Monday, August 27, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mission Statement, Part I

I think I will start this with a post-mortem on my academic career.

I don't think I've ever really liked academia. The goals and aspirations of the academic life just do not seem to be as focused as I want. When I ask myself the question "Why am I doing this?" in academia, too often I cannot find a satisfactory answer.

Let's be a bit more practical here. If I wanted to be a successful academic, the route would be
a) publish often
b) achieve grants
c) develop students

My basic problem is that I don't find the things I have been working on to be terribly important. For example, I was working in London on the problem of estimating divergence times within mammals. While that is an interesting problem, my interest in the problem is somewhat limited, in that I don't want to spend years on it. But that is how actual research science progresses.

This raises the question of whether I can repair the career in science by being more focused on what my objectives are. But there is a problem with this attitude. Namely: life is going on and I see lots of things going on that I want to be involved in, and my research career is not bringing me any closer to these goals.

Part II: the goals.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

back in the States

Blogging from the Casa, but the Senor and Senora are not at home, as they are with the Kinder in the great state of Maine.

Tired today because of the flight, and all the moving activity, and the fact that Brian Shelden and I ran hour-long runs at high noon today. Why high noon? Seems a bit silly, no? Well, space was at a premium in the luggage, and I put my #1 running shoes in "luggage going to France" and #2 pair of running shoes in "the bin".

I put "the bin" in quotes to honor this divergence in linguistic traditions. England has rubbish bins. The US has trash cans. We know what the word "bin" means, it's just that we don't use it that often. In contrast, some UK words are not even known in the US.

For example, "moggy". What is a moggy? Well, here's one:

and here's another:

In the former photo, we see Ginger relaxing in my bike helmet box, which is perfectly Ginger-sized.
In the latter photo, we see Buffy conversing with Mr and Mrs Slugworth, two garden-based visitors who had a habit of visiting my kitchen area and making a beeline (well, a slug-line really, which is much slower) to the cat food dish.

In any way, I've left Crown Court behind and Ginger and Buffy are now visiting Finsbury Park. In fact, they have a group at FaceBook dedicated to them. :) I'm crossing my fingers that they will behave well at Paul and Lucy's.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

KG to Celtics, Gagne to Red Sox

OK, this is a move I can get behind, and it validates the trade for Ray Allen somewhat.

Kevin Garnett is still one of the five best players in the NBA and he should be able to maul the light Eastern Conference, esp. with Pierce and Allen on the team. My understanding is that Al Jefferson is a real talent who will be missed. But it is doubtful that he will ever be at Garnett's level. I'm psyched.

Also, the Red Sox grabbed Eric Gagne, who a few years back was the best reliever in baseball by far. He's not at the same level any more, but the key aspect of this trade is to keep him off the Yankees. The Yankees' bullpen is awful except for Mo Rivera, and bringing in Gagne as a set-up guy would have made them very hard to beat late in the game. For the Sox, Gagne, Okajima, and Papelbon makes for quite possibly the best Red Sox bullpen ever.

today's conundrum

If it costs £220 or more to ship three boxes full of books to the US, is it worth doing? For a point of reference, that would be about $450 spent. I could buy a lot of books in the US for $450. Also, I could pick out the 5-6 most valuable books and take them in my backpack.

Too many things to think about.