austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

The lights are red, it's all too late

I'm not like other people. When I'm tossed suddenly into a stressful situation in which I have to speak on my research topic in front of a bunch of strangers with an important career-setting moment resting on it I get snappy and irritable. I admit I made it worse for myself by not swinging into action sooner about getting together an outline of what I want to present, and pulling together the picture files I want. Here I can only plead situational apathy: I've spent half a year sending out applications and getting back pretty near nothing, except when it came to a rejection e-mail (although a few places were kind enough to send a physical letter), except for one interview and presentation that I thought went fantastically, for which I was told they'd ``get back to me in a week or two'', two months ago. They could at least have called me to say they weren't going to hire me.

So I went into this new position feeling pretty fatalistic, that it didn't really matter what I did since it wouldn't convince them to give me a tenure-track position. That I just needed time to recover from, really; I started getting more enthusiastic about putting together something presentable over the weekend, in time for my brother and sister-in-law first to invite me out to dinner Saturday; then, Sunday, to come visit for several hours and occupy much of the available time. I may procrastinate, but I don't enjoy riding deadlines tightly, and this just made me the more anxious.

I figured if by some weird chance I had a slow day at work -- don't laugh, it could happen -- I could put my plan together during the day and then get what pictures I needed quickly after work. That plan would work fine except I started to feel like I should put together presentable slides since much of my work involves really complicated expressions I just don't have time to write out on the board. Lacking enough notes to put this together at work meant putting the slides together on my Mac at home, requiring incidentally a LaTeX package that creates slides (I have heard of people who can do mathematics expressions in Microsoft projects, but do not believe it). I find a lovely-looking package. It's being difficult in the installation because I no longer remember the details of how LaTeX was installed on my Mac. I can't find files I need because some of them date back five years. My father would not turn on a light if he were being attacked by a Reman boarding party.

So. Well. I think I have things together in reasonable shape; I've got 13 slides and 11 related pictures to show for a 25 minute talk which seems to be pressing the limits of what can be done; I've got lecture notes from a course I taught enough times I could do it in my sleep; I may be ready. I'll let you know. (Probably not tomorrow as I'm having dinner with friends and I may not have time to write a description of it before midnight, but I'll let you know soon. Promise.)

Trivia: Luke Howard, originator of the scientific words for clouds (like nimbus, stratus, and such), wrote for Abraham Rees's 1807 Cyclopædia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literatures the entries for `Clouds', `Rain', `Dew', `Penn', and `Quakers'. Source: The Invention of Clouds, Richard Hamblyn.

Currently Reading: Life in a Medieval City, Joseph and Frances Gies. Another library book sale book. I'll get to the other half of the Stapledon book (The Star-Makers) later.


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