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Confessions of a Thirty-Whatever-Year-Old Who Is Technically A Junior But I Sure Wish I Was Done With This Shit: Fall Semester 2016

Confessions of a Thirty-Whatever-Year-Old Who Is Technically A Junior But I Sure Wish I Was Done With This Shit: Fall Semester 2016

(Note: I started writing this damn thing on January 6th. It is now February 3rd. I haven’t felt motivated to do anything because of Reasons, but I’m getting it done now.)

The slog, it does not end.  After being unusually optimistic about how quickly I was going to be done, I decided not to be a fool and double-check the admissions requirements of other schools… because if someday I’m taking Ye Olde PCAT, I’m going to apply to more than one school.

Guess what? My target school has requirements that are a lot different from most other schools. What was looking like another year and a half, tops, is now looking like two plus, more if I don’t get in. FML. Now I need to find time for economics- Micro or Macro, school depending, another social science, and if I wanted to go to Utah, a few years of foreign language. (Spoiler alert: I don’t have time to learn a foreign language, so if I am to ever live near the Rockies again, it’ll have to be on the Colorado side of ’em). I’ll probably have to re-take Psych again to get that grade up to snuff, too. For what will be the THIRD time. I want to strangle Fresh Out Of High School Going To Dixie Because Of Friends And Family History Me to death.  Dixie State was an experience that helped me grow and appreciate things, to be sure, but if I would’ve been smart, gone to the U, lived in the dorms, et cetera ad infinitum different life blah blah blah. Of course, as this unhealthy spiral of What If continues, I again come to the ultimate conclusion of If That Would Have Happened, No Move To Georgia, No KLynne, No Max and Bumi, Therefore Would Make All Of The Same Mistakes Again, Yes, Even The One That Required Me To Get An Anti-Stalking Injunction Against Crazy Ex, Because KLynne And The Doggos Are Worth It.

Ahem. Sidetracked.

Dr. Teach Your Own Damn Self

Dr. Teach Your Own Damn Self is a firm believer in what is being called “the flipped classroom”. Essentially, in a flipped classroom concept, it is on YOU to teach yourself all of the concepts on your own time through reading and online lectures (done by other people, mind you) so class time can be a never-ending orgy of Let’s Do Some Practice Problems, with the professor acting as some kind of oracle for you to pose questions to or beg to help you with difficult concepts.

This is a scheme that I’m sure the professors love the shit out of, because LESS WORK, right? Numerous studies show that it’s more effective as an educational tool. I trust these studies about as much as I trust studies done on the effects of tobacco funded by cigarette companies.

I don’t like it.  I’m paying lots of money TO BE TAUGHT NEW CONCEPTS, not to teach them myself. I do well in a lecture environment. Lecture, throw in a video or two, add activities to cement concepts. Expect me to do reading, but come the fuck on… don’t expect me to be a subject matter expert capable of teaching the class myself. But wait, there’s more! The class that Dr. Teach Your Own Damn Self teaches is ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, which is known far and wide as a weed-out course for anyone hoping to gain a biology degree or go into medicine or chemistry. I’ve had multiple pharmacists tell me that if I can survive OChem, the PCAT and the rest of Pharmacy School will be cake.  The most difficult undergrad course offered, according to Fastweb, that “separates the doctors from the wannabes” and causes many a STEM student to change majors and NOPE their way out of the sciences.

I’m not done yet, though! This man DROOLED scorn all over me for daring to ask him a question about the content.  HOW DARE I NOT HAVE SPENT YEARS AND YEARS AS A WORKING ORGANIC CHEMIST AND PROFESSOR, right?

This was the first day of class.

It took me twelve hours to teach myself the first chapter of material and finish one assignment. This was not sustainable.  I dropped the class after one class session and one lab session. I replaced it with a nice relaxing Survey of US History course, and a return to

Dr. Has Forgotten More History Than I Will Ever Learn

AKA Dr. G. If you’re reading this, Hi! Dr. G is the only professor who calls me by my nickname (the others seemed kind of weirded out when I asked it, so eventually I stopped) and the only one who kn0ws this URL. Who knows if he remembers it, but here I go.

I had Dr. G for my very first class in this Going Back To College Odyssey and I didn’t start this series of updates until FALL 2013, not Summer, so he didn’t get a nickname then. He gets one now.

Originally, I took Survey of US History 2 from Dr. G, which at my school starts just after Reconstruction (and “redemption”, ugh) and ended somewhere around the 2000 election. I learned much in that class, although the concept of uploading my notes every day to the LMS that the school uses was a pain in the ass (although it is a good way to make sure that people are paying attention, I will grudgingly admit).

Getting my second history class taken care of isn’t a prerequisite for Pharmacy, but it is necessary if I’m going to stick around and get my Bachelor of Science, so it was an easy pick. The fact that it’s Dr. G was gravy, because I got along well with him the first go-round. (It’s always nice being one of maybe two people in a class that get pop culture references that sail over the heads of the rest of the class).

Survey 1 tracked the story of the US from early Colonial times ’til—you guessed it—Reconstruction. I learned a lot in the class-particularly about the giving of gifts in different cultures, how Texas was founded, the great American tradition of “We want this thing, but we sure as hell aren’t going to pay for it”, and (as in any history class) man’s continued inhumanity to man.

I don’t have any bitching. I still find Dr. G to be one of the best professors that I’ve ever had, and I’m not just saying that. I’ve learned much more about things that I thought I knew in his classroom than I thought I would.

Professor Get on the Trail

Professor GotT taught the second class I added after bailing on OChem, Intro to Hiking. I had one outstanding PE requirement left in my Cores, so I figured that a hiking class would be good.

I don’t have much to say- the Prof was very nice and tolerated my out-of-shape ass slowing down the rest of the class (even if it led to part of the class getting lost on one of our hikes, oops). Most of the stuff in class I already knew, though… Leave No Trace principles, what kind of gear you need (and the law of diminishing returns on the really high-end stuff), and that we’ve got a plethora of good trails around us.

One thing that I really did like is a hike originating at the local Environmental Center. Out on this trail, in a semi-nowhere area, is a surprisingly large suspension bridge! Who knows how much money it took to erect that, but it was a really cool thing to see that I’m sure not many people know about.

Dr. Turn Down for What

Dr. TDfW teaches Cell Biology, and gets his name for a class activity where we absolutely DEMOLISHED a lab classroom to the dulcet tones of DJ Snake and Lil Jon… to illustrate cell apoptosis. The good Doctor survived med school and did postdoc at Emory and is very, VERY in tune with what the latest and greatest biological innovations are. On top of currency, the class also featured something that I’ve never seen before in my educational career… the concept of a mulligan.  You see, if you answer the Question of the Day (sent out via GroupMe), or win Kahoot! battles (Kahoot!, for those of you who haven’t seen it, is an online quiz platform), or attend extracurricular stuff, or… well, various other things… you get a mulligan. These mulligans are then spent on tests in class. If you aren’t sure of an answer, you use one (or more) mulligans on that question. If you get the question right, you lose the mulligan but who cares. If you don’t, that question doesn’t count against you so long as you can prove mastery of it at a later point in time.  I LOVED HAVING THAT SAFETY.  Loved competing for them. Loved knowing that if I felt really bad about a question, I could answer it later. It helped my confidence enough that I ended up with a bunch of them left over when all was said and done.  The ONLY things that bothered me were a) a wee organizational problem and b) when we were scheduled to take the first test, he moved it back a week on the day of just to make people study. That’s all well and good, but unfortunately I STUDIED MY ASS OFF AT THE EXPENSE OF MY OTHER CLASSES.  Argh. Cell bio itself fascinated me, and I’d love to learn more of it in the future. TOO BAD THAT MOST OF MY REMAINING CLASSES ARE CHEMISTRY, RIGHT?

Jesus.

STRONG OPINIONS.

STRONG OPINIONS.

So, that last post of mine was my 300th. (Most of those aren’t visible, since a good chunk of ’em are imported from my old LiveJournal, and who really needs to see my whining from when I was in my early 20s, anyway?) That’s a lot of brain vomit!

Writing out my feelings in that last post was hard. But there was something cathartic about it. I think that I’m going to do it again, except on items that aren’t of as great of import. So get ready for some HOT TAKES, everyone.

