Saturday, January 19, 2008

dude, it's been over a _month_!

I haven't written to the blog for a while.

If you're a regular visitor to the blog, I don't even need to tell you that.

If you're a regular visitor to the blog, I'm grateful that you are such despite my not writing.

While I do not feel I owe my readers an explanation for not writing, I'm going to give you one anyway.

When I started actually writing to this blog, it was because I had a fair bit of free time on my hands. I had been given a few compliments on my writing before then, and at least one person suggested that I do some writing outside that which I absolutely must do for school and whatnot. I thought a blog might be a good way to use up that free time, and to put to good use those apparent writing skills.

When I think about it, the free time hasn't been that much since December 2006. Up to and including then, I think I was able to get at least one post a week, if not more, for most weeks. After that, I wasn't so regular. In January, I started teaching at RMC, along with trying to find time to work on my thesis and doing other academic activities, not to mention trying to maintain some semblance of a social life (It's no wonder mathematicians have a reputation for a lack of social skills. The opportunities are rare to develop them. Even maintaining them at their current levels can be a challenge). From the end of the winter term in April pretty much until the end of August, almost all of my efforts were spent on finishing my thesis. The recent fall term was much like the winter term of last year, except that now the time that would have been spent on the thesis is being spent on research.

All this time spent on teaching or research means that my brain doesn't have a whole lot of idle time to think of things to write about. It also means that I spend a lot of time at the keyboard, since my lectures are usually type-written, and I like to type up my research as soon as possible after I have a new idea or get a new result. So at the end of the day, I usually don't feel like thinking about something to write on, and even when I do, I don't have much drive to type it up. Whatever "recreational" typing I do is better spent on things like email or IM, and I haven't even spent as much time on those lately as in the past.

These are the big distractions from blogging. There are other things that get in the way too, though. For example, holidays would be a nice time to catch up, but at those times, I usually return home, where there is no internet. Blogging is pretty low on my list of priorities too. At the moment, I can't think of anything that I'd pass up so that I can blog. Even as a procrastination tool, it's pretty low on the list.

I have started a number of posts, but wasn't able to finish them in the same night that I started them. They got saved as drafts, and I haven't got back to them to finish them. Some of them will likely get deleted, since they were relevant only at the time that they were written. Who knows what will happen to the rest? There are some new recipes that I tried out over the past year that I've intended to post about, I can't remember what most of them are.

I was going to write something about how it feels to be graduated from my PhD. I don't really have much to say about this, though. I probably don't feel any different from how you would after you did one thing for five years in a row and then switched to something else. Well, at the end of it, I got to wear some funky red robes and walk around in front of a whole bunch of people who I mostly don't know, which is something nobody else does after switching occupations. But other than that, I feel mostly the same as I did before. Being an instructor for a class makes me feel somewhat different, though I think this has more to do with the role itself than the hoops I had to jump through to be considered qualified to do fulfil that role [1]. As an instructor, I feel like I have to be a model citizen who pays his bills on time and stuff like that, and that I shouldn't be doing things like drinking beer with my neighbours at 2:00 in the morning the night before I give a lecture [2]. As a person with a PhD, however, I mostly just feel like a person who spent far too much time in school avoiding real life.

There were a few other posts on a random assortment of topics. Perhaps I'll get to these. Perhaps not. I've got a few other things on my mind that might be considered blog worthy. No guarantees whether I'll get to those or not, though. Time will tell.

Anyway. Thanks for dropping by.

[1] Why having a PhD qualifies us to teach in a university, I'm not sure. The primary objective of a PhD is to train researchers. There is no required component devoted to teaching (which is no different from bachelor's degrees or master's degrees, unless those degrees happen to be in education). In math at least, much of our time in the PhD program is spent in solitude, talking little with anyone. Yes, we know the material that we teach quite well. But that doesn't mean that we're qualified to tell other people about it effectively. In fact, as I've learned from various talks given by myself and others, knowing the material well can often make teaching it to others worse.

[2] If any of my students happen to be reading this, that particular scenario only happened once, and is not the reason why my lectures usually leave something to be desired. In fact, while I know it wasn't perfect, I feel like the lecture I gave after that night was better than average.

1 comment:

Dr. Jon said...

RE: L'apr├Ęs-PhD. Completely ignoring people who fail to address you with the honorific "Dr." can sometimes help to build up that wall, brick by brick, of feeling 'accomplished,' and of higher status status than a lab assistant/rat.
Also, liberal use of non-English expressions can, ceteris paribus, further distinguish you from others.
Seriously, though, it is funny/tricky. I said to a 1st-year student I saw in the library last week that the main difference between us was that he was paying for the privilege to be in the library on a fine Saturday afternoon, whereas I was getting paid.
Even as I said it, there was more truth coming out than I had expected...