Happy Holidays, 2012

Christmas Octopus

As we come up on Christmas 2012, I’d like to wish all of you a very happy holiday season full of warmth, love and grace.  Like every year, this is a time of reflection and thankfulness for friends and family that are a part of our lives and remembrances of those who are no longer with us.  Life has a funny way of both giving and taking, but always it seems, gracing us with opportunities that appear to us as decision points.

Last year around this time, I resolved to say yes to more of these decision points.  In retrospect, it led to *lots* of work and waaaay more travel than I would have expected, but its been interesting and the future payoff could be even bigger for us as well as others.

For these opportunities, I am grateful.  I am also grateful for our friends and family who simply make life better.  I am grateful for a roof over our heads and the animals that have graced our lives.  I am optimistic for future plans with friends, and H.  Thankful for living in the American West, humbled to be able to work with excellent people, some of whom are my closest friends, continually amazed to be able to travel, tickled to have made a scientific pilgrimage and to have watched H experience New York City for the first time.  I feel totally blessed to have witnessed an astronomical marvel and won an award and worked with wonderful people to explore exciting new science.  At one point in my life, this every day living would have seemed impossible and the joy has been the icing on the cake.  Its been nice to step in from the dark and experience this.

So, what does 2013 hold?  Its always hard to say of course.  Professionally, there will be more science for sure.  An RO1 grant application to write and submit.  There will also be the departure of an amazing person who has worked for me for the last few years and will be sorely missed.  Drew has appeared in Jonesblog many times over the past few years, but he heads off to dental school this fall.  That said, I hope he will not be a stranger in the future.

The team we have at the Moran Eye Center with Robert Marc’s lab is certainly poised to make a huge impact in neural connectomics.  There are two more papers close to publication with one, out of Scott Lauritzen’s dissertation, already accepted for publication in early 2013.  Working with Barb Rohrer, additional papers using our approach to  metabolomics are also in preparation with some interesting results and implications for age related macular degeneration as well as a project working with Charles Keller on cancer.  In addition there are two more papers we have with David Krizaj looking at a model of Stargardt disease and a paper working with Daniel Palanker, Alexander Sher and Phil Huie, refining a technique that immediately impacts clinical interventions for photocoagulation.  Those two papers are in review now.  It also appears that we’ll have six abstracts to present at ARVO in Seattle this year with the above authors as well as Steve Fliesler.  I am also excited about the opportunities to work with colleagues Nick Brecha and Wei Lei as the year progresses and interested to see where our work with Glen Prusky, Nazia Alam and Hazel Szeto is going to go.  We’ve been doing *lots* of work on that project recently…

Personally, H and I have plans that I won’t go into here, but they leave me optimistic and looking forward to the future.  However, at this time of year, reflecting on all of these opportunities to live and learn throughout the year is a luxury that I am intensely aware of and as a result some of our plans involve charitable giving.  While one marvels at what is possible, the optimism that one feels is not universal as it does not necessarily apply to everyone on the planet or consider their condition.  There are people who live in war zones.  People who do not have access to clean water or sanitation or adequate nutrition.  First world considerations are not relevant everywhere and the things that we concern ourselves with are not always *reality*.

So, with that in mind, please consider those in life that are not only close, but those that are far.  Those who may not see things the way you see them, those that may live in foreign lands and those who strive for the same access to life stability as you, but don’t have the same opportunities to realize it that you have.  This holiday season, please consider joining us to help organizations like Charity Water provide clean water to peoples of developing nations.  Or consider a donation to your local food bank or homeless shelter or to the American Red Cross and/or Doctors Without Borders that help people around at home and abroad deal with natural and man made disasters.  For those who work to fund research into blindness, consider Research to Prevent Blindness and Foundation Fighting Blindness.  And don’t forget the good work that goes on with the animals in our lives.

The other day, H pointed out this quote from Lemony Snicket‘s/Daniel Handler and it struck a chord with both of us:  “It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season – like all the other seasons – is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that’s the end of this particular story.”


P.S.  Thanks to Hollie for the octopus Christmas tree ornament.  We hope you are enjoying New Zealand and will celebrate a wonderful big Four Oh in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

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