  • I prefer Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen to David Lee Roth-era Van Halen.
    • Yes, I know they didn’t rock as hard and went more commercial. No, I don’t care. Hagar is what I grew up with.
  • I think that Eric Carr was a better drummer than Peter Criss. (That one’s for you, BulldogNate.)
  • I think the Final Fantasy series (and MOST JRPGs, for that matter) are overrated as hell grindfests. The stories might be good, but the amount of time that you’ve got to take to get there isn’t worth it.
  • Modern fighting games confuse and infuriate me.
    • And I love myself some Street Fighter, but I’ve never been able to bust out more combos than simple two-in-ones. Also I get kinda pissed when I play against someone that mops the floor with me ’cause I can’t defend against them well.
  • It saddens me that so many video games rely on online components. Playing with other people is fun, but these games won’t ever be playable again once the servers go down. Someday, I will not be able to play Splatoon again. I don’t like knowing that.
  • Monopoly isn’t as bad of a game as hardcore board game people say. Puerto Rico (the game, not the US territory) isn’t as good as they say.
  • I think that Reagan wasn’t as good of a president as people think he was and Carter wasn’t as bad as everyone thinks he was.
  • Andrew Jackson. Hoo boy. Here goes.
    • He did horrible things. He was an asshole, by all accounts. I still think that he was a strong President and his actions prevented the Civil War from starting in the 1830s instead of when it did.
    • I’m fine with him being yanked off of the $20, though.
  • On that note, I think that ALL US currency needs a comprehensive redesign, including considering replacing the people on bills and/or coins periodically.
    • At least we’re better off than Commonwealth nations? QEII doesn’t need to be on EVERY coin…
    • AND GET RID OF THE STUPID PENNY!
  • I’d generally rather read average-written but entertaining books than Great Works that make you think Deep Thoughts.
    • This take comes courtesy of me attempting to slog through Catch-22, which makes my brain hurt every time I read it.
    • I can get into a Dickens mood sometimes, though.
  • I think that the “You can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it!” message that was continually pressed into the heads of kids of my generation has done more harm than good.
    • And every 30-something going back to school for a second degree (or a first!) because their original degree doesn’t pay the bills will second this.
  • Social Media has absolutely done more harm than good.
    • Only seeing the positive aspects of people’s lives leads to unrealistic expectations for your own life.
  • I think that our generation (and by our generation, I really mean “me”) should have listened and acted more when our parents wanted us to help fix things/make things/et cetera.
    • I can fix a computer, but if my car dies and it’s something more difficult than the absolute basics, I’m boned.
    • And don’t even get me started on home improvement. Dad can fix anything in a house. I can do basic plumbing, change out a door knob, apply some spackle, slap some paint on things, and that’s about it.
  • Ironing your clothes is overrated. They’ll look all wrinkly sooner rather than later anyway!
    • This may be why my non-T-shirt wardrobe is 70% synthetic material fishing/outdoorsy shirts, mostly Columbia.
      • That 50 UPF sun protection though!
  • Having to wear a kilt to my friend Josh’s wedding makes me appreciate the need that skirt-wearers have to sit down VERY carefully. On the flip side, they’re comfortable as hell.
    • Also, when I rented that kilt, I had to sign a waiver saying I wouldn’t wear it “traditionally”. Heh.
    • No, I’m not going to become that guy who wears a Utilikilt everywhere.
    • Yes, Younger Me did price them out.
  • While I am a fan of many things, 75% of the time I don’t care for the majority of the OTHER fans of those things.
    • See: Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Pink Floyd, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Lit…
  • Much has been said of Millennials. I definitely believe that Baby Boomers have been the cause of many of their issues, but GOOD LORD do I agree with a lot of the opinions on them. So many self-absorbed little shits who want to be treated like Unique Individual Precious Snowflakes and throw fits when they don’t get their way.
    • Even though my DOB puts me at the very beginning of that group, I refuse to consider myself one. Bring back Gen Y!
  • Having to search through a physical card catalog at the library builds character!
    • Vintage card catalogs are too expensive, by the way. I still want one. I’d hand-type cards for ALL of our books.
      • And then regret that decision thirty books in.
  • Windows 8 wasn’t as bad as everyone says. The Start Screen could have used some tweaks but I liked the aesthetic- and you can always just search by typing once you’re at the screen. People are big babies.
    • Of course, I used Start8 when I was on Win8, so Pot: Kettle, Black.
  • I try hard to support small businesses, but Amazon sucks down most of my dollars because of the convenience factor.
    • The biggest exception is the comic book store.
    • I’d support local board game stores, but online discounts are TOO GOOD… plus I don’t like the vibe of a lot of supposedly “friendly local game stores”.
  • Plain ol’ corn flakes might be the best cold cereal, with Life and Chex tagging along right behind.
  • The Law of Diminishing Returns applies to steak. One of the best steaks I’ve ever had was at Roy’s and was $100+ (I didn’t pay for it), but I’ve made steaks that were damn near as good for $10.
  • Chef Boyardee ravioli, eaten cold straight from the can, isn’t half bad.
    • The same can’t be said for pork ‘n beans.
    • Young Me tried this with cream of chicken soup. Young me was dumb as hell. Bleah.
  • Aspartame and sucralose might kill me and may not help my body, but I’ll fucking cut you if you try to take away my Diet Dr. Pepper.
  • La Croix sparkling water is GARBAGE. YOU HEARD ME, KLYNNE, THAT STUFF IS TERRIBLE AND I CAN’T UNDERSTAND HOW YOU WILLINGLY DRINK IT.
  • The customer isn’t always right. Sometimes, it’s healthier for a company to “fire” problem customers rather than keep on dealing with their bullshit.
  • People channel their Real Hatred into Sports Team Hatred, and that’s not a bad thing.
    • Screw the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, New York Yankees, Houston Rockets, BYU, Florida State, USC (the California one, not the South Carolina one), and Notre Dame.
    • Also the state of Wisconsin, even though they’re not a sports team. This can not be repeated enough.
  • I will never be able to understand what is and what is not pass interference. I still have trouble figuring out going offside in hockey.
  • Monkeys, particularly chimpanzees, are overrated and untrustworthy. Gorillas are awesome. RIP Harambe.
  • Regular bears are awesome. Panda bears are good too, but not as awesome as regular bears.
    • I make an exception for the bear at Zoo Atlanta that came out of his cave during KLynne and my wedding ceremony. That panda is a bro or ladybro.
  • Team Dogs.
  • Shakespeare was good but DAMN look at some other playwrights sometimes.
    • I think that Anti-Stratfordians are full of shit, though. Shakespeare wrote his own stuff.

That’s enough for one day, I think…

How To Replace A Broken Give-A-Fuck

How To Replace A Broken Give-A-Fuck

So, as you, my Ones of Readers, know, Kill It With Fire was dark for a long time. Now you’ve received a veritable smörgåsbord of posts. (OK, well, two last week. But on consecutive days! It’s like back in the shitty old LiveJournal blog days, I tells ya!)

I haven’t written much because I haven’t felt much like writing. The world has gotten to me. Hatred of anyone that is Other is running rampant.  I left Facebook (well, my profile is still active because KLynne still wants me to show up as being married to her on there) because of post after post of otherwise rational-thinking friends and relatives talking about how they were all-in for candidates whose platform seemed to be nothing more than “Let’s make the rich people richer, let’s protect the unborn but stop caring about them the second they pop out of the birth canal, and if you have the audacity to be Other in whatever way then let’s write legislation to deny you the same rights as everyone else”. I cringe every time I read the news and hear about the latest unarmed person who has been shot and killed by cops— or cops that have been shot and killed by people. I was just… done.  The barometer measuring my depression didn’t have that many more mm/Hg to go before it burst. My parents—yes, both of them— lost their jobs. (One of them is working again, one is still looking.)

I stopped caring about my online presence, and (for the most part) my offline presence too. I posted the occasional Instagram thing. I vomited up the odd bit of vitriol on Twitter, but my heart wasn’t always really in it. I had some adventures but didn’t post about them (until earlier this week, but a post in November about stuff you did during the summer doesn’t really have the same kind of punch). I started school and have slogged my way through, dropping Organic Chemistry thanks to a “flipped classroom” setup paired with a teacher who seemed angry that anyone would dare ask questions about material that they didn’t understand and adding a nice, relaxing Survey of Early US History and Intro to Hiking in its place. I have tried to deal with my depression in various ways of limited constructiveness and leaned on KLynne when I couldn’t handle it anymore. (For those of you keeping score, I still haven’t found a counselor of any type here that a) is accepting patients and b) can work with my work/school schedule- and so it goes.) My thoughts have gone to places that I really did not want to revisit. I’ve tried to set light to the darkness by buying shit (doesn’t work) or eating more terribly than I usually do (doesn’t work) or various other things (they don’t work either).

Then last Tuesday hit. I had class and was antsy and irritable the entire time because I had to see the results of the election.  Then I got home and fired up Youtube to watch the live stream of NBC’s election coverage. At first the thoughts were surprise (“Wow, Trump is doing much better than I thought he would”) and wondering who the old, George Burns-lookin’ guy with the tortoiseshell glasses was (“Holy balls, that’s Tom Brokaw, and he’s lookin’ ancient”) but quickly they led to unease (“Jesus, there are too many undecided states”) and then to heart-crushing sadness (“He’s going to win this whole thing because of WISCONSIN, FUCK WISCONSIN, THEY’RE THE WORST”). This continued to spiral even after I turned off the TV. Couldn’t sleep. Broke into sobs. Sat worrying about what’s going to happen to my LGBT+ friends and how the environment was going to survive a climate-change denier being put into the highest office and remembering that the last two times that the GOP has had control of all three branches of Government (late 20s and mid 00s) the US has suffered the worst economic disasters in its history and if my tuition is going to go up and how hate could have won.  I sat in silence for a long time. I went to my number-one companion when I’m feeling upset (and KLynne isn’t there)… Bear, my oh-so-creatively named childhood teddy bear. I had to take Wednesday off because I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep and was starting to break out in hives. I have been on autopilot for the past few days. Hearing Kate McKinnon’s rendition of “Hallelujah” last Sunday morning and her closing statement of “I’m not giving up and neither should you” was the last thing that put me in tears. I need to do something.

