Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yet another apology.

Just realized how many typos I've made in the past and am slightly completely disgusted with myself. While I admit that much of the posts were done at 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning while I was in a foreign everything, there's no excuse. I'll be fixing what I can immediately after I finish this.

Aside from my drowslexia rearing it's nasty head, I've been relatively on the ball lately. It's a good feeling, and  it helps me stay positive despite all of life's curveballs. My new job has allowed me to start worrying about things besides rent, which is both a relief and a chore. Some things, like finally sending off the gifts I got for people while I was in Taiwan or finishing up the follow-on report for the Gilman project, have been long looked-forward to. Other things have not. The ever-closer end of the grace period on my student loans is one glaring example.

Luckily, I've been able to focus a lot of my attention on more immediate concerns. I've started volunteering with a really awesome group here in Seattle called Heroes for the Homeless that does monthly homeless outreach missions. We wake up at ridiculous o'clock, prepare multiple carloads of sandwiches and other supplies, and then hand-deliver them to those in need. It's really well-coordinated and supports a lot of people. To give you an idea of how effective - yet personal - the whole thing is, I'll bet that at least an eighth of the people I've met in Seattle are homeless. I know their names and where I can expect to see them again, but the weirdest thing is that I sincerely look forward to seeing them again. That makes it easy. The hard part is learning about the support services here in Seattle. There is a literal mountain of information of absorb, and that's not including the word on the street about these places. Things like bed bugs don't often get talked about on organisation websites, but that can make or brake a service provider's efficacy.

Finally, I've been trying to take advantage of free advocacy training that is provided by the Office for Victims of Crime. It's long, and I'm trying really hard to tough it out through all the reading materials, but it's probably one of the most challenging things to do well that I've been up to lately.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


MOAR updates:
  • I was recently hired on to the staff of the Seattle Skin Cancer Center as a Mohs Technician. Basically, I help cure cancer by cutting it into little pieces. I tend to laugh at the tumors as I do this.
  • My Iritis has returned with a vengeance. Currently not able to see through the cloud of white blood cells that is INSIDE of my eye, but I have an appointment to get it looked at today after suffering the fourth of July weekend. Apparently Every opthalmologist either takes a four day vacation if they aren't already on sick leave. It sucks to their asthmar, because now my eye is so hulk-like and angry that I'm bettting they'll have to bring out the big guns.
  • Something like this, only with Lazers.
  • Otherwise, I'm in the process of completing the Gilman Follow-on Report and trying to keep in touch with people like Dr. Huang and my recently engaged friends Russ and Rachel (congratualations!).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pushing 600 CC's of Coffee.

Hey strangers.

Sorry about the gap in posts. A whole bunch of stuff has been going on and updating this thing has been on the bottom of my priority list.

Stuff that's been happ'nin:

  • I'm currently a delivery driver at Pizza Hut and in the process of becoming a shift manager. It's been a great way to learn the area of a suburb twenty minutes away from where I live while putting a lot more wear and tear on my wife's car than I ever thought possible. While Seattle-area drivers are generally very polite and the GPS my mom gave me before I left Wisconsin has been a godsend, the actual roads here are ridiculous. Along with the city planners' apparent hatred of designing streets around a simple grid, the number of hills and speed bumps littering their roads is almost equal to the number of Silly-Hipster-In-Training that also litter the streets. Regardless, it IS a job and I can't complain too much, but I've only recently have I been able to pay rent without dipping into our savings account. I'm also not looking forward to replacing the tires, brakes, shocks, and possibly the airbag (the light keeps flashing at me flirtatiously).
  • I got married! I should make a whole post dedicated to this at a later date, complete with pictures and tales of everything that went really right and really wrong, but the long story short is that my wife and I were in Wisconsin for a week because we liked each other enough to put a ring on it. 
  • Check.
  • The job fairy has been nice to me lately. I've gotten interviews for quite a few different positions in the biotech industry, so with some luck, skill, and whatever else it takes to get a job, I might be able to stop choking down antacid and start weaning the stress-baby residing in my gut.
  • While it often seems like my life revolves around my work (or lack there of), my wife and I have been up to some entertainment as well. We both recently acquired bicycles, and have started taking random trips to the local zoo and farmer's market. The former has brought about the realization that my wife is a Tapir-Whisperer. It sounds ridiculous, but it's true. Or maybe they just like to wake up and look at her. I know I do.
  • I'm going to try and get back into the swing of blogging, and possibly even talk about stuff that's useful. Dr. Huang is planning on taking another group of students to Taiwan, so if nothing else I'll try to post things that will help them fund/survive/possibly even enjoy the trip. Stay tuned, Kids.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Operation Bravo Alpha Marriage commencing.

