Competition Music!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Crowd: Surprise! Luke: Dammit!

Today started off pretty awful. I had to be in at university at 08h00 in order to invigilate a test that the second year students were writing on tree identification. There are three major problems with this scenario. Firstly, it is at 08h00! I'm not used to being conscious any earlier than 08h00! So having to get up 2 hours before and fight the traffic wasn't the best way to start off the day...

Secondly, it's a test. So that means, no interaction with the students at all, no communication, nothing. Simply walk around the room ensuring that you look stern and making sure nobody tries to cheat. Lastly, it's freaking TREE IDENTIFICATION!!! They get books to do it all by and have over an hour in which to do it! It's really not that difficult (...unless you use that one, really crappy book, in which case, God help you because you'll never find what you are looking for...), and yet, students will sit and stare into their book, occasionally glancing at the specimen before them for more than the allotted time, and STILL fail the test! That, and it's really difficult to get enthused about trees...

Despite all the negatives of invigilating an exam, I left the test feeling content and looking forward to doing a good days-worth of work. In truth, I was also feeling a little ill after the chocolachino I'd had at the beginning of the test to try and keep me awake (I think my stomach isn't used to having to deal with a large, caffeinated, hot, 2-sachets-of-sugar'ed beverage, so early in the morn, given that I rarely drink coffee, or milk for that matter!). But I persevered and got back to my lab.

After a brief email check, I was distracted by one of those Gmail headliners linking to another site. It was one of those links about some fossils that had recently been found on the Isle of Wight (VERY cool for those interested in such things...check it out!). After quizzing Helen's knowledge of palaeontology, I began to work.

At some stage during this all, I realised the Helen had been taking an unusually high number of bathroom breaks all morning. I was mildly concerned as to her situation, but, as one does not discuss these things, the state of her digestive system remained a mystery...

Eventually Helen decided she needed to go to the library and return a book and asked if I would like a walk. I, in hindsight, should have stayed to work, as I had by that point achieved very little in the way of actual work (Some of my friends who used to be part of the lab had arrived and we'd been chatting, catching know how it is!). None the less, we departed.

After successfully returning the book, we headed back down the passage to my lab. My supervisor was standing in the corridor, as he does sometimes, and started chatting to us about something. After a little chatter, I decided that I really had better return to work and turned to open my door, but not without noticing how many people were in the room opposite mine. This, too, is fairly normal and so I didn't think much of it.

However, as I opened my door and stepped into my room, I instantly knew something was up. There were baloons everywhere and people shouting 'Surprise!'. Indeed...I was!

It turned out that Helen had organised a surprise party for my birthday on Sunday! It was really awesome! So many people showed up (which kinda weirded me out a tad, as we never have more than 10 or so people come to our surprise parties...) and it was just really nice! I was a little annoyed at myself though. I totally didn't see it coming! Normally I kinda sense that, as my birthday slowly creeps up on me, someone is bound to organise a surprise party! They always do! Without fail! So 10 points to the organisers!

Thanks Helen! :)

PS. Note to self: don't eat two cupcakes and a Sparkle (A type of hard candy) in rapid succession ever again...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Suicide over statistics?

I'm going to kill myself, or my laptop. One of us has to go. And I like my laptop a lot! So I think it will have to be me...

I'm busy writing up my dissertation for my Masters degree and all has gone relatively smoothly...until now.

On Friday I produced a graph. It's a very pretty graph. It's blue and green and fits well into a document in MS Word! And yesterday (Monday, the next week) I attempted to produce a second graph of the same type, using the same program and procedure, and the damn thing won't work! I can't figure out what I have to do to get a graph! It's driving me insane! And to add insult to injury, my supervisor has promised to help me, but is nowhere to be seen!

Grumble, grumble...