25 April 2013

ANZAC day 2013

The last couple of weeks I have been properly hard at work on my thesis, which makes for a rather dull and tiring couple of weeks with very little interesting stories to tell. It started last Monday, which feels like ages ago and not just last week, when I had to drive up to Dunedin to use some microscope software at extremely short notice - as in, I got an email at 10 am saying that the microscope would be free that afternoon, but after that not for at least two weeks. So I had to collect all my thesis stuff and jump in the car, on a very rainy day that wasn't really suitable for driving in. I also had to dump my poor doggy at doggy-daycare, even though she had a cut on her foot that I didn't want to get worse. So I drove up to Dunedin, picked up a hitchhiker on the way to keep me alert, found my way to the electron microscope unit and after awhile I managed to remember how to use the software and did what I had to do - which after a three hour drive ended up taking no more than an hour. I'm not used to driving long distances so between that and being in a dark room on a computer for an hour I was already pretty tired, so I couldn't just drive back. Luckily I managed to get in touch with a friend so I had someone to eat lunch with, we caught up and chatted about all sorts of things, and then I had to drive back to Invers. Did I mention that as soon as I had driven out of Invercargill the driving rain disappeared? So I drove back into darkness, because it was late afternoon, and rain, and when it was all over I was very tired. The dog, on the other hand, was far from tired and would not stop jumping all over me - an entire day away is a bit much for her, she still has some separation issues.

After that very exhausting Monday I finally had access to all of the data I had been missing, which meant that I could continue re-writing one of my thesis chapter drafts. However, the next day I finally got an email from my supervisor with edits and comments on what I had sent her so far - in some ways good because I could include all of that in my new draft, but in other ways not good, because she expected a response and my draft wasn't ready yet. Which is why I worked really long, exhausting hours for a few days (because, though it may not seem so to some people, spending the whole day staring at a computer is actually really hard). Then I sent the draft to her, and had to quickly write up the assignment that was due for the publishing diploma that I'm doing part-time - hopefully it was good, I almost never leave things to the last minute like that! Then I had to get straight back to finishing the images I was working on for my thesis - I spent the weekend figuring out how to do what I wanted to do using photoshop, which is a very annoying program sometimes, completely un-user-friendly, and which I think I need to buy when I get a job because my copy (that is, a pirated copy, how bad am I) seems to be having issues. And my shiny new computer is having issues too - or perhaps it's Windows8, which may be a great new thing for tablet users but is really irritating for real computer users. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that because of computer/photoshop/windows8 issues I had a huge scare a couple of days ago when the images that I had nearly finished vanished from my computer! As did the new draft of my thesis chapter. I keep all of my thesis backed up on the internet through GoogleDrive so things aren't supposed to be able to just disappear, yet they were nowhere to be found. Luckily, I did eventually find them - in the trash of my online GoogleDrive, which is very strange because to get there the files would have to have been deleted, but all that happened was that my computer crashed while the files had been open. Both strange and worrying - as soon as I got all my documents back I made a new back-up of everything, for just in case.

Now that I have finished the second draft of that chapter I need to do the same for my other chapters. I'm working on an easy one today, because it is a public holiday after all. In fact, maybe I should stop working and make some ANZAC cookies - yep, that's definitely a good idea on this cold, rainy day. As well as my thesis work and my publishing diploma work (which luckily I find quite easy, so it doesn't take up much time) I have found a job to apply for, so I need to write an awesome cover letter, fix up my CV, maybe phone the place up with some queries, and sort out references. The references will actually be the worst bit - I will have to ask my supervisor, and first of all knowing that I am looking for a job may make her be even more negative about my thesis work, and second of all, I'm not sure if she will give me a good reference, on account of our precarious relationship and her apparent antipathy of my attitude to this PhD research (as in, she clearly thinks that I am incompetent and haven't completed tasks to the best standard - which is a load of bullshit, what is really going on is that I no longer give a f***). So anyway, you can see why I would be wary of asking her to be a reference, even though I have no choice as she is my most recent employer. Perhaps the 11 hour time difference will mean that there are no phone conversations, just emails, and that it will all stay vague and friendly. The job is electron microscopy technician at Massey University in Palmerston and I think I would really like that sort of a job - for awhile at least, and then we'll see. Plus, there isn't a lot of choice really, even if I look in Australia there are not a huge amount of jobs for someone with my specific science skills. So fingers crossed for this one! Time to go make bikkies...

