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Posts tagged “writing

The robot resubmission

Fact: robots who don’t get published often turn to a life of crime.

Sometimes life comes at you fast, other times you’re writing a paper and four years later you’re still looking to publish it. Publishing can be like that and while I’m not the only one with this type of story, I do believe we’re finally coming to an end of the robot paper saga. I’m really hoping I don’t have a whole ass PhD before this thing gets published, that would just be awkward.

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Robot rush

Not my robot, but I figure we’re tired of seeing the same few photos of mine.

Well we’re just a few days away from robot paper deadline and there’s still some work to be done! While robot-PI is still editing the paper, I had an unfortunate realization with some of the work I had done that requires me to go in and fix a few things. So once again, I’m doing things as hard as possible.

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The week ahead

Every once and awhile I like to highlight what kind of stuff I’m working on during the week and since there are a lot of things going on and none of them would make a very “full” post on their own, I think it would be best to group it all together and look ahead because there are some very interesting things happening this week!

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Oh the things you’ll learn

I’ve been a student for some time now, roughly 15 years since undergrad (not counting “traditional” schooling growing up. Over these years there were several instances, really I would consider them setbacks, where I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. Hindsight is 20/20, but the exception for me has always been seeing personal growth.

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The work ahead

There’s work to be done and as usual when things pile up like this, I like to discuss (as much as I can) the things I’m up to. Mostly as a (semi) sanity check. I want to make sure that when I write out the stuff I’m doing or the order I’m working in that it makes sense to do it in that way. So what’s in the need to do pile today? Lots of stuff, ranging from data analysis to paper writing. The work never seems to be finished.

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People are squishy and other science explanations

A recent blog comment reminded me of something I said the other day to surgeon-PI. Keep in mind that surgeon-PI and I have only known each other since he started at the hospital, which isn’t long. While we were doing an experiment in the OR, so under his watch, we discussed some of the challenges with the experiments we were doing and when we tried to change things on the fly he said it was bad science, to which I replied people are squishy. I said what I said damn it!

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Work goals

Today is going to be quite busy between OR experiments and all the other stuff I have going on (writing, data processing, etc.). One of those other things is something I thought would be easier than it’s turning out to be and so I figured I would talk about it today. I work in a teaching hospital and specifically I do research in lab that does human experiments. I really love it and I’ve talked about all that before, but now we’re discussing what my goals are for my employment and it isn’t as straightforward as I expected.

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The robot paper response

Yesterday due partly to the house work I was having done, I got none of the data processed I needed to do, but I had a chance to address some of the comments I got from the reviewers on “robot paper.” The response is due in just a few days and one reviewer was very thorough with their feedback, so there’s a lot to address and not a lot of time to get it done. The good news is ~94% of the comments are addressed, the only bad news is that it isn’t 100%.

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Chaos as enjoyment

Well today’s post comes far later than I would’ve liked, but hey it’s been a day. What kind of day? Well surprise, surprise I cannot talk about it! That’s the theme, I get to hint at stuff for a year or so and then surprise everyone with the paper after the fact. But today did inspire something that I can talk about and that’s why today we’re talking about why I love research so much!

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COVID Confusion

Well the CDC recently changed its guidelines from 10 days isolation if infected to 5 days. This was a move fully done for the benefit of big business and not people, but hey sometimes we’ve got to lube the gears of the economy with blood. Specifically, the blood of people who are poor, but who cares about them anyway? I think there’s a fine line between government protection and government control, but we’re so far removed from any sort of protection I think it’s not a conversation worth having.

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Return of the robot paper

Logically I knew I would get a response sooner or later, I mean you submit something to a journal and you’re going to get a response. Even if it’s just a screw you, you hack. Can you tell I’ve already had several of those? Well yesterday I finally got the email about the paper I wrote on the work I did in my Masters degree days, which feels like a very long time ago now that I’m almost done with my PhD. The news is good, but I’m going to be cautious.

