Clever Joe

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lab Work and Iraq

I know that the two are totally unrelated in everyway except that they are both a source of constant anxiety and grief. None of my experiments are working and I've been attempting to insert my SINE's of interest into these two crazy plasmid vectors that my advisor supposedly constructed while on sabbatical. I'm beginning to doubt that these vectors contain any drug resistance genes or else they simply cannot tolerate the small fragments that I'm attempting to insert. With every failed ligation and transformation experiment a little piece of my intellectual curiosity dies. So far it's been a massacre. If this keeps up I'll never get a chance to even start my thesis. Perhaps it is time to call it quits and start a different project entirely. But I've got so much invested in the project already (almost a year) that it is difficult for me to let go. Oh well guess I have attachment issues to sort out.
Guess me and our current idiot-king ("W", as he like to be called) have something in common. We both just can't seem to let our "projects" go. Seems like everytime I read something in the news about Iraq it is about all the bodies that they've found tortured and murdered laying in a room/bus/ditch/mass grave and the governments' constant insistance that this isn't a civil war erupting over there and things are just being blown out of proportion by the media. Damn you liberal media, why do you want the terrorists to win? lol. It makes me cry how low our country has been brought under this current administration. I have never been a supporter of Republicans as I come from a very liberal family so perhaps my views are biased but I can't believe how far the mighty US has fallen in just a few years. Oh and I learned recently that the US has just approved an increase of it's debt level to nine TRILLION dollars. As if anyone is even capable of fathoming the idea of that much money. I would love to see banks/governments/businesses decide to call in on some of these debts. Umm...we spent all the money you gave us but if you let us borrow some more we can give you a little of your own money back. I would get laughed out of a bank if I tried to do that on a loan. Or a credit card company...I can't make my monthly payment so just increase my borrowing amount and we'll just keep moving up the limit ever time that I hit the new limit. That works lovely.
There seems to be so much shit piling up against the US. The war in Iraq, global hatred of Americans, a massive deficit, corporate greed/scandals, political greed/graft/scandels, poor government response to major disasters (Katrina, etc), stupid/ignorant/uncaring politicians and leaders, the elimination of Social Security (at least my parents will get something out of it), lack of affordable quality medical care, lack of jobs, lack of retirement security, etc. I think that when our children's children are studying history they will look back on 2002-2005 as the beginning of the end of the golden age of the United States. I guess we had a good ride, we were the tops for quite awhile but I think this is the end, perhaps China will take our spot, that will be interesting. Today we are just witnessing the beginning of the downward spiral. I could enjoy the slow and steady decline but I think that I'm just going to jump ship. Maybe move to the U.K. or some other small prosperous Eastern European nation, Switzerland or Belgium perhaps.

Friday, March 10, 2006

More about Me

I have a fairly low opinion of myself but in a quixotic manner I think that I'm better than most people that I meet. I have a bit of a superiority complex which I try to disguise by being overly humble in most situations. For example if I do really well on an exam or I think that I've done something quite well, I'll usually be self-deprecating about it and say that I wasn't sure about this or that and you are way better at this tiny, esoteric aspect than I am or something like that. I'm pretty smart and I consider this to be the most defining feature of myself (hence the blog title). I know that there are smarter people than me out there, I've met a few that could run circles around me, but I'm definitely brighter than average. I know that this sounds conceited and it is, sort of, but if you are stating something that is a fact, how can it be conceit? Well that is my typical response to those who call me conceited which usually results in them deciding that I'm definitely conceited and an ass to boot. Maybe it's time to change my tactics. So that's the intellectual side of me.
On the physical side. I'm of average height 5'10", a bit slimmer than average, dark hair, and I would say that I'm pretty good looking, I'm not a model or anything but everything is proportioned nicely and I don't have any physical oddities. I'm in fairly good shape I don't have a six-pack of rippling abs but you can see some muscle on me. I am okay at most sports but I would consider myself below average, I suck at basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, most team sports. But I'm very athletic in some areas, I am great at long distance running, track, soccer, skiing, and hiking.
Since I was the only boy among my siblings this has lead me to be less understanding of typical male things. I have no knowledge of sports statistics and could care less about any specific sports team. I enjoy watching games on TV once in awhile, but in reality, it doesn't matter all that much to me. I don't seem to have the same drive to date and bed an inordinate number of women and that has never been a big part of my life, this was a noticable discrepancy in college. Being around so many women my entire life (my sisters and babysitters/nanny's substituted for moms most of my life) has definitely taken the edge off of most of what I would consider to be male tendencies. This causes a lot of people to think that I'm homosexual upon first meeting me and there was a time when I wondered if I was. However I'm not, I'm definitely heterosexual but I do maintain many character traits that most men would deem homosexual. I care a bit about my appearance, I use stuff in my hair that my sisters call "product", I try to maintain a sense of fashion (this is debateable), I don't talk about sports at all, I get along better and have much more memorable conversations with women rather than men, and I don't have a lot of guy friends, no crowd that guys typically refer to as "my boys or boyz" depending on the person.
I over analyze almost anything that you can think of and I often get bogged down in thinking about stuff that most people don't give a second thought too. Just saying "Hi" to an acquantence on my way to school in the morning will set me off. Was my "Hi" enough of a greeting?, should I have asked how they are doing?, well they just waved to me as they passed by and didn't say anything, did I piss them off somehow? do they hate me? That's just a snippet of the stuff that passes through my brain within a few seconds. Now apply that to every little scenario you encounter in your day, it gets a bit overwhelming at times. But it makes me good at doing research and problem solving so I guess the field that I'm in is a good fit for me.
I work in a laboratory and run lots and lots of different fairly dull experiments all relating to my thesis. I have yet to actually start my project because there is a significant amount of set up that I need to do. I have to generate several different plasmid constructs before I can actually start my project and this is proving to be quite difficult and time consuming. I blame it mostly on the lack of input from my advisor and the lack of funding generally available at my university. If the difficulties continue for much longer I might just switch advisors and come up with a new project.
So that is me more or less.

