If you haven’t yet, go read this excellent piece on the emotional triumphs and pitfalls of science. Ewan’s story spoke to me especially, and not just because we share computational interests. The idea of a thorny problem making you shut out the world around you, specifically:

I become distracted and frustrated; a small “thinking” frown on my face signals the start of a complete shutdown, when I have to close down all conversation around me (my wife is, needless to say, a saint) and concentrate on the problem.

I have, this weekend alone, done that at least two or three times. Fortunately for my wife and kids, we have company. Gramma and Pop-pop are the center of attention when they visit, as they should be, but it also allows me to retreat into my head. I can’t decide if this is good or bad. Those who know me well know I am, at my core, an introvert. Given my druthers, I would sit at the computer and analyze data all. day. long. There are many essays on the difference between introverts and extroverts, but mine is this: extroverts live in the world, introverts live in their heads. That’s fine as long my head is in the right place, but if it’s not…

Which is why I’m ultimately thankful that I landed where I have (besides the obvious gratitude of having a job in science in this funding climate). We construct our own narratives in hindsight, of course, but a small college job fits me; it gets me out of my head. I’m a firm believer that we shouldn’t always give ourselves what we want. Introverts need to be forced out of their bubble once in a while, and extroverts should be alone with their thoughts. It’s also one of the many reasons I am thankful to be a dad. My daughters often drag me back into the real world, (literally) kicking and screaming.

Problems aligning that short read data? That’s nice, your 10:00 class is in 5 minutes, hop to it! Thought of a good way to frame your third aim walking back from lecture? That’s nice, it’s office hours and you have 4 students waiting for you. Have an idea for a thoughtful blog post? Tough, it’s breakfast time and the girls are hungry…

The rent is cheap

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