Thursday, March 13, 2008

Paper Writing

The Sunday before last, I finally got to the point on my current distraction project where I could begin writing it up as a nice paper. That evening I started coughing, no big deal, but by Monday afternoon I was completely overcome with the flu. As it turned out, over half of the graduate students succumbed to the same flu ... and essentially all of us fell sick within 24 ours of each other. As we explained to the prospective graduate students visiting Thursday and Friday, one of the great things about the department here is the high degree of interconnectivity... so that everyone is put out by the plague simultaneously. So last week became an utter waste, but by Friday I was beginning to feel like myself again. Then between Friday morning and Saturday night, central Ohio was visited by about 20 inches of snow—the most snow in one storm here ever. I managed to dig myself out and get into the office on Sunday. And so for the last few days I've been trying to remember how to write a paper.

The quote of the week, I think, comes from Tuesday when I told a professor (with whom I have co-authored a paper) that I can't remember how to write papers. I said I was in my "wandering the halls" phase. The response? "No, no, you seem to be remembering just fine ... this is how you've done it before, if I recall." I couldn't argue with that.

Then Wednesday morning a link was sent my way, and I had no choice but to rearrange the books on my shelf.I discovered that a large fraction the textbooks I own are black or blue; apparently I am not a mathematician (because, as everyone knows, all math books are yellow). I don't know how long I will be able to keep the books like this; normally I sort by genre and then by size within genre (I think I'd need at least an order of magnitude more books before I considered sorting by author, which is apparently how God intended).

The amazing thing is that I'm actually making vague progress writing the paper; I'm almost finished filling everything in—including figures and tables—so soon I'll officially be at the "revision" stage... when I go back and redo everything so that it is at a quality level where I am not embarrassed to show the manuscript to my coauthors. Whee fun.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

WHat about the books in Ultraviolet & Infra Red?

Would they fall off the shelf?

Good luck with the paper!

Ed said...

Shouldn't there be dark gaps between some of the books?

mollishka said...

I think it is supposed to be more of a rainbow than a spectrum ...

Mojoey said...

Hi - if you would like to join the Atheist blogroll, please send me an email with the words "Join the Atheist blogroll" in the subject line.

Thanks - good luck with your paper.

Laura Dickerson said...

A friend of Arthur's, who writes for the Globe, keeps all his books (shelves and shelves of them) organized by the spine color. It works well except when he's on deadline and can't remember the color of a book with a quotation he wants to use.

Isabel Lugo said...

My advisor's bookshelf is not entirely yellow. In fact, for a mathematician he has a very small number of yellow books. I either said this to him once, or thought it and made a blog post about it; I don't remember which.

Springer's books tend more towards the pure than the applied, so I have a theory that one can tell how pure a mathematician's work is by the yellowness of their bookshelf.

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