Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stealing Home...

The game is tied in the bottom of the 10th. I'm in graduate school's extra innings - that's the time between defending the PhD and moving on to whatever's next. If you've been there, you know that this period involves putting the finishing touches on the manuscripts, making sure the margins are all spaced correctly on the dissertation, cleaning up hard drive filing systems and making sure the lab notebooks are legible.

In baseball, if you don't score in the bottom of the inning, there's always the next inning. My situation is different. If I don't score right now, that's it. There's no second chance. Soon, a two-headed beast will emerge from the depths of the sea, barge through the bleachers and destroy the very field I am playing on. Lucky for me, I know the beast's schedule. It is due to arrive in 17 hours. Perhaps by the time you read this, the game will be over. I'll be a medical student at Children's Hospital

I'd made it to third base on Friday. My adviser and I had settled on the text for one of my papers and only had one figure to finish up for it. A second paper was in worse shape. I had modified one of my dissertation chapters for half of the paper, and was in the process of filling in the other half with the needed background and appropriate referencing. After fiddling with some of the figures (for too long!), I tied myself to the computer. I knew my adviser (former adviser?) was leaving early Sunday morning and he needed a copy before he left. Last week in a similar situation, I left a document on his doorstep. Hard copies are easier to travel with... This morning, I made sure the document was on his stoop by 5 AM. When I tied myself to my desk, I committed to stealing home. It was do or die. That sea monster was looming.

By midnight, I was in a full sprint. The southpaw pitcher had a deliberate windup, and I was two thirds of the way home by the time the ball left the mound. I just hope the pitch is in the dirt. I've already found weaknesses in the document I finished this morning, and one of my co-authors has already sent back some helpful comments. At least something is written. Today, I've been touching up my figures and combining them into those big panels that folks use so much these days. I'm ready for the imminent maelstrom of dust, dirt, and colliding bodies.

Let's hope that my trip home is as fortunate as this one by the Cubs' Derrick Lee. By the way, I've been tapped a couple of times in the past few days; Kate and Mike have passed on some good memes. You can expect my responses to show up in a few days. Those are two tags I don't plan to slip in under...

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