Alt Jams

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Saturday night I was out near Tomales Bay at a UCSF retreat and wondering around looking for a jam. You would think that I would be smarter than that, what are the chances that I would just happen to find a music jam at a gathering of a bunch of science nerds and you would be correct if you predicted that I didn’t get my bluegrass jam fix. But it got me thinking. I like to tell new students that science isn’t a career, it is a lifestyle where you work really long hours and on weekends and holidays, you can’t wait to get into the lab to see what happened with your latest experiment, you just love talking about it all with your other scientist friends, and you don’t get paid a lot. And watching the crowd at the meeting, my thought was……hey this is kind of like a festival where we listen to the the big dogs up on stage impressing us with what they can play and their latest new song, and then we head for camp to play what we can play and enjoy the company or try to impress our friends with the latest hot lick we worked out. Outside of my career, my lifestyle would also appear to be similar to what I tell my students. I spend a lot of hours in the woodshed, I spend as many hours as I can playing in jams, playing in band practice, and playing for performances, I just love talking about it with my other bluegrass friends, and of course in my bluegrass music lifestyle, I don’t get paid much. Walking around the meeting, where students and faculty were standing at poster presentations talking about the research over a beer and wine, I thought well maybe I did find my jam after all, just not the kind of jam where my dobro will make much of a difference. It seems like jams come in all sorts of different shapes, colors, and flavors……sometimes you just gotta look for them in unexpected ways.

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