19.32, Monday 25 Feb 2008

Quiet. Preparations for my upcoming trip have meant a race to the finish on several tasks, with the consequence that everything nonessential is being dropped to the wayside. This has led me to notice a third way I get things done:

  1. The marathon: start doing a thing and continue doggedly doing it until it's done. I do this with books.
  2. The leap: take a small step which forms an unbreakable commitment to doing the rest. This is how I started doing talks: once the abstract's published there's no way to not make a decent presentation without letting down a lot of people.
  3. Pace: if an activity gets boring, switch immediately to something else. It doesn't matter what the activity is, so long as expressing it produces useful output. This is what I'm doing now.

One of my activities is reading Essential Cell Biology. (Yes, I regard reading which is not related to work as essential. And if I don't finish it before I go, I'll lose the tenuous understanding I need to complete it.) Reading about cell biology is reading the best whodunnit: we start with the cell working downwards - to proteins, metabolism, meiosis, ATP - and working up, to people. I'm beginning to hit the magical moments of the loop closing, where the top and bottom link up: oh, so that's why I eat!; oh, so that's what breathing's all about! The Krebs citric acid cycle, with the lead pipe, in the ballroom! And the denouement is life itself, there in-front and inside of me, while I'm reading on the Tube.