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New year, same luck

I don’t want to think that I’m unlucky, but sometimes things just keep happening and you have to wonder if somewhere in a past life I broke dozens of mirrors or walked under a few hundred ladders. Who knows? What I do know is that luck has not been kind. Things tend to break around me and while I don’t know the rate at which I should be expecting things to break, the current rate feels incredibly high.

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2021 in review

Last year I did “a year in review” and yesterday, feeling a bit curious on seeing what I had accomplished the year before last (2020), I went back and read it. Obviously the last year has been… interesting to say the least. We’ve collectively been through some shit, but that doesn’t mean nothing good happened so for a moment at least I want to catalog some of the good stuff that happened last year. So next year, I can do the same look back and see what my goals were and what was actually accomplished.

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New year’s eve!!

It’s that time again. We’re bringing in another year. Let’s be real, the last two years have been progressively worse and 2022 doesn’t look like it will start off any better. I don’t know what will be in store for us in the upcoming year, but my one request to anyone who stumbles upon this is to be kind to each other. Wear a mask, get vaccinated, then boosted, and if we can finally work together, maybe we can at least make 2022 the year we beat COVID. I’m not optimistic, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. To each and every one of the readers of my little blog, happy new year to you and yours. And thank you for spending another year with me on my journey.


Books read in 2021

With the end of the year upon us, I figure it’s time to commit to my books read in 2021 list. Last year I believe I did something similar, if not, I should have. In any case, every year as part of my “lazy goals” I challenge myself to read a certain number of books. The purpose is to stop and relax from time to time. Or just to carve out a couple of hours to enjoy reading a good story, well hopefully good. Want to read something, but aren’t sure what? Don’t worry, I have some recommendations!

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Salted caramel apple empanadas

Technically this is a failure and from a previous batch, but I love that you can see the filling inside

Fine, I will give out my recipe! But be warned with great empanadas come great responsibilities! In other words, once you make these for your friends or family you’ll be obligated to make more. Ask me how I know! That said, I never bothered to write down the recipe, I’ve always made it by “feel,” but since I’ve shared pictures twice now of the result I keep getting the request for it.

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A marathon of cooking

How it all started… (remember cut veggies/fruit before meats to avoid cross contamination and ideally use separate cutting boards)

Well it’s been an interesting few days. Since I don’t get to have a traditional holiday experience (due to COVID), like most people I know, I opted to make enough food to feed a small army so I could share some with basically everyone in a safer manner than having one big celebration. Over the past two days I’ve spent a total of 18 hours in the kitchen, but who’s counting? Me, I’m counting.

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Happy holidays!

Well, it’s Christmas day again and we are still dealing with COVID. Maybe you’re numb to it or maybe you’re like me and incredibly stressed out about it. Whatever the case this year probably looks very different from prior years and even from last year. Last year I wished that COVID would be a history lesson and not a current event. Maybe it was ambitious, but I don’t want to lose hope so once again my holiday wish is that next year we beat this and can properly mourn for those who were lost during this (ideally) brief period of history. So from my “crazy” little family to yours, happy holidays!


‘Tis the season!

Well I wish I could say that today is a regularly scheduled day of relaxing. In a way it kind of is? Today is my regularly scheduled prep for tomorrow’s dinner. Now I don’t have a traditional family, but I do have friends and what not, so I’m making a rather large meal. The plan (as it is every year) is to have plenty of leftovers for myself, but also to have enough to hand out to friends and coworkers when Monday rolls around.

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The year I met Alice

Not quite that Alice, but I definitely felt mad afterward.

Every year around this time I think of Alice (not her real name). Alice and I have a lot in common. We have the same last name, same initials, and we had no idea the other existed until one day when I randomly checked my email and discovered a serious case of mistaken identity. That was my introduction to Alice, so every year I think about her and wonder how she’s doing. But my dear reader, the story isn’t about the emails. The story is about what happened next.

