Posted by: unlikelygrad | August 29, 2012

A first and a last

Today my day started out with a first and ended with a last.

This morning, for the first time, I wrote an outline for my dissertation.

I’ve written dribs and drabs in the past. I’ve had a Word document named “Dissertation” since the beginning of my second year, which by this point contains quite a few random paragraphs about Things That Should Be In My Introduction. However, in writing the outline I realized that there are several key aspects of my topic that I haven’t even touched–so lots more writing ahead!

One reason I did this outline was because I wanted to see what sorts of experiments I needed to do before my Project Chapters were publishable material. So the first part of the outline for each chapter was a summary of what I had done so far; then I extrapolated what experiments I would need to add in order to publish everything in a peer-reviewed journal.

Another reason I did this outline was because I needed to have a serious talk with Dr. Hand-Waver…a talk that I knew I was going to be having this afternoon. See, I’ve spent so much time helping DannyBoy and JimBob (and now NewGirl too) with their experiments that I’ve had precious little time to work on “my” projects recently. I could have confronted Dr. HW with an accusatory tone: “You want me to waste all of my time helping other people on projects that are completely unrelated to my thesis!” But this would only put her on the defensive and would be unlikely to win her to my side.

Instead, I could show her my outline and say, “I know I need a third Project Chapter (if not a fourth), but I’m not sure what it’s going to be. I’ve been doing a lot of work with DannyBoy and JimBob but I’m not sure how I can carve out part of that as a unique chapter for my dissertation.”

Luckily Dr. HW had a reply to that–a good one–so that I now have a Very Good Idea of what I need to accomplish before I graduate.

So that was my first for today.

My “last” this evening was very nostalgic for me. Very, very nostalgic.

Today my youngest son, Will, earned his Arrow of Light award and graduated from Cub Scouts. It’s been over twelve years since Al started Cubs and I’ve had at least one boy in Cubs for all but one of those years.

I love Cub Scouts. I’m still the Webelos leader, so *I* am not out of Cubs, but it’s really kind of sad that I don’t have a boy in Cub Scouts any more.



  1. A committee member just advised me to write a dissertation outline for the first time. It’s a good idea, but rather scary! At least you have stuff you’ve already done to put in there, that must be encouraging.

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