Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I think today's picture really sums up my life at the moment:

Yes, it's all just a little bit crazy and disorganised!

As promised I won't waffle on today, as we're having our house Christmas dinner albeit rather belated.

What I would like to say however, is that this blog is being brought you in a new and exciting way. I'm finally testing out the dictation software, it all feels a bit odd but it's remarkably accurate. Hopefully it'll make my life easier come report writing time I'm sure I can have some fun with in the meantime.

I definitely need to practice this, as speaking to the computer feels really quite strange and I'm not sure I like it!

Normal service and a proper blog should resume to my so until then - bye folks!

Monday, January 30, 2012


Given that my day has consisted of sitting in front of a computer waging war against matlab I don't have much to talk about seen as it was really quite dull! We did get assigned our projects - I'm going to be spending the next 4 and a half weeks doing something or other (haven't figured it out yet!) with cavity ring-down spectroscopy. I almost know what it is...

Efficient working today means that despite numerous crashes of matlab and word my group now has tomorrow morning off (huzzah!), I think I'm going to go to the library and get some books relevant to the lab project though. The 2 other members of my group are apparently much more technically minded and were already asking our supervisor questions when he was explaining a vague outline of the project. I was standing there a bit clueless so I need to catch up to them in terms of understanding, especially given that we have to hand in an essay type thing about the area by next week.

Today's picture is inspired labs. Yes, despite the fact no one was touching chemicals, or any equipment other than a computer, and we were well away from all equipment health and safety means we had to sit and wear lab specs whilst working on the computer! (i can see where there coming from, I just find them uncomfortable to wear all day!)

Feel a bit in limbo at the moment, given that my to-do list is getting quite long, but I can't actually do anything on it at the moment! Hopefully be a bit more productive tomorrow...

Tomorrow, being the end of the month I had planned to do a bit of a review blog, given that I have succeeded thus far in my photo and blog a day thing. We're having our house Christmas meal tomorrow evening though (only a month late!), so I might postpone 'til the day after with the reflection!

Actually have a lecture tomorrow (it's been 6 or 7 weeks since the last one I think...)

So until tomorrow folks!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Just a short one today 'cos I'm feeling grumbly. You'll be pleased to hear my lazy has panned out pretty well thus far though!
Today's photo and thought:

Does anyone actually like the toffee ones?

Can people be categorised by Quality Street* - the toffees: always left behind, caramel: a hard exterior but soft on the inside, green triangles: delicious.

*other brands are available! ;-)

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I'd originally planned to have a lazy Saturday, but for once I had an odd motivation to get up and spend my day wisely!

So by 8 o'clock I was in the kitchen doing everyone else's washing up and giving the kitchen a good clean (it was getting pretty disgusting!), by 10 I'd finished that, done my washing and printed off notes for the next week or so of lectures. All the time I was doing various chores the weather was taunting me - glorious sunshine outside, and not a breath of wind either. Cold no doubt, but perfect cycling weather...

A quick spin round Sherwood Pines would have been awesome today, dappled sunlight coming through the trees, ground frozen and leaves crisp. Likewise out on the road, sun on your back, no wind to slow you down. Days like today where I really do miss the bike.

Not one to waste an opportunity I went for a walk instead. I really did chose my university well, out of all the campuses I looked at none came close to Nottingham as far as the general environment goes. Obviously the area, department and course are important but without somewhere like this to escape it just wouldn't be the same...

You can see all the photos here http://www.flickr.com/photos/becky_kirk43/sets/72157629069217321/with/6776601629/ or you can get to the same page via the link at the bottom of the page.

Here's a couple of them to fulfil my daily photo...

I spent ages watching the birds, people with bread to feed the ducks came and went and each time the gulls came in on the war path, attacking the ducks to steal the food!

I couldn't take photos showing the lake without showing the Trent building. A well photographed building, and many pictures around better than this one, but none the less how many campuses can boast of a something like this?

And this sign just made me smile, for anyone that the knows the area it's at the end of the lake where there's the stepping stones to cross when it's not icy. They have the rest of the lake, with its reasonably deep water but here (by the sign!), the water is really quite shallow (I assume for safety reasons in case anyone falls of the stepping stones), so you wouldn't be able to swim, and you'd be stupid to dive. No ice either!

Tomorrow is likely to be my last true work free day until I finish uni for the summer (although I expect there'll be many days where I don't actually do any work!), so I'll try harder to do nothing!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Today I shall mostly be being super.

Although perhaps slightly less super than the more well known superman!

OK, well I haven't done anything super yet, and I probably won't, but the thought was there!

Had my appointment with occupational health today, as predicted is was a bit of a waste of time. They've passed me off as fit for working for the NHS, as long as I let them inform the the department I'll be working with that I'm not to do any heavy lifting. I suppose they have to tick all the boxes. And that really was all she did, ask me a few questions and tick some boxes, and she didn't seem bothered by the fact I'm being held together by tape! Done now anyway, so I'm all ready to go in April!

All set for heading back to Nottingham later, hopefully going to have a nice relaxing weekend before the madness that is this term kicks in. My timetable looks less than fun (that's what I get for picking more modules that start after Christmas than before!), and as far as I can gather our first deadline for lab work is a week on Tuesday so I'll no doubt be panicking about getting whatever we're supposed to be writing written! It is my last term though so I'm going to make the most of it, and go in with the intention of learning things as we go along.

Big scary organic exam in the summer, worth 20 credits (twice as much as the rest of the modules) and my only real whole year module so I'll have to make sure I can remember everything from before Christmas, and try and keep it all in my head 'cos being based 100% on the exam I don't fancy having to learn it all in the space of a few days... Someone remind me of that when in a couple of weeks I'm posting about the fact that I don't have any work to do or something! :P

Thursday, January 26, 2012


It's only just past lunchtime and the day is young but I thought I'd do my blog update now (don't expect anything exciting's going to happen for the rest of the day anyway!).

