27 June 2008

It's all change

So I have quite a few things to update you on;

First year viva
I passed! This doesn't mean it was a severly uncomfortable experience which I actually thought had gone awfully bad. I was considering quitting my PhD, preparing a "I am quitting" speech for my parents and Super. I was thinking about how I could still live in Manchester with a run-of-the-mill job as my rent touches £400 and I'd have to pay council tax, or whether I should just go home and help with the slightly struggling family business. I simply thought anything had to be better than this, no I had to better at anything than this.

23 June 2008

T minus 24 hours & Naughty Nurses

So my first year viva is at 11 am tomorrow and I am dreading it maybe especially because I haven't really started any work or revision for it yet, oh dear Jen. I might not go into uni until this afternoon and kick things off at home, I can at least do the summary here and practise that a little bit.

There ain't no rest for the wicked.

I have had a rather good, or at least interesting, weekend. After planning to spend Friday evening relaxing and doing viva work, I ended up painting all 20 nails bright red in preparation for the red and white nurse's hen night on Saturday. Then R texted me and I ended up going to the club 42nd Street aka 42's. It was a good night and I didn't have a lot to drink (3 drinks) but for some reason I was very sick when we got home at about 3 am. Then the next day, I was literally a nurse all day, nursing R as he was violently sick 3 times, whilst still not feeling well myself. We are thinking there was something wrong with either the vodka or the red bull, or both.

I managed to pull myself together for the hen night dressed as a nurse. Two girls got quite drunk at the brides house and had to shortly after we got into the club Opus, one at about 11 pm-ish and the other not long after at 12 am-ish each with their chaperones in tow so we were down 4 girls. Well, we stayed there for a while, till 1 am and then drove to a karaoke bar Vina but there were too many girls for the car so I had to take the seat in the boot! There was actually more room than in the car and it allowed me to have a few micro-sleeps. Genius.

It turned out to be very fun but I am not sure whether I liked all the attention and pictures taken by complete random strangers though. That was pretty much my weekend. I shall now have to get down to some work!

20 June 2008

Gimmie the z

Or 'zee' as they pronounce it in American.

So I am just about to process some data from the QPD that now contains data from the z-signal... dun dun dun *really long time passes as Matlab loads and has to process* ...

Aaaand it's complete rubbish as I probably could have predicted. Hmm I really am at a loss what to do now and my motivation is a little shot after the emotional and family stuff going on of late. Plus, it's Friday.

17 June 2008

Another wasted day...

Or at least, so it seems. The only thing I achieved today was finding a BNC cable for detecting the z-signal with the QPD. My afternoon, after spending one and a half hours in town over lunch, was filled with, if I'm honest, looking at tents. What a complete waste.

13 June 2008

Gingerella doit apprendre le français...

So it's Friday afternoon and I am learning French. I'm not sure why I'm taking it up apart from the fact that R is learning it also, which I assume is driven by the fact that people in his family, including his father, are fluent in French. He downloaded some rather good audio CDs for learning it. At the moment, Michel Thomas keeps telling his 2 students off (particularly the American female) for guessing rather than thinking. I cringe for them.

And this is the CD cover, I feel better now I know what this man looks like. There are various resources out there to learn languages and I found stuff on the bbc website too but I much prefer the audio as it feels more interactive. I have more motivation as well because it feels competitive about who can learn it first between R and myself. I have always said I am rubbish at languages but I am beginning to change my mind as I am not doing too badly here. :) So what have I learnt so far?... (Excuse any missing accents, etc.)
  • J'regrete mais.. : I regret but...
  • Pour moi... : for me
  • Com ce, com ca : like this, like that
He will focus on a particular turn of phrase and then use it to incorporate that into sentences and it just builds. For 'It is not' or 'It's not', the phrase sounds like 'c'nest pas' but I'm not 100% on the spelling. Well, I shall keep you updated on the French progress (or progrès), possibly incorporating new words I have learnt so I remember the vocabulary. I think that's an excellent idea.

