Whatever it takes
Well, yesterday happened. If you’ve been following around for awhile the last time I didn’t write a post we were dealing with apocalyptic weather (as in no power bad). So I think after years of being consistent, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought something bad had happened. In reality, there was just a mountain of work and no time to relax. I don’t like pushing myself like I had to yesterday, but it was for a good cause or at least I think so, or I wouldn’t have done it.
Maybe I’m not as young as I used to be, or maybe I just value my sleep more, but for whatever reason, I tend to get to bed at a consistent hour. Now falling asleep is a whole different story, but I try. Actually small aside, sleep lately has been easy to come by when I’m in bed, so that’s been nice. I don’t mind doing work, I love my job, I love the stuff I do. It’s a lot of fun for me and I get paid to do it, which I mean what more could I ask for?
That said yesterday was a disaster of monumental proportions. I knew it was coming, but hospital-PI requested about a months worth of work to be done in a few days. I’m used to having to just do whatever needs to get done, I’ve been pretty consistent in my career about not over promising, so going into this I warned hospital-PI that it probably wasn’t going to happen. I think my exact words were basically, “do you know what you’re asking for? I can try…” And try I did, but saying I tried is about all I have to show for my efforts, which isn’t a lot.
Okay to be fair it’s a lot like building a home from scratch. You can put all the work you want into the foundation, build the strongest walls, and put in the best insulation, but at the end of the day it doesn’t look like much. In fact, it probably looks like a big pile of garbage until it’s finished. Yesterday I was building a home from scratch, metaphorically speaking anyway, and I didn’t get very far. Because the truth is, when you’re programming it’s not like building a house. You don’t always have a clear end product or even if you do, you don’t have a set path to that end product.
So a lot got done yesterday, like 15-20 hours worth of work, but nothing came of it. I had one very basic thing to show for my efforts today and I explained that I was roughly 80% done “building my house” so to speak. Unfortunately no one cares about all the stuff in the walls, they want the flashy end product. Hospital-PI understands, but he still needs a finished product, or at least a mostly finished rough product, before his presentation.
Thankfully I have a few more days to get the final thing done and he has since said he doesn’t want to stress me out like that and the not so impressive figure I created with the data was good enough for that presentation. I said I would try (again with the try…) to get the rest of it done, but the more realistic option was by the end of next week, when he has a very important meeting to discuss funding and “big idea” is one of our cornerstone projects now even though (1) it hasn’t actually started officially and (2) there isn’t any funding for it… yet.
So yeah yesterday was physically and mentally draining. I feel like if I tilt my head too far to the side my brain will leak out my ears. I hate having to push like that, but this project is my baby and I’m the best (and really only) person who can deal with the data that we collected. If we don’t show something impressive for our efforts now, the next chance to impress people for funding may not be for awhile. I don’t want to miss the chance because in research it’s first to the finish line. I don’t know if there are others working on something similar to “big idea,” but I do know that at least a few labs have come close to something similar. It’s a race against the clock, a race for funding, and just a race in general.
Next week we’re starting some of the experiments that are being funded to use big idea for another purpose. It will be a good dry run for the thing I want to do with it, but it will also give us a chance to troubleshoot some of the equipment and see if we can get rid of some of that noise that we had to deal with in our last attempt. Regardless, I know we have something cool, so now it’s just a matter of refining it to get the best result.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to sleep for a few years.
I’m usually only about 50-60% sure of what you’re saying but today is the high 90s. I am intimately familiar with the flow of programming.
It all looks like absolutely nothing when you’re doing the initial work, putting the structure in place, writing routines that will pay dividends in the future but sure eat time today. It’s a mess that seems like it’s spinning its tires. Until it isn’t, and suddenly you’re wondering where this all came from. At least that’s my experience.
The problem is you never know what day that’ll be. A 60 hour week of soul crushing work? Nothing. A twelve hour day of debugging? Seems like you’re going backwards. That two hours you tie a few systems together? Magic.
But sleep is key. Always sleep. Well, not always, but hopefully at least once a day.
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June 8, 2022 at 5:41 pm
Haha! Thank you! I had a feeling you and Jenny would understand this one. It’s so frustrating that the finished product never reveals just how much work really went into it.
Sleep is good, I’m hoping to do a lot of that this weekend in particular!
June 9, 2022 at 9:36 pm