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Kevin the Biotech Major's Journal of Origins


Kevin
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1/25/2016

I was hesitant to write a journal because I was not proud of quitting any games, but a journal for me to organize my thoughts every day as well as something for others to observe made me feel it worth the risk. In this journal, I want to keep track of what I do every day so that I can record everything I have notably achieved. I have always felt this lack of achievement in life was the reason I kept playing.

In the morning, I thought that I should set a goal for the day and during the night I can write about whether I achieved that goal. Since I was taking a genomics class, I decided that I was going to learn how to search databases for scientific articles more efficiently. The plan seemed helpful because I can identify some things that happened today that made me feel like it was less wasted. I found some nice tips on searching the Pubmed database such as how to read MeSH terms in the search builder and using the single citation matcher to find entries in certain journals. I checked some of the practice exams and look forward to learn about dynamic programming in upcoming classes. I barely remember the linear programming lesson I took in finite math class. I hope I won’t forget what I learned in this class.

Today, I told my dad about my fear of sleepiness on the road and he gave me some ginger candy. The mild alertness I felt kicked in immediately after chewing it and I was able to stay awake on the road. I also look forward to sleeping in my newly washed bedsheets.

I am worried that my difficulty in finding a relaxing activity will force me to play when I am stressed out. The desire to play usually happens during the afternoon to sunset. I would get some kind of song play in my head while walking around restlessly and spacing out to thoughts about some of the games I like. The problem in finding relaxing activities is feeling the passion in it as well as doing something with low difficulty. In the past I thought I could do some still life sketches but I did not feel any reward from it. I might try some still life and then apply what I learned from it to a freehand sketch. This will let me apply what insights I gain from my copying. I am thinking about drawing cloth because I feel like my drawings have always been too orderly so learning to draw complex cloth folds allows me to visualize some type of disorderly detail.

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 I want to keep track of what I do every day so that I can record everything I have notably achieved. I have always felt this lack of achievement in life was the reason I kept playing.

@Kevin yeah it fullfills the same function for me. In addition I use it to clear my thoughts by writing them down. Nice to have you here you should add keeping record of your achievementsm as an achievement because it really is. ^_^

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1/26/2016

A lot happened today. I studied enough from my Biology book to formulate some questions that I can ask my lab TA regarding the chapter. I learned about cell division and inheritance years ago but have long since forgotten it and I plan to relearn it all. I was able to read a 13 page article and typed the beginning of an essay. It was for my biotech class and I was able to recall information from my past biotech lessons. I took fewer breaks than I normally do. I am cautiously optimistic that it is because I am holding every day accountable for learning something. It was cold and raining outside so I did 100 pushups on the floor of my dorm and 100 sit-ups. I got hair and crumbs all over my hands! Finally, I opened David Spivak’s “Category Theory for the Sciences” book which I closed during the end of winter to study for my classes. I am going to mind-map every concept in that book. I always had productive days followed by unproductive days so I am not confident in my progress just yet, but it was a still an accomplished day.

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I always had productive days followed by unproductive days so I am not confident in my progress just yet, but it was a still an accomplished day.

If you can do it one day, you can do it any day. Keep your focus on living for each day and making each day count. One day at a time. You'll have days that don't go so well and that's ok too, just remember what contributes to your positive days and if you continue those habits, you'll have more positive days than negative days. :)

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1/27/2016

I thought of posting in the morning instead of at night because writing seems to make me awake at night and I can remember the achievements of the previous day better. I remind myself that my goals for the day should be achievable, specific, and worthwhile to me. It should not be a list of activities that will fill the day. I also wanted to connect what I learned today with what I learned the previous days. A knowledge that is built up is additional motivation for continual learning.

I asked some questions to my lab TA about cell division and he told me those types of questions will not be on the quiz. This made me think I could focus on the lab manual (where the information for the quiz will appear) and read less of the biology book. But the biology book provides more context behind the information presented in the lab manual despite there being more things to read for me. Knowing the stages of cell division is not the same as knowing the mechanism behind cell division.