Just had a morning of grandparent visiting, always nice to spend time with them and have a cup of tea and a natter. Always quite funny answering the same questions too (my pap asks me the same thing every time I speak to him, and every time I give him the same answer!).

Despite some rather sporadic weather patterns on the drive home (at one point the sun was so bright I couldn't see and yet I needed the wipers on the highest setting!), I decided to stop and go for a little walk, make the most of being back in "The Shire" for a few days rather than in the city. In hindsight, given that where I walked is only about a mile from my house, I probably should have stopped off at home and got my coat first - it was a bit chilly out!

Still, really nice walking in the sunshine, birds singing, surrounded by fields etc. Thought I'd use it as an opportunity to take some photos, sadly only had my phone as my camera is 50 miles too far north, back in Nottingham!

Despite the recent rain the level of water in the reservoir is still pretty low, doesn't bode well for the rest of the year as it's normally quite full at this time of year!

One day, I'm going to have a real explore of the footpaths around where I live, done this one a few times though, know it well!

I wasn't overly impressed by this:

I'd looked into getting a permit over the summer, as I wanted to take advantage of the bird hides and whatnot and do some nature photography, but unlike the nature reserves in Nottinghamshire you have to pay for a permit (although I think you can qualify for free), but can't just turn up and get one, it must all be booked in advance. Doesn't strike me as a very good way to encourage interest and support!

Weather permitting I'll head it with the dogs later, really do miss them when I'm away! It really is great not having any work to do!

Tomorrow's occupational health day for me. Fingers crossed it'll go well (and I can actually cross my fingers now so what could go wrong?!), going to leave me in a bit of a predicament if they say no, but hopefully they won't so I'll cross that bridge if I come to it!

Also had a look at stuff for labs which starts next week. Have a group sorted out (nice being able to chose our own group for a change!), it looks like week 1 out of 5 on the project is a relatively gentle start, with a literature summary to write as well as revision of data handling and use of matlab before we really get going with the project the following week. There's a possible 7 projects we could be assigned to, a couple of which have jumped out at me as being a lot more interesting and hopefully more enjoyable to do than the others, so again, fingers cross 'cos it's basically luck of the draw which one we get (although given the hand situation maybe my chances are increased seen as I like the look of the most theoretical based one!).

If I do get that one you'll have to remind me when I'm complaining about being up to my eyes in horrendous maths or something, that I wanted to do it!

So once again, until tomorrow chaps and chapesses!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Well meeting this morning was a bit pointless, and not really getting out of bed for. Still, it was a necessary box ticking exercise, I'm on the "special" list therefore they have to talk to me.

The conversation went "So, what help do you anticipate needing in 6 weeks when you start organic labs?", "Hopefully nothing by then, but I won't know until the time". Followed by 20 minutes of chatting about the module, teamwork, clinical trials and my plans for the future. Was really nice having a chat with him, he's a nice guy and actually seems to care which is always good. Would have talked for longer but he had a column to get back to in the lab and I had a train to catch!

My running of the 2 miles to the train station turned out to be unnecessary as I was there with time to spare in the end! Very disappointed to find that they'd just painted all the benches so there was no where for me to collapse whilst I was having what must have been some sort of heart attack! (I don't do running...)

I do love this train station, it's small far less scary then going into the official Nottingham station (and far less chance of me getting on the wrong train or something!)

Still, a couple of trains came through whilst I was waiting for mine, I'm sure the train experts amongst you will know more about them than I do...

Had a really nice train ride, it was pretty empty so I had a table of 4 to myself to begin with, next to an oldish man eating a muffin who similarly had a table of 4 to himself. A few people got on at the next station down and made me move because they'd reserved 2 of the seats where I was sitting (yes there was one of me, 2 of them and 4 seats but they refused to let me sit there), so I went and sat opposite "muffin-man" as he became known. He was actually a really nice man. Before we spoke I used my new found spy skills to determine that he was on his way to some sort of photography course (given that he was reading a camera manual, and had various bits of paper on the table including a tube map and some headed letters which looked like they might be from someone offering such a course).

He asked me if I could advise him on the best tube stations to use when he got to London and was shocked to find out that I don't know anything about London (I apparently look like I travel there a lot!), but we had a nice chat until we got to my station. Turns out he was working as an academic at the university until last year when he retired (should have asked him what subject), he was indeed going to a photography course in London! He wasn't quite nice enough to share his muffin though... (I really was hungry!), I apparently looked trustworthy though, given that he wandered off, with his muffin but left his iPhone, keys and camera on the table with me!

it was odd, I normally quite shy but that's 2 conversations I've had today that I didn't necessarily need. Progress!

Am now home (only took 2 hours longer than it would have done if I'd driven!). Don't really know what to do with myself now I have no more exams. Was really odd waking up and then walking in to uni this morning without various bits of chemistry whizzing round my head.

Expect I'll try and get some reading done, although probably nothing chemistry related! Hopefully make the most of the time off to relax. I've almost pre-empted work experience and have made a decision re-"the future" based on what I'm expecting to happen but I won't disclose my decision until it has actually be decided!

I think tonight is going to be filled with GCSE science teaching, given that my brother has an exam tomorrow. I've done well with him so far, I apparently do better than his teacher (who was my form tutor for 5 years and it doesn't surprise me that she's not taught my brother, or the rest of the class by the sounds of it, very much!).

So until tomorrow folks! (I must stop saying "folks", it makes me feel old!)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


That's it - finals part 1 is over!
Have to say I'm really happy with how today's exam went. Couple of bits I wasn't sure of, but nothing major - even managed to get some answers down for the 2 questions I was convinced I wouldn't be able to do! Made slightly more impressive given that the bulk of my revision for this paper happened in the last 48 hours (and up until 24 hours ago I couldn't answer a paper without my notes!)

