I hope to make this a tradition if I manage to get better equipment for recording.

That is pretty much it. I have gotten situated in my house and am pretty satisfied with it. I finally get paid my first real check within 8 days. I can't wait to see how much it will be. I still haven't figured out how much tax will be taken out but if it's the same rate as the first minor check then I am looking at a lot of money. Yay!!

Ok well I just thought I would update everyone. Maybe I will come up with something more fun to talk about next time. Who knows. Adios everyone. Oh and feel free to visit me whenever you want. Just kidding but seriously I wouldn't mind housing one or two people for a night if you want to make a trip.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Yet another tragedy in this life we live

Being woken up 15 minutes early to the second phone call from your father that night is never a good sign. Yet that is how my day started. Then I got the news that my cousin had been shot. No details yet that I am aware of as to who did it or why. Have yet to see anything about this one of likely thousands of shootings so far this year. I find myself occasionally tearing up and yet I still go on with my day. It's just another day of school. But what I ask myself now is "How am I supposed to react to this?" What can I possibly do? Should I try to heal myself or my family? Do I just worry about the future of my own life or do I think about today? Should I mourn or move on? So I have decided that I will do what I do best. I will blog about it and celebrate the life that I know of my cousin, Andrew. I think he would appreciate it.

Andrew was my role model for nearly my whole childhood. Anyone could tell that just by the shear fact that I wore hats, liked the Dallas Cowboys (yes in the Philadelphia area), and wanted to be able to do cool skateboard moves even though I couldn't even stand on one without losing my balance. He was the coolest kid I knew. He was the one that got the girls and could do anything manly you can conceive of as an 8 year old boy. We had our times as kids. Every summer we would stay at either his mom's place or my house. We biked and played games and ran through the hall and flipped on my parents bed and did any number of crazy boy things. We talked about girls of course. We played lots of videogames, it's funny because I actually played through the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater just the other week, one of our favorite games when we were kids. And my roommate just got a new edition of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit which was by far his favorite and because of that it was my favorite as well. We always put in the code to get the McLaren F1 car. It was the "fastest car ever" according to him. Of course I believed him, and to this day I would believe that. What I lack in knowledge of cars (which is a lot), he more than made up for. Always one of his passions, up until his final days.

So many stories of days we spent together as kids. The early morning visit to the hospital because my dumb sister decided to stick her hand on the stove. The deep gash in Andrew's leg that he sustained while trying to fix his bike. The times I used to join him for his allergy doctor visits. I always thought he would end up dying by a bee sting because he was so allergic.

Unfortunately after those many summers of hanging out, we ended up going our separate ways. We never really saw too much of each other. He did his stuff with friends and girlfriends and I did my school stuff. He was never much of a school person but like I said he didn't need it with his insane knowledge and love of cars. I don't think I could live a complete life and ever know as much about cars as he did when he was 12.

So the next thing I know I am a college student and he has a kid. The first of my grandparents' great-grandkids. Cutest little girl in the world. Little miss Cameron. I don't want to be too modest but I taught her how to put the shapes in the correct holes. That was all my doing (Haha I'm just kidding, but I totally did). He learned as much from her as she did from him. He was an excellent father to his little girl. I hope that I have that same opportunity, to be a great father to my own child some day.

Well I don't know what else I can say at a moment like this. I am almost unable to read the screen past these tears as I type. But I want to reiterate a point I made on facebook a short time ago. I am here for my family. I know that Aunt Sharon is probably having the worst time anyone can imagine.

But this is for you especially but for anyone else as well. You were blessed with a great son. He had a great life and a great mother and family. He was a great father and although his life has come to a tragic end, he will continue to live on through everyone. Maybe not his superhuman knowledge of cars but every other quality can be embodied by us mere mortals. And thankfully for us, he was able to pass on his legacy to Cameron. Your beautiful granddaughter. She will be our connection to him for the rest of our lives. Never forget you have family that is here for you. Having a positive psychology class I try to continue to think positive. One thing that I know to be true is that people always overestimate the duration of emotions. There will always be the twinge of sadness, but the majority of the sadness will diminish over time. We will get through this. I hope this at least slightly helps everyone.

I'm not going to be cliche and say rip or anything like that. I want to say:

Thank you Andrew for living your life and allowing me to experience it with you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why do people live the way they do?

I feel like this is a completely rhetorical attempt at a post. It's really not a fair question, but I kinda want to hear from my readers. I just want to hear your thoughts.

Why do people live the way they do?

Why do certain people live like they do?

Why do prostitutes live to sell their bodies?

Why do addicts live to get the next high?

Why do drunkards drink every waking moment of their lives?

Why do scholars live to study?

Why do stay at home parents live to sit in their homes and provide a suitable home for their families?

