Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My apologies

I am trying to use Windows Live Writer now, so if this looks weird then i m sorry, but I had to try, and blogger’s formatting (particularly with pictures) was driving me totally nuts.

I’m not quite sure how to express myself right now. I’m exhausted, I’m stressed out, ,I’m leaving for the field in a few days, I have friends having crises, I have to pack…

And I’m addicted to this website. I decided to use some of my favourite doodles to describe what’s going on in my life.

There’s going on fieldwork:


Coming to terms with having to produce something worthy of four years of my life:

beautiful4 beautiful6beautiful2

Beating back cynicism and negativity (I’d rather be a real optimist than a fake cynic, and cynicism is SO last week). Seriously, I’ve found myself being happy lately, and not for any particular reason. Maybe not having a reason is reason enough?


I’ve also finally moved on from somebody who hurt me quite badly a few months ago. It took me longer than I expected, and I kept realising that I had moved on, and then moving on further and then realising ‘hey, I’ve moved on!’ and then…


And, of course, coming to terms with who I used to be, and trying to accept the past for what it is.


How very profoundly zen-ish! Goes to show that insomnia has its uses!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


So I'm playing the silent blogger game lately- my apologies! I really
miss my daily blog-reading over breakfast. I will get back to it as
soon as I can, but at the moment everything's been a little bit

I'm still delayed on fieldwork- I'd forgotten that if we have a public
holiday the entire country grinds to a halt for at least 3 days!

I've been pushed and pushed in tai chi so that I'm finished the form
in time to go away. I can kind of do it, but I worry about trying on
my own in the middle of nowhere! I'm definitely going to miss the
people there, we have a lot of fun. It sucks that I'll be practising
with different people when I get back.

I have learned that although I can predict a bad hair day the night
before, there's nothing I can do to prevent it.

My last weekend in Joburg has coincided with the public holiday slump,
so a lot of my friends haven't been paid yet. So goth-clubbing has
been postponed again. It's still fun to hang out and watch random
movies at CG's house though! I'm really going to miss them!

Boy trouble. Aaaargh! Seriously, I am a highly educated and
independent person. Why the heck do I still turn into a giggly
teenager whenever I would REALLY like to maintain the independent,
cool and collected attitude. On that note, can we make mood-linked
billboards compulsory? Trying to figure out what other people are
thinking is driving me nuts!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From another angle

One of the things we've been doing lately is stretching. Most days -
whenever we're all around and there's nothing exploding to attend to -
we gather along one of the lab benches and stretch.

The bench is just the right height for putting one foot up to touch
our toes - or try anyway - and it ends up looking like a bizarre
academic ballet. This is usually when random people decide to visit,
think that they're hallucinating and leave. When they return we'll all
be sitting working as usual and they end up a little bit confused...

When we're done with the standing stretches we spread labcoats out on
the floor and lie down to stretch other muscles. This is where the
real hilarity begins! Leia is convinced that there is a gas leak under
one of the benches because after about half a minute we start making
silly jokes and giggling uncontrollably.

This isn't helped by the fact that Luke and I (particularly me) are
not very flexible, and tend to get slightly vocal about the pain we
feel. Leia doesn't help by deciding to assist by making up flex our
feet or making sure we're 'getting the most out of the stretch.' That
child is way too bendy for her own good!

So after seeing us all doing 'ballet' whoever happens to be in the
surrounding offices or the passage outside gets treated to yelps of
pain, complaining, shrieks of laughter and really bizarre puns.

Just another day in the lab!

Monday, September 21, 2009

peace and quiet

Two things: I got a ticket to the Killers!!!! CG got tickets for a few of us and then was worried that I might be upset. Strange girl.. I think my jumping around squealing pretty much cleared er conscience on that one! Lets just hope I get back in time - although if not I have a plan B - a friend who also really wants to go and who can go in my place so it's not wasted.

