A legend dies!

This is my last blog post!  My legendary prose ceases today…  how tragic!

Let’s get right to it.

Throughout the semester, you have all seen Guthub grow into a semi-finished product.  I say semi-finished because I’m only comfortable saying it’s “done” when the image in my head materializes onto the screen.  This has benefits and drawbacks.  The benefit is Guthub will always be improving, but the drawback is far more serious:  I will never be satisfied.

While I’ll be motivated to add features related to emailing suggestions, bug reporting, and improving the user experience, there’s no solid finish line.  This non-existent finish line is the relief I want to feel at finally creating a finished website that I feel comfortable listing on LinkedIn or my grad school applications.  The problem is that I have no idea when that’ll happen.  Because this is a website that is designed to be interactive with users, I have no idea when optimization will be done, let alone how to do it in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong:  I see how impressive the website looks.  I really am proud of what I’ve accomplished this semester and everyone’s input has made it infinitely better.  But I’d be lying if I said I was satisfied.  I guess I don’t know when it’s okay to step away from the computer and press submit.  I mean, I know I can do that now, but this goes beyond the classroom.  In other words, I want to advertise this site for side income and most importantly, to grad admission boards.

The website isn’t ready.  Yes, for this class, I’ve reached beyond the point that I needed to get to.  But for the actual purpose of this site? Not even close. The apps are polluted with bad user experience and are still missing the major features that are needed to make the app actually usable and a website that people would pay for.

The thing is, I enjoy this dissatisfaction.  I like making a hobby out of improving my site.  But it’s getting to the point that the features I want to change require more time than a traditional hobby would allow.  I have school, albeit only for a few more weeks, I have work, I have friends, I have cats, I have a boyfriend, not to mention my plans to start grad school next year.  In order to truly create the website I want, I can’t have most of my time taken up by other responsibilities, the progress would be so slow I wouldn’t be able to release the site for years.  This doesn’t even touch on how much work would be required to actually address any bugs or issues users are facing in a timely manner.

I hate working on someone else’s schedule.  So much so, I’m hesitant about grad school, which will inevitably lead to being under someone’s wing in their lab when I’m a postdoc.  Do I want this?  I’m finding myself more and more attracted to the idea of self-employment and getting most of my money from this site.  But that’s a risk.  A huge risk.  Risk doesn’t even begin to encapsulate how much of a risk it actually is.

Some days I want to take that jump.

Some days I don’t.

Regardless, I’m excited to see where I land.

Logo Olympics: Guthub v. Apple

I have news!

pic of me with my news

So after dealing with workshopping a half-ready website and prepping for a big presentation (in another class), I’ve taken a break from this project.  This was a much needed break.  I was obsessed with adding email functionality to my website, and in the process, broke it minutes before presenting it to the class.

Thankfully, this is in the past.  After realizing just how much time I was spending on the email/bug issue, I realized I wasn’t going to make any overall progress on my website if I kept hitting my head against the wall.

The evening after my workshop day, I got everything back online (i.e. Guthub.org and all the Shiny apps).  The only dead links are for Shiny apps I haven’t built yet.  After having my website full functional again (and a few celebratory gin and tonics),  I put /email and /bug on hold.

But, even though my website was working, I needed a break.  After a lot of candy, too many hours of playing Minecraft, and, like, three Netflix shows*, I was ready to start making more progress on the website and to revisit the (amazing!) suggestions from class that I’ve been pretending where just figments of my imagination.

So I have some updates!

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  1. I’ve added content to /bibliography and /about.  (It’s crazy how much better I felt just adding a paragraph to these pages.)
  2. I’ve downloaded a snapshot of my website.  This means that while my website was fully functional, I downloaded a working version of my website in case of emergency (i.e. WHEN THE SITE CRASHES TWO MINUTES BEFORE CLASS STARTS)
  3. I’ve updated the footer on each page so the text “Connect with us/me.” is in black, and I’ve linked to my WordPress, LinkedIn, and Github account on my /about page.
  4. And most excitingly…. I have a logo!  It’s been added in place of the “Home” link on each page’s navigation bar and there’s a larger version on the main page.  I have a black version, a white version, a white version with grey borders, and a blue gradient version!

