Monday, December 30, 2013

How do things look now?

It's been a few months since the last update...

The reason being, I didn't want to 'jinx' myself.  It's not that I am superstitious, but I wanted to wait until things had cleared a bit.  What is going on now?

I have left academia.  It's gone.  Although it hasn't been too long (roughly 5 months), I think I can safely say I am done with it.  When I came back to the city I wanted to live in, the first jobs I looked into were academia based at a university close by.  Everything looked quite good - there was funding for a five-year position and it needed to be filled soon because the time on the grant was ticking.  I talked to quite a few profs that were very interested in what I wanted to bring to the university.  However, a number of factors needed to be in place before any formal position would work out.  Part-time seemed to be ok (although later didn't work out at all because the profs couldn't figure out what part-time meant), but for a full-time position, a few different funding sources needed to come together to produce the entire package.  And, as we all know, university funding is the slowest procedure out there...

In the meantime, I was in contact with a group since last January (outside academia) that seemed to be slow on the uptake.  Additionally, I contacted everyone I knew in my field and also in fields completely unrelated to anything I had ever done.  Everything was looking bleak.  I even put my application in to several grocery/stationary stores and temp agencies because I knew the university would take forever to figure it out.

I ended up dropping in personally to the company I had been in contact with since January a couple of times, and landed an audition.  Everything seemed to go well, but I was still a bit cautious as I knew (after 100s of applications to industry jobs, seriously I think I counted 110) that things don't seem to work out.

I landed a really good job with that company.  They were interested in applying my background to some of the projects they had on the table, and also furthering some of the skills I had learned in my Ph.D./postdoc studies.  It worked out incredibly - the day that my old checks ran out (vacation pay) my new job started.  I definitely felt 'looked after' by God, and I know that that may not strike a chord with several of you, but I know what happened and the circumstances behind it.

What happened to the university job that looked so great?  Even though I have been in contact with them for the last several weeks, I have heard nothing.  They are still tripping over themselves trying to figure it out.  Not to mention that they need to post the position internationally for three months (it is a full-time academic position...).  Basically, I don't know if they will ever figure it out, and at this point, I am glad that they didn't figure it out in time for me.

How does it feel?  In one word - incredible.  The job I am doing has real deadlines.  These deadlines benefit the company, are short-term, and my future career is not at stake (well, it is in a way if I did crappy work, but not in the way of 'I need more papers; I need more grants').  Usually, during the holiday season, I am pretty stressed and I plan out the next year of how many papers/grants I will be submitting, and I always feel bad about not doing enough during the previous year.  But guess what?  With my new, non-academic job, I am fulfilled knowing I did the best I could and that my future is not riding on how many papers I get in the future.  I actually enjoyed the break, in contrast to having a break where I need to re-motivate myself so that I can get more crap submitted.  Not for one second do I miss the old academic routine.  Since I have quit, I have had several past supervisors wondering when I will submit such-and-such a paper, and it is an incredible relief to just say, 'I'm sorry, but I won't be doing that paper anymore, unless it is contract work that you are willing to pay for'.  Of course, they never get back to me after I say that - they are just trying to get as much as they can for as little effort as possible.  Cheap academic bastards.  It is so refreshing to see it from a different viewpoint, and not feeling the underlying guilt of not finishing a paper.  Granted, at this point, I still feel a bit of allegiance or something to my past supervisors, and when they came 'a-calling', I even felt scared telling them to politely 'screw off', as I don't feel entirely free of the academic vice grip, but at the same time, the feeling of a true industry job as a foundation to stand on is indescribable.

To all those looking to make a break:
If you know deep-down the academic life is not for you, it is time.  Regardless of what you do, you will probably make the same or more money than you did as a postdoc, and the work will be no less challenging on your brain because of your skills.  You will get to interact with real people.  You won't be doing goofy non-essential research on something that will never be used/read, because that would be left on the chopping floor long before it is undertaken.  Looking back at it now, I would never have completed a postdoc or the Ph.D., and I would even change my B.Sc. to focus on more mindful industry areas prevalent in the region that I wanted to live in.  Definitely do not move somewhere foreign to do a postdoc.  Take it from me, it is not worth it.  I don't know what it is like to be a superhuman researcher like Dr. Einstein or Dr. Hawking, so if you are in those leagues, obviously this doesn't apply.  But, if you think you are smart, have the 'right' amount of papers/grants, know the 'right' people, have graduated from the 'right' university and also undertaken the 'right' postdoc (i.e. excellent pedigree - ivy leagues), and things still seem messy, GET OUT NOW!  It won't get better.  The last four years of my six-year postdoc life were hell on earth (obviously, this is hyperbolic) which I wish I could get back.