The other thing? Well I had the quietest weekend in months and it was really nice (although I'm looking forward to getting back out there and wreaking havoc next weekend)! Laura was out from Oxford for a few weeks and so I was really happy to spend some time with her - we had dinner on Friday evening and i got home at the respectable hour of about 9:30 (getting old...).

Saturday was work at the vet - I may have got the vet's kids in trouble when I played along with their game of being a dog and a cat and zipped them up into pet carriers. I had to give them biscuits and they had a great time barking and meowing... until their mother walked in... In my defence it was their idea! after that we made paper-clip necklaces and they explored the possibilities of putting paperclips in my hair - I found another one this morning that had been washed twice but hadn't untangled itself enough to fall out!

After that I went to a music/jamming session at Duncan's house - he got a drum kit quite recently and I had a great time trying it out! I wish i knew how people do those amazing drum solos though, I could never just let loose and go nuts with the drums, I needed guidelines! The others had fun making weird noises with my viola (and chasing the cats with it) as well as trying to figure out the recorder again. I tried to play the piano for the first time in years which was fun, if a bit frustrating, and admired Duncan's amazing guitar playing! I've never been able to figure out the guitar (except for guitar-hero which doesn't count).

From there I went home and crashed, waking up in time for dinner and a run before bed.

And Sunday was quiet, I practiced tai ch (I've managed to write down all the steps I need to remember so I can practise without getting too stuck. I think my family is confused that there are little pieces of paper floating around with "stab behind, gouge eye" and that sort of thing written on them), washed my car, had a great cycle and run and went off to church which was... interesting!

Friday, September 18, 2009

remember when?

So I haven't been keeping up to date with my 90's music posts, simply because life kind of got in the way, and if you've ever read Children of the 90's you'll know how incredibly amazing their coverage of all thing's 90's is... makes it hard to keep up!

This song is a must for the list. Unfortunately embedding is disabled, but check it out if you want a music video that will certainly give me nightmares!

Collective soul was my favourite band for a long long time - I think I fed lizards with them playing on my mp3 player for about 6 months... And you have to give them extra points for the Dr Quinn-inspired hair!

And some Sheryl Crow just for the weekend! I love this song (and I think I can forgive that painful - no pun intended - First Cut is the Deepest song because of the other ones that were awesome!).

Happy Friday folks!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pick me! Pick me!

So the awesome Po tagged me a few days ago in one of those '10-random things about me' posts. Here goes:

  1. I hate fakeness. I hate mind games. I hate people manipulating other people. I hate people messing with my friends. As a result I spent many years with only close male friends. Girls are too higher grade.
  2. I love stretching. Well no, I hate stretching, but I love the feeling afterwards when everything feels sort of relaxed and cared for. Even if Leia tends to push my feet in weird directions while I'm trying to hold on to my toes... And we stretch in the lab so my shrieks of pain are occasionally investigated by some mildly confused academics!
  3. I'm addicted to Ninja Warrior and Takeshi's castle. I think airing them together is such a good plan - ninja warrior is awesome but makes me feel inadequate, while Takeshi's castle is full of people like me doing incredibly silly things! Like Karaoke? I mean who the heck thought that one up? It's awesome!
  4. I'm easily amused.
  5. Things are changing a lot faster than I'd expected. A lot of it is a result of me changing, but I'm sad to see the end of some things.
  6. I am learning how to do some really confusing stats, but right now I think I might just understand it. This scares me.
  7. I don't feel old enough for the responsibilities that people think I'm ready to take on. I had a mud-fight and got stuck in the mud a few years ago, had a sword fight in the middle of the night while running down the street less than a year ago, and climb trees from time to time. How on earth am I mature enough to lecture, supervise students and start thinking about getting a job (it has been suggested that I apply for two different ones, and I'm terrified of both of them!).
  8. I think applying economic models to everything in the whole world is a great idea. And fun. Definitely breaks the ice at parties.
  9. Lately I've changed from conflict-avoidance to getting-it-all-out-there-ance. I'm tired of tiptoeing around things. And things change when you meet them head-on (just wear a helmet).
  10. If I don't stop this I'm going to be late for tai chi. And that would be sad.

