Well then, looks like I finally made it. The path I struck out on over a year ago is finally at it's end. Not being very good with words, I'll go with Jorge Cham's gems:
After some amount of general fooling around and getting busy with other things, it finally got down to this:
... six months later...
After some back and forth...
... I finally got close enough to defend.
Worked hard on doing the following to make up a "good" presentation:
Fortunately, it didn't turn into this:
In the end, besides a couple of crafty questions, I made it! I graduate!!! I get to... go back to doing exactly what I've been doing for 4 years now. sigh Oh well, it's not all bad. At least I won't technically be a student any more.