Jason McSheene

An Outlet for Thoughts, Ideas, and Discussion

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On Schedule?

I’m wondering if I can’t make some sort of fun “schedule” for daily writing.
What if I designate a theme to each day of the week. Here’s a quick brainstorm for such topics:

  • Tolerance, Race, and Religion
  • Introspection
  • Love
  • Body
  • Relationships
  • Home Life
  • World
  • Work Life
  • PhD Experience

I think this would help guide my writings. In theory, at the end of the year I should have about 51-52 posts for each.

My 30th birthday is coming up and it would be the perfect time to log all of my experiences. I am also looking to do continue podcasting… this is a daunting task. Since I started (and finished) the PhD in Progress Podcast, juggernauts like Serial and Start Up have really changed how people view these shows.

I’m itching to hop on a microphone again and getting some words out there.

Unwell

I had never looked much into the whole “Mind, Body, Spirit” attitude/philosophy. And I should say that I still have not. However, I encountered a long and existentially bruising period of unemployment after wrapping up my PhD. One unemployed morning found me journaling. The words came from my pen: “I don’t think my mind, body, or spirit are healthy”.

It was an odd position for me. I, in general, am a pretty positive and happy person. But in that moment I was not. Identifying that I was not made for the best stepping stone.

Simplicity for the Novice

On the surface, so much of our lives can appear simple: Just go exercise, eat well, act in love, work diligently, read some of the great works, and get to bed in time for a solid 7-8 hours. And it is just as easy to judge those who do not do these simple things. They’re so simple!

Extrapolate that. I am now seeing, in my professional life, that healthcare is many times more complicated than previously imagined. This is not for better or worse necessarily, but it opened my eyes. Every person is surrounded by her or his circumstances and set of rules, like a game. Games are just the actions taken to reach a certain goal according to rules. Any game may appear simple… to the novice.

Reaction

A person’s reaction to an action is rarely interesting. That is, the reaction itself says little to nothing. What is more interesting is the reasons behind the reaction.

Did the reaction require thought or was it reflexive? Did the quality of the reaction suffer because it was done thoughtfully or reflexively?

Martin Luther King in 2016

I grew up in a town that only sometimes decided to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. My mother kept us home on MLK day and, instead of enjoying a full day of “vacation”, brought us to the library to learn more about the heroes of our heritage. After a bit too much introspection, I’m sure it is my mother’s emphasis on equality which really drives the person I am today. When the preacher from Alabama was a man alive, leading millions in a movement across the US and the World, I was not alive. If the preacher from Alabama did not lead millions in a movement across the US and the World, my life would undoubtedly not be as fortunate as it is today.

MLK was driven by an understanding of his Christian faith that meant peace and love. Peace and love… I am not a Christian. I am not Jewish nor Muslim nor Buddhist nor a theist. I don’t think there is much supernatural in our lives, but I am not sure of that. However, I am positive that living my life in the light of peace and love is right. And I am happy that the forces of other faiths and philosophies can help others find peace and love.

Love does not lose to fear. I listened to some popular talk radio personalities recently. What struck me instantly was the complete lack of positive outlook. Without exaggeration, I do not think I heard one single positive statement. Instead, each sentence was forged in negativity, disgust, apathy, and (most notably to me) fear. We are in a time when it is easy to be afraid. There are Scary People in the news with Scary Agendas. They taunt and steal and kill honest, caring people. MLK dealt this directly.  Yet, he chose to act out of peace and love.

The Scary People, of the past and of the future, may have once been honest, caring people themselves until fear skewed their views and hearts.

Love does not fear the unknown or perceptions. Fear drives rash decisions that, on the surface, allow us to feel “safe”. Fear drives Scared People to war, motivates them to build literal and figurative walls, and causes them to hold to the familiar instead of embracing hope.

Love is no stranger to hope. MLK embodied love as a means to success. While he was not a morally perfect human being, he knew he had a mission: His mission was to lead the people of the world on the principle of equality via peaceful demonstration. He was the one who was called ugly names as he was arrested 5… 10… 15… 20… 25… about 30 times. King gave talks in the face of numerous, personalized death threats. He chose not to arm himself. He lived out his message, even when faced by the Scary People, Scary Times, and Scary Circumstances.

It is with this conviction which I try to live my life, in lieu of a solid doctrinal faith. I choose love when others are scared. When the Scared People and the Scary People let fear rule their lives, the world suffers.

Decisiveness

I once envied those who were so sure of themselves and certain of their realities. Had they figured everything out while everyone else struggled? As I grew, I soon realized that those who were too certain made too many assumptions. Those who knew their reality only studied the details they were able to visualize through the lenses they wore.

 

Now I see that recognizing one’s own biases and prejudices is paramount. Understanding that perception forms each reality is freeing. It aids empathy and empathy allows for construction, for intelligence, and for love.

New to Maker Culture

My days in the biology laboratory have finished. I quickly learned that I missed doing things with my hands. My girlfriend is a huge knitter and I found myself jealous. I was not doing much to bring my imagination into the real world. It felt like a big problem…

I opened up to my friends and they suggested that I stream myself learning a new skill, while simultaneously teaching that skill. Of course I’d be horrible at first, but it’s all about the journey, right? Two weeks later, I found that it has been the most fun project I’ve worked on in years.

Project 1: Learning to Solder

I used the Amerikit AK-100 “Learn to Solder Kit and Flashing European Siren” (yes, the name is a bit off). However, I had a ton of fun learning/teaching while streaming. I had to talk out my experiences, thoughts, and keep it coherent. Also, people showed up in chat to help me along the way. They were great. See my early success below:

Now I’m on Project 2: Learning Arduino.

Follow along on Twitch.tv/blue_impulse

 

Day 23: Recovery

Yesterday I was a bit excited about getting back into my workout routine… it’s easy to over do it. I over did it. Today, I learn how recovery is needed. Importantly, recovery is rest for a purpose besides recreation/relaxation. When losing track of the goal of the rest, you lose track of the period of rest. With that in mind, I’m eager to get back to my workouts.

Day 22: Labor Day

It is Labor Day here in the U.S. For the first time in over a decade, I do not have school or work (formally) to tend to. It is in this lack of formal commitment, on this Labor Day, which inspires me to press on during the job hunt and continue my own personal/professional growth.

As I work to apply to local companies in the biotech/pharma industry and search for a position which truly fits my ideals and career goals, I know it is important to push for growth. I signed up for a couple brief Coursera courses offered by Johns Hopkins University: an introduction to genomic data and a Python programming for genomic data course. I am excited to get through them. Which newly gained skills can I apply to my projects and future career? I’ll let you know.

Day 21: Clash of Schedule and Creativity

I am struggling with this current conundrum:

Over the past year, I have evolved into a morning person. I love being awake before the sun rises, reading, and journaling while downing my first cup of coffee. However, I am at my most creative at night. This would not be much of an issue if I only needed a couple hours of sleep.

Recognizing I have my best ideas after dinner, I will try to record these as well as I can (either via audio recordings or good ole fashioned Evernote) and put them to work after the morning coffee. I think tracking these projects, ideas, and thoughts will become a part of my website.

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