Thanks Po!

I tag Candice, Leia and Luke for this one (if you think this might be you and you're not sure, just do it anyway!).

is it just me?

So now even MORE of my equipment isn't working... I'm starting to think it has something to do with me... And my supervisors keep wanting to talk about my Future and my Career. Fair enough, my PhD is coming to an end, but at the same time all I really want is a holiday. Can you be a professional vagabond?

And would they give me a hat if I was one?

In the meantime, I have become completely addicted to two TV shows -weird as I haven't watched TV for well over a year.

This is a montage of clips from one of them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shiny things, men in uniform AND fireworks!

So A couple off weeks ago I was invited by my fabulous cousins to attend the dress rehearsal of the South African tattoo. This is the advert:

Basically my cousin's fiancee was dancing in it and as he was helping around backstage the free tickets managed to get redistributed to his younger sister and she offered one to me! I was super-excited as I wanted to go last year but didn't get around to it until the tickets were sold out... Plus I had no idea that my soon-to-be cousin does Highland dancing! And the cousin who gave me the ticket (therough the other cousin of course) drove me there and home which was SO nice! We also got to catch up a bit which is nice as we were almost inseparable as young kids and then kind of took our own paths as we grew up.

The show was so much fun! There were fireworks, the lights were pointed at the sky (it was outdoors) which meant that we got to pretend that there was a UFO above our heads until the performance started (I am easily amused) and we got to sit in the second row from the front and see EVERYTHING!

As I can't write about everything without it taking until next week I will do a Things I Learned list:

  • You can be an individual while wearing a kilt - one of the guys looked exactly like I'd imagine a goth-piper to be. He was dressed exactly like everyone else, but the long hair and earrings remained, and the attitude was still there!
  • We have drum majorettes in this country. I had no idea. They were adorable, with their big smiles plastered on and so much enthusiasm.
  • There are local groups suppteaching music and dance to kids here, and they were incredible! Watching a few hundred kids doing some really fast-paced gumboot dancing is not something I will forget in a hurry.
  • Yellow kilts look suspiciously like skirts, particularly when the men choose to wear them short...
  • Rifle drills are AMAZING!
  • It's easy to see who is enjoying themselves and who isn't - and how easy it is to ignore the performers just going through the motions and watch the ones who are smiling and really getting into it.
  • Flag-throwing people from Italy are very Italian. And very skilled considering they did all their flag-throwing stunts with the wind blowing rather harad!
  • I'm not quite sure why there was a stunt-motorcyle exhibition, but it was unbelievable! There are very talented (and crazy) people out there!
  • The marching band leader guys (I should know the name for them) take themselves very seriously. There was a world champion leading one section and he didn't even flinch or smile or blimk too much. We discussed his inner emotions in depth from the stands.
  • The Highland Dancers were really good! Not that I can talk as I was *cough*forced*cough* into it when I was four and never made any progress at all besides deciding that the swords were fun to play with between lessons. And I think it's very cool that my soon-to-be cousin can do it!
  • When the older men from the SA Navy went off to the side to play electric guitars and drums for us we realised that there's no age limit on playing what you want to!
  • I want to go to Burundi and hear their drummers again. They had the most incredible energy (and giant smiles) and the vibrations from the drums kind of resonated in my collarbone and it was one of the most amazing experiences ever.

So I I'll definitely try and go again next year! Failing that... anyone keen for a trip to Burundi?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Don't hate me...

You know when you get a song stuck in your head and you can't remember enough of the lyrics to google it, so you kind of have to live with it for WEEKS. The only thing that will get it out of your head is to hear the whole song for some obscure reason...

Well anyway, I had this problem the other day, and so of course I whined about it on Facebook (as you do) and Sarah suggested a different song. You know those songs that are insanely catchy but awful at the same time -like 'it's a small world' or 'I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts' or the Macarena or something like that.