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Yet another rush…

It’s a familiar story by now. Tomorrow is not one, but two experiments in the OR. In fact, I’m going to be so busy tomorrow that I’m probably going to write tomorrow’s post today. The good (or at least interesting) news there is that I have a good topic lined up for tomorrow since it just happened to fall in my lap. But for today, well let’s just say there’s not a whole lot of time.

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The path moving forward

Pick your battles. After having a conversation with another student about their PhD plans and how soon they want to graduate, they offered that sometimes you need to pick your battles. I couldn’t agree more with that statement and when I met with school-PI a few days ago virtually to go over my big PhD plans I asked what I needed to do to finish. I needed to pick my battles.

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Success! Journal paper 2 of 4

Well kids, Christmas has come early! As of this morning my second of four journal papers I’ve written has been accepted for publication! Since it’s been a somewhat long and confusing road, I figure today I can remind everyone why I’m so thrilled about this paper and why this is good news for me in particular. There’s still a lot to do and more papers to publish as we go, but things are looking up!

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Paper three resubmission!

This was quick even by my standards, but we’ve managed to make the changes we needed to the manuscript that came back just a few short days ago (here). I’ve got to come up with a more descriptive way to talk about these papers than numbering the order in which we did them, but that’s what I’ve been using for the moment. In any case the paper has been submitted, so what now?!

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A big idea…

You ever have an idea that you just KNEW would change the way you were doing things. Like the first person to invent a surgical robot, it was just a good idea and it completely changed the way things were done. I don’t think that this idea is going to change things that dramatically, but much like my super secret technique, I think my recent revelation is going to mean some great things for me. Lighting struck the other day and it has hospital-PI incredibly excited.

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Journal Paper three update!

Well that was fast, we got reviews back on a paper we recently submitted and they were surprisingly good for us. It’s still considered major revisions, but they gave us ten days to make the changes. Ten days as of Monday, so were about a week away from needing to resubmit. There’s some work to be done for sure, but I think we can manage.

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The BIG result

Art by: Rebecca Wright

Today I had my meeting with school-PI and I have to say it went both better and worse than I was hoping for. The good news is I’m still a member of his lab and he seemed surprisingly okay with me switching projects for my dissertation, not that the project would change much, just the funding source. Of course that doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows, because that would be too easy.

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The last experiment

Goodbyes are hard, even if you don’t really know someone outside of work. Today we’re saying goodbye to a few of our participants as they finish one of our longer experiments. It feels like only yesterday, but it’s been several months now so it’s time to wrap things up. The good news is this will create a bit of an opening in my routine, but that’s probably going to be filled in pretty quickly.

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The tough conversations

One of the things I left (intentionally) off my to-do list for the week post was the talk with school-PI about hospital-PI. The plan is to arrange the meeting sometime either this week or next depending on school-PI’s availability to have the talk. I’m not thrilled about it and I don’t know how this will turn out, but it has to happen and it has to happen soon.

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A day off

Well today nothing serious is going to happen. I have no plans, no work I need to do (urgently anyway) and I could use some time to unwind. Today seems as good a day as any to take the time for myself and thus I have nothing to write about. Breaks are important, in fact, take this as a chance to take a break for yourself. Go do something you enjoy, or not. Your choice. The thing about self care is it’s whatever works for you.


Thanksgiving 2021

Well it’s thanksgiving. As usual for anyone who’s picked up a history book, celebrating thanksgiving is one hell of a choice. Granted it was made generations ago so we do it out of habit and I am happy to have the extra time off, although time off as a student is more of a concept and not an actual thing. Point being, celebrating genocide is something we do here in the US. Because that’s how we were founded.

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Writing rush

Well today I will be spending the bulk of my time editing a journal paper that needs some work. Okay a lot of work, it’s not great, but I feel like it’s a case of switching fields. Something I know all too well when I jumped from mechanical engineering to neuroengineering. I try to be polite when editing because it’s stressful enough as it is. However, it’s important to remember that it’s the paper being critiqued, not you.