Weeee.

Logo in Navigation Bar & Gradient Logo Full Size:

 

Updated Footer:

 

 

 

*:  The Netflix Shows were Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (really good, so many queers!), Schitt’s Creek (SO GOOD, more fully dimensional queers!), GLOW (Good, but no queers… YET, but Allison Brie so it’s ok), and The Haunting of Hill House (So so so good, queers stay winning!)

 

TDLR:  Made a logo also queers

I’ve Fallen In Love With My Teacher!

Yes, it’s true.

I’ve fallen madly in love.

I didn’t believe it at first. I couldn’t.

But here I am, entralled.

Who, might you ask?

Well, isn’t it obvious?

The one. The only.

Filip.

That’s right.  Filip.

Who is Filip?  Filip is the video instructor on a few courses on DataCamp.com, a website I’ve recently subscribed to in order to learn more advanced R for my website and career.  He’s been there for me when I didn’t know the answer, he’s been there for me when I did.  And most importantly?  He’s been there when no one else was.

Oh, Filip

 

His charm, his wit, his DataCamp fitted polo T-shirt…

(NOTE:  I will not admit to stalking his linkedin.  How would I even find him?  It’s not like I know his name is Filip Schouwenaars…)

Read More

This Class Sucks!

Just kidding. 

But really.  Just between you and me?  I’m in quite the pickle!

  • Scenario one:  I opt for the microbiome website.
  • Scenario two:  I opt for the I Realized I Was Old When… website.
  • Scenario three:  I do both and somehow survive through the process.

While Scenario One is the most obvious and practical, it’s also the least accessible.  It’s hard to describe the problem this site would address because of all the jargon and science that needs to be prefaced.  On one hand, building this site would literally make my job easier for as long as I study bioinformatics at the University of Michigan.  On the other hand, it’s kind of boring.  Not to me, but I assume to other people.  The microbiome is cool, yeah, but is it cool enough to engage people at the showcase?  Yes, it’s shallow to care mainly about how this will be received at a one-time event, but that’s partly what drives my creativity; the connection that follows.

While Scenario Two is the most accessible and creative, it’s also not practical after this class.  While everyone in class seems to really enjoy the idea, to the point of wanting first dibs on merch, this website would only help me in a practical sense if I jump ship and switch to writing as my career choice, or at least incorporate it somehow into research.

This is possible, of course. There are dozens of opinion articles published in major journals every month, but I doubt they’d be open to how feisty I get.

Yes, I truly love both project ideas.  One focuses on the science side of my life while the other focuses on creative writing.  Yes, I could incorporate creative writing into the microbiome; I could synthesize the two, but it’d still be muted by the boring topic of microbiota.

My entire life I’ve contemplated this question:  scientist or writer?  At this very moment, I’m applying for a Ph.D. in bioinformatics while at the same time feeling the tug towards writing.  Feeling the tug I’ve felt my entire life towards just writing.  Of course this class has manifested itself perfectly into the very question I’ve hoped to avoid!

This is why I’ve clung to the idea of the oh, so beautiful Scenario Three.  It allows me to exist in the in-between. I can satisfy my scientific urges by creating the microbiome website, while simultaneously being the daring, creative type I always find an excuse to be.  I tried this, you have to give me that.  I enthusiastically wrote my five-page proposal for the Microbiome website, fully fleshing out each bullet point.  But once I turned my attention to the second website, I realized something:  I’m exhausted.   If I’m this exhausted just drafting up a second proposal, imagine the exhaustion after building two whole projectsI have to face the truth that each day I spend engaging with both ideas, I lose a day where I could have truly focused on one.  

But is that such a bad thing?

During the Gateway, my first assignment grew from 8 pages to 24.  I enjoyed throwing myself into that class.  My semester is light enough that I could theoretically entertain the idea of doing both, but should I?  Hey, even this blog post is already four times the minimum length required.  Is that a sign I have what it takes to tackle both?  

Honestly?  I have no idea.

I need to get this under control.

Hopefully by next time.

Until then.

