Remember those “What Kind of Learner Are You?” quizzes? Kinetic? Audio? Visual? I am a kinetic learner – I learn by doing, touching, making mistakes and adapting. This can be seen in both my career (lab-based research) and hobbies (knitting, cooking, photography). Creating things or finding answers by putting several small pieces together with my own hands to form a larger whole is incredibly satisfying. Second would be audio – listening to instructions and taking detailed notes usually gets me by. Last is visual. Passively watching just does not imprint on my memory. This is sort of depressing when I think of all the seminar hours down the drain that I no longer remember.
In my current lab I have three main projects. Two address basic science questions. Experiments are designed, performed and data analyzed. Progress on these fronts depends on my motivation, good time management and skill/luck (it takes both) while I actually do the experiment. I can usually handle this (knock on wood).
The third, my given priority at the moment, involves the comparative analysis of an overwhelmingly large data set – statistics (ick – math), spreadsheet and database construction (uh oh – computers) and a lot of software training via demonstration (boo – visual learning). It is exhausting. And frustrating. Especially when I have many experiments that I would rather be doing (or, you know, laundry calling). That sinking feeling that you get when you have looked at the word ‘purple’ so many times that you convince yourself it cannot really be spelled that way? Somehow, I have reached that state with numbers. Where I question if the 21 on the printout is the same as the 21 I have just entered in my database. And, there is so much more to go.
So I stopped for the night. Took a picture of my desk, so you could all see the state of my mind (today it is genuinely reflected by the mess above – take heed), and set home for a good sleep. Luckily, on my way to the metro, I was rewarded by this (sorry for the slight fuzziness – one of those days when caffeine just makes me shaky):
It took me a moment to dredge my camera out of the bottom of my bag, so I missed catching it mid-sparkle – as it does for the first 10 minutes of every hour in the evening. Each day I have a view of the Eiffel tower as I come and go from the Metro. Many days have passed during which I was so caught up in my thoughts as to not glance up and take note. Today was an exception. All the numbers vanished when I noticed the twinkling lights and scrambled to capture the moment. (Off-topic question: On what do we capture our images now? If no longer film? Bytes?) My (almost forgotten) daily reminder that, no matter what stress I encounter at work, Paris always gives me a reason to smile.
Cheesy? Definitely, but true.