Friday, December 02, 2005

The first major decision of married life, the reaction, and the aftermath


Considering the time of the year, what sort of major decision could there be, breathing down my neck since I got engaged?

Where to spend the Christmas holidays.

:'-( waaaaaaah haaaaaaaaaaaaaa

You see, M-I-L is 8 hours in one direction (and doesn't travel much - we've seen her three times in the past 2 years) while my family is 4.5 hours in the other direction, and they travel a lot - see my dad once a week, and mom probably once every 3 months.

After lots of talking (and knowing the answer practically before we started), we've decided to spend 5 days around Christmas Day with M-I-L, and 5 days around New Years with my family.

Fair? Yes.

The hardest thing I'll ever have done up until this point in my life? Definitely.

You see, Christmas and its assorted festivities are very important in my family... I even used to joke with my dad that someday I'd meet a man who was just as close with his parents that my dad might have to give me up for the Christmas holiday.

The only easy part was that Dad agreed it would be better to go West for Christmas, since M-I-L lives alone, and this will likely be her last Christmas in the house before moving to an apartment. So, no fights from either family on the choice we made.

I can't think about it without crying.

I've never been away from home at Christmas. And hubby knows that all that truly matters is that I'm with him, and he's with me.

But... in the immortal words of my mother, quoted 48 hours ago:

This sucks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I've been away nearly 40 days . . .

. . . but just away from posting . . .

I'm back . . . and I'm . . .


I wish I'd taken the time to put down a few thoughts each day, because it happened as everyone said it would - way too fast.

But, I can honestly say that everything went absolutely to plan. I'm a born organizer when I want to be ;-)

Some things are the same, lots of things are different, but so far, so good. Although I never realized how strange it would be to actually move in with someone. Do I regret not moving in earlier? No, not really. It is truly a transition, but one I'm happy to make.



Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why am I so frantic today?

Could it be the coffee? Could it be the impending trip for fiancé's job interview? Could it be the XL coffees I've been sucking down?


It's weird. I got the book chapter in, it's finished, we're just waiting for the editor to approve. It looks great, and I don't have to worry about it anymore. I really don't have to worry about anything this week here at work.

It's the other details that will drive me off the edge. Confirm the church. Confirm the flowers. Confirm the cake. Choose the food. Set out the seating plan. Book a practice hair appointment. Figure out when I'm going to make 15o wedding favours.

And, most importantly, take the time to realize what's going on.

I'm getting married in 25 days.

*breathe in*

*breathe out*

*breathe in*

*breathe out*

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ooh, I forgot the best part!

I'm baking mini-cheesecakes tomorrow for a Thanksgiving dinner. In new mini springform pans.

(I am so simple-minded sometimes)


Past midnight, it's Saturday, and I'm still here . . .

But, it's all worth it...

I didn't get home until 2:30 last night, and it took about a full hour for the cola to work its way out of my system. So, 4 hours of sleep, and back to work I go.

Tonight, I'm still here. I'd like to think I'll be heading home in an hour, but I'm not exactly sure. But, it's all worth it.

The boss likes the analysis, and resulting figure (It has everything but the numbers right now). A good analysis that I can include in my thesis.

I did something right the first time for a change!!!

Hoorah for me!

But, of course, I should be working, not blogging . . .

Friday, October 07, 2005

It's technically early Friday morning, and I'm still at work.

So. This book chapter thing.

It turned into a bit of a meta-analysis/database summary thing. At 36 hours before my deadline. And I have 7750 bits of data to amass, which take a minimum of 3 (more like 6) seconds each. That, after some magical calculations, works out to somewhere around 14 hours of straight work. Which I didn't figure out I needed to do until 11PM tonight.

So, it's not humanly possible to do it the way I wanted.

Which means, summarizing the summary.

And, lo, I'm still at work at 2AM.

(and it must be quite obvious that my brain went to bed about 2 hours ago).

So, I shall sign off for 4 hours of sleep (-ish) and then back in. I'll likely collapse tomorrow at supper, but whether I can afford to do that remains to be seen.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Sick, but on the mend.

