The thesis has successfully been trimmed to 3,883 words. The palindromic number wasn't intentional, although I would have tried for it if I'd been slightly over. I say "trimmed", but everything except the methods has been changed drastically. New organization, new arguments - the discussion is barely recognizable, which is just as well since I hated writing the discussion of the thesis.
The paper is most certainly better, making me think I might just have a chance of it being accepted. The thesis itself has become even more of an albatross...this long, huge thing that didn't even do a good job of getting the necessary points across. My own bound copy will still be given some pride of place on my bookshelf, but it is the shorter paper I will provide to anyone who wants to know what I did to get that diploma. Because I'd rather they actually read and be impressed by the research than heft and be impressed by a huge tome.