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A brushback pitch in baseball is a pitch that is thrown closer to the batter's body than is considered safe, strictly speaking, and aims to push the batter back if they crowd the home plate too much.

Any scientific conference produces a lot of paperwork. Mountains and rivers of it, in fact.

If you are an author, you have not only to do research and write the paper, but also submit your results for perusal to your organization's security department and obtain two writs from them: one, that your text does not contain information constituting State secret, and two, permission to publish the material. You and all your co-authors then have to sign a publishing copyright agreement and present the originals of all three documents to the conference's Organizing Committee, for digital copies are not considered legal. You may, however, and should, send your paper in by email.

If you are a conference organizer, and collect publishing fees for the papers, you have to issue three documents in two copies each for every fee you collect: one, the acceptance act (for services rendered), two and three, advance and final invoices.

Then, at the conference, each author who has payed for publication has to sign these six documents for every paper they have published.

Authors come, authors go. Authors live at the conference venue, authors only arrive to present their papers. Authors do not care to be pulled away from business to sign papers. Alas for their wants, and alas for yours, oh organizer running around with stacks of papers in your arms. You need these signed documents for your accounts even if the authors do not need their copies for theirs.

If you are the head of the Organizing Committee, or the accountant of the host party, on top of all of your other obligations and troubles (mostly caused by authors running amok and ignoring instructions) you have to sign paperwork.

Let's do the maths for the annual Zvenigorod Conference on Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion for which I have been a member of the Organizing Committee for the last five years. 250 papers times 3 times 2 equals 1500. One thousand five hundred pages, three packs of printing paper.

Summing up, paperwork can be varied, frustrating, mind-numbing and mind-boggling and as obligatory as it is illogical.

Over the years, I have been both impressed and humbled by my chief who is also the Organizing Committee's head, and his attitude toward signing these mountains of paperwork. He comes to the Committee's quarters (always a luxury suite at the conference hotel), he says hellos all around, he sits at the table and he signs paper after paper after paper, all the while chatting amiably with others, watching some TV and unobtrusively paying attention to his gargantuan task. He also never allows his signature to slip despite those countless tiresome repetitions.

Sometimes this cold-fish tireless attitude is the best way to overcome the mindless challenges life throws your way. Taking emotional responses like "this makes no sense", "why would anyone require this kind of work or information", "what drivel", "tired", "I don't want to do this and have to force myself to" out of the equation lets you conserve the energy and to leave the unpleasant task behind faster and with less emotional friction.

Note. I am not familiar with the titles of the above mentioned documents in English and dictionaries only get you so far. If they sound particularly odd, I have probably mistranslated them.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 14th, 2016 02:15 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

Besides the above mentioned lack of certainty about the terms used, I am concerned with the flow of the entry, and if it all makes sense.
Dec. 14th, 2016 02:21 pm (UTC)
I tend not to think about the amount of work and planning it takes to pull off a conference. I just go to listen to speakers. That's a very interesting look behind the scenes, I think few can appreciate the amount of time spent on paperwork by the organizers.
Dec. 14th, 2016 02:35 pm (UTC)
Such tasks are frustrating, because on the one hand, they are necessary, but on the other you miss out on the speeches but running around doing them.

But also if you don't think about it, it means that it all works together well, so it is a compliment to the organizers :)
Dec. 14th, 2016 05:44 pm (UTC)
I have never been to a scientific conference, much less been involved in the organization, but I imagine the bureaucracy is universal. The names of the forms may change, but signatures are still required. I liked your translations of the names of the forms. Even if you mistranslated the titles (how would I know? I'm unilingual.), they sound sufficiently bureaucratic and irrelevant. Once again, I very much enjoyed your entry.
Jan. 18th, 2017 04:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

Well, I can only say that it's better to get into organizing them slowly, then you know what to do and where to turn, so to say. I have seen how a first-time organizer once burnt out and it was not pretty.
Dec. 15th, 2016 08:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the reminder that all of the "red tape" that often blocks things up is pretty much always attached to paperwork!
Jan. 18th, 2017 04:48 pm (UTC)
Pretty much. On the one hand, paperwork is necessary, but on the other, it tends to get out of hand. We even have a saying "You are not a person without your papers".
Dec. 18th, 2016 10:43 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine just organized and ran a conference. I remain in awe!
Jan. 18th, 2017 05:07 pm (UTC)
So am I! I am just one of the many people working on ours, and the stress on the higher ups is severe.
Dec. 18th, 2016 11:44 pm (UTC)
That sounds so tiring-- especially if all of those papers are ultimately necessary for someone to keep track of-- and get signed! What a headache.

Do you ever have the opportunity to sit in on any of the presentations, or are you pretty much tied to duty all through the conference?
Jan. 18th, 2017 06:22 pm (UTC)
I do, but sometimes is "I am sitting on on this presentation and this one, and you will just have to do without me for half an hour". :)
Dec. 19th, 2016 05:51 pm (UTC)
This had an oddly surreal quality to it which I actually very much enjoyed - It came off as potentially being part of a dystopian future book, or a fiction book of some sort, so I think in this case not knowing the exact English words very much helped to give it that surreal texture.
Jan. 18th, 2017 06:47 pm (UTC)
I did not really try to produce such an effect, but I am glad I did, because, yes, sometimes the process seems quite surreal. Thank you!
Dec. 19th, 2016 08:06 pm (UTC)
Out of everything, hearing about the 1500 pages of documents and "sign here"s gave me a deep, gut reaction that I can sum up simply as "Nope." Good for you for handling all that. You're a stronger person than I!
Jan. 18th, 2017 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thankfully, I am not the one who signs them, but I know what you mean :). Thank you!
Dec. 19th, 2016 09:56 pm (UTC)
I think the titles translated well enough to sound correct. And yes, they made sense.

I cannot imagine all the paperwork that must be involved in planning something like this. I'm part of a very small community theater group and we have more paperwork than I'd care to deal with. This sounds absolutely impossible.

Nicely written!
Jan. 18th, 2017 06:53 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it certainly seems so, but we get through it because we have no choice :). Thank you!
Dec. 20th, 2016 03:58 am (UTC)

"Taking emotional responses like "this makes no sense", "why would anyone require this kind of work or information", "what drivel", "tired", "I don't want to do this and have to force myself to" out of the equation lets you conserve the energy and to leave the unpleasant task behind faster and with less emotional friction."

Yes! Yes! Yes!

This, or a slightly shorter version, must become my new mantra.

A delightful and entertaining look at something that must seem very tiresome and frustrating. Novel use of the prompt!
Jan. 18th, 2017 06:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I am glad my chief's attitude inspired you as well!
Dec. 20th, 2016 04:32 am (UTC)
Ugh, I do not know how you do it sitting through mountains of paperwork like that.my hand would cramp up something awful and my signature would be unintelligible by the end.
Dec. 20th, 2016 11:53 pm (UTC)
Luckily, I don't have to sign that many, but only fill in another fine bit of paperwork, the journal we have to sign everyday to confirm everything was all right in the room we work in when we left it.

Well, we ~should fill it in every day, but normally we do it once a month or three. I fill in all the fields (day, time of the last person leaving and their name), and then one of my coworkers or myself signs it. But it's no more than 50 lines at a time, lol.
Dec. 20th, 2016 11:16 am (UTC)
Just reading this made me feel tired and *Hats Off* to people who effortlessly do this job day in and day out. I especially liked the last paragraph, it makes so much sense and is full of wisdom. If only I remember when the time comes :)

Great use of the prompt!
Jan. 18th, 2017 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I make use of this experience now and then at makes some things easier.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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