Friday, June 24, 2011

Punk Rock Friday

I have decided to institute another weekly special here at Berserk Father: Punk Rock Friday.  So, if you dig some good rock n roll, check it out.

First up is a band I really love.  The Street Dogs.  I have been following bands the lead singer Mike has been in for 16 years.  Damn there, I feel old again.

The song is called Back to the World and the video is quite self-explanatory.  Or maybe not, but I will leave it up to my small, but excellently intelligent readers to make their own conclusions.

This video actually makes me get a little emotional.  I got a lot of friends, some who are family to me, who are deployed right now.  A good friend of my wife's husband is on his way home right now.  So, here is hoping everyone makes it home safe.

Haiku Monday (Late) - Research Proposals

Research Proposals
Bleary - lack of sleep
Caffeine is beautiful no?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week to Week Guide to Pregnancy for Dads.

This idea is stolen inspired Aunt Becky over at Mommy Wants Vodka.  (Hey, read the comments, she actually said it was ok.)

So, you finally got someone knocked up.  Well guess what, your going to be a Dad.  Yeah, capital D there kids.  This is real.  I am not going to go on a rant about how you better step up, etc., etc., but you better.  Kids are cool and parents matter.  If you don't know that by now, I will induct you into the douche-bag dad hall of fame later.

So, if you are a sane and normal guy, the whole pregnancy thing is going to get really f-ing real pretty quick.  It really is not as insane as the movies and TV make it out to be.  But it can get pretty weird, pretty quickly.  Every pregnancy is different.  Even for the same women, so be prepared for all sorts of shenanigans and insanity.  You might even laugh about it someday.

So, here it is, your wife's pregnancy week by week (I will condense some weeks together.  I am not much for the whole drawn out scene- I am all about the synopsis).

