In an ironic follow up to my last blog entry, I have news to report from my professional writing career. On Oct 9, I submitted a 125 page grant application that was my biggest writing adventure since my thesis. The 10 days preceding its submission were among the busiest I can recall, featuring 4 all nighters. All this for a generally futile effort, since there were over 40 proposals submitted for the same pool of grant money, including one from a consortium of 15 of the best BCI labs in Europe.
It was thus with some surprise that we found out last week that my first grant earned a score of 14.5 out of 15, a legendary score, and is ranked first among all proposals. Neither my boss nor several veteran euro grantwriters even heard of such a high score; a 12 is considered quite good. Hence I will oversee a 3 year, €4.1M BCI research project featuring Bremen, Philips and another company in Holland, Telefonica in Spain, a university in Warsaw, and 2 entities in Ulster. Travel to these places will occur, and I will finally have some flexibility and resources to do the work I want. Not much, but enough to produce some good work and position myself to get more.
Now I am on a train to Regensburg, in southern Germany, to goof off for the weekend before meeting with Prof. Dr. Niels Birbaumer in Tuebingen next week. This trip was planned for months, with the goal of discussing a new grant proposal, and I do not know if Niels knows how well I did with my last proposal. So it should be a fun visit. I know how his proposal did (it was ranked eighth), so it is likely he knows that we got first. This puts me in a great negotiating position for discussing the next grant. Actually, nailing the grant proposal puts me in a great negotiating position in many other ways, with many other entities, but for now I am focusing on executing this grant.
The train ride, and indeed Germany in general, is decidedly less pleasant than before. Winter has covered the land like a thick dark blanket soaked in cold pee. Bremen’s reputation for lousy weather now makes sense to me. It is consistently cold, cloudy, wet, and gloomy, and the fact that the average day is literally seven hours long does not help. When you sleep in until 8 AM, and it’s still dark outside, plus cold and wet, you can’t help but be affected. Hence gluehwein and the Bremen Christmas market, which merits its own blog entry.