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26 October 2013

Life is hectic

Today I am mostly relaxing away my day off, yet it can't be entirely relaxed because I have a lot to do before going to Ireland in two weeks. Yep, two weeks, how sudden is that? The tickets are booked, over 30 hours each way, then I have just over a week after I arrive to get prepared before my exam. That's actually a good thing because I don't have time to prepare before I go. I have to finish my publishing diploma module before I go, which is what I need to do on my days off this week, and my supervisor thinks we can publish another paper before the exam. Which is crazy, especially the idea that I get the draft to her as soon as possible. I work almost full time, I can't just churn out an academic paper in two weeks on top of that. I also need to organise with my friends over there who I am going to stay with, I need to organise with friends here who can look after Cher, and I need to make sure that there will be enough money in my bank account to cover the bills while I am gone and not working, and cover my spending while in Ireland. It's going to be rough. So to add to all that my washing machine broke and I'm about to buy another one. I wanted to get a new one anyway, but I was thinking in about a year, not immediately. I thought my secondhand one would do for a year because they usually do. Perhaps we got unlucky or perhaps we somehow treated it bad? Anyway, luckily it's labour weekend and there are big sales. I will buy it from Harvey Norman because the guy there does a really good job of selling things to me - even has me half convinced to spend way over my budget in order to get a front-loader. I shouldn't though, nothing wrong with a top-loader. Even then I will have to put it on my credit card and just figure it out later; I can't spend my actual money on it just in case the trip to Ireland really screws my finances up. So, long story short, as you can see life is pretty crazy right now.

On a different note, just quickly before I get up and go knock on my neighbour's door to get my washing because she has been so kind as to let me use her machine (lucky that because I just ran out of clean socks), I will tell a Cher story. Yesterday evening I took her for a walk and the weather had improved to become a nice day so we were having a nice walk, except right at the end on the way home we came across another dog which turned out to not be so nice. I put Cher on the leash and I asked the guy with the other dog if it was friendly and he didn't say no and pull it away, so I was pretty shocked when it attacked my poor dog and took a chunk of fur off her back. Perhaps it wasn't his dog or something, but he should have known that the dog he was walking was reactive like that. Poor Cher yelped and cried and then jumped all over me to make herself feel better. Then today we came across another unknown dog and instead of wanting to meet it properly she was quite reserved, so she must remember getting a scare yesterday. She's fine of course, but it wasn't a very nice way to end our walk. At least the start of the walk was good, Cher even found half a tree to drag around:


13 October 2013

Next big thing: PhD exam

To finish my PhD, I have to do an exam. It is called the viva voce and is an oral defense exam that can last hours, although hopefully mine won't. One of my examiners will be from my university, and was one of the committee members for my PhD. The other is another adhesive researcher, who was my host for my short stay in Belgium a couple of years ago and is a co-author on my published paper. So the examiners are both good and not scary, but the exam itself is another kettle of fish. It will surely be fine, unless the examiners don't think my thesis and research are up to standard. Plus there's the fact that I was sure I would be able to do the exam via conference call - surely that sort of thing is pretty standard these days? Turns out that is not the case, or at least not where my supervisor is concerned. However, I don't have the money to fly to Ireland. You would think that would an end to the idea of doing the exam in person, but as of Friday morning it looks like I'm heading back to Ireland. It's not confirmed yet and the dates are not certain but somehow the research grant will pay for the flights. So perhaps as soon as one month I will fly to Ireland to do the exam and make any corrections that are required, and hopefully put together the last publications from my research.

So hopefully I will only be away for three weeks. I know it sounds like a good deal, a paid flight to Ireland, but it's not. I didn't want to do the exam in person, I can't afford to have a holiday right now, to be away from work and have no income, plus I'm worried about the flat in my absence, and what to do with Cher. Yes, it will be great to see my friends, but it is also possible that I will not have much free time to spend with them. I look forward to stocking up on my favourite European brands, but of course that doesn't really help the no income while away in Ireland thing. And it will be cold over there. Although the upside to that is that when I come back it will seem extra warm here. It's just a real nuisance to turn my life upside down right now, and it is so soon that it interferes with plans that I already had. Like I had been planning on heading down south for a visit at the start of December, but now I will not be able to afford to take time off work for that, after taking time off to go to Ireland. So looks like I won't be back till after Christmas. Oh well, at least it should be warm down there by then. 

04 October 2013

Life after thesis

Has it been two weeks since I sent my thesis away? It's hard to tell, time is still flying by so fast. I haven't really been doing that much, although I have loads on my list of things to do. The most important is yet more study; I really need to catch up on my publishing diploma. I haven't had many days off of work to focus on it, but truth be told, I can mostly just make it up as I go along. I just need to get focused. But it is so nice to be able to spend my days off doing whatever I want. I take Cher on big walks, I have made a veggie garden, I cleaned the house, I've been cooking and baking. But mostly I want to lie around and watch tv and sleep. Work really gets in the way, but I have to somehow be motivated enough to want to work, so that I have enough money to keep paying the bills and eating. This working hard for money thing really sucks. It's not like I have a bad job, I really like it, and I love the lack of stress and responsibility. It's just that I would rather have more free time. I hate leaving Cher home alone all day, and I still haven't had time to finish my book or start sewing again or finish making my house nice. 

Speaking of Cher, I will tell one story before I retreat to bed for the night. In the mornings we walk to the dog park and walk with other dogs; they generally all play together and mostly get on well. Lately Cher has been joining another dog in chasing a ball, and for the most part they seemed fine, even though he was quite possessive over his ball. But the other day, after about half an hour, I guess Cher got sick of this other little dog having a go at her as they both raced for the ball. Next thing we knew, they were really going at it and neither would give in; unless you've seen your dog getting carried away with a fight you have no idea how scary it is. Cher is bigger and had the other dog pinned down but he wouldn't give in, and I thought she had torn a huge hole in his neck because his red collar looked like an open wound. We had to hit them and pry their jaws apart to separated them and they both came away bleeding, though neither seemed to notice or to realise that they had been behaving badlly. It was time to go home anyway so we managed to drag our dogs away, but Cher's ear was bleeding quite a lot and she kept shaking her head, so she ended up looking really fierce with blood all over her head and cheek. I got her home and cleaned her up and put honey on it because it's supposed to be antibacterial. When she was finally settled on the couch she seemed to realise what she had done and that she was hurt, and then she looked so pathetic and sorry for herself all day. She is fine though, and her ear is all better now. But they don't get to play fetch together anymore, it's just too risky. Right now she's sleeping on the couch under my legs and she will not be impressed that I have full days of work for the next three days.

To end on a lighter note, every nice day that I walk Cher I notice what a great view I have. I'm only about a 5 or 10 minute drive from the city, yet from my house you can see bush and hills and ocean, and walking the dog is almost like not being in a city at all. This was my view yesterday morning, first of Owhiro Bay and the dog park, then Island Bay, then Wellington city: