Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Research Hacks

Maybe you've seen the website making the rounds on facebook of "50 Lifehacks"--little tips and tricks for making your life a little easier, like running the cords for all the electronics on your desk through binder clips affixed to the edge, or how to fold a fitted bedsheet so that it's actually flat and square. Here are a few of the "research hacks" I've developed for my research trips.

1. Cook lunch faster
To keep costs down on this recent research trip in Leipzig, I cooked my own warm lunches in the primitive guest kitchen. My main meal consisted of pasta with broccoli-cheese red sauce. To cook the noodles faster, while the pot warmed up, I boiled the water in the water cooker, then finished the cooking in the pot. Since it was only a two-burner stove, I heated the tomato sauce, broccoli, and cheese together in a pan. Sometime after taking this photo, I started emptying the sauce pan into my bowl first, and then draining the noodles over the sauce pain in the sink, to make washing the pan easier.

(Lest you think that's a dishwasher, you're looking at two electric burners over a mini-fridge, a sink, a cabinet, a microwave(!), a hot-water boiler, and an assortment of dishes and utensils that lived on the table with its two folding chairs.)

2. Carry everything to the bathroom
Have you ever had the problem of trying to carry your shampoo, conditioner, facewash, bodywash, poof, lotion, deodorant, comb, ... from your room to a communal bathroom, or from your tent to the showers? (If you're a guy, maybe not; and if you've got a plastic caddy or a big enough toiletries bag, more power to you, but on this trip I packed light and brought a small suitcase, so many items came with me singly.) I recently learned about furoshiki, the Japanese way of fashioning cloth into carrying containers, so I've been using a version of the Otsukai Tsutsumi with my hand towel to get all my toiletries from my room to the bathroom down the hall. Here's how it works: pile toiletries on one third of towel. Fold down the upper corner. Flip or roll it over once. Fold the free lower corner over top. Tie the two ends in a knot. Voila! Just grab your bath towel and your clothes and pad on down the hall to the bathroom.

3. Type faster
Sometimes there are words that pop up regularly in my reading notes that are a pain to type. So I will copy the root of the most common one and just paste it into the document as I go along. This trip it was "andwirtschaft," from which I could spell Landwirtschaft [agriculture] and landwirtschaftlich(e) [agricultural]. Another thing I do sometimes is use shorthand for umlauted vowels. I type my notes in both English and German, so it is too frustrating to have to hunt down certain punctuation marks to use German key caps. (German keyboards put the umlauted vowels where things like ; and " are on English keyboards.) I am pretty good at using the short-cut keys for umlauts in Word, but I seem to miss the ü when typing a lot, such that "für" [for] becomes "fu." Reading my notes later it's "fu" all over the place! So I'll use "u]" while taking my notes and periodically Find --> Replace "u]" for ü. This words for a], o], and even s] for ß if my left pinky is feeling particularly abused.

What sort of life, travel, or research hacks have you developed? Please share them in the comments section!

1 comment:

  1. magnificent put up, very informative. I ponder why
    the other experts of this sector do not notice this.

    You must continue your writing. I am sure, you have a great readers' base already!

    My website - Ricky Salvador


Your comments let me know that I am not just releasing these thoughts into the Ether...