Academia, Career, Economics, Faith, Neurological Disorders, Pain, Problems to Solve, Spinal Cord Injury, Uncategorized, Writing

Grant Amazing

I  did! I posted again!

Okay, it’s been a long time since my last post. While I feel bad about not keeping up with the blog, at the same time, I have a good reason. I’ve been deep in the bowels of grant-writing.

Science, despite all it’s glorious discoveries and wonders, fails without cold-hard cash driving it forward. In our day and age, money motivates discovery. Almost all our breakthroughs in science have some kind of sponsored backing.

Sad, but true. But then, many of us who are in the field of academic science research are driven by more than simply the need for knowledge fulfillment. Personally, I believe I belong in research (for now). And I love to teach…. which in my position provides me with that opportunity.

Regarding Money

With my desire to propel my projects forward, I’ve stopped nearly all distractions from my ability to devote time and energy to getting a grant. As some of my friends know, I’ve made this a top priority. I firmly believe that the work I’m doing in the lab will have some future benefit as well provide an exciting perspective on the issues of Spinal Cord Injury and Pain. 

A metaphorical image….

So I give myself a pat on the shoulder, because just a day ago I got a phone call from the funding agency that my grant application has been award full-funding for the next two-years.

I’m a young investigator, and this is my first grant funded as the principle investigator. In the course of an academic career, this is a THE milestone toward something “bigger” or at the very least more independent. For a little bit of time, and to a point, I will have my own little research space to study something on my own. This is nice, scary, and exciting all at the same time.

As I move forward, as the quiet margins open up again, I will try my best to continue my ruminations. Writing continues to be a great outlet… no matter the topic.

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Aging, Career, Compassion, Humor, Kidults, Neurological Disorders, Philosophy, Problems to Solve, Relationships, Thinking, Time, Wisdom, Writing

Kid-ults: adults who need to grow up

The term “kidult” comes to mind, which is a hybrid of the words “kid” and “adult” and all the connotations involved. The kidult is your proverbial human (usually a male) who moves through life without care. Not the laid back, I’ve gathered enough of my material belongings around me so I can live well and take care of my loved ones. No. A kidult is a person who has reached maturity several years ago, but prefers to live as though they’ve still got a bedroom in their parent’s place, dinner on the table everyday (when they want it), and a select group of friends who think it’s cool to live this way for a lifetime.

I have a few relatives who lack so-called motivation and have probably earned the title of “kidult”. I also have friends who lack drive to do more than what they are currently doing.  Maybe this qualifies them as being kidults.

Sure, I may come off as sounding arrogant or that I’m sitting on some high horse, waving my finger in the air, nose pointed to the heavens, and declaring that I’m the antithesis of the kidult. But, allow me to elaborate: I firmly believe that kidults are the smartest people on the face of planet Earth!

They have made living easy (the kind of life that doesn’t require hard labor or mental effort) a form of martial art. This takes skill, intellect, and dare I say it, talent.

And this is why it bugs me! So much personal potential (power to impact the world and people) wasted. Thrown down the television tube or some other time-sucker, i.e., movies, video games, weed, or other powerful distractions.

And for some of you who wonder, what’s wrong with just living and doing things as long as you don’t hurt other people? Well, if everyone just ate their food and worked just enough for their self-survival then we’d all be in big trouble as a human race. Here’s why: Nobody, absolutely zero people who have this attitude are self-sufficient. There’s always somebody backing them up. There’s a safety net of other people ready to jump in and catch this person who lacks any drive in life to advance.

How do we get a kidult to grow up? How does one wake up a person from a slumber in which they are dreaming a pleasurable dream?

Pull the safety net away, I suppose. But, isn’t that mean, even rude. Kidults, ugh! Come on, friend, get a job. Go back to school. I know you can do it. If you can recite all the lines from The Matrix Movie by memory, you can certainly become a barista at Starbucks.

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Academia, Career, Philosophy, Problems to Solve, Thinking, Wisdom, Writing

Enthusiasm Expulsion

The first step in any endeavor is planning. In my project, I usually need to start with anatomy. I need to know where the parts, muscles and nerves, fit together so that when they get messed up I can pinpoint where exactly things might have gone wrong.

Obviously, the anatomy I study doesn’t involve anything human. This is entirely within another experimental system, which is the reflection of our bodies–the prototypical lab rat. Well, I don’t want to get into trouble, so I won’t go into details except to say that this is a fully justified study that could be done in no alternative way. We go through a lot of regulatory paperwork, some of which can slow down our progress, but I can see the benefit in terms of preventing unnecessary cruelty.

Now, I’m fired up for this study and can’t wait to get the ball rolling. Yes, that’s about it for this posting. I wanted to expel my enthusiasm. It’s like a feeling of being on queue for a roller coaster ride. You know you’re going to have fun and excitement, definitely going to get sick to my stomach, and certainly some screaming a long the way (oh, “my life is over!” kind of thing); and yet, I step off at the end with something to report home about.

That is science, ups and downs, and some screaming in horror along the way. It’s not for everyone.

