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23 June 2012

The most awful week ever

This last week has surely been the most awful week ever. It all started on Monday. Obviously. On Monday morning my supervisor shows up in my office to tell me that my GRC meeting will be in one week. That's the yearly meeting with my graduate review committee to decide how my PhD is going and if I can continue. Which isn't really a big deal, it's just a formality really. But what it meant was that I spent the week making plans for the rest of my PhD and actually thinking about it all instead of repressing it like I usually do. It wasn't fun. There are only four months until my third year is finished. The first half of the PhD is done and my paper has been accepted (yay!) but I still have a lot of lab work. Can it be done in four months? I don't know. Not to mention that my supervisor doesn't realise that I want to leave so soon. I wrote up a schedule and it is awful - lab work every day, lots of it, and on weekends, no more procrastinating. It will be so exhausting! I am already so exhausted just thinking about it.

So if a week of hard work is not enough (and I really was working hard), we played the most awful, disgusting rugby game imaginable. It's not that we lost - that's really not such a bad thing. We have lost before (although for the summer league we had not lost a game yet). It was the other team that was awful. The were the most vicious pack of savages that we have ever come across. Some of it was also bad luck, but that bad luck definitely had a lot to do with their aggressive attitudes. About 10 seconds into the game one of their guys managed to elbow one of our girls in the face and he split her forehead open! She was gushing blood everywhere and had to go to the hospital for stitches. The ref was useless, the organiser of the league came over and he was useless too - they didn't do anything! You would think that they would be concerned for the players' safety and that at least somebody there would have some first aid knowledge. Instead they didn't even seem to possess common sense. I mean, she had a head injury, there could have been more damage than what we saw, and they didn't even offer to call an ambulance! I think they really should have done at least that. Instead she went off to the hospital, meaning we lost two of our best players and had no more subs. The game continued and a couple of minutes later the other team took out one of their own players - one of the blokes knocked one of the girls down and we all thought she must have broken her shoulder or something because she didn't get up for ages. She was crying and couldn't play the rest of the match. Yet it continued and the ref did not send off the guy that hurt our player nor the one that knocked down the other team's player. If that was our team being aggressive the ref wouldn't even have to do that because our own captain would send us off to chill out for awhile. So the game continued as it started; we were bummed out and off our game after the accident, they were aggressive and the ref was useless. Instead of penalising them he threatened to send our captain off for whining. For the last 10 minutes of the game we played in a torrential downpour. So all in all, it doesn't really get much worse than that.

But we still only lost by about 6 points I think, and we are still at the top of our division in the league. We just have to make sure that we win all of the rest of our matches by lots of points. And that the team we played this last week don't do so well. Which they might not, I'm not sure that they're really so good as all that - a lot of people were saying that the players last week were not the same players as in other weeks, as if they had borrowed some new people just for the purpose of beating us. That would explain the huge aggressive guys on the team, they were probably real rugby players and not used to non-contact sports. I hope so, because after what they did to our player (I mean, she is all swollen and scarred!) we really need to beat them in the league. And maybe meet them in a dark alley and beat some manners into them. It was such an awful, depressing game.

Well, all of that happened on Wednesday, so there were only two days left until the weekend, but they were days full of lab work, so they were not very good days. Not only that, but the lab work was not very successful. So that sucks. The week got moderately better when a woman stopped in with a box of chocolates for me, as a thank you for giving a group of students a tour of the zoology museum. It was very unexpected, and I felt quite underserving of it because I do get paid for my time. Unfortunately I couldn't even stop to chat to her and say a proper thank you because my supervisor was in my office trying to get her head around my research (in other words, wasting time that I could have spent doing real work). But finally Thursday was over and that evening I had a real break from work - I made cupcakes instead, for a friend's birthday. They were delicious, chocolate with caramel frosting and more caramel sauce on top. It was a long evening though, full of silly blonde mistakes, probably on account of my being so tired. First I screwed up the caramel by burning the sugar (it tasted awful). That was OK though, I had enough butter to make more. But then I didn't have enough butter for the frosting. So I dashed out to get some more, and as I went to take the butter from the shelf I noticed the weight of a pack of butter. That is when I realised my blonde mistake. The reason that thought there wasn't enough butter was that I had forgotten how much butter is in a pack of butter. I had used twice as much butter as I should have for the cupcakes! This is why you should always weigh everything!! Luckily cupcakes can survive quite a lot of mistakes and they were still good. Just somewhat denser than they usually are. Everybody loved them and thought they were like little chocolate brownies. So basically, I got through another day of work, then on Friday evening I fed everybody cupcakes, and now it is Saturday and I should have been working but I took the day off instead. Now I'm going to go to bed early and try to recover from my awful week.

