Chasing the Thesis Carrot

My thesis defense is scheduled for the 22nd of June, so I’ve been in writing mode since the last two weeks. In parallel though, I’ve been evaluating my system, which seems to be producing pretty graphs for the time being.

I’m both surprised and sad at my ability to be distracted when writing my thesis. I’ve always had an attention span within the order of microseconds, but this is an all time low.

Here’s how my typical weekday seems to go off late:

  • 8.30: Wake up.
  • 8.30 – 9:00: Ponder about the mysteries of the universe whilst showering.
  • 9:00 – 9:30: Have breakfast, and watch a full episode of the Simpsons or Family Guy.
  • 10:00: Reach the lab. Setup laptop, mouse, keyboard, and extra monitor. Open window for some fresh air. Go grab coffee.
  • 11:30: Done checking my mail, zero-unread-ing my feed of web comics, browsing through HN, Slashdot, and some other news sites (and a few “Oooh! Cat picture!” moments).
  • 11:30 – 12:30: Lunch.
  • 12:30 – 13:30: Post-lunch-procrastination (see 11:30).
  • 13:30 – 14:30: Body has begun processing lunch, so feeling drowsy — Need. More. Coffee.
  • 14:30: Open up editor for writing thesis. The “let’s settle this once and for all!” feeling surges through my body.
  • 14:31 – 14:45: Check Facebook.
  • (The above two repeats for a while)
  • 15:30: “This is boring! I think I’ll do something that matters. Like code!”
  • 15:31: Implement new feature! “Byzantine-fault-tolerant-key-value-based-scalable-elastic-hadoop-LTE-fabric-on-the-cloud!”
  • 16:00: Realise that new feature broke all unit and system tests.
  • 16:01: git reset –hard HEAD
  • 16:01 – 16:02: Check Google+. Doesn’t take that long though because there’s nothing there.
  • 16:30: “That’s it! I’m going to do more experiments! Nothing like graphs to make you feel like a scientist!” * challenge-accepted-rage-face *
  • 16:45: Fire shell script and watch as the whole testbed dances to your bidding, cables filling with packets, WiFi waves flowing through space. You feel empowered, like you’re about to introduce a tear in the fabric of space.
  • 16:47: Realise that you misconfigured everything.
  • 16:49: Repeat experiment. Pretty sure it’s correct this time, so need to do something useful for an hour.
  • 16:50: Continue with writing thesis.
  • 17:00: Time for more coffee.
  • 17:05: Back to desk, “What was I doing again?”.
  • 17:06: Facebook time.
  • 17:08: Booooored.
  • 17:10: Write a few more lines of related work. “Previous work by Joe et al [10] has been known to suck”.
  • 17:15: Discover some feature in text editor. Optimise key bindings for maximum productivity.
  • 17:49: Experiment’s over. Fire SQL queries to extract data from measurements database, and pass it through gnuplot.
  • 17:50: Add graphs to thesis. Defend weird results with “Proof-of-concept”.
  • 18:00: “Woah! Is it warm here in the lab or what? Screw you guys! I’m going home so that I can write comfortably!”
  • 18:30: At home. Have dinner with the company of Homer or Peter.
  • 19:00: Feel sleepy. Idle around.
  • 23:00: Sleep.
  • Repeat.

And I wonder why the carrot’s never getting closer.

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