We're a little crazy, about science!

Posts tagged “life

2022 in review

Well I’ve been absent a bit, but I’m still around I promise! I’m trying to get back into the groove. It’s a bit hard with all the stuff piling up, but this blog and the 365 days of academia project are important to me. I’ve got at least a few topics floating around in my head for posts, so it’s not a shortage of things to write, just a shortage of time to write them. Since 2022 is now officially dead and gone, it’s probably not a bad idea to discuss all the progress made towards the finish line, because graduation is coming, sooner or later!! While there are a lot of sad parts to 2022, including the pandemic, for my education and career personally it was overall a good year.

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Happy holidays!

It’s been a busy time. Work, school, weather, you name it. But, I wanted to make my yearly holiday wish. For those who don’t know, I’m a non-religious Christmas type. It’s just a fun holiday and I like to celebrate in my own ways. To all my friends, found via my blog or otherwise I hope you have a great day and a good new year. The holidays are a time to remind us that we’re all stuck on this tiny speck of dirt. Of course, we don’t need a special day to tell others how much they mean to us. Life is too short for us to need a reason, just a thought as we head into the new year every life has an end date and unfortunately we’re never sure when that will be. To sum it up, be kind, to others, but also to yourself. We’re all exactly where we need to be right now, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Happy holidays!


Limitations and the consequences

Well hello there. It’s been a hot minute as the kids say (they say that, right?), but I’m feeling somewhat better these days. I’ve written several “first” posts now or at least parts to them and I’m hoping that this will be the one I finally commit to and hit the publish button on. If you’re reading this and are not me, then it’s a good indication I made it that far, how about that? So let’s get the obvious out of the way and catch up on the past few weeks because there’s a lot to catch up on and I’m not abandoning the 365 days of academia project, so no worries on that front! I mean after starting year four, I might as well see it to the end!

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Once in a lifetime

We often call opportunities that are huge and potentially life changing, once in a lifetime. While I agree with the spirit I’m hopeful that events like that occur at least a handful of times in a lifetime. That’s mostly because in hindsight we can always have done “better” whatever that looks like. I know I always have the nagging feeling that I could’ve done better no matter how well I do or how perfect things turn out, there’s always a flaw when you look close enough. Maybe I should just be kinder to myself, hell I think that advice applies to most/all of us. But at the end of the day, do we ever really go into these things giving it less than our all? Tomorrow is my once in a lifetime, but it may not be the last one.

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Dear past me…

Not too long ago I wrote about something I thought was an interesting idea. We can’t go back in time, but we can go forward. So while you can’t talk to your past self, you can send your future self all the letters and notes you want. It’s not as dramatic as going back with the knowledge you possess, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. I’ve written a few letters to myself now including via blog (here). I’m not sentimental, but I figured if I was going to send a message forward, I might as well let past me know how things are going. While writing letters to your past self is more common, I didn’t think about doing it until I read some of the public letters that people wrote to their future selves then responded to those letters. So yeah, here goes nothing.

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For the future

Well it appears we’re talking about future me again I guess with all the stuff going on it’s hard not to. There’s a whole lot of things changing and like it or not, you can’t just jump into the future without plan. Okay, you can, but speaking from experience, I don’t advise it. Sure it may end well, but why risk it? So instead I need to figure out what the next few years looks like. I tend to do this every so often, but with graduation (hopefully) coming, I want to make sure that I make the best choices I can. Basically I need future me not to be pissed off at past me… present me? It’s confusing, but whatever let’s not think about it too much.

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Dear future me…

What I wouldn’t give for a time machine. I think we all agree there’s at least a few things we wish we could go back and change. Wrongs that need to be righted and all that, or maybe it’s just to stop yourself from doing something you’ll regret, you know what I’m talking about *wink, wink* because we all have regrets. I think it’s one thing we can agree on and despite the trend of people suggesting they are living without regret, I’m sure there would be one thing they wish they could change. Hindsight is 20/20 afterall, even if it’s just to have a chance to say a missed goodbye to a loved one who’s no longer with us. I think a time machine is one thing we can universally agree we would use consequences be damned. But alas the past is closed to us for now, but the future is always open.