This is the part where I sidetrack the post talk about my beliefs. It was hard to do last time I wrote something like this (See the prematurely-killed Thirty Days of Blog for THAT post) but I’m going to again.

  • I believe that there needs to be a clear and open path towards citizenship for people who entered the country illegally- provided that they haven’t been charged with violent crimes in their home countries.
    • The reason why I believe this is twofold, and I’m gonna stereotype like hell in describing it. Be warned. First, I’ve known illegals who have worked hard as hell to provide for their families back home—ultimately hoping to bring them to the US. Second, I also believe that there’s a large contingent of American citizens who feel like service, ag, and other “manual labor” kind of jobs are below them and would rather NOT work than do the kind of jobs that illegals take. Yes, I realize that this is a broad-as-hell generalization and that there are illegal immigrants who don’t do shit or cause problems or whatever and that there are plenty of citizens who are perfectly happy working hard at jobs that are traditionally seen as lower-class.
  • I believe that everyone—EVERYONE— should pay their fair share of taxes to make the nation go ’round. Not paying taxes but wanting services is the American Way. It’s entrenched. Has been since before the United States was a thing. The Boston Tea Party was less about outrage that tea was heavily taxed (coffee was always more prevalent in the Colonies than tea) and more about the fact that we were being taxed in the first place. For a leader to be elected and state that not paying taxes was being “smart” grinds my gears, and people not being taxed proportionate to their income from all sources flat-out isn’t fair.
    • And don’t even get me started on the so-called “Fair Tax”. The people of means who gain most of their money from compound interest and investments wouldn’t be taxed on those. A simple VAT on purchased goods would ONLY levy heavier taxes on the people who have to spend most of their income on those goods… because they don’t have the money to save.
    • And also don’t get me started on offshore tax-dodges from corporations or Delaware or how multi-billion dollar conglomerates pay NOTHING in tax. If the idea of corporate person-hood keeps on gaining traction (and I think that’s gonna be on the uptake sooner rather than later), then taxes need to be paid by that corporation. Period. End of story.
  • I believe that health care is a right, and that the best possible system would be subsidized by the Government. I don’t care what it is that we talk about- people, cars, animals, your kitchen table- preventative maintenance lengthens life and prevents the crushing costs that happen when Shit Goes Wrong.
    • And to pay for this? See the above. If we’re all paying our fair share, the government can help defray some of those costs.
    • Also, we DO have socialized health care in this country right now. It’s called going to the ER, getting patched up, and then telling the hospital that you aren’t gonna pay. Legal? Technically, yes. Ethical? Far from it. Still, it doesn’t stop plenty of people from doing it…
  • On that note, I believe that a woman’s body is her own, and that she should be the ultimate arbiter of what she decides to do with it, not the State.
    • Yes, the same applies to guys, but we don’t really have restrictions on what we can or can’t do with our bodies. Besides, the most that the average guy has choice-wise with their body generally boils down to this:
      “Should I scratch there in public? Ima scratch there.”
      (And other things that I’m not gonna go into.)
  • I believe that the Government should help the people who need to be helped. I also believe that the private sector should help people who need help. I also also believe that private citizens should help people who need help. Radical, no?  PEOPLE SHOULD HELP OTHER PEOPLE.
    • That having been said, I also can see how the attributed-to-but-not-actually-said-by-Steinbeck quote that “…the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires” can make people NOT accept help or, more cynically, WANT to help others. It also explains why we keep voting people into office (on both the left AND the right) that do nothing to actually support “the little guy”.
    • Furthermore, if you are receiving assistance in some way, shape, or form and you either aren’t using it for its intended purpose or are actually capable of helping oneself and are not (talking about you, person wearing Gucci and paying for their groceries with a welfare card that I used to think was a stereotype but have seen far too often)… your ass should be thrown in jail. You’re not Jean Fucking Valjean, you’re the reason why people talk about the Welfare State and bitch and moan about having to shoulder the load for people who aren’t working.
    • Finally, I am also keenly aware of the fact that judging What Is and What Is Not a valid reason to get welfare is a slippery-as-hell slope. I know that I’m not equipped to make those decisions except on the very most macro of levels.
  • I believe that our Government is inherently wasteful, and that earmarks and block grants lead to bad spending, that too many special interests influence the direction that our nation (and states and counties and towns) go, there’s and that the National Debt is too damn high. (I do NOT, however, believe it needs to be paid off. Some debt is good.)
  • I believe that if/when China calls in their debts to the US and if/when we default, we’re all fucked.
  • I believe that most dogs are better than most people. Jury is still out on cats.
  • And finally, and most strongly, I believe that PEOPLE SHOULD BE TREATED EQUALLY TO ONE ANOTHER, REGARDLESS OF WHAT CHROMOSOMES THEY’RE PACKING, THEIR PREFERRED GENDER, THE AMOUNT OF MELANIN IN THEIR SKIN, WHAT DEITY OR DEITIES THEY CHOOSE TO WORSHIP (IF THEY EVEN DO CHOOSE TO WORSHIP ANY), WHO THEY LOVE, WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING, WHERE THEIR FAMILY IS FROM, OR ANY OTHER REASON. DON’T ABRIDGE SOMEONE’S RIGHTS BECAUSE THEY ARE THE OTHER. It’s not hard! If you’re going to judge someone, judge them on their actions. (And yes, I realize that’s basically what I’ve been saying in most of my other thoughts, but it bears repeating.) Call me a Social Justice Warrior if you want. I think that’s something to be proud of, not disgusted by.
    • I also realize that a lot of that is pie-in-the-sky thinking, but the law should at least offer protections for everyone. It still kills me that the ERA never passed.
    • I also think that there’s more truth in the Avenue Q song “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” than I like to admit, but there you go.
    • The top-level thought here does not apply to Wisconsin. Man, Wisconsin can go to hell. (This would still apply even if the vote wouldn’t have gone the way that it did.)
    • Maybe also the Red Wings, although I’ve been getting a hate-on for the Wild as of late too.

Behold. Some of my thoughts have been wrung from my brain. Inspect them, and see how they differ radically from the thoughts of the incoming Presidential administration (and much of Congress, and half of the justices on the Supreme Court, and….)

So what do I do? Do I just retreat into a shell, knowing that as a White Male who can pass as being religious if I had to that I’m the least likely to be affected by any erosion of freedoms? Do I tune out the news and the Bad Things that may or may not happen to my friends?

FUCK THAT.

I know that I need to act- not just “I should do something” but I need to do something. My inner monologue cries out for it.  I’m still trying to figure out how, but I know I need to do that.. In the short term and with my schedule being essentially “Wake up, an hour and change in traffic, work eight hours with maybe half an hour thrown in for lunch, spend an hour and change in traffic, go to school for another three and a half, go home, eat dinner, try to cram homework and stuff, sleep for maybe four hours” I don’t know where I can find the time to put feet to pavement and DO something to help the causes that I feel. The best thing that I can do in the short term is give money to organizations that support the causes that I believe in. Longer term? Maybe I see if there’s somewhere that I can donate my time to make a difference.

I need to speak up for what I believe in and quit trying to make my thought seem malleable and like I might agree with. Less smiling and nodding. More showing some damn spine. A recent Washington Post article talked about how the only way to effectively combat exclusive policy was to STAY ANGRY, and that’s what I’m gonna do. (I’m sure that my old counselors wouldn’t like that too much, but anger can be harnessed and bent to useful purposes, right?  At least I’ll keep on telling myself that…)

On a personal level, I need to get outside more. Once the smoke here clears (another story, but it’s actual smoke, not a metaphor) I need to continue hiking a little bit on weekends. I need to climb onto my bike and ride… somewhere. Pick a direction, drive that way to wherever, and see what I can see. Give myself a few liters of water, and some snacks, and explore. Maybe take the camera with me if I’m feeling super-motivated. Maybe do the same but with KLynne in the car with me. If I have learned one thing, it is that serenity generally isn’t going to find me. I need to go out and find it. I need to do what I can when I can and how I can. I’m already on the way to becoming a better me. I continue making headway toward getting into Pharmacy school, although the Grand Path Toward A Degree looks discouraging if I don’t make it in and the amount of prerequisites to get into schools other than my target is TOO DAMN HIGH. (Seriously, I’ve built my entire school path toward getting the prerequisites done to match my goal school. Most other schools require other/different things. This is not a good thing, especially considering a bunch of other pharmacy schools require things like Micro/Macroeconomics that won’t count a damn bit toward getting the degree.)

