Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Life, the Universe, and Everything

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a scientist. (Bare with me this gets a little convoluted)

Not quite as cool as the infamous line delivered by Ray Liota in "Goodfellas," but true none the less. My mother had a book called "School Daze" where every year (until I was of a certain age and didn't care anymore) I would put in my pictures, and fill in all kinds of questions like, who my best friend was that year, what I learned, and what I wanted to be when I grew up. Well even before I can remember, apparently in the first grade I wanted to be a scientist.

So now I guess I am. I have a physics degree.

This curiosity about things was always with me. I would take apart old VCRs and was a very quick learner when the first computer entered our house. Within a week or so of my dad teaching me how to use it, I was teaching him how to do more, and more importantly how to fix stuff on it. Now a days I'm what you would call a tech head. I build my own computers and install everything myself. I play video games such as Half-Life, Team Fortress 2, and Call of Duty. I use linux (and windows) and love it.

I never really fit into a mold, at least I didn't seem to. Never really had a close group of friends. I got called a fag and gay a lot high school because that seemed to be the default thing other guys would call you if they disliked you for no reason.

It is for this reason, as well as common sense and human rights of course, that I am extremely pro-gay rights, in every respect. I am not gay, and I had to deal with all that discrimination and segregation. I can only imagine how hard it is for someone discovering their homosexuality at that age, and having to deal with the ignorance of youth. Many people use religion or ignorance as excuses for hating people for who they are. As MLK said "...will not be judged by the sex they love, but by the content of their character." Or something like that.

Speaking of religion. I am a very strict and outspoken atheist. I do not apologize for this, nor do I "respect" other peoples religion. I respect that people are free to do and say as they please within all confines of the law, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with them or take them seriously. As a scientist I cannot say with absolute certainty that no such thing as a god exists, mind you. "Ahhhh," you say, "So you're an agnostic!" No. No I am not. As Richard Dawkins put it, I'm as agnostic about god, as I am fairies in the garden. Just because I cannot disprove gods existence (one could argue by definition), doesn't mean I don't think it is utter nonsense. Any good scientist should come to the same logical conclusion. Proving something doesn't exist is a pretty challenging thing to do, deity or not. Now, I don't hate you because you are religious, in fact I have some good friends who are devout Muslims, but I do hate the institutions along with the intolerance and ignorance they and their source texts propagate. I enjoy having rational friendly conversations with religious people especially on religious topics, however it is my experience that there are few "believers" that can have a friendly rational conversation on these topics without turning into the Hulk, but they do exist.

The Hulk of course being the big green strong angry man from Marvel Comics. I'm more of a DC fan myself (these segues are going great tonight). Another fun fact about me are some of my hobbies/interests other than bicycling and science. Comic books, being a big one. I started collecting comic books last year sometime. I was always captivated by them at the grocery store news stands, and was very rarely allowed to have one. As the years went on I always had an interest in the lore and myths of comics, but it seemed such a daunting task to jump into. I slowly bought some of the more famous trade paper back collections of comics such as The Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come, Batman: Year One, Batman: The Killing Joke, and Crisis on Infinite Earths. I was hooked (as you can see, I am a Batman fan). So I jumped right into buying single issues and have been reading ever since. Lots of great stuff, and a good chunk of just okay stuff, and almost a full long box!

Another crazy hobby I was into for a while was yo-yoing. Not so much anymore, but I still pick them up every now and then.

So to summarize and expand in point form:
-Pro-Gay rights (last big civil rights struggle in my mind)
-Comic book geek
-YoYo geek
-Self proclaimed movie buff (can quote movies for hours)
-Hobby photographer
-Interested in tattoos (have 2 want more)
-Been in a very happy relationship with my best friend and partner Alanna for almost 4 years
-Currently doing a M.Sc.
-And I like riding my bike

So now you have the background.

I come to the conclusion of my masters program in December (hopefully). I've been working with colloidal suspensions in electric fields. It's all a little complicated unless you have a background in soft matter physics, but it is essentially little spheres in a liquid and pump electricity into it and see what happens. The plan has always been to go right through and do my Ph.D. and some postdocs and try and get a faculty position somewhere. Start my own research group etc. As the my bachelor degree went by, and now my masters degree I realize looking at my supervisor and other professors, I am totally not cut out for this and do not want to be. They live for their work. When 5 O'Clock rolls around I am ready for some me time, or some me and Alanna time. Not go home and think about what papers to read tomorrow, and what projects to start. This means for the first time in my life I'm not really sure what I'm going to do.

After four years of living in a city apartment, I'm back living with my parents just outside of St. Johns. An attempt to save money to buy touring equipment, and start paying off a $5000 credit line. This has been relatively unsuccessful, Since November I have acquired a good chunk of touring gear, still would like some more stuff to cross the country though, and have paid nothing on my credit line. My idea for my Cross Canada Trip requires me to pay off that credit line, get a job from January - May 2011 and save enough money for the trip. At this point I see no way I can pay off 5 grand and save a whole bunch of money for a trip of this scope. As such I am CANCELING MY 2011 CROSS CANADA TRIP. It is very sad for me to do this but I do not see a choice.

So what to do what to do. Five months left to do most of my experiments, and write a thesis, then what? I suppose I will try to find some work. I don't know if I can stand another four years of school. I have 7 university years under my belt now. Work will probably take me away from Newfoundland, away from Alanna. I hate to do that, we could survive long distance but I would hate to be away from her. But maybe if I find a job that pays me enough money, I could save up, fly home often to visit, pay off my credit line and student loan quickly, and when I'm ready quit, travel and live off savings until they run out.

I don't know. I could end up doing an Ph.D. in physical oceanography yet... we'll see.

So that is me, and what is going on in my life. It may be boring and most of you probably didn't get this far, but this was probably more for me than it was for you guys.

Oh yeah. 42.

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