I wish you all the best.  I'll keep updating with interesting things from a postdoc who has left academia.

Yours truly,


Thursday, August 15, 2013

I did it.

I up and left.

I completely relocated to the city I wanted to live in, with no real job prospects in sight.

Smart move?  I am not sure right now - with no job to fall back on, it doesn't feel like the right decision.  It feels like a mess.  There is a university in the town I have moved to that does research in the field I have worked in, but it is the same old song-and-dance - positions need to be posted internationally (which means up to a year before anything materializes), and no funding to hire anyone.  And, it would be some stupid academic postdoc with no future after the funding runs out.  Sure, they like what I have done and would like me to work for them, but obviously I can't do it for free.  I knew this when I moved.  It seems stupid now, to leave a postdoc that at least paid me for about another year.  I try to rationalize my decision with the prospect of an actual career in another field.  I know I will be starting from the bottom again, and that is ok, but it is incredibly difficult to convey my skills to people that aren't familiar with academia.  I've had a couple of interviews outside academia, with some success, but no concrete job offers.  I am now a firm believer that it is not what you know (outside academia), but that you need an 'in' with someone in the industry.

In a way, it is liberating - I can embark on a new career, something with real potential in terms of future development.  But this is only an ideological argument inside my short-sighted envisage of the future.  Until I secure even the 'next job' or the 'temporary job', it seems as though I have made the wrong decision.  I was on the cusp of finishing a great deal of projects with my old postdoc; things that promised productivity (papers/grants/abstracts) in the next year.  But for what?  Another lost year on the academic job market?

I am very excited to be out of my former position.  But, if it doesn't pay off with some position somewhere, what's the point?  Don't get me wrong, I am not looking for management-type positions, I just need a foot in the door.  Is there anyone willing to give a smart, willing-to-learn Ph.D. graduate a chance?  I need a job to start in the next two weeks before my 'holidays' expire, and only time will tell if it will be bagging groceries or building sandwiches for the local coffee shop.

I need to make a living...  This point is not stressed enough in the post-academic-leaving circles...

Which brings me to the underlining point - my Ph.D. is completely useless.  Even the B.Sc. doesn't do me much good.  Is academia the route for you?  Maybe, if you are doing a professional degree (engineering, medicine, dentistry), but otherwise, I would say, "Think twice before beginning any degree program".  The old adage that you should do something you like is complete bullshit if there is no market for it.  How do you pay the bills, even with a job that you love, if no one wants to pay you for your services?  Although it is extremely difficult to see the big picture when you graduate from high school, ask yourself the question:  "Are there any jobs available when I finish my degree?"  Or, "What industries are looking for science graduates?"  Basic research at its finest.  That, my friends, is what I wish I would have done if I could erase the past fifteen years.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Giving advice

I am not sure what to think about all the advice out there about leaving academia, particularly during the postdoc years.  There are many blogs and articles about leaving - how you should do it, why you should, where to look for jobs, how to tailor your CV/resume, etc. - but a question remains to be answered, namely, "Has anyone actually done it and found a good job?"  I have visited many sites of those who have left graduate school/postdoc and found jobs outside of academia, but they (the ones I have seen anyway) all seem to be stuck in a worse situation or job than when they were in academia!  There may be a few that have found jobs outside they enjoy, but it is very limited.  Where are all the successful, awesome, industry-employed, postdoc-science leavers now?  Sure, you can read the odd article about how someone switched 10 or 20 years ago and is now a scientist at NASA or something, but that is the worst case of misinformation for the current job force (almost as bad as saying the academic market is the same as it was 15 years ago).

Now, assuming that most recent postdoc leavers or would-be leavers (in science) have not found good employment outside academia, what gives us the right (I have done this also) to push people to leave?  Do we want to comfort our agony with more company?  How are we qualified to give this information, provided we haven't made a claim on a good job outside academia?  I realize that staying in the postdoc world may also have emotional problems as well, but I am starting to think that being healthy emotionally is not necessarily achieved solely by leaving your postdoc.

