Saturday, June 9, 2007

Job Skills

Today's project was getting through an article. Thank the gods it was more relevant (although only slightly more so) than the book I referred to in yesterday's post. I didn't manage to get the notes taken, but the article is read and done.

So why burn a whole day on a single thirty-page article? Two reasons:

First, today was a rough day, physically. I've got a persistent (but hopefully not permanent) condition known as frozen shoulder that causes very limited mobility, and sometimes, like today, enough pain to leave me exhausted. So I didn't even start working today until 4 p.m.

Second, the article isn't in English. This is one of the challenges of being a medievalist: we are expected to read Latin, German, and French, plus whatever other languages our particular research area might require. This article was in one of those other languages.

I have two contradictory feelings about the work I do in other languages. On the one hand, I'm proud of this ability of mine. Most people in my country speak only English. The fact that I can get along with relative fluency in three additional languages, plus read two others, is one of those few parts of my skill set that non-academics can appreciate. It's also something that I can use in my non-academic life, now and then.

On the other hand, there is a part of me that is a bit puzzled when people are impressed by this, if it comes up in conversation. That part of me says, "This is part of my job, that's all." Plenty of jobs have semi-arcane skills that I will never master, nor ever need to, but that I admire in others. I can't do statistics, fix a leaky pipe, interpret blood pressure readings, or make an omelette that doesn't turn out as a scramble -- all things that other people do as a part of their jobs on a daily basis, and which I'm grateful that they will sometimes do for me.


Not Nurse Ratched said...

You forgot to mention that that the "I speak six languages" thing is boy repellent! :(

Anonymous said...

Well, NNR, your blog seems to indicate you are not single (apologies if that info is out of date), so obviously it didn't repel boys that much :-)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Funny you should mention that -- I've actually decided to stop using that as a pick-up line.

Anonymous said...

(same anon again) - well, if you think that repels the opposite sex, you should try telling them physics jokes.. "Hey, sweet stuff. What's your sine? Is it pi/2? I bet it is - because you're the 1!"

Note that I've never actually used that.. please shoot me if I do! :-)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I could dig out my high school math and make some sort of lame joke involving potential dates' reactions and e to the pi-i, but I'd only mess it up, so I'll let you fill in something good.

In the meantime, physicist anon, if you don't register, why don't you go ahead & sign your posts (pseudonym, if you like) in the text box, so I can keep my anons straight?

Steve Muhlberger said...

Frozen shoulder -- time to start yoga before it's frozen hip time.