We were given the right papers (both of them) and answer books at the start which is always good and I just chugged my way though it. Turned 2 answers in to mini essays (apologies to the poor people marking!), and thanks to extra time (which I actually needed today) had enough time to finish and check through - just as well I checked over as I'd made a bit of a "non-reading-of-question" blunder on question 1!

Further apologies to those marking my exam seen as by the end my hand was somewhat giving up, think I managed to keep my writing legible though (well I hope I did!). Thankfully now have 5 days before labs and lectures start time to recover, and catch up on sleep! Thanks to my assessment with occupational health on Friday I'm going to head home for a few days tomorrow and fill up on home cooked food - perfect for relaxing after exams :-)

Thought I'd talk about something entirely different today since over the last 23 days you've probably heard more than enough about me and my life...

As part of my new years resolutions I'm trying to eat more healthily (its going quite well!), which has meant Bran Flakes for breakfast. However good for me they may be they just don't provide a lot of inspiration and motivation to get up in the morning so I also have an emergency variety pack in the cupboard for those mornings (like today!), when a sugar boost is definitely required. I'm still going to count it as healthy seen as the portions are so tiny!

I was amused to see that on this particular variety of coco pops they've gone with branding to try and make it seem like a healthy option. But really, while perhaps *slightly* better for you than normal coco pops, by no stretch of the imagination is it a healthy cereal. And besides, the bright colours and cartoon monkey (not to mention the general concept of a chocolate cereal) are clearly aimed at children (and people like me!) who either can't read yet, or have no interest in the health of their cereals!

It's got me looking at branding now, its actually quite interesting to analyse if you go into it (don't worry, I shan't go into any more now!). Bran flakes return tomorrow in their boring box (everyone knows boring boxes have healthy things inside!).

Monday, January 23, 2012


Exam panic has set in so no time to write anymore than this today! All over tomorrow so normal service shall resume.
Here's today's photo:

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Shan't keep you for long today, much revision to be done!

You'll be pleased to heat the after my panicked indecisiveness yesterday I'm feeling a lot better today having had a long thing in a hot shower, and then slept on it.

Basically see my life has having 2 possible paths from this point. If I chose path A than that's it, unlikely to leave that path (although in itself it offers many options along it), and path B keeps things more open, I can always go back to path A, and again, three will be many forks in the road as I go along.

Path A v B basically comes down to whether I want to work to live or live to work. But I don't have to make the decision yet, work experience (which handily I already have organised for both A and B!) will help me decide. It's just reassuring to have things a bit clearer in my head.

So revision? Well Tuesday is my last exam, it's on the module that I have probably enjoyed the most over the last term - Bioinorganic and Metal Coordination chemistry, Now however, after 1 day of real revision I can see it being the one that I like the least! I made my revision notes for this one early on (as it was the first module that was finished before Christmas), so consequently I've forgotten everything! Unlike the other modules we've been examined on thus far this one has a very high volume of general stuff to learn. Numerous structures of enzymes and proteins, and details of how they work, different ways to synthesis macrocycles, the cycles of oxygen and nitrogen in nature - the list goes on.

I thought a good place to start would be to attempt a past paper with the aid of my notes, and then, as there are 4 papers available, just go over them all, slowly reducing my dependance on notes. I didn't work as fast as I could have done, and I did have a few breaks - but started doing the first paper at around 10am and didn't finish until 6! I'm about to tackle the next one, hopefully having done one, things will come to be a bit more quickly. Slightly panicked now!

That brings me nicely on to todays photo, living in a house of chemists we're all starting to panic...

Just to give that some context, the module code for Tuesday's exam is "F13BMC". We've been exchanging messages on the fridge for a while; quite often entirely random things like "attack of the coleslaw", and standard things like "need milk", but inevitably exams take over when that's what we're all thinking about!

Up reasonably early tomorrow 'cos we have a revision seminar and I have a meeting before that. Does mean that we're done on campus by 11, leaving most of the day for more revision! So until tomorrow guys....

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Well I'll start with a photo today...

I was hoping to be able to share a more exciting photo, but I didn't get the chance to take a picture in the anatomy workshop room, there shall be more on that later as I should probably start at the beginning...

So today was open day day, first open day of the season was University of Nottingham's GEM day (in Derby). After the usual talks containing "come here because we're awesome, but only if you're good enough" my group started with a "meet the students" session. This involved about 20 of us (mainly people wanting to apply for 2013 entry, but a few that had applied for entry this year), and 4 current 1st year students. The first thing we did was go round and do introductions. Now this surprised me, I'd expected the majority of people applying for the course (and therefore on the open day) would be in their penultimate year at uni so they could graduate in the summer and start the GEM course that year. I guessed there'd be a few people like me who, for one reason or another, were going to have a year in the middle so would be in their final year at the moment. I was wrong. Very wrong. I was the only one that was still at uni, everyone else had graduated (and many had then gone on to get phds or do a masters), and not only that most of them had been working for a while. This is already worrying me. Is this going to be a representation of students applying for this course across the country, or is Nottingham/Derby individual? How am I ever going to compete with people that have actually done things? Me, that went straight from school to uni, and then have plans to do nothing exciting in my year off because I need to earn money.

The day did provide a great insight into the course though, we had various workshops and taster sessions including neurophysiology (particularly interesting to me since the issues I've had with nerves in my arm) and a clinical skills workshop where we all had to take each other's pulses in 3 places (and declare each other dead seen as none of us could find a brachial pulse!). The anatomy workshop we had was I think the most impressive, seen as it took place in the dedicated "anatomy workshop room" - the wall was filled with shelves of various models as well as examples of medical imaging. It looked pretty impressive! We were informed about the room next door containing various bits of people, many of which were pre-dissected. Sadly they didn't let us in to see, although I did get to hold 2 actual femurs (one with part of a hip replacement and one without). Slightly surreal holding an actual person bone in each hand!

