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07 December 2009

It always rains on me

So who would have thought that it could be not rainy for 5 whole days! But it was, so Mum did not get rained on while she was here. Now last night I was walking home, after a day of on-off showers, and it is terribly windy. I brought boots yesterday (yay) so I was walking home with a stupid bulky shopping bag because boots come in such a big box. And it is terribly windy so I have to hold my shopping bag up close to my side because it was just blowing everywhere, meaning that I can't keep my hands in my pockets so they are getting freezing cold. So what happens next? It starts raining of course. But not just any rain. No, it is terrible wind-driven sharp cold rain. Far too windy to even think about getting out the umbrella, you just have to let yourself get wet. Which I did. Luckily the shopping bag kept my body dry but my legs and arms got soaked and my hands were so numb with cold that I had trouble getting in the door. It was a miserable walk home.

But I have new boots which is nice. My pay cheque didn't go through you see because someone at the finance office fucked up. So I should have been paid two weeks ago, and instead my supervisor has loaned me the money at of some grant money or something that has been squirreled away. Maybe even her own money but it sounded like it must be from University money. And I have met somebody else who also had problems with their first pay, and she in turn knows of at least a half dozen people who have had the same problem. You would hope that somebody is getting seriously reprimanded over this. But they probably aren't.

Anyway I have the money now, although the cheque hasn't cleared. It should by tomorrow.I brought boots, and I have to pay for my Christmas travel, and other than that try not to buy lots of stuff. I have to keep in mind that I have to be able to pack everything up to take to Austria so I really need to try not to buy lots of stuff.

I worked for most of the weekend although I didn't get much done. I intended to do reading but I ended up spending a lot of time organising my files. The barnacles don't seem very healthy, their shells are beginning to look sort of see-through, like they are decalcifying or something. But other than putting some sort of supplement in the water we don't know what can be done about that. Don't have to do a poster any more.

Tried some histology over the weekend. Basically, we took one of the fixed (preserved) barnacles, and embedded it in agar, which is just like really thick jelly. Then we put it in this machine called a vibrotome, and tell it what thickness we want our sections to be, and then push a button, and it cuts a slice. And you keep doing that until the whole thing was cut up. And you put each slice on a microscope slide. But it didn't really work so I don't yet have any photos to show you. The outside was fixed properly but the insides were still too soft, so instead of being cut they just got all mushed up. And it's the insides that we want to look at, so just didn't work. And then the slide is supposed to be dried out, but after drying they just looked all crusty which is not supposed to happen, and not sure why that is. Possibly because we cut sections of about 300 micron (which is 0.3 of a mm) when other people usually cut stuff at 10 micron. Or maybe we overdried them? And then staining did not work either, it is supposed to just stain bits of tissue and wash off of everything else but it didn't wash off. But still, it was interesting. It doesn't really matter that it didn't work, I will be learning it all properly in Vienna soon enough.

Today the new PhD student arrived from Malaysia so now our lab will be really full for awhile. He seems to be really on-top of things. He agrees with me that it is cold here and also that some things here are really weird. Like the normal working day here is not 9 till 5. The bank isn't open 9 till 5, isn't that crazy? It is open from 10 till 4, 5 if you're lucky, and it's more than likely that at lunchtime they will just close for an hour. And it is so annoying. Also when people here ask if you would like to go for tea, they mean a cup of tea. Like instead of saying go for a coffee or a drink. I keep getting confused and thinking that they mean the meal, not just a drink.

On Wednesday there is this workshop to go to. 7 hours on a bus with my supervisor and the other PhD student. It will be interesting. And then again on the way back on Friday. The workshop itself will be pretty full on, one and a half days and 36 talks! Hopefully they will all be interesting. But how are you supposed to meet any of your colleagues at these things when you are being bombarded with lectures? It's not like it's a conference, it's just a workshop.

Also I have decided that since I am going to Austria and Germany and the big collaborators are in Austria and Germany that I should learn to speak German. I have downloaded pod-casts to listen to on my i-pod and some free e-books, and we will see how that goes. I will begin listening to them tonight. It will be very cool if I can arrive in Austria able to speak some of the language.

So I have to go home and do washing and stuff so things are all tidy before going away for a couple of days. You would think that in paying so much for a student accommodation the laundrette would be free wouldn't you? But it's not, its 4euro for one wash. That's like 8 dollars! For just one wash. What a rip-off. At least in Austria I don't have to pay for my own accommodation, I am so looking forward to it. I will be going in one month, I am to begin to look for good flights from any time after the 7th of January.

Now what is the chances that as soon as I pack up to go home it will begin to rain? Pretty high I would say.

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