Over the past few weeks I’ve had numerous questions of the form: “how’s your work going?” I find I can only ever answer this with banalities like “good” or “meh”.
It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing. At any given point in time, I have a list of minor challenges written up on the whiteboard (which accumulate with monotonous regularity). However, my first problem is that I never remember what these are when I’m not actually working on them. I write them down so that I don’t have to remember, of course.
My second problem is that, even if I did remember what I was supposed to be doing, there just isn’t any short explanation. Currently I have on the whiteboard such startling conversation pieces as “Express CI in terms of S and U”. This may or may not tickle your curiosity (depending on how much of a nerd you are), but explaining what it means – and granted, I’ll have to do that eventually anyway – demands as much mental energy as solving the problem itself.
My third problem is that I regularly shuffle around the meaning of the letters, to ensure I don’t run out of them and also to resolve inconsistencies. I’m currently using the entire English alphabet in my equations and a large proportion of the Greek one, so naming variables is a minor headache in itself. For instance, since I wrote the todo item “Express CI in terms of S and U”, I’ve decided to rename the variable “CI” to “CS“. Also, “S” used to be “T”, and “U” used to be two separate variables. This is mostly cosmetic, but I recoil at the prospect of explaining something so obviously in flux.
I choose to believe that I’ll be able to explain everything once I’ve written my thesis… and hopefully as I’m writing my thesis.