And so she suggested this song instead. I've been torturing poor Luke and Leia with it for a wile now because I find it hilarious. To be fair, Leia was whining about having a different song stuck in her head earlier, and I DID solve that problem for her... Plus it's just too easy to say "hey look at this!" and then pull my headphones out of my laptop... yes, I'm a bad person.

So don't hate me for this, but I officially name this the catchiest song of all time (not in a good way)... it also gets bonus points for the high-waisted leather pants and the rest of the band dressing as fruit (I can't decide which is better - the trumpeter-banana or the drummer. Thoughts?)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My kind of drama!

So lately I've been living a semi-normal life. I have my work,
occasionally I squirt radioactive stuff over myself, but otherwise I
work during the week, do my tai chi, exercise when I feel up to it,
and hang out with awesome friends on weekends. It's nice, I like the
feeling of routine, stability, belonging somewhere. In a big way I
think i've been not as frantic to go to the field as usual.

Unfortunately one of my friends LOVES drama. If there is no conflict,
she'll create it. If something starts she'll puppeteer those involved
and cause drama. As for her personal life...

We had to cancel Saturday's plans as chief goth was sick, so we hung
out at her house instead. At 10:30pm this girl arrived all upset, with
her boyfriend calling constantly and her refusing to speak to him. Of
course I got sucked into the whole thing... And I realised that I
don't need any more drama. No thanks. I'm going home now.

So today, partly in an effort to avoid irate family members who sat up
waiting for me, I headed off to the zoo where I had lunch with a
gorilla, scrubbed frog tanks, bonded with some awesome boa
constrictors, met the biggest tarantulas EVER, said hi to the baby
monkeys and hunted for a vanishing ape.

It was AWESOME! I'm ba-a-a-ack!

And it feels GREAT!

Friday, September 11, 2009

To be perfectly honest...

I'm not so sure that I deserve it, but I am honoured to receive the Honest Scrapper award from the awesome Kath

It's pretty...

And with everything being mildly hectic here at the moment, it makes today's post slightly simpler! Thanks Kath!

So apparently the rules are that i get to pass it on to seven people who have blogs that 'post from the heart' (as opposed to the kidneys) and then I have to write about me (yay!) or rather list ten honest things about me (oh dear).

Here goes:

  1. Suvvygirl - Suvvygirl lives in the US, and although we're very similar in age she has a husband, two kids, and a heck of a lot of wisdom! We started exchanging emails a while back and she is the one I go to whenever I need her services as a handy advice columnist (without the column). On the plus side she's far away enough that there are no repercussions to her knowing a lot more about my personal life than most people... Her blog is always entertaining as she tells stories of trying to handle playing in a pool league, working, sorting out the love-lives of her closest friends and trying to raise two kids who aren't always the most cooperative.
  2. Tamara - Tamara is a journalist, and her writing is incredible! Shes entertaining while still describing issues like rude waiters, nasty doctors, the fun and games of freelance work and life in general. I was lucky enough to snag an invitation to her birthday party a while ago and was amazed at the amount of energy coming from such a little person!
  3. Po - I LOVE her blog, she's such a quirky and funny writer, and always has a different perspective on things. As for honesty well as someone who loves South Africa (even if I don't always love living here) I have really felt for her as she struggles to adjust to living in the UK.
  4. Becca - I just started reading Becca's blog, and i find it really interesting. Besides having a strong faith and a close-knit family, she has interests in football and shopping and shoes - and we must love a girl who has a balanced idea of fun! Particularly one who isn't afraid to talk about all of it! She also gives great life-lesson advice.
  5. Skinny Bitches in the Making - this blog has two authors (which is why I'm counting it as two awards. Wouldn't want them to fight!) and it's one of my favourites! They have plans and ambitions and longing to be the capetonian sex & the city girls, and they're totally honest about it! They aren't afraid to write about hopes and dreams - even if it's something like being photographed by a style guru, saving money on lattes or figuring out how to have fun on a 2-minute noodle budget (at the end of the month at least. I feel their pain on this one!).
  6. see above
  7. The mutton-chopped mutant - Read at your peril as this guy is very VERY honest (and a bit too much so for my delicate brain sometimes) but always entertaining and very different!