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Forgotten inventions, or a patent update

Way back in June (here) I wrote about my first patent and said that I would probably post an update on my current patent progress in a few weeks. Well, I didn’t lie, it’s been a few weeks… a lot of a few weeks! So why the post now? Well, because it’s official as of October 18th the USPTO issued my second patent. One that I’m actually in a semi-good spot to do something with myself, since as the post I wrote previously detailed the seemingly toxic previous patent. It’s been a long journey, so let’s talk about the patent and why I’m glad I didn’t just give up on it, like I was seriously debating about doing.

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The taboo of failure

We celebrate a lot of exciting things. You get into your dream school? Let’s party! Getting married? Time to celebrate! Win the big game? Well you get the point. As a culture, here in the US anyway, we celebrate victories and make fun of people who try to include the people who lose. If you’ve never seen the “participation trophy” discourse then it’s probably better to live in ignorance, trust me on that. In short, we celebrate the winners because they accomplished something and if you failed then clearly you did not.

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Finding answers

Okay, today is basically the final day I have to get the answers I want. While I’ll have time to work on this during the week (with a little luck that is) I don’t want to rely on that. Instead today I’m going to make the push to find out if my “super secret technique” (SST) actually works. I have the data, I have most of the code written, and I have some new equipment to help me out (after putting that mechanical engineering degree to good use and reinforcing my desk a bit). So the rest is me and how much I can do.

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Time for an upgrade

Okay, it’s not the best of times, but it’s not the worst of times either. Wait, I didn’t do that intentionally, but it works. Maybe I should’ve titled the post a tale of two monitors! It’s back to crunch time though meaning late nights from here to the end of the month, well at least until the end of the DARPA deadline. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’ve got a new toy to help me make it through. Well a new monitor to be exact. Sometimes you just have to buy yourself something nice.

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Forward progress

I don’t want to say I’ve learned a lot in the last few years, but I have to say, I’ve learned a lot in the last few years. Sometimes you don’t realize the progress you make until you find yourself in a situation that would’ve been overwhelming or even impossible before and you are (not so) suddenly able to handle it without too much of a problem. Take for instance my dissertation work. When we last discussed (yesterday) I wanted to process ALL THE DATA!!!! But realistically I thought I would get a handful of datasets done, 3 to 5 maximum. Well…

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The drop

This time of the year is pretty rough for me. Everytime I think, “hey this isn’t so bad,” I’m reminded by my brain that, yeah, in fact it is. Stupid brain, I swear if I could go back in time and step on the fish that thought it was a good idea to start walking on land I would. And before anyone says anything, yes I’m aware that’s an oversimplification, it’s not like a time machine is elementary. Anyway I feel like I’ve already taken a left in my topic and I haven’t even gotten the first paragraph out, that’s how you know it’s THAT time of the year.

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COVID Vaccine: The first bivalent shot!

It’s about time, but the latest COVID vaccine is making its way to the people. Since I work in a hospital, I just got mine! The bivalent version (the newest vaccine and the one I just got) is designed to be effective against some of the newer strains while still protecting against the older ones. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID, it doesn’t mean you can’t have serious health problems from COVID, and it doesn’t mean you can’t spread COVID. However, it’s incredibly important to keep getting the shot and today I got mine.

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A few new skills

Not working on anything serious today. Nope, not doing it. I took yesterday for myself and I’m taking today for myself. So instead of working on something strictly productive, I’m going to spend some of the day, maybe just a few hours, looking over some of the skills I’ve been meaning to pick up that I haven’t had time to learn/read about. Will this help my work? Yeah, of course, but it’s also something fun I wanted to learn. I’m a sucker for learning something new and that’s exactly what the plan is for the day.

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Music to kill myself to

This time of the year is always hard for me. It’s close to the anniversary of my last suicide attempt and while a lot has changed, there’s always some things that stay the same. Today marks the end of year three of my 365 days of academia and today we’re talking about suicide and music. What is it about a song that when you hear it you remember things so clearly? This post wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for something very special that occurred this year and there’s been a wide range of emotions leading up to it.

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Tuition chaos aftermath

It’s been a long day, but I’ll cut to the chase and say that I’ve figured out all the tuition stuff! That’s good news because this morning I got a email and phone call from the school letting me know that surprise! tution was due today. After I got that call, there was a ton of phone calls and emails, but somehow I got it done just under the wire.

