Time and Tide ... GTD from the Ivory Tower

"The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

Incidentally, this quote has a place in my recently revised rant on America's Favorite Game.

“Destiny awaits. Fetch it.” Official motto of the 129th Westminster Kennel Club Show.

“One pearl is better than a whole necklace of potatoes." --- advice to students from the famous French mime Etienne Decroux

Decroux's advice is certainly apt for the performing arts, or for polished works that are strongly constrained by either space or time. Nevertheless, it may not be great advice for beginning researchers in the mathematical sciences. For them, there is a better plan.

My own sense is that sometimes one needs to work through many potatoes before having any chance of understating when it is that one has found that pearl. Still, I hope this crude reality does not become too abused.

There now seem to be uncomfortably many people for whom simply piling up the potatoes is an acceptable life.

Mountaineer's Caveat

"Follow the mountaineer's caveat: Don't look back or too far ahead; look for footholds." --- Clair Wilson Grace's advice from her brilliant book Drawing for the Absolute Beginner (cp. 14).

I believe that the mountaineer's caveat is particularly valuable for students contemplating thesis work.

The translation is simple. When you see something you think you can do, don't worry too much about what you'll get from having done it. Just do it.

Then, once it is done, look around to see what you can now see that you could not see before. With just a little luck you'll find that second foot hole.

Writing coach Anne Lamott develops this theme with a family story that makes me weepy eyed whenever I recall it.

Lamott's brother as a young boy found himself immobilized by the mass of material he had collected over three months for a school report about birds. The report was due in just a few days and the boy was in despair when asked his father how he could possibly do the monumental task he saw in front of him.

The father put his hand on his son's shoulder, and said,

"Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."


JMS --- Home, Courses, Etc

Surprise Me --- say with Myomancy?

The full list of rants, except for orphans?

Uncertainty? Yes, it is a topic too!