So while I’m not happy or stable or not going into the occasional fugue state or even completely accepting of everything that has happened, I survive. I will stand. I will fight. I can’t give up.

We can’t give up.

Confessions of a Thirty-Three Year Old Blah Blah Blah: Spring 2016 Edition

Confessions of a Thirty-Three Year Old Blah Blah Blah: Spring 2016 Edition

Because I’m just crapping out short posts to clear my backlog (at least before the Big Soul-Searching Post that I plan on writing), you get an abbreviated slice of my life. DEAL WITH IT!

Dr. Plant Guy

Dr. Plant Guy is from Kerala. He loves cricket and visiting his homeland. He’s got an impressively high Google Scholar number for a dude that’s about my age and is Going Places™, or so it seems. Luckily, Dr. Plant Guy is also a good teacher. He’s funny and was full of energy. Class was always entertaining and I ended up making good friends with groups in that class.  Sadly, there was an integrity problem in that class— the group sitting in front of mine were, to put it bluntly, damn dirty cheaters who should’ve been expelled. Regardless, I not only survived but thrived there. Dr. Plant Guy also facilitated a very, very interesting experiment for my final project… I was able to test the relative effects of several different herbicides on the unending jungle in my back yard. Agent Orange was not one of them- I used glyphosate (AKA Roundup), triclopyr (Southern Ag “Crossbow”, which is less toxic to old growth trees but way more expensive and has a scarier mechanism of action), vinegar, and water (as a control, of course). All of ’em had a surfactant (soap!) added to get past the ivy’s waxy exterior. Turns out that the ivy in my back yard FREAKING LOVES uncut vinegar (it grew more than my control!) but glyphosate worked pretty well and Triclopyr worked REALLY well (that 1 M2 patch is still ivy-free). I need to get out there and get the rest of the yard taken care of.  I ended up with an A in the class and new friends, how can I lose?

Dr. Too Damn Quiet

Dr. Too Damn Quiet taught physics. Guess what? I hate physics with the rage of a thousand angry honey badgers. I know that it’s one of the core scientific disciplines. I know that it’s a prerequisite for my ultimate goal. I… really don’t care. Unfortunately, Dr. Too Damn Quiet was not good at MAKING me care. She taught from Powerpoints, didn’t inject much actual interest into what she was teaching, and spent a lot of time whipping through questions without making sure that the rest of the class understood what she was trying to explain. It took a LOT of Khan Academy to earn the B that I eked out of that class, even though I now know what the Normal Force is. Hopefully Physics 2 (taking that next Spring!) will make more sense to me. I’m not holding my breath, though.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Bitching About The Weather And/Or Bugs

It was hot and/or humid this summer.  And the bugs!  I couldn’t go to our primeval forest of a back yard without immediately providing a blood meal for enough mosquitoes to repopulate Georgia a thousand times over.

I still contend that the best seasons are, in order:

  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer

Maybe it’s just that I’m a fat guy, but I can tolerate cold infinitely better than heat.  Probably has to do with the “if it’s too cold I can add layers, if it’s too hot there’s only so far before I get arrested” thing.

Going Camping (Once)

We went camping with friends! We got a new, fancy-pants tent that’s bigger than we really NEED, but suited our purposes just fine! We brought the dogs!

A photo posted by Spin H. (@mrspinch) on


It was fun, minus the discovery that there are bark scorpions near Lake Lanier where we camped.  And that one hitched a ride home with us in our food bag.  Luckily, it was… dealt with.  Definitively.  Poor Bumi got a swollen eye on our last day.  Probably courtesy of one of those scorpions.  At least none got in the tent?

Visiting Friends in Alabama

Alabama was relaxing- we visited one of KLynne’s good friends, I got to talk bikes with said friend’s husband (He’s a BMW guy, although he has owned Aprillas in the past and gave me some really, really great encouragement about stretching my limits on my motorcycle), and we got to go to the F. Scott Fitzgerald House!

A bad photo of Zelda Fitzgerald’s self-portrait. #fscottfitzgerald #zeldafitzgerald #arttheraphy

A photo posted by Spin H. (@mrspinch) on

KLynne took all of the good photos.  I really need to just start stealing her stuff.

GnR

My friend BulldogNate invited me to see Guns ‘n Roses with him! Our tickets were upgraded ’cause our friends at TicketMaster sold us floor seats that didn’t exist. The show was… amazing. Seriously, one of the best concerts that I have ever seen.

Gen Con

KLynne and I went to Gen Con again! It was a good show- parking ourselves every day was THE way to go. We played a lot of neat games and I, as always spent too much money. Our hotel was okay, but not as good as last year’s. C’est la vie, last year’s hotel wasn’t one of the host hotels. Still, I had a great time and can’t wait for next year.

Not Doing a Single Productive Thing

Yup.

Too Much On My Mind

Too Much On My Mind

I’m trying hard to form coherent thought and to process things.  I’ve got posts to write about the importance of relaxation (and the Fitzgerald Museum), more Adventures of a Thirty-Two Year Old Junior, and some other things rattling around in my head.  There are posts that I want to write but now isn’t the time to write them… and there never may be a time to write them.

And… I can’t.  Thoughts of the recent atrocity in Orlando, the continual acid, lowest-common-denominator rhetoric being spat back and forth politically, and personal failures due to the fear of the unknown and the callous indifference of people who are supposed to be helpful just keep on making me think that the future is just flat-out fucked.

I’ll write more when I feel better.  I think.

…Now Reap the Whirlwind

…Now Reap the Whirlwind

So back in the days when this was published on LiveJournal (the archives are still here… visible only to me, because sorry… young me was insufferable), I ranted a lot about work. It’s not a smart thing to do, and I stopped.

Until today.

*Clears throat*

Dear lower-level technician: The call that I took this morning that you had previously worked on was an absolute disaster. The advice and steps that the office said that you gave them were, at best, completely and utterly wrong and something that anyone with an ounce of logic in their head would never have suggested. At worst, they would have led to a lawsuit that the company would have no defense against.

I resolved the issue that you had exacerbated and groveled to calm an angry customer. Because I didn’t want this to happen again but I had liked you, lower-level technician, I opted to let your Team Lead know what went on, how the issue was resolved, and to give you coaching—which, readers, is NOT disciplinary action, and more of a gentle “hey, don’t do this in the future, do this instead”— and let my incredulity that this would have actually happened on a tech call slide off of my back. My call notes stated that the customer told me that you had told them this. At no point did I say that you specifically had done this thing.

To respond the way you did, personally attacking me ON THE CUSTOMER’S ACCOUNT NOTES PAGE, written in indelible ink, proclaiming your innocence and giving a “but so-and-so told me to do this, I just didn’t put it in the notes, for realsies” defense, and bringing up other issues that would be a stretch to even call tangential… is not the way to react to this. An IM would have been fine. An e-mail would have been fine. Talking to me face-to-face about the issue would have been great. Not that.

So congratulations, asshole. You’ve managed to jump headfirst into a prime spot on my shitlist. Your prize for this is a formal report of employee misconduct, a full review of both the call and recorded remote assistance session where you allegedly wrecked the customer’s… ah… situation (can’t be too specific, due to legal regulations)… and the lost of all of the trust that I had ever given you to do the most rudimentary of things. You’ve also gained extreme scrutiny from me on every last little thing that you do incorrectly that reaches me, and believe you me, anything that you do out of line… goes straight to your boss.

I hope with all my strength that you get caught red-handed telling this customer the things that they claim that you told them and doing the things that they allege you have done, and I hope that they throw the fucking book at you.

Edit, one day later:

Shockingly, after the formal report, the person in question approached me and gave a formal apology.  The notes were manually deleted, and a completely unnecessary but appreciated compliment about my lovely lavender fishin’ shirt was thrown in for good measure.  I’ll take that as a win. 

The Road to Hell

The Road to Hell

Every time I hear the ol’ chestnut “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, I cringe a little bit.  Not because I think it’s untrue, mind you.  But because I keep on trying to go into new things or make changes with the best of intentions, and invariably fail to follow-up (School being an exception, and even then it took KLynne to light enough of a fire under my ass to get me moving.)

Eating better?  I’m good for a few days, and then I backslide.  Not making the same mistakes in my classes that I did in past terms?  I improve a little bit each term, but not enough.  Seeing a doctor (like I talked about in my last post way back at the beginning of the year)?  Tried to get appointments at both of ’em.  One never returned my call (and a side note: this is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I want to pay you significant amounts of money for a service.  The fact that you think that I’m not worth calling back, especially for something as serious as counseling, makes me realize that you probably really don’t give a shit one way or another about any of your patients) and the other one I got a horrible, horrible vibe from.  Getting that crap I need to sell posted on eBay?  Hasn’t happened. Never tried finding anyone else.  Stopping using lists of rhetorical questions to illustrate a point?  Yeah…

I can’t accept the excuse I keep using of not having enough time.  Minutes that I spend at leisure need to be reduced and productive time put in place of them.

And yet, I know that even if I say that, I’m going to keep on doing what I am now.  Work, school, and then being so burned out from both of the previous that I don’t do the other stuff I need to do.

