Seeking thesis HQ


in Daily updates, Oxford, Writing

The Eagle and Child

My recent thinking suggests that I need a thesis base of operations. My room is no good, because there are lots of things here enormously more interesting than a thesis to be written. The library is likewise no good, since there is not enough energy there to keep a brain firing at any decent level. Libraries make me fall asleep.

As such, I am considering using Green’s Cafe, beside the Eagle and Child, during the mornings and afternoons. They close around 5:30pm, which is obviously no good. Not even Starbucks stays open after 7:00pm. Perhaps G&D’s would work during the later period, but they have no internet access available whatsoever.

All this bother for a document that about ten people will read, plus or minus 4 nineteen times out of twenty.

[Update: 3:00am] After a week that has felt scatterbrained and unproductive, as well as marked by illness, I am unveiling a programme meant to help set things aright:

  1. A strong attempt at asserting my target sleep schedule (in bed to sleep at 1:00am, out of bed preparing to work by 9:00am)
  2. Multiple alarm clocks deployed to this end
  3. Complete prohibition on caffeine, with an exception for tea meant to assist with aforementioned illness
  4. No alcohol whatsoever – including a continued policy of declining wine at OUSSG and Wadham high table dinners
  5. Vitamins and omega-3’s as usual
  6. Continued course of ColdFX (ginseng extract CVT-E002), as kindly provided by my mother
  7. At least four hours a week of solid physical exercise, ie. cycling in the countryside
  8. Continued efforts to resist insatiable craving for olives – cause mysterious, sodium levels involved considerable
  9. Continued efforts to get in touch with sympathetic friends elsewhere in the world – esp. write letters
  10. Requirement to finish all Developing World seminar reading by the Monday before they are due
  11. Requirement to either read one thesis related item per day, or write 500 thesis usable words

Having to lay such a thing out makes me feel like Bridget Jones, but perhaps it will make it easier to abide by.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 2, 2006 at 12:03 am

“Libraries make me fall asleep.”

Do you ever get the sense that grad school is not the place for you?

Milan November 2, 2006 at 12:14 am

Indeed I have. See this for a recent example.

Sometimes, there is considerable appeal to the idea of some huge disruptive event that forces me to come at life from a different direction. If I ended up back on this track, that would be an important validation of its rightness.

Lee November 2, 2006 at 10:01 am

Libraries make me fall asleep too, it doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for grad school.

I wrote most of my thesis in the Gulbenkian Room at St Antony’s. It was nice and warm, unlike almost everywhere else in Oxford last winter.

Milan November 2, 2006 at 12:12 pm

Libraries make me fall asleep too, it doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for grad school.

In and of itself, assuredly not, I avoided them studiously while I was an undergraduate.

R.K. November 2, 2006 at 12:33 pm

Olives are the gift Athena – goddess of wisdom – gave to the people of Athens. Perhaps you should eat more, regardless of the salt.

Jessica November 2, 2006 at 5:37 pm

For the sleep/alarm matters I suggest perusing this pair of blog entries. I’ve had good luck with the suggestions contained in both. I considered experimenting with polyphasic sleep, but I decided I just like sleep too much.

Milan November 2, 2006 at 10:12 pm


Becoming an early riser is the last thing I want. I would be thrilled to fall asleep consistently at 2:00am or so, then rise consistently at nine.

Milan November 2, 2006 at 10:15 pm

Also, I looked at the article on becoming an early riser, and I don’t think it will ever work for me. Barring nights when I have been awake and doing things until 6:00 or 7:00am I will never in a hundred years fall asleep in five minutes.

“Go[ing] to bed when I’m too sleepy to stay up” sounds like my most desperate cramming sleep pattern, and it does not do good things to my health in the long term. That said, I realize that my concerns are addressed in this document. I will try the suggestion of going to sleep when tired and rising at the same time 9am each day.

Milan November 5, 2006 at 8:26 pm

So far, (1) and (2) have been utter failures. (3) and (4) have been no problem, though the alcohol ban makes a lot of social events less interesting. (5) and (6) are likewise going well. (7) has not yet been met for this week. (8) has been abandoned, at Meghan’s suggestion. (9) is going well, though by Skype rather than letter. (10) I am working on for this week, and (11) I have been sticking to.

All told, pretty good.

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