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The long road to the end of my dissertation

Sometimes you’re so focused on something that when you take a second and look up you realize it’s almost the end of the year and you’re wondering how the hell that happened. It feels like just yesterday summer had started, we had our interns at the hospital and I had just defended my dissertation proposal. Now we’re roughly 8 months to the dissertation defense deadline and there’s work to be done. But there may be more, depending on how things go.

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The hidden support system

I don’t feel like I bring much to the table as a friend. I mean a co-worker, sure. I feel pretty confident in my ability to do my job. It’s like the one thing I feel confident about, but human interaction has always been a struggle. I just assume generally speaking my relationship with people ends where our collaboration ends. But sometimes we get shocked into remembering that isn’t always the case. In this case, it was because I had an emergency this morning.

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Everything you ever wanted and more

You wake up one morning and get a frantic phone call. A family member lets you know that a person very close to you, someone you miss dearly, maybe even someone you thought was dead, was very much alive. A dream come true, right? If you are like me you would rush out the door and do whatever it takes to find the person. But it gets better, you don’t have to plan a long flight or find money to make the trip. They live close by, very close. It’s a dream come true.

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The hard road

Is doing something an easier way necessarily worse than doing it a hard way? I mean with a lot of things in life you get out what you put in. If you work hard enough you could be an olympic athlete, a world class musician, dancer, artist. But even in those cases, is it hard work, or consistant work that makes the difference? I’m not sure one way or the other, but I’ve typically opted for the hard way. It’s lead to mixed results, but typically I don’t mind putting in the extra effort if it means that I will have a good outcome.

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Work and School

Let’s face it, if you’ve ever gotten any sort of degree, you know it’s a job all its own. You can even say you’re a student on almost all things that ask for employment, so it’s not a new idea. When you start a PhD or in some cases, even your Masters, you even get paid for your work, albeit not great. So I was always impressed, and surprised, by people who work while pursuing a degree because I knew I could never do something like that, then I did.

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Living through history

When I was a kid I thought history was something we read about in text books. World wars were from a “less civilized” time, we are a modern people after all. With the fall of the USSR along with the start and end of the gulf war not too long after, I thought, perhaps foolishly, that history was a thing of the past. I never suggested I was the smartest of children. But here we are, living through history. I didn’t realize it could be so painful, then again maybe if I had paid more attention I would’ve known.

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A mental health day

Let’s face it, it’s been a busy…. life. This week has been the longest month for me and we’re doing it all again next week, so I need a minute. Mostly my brain is tired and since it needs to do a lot of work tomorrow I want to give it the day off and just relax. So once again I’m reminding, mostly myself, that it’s okay to do that from time to time. My goal has been to write something daily while doing my PhD and while this arguably sort of counts, even if I wrote nothing (like what happened recently), it’s a good reminder that not doing something doesn’t set you back to zero. So for today I’m taking a little break for myself. Heck, depending on how tomorrow goes, don’t be surprised if I take the day for myself too.

Over the years I’ve learned that mental health is a balancing act, don’t mind me while I shift the balance a little.


Forgotten inventions, or so you want a patent

Fun fact about me, I enjoy making things. You know, in case that wasn’t obvious. But, once upon a time I thought it would be smart to make sure I protected my ideas so I hold one patent based on something I came up with. Or at least I did have one patent, now once the paperwork is done it will be two. Unlike my in progress papers I can actually freely talk about this, but for the most part I think the journey is the important part of the story.

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Word play

Come on in…

It’s been a day, so I don’t have a whole lot of energy to write or to think for that matter! But my brain works in mysterious ways, even to me. So I thought I would talk about a word that somehow bounced into my head and as any good brain does, it made some very odd connections. Today we’re talking about the word sane. Or rather the word insane, with me so far? Because this is where we get a little crazy.

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The end of a story

I love to read and if you do too you can probably empathize with this. What is it about the end of a story that makes the disconnect so painful? Maybe painful isn’t the right word, jarring perhaps? Abrupt? Whatever the adjective you choose closing one book leaves a world of possibilities for the next, but for me, there is always a bit of a hangover jumping from one universe to the next. Leaving me to wonder if that’s a common phenomenon.

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Making greatness

I do love making… new friends.

If you build it, they will come? Okay not quite, but if you can buy it you need to make it. That seems to be the theme for the next few weeks as we’re getting ready to start several different experiments and the scope of them is massive. Not so much the experiments themselves, but everything that is going into them and everything we are going to get out of them.

