succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, January 16, 2009

Better living through chemistry

Latest study from Finnish and Swedish researchers finds that coffee may help prevent Alzheimer's. On the other hand, other researchers find that as few as three cups of coffee can lead to hallucinations. Suddenly I feel totally left out - I average 2-3 cups every morning, and so far nothing! Unless...unless this whole thing is one big which case I'm even more disappointed, because what a boring hallucination!

Also, one of the commenters over at slashdot links to these pretty pictures of the webs spiders make after being exposed to various drugs. I'm really curious what counts as a 'high caffeine dose.'

Also, I just read 38 pages and took three pages of notes all about the Guatemalan National Police Archive, and I couldn't be happier. It may not count as relaxation, but having other interesting research waiting for my attention is a nice way to keep my brain occupied.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Letting Go

Or, more accurately, my complete failure to do so.

I sent my dissertation to my committee today. We're trying to find a day the first week of February when we can all be in the same room at the same time to discuss whether or not they agree that I'm finished. Inevitably, that discussion will result in a bit more work, but realistically, it will (probably, hopefully) only be a little. Also realistically, in the meantime, I cannot do any more work on my dissertation.

And yet. And yet I cannot relax. Typically with big projects I get a sense of when they're done. I know nothing is quite like a dissertation, but even with vaguely similar large, stressful projects (studying for quals, taking quals, submitting papers, applying for fellowships) I know when I'm done. I get this satisfying, settled feeling and I know even if the thing isn't perfect, it is as good as it's going to get, and I'm able to stop mentally picking at it.

I cannot stop mentally picking at my dissertation. Every night I lie in bed and have to re-convince myself that the thing isn't crap, and that the odds of one of my committee members unearthing some fatal flaw, or some embarassing mistake, are relatively low.

I've read the thing beginning to end, and I don't hate it. But I don't love it either. More importantly, I'm not particularly proud of it. I'm sort of hoping that's just because I'm so in it right now I can't see straight. I know I'm way too emotionally attached to the thing. I know I'm being neurotic. But I just can't manage to shut up the voice in my head that says the work is inadequate.

Monday, January 12, 2009