The epic tale of the conference bumblebee

Today’s post is brought to you by my husband, who spent the week at a traditional academic torture ritual conference. He shared with me his full set of notes, which I have annotated for your enjoyment. (Notes with actual useful information have been removed.)

Day 2 got off to an exciting start:

Chair mistook me for the first speaker. I look nothing like him and am not sitting anywhere near the podium.

But the excitement level quickly dropped.

Bored out of my mind and there is a bumblebee buzzing the light over my head. It’s dropped right next to me once. I moved my chair back and am hoping that it drops on [co-worker] instead of me.

Things continued in this vein for some time…

This speaker could put [Little Boy] to sleep pretty easily, I think.

What was going to happen next?

The bumblebee hasn’t moved.

OK, we could probably guess what would happen.

Speaker’s definition of “exciting” is highly debatable.

But it was important to pay attention.

[Same co-worker], stop looking at my computer and my phone.

And then, a plot twist!

Damn, bumblebee is moving. It’s walking around… trying to crawl unsuccessfully on the light. It might fall again… and it crawls on top of the light, where I can’t see it. Gggrrrr. Please, don’t fall on me.

The talks went on. And on.

Brevity in a title is your friend. I almost fell asleep reading his.

At least something was still interested.

Bumblebee iiiisssss bbbaaaack!!

And on. And on.

Another speaker surprised by the 5-minute warning. You do have presenter tools on your Mac, right?

The saga wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t understand each character’s motivation.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that the bumblebee is trying to bore itself to death using today’s talks.

Finally, the thrilling conclusion:

The bumblebee (or carpenter bee, as [different co-worker] said it might have been) seems to have left during lunch.


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.