Friday, December the 23rd, 2005

The following describes events in my life over the past few days. It attempts to quell the rumbling in the audience—generally tired by all my filler nonsense—wondering why I seem so preoccupied and distant.

The trouble with living life if you’re me, is that you think you have some inherent right to get by on doing only one honest day’s work each term (that’s ~4–6 months long, for those of you who’ve grown up and gotten real lives). I don’t really know when this originated, but for as long as I can remember, my life activity chart has read like a delta function. By which I mean, extreme activity over very short intervals—days—padded by copious lulls—several months.

Sure, this is extremely stressful at those peaks, but it is remarkably convenient the rest of the time. The truth of the matter is, that large lull period I spend “goofing off” is basically some sort of (emotional) build up to this moment, or the lick-my-wounds and recoup phase after the event has passed. The reason that I’ve seemed oddly distracted and there has been so much noise on here recently, is that yesterday was one of “those days”. It was clearly one of the more intense ones and has taken its toll on me, but at the end of the day, nothing went wrong. I got everything I needed done, and done well.

As always, because I’m just that cool.

If you’re a nerd, or really curious about the details, read on.

Since I am a kid, I still take classes and such, and the end term requirements for one was basically “Come up with something interesting and turn in a report at the end of the term”, or “Come up with something interesting worth publishing and turn in a report whenever”. Implied in this second scenario was that your academic transcript would sport an unsightly ‘I’ (for incomplete) until the deed was done. That being totally unacceptable, I decided to turn stuff in by the end of this term. But I didn’t want it to be “just anything”, I wanted my contribution to help advance a field of mathematics; to be publish-worthy.

So I sat down, for a day, in my little corner, pouring over what’s out there, figuring out deficiencies, pencil-pushing the required improvements, programming it and testing it, satisfying myself of its coolness, then wrote (PDF and nerdiness warning. Absolutely no questions about the implementation and document preparation will be entertained. On the math however, feel free.) about it.

What was unduly stressful about all of this, was that I had the 4 months or whatever to get it done. There was no need to have done it on one (and that too the last possible) day. Rationality apart, what my brain keeps telling me is that, “but I did do it”. I nabbed my A+, and will work on polishing the details in the near future making it publishable. And since my measures of success are totally different from most, I deem myself very successful (in such matters).

What you (and a lot of others) might chalk down to an extreme kind of slackerism, I deem as a test of “coolness”. Somewhere along the line, I’ve declared myself “extremely capable” (in an intellectual sense). What people take months to understand and evolve, I take hours. I don’t work on these things during all my copious free time, because I don’t need to. Doing so will sort of imply I am not “as cool” as I give myself credit for, and that’s totally unacceptable. The deal is, whatever the stress at those few peaks, the lack of sleep, the overdoses of caffeine, the clear physical toll on my body, from pain to droopy eyelids to hair loss, the sense of achievement derived from the feeling of “outsmarting the system” is immeasurable.

But, you’re probably right. Maybe I am just a slacker.

Remember though:

You can be lazy or incompetent, but you can’t be both.

This is a printer-friendly version of the journal entry “Gargantuan egos” from actuality.log. Visit to read the original entry and follow any responses to it.

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