Andy's Brain Blog Needs Your Help!

To be more specific, I (Andy) need your help; but what's good for Andy's Brain Blog is good for America - and you're all patriots, right?

As I mentioned before, I am currently applying for jobs and putting together my research and teaching portfolios, playing up all the sexy studies currently in the works, and what I plan to do for the next few years; how I can attract students to the university, students to the department, secure money, funding, recognition, and all that good stuff necessary for the vitality of the university.

However, as all of you know, this right here is one of my dearest, most ambitious projects - to make statistics, neuroimaging, and computational modeling available to everyone in straightforward, simple terms. To use online repositories to get at data unavailable to the majority of smaller, liberal arts institutions, so that students from all parts of the globe, researchers anywhere, and quite literally anyone with a computer can get a piece of the action. To make the information in dense, unreadable technical manuals accessible and easy to understand through hands-on, no-nonsense tutorials. And - perhaps most importantly - I wear a suit when I do it.

I want to continue doing this. I want to continue building, expanding, and teaching, both here and in the classroom. I will not rest: I will drink life to the lees. Heck, maybe I'll even drink the lees too.

But to do that I need your help.

Through both the comments here, on the YouTube channel, and in private correspondence, I've talked with many researchers, students, and professors around the country and around the world. Most of you I've never seen, but I've had the privilege to help out professors and scholars all the way from Italy to China; I've freelanced for PET researchers at Michigan State, schizophrenia experimenters at Indiana, designed experiments for primates in New York. The AFNI tutorials created here have been used as class material at the University of Pittsburgh, and my code for Hodgkin-Huxley simulations have been used for demonstrations at Claremont McKenna College in California. My recipe for homemade granola is used by several hungry researchers to keep them going throughout those long afternoons. The list could go on.

What I ask for is if you have ever used the materials here in an educational setting, be it for the researchers in your lab or the students in your classroom, please let me know by sending an email to ajahn [at] indiana [dot] edu. I am trying to compile a list of where it is used, to demonstrate its use and effectiveness.

Lastly - allow me to get real here for a moment - I've thought of all of you, each person that I've conversed with or replied to or Skyped with, as my children. And not as "children" in the sense of putting you all down on my tax returns as dependents; although, if the IRS isn't too strict about metaphors, I think I could get away with that. No, I've thought of you as real children: Shorter than I am, a little incoherent at times maybe, often trying to get my attention, and playing with Legos and Gak.

Regardless, it's been one of my great pleasures to help you all out. Now get away from that electrical socket.

Q & A Session with Andy's Brain Blog

Several of you have written in, and, after just enough time to both come up with well-reasoned answers and to slightly irritate you, I have responded. To be honest, not that many people write me - as in, maybe one or two - so I've also included a couple of so-called "made-up" questions to flesh out the direction that the blog is heading, as well as "hardball" questions, such as what my stance is on the current political situation in Ukraine, or whether eating all that Nutella has permanently changed the color of my urine.

Q: Why haven't you responded to my requests to join a Google Discussion?
A: To be honest, I thought that some of those things were spam. As you may have guessed, I'm not that technologically savvy with these kinds of things. However, I will do my best to respond to you as soon as possible.

Q: Where have all the Google Ads gone? What will I click on now?
A: As much as we all loved the Google Ads, I think they're gone for good this time. I think the turning point was when I saw an ad on my own site about finding attractive singles in my area. I mean, why should I need any help finding attractive singles in my area? The very idea is absurd! Ask anyone!

In any event, I found the ads distracting from the real purpose of this blog, which is to educate, edify, and ennoble. Also, incidentally, I wasn't making diddly-squat in the way of ad revenue.

Q: A while ago you promised to make videos on resting-state functional connectivity, DTI analysis, and, possibly, how to dress professionally. Where are they?
A: I'll be upfront with you - once I found out that making tutorials about those things took, like, effort, I tended to back down and procrastinate. But no more; I have my first post on resting state connectivity in the works, and it will be released one week from now, on February 26th. Subject to change, of course.

Q: Are we still in Q-and-A format?
A: Yes.

Q: What is the purpose of graduate school?
A: To seek the truth; to discover the good life; to use your knowledge and your profession to unite and harmonize what is both highest and lowest within you; to look to past examples of conduct for guidance and inspiration; to be as Odysseus, who, as Dante tells us, went forth to see the virtues and vices of men, and to study as Machiavelli, who snatched a few hours from each busy day to don regal clothing and hold court with ancients.

Hah! Just kidding, folks. The real purpose of graduate school is to wedge yourself deeper into the crevice of your specialization, until you are unable to see anything outside of your immediate surroundings; and, in the meantime, prepare yourself for a career of "making it," a perpetuum mobile existence filled with endless business and babbitry. The sooner you embark upon this path and embrace it, the less friction you will feel between it and the rest of your life, resulting in less discord and more satisfaction with yourself; which is the goal of any successful person.

Q: Why do you find the need to sermonize and pontificate so much?
A: Runs in the family, I think.

Q: What changes will there be to the blog in the future?
A: Right now I am trying to get higher-quality recording equipment from the educational school here at IU to make better videos. Also, there might be a shift in focus to more neuroanatomy and review of papers, especially ones that are relevant to my dissertation, i.e. the neuroscience of decision-making and computational modeling. We'll see how this works out, and what kind of response it gets. And I really do appreciate any feedback you can give me, and I would also like to thank those of you who have already given comments about what works, and about what could be improved. You are truly fantastic, and I am grateful for each and every one of you! Also, if you could send me some documentation proving that you are one of my dependents, for tax purposes (you know how those taxes are), that would be great.

Q: Thanks! I guess that's it for now.
A: That's not a question.