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Another year of NDSEG

Yesterday was the last day to apply for the NDSEG fellowship and if the traffic to my fellowship tips post (here) is any indication about the number of people who applied, this year is going to be competitive. It’s bittersweet for me, because this is the first year I won’t be applying. Mostly because I am no longer eligible for it, but also because I literally have more funding than I know what to do with.

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End of the week rush

It’s Friday, which means I need to be at both the hospital lab and the school lab. Then it’s wall to wall meetings with little break in between. How am I writing this if I’m so pressed for time? Well I have a second between meetings and things I need to do. It’s busy, but the good news is I’m forced to focus on the stuff right in front of me, which is better than having to focus on other things that are going on at least.

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Into the storm

Yep, things are looking gloomy around here. Did I mention I hate this time of the year? It feels like everything conspires to go wrong around this time of year and it just happens to be when my depression and anxiety are cranked up to 11 pretty much all day every day. I don’t enjoy it and I wish I could just hide until the new year rolls around and the feeling passes, but here we are another year where I am super anxious and another year where everything seems to be going wrong.

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The garden of forking paths

It’s called the butterfly effect and goes something like, “a butterfly can flap its wings and cause a hurricane on the other side of the world.” That’s not exactly true, like most things it’s an easy way to remember the concept. Something small can have a ripple effect that you may not be able to anticipate. In other words, chaos. The problem is chaos, the universe is not deterministic so predicting the future, even the immediate future, comes with a certain level of uncertainty. It’s only in hindsight can we trace back certain events and see the pattern and even then depending on the scale, it’s impossible to know which butterfly caused the hurricane or if the flapping of a butterfly’s wings prevented one.

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Another Veterans day reminder

Well it’s that time of the year again where I remind people that toxic patriotism and performative patriotism is bad. So don’t do it, seriously. I have a lot of mixed feelings about today. Mostly it’s a time for me to remember friends that aren’t around… I guess? I remember them normally anyway so it feels extra, this isn’t a happy thing and I don’t particularly thing we should “celebrate” in the traditional sense. I appreciate the others may have different opinions on the matter, but for me it comes down to the weaponization of patriotism and that needs to be stopped. Veterans day is less about people and more about politicians. It’s politicians use military as a weapon day.

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Journal paper number three is submitted!

Finally checking a few things off my list, now this will probably come back to me for edits in the next few weeks/months, but paper number three has been submitted for review! As with the last few papers, I think we can go through the process of how we got to this point and I can explain what happens now for those who’ve never submitted a journal paper before. I’m really excited, so let’s talk about the long road leading to this point.

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The (maybe) final paper revisions

Okay, if I wasn’t stressed enough I got an email from hospital-PI forwarding to me the request for our manuscript. The one that I’m currently working on, as in right now. In fact, I’ve stepped away to write this because I really need a break from all that for a moment before I try to wrap it up. There have been so many changes I need to make sure that the entire document is coherent still, which is easier said than done because some of the sentences are definitely not coherent so I need to work back to figure out what we were originally trying to say.

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A weekend of edits

No matter how much you stagger something, it somehow all manages to come back to you at the same time. It’s an interesting phenomenon that I’ve noticed, where suddenly everyone wants something from me all at the same time. In this case, I was hit with not one, but three paper edits that need to happen. All of the requests happened within a day of each other, so now my weekend will be spent doing my least favorite activity, editing papers.

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A bug’s life, a horror story

I’m fine. No, really everything is okay. There was a point where I thought it wouldn’t be. But I’m better now. Looking back on the events of the past week, I can see why someone looking from the outside may worry. Things have a way of unraveling so suddenly. But it’s okay because I found the cause and I fixed it. It’s what I do you see, I fix things. I’ve fixed myself more times than I can count, but they weren’t permanent fixes. I was shown a better way and now I am fine. Don’t worry you can hear my story, you can be fine too!

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Septoplasty update or so you’re having your splints removed!

Splint removal, both photos make it look like they sit right inside, they sit further back so you can’t see them and they don’t hang out of the nose at all.

