This post quite compactly gazes back at the week from Monday May 4 to Sunday May 10.
It starts with a short summary of my work week, followed by a story which you will hopefully enjoy.
How was your week honey?
I hacked on and fixed iPad microphone support in our direct-to-patient TeleMedicine app.
If you are a programmer, or you have programmers in your life, you’ll hopefully understand the absolute catnip of technical rabbit holes that suck you in for hours on end, only to eject you on a beautiful but extremely short-lived dopamine deluge of discovery.
We integrated markdeep into the performance tracking component of one of our medical image processing pipelines.
Having a format, namely .md.html, which is this easy to generate programmatically from some computational pipeline, yet results in such attractive output documents is a great boon.
GOU #1 reveals her plans and makes us think (more)
GOU #1 turned another year older.
At the dinner table on the big day, we were having a conversation about further education in general and about postgraduate studies and PhDs in particular.
(She is now in high school, so these conversations are happening more often.)
I said that she will have to get a PhD in Physics or Math, but that I would probably be able to make peace with a PhD in Engineering also.
She asked us how the PhD works, and so we explained the background as well as we could.
We spent quite some time on the observation that the most important part of a successful PhD is just never giving up.
Although never giving up is a chronic aspect, many PhD-veterans will tell you that this adventure often includes a fairly acute existential crisis, mostly at about the halfway mark.
This is when the candidate asks pertinent questions like:
- Why, oh why did I ever think this was a good idea?
- Is this work really worth anything?
- Does anyone really care about this?
- I wonder what the non-academic job market is like at this moment?!
Fortunately in many cases, the candidate gets through this process and emerges from the other side of the ordeal ever so slightly stronger and wiser.
(For those of you who have been paying attention, this crisis is like the super deluxe version of the 5-stage Creative Process.)
Talking more about the mechanics, GOU #1 asked how long a PhD thesis usually is.
Off the top of my head I said: “Around 50 thousand words, but there is of course huge variation”.
At that point she got out her phone (well, it’s actually never not out) and made a quick calculation, after which she quipped: “Well, that’s straight-forward then. I’ll spend one year planning, then I’ll spend the year after that writing only 136 words per day, and the year after that revising everything to make it perfect.”
This was a simply lovely and humorous conversation to have at that moment, but what a great point she made: If you can manage to write 136 words per day for a year, you’ll have 50000 words.
The slightly modified 136 word plan
136 words is really not that much if you look at it in isolation. The text above, from right after “I digress…” until right before the heading above, is exactly 136 words (if Emacs can be trusted).
To me the compounding nature of this act of writing such a paltry number of words every day, but simply keeping at it for months and years, is quite amazing.
So, thanks to my daughter’s inspiration, I added a daily item to my habit tracker that says Write 100 words towards publication.
I hope she won’t mind that I changed the limit to 100, simply because I would like to increase my chances of being consistent and maintaining those streaks.
I have added the explicit qualifier that the 100 words I write should be towards publication: This means that my intention should be for them to end up either in a blog post, or perhaps a future book project, or any other form of publication that is intended for public consumption.
Wish me luck folks! Even better, why not join me on this journey?!
Thank you friends for meeting me here.
I wish you all health and kindness and contentment.