I wonder what the point of it all is sometimes.

Thoughts, Words, and Lack of Action

Thoughts, Words, and Lack of Action

First…  I’m not doing my usual Year in Review post.  It was fun while it lasted, but honestly?  2015 can go to hell.  There was some good (concerts with friends, motorcycle rides, time with Kristen, Gen Con) but more bad.  Fuck it.

I’m writing about depression, and I feel fine doing so ’cause… well, no one really reads this.  If you know me, you know that I’ve dealt with depression for a long time.  It’s something that is a part of me.  It’s something that will, unfortunately, always be a part of me, regardless of what I do.

I’ve been reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, which deals with depression (and social anxiety, and the urge to cause pain to oneself, and all sorts of other fun mental illnesses).  She handles ’em through the time-honored practice of blogging, staring at cat pictures, acquiring odd taxidermied animals, and generally being “fun crazy” (as opposed to actual crazy, I guess?).  I can only read small parts of that book at a time because I get too reflective on my own stuff.

The only thing that I am aware that I’ve been definitively diagnosed as is having moderate to severe clinical depression.  I get the feeling that there are other things wrong with me (a dash of social anxiety here, a pinch of ADD there) but don’t want to self-diagnose, because down that path leads… well, me thinking I’m more fucked-up than I actually am.  I use anger as a coping mechanism.  I downplay how I’m feeling if people ask or even if I think I need help because I’m afraid of negative reactions if I tell them how I really, honestly feel.  I think about how much worse (insert person/citizens of a region/people who lived during a historic era) had/have it than I do, and who the hell am I to get sad about X thing when they survived Y thing… and I should feel shame for being sad.  And then I do and then it spirals into an ouroboros of shame and disgust.

Lately, though, it’s getting worse, not better.  I’ve heard the saying “Depression Lies” (which, as it turns out, was mentioned by the selfsame Jenny Lawson whose book I’m reading) a lot… but I’m having a hard time believing that it lies all the time.  Hell, I know there’s truth to the self-criticisms that I assail myself with.  And the anger!  When I read something about how someone is so depressed they can’t get out of bed for a week, all I think is “what the hell kind of job do YOU have where you can just spend a week in bed?  I have no recourse but to drag my fat ass to work no matter how shitty I feel.”   I frequently have the urge to react physically just to get rid of the flush of adrenaline in my body when I’m angry on top of everything else.  Usually I’m good at keeping it in check.  Sometimes I punch a wall.  I live in constant fear that somehow I’ll lash out AGAINST someone.  That I’m some kind anger-beast who is only driven by how pissed off he is.

None of this is healthy, and I’m in control of myself to realize it.  Furthermore, I’m in control enough to know that I’ll never act on whatever seriously harmy negative thoughts I have, because I realize how badly any sort of action would hurt my family and friends.

That’s cold comfort when you feel like you’re nothing but shit a good portion of the time.

How have I dealt with it?  Medication (prescribed shortly after I moved to Georgia) and trips to a few different psychiatrists for medication maintenance and some discussion.  Most were ineffectual at best (and the one pushing herbal remedies for everything was the worst), but then again, I’ve only really had one counselor that has made a difference for me.  I don’t think that the pills are working as well as they once did, though. Occasional deep breaths.  Attempts to remove myself from situations.  And… that’s it.  Back in the heady days of LiveJournal i’d write more about how I felt, but the less said about THOSE posts, the better.  (They still exist, imported to this blog but locked up with an “Only I can view this” filter).

I’ve tried a few times to find counselors to talk to.  Most of ’em that I found were faith-based, and as I’m not a believer, that’s not going to do anything for me.  The few that weren’t either didn’t answer their phones, weren’t accepting patients (and seemed like I was inconveniencing them for even bothering to talk to them), or, in one particularly egregious case, the counselor no-showing to their office when I had a scheduled appointment.

I am, in short, wary of trying to talk to someone… but things are bad enough that I think that I have to.   I’ve gotten two referrals.  Maybe one of them will work.

Hopefully one of them will.

Confessions of a 32-Year-Old Sophomore, Summer/Early Fall 2015 Edition

Confessions of a 32-Year-Old Sophomore, Summer/Early Fall 2015 Edition

While I slog through Fall Semester, I thought I’d keep everyone (and Future Me) updated on things.  Hi, everyone! Hi, Future Me!  Have the Avalanche won another cup?  Are the Braves threatening to move to a new stadium again?

Dr. Statistician

I can’t think of a clever name for my Stats professor, so I’m just gonna go with “Dr. Statistician”.  Dr. Statistician’s class was, as I’m sure you’ve surmised, an intro-level Statistics course.  And I enjoyed it!  I think that I was able to more readily apply concepts that I learned in that class to all of the stuff that I’ve done so far than any other class to date.  (Although I know that will change, but that comes later in this post.)  Of course, a few months out I don’t exactly remember everything– that’s the problem with summer classes.

Also, I was able to do things more quickly and intelligently with my newer, fancier calculator that never got the market share than the stupid TI-83/84 series ones that they’re still recommending.  SO THERE!  EAT A DICK, TI, FOR NOT PROPERLY MARKETING AND PIMPING THE n-SPIRE!

Colonel Geography

Col. Geography is, as I’m sure you can surmise, a retired army colonel who used to teach geography (among other things) at West Point.  (That’s how I found out he was a former colonel– looked for his name to be mentioned somewhere on West Point’s site.)  Even though a lot of the stuff in his class was old hat, I did learn a fair bit of new things from taking his class about why people live where they live.  Plus his class was an excuse for me to get some fry sauce from the Land ‘o Zion and serve it up as a Unique Ethnic Food™.  I had to use fries from Steak ‘n Shake so it wasn’t completely authentic, but CLOSE ENOUGH!

Both Dr. Statistician and Col. Geography liked me, which always helps classes go by faster.  It’s always good to have your work marked as “superlative” and to have your prof state to the class that a certain student who got their work turned in “really set the bar high” for everyone else.  Even though we didn’t have a curve in that class, it made me feel like a curve killer.

feelsgoodman.jpg
Oh, Pepe. You always know what to say.

 

Professor I’m An Expert In Teaching, But You’re Going To Have To Teach Yourself From The Book

This was Class Numero Uno for Fall Term.  Calculus-based physics.  I bought my book (International Edition, because it’s $175 cheaper to buy a book that’s printed and written in the US, shipped to the UK, purchased by a company in Singapore, shipped to Hong Kong, and then shipped back to the US than to buy the US release of the book), was mentally prepared for a semester of tough work, and then…

I get to class.  I am lectured to for a good hour and a half about educational theory and how lectures are bad and how this professor has a doctorate in quantum physics and a second in educational studies or something of the like and how he’s taught for soooo many years at other schools and knows exactly the best way to drill education into our heads and how we’re going to have to learn how to code in Python because you can do physics simulations in that language even though coding ≠ physics.  I’m excited at first, because yay, new means of pedagogy.  Then Professor Smartypants tells us how we’re going to have to teach ourselves everything from the book but use him as “a resource”, and how class will be all labs but we’re expected to know, verbatim, everything from the chapter.

Uh… guy… if I wanted to teach myself physics from a book, I WOULD HAVE DONE  THAT ALREADY.  I know that educators are decrying the commodification of college courses, but seriously… I’m paying good money to be taught.  Not to read and hope I understand and ask questions (but only during times that I’m working due to his limited availability) to a guy who’s setting himself up as some kind of wise man that you need to climb Mount Bullshit to talk to.  I’m more about using books as a resource to lecture material rather than vice-versa, and having open, in-class discussions.  Maybe Professor Too Good To Teach has found that his method works well with lots of students.  That’s fine!  More power to him!  I just know that I do best in a semi-traditional lecture setting.  I had bad vibes after this class.  I conveyed said bad vibes to KLynne, who said, basically, that I should drop the class like I’m holding contraband and the five-oh are in hot pursuit.  Rather than being wishy-washy about it (and having another Professor Harridan situation on my hands) I proceeded to hop online, bail on that class, and add another.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to get into another class that’s a prereq for Pharm School, but I did get something that is a degree prerequisite, if nothing else.  That’s gonna come later.

Dr. Kenya!

Dr. Kenya! gets an exclamation point after his name because he is so very, very enthusiastic about what he does and what he learns.  He’s a biochemist by trade (and was very excited when I said that my degree path is biology with a biochem emphasis, even if I am going toward Pharmacy) who spends his days working at the CDC but, as he put it, “got bored at night because his kids are older” and started teaching at my school for something to do.   He lectures in an entertaining manner, uses an antenna that he ripped off of a thrift store boom box as a pointer,

He lets us know that he is very aware of the fact that all of us have full-time jobs (it’s my first evening class) and that he’s tailoring the class to fit our limited time.  First test is Friday, we’ve had a few labs already that have gone well, and things are (knock on wood) going well so far.  Plus Dr. Kenya! has also taught genetics in the past, which means that if he’s doing that again, I might be able to take him again.

