Non-work work-related stuff

WordPress has just congratulated me on having joined a whole year ago. Happy Birthday silly PhD blog, I guess. This is blog post number 35.

A week ago I was feeling great. By the end of last week I was feeling pretty awful. I’d lost all motivation at work, had been hugely unproductive, and had a sore throat that made me feel like I’d been eating rocks for a week. Today I feel OK, but I am sick of this lousy weather! It’s hard to go out riding when you’re not feeling 100%, but when it’s wet and windy 6 days a week, it’s almost impossible. I’ve recently been doing a lot of stuff which is vaguely related to work, but not really work. Here’s a quick overview.

A week ago on Friday Chris and I organised an open evening at the University observatory, for friends, colleagues and members of the public. We prepared a talk, and arranged a tour of the two telescopes on the roof of the Hicks Building. We had hoped to let people use the telescopes to look at the galaxy M82, with its recent supernova bringing it to the top of astronomy news feeds. Sadly, the weather did not play ball, and we couldn’t even see the moon, let alone a faint, smudgy galaxy through the thick cloud (and eventual rain). Aside from that, the evening went very well, with about 50 people turning up over the course of the evening, and most people being impressed by the talk and the tour alone. The organisation took most of Thursday and Friday, so my thesis obviously didn’t progress much that week, but the outreach event experience is definitely important, I think. Thanks to Patricia, Saida, and especially Pablo for helping on the night.

Our advertising poster for the observatory open evening.

Our advertising poster for the observatory open evening. Sadly, it was a little misleading.

I also organised a departmental walk in the Peak District last Saturday. For a while I’d been thinking of doing something that aims to bring members from different groups in the department a bit closer socially, and a walk seemed like a good medium to do so. Quite a few people expressed interest, but many couldn’t make it on the day. Nevertheless, 12.5 of us made it up to Win Hill from Bamford station on the bright and windy morning. After almost being blown off the top, we descended down into Hope, and had a lovely meal in the pub before getting the train home. It was definitely a success, and I’ll be starting up an email list of interested walkers from the department for future events.

Team photo at the very windy summit of Win Hill.

Team photo at the very windy summit of Win Hill.

I’ve also been pretty busy keeping on top of stuff at the juggling club, with plenty of help from Ed. We’ve got quite a few small events coming up, but there’s some genuine interest from the undergrad members about taking over the committee positions next year, which is a huge relief. I can’t imagine myself staying on top of PhD work and running a society for another year!

Finally, it’s been a busy week for the People and Planet society, and the national “Go Green Week”ended yesterday. We managed to get 80 Valentine’s cards asking the vice chancellor to divest from fossil fuels signed by students and staff. Our petition is gaining momentum, and we’re hoping the campaign will really get rolling over the next few weeks. Plus even the Guardian seems to be on our side!

Returning to the topic of work, I’m currently working on what might become my first peer-reviewed paper, if things go well. It’s a write up about the mystery transient we discovered in October, which basically consists of a long list of possibilities for the nature of the source, testing those ideas, and concluding that we have no idea what it is. Fun. I managed to knock out a first draft of the short paper in about a week, but Vik very quickly came back saying I probably needed to start again. Good job I only wasted a week on it! It’s obviously going to take a bit longer to get it sorted, and it’s such an obscure piece of research, it may well never be published. In any case, it should form another short chapter of my final thesis, so I need to write it anyway. It would be great if I can finish it before I go away to La Palma and Thailand, but that seems ambitious. Let’s see.


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