This all comes as I have been re-evaluating my industrial/other job search.  Last year, I felt great thinking that I could find a job other than a professorship and I was comforted that others were forging through the same mess I was.  At the time, and I realize it was my fault, I construed the information I gleaned from others' experience as advice and confirmation that my decision was not foolhardy.  It would only be a matter of time (a few months) to get a decent job, or so I thought (as did others giving advice/experiences on leaving), and that has slowly decayed into another lost year.  Again, given my (and others') poor experience, how do we justify instructing future postdoc leavers?  It's kind of like teaching someone to drive a car without ever having been behind the wheel yourself.

Granted, blogging is about conveying your experiences and feelings, and I guess many blogs out there aren't necessarily about directing the next generation per se, but it often comes off as advice.  What I am trying to say, though not so eloquently, is:  There is no guidance for those in our particular situation, and though we can take solace in recognizing we are not alone, being accompanied on the journey does not mean you are following the right route.

Do you have a different experience than mine?  Am I missing something that you might be aware of?  Like always, I look forward to your input.

Disclaimer:  This may be nothing more than a cry for help in finding 'successful' (whatever that means) science postdoc leavers, and I am not criticizing anyone in particular.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


One year has passed since I started seeking jobs outside academia in earnest, and it is a good time to re-evaluate.  This morning I was trying to count the number of applications that I submitted to academic jobs - and by that I mean 'real' applications for open positions and not just cold-calling by sending CVs to people that I have some links with.  I could only count 6.  Only 6!  All this time I thought I had submitted at least 20 to academic positions, and it was actually only 6.  In addition, it seems my earning power (see last post) is still the best if I were to become a professor.  I don't think 6 applications is enough to judge whether or not I could land an academic job, and I actually had a phone interview for one of them.  It seems (although the sample size isn't big enough to be conclusive) that I haven't given a professorship a fair shot, and that I may have better chances than getting an industry position.

So, the questions are:  "Do I want to be a professor", and "Am I ok with living somewhere (anywhere, really) else?"  The first question is pretty easy - I have been trained to be a professor, I am good at research and writing, and I really do like the work.  So yes, I would be happy with a professor position.  The second question is a bit difficult.  Unfortunately, there will never be an opening in the place I truly want to live (by family and friends), and given my failure at getting an industrial position there also, this means:  if I truly want to live where I want, I should just pack up now (quit the postdoc) and concentrate on settling there and hope that something works out in industry.  And it doesn't make sense to keep getting postdoc experience - it is best to get there and start figuring things out.

I guess I have established that I haven't tried securing academic jobs hard enough (and I don't think I am just saying that because I am falling back on the familiar, but this is always a concern) and that the real question right now is:  "How important is the place where I live?"  I know I am not overly comfortable living as far away from family as I am right now, and it seems to me (right now) that this is very important because I don't want to just show up for funerals.  I also know that being a postdoc has intensified this as I have no means of visiting family and friends because I don't have the budget for it.  Maybe, if I was making more (as a professor or otherwise), it wouldn't be so bad as I could make the trip back for visiting.  Unfortunately, this is not something I will be able to test in the near future, and I will only know it after making the leap.

Also, unfortunately, none of this takes into account the lack of professor jobs.  But, I think I can convince myself (with having over 80 unsuccessful applications) that industrial jobs are no easier to come by.  I need to make a choice.  My current thought process of leaving academia and going the industrial route is seriously hampering my current postdoc production, and is very hard on my mental state as I have become quite depressed lately.  I either need to decide to move back to family and friends and my home city, or I need to temporarily give up the industrial job search and concentrate on my current 'job' and a future professorship.  And this decision needs to be made soon (end of March) so that I can give my notice, quit messing around with my postdoc, and get on with my life.  Hmmm, not sure about this one.  Any advice?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Earning power

It's been just over one year since I submitted my first job application to a non-academic position.  I completely remember this one, and I even wrote down my login credentials for the application site, so I thought it might be nostalgic to check it out.  The funny thing is, the site still says "Application Under Review".  So much for an applicant tracking system...