I can breathe! It’s a magical feeling when for the past week I couldn’t use my nose at all. Okay, I could breathe out, on occasion, if I were careful, but now I can breathe and it feels so nice, particularly on my throat, which is still a little raw from the week prior. Since I’ve made it on the other side of things (for the second time now) I think we can do a quick update on the lastest recovery, but more importantly I found out the information about the ear graft I needed. As always, sharing is caring, so let’s do this!

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So you’ve had a septoplasty

Fine, I guess I should share some of my story since I share everything else and this would be useful to anyone else needing the same thing. Technically speaking what was done was a combination of surgeries, but I’m going out on a limb and thinking the good ol’ septoplasty is the one most people will be having and so that’s the topic of the day.

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Zombies in nature!!

It’s my favorite post of the year!!! Every year I update and post my favorite Halloween Lunatic Labs tradition! Ironically with everything going on this year (surgery and what not) I almost forgot to post it! In any case, today we bring you the science fact behind the undead. Zombies, those brain loving little things are everywhere. Sure, we are all familiar with the classic  zombie, but did you know that we aren’t the only zombie lovers out there? It turns out that nature has its own special types of zombies, but this isn’t a science fiction movie, this is science fact! Sometimes fact can be scarier than fiction. Let’s talk zombies.

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The award announcement

Well it’s official, my project got funded. It’s a little hollow since we knew ahead of time that it was going to be awarded, but now that it’s official we can make a big deal about it. By we I mean my school-PI and our collaborator, who I guess is technically my latest Co-PI, so now I have three PI’s and you thought my life was complicated enough already, didn’t you?

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Surgical recovery, yet again!

Well today is officially day one of my recovery. Yesterday (here) I had my…. well it’s in the double digits that’s for sure, surgery. I was spoiled this year as I only had a single surgery, normally I go in once every six months for something and I’ve had that routine for the last six or so years, so yeah double digit surgery count, but I don’t remember the exact number, I think it’s 13 (spooky!) in any case I lived, despite the VA hospitals best efforts.

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If you’re reading this, it’s already too late.

How’s that for a spooky title? Normally I write my posts the same day you all get to read them. It’s a nice system that keeps me just stressed enough to keep going. I’m only semi-joking. This post however was written yesterday, or today for me. The reason is simple, if you’re reading this then I’ve already been whisked off to surgery again. Not that this wasn’t a planned thing, but I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it since I have two surgeries every year as it stands. This year it’s just one so I hold out hope that means the six month shuffle of something new being painful/swollen/etc. is slowly coming to an end.

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PC build part eight, closing the loop

It feels very sci-fi around here now!

As promised this is the grand finale to the custom water cooling hard tube build saga. As in, the computer is back up and running… finally. It’s been a journey, but I’m hopeful that the latest mods will keep me from having any more problems that I need to stop my work and fix. I mean modding your computer for fun is one thing, needing to do it is a whole other thing. Still, I’m thankful for the little pause and I got to make a few needed changes/upgrades while the computer was down so it isn’t all that terrible.

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Planning my dissertation

The word of the day is apocalypse, since that’s pretty much what I feel like is happening lately.

It will still be awhile before I can graduate. I’ve got roughly two years left (more if I’m unlucky, so definitely more) before I’m done and today I’ll be meeting with my school PI, previously my main-PI, but now that I’m working for my Co-PI I need to come up with new titles, to discuss my life’s work. Or at least my PhD life’s work, since this is a conversation overdue, but now needs to happen because of some good news we recently got.

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The digital disconnect

Some themes just resonate with people because they are universally felt. Feeling like you don’t belong in your own skin isn’t something new. Movies tap into things like this a lot, the Matrix for example gave a sci-fi spin to the feeling. One where you could simply unplug, wake up, reality wasn’t amazing, but it was reality. I think a lot about the handful of suicides that followed the movie, people thought it was a message, a call to action so to speak.

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