So that took longer than I thought... so, ten things about me...

  1. I've been teaching for 5 years and although I'm the tough one who makes the students get over their fear of insects, slimy stuff and dead things, all of the above kind of freak me out. I hide it well, but seriously, one look at a Parktown Prawn and I do a fantastic Madam & Eve re-enactment.
  2. I found a grey hair this morning and it totally ruined my day.
  3. I've never been a girly girl, but lately I've found that putting in a bit of effort really improves my self-image - I do it for ME because I want to.
  4. I did Scottish Dancing when I was little and sucked at it. I did ballet and it wasn't much better. I ice-skated for two years and kind of hit a progress-wall. The only sport I was vaguely good at was hockey because I didn't mind being whacked in the shins by players 4 years older than me (there wasn't a team for my age-group at one stage so I was put in with the older group). There's a lot to be said for stubbornness in sport!
  5. When I was younger I was so shy I used to get left behind on fieldtrips, locked in classrooms and generally ignored. I used this to my advantage by getting myself locked in the classroom and using the time to out-read my entire grade 3 class.
  6. I HATE not winning anything. Even board games (although I'm getting better with them).
  7. I've never wanted to get married or have children, but lately the idea isn't as repulsive to me as it was. this freaks me out completely.
  8. I love getting dirty as long as there's somewhere to clean up. The minute there is no shower or change of clothes I get upset and refuse to do anything that might involve dirt.
  9. I used to be terrified of heights, but I got over it to chase lizards. I have never jumped off a high-dive board (which is where I discovered my fear in the first place).
  10. I seem to attract mentors/parent-figures. People seem to like helping me and I'm never sure why, but I do appreciate it and I love all of them!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm alive (I think!)

Sorry I've been quiet, I agreed to help out at a workshop at the zoo, and so my general productivity has plummeted somewhat and so I spend my spare time doing real work so that I can spend my work time trying to get a bunch of strong-personalitied zookeepers to agree on things!

In the meantime I have:

  • been interviewed by a high-school student (awkward)
  • Had an incredibly awesome tai chi session (the sword can give you hand-cramps, but it starts making more sense after a while)
  • Realised that my unofficial therapist is no longer necessary as anything more than a great friend and someone to eat potato wedges with.
  • Seen Tattoo, which besides being incredibly awesome and full of shiny things, has made me desperate to go to Burundi (however you spell that).

I promise I will write more about everything soon, but right now I have to go and save the world (i.e. take my laptop into meetings to research for my meetings with the chemists next week, while being supportive of the people in the other meetings).

Or something like that anyway.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It's over!

I've been feeling quite run down lately. Like about-to-pass out, falling asleep in my chair-type run down. It's been quite scary actually! Last night I finally gave in - I had a choice between calling the TOD to cancel and go to the doctor, or tough it out and have my final session with him. I took iron pills and vitamin B and toughed it out!

I think I was definitely low on iron because I felt SO much better this morning! I even (almost) managed the squat-jump-over steps-and-punch exercises! The TOD is quite annoyed that I'm not having any more sessions with him, I'm just too busy and he's too expensive and spending 2-3 hours in the gym everyday is just not working for me!
Anyway I have a lot of work to do as I'm going to help out at a zoo workshop for the next few days and i have a LOT to do!
To keep you all entertained: I found this here and it really made me think...

Scary, no?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Why do they do this to us?

So I did my usual session from hell with TOD this morning (he's trying very hard to get me to buy more sessions, I am trying very hard to say no... either way tomorrow it's OVER!) and went and showered and changed as usual.