 

**BONUS CONTENT**

P.S. if you read all of this, here is a gift:  some inevitable Netflix recommendations!

  1. Maniac A new Netflix original limited series starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.  It’s a truly gripping sci-fi story about two people with little left to live for.  Enter Neberdine Pharmaceutical & Biotech.  They have a three step drug process (named A, B, C) which promises to lead you through your deepest, darkest traumas, have you confront them, and come out, well, normal. Jonah and Emma don’t care.  Jonah needs money and Emma Stone needs more of the “A” drug, which she is addicted to.  Little do you know, they have their own inner demons that find their way to the surface.  They enter the company’s trio A-B-C drug trial and their story is told through an anthology of different genres and characters all while they sleep, all played by them.  It is unlike anything released this year.  (One season available for streaming, roughly 1 hour.)
  2. The Good Place.  At first, The Good Place, is a happy-go-lucky comedy where Kirsten Bell plays a woman who just went to heaven.  Unfortunately, she isn’t supposed to be there.  The software which decides who goes to the Good Place or The Bad Place messed up.  Kirsten Bell, who was a terrible person on Earth, finds herself accidentally in Heaven.  The one thing is, they (i.e. the Architects who built Heaven) don’t know they made a mistake.  The other thing?  The Good Place isn’t what it seems… the entire show is flipped on its head at the season one finale. (Two seasons available for streaming now, 30 minutes.)
  3. High Maintenance. (This one’s on HBO, but who cares?)  This is an anthology series about a weed dealer meeting the entire spectrum of humanity in New York, nearly every archetype of person.  While at first the show might feel shallow and episodic, though still hilarious, the show has a way of revealing surprising connections about characters, when at first, they seem to just be a filler character for the episode.  It has a way of showing you information about the dealer’s past, his family and love life without telling you they’re doing so.  It’s incredibly frustrating, because they explain nothing.  But the added mystery, makes the show that much more addicting.   As a bonus, each episode has these incredible slo-mo shots that they play during the credits.  It is a show like no other.  (Two seasons available for streaming; 30 minutes.)

(Don’t worry, I won’t do this again, I’m exhausted.)

The Voice, The Voice, The Voice

If I’m being honest, nothing I write is truly my “voice.”  In the real world, where real people are, I’m unable to speak as clearly as I do in writing.  I never say things that are nearly as profound, and I most definitely don’t speak at the same vocabulary level.  It’s not that I write in a more sophisticated way than I speak, it’s just that in person I speak loud and quickly.  In doing so, I’m unable to press delete, go back, and correct myself.  I am a plethora (new word I learned) of figures of speech that I’m vaguely familiar with.  When I want to get an idea across, I want to get it across as quickly and easily as possible.  Which inevitably leads me to eagerly venturing into the territory of half-learned phrases that I embarrassingly say way too often.

($5.00 to whoever can find all of the ones I use in here.)

Another thing:  I’m not that funny.  I mean I’m funny, but not funny.  Does that make sense?  If given the time and the appropriate amount of alcohol, yeah, I’ll make you laugh, but if I can just type?  Give me 20 words to butter you up and I’ll have you doing anything I want.  Seriously.

Listen:  I’m insecure.  (Obviously.)  So in truth I don’t really know what my voice is like, what my persona is like.  I have body dismorphia, personality dismorphia, [INSERT ANYTHING]morphia, so it’s really hard to see myself through a truthful, critical eye, because I think everything I create is shit.  I know I make people laugh (sometimes), and I know I’m attractive (sometimes), but does my written voice perfectly correlate with how I speak in real life?  Probably not.  Is my voice in this blog post close to my true “authentic” voice?  Who knows.

I think it’s important to note the reasons I signed up for the minor:

  1. I loved my English 124 class with Jaimien Delp and I craved more creative classes that my Biochemistry major couldn’t provide.
  2. I felt writing was one of my things.  Like I was one of those writer guys and I was quickly losing that.
  3. I wanted to get better.  I felt I lost focus.  I didn’t know if my writing was ever good or not, and I felt myself getting lazier and lazier.  I claimed it as “pushing the boundaries” but the line between passive and innovative is shockingly smaller than you think.