I feel much better tonight, and I'm eating normally again. This morning I could barely stomach cereal, which didn't make for a very productive brain throughout the day. Not that supper made my brain any more in tune with work, unfortunately.

I'm trying to figure out just what I'm thinking about the next few weeks that lie ahead. I know I have work to do (and it's rather looming, even though I don't have a definite deadline for any of it), but work seems unimportant.

I'm getting married in a month.

That fact is becoming more and more real every single hour of every single day. It's scary and exciting and strange and totally insane.

And I don't really have the time to ponder it this week :-(

Maybe I'm sick in mind, if not body...

Perchance not lazy, but sick?

I've been pretty much out of commission since last Thursday.

The really irritating thing is that it isn't with any normal, identifiable malady.

It goes from headaches to stomachaches to muscle aches back to abdominal pain :-( It even woke me up this morning at 6:30... when I intended to sleep until 7:10... grrrrr.

Fiancé thinks it may be stress because of this other paper, but the prelim was so much more crucial to my degree, and I felt nothing. My mother thinks it may just be susceptibility to random bugs, because of all the stress the past few weeks.

I don't know what to think.

I'm giving myself another 24 hours, and then I'll think about going to the doctor. I just can't afford to be sick until the end of November. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I am a lazy bugger

I guess this is the first official post being made from the new powerbook... as I sit here and watch my iPod charge, which is not terribly exciting.

I've been neglectful of pretty much everything since last Friday... the only significant thing I've done is catch up on laundry.

I still have this book chapter thing to do, and I'm hoping (praying) that I can at least have a draft by the end of the weekend. I'm too distracted by this new toy - trying to install all the necessary software for work and analysis (even though I probably won't use those programs for at least another month or two). Strange the things we use to procrastinate.

I'm also trying to get up the guts to email this other potential post-doctoral supervisor... I emailed him during the summer just to see if he would bite, but I didn't even get a "no thank-you" email back. We're figuring (optimistically) that my email got tagged as spam because I attached my CV, so I'm going to email him again, sans attachments, and see if I at least get a response. If it's a 'no', or there's no answer, I'm going to have to think about finding someone else, but his lab looks really interesting, and really fun.

argh. do these stressors never end?

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I went out to dinner on Friday night to celebrate, and nearly fell asleep in my fettucine. The strange thing was, I woke up on Saturday morning at 6:45 anyway (I did go back to bed, of course). Yesterday was spent shopping, spending some of the money from the wedding shower, and getting a suit and another outfit that should do for any interviews as well as the PhD defense (which I'm trying not to think about).

This morning, I slept in again, and then gathered up fiancé to go to the market. I noticed the blue sky and green trees and crisp wind for the first time in weeks. I realized I'd been completely ignoring everything else around me, and that really makes me sad.

Time is passing, and it's passing quickly. It's only 41 days until the wedding and I need to stop and pay attention.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Although I'm still reeling, I think it's over ;-)

I'll receive official comments next week, probably, but in general it was a comfortable question/answer session. The talk was excellent if I do say so myself.

So, onward, Tequila!

1.5 hours to go . . .

Fiancé told me that there's not enough time to accomplish anything, and so I shouldn't even try to read anything in the next hour and a half... it'll freak me out...

Too frikking late for that, now, isn't it...


So here I sit, surfing the web for distraction...

and trying not to jump out of my skin :-P

Three hours to go . . .

. . . and if you'll pardon the vernacular, I don't know whether to crap or wind my watch.


I went through my talk again; last night it took 25 minutes, this morning it took 20'36". Which is good.

But, then, the boss came and asked me (and another student in the lab) to help him write a book chapter.

(for the uninitiated, that's a "really good thing" to have on your record)

Problem is, it's due in 2 weeks. But, of course, I agreed to it, because it's good to put on the resumé.

Oh, does the madness ever end???

got up 30 minutes ago

and i've just been surfing the net... i should be getting ready, but i'm tired, and freaked out....

i'll let you know how it goes . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Congratulations! It's a bouncing baby...