My family

So basically it consists of myself, my three sisters A, B, and C (for purposes of anonymity), my Dad (biological) and my step-Mom. Sister A is about 1.5 years older than me, sister B is 1.5 years younger than me, and sister C (the step-sister who is will herein be referred to as a normal sister) is 3 years younger than me. So I am the middle child sort of. My Dad is great and I love him tons, I fear that I will suffer a severe mental break-down when he dies, and I deal with that fear on a daily basis because he could go at any time given the way he eats and the prevelance of heart attacks in my family. My step-Mom, who I just call Mom, she can be difficult to get along with occassionally but I think that I get along with her much better than sisters A and B do. I don't really hold any grudge's against her as step-children sometimes do, I don't think she has tried to replace my biological Mom or anything, and I must say that I'm glad she is in my family's life. Sister A is married and just recently had a child, so I'm an uncle now which is odd. I enjoy seeing my niece but I'm definitely glad that I don't have kids yet, I'm not even close to being ready for anything like that. Sister A is the "perfect child" almost storybook perfect. She graduated from college at the right time, got married at the right time, got a good job at the right time, had a kid at the right time. It's like she has a checklist of how to be a ideal/normal person and is crossing them off one by one. It irritates me to no end, mostly because she is one of the happiest people that I know of. Sister B is off trying to save the world serving in the Peace Corps in a third world shit hole. She is an idealist and truely believes her little contribution will help, I love her for that but I think we (humans) are heading for extinction at an accelerating rate. If there is anything such as Karma or some sort of reward for the amount of "good" that you do in the world she will be extremely well off. At every opportunity she is planting trees, recycling, helping others, sending money to feed starving children in Africa, etc. Sister C is a bit more similar to myself, she has a cynical side that bodes well with me and shares my sense of sarcasm. She is just graduating from college and was in a sorority so it will be interesting to see what happens to her now. She is smart and likes politics so I could see her doing something in that arena, but I really haven't got a clue what she will end up doing. I'm currently living with my parents and their new puppy.
My brief run down is as follows: graduated from HS went on to college, got out with a BS in Human Biology (3.4 gpa overall), got a job, worked for 2 years, quit, went to grad school for cell/molecular biology (carrying a 4.0 gpa overall), still in grad school (been here 2 years now). Hopefully my thesis will wrap up this summer and I'll have my Masters degree, don't know what I'm going to do with that though. I've said repeatedly to my family and friends that I'm moving to the east coast or Britian to get a job in a biotech company, but anything could happen. That is if I ever graduate. It's been slow going so far, mainly my research is holding me back.

A brief history

To start things off I think that I should list a few of the things that I consider to be important about me. My name is Joe, I am a male. This seems like common sense to most but I've met a few women, well mostly old ladies, that are also named Joe. I should warn you that I'm fairly anal retentive/thorough so I might try to overexplain certain things. I was born in 1979. I have three sisters, well two are biological and the other is a step-sister (not biologically related in any manner to me) but I consider her a "sister" for all intents and purposes. My biological mother died when I was 5 due to stomach cancer, I don't remember a lot about her and I don't think I can trust my memories anymore because they've been far too influenced by photographs and conversations with people who knew her better than a 5-year old might. This seems to be the root of most of my problems/issues, at least it is a convenient crutch on which to blame all my problems. I frequently wonder how much it really affected me. If only I could manipulate time and space so that I could observe how Joe A (mother survives) and Joe B (current Joe) deal with different life situations. I often think that Joe A is off somewhere being an type-A personality, fearlessly trying out new things, graduating from Harvard as a medical doctor, going on to discover a cure for cancer/herpes/AIDS/whatever sexy disease you can think of. But sadly I'm stuck with being me: Anti-social (but good at hiding it in social situations), depressed? (jury is still out on this one), constantly questioning every single thing that I do no matter how minor it may seem, hesitant, boring, attending grad school at a second rate institution, stuck in a rut on my thesis work, desperate to escape my tedious and dull life but too scared of failing to try anything significant. Needlesstosay (I fucking hate words like that, but it seems like the best word to use to make a transition at this point) I don't have a very high opinion of myself, I think that a person is measured by their accomplishments and though I started off extremely well, things have been sort of falling short of my expectations since graduating from high school.