Thursday, 2 July 2009

This week I've mostly been... working

It's all about work at the moment. I've spent two days at Nottingham uni's open days, welcoming prospective students and showing them and their parents around our little campus. I went to the dentist, returned to the hospital to repeat a Hepatitis B blood test that they lost, and went into Birmingham to see friends for the evening, one of whom thinks she has swine flu. Someone in the department I've been working in at Warwick whom I've never met has tested positive for swine flu. I feel fine, but if I were going to get swine flu I'm sure it would happen on the first day of a holiday. That would be tomorrow.

My other 'job' in Nottingham has started - I'm spending a few days helping one of the lecturers who's doing a PhD, by doing some data entry and playing the role of 'patient' in a video consultation. This will help her out, and I get to see another type of PhD, and compare and contrast with what I've been doing in the lab.

Drying samples in test tubes using a hairdryer
I can see the attraction of the lab-based PhD. You come up with a hypothesis, test it, repeat the test to make sure the results are consistent, adjust the hypothesis, test it some more, repeat those experiments, and onwards towards one additional fragment to add to the sum of human knowledge. It might go nowhere and be utterly unimportant, you might prove definitively that something does or doesn't work, or it might turn out to be the critical breakthrough in the treatment of disease. The last option is obviously extremely rare and unlikely.

After just one day thinking about the other type of research, where you don't have chemicals to mix and quantitative outcomes to measure, I prefer the certainty of the lab. I know this will pass - any first day at a new job is always difficult. I've had a glimpse at SPSS, statistical analysis software that is a million times more intuitive and user-friendly than the one they insisted on using in the Computing module last term. I'm now thinking about a story I can use for the role play, so that I can be interviewed on video. I'll probably write more about this another day.

I'm struggling with full time working, especially as the incentive is low because of not being paid. All the jobs at home are stacking up, and some are quite important. We're going off camping tomorrow, just when the hot weather is due to break, and will miss the end stages of the tennis at Wimbledon, just when there's a chance of a British winner. It's pretty much the only time Mr A and I watch sport on TV, but if it's raining then we'll have the double advantage of seeking out a dry pub to sit in and watch the tennis.

So I'm slacking, blogging when I should be concentrating on my role play story and trying to think of a suitable project idea for my final year. The project is some way off, but if we can come up with something good and start early it will ease the pressure if I end up doing 70 credits instead of 60 next spring.

After today, though, Mr A and I will be off on a week's break, camping in the south east of England. Let's hope it doesn't rain ALL the time.


Anonymous said...

Have fun camping! We're going to the south east too in less than a month. I hope the weather will hold up for you!

aims said...

At least you are not getting the weather we are. We set a record low on the 2nd of July. Ice on the deck and frost covering the ground.

Still - people are camping - not swimming - but camping.

The lab work sounds very interesting to me. But then I like to prove things - to myself first and then of course to others. But the repetition - is it too much all the time? I don't know. An interesting problem indeed. And all pro bono? wowza!