Okay, here is a very delayed answer to Arun's question what I actually do over a day. Let's take yesterday which makes a good example. Starts like this: BlackBerry beeps at 8 am with an invitation to a workshop. I accept, and spend the following 1/2 hour trying to open a window and get some fresh air into my apartment. Which turns out to be impossible because the window (sliding glass) is frozen shut from the outside. I have the ingenious idea to use a hair dryer, which involves first finding the extension cord (I find it in a box together with the book on vector analysis I've been searching for some months now). Reaching for the the upper rim of the window however, I fall from the bed, drop the dryer, and topple over the night desk. Which crashes the hair dryer. I tell myself it was a stupid idea anyhow. If the window is frozen shut better it's closed than open, no? Another email beeps in with a referee request from a Canadian Journal I've never heard of.
Since the outside temperature fell below -20 C last weekend, I've retreated to indoor running which is thoroughly depressing. After warming up with scratching off several layers ice from the car, I run some miles on the 'fast'-lane which means, well, faster than all the people from the retirement home who take their morning walk in circles. On the way back I stop at Starbucks, which provides quality time scribbling on napkins, and I convince myself that an idea I thought was dead isn't so dead after all. At 10:30 am the BlackBerry begins beeping frequently, that being about the time when comments on the blog start coming in. I remember there's a seminar at 11 am by Nima Arkani-Hamed where I meant to go. So, I rush home, take a shower. And realize to late I can't dry my hair because the stupid dryer is broken.
I arrive at PI 3 min to 11 with ice hanging from my head, grab a cup of coffee and go hear Nima's talk. Something about compactifying the standard model down to 2+1 dimensions with an argument why this implies the standard model also has a landscape problem. If someone could explain me why electrodynamics in 2 dimensions makes sense, and are the large dimensions stable? During the confusion drop, the dead idea that wasn't so dead at Starbucks dies again. I make some sketches for a new painting, and take a note to get coelin blue. Lunchtime: we discuss a colleagues almost finished paper - well, actually the problem whether it's too long, or too messy, or what is the correct use of the words 'proved' and 'proven'.
I squeeze in 15 minutes blogging which results in yesterday's plot about the apparent seminar duration, and check the new papers on the arxiv. At five to 2pm an email beeps in telling me there's a quantum gravity seminar where I should go, so I grab another coffee. While the speaker is explaining something about spin networks, I read the recent Discovery magazine, which has an interesting article about RHIC. After the seminar, I answer the emails that have accumulated during the day, even find some minutes to read my favourite blogs, and to leave more or less intelligent comments. I try to figure out how I best transfer a conference fee in Euro from Canada to Poland, and end up asking my mum.
At 4 pm there is the discussion group on foundations of quantum gravity, speaker yesterday Lee Smolin about the problem of time. As you should have noticed by now, time is a serious problem. But the seminar turns out to be one of the most interesting ones I've heard lately, despite or maybe because the somewhat unfinished and confused argumentation. In 90 minutes Lee raises enough questions to keep me occupied for the rest of my life. I still can't make up my mind whether or not the universe is just a mathematical machinery, but I settle on the opinion of time not being fundamental. At least temporarily.
On the way back from the seminar room, I bump into Simone who I meant to talk to regarding my workshop proposal for October. It turns out we agree on the important points, so I'll just submit the text as it is. I notice Simone is probably the only person in the world who can wear a bright green T-shirt in Canadian winter without looking either nuts or silly or both. Returning to my office I find the door shut and realize a) my key card is inside, and b) my office mate is in NYC, so I have to c) get the security guy to open the door - on the way to whom I d) come by my snail-mailbox where I find an enormous amount of past due bills for the BlackBerry (argh), and a note from the German Science Foundation in reply to* my email from last May (only 8 months processing time, that's progress). Back in my office, I eventually have time to read papers, look up some details, and take notes. Interrupted by phases of staring out of the window in a mode of California dreaming, and answering incoming phone calls on skype.
Thursday evening there's pub night at PI, where I go and have a glass of wine. Lucky me, I end up sitting with Lee and Nima. After one hour my not-so-Boltzmannian brain feels like a bubble of nothing and I leave early. Gee, there's a limit to the amount of new information I can process in one day! Back in my office I notice it's too late to stop by the artist store and get the blue I ran out of, but at least I buy a new hair dryer. While in the store I get an email regarding my last paper, which 'kindly draws my attention' to somebodies interesting (but completely unrelated) work, and would I please add a citation?
Back home I manage to burn dinner so completely the fire alarm goes off. Hey - this is a first, at least I know now that the alarm actually works. Unfortunately, I still can't open the window, so I open the door which prompts my neighbor to comment something about my cooking skills. The rest of the evening I push back and forth the undead idea, replying to an email every now and then, and fall asleep on the couch.
Summary: 50% accumulating input, 20% processing input, 10% administration, 10% complete waste of time, 10% quality working time
I should add though that thre sminars pr day is th xcption, this was a prtty busy day. Hy Arun, I'm still waiting for my supply of vowls. but I hop this answrs your qustion ;-)
Footnote: They have finally realized I'm not coming back.