Tag Archives: science!!

The voluntary incarceration of attending grad school

28 Apr

Your faithful blog author has an admission to make that you may consider funny: Conventions freak me out.

I find them distressing, vexing and worrisome in the extreme. This probably sounds ridiculous. You see, conventions and symposia trigger my anxieties about a far more common problem — the fear of graduate school. I’m writing this post because I returned yesterday from a conference that has basically sent my midbrain red-lining.  And more importantly, because most of you reading this are students coming to crossroads just like I am.

So let’s pick my panicky heart to pieces in the name of science, shall we?

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The importance of recording everything: A book review

22 Feb

Field Notes on Science and Nature (ed. Michael R. Canfield) was recommended to me by a teacher a while back. It made loads of Best of 2011 lists, too, and for good reason — it’s a fascinating exploration of keeping field notes.

On the surface, this may not sound so interesting, but the book illuminates the approaches of several contributors spanning fields from anthropology to wildlife conservation, and it not only explains what sort of things they record, but why, and even what benefit there is in doing it one way instead of another. A great example is the chapters that alternately sing the praises of Polaroid instant film and of black-and-white sketches. Because each contributor makes a convincing case for his or her method of choice (which often involves explaining why another method should not be used), it can seem like a tangle of contradictions. But the wealth of perspectives is exactly why I found it valuable.

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Just exactly what do I think I am doing?

6 Dec

When I was seven, I wanted to know everything.

Like, literally.

Read all the books, that type of thing.

What’s more, I thought it was actually possible to achieve this.

It may shock you to discover that I have not figured everything out. But I have not entirely abandoned my childhood goal, either. I did discover that it’s possible to learn a lot about a subject, despite realizing that you can pick as narrow a subject as you like and you’ll never reach the bottom.

So, while we may have a long way to go toward a full understanding of our world, I think there’s great value in following such a quest. When enough of us participate in lifelong journeys after ideas, we can make real contributions to the pool of human knowledge.

Maybe that is cliche, and maybe no one will read this blog; fortunately for you residents of Readertown who’ve come here, I don’t care.

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