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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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December 26, 2006

Work At Home! It's Easy; It's Fun!

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Posted by Derek

Well, I took a load of data home with me, along with a first draft of the paper I'm working on. But as usual, my attempts to get any actual work done over the Christmas holidays have shriveled up on contact with the actual days off. I'm not sure why this always seems so plausible while I'm finishing up the last working days of the year, and so laughable three or four days later.

My two children probably have a lot to do with it. They're ready to take me on in a whole list of games, and since they know as well as anyone that these days don't run on a normal schedule, they don't see any reason for me not to be available. (And they have a point!) I find that when I'm thinking hard about a problem, and most especially when I'm writing, that I can't do it with interruptions or extraneous noise. I was better about those when I was in college, but I've lost the ability to deal with them. Or, perhaps I'm just dealing with things that require more thought.

At any rate, my brain needs room to work in, so I'm an awful conversationalist when I have to think hard about something. There's a period in the first few seconds, especially, when I'm working on formulating an answer to something, where any interruption will send the whole thing crashing down. It's hard to describe - thinking about the problem in front of me, I can start to see how this piece might fit over here, and this section seems to be matching up with this one over here, and it feels right to make an analogy to this part, which was the thing that worked when - what? What? We're out of peanuts, and have I watered the Christmas tree today, and do I feel like being pulverized at foosball?

Ah well, my manuscript can wait a few days - it's not like I'm not going to have plenty of opportunities to work on it when I get back. Meeting will not interrupt: my work calendar has attained a state of clarity that Zen rock gardens can only strive for. For now, I need to go show my eight-year-old son that foosball wasn't invented yesterday.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


1. Anonymous BMS Researcher on December 26, 2006 7:42 PM writes...

I also took some data with me on vacation, hoping to work on a paper, and like you have found extremely little time to work on it -- as is always the case.

Unlike your situation, my calendar will be far from clear come January 2nd. However I guesstimate perhaps a 40% chance that sometime in 2007 I also will have a calendar of, as you so elegantly put it, of Zen-like clarity. This probability guesstimate does represent an improvement on my thinking as of August...

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2. The Strider on December 27, 2006 6:39 AM writes...

The main difference from the college days is that nowadays the noise and interruptions are aimed directly at you. It much easier to concentrate in the presence of random ("white") noise.

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3. The Strider on December 27, 2006 6:41 AM writes...

The main difference from the college days is that nowadays the noise and interruptions are aimed directly at you. It much easier to concentrate in the presence of random ("white") noise.

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4. Bitter Pill on December 27, 2006 8:03 AM writes...

In one position I had, the act of bringing home work and allowing it to sit untouched was referred to as "getting frequent flier miles for your laptop"

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5. Eric Jablow on December 27, 2006 9:05 AM writes...

What software do you use to draw chemical structures? ChemTeX?

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6. Bill P on December 27, 2006 3:09 PM writes...

Wow, This is exactly how I am... If I'm on the verge of articulating the right explanation/answer there is a brief period of time when the slightest interruption will will scatter my organized thoughts like a game of 52-card pickup.

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7. dave s. on December 28, 2006 10:54 AM writes...

When my now-nine-year-old and his best-best buddy were playing foosball three years ago, buddy's dad said it reminded him a lot of his foosball career in bars. We agreed that being six had a lot in common with being drunk.

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