Week One: So... get this, the 'pregnancy' starts with your wife's last period.  I have no idea why they start counting there.  But they do.  So, I hope you were nice to her.
Week Two: Wife's period over, life returns to normal.
Week Three: Sperm, meet egg!  I hope you had a really great time and everything was awesome.  Pulled your best moves out and everything.  Cause your sex life is forever changed.  HA-HA! (in voice from Nelson on The Simpsons)
Week Four: Your baby is now a BLASTOCYST (well that is what Aunt Becky says anyway).  My understanding is that the inseminated egg travels and implants in the walls of your wife's uterus.  Your kids first road trip.
Week Five: She is OFFICIALLY KNOCKED UP!  The little alien (it really looks like an alien) has found a warm cozy spot and is rapidly growing.  Your kid looks like it has flippers for arms and legs.  Don't worry, it is supposed to be like that.
Week Six: Your wife is likely starting to feel like crap.  Probably in the morning, but contrary to the name morning sickness, it doesn't have to be in the morning.  She might feel like crap all day, or just the evening, or just has to wake up and puke every day at 5:57 am.  Who knows.  She is probably not looking pregnant yet.  Sometimes this angers women, they feel like poop, but they don't get the pregnancy sympathy yet.  So, be nice to her.  I believe your child is about the size of grain of salt now and is called an embryo.  Your child's heart begins to beat this week also!  Ahh... but your kid has a tail.  Sorry.  Don't worry that, too, is normal.
Week Seven: Morning sickness continues.  Now your wife is probably getting pretty pissy about feeling crappy for over a week.  You would too!  Be nice to here some more.  Your kid is now about the size of a grain of rice.  Arms and legs are less flipper-like by now.  The kids brain is starting to really grow, which means your kids first attempts to sneak stuff by you are already entering their mind... BE PREPARED!
Week Eight: Probably more morning sickness.  Fun, huh?  Hey, at least your not the one puking their brains out all the time.  Hopefully by this time, your wife has found out what she can keep down and what is easier to puke up.  Nice, huh?  Well, reality is a bitch.  Your little kid is growing eyes, ears and a little nose.  Fingers are starting, along with toes.  Not quite so alien-esque anymore.  I think the tail is going away now too.  Who wouldn't want a prehensile tail?  ...  Shut up you tail-aphobe. 
Week 9 embryo.  Attribution: lunar caustic
Week Nine: Is your wife looking a little bustier than normal?  Yep, she probably is.  But be gentle, they are probably sore.  Oh, yeah, your wife might also be more amorous also.  Or she might not even let you sleep in the same bed as her.  Both are normal.  Let your wife dictate your sex life at this stage.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  As if she wasn't doing that before getting knocked up! HAHAAHAHA!  Sex is fine during pregnancy.  Maybe it is not cool with you, maybe you like it.  Either way, just talk to each other.  And no, you cannot hurt the baby. 
Week Ten: Your kid can move!  He or she has elbows, knees, ankles, wrists, toes and fingers.  Your wife likely cannot feel them, but your kid is on the move.
Week Eleven: The embryo is now a fetus.  That matters for some reason.  Words matter to people.  Anyway, your kid is growing like a weed.  Something they will do for the next 14-20 years.  START SAVING NOW!
Week Twelve: Your kid is looking less and less like an alien (but still sort of like an alien - still has a big head).  Also, by now you might be able to hear a heartbeat with a Fetal Doppler Monitor.  It should sound something like this: Fetal Heartbeat MP3.  Also, your kid starts to pee.  Yep, the kidneys are working now!  Also, your kid has genitals.  Really small ones, but genitals all the same.
Week Thirteen: Your kid's organs are almost completely formed.  Also, your kid is looking less and less like an alien.  The eyes are starting to move closer together.  Less alien is good.
Week Fourteen: Ah, now your wife is in her 2nd trimester.  Hopefully, morning sickness has gotten better.  But it also might not have.  As far as I can figure, almost EVERYTHING in pregnancy is wacky and different every time.  Completely different from person to person, from pregnancy to pregnancy.  Seems reasonable.  Anyway, your kid is just over 3 inches long and weighs an ounce or two.
Week Fifteen: The kids bones have started to harden.  Hell, the kid might even already be sucking his or her thumb.  Good luck making that stop in time for kindergarten. 
Week Sixteen: You should have an ultrasound scheduled for some time near this week.  You can find out if you are having a boy or a girl. Your wife may soon feel your baby move.  Also, your kid now has fingernails and toenails.  Have fun cutting those little suckers!
Week Seventeen: Baby growing some more.
Week Eighteen: Baby growing some more - should weigh about 8 oz.
Week Nineteen: Your baby can hear you sing. So, begin indoctrinating your child with good music.  It matters (that is only my opinion, but hey I have a PhD, my opinion should matter right?  Yeah... I know it doesn't...).
