I was an imaginative child

“This song came out when I was in middle school, which was when I was still making up my own language, so I translated it.  I’ve forgotten almost all of it but there’s one line that I still remember really clearly every time.”

“You made up your own language?”

“Yeah.  I made up a whole country.  It was an island in the Pacific… an island inhabited by humanoid aliens who came to Earth because their star was about to explode.”


“I can still remember the whole national anthem – ”

“It had a national anthem?”

“Yes, and I can still remember it because it turned out to be the right tempo for running, so I would recite it in my head – all three verses and the chorus – while running up hills.”

Even more quotes from the miscellaneous notebook

I’m working on a post about grad school and life choices that’s turning out to be rather long.  So in the meantime, enjoy another sampling of the commentary (and drawings) that happens when I get tired of taking real notes during colloquia and other events.  Earlier posts in the series are here and here.

On the quality of the food provided:

Fake Oreos taste kind of gross.  But lemon tea is good.

I’m not a biologist but…


(I just read this in my head to the tune of “Everything is Awesome!” from The Lego Movie.)

Giving myself a pep talk:

Half of the big things for this month are out of the way; you can now focus on the other half without interruption.  Be glad for that.  I know you hate [specific research task] because it’s such a crapshoot, but it has to be done, and the sooner you start, the sooner it’ll be done too, and/or the more time you’ll have to make it slightly better.

The rest of the page suggests this was written while sitting in on a class as the TA:

Déjà vu… I swear we already went over these exact slides.

You know it’s bad when I pull out the French:

Est-ce que je peux partir maintenant?  S’il vous plaît? 

I’m really not a biologist, I promise.  I just doodle like one.


More quotes from the miscellaneous notebook

Another selection of things written when my attention was perhaps not as focused on the colloquium speaker as it should have been.  For more, see last week’s post.

Evidently this doesn’t happen very often:

AND he finished on time – WOAH

Usually it’s more like this:

I should check the “schedule” to see just how far behind we are now.

And this:

It’s 5:01 and you “just want to take a few slides here to…” ?!

Observing the audience as a teaching assistant:

Zombie kid is sleeping again today.  Can’t say I blame him.  You’d think he’d sit further back, though.

I do appreciate a job well done:

His plots in particular are quite nice; indeed, they are everything one could ever want in presentation plots.

I also appreciate giant alien bees:


Quotes from the miscellaneous notebook

I still keep paper research notes.  There’s something about the flow of physical writing that pulls the parts of my mind together in a way that typing never could.  My primary research record therefore consists of a collection of vaguely color-coordinated composition books.  In addition to “Thesis II” and its predecessor, there is a notebook labeled “Miscellaneous” that comes with me to colloquia, group meetings, career advice talks, and all other forms of academic gathering that involve sitting and listening to someone of dubious public-speaking ability.  I take some real notes, but they usually devolve into general observations and personal reflection, liberally sprinkled with doodles.  On review, I find some of these notes rather entertaining. 


A thought during a discussion on the workings of fellowship review committees:

So what you’re telling me is, do something obscure but cool-sounding and write a very convincing and well-written proposal, so that committee is wowed but really has no idea whether you’re right.

On the need for caffeine during colloquium:

That Diet Coke wasn’t nearly as helpful as I would have liked.

Noticing irrelevant things:

What’s the history of typefaces?  Why do some letters look so different from handwritten?

An existential poem:

Why am I here?

Do I want to be the person this is making me into?

Sometimes I think yes.

Sometimes I feel confident, capable, growing.

Sometimes I am proud of myself.

But those times are rare.

Am I selfish to want a multifaceted life?

Maybe I am.

At the end of a particularly boring lecture:

10 more minutes.  10 more minutes.  That’s more than a mile’s worth of running.  I could be a mile away from here if I started running now.