We also had a PBL (problem based learning) taster session. In principle I know this is a good way to learn, as your putting things into practice and seeing the application of material in your lectures. But as a concept its something I've always thought I'd struggle with (avoided a Chemistry course at one university based on it), because I tend to lack confidence to speak up in a group session. Half an hour we sat in there, discussing the ins and outs of a "78 year old retired miner with a cough". I didn't say one word. I thought lots of things but didn't speak up, and then just as I was maybe getting the confidence to say it someone else jumped in with my point. Need to work on that one!

All in all it was a good day, really informative. It has got me thinking though. There's going to be a point where everyone who applies for medicine and gets onto the course becomes a medical student, at the beginning they're just like me now - turning up to lectures, doing coursework and studying a subject they enjoy (or try to enjoy). That can be seen by talking to the students that I did today, just discussing anatomy or whatever but at some points the paths deviate from one and another. Medicine is unlike any other degree in that at some point you have to develop certain competencies and then at the end, assuming all goes well, you get spat out of the end of the education system with the badge of "doctor". I'm almost at the end of my chemistry degree and although I often describe myself as one I certainly wouldn't say I "feel" like a "chemist" - so is there a magic moment when you go from feeling like a med student to feeling like a doctor?

It's just made me question myself, I knew it would. I'd made a decision, but until I hand over vast quantities of money it's not set in stone. So I'm doubting myself - my motives and my abilities. And then I take it further, I'm probably only doubting myself because there's a decision to be made so it's all going to be fine. But what if it's not?

I don't know what to do! Will someone just tell me what to do?

In summary - the prospect of medicine has me feeling excited, but at the same time somewhat overwhelmed and nervous too!

All this ponderation of life and the future etc. is not good for revision! Not helped by the fact that I have apparently got to the point in life where I can sit a 3rd year chemistry exam and not be phased by deriving the translational partition function from the Schrodinger equation, but then chuck away easy marks by deciding that a cubic metre is the same as a litre. Really?

Friday, January 20, 2012


Remember the other day when I was saying there's nothing worse than opening an exam paper and not being able to do the first question? Well I stand corrected...

Once I'd be given the right exam paper (yes, out of 3 exams that's 2 where I've not had the right paper at the beginning, they worked my extra time out wrong again as well!), I opened section A. Got to question 6 before I could confidently answer the whole question (coincidently or otherwise, the first 5 questions from were from one half of the module and the second from the other). Thankfully I managed to reel off answers question 6-10!

The for section B, this was a straight choice - 1 question from 2, so only answering questions on half the module. Went for the question based on the half that I couldn't do in the section A. That sounds like an odd thing to do doesn't it? Not when you consider that the reason I couldn't do questions 1-5 is that they were all based on 1 tiny piece of the module (as in not even 1 lecture's worth), that had never come up in a past exam. The choice was remarkably straight forward - there was a derivation that I knew I wouldn't be able to do in question 1 (which I chose), but question 2, although on my preferred area of the module (statistical thermodynamics) the questions were odd and a bit ambiguous looking so I went for kinetics given that a chunk of the marks was for doing 2 lots of stead state approximation which I'd be practising!

This question did also involve drawing 2 graphs, yes 2 graphs in a 90 minutes exam (thankfully I had extra time!). Not that I could draw the second graph (well I could draw the graph but couldn't work out what to plot to get a straight line!). My maths logic said 1 thing, so I plotted it and it didn't work, tried to just work out out arithmetically as well but still didn't work. Then spent some time just trying different things, trial and error style in hope but I just couldn't get it to work. That wasn't the only section where my maths failed me either. Took far too long to work out what the intercept on a graph was going to be. I hate logs!

All of this was not helped by the fact my calculator is broken. Pretty sure I was on the verge of a panic attack when it died mid calculation. Think it's just a loose connection as it kept going on and off, depending how I pressed it! Might investigate and try and fix it - will take back up calculator to next exam though!

Was one good thing about the exam though - one of the invigilators looked like one of the mexican Chuckle brothers. Was quite amusing and probably explains the lack of organisation!

OK, and breathe. Exam is all over now. Just one to go next week.

In other news I had a phone call from HR at the hospital where I'm sorting out volunteering. Occupational health have decided they want to assess me (suppose that's what happens when you want to work in a hospital...). I'm sure they won't have a problem with me working when they see me, but it means I now have to go home next week seen as that's the only time off I've got between now and Easter (good thing I don't have exams all week like some people!), that means faffing about getting trains seen as I don't have my car here any more. Just hassle I really didn't want when I was hoping to just chill out for a few days between exams and lectures and labs starting!

OK and breathe again. I appear to be feeling a tad stressed this evening!

Photo time...a bit short of inspiration today - if I was allowed my phone in the exam I'd had taken a picture of the fail of an exam paper (or my fail at maths!), but we're not so here's what cheered me up when I got home!

I'm off to Derby tomorrow (for Nottingham's GEM open day), and then revision for Tuesday starts on Sunday so only time left to chill is tonight. Going to curl up with something good on TV, a hot chocolate and some pain killers and then hit the hay early.

Sorry, I got a bit carried away there, still, I feel better now!

"See" you tomorrow folks!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Well it's certainly been a a day of mixed feelings about tomorrows exam - I keep getting lulled into a false sense of confidence, and the realising that actually there's lots I don't know!
Thankfully the things I do know are increasing and I'm starting to think I'll be OK! The highlight of my day (having not left the house!) was finally working out how to do the Steady State Approximation (all be it with a couple of simple examples). Decided that should be today's photo given that I haven't done anything else remotely significant!

Given the lack of exciting things that's all from me today. I'm going to get back to learning equations. Lecturer's both said "No, you don't really need to know many equations:, looking through exam papers has shown that we really do!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Given that my afternoon has been one brain fail after another I decided now would be a good time to get blogging!

The relief of solid state chemistry being over for ever, combined with the knowledge that I wasn't the only one who thought it wasn't a nice paper meant I had a nice relaxing evening, a reasonable sleep and quite a chilled morning too.

