Saturday, 30 April 2011

A Day in the Life of a PhD Student Working from Home

10am: Wake up, feel bad for sleeping in so long, but decide to rest for 'just 10 more minutes'.
11am: Wake up again. Oops. Actually get up this time. Check email, look at blogs and facebook. 
11.30am: Feel bad about procrastinating so look at motivational blogs instead, think about doing some work. Instead check email, blogs and facebook again.
12pm: LUNCH! Better whip up the most elaborate thing you can think of, especially since you forgot breakfast. 
12.30pm: Notice all the things in the kitchen that need cleaning. Get started, realise this is boring and decide - should really do some work. Check email again. Hey, look at those fingernails - you should really file them (and paint...? yeh good idea).
1pm: This might be a good time to clean your desk. Also, does your computer need defragmenting, or some big virus scan that means you can't work on your computer? Better do that now. 
[Anide, this one's for you]
1.30pm: QUICK!! Something exciting might have happened on facebook! Check it now and get distracted stalking people you don't really like all that much. 
2pm: Ever wonder what happened to that celebrity who was in that thing a few years ago? Why not research that instead of PhD-related topics.  Alternative option: you should probably look up symptoms of that rare and dangerous disease you think you might be developing.
2.30pm: Is today the day to start that new exercise plan? YOU KNOW IT!!
3pm: Wait - this seems hard, and really you should be doing some work. Check email again.
3.30pm: Actually start doing work. 
4pm: Feel very accomplished for doing some work; check facebook as reward.
4.30pm: Husband returns home from work. "Why do you have to be so distracting and noisy? Can't you see I'm working very hard?!" Oh well... consider getting started on dinner?
5pm: Start making elaborate dinner. Feel a bit bad about uni work, but people need to eat don't they!
7pm: Dinner; Throw out the idea of doing any more work today - at least you did that little bit, it was like 4 hours or so wasn't it? Right? Relax for the rest of the evening with big plans for PhD work tomorrow.

P.S. Yes I am working from home today - how did you guess?! :P

Husband REFUSES to buy me a horse.

Nevermind that we live in a 4th floor apartment... I just want one! Here are a few snaps from our lovely weekend in the country for Easter. 

P.S. Today (Sat 30th) is our 6 month-aversary of being married! I can't really believe it's been that long already.
P.P.S. Many more pics on my Flickr account 

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Science FAIL.

Back in my undergraduate degree I did Chemistry. I found the lectures pretty interesting for the most part but the practical lab parts a bit dull, mostly due to all the calculations. I had a fairly nice lab partner, though I decided in my head that his name didn't suit him and he seemed more like an Andrew. So I spent most of the time trying to remember his real name and not to call him Andrew. 

[pic via here]
Chemistry definitely wasn't my best subject, and I was mostly only taking it because it was a pre-requisite for some other courses. Anyway, the day came for us to do an exam in the lab. It required us doing a variety of tests to work out the mystery chemical we were given. We had to do it alone, and in silence. Well I started off OK, but five minutes into it, I realised that I had accidentally put some of the test ingredients in the original sample. This meant I had contaminated it, and had no actual way from then of working out what the mystery chemical was. Now, I am definitely not what you call an assertive person, and I was quite afraid of looking like a total goober in front of my parter and all the other people in the lab. Too scared to tell anyone, I just pottered around pretending to do tests for the rest of the time, and looking like I was deep in thought or working out calculations whenever an examiner walked past. Clearly, I should have just told someone, and although I would have looked silly for a few minutes it probably would have been better than spending the whole rest of the exam in sheer panic. Obviously I made up my answer at the end of the test. When my partner asked how I went I'm pretty sure I said: "yeah not too bad"!

I'd like to say I fluked it and got it right, but the title of this post isn't 'Science Fail' for nothing. 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Easter!

I am trying this scheduling thing, hopefully it works! I have planned this post in advance because Husband and I will be away over the Easter long weekend. We are travelling to stay at a friend's farm from Sat-Mon. It's quite a few hours drive away and there is no mobile phone reception there (!). We've been there previously and it is so peaceful, relaxing and really pretty. They have alpaccas and ducks too! Also, we are heading down with some other friends who agreed to do all the driving which is lovely. 

So although I am away, I will say I hope you have a great Easter - or what they say in Greek: Χριστός ἀνέστη! = Christ is Risen (pronounced Christos Anesti)! 

P.S. In case you're wondering where the sudden Greek came from, it's because my Husband is Greek and I spent a fair bit of time last year trying to learn to speak it as a surprise at our wedding.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Crazy week - over.

So the long and super busy week I was quite worried about is finally finished. I had to give a two-hour lecture (my first lecture ever!) from 6pm - 8pm Wed night, get up much earlier than usual to go to Spit Camp the next day (today), and somehow in this week also fit time to prepare for said lecture, teach my regular tutorial classes, do experiments, work on papers, and see students anxious about a soon-to-be-due assignment. You can imagine why me thinking about all this was getting me a bit frazzled. 

What ended up happening though, was that I gave myself permission to work only on the things that were immediately important this week. This meant no experimenting, and no paper writing. I ended up being a lot less stressed, and I have to say that it really ended up being an enjoyable week. Yes, I was nervous about the lecture, and spent a huge amount of time preparing for it, but that preparation paid off I think. Although it finished a bit early (which I doubt the students were all that sad about), I found it fun and the students said nice things about it. You end up feeling very important when everyone is listening to you and thinking you're an expert on something (if only they knew...)! My tutorials turned out to be fine, and actually quite amusing. Also, while I was not looking forward to getting up early and finding my way to a foreign university - SPIT CAMP WAS GREAT! The other attendees said it was fantastic and we all learned a lot. I felt very science-y learning this technique for my cortisol analysis - it's called Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay - how science-y does that sound (yes I do know it's actually a very commonly used technique and many people learn it in undergrad, but why must you always try to bring me down man?)Another plus of the day: morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea (caaaaake) was all catered. Free food always impresses the PhD students!

Additionally, I have to give mad-props (is that even how you say that!?) to Husband for being so understanding this week, and doing extra cooking and cleaning while I fell into an exhausted heap each night.

I know all my PhD work is waiting for me next week, but I have the Easter long weekend to look forward to before that! YAY! 

P.S. Unfortunately I gave up on my no-caffeine attempt for a couple of days... but it was justified I feel.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Curse.

I have worked at many places in the last 9-10 years, and I was thinking of talking on here about some of my more memorable jobs. Then I remembered for a while I had what I would call a curse relating to work. Or more specifically a particular person, who was an omen of doom for that job (i.e., I'd be soon getting fired after interacting with him). I will call this person Ivan*...

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Husband Quotes

"Do you think it would be a good idea to start a funeral company and call it Pimp Your Dead?"

...haha sorry no, I really don't.  

P.S. Today is day 3 of no energy drinks. So far so - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, 15 April 2011

To V or not to V (or redbull).

So if you have looked over at my 'mini-review' section of likes and boycotts, you'll see that I'm quite the fan of sugarfree V - a caffeinated energy drink. For a while I was somewhat proud of the fact that I was drinking more than the recommended daily intake. I know what you're thinking and you're correct - I am quite the rebel. However recently I've been trying to consider my health a bit more as I am hurtling towards being elderly (I am 26, sigh). I realised consuming this much caffeine/guarana/fake-sugar daily probably isn't the best. However, I reasoned that I am doing a PhD and I can't just sleep all the time and then be incoherent and unable to concentrate the rest of the time, so I should just keep drinking it for now.

Anyway, out of busyness today, and the fact that uni has stopped stocking it for some reason (redbull conspiracy?!?), I didn't actually drink any V today. And surprisingly... I survived. I was awake (although cranky), and seemed to be able to function (mostly). I'll admit I had a can of pepsi max but as if that does anything. What's the point of this story you ask? Well aren't you rude. Anyway, I'm considering trying to give it up for good. Which would be quite difficult I think, but would be better in the long run and save a fair bit of money.

Or maybe I'll just start having red bull.

P.S. YES I have considered the fact that the crazed ramblings of this post may be due to the effects of lack of caffeine.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Made my day!

A cat playing with dolphins - awwww.

That is all.