In trying to stick to logical arguments as I have brought up in previous posts, this entry is a way of proving (albeit in a hand-wavy sort of way) why someone should not go to grad school based on cumulative earning power in a person's life.  I have seen this argument before, and it is typically used to show that getting a university degree is a good investment in the long run financially.  So, with some information I have cobbled together from various sites, here are the 7 life paths of a scientist that I am going to evaluate:

Overall assumptions:
a. Career (academic or otherwise) starts at 18 and ends at 65.
b. Tax brackets:  < $60000, 15%; $60000 - $80000, 20%; >$80000, 25%.
c. Salary increments are performed every year (not for grad positions or postdocs).

Career paths:
1.  No university: $0 student loans, starting salary = $30000/year, ending salary = $60000/year.

2.  B.Sc. to industry:  5-year degree, $50000 student loans, starting salary = $45000/year (this is actually what I was offered out of undergrad), ending salary = $100000/year.

3.  Ph.D. to industry:  5-year B.Sc. + 6-year Ph.D., $100000 student loans (as per my situation - I was 'fully funded' at $20000/year), Ph.D. salary = $20000/year, starting industry salary = $60000, ending industry salary = $120000/year.

4.  Ph.D. + 3-year postdoc to industry:  As above, except 3 years of earning in industry are lost to $40000/year postdoc salary (NIH standard level).

5.  Ph.D. + 5-year postdoc to professorship:  starting professor salary = $80000/year, ending = $120000/year.

6.  Ph.D. + 10-year postdoc to professorship:  As above, but 5 more years are lost to postdoc wages.

7.  B.Sc. + M.D. + residency to medical doctor:  $200000 student loans, 5-year B.Sc + 4-year M.D. (assuming no money is made although this isn't true due to clerkships) + 5-year residency @ 75000/year.  Starting professional salary = $150000, ending = $250000.

And the winner is: M.D.

No surprise there; I really just put that in for comparison.  Second place goes to "Ph.D to industry".  Here is the final cumulative lifetime earnings (net after taxes, and minus student loans, in millions of dollars):

1.  M.D. - $5.2
2.  Ph.D. to industry - $2.56
3.  Ph.D. + 5-year postdoc to professorship - $2.52
4.  B.Sc. to industry - $2.39
5.  Ph.D. + 3-year postdoc to industry - $2.36
6.  Ph.D. + 10-year postdoc to professorship - $2.29
7.  No university - $1.84.

So what is the moral of the story?  Besides the obvious fact that students shouldn't overlook the M.D. route, a Ph.D.'s earnings are maximized if they can obtain industry employment immediately following their grad degree, and having a Ph.D does not give you that much more in lifetime earnings compared to only a B.Sc. (a difference of ~$150000).  The overall cumulative earnings decline depending on the number of postdoc years you have under your belt before going to industry.  In essence, you lose the difference between a postdoc salary and the high-end (near $120000) salaries that you would make if you would have cut to industry straight after the Ph.D.

In terms of these earnings, a professorship is not a bad option, but this analysis does not include the probability of securing this position.  In life sciences in 2011, only 15% of Ph.D. grads held secure, tenure-track positions 5-years following Ph.D. graduation.  Not to mention that attrition rates in grad programs are ~30-40%.  So, if you are starting a grad program today, you have about an 8% chance of having a professorship after 5 years of postdoc.  I don't think anyone would choose this path if they actually heard numbers like this.  8% is quite the lottery for a job that you are supposed to be training for.  I can't think of any other occupation that has such a bleak outlook (apart from other Ph.D. grads).  You would be better off picking anything but the professor route.  So, if professorships are not on the menu, then it is not necessary to go to grad school for training, so you might as well cut out after the B.Sc. as you would make about the same anyway as a Ph.D. grad.

Another thing that isn't mentioned is the relatively poor quality of life for grad students and postdocs - do you want to be spending your younger years sacrificing and worrying about living expenses for the sake of having more earning power when you are closer to 65?  I truly think it is a very good option to enjoy life early and forget about grad school altogether.

