This is the beginning of an article for sci.psychology that I never finished. The main point of the article was going to be some comment about science and NLP, but I never got that far.
Newsgroups: sci.psychologyThere have been times in my life when I wished the whole world could be a university. And in fact, when one is really actively involved in research, it's often hard to forget that it's not. There was certainly a time in my life when it seemed like the most exciting game in town.
I can remember having dinner at a restaurant with my wife and her forcefully grabbing my arm and saying "Stop thinking! We're having dinner together. Pay attention to me."
I can remember sitting on my front porch in Kansas and slowly realizing that the theorem I had just discovered was not just one special case of the most famous unproved conjecture in the theory of finite rank torsion free abelian groups -- my theorem in fact totally answered the question.
I remember the thrill I felt when the second volume of Fuchs's book on Abelian Group Theory came out and I was mentioned in a footnote. It was a silly little result the footnote mentioned, proved in connection with a course I'd been taking (we were asked to present a paper from the literature and instead I wrote my own) and I'd done much more significant work since, but --- Goddamn it! --- I was actually mentioned in Fuchs and was even listed in the index.
And I can remember the frustrations. Trying to make it through graduate school and also support a wife and young daughter. Listening to the orthodontist tell us that there was absolutely no alternative to spending an incredible amount of money to put braces on my daughter's teeth.
And I remember the mock-prayer that I sometimes formulated (before I solved the famous problem): "Please, God, I've never been able to believe in you, but just let me find a proof for this one theorem, or at least some worthwhile result, and I will believe." (But I welshed on the deal afterwards.)