Opted to not start revision for Friday's exam until after a revision seminar (for Tuesday's exam), and my lab feedback meeting. Both of which were pleasant but didn't seem like a productive use of my time! A housemate, friend and fellow chemist was waiting for me outside my feedback meeting (he was next) so I sat outside and waited for him.

With little to do to pass the time I just enjoyed some people watching. Slightly scary moment when someone came out of a lab with a gas mask type thing on. Not what you want to see when you don't have a mask on! Thankfully some over heard conversation fragments suggest it was just because she was working with a particularly nasty chemical (although if the fume hood wasn't adequate and a mask was required I'm still not sure I want to be very close to it!).

I was also entertained by the health and safety outside another lab. Being on the inorganic floor I was just a little bit amused by the "organic: various", because of course inorganic chemists can't be dealing with the specifics of their organic chemistry counterparts!

I also used the time "productively" to work on my skills as a "spy", thought I'd see if I could take a picture of someone without being spotted. My new found desire to "spy" is entirely unrelated to the e-mail I received yesterday with the subject "confidential", not sure that anyone other than me is likely to be reading my e-mails and if they are then that probably won't stop them! Sadly turned out to be entirely boring and very necessary, and not a request from MI6! Anyway, it wasn't entirely successful, the best I managed was this. A lonely phd student, contemplating life as he walked through the corridor (that's how interpreted his head scratching, and the look on his face which of course you can't see in this picture!).

I think this is a skill that I should work on, however now is probably not the best time to do so, what with the impending exams and everything...

Hopefully the cup of tea I've just consumed has woken my brain up so revision might be a bit more productive for the rest of the evening. No more confusion between different types of "k" and upper and lowercase "t"s! Probably going to be reuniting myself with my old friend too...

It's time for more kinetics. Farewell!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


There's nothing worse than opening an exam paper and having no idea how to answer the first question. Actually there is, an exam starting 20 minutes late due to a missing paper for someone who hadn't even turned up and then opening the exam paper to see you're missing section A and only have section B and then not being able to answer the first question!

Section A wasn't that bad really, a couple of tricky bits but good on the whole so hopefully a few marks in the bag there. Section B was a whole other kettle of fish though - It's a choice of 2 out of 4 questions and it immediately became a matter of "which of these questions contains the least stuff that I don't know". I did one question, although couldn't do a big chunk of it - mainly because we'd been told in the lectures that we wouldn't have to reproduce the derivation...

Choosing my second question was more difficult, 1 was eliminated straight away and the other 2 were fairly evenly matched with about half of it that I thought looked doable. I picked the question of superconductors, that meant I'd picked 1 question from each of the lecturers, and I like super conductors. For the first half of the question I went above and beyond the "call of duty" writing lots about it, because it's an area I'd actually revised well, and in a bit more depth than the notes (mainly because they made no sense!), so hopefully that will make up for the fact the the rest of the question was a no go. A good chunk of the remaining bit was about a compound which I knew we'd covered in lectures, and I'd written about in my revision notes but I just couldn't dredge any information about it from my brain so I wrote down a few points which might be relevant and then moved on!

Due to the late start I had until 7.50 to finish the exam (that's depressing!), pretty sure they were offering me too much extra time again, but I opted to leave at 6.35 having checked everything over. I dread to think how early I'd have finished if I'd been writing at full speed and without a break in the middle! Anyway that's over now. I'm pretty sure none of that is ever going to be relevant to me in the future so I can now forget everything anyone's ever told me about solid state chemistry (assuming I don't need to re-sit it!)

I'm having the night off revision, work for Friday's exam shall begin in the morning! We have a revision seminar for next week's exam too, so that'll break the day up a bit!

And the photo...
Before the exam, what a lovely evening it was turning out to be...shame I was going to be stuck inside!

And after the exam, yep, all the niceness gone! (apologies for awful photo!)

Monday, January 16, 2012


OK, so I think I used the wrong entrance, given that it wasn't out of hours and I'm definitely not an in-patient but I saw no other doors!
Was a bit disconcerting to find that the corridor in which I was waiting for physio turned out to be shared with the dentists (although the dentist smell didn't seem to have spread all the way down), could see the waiting room which I've sat in numerous times, and hear the drills! *shudders*

Thankfully I didn't have to wait too long. Appointment began by establishing exactly what's been going on with me over the last few months - each time I see a new medical person the list gets longer and my case seems to be getting more and more complicated...

Once she'd worked out why I was there she was quick to determine the problem. I'm wonky. I could have said that at the beginning - my hand points in the wrong direction, has done ever since I stopped wearing the splint that moved my fingers for me (although I have made an effort to straighten it apparently I didn't try hard enough!). This apparently the most likely cause of my pain and on going problems (apart from lack of feeling in my thumb, no one can explain that!), to solve it I have yet more exercises to do, and have a variety of methods available of which to support my hand and hold it in the right place depending what I'm doing. Hopefully that'll fix me. Sadly it means no riding bikes again for a while. Although I'm sure a little ride won't hurt...

I've been attacked with tape, with extra stuff to put on for writing and stuff:

Going to have to make a conscious effort in exams and beyond to write straight too. Just what I needed - something else to focus on instead of the chemistry!

Exam number 1 was this afternoon, they gave me more extra time than I was expecting (45 minutes extra taking it to 2 hours 15 for the exam), I'd finished in less than 1 hour. Sat around for a while checking (you have to stay for the first hour), and left shortly after the magic hour mark. All questions answered, A few I didn't know but being multiple choice if you can eliminate 1 or 2 answers it gives you a good chance of getting the right one out of what is left. Something tells me my next 3 exams won't be quite so friendly. Just over 24 hours 'til the next one (why couldn't they spread them out better?!), I need to do a lot more revision, but hopefully can bring it together!

Just a shame that that exam was for a module which was ongoing (although doesn't count for 60%) because it means I'm not allowed to forget it all now the exam is over...