For me, I am in my 5th year of postdoc, with no tenure-track positions in sight.  In terms of the numbers, I would be better off now even waiting a couple of more years (up to 8) until I find a professorship, as each year that passes as a postdoc decreases what I can make in industry.  It isn't so much of choosing which way I want to go because of the money I can make - right now it is solely based on what jobs are available.  This past year, out of ~80 applications to industry and ~15 to academia, I had 3 interviews (all industry).  Out of the 3, I got to the on-site stage for one, and didn't get past the phone interview for another.  For the third one I have had a phone interview so far, and I am waiting for feedback.  3 interviews in one year really sucks, because when one finally comes around, it is so stressful to think that the next one won't be for another 4 months or so, so if I blow it...

Anyway, the point is:  There is no reason to go to grad school.  Let the white-hairs figure out how they can populate the professorship ranks with B.Sc. graduates, say no to Ph.D.s and postdocs, and think long and hard about professional degree routes.

I welcome your comments and criticisms.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Good science or politics?

I have recently been having an inner debate about writing papers for scholarly journals at this point in my career.  Let us assume that I am talking from the standpoint that I would like to become a professor in the future.  As a postdoc, publishing papers is the main metric used to determine your scientific prowess.  Of course, there are other things like grant writing and institution/PI prestige, but the first thing used to judge a postdoc is the papers on their CV.  Getting papers published is the only thing (let's forget about grants for now) that gives a postdoc any kind of tangible credit.

First of all, let me define what I personally believe entitles someone to being included as an author on a manuscript:

1.  Direct writing of the paper
2.  Idea conception
3.  Performing experimental work involved in obtaining the data for the paper
4.  The PI (that's the reason I have a job and it is their lab).
5.  Finally, if I have had many discussions with someone encompassing many aspects of the field I am working in and the discussions help to bring new things to light or broaden my knowledge, then I believe that person is entitled to credit by being included on a paper.

A couple things have come to light during the past few years of my postdoc career:

1.  Is there value in helping other people with their projects?

Short answer:  No.

During my Ph.D. and most of my postdoc, I generally would help grad students and other researchers with concepts or methods that I had developed or with which I had more expertise.  This could mean anywhere from reading over and editing a paper (half a day or more) to tailoring a specific method to work for that person's project (on the order of weeks).  I think I was a generally nice person and I didn't mind helping, and also I assumed that doing work for someone else meant that I would be included as an author.  As I have found out, many people do not share my views of authorship, and I can think of 4 papers in the last two years that I have contributed significantly to in which I have not been given credit.  Recently, as I started my 'new' postdoc (about a year ago), I took up the role of 'second-in-command' of my PI's lab, and that meant helping grad students and undergrads with their projects.  Naturally, because I helped them, I should get some kind of credit for it (i.e. included as an author) right?  But it didn't happen.  The fact is, I am not the PI, so I shouldn't be bothered to help with these projects that don't directly involve me.  I'm not supervising these people anyway.

Getting burned multiple times is no fun, and subsequently I have turned down many opportunities to help other people in the lab.  Is this healthy?

2.  How much emphasis should be placed on writing papers that have significant impact, are interesting, and are all-around considered 'good science'?

Short answer:  Not much.

As a postdoc trying to build a CV, you need to get credit for absolutely everything that has worked out.  I have often heard in our lab, "Just do the simple thing that you know will work out so you can get it published."  That means that interesting work that might actually be useful but takes substantial effort is not undertaken because it would amount to only one good, solid paper as opposed to three or four papers based on 'simple' approaches.  This is the political argument.  A postdoc needs many papers, and so they should manipulate the system in any way possible by doing the smallest amount of work to get the most amount of papers.  There have also been many times in the lab that a friend (or significant other) of the author is included - for no other reason.  It used to make me quite mad when this happened.  And now I am starting to think, "Why not?"  If you can get your name on something that easily, then go for it.

It's all so bizarre.  I have gone from someone who was generally helpful to someone who dodges students/other researchers around the office in an effort to keep my time focused on my project and not to dilute it with other people's problems (doesn't that sound awful?).  I have swallowed the political pill - trying to squeak out another paper from the least amount of work.  This means I am not pursuing things that I find interesting, or that the field as a whole would find interesting.  Don't misunderstand me, I have known for quite some time that my work is not 'important' to the general public or to the field for that matter, as I think most reasonable researchers find out at some time or another while they are submitting papers to obscure journals that no one reads.  If, by chance, I do any kind of work for someone else, it is with the caveat that if there is an outcome to their project (i.e. a paper) that I will be included as an author.

