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I Wish I’d Written This

January 14, 2012 1 comment

On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky. She saw no Indians now; she saw flour-mills and the blinking windows of skyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of squaws and portages, and the Yankee fur-traders whose shadows were all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the plays of Brieux, the reasons why heels run over, and the fact that the chemistry instructor had stared at the new coiffure which concealed her ears.

A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheat-lands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth.

It is Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College.

The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American Middlewest.

– The opening passage of Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Effectively think and write about your scientific findings

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment

whitesides-screenshot-page-1“Writing a Paper” by George Whitesides is fantastically useful. Only three pages long, it is a succinct guide to writing a cogent, coherent article from the questions, experiments, and data that are swirling in your mind.

The central message is to formulate, early in the life of a project, an outline to direct your thoughts and data collection.

“No project is ever complete, and it saves enormous effort and much time to propose a plausible paper and outline as soon as you see the basic structure of a project.”

“Writing a Paper” also offers details for composing each section of your article, as well as style/diction tips.  The full pdf is available through Advanced Materials or by searching on Google Scholar.

(I’m aware this was published in 2004, but I encountered it just last week at the Prof 101 workshop, thanks to Professors Jennings and Rogers.)

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