Your kid, unless he loses all that hair.
Week Twenty: Halfway done!  In twenty more weeks you will have a child to take care of.  Your child is now covered in hair.  Everywhere.  Your own little wookie!  Awwwwww....
Week Twenty-One: By now you definitely should know, boy or girl.  Or are you brave and want the surprise.  If you go that route, be prepared for all your family to be annoyed at you.  And to also get all presents in the colors green and yellow. 
Week Twenty-Two: Your kid weighs about a pound.  And has eyebrows and eyelashes.  Still growing.
Week Twenty-Three: By now, your kid is using your wife's innards for kickball practice.  But, he or she doesn't have much mass yet, so there is not all the much force going on.  Don't worry it will get there...
Week Twenty-Four: Growing kid.  More human looking every week.  That is good, right?
Week Twenty-Five:  Still growing...
Week Twenty-Six: Your kid is about 2 pounds and 9 inches from the top of the head to their butt.  If you’re having a boy, his testicles are descending to the scrotum. HURRAH!  (umm... why does that make us happy?  I have no clue, but it does).
Week Twenty-Seven: One of the funniest things can happen now.  Your wife can feel when the your little monster has the hiccups.  Hopefully, they don't get the hiccups too often, which can be annoying to the mom.  Which means you will hear about it.  And you should, you did this to her... you bastard!
Week Twenty-Eight: Your kid can open it eyes.  But it probably doesn't see much, but weird swirling fluid.  Might be sort of trippy...
Week Twenty-Nine: Quote from Aunt Becky for this week, since I have always wondered this too: "You should probably sign up for those Lamaze classes so you can answer me a question that has haunted me for years: why do the ladies in the birthing videos deliver naked?"  My guess is that they didn't have air conditioning when they filmed those 80 year old movies... just my guess.  So, tell me why...
Week Thirty: Brain to baby: assume the position.  Your kid now starts to orient him or herself into the delivery position.  That is head down.  That means your kid will start kicking the hell out of your wife's spine, hips and organs.  Don't laugh at her.  She will get VERY angry.
Week Thirty-One: Wife is probably not sleeping much.  Kid on bladder, kicking internal organs.  Guess what, you won't sleep much either.  Unless you married a saint and why would you have the good sense to do something like that?  Your kids brain is going through a very rapid growth phase.  Start teaching it your evil plans for world domination now.  That way it is ingrained from the beginning.
Week Thirty-Two: Your kid should weigh about 5 lbs and all 5 senses are functioning.  That means he or she is exploring their environment with all 5 senses.  Not so much fun for mommy.  "Oh, kicking makes her make sounds.  Me likey!" kick, kick, kick. 
Week Thirty-Three: Baby is putting on some baby fat.  This is a good thing.  Fat will help baby grow strong to help you take over the world.
Week Thirty-Four: Whatever you do, do not make fun of your wife's underwear when she is pregnant.  She will not be wearing those nice, fun, pre-pregnancy undies.  She needs to be comfortable and you need to keep your mouth shut.  Trust me here.
Week Thirty-Five:Your kid is about 5 and a half pounds now (on average.  Kids are individuals and the error bars on all the data from now on swamp the actual data.  Remember this!  Your kid is an individual, even now).  Also, when they sleep they close their eyes and open their eyes when they are awake. Cool, huh?
Week Thirty-Six: Your kid is really packing on the baby fat.  This is when they start to get the dimples in their knees and elbows from the baby fat.  It really is cute.
Week Thirty-Seven: BAM!  (begone spirit of Emiril- I SAID BEGONE!) Your kid is considered full-term.  That is to say, they are fully ready to be born, technically.  Your wife's body and your kid may differ on this point.  Also, your kid has lost all his or her wookiee hair.  MMMMAAARRRWWWHHHAAA!
Week Thirty-Eight: Kid is packing on the pounds.  About an ounce a day.  Now that is eating!  If you haven't got that bag packed for the hospital, DO IT NOW!  Wait, we both know your wife has been nagging you about that for 4 weeks.  Yeah, it is already done.
Week Thirty-Nine: Still preggers?  This is a miserable time for your wife.  The end is in sight.  But oh, so very far away it seems.  Nights are an endless torment of no sleep and uncomfortableness.  Good news, your wife is so full of extra heat from the little furnace in her belly and the two tons of extra blood in her body that she will let you turn the thermostat down to the temperature you have always wanted it at.  WIN!
Week Forty: Technically, last week of pregnancy.  But wait, as a parent this is the first lesson of many on the fact that kids keep their own schedule and constantly mess with yours. So your ball of joy is probably already here or won't come for two more weeks.  Welcome to parenthood.

