Thursday, May 26, 2005

Away for a while

I probably won't be updating this for a little while as I'll be off on a conference and then winging my way to the Big Apple for a long weekend of SHOPPING! Who wants to sightsee when there's SHOPPING to be done?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Episode 3

It was actually far better than I had hoped for. After hating Episodes 1 and 2 (the scriptwriters involved should have been put out on the streets and baned from touching a word processing prgram for life), this one actually was actually quite a reasonable way to spend a few hours. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed that the storyline didn't contain the awaited for subtlety, but they answered all outstanding questions adequately and there were some fun fight and crash scenes.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

My cousin arrived Tuesday night, accompanied by a friend, to spend a few days with me in the good weather black hole that is Hamburg. After they'd spent a couple of weekends meandering around England ireland and even Scotland, they were not at all prepared for the fact that yesterday got to a high of 9 degrees.

So last night to try and warm them up, I teemed up with the boss and his girlfriend to warm them up by intorducing them to the Reeperbahn, aka Prostitute Central. After quite a pleasant italian meal in a restuarant run by Macedonians (and oh my but they are smooth talkers!), we meadered down to a visit some of the many small bars that cover the quarter.

And did we make it a party. Oh, yes we did. The bar we ended up in was mostly empty, which didn't make much difference as with 5 people coming in it became automatically half full. And once we got the DJ to play tainted love and many other old 60s and 70s fave's, our dancing drew in crowds of admirers. Well, I'll continue calling them admirers but now that I think about it, it did bear a resemblence to the sort of crowds that form around horrifying accidents. We really made that place hop. Oh yes indeedily do.

We did however fail dramatically in hooking the male guest up with a hooker (get it? Hooking - hooker?! Huh? well I found it amusing), which when you think about it was a rather spectacular failure and not one easily achieved in a place where you literally fall over prostitutes every 2 metres and they are aggressively grabbing hold of any potential prey. Something to be proud of I think.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

We are Postdocs, hear us roar

A couple of weeks ago I spent a weekend in France on the first Postdoc retreat of our organisation. For those who don't know the term, a postdoc is a postdoctoral fellow, a position following the PhD work, but before we can apply for any more permanent leadship type positions in basic research. Its pretty much a no-mans land and we're cheaper than technicians (had I known THAT, do you think I would've gone through 10 years of higher education to end up with worse pay, worse conditions and no future? Dang right I wouldn't have).
But aside from its intellectual interest, the chiefs also put on free food and grog and then stuck us in a monastary so we could feel guilty about it. It was kinda cool to be around only people of our age group and position, although it suprised the heck out of me the number of people who were so damn certain they'd get a professorship. (Just for a bit of information, between 1993 and 2000 there were 20,000 postdocs in the US. In the same period 563 professorships were given to people under the age of 40).
No I'm not bitter about basic research. But a healthy dose of realism wouldn't hurt a few people.
Anyway, the weekend was actually lots of fun - even the part when some other guest in the monastary threw water out their window at us instead of asking us to keep the partying down. I mean REALLY was that necessary? Can't you accept that we each celebrate our pilgramages in our own ways? We did walk the path of the cross and went down to the fountain that the St Odile did cause to spring thusly from the rock upon striking it mightily with her staff. The following is a brief excerpt from that experience:

Dr J. "Hang on, we can throw some money in here."
English Postdoc " "Yeah, ask for a miracle."
Dr J. patting down her pockets "Anyone got any coins on them?"
French Postdoc " Oh, it iz ok. Viza iz taken everyvhere in France."

A small report of the retreat has actually been written up in the journal Nature and will apparently be coming out on Thursday. If anyone is interested you can go here and look for the article called Postdoc Power.