As I write this, it seems that I have been turned into some kind of devil, an asshole, if you will, that avoids human interaction for fear that my precious time and efforts will not be given credit.  Now we add my affection towards being done with a postdoc career (and academia altogether) and what do you get?  I feel as though I am living someone else's life.  That my personality has been irreparably changed.  It's a bit scary.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New considerations

Here are some recent ramblings, exploring my thoughts, from a five-year (going on six) postdoc (I apologize in advance):

It has been almost a year since I started to apply to non-academic jobs.  I got a bit frustrated in the last while with my lack of success, and I only sent off one application in the past three months.

So, I evaluated things some more, and I came to the realization that I need to keep all my applications restricted to the industry in which I have some training.  I won't be sending out any of those long-shot applications, and even though jobs only come up maybe once or twice per month in this particular niche, at least I can be confident that I have some of the things the employers might want.  Plus, it is a lot less work doing 2 applications per month than 20 - namely cover letter/resume tailoring and research of the potential company and position.  I still know that I hardly have any chance even in my field, which is still depressing.  At any rate, I submitted 3 applications so far this month, and one of them is for a professorship.  Oops.  I am not sure how that slipped in there, but the bleak market for jobs makes any job (professorship or not) in my field semi-attractive.  Or maybe not.  I think part of it is I just want to be successful and get an offer - to finally get to the end of a job process.  Do you know what I mean?  Even if that means a job in academia - maybe I can actually get an offer?

Stupid academia.

There is still the option of staying where I am at and continuing ad nauseum in a never-ending postdoc role, with the caveat that I secure the necessary funding for my position.  But the pay sucks.  What I mean to say is:  the pay sucks.  Did I say that already?  Well it does.  Is it possible to actually be a 'career postdoc', or a 'professional postdoc'?  Is that actually a career?  How long can someone stay a postdoc?  Any postdoc lifers out there?

It's not sustainable.  I still think at some point it needs to change, and I know that I need to do some sort of applying, to academic jobs or otherwise, in order to produce that change.  And so, I suppose I will continue down the application road, albeit at a much slower pace.

There is also something about just applying that I think is good.  I have applied to so many jobs in the past year that I am immune (not really) to rejection.  Therefore, the point of applying now for me is to keep hope alive; I can continue to hope that one of the applications might actually turn out.  And if I get rejected?  (Or forgotten, I should say, as most of the time I don't even get any notice).  Well, I guess I am assuming before I hit the 'submit' button that it will be rejected.

But at the same time...  is there hope still there, somewhere inside my silly self?  Hope and academia are quite similar in many ways.  They tease you.  They make you feel better than you are (at times).  They both lead you down roads that probably will not pay off in the end.

I have a new best friend... logic.  I'll try to frame my mind solely on logic.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Unfortunately, the theme of my last post remains.  I submitted only one application in the last three months.  Apparently, I had an 'in' - I already knew four or five people working there (some relatively well), I had all of the qualifications listed in the ad, and it was an industrial position for something I am trained in.  (Ok, the only thing I am formally trained in!)  I did manage to get a phone interview, and it seemed to go quite well, but I didn't make the shortlist for the on-site interviews.  It was kind of strange; I was quite confident I would at least get to the next step.

At this point, it still feels as though I am heavily under-utilized in what I am currently doing as a postdoc.  I am not sure how to explain it, but it just feels like this particular path was not meant to be, in addition to the lack of any jobs out there.  I am positive I still enjoy science - that is for sure.  But when I begin to examine myself seriously, I almost find it comical that I ended up where I am.  The things I do well and correctly are either unnoticeable by my superiors/colleagues, or they just get stolen - in the academic sense - and bastardized into another project.  I find it incredibly frustrating how minor tasks unfold so slowly, with tiny improvements (<~5%) being the only outcome.

Anyway, in terms of a different career, I am pretty sure there isn't one, and I suppose it is just a matter of accepting the cards I was dealt (if that is possible).  Remember back in high school, when the world was your oyster, and you could do anything you wanted?  Remember how difficult it was to make a decision to go down a particular path because there were so many from which to choose?  In a sense, it seems like only yesterday as I haven't accomplished much (outside the 'meaningless' academic world) during those fifteen years, but it is also incredibly distant - like some kind of fantasy world fading from my memory.

Well, another year is upon us.