For the last two weeks, I simply quote Aunt Becky from her post on Your Pregnancy In Tasty Week Form
Week Forty-One: Are you STILL fucking pregnant? That’s bullshit. Get some really obnoxious music (think C and C Music Factory) and play it to your belly, all Branch Davidians-Style. You should probably take your phone off the hook so you don’t get a zillion “are you STILL pregnant?” questions. Because trust me. If you’re still pregnant, you don’t need to make nifty smalltalk.
Week Forty-Two: Okay, I feel sorry enough for you by now to actually help this along myself. Threaten baby with A Visit From Crazy Aunt Becky.

So, I hope this helps all the soon to be Dads out there.  Or just makes anyone laugh.  Special thanks to Aunt Becky over at Mommy Wants Vodka for inspiring this and letting me steal borrow quote her.  I didn't actually ask about the quotes, so hopefully she finds it endearing not litigation inspiring.

Now you should go read my posts on Advice to New Fathers.

Haiku Monday - Father's Day

Father's Day
Take some time to thank
The man who took time for you
"Just rub dirt on it"

Friday, June 10, 2011

A PhD Comics Movie!

I am having a bit of a geek freak out moment here... there is going to be a PhD comics movie!  Piled Higher and Deeper (or PhD) comic is about the insanity of grad school and all the bullshit you put up with from research to teaching to grant writing, etc.   It is a great comic and really helped me make it through some of the more insane parts of grad school.  Knowing other people had just as weird and insane experiences as me, made me feel better.

So check out this trailer and go and see it if you can!

PHD Movie Trailer from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Research Shows How Complex Autism is Turning Out To Be

There is a great article over at Scientific American, titled Autism's Tangled Genetics Full of Rare and Varied Mutations.

The article talks about some recently published research on autism, in which families with only one autistic member were studied for genetic differences.  They found that people with autism tended to have much more genetic mutations.  The most interesting finding, to me anyway, was that the mutations that they found were extremely unique to the individual.

Specifically the SA article states, 
" papers, which assessed the genomes of about 1,000 families that had only one autistic child, revealed that the genetic mutations that are likely responsible for the disorder are exceedingly rare—sometimes almost unique to an individual patient. Even some of the most common point of mutations were found in only about 1 percent of autistic children.

This finding means that the number of genes lurking behind autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is at least "in the hundreds," says Matthew State of Yale University's Program on Neurogenetics and co-author of one of the new studies. "That's a significant change from the '90s when it was [thought to be] five to 15." And getting a handle on such rare genetic mutations—even in the growing autistic population—is challenging."
 Which is very interesting from a scientific standpoint, but not so great for anyone looking to understand these disorders better.  It certainly seems the more researchers dig into autism, the complexity of the problem expands exponentially.

The article also had another nice result from the study which attempted to explain the wide disparity between the diagnosis of boys compared to girls in the autism spectrum.  The article explains

"In assessing such a large and diverse data set several of the studies all alighted on a genetic explanation for one of the most striking patterns in ADS: why at least four times as many boys than girls are diagnosed with the disease.

Girls, it seems, might better resist the development of autistic signs: Bigger genetic disruptions are necessary to cause ASD to manifest in girls than in boys, according to the new analyses. Girls might be better protected against autism-causing genetic anomalies, Vitkup suggests, because they tend to have stronger social inclinations than boys.

Although the ability of girls to withstand genetic mayhem might seem to predispose them to become silent carriers of autism, the new analysis shows that mothers were no more likely than fathers to pass on harmful mutations."

This seems surprisingly simple. It is well known that girls are more robust in their development of social and communication skills.  So, the genetic reason for their greater social and communication skills somehow protects girls from the genetic mutations which more easily effect boys.  Is there simply a masking effect because of their greater skill in understanding social situations?  Or is there truly some sort of genetic defense happening in which girls have a higher threshold for genetic mutations cause autism?  It remains to be seen, but this is some very exciting research.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Haiku Monday - Illness

Sick of being sick
Tired of no damn energy
Children bring disease

I love my kids, I really do.  I just wish they wouldn't bring home every superbug illness in the world.  I think the CDC should do some case studies of the germ factories that are children. I haven't been really well in years... but maybe that isn't my kids fault... maybe...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Know thyself

This blog has made me become quite introspective. Which, I suppose, is to be expected since the first incarnation of this blog was a way for me to deal with my wife having cancer.

Mainly, I have been able to take a look at what I really want out of life and if what I am doing professionally is really lining up with those goals.  I have thought a lot about what drives me and what makes me happy.  These types of things have changed over time.  Especially since I had kids.

Here is a quick run down of the things that have driven me over my life:

Pre-pubescent Berserker: Being good at soccer and school, pleasing my parents, having friends, doing what's right. Hey- I was a kid.  I was a good kid (I think).  In reality, my world was very small.

Friedrich Nietzsche.  Sweet 'stache!
Adolescent Berserker: Sex, girls, punk rock, independence, art, music, deeper questions of life, rebellion, fun, friends. Extreme change here.  I was insane as a teen.  The onset of hormones drove me completely nuts.  But I also became, in some ways, more introspective.  I would read Nietzsche during my calculus class in high school (no I still don't really understand him... but his essays on nihilism really spoke to the adolescent me).  I really wondered about and explored the meaning of life... well between trying to someone to buy me beer and trying to find a place for my girlfriend and me to have sex... you know... priorities.