Until tomorrow then folks!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Well I'm still cold, although slept a bit better last night thanks to the addition of a sleeping back to duvet, 2 blankets and hot water bottle! Almost looking forward to exams for a chance to spend some time somewhere warm!

What with the impending exams and therefore sudden realisation that I know nothing I've been attempting to work hard (have done reasonably i think but still waaaay to much to learn!), that means that I haven't actually been left the house in 48 hours.

Out tomorrow for new physio in the morning, just what I needed when I have an exam in the afternoon. And then back to undoubtedly panic about the exam on Tuesday which I still no nothing about! Argh.

Best stop blogging and get back to work. Or at least vaguely staring at notes and hoping to absorb information!

Here's today's photo.

Tea has been keeping me going!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Well I've been back in Nottingham for almost 24 hours now. It's safe to say its cold! This is how cold it was when I got up this morning...

I've shivered my way through the day although have been remarkably productive. I'm finally starting to actually learn things, but definitely not learning quick enough. Thankfully have a bit more time today, and all day tomorrow to get it all in for the first exams!

My method of revision has now progressed from general note making to answering specific exam questions, and noting down some key points...wonder how far this is going to grow before exams start!

If anyone knows anything about solid state conductivity and magnetism please feel free to share your knowledge!

Right...back to it...

Friday, January 13, 2012


I'll make it quick tonight as I've just moved back up to Nottingham so I'm feeling pretty tired after an afternoon of packing, traveling, unpacking and food shopping!

Today's photo is all my stuff (well all the stuff that's important enough to get transported between home and uni every time we have a holiday! Not entirely sure how we managed to get it all in the car!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Had a final pre-uni shopping trip with the grandparents today, needless to say I'm being sent back with a very generous parcel of food!

The goodbye involved tears from my Grandma, bless her, I expect I'll speak to her at least twice a week while I'm away (if not more!) and it won't be too long before I'm back visiting again!

The trip into my local town centre (which has sprouted several new shops of interest since the last time I was there - an authorised Apple reseller, Trespass and a muffin shop to name a few!), saw an invasion of Rhinos, no idea what they were there for, presumably related to the previous invasion of lions.

I shan't talk much more tonight 'cos packing, revision and the packaging of multiple parcels combined with the fact my shirt has been irritating my scar means I'm a bit sore/grumpy (again!).

However, back to Nottingham tomorrow. Kind of looking forward to it (would be looking forward to it more if I didn't have exams!). Last few months of it now and I am going to make the most of it. If I get onto GEM that's going to be a whole different experience - a more hours intensive course, and I intend to live on my own, and in private accommodation - so it'll be a big change from sharing a house with a friends! Not to mention the fact that before all that I'm going to have an entire year of living at home so going to enjoy my relative freedom while it lasts!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


It's funny isn't it? How emotions sneak up on you sometimes. There I was, looking through some photos, and I just happened to see one picture, one in fact which I see most days because up until yesterday it was in quite a prominent spot. I don't know what it was, probably partly down to the fact I was quite stressed having been working all day, and I was pretty tired, but seeing that picture and what it then made me think of was upsetting. So much so that I shed a tear or two (and I don't do crying!).

I was just being silly really, it was a happy occasion and the memory should be savoured not looked upon in a negative way. But alas, that picture, and those from the same time are probably never going to be able to be looked at in quite the same way again...

Thanks to the kind people of twitter who cheered me up again - greatly appreciated! :-)

Anyway, enough of the emotional rubbish. Let's get back to being happy! Revision for my first exam at least, has apparently gone well. Not surprising given that it's multiple choice. Had a go at the 2 available past papers - half the questions I was really confident with, the other half I wasn't so sure about. Most of the one's that left me doubting I was 90% sure I was right but as the exams were negatively marked I wouldn't have wanted to risk it. There were a few that I just had no clue about as well (even with the help of my notes and the internet!). I e-mailed the lecturer with my list of questions that I was unsure about, expecting to be told that he wasn't going to give me the answers, but much to my surprise he marked the paper for me - thankfully I was right on most of the iffy ones, and he gave me some useful advice for the ones I really came unstuck on. You'd think by halfway through 3rd year I'd have worked out the fundamental things of what's electron withdrawing and donation, and what effect that has on properties like pKa, but I haven't. Don't know why but it just confuses me. Hopefully a bit closer to understanding it now though!

Today was also the day that my frame was delivered. I excitedly ripped the tape of the box and rushed down to the bike shop so it could get built up. I'm really happy with it, I don't want to ride it now. Just want to admire it! I now have the dilemma of which bike to take to uni with me?! Still got a couple of days to decide though...

And here is the new bike (weighs in at 22lbs if anyone is interested!):

Initial impressions suggest its going to be great fun to ride even if I have to avoid the bumps for a while!) - and yes I know it is lacking pedals in that picture! :P Have to admit it the tiny person sized frame looks almost comical with the big wheels, and I'll have to be careful so as to not hit my feet on the front wheel when turning, but other than that I love it so far!

2nd new (to me) bike in the space of 2 weeks has now triggered a clear out - I have an excess of bikes and related things (there's now 4 and a half bikes that belong to me in the garage!), and I am also way to far into the depths of my overdraft (how I love being a student!) - so a few things have got to go. The half a bike is already on its way out. Hopefully will keep the other 4 although another 1 might have to go as well.

Right...back to revision. Lot's to learn and not enough time to do it! Still haven't started packing for Friday yet either!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Revision plan took a big change this morning - given that I've got 1 and a quarter modules left to write notes on and less than a week until exams start (and writing wasn't particularly appealing today) I decided to have a break from note taking and start looking at past papers (will probably do a few more notes tomorrow).

It would appear that I'm getting there - I'm now looking at certain things and thinking "ah yes, that's a...." or "I know what to do with this" which is always good, although it is also evident that I have a lot of work left to do!

