14 September 2003

Another working weekend

Spent both yesterday and today in my office. Of course, I wasn't the only one. Plenty of other tenure-track professors (and even a couple of tenured ones!) were in at various times, too (though I think I was there longest of anyone on the second floor).

Fred Zaidan was there. I was chatting to him about what he was doing (because he's not single like some of the other new guys. it's less typical for him to be in on weekends). He mentioned he'd spent the day working on his Faculty Research Council grant -- a small grant that's internal to UTPA. I'd planned to submit one, too. He commented, "I really hate the six page limit."

I look blankly and ask, "Six page limit?"

"Yeah, for the project description."

I rushed back to my computer and discovered that I'd filled in all the forms, but there wasn't any form for the project description -- you had to write it yourself on good ol' plain white paper. I'd completely and utterly missed it. I hastily retrieved my proposal from the department chair's mailbox and started writing. This proposal was due tomorrow, and I had to teach, so I had to finish it toute suite.

It was about 4 pm, and I had five pages done just before 7 pm. Whew! Luckily, a few things were in my favour. Those 6 pages had to be double spaced, and I needed to have references. I must remember to thank Fred for unwittingly pulling my fat out of the fire.

One of the interesting things about doing this proposal so quickly was that I finally got to use a software program I'd bought a few months back, EndNote.

Oh. My. God.

End Note is a bibliographic program. In order to really use it effectively, you have to enter all your references into the database, which I've been doing very slowly. The beauty of this thing -- which I'd known intellectually but hadn't really grasped in that "in your bones" kind of way -- is that all you have to do is select a database entry, and it creates your reference list automatically. In the format of your choice. This is fantastic, because every journal in the world wants references a different way. Some want a numbered list (so if you move one reference, you have to renumber everything), some want them alphabetical, some want the year behind the author's name, some want the year closer to the end... and so on. The reference list is an absolute time-killer, because it is so fiddly that it almost invariably generates a mistake somewhere.

Once I start to get more entries into the database, this software is going to save me so much time...
Rephrase: Once I start to get more entries into the database, and get my new office computer... My current computer is just about ready to enter a new and rewarding career as a doorstop, so I've been busily awaiting arrival of a replacement. Given the recent theft of Chris's computer, though, I'm really nervous that it'll be stolen before I have a chance to do anything with it. Hope I'm wrong.


OoooOOOOOoooh! Soon -- not yet, but soon -- it'll be three weeks with a busted ice machine!

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