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One more day

January 26th, 2011

I’ve been stressed out about what’s going to happen tomorrow.  For almost 3 years I’ve been thinking about tomorrow.  It’s a simple exam that in the history of my department, no one has failed.  I present a research project, show I know the background to the material, and I pass.  However, I’ve managed to get advice from a set of people who have the most disparate ideas about what said proposal should entail.  That might not seem like a bad idea, but I’ve probably put together 3 totally different project, with multiple revisions of each that take a whole different slant on the material.  To nail that point home, I found out yesterday that the cumulative sum of months of work was “just not going to work” and I was advised to learn a multitude of new mathematical frameworks to be able to come up with an answer that really wouldn’t address my hypothesis.  And the exam date was fixed.


What ensued:

  1. Panic.  I felt like I was the captain of a plane that was on fire.  I wasn’t dead but I had to do something.
  2. I decided pursue all my options simultaneously.  These included
    • call library to find relevant mathematical and psychological textbooks.  Probability of mastering (which was required) the new material in 48 hours: 3%. 
    • Email various departments looking for a tutor to help with the material.  (10% success probability)
    • Try to figure out a way to slice and dice my content such as the “it’s not going to work” condition goes away.  This involved asking for a number of people to help in a brainstorming session.

    Of the three options, the third won out and 5 hours later, I had a 100% different presentation that utilized 20% of the material I started out with.  An additional 7 hour of work on the slides and I had a first pass ready.  4 hours of sleep later and a 30 minute drive – and I was back on campus working the written part of the project.  I found a tutor who offered to help and we covered the relevant material in no time.  If someone explains content at the right level, I can digest it very quickly.  For example, I love “The Darker Side” – it does an amazing job of explaining mixed signal electronic design.  He’s also the only good author left on Circuit Cellar’s payroll. 

    In any case, the exam is tomorrow.  One thing I’ve learned though all this is about stress, both the theory, about my experiences, and my developed theories (one of which I’ll be presenting on).  And what’s amazing is that I’ve been able to control the physical manifestation of stress – I’m so much better at being able to deal than I was just 3 months ago.  I’m really not stressed about tomorrow, even though I should be. 


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