I spent Saturday engaged in vigorous outreach for the scientific community. By which I mean, I didn't conceal my job when I went to my high school reunion. It was a strange but encouraging night. I didn't drink in high school, and I didn't go to my 10 year reunion. So no one there knows that I have this twelve year deep hole in my life where I drank so miserably. I was surprised that people had a lot of really good things to say to me and about me. There were a few people that I simply had no memory of, but for the most part I recognized and enjoyed meeting everyone again.
One person I went to high school with is a highly placed figure now in the non-peer reviewed science publishing industry, and I told him I intended to follow up with him about possibly writing something for his publication. He seemed enthusiastic about that, but this is a dude who pals around with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, so I'm pretty small potatoes by comparison. The really good writers, like Ed Yong, Emily Willingham, Carl Zimmer, etc., are too few and far between. Not that I think I could number with them, but I think it would be interesting to learn more about the science writing world, beyond the tiny corner where I blog about health care engineering.
But I was pleased to discover that the people in my high school graduating class seemed to have respect for science, seeing how they reacted to both the publisher and to me. There seemed to be genuine interest in how the world of science works, and what it's like to produce and publish science in the real world. It was exciting. It was nice to see that people who, back then, thought I was a "brainiac", "nerd", and "dweeb" now were impressed by my life of science.
Being a scientist is a good life. It's hard, the expectations that are placed on scientists these days, from living off grants to vanishing tenured positions to (as I can't remember who put it first) log-scale administrative bullshit. But the tangible rewards of science are real. We get to feel like we're doing good in the world, which will last beyond us. And that's exciting. I'm glad I'm a part of that.