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Career, Faith, Missions, Neurological Disorders, Philosophy, Spinal Cord Injury, Thinking, Time, Wisdom, Writing

Mission for a Cure


A small step….

I’m pleasantly surprised how this week has gone. Upon reflection, I’ve made tangible progress.

I’m always surprised by how the small steps when added together make this bigger goal come true. Every project I work on has been a huge undertaking.

I’m slowly working out a process on how to effectively manage these projects. It goes against my nature to slow down and take things one step at a time. But, this is how it should be done, I think.

Like a painter working on a masterpiece. It starts with a single brush stroke, followed by another, and on.

The mission to the Moon began as small rocket launches. The first orbit around the Earth was a step toward reaching the Moon.

Developing a drug for curing spinal cord injury would ultimately arrive the same way. A small step here. A small test there. Perhaps this preclinical study in an rat will provide the foundation for a successful treatment.

My projects, I suppose, are the brush strokes, the first launches into the stratosphere.

I reach for the Moon, but keep my eye on the prize which is Today.

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Aging, Career, Compassion, Existence, Problems to Solve, Relationships, Thinking, Time, Wisdom, Writing

Friends – Not Just A Television Show

Friends, the people around you that are trustworthy and share a common bond with are, in my opinion, a great gift.

In times of suffering or trouble, this network of friends lend that support which makes life that much easier. I think I have many friends, but few that I would feel comfortable leaning on when times get rough.

Just thinking…. one day I may call upon these individuals for valuable advice or insight into something I’m experiencing. It’s nice to know that my friends come from such varied background.

Each one a piece of a puzzle to figuring out how to solve the “right” way to move through this Adventure.

I suppose a part of the journey is not only discovering what you’re supposed to do, but discovering friendship.

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Academia, Career, Existence, Philosophy, Problems to Solve, Thinking, Wisdom, Writing

Grants: A Complaint

I’m about to do a bad thing. I’m going to break a promise. (It is not wise to make promises, I’ve heard before).

I’m going to complain.

Grant writing is by far the most frustrating exercise I now have to master–look at that, a sentence that’s too long. It should read shorter:

Grant writing sucks.

It takes up an exorbitant amount of time with no guarantee of reward. It’s like studying for a test in college. Day and night, study, study, study, and you know for a fact that you will have a random grade at the end of the semester.

I love the writing part. I enjoy playing with words. But it’s worse than blogging a post. There’s a judgement at the end.

People hate writing, generally, because there’s that sense of judgement. The style, the words, the ideas, they are all judged in your mind, and those of your readers.

It’s much worse when the writing is a grant where you’re asking for money (i.e., funding) because the judgement is a tangible thing. It is a piece of writing that is judged not only on the writing aspect, but the ideas held within. The ideas must be clear and good.

And so, while you write a grant you are judging yourself.

The problem is there. How is there freedom in writing something when it is under constant judgement?

I don’t feel any freedom when I write a grant. It’s a weight bearing exercise, the burdensome knowledge that I will be judged. I hate being judged. But, I suppose this is the life we live in, where ideas and thoughts are not entirely free, but all come with a cost eventually.

In my field, ideas are cheap until you get paid for them. Wow, I sound cynical! But really, I’m doing this for another reason so it’s not that bad. I was designed/trained to do this job….at least for now.

Okay, back to grant writing.

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Academia, Career, Thinking, Writing

A Scientist Goes Upstream

It’s blogging type of day, a friend of mine wrote. Truly, true. I suppose my life just got sucked into this deep dark pit of busy-ness. So, here I am sitting outside on the patio in the backyard, smoking a nice smoke, and reflecting on my career choice of becoming a scientist.

Absolutely, this has been the worst financial choice I could have made becoming a neuroscientist.

After graduate school, I continued on as a post doctoral associate, but after two years of struggle I quit. Just picked up my stuff, left the laboratory, and went into the industrial sector. My salary nearly tripled over-night (2.5x increase/yearly).

In a single year, I had paid off all my credit card debts and paid down a huge chunk of my college school tuition loans.

Then, the horror! I realized that I missed something. It slapped me upside the head like that idiot kid in high school who just comes up to you and slaps you, literally, on the back of the neck to say “hi”.

And so, there I was in my job as a professional writer and editor, running a small show in a commercial company business–doing quite well, I might add–and not feeling…complete.

There’s a song out there by Lady Gaga (who I am not a fan of, really), which has a line that goes “I was born this way”. So, it rings true for me, I realize when it comes to my chosen vocation and line of work.

I was born, created, as a scientist, to be a scientist. And, sitting in that cubicle made me realize that I had to continue in that line of work as a scientist to feel normal. Normal work was in a lab.

So I did it. I did what people don’t usually do. I went through the pipe in both directions. I was told people in academia field go downstream with the flow.

Academia —> Industry —> Industry —> Retire

Me? Unwise, unnatural choice? I’m a scientist who went against the flow, against the mainstream. We’ll see what’s around the river bend.

Academia —> Industry —> Academia —> ???

A salmon swims upstream

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