I am scientist by training, inclination and temperament. However, this is a blog, not a lab. The title reflects my passion for hyperbole, so don't take me too seriously. I don't. I was a technician in a physiology lab, got my PhD in molecular genetics and neuroscience, was a postdoctoral fellow in biophysics and now am a Project Manager in a Clinical Science/Biomedical Informatics institute. I am a scientific jack-of-all-trades, and very happy because of it. I write about science that catches my eye, making the transition away from the lab bench, and the slightly odd and moist boundary where science culture meets the public. I am an Englishman by birth, an American by temperament and if I were you I wouldn't lend me money.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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In this second instance of our LabSpaces theme blogging we are instructed to ponder one of the great unknowns. A known unknown full of unknown unknowns, for the Rumsfeldians amongst you. What would I be doing if I wasn't doing what I do now?
I vividly remember, sitting in the bar of Jury's restaurant in Dupont Circle, in Washington, D.C., in 2003. I was having a beer with Jenn, the singer of my band. We were just trying to get to know each other better; she felt I'd spent enough time bonding with my guitarist, Matt. Jenn asked me a rather profound question, "What makes you different at 28 than you were when you were our age?" Jenn and Matt were both 23. I pondered this for a moment, and said, "I know now that I know less than what I thought I did when I was 23."
Most of that self-realisation is in the form of learning to appreciate the inexplicable variation in life, or to put it differently, the way you can never begin to guess what curve balls life will throw when you're at bat.
If, 20 years ago, you had told the fifteen year old me that in 10 years, in the year 2000, I would be looking back at life, with earrings and ponytail, and I had ended up studying biology, met a girl, fallen in love, moved to the US to go to graduate school, and gotten married and I would celebrate the turn of the new millennium in Pennsylvania...well, I would have laughed in your face, and then called my dad to tell him there was a stranger in the house. I knew there was no way this was going to happen because I was going to UCL or St. Barts to read Medicine, and upon graduating I was joining the Royal Navy. Duh. I knew that, mom knew that, dad knew it and it was just so.
If, 10 years ago, you had told the 25 year old me that in 10 years, in the year 2010, I would be looking back on life, and still be dealing with the fact that my marriage had failed spectacularly, and that I had lived in Washington DC, Maryland and Memphis, had crashed out of bench science with a bad attitude and heart full of hate to the so-called mentors who pushed me, literally, to the brink for no reason other than retroactive spite, and that I had found a new girl, rented a nice small house by the Mississippi and was allowed to live there at the mercy of two cats, and that I was now a suited administrator managing a clinical science institute, and had never been so happy...why, I would have laughed in your face, and then called the cops because there was a stranger in my house.
(And if you told me I would be writing these thoughts in a confessional-style blogpost on my smartphone while DVRing some of my fave reality shows I would stared at you blankly wondering what drugs you'd taken.)
I wouldn't have believed you because I knew, for a fact, I was going on to postdoc and then would be a faculty member and my astrophysicist wife and I would live back in England.
So I don't 'do' prognostication. But what about..uh...retrognostication? It's hard. After I epically failed my 12 grade finals (thanks to a late and verypoorly timed discovery of marijuana) I grabbed the first opportunity that came my way - reading biology at a mid-tier school in the British midlands. The rest has kind of been flying by the seat of my pants. When I finished my undergrad I wasn't sure what to do with my new degree, but had gotten friendly with one of the professors who taught us neuroscience. He mentioned a technicians post opening in his lab and I took the first tentative steps on this awful (applying mostly the 19th Century but sometimes the 20
So what would I be doing if I wasn't doing what I'm doing now. Honestly? I have no fucking idea.
In no particular it might have included any of the following.
Each deserves its own blogpost...
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"I know now that I know less than what I thought I did when I was 23."
I figure that's the only thing we learn throughout our lives, but it's definitely a good one.
Great post.I think it says something that the 6 alternative careers are all over the place ;) multi-tasking indeed.
I had so big plans when I was a teen, then they got smaller and more dreamy as undergrad but I don't think I actually thought I'd do a post doc in land farfar away in crazy city before I was 30 ;)
Thanks y'all. The diversity of options was made it hard to write! I really have no idea what I'd be doing now if I had stayed in the UK and pottered along as a tech or gone for my RN.. .
Now GR's trophy for your last place finish in fantasy football the other week makes so much more sense
Seriously, really fantastic post.
LOL, thanks Belle. I'll tell the story sometime, although maybe I should post over at Blogger for that one...The gist of the conversation was something like...
scene - playing pool with a guy I knew was something to do with the 'entertainment industry'.
Dude: "Hey, you're cool guy!"
Me: "Uh, thanks..."Dude: "I make movies. Do you wanna f*** my wife?"
-insert stunned silence and shock-
Dude, who has clearly misunderstood the reason for my silence, "Oh, no not for free! No way. I'll pay you. She's cute."
Me, WTF and a sharp exit...
At the very least, not being in porn frees you up from having to grow a nasty mustache. Of course, this also means you don't get a fluffer.
I did the novelty moustache last time I shaved off my goatee. Tis LOLtastic and very 1984 geography teacher. Fluffer...well, I guess I can live without...