Thursday, 30 August 2012

Nearly Taken.

Perhaps that's slightly dramatic but I did have a somewhat creepy encounter yesterday. I met up with my friend P yesterday afternoon and we headed out to a place called Shepherd's Bush to look at an apartment (P is moving to the UK - jealous!). On the way we got a little lost trying to find the address. P said "I'll ask this guy" - a guy that as soon as I saw him I got a bad feeling about. He looked a bit meth-y: not that I really know that well what methamphetamine-riddled people look like, but he just seemed cagey and scattered and was glancing around in a paranoid way. He also had a recent cut on his face that looked to me like it could have been from a knife slash. Before I could say "not him!" P called him over. His response regarding directions was to suggest we follow him into an alley to ask someone there (we could clearly see there was nobody in the alley - well unless he had friends hiding). Thankfully P shouted out "that's OK we're in a hurry" and we ran off. 

Kidnappers: 0, Lozzz123 (and P): 1.

[via IMDB]
Anyway P liked the apartment once we found it and is planning to apply for it. After that we had dinner at a pub in Notting Hill (the movie was actually on TV here the other day and I totally stayed up til 1am watching it - I'm such a rager). 

In other news I've now had three meetings and a phone call with another person about future research work here in London. Everyone has been so nice and helpful, which is really encouraging considering I'm a total stranger to them. Nothing concrete has been determined job-wise, but two of the people seemed willing to help me write an application for funding to come research here, and all said they'd keep me in mind if any positions came up. One did remind me though that in the UK they're cracking down on hiring non-UK/non-EU people which sucks. 

Today is the first day I don't really have any plans or meetings to study for, so I'm really going to try to do some thesis work and also prepare for my course next week (there are SO many readings to do). 

Obviously since I'm writing this, so far not so good.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Not Taken.

... well at the moment anyway. In other words, I arrived safely in London and made it to my hotel without incident. Well unless you count the fact that I didn't realise it's a bank holiday here today and therefore I had to pay public holiday rates for my taxi from the airport - ouch. I know I could have caught the train instead but I've previously had pretty bad experiences dragging around luggage in overly crowded stations - and that was with Husband there to do most of the heavy lifting!

When I arrived at my hotel my room wasn't ready yet, so I left my luggage there and wandered up the street to the British Museum to kill time. It was even better than I was expecting. The building is awesome and the exhibits are very detailed and interesting. My lack of sleep during the flights did start to hit me though about halfway through and I stopped paying attention and taking photos. I may have to go back another day.

I did take my own photos of the museum but the people taking photos for the British Museum website obviously did a much better job!
In other news, I have an update from my last post where I said I had no researchers to meet with. I am now meeting one tomorrow morning and another the next day, and I have another person I'm supposed to call soon too! Aargh. I'm really not great at talking to strangers anyway, but I'm sure this will be worse considering they're extremely smart and important and I'm trying to convince them they should hire me. So after getting back from the museum I had a nap and then went back to studying for my meetings (I hope there won't be a test!).

It also turns out a couple of my friends will be in London as well in the next few days, so things have worked out quite nicely in that regard. I also really like the suburb I'm staying in. So overall, if I pretend I don't have scary meetings coming up I can say so far so good and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


My flight to the UK is on Sunday. I can't believe just how quickly it has come around. As mentioned earlier, I'll be in London for a week and then I'm heading north to Bangor in Wales for my neuro course. I was supposed to be meeting with academics while in London to discuss potential jobs, but unfortunately it doesn't look like that will happen. Either people are still away (since it's uni summer holidays over there) or they do not have any money to hire anyone right now. One person said they'd be happy to meet, but when I tried to get them to set a specific date they never got back to me. Helpful. So instead for that week in London I'll just try to work on my thesis. 

A few people have said I should just enjoy my time there and not think about writing at all. I don't think I can do that entirely however. A friend of mine will be in London for some of that time so I'll make sure to have some fun... though I'll probably enjoy myself more if I've done a fair bit of work and therefore don't have to feel guilty about getting further behind (my self-imposed schedule).

On a sort-of-related-note, here's a movie not to watch just before you travel alone overseas: Taken. I was so focused on worrying about the flights that I forgot all about the possibility of being kidnapped and forced into trafficking. However I will say I am not as stupid as the girls in the movie to tell complete strangers where they'll be staying alone. Goobers. It's a good movie though - I'm sure husband would have enjoyed it more if I didn't spend the whole time going "Oh NO! What if I get TAKEN!" 

He did say he'd come get me though, so that's nice.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Even more spit.

I haven't spoken about spit in a while and I thought it time to remedy that. In case you're new here, part of my PhD research involves collecting saliva to assess particular hormones released when people are distressed (because I stress them out - muah ha ha haaaa). In case you're not new, well sorry you're having to read about this again!

Not my actual samples, but it kinda looks like this [via].
Yesterday I finally ran the assays for the rest of my samples. I've been waiting a while for this as it's supposed to be my last study of my PhD. Unfortunately it's taken over a year to get to this point, as for some reason watching a distressing film and spitting into a tube does not seem to be a popular experiment to volunteer for. In case you are very grossed out at this point, I will mention that the samples all get irradiated to kill any germs and we still wear gloves anyway. So no touching of spit actually occurs. Also to make sure I don't gross you out I definitely won't talk about all the FLOATIES in the samples...

... err anyway. Now I'm a bit nervous to actually run the statistics - what if it doesn't work? It has been my plan to finish my thesis by November 12 (AKA arrgh-no-more-scholarship-must-hand-in-dreaded-thesis-day). However if my experiment is a total dud I instead will have to run another one or two experiments, taking my PhD into mid next year. I do not particularly care for that option.

Either way I will keep you all updated since I'm sure you're all dying to know what I've found in people's spit.

P.S. Totally unrelated to this post, something quite unexpected happened - I was voted the Featured Blogger for August over at 20SB! Thank you so much to the people who voted for me, I really appreciate it. An extra special thanks goes to Little Missy Me who nominated me: you're awesome! :)
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