Saturday, 23 December 2006

Editus Interruptus

Now that I've moved one of my labs to accommodate the princess and her pea, with the result that the occasional blind patient now has to negotiate a concrete stairwell in order to move from the interview room to the eye-tracking laboratory (apparently a price well worth paying in order to accommodate all those mattresses with which to cover the pea), I've got on with trying to manage more important things. Still, it's interesting how minor irritants can prove so annoying. I guess I too have my metaphorical peas.

So what's happened in all this time? Not much. Work, work, and more work. I've been to Washington for an NIH meeting and to Houston for a conference (where I ate the best steak ever); I've finished teaching a Masters-level statistics course and an advanced course on language processing (taught with Silvia); and I've processed another hundred or so papers for the journal Cognition. I really enjoy the editorial work. But it gets me down that there's such a huge backlog of papers waiting to be processed. I manage around 20 papers a week (sending out to review, or making editorial decisions such as 'accept', 'revise', or 'reject'). But that doesn't do anything to reduce the backlog, as no sooner do I process one paper than another is submitted to the journal. My current estimate is that it won't be until next Easter before the lag between receiving a paper, or receiving all its reviews, and processing that paper, comes down to just one week. I'm too embarrassed to say what the lag is currently! It built up over the summer (due to vacation and conference time), and I've never managed to get it down. Things will improve now that the associate editors are coming online (so a big thank-you to Rebecca, Vic, Steven, and Andrew), but it's a slow process. And each time I get an email from an author asking why it's taking so long, I feel a pang of guilt. My ideal Christmas? Two weeks off in which to work uninterrupted on the journal. My actual Christmas? Two days off in which to work, probably interrupted, on the journal... like its birth control counterpart, editorial control by editus interruptus is not particularly efficient.

My New Year's Resolution? To write a couple of papers, write two grant proposals, collaborate on a third, be a better father, be a better partner, be a better karateka and get my brown belt (3rd Kyu) and hopefully my brown and white belt also (2nd Kyu), and be less stressed. It's really very tempting to take up all those offers that my spam email brings me each day (I get on average 200 spam a day). Though it's not clear to me whether Viagra, a cheap mortgage, an imitation watch, stock options, and a share of someone's Nigerian fortune would really make me that much happier. Maybe the fortune... and yes, the cheap mortgage.. and probably the stock options (I still regret not buying shares in Apple...).

So, in the spirit of Xmas... the Christmas tree is up, and lit. But outside the front of the house our 2 ft. Monkey Puzzle tree has provided a more natural seasonal decoration: It's been very frosty, and foggy, so all that white stuff is cobwebs covered in condensation from the fog that has frozen. Maybe next year I'll rig up some lights. So... for the two people who I know read this (one of whom kindly sent me the link to a much more interesting blog than mine), very best wishes for the holiday season, and may next year bring you less spam, less stress, more satisfaction, and a big lottery win. Happy Xmas!