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Gradually coming around

Not letting myself get distracted by the Tweet-machine during the middle of the day is still hard, which means it's definitely a necessary personal policy to stay off it during working hours, as with the Book of Face. What happens to me is I find myself needing a brief mental pause, so I flip over to check things, and get sucked in. A better mental pause would be something like gazing out a window with a nice view, or staring at an ant colony on my desk, or petting a cat (except cats don't always have the best timing).

Sometimes it feels like it takes me forever to come around to figuring out how to deal with disappointing outcomes, like the manuscript rejection last week. But finally, I think I am, after multiple nights of waking up at 3 am with my mind going in useless circles. It helped that a new paper came out last week that shifts our understanding of the evolutionary relationship between leafcutter ants and their fungus garden. The main take-home message from this new paper is that more emphasis should be put on thinking about how the behavior of different leaf-cutter species has affected the ecological success of individual species. The paper also reminded me of another paper I reviewed a while ago which I need to think about some more and probably cite in the next revision of the Leafcutter Manuscript of Doom. Somehow it also helped to get the final outcome for a totally unrelated manuscript that I reviewed, in which the editor both respected my input and ensured I don't have to look at the darned thing yet again (fix your terrible writing, people!). I guess it was just helpful reassurance that I'm not a complete idiot (=imposter syndrome).

In the meantime, there are always plenty of other things to work on, of course. Too much time is getting eaten up by other people's ant-related projects at the moment, but later this week I am going to deliberately shift over to cricket stuff for a while. So much juggling.

My evening reading these days is a somewhat historic text on life history evolution (published in 1992). It's slow going, and I'm not clear on whether that's just because I find the content challenging, or whether that has to do with the writing style. Probably both, right? It's academic writing, after all. On the other hand, it feels like the book is putting a lot of different pieces into place for me, as it provides some of the foundational context for thinking about life history trade-offs. Yet another book I wish I'd read early in grad school. Better late than never. I'm not looking forward to reading the other text on life history evolution from 1992, because in my experience the other author's writing tends towards the unintelligible, which is really unfortunate. But on the other hand, it will be very useful to have finished reading both books so I can cite them where appropriate.

Do you have any tricks for getting through reading slogs?

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