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      A lot of mistakes come from assuming rationality means “thinks the same way I do” rather than “reasons from premises I might not share.” Left than 1/1000 economists predicted the financial collapse, because they reasoned from assumptions like “the market is self-correcting” or “housing prices never go down.” (Sometimes both at the same time, which is rarely […]
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Saturday: Lessons Learned

I want to thank all of you who have helped me through this difficult period of time.  Special thanks to Katiebird, DandyTiger, my own BFF who was exceptionally sensitive and kind to me and my ex who suspended hostilities.

I tried to go out on a high note at work.  This wasn’t easy and I’m not sure I was entirely successful.  I worked on my projects literally to the very last hours, depositing my final thoughts on a structure I had been working on just before I shut off my computer for the last time.  Some people may think this is crazy.  I didn’t owe anything to the bastards who laid me off.  I see it differently and am starting to realize what must have been going on in Hillary Clinton’s head during the Democratic Convention of 2008.  In fact, she was on my mind a lot in the past couple of months.  What would Hillary do in this situation?  I decided to give it my all on my projects.  A couple of weeks ago, I found out that the project I had spent the last five years on was going to be used to fight the same cancer that killed my father.  I cried like a baby after that project team meeting.  Did I do enough?

Getting laid off has been a learning experience.  Here are some of the things I have learned:

1.) There is nothing more valuable in life than having a job you love, no matter how much it pays.  The hardest thing about leaving work was realizing what my passion was in my last year of employment and having it gone in a blink of an eye by the penny pinching decisions of a company bureaucrat.

2.) You never know what the right kind of nurturing and opportunities will bring out in people.   I will be forever indebted to the two supervisors who gave me high profile projects and pushed me (sometimes very hard) to learn new things as quickly as I could.  The last year was very challenging but very rewarding and even though I was sometimes stung by the constant revisions requested of my work, I appreciated the demands for rigor.  I think it made me a better scientist.

3.) Lay-offs do not bring out the best in anyone.  Very few people can resist the urge to undermine, take credit or speak ill of other people when they’re under this much stress.  There are no exceptions, not even me.  We all have our faults and layoffs tend to exaggerate them.  It is very hard to focus on our work when we are in desperate competition with each other to save our livelihoods.  Favoritism and kissing ass take the place of diligence and merit.  And those of us who refuse to kiss ass, because, really, it doesn’t serve management well at all, no matter how flattering it is, end up the losers.

4.) Managers who like their work, like to be productive and would prefer to concentrate on science, are frequently overlooked by the powers that be.  They are the best people to work for and their staff loves them.  But they can’t protect their people or even their own positions from the ax as well because they’re not into political games.  That has a bad effect on research in general.  There are a lot of excellent scientists left in the labs.  But they know they have to watch their backs and learn whose ass to kiss.  What a waste.

5.) Never look back.  I haven’t always done my best but in the past two years, I believe I have.  But now it’s time to put it aside and move on. I have no regrets.

I love my colleagues.  Yes, even the ones who were the biggest pains in the ass, snobs and ruthless, aggressive, ambitious bastards I have ever seen who leave a trail of destruction, resentment and dead bodies in their wakes.  They are all without exception  highly intelligent and genuinely interesting people.  If I were stranded on a desert island with any of them, I’d be in good company and wouldn’t be stuck for long.  I wish them good luck.

I love the company I worked for.  I’m not too crazy about the management at the upper end because even though they are getting pressure from Wall Street, they have not thought through this problem well.  They are taking the easy, expedient route.  It is going to result in some painful lessons for all parties involved, sooner rather than later, if what I’m seeing is any indication of the future.  But they’re not the only company making bad decisions right now due to the very same pressures.  I still love the corporation and want it to succeed, not just because it will keep my former colleagues employed (I hope), but because it is the right thing to do for the customers of the products.  I was well compensated, my severance package is good and I enjoyed working there.

So, now my job is to find a job.  This should be interesting.  I don’t think I have to give up trying to cure cancer though.  I’ll just be doing it from the privacy of my own home for awhile.  There are plenty of free resources for me to use.  And now, I know how to do it.