I got to the lab, and had coffee and some of my lunch while chatting to Luke and then moved upstairs to ask the school admin-staff about some issues I've been having, and to get to work in the alb upstairs (in my infinite wisdom I left my laptop at home today, so my desktop is seeing some use after a long holiday!). While we were standing in the office, a friend of mine took me aside and removed a sticker from my jeans. Yip, somehow it must have been floating around the change-rooms at the gym or something, but I've been advertising that my jeans are 'cleavage booster' all morning!

And I realised that I HATE the silly little stickers. I mean really, do they need to plaster the size/cut/cleavage booster properties all over everything? Surely you KNOW that a tank top from the pyjama section will have 'inbuilt support' (which basically doesn't support anything, but hey) why does it need a sticker? Because those stickers ALWAYS end up sticking to something they're not meant to and following you (or some poor stranger)a round for weeks...

Friday, September 04, 2009

And up...

I'm sorry to be such a wet blanket suddenly, I'm not sure what's going on at the moment! I think it's got a lot to do with the impending field-season. I tend to over-analyse most things and the thought of leaving my friends and family and everything for up to 3 1/2 months (it might be 6 weeks, it might be the rest of the year, I won't know until I get there and every day I lose is an extra two or three days as it gets hotter and hotter and trapping hours are shortened...).

On one hand I worry about how the work will go, the fact that I won't know anything about the lizard activity until I get there, whether my experiments will work or not, whether my equipment is all in top condition (considering I have two separate machines needing fixing it does keep me up at night somewhat). On the other hand I worry that it's my last trip there for my PhD and as much as I know the thorns and the rocks and the heat and the weird farmers and the wily lizards, it will be a very VERY sad thing to say goodbye to what has been my other home for the last three years (I spend about 4 months a year there).

Socially i worry about leaving my friends, party in the selfish way - I get ridiculously jealous at the idea of people having fun without me and not missing me, which is incredibly stupid because I can't expect people to stop living when I'm not around. I also worry because I know a couple of my close friends are battling with pretty major issues at the moment and I feel guilty for leaving them to deal with everything on their own.

And of course, I'm lucky to have some really awesome friends, and quite a few new friends who I don't know as well as I'd like to, and it makes me sad that I'll be missing opportunities to spend time with all of them. I'm not very good at keeping in touch and as we all lead busy lives it's hard to remember to keep in contact when I'm working ridiculous hours and they're rushing around saving the world!

Of course I should just stop being miserable and get to work on the tons of stuff I have to do before I go, and even more that I have to do with the data I already collected!

So I'm sorry I'm being a bit miserable lately, I think I just need to get through this patch and then get myself off to the field before my head explodes!

On the plus side, Luke is back from Europe and it's SO nice to have him back! Welcome home!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

well THIS sucks!

