Getting the cogs grinding

I woke up this morning at 6.30, thinking about my assignment, so I got up, grabbed my laptop and did an hour’s work on it.  This has never happened before.

You may notice the effect of my current glut of assignments on my punctuation: double spaces after full stops were requested so now I’m doing them everywhere.  I correct myself on Twitter but otherwise, meh.  Whatever.  It looks right when your paragraph is double spaced, somehow. Otherwise, it kind of gives the impression that you’re hyperventilating.  TOO…MUCH…BREATH……

I’m writing a blog post now because I am at the point in my Annotated Bibliography where I have a conclusion to write, probably looking at about five pages, and I have an outline with stuff to hang on it and my mind is blanking out.  This may be because it is 3.30 pm and I have already spent three hours writing, one and a half hours in class (I bailed before the student presentations) and at least half an hour wrestling with Word and EndNote.  I’m hoping that blogging will unstick the old word machine and get that vocabulary flowing juicily.

How does WordPress’s editor think “unstick” is not a word?  Bizarre.

You may also notice the odd sentence written in the passive voice.  I do my best to avoid it, but it’s hard in academia.  I swear some articles I’ve read were written entirely in the passive voice.  Which makes me want to turn on the ‘read aloud’ function on Adobe Reader because they just sound like a robot wrote them, and it seems appropriate that they should be read in a mechanical emotionless voice.

This is one of the things I like about interpretative phenomenological analysis, which is the style of qualitative research I am planning for my own thesis.  You actually get to hear real people speak.  I will record my conversations with my participants, and my data will be the transcripts of those conversations.  I will use quotes instead of graphs.  I will let the people I’m studying speak for themselves.  I can’t wait.

But in the meantime there are conclusions to write based on summaries of articles and the stuff I’m meant to have learnt in class about levels of intervention and public health perspectives and what-not.  And then there’s the research proposal for next week, for a topic I only vaguely understand.  I’ve never designed or run a lab experiment in my life.  This may be ridiculous.  

I’m quite good at faking it, though.  Wish me luck.


Deep brain stimulation

It’s another week like that one in first semester – I have four assignments due within the space of nine days. The first was last week, on Wednesday afternoon. I gave a presentation on my thesis, which I have barely begun. The thesis preparation paper is worth twice as much as each of my other four papers, and this presentation was worth 20% of the paper. It was three minutes long, I had two slides, and I bloody* nailed it.

I am totally entering the three-minute-thesis competition next year. I’m really good at and enjoy public speaking. That makes me rare.

I managed to swot up all the last four drugs lectures yesterday for tomorrow’s test, including required readings, and I’ve watched the DVD that everyone else got to watch one evening but I couldn’t because I had the soccer practice drop-off to do so I borrowed it off the lecturer and watched it in the weekend.

That sentence needs rewriting.

Now I’m (well, not now, but most of this afternoon) working on my presentation for Wednesday, which is on deep brain stimulation for various conditions. Would you have electrodes planted in your brain to improve your memory? If it were guaranteed safe and painless? How about to cure depression? It’s a fascinating and slightly weird field. This is probably the first time I’ve found studying for this Nervous Systems Plasticity paper anything approaching enjoyable. Sad but true.

And then there’s the essay due on Friday. So I need to get the presentation out of the way today or tomorrow at the latest… The essay is on Internet support groups so it’s kind of fun but I have to be careful not to be too personal, as we have a different lecturer from the super-reflexive-qualitative G who taught us first semester. The new one is equally nice but much more ordinary-science-y. I like G. I’m an Arts student at heart… the MSc is just to look more impressive if I decide I do want to continue with neuropsych. I’m not 100% sure about that at the moment.

Although, being a kiwi, I must be 100% pure … something. Any ideas?

*Pardon my French.**

**Reply if you get the reference.

Oh, the irony

I am now reflecting on the process of writing a reflective reading journal, which, as its title indicates, is where you reflect on the articles you’ve been reading, which mostly are about reflexivity in research. Not reflectivity. I think that’s when you have the little shiny patches on the sides of the rotating platform that the mice are on so you can see it spin.

Rotate or revolve?

I think rotate.

God, I’m tired. Another day’s work on the reflexive reflexive reflective journal, it goes in on Friday morning, and then I’ve got a week to write about the connection between two works of art and health psychology. Probably with some reflexivity thrown in.

My presentation went just fine this morning. I like being in front of a class, it’s lots of fun. It’s so much easier to talk to a bunch of people who are watching you and nodding and asking questions than it is to talk to a mirror in your room.

Also I have a soft plush neuron (who I took to class and used to demonstrate just exactly where the recording electrodes went in studies one and two). Her name is now Pippi the pyramidal cell. You know? Like Pippi Longstocking, with the horizontal pigtails and men’s shoes? Did I get round to linking to the picture of this brain cell? I think I did. You’ll see why it kinda works if you go check it out.

Go on, go look. 

Meanwhile, I’m going to shut this computer and go watch an episode of Warehouse 13 and go to bed. And hope like heck that I can get away with not reading the reading for tomorrow morning’s class.

Bugger, why did I have to go and think that? Now I have to go look it up and read it or I’ll feel guilty.

Let’s see. If I can read it in, like, five minutes flat (who cares about comprehension, eh? – think of Calvin and Hobbes), then I reckon I can squeeze in some delightfully daft telly before bed.

Sorry, this is way more stream-of-consciousness than usual.

God I’m tired.


That’s what I’m doing. Breathing. And hoping that the niggle in my throat isn’t going to turn into anything serious before I get all of this stuff done.

The slide show for the 40-minute presentation on a subject I don’t understand is finished. Yes, it probably will be almost as bad as I make it sound, though I’m a pretty confident speaker, so hopefully I can fool everyone into thinking I actually do have some clue what I’m talking about.

The article critique needs about four more pages, by Friday. I should be able to manage that.

The test on drugs (not drug test, ha ha) will be the focus of the weekend, with a break for a birthday party. I’m sitting at a 97% average mark for that paper at the moment so I’m not too worried. Brag brag.

Then next Friday is the reading journal that I was supposed to be keeping up with as I did the readings… for the lecturer who is also my supervisor… it may be an exercise in advanced BS but it’s only worth 5% so I refuse to stress.

Then his essay is due a week after that. I’m quite looking forward to having time to write that one. I’m getting back to my political roots. Scientists and artists must question the political status quo, for the good of us all!

And with impeccable timing, my battery is about to run out. It’s a sign.

Goodnight, folks.