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.....