So, no, now that I think about it, I don’t know what my voice is anymore.  I’m smart.  Does that mean my academic essays are more me?  I’m goofy.  Does that mean the parentheses I add in, the sentence fragments, the filler words (e.g. like, I mean), the bitchiness show the real me?

I’ve grown a lot in the past year.  Lots of ups and downs and everywhere in-between.  I’ve cried a few too many times and smoked weed even more.  At this point, I don’t even know what I am.  But, if I’m being honest, I’m probably just being dramatic.

There you have it.

Complete identity crisis in almost* 500 words or less.

Let’s see what the next post brings.

 

 

*531 words, to be exact.

Wait, you forgot to pee.

You can’t just sit down and read.  That’s not how it works.

You can’t just stop the craziness of life, open a book, and think you’ll be able to breathe.

First, you need to shower.  Or at least feel clean.  Physically, symbolically, in every way possible.  Make sure you wash not only the dirt but the literal stress from my body.  Nothing quite compares to the feel of clean clothes on right after a shower.

Second, go to Spotify, and listen to Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43: Variation 18 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.  Trust me.

Third.  Make tea.  Make it steam.  You want it hot.  (Otherwise it won’t work.)

You now have two options:  you can read at night or during the day.  If it’s during the day you must have natural light.  If it’s at night, you have to be in bed.  Either or you need a blanket.  (Disclaimer:  you have to own a blanket.)

Make sure you have some light snack (e.g. popcorn, apple slices).

You must have mood lighting, if there is any fluorescent lighting you might as well not even try.  (Are you still listening to the song?  Make sure it’s still on.)

Stretch.

Turn your phone on do not disturb.

Turn it off.

Throw it away, whatever it takes.

Make sure you’re warm.

Take a deep breath.

Okay, you’re ready.

Just kidding, you have to pee.

Go to the bathroom, pee, wash your hands with hot warm.  The soap has to smell good.

Now.  Okay.  Get into bed.  You’re ready.

How calm do you feel?

Okay, turn the page.

Zeno’s Paradox Debunked – EXCLUSIVE

I fucked up.

I only vaguely remember what Zeno’s Paradox is and I was forbidden from googling it.  The concept was that if you want to move from point A to point B you have to go through the midpoint.  You can take that logic further by doing the same thing until you get the point where the midpoint is infinitesimally small and you can’t move at all.  Basically Zeno’s Paradox says I shouldn’t be able to type this.  But here I am.  Typing.  Like the rebellious gay I am.  So how is this possible?  How is movement possible?

Honestly, I have no idea.

Actually, I do.

Chemical signals in your brain create an electrical pulse that goes to your muscle cells.  Calcium is released from the sarcoplasmic reticulum that encapsulates the muscle fibers – let’s talk specifically skeletal muscle – and the calcium interacts with troponin-C. It binds to troponin-C which causes tropomyosin to move.  This movement unearths the active site on the protein actin.  Actin is a long polymer of globular proteins.  Myosin, a threaded protein, uses ATP and the chemical energy stored in its highly reactive phosphate groups to conformationally change the myosin and have it pull the actin until the actin is fully compressed.  This, my friends, is muscle compression.  And this, my friends, is how movement is possible.

What does the internet have to say about Zeno’s Paradox?   Honestly, I have no idea.  All I know is that it doesn’t really take into consideration energy, or the fundamentals of what movement is, and just tries to explain the whole process with one segment of its components, and it doesn’t work that way.  Or maybe it does.  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

Until next time, constantly defying the laws of Zeno.

(That was the name of the paradox, right?)

‘What Is Virginity?’ And Other Seemingly Stupid Questions

The more and more I think about it, the more I’m into this idea of writing about sex and sexuality.  Not only has it been a recurring theme in my writing, but having the opportunity to write about it through different lenses and mediums is something I haven’t had the chance to do.  Saying that, I’m hoping to deconstruct the idea of sex through the eyes of LGBT members.  We don’t get the Tutorial, the Orientation most students get with sex.  Even to this day, and mind my language, I’m not sure about the exact procedure for anal sex.  Even the fact I had to say “mind my language” tells you something.