Why do soldiers stay alive to provide a safe environment for their country men and women?

Why do charity workers help those in need?

Why do students continue with school even if they don't like it?

Why do you what you do on a daily basis?

I know that people have certain motivations for what they do (i.e. to put food on the table, psychological desire, fear, lack of other options). But... Why really? Are their really no other options? Can't people provide for families in other ways? What are our innate reasons for doing what we do? Even though some people aren't satiated by what they do, even though they become depressed and overall unhappy with what they do every day in a monotonous fashion. Why do we continue?

Or maybe there doesn't have to be a reason. Maybe our purpose is our purpose and that's all. Maybe there is no reason for our purpose in this life?

Another question based off of that previous one. Is there actually a purpose? Do we do what we do because we believe there is a purpose? Does there need to be a purpose?

Ok maybe I should stop before I get too existential. I suppose in the end this wasn't really a rhetorical question or an attempt to have audience participation. It was more of a musing that I hope my readers will dig just a little deeper into. My purpose here on this blog is to make you all think about stuff while I think more or less aloud to you.

Anyway, have a nice night or day depending on when you read this.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Changing the World

So it's been a really long time since I posted anything and I figured while I am in bed restless with nothing better to do, listening to a super inspiring band (aka Enter Shikari), and contemplating changing the world, I may as well post a blog about it.

I will post a warning now, this will likely sound like a rant from a drunken fool or a naive child, but I will do my best to string together some logical ideas if at all possible at this 2 am. And of course none of this ranting will do anything to actually change the world. That has to be done by the people of the world. Only actions bring change.

So the world needs to be changed. How old is this statement at this point in time? Every era has the same criticism and it does change, eventually. But never for good. Why is that? Hmmmm... Well thinking about it I think this is a question that cannot be answered in the amount of time I have before I fall asleep... or in my life for that matter. But how about a short blurb.

Humans are creatures of habit. They find a method that works and they keep to it until it no longer works or someone else finds a more effective way to do the same thing or that thing becomes unnecessary or outdated. So this same concept can be applied to political systems. We stick to the same system until it fails and/or falls to another "better" system.

Now this is what leads us to today. We have a system that... well let's quote one of the most revolutionary bands I have ever listened to:
"Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think the primary purpose of your life, of my life and the entirety of the human race's is just to blindly consume to support a failing economy and a faulty system, forever and ever until we run out of every resource and have to resort to blowing each other up to ensure our own survival. I don't think we're supposed to sit by idle while we continue to use a long outdated system that produces war, poverty, collusion, corruption, ruins our environment and threatens every aspect of our health and does nothing but divide and segregate us. I don't think how much military equipment we are selling to other countries, how many hydrocarbons we're burning, how much money is being printed and exchanged, is a good measure of how healthy our society is but I do think I can speak for everyone when I say, we're sick of this shit."

This kinda sums up everything I could ever say about this world. It's pretty sad to think about. That first statement is the strongest. It's not our purpose to do those things. No matter what you believe of humankind. Whether you think in terms of evolution and biology in which our purpose is to reproduce and become fit as a species. Or religion and our purpose is to get to heaven or do good unto others, or reach whatever your specific religion's goal is. Philanthropists try to help others. I guess if I am arguing these people's purposes are what they are, then there is likely some people who believe this is our purpose, to consume until the end. Maybe I am just blind but I don't see how this is a legitimate belief though.

I say this but I still see it. I see people do absolutely nothing to better anyone or change anything or even try to succeed or pursue their dreams. People are just stuck in their habit of not doing a damned thing. This brings me to the conclusion that habit is laziness. It is unwillingness to change ones life for any reason so as to conserve energy or whatever is the specific persons reason. People are too lazy and carefree to do anything.

To change the world we need people to want to change it. We need people with ideas and with motivation to get others to change it with them. A revolution does not begin on its own.

Well I think my time is almost up this fine evening. I am just about asleep and haven't said much of anything. That's disappointing. Well perhaps I will leave you with some of my hopes for my future.

I want to do a little research into things that have worked and things that haven't. Learning from the past is a necessary thing (also learned from Enter Shikari). I want to become a teacher at some point and I want to teach people chemistry, of all things. Because I still feel that science is the key to the future. But I want to integrate other ideas and lessons into the lectures as well. I also want to help create reform that no politician will. Because for me there is more at stake than a stupid reputation or something as pointless as pride. The future of the world is at stake now. We are losing out grip on what is real. It's really not ok. I will leave tonight by telling all readers to listen to a song or two by Enter Shikari. Please hear them out. And try to do something to help your fellow man. And here is one my favorites from them:
Enter Shikari- Juggernauts

"I'm not saying we could do better but given the chance we would try."
"I know that we still got time but I do not think we're invincible."

Good night fine people. Oh and happy new year.