Day: October 17, 2017

Typo-Induced Fury

I was this close (imagine me holding thumb and forefinger at 1 mm distance from each other) to yelling at my graduate student. What he gave me with the words, “I am really proud of this manuscript,” was a completely unedited pile of $hit. He’s a fourth-year student, not a newbie. There were so, sooooo many typos (and an astonishing number of different misspellings of a crucial term), so many instances of subject-verb disagreement, so many missing commas… (I already complained about the nonexisting definite articles.)

His explanation? It’s the software’s fault. He was using some software (?!) that supposedly tracked and corrected all typos, and now it’s the software’s fault.

Bull$hit. It’s your fault.

Public service announcement:

There is no substitute for printing out your manuscript in a single-column, double-spaced format, sitting down without distractions, and carefully proofreading it, line by line — like I do ad nauseam, even though it shortens my lifespan (silver lining: it produces blog fodder). Then enter the corrections, print the corrected manuscript out, and f*ckin’ do it again. Repeat until you cannot find any more typos yourself. Only then should you consider wasting your advisor’s time with it.

(We have a deadline, which is why I have to finish this and can’t do additional back-and-forths with the student. But I am furious.)

Repost: F*cktober

Alas, I speak not of the fun kind, the province of randy college youth

Nay… My tale goes far back, all the way to the last millenium… And it is a dark one.

Every year, come October, the pearly gates windows for NSF unsolicited proposals swing open. As if in a trance, thousands of pilgrim scientists gather to worship at the feet of the unfeeling behemoth. In a month of pure agony, their bodies and souls are possessed by the tyrant, yet they remember little. Their consciousness barely punctuates the thick caffeine haze, wherein hearts race and thoughts scatter… Come November, the pilgrims wake up with a vague feeling of shame and regret, chafed, hopelessly trying to remember what it was that left that foul taste in their mouths.

In the spring, some of them bear the fruit of the unholy alliance. They care for it lovingly during its three-year-long life… And what a precious gift it is. So small, so feeble, so rare… But what an honor to be bestowed such a gift, and to be free, if but for a little while, of the unquenchable thirst that overtakes every fall…

For when you see a disheveled scientist carrying a cup of coffee, know that F*cktober is upon us. No one is safe. Best to procure some lubricant.

Originally appeared here