PhD comics at McGill

the puckwhacker 2000(TM), originally uploaded by physics*chick.

So, two weeks ago I got an email from another member of our group who had just realized that the ticket he had for Jorge Cham's "Power of Procrastination" talk was at the same time as he had to teach a lab. Lucky me I got his ticket!

Excited as I was, this was also at a time when I had a ton of work to do (more on that later). I went, but as I sat there I started figetting and thinking about all the things I had to do, Jorge started into his (anti?)-motivational talk. He got some laughs with wikifacts about Mcgill (hockey was in there, as were Rutherford and the illustrious Mr. Shatner) and started talking about graduate student life. He talked about graduate student salaries, the emotional states of graduate students (some really sobering statistics there), and other such issues.

But then he started talking about procrastination, and moreover the GUILT of procrastination. That nagging feeling that gee-whiz, I really should be working, that is oh so hard to escape, because there's always something more to do, to read, to think about. And I sat there laughing half-heartedly, and wondering if it was really a good idea to have taken 2 hours out of the middle of the afternoon to go see a cartoonist talk about procrastination... guilt. Doh. This is why phd comics is so good... it's funny because it's true.

He ended though by talking about "the thesis" and actually getting to that day where you finally get to play through the "doctor" "doctor" jokes, and the reality that most people aren't actually that happy with their PhD theses, and usually "finishing" a PhD has a lot less to do with being done, and a lot more to do with external factors. Having just made the mental transition from being "in the middle" to "finishing", and having undergone somewhat of an existential crisis over what it "means" to get a PhD this was reassuring for me, and probably has helped keep me on the "finishing" track over the last two hellish weeks of post-doc fellowship applications, paper submission, and conference preparation.

So, naturally, after the talk, I had to get something signed. I bought one of the books of course, but I wanted something else, something special. I got back to the lab and took a look around and spied my hockey stick sitting in the corner waiting for our first game that night. Of COURSE! My labmates thought I was a total weirdo, but whatever. I brought my stick over, and not only did he sign, no, he made it funny. My stick shall henceforth be known to all as "the PUCKWHACKER 2000(TM)". Best procrastination ever!

ps- I'd like to say we won our the game that night, and that I scored a zillion goals with the puckwhacker, but sadly, no, we lost. We lose all our games. Never name a team "Absolut Zero" if you are likely to live up to it!


Connie said...

Good luck with the apps for postdocs! And by the end of my Ph.D. program, I was so numb, I just wanted it to be over...

Unbalanced Reaction said...

That is so awesome! I love phd comics, but I was at a conference when Jorge came to LargeU :(