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Just another day at the ballpark

October 29, 2007

When I get home from work, Liz may ask me how my day went. Often I’ll say something like, “It was great; I went 2 for 2,” or “Pretty bad; I was 1 for 3.”

I’m not actually reporting my number of base hits out of my number of times at bat, as a professional baseball player might do. I’m telling her how many of my experiments “worked” out of the total number I attempted that day. If I’m feeling chatty, I might also give the number of errors I made in performing the experiments.

It remains to be seen whether quantifying my lab performance in this way will be useful to Liz or anyone else. A drop in my batting average might reflect a failure to concentrate, an increase in the complexity of the experiments, or a change in the standards of the official scorer. But I do get some satisfaction out of reporting these numbers, however dubious they may be. And how can you argue with someone who’s hitting .810 this month?

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