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Another year of lazy goals

It looks like today is officially the end of the school term for me. It’s somewhat artificial since I was never taking any real classes anyway, but we need to mark time somehow and the school term works as well as anything I guess. But with the end of the semester, we have the start of academic summer, which means it’s time for me to plan out my goals. My lazy goals that is, or how I make sure I take some much needed rest.

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Another day off

When I started the 365 days of academia project, the goal was simple. Write daily, that was it. In hindsight it was both a lofty goal and one that has been as rewarding as it has been challenging. It turns out I have a lot to say about a lot of topics and despite feeling like I would run out of something to write about, almost three years later I still have things I want to say.

However, we all need a break sometimes. So for my mental and physical health, this is all I’m writing for the day. I hope my little break reminds you to take one as well. Because rest, like food, water, and shelter, is part of the process of living, not separate from it. It is certainly not a reward for doing something, so kick your feet up and take a break. I’m sure you could use one too.


The myth of “better”

It’s somehow Friday, finally. It’s been one hell of a week and things are slowly ramping up so it’s only going to get worse. There are a lot of moving parts happening right now and I’m just trying to keep a handle on things, so if mental health seems to be the theme of the week, then well it’s with good reason. Also it’s mental health awareness month. Which, somewhat ironically, I was not aware of until recently. So the theme of my life fits the month I guess.

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Freedom fight

Well yesterday I quietly had a small breakdown in the good sense because I was finally getting the care I wanted from my healthcare providers and when I logged onto twitter for the evening I found a flurry of activity regarding something the supreme court was doing. Wow was I in for a shock when I realized what was going on. I hoped that in my lifetime I wouldn’t see something like this happen. Afterall we were slowly chipping away at the problem, but here we are.

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Another deadline rush

Why is it always a rush?! I wish I had answers, maybe as scientists we just like to procrastinate, but whatever the reason, we have a huge deadline just five days away and it feels almost insurmountable. As hospital-PI puts it, I have 12 hour nights I can get it done, he’s kidding… I hope. It’s time to break out the hard stuff, caffeine that is, and get ready for the week ahead.

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The lab brain drain

Today was another proposal defense! No, not mine thankfully, but one of my labmates who’s been in the lab for some time now. As the term is coming to a close, I think a lot of us are in the proposal defense phase, which means things will be changing dramatically in a year or so for the lab. It made me realize that there was a rather large gap between those of us finishing and the new members, which means big changes once we graduate.

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Weekend outreach

A few of the exoskeletons we have in the lab

It’s been a super busy week, but we’re not done yet. That’s right, my inability to say no to things has come back to haunt me! It’s not that bad though, two 15-minute talks to two different groups and that’s the extent of it. So you know not too bad, but I do enjoy doing some science outreach when I have the chance anyway, so not totally a bad deal.

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Old wounds

You ever wake up anxious and wonder what the hell happened? It occurred to me upon further reflection that today is Easter and while the day itself fluxuates I will always associate Easter with loss. Sometimes you want to forget something, but for whatever reason your brain won’t let you. Not that I ever really forget, or that I didn’t know the day was coming, but in the fog of waking up, you don’t generally expect such intense feelings.

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Seven days…

Okay, I’m not going to do a countdown to my proposal defense, as much as I really want to do it. But since we’re a week away from the big day, I wanted to give an update on the plan and maybe recap a little about where I am. Yes, it feels like a theme, but with such a large milestone coming up, it’s basically all I’m focused on for the moment!

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The lost children

Can you mourn the loss of something you never had? Imagine for a second you were born without a limb. Can you miss it if you never had it to begin with? I’ve been struggling with this question a lot lately, not because I was born without a limb, but because I was born without a family and in some ways that isn’t too different. Maybe it’s wrong to compare a missing limb to a missing family, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe it, because family is an extension of you.

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The proposal edits

We’re just a few short days away from the two week mark to dissertation proposal defense day, maybe, I’m still waiting for responses from three committee members, two of which I speak with on a regular basis, so I’m not too worried about them, one has been ignoring everyone’s emails, so I am slightly anxious to hear back about that one. Since the time is rapidly approaching I need to have both my written proposal and slides figured out, like now.

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Not so smooth sailing

Incredible art by: Nunzio Paci check out the rest of his stuff, he’s super talented!

