30 November 2013
Does age matter? Well yes, one changes with age. Is there something wrong with having friends of a rampantly different age? No. Does it sometimes complicate things? Yes. For instance; sometimes I have to be boring and old and leave a pub at a reasonable time; not only does my body react to alcohol a bit more than it did some 15 years ago, but I also feel the breath of time in my neck. Life’s too short to spend a morning hung-over! And I am quite aware of my contract being rather short; I need to get myself another job. I have to publish, to network, to develop my science communication skills! And in order to do that I can’t squander too much time in a pub, and I sure can’t squander my time by feeling miserable in bed until 2PM. And I’m not saying my York friends are a bunch of party animals with total disregard for the future; one of them already has a postdoc-like working schedule, with late evenings and working weekends and all. But overall I notice I sometimes can’t keep up with the social life.
Sometimes it’s not them running ahead, but allowing me to slow down; I am a middle-aged woman living like a glorified student. And people of my age often float into a world of mortgages, children, lease cars and whatnot. And I don’t want to go there (yet?) and it’s nice to have friends that feel the same way. And proper grown-ups with permanent jobs and good salaries also often fall into two traps; one is of taking things for granted, and the other is the sense of entitlement. My uncertainty about the future already quite deals with the first one, and I don’t think I’m too susceptible to the second, but having lots of friends on the bottom rung of Academia helps keep things in perspective.
Age is not only how much time you’ve had to develop your career, or how hung-over seven pints make you. It also gives you time for contemplation. And I sure benefit from thinking things over. When I look at my mid-twenties friends, I sometimes compare them with my younger self. And I think every single one of them is more balanced than I was at that age. I much prefer being 37 to being 24. As far as I am concerned, things just keep getting better! I have matured mentally, but I still look like a twenty-something (which regularly annoys me) and I’m a stronger runner than I ever was (if I may average out the last few years), so I don’t suffer from the effects of aging one hears a lot of complaining about. I only get the benefits! And what else did I get? Lovely friends! What more could one wish for. Oh yes, that next job...
26 November 2013
I go to South Wales to cave with the Yorkies, and I go to North Wales to cave with the Plymouthians. That doesn’t make particularly much sense but it is the way it is! I like North Wales a lot, with its big slate mines and amazing Snowdonian landscapes. And when the PCG would travel north to go there I saw a nice opportunity to catch up. And Hugh saw that even more; he only lives 2 hours from Mt Snowdon. So on a Friday I left work early, biked to the station with my enormously heavy backpack containing all my caving kit to the station, and conquered a seat. In Liverpool I found Hugh and his car, and off we were! We had planned to eat on the road, but we missed all the potential venues until we approached Llanberis, our goal, so we phoned ahead. The others turned out to be in a curry restaurant, so we joined. It was good to see everybody again!
21 November 2013
Pulling the casing out sounds simple. But with coring, be it by hand, with a road drill, or with a rig, the pulling out is always harder than the hammering in. So they pulled. And pulled. And pulled. Nothing happened.
We started worrying again, but as had been the case a few times before this week, it all worked out. And that meant we could go home. Tasha was keen to do so, for family reasons. She took the cores with her, as York has hardly any sample storage space. Soon I'll come up to Durham so we can open them, and see for the first time what we've actually brought up!
19 November 2013
When I was walking through town with my parents I noticed a banner. A film festival! A Short film festival, but still. I got excited! And I immediately mailed the people from the film club, and a few others that might be interested, to make sure they were aware of this, and to see if other people wanted to come too. And soon after I bought me a passepartout.
Screenings started on Friday. After work I set of with Roman of the film club to see our first movies. He had requested comedy, as he said life provided enough drama as it is. So comedy it was! It wasn't that good actually, so I decided to see some drama afterwards anyway. That wasn't that good either. Not a good start! But there were many more genres to try, and not only that; there were many venues to try. Not only the cinema is on on the festival; several museums have joined, and several monumental buildings, and a clothing shop and an art gallery and a cafe; many of these places I hadn't been, and was keen to see. So the next day I was ready at 10. The venues were great, and the films got a lot better. I froze to the seat in the Mansion House, which played a role in Blood and Chocolate; I listened to the rain falling on the thin slate roof of Micklegate Bar; I saw documentaries from the long, wooden tables of the Barley Hall; I sank down in the comfy chairs of the 9-seater cinema hidden in the clothing shop. I saw documentaries about female killers and ageing Germans, music videos of Mt Wolf and Bat for Lashes, drama about Finnish nightclub shoot-outs and Israeli poets, comedy about casting and failed dates, animation on deserted floating cities and big white fluffy creatures, art films about female drag queens and Japanese winter, experimental films about dancing urbanisation in Hong Kong, and lots lots lots more. To get an idea of the variety, do check the trailer on the festival website.