It's weird, I've just had a day where nothing amazingly bad has happened, and I'm feeling like I've had the kind of day that requires a long hot bath, a lot of chocolate and something to hit... I've just done a downswing on the mood-yoyo (swings are WAY too gentle for the way I shift moods lately).
It started badly, I had to go to Pretoria where I have a bunch of really nice people helping me to resurrect my rather dead (and always dilapidated) inner Chemistry lab-monkey. Of course today is the day they close all but one lane on the highway, so a trip that normally takes me just under an hour took almost 3!
Admittedly the trip was not entirely uneventful, for the stretch where we sat still most of the time, occasionally reaching blazing speeds of 10 km/h I spend far more time than I'd admit to having Facebook message conversations with two of my friends. One of them was one of the people I got to know on Saturday evening and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to them. The other was a very special friend who I don't see often who was having a bad day of her own.
Once I got to the lab where I'm working I was greeted with big smiles (and some slight surprise) from the researchers there who I think may have forgotten that I was coming. We had set up the day a few weeks ago so I don't blame them, but they recovered well and were super-helpful! It was actually quite amazing to watch the way that their lab works - basically there are two very senior researchers who work in slightly different disciplines and they throw ideas around ALL the time! I also met a junior lecturer/masters student who at my age has already got 3 degrees, worked for a year and is in the process of doing his entire masters in about a year flat.
I made sure that they understood that I knew NOTHING (a lot of what generally goes wrong in my lab work is that I really don't know much and I make silly mistakes because people believe that I'm capable). And then I got annoyed when they acted as if I knew nothing. Anyway the junior lecturer basically dropped everything to jump in and help - he made a solvent for me and then watched me make the second one, even letting me use his lab coat rather than the manky one they had there (and his oh-so-stylish safety glasses that fulfilled all criteria for the perfect pair - they were too big, fell off all the time and were nearly impossible to see through).
From there we ran the first trial which gave really exciting results (basically it looked like my lizards only have one compound (out of a potential 600) and that's one that's relatively easily accessible for me!)
While the test was running the older researchers went off to a meeting and I had lunch with the junior guy who was really nice and I think rather excited to have someone around his age to talk to. Of course we talked Chemistry for about an hour. Really. I kind of had flashbacks to when I was in honours and ate/slept/breathed my research. I was incredibly successful and efficient, but I remember the complete depression when it was all over and I had nothing left in my life. I tried to explain the importance of balance (his big social events for the year were two lab functions) and he nodded gravely and then went on to explain how drinking deionised water can kill you and the chemical reasoning behind feeding charcoal to people who tried to commit suicide. And why you shouldn't brush your teeth too often (and the chemistry behind his reasoning).
By then I was exhausted - labwork makes me really tired and talking about Science (particularly a discipline that I nearly failed 6 years ago) was killing me, and I was suffering from the lack of coffee machine and the fact that my water bottle was in my car and I've got kind of used to having a huge water-bottle on my desk. And when the senior folks got back they almost offered me coffee but then got really excited about something to do with mangoes and sunscreen and then got all excited about my stuff.
By the end of it I was swaying on my feet from exhaustion and dehydration, and they handed me a sample to look at and I nearly passed out - turns out the solvent is rather volatile. They sighed all nostalgically and said "Oh yes, that's the cheapest high ever, too bad we can't even smell it anymore." Not kidding. On the downside we found another compound and we have no way of identifying it just yet.
Eventually 4pm arrived and I was itching to beat the traffic and avoid another 3-hour stint when they started getting all excited about solvent gradients and I quietly explained my need to be back so that in my solvent-induced euphoria I could go to tai chi and swing a sword around. I managed to get home in time to change for tai chi and I went off in great anticipation!
And it sucked. My sword looks slightly different to everyone else's, and that bothers me. It's still awesome though. And the regular teachers weren't there, so we were paired with two advanced students who were REALLY nice, but moved even faster than the teacher was on Tuesday. Even worse - the guy I practise with is a total natural and got really annoyed that I can not keep track of hands, feet AND sword and so we had to stop every five seconds so they could correct me. By the end I was tired, sweaty and gross and really frustrated, and I know that nothing we did tonight is going to stick, and I'm going to end up in a group of just me again until I can catch up. And of COURSE the TOD came to confirm a super-early session tomorrow.
So yes, I'm on track to finish chemical analyses only a few days after I'd hoped to leave for the field (which is great), I had a chance to catch up with two awesome people, I had fun in a chemistry lab, met a really awesome (if somewhat lab-bound) person, didn't get too stuck in traffic on my way home and got to spend the evening wielding a sword (albeit badly).
Why do I need a hug?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


So Tai Chi last night was AWESOME! Not in the learning-a-lot sense necessarily, but in the all-out fun and awesomeness sense it was one of the best lessons I've ever had! I'm officially learning my first sword form and it's insanely difficult as I'm not really used to having a long sword in one hand.

Believe it or not it's amazingly easy to forget that you have a long shiny thing to hold on to and I ended up scraping the floor, hitting pillars, holding it at the wrong angle and so on. And there's SO much to remember!

