Sunday, April 17, 2016

Be Like Beth

I'm sure we're all feeling pretty burnt out from the Mod 2 report right now. I know I am. So with that in mind, I'd like to start this post off by talking about something (dear God, anything) that is not science.
It was the fall of my sophomore year. After a summer of UROPing and fun, I was feeling refreshed. Track and field practice hadn't started yet, so I found myself with both the time and motivation to work out on my own. This is how, one afternoon, I found myself in the almost-empty Burton-Conner gym (and by "almost-empty," I mean it was me, diligently following my suggested weight lifting plan, and one other girl, trotting along on the treadmill, minding her own business. For the sake of this story, let's call the girl "Beth." I have no idea what her actual name is, and probably wouldn't recognize her if I saw her again.). Beth and I spent the majority of the time ignoring each other, just trying to do our workouts in peace. This blissful state of isolation wouldn't last for long, however, because about half an hour into my lift, I heard what can only be described as clomping footsteps, followed by a distraught "OH NO" from Beth's treadmill. I turned around just in time to see her trip and shoot off the end of the treadmill. This was something I'd seen on the internet many times. 

However, seeing it in person is an entirely different experience. Shocked and unsure of what to do, I asked if she was alright. An embarrassed Beth mumbled something to the effect of "I'm fine. Don't worry," and resumed her workout with no more to say on the matter. This left me with two thoughts: 
  1. People falling off of treadmills are hilarious. The videos are funny, but it is 100x better in person (provided that, like Beth, the faller is unharmed). 
  2. Props to you, Beth.  If it had been me that had fallen off of the treadmill, especially with a witness present, I would have scurried away in embarrassment and shame, and I probably would have avoided treadmills for a long time. 
 For me, writing the Mod 2 report felt a lot like running on a treadmill.

  • It's not very fun. Let's face it: both activities can be downright painful at times. 
  • It's hard work. A [statistically?] significant amount of time has to be put in if you want to see any benefit. 
  • After an hour, you might not have made any progress toward your final destination. Yes, maybe you reformatted a figure or did all of your calculations, but you probably didn't add much to the length of your overall report. For me, this was a big part of why this assignment felt so hard. 
  • Sometimes you fall off completely. Maybe you spent hours making a figure look perfect and writing a flawless caption to go with it, only to realize you don't actually need that figure to tell your story. Maybe you changed your mind about the story you wanted to tell half way through. Maybe, like me, you did all of your statistical significance calculations and made your corresponding figures, only to realize you didn't change one of the green sample number boxes in the spreadsheet, leaving you no option but to redo all of the calculations and several figures. When that happens, there's nothing to do but cry a lot  tell yourself, "be like Beth" and get back on track. 
  • After many "workouts," you see results. Like being in better shape or finally having a finished Mod 2 report. 

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