Time for me to grow up? I don't want any part.
Early College Berserker: Sex, girls, punk rock, aggression, independence, rebellion, beer. In some ways, my first couple of years in college were much simpler than high school.  I went to a really big college compared to my tiny suburban high school where I knew every single person.  I met a ton of great people in college who still mean a great deal to me.  I had a lot of fun without any parental oversight.  I played in a punk band that toured the midwest - playing crappy clubs and basements.  I worked for a living and lived in squalor.  At one point I worked 3 jobs to pay the bills and beer tab and tuition.  I was still young, stupid, and invincible.  I also cultivated a violent streak.  In college I filled out.  I was no longer a tall, lanky string bean.  And I had a chip on my shoulder. If a guy wanted to be all macho and try to show off by making fun of the weirdo punk kid, I would pop him in jaw and kick him in stones.  I took a few nasty beat downs too.  I was dumb and young and lucky to live through it.

All cool people have mustaches right?
Late College Berserker: Sex, my girl, science, physics, learning, the future of my life, punk rock. I met my wife in college and looking back it was a major turning point in my life.  She gave me an anchor rope to hold onto.  She made re-evaluate how I made decisions.  I was also maturing and starting to think before I acted.  About damn time.  Also, I realized that I should start really applying myself in college. This happened right before I met my wife.  I was always a good student.  Things came easy for me.  I didn't have to work hard for good grades.  But, I was paying thousands of dollars for this education, I should probably make something out of it.  In addition, I rediscovered my love of science, specifically physics.  So I focused on physics.  Started doing research.  I loved it.  I won a few scholarships and research fellowships.  Hey, I was actually GOOD at this.  And it was sure better than working at subway.  I also started teaching physics.  I liked that too!  Maybe I could actually do this for a job?!?  Science actually became more important to me than punk rock.  It was a weird time.

Early Grad School Berserker: Sex, my fiance, PHYSICS, punk rock, camaraderie  It was grad school.  You can't judge me... I lived and breathed physics.  60 hours of quantum mechanics and electrodynamics a week.  Cool.  Sleep is stupid anyways.  I also got engaged and married  My poor soon to be wife...  My band also broke up.  We all had kind of grown our separate ways.  Man, that was fun!  Playing shows that is.

Late Grad School Berserker: Wife, child, sex, physics, GRADUATION. While I was in grad school, my wife was diagnosed with cancer.  She is fine now, thankfully.  We were living together, 1000 miles away from our families and she had cancer.  We really only had each other.  It is the kind of thing that defines a relationship.  It also helps put dumb things in context.  As for school, everyone in grad school eventually gets sick of being poor and stuck in grad school.  So you bust your ass and finish your research.  I just did it with an infant strapped to my chest.  I actually wrote an entire chapter of my dissertation from 2-6 am with my infant son strapped to my chest.  We had our first kid while I was still in grad school and it was not as horrible sounding as it seemed.  I was on a fellowship, so I worked from home 3 days a week (really worked nights) and my wife worked from home 2 days a week.  We couldn't afford daycare, so we made it work.  Luckily she had a great boss!

That pretty much brings us up to date.  Well kind of.  So, what drives me today.  Sadly and gratefully, much of the same.  Wife, kids and sex probably at the front.  Yeah, I had sex on every list but never mentioned it.  I think sex and a sex drive are sort of a constant in a young man's life.  Always there in the back of your head...

There are some things that drive me now, that I would have never thought would motivate me.  Money is important to me.  Not that important, but I need to clothe and feed the little monsters that are my spawn. Plus, I like to buy them things.  Just admitting that money is a driving force in my life, even a small one, makes my punk rock soul rage and spin inside me.

Be true to thyself.  I am a wild dichotomy of social rebellion, punk rock scientist, father and husband.  I am often at odds with myself about anything as mundane as what grocery store to shop at (small, local expensive vs. corporate sell out) to as complex as how to handle talking about death with my kids (easy lies vs. truthful pain).

Know thyself.

No matter how difficult that may be.

A Very Late Haiku Monday - Stupid Weather

Stupid Weather
Hot and Humid Gross
My Soul Weeps Housebound Kids
Stupid Weather Die
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