11 June 2012

Too much work, too little play

OK, so sorry for being really lazy at the moment but there really is not much to be writing about at the moment anyway you know. I think I last wrote when we were having a couple of weeks of crazily good weather, during which I managed to not get sunburnt. I think that was two weeks ago now. Since then, I have been working. Boring, right? But things are going OK at work for the moment so it's not so bad. However, if I don't stop procrastinating about the lab work that I have to do then things won't be OK for much longer. It's just so difficult to get motivated when, one, you don't know what you are doing and have to teach yourself everything and, two, you just really don't want to do it. At first it was OK because that beautiful sunny weather that made me not want to work went away. We had days and days of endless rain (although it did manage to stop just enough for rugby practices and games). Last week was awful for some reason - we had a long weekend, during which time I did no work and lots of sitting around the house (because it was cold and rainy outside) and for some reason shorter weeks are always less productive because your idea of what day it is gets all messed up.

Luckily I had a nice distraction from work last week - I gave a talk at the aquarium for their 'marine month'. It had absolutely nothing to do with my PhD. I talked about dolphins and how they get caught in fishing nets. There were about a dozen kids there and they were a really good audience, with lots of questions (really clever questions for such small children actually). So that was fun, and I was looking forward to Saturday, when they were going to have a dolphin/whale rescue demonstration, using an inflatable whale to show the public what to do if you come across a stranding. I was asked to come along as a scientist and answer any biology questions that people might have. However, it was cancelled, because they have lost their whale. But that wasn't such a bad thing as it was looking like the weekend was going to be horrible and rainy. Only the next thing you know, Saturday arrived and it was warm and sunny! The weather here changes that quickly, and I had no plans for a nice sunny day, but all my friends were going to the one day festival being put on by Mumford & Sons. Has their music reached NZ yet? They're really popular over here. So a friend of mine had a spare ticket and it had been years since I'd been to a concert of any sort, so I forked out 40 euro and went along. It was good - I think most people would have said that it was really, really great - but I think concerts just aren't really my thing. I like the music but I hate all the people crowding around and pressing into you. There was some stoner half asleep and leaning all over people and somebody in front of me kept farting. Plus there were less than 100 toilets for a crowd of thousands, it was awful. Makes you think it would be easier to be a boy. But even they weren't allowed to avoid the queue - there were security guards standing around to prevent them from peeing wherever they wanted. Which is good, sort of, except that then there are twice as many people in line for the loos and you miss out on all the music while you wait. How terribly inefficient and under-prepared is that!

Well, after such a big Saturday I did very little on Sunday, which is a shame because the weather was nice but there is just not that much to do here and I was tired. I sat around watching movies on tele (Nanny McPhee and E.T. were on) and reading my book instead. It's an historical fiction novel about Charles Darwin. Then I made an awesome dinner for my flatmate and I, and it was still such nice weather that we went out for ice-cream, which involved manoeuvring crowds of people who were out to watch the football. All night I could hear people yelling the 'ole' chant. I guess Ireland must have won or something. I hope it doesn't continue tonight because I really would prefer a good nights sleep. On Wednesday is our Zoology colloquium, at which all of us students give a talk about our research and then we have a departmental BBQ. There are not so many students these days so it should finish early, which means food will be early, which is perfect because I intend to leave early and go to our rugby game, which I'm sure will be far more fun than the departmental BBQ. For my contribution I will be introducing the Irish to lamingtons. Chocolate ones. Should be good. And that is all that is going on in my life at the moment, and there will probably be nothing exciting happening over the next couple of weeks either, because the life of a third year PhD student is terribly tedious. To make matters worse I think I have a bit of an RSI from spending too much time typing, and now I have a very sore wrist. Just goes to show that working hard is not good for you.

PS - sorry, no photos either, like I said, nothing much is happening at the moment...