Comics about mathematics, science, and the student life.

Margin

A person arranges a series of boxes that represent tasks along an axis labeled "Time of day". The axis is almost completely full, and the person is trying to squeeze one last task box that clearly doesn't fit. He's saying, "Why do I feel like I have no time?"

“You know, you could give yourself a little space between each task. It’s called ‘margin’.”

“But then I wouldn’t be able to fit this task in!”

(Hat tip to Shawn Blanc for his generous work on margin and an inspiration for this comic!)

Valley of Expectations

A person struggles to get out of a deep valley with a rock at the bottom labeled "Expectations". He's saying, "But I don't even want this!"

The problem is that I often only notice the valley when it becomes super deep.

Research Garden

An overhead view of a garden. The top of the comic has a box of plants labeled, "Staple research crop". To the left is a research tool shed. In the middle are two circular containers representing collaboration experiments. To the right is another box, but this one has idea seedlings.

What else is in your garden?

Revising

A graph of "Improving my writing" versus "Staring at it". The curve initially increases, then plateaus and crashes back down to zero. There's a label pointing to when the curve is going downwards that says, "Need fresh eyes".

This is also why it’s good to have someone you can share your writing with as you’re revising so that they can see things you will never be able to see from such a close vantage point.

Editing

A graph of "Time spent editing an email" versus "Care for recipient". The curve increases roughly like a quadratic function.

And as a corollary, the length of the email tends to decrease with editing. (As with this quote that inspired the comic.)

Tech Issues

A woman from IT says, "So after 10 hours of digging, I found the issue." The researcher says, "What did I do?" The IT worker answers, "Oh, it was an issue on our side." The researcher pumps her fist and exclaims, "Yes!" Caption: I'm always relieved when IT tells me my issue wasn't my fault.

But honestly, the issue is usually me.

Remember

On the left, there's a large circle with the label "What you say in a presentation". On the left is a much smaller circle with the label "What people remember".

The fun part is that you often can’t control what that memorable part will be.

Conference Attendance

A graph of "Attendance" versus "Time of day" for a conference. In the morning, there's the start of sessions, followed by a mad rush of people trying to not be too late, leading to a sharp increase in attendance. It stays high for a while until dipping downward due to a lunch exodus, but there's still a contingent of committed attendees who power through. After lunch, attendance picks up again as there are more sessions, only to steadily decline as people are too tired to listen anymore.

This happens on a macro level too: As I attend more days of a conference, I lose the initial stamina I had to listen to many presentations.

Sunk

Two friends are talking. One asks, "So, do you want to jump on this opportunity with me?" He gestures behind him to a large creature with a name tag that says 'Sunk Costs' and tells her, "I would, but I need to take care of this guy."

“He’s my number-one priority, you know.”