We're a little crazy, about science!

The pressure is on!

astronaut lost in space

Okay we’re just days away from the first major deadline I have and wouldn’t you know it, nothing is getting done. Thankfully that’s about to change, I mean it’s only been two days since the last major step in data processing, so it’s not like I’m being lazy about it! There’s just other work to do, but I’ve managed to find time between now and then to make sure I can get at least a portion of this work done.

Well by my count I have two days left to make something magical happen. I’m not sure exactly how we’ll hit that, but we’re going to try damn it! It’s not that I don’t think I can make it, that’s not the problem, the problem is time isn’t on my side. I have far too many obligations on me at the moment, so not a great time for dissertation stuff. Summer would’ve been by far better, but we work with what we got. Which means if I can’t find time I need to make it, and make it I have!

I’ll have at least part of tomorrow and Thursday to finish (roughly) the data processing (for one person) so that I can show something for Friday. I also need to make a powerpoint presentation in that time, so there’s a bit of work left even after I get the work done. Nothing like a big ol’ pile of work to go with my big ol’ pile of work, right? We can’t be fancy about this, but that’s okay, I’ll have a few weeks between now and the next deadline to get fancy. Instead I just need to show proof of concept (hopefully) at the lab meeting.

The reason this deadline in particular is so important is that I don’t want to go into the lab meeting presenting the old data. As happy as I am with that dataset, there’s something frustrating about showing the same dataset over and over with some huge limitations on it (n = 1, first real dataset I’ve worked with, etc.). It’s been years, I should have something to show for it all by now and I have the data so nothing is stopping me from doing something with it (aside from time, but I think we covered that once or twice already).

Since I want to show off the new stuff, which was the whole point to begin with, I need to finish processing the data. Once we get to that stage I think I can manage the rest. I have several things working in my favor, the first is that the data came pre-aligned. I absolutely love the new system we bought (I use it at work, so I’m familiar with it). I wish I had used the same software we use at work to record it because the software they provided crashed randomly (so frustrating) during the data collection causing me to lose some of the data (not all though!), but it turns out to not be a huge issue since I have so much of it already. I purposefully collected way more than I would need, partly for reasons like this, anything that can go wrong will!

I also have a trick up my sleeve that I haven’t mentioned because, well I’m not at the point where I can use it yet. That trick is the code I wrote months ago (here) for this very purpose! HAHA past me is a genius (Followed by, OH NO WHAT HAVE I DONE!). But seriously, I wrote that code for another, similar, project with the extra functionality to be used for this project. The result is a beautifully made hand crafted figure on par with some of the cool looking stuff I’ve published in the past. The only thing I need to worry about is getting my data segmented and what not before stuffing it into that function.

That’s the good news, even if my data is not so great and I have to go back and reprocess the data — which small aside, we do this a lot when it turns out to be more noisy than expected or we think we can do better, which I think we can do better — I can still produce a figure that is visually appealing and show that I’ve done some serious work on the project. Plus it will be a good debut for the function I wrote and I may get some good feedback on how to change/modify it for clarity. Sometimes staring at the same figure hours at a time for weeks on end makes it easier to read or prettier than it actually is. Mostly I’m aiming for clarity here, so that’s the important thing.

The amount of work I have to do to get to even a rough representation of what I have isn’t too overwhelming at this stage. I’ll probably be changing my mind tomorrow, but for now it feels doable in two partal days worth of work. Even if things don’t go super smooth I should be able to work out most of the stuff I need to do, which is enough for me as long as I can have a little something to show Friday I will call it a win.

Mostly what I’m saying is that if the next few days are very short posts, then you know I’m working hard behind the scenes and can’t step away long enough to talk about it real-time like I try to do. I did mention at the beginning of the year things were going to be hectic, I meant it! I’m optimistic about the data and I’m hopeful that the next few days will lead to some good news. And again, even if this project fails completely, well it was worth trying and that’s something.

Will I be horribly disappointed and probably make myself feel like a huge pile of shit if it does fail? You know it. But once I get over that and stop feeling sorry for myself (or rather the time and effort I spent on the project only to fail) I will try to remind myself that growth doesn’t come from guaranteed success and while the destination wasn’t what I imagined, the journey was what was really important.

There’s probably some truth to that, despite being a bunch of platitudes sewn together like some Frankenstein’s monster. That last paragraph is more for me than anyone reading this anyway. I do sometimes read these old posts and it wouldn’t hurt to stumble upon this one if the project does fail completely.

Anyway, this has been a journey and we’re in rocky territory now. But no one knows the outcome yet, not even me, as much as I wished otherwise. So until I know I’ve failed, I’m going to continue like I haven’t. Because if I’m being overly honest (and aren’t I always?), if it’s going to be a trainwreck, I at least want it to be a spectacular one.


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