Just bought plane tickets, my fiance and I will be back in our hometown for 8 days of nuptial excitement. Now we get a month to figure out what couches we're surfing on. We're almost definitely staying at my mom's on day one, but everything else is up in the air right now.

It's kind of cool, because even though we are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too poor for our honeymoon right now - we're okay with waiting a while to do it, considering all the stuff that's been going on - going back home is a nice mini-vacation.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

NCUR Summation

Currently on the train back from NCUR, and it's a real relief. The last week or so has been all sorts of rollercoaster.

Last Monday I had to catch the train from Seattle to Minneapolis, which is easy enough in theory. In practice, my fiance and I forget about Seattle's unique rush hour and then go to the wrong train station. One of the main downtown public transit stations is right next to the Amtrak station, so I ran as fast I could to the fancier station only to find that I had to haul my bright pink suitcase 200 yards back to the crumbling Amtrack depot.

One major lesson I learned about Amtrak last week: It is many things, but it is not fancy.

Also, bring your own food. Otherwise you can expect an extra 40 dollars on your travel costs and some serious concern for your G.I. tract. Seriously, the stuff's nastiness is completely untamed by train's microwaves.

I ended up getting to the station after the train was sealed up, but I was able to beg my way on in the nick of time. Then a tree hit the train. I always thought that trees were stationary, but apparently that's not the case in Montana. Duct taping / Repairing the damage to the train tacked on another three hours to the original 36, and subsequent delays had us rolling into MSP about an hour after my plane had taken off for New York. The tree also messed up a phone interview I was supposed to have on the train by stopping the train in one of Montana's numerous black holes of cellular service. Luckily, my school had also chartered a second plane I was able to sneak on and the tutoring agency accepts malicious trees as an excuse for missing an appointment. I made it safe and sound to my hotel and probably get to look forward to tutoring high schoolers struggling to stay afloat.

After all I'd gone though to get to the conference, I decided I needed to make the most of it, though I found that was harder than it seemed. To give you an idea, Ithaca college is roughly the size of wow and the buildings tend to look like the future. With over a thousand attendees, the oral presentations had to be held during class in multiple buildings. This made it challenging to pick and choose what speeches I wanted to see, as they were usually far apart and congested with both presenters and normal Ithaca students. I ended up running around a lot more than I should have in dress clothes trying to bounce between social science, criminal science, and biology presentations. Occasionally, the presentations were too packed to get in (strangely, that happened a lot with the criminal science presentations) so I had time to check out the art exhibits or the gym that had about 60 posters being presented at any given time. Honestly, the posters may have been my favorite part.

Of all the ways to present something, I think posters are probably the best for undergraduate work. From a reader's perspective, you can easily see if you are going to be interested in what is being presented while having unique access to the researcher. From a presenter's perspective, it allows you the most flexibility to tailor your words to your audience and I think it's a lot more exciting to do. You don't really get any of those benefits with speeches. Most people at an undergraduate conference are going to have very diverse backgrounds and attention spans, even if they do understand what you're saying, they might find out in the first five minutes that they'd rather be listening to someone else. Sadly, this happened a lot for me. If they weren't completely over my head, they were completely under it.

The only reason I tried to go to as many oral presentations that I did was that I'd never really seen any by undergraduate researchers before. Granted, there were also some poster presenters that had to be reeeeel bored. A surprising number of people were either uninteresting or were only presenting preliminary research and planning. I'm really not trying to seem pretentious, but it made me wonder just how far undergraduate research has to go. Maybe it's unfair to compare other's work with my own, but there was at least half a year of hard work backing up my poster. I actually had found something and had something to say. When I wasn't talking about research, I was promoting the trip and the Gilman Scholarship. Most importantly, I still had questions I wanted to answer and was able to learn new possible routes of discovery by talking with my fellow researchers. Perhaps I'm being to critical, but I think if you're flying half-way across the country to a national conference, you should at least have something concrete to show for it.

I'm over it. Besides, there was some pretty awesome work there. One group at the University of Minnesota did a pilot study of a chiropractic remedy for peanut allergy, wherein they found that while the blood chemistry of the subjects (n=6) did not change, they were able to eat peanuts after 6 weeks. Basically, the mechanism of allergic reactions, even anaphylaxis, is more complex than we thought. Another cool project was done by an University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire student who analyzed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and concluded that it was ineffective in smoothing over racial tensions that remained after the end of apartheid. One of my favorite projects was probably the criminal science presentation I saw about the CSI effect and it's apparently negligible effect on jury voting. One of my karate instructors was a prosecutor for my county and he had talked about it as a big concern nowadays, so it was nice to hear that the research indicates that jurors are still voting as they normally do.

