An Academic Christmas Carol: Part 2

Posted December 24, 2014 by Emily Dolson in Humor, Work/Life Balance / 6 Comments

Missed the beginning? See Part 1 here.

Part 2

Scrooge sat alone in his house, sipping some tea, when a knock came on the door. Opening it, he found none other than his former collaborator, Jacob Marley, as if resurrected from retirement. He looked tired, as if he were carrying a heavy weight. “What are you doing here?” Scrooge asked, letting him in and offering him a seat at his table.

“Scrooge. I cannot stay long. But I have come to warn you. Every scientist should walk abroad among his fellow humans and travel far and wide; and if that scientist does not go forth while in the academy, they are condemned to do so after retirement – and witness what they cannot share, but might have shared and turned to happiness! Oh woe is me. I never left the limits of our lab, save for the occasional conference.”

“But you were always such a successful scientist, Jacob!”

“Scientist?! The goal of science is to advance the breadth of human knowledge and welfare! My research was but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of science! Oh, why did I walk through crowds at conferences looking down my nose at those around me? Why did I not seek more collaborations? Why did I refuse to share my data or my methodologies? I am here to warn you, that you have yet a chance of escaping my fate, a chance I have procured for you Ebeneezer! You will be visited by three Spirits. Without their visits you cannot hope to shun the path I tread.”

Scrooge had his head in his hand, as if trying to block out the words he was hearing, but to no avail. At last, he resignedly returned his gaze to Marley, who was idly stirring the tea Scrooge had left on the table. “Finish this – maybe it will calm your nerves,” Marley suggested, pushing the tea towards Scrooge, “Now, I must be off. I have a golf game to attend.”

A few hours later, Scrooge sat in his bedroom, feeling dazed and groggy. The clock chimed. Suddenly, a merrily dressed young woman was standing in Scrooge’s bedroom: The Spirit of Christmas Past. Laughing, she took Scrooge’s hand and led him through swirling mists of time. They emerged in a location very familiar to Scrooge. “My alma mater!” he exclaimed in happiness, feeling his eyes begin to tear up. Snow fell on the ivy-covered bricks as students flooded across the pathways, carrying heavy bags on their way home for winter break. Save for one; young Ebeneezer Scrooge was sitting resolutely in the library, working on a paper.

Presently, a young girl bounced up the library steps and wrapped Scrooge’s younger self up in an embrace. The older Scrooge tried to run to his sister, but the spirit held him firm, shaking her head slightly.

“Dear, dear brother!” he heard his sister beam to his younger self “I’ve come to bring you home! Father and I just got a phone call from Professor Fezziwig – he’s agreed to take you on as his PhD student! You don’t need to worry about that paper you’re working on anymore. Come home and celebrate with us!”

The younger Scrooge looked delighted and hugged his sister yet again. “That is truly wonderful news, sister. I’ve missed you so.”

To be continued…

Emily Dolson

I’m a doctoral student in the Ofria Lab at Michigan State University, the BEACON Center for Evolution in Action, and the departments of Computer Science and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, & Behavior. My interests include studying eco-evolutionary dynamics via digital evolution and using evolutionary computation techniques to interpret time series data. I also have a cross-cutting interest in diversity in both biological and computational systems. In my spare time, I enjoy playing board games and the tin whistle.

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