Dr. Wearable Technology

Honestly, I’ve only met Dr. WT once.  He was a nice guy when I met him, we talked about his Apple Watch, Google Glass, and what wearable to get.  The class is Intro to Computing— which I was, admittedly, too lazy to test out of— and is a hybrid, which means we meet “a limited number of times”.  In this case, it basically means that the class is online and we can go to lecture on Saturdays if we need extra help with any of the things that we’re discussing or MS Office products we’ll use.  I might be popping in to make appearances during some of the Excel and Access stuff, but right now we’re focusing on PowerPoint.

I will also be the first to admit that I’ve learned a few things in the class– Powerpoint (and I assume the other stuff in Office) has a decent background removal tool, and that paired with a circular crop and a background fade can make stock photography look decent.  Of course, if I actually knew Photoshop I could assuredly do better, but that’s a skill that I’ll just lean on KLynne to do for me I have yet to learn.

Updates on all this and more will follow at the end of the term… and looking ahead I’ve got Attempt #2 at Physics for Scientists (provided I can get the other professor who teaches the class), O-Chem if I can’t get into the class I want, and Bio 2.

Progress is slow, friends, but it is progress.  I just need to keep on telling myself that.

 

 

The Road Behind

The Road Behind

Today, I felt guilty like I always feel when I read other people’s blogs for neglecting my own decided to write something.  I’ve been on a downward path as of late, and think it’s time to list one of those “hey, look at all of the cool shit that you’ve done in your life that you should be thankful for!” posts to try to break me out of my funk. And I’m unleashing it on you, my literally ones of readers. Here goes.

  • I beat Battletoads for the NES without cheating.
    • This took many hours, and no one believes me… but I did it.  I beat one of the most difficult games ever devised.
  • I’ve camped under the stars.
    • No shelter.  Just me, my pack, and my sleeping bag. I only did it once, but it was fantastic.
  • I moved away from my parents.
    • Yes, I know that this doesn’t seem like much, but with the growing trend of people my age still living at home because of a crap economy, I’m counting this as a win.
  • I was a college radio DJ.
    • Granted, it was a VERY brief time (I only had a few shows under my belt before Attempt #1 at school ended)… but I lived the dream.  Hell, I still know that I could have been a fantastic jock— I’ve been complimented on my voice by several long-time DJs and my former professor— but working like a dog for a salary in the $25k/year range (at least at first) and having the knowledge that you may have to move at any point in time hanging over your head at all times… yeah.
  • I left a Vegas casino more than $100 ahead.
    • If only that happened every time I played.
  • I survived an (extremely) emotionally abusive relationship— and (mostly) got through it.
    • The less said about this one the better.  It took roughly 1000% more time for me to leave than I should have, Bad Things happened, counseling happened afterwards, and I’m a stronger person.  Although if I was asked to do it over again… NOPE.  And as a side note, all of the people who said (and say) that I shouldn’t still be angry about it… I will ALWAYS be angry about it.  To not be angry about what was done to me is to forget the lesson that I learned.
      Always Angry
  • I made a cross-country move.  I lived on my own, no roommates, no nothin’, for a year.
    • I didn’t die.  I learned much about myself. I kept a clean house, a well decorated living room (bedroom was a little boring), paid rent on time, and even sat out on my porch a few times until the bugs got too thick.
  • I went white-water rafting. Twice.
    • I’m terrified of water.  How I have done this twice I still don’t know, even though I had a panic attack the second go round and nearly killed someone.
  • I adopted a dog from a rescue.
    • Yes, I’m that guy.  MY DOG IS A RESCUE, YOU GUYS.
  • I finally have come to accept, nay, admire, how my face looks.
    • I used to think that I was not an attractive man.  I learned that my face ain’t that bad looking.  The rest of me is a work of progress, but my mug is pretty awesome.
  • I met an awesome woman and moved in with her after three(!) months of dating, risks be damned.  Then I married her.
    • I’m still shocked that she sent that first message to me, despite the snarkiness of my profile.  I’m still shocked that I worked up the nerve to say “I love you” after just over a month of dating. I’m still shocked that we moved in so quickly and didn’t kill each other.  I’m still shocked that I bought that ring without her input and that it turned out to be amazing.  I’m NOT shocked that everything with us has been fantastic.
  • I have walked into the Atlantic Ocean and didn’t die.
    • This was in Savannah.  It was salty.  I stood at my full height because I thought I was going to be swept away, even though my feet still were on the ground.  I even had fun.  Don’t tell anyone.  I did it in the Keys too, but that was different.  Note that I am NOT mentioning the snorkeling incident, which is best forgotten.  Forever.
  • I bought a house.
    • There aren’t a ton of people from my generation that were homeowners at 26 years old.
  • I learned that my parents aren’t completely infallible, and that’s OK.
    • Knowing that for a given level of Mom, there’s a decent amount of crazy is a good thing.  Knowing that I can disagree with her is a great thing.
  • I learned to ride a motorcycle, got my license endorsement, and own a bike.
    • BRUBBBBBRUBRUBRUBRUBRUB
  • I went to Mardi Gras.
    • So many beads.  And I didn’t even have to earn ’em the hard way!
  • I went back to college to get that degree that I never got.
    • Well, I don’t have the degree yet.  But, with a lot of encouragement (more than I’m willing to admit) from KLynne, I took the first step.  Now I’m (slowly but surely) on the way to meet my goals.
  • I’ve visited half of the states in the US.
    • Some visits were not long.  But if I was in a car, got out of the car in that state, and ate or got gas, I’m counting it.
  • I rescued a stray dog.
    • Looking back, I don’t see how I could have ever considered NOT keeping Bumi after we picked him up from the side of the road.  I don’t even want to think about what his fate would have been if we wouldn’t have stopped on that scenic overlook.
  • I found and embraced my personal sense of style.
    • I’m not going to be winning any GQ awards for Most Fashionable Guy in the History of Ever, but I know what I like.  Hawaiian/Camp shirts, fishing shirts (either by Columbia or aping their style), comfortable jeans or cargo pants. T-shirts on weekends.  Not anything groundbreaking.  It’s basically Dadwear even though I’m not a dad. So what if I look like I look like I could be working at REI… or going to a Buffett concert.

 

Let me know what you’re proud of. Not of mine.  I’m not that kind of fishin’ for compliments guy. Er… proud that you’ve done.  Yeah.

My First Bachelors Isn’t From an Accredited Higher Education Facility

My First Bachelors Isn’t From an Accredited Higher Education Facility

My favorite local wing ‘n beer ‘n sports place, Taco Mac, has a loyalty program, Brewniversity.  (When I started, though, it was called the Passport Club.) Last night, I reached 125 beers, which means I’ve earned my Brewniversity Bachelor’s Degree. Aside from the bitchin’ shirt (in the mail soon!), plaque on the wall of my local Taco Mac (no idea when it’s getting added!) and the ability to get a 20 oz. draught for the pint price, I learned a lot about what I do and don’t like. Here’s the complete list, sorted by date, displayed ten beers at a time so your eyes don’t get murdered. (Full disclosure: Some of these weren’t actually drank completely by me.)