Hopefully I won't bounce it! It's at home, alone and sad, because I don't have time to set it up before this exam. Fiancé made me leave it there, and come back to work to study.

But, it's here :-)

(and so is the iPod. which is just as cool)

i *think* my laptop is in

One of my labmates took a cryptic phone message the other day... he said that the computer centre called and said my iPod is in. But, the iPod was always in stock; it was the laptop that we were waiting for.

So, I'm going to assume that the laptop is in, and go down for a break to pick it up.

Cross your fingers...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Burgers make everything better...

So, my brother (who is also in grad school) took me out for supper, for the one thing that sets the world right - treat burgers.

Treat burgers are usually the signature burger from a well-known chain that I won't mention, except to say that I'm lovin it. They're a treat, because we usually eat extraordinarily healthy, and they help us through writing and exams and other horrible necessities. Lately I've been on a one-per-six-months basis, and hopefully it won't increase in frequency.

So, I now feel like Booger does in this photo... but I'm sure my stomach will hate me later.

(all images copyright E. Boudreau)

The mood, according to Booger.

I'm realizing that I captured a range of emotions when I took a bunch of snaps of the cat.

I've just gone over slides with the boss. On the whole, I think it was OK... but there are a handful that I need to change, and I guess I'm not impressed... probably with myself.

I'm not feeling in the best of moods, but I don't quite know how to express it.

Booger seems to have captured it perfectly. It's the "Get the hell away from me if you know what's good for you" face.

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

I thought I posted late last night, but maybe I was dreaming.

... although I didn't think I was overly tired.

I even stayed up to watch Law and Order, because I was feeling pretty good about everything...

Oh, well.

I have this picture that captures how I'm feeling right now... courtesy of my darling puddy tat. He lives with my mother, and his name is Booger (she says his name is something else that I've long since forgotten; he only answers to Booger.)

So, the slides are almost done. I'm still trying to figure out how/when I'm going to find the time to read through my background information in a weak attempt to study for this thing. Although, I'm thinking that if I don't know something by now, frantic cramming isn't really going to help anyway.

Hmmmm. Maybe I'll follow the example of a fellow grad student I met yesterday on the way from the grocery store. She's hoping to defend by Christmas, and so she's feeling the same as me (or, likely worse). She left work for an hour, and had a sundae and a cigarette. She doesn't usually have either unless she's stressed, and felt guilty at being caught.

I told her we all deserve our little vices....

(all images copyright E. Boudreau)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I am so tired....

Everyone has a copy of the essay now, including the boss. And I've gotten little to nothing done on the presentation.

I just wish it was over.

Last night I was feeling really good about everything. I went over the whole thing in my mind, and thought about what they were likely to ask me... I was smart in my own head... But this morning, I'm starting to think of the million things I didn't put in the essay, and the things I hadn't thought of to put in the talk.

I'll spin myself in circles before the week is out, I'm sure.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Reports are passed in.

There were a couple of nice surprises:

(1) There isn't a separate chair of the meeting/exam, which means one less pair of eyes staring me down.

(2) The room is just downstairs from my lab, rather than in a stuffy building on the upper campus, which means familiar territory.

(3) The grad secretary at the department commented on how it looked like one of the longest essays she's seen for a prelim exam, implying that I put lots of effort which should work in my favour.

And now, for real this time, sleep.

I *think* all the figures are done.

edits to progress report to incorporate

then, final print.

oh. my. lordie.

Down to the wire.


because of the coffee, I've had a grand total of 2 hours sleep.

time to write figure captions, check edits, print out, and go down to the other end of campus to pass this thing in.

T-minus 8 hours . . .

gave up the ghost, relatively early in the night.

no energy for caps.

essay is done.

progress report is 90% done.

figures are drawn, still need captions.

all will be completed and printed out, starting tomorrow morning at approximately 7:45-8:00am.

and now, i sleep.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

And it begins... this time for real...

It's nine-o-something, and here we go.

one figure printed, needs some tweaking.

one section left to write, and edit.

appendices, references, title page.

