applied Neural PLasticity & dynamics

The brain has the amazing ability to change and rewire itself.

Lets use that as a tool and basis for treatment.

Why Me?

This is my passion. People laugh at me when I say if I won the lottery, I would create exactly what I am promoting here, and do exactly what I am doing now. But I would. I grew up working: I mowed lawns and tended other peoples’ livestock when they went on vacations. I worked on farms in Idaho bucking hay and moving irrigation pipe. I worked as general labor and janitorial worker through Junior and Senior high school years, as well as to pay my way through college the first time. I was put in charge of janitorial crews when I was 15 years old. I worked as a licensed aircraft mechanic until I returned to school for my bachelors. I have had some type of work for as long as I can remember. I finally have work that I truly love, that fascinates me every day, and that I enjoy thinking about constantly. If it wasn’t for the troubles dealing with grant agencies, this would be the perfect job. Ever since I took that ‘Intro to Psychobiology’ class, I have been hooked. This is the nuts and bolts, the mechanics, of the mind.  Forget fast cars or high performance aircraft: I am now troubleshooting the ultimate machine, the penultimate autopilot, not only without a manual, but getting to help write the manual!

I am tenacious. I always drive forward, and I don’t quit. I had some burns when I was 6 years old that kept me inside for 6 months. I made models, I took things apart, and I learn to read well by reading encyclopedias and a dictionary. And my parents started me playing a cornet. I started 1st grade in January and was caught up in a little more than a month. When I broke my arm in the second grade and couldn’t go out for recess (back when they had them), I was bored by the simple busy work, and wanted to do something—so I watched the teacher doing her roman numeral class homework, and then started doing it with her because it was fun figuring out how to add, subtract, multiply roman numeral numbers. It kept my mind busy.

Not that I haven’t ever failed. I flunked out of college three times when I first tried academia at Idaho State straight out of high school. So I regrouped and talked my way into the Vocational/Technical school’s aircraft mechanics program. It was hands on, and real, and what I needed at that point in my life. I missed a 4.0 by one B+. I was hired as a technician on military KingAir aircraft. After having been at the base at Los Alamitos for 6 months, the lead mechanic was having problems, and I was promoted and put in charge of all aspects maintenance, inspections, QA, customer relations—all of it. I set a longevity record there for a lead mechanic before the military reorganized and rebased all of these types of aircraft.

I moved to Oxnard, CA and continued working there on the same type of aircraft. But the airplanes were becoming boring. Incredibly complex, sure, but after troubleshooting most of the systems a few times, it became mundane. I thought I might have developed the patience for academics again, and decided to prove myself wrong. I had let myself believe that getting a bachelors was something I just wasn’t capable of. I went back determined to take every class 10 times if needed. I started taking one or two classes a semester. Shortly after starting classes, I injured my shoulder at work, and found out that I also had carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes in both arms. As I was going to be off of work for a while , I signed up for a full semester load of classes.

By the time the first couple of surgeries were over, I had a full year of classes finished. Not sure how everything was going to work, I took the chance and fought tooth and nail and managed to transfer into UCLA.

My post-surgery restrictions preventing me from returning to work as an aircraft mechanic, however.  Silver lining— by risking having to drop classes and just taking as many as I could, I had just completed enough units to apply my vocational rehabilitation to attaining my bachelor’s. Well, after yet again fighting the process, and representing myself over a rehabilitation counselor. The system is not geared to workers retraining as anything except a different type of worker.

After having let myself believe that a bachelors was something I just wasn’t capable of attaining, I graduated from UCLA with a BS in psychobiology with departmental honors. The rest is on my CV.

Choices—I have many choices. I could have went on into anything. I had debated the MBA/MS route. Quick way to a handsome salary. But this psychobiology bug had bitten me, and I had bitten it back, and once these jaws lock onto something, pit bulls get envious. Medicine? That would be good money as well. But I just wanted to do the research side. I have no patience for patients. A PhD it was.

I received my PhD after 5½ years at Boston University; 2 years studying cocaine addiction, and 3 years studying physiology of memory. And more choices. Industry or academia?  Easy choice actually. After all of these years of studying pharmacodynamics and memory, it just seemed the companies were more interested in medicines than in answers. Discovering real answers doesn’t help the stock holders, new drugs that they can charge $billions for does. Very lucrative, but to me flawed, and not part of how I want to live. But then academia has followed suit, and drug development and faculty who developed new drugs are their high priority. So choices again. Go to the people. You. Be Don Quixote and tilt against these windmills of patents and profits above all else. My choice is to fight what I think is the good fight, and the only ethical one. If others only see a silly man sparing with windmills, so then is the lack of their vision.

Ideas. I have ideas. Man, do I have ideas. I have an incredibly busy brain. My biggest problem is trying to get it to be quiet enough to sleep. Some people call it Attentional Deficit Disorder. For some it is detrimental, for others it is creative power.  When combined with my tenacity and passion, those ideas become real. Instead of  the mind taking off in some endless path, it’s much more like a starburst. The mind flies out in many directions from the center  to explore the connectivity and the relationships, then comes back to the central point, pulling those connected ideas with it. And integrating them back into the core. I see it as Facilitated Integration Ability. It is like my puns—and I am always making puns—words have all of these different meanings, connotations, and interrelations, and I see them all while I am listening. It is the same with ideas and concepts. I am amazingly good at seeing relationships and how things interconnect. People usually want to see and focus on finding differences. Sometimes those are the important details. But many times its the similarities that are the key—Like in addiction and addiction like disorders. There are tons of similarities, far too many to be coincidental. Yes there are differences among them all. But the mechanic in me knows that the best place to start is in looking at what is in common with all of them. Troubleshooting 101 for mechanics and technicians.

So— Passion, Tenacity, Choices, and Ideas. All of those I think make me the right person. And possibly one more: Fierce independence. I am used to being the lone voice, the person that never got into fads or peer pressure. Maybe it was that early start of being the adopted fat smart kid that no one liked that made me independent, or the pioneering/farming hardy stock family I had. My fondest memories are of watching the adults sitting around the dinner table have these fierce discussions over all sorts of topics. Everyone had opinions, and everyone had support for their ideas. That is what I grew up thinking being an adult was about. Now I find it is about dumbing down, and agreeing regardless of your own opinions or lack of others being able to support their opinions if you want to be liked. I am a scientist: I question. I am also a human, so I question and think, and I believe we all should, not just scientists. I demand support for ideas, not just that it was heard on the news or that some famous person said so. But that also drives me to get outside support. Science is just like any other field, especially ones that depend on federal money: rife with politics. Questioning and requiring others to think and be able to support their opinions doesn’t necessarily mesh well with politics. To me, all that is effort that could have been better spent discovering answers instead of pandering to power figures.

If you don’t like the game—change it. That is what this site is about. Put your dollars to work making me work, not chasing dollars constantly to pursue dictated folly.

PassioN, tenacity, Choices, and Ideas.

Numerous scientists also share many of these sentiments, so what makes me different? I have the drive and the nerve (i.e.: crazy enough) to think outside the box and try for my own organization, and to do whatever it takes to get this accomplished.

A very misunderstood hero. A windmill to some, a dragon to others.

 

An annoyance to some, the solution to others. 

 

The irony of deciding who is jousting with windmills, and who is actually going after the real problem.

 

Its all in your perspective.