A few questions I hope to stimulate in readers:

  1. What is virginity?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to teach sexual education?
  3. How far is too far for sexual education?
  4. How much can we label and define sexuality?
  5. When am I supposed to tell someone if I have an STD/STI?
  6. Why are guys and girls separated for sexual education?  Should they know both?  What if they’re transgender?
  7. Is sex a right or is it earned at a certain age?
  8. Why and who decides?
  9. Why are there differing levels of emotion attached to sex?
  10. What is sex?

As you can see there are a lot of angles I can take with this very very broad topic.  I’ll most likely omit #5 as a focus point but if I decide to do the fictional piece on a gay relationship I’ll need to include HIV and misconceptions about it and how it ties into curable STDs.

I could easily force the reader to ask these questions by having the characters ask these questions themselves.  That might be too easy and cause the piece to feel less organic and genuine.  This needs to be a realistic snippet of a relationship, not a thought piece and most definitely not an essay.

I think people are more curious than they let on.  I didn’t realize I cared so much about so many things until I came to Michigan and I’m sure others are the same way.  People also jump over definitions way more than than they let on.  We think we know what sex is, and we think we know what virginity is, but when we ask the simple question, “What is it and why is it that way?” we get this sense of dissociation.   The lines are a little more blurred than we think.  I think the reader will most likely have preconceived definitions of these ideas and when I force a different lens and context, their definitions will (hopefully) start to change.

 

BIGFOOT KEPT LUMBERJACK AS LOVE SLAVE AND OTHER SHOCKING NEWS

I’m not the most political person.  I have no idea what’s happening in Syria and I’m still confused on Palestine vs. Israel.  Although I’m in an organization that encourages the spread of ideas and I attend one of the best public universities in the country, I stick out like a sore thumb.  And that scares me.

Regardless, I try.  Unfortunately, the majority of my “news” is from the blogging site Tumblr.  I know it’s pitched to me because the content I receive is based on who I follow, making it the most tailored site I’m a part of.  Even though it’s not officially a “news” site and I see more memes than breaking stories, day in and day out I see news targeting minorities, stories that aren’t really covered that extensively on the big networks.  Which means a lot to groups that want their voices heard.

Even though my news is from Tumblr, I know there are lesser news outlets available.  I picture the word TABLOIDS written on the wall, oozing with the blood of its victims.  I can’t even believe people buy magazines where the headline is BIGFOOT KEPT LUMBERJACK AS LOVE SLAVE.  (I’m looking at you, Weekly World News.)  Hey, it must be news to someone.

Like I said, I know I’m not an expert on worldly affairs.  I learned this the hard way when I tried to get into The Diane Rehm Show: Friday News Roundup to impress a boy.  (I didn’t impress him.) The delivery was boring and to the point.  Even the theme music sounded like it could lecture you on advanced microeconomics.   This wasn’t news for beginners or those looking for a crash course, it was for people who have been in the arena for years, and unfortunately, it was my first day.

Genre and Form

When I picture genre, it is all encompassing.  It includes what the characters are likely to be like, the plot, the setting, the writing style, the length of the book, the target demographic, the themes, and the list goes on.  Any aspect of a book that can be written down to a formula adds to the overall genre.   Let’s analyze the latest fading trend:  young adult dystopian trilogies.  Off the top of my head I can name three young adult dystopian trilogies from when I actively read young adult literature.  How is that possible?  Not only young adult dystopian book series, but series that have specifically three books.  The one that started the trend was The Hunger Games.  A teenager who will do anything for their family (specifically a younger sibling) stands against the entire government and wins.  Add in the love triangle and you have yourself a bestseller.

Form, on the other hand, is the physical format of the information.  It’s something that can apply to many genres.  For example, you can have short stories as the literal form of the writing but the genre could be nonfiction, fiction, mystery, crime, suspense, horror, the list goes on.   When you have all the materials, you can go down many different avenues.  When you start specifically with the genre, you eliminate dozens of forms of writing because it just doesn’t fit.  Genre and form usually need to harmonize.  You can’t really smash recipes and horror together, it’d be complete bullshit.