Had OnLocationNameBreweryStyleOriginABV
9/7/07AlpharettaXinguCervejaria Sul BrasileiraDark Lager/DunkelBRA4.4
9/7/07AlpharettaTommyknocker Vienna AmberTommyknockerAmber/Red AleCO5.3
9/7/07AlpharettaDELIRIUM TREMENSBrouwerij HuygeBelgian PaleBEL9
9/7/07AlpharettaAyinger JahrhundertAyingerLagerGER5.5
9/7/07AlpharettaPILSNER URQUELLPlzensky PrazdrojPilsnerCZE4.4
10/4/07AlpharettaABITA PURPLE HAZEAbitaFruit/Herbed/Spice BeerLA4.75
10/4/07AlpharettaPetes Wicked AlePetesBrown AleMN5.5
11/10/07AlpharettaFlying DogtoberfestFlying DogOktoberfest/MarzenMD5.1
11/10/07AlpharettaAnchor SteamAnchorAmber LagersCA4.9
11/10/07AlpharettaLindeman's PecheLindemansLambicBEL4
11/10/07AlpharettaHornsby Draft CiderHornsbysCiderCA6
3/11/09DuluthGUINNESS 20ozGuinnessStoutIRE4.2
3/11/09DuluthSTONE ARROGANT BASTARDStoneStrong AleCA7.2
3/11/09DuluthLand Shark LagerMargaritavilleLagerFL4.7
4/6/09AlpharettaGenesee Cream AleGeneseeBlonde AleNY5.1
4/6/09AlpharettaDT-RON BURGUNDYSweetwaterStrong AleGA8
4/23/09DuluthFORDHAM COPPERHEAD ALEAmber/Red AleMD4.7
4/23/09DuluthPAULANER HEFEPaulanerHefeweizenGER5.5
7/2/09DuluthGUINNESS 250GuinnessStoutIRE5
7/2/09DuluthTommyknocker Jack WheatTommyknockerHefeweizenCO5.4
7/2/09DuluthALLAGASH TRIPLEAllagashTripelME9
7/22/09DuluthPetes Strawberry BlondPetesFruit/Herbed/Spice BeerMN5.6
7/22/09DuluthSWEETWATER 420SweetwaterPale AleGA5.4
1/28/10AlpharettaTOMMYKNOCKER COCOATommyknockerPorterMO5.7
4/5/10AlpharettaTERRAPIN RYE PALE ALETerrapinPale AleGA5.3
4/5/10AlpharettaBELL'S JAVA STOUTBell'sStoutMI7.5
4/11/10Mall of GeorgiaOMMEGANG RARE VOSBrewery OmmegangBelgian PaleNY6.5
4/11/10Mall of GeorgiaNORTH COAST OLD RASPUTINNorth CoastImperial StoutCA9
4/11/10Mall of GeorgiaKILKENNYSmithwick'sAmber/Red AleIRE4.3
4/11/10Mall of GeorgiaBLUE MOON WHITEBlue MoonWitbier/White BeerCO5.4
4/18/10DuluthOMMEGANG WITTEBrewery OmmegangWitbier/White BeerNY5.1
4/18/10DuluthCarlsbergCarlsberg DanmarkLagerDEN3.8
4/18/10DuluthAvery White RascalAveryWitbier/White BeerCO5.5
1/22/11DecaturSOUTHAMPTON DOUBLE WHITESouthamptonWitbier/White BeerNY6.7
1/22/11DecaturRED BRICK LAUGHING SKULLABCAmber/Red AleGA5.4
1/22/11DecaturBLUE MOON SPRNG BLOND WHTBlue MoonSeasonal SpecialtyCO5.4
1/22/11DecaturJAILHOUSE SLAMMER WHEATJail HouseWheat BeerGA5
4/1/11PradoSHINER BOCKShinerBockTX4.4
4/1/11PradoCONEY ISLAND MERMAID PILSShmaltzPilsnerNY5.3
4/1/11PradoSHINER DORTMUNDERShinerSeasonal SpecialtyTX5.5
4/1/11PradoCONEY ISL ALBINO PYTHONShmaltzLagerNY6
4/27/11DuluthSTONE SMOKED PORTERStonePorterCA5.9
4/27/11DuluthSTONE RUINATIONStoneIPACA7.7
4/27/11DuluthSHINER SMOKEHAUSShinerSeasonal SpecialtyTX4.9
4/27/11DuluthRED BRICK DOG DAYS ALERed BrickHefeweizenGA5
4/27/11DuluthBLUE MOON SUMMER HNY WHTBlue MoonWheat BeerCO5.2
8/21/11DecaturUinta Monkshine BelgianUintaBelgian PaleUT4
8/21/11DecaturStrongbow BottleStrongbowCiderENG5
8/21/11DecaturLeinenkugel Berry WeissLeinenkugelFruit/Herbed/Spice BeerWI4.7
8/21/11DecaturBROOKLYN OKTOBERFESTBrooklynOktoberfest/MarzenNY5
9/10/11DuluthUinta Angler's Pale AleUintaPale AleUT5.8
9/10/11DuluthPacificoGrupo ModeloLagerMEX4.8
9/10/11DuluthHEAVY SEAS MARZENHeavy SeasOktoberfest/MarzenMD5.7
11/12/11Perimeter PlaceTERRAPIN HOPSECUTIONERTerrapinIPAGA7.3
11/12/11Perimeter PlaceROGUE YELLOW SNOWRoguePale AleOR5.3
11/12/11Perimeter PlaceOB MAMA'S LI'L YELLA PILSOskar BluesPilsnerCO5.3
12/2/11DuluthYUENGLING LORD CHESTERFLDYuenglingPale AlePA5.6
12/2/11DuluthLEINENKUGEL NUT BROWNLeinenkugelBrown AleWI4.9
4/2/12DecaturRED HARE WATERSHIP BROWNRed Hare Brewing CompanyBrown AleGA7.2
4/2/12DecaturBlack & TanBassBlendedMO5
4/15/12DecaturLEINENKUGEL SUMMER SHANDYLeinenkugelFlavored and Malt BeveragesWI4.2
5/12/12DuluthRED BRICK BROWN ALEABCAmber/Red AleGA5.9
5/12/12DuluthFRENCH BROAD 13 REBELSFrench BroadESBNC5.2
6/2/12SuwaneeUnibroue Blanche ChamblyUnibroueWitbier/White BeerCAN5
6/2/12SuwaneeBard's Tale Dragon's GoldGordon BierschBlonde AleNY4.3
6/2/12SuwaneeVICTORIAModeloLagerMEX4
6/2/12SuwaneePenn Dark LagerPenn BreweryDark Lager/DunkelPA5
6/8/12DuluthSAMUEL ADAMS SUMMERSamuel AdamsBlonde AleMA5.2
6/8/12DuluthRED BRICK BLONDEABCBlonde AleGA4.9
6/8/12DuluthGREAT DIV ESPRESSO YETIGreat DivideStoutCO9.5
9/1/12DuluthROGUE CHATOE GOOD CHITRoguePilsnerOR5.2
9/1/12DuluthFox Barrel Pacific PearFox Barrel Cider Co.CiderCA4.5
9/17/12DuluthMOLSON CANADIANMolsonLagerCAN5
9/17/12DuluthINNIS & GUNN ORIGINALInnis & GunnAmber/Red AleSCO6.6
9/17/12DuluthBOULEVARD UNFILTERED WHTBoulevardHefeweizenMO4.6
9/17/12DuluthANCHOR CHRISTMAS 11AnchorWinter WarmerCA5.5
9/17/12DuluthSAMUEL ADAMS OCTSamuel AdamsOktoberfest/MarzenMA5.7
12/2/12DecaturBLUE MOON WINTER ABBEYBlue MoonSeasonal SpecialtyCO5.6
12/2/12DecaturBRECKENRIDGE XMASBreckenridgeSeasonal SpecialtyCO7.4
12/6/12DecaturSWEETWATER EXODUS PORTERSweetwaterPorterGA6.2
12/6/12DecaturCisco Sankaty Light CanCisco BrewersLagerMA3.8
12/6/12DecaturGOOSE ISLAND HONKER'S ALEGoose IslandESBIL4.2
12/6/12DecaturFat Cat Sultans Wheat CanMinhas Craft BreweryWitbier/White BeerWI4.9
12/6/12DecaturYuengling Premium Beer 16YuenglingPilsnerPA4.9
12/6/12DecaturMolson GoldenMolsonLagerCAN5
12/22/12DuluthKILLIANS REDCoorsAmber LagersCO4.9
12/22/12DuluthO'DEMPSEY'S BIG REDO'Dempsey'sAmber/Red AleGA6
12/30/12DuluthFlying Dog Tire BiterFlying DogKolschMD5.1
1/3/13DecaturRED BRICK CHOC CHERRY PORRed BrickPorterGA6.2
1/3/13DecaturButternuts Porkslap PaleButternutsPale AleNY4.9
7/5/13Lindbergh City CenterWILD HEAVEN INVOCATIONWild HeavenBelgian PaleGA8.5
7/5/13Lindbergh City CenterNEW BELGIUM ROLLE BOLLENew BelgiumFruit/Herbed/Spice BeerCO5.2
7/5/13Lindbergh City CenterIron CityPittsburghLagerPA4.5
9/1/13DuluthGREAT DIVIDE HEYDAY WHITEGreat DivideWitbier/White BeerCO5.2
9/1/13DuluthAnchor PorterAnchorPorterCA5.6
12/30/13DuluthMOTHER EARTH WEEP WIL WITMother Earth Brewing Co.Witbier/White BeerNC5
12/30/13DuluthMonday Night Eye PatchMonday Night BrewingIPAGA6.2
12/30/13DuluthHofbrau Munchen OriginalHofbrauLagerGER5.1
12/30/13DuluthUB EPHEMERE CASSISUnibroueFruit/Herbed/Spice BeerCAN5.5
12/30/13DuluthMONDAY NIGHT FU MANBREWMonday Night BrewingWitbier/White BeerGA5.2
5/9/14DuluthWESTBROOK WHITE THAIWestbrook BrewingWitbier/White BeerSC5
5/9/14DuluthCLOWN SHOES CLEMENTINEClown ShoesWitbier/White BeerMA5.9
5/9/14DuluthCHERRY ST DIRTY FRENCHMANCherry St. BrewingSaisonGA6
5/9/14DuluthROGUE CHIPOTLE ALERogueFruit/Herbed/Spice BeerOR5.5
7/8/14AlpharettaWOODCHUCK MACBERRY PEARWoodchuckCiderVT5.5
7/8/14AlpharettaABITA STRAWBERRYAbitaFruit/Herbed/Spice BeerLA4.2
9/20/14DuluthPP HOFBRAU MUNCHEN OKTOBRHofbrauOktoberfest/MarzenGER6.3
9/20/14DuluthMONDAY NIGHT NERD ALERTMonday Night BrewingPilsnerGA5.7
9/26/14AlpharettaMONDAY NIGHT TMAC DADDYMonday Night BrewingPorterGA5.7
9/26/14AlpharettaBM KONIG LUDWIGWarsteinerHefeweizenGER5.5
9/26/14AlpharettaLEFT HAND BLACKJACK PORTELeft HandPorterCO6.8
12/20/14DuluthSWEETWATER FESTIVE ALESweetwaterStrong AleGA8.6
12/20/14DuluthHIGHLAND MOCHA STOUTHighlandStoutNC5.3
12/20/14DuluthBLUE MOON GINGERBREADBlue MoonFlavored and Malt BeveragesCO5.9
1/24/15MetropolisBrooklyn East IPABrooklynIPANY7
2/17/15DuluthDogfish 60 Minute IPADogfish HeadIPADE6
2/17/15DuluthBM ABITA WROUGHT IRON IPAAbitaIPALA6.9
4/4/15DuluthNEW BELGIUM SNAPSHOTNew BelgiumWheat BeerCO5
4/4/15DuluthBM TERRAPIN RECREATIONALETerrapinIPAGA4.7
4/4/15DuluthABITA MACCHIATO ESPRESSOAbitaStoutLA6
4/4/15Duluth21st Amend Sneak Attack21st AmendmentSaisonCA6.2
5/20/15Duluth21st Amend Hell or High21st AmendmentFlavored WheatCA5.5
5/20/15DuluthBM HARPOON IPAHarpoonIPAMA5.8
5/20/15DuluthBM HARPOON BIG SQUEEZEHarpoonShandyMA4.5
5/20/15DuluthBROOKLYN BLASTBrooklynIPANY8

