Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break

Spring Break. For the undergrads, a time to get away from the (hopefully last) remnants of snow and hit the beaches, or take other exciting trips over which they will forget most of what they've been taught for the past few months. Even some of the graduate students are taking advantage of a week without classes, although one of these is going home to visit family and another is going to Baltimore, of all places.

For me, Spring Break was never an exciting travel time. Sometimes I stayed on campus, sometimes I went home. My senior year of college some friends and I took an overnight trip to nearby Toronto - and visiting the CN Tower and seeing a musical hardly qualify as a wild, crazy trip. So it should hardly be surprising that I see Spring Break as a time to catch up or get ahead on work. There are no classes, no colloquia, no meetings; I have arranged to have no scheduled research or academic activities for five whole days. I have not yet gone so far as to dedicate specific days to specific projects - well, I did as soon as I wrote that sentence, but I'm reasonable enough to understand I'm not likely to follow my own schedule.

Spring Break is my prelude to summer, when there also will be no classes, although there will be some meetings and a fair share of data collection. Studies abound describing how hard it is to redirect attention to the task at hand once an email program has pinged for new arrivals, but none seem to point out how hard it is to get a project done when you know you have to be somewhere else in 45 minutes.

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