Deadlines

Recently, I contemplated submitting a paper to an academic workshop — something I hadn’t done since grad school, which was long ago, in another life.

Submission was to be by email, with a deadline of January 15. When contemplated from a distance of several weeks away, this deadline seemed precise. By January 13, though, the deadline seemed to be importantly indeterminate. So I actually wrote the organizers, asking them something like this: “when you say 1/15, would that be more like the very end of 1/14 (midnight), or the very end of 1/15 (midnight)?” They replied graciously, saying that midnight on 1/15 would be fine.

A day later, on 1/14, I was tempted to write again, saying something like this: “great, thanks! But I couldn’t help noticing that you’re on the East Coast (EST), whereas I’m on the West Coast (PST). So when you say _midnight_…?”

And you could imagine me with about 40 minutes left, being tempted to write along these lines: “So when you say a deadline of midnight PST, would that be when my mail client actually sends this off, or when you receive it on your end?” (If you think this is silly, remind me to tell you about the email that I received _2.5 years_ after it was sent (no joke).)

As it turned out, I didn’t ask the last two questions and sent it off with a good two hours to spare even by the sterner EST standard. But I agree with a former professor of mine: it isn’t that we’re procrastinating — we just want the ideas to be in their most mature form!

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