Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Morning Post

In a bid to reduce procrastination, I modified the settings on our Internet at home so my internet connection doesn't turn on until 12. This means I procrastinate less but it also means no timely Monday Morning Post. Sorry Friends.

I just finished up a week of working and sort of studying in Westport. I received a couple of shifts at my occasional call in job at Camp Iawah. I cooked some food, cleaned some rooms, and did some dishes. It was a good time. Then I went off and wrote an exam on Wednesday. I don't know how I did but I wrote an exam. That's how I feel about most of my exams these days. They're ok but I don't know if I'm actually doing well in them or not. It's tough to say.

Today at 2 I write my second exam (oooo, second exam at two o clock). I don't know if I'm prepared or not because it's difficult to say whether or not I've actually learned anything in the class. Some profs are a little ambiguous in my opinion. I understand the material though so hopefully I'll be okay to survive. After this I've only got three more so it should be fine.

Oh, and I'm moving. Life is moving fast at the moment. Faster than I'd like.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Am Okay At Science But I Am A Bad Scientist

Well, the title pretty much sums it up. Let me elaborate though.

Being a scientist involves a group of skills. One is knowing what is going on in current research. Two is developing good questions that have not already been asked in current research. Three is designing experiments to answer these good questions.

I am bad at keeping up with current research. There is a lot of it, and there are other things I'd rather do than read through copies of "Science", "Nature", and "New Phytologist". Why make excuses about how I'm overworked when really, I'd never want to keep up with current research.

I am bad at developing good questions that have not been answered. I'm taking a course this term that requires me to write a research proposal. It took me a month to come up with a good question for my proposal. Meanwhile there are kids in my classes who come up with interesting questions like it is nobody's business. I am clearly not as good at this process as some other people are. I also have a tendency to be very reductionistic in my thinking which makes teaching much easier but limits my ability to discover and generate new questions.

I am okay at generating experiments to test hypotheses but sometimes I make up methods that don't exist and aren't necessarily possible. I'm pretty sure I made up an impossible method for my research proposal.

I am okay with all of this. In fact this is actually a great relief. To know that I am a bad science means I can stop banging my head against the wall of biology and start doing something that I am more apt at.

All of this is to say that I am bad at stuff and there are better uses for my time then trying to continually pursue them.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Monday Afternoon Post

I forgot. Well, actually a more accurate description would be that I had to work from 7-12 this morning which didn't leave me a lot of time to write, but this is simply an excuse. Here is the Monday afternoon post.

Not a whole lot going on this week. I'm attempting to study for exams and working at camp a bunch. This morning I cleaned for a while and now I'm attempting to study for an exam. Not going so well but hopefully it gets better.

That's really about it right now. Hopefully next week's post will be less boring.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't Let That Be It

The video above was made by some people who are currently organizing an event aimed at communicating a message of community to people at Queen's. I think it's a great idea as it's another opportunity to remind people that there are people all around them who are suffering in silence because they don't feel like they can talk about it. By the time you read this, it will be over.

The problem won't be though. We hear stories all the time, often too late, about students who felt excluded or distant even though it looked like they were being included. These are issues that have been occuring for a long time and will continue to occur for a long time into the future.

This just makes it all the more important that we don't think "Misson Accomplished" at the end of the day. Next year new first years will come in and many of them will come to Queen's experiencing feelings of depression and exclusion. We need to keep passing on the message that "Queen's Loves U" every single day if we really want a chance at making a difference.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Some Thoughts On Today

Many people have taken some time out of their day to sit down and write about their experiences and thoughts on mental health issues at Queen's. I wanted to take some time to share my experiences with this issue, which come from a different perspective than most.

Last year my girlfriend experienced a deep and long depression over the course of several months. To this day, we still talk about what triggered it, and the experiences that followed. I don't want to get into details because that's her story to share and she's shared it to many at this point. What I want to share is some of the things I've learned while trying to help her out.

1) It's not personal - Sometimes people can't control their actions. I've been pushed away by people who have asked for help more than a few times. My first reaction to these situations was to get upset. "They said they wanted help, why won't they just let me help?". Gradually (all too gradually for my taste) I learned not to take these kinds of things personally. I learned to identify these actions with the disorder, not with the person. Through this process I learned to keep these things from getting in the way of trying to help.

2) Don't feign interest - You've no doubt had an experience where someone asked how you were doing, and you said "good" even though this was blatantly not true. So often we hide how we're really feeling because we don't want to bother other people with our problems. This is also true for people struggling with how they're feeling. They don't want their problems to be a burden on others or they don't want others to know what they're thinking because they think it will make things worse. You have to learn to really think about what you're saying when you ask "how are you doing?"; ask follow up questions, get them to tell you specifics, ask "really?" in disbelief. Even if they aren't ready to talk yet, be interested in the ongoings of their lives. Anything you can do to show people that you are interested in them as a person will make it easier for them to believe you when you say that you want to help, and it will make it harder for them to lie to you about how they're feeling.

3) Be honest - This concept goes for you too. If you want people to be honest with you about how they're feeling, you have to do the same. Are you feeling extremely anxious? Tell friends when they ask you how you're doing. We're not all doing fine and pretending we are just makes it harder to seek help when we really need it.

4) You can't do it alone - I am guilty of this one more times than I can count. Sometimes I think that with enough hugs, enough happy movies, enough encouraging words, I can fix things. I think that I don't need to get others involved. Then I have a bad day and end up taking it out on the person I'm trying to help. People need more than just one person to help them through these difficult times, because if we spread the load around no one gets crushed under it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

All In

There's a new ad campaign out from Adidas (featured below). It features a variety of their sponsored people doing the things that they do and at the end, it runs through their tagline for the campaign. The tagline is "____ is all in".

I could talk about how athletic advertising is bullshit, but I like the line. It's making me think about what I do.

Ben is all in.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Oh Yeah...The Monday Morning Post

I almost forgot to do this on this fine April morning which is featuring copious amounts of rain (good time of the year to have rain boots). However, here I am.

The reason why I almost forgot about this post is because I was up most of the weekend working on a trio of projects while trying to cram in some social interactions. The strange thing about these projects though is that once I finished the biggest one, the rest of them got finished so quickly. I cranked out a lab report and a poster in under 5 hours. I wish I had been able to do this in first year but I think I'm just seeing the results of a couple of years worth of hard work now paying off. Regardless of how it happened, it was really nice to feel good about my grasp on the content.

With those things out of the way, I'm now into full scale exam and California prep mode. I keep telling people that I'm going and it never gets old. It's really fun having a big experience coming up that I can tell people about.

In other news I'm reading a crazy book by Rob Bell called "Love Wins" right now. It has already generated its fair share of controversy but it has been helping me figure out a number of issues I've been having lately which is amazing. If you don't mind a little dose of controversy then it's a very good read.

I hate stating this because it means that I'll have to stick to it but I'm moving this blog to a three post a week format. I've started writing ahead of myself and it allows me to spend more time writing and be more scheduled in my posts here so if you check Monday after 12 PM and Wednesday and Friday after 7 AM you should see a new post. I hope you all enjoy the consistency. It will probably decrease somewhat in California.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go print one last sheet and put it on my poster so I can be finished and then I start on the last two assignments.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Bus Station

My roommate moved to Toronto. It sucks but he comes back on weekends to visit which makes things better. On Fridays I go pick him up from the bus station.

I love the bus station. In the hours before I'm supposed to go there I mill about aimlessly, not really able to do anything. The hours creep by until it's time to go. Then as soon as I pull into the parking lot I get excited. Someone is coming back into my life. What could be better? I run over to the platform and wait, barely able to keep still. I plan the hug that is coming when the person gets here and I think about the things I want to ask them. I obsessively look for their bus down the road.

When the bus comes, a smile creeps across my face. The moment I've been waiting for finally comes. I watch through the front window for that person and when I see them, I move in. I let out all my excited energy in a hug and let all my questions out into the air. They are back.

So here's to all those trips to the bus station and the people we pick up. I think we could all use a few more trips to the bus stop.