Stories From My Life In Biology: Can You Let Go, For Active Healthy Aging?

Lessons from a life in Biology!

Applicable To Studies Of Marketing!

life in Biology: airmail paper.

Can You Let Go, For Active Healthy Aging?

Life in Biology: Zen Master pouring tea.I harken back to my life in Biology, as I study the Science and Art of Marketing. Same kinds of challenges, really, and equally fascinating.

Everything you learn will turn out to be useful later.

Even if the act of letting it go, is where the value lies!

That’s why a life of learning is such fun, but also challenging. It forces you to shed old ideas, in order to make room for the new.

This is not a new concept, being the subject of that old story about the Zen Master pouring tea for a new student.

Life in Biology: paper chromatography equipment.

A technique that came out of the Ark with FitOldDog – paper chromatography. Worked great for my studies of thiamine anti-metabolites, while dinosaurs wandered around outside my lab!

The student was full of himself, and he wanted to impress the Zen Master. So the student went on and on about all the things he’d learned. Meanwhile, the Zen Master was pouring tea for the student. But he kept on pouring, until tea was running onto the floor. The student exclaims that the cup is full, to which the Zen Master replies. “How can I lead you to Zen, if your cup is already full?”

We hang onto those old ideas. They were hard earned! But the World is always changing, and to change we have to forgot the old, and embrace the new, daily.


More often than not, the student teaches the Master.

life in biology: HPLC gear

A far cry from my glass jars and pieces of paper. Same principal, however, just MUCH quicker, more effective and definitely more expensive.

For instance, I was talking to one of my students, a post-doctoral fellow. Matt, an excellent Biochemist, working in my lab. This was in the 1980s, if I remember right! We were dealing with the issue of a chemical separation. I suggested paper chromatography, that I’d used in my graduate studies. Matt looked at me as though I had just emerged from the Ark! He proceeded to tell me about the dual solvent, computer controlled, High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) methods he’d used in school. “Do they really?” I said. “How about that!” So that is what we did!

I realized that I was getting older, in my mid-40s, already!

Then I remembered a lesson I taught my advisor, when I was Matt’s age! Using simple equipment!

It went like this:

life in biology: Photo of FitOldDog's PhD thesis and his publications.

FitOldDog’s PhD thesis, defended in 1975 to a bunch of Englishmen. They hated me using the American (and better) name for the disease.

I’d just written my second scientific article on a large study of my dissertation topic, Polioencephalomalacia (biochemically-induced, soft grey matter, in sheep – yes, they have grey matter, and lots of it!). It was the product of much work, using many endpoints (Electron Microscopy, Biochemistry, Hematology, blah, blah, blah!). I wrote the paper, on my trusty portable (no computers available, for word processing, at that time, 1973). I was proud of my work. Dr. Barlow took if from me, saying, “Good work, Kevin, I’ll get it back to you in about a week.” Which he did, and my lovely manuscript was covered in red scrawl. “Not bad, he said. Not bad at all, but it’s too long. Much too long!” This process was repeated, on a shorter manuscript, about three weeks later. Same thing, less red scrawl, but “Too long! Much too long!”

On the third attempt, no red scrawl, just one comment on the manuscript, placed in my mail box, “Too long! You’re going to have to shorten it, or break it into two papers!”

life in Biology: portable Smith-Corona typewriter, 1972

Would you believe it? I found a photo of the exact machine – portable, Smith-Corona, 1972!! The Internet is amazing! NO! We didn’t have the Internet, in those days, nor iPhones. Just peace and quiet!

It would not work as two papers, and I had removed everything I could! What’s to do? Then the lightbulb went on! I re-typed the whole manuscript on airmail paper (portable typewriter, with whiteout for errors; only took me a couple of days). This paper weighs about one third that of ordinary white velum. I also printed the figures on very light photographic stock – yes, we had to print each picture, in dishes in the darkroom, and stick them in the manuscript with glue, or attach them to the back, which didn’t work so well. The paper was exactly the same content, but it weighed less than half the original.

I handed the new, somewhat floppy, draft to Dr. Barlow. Two days later, he called me into his office, and handed it back. “Great work, Kevin. It’s ready to submit for publication. I really enjoyed reading the shortened version. Mail it to the journal.” Which I did, and it was accepted with little or no change (a rare event, indeed).

life in Biology: Robin's Nest Pub, Edinburgh.

In the 1972, a healthy research life in England involved a good pub. Still does today, I bet. We had the Robin’s Nest, on Gilmerton Road, Edinburgh.

Dr. Barlow was using the weight of the manuscript, to assess it’s length.

Once the paper was safely published, I told Dick (no longer Dr. Barlow) the story, over a beer, at the Robin’s nest, on a Friday night, after work. This was where all the real research ideas came from – careers were built at The Robin’s Nest! At first Dick was mad. I’d tricked him! Then he laughed, and bought me a pint, to celebrate the papers’ acceptance.

That was my first, really successful, marketing lesson, during my long, happy life in Biology.

Go figure!

Now to apply this lesson to my new career, as a neophyte entrepreneur, as I empty my cup, and hopefully not my savings!

Active healthy aging requires some letting go of the old, to make room for the new.

Wishing you happy trails,


I miss those discussions, and the draught bitter, at the Robin’s Nest. No problem! They have plenty of pubs in the USA, now!

Life in biology: How it feels to finish your first Ironman; After hundreds of miles of riding, swim workouts, and runs, at the Spring Training Camp, FitOldDog was ready for a beer. Photo by Kara Teklinski (fellow athlete)


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.