I'm here all night folks, hope you stick around.

Tomorrow is doomsday #1

I have to pass in the report and the research progress update tomorrow. They'll be done by the end of the day, but I should probably have them in before noon.

Which means tonight'll be a late night. Boo.

I'm having good days and bad days... or should I say good hours and bad hours? It's the weirdest thing. I can be going along well, and all of a sudden some random thought makes me feel like I don't know anything.

In any case, it'll be over in 5 days. I hope.

Friday, September 16, 2005

My cheesecake...

I finally brought the camera cord into work this morning, so here is the masterpiece... Piña Colada Cheesecake à la me. Top: pre-decoration; Bottom: post-decoration, with pineapple, whipped cream, and flaked coconut. yummmmmmm...

Unfortunately, there's none left to snack on while putting in these edits :-(

(all images copyright E. Boudreau)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Back from the second meeting. . .

And it wasn't too bad.

The only potential issue is the timing of this preliminary exam in relation to my thesis defense. They're supposed to be at least one year apart, but at the rate I'm going (or want to go, at least) they'll be about 8 months apart.

So, the boss has to write a letter to the Graduate Studies Department explaining why this happened, and why they should bend the rule for me.

My department chair, with whom I had the meeting, has done this twice in the past 2 years for his own students, so I can't see how it'll be a problem, but he had such a doomsday look on his face that I can't help but feel a bit nervous.

Oh, well. One more thing to think about this fall...

I got Punk'd


I baked my beautiful cheesecake for a lab party - our technician had a housewarming party last night at her new place.

We were all excited about it - her house is out in the country, on a beautiful piece of land, and is a really great piece of architecture. Everyone seemed so keen to go, and she seemed so keen to make sure everyone had a ride out (to the point where she actually found a ride for me and fiancé before I had a chance to ask around).

It wasn't a housewarming party.

It was a surprise wedding shower for us, and another labmate who's also getting married three weeks from now.

Fiancé was totally surprised... I got a little suspicious when the driver's cellphone rang, and it was the other couple calling for directions, and when she hung up the phone she muttered, "He'd better not get lost!" It's hilarious simply because I'm usually involved in the secret party planning, but since I've been working from home, they sent one double email (message #1 = housewarming party; message #2 = secret wedding shower, sent to everyone but us) and took a collection and got us gift certificates to our registry.

They put up balloons and streamers, and it was a huge potluck dinner. The house was gorgeous, and our tech has two big friendly dogs that everyone just adores. Plus, there were about a half dozen babies/toddlers to cuddle, which is always good therapy for me.

I love my lab.

(forgot the camera cable again; will post photos after lunch, or tomorrow morning)


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My splendiferous cheesecake

Success. An evening of doing nothing work related, and I ended up with what looks like a perfect cheesecake. But, I forgot my USB connector, so I can't post the photos yet :-(

Worked a little more on my slides last night, not at all on the report. But, my dad was in town, so we had coffee, which was nice.

(yay for rationalizing)

OK. I have to transfer some diagrams to fiancé's laptop so I can work some more this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Comments from the boss

Instant heart attack = my draft, red-penned, in my mailbox this morning.


Instant heart attack relief = the first comment I read began with, "I think this is quite good..." and it wasn't followed up by a "... but you need to change the whole thing".

YAY for me! Now, I just have to worry about the 20 minute talk.

I've decided that I'm going to write the presentation on my fiancé's laptop. You see, if I haven't explained it before, we have a rift in our household.

He's a PC person, I'm a Mac person. I know; the marriage is doomed.

I've been writing this whole time on a PC, and made a few presentation slides last night on the PC, and it wasn't too bad. Since it's still more comfortable to write from home, I'd like to do the presentation there too. The good news is that it's much easier to take Mac figures and files and transfer them over to a PC than the other way around.

(that's because Macs are more user-friendly, and just better, IMHO)

So, off I go this afternoon to continue on this talk. If I'm feeling brave, I might even read through the comments and implement them, instead of freaking and waiting until Saturday night.