Had confirmation of my place on my first GEM open day today (apparently it's pretty oversubscribed, hope the applications for the course aren't later this year!) - it's the local one - University of Nottingham (although in Derby as that's where their GEM course is ran). I've invited my dad because I'll be carless at uni and didn't want to have to get the bus/train, I'm sure he'll find it interesting (he really enjoyed the chemistry open days), just hope I'm not the only one with a parent there!

Today's photo comes from the dog walk, although not sure my iPhone camera really captured the "niceness" of the sky...

Couldn't resist taking a picture of the hounds (see Sherlock, some people say "hound"!) while I was out too...
Taking himself for a walk...

Having a bit of a rest 'cos his 3 legs were getting tired!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Somewhat lacking inspiration for a photo today. Having done an awful lot of work (and still having far too much to do), my brain is mushy, my arm is getting gradually more painful and I'm tired. Not to mention 1 week to go until the first exam so the official exam stressing begins here. So I'm a bit grumpy and therefore not really feeling the hunt for a good photo.

But only being day 9 I could hardly give up...

I promise I'm not as crazy as this photo might imply...

I think I'm going to dig out the codeine and I don't suppose it'll be long until I'm in bed...

So until tomorrow (when hopefully I'll be a bit more cheery!) goodbye!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Revision has once again taken a bit of a back seat today, will hope for the same burst of productivity tonight that I managed yesterday - massively needed given that I've still got over 1 and a half modules to make notes on before I start looking at past papers and what not and my first is exam is a week tomorrow! Panic!

The day has, however, not been as much of a waste of a day as yesterday was. After getting grandparent visiting out of the way this morning (which involved eating banana - yuck!), I dragged myself out on the bike.

I really don't know how my legs are still working so well after not riding for almost 6 months but I'm not going to complain. I extended Friday's loop to go through a few more villages (and included 2 more quite big hills!). The last couple of miles were a bit of a struggle 'cos my arm was really starting to feel it, and it started raining but I kept pushing on, there's something satisfying about the burn of lactic acid in your legs!

Having been back for 15 minutes my legs and lungs and now back to their normal relaxed self, but I think painkillers may be required for the arm. I should probably take it easy, given that I wasn't supposed to be riding again properly until March, but I can't help it. I love riding my bike, and I love riding hard even more!

Ride Stats:
Distance: 14.0 miles
Av. Speed: 14.0 mph
Duration. 1.00 hour
Max Speed: 33.3 mph

(I've discovered that my new cycle computer has more features than my old one!)

2012 Total: 34.80 miles

Obligatory bike and gate photo:

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Not much more than a picture today because I've done nothing!
My day has consisted of tidying, not enough revision, napping, playing Zelda and walking the dogs; not even done a whole lot of thinking today!
So nothing to ramble on about, but that's how Saturday's should be!
So today's picture is the church in my village. It's old. Anglo-Saxon to be precise. Lots of people come and visit it, although not many when it's dark...

Hopefully I'll get out on the bike tomorrow - if I'm going to get lots of miles in the legs I'll have to do lots of rides seen as I can't go very far. Weather and time permitting I'm going to aim for 15 tomorrow though!

Friday, January 6, 2012


I think to say the weather was calmer today might be the understatement of the year (so far). That meant that after a couple of hours working, and then lunch and shopping with my grandparents I had the chance to go for a ride on the new bike!

This was easier said than done given that before riding I wanted to get the computer and bottle cage attached - this, you would think, should take a matter of minutes, especially for someone that's worked in a bike shop since 2008! However, my multitool was no where to be found - this meant delving into the depths of our garage (aka "the man cave") on the hunt for an Allen key, and more importantly one of the right size! Managed to get the bottle cages bolts out and back in again with a key that was 1 mm too small!

Anyway, then I got to ride! Decided to take a different route to the previous 2 rides I've had - slightly more hilly, and a definitive loop rather than weaving away from and back to my village (which I'd been doing in case I needed to stop). I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is the new bike awesome (although a few tweaks are needed to get my riding position spot on I think), my legs were feeling good for a change! That might have been down to the 12-30 cassette though (could almost run that on the mountain bike!!), I think an 11-28 might be the way to go as I think it's unlikely the 30 is going to get used round here and I felt I could have done with a harder gear, was spinning out earlier than expected downhill and even on the flat I felt it wasn't hard enough when I was trying to get some speed up!

Had 3 "near-death-experiences" with cars overtaking when they most definitely shouldn't have...if you've pulled out into the other side of the road when there's a car coming you really can't swerve into me because you've realised that you can't get past in time; likewise don't just drive along as if I'm not there - I'm sure all cyclists would like a little bit of a gap when you're overtaking!! Anyway, rant over - ride was lovely. Hopefully get out again in the next couple of days. The fact that my ears were so cold I thought they might fall off was distracting me from the fact that my arm was sore (although I still did swear under my breath every time there was a bump in the road!)

Just like to point out that I didn't ride down there (that's one for the cross bike when I get it sorted!), but being next to the road I figured it was a good photo opportunity!

Today's ride: 10.8 miles
2012 total: 20.8 miles

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I think the Mayans might be on to something with all this end of the world in 2012 business. It's a been a rather wet and windy day!
I don't live in an area of the UK that is particularly known for its wild weather; in fact I think we almost renowned for being the place that avoids the worst of it! So I was most definitely not expecting to be woken up by a bang this morning. It was too dark to see what had happened initially, and I was still half asleep, but wen it had got a bit lighter this is the view that greeted me from my bedroom window!

Think we were very lucky it didn't do any more damage as it came down, the shed's a bit dented but that's it. Thankfully no one was out in the garden at the time, my dad has only just gone back inside with the dogs after there'd be let out for their morning "business".

Needless to say the strong winds, heavy rain and occasional horizontal hail meant I didn't get out on my bike today. I've got a few things on tomorrow (as usual, right in the middle of the day!), but hopefully I'll have an hour or 2 to spare before it gets dark and then I can get out and ride (itching to do a couple of miles on the new bike!). I did manage to brave the outside for long enough to take a slightly better photo of the new "steed" (I suppose I should name it at some point...), really I just wanted an excuse to go and admire the beauty!