When we last left our exhausted student/medical professional he was anxiously awaiting the meeting that was scheduled for today. It was a rough ~24 hours, but here we are on the other side of the meeting and now there’s a firm(er) plan in place moving forward. So what does that mean for our haphazard student? Well, it could be worse… probably… maybe?

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Failing for success

Sometimes I get into a groove and since we’ve been talking about failure, I think it’s time I shared why failure isn’t the end of the story. Failure sucks, let’s be real for a second, it hurts, it’s not fun, and it feels like a very personal attack. Or at least that’s what it feels like to me. When someone rejects something I’ve written or proposed I feel like I’m being told I’m not good enough or that I don’t deserve to be a researcher, imposter syndrome is a bitch. But failure isn’t the end, it’s just somewhere in the middle.

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More on failure

After a rough night of sleep I knew exactly what I wanted to talk about today. Failure. Because like I mentioned yesterday, in my journey to a PhD, there was plenty of it. Part of this was due to the fact that I had no idea what the hell was going on or how to prepare for my PhD, but a big part of this was due to the fact that I held a belief that wasn’t true. I thought, because it’s what we’re told, that when applying to grad school grades aren’t the only thing that matters. And I was lied to.

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The transition to grad school

It’s that time of the year again for anyone who’s applied to grad school. This is roughly the time people get acceptance letters, or if you’re like me a pile of rejection letters, but look at me now MIT! Can you tell I’m bitter? Any sort of life transition is hard, be it high school to college, college to work, or even sleep to awake (or is that just me?), transition can feel downright scary. Well the person I’m mentoring “Kay” is about to take that jump and I can’t lie, I’m super excited for her.

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Self care and health care

Maybe it’s just me, but going to the doctor is exhausting. I think selfcare in general is exhausting and so I’ve basically automated my routine, or maybe created a standard routine it is the correct way to phrase that, to make my life as simple as possible. One thing I can’t do is that with is my health care. I can’t be the only one, so in the spirit of sharing, let’s talk about self care and health care.

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The IRB and committee and dissertation proposal, oh my!

Well today has been eventful! After a bunch of emails, meetings, and miscellaneous things, I have a clear shot to my dissertation proposal! I don’t want to say it’s been smooth sailing or that things won’t be rough, but I’m feeling optimistic after all the news. Since there’s a lot, I figure we can cram it into a single post as I take the next few steps to the big proposal defense day.

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The PhD dissertation proposal

Spinal column shown through a semi-transparent person
Spinal column shown through a semi-transparent person

Well we’ve finally arrived, for real this time, to my proposal timeframe. There are a lot of things that need to happen between now and when I defend my proposal, but thankfully most of those things are started or almost finished. The one thing that isn’t started… well that would be my actual proposal. Be not afraid! I’m going to have the draft done today, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

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The final days of the “last paper”

Well I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I have some big news! As promised in the last, last paper update, I wasn’t going to talk about it until we had submitted the paper for review. Well as of today, last paper is FINALLY in review! Now this could be months before we get it actually published and maybe even longer if there is several rounds to the edits, but this is a big step.

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PhD Committee struggles

Silhouette row of businessmen sitting in meeting room
Silhouette row of businessmen sitting in meeting room
Hopefully your committee won’t look this creepy.

I formed my PhD committee! Then it fell apart… Then I fixed the problem!! But really I didn’t… A PhD committee is a big deal and you can spend a lot of time trying to find the right professors only to find out that they don’t have the time. In my case, I got lucky and formed my committee without too much headache. Then one person left and the whole thing fell apart. So what goes into a committee anyway and why do you need one?

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Pardon the dust…

Well today I’ve had a major demolition project going on at home (see yesterday’s post for details), which has left precious little time for anything else, much less blogging. Sorry, but for the day this is it. As a reminder, no matter how big your goal, no matter how far you’ve come, it’s okay to take a break if you need it. My goal was 365 days of academic blogging and well sometimes you need time away. It doesn’t reset the clock, it just makes you human. So take a minute for yourself if you need it, I certainly do!


The hits keep coming

Art by: J.C. Leyendecker from November 21, 1914 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, titled “Beat-up Boy, Football Hero”

You know, if I wasn’t living it I wouldn’t believe it. I honestly question if my coworkers believe it. I have some crap luck. I get the sense that if it weren’t for the photographic evidence of my horrible luck no one would believe me and frankly I wouldn’t blame them. Even with photos, I’m wondering if people are questioning, because how many times can something go wrong with one person?

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