P.S. Thanks AR for sending me this! :)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


The current experiment I am conducting involves looking at susceptibility to false memories after viewing a stressful or neutral film. One of the variables I'm interested in looking at is the hormone cortisol, which gets released into the body when a person is stressed. The short version of one of my hypotheses is that since excessive cortisol levels can impair memories, if people are more stressed and release more cortisol they might have worse memories for some aspects of the film. This may make them more likely to accept false information about the film into their memories, which I'm going to implant - muah ha ha haaaaa.

spit collection supplies from here
What this means though, is I need to collect saliva samples to run analyses to look for differences in cortisol levels. This IS as gross as it sounds. Participants spit down straws into tubes, and I store them in the fridge until I can freeze them for later analysis. You'll be happy to know I wear gloves. The most disgusting part is definitely the spit noises! Oh and floaties.

What I am excited about though - is spit camp. This is a whole day where you get to learn the saliva analysis techniques and even get to test your own sample. It was initially suggested by one of my associate supervisors that I go to one in Europe while I was there on my honeymoon. The sad thing is I actually considered it - luckily my primary supervisor told me not to! So instead I have worked on one being organised here in Sydney, and it is next week! It will be a very long day - 9am to 5pm at Macquarie Uni, but I really am looking forward to it. :)

I told you I'm a giant nerd!

Monday, 11 April 2011

New Ice-cream Flavour: Burnt (or, why I had to throw out the saucepan).

my icecream maker
I was very excited to get an ice-cream maker, particularly as I am trying to make things without sugar. My first few attempts were fairly average, mostly flavoured ice. However one day I was definitely in the mood for ice-cream, and decided to make chocolate flavour. When I started mixing it together, I thought the cocoa looked weird, coming out in little clumps, but whatever. It wasn’t until it was actually in the mixer, churning away that I caught a glimpse of what looked like a wing. Yes, those little clumps were BUGS. And sadly, I had tasted the mixture too. So I had to tip out the entire mixture (and rinse my mouth out for a long time).

I was a bit disheartened, but still determined to have my ice-cream. Chocolate was out, so vanilla it was. However now I didn’t have enough cream for that recipe, so I decided to try out a different recipe that required a lot more cooking time on the stove. For some odd reason, the whisk kept getting stuck on the bottom of the pan, but that didn’t deter me. Quite a while later I decided to investigate the cause of the sticking and realised that the mixture was starting to caramelise on the bottom. But caramelising is ok right? Surely the mixture would just taste a bit caramel-y. So I kept cooking. It wasn’t until I poured out the mixture for it to set in the fridge that I saw the bottom of the saucepan. BLACK. I tried scrubbing and scrubbing but realised that it was a lost cause. But hey, at least I still had the ice-cream! Sure it smelled slightly weird, but I was certain it would taste fine. So I went through the churning process and got my ice-cream. Finally. It tasted… interesting. Not really the caramel flavour I was hoping. But I persevered, eating nearly a whole bowl before I gave up and admitted that the primary flavour was BURNT. So I had to wait for it all to melt so I could tip it out. YUM.

Husband Quotes

(in response to my telling him I’ve started a blog) "Does that mean you’ll be famous and make lots of money and have weirdos tell you you’re pretty and ask you to take your clothes off?"

…that’s the dream, I guess? :S

Sunday, 10 April 2011

I know what the internet needs - yet ANOTHER blog.

This is something I've been considering for a while, mostly because it's a good way to procrastinate I feel. It seems all a bit self-indulgent though but I'll see how I go. So what do I have to contribute that's particularly new or interesting to the internet? Perhaps nothing... Wow this is gripping stuff so far.

I may as well start by talking about myself. I am in my 3rd year of a PhD degree. This is supposedly the time when all your research and ideas come together and a thesis should be the result. Personally, I don't see it happening just yet! I also teach tutorials and will even be doing a little bit of lecturing this year, which will be fun, but quite time consuming. Additionally, I got married at the end of last year (even though some people argue that getting married in the middle of a PhD is the worst idea ever, but oh well). Sometimes I even try to have friends and a life. So I suppose I'll be writing about juggling all of those things and trying to stay sane. I should probably also mention that I am a GIANT nerd. So I will also be talking about what I find interesting - nerdy science-y stuff. Finally, as you may guess from my desire to stay at uni for as long as possible and not get a real job, I am fighting the fact that I am growing up, and really actually old enough to be called an adult - ugh.

So I suppose I should get back to uni work now that I've successfully procrastinated and - OOH LOOK A SHINY THING.
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