I finished my biotech regulations essay about genetically engineered organisms (such as crops) expressing an insecticidal poison called Cry toxin. It is a nasty poison that forms holes in the gut of insects but does not affect humans because humans do not have the same receptors in their stomach as insects for the toxin to bind to. I want to remember the effect pathway of this toxin but I am afraid I might forget it someday. I was hoping that the mathematical knowledge from category theory can remind me of patterns related to Cry toxin that show up in other knowledge domains.

I was thinking of what to do for my literary review for lab and found an institute studying artificial cells. The thought of life created from nonliving things has been some interest to me but I put it off because there was too much math involved. I want to try to find out how the researchers create artificial cells and separate the vague main ideas from the math jargon.

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1/28/2016

I was doing my bioinformatics homework and realized there were some lingering questions about chemistry and DNA that I did not fully understand. I wrote down the questions and tried to answer them. By 8:00, I was sufficiently burned out. I thought it might be because my questions with chemistry led to too far from genetics. I managed to only get the chemistry questions answered and will review the questions and answers tomorrow.

My slow pace through the homework made me realize that I was not proficient enough in understanding gene expression. I wrote down some suggestions to ask myself in order to become more fluent in genetics:

  •          Ask what is the popular understanding and misconceptions with the concept. People must have said something about gene expression which I can think through.
  •          Given the details of gene expression, what might it look like under the electron microscope?
  •          The textbook only goes over what is happening to the DNA, so what may be happening to the DNA regulators, organelles, the whole cell, or the macroscopic events affecting gene expression?

I tried “skimming” through my category theory book. By skimming, I mean rewriting and rewording the definitions or insights and making sure that previous terms were included in the next terms so that the concepts build on themselves. I skipped the exercises in order to have a more general idea of where all the concepts lead before working on them. It looks like there are two concepts built up. One concept builds from products of sets to their pullbacks and another concept builds from the coproduct of sets to their pushouts. But what are the relations between pullbacks and pushouts? They are duals of each other but I want to see what the book says about this duality.

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1/29/2016

 

Today I drove from my dorm to my parent’s house to visit them weekly. I was surprised that I did not feel like studying at all. I also had a lot of thoughts on playing games. It seems like the relaxed environment my parents lived in made me not want to do anything. I tried several things to put myself in the mood to study:

 

  • I put various textbooks and notes in front of me to make them easier to access.

  • I asked myself what I wanted (my life goals) and searched online to find advanced articles for inspiration

  •  

None of these strategies were helpful. Looking back from yesterday, I found something I did not do, which was make connections between past achievements. This strategy would give me a sense that I was building up my past achievements. I thought about my past achievements but did not write them down in a coherent way. No build up would mean no motivation.

 

My motivation feels fine in the morning as I am writing this entry. I had a lot of videogame dreams and when I woke up I did not feel like doing much as I lay in bed. Thinking through my strategies and making the reasoning behind them explicit seems to give me a sense of control and confidence. I can implement these strategies the next time I feel a loss of desire to study.

 
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1/30/2016

 

I finished a worksheet on gene expression yesterday. It was a simple assignment but I want to make it valuable to myself. What did I learn from doing this assignment? By making a task into something special, I wanted to gain confidence knowing that I made progress in my life. But a part of me thinks that forcing the meaning into the task is too much effort on my part.

 

I was still struggling with study aversion yesterday. I would walk around the room with my mind wandering to games and movies. It seems like sitting down and writing anything will put myself in the mood to sit and focus on studying. I had 20 minutes left in the schedule before going to the shower, so I went to take a shower early with the aversion still active. If writing anything can make me more calm and focused, what do I write about? I can explicitly define my problem and some strategies to alleviate the problem. I can also write about a particular subject from my studies such as strategies to start a mindmap.

 

It seems like I was isolating my category theory studies from my other lessons. This was because I did not know enough about categories to apply it to other areas of study. However, by isolating one subject from other subjects, the knowledge from both subjects will not build on each other. It seems like commuting diagrams is a major component of categories so I will draw examples from biology in making diagrams and then commute those diagrams. The goal is to practice noticing math in everyday life as well as understanding how analogies work. After all, category theory is about the study of analogy.

 
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2/2/2016

 

I haven’t been writing for the past weekend due to continual feelings of little achievement. I redownloaded my computer game and played for an hour before I stopped to eat dinner or go to sleep. There are some reasons for this feeling. After years of study in college, I am still not able to design a robot or understand basic university math such as linear algebra. Mathematical notation is difficult to understand without a thorough background. I also find that it takes me the same amount of time to learn new things as it did several years ago. So I have not improved in learning basic subjects and my ability to learn new things has not improved either. Scott Young has written about the fluidity of knowledge (for example, seeing the equations of songs) and though this desire is mighty ambitious, the ability to find connections in various subjects is open to disputes of realism.

 

I played that game, this time, to find new friends. Maybe I could meet them in real life, though they may only like games, it feels like a tedious, unnecessary idea now. Because, for one hour, I did not ask anyone I met if I could add them to my buddy list. I was too focused on levelling up and the players I ran into only made my levelling up slower.

 

In past posts, I could not find a meaningful reason to make quitting games an identity. Maybe I want to quit games, but putting my soul into the struggle made me uneasy. Then I realized that game quitting takes the joy out of games and puts them into real life. My insight was that a game quitter is someone who does not play games because they enjoy real world experiences more. This insight, though a little obvious, makes me want to struggle more because I do want to achieve my life goals as a super intelligent scientist.

 

I thought of starting a “society of science losers” club so I could learn from people at the same level as me but I am not sure about it. We would all be studying something by ourselves and we would not be able to understand each other as novice scientists.

 
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I just toured SpaceX last week and none of them were science losers. They were some of the most intelligent and badass people on the planet. :)

A book you might like is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Bet it will help a lot.

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  • 10 months later...

January 3, 2017

I have returned with greater dedication to overcoming my propensity towards gaming.

Events Today: With the difficulty of doing biotech work, I began trying to construct simple and complete mathematical models of living things to ground my understanding of Biology against the deluge of facts that will bombard me in my Biology courses. This led me to the works of Robert Rosen who used mathematical objects called Metabolic Repair (MR) systems to model life at any complexity. The key to MR Systems is the belief that metabolism and repair is functional. I rediscovered properties of nonfunctional mappings today.

Affirmations Today: I was cycling through a routine of studying math with breaks of practicing balance, “hula hoop” stretches, posture stretches, and running with a afternoon nap and lunch with my dad. My fear of gaming interfered with my consistency of activities in the past, putting me in days of sluggishness and distraction. Now, whenever I want to game at the end of the day, I can go to the Game Quitters forum to rededicate myself.

Feelings Today: I feel uneasy or low confidence in my consistency because it was always easy to relapse. My dad doesn’t agree with me about playing games being an addiction so I don’t feel like I can depend on family.

Goals: My short term goal is to model networks of living things starting from sets and functions. Later I can combine the Category Theoretic approach with the model of genes as signals in networks inspired by cybernetics.

Improvements: In the early evening, I thought I could go back to gaming and make my own guild promoting math and Biology. I was able to escape relapse by going to the forums. I will find another way to make friends without using gaming as a connection to others.

Other thoughts: Started reading Eugenia Cheng’s “Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory” book I received for Christmas. The book explains math along with recipes for dessert. Thinking of cooking sometime.


 

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Hey welcome back. Thats an itneresting topic. I nearly studied biotech too but didn't got accepted ;) The Definition of addiction can be tricky. But it doesn't matter in the end if it is ana ddiction or not if you realize that it works against you in a way an addiction does.

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January 4, 2017,

Events that happened today: Went grocery shopping with my dad to buy food for a hot pot dinner. He watches a lot of TV and I wish he would keep on studying in his old age.

Daily affirmation: Found an interesting site of a group studying Rosen’s MR systems. With Rosen being long dead, it is encouraging for other researchers to carry on his work. I can also seek out these researchers and work with them some day

Feelings: In reflecting on a theme to dedicate for 2017, I thought of the times spent every day at my parent’s house with no friends to talk to and no work to make a living on. It made me worried about my situation. When someone is worried, their thoughts will shift multiple times to goals they have yet to achieve. I was worried that I won’t be able to support myself if my parents pass away as well as live an independent life

Goals: I want to work with others on understanding living things using math. I can start bringing others in by making a Facebook group where members submit articles on Mathematical Biology, Biotech, and Biomedical Engineering. I am afraid of being vulnerable to criticism that can happen with online interactions but it will be a way to attract others to learn from me.