I am off home this weekend, as the fitting is 12pm tomorrow. I shall go home now, pack, and just head to the train station. I wasn't originally going to take my laptop but I think it might be a good idea now and then I can learn French! Woo!

12 June 2008

Summer '08

So R's viva went well he said although a lot of the questions from the second examiner were difficult/impossible for him to answer, and that was when he understood what was being asked. That really helps me, I am dreading having him as my second examiner now. Questions seemed to revolve around theory, the motivation behind choosing a particular technique or theory and the other methods available to perform the same measurements. Understanding the details of the theory and methods of optical trapping shouldn't be too difficult but I feel my weakness lies in what else is being done in the field, despite having attempted a detailed literature review. His viva lasted 30-40 mins so hopefully mine will be somewhere in that region. It won't be any more than an hour I should imagine and my advisor often likes to be speedy. Fingers crossed. I think my only preparation can be re-reading my report, making sure I understand everything I've included (BFPI could be particularly important there then), what the really important literature is (as I have included 65 papers!) and maybe even pre-empting some questions. This weekend and my trip home could involve a lot of that then.

Dr Roberts hasn't replied to my e-mail about how much the equipment doesn't work -- when really I should just suck it up, stop complaining and get on with things rather than writing silly blog entries -- but then he is at a conference so I shall understand and leave him be. I think I'm at a stage where the equipment works OK, maybe I could optimise it further with a twiddle here and there, but the QPD just isn't giving me what I want. It's time to sit down and look at the real optics of back focal plane interferometry, I am not too sure how it is all set up.


So this year should have been the year for a holiday. That is still the plan but buying the Benicassim ticket is as far as plans have gotten so far. What happens after that -- or indeed, whether he can go to benicassim -- all depends on R's visa, for which he has an interview tomorrow. If he wants further dates, he needs proof of accommodation reservations, which up until today, he hadn't any. That's been rectified and he's booked hostels in Valencia, France and Rome. I would quite like to go to these places actually. We'll have a chat later about it maybe.

The wedding is fast approaching and the sister and I have the final fitting on Saturday which I'm getting a train home for. I must remember to call the hairdressers and try and book a trim as this is possibly the last chance.

11 June 2008

First year report

So on May 30th, my first year report was due. I rushed a little at the end to get things done on time, only to discover that the deadline was relatively flexible. I bound the three copies (one each for Super and the two examiners; one of which is my advisor) and then Friday afternoon, Super and my advisor were nowhere to be found. In the end, I didn't give in my report until the Tuesday but I was glad it was finished. 

In all honesty, apart from the literature review -- which can always use improvement -- I feel I did my best. I didn't have any results apart from a section I termed 'prelimary results' i.e. absolute jack, so I didn't have very much to say on any experimental aspects of my research so far. Now my viva is getting lined up -- provisionally booked for Monday June 23rd -- and I am dreading it, big time. The only bonus will be that the boyfriend (R) and I have the same second examiner would you believe! Crazy. But that's what comes from doing a PhD. in the same department albeit different research groups. His viva is tomorrow so he will gladly fill me in on the sort of things they ask. That could be good preparation. He really has nothing to worry about though, I do. His research so far is excellent and his report looked and read great. His name was on a paper before he'd even started his PhD. and an abstract has now been submitted with him as principal author, a Nature conference no less. Oh I am so envious. I can't even get my calibrations sorted and the blame lies at my feet really. The measure of success for PhD. students is definately publications and so far, I have been rather unsuccessful. :( I will get there, if and when I pull my finger out.

So now my report is sorted, I can get back to getting my equipment to work. There is still plenty of procrastination, largely sat at my desk doing nothing productive, so my equipment doesn't work yet but... I have faith. *sigh* Who am I kidding?

Well that's my update for now.


And so begins the first post of my new blog. I am mega excited!

Blogging isn't exactly new for me, I've had personal blogs before; one at Xanga (which I cannot fathom how to import here!) and attempted to keep one at a silly excuse for a social networking website but have since closed that account. So, a new leaf shall be turned over and from scratch I shall begin. No, I am not yoda.