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PhDantom - the ghost who works

When we last met our intrepid researcher, he was simultaneously locked in battle with the evil forces of fatigue and unsuccessful data collection. Will he survive? Will he escape? Tune in to today's exciting installment of... oh, never mind. I won't inflict an entire post in that style on anyone.

So at the end of the last entry, from Monday, I had just failed to get the 2nd last data point I wanted. Yesterday, I got up, went to uni, and let Leonard set up the experiment under my watchful eye. Five hours later, four curses uttered, three pipes a-leaking, two points collected and a thesis to be written. I then engaged in some somewhat necessary administrative tasks such as registering for upcoming conference in Cairns. I also had a chat with Justin about what I should be doing while I am back home, and when all of that was done, it was about 4:30.

With my plane due to leave at 7:50, it was suggested that if I call for a taxi at about 6:10 to pick me up at 6:30 I would get to the airport with plenty of time. This gives me two hours to export the data to usable forms and burn the data onto CD before I have to go. Sounds easy, right?

I have never claimed to be a big fan of XP (if I believed in the existence of devils, I would have some suggestions for who employs them. His first name is Bill), and putting it on a computer which, should be running 98 doth not a fast computer make. 1.5 hours later, the data was all converted into the appropriate format and ready to burn. Only 500MB worth. Still half an hour to go. Sounds easy, right?

I opened up a new CD case, put the CD in, and tried to find the software to burn the data. I couldn't find it. Now, while there are far more computer literate people than me on this planet, I can generally find my way around basic computing tasks, such as opening relevant software, saving files, and swapping around the wireless keyboards of people in my office. So if I can't find the software to burn data to a CD, it probably means that there is something wrong. In the case the something wrong was that the CD drive was read only. 25 minutes to go. Out comes ye old trusty memory stick. Sounds easy, right?

500MB of data. Memory stick with 110MB free. Can you imagine just how excruciating all this would be if I had stuck with the African explorer style? Anyway, the next 30 minutes were spent transfering data from computer 1 to stick, from stick to computer 2, from computer 2 to CD. I got all except one data point, and not a particularly interesting one at that. That particular file was 110MB. That 30 minutes also included copious amounts of running back and forth, transferring files, printing itinerary, leaving keys, receiving phone calls from taxi companies asking where I am and if I still wanted the taxi.

Finally, I caught the taxi, got to the airport, checked in, all the usual, got on the plane, fell asleep. Woke up before take off because the flight attendant was checking that I was happy to sit in the exit row (yes. That's why I asked for it) Had a chat to the guy next to me. He had some experience in (industrial) rheology. He had an interesting perspective on things, I don't know that I agree with him, but it was interesting none-the-less.

We then started swapping rheology stories. He told me that blue-tac used to be tested by him throwing it at the ceiling of the lab, and if it stayed it was acceptable. It also was pressed on to cardboard, and then pulled off. If any fibres stuck then it failed. What a great way to ensure job security. He was the only one who knew how hard he had to throw the blue-tac!! There were a few others, but I'm happy to leave it at one.

I then dozed through The Office (nice light-hearted plane entertainment) before falling asleep for an hour listening to the rock channel. I woke up when they started the descent and I will fast forward through to where I got of the plane and was met by Rev (my brother, if I haven't introduced him yet). He took me to Mum and Dad's place, where I ate biscuits, made some bad jokes (i.e. spent quantity time with my family) and went to bed.

I also had a brief look over what I have done for this site so far, and it occured to me that my site consists of (or will consist of) a lot of short chapters on the story, interspersed with various commentaries on society and less than conventional religious theory. Given that this site, if published in book form ultimately could sit at well over 1000 pages, I started thinking about authors who published very large books consisting of short chapters interspersed with various commentaries on society and less than conventional religious theory. One such author was Tolstoy, but, because this is the twenty-first century and people are chronically time poor, I will give a brief synopsis of my favourite Tolstoy work, Anna Karenina. Without the religious theories. It has been a while since I last read it, so I hope you will excuse any inaccuracies.

Anna Karenina was a physics post-grad who had done her Masters with a famous and well regarded professor and was now doing a PhD with him. She was immensely proud of the outcome of the masters, although her relationship with her supervisor had cooled somewhat over the years. A young, dynamic academic convinced her to do the occasional small project with him, and eventually lured her over to doing a PhD with him instead, and he took her to several conferences and she was happy in her work for a time, as all new PhD students are. Long story short, she did lots of work on her PhD, but she wasn't as happy with it. She thought that it needed one more experiment, which was to investigate the effect of heavy moving objects on soft deformable bodies.


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