21 March, 2007

Adventures in table clearing

Let's explore this messy pile sitting to my left on the computer desk.

  1. On top: work paper with seminar attendance and notes from the seminar—okay, that can go into the trash, since I recorded the attendance.
  2. A folder labeled "F5 Revisited", but that document is not actually in the folder. Hmm. Let's move it to the top of the computer tower for later.
  3. Preliminary Announcement and Call for Papers: Journal of Algebra, announcing a new section on Computational Algebra. Useful, and I still don't know where else to put it. Move it onto the tower, under the folder.
  4. Faugère's 2002 paper "A new efficient algorithm for computing Gröbner bases without reduction to zero (F5)." I'm looking between it and "Faugère's F5 Algorithm Revisited," so it can go into the folder on the computer, which will allow me to close the folder beneath it and put that folder back into the file. Oh, here's "F5 Revisited" underneath the paper, that can go in the folder too. Now we're getting somewhere.
  5. Now I have two piles, not counting the folder & announcement on the tower. (The previous papers straddled these two.) Pile the first is topped a black notebook, with notes & homework solutions for Modern Algebra. That should move to the table where I have a pile specifically designated for such things. Done.
  6. Oh, man. That table is a mess, too. Okay, I'll deal with it later.
  7. Now I have a poster abstract and a Palm decoder gamepiece. The gamepiece should move beneath the monitor. Not sure what to do with the poster abstract. I'll tape it to the wall above my monitor and hope it stays. One pile eliminated!
  8. Maybe I should hang the announcement on the wall above the monitor, too. I'm rolling now.
  9. Pile the second. Two papers, that should move to folders. Well, I haven't read one paper. Okay, it moves to Limbo (the table where research papers that I Will Read One Day, Honest!TM sit).
  10. Announcement of departmental seminars that I've been giving to my students, and browbeating them into attending. That's still useful, and should go with my Calculus notes. Unfortunately, I haven't written today's Calculus notes, and that table is a mess anyway (see above). Okay, a little more mess won't hurt...
  11. Managed to organize two folders on that other desk, which helped a smidgen.
  12. One Calculus book, with used notes inside. That belongs on the other desk, and the used notes belong in the corresponding notebook.
  13. Oh, wait. The Calculus book has to go into my satchel, so I can take it home and write notes tonight. Also, I can throw away that slip of scrap paper on that other desk. More progress. :-)
  14. An unlabeled folder with paper inside. Well, that wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done. Let's look. Oh, these are the algebra tests. They go on that other desk, with the notebooks.
  15. An election ballot for the Graduate Council Election Committe. It's due by 5pm on March 27th. Good thing I cleaned up my desk. Now, as I recall, we're all pretty busy, so I vote for the person I hate most... (j/k)
  16. Two piles again. One is a box of specialty paper. I can move that to a place where I will never find it again, despite its being in plain sight. Done.
  17. A folder labeled ECCAD 2007. Hunh? Ah! This is travel stuff. (One month away.) Into the satchel it goes!
  18. A letter from the registrar on Mid-Term Rosters. Oh, crap. This is due today! ARGHACKLE... I'd better do that real quick. Log in to the university's system. (That would be SOAR, Southern's Online Accessible Records. It sounds a lot like SORE, because that's how you feel after you try to use it.)
  19. A folder labeled Mississippi State University, which I received at the conference I attended there last month. That has two envelopes inside it. One is unlabeled and empty. Into the trash with you! The other is labeled Freshmen Mid-Term Rosters. Again?!? Okay, I just took care of this. It's an example of how the university has so much extra money that it prints multiple copies of documents, so the pile on your desk grows larger & you forget about them.
  20. Also in the folder: Report of Annual Evaluation. That goes into the Tenure folder. Oh, no it doesn't; I already have another copy there. Okay, scrap paper pile.
  21. Now I have a useless folder on my desk. Onto the bookshelf with you!
And now my desk is clear, more or less. :-) Oh, wait. The tower. ARGHACKLE.... Okay, mail and satchel. Done.

Now, here's the depressing part: I just wasted twenty minutes that I could have spent researching. That's what I'd have preferred to do, but I also have to grade papers and write notes. Let's not even discuss the time (6.50pm); my wife is going to kill me, and I'm taking the Calculus book home so I can write notes this evening. Plus, I have to tend to that other table.

The amazing thing is, I love my job anyway, messy desks and all.

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