What went well today: My dad wanted me to set up a new printer but I wanted to study in the morning first. I studied until I became too anxious to continue and then went to set up the printer. The prioritisation in the face of other’s goals helped me get some learning done that day.

Improvements next time: Did not exercise today because it was too cold outside to run. I should have done push-ups in the morning along with other physical routines to keep in shape.

Other thoughts: Interested in Mathematical Theology as a way to understanding my life, got to make some time to study it.

 

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January 11, 2017

 

Events recently: Yesterday night I tried to review notes from my Biology textbook. Just reading and summarizing a few paragraphs took a lot of energy and focus which left me drained and anxious. I was surprised a simple review would take so much work. To learn Biology, I think I should be doing Biology, not only reading a book on it. Learning by doing while making money from it is even better. A Synthetic Biology makerspace maybe?

Daily affirmation: The weather has been partially sunny and warm. I am grateful for spending the past several days running in the morning.

Feelings today: Online research made me anxious so I took a break of meditation which left me sleepy. When someone is sleepy, they have trouble focusing and lose consciousness easily. The meditation was too soothing so it made me sleepy. Then I ate some corn chips and drank some water which surprisingly woke me up. Eating an orange was not as effective as this. It might be the dense energy stored in the chips that gave me more energy. Still, my eyes were feeling rather light, I feel like I will return to the state by laying in bed.

Goals: I feel like I can study any hobby as long as I find some income. I started to think about the feasibility of a makerspace in my area. A makerspace sounds like an effective way to empower the community using technology. I feel challenged from the thought of starting and governing one, I have never led anything big before. The makerspace in my area does not do Biology to my knowledge and I want to focus on Biology. They seem like valuable resource to help me start if I wanted to contact them.

What went well today: I was able to control my sleepiness today without going to bed in the day. I can use this day to alter my sleep schedule so I stop waking in the night and staying awake or getting sleepy in the afternoon.

Improvements: Haven’t been on Game Quitters for a few days. I want to continue journaling consistently.

 

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January 13, 2017

 

Events today: Went to lab. Since my application was still being processed, I could only observe other researchers or study research papers. I studied the professor’s paper, writing comments and circling important ideas. I watched my sister photograph some tissue cultures.

Daily affirmations: Spent some time with my sister at night, walking around the neighborhood. Inspired by the starry sky, I shared with her the paintings from Roy A. Gallant’s “Our Universe” I owned as a child. I really enjoyed the time together.

Feelings today: Between faculty and family members, I maintained a cautiously optimistic personality by speaking softly and abstaining from criticisms in conversations. Cautiously optimistic means consciously anticipating conflicting triggers in discussions such as attacks from others or arguments among family members and handling the attacks or lack of in a friendly way. I was cautiously optimistic around my family with their numerous disagreements towards each other.

Goals: My path to posthumanity is composed of 4 stages: biotechnologist, biophysicist, biomaker, and transhuman. I thought my informal knowledge of biology was enough to create mathematical representations of living things but that may not be the case. My mathematical studies will be relegated and I am going to continue working on “naive biology” in lab with occassional math studies when I have the chance.

What went well today: Replied to several posts in the forum. It took a lot of time writing replies and I partly felt like it was mindless browsing but I also felt like I was contributing to the Gamequitters community by sharing my experiences.

Improvements next time: My sister drives me to the lab and I want to show her how much I look forward to it by bringing it up in conversations and walking about to observe other researchers performing experiments instead of studying all the time in lab.

 

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What went well today: Replied to several posts in the forum. It took a lot of time writing replies and I partly felt like it was mindless browsing but I also felt like I was contributing to the Gamequitters community by sharing my experiences.

Really appreciate you contributing on the forums Kevin. 

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