Tag Archives: connections

I applied to two PhD programs: the neurobiology department and the biological-chemistry department. What I really wanted to do was understand how synapses work; I wanted to be a neuroscientist. But I was not accepted by the neurobiology department. I was absolutely, flatly rejected. As a result, I could not work on synapses. Instead I worked in the biochemistry department and became a probably pretty decent biochemist, working on membranes.

Now the reason I mention all this is that it illustrates something, which is, I wanted to understand how a synapse worked. Had I been accepted as a neuroscientist, I would have probably worked on it. But I wouldn’t have solved it. The tools weren’t there. The time wasn’t right. Instead, I became a biochemist. I took on a much broader view of the same subject. And I ended up, somewhat by accident, solving the fundamental problem of how synapses work. Had I set out to solve that problem in a more direct way, I might not actually have gotten there first. It’s always good to know what you want to do, but be prepared for what comes. Luck plays a significant role. I went into cell biology wanting to be a neuroscientist, and I ended up a neuroscientist by accident.

James E. Rothman, one of three winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, on luck.

From “A Nobel Prize winner on Why We Need Foundational Research” [New Yorker | Elements]

(via thenoobyorker)

A note on followers

I try to refrain from telling people to follow my blog, because I don’t want to badger my friends or focus on that sort of thing on my blog. I’d rather talk about art and philosophy and the goodness of things.

It still makes me happy to get new followers.

However, it makes me even happier to hear about friends or classmates who read my blog without even my knowing, whether it’s for prof quotes, or to check up on my life or whether they like the articles or poetry I sometimes I post. I think this is because it reminds me of a network of people who care about me and/or value the ideas and thoughts and images I put out here. It just gives me the warm and fuzzies 🙂

I must admit though, what pleases me the most is when someone whose blog I read and opinion I respect follows my blog. That can light up my whole day, because, as much as I love sharing things with the people I already know and care about, I also love creating content that speaks to people who haven’t met me, and the possibility for new friendships that creates.

So thank you.

Things I learned at CUTC

  1. Just do it.
  2. To succeed you must fail.
  3. The internet allows start-ups to get going without much capitol.
  4. Incubators are where it’s at.
  5. Persistence is crucial.
  6. The businesses on top made it there at night and on weekends.
  7. Luck is all about perspective.
  8. If you don’t do it, someone else will, and they will beat you.
  9. You learn best when surrounded by people smarter than you.
  10. Networking is most effective when you’re genuine and look for common ground.
  11. “Tell me more” will save you when you’re lost in a conversation.
  12. The start-up lifestyle is a lot less glamorous then you may think.
  13. Reach out to people you want to connect with, regardless of their title.
  14. New technology may enable old ideas to become plausible.
  15. Small companies are the bomb.
  16. Look for a career where you’re not only making money and good at what you do, but you’re passionate about what you do, and you’re changing the world.
  17. CTFW – Change The Fucking World
  18. We must place are bets on the crazy people, the unreasonable people, the mad people. The incremental steps that are being taken towards the big issues such as poverty, green energy, population growth, scarcity of resources and global warming don’t have enough impact to fix problems of this magnitude. We need to take chances on brilliant, revolutionary ideas, regardless of how impossible they seem, because that will give us the best chance and progress.
  19. The way we think about failure can be extraordinarily disabling – give yourself incentives to fail and embrace failure on the path to success.
  20. Start now, what’s the point of waiting?
  21. If you aren’t maximizing your productivity, you’re being lazy. Busy work is a form of laziness.
  22. 9-5 jobs and flex hours are becoming a thing of the past, the new model is results based only – work when you need to work,  where you want to work, and only spend time on things that relate to your result.
  23. Cell phone banking is starting to have a huge positive effect on Africa.
  24. Incremental product development produces the most value for your time and money.
  25. Predictions based on trends of the past can be interesting, but are still usually wrong.
  26. Multitasking is a myth.

By saving conversations and correspondence I’m really trying to capture the interactions between other people and myself. Connections and conversation and mood. Looking back sometimes I notice the way I conduct myself changes. I am more careful about some things and less about others as I grow up. I like everything to be saved because I wonder what there is of value there and if it may be of use one day. I want to leave breadcrumbs which show who I am and who I was and how I changed. Also, lately, I think it might be useful for writing characters. I have friends who are characters and who tell good stories and sometimes I tell good stories too.

Some thoughts on friendship

As difficult as it is to admit, I am finally realizing it is impossible to maintain relationships with every cool person I meet. There are SO MANY outstanding individuals, with unique interests, qualities, strengths and opinions who I enjoy talking to and spending time with out there. Having meaningful relationships takes up a good chunk of time and energy, and I only have so much time and energy. So, I’m learning losing touch with someone doesn’t reflect badly on either of you, it doesn’t mean you dislike each other, or you’ve grown apart, or really anything, it just demonstrates how hard to maintain many relationships at once, no matter how incredible the people you’ve met are, especially if there’s  a lot of distance between you. On the other hand, this large world is also a small world, and I believe time will bring you together with at least some of those people again in the future. Even though, I suppose, the longer you live the more fantastic people you’ll have a chance to meet with and connect with. I guess I’m trying to say that all connections between people are valuable, even ones that aren’t followed up with long term friendships. Those relationships make some of the best memories. It’s okay to let go of people, it’s okay to let go period, and that is something I need more practice at (a lot more practice). It also makes the friendships that you maintain all the more special; your energy and time is precious, and choosing to invest it in each other is a special thing, a type of honour you’re bestowing each other with. Plus it’s easy to reconnect with things like facebook, although investing too much of your time and energy into the program/network itself, instead of actual people is good to avoid. It always makes me feel icky to do that, so I’m trying to cut back, and spend my time doing more constructive things, and investing my energy in things I actually care about.