February 12th, 2010
This year's research in general has been somewhat horrendous, but last quarter was particularly disorganized. I think it's probably because I don't have the hard deadlines with science fair to keep me on track, but despite that I should know how to do this. I have not been journaling for one thing. Actually the last one I have is from early December apparently. I'd like to write about all I've done and that I'm doing. The truth is, my paper is yet in incomplete form. I've had an entire week of freedom to get my board and virtual abstract done - nope. I have started both of course. I've at least looked at them every day, but really they should be done now. I am going to have absolutely no time later. This always happens. Sometimes I wonder how I've ever managed to get anything done. Truthfully though this happened last year too. I did practically my entire project last year over Christmas. I'd like to say the pressure of an immediate deadline helps: something with the adrenaline perhaps. While that's true, and I do get my "best" work done in the time between midnight and two in the morning, that's only because I stop worrying and start panicing. Panic never yields good work. "Laziness is the mother of efficiency". I'd rather be thorough than efficient, but because I have so far failed to stop procrastinating on every single assigment I've ever had, I'm stuck with a skill that resembles a most undesirable form of efficiency.
This project is so much more wishy-washy; I'm not sure if that makes it easier or harder - both really. It's easier to come up with an answer, but there's no way to tell if it means anything or not. Art versus science. Interpretation and logic: both are difficult, but in different ways. In many ways art is a cheat, whereas science, while it's hard, never lies about how hard it is. It's easier to be tricked when there's no comparison available. Everything about this project is so very interesting, but then for all I know it could mean absolutely nothing! I have no way to validate anything. The entire theme of the thesis is trying to explain something that really cannot be explained. My methods are so clumsy to describe something so incredibly intricate; it's impossible. It is all very interesting though.
I've been doing my virtual abstract for awhile. I did one last year too, started one anyway. I was quite enthralled with the concept actually. I created a dual presentation: a default and collective presentation that would link between each other. Everything matched perfectly, and the styles all matched my board too, not that that mattered. I never did finish it though, because I had other things that needed to be done, and I knew no one would ever see it. Also I'd gotten stuck. I'm going to have to figure this problem out now though. I wish I had gone back and figured it out. I have my default presentation: that's the simple one: the one an uninterested person would zip through, not bothering to learn more about anything: just the basics. The second presentation (I call it the collective) includes every single thing that could possibly be explained. Every term, every picture, every aspect of every idea, etc. Most slides are very simple, but group everything in a large hierarchy.
No one would ever look through the whole thing, but it would serve as a sort of database that a somewhat more interested viewer could access for extra information. I did that last year, and made about 50 or so slides for it, but like I said, I gave up. It's easy to link between presentations. It's easy to go forward and back in a presentation. It's easy to return to the previously viewed slide (not previous slide) if the viewer skips around the presentation via hyperlink. What I don't know how to do yet is how to go to the previously viewed slide if it's from an entirely different presentation, and afterwards procede in normal order. I'm sure this is quite simple, but I haven't really bothered to think about it yet.
Things would get very messy if the viewer transferred from the default to the collective and then started skipping around the collective following various hyperlinks, because I have no idea how I could then bring the viewer back to the same spot on the default. If it's not possible, I'm in trouble. Really I need to just be more concise. I like being painfully concise or very detailed, but of course the hard part is finding a balance. Maybe I won't be able to have hyperlinks in the collective at all. That would not be good. I could make an endless database thing, but some how I need to have a way for the viewer to just get through it. I hate to just have the default one, because it would have to be so short. No one cares though. I know they don't, but I'd still like to have it, because it really is a good way to organize everything. No one ever really reads the paper. Few people look through every line of the board in enough detail to realize if it actually makes sense or not, but every once in awhile someone always catches the mistakes that are always there. No one will ever really look through this either, but of course I don't go through the whole thing, it will be obvious that I didn't. I just need to get to work on it and stop trying to over-plan everything. I'm sure it's all quite simple, but I just don't want to start seriously thinking about it.
The same is true with my trifold board. I painted the headboard! Quite an accomplishment. Really I have been working on it, but I keep getting distracted. I'm about to paint the rest of it (blue and black color scheme this year - wanted to incorporate this gold stuff I have, but I think it would just look bad). I've never had a blue one now that I think about it. I've had black, silver, green, red, and then last year I had the picture. I used all of those colors multiple times. Red looked good, and few other people had it, but I'm tired of tomatoes. I just bought about five cans of different blues, blacks, purples, etc. I'll probably only end up using two of them of course. It's going to look like a huge bruise, but that's ok. I've been using a sort of reddish burgandyish ribbons background for all my PowerPoints, and I was planning to use it again for the virtual abstract. It's simple, but I like it, and really there's not much creative stuff I can do with "writing" and "story". No pictures of books, I refuse. Maybe I'll borrow some time I should be using to refine my paper, and manually change all the colors in the ribbon background to match the board. I know all of this is really of no consequence whatsoever. I need to do the ideas. I need to fix the writing. I'm still not happy with my graphs and charts, though I worked on them for over an hour last night to only minimal avail.