Despite all the excitement work has been going remarkably well, I'm now a 1/4 of the way through module 3 (out of 4) with my revision notes. It's rather dull (opted for solid state rather than statistical thermodynamics seen as that exam is a week earlier!) but I'm chugging my way through it - it's amazing how much of it I don't remember doing (so was clearly on autopilot), although more amazing, and perhaps worrying that on numerous occasions I've copied down examples from the board and the contradict the printed notes (don't know if they were wrong on the board or if I just can't read!). Either way I'm getting through it, most of it makes sense, a few things don't but I'm sure once I start looking at past papers (if I ever get that far), things will start to click, well I hope so anyway!

All this time thinking has however, sent me back to the road of self doubt. I'm going back down the "Is that really the right thing to do?" and "Am I making the right choices?" path. I think I just need to keep reminding myself that not doing anything through fear of failure or it being "the wrong thing" is probably going to lead to a life of regret which will in all likelihood be far worse than living with the consequences if it does turn out to be the wrong thing. Which hopefully it won't. See, the inside of my brain is full of many long, winding and very dark alleys which are probably best kept closed...

Sorry - that was probably a bit cryptic/vague; I'm trying to sort things out in my head by writing this as much as well as sharing my feelings!

That's enough waffling from me now, seen as I'm doing this every day.

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Well today turned out to be rather more exciting than I'd been anticipating!

I spent 3 hours this morning doing revision, finally got to the end of module 2 out of 4 (number 3 begins later seen as there's only a week and half of holidays left!). As a reward I decided to go down to the bike shop with the intention of coming home with some new part of a drivetrain to put on my new frame when it turns up next week.

Instead my whole plan was changed, ended up buying a whole new road bike! I'll then transfer bits from my old road bike onto the frame thats coming next week, and that becomes the cross bike/winter road bike and I now have a new and shiny road bike that actually fits me. I can sell the few bits + frame that will be left over so it just about works out as being more cost effective than getting all the bits separately... and it means I have a road bike that fits me!

Not sure how I'm going to explain the appearance of what will be 2 new bikes by the end of next week, given that they didn't even want me to get one new bike - I was going to just hope they don't notice, but as it's now sitting in the garage I think that's unlikely so I'm going to tell me dad about the first new bike when he come's in from work (won't mention the other one yet!).

Initial riding suggests its very good! Only tested it briefly (it's raining!), but I like it. Being a bit shorter also seems like it's putting less pressure in the wrong places through my arm so hopefully I'll be able to ride a bit further. Weather pending I'll get out and give it a proper try in the next few days!

And yes, you guessed it - today's picture is of my new bike! (really hope my parents aren't reading this blog...). It's a terrible photo but it was raining outside and there's not a lot of room to maneuver in our garage!

Right, revision time...think I'll get start with statistical thermodynamics seen as I almost enjoyed that!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Well, today has been a bit of a quiet one. Wind/rain/hail/apocalypse outside meant far less distractions for me so I managed to get quite a chunk of work done, still lots to do though! Sadly that's the inspiration for my photo today...

I'd be enjoying the Drug Discovery module, given that it links into medicine, and it's really quite interesting, it's amazing how having to revise for an exam on the topic, learning all the ins and outs which you know you're never going to need to know again can ruin something that you like!

I'm a little concerned about my hand, given that it's still pretty sore and swollen but I'm prescribing myself a dose of WTFU 'cos it's probably nothing... (although it is rather frustrating watching my dad catch me up on Zelda and not being able to do anything about it because I can't hold the controller!)

Everyone is back to school/work tomorrow so just me in the house for the morning, I doubt I'll be particularly productive given that I'm expecting to hear about my "new" frame tomorrow...although I still can't decide exactly how I'm going to build it up...

Monday, January 2, 2012


Went to Beckworth Emporium today (sounds posh doesn't it?).

Though it would be a good opportunity to get my daily photo.

Was very impressed by array of food, these sweets in particular - you'll be pleased to hear I refrained from buying any!

We did buy some of their slightly pretentious crisps though, not sure they tasted of the flavours described on the packet, very tasty though!

That's all you're getting from me today 'cos after a Wii related incident this morning I'm sporting a lumpy hand and it's sore!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

1/1/12 - It all starts here!

I hope everyone brought in the new year safely and happily!

I've decided that throughout 2012 I'm going to keep a proper record of my riding (distance, times etc.) so that I can keep track of my mileage and really, just so I can see how much riding I actually do.

I expect it's going to get off to a slow start given that proper riding is still proving difficult, but it should be interesting to see how it progresses.

I'm also going to start the much talked about 1 photo a day challenge; I can't promise that I'll keep it up for long but I'll do my best. On riding days I expect the picture(s) will be related to my ride!

So today. Thought I should start as I mean to go on so got out this morning for a 10 mile road ride. I was struggling with my arm after just 2 miles but I didn't want to give up so I kept on going, despite a stronger (and colder!) than expected wind. It was really great to see lots of cyclists out, all looking almost happy! Quite a lot of runners too - just like to thank the guy who was running as fast as I was riding on one hill for not laughing at my incapableness! Should probably thank the guy that never caught me up too - it's amazing how race mode takes over when you think you're going to get caught - got me through the last couple of miles (up hill and into a headwind) in a much quicker time than I'd have managed otherwise. Was out for 45 minutes, and that included a couple of stops for picture taking :P

Despite arm issues and general lack of riding my legs were feeling good today, so a positive start to 2012! Here's the pictures...
This is not a brilliant picture of me, although considerably better than the other one I took, think I need to work on takeing pictures whilst riding (without pulling stupid faces...)

Aaaaaaand a couple of obligatory bike + nice scenery pictures. Yes, I know if I'm *only* riding 10 miles I probably shouldn't stop to take pictures but then where would the fun be?