It was also made slightly more difficult for two reasons: firstly my teacher (or his Dad at this stage) isn't going to be there on Thursday because my teacher is going in for surgery and the whole family is going to be staying with him, so we'll have the sub again. I like her, but I think he was slightly stressed at leaving us to do more than just practise. Also I seem to have acquired a reputation for earning amazingly quickly - which is OK for the hand forms - I generally understand the motivation behind things (because they're explained really well) and so I go home and practise so that my arms and legs can catch up with my brain. This was made slightly difficult by my not having too many swords lying around at home...

Either way he was pushing us to learn more and more and more last night and I was totally lost and confused! There's one step that I found particularly difficult until the guy I practise with told me to pretend I was spin-bowling a cricket ball with a sword in my hand. Then it was much better! And the teacher was getting frustrated that we couldn't learn half the form in an evening...

Secondly the guy I practise with got mildly.... sword-happy. I understand, it's very very cool to wave a sword around, but there were moments when I was convinced I was going to lose appendages by the end of the lesson (the swords aren't sharp, but they can probably inflict a nasty injury if wielded at speed...). He's also done wushu before and so knows some sword-wielding and so every now and then hes start windmilling the thing around without checking how far away I was... and I would screech and jump out of the way while the rest of the class watched and giggled (we were the only young ones last night and I think they all feel vaguely parental towards us and find us highly amusing! I think they have had bets running as to the time before first blood). It's also difficult because we're used to practising a certain distance from each other and now we have to readjust so we don't hit each other while still being able to see each other and the teacher properly...

After the milliont near-miss I did what any self-preserving individual would do - I stole his sword and ran off with it! And then I tried to point both at hm but it didn't work... I need to learn more!

All the while the advanced people were advancing from the other direction doing the more complicated form. And the beginners were practising their stuff in front of us. I'm getting good at backpedal-hopping without missing too many steps or losing posture! I think we need a bigger studio!

Despite all this, there's something amazing about learning to use a sword. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. It feels almost... right... in a way to have it while you do stuff. And a lot of the steps involve standing up with one knee brought us and leg bent at an angle while you hold it horizontally over your head like this:

image from here

and it feels amazing! I can't describe it! It's so much fun!

Anyway i stopped on my way in to the lab this morning and got my very own shiny sword! And I can't wait to get home and practise! I'm not ever that sore from the TOD (as long as I don't move my arms too much...)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

hitting things is fun!

I'm not sure what to say today, it's been a weird week so far! Leia and I had lunch while comparing notes yesterday and it was all fun and giggles and Skandaal until I found out that a certain person I had thought was rather nice was not so nice after all...

So the TOD let me spend extra time with the boxing gloves this morning and I learned uppercuts and beat his hand-guards to a pleather-pulp. And it felt good! the TOD also let me start by running on my own before my session with him so that we have longer to work on exercises and things, so I got to a)run with my IPOD (which is totally the only way to hit those high speeds) and b)rest for slightly longer than the proper 1 minute between sprints towards the end... and therefore not die. And I admit, except for the last two sprints I actually kind of enjoyed the running, which hasn't happened at these speeds before...

And right now although my arms are a bit sore I can actually walk, I managed all 60 of the horrible throwing-heavy-things-while-doing-sit-ups exercises (I only whined a little bit) and had a great discussion on life and love and relationships with the TOD while doing bicep curls.

I also told him that I will never sleep with him, and that having sex right away at the beginning of a relationship is not OK with me and he took it well, although he's slightly less keen to train with me every day... (which mean I get 3 recovery days this week!).

I was also visited by a friend today and we had an awesome chat and she gave me a lot of advice and sympathy as well as a lovely long catch-up on what she's been doing. this was particularly fantastic as for some weird reason I'm all alone in the lab today (I assume Leia is off doing site analyses for her animals and Luke just came home from overseas and is probably recovering from the flight), so it was nice to have a visitor!

And it's tai chi night again! Lets hope someone brings a spare sword :)