Most of it I saw alone, but I did team up a few times with some film-loving colleagues. That was nice! I even ended the whole festival by having a beer with one of our lab technicians and his biologist girlfriend in one of the ancient and quirky pubs that had been on my to do list for a long time. The usual suspects had tried to take me there before, but it had always been too busy. Now I've finally seen it!
The film I think I liked best was a short drama about a Chinese widower and his little daughter who live illegally in France: Hsu Ji derriere l'ecran. The father gets exploited by a lady as a labourer who works in way too dangerous conditions, and she is in the process of ensnaring the girl for labour too. All very bleak and serious! But then three characters step out of the silent slapstick film she is watching, and not only wreak a lot of havoc, but also come to her aid. And then there is also the cartoon walrus that steps out of the book she is reading, and starts wandering around. So the dad even dies, but the film does not become depressing. It's a genuinely strange film! But very endearing.
Another impressive (though very short) film I saw in the category music videos can be seen online: I recommend it! Magma, by Dvein.
I didn't get particularly much done this weekend other than watching films. But now I've had my kick and can live on that for quite a while. I don't think I'll still be in York for the 2014 edition!
18 November 2013
16 November 2013
Before he left he sent Roland and me some presents to remember him by... I got a set of earrings and a pendant, made of snail opercula... I'll wear these with pride! Take care Rob, I'll be thinking of you!
14 November 2013
07 November 2013
05 November 2013
04 November 2013
We would gather at the Liverpool waterfront. Phil Woodworth of NOC and PSMSL (who has an MBE!) showed us how the waterfront had developed, where the old dock had been, where the old tide gauges were, where the father of tide measurements; William Hutchinson, had lived, and showed us a series of his tide measurements that had been chiseled into the pavement. Very exciting! It's always good to trace what you're doing back into the past.But after that it was time to go into the field. Not too far, though; this was not supposed to be a proper mud-everywhere-fieldwork. So we drove to a pub next to a salt marsh, where Andy Plater told us about the marsh in question. It was very new, and had come into existence due to human interference with the tidal channel that brought the river Dee all the way to Chester. And he talked for at least fifteen minutes before we retreated to the pub for a lunch of over 1.5 hours. One can take a leasurely approach to fieldwork from time to time!
During lunch I was lucky to share a table with illuminati of various career stage; at the head of the table (of course!) was David Pugh, one of the big names in British sea level research (and another decorated man). We also had NOC's Mark Tamisiea, and we had our very own Tasha, and a man who looked more at ease in the blustery English autumn than one might have expected from his nationality; Saudi Yasser Abualnaj, and an almost-finished PhD in tidal modelling; Mark Pickering. It was a stellar configuration!
After lunch, though, we were expected to do at least something to deserve our lunch. Andy and his PhD student Tim Shaw took a core from the marsh, just to show those unfamiliar with such activity what is involved with such things. Non-geographers can ask rather useful questions! Fortunately we were able to answer all in a satisfying way - or at least that was my impression. I would think that, wouldn't I?
The last venue was the village of West Kirby, which is in need om some solid sea defenses, and of which Andy pointed out the more and less successful interpretations. And under a nice pink evening sky we climbed back into the coach, and headed back to Liverpool. It hadn't been a very trying field day, but it had sure been enjoyable!
03 November 2013
The next day we did the tourist thing again. We AGAIN failed to get into St George's hall, but we visited the Walker Art Gallery, which was nice, and we saw the Catholic Cathedral (which I didn't like), and finally managed to enter the Anglican Cathedral. It was a nice day! Nice weather too, for most of the day at least. We also tried some pubs, wine bars, and a restaurant. And we had plenty of time to catch up! A lot had changed in the meantime. Next time in York again!