19 July 2012

Another week, more moaning about work...

So at the moment life is very busy, except for when I am at work procrastinating. I would like to not be procrastinating, but sometimes the amount of work I can do in the lab is limited by what actually needs to be done, and I'm struggling to motivate myself to work on writing stuff up. I dislike sitting at my desk all day on the computer - I would rather be doing some sort of more active work. Like a couple of days ago when I went out to beaches, having a little look for washed up barnacles and putting up posters to appeal to the public. The weather was pretty grim and there were no barnacles, and I don't like long car rides, but I do like going to the beach so it was a pretty good day. Hopefully I will go out again next week and hopefully the weather will be nicer.

What I am busy with at the moment is dealing with all sorts of  people after sending out a press release to ask for help in looking for stupid barnacles. Though the press release doesn't call them stupid. Instead it makes my work sound interesting and exaggerates how applicable it is. Unfortunately for all of those people out there, I am not actually looking for barnacles in order to extract their glue and use it as a surgical adhesive. What I actually need more animals for at the moment is to collect the adhesive for some microscopy work - there is this microscope that uses lasers to look at the chemical bonds holding things together and we are hoping it will tell us something interesting. And I need more animals to do more structural work - if the lab work goes well in the next couple of weeks I will have DNA sequences to work with, and I will make probes that will attach to that sequence in the tissue - which means that I can look at sections of the animal and see where this DNA is expressed, and if it is in the right place then I will know that it is adhesive-protein DNA. Fingers crossed that it works because I really want to finish this bloody PhD!

So anyway, the press release has so far got a lot of responses but has not yet brought me any barnacles. We released it yesterday, which means that the university sent it to all of the newspapers and radio stations on their mailing list. There was a piece in one of the national papers yesterday and I was called up by three radio stations. Hope I did an OK job of the radio stuff. There is a much bigger radio interview next week but I'm not sure if I am doing that or my supervisor is. And then this morning I was called up by a television person! However, it's for an Irish news show (on national television though). So that means they want an Irish speaker. It will be really good coverage so perhaps my supervisor will do it. And hopefully all of this will eventually mean that somebody will call me up and tell me that they have seen live barnacles that I can then go and collect. I don't need much, just a few good healthy ones would do. The thing is, this is getting so much attention that we really should have done it right at the start, but nobody suggested such a thing back then. I have also got one bad response already, some marine person that contested the newspaper's statement that these animals are rare and that extracting their glue is a feasible idea - well of course things are made simple for the wider public, stupid man who thinks he knows better than us who have been working on it for 3 years or so. I wrote back to him with very lengthy explanations.

In other news, Wilbert the snake is doing very well; he is eating loads of mice and growing very quickly. Except last month the mice I got were not so good and I didn't realise until I had already fed him quite a lot of them. When I got them from the pet shop that had mostly thawed already but I thought it would be OK to refreeze them. Wilbert ate most of them just fine, but then he started refusing his food and he took ages to moult. I think he was not very well. But now I have better mice from a different pet store and he is much happier. He is growing so much that I will try him with a larger size - the extra large mice are called monster mice, which I find amusing so I would quite like to feed him monster mice.

And I went away for the weekend, to Limerick for a day long tag-rugby tournament. The games were just 15 minutes long and it turns out that our team is not so good at short games - we got our butts kicked. It wasn't just that though, we were also playing teams that were better than us and that had real rugby players on them. We only won one out of four games, but at least we won by a lot for that game. And I got a try! It was very exciting. Then this week we lost again - it was the last game of the tournament and if we had of won it we would have won the whole thing, but they were a good team full of real rugby players, and we were off our game after the long weekend. The last time we played that team one of our players had her head split open so at least there were no real injuries this time. Except I have a giant bruise on my shin - someone must have kicked me.

Now it is about lunchtime and I should go do some work. I have DNA fragments to clone and sequence and more sequences waiting to be analysed. Lab work makes me tired, makes me just want to go home and bake something, or sit in front of the tele, or finish knitting that hat that I started the other day. Or finish making the dress that I started weeks ago and then stopped when I got to the finishing touches. Or just go to sleep. But at least I can listen to music while I work, on account of having a brand new ipod. It's pink. My old one finally stopped working - the buttons just wouldn't do anything anymore. It had survived a lot though, it was a good few years old and had been dropped countless times, plus once into a glass of water. But I don't like the new one, it is too small - it is only about an inch and a half square! Plus it has no buttons, it's all touch screen! But then again, all I want to do is listen to music and it does that, so the other things don't really matter. And it has a built in pedometer to measure all my steps, so that's fun. Yesterday I walked 10,000 steps! That seems like quite a lot. Makes me feel justified in going home and blobbing out on the couch.

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