In honor of the third and final installment in our “Thinking Outside the Box” series, I offer a piece of Flash Fiction (a short, fictional story) at the end of this letter. But first, let me tell you about an exciting line up of articles for our opening issue of 2018.
If you want to meet someone who thinks outside the box, check out this month’s “Former Fellow Follow-up” with Dr. Mark Ziats, physician resident. He’s dabbled (well, maybe more than dabbled) in policy, research, entrepreneurship, and medicine. During each step of the way, Dr. Ziats required good interviewing skills. For a quick refresher on how to interview well, click here for Dr. Carlos Guardia’s recap of Scott Morgan’s latest Interviewing Workshop.
Dr. Suna Gulay’s first “Rep Report” of the year is full of goodies, including helpful insurance information and upcoming Fellows Committee (FelCom) opportunities. Plus, don’t miss the 2018 Three-minute-Talk (TmT) competition information and other exciting January announcements and events.
Saving the best for last, I want to personally congratulate Dr. Yvette Pittman on her official recognition as the new Director of the NICHD Division of Intramural Research Office of Education. I have worked with Dr. Pittman in the capacity of this newsletter for several years. Her devotion to the success of NICHD Fellows is evidenced by her remarkable organization of career development programs and her eagerness to meet with fellows on a regular basis. Also, Dr. Pittman has been a steadfast supporter of this newsletter and offers a hand in every issue! On behalf of The NICHD Connection, congratulations Dr. Pittman!
And a Happy New Year to all!
Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD
Please send questions and comments (and any fun Flash Fiction sci-fi you may come up with!) to our editor at Shana.Spindler@gmail.com.
By Shana Spindler
I scan the room. Stark white walls surround several desks with machines that glow bright from their faces. Two men stand in front of me, gesturing wildly in conversation.
I try to say something. “Hello? Can you hear me?” The men continue talking without notice of my attempts to communicate. “Hello? Excuse me, I need some help here.”
I call out again. “Help me! Something is wrong, terribly wrong. You must see me—I’m looking right at you.”
One of the men leaves the room abruptly. The other man approaches within inches of my face and stares directly at me. “Yes! Look at me! I’m here!”
In horror, I watch the man mouth the words “I’m sorry, we have to pull the plug.”
“No, I’m here! Hello? Hello?”
The man bends out of view. In a desperate final attempt, I scream one more hello.
Philip threw his arms up in exasperation. “So what are you telling me Jack, this version is a lost cause?”
Jack looked at Philip. “Hey man, I’m as upset as you are, but someone in the lab must have accessed the program last night and entered some script that is completely incomprehensible. I have no clue what any of this means!”
Philip leaned on the wall and wiped the corners of his mouth in frustration. “But we were so close. I really think we were approaching Artificial Intelligence. And I was just about finished programming the audio inputs and speaker function. If you unplug that computer, you know the fail safe will kick in. We’ll lose everything.”
“I don’t want to hear it, Phil. I told you not to program the self-destruct feature—you’ve been watching too many sci-fi movies. There’s absolutely no way I can salvage this code. It’s all over the place.” Jack sighed. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Philip couldn’t watch months of work disappear. He turned and left the room as Jack walked up to the computer and put his face within inches of the screen. Darn it, I really don’t want to do this. “I’m sorry, we have to pull the plug.”
As Jack bent down to remove the cord from the wall, a small “hello” blinked once in the command line, and with the electricity cut, the screen went black.