Oh, and I think I'll bake a cheesecake for tonight's procrastination event. If it looks good, I might even post a photo ;-)

Complete distraction

Today, as a procrastinatory measure, I'm going to learn how to post photos.

We have a Victorian garden here in the city, and my new digital camera is the reason I took off every lunch hour instead of working. But, how can you complain about life when there are such beautiful things across the street? And who could resist that cute face?

(All images Copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ok. I *think* the committee is whole again

My replacement has agreed, in theory. But today he's in the process of writing a grant that's due today or tomorrow, so all I could do was hand him the information sheet, and duck & cover.

I have 20 pages, double spaced, as of this morning. It's rough. I'll give it to the boss in 20 minutes, and run away.

On a happier note, I've just placed the order for my new laptop. I actually got my lab manager to do it - the computer supplier here at school gives great deals to students and faculty, and she has a way of getting things done quickly. I should see it on my desk in less than two weeks.

. . .

11 days to create a presentation, 35 days until we leave for the States for a job interview, 54 days until the wedding.

Sad how my life is reduced to numbers.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Crisis abounds.

In the process of solidifying a date for this exam, it all went to pot.

And, I have no real reason to be upset about it.

One of my committee members is on sabbatical this year, so technically he is excused from all teaching and committee responsibilities. But, he'd agreed to do this exam anyway, because he was supposed to be in town. The problem is, he's now scheduled to fly out the evening of the exam, and that's not the least of it. He's just gone through a terrible family tragedy, and really needs to get away. Now that I know everything, I don't want to put even five minutes of work onto his already overloaded plate, and I am praying for him and his family.

But, that leaves me one committee member short. And, that doesn't count the one that's MIA, who was supposed to arrive back in town a week ago but is nowhere to be found.

My idea for a replacement would be perfect, but he's also overcommitted himself this fall. He'd do it in a heartbeat if it was just questioning me for an hour, but he doesn't know if he has the time to critically evaluate a 20 page report, considering most of my department is going to a conference from the 15th to the 19th of September (and would have to spend all their time upon arrival home on my report and exam).

So, it's entirely possible that this thing could fall through the tubes... and get pushed back until December... which I'm not sure will be useful. I can't even let my brain consider that possibility or I'll probably shut down completely.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war!

I now have 6 2/3 single-spaced pages now, or 13 1/3 double-spaced. No figures, no headings, no TOC. Severe editing required on the first 2 pages or so.

So much for getting clean laundry this weekend. Boo.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

6 pages, a *second* meeting, and a whole lotta panic

So, I had a burst of productivity at home yesterday, and realized that I cannot work at the office. I wrote almost an entire page at home, but couldn't get two words down at the office.

Not that this migraine helps ;-)

So, I'm going home again this afternoon to try to get another page. I absolutely must have a draft on Monday to give to the boss, because he'll then have about 3 days to edit it amongst the other million things he has to do, before he leaves for conference again.

On top of that - 8 weeks until the wedding.

This timing really sucks.

And, the second meeting... I have to visit the chair of the department, and explain how wonderful the past year has been, and why my timing sucks, and what's on the plate for the next 8 months.

Fun Fun Fun

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bad. Definitely bad.

So, I thought it would be smart to go home for a few days, and recharge the batteries. I figured I was getting so tired that it would be saving downtime in the end to take 3 days completely off, rather than work at less-than-peak capacity for the next three weeks.

Big mistake.

I woke up this morning to an anxiety attack. I'm trying to decide now if (a) I should take fiancé's laptop and try working from home or (b) I should just smack myself in the forehead, shoot 2 double espressos and JUST TYPE.

(I'm not impressed with myself. I seem to have some sort of new-found aversion to doing work AT work. To the point that I'm now researching my own laptop purchase.)

I just don't make sense. Not even in my own head. *sniff*

Friday, September 02, 2005

Home for a rest...