I still need to write my abstract. I've been putting that off endlessly, but really that should have been done a month ago. I'm going to have to get that finished up for my board at least. I hate writing the abstract. That's probably the worst part of any project. Well, I really hate writing the methods too. This year wasn't bad though. Writing the methods was the easiest part of this project for some reason, though I need to take another look at them, because they're still not clear. I need to go over my entire paper again. It's still just a first draft really, but I haven't looked over it yet. I'm so glad I found a real result to present. I honestly didn't think I'd find anything, but I did. Correction: I didn't find that something was definitively there, but I found the suggestion that something could be there? - which is all I could have asked for, so I'm happy. It just lays out my project for next year. I'll need to start planning that too. I'm going to isolate the hidden need triplet for use as its own diagnostic test. Maybe then I'll find something statistically significant. I found a statistically significant trend in this experiment, but I tested so many variables, one of them was bound to be statistically significant. That sounds bad. It's not like that really (read the results section of the paper for the actual explanation). I've never liked statistical analysis. It drives me insane - too many ways to do things. Of course that's probably just because I don't understand any of it, but still.
I should probably meet with my mentor again, although I really don't have all that much to show her...which is probably why I need to schedule something, so I go get something done to show her. I think there's another portfolio evaluation coming up (Thursday?). I need to finish my paper. I didn't even make some of the corrections she told me to yet.
Aside from this, I've been trying to keep up with general leadership duties. We didn't have much to do last quarter, because we were supposed to be focused on our own projects and getting the paper done. I've been putting off doing the calendar and setting next year's deadlines, but that should be done pretty soon,
because the packet needs to be done afterwards. I've gotten a copy of the published school calendar for next year. It would be simple to just adjust it, but we've decided to move the paper deadline back into third quarter for next year instead of for midterms. I like it in one regard, because there's more time. Then again, we have so much time, and it just means it's going to get put off even longer. Especially since most of the program is composed of seniors, time management will not be at its best, especially late in the year. Still, I think it's definitely worth a try. I wonder if we'll have to push back visual presentation deadlines back too? That really is going to leave a huge gap in the year. I guess it is possible to do the presentation before the paper, but I think it's better to come up with basic ideas that branch into the whole thing that are then synthesized down into the presentation. There's so much time, and then everything's going to be crammed, but maybe that's the only way people work. That's the only way I've ever worked unfortunately.
Mentorship must be more organized next year. Everything's ok most of the time, but when deadlines came up, people got all confused and didn't remember anything, because it was all explained so long ago. Everything must be accessable in print form. IR too. IR sometimes gets lost I think, although personally I liked it, because I had my own set of goals and deadlines for science fair. I will get everything written down for next year though. It helps to have things explained, but detailed explanations have to be available somewhere for remote access. We need to have regular leadership meetings. I haven't kept up with some of the group at all this year. While we've done ok, there have been instances of miscommunication and conflicting instructions. We need a more unified front in general. Many of our records are still screwy.
It's hard because day-to-day there isn't much going on; most people just leave to their site or wherever they go, but when deadlines come up, everybody panics. There isn't a general knowledge of what's due when. We have the calendar, but few people look at it or know what's on it. We have a calendar on the school website, but that's not been updated, and no one looks at it either. I'd like to put something on digication if I can. There are always going to be things to do. In general though, I want to make mentorship a little more self-aware next year. I'd also like to make IR more connected with everyone else. They are organized in and of themselves, because everyone is there everyday, but I had a hard time jumping into mentorship myself, and it would have been nice to have been aware of what went on there, the people and projects, specific assignments, etc.
I think we can do all this though. It won't be perfect. It won't be organized, but maybe we can make it a little bit better. Everyone on our board next year is quite competent and will get along well with each other. Right now it's my job to start laying the ground work.
This year isn't over yet though. I've got to finish my project, or else I really shouldn't be allowed to do anything else. The SLC is coming up, and there are a few things that need to be done to prepare for that still. We have a GT Fair Banquet for the mentors and such coming up in the somewhat distant future. That needs to start being planned. There will always be a lot to do of course. Right now, I just need to focus on getting my own project done well. In fact I should get back to work now. No time like the present. Back to the board again...