13 April 2013

Bright and early on Sunday morning

Every morning Cher begins to wake me up slowly at some ungodly hour (I refuse to wake up enough to look at the time but I'm sure it's insanely early). She starts by sitting by my bed staring at me, and I know that she's there without even opening my eyes. Then she paces; through the house, to her bed, back to my bed to stare at me some more, and she might let out the odd whine while she's at it. I continue to ignore her, but she has a very accurate internal clock. Come 7.30 she jumps on my bed, half the time landing right on my guts, and if I'm lucky she'll curl up and go to sleep for another half hour. Or she'll be restless and continue to pace, on my bed, up and down from the foot of the bed to my pillow, flopping herself down and rolling about whenever she thinks I might be about to wake up and pet her. So then I kick her off the bed but she continues to stare at me so I have to get up eventually. The hours I keep may seem a bit slack to you but you have to remember that first of all, I am a student and second of all, every day I have to wake up and face the depressing, anxiety-ridden reality that is my PhD thesis, with all of it's negative, non-expert, multi-disciplinary, disjointed, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink results. So I think I deserve to stay in bed till 8.

Anyway, regardless of my desire to stay in bed the dog makes me get up and feed her as close to 8 am as possible, and is so excited when I haul my ass out of bed that she jumps all over me and rolls at my feet and when I lean down to rub her exposed belly she waves her paws about regardless of how sharp her claws are. So after feeding her and then myself and all the other necessary morning things that have to be done it's time to run all of her energy out of her with a big bike ride. However, on Friday morning my back tire was completely flat. We made do and I took it to Dad later to get it fixed. We found the puncture and fixed it and I biked home and everything seemed fine. So the next morning, after being woken up by sad dog eyes, we were just about to head off on our bike ride when I saw that the tire was flat again! There must have been something wrong with it, right? Later that day I took it into the shop to get the tube replaced because it is an old bike after all. I give it to the bike guy and he looks down at the tire and the first thing he sees? A staple stuck in it. Now why didn't I see that? I didn't even look, great way to make myself look stupid. Could have avoided that second puncture altogether but hopefully I will be more on to it next time. And if not, I think I'll take it to the bike shop again because what took me about half an hour to do on my own the bike guy did in 5 minutes.

Now it's Sunday morning and high time I got out of bed properly. I have work to do because I've been too slack this last week. Right now the dog is entertained with her toy that holds treats, and the way that she wrinkles her forehead in concentration is really adorable, but eventually she'll get them all out and then she'll be bored and expect her morning run. At least it's not raining - the other day we got soaked within about 5 minutes and I think she dislikes going out in the pouring rain as much as I do. Then it's time to get my act together and really get to work this week (although when you don't get any edited drafts back from your supervisor there really is a limit to what can be done). It's halfway through April and when I left Ireland I really thought I'd be finished by March. I thought the bulk of it was done but without real feedback I don't even know if I am on the right track - still, I hope it will only be a matter of another month or so. And then I'll have no wage so maybe I should start buying lotto tickets...

01 April 2013

Sunny Easter Weekend

Easter and chocolate finally arrived to take me away from an awful week of PhD work (hopefully this week will go better?). Friday featured an impromptu drive out to Riverton to take my pick of plants and belongings from my Nan's old house, all in the midst of my Mum's latest drama - her cat went missing. Between the two of them those cats would have cost more than 10 grand to get them to NZ so they aren't allowed to run away or die. Yet it's hard to get too worked up over it when it's only been missing a day, there's not really a lot you can do to find a cat really because when they want to hide they're really good at it. So I left Mum to it and went for a drive, helped myself to pot-plants and a couple of little things, but not much really because to be honest I'd already had a good nosy on the sly and taken a couple of things that I wanted. So what do you do after the long enough drive to Riverton on a really hot day? You take a drive down to the rocks and take some pictures as proof of our amazing Easter weather (because it's Autumn now and it's really not normally quite this good by this time of year).

So after all of that and a drive out to Colac Bay for a bit of a feed we drove back to Invercargill to attempt to rescue the poor pot-plants that had been neglected for about 9 months or so - they're surprisingly OK. It was so bloody hot that it was just too hard to really do anything at all (so I ate an Easter egg and watched tele), and then the same thing happened on Saturday! Not that I'm complaining, I love the sun. I spent the day gardening which was really exhausting, while the poor dog mostly sheltered inside. She's been taking couch liberties and I've been letting her, because she's just so cute.

Anyway, to get to the end of all my stories, first of all Mum found her cat - locked in the neighbour's garage, right next door all along. He didn't learn his lesson though. Easter Sunday was supposed to be colder but it wasn't really, then it absolutely poured down all night and for a bit in the morning - great for the gardens and farmers but bloody cold. Took the dog for a run when it cleared up, she got a bit of a surprise when the river was so much deeper than normal, but then halfway along it started to come down again and we got soaked. Luckily it stopped before too long and the wind was strong enough to dry us off. It probably wasn't enough to end the drought though, the afternoon has been humid and hot and who knows what it will do tomorrow. Out in Colac Bay now, it's cold and windy out here and the surf is huge today. Hopefully I'll have a good week of work.