Things have felt really strange lately. I’ve had kind of a tough time dealing with this break from school that I have. To make up for not have any classes, I’ve spent some time catching up on my web development skills (as evidenced by this new website), and I’ve been trying to get a good grasp on the biology side of bioinformatics. I started working on the Genomics Education Partnership under Dr. Chung. I’m working on annotating a small section of DNA from Drosophia mojavensis. Before I began, Dr. Chung had me do a short test on genetics, which I didn’t do to well on, and then she had me do a short test on DNA annotation, which I did with no trouble at all. So far, I’ve been using BLAST and CLUSTALW.
I have made a few changes to the website. Mainly adding features that probably won’t get used much. BBird is a web application I wrote for this website that is a microblog. If you don’t know what a microblog is, it would probably be easiest to say it is like twitter. I originally wrote BBird very quick and simple as a form that I can access to post a short (140 character) entry on its own page. I have since also included the latest entry on the Index page and added a delete entry feature (which only I can see). I was unhappy with Dreambook, mostly because it was not hosted by this website, but also because it didn’t really fit the flow of my website well. I expanded BBird to allow audience guestbook-like posts. Today, I added one new feature to BBird to allow RSS subscriptions to it.
Another feature I added, which I once had in the past, is an Internet Relay Chat channel and web client to connect to it (if you don’t already have your own IRC client). This allows my website to have a chat room. Although this feature seems pretty 90’s like, and this feature probably won’t be used much, I think it is pretty neat, it is another way to communicate with me, and the web client seems to flow well with my website. I’ve been thinking about modifying the web client a bit to auto-connect users who visit this website, but that feature seems a bit intrusive. As I said, I don’t think it will really get much use, but I hope to see someone there some time.
Since I’ve had a little extra time lately (which I haven’t really had in years), I decided to check out a few of my old online stomping grounds. I decided, since I have a Windows laptop now, to check out what’s going on in Active Worlds and AWRPG. I am saddened to say that it looks like the participation there is pretty low now. I am not really seeing many of the old names I used to see. It also saddened me to learn that some of these I used to see there have passed on. I also decided to download Trillian and see what’s going on in that community. It was largely the same thing. Most of the old faces are gone, and things are pretty stagnant. I was also surprised to learn that Trillian hasn’t had a major upgrade (Astra is still beta) since I stopped going there. Although I think Trillian is still one of the best IM applications out there, I do have a slight aversion to closed source software. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things I don’t like about Pidgin. I guess it is a bit futile anyway. I haven’t really had any communication with any of my old friends in a long time.
Still having quite a bit of trouble with finding a place to live in Live Oak. Julie and I had found this house with a realtor there that we really like. It is a short sale, which basically means that the residents got kicked out and the bank is selling the house (but still a little nicer than a foreclosure). I have this $20,000 PhD stipend, which is more than enough to afford the payments for this house. The house is just $54,000! Even with taxes and insurance, this house would still be a lot less than the cost of an apartment. We’d be looking at paying around $300 a month for a mortgage, and Julie and I have more than enough to put a large down payment on it. It looks like the banks will not consider my stipend income because it is “grade based.” I think the whole thing is stupid. Although it is true that I’m technically not guaranteed my stipend for 3 years, I am just annual reevaluated. However, if I do not get my stipend each year, that basically means that I am flunking out of school! If I fail, that just means I’m going to take a job and make more money anyway. I mean, at least I’m guaranteed my job for one full year. Who can say that these days? It seems like most people I know aren’t sure they’re going to have a job next month!
Nearly all of the apartment complexes in Live Oak either do not allow pets (we have two cats) or they are tax-credit low income apartments (like Magnolia Crossing was). Low income apartments a. require at least one tenant to not be a full time student (we both will be) and b. count all student aid and loans as income (which I guess means Julie and I will be making over $60,000). There are only two apartments in Live Oak that allow pets and aren’t discriminating on our student statuses. One of these apartments looks like a trailer park and the other is the most expensive apartment complex in town (which is only $675 for a two bedroom two bathroom). I know that price is pretty low compared to Pensacola, but it is high for that area. I guess my issue is just that over the next 4 years, Julie and I are going to spend over $32,000 to apartments. If we put that $32,000 paying on a mortgage, we’d almost have the house paid for. Even worse, I’m guessing that in 4 years, home values are going to increase, so we’d probably make money off of living in this house in the long run. Given the cost of law school, it would be really nice if something worked to our favor. It just seems like the system is working against us. Julie and I did things the right way! We didn’t have any bastard children with single mothers. We’re not using any welfare, food stamps, WIC, or any other free, Robin Hood handouts, and we’ve already gotten an education and are working to increase it so that we can be lawful, tax paying Americans. I know that when Julie and I do finish out degrees and get job (with some luck), we’re going to be doing pretty well. I know with a Law degree and a masters in Archaeology, Juile’s going to be doing well; and the starting pay for a computation biology PhD is a bit over $120,000. We’re going to be paying out of our butts in taxes to help the “less fortunate”. While right now, we’re pretty “less fortunate” and the system seems to work against us. Julie said all the uneducated mothers who get so much help remind her of that child who is always doing wrong and gets more of the parents’ attention for it. Oh well, such is life in America for the hard-working, non-bastard-producing white couple. Unless Julie and I find some sort of mortgage, and I don’t think we will, we will be living at a place called Mel Margo apartments in Live Oak. I really wonder some times if it wouldn’t just be better to quit school and get a job on my masters degree.
I have to say that I’ve been pretty depressed about my wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I love Julie. I am actually just talking about the wedding itself. I mean, I had four groomsman who agreed early to be in my wedding, knowing the date, knowing the location. I had two of my groomsmen ditch me, Jeremy M. a while back, and Nick just last week. I have two replacements, Brad and Johnnie. I mean, I don’t think of them as “replacements”; they’re my friends and I’m honored that they are willing to be my groomsmen. It is just sad to me that I have had so much trouble finding four guys that are willing to be in my wedding. It is just kind of building on the fact that hardly anyone came to my engagement party. I have also realized that other than my groomsmen (including David), no one but Stephanie, Andrew, Mom, and Dad are coming to my wedding. That’s right, I’m probably going to have eight people coming to my wedding. Everyone at my wedding is going to be a complete stranger to me. Plus, Julie’s mom wants me to dance, which I don’t know how to do, and don’t really want to do in front of a ton of people I don’t know. I just kind of feel like I’m going to someone else’s wedding… It is fitting though. I was the one who wanted a wedding ceremony. I wonder if I shouldn’t have just gone to a court house. It certainly would have been easier on us. Julie doesn’t really have time for all this with her thesis and getting ready for law school and all. So yeah, what kind of loser am I? Can’t even find anyone to come to my wedding. Can’t even get my entire family to attend.
I need someone to talk to. I love Julie, but I don’t think I can talk to her about my issues. She’s too involved in them herself. Back before I started grad school when I had friends, I would talk to a Caddy or a Kenny or a Heather or a Meaghan, and they would make me feel better. After grad school, it seems like I don’t have any friends anymore. That, and I don’t know how to get a hold of anyone now. I’m also a little scared of moving. I’ve never lived outside Pensacola before, and I’m moving somewhere that’s even more small and redneck than Pensacola! I’m lonely.