Well, smart idea or not, I've decided to pack up fiancé and go away for the weekend. We're both so tired and stressed out with everything that we're starting to become anti-productive. It'll probably save us time in the long run to take 72 hours off to recharge the batteries, and . . .

whoops, hold on a sec...


Just had a mini-conference with the boss. He's on target for the meeting, which is good. We all have to go through the lab administrator to book time for him. She knows where he's supposed to be, but he never seems to.

Now, it means that I have to have the report finished by September 10th, when he comes back. that gives me another 6 days, once I get back from the weekend recharge.

This could be good, this could be bad. Oh, well ;-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

5.2 pages!!!

that's 10.4 double-spaced :-) :-)

and a trip to the mall... and some reward-chocolate...

And now, it's time for bed.


OK, so I was a bit optimistic.

(and I fudged a bit)

Yesterday's page count was slightly under 4 single-spaced pages.

So, with some edits, and more writing, and a touch of honesty, I'm now at.....

4.75 single-spaced pages (or 9.5 double-spaced pages, for those of us who suck at math).

Which, for a few days' worth of semi-focussed-ness, ain't too shabby.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Page count update!

4+ single spaced pages. That's nearly 9 double spaced pages.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Only checked my email 4 times today...

You see, this is one of the other things that I'm doing, along with planning a wedding, writing a paper, formulating a thesis in my head, etc etc.

I'm trying to find a post-doc position.

To that end, I emailed someone that I'm interested in working with. Problem is, it's the end of August, and most people are on vacation.

(Vacation. Vacation? What's vacation?)

So, I'm checking my email to see if this person has emailed back, even though the entire lab is probably off somewhere sunny, and not even thinking of email.

Harumph. It's all giving me a headache.

But, on the bright side... dum da da duuummm... page count.

3 single spaced pages, which is 6 double spaced pages.


The beginning of the most productive day ever... and I'm already running late.

I've had breakfast, and one cup of coffee.

Now, I have to tear myself away from my cable TV and internet filled sanctuary and go to my fiance's place. There is no phone, no television, no internet connection.

waaaaah. *sniff*

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A productive weekend...

I had the most productive Saturday I've had in a while yesterday, at least related to school and science. My fiancé gave a platform talk at a conference locally, so I had to get up at 6:30AM to make sure he was awake, prepared, and had his computer and presentation ready to go.

(He did a fantastic job, too. Honourable mention in the student competition!!)

After he gave his talk, I went back to the lab while he finished off the rest of the conference. I managed to round up about 2/3 of the materials I need for this paper, and then I went home to read. In total, I spent about 6 hours reading and making notes for the paper, which might be a Saturday record since January!

The reason I haven't had such productive work-Saturdays since January is because I've been trying desperately to plan a wedding. Hence "fiancé", not "boyfriend", nor "husband". Saturdays are shopping and organizing days, for the most part. Last Saturday we did the tuxedo-thing. The Saturday before that, it was shopping for program supplies, which involved a 40 minute bus trip to the industrial park. Within 6 months of the wedding, we're both going to defend our PhDs. How smart was that timing, huh?

Oh, yeah, science... forgot about that for a second. So, productive Saturday. I had a fairly productive Sunday too. We went to the market for veggies and fruit, and I got about a page and a half written. That's probably going to take the place of the original pages that I had, which were disorganized, but once I start smoking through it, it'll be no problem to get the 10 single-spaced pages that will miraculously transform into my 20 double-spaced pages.

Tomorrow, I'm borrowing my fiancé's laptop, and I'm going to try working from his place. He doesn't have TV or internet, which seem to be equally harmful to my productivity.

We'll see how that goes ;-)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Humble pie, anyone? À la mode?

So, I just visited my friend's blog (see link at right - removed). She's a CBC employee who is locked out in Yellowknife, where she's lived, worked, and raised a family for the past six years or so. She's been posting photos, and thoughts about her experiences up there. There are a handful of new shots today, and it was sobering to see them.

I'm worrying about a paper, and she's out with her babies on the picket.

(I am grateful for what I have. I am grateful for what I have.)

Kinda makes you snap back into perspective, doesn't it?

