Sunday, September 1, 2002

Most species of leaves collected

Additional injuries, since my second trip to Straddie and a week in the rainforest: wounded pride from carrying out a science project on hermit crab shell selection, of all topics one of the most overstudied and least peculiar to Australia, scattered bruises from mud-wrestling in the rain, a network of scratches on the back of my hand from the claws of numerous seed-greedy crimson rosellas and king parrots, and sore legs from running with Allie, the border collie.

This morning’s run turned into a fairly amusing episode of foiled romance, as on our way back Allie and I were assaulted and followed home by a large Husky blend. “Paul, Allie’s started bringing her boyfriends home,” called Beck when she found out, and added, “Of all dogs, we had to get the one that was a tart.”

Allie’s been de-sexed, but the poor bloke hasn’t quite gotten it--he’s in our yard now, still confused. We called his owner to come pick him up, as we didn’t want him to get run over in the street, which is a fairly busy one.

To elaborate on the hermit crab project, it really wasn’t that bad. In fact, I think I’ll be able to make quite a decent report out of it, but I’ve been developing the skill of making good reports from bad data for years now. The project itself was conceived by one of the girls in our group, and my friend Cara and I were fairly critical of it to begin with. Our sentiments, though purely professional, led to the injury of some personal feelings, and the threat of losing group harmony, at which point we backed off and simply acquiesced to the hermit crab plan, this not being a particularly important project in the grand scheme of things. The unpleasantness between all members of the group has long since melted away and all are now friends.

The experience, however, just went to strengthen my conviction that working in groups is never as productive or pleasant as working alone, and I can’t fathom why I’ve been forced to do it since grade school.

And, of course, I continue to be obligated to work in groups; while in the rainforest I actually ended up in the largest group, which consisted of seven people, filling out a proforma, profiling the rainforest, and sketching a biodiversity curve. The obvious conclusion to draw, of course, is that I must have something to learn from this experience, that I keep being thrust into it, but though I may flatter myself, I don’t think I’m half bad at working in groups, despite my disinclination to do so. I strive to maintain amiable relations, I attempt to keep everyone on track, and I always do my share of the work if not more. (Our rainforest group tied with another for the most species of leaves collected. Mike gave us chocolate.)

I don’t mind working with people, I know I’ll have to do that for the rest of my life. I think what may bother me most about working in a group is that no one’s in charge. Everything needs a central intelligence; the nervous system requires a brain if any sort of complex task is to be carried out. Nerve nets only work in jellies and sponges.

Either tell me what to do or let me tell you, but don’t let us all be equals.

That sounds odd, doesn’t it?

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