Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Orthogonal Advice

Today, a venerated colleague stopped me in the hallway, and asked how old I am. Forty-many, I said. You know what I am going to say, he said. Tell me anyway, I said. Have another one--damn the consequences, he said.

Although I consider myself to be an exemplar of stiff-upper-lip* (*people who know me and read this are now laughing their heads off), something about me lately has encouraged friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and even strangers to give me their input. Is my biological clock alarming? Or perhaps it is that look about me that almost says aloud “Please Dear God of Science let me know about my tenure decision soon!” Or maybe I *am* actually saying that out loud. I don’t know anymore.

Since I usually dole the unsolicited advice out to others, today I’ll share the gems I’ve been collecting over the last few weeks.

Mom: “Honey, maybe you need to make a friend. Or two.”
LateToBed (spouse): “You need a hobby. Really.”
BedHater (kid): “Mommmm!! Stop staring at me!!”
Ex-PhD-advisor: “Perhaps you should consider finding a hobby.?”
Colleague in a different department: “Have another one”
Another colleague in another department: “Time to have your second”
Colleague in this department “Time to find a real hobby”

Note that most of the advice comes in two basic flavors: “Get a life” and “Have a baby”. I’m convinced that these two are orthogonal.

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