Love you Cindy, keep the faith, OK?

Anxiety much?

Ok. So I was in a great mindset yesterday. 20 double-spaced pages, no problem.


Never read the rules for your examination if there's a possibility that you'll read something you don't like, or that you'll take them seriously.

It's a bit difficult to see, in black and white, what happens if you (theoretically) fail your exam.

Fail it once, apply to re-exam.

Fail it twice, they're supposed to call the Grand Poobah and recommend you be forcibly removed from the premises.


Now, no one ever fails twice. At least, I've never heard of anyone failing twice. These things tend to fall under the category of "Rulesesque" - they're there as guidelines, but aren't hard and fast; nobody passes in their reports to committee members two weeks in advance, and nobody ever follows their original research plan.

So, why is it when I'm looking at them for my own purposes, I can't be flexible?

Weird how the perfectionist rears its ugly head at the strangest of times.

Friday, August 26, 2005

So, the first thing to explain, and coincidentally the most pressing task is...

I have this hoop to jump through, the second-last one, as a matter of fact.

All grads know about hoops. You'd swear we were trained Pomeranians in the circus. For the uninitiated, here's a brief explanation:

Hoop #1 = assessment exam. You start off in grad school, you have to write a full-day exam on the basics of your field (or of the department that deals with your chosen field). You're then deemed worthy to enter the secret realm, which is not unlike the great Water Buffalo Lodge. (It is my life's goal to someday be someone's Grand Poobah)

Hoop #2 = Candidacy exam - the opportunity to show how just how smart you are, and that you deserve to really do your work, and if you want, skip from a Masters program to a PhD program. Write a 15-page report, including justification for your methods, give a 20 minute presentation, and then you're examined by your committee. Not unlike a firing squad.

Hoop #3 = Comprehensive exam - where you prove that you've been able to keep up with the published literature in your field while being über-productive at the same time. That is to say, you're smart enough to juggle. Write several critical essays on your field, give a 20 minute presentation, then an hour or so of questioning. Wunderbar.

Hoop #4 = Preliminary thesis defense, where you provide a healthy background of the literature, decide which camp you like and why, and present your results as they relate to that camp. You guessed it - 20 page report, 20 minute presentation, then firing squad yet again.

Hoop #5 (aka Final Jeopardy) = Thesis defense. later, rinse, and repeat. (but, instead of 20 pages, you have to come up with anywhere from 250-500 pages).

I'm a big fan of Hoop #4, the barrel of which I'm staring down, because it's another essay. An essay, not a scientific paper. No serious nit-picky explanations of methods and quantities and statistical tests. Just my thoughts on my work - why I think that some of the people that came before me are absolutely correct, and why the others are completely wrong. It's so much easier to ramble in an essay, and this particular one only has to be 20 pages.


Countdown to Hoop #4:
24 days (subject to change depending on committee schedules).

Pages written towards Hoop #4 to date:

2 (3.5 if you count the detailed outline that I plan to expand like an accordion)

Total hours spent on the 2 pages of Hoop #4:

Theoretically, that's 2 hours per page. Which means I have about 36 hours of work left.

Holy pipettors, Batman. I'd better get back to work.

Why, oh why, would I start a blog? Have I truly gone nuts?

Hmmm. Let's see.

Papers to write. A thesis to plan. A defense to prepare.

And I'm starting a BLOG?

I must be nuts. Or, perhaps, I've finally found some sanity.

You see, I used to journal. I wrote all the time, and it took me through a relatively functional childhood to a relatively functional adolescence, to a relatively functional undergrad. But, I stopped shortly after I started grad school.

And functionality has left the building.

As much as I love my work, I think I'm closer to sane when I write non-science. Sitting in front of the evil computer all day drains the brain, and the idea of picking up a pen makes me want to curl up under my desk. So, I'm running with the assumption that you, fellow grad, are out there feeling the same way.

I've taken on some crazy schtuff for the next 6 months, on top of that l'il ol' thesis. Hopefully this process will help me keep it all in perspective.

But, that remains to be seen.....