Thursday, May 31, 2007

Back on track

Maybe blogging really does help, because since I posted I've been able to work properly like I used to! It's been really frustrating to try and work and get confused and battle to put things together. Then about 2 days ago I had a minor epiphane while in the shower - I realised why I've been battling so much! To put it simly - my project has two major components (broken down into about 6 sub-components, each of which is a huge project in itself). BAsically one of the big components doens't really fit in, but I really want to do it. So I'd been rather vague in determining my aims so that I could work it in.

The thing is, if you want to plan a really good project you need very definite aims, and then you link every single little thing back to them (so pretty much if you sneeze you have to do it in a way that will help you in accomplishing your aims). So I was battling because I didn't have an actual solid frame of reference to pin things on. I was just writing stuff and hoping it would fit together once I was done.

So yesterday I planned out a brank spanking new proposal and started over. And I think I did more good writing yesterday than I have in the last 4 or 5 months. And as nerdy and sad as this sounds, for the first time in ages I enjoyed sitting in the lab until 9pm last night because I was actually making progress and I found myself remembering why I love being a student (besides the opportunities for travel, the awesome people and the flexible workign hours).

That's all for today. I have a lot of work to do!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

2 months down the line...

I really missed blogging! I got a lot more stuff donethough, I didn't realise how much time I spent blogging and reading other people's blogs (I missed all of them too!). But I just realised it's almost 2 months since my last post and I think you all deserve an update.

My proposal is currently in the form of a very well though out and organised 2-page long list, that I've tried to translate into fuull sentences and ended up with 40 pages of stuff that doesn't really make sense. I took it to workj today to work on and then left it there. So I'll be trekking out up north tomorrow to go and retieve it. not that it's really necessary (besides saving the trees by not printing another copy), but I was working in an old book that has some notes in it from a subject I really loved when I was in second year. So I want to hang on to them. I went off to the Northern Cape for just under a week in April. I spent y birthday with mylizards. the place is so incredible! It's beautiful! And everyone was really nice. The people camping near me were really friendly and kept trying to feed me when they saw I wasn't doing the traditional "make-a-fire and cook half a cow" south african thing but rather having a sandwich and going to bed at 7pm.

Every night it was someone different. I had the old guy from Upington with his son from New Zealand. This guy had cycled over 8000km around south africa and then bought a motorbike and done about that around Namibia. He's leaving next month for Australia where he has planned a 3-month cycling trip from Sydney to Perth (or the other way around. I forget). The next night was a very sweet family from Cape Town ('we made too much Potjie. PLEASE help us eat it!) who sat on the steps of their camper-vans playing the harmonica and then started up sokkie-treffers and sokkied the night away next to my tent. After that was a lovely family, also from Cape-Town who I got very fond of and spoke to them a lot. They'd pretty much taken their kids to the Kgalagadi transfrontier park for a month even though it involved their daughter missing a week of school because they figured she'd get a better education on a trip like that. When I told them about my lizards they got very excited and actually saw some the next day and took a really nice photo which they gave to me. There were also the strange conversations in the bathroom about what the word in afrikaans for bath-plug was because you had to bring your own and stuff. The night before I left a very motherly tannie chased me out the bathroom because I was leaving early (I left at 4am) and should go to bed. this was on my birthday so the whole way through my phone was ringing and bleeping while I was shooed to my tent by a middle-aged lady in curlers and pyjamas with fluffy pink slippers.

What was really amazing was how friendly the Afrikaans people were. they were mostly from the Cape. Gauteng people made really tight circles with their cars (almost like oxwagons ;)) and put their tents inside and didn't speak to anyone. I almost wanted to cover my number plate on my car so I wasn't linked to them in any way! It was a really amazing trip though. As muich as I didn't want to go on my own I'm glad I did. Partly it was a chance to prove to myself that I could manage a 940km drive on my own (it was actually quite fun1), and partly to have some time to be quite completely alone. I was out with my lizards from about 7am until around 4 or 5pm, and I didn't have to worry about anyone else and if they were bored or miserable or tired. And then I went to bed at about 7 (sunset) so I caught up on tons of sleep and got home ready to really get started. I got excited about my project for the first time in months anbd it was fantastic!

I resigned from my job last week after the politics got too much and I got so stressed out with university and work and people that I actually made myself sick (not in the finger-down-the throat way, in the I'm-so-stressed-I-can't-sleep-and-get-all-nervous-and-nearly-pass-out-and-can't-keep-anything-down kind of way. Kind of like the end of honours last year). It was really sad. I felt ok about it, considering the politics of having the manager's brother hate me and her listening to him were really childish and resulted in her phoning the owner literally seconds after I went to speak to him to demand an explanation for me going to see him. but I'll really miss working with Lara who can ALWAYS make me laugh! and when I saw the pile of horrible christmas music we have to listen to every december I got a little bit emotional. And I'll really miss the free movies! But I think it's for the best and I'm really looking forward to having my weekends unstructured and empty soon.

My supervisor is being a moron. I helped him out and with something for when he was away and all he could say afterwards was how much he had to fix up everything I'd done. Loser. I think it hurt so much mainly because I was quite nervous that we hadn't done a good enough job even though everyone else said we had. Maybe that's why I wanted him to supervise me, we have roughly equivalent standards when it comes to work. But it doesn't change the fact that I've lost a lot of respect for him as a person.

I'm finished with my first year's for the year. I'm glad that the course is over, but sad to see them go. I had a really nice group this year and we got along well (I even gave them chocolate for working hard! I've never even thought about doing that before!). A lot of them said they were thinking of doing Zoology next year, so I'm sure I'll cross paths with at least a few of them in the future. It was really frustrating though because I only had 2 students who were failing (out of 16. this is very unusual, usually at least half of them are struggling if not failing) and finally, about 2 or 3 weeks before the end I sat down with one of them and we talked through was should go in a drawing, what you should and shouldn't label. How to make your work look nice and neat (like tracing a drawing if it's been redrawn and erased and redrawn on top of itself in heavy pencil), and how to write answers that are relevant. He finally started coming right! It was so incredible! He was still failing, but he'd just about doubled his marks and was borderline-passing by the time we finished! I felt a little bit validated considering everything else going on.

The third years on the other had have been a disaster. they have lied to me, moaned at me, had a screaming match over their marks withme, complained to the lecturer about me, requested that I don't mark them... and so on. Fortunately they're really not very intelligent liars so it's easy to shut them up, but considering :a) my third years hate me; b) my proposal is proving to be tricky; c)I can't do a simple job well enough for my supervisor and d)I couldn't get along with a little 17-year-old well enough to stay at my job; and e)I found a grey hair last week (I'm22! I can't be going grey!) I've been feeling a little bit miserable lately.

so I took things to extremes, skipped the social-after-work/varsity friday evening and went home and had soup. It wasn't enough, so on Saturday (yesterday) I had more soup, and dyed my hair.

Now I'm feeling better.

Tomato soup and hair-dye rocks!
(not together obviously!)