Beyond Understanding

February 21, 2023

Lucky me!

I have a kiddo who not only writes crazy amazing things (I presume) that are well beyond my comprehension (absolutely), but he seeks the editorial input of his parents on said incomprehensible research papers.

I read his papers and understand not a thing. The words are in english and they appear in sentences, but beyond that: gobbledygook. Still…. editing his papers is doable (and trippy), since it’s just a matter of correcting spelling and punctuation and in some cases format. I can point out inconsistencies (like, you hyphenate Navier-Stokes in this paragraph, but not this one, honey) without knowing whatof I speak.

It reminds me of the job I had for about a year at Transcend … many years ago (post DCTV, post-consulting, pre-full-on-retirement) where I edited translated documents in numerous foreign languages (from English) without knowing those languages….there were the easy ones like Spanish and French, and the hard ones like Tagalag, Chinese, and so many of the Arabic languages with entirely different characters. I just had to match text, page by page, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence to make sure all the words were there, the font treatments carried over, the punctuation was the same… etc. One didn’t need to know the language. It’s kinda the same thing with Peter’s papers. In his case, I’m not comparing it to an original document, but neither am I reading for content… so it’s fairly straight forward.

I love the detail of that kind of work.

And I love reviewing all my edits with him when I’m done. I love hearing him consider my changes… like, does this sentence really need a comma, is an m-dash better than a colon, should this paragraph be indented, is Monte Carlo (in the physics context) hyphenated? I love the way he defends his decisions, or agrees they could benefit from a change.

He’s so blippin’ knowledgeable, so in command of his material. He’s also genuinely nice, appreciative and grown up. He is a pleasure to work with!

How about that.

I also loved hearing about the changes suggested by Jim and by Aaron (his advisor professor). We all see different things (and many of the same things, too).

Takes a village.

So this was a 32-page paper, including one appendix and two pages of references. Took me hours to read!! I loved that when I got to the end and was glancing at the references, I saw one of Peter’s papers. He cited himself! For which he gets professional credit (citings are a big deal in the research paper world). When I asked him about it, he acknowledged it was very intentional and indeed would elevate his standings, so to speak. But more importantly, he actually used the work of that earlier paper to inform this paper. For realz. So funny.

As I said… I just feel so grateful, and happy for him, and proud. He’s doing things he loves, he’s good at it, he’s happy. In addition to his research and paper writing (and publishing), he’s TA’ing this semester, which has been (as far as we’ve heard), quite an experience (time consuming!). The professor (Aaron) is out of town this week so he asked Peter to conduct the lecture on Thursday (I believe it’s a basic fluids for engineers class and has some 80-100 students in it?). That oughta be .. fun? Scary? Challenging? He’s also heading up a collaboration with a researcher or two from another university (UCSD, of all places!) and that’s a new and important experience. So… all in all: things are hopping in A2.

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