I’m more proud of this than I have any right to be.

 

Cookin’ Time

Cookin’ Time

It’s 9:30 PM the night before my third (and final) in-class test for Anatomy and Physiology II: The Revenge of Anatomy and Physiology. I’ve got an unfinished paper for the same class that’s due on Monday that needs a good chunk of work. And let’s not even get started on the amount of studying that I need to do for my Calculus final. So of course I’m going to sit here and write a blog post. Would you expect less of me? Anything to get out of working.

I, like my mother before me, am a sucker for a grab bag. There’s no shame in it. I like the thrill of the unknown. Maybe there’ll be something awesome in there! Baseball and basketball cards? Was addicted to those for a few years. Magic: The Gathering? More boosters bought than I can count, a few in foreign languages just because.  Never mind the fact that I can only tell what that Korean card is by its artwork, which, in and of itself shows that I’ve played way too much Magic.  Hearthstone?  I’ve bought a booster or three, and those aren’t even real cards, they’re just bits saying that I can use this card in my pretend deck of pretend Warcraft guys.  Lego Minifigs?  Got a few display cases of ’em.  And don’t even get me started on Marvel and DC HeroClix.  I spent more than $500 on those poorly painted superhero minis when it first came out, and barely even played the game ’cause my brother and I would argue for hours about whether or not Cyclops had a clear line of sight to annihilate Gorilla Grodd with an optic blast.  (Raise your hands, everyone who is surprised.)

This has boiled into a new love for me (and KLynne, who I will now proceed to throw under the bus by mentioning that SHE is the person who finds most of these and I am merely an innocent consumer of the things inside of ’em)… subscription boxes.  If you’ve never heard of ’em, basically, they work like this.

  1. You find a box with a theme that you like.
  2. You give the people that send out that box somewhere between $8 and $Eleventy Billion. Give or take.  (We only have ONE really expensive one.)
  3. X number of weeks later, a sealed box of goodies comes from that company.
  4. Open it, exult in the cool things that come in the box, bitch about the “aww, why did they put that in there” crap, and wonder if you can sell/trade/regift the stuff you don’t want.
  5. Repeat from Step 2.

We (OK, mainly I) get a box of nerd stuff that comes with a T-shirt every month.  We’re gonna get a box of random comic trade paperbacks every month. We get a box of little plastic thingies of organic snack mixes (like mixes of dried fruits and granola-ish things) every week or so. KLynne gets a box of makeup samples.  The dogs even get their own box (BarkBox) full of treats and toys.  We have a problem.

The two boxes that I’m gonna talk about today, though, are something that I have really taken to—save for one part. (It’ll be obvious once I start writing.)

We get subscription boxes of food.

(I know.  OH LOOK THE FAT GUY IS TALKING ABOUT HOW HE LIKES FOOD!)

But, smartass hypothetical reader, this is NOT pre-prepped food… these are themed meals that are a) fresh and b) you cook your own damn self.  You do pay a premium for the box of fresh food to be delivered by your long-suffering postal or UPS or FedEx or whatever guy or lady, but you know what?  It’s cheaper than going out to eat somewhere for dinner (no tips, no marked-up-to-infinity-and-beyond dranks).  It has to be healthier, since the focus with these boxes is fresh everything.   And it’s forcing me out of my comfort zone, since I’m actually helping with the prepwork and the cooking on them.  (I have to lean on my long-suffering wife, since she’s not only an excellent cook but I chop about as fast as a snail on ‘ludes).

And the best part is?  For the most part, the food that we’ve made from these boxes has been REALLY FREAKING TASTY.

The first box that we got gives you major components of a meal based on a theme.  Our theme was taco night.  Contained in this box was two bags of organic corn masa (one in blue corn, one in a special blend of white and yellow corns), a little jar of special margarita salt with chipotle peppers (spoiler alert: none of it was used for margaritas, but I’m considering buying a pound of the stuff), a jar of fancy tomatillo salsa, and (the coolest feature of this box)… a tortilla press.

Ja, meinen Freunden, I can now press my own tortillas.  (This box gives at least one piece of kitchenware every time you get one.  I read that the month before us got ravioli presses, which is impossibly cool.) The rest of the box contained recipes (or links online to recipes) for different kinds of taco filling that used the stuff in the box… like a smoky skirt steak, a delicious roast sweet potato and poblano pepper mix, or shrimp with a homemade mango and grilled corn salsa.

I am by no means a great cook.  You’re not gonna see me whipping something up on MasterChef and getting called a donkey and worse by Gordon Ramsey any time soon.  I can cook only a few things well… chicken and pasta.  And pasta with bits of chicken in it. (This is despite the fact that I had not one but two semesters of Foods back in Junior High and High School). It took me quite a while to do some of the work and some of the accessory ingredients were a little pricey (seriously, why you gotta be so expensive, poblano peppers?) but it was a great experience.  I MADE TORTILLAS, YOU GUYS.  A FEW OF THEM EVEN CAME OUT PERFECTLY ROUND.  THEY’RE JUST CORN MASA AND SOME WATER AND SOME EXPLETIVES SCREAMED IN THE AIR BECAUSE YOU HAVE TORTILLA PROTOPLASM ALL OVER YOUR HANDS BUT YOU CAN’T GET IT OFF.

Here are the results, courtesy of KLynne’s Instagram (since I can’t just steal the image directly from her phone)…

A photo posted by Kristen H. (@firelizardqueen) on

WE MADE THAT. WE MADE ALL OF THAT.  The guac? I MADE THAT FROM SCRATCH.  The rice?  MADE THAT.  The Fiestaware?  FIRED AND GLAZED IT MYSELF.  (OK, that’s a stretch.) So the first box was a success.  

The second box is a little bit more of a splurge, but it has everything in there except the stuff to cook it with.  The way that it works is you get to pick a certain number of meals or desserts from their site, they send you the bits on a certain day, and you have a few meals that require no thought other than “let’s grab the bag with all of the stuff to make X”.  The stuff in there is fancy, too.  Stuff I’d never think, “Hey, let’s make this!”  Things like a steak salad using arugula with a homemade horseradish-lemon dressing and garlic bread made by LOVINGLY RUBBING A CLOVE OF GARLIC OVER TOASTED BREAD instead of the way that I usually do it with garlic powder.  Or turkey burgers that I hand-formed the patties on with a bunch of spinach and hand-minced garlic mixed into the ground turkey which, I might add, still has the most disgusting feeling of all of the ground meats, served with a radish salad.

A photo posted by Spin H. (@mrspinch) on

IT WAS SO FREAKING GOOD.

So why am I bragging about this?  Because one of my unstated but often-thought goals floating around in my head is to become a better home chef, be confident in my choices, and try new things.  In the past few weeks I’ve cooked (or helped cook) foods I’ve never DREAMED of making, and the great majority of it has been REALLY GOOD.  (One bad thing: A pesto spaghetti made using wilted dandelion greens.  The greens tasted like bitter ass mixed with a dirt clod, which is a real shame ’cause the pasta was super-high-end and came out perfect.)

I’m not really good with feeling proud of myself about ANYTHING.  Most of you would shudder if you heard the Statler and Waldorf continually yammering on in my head.  But this?  This I can be proud of.  I’m doing something, and I’m doing something well.

But seriously, the number of dishes that cooking at home creates can just go straight to hell.  I need to get training the dogs on how to load the dishwasher.