Now I'm focusing on getting a job. After three months of nothing, suddenly I've an interview at a restaurant on Friday and I get to call back the people at Best Buy when the train roams out into somewhere where my phone gets service. All this is on top of the tutoring gig, a possible job as a temp lab tech (which I almost certainly would have got if I still lived in River Falls – go figure), and, most interestingly, an opportunity to teach yoga and taichi. A local school put an ad up on craigslist and offered scholarships to anyone who is interested in learning and helping them expand into new areas. That last one might take a while, but I'm seriously excited about it. Not only is a great background for naturopathic medicine, but this is one of those things I've wanted to do in the back of my head for a long while.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Established in Seattle

Quickly coming up on week two in Seattle now. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot that happened since the last post. We're both looking for work, and when my fiancĂ© and I aren't searching the internet for employment, we're combing through thrift stores for things to replace what we left in Wisconsin. Our apartment now has most of the furniture we want, excepting a couple chairs and things that will have to wait until I have a job so that I can pay for materials to build them. Our neighbors are going to think we're building a doomsday device with all the crap I'm planning on doing. It's mostly just shelves, but they might secretly be DOOM SHELVES!

I'm particularly proud of our new sleeper sofa. It's not really interesting or even good looking, there are even a couple of light stains here and there, so it's not the thing itself I'm proud of. My pride resides in how all it's bajillion pounds got into the apartment from 4 miles away and up three flights of stairs. We found it cheap on craigslist, and we also found a guy that hires truck drivers in major U.S. cities to do furniture delivery for cheap as well. Cheap-cheap. It's called Craig's truck and is actually based in Seattle, so I got to meet the owner when he picked me up so I could help him lift the sofa into his truck. He's a bit of mixed bag, and I'm not sure who was more foolish: me for getting into a stranger's van or the stranger who let me get into it. After a conversation that included everything from Christian rap music to the Seattle couch-trade, I determined that we both had definitely made better decisions in our lives, but were both safe acquaintances.

And now we have a couch.

Otherwise...we celebrated pi day a few days ago by making pie. Next year, I think we'll have to only eat food that is circular or has pi in it. Double points for foods like pizza and tillapia (that's been cut into a circle).

Next up: Things to do with the upcoming trip to NCUR.

Post about moving in I meant to do roughly forever ago.

I'm in Seattle now.

The preparation for the trip out here and the trip itself were great ways to wrap in tarp/bury in concrete whatever time my Fiance and I had. Even though we spread the trip out over five days (it was only supposed to be four, more on that later), the stress from it was enough to shrink my appetite and the number of hours I normally sleep in half. It probably would have been easier if we had more than a month prior to get everything packed and shipped out, and it definitely would have been easier if both of us hadn't participated in the River Falls Community Theatre production of Much Ado About Nothing. My soon to be wife was cast as Lenora, a female equivalent to Leonato. I'm engaged, by the way. Been that way for a little more than a year now. She did great, despite the gender-bending and other circumstances of the show. As if moving half-way across the country weren't bad enough, the play was more than a bit of a circus. I won't linger on it, but just to give you an idea, the initial actor playing Verges showed up to all of three rehearsals and was generally useless while he was there. I ended up being re-cast for the part a week before the first show. With the exception of a few high school theatre classes, it was my first time really acting on stage. Hopefully I broke a few legs.

Along with the shortage of time, the weather was very problematic. Wisconsin, in addition to surprisingly large political unrest, was recently hit by some nasty blizzards. This made visiting friends and family before we left difficult. We really weren't keen on crashing into a snowdrift immediately before driving it to Seattle. We did manage to see the majority of people we wanted to see, although not all of them. We'll soon be back in Wisconsin for the wedding and a few other things, so hopefully we'll catch up with them then. Thankfully, we'll get to take the train back. While it won't be as bad in the summer, driving through the mountains is a real challenge during the winter, particularly through Idaho. On the outside, it just looks like funky shaped state full of potatoes. Do not be fooled, as it's primary export is actually death. Idaho is like the Ninja of the United States. It's deceivingly small section of I-90 is dangerously graded and normally racing with semis and secretly-aspiring nascar drivers. We decided that it was bad enough without being covered in snow and ice and so spent another night in our hotel waiting for I-90 to become less terrifying.


For some reason, I was also unable or forgot to return almost any of our friends' and family members' possessions that we've borrowed. The right thing to do would be to mail it to them, but that seems counterproductive. I'm sorely tempted to create just one more incentive for people to come visit us.