Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Today most definitely hasn't felt like an "extra" day!

Once again I was up nice and early, despite not having to be in uni until 10. Just as well 'cos I did my physio exercises and pushed a bit harder than usual and it hurt!

First lecture wasn't actually a lecture, it was a workshop and the lecturer had already said he wasn't going to teach us anything and just kinda leave it to us to teach ourselves by each answering a question on the board...

I avoided getting up and answering cos writing on the board is even more difficult that writing on paper at the moment! Although I wouldn't have minded getting up and doing it for once, given that I had actually done the questions in advance and so vaguely knew what was going on! Next was an hours gap (formerly the hour of nucleic acids lectures!), despite only typing with one hand I succeeded in getting a big chunk of my lab report written. I have one document which is almost at the word limit for the report but is just a jumble of paragraphs and points I should be including, so I actually started writing it "properly" today - it's looking good!

Finally was a synthesis lecture, I was a bit worried because from now on there's not going to be any handouts and it's all going to be copying down from the board. My friend, fellow chemist and housemate offered his notes for photocopying afterwards should I need them though so all was good. Turned out I didn't even need that - the lecturer had photocopied his hand written notes for me specially! Made me smile to know someone had thought about me and made an effort to help even though they didn't need too! :-)

Next mission for today was shopping. Not having the car this year I've been avoided it but I could hold out no longer so off to Sainsbury's I went. Made an effort to only buy the essentials, and leave things that could be bought later on from the little Sainsbury's (which is a lot closer!). Think it was the quickest dash round the shop ever! Not sure I have a very student like basket - no alcohol, no pot noodles and no cake!

Was certainly interesting carrying home (once again - stupid arm!), I nearly stopped to eat my carrots on the way back as I'm sure they were the heaviest thing!

Got home to find an e-mail waiting for me. Not the one I've been waiting for (might have to be "brave" and speak to one of the academics tomorrow cos I don't suppose it should wait much longer...), but from the place where I'm doing work experience over Easter. I'd almost forgotten about them to be honest! Just got to sort out the dates that I'm doing it now (and how on Earth I'm going to get there, no parking and I can't cycle!). It's a voluntary thing so they've said I can do as much or as little as I'd like. I obviously want to do as much as possible but I suspect with my new level of re-brokenness I'll have to be careful seen as I don't want to over do it, especially when I should probably be revising for last ever chemistry exams!

It has given me a new burst of excitedness about the work experience (even I really would like a holiday instead!), I shall of course keep you posted...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Presentation day! (again!)

In an odd stroke of confidence, as a group, we decided to open with a joke - this could have gone badly for us, but thankfully it went down quite well! With the current popularness of memes, we went with Bormir: "One does not simply align the laser" on our opening slide! I also opted to wear my para-dox t-shirt (another chemistry joke), so at least our audience was in a good mood when we started!

Surprisingly for us we were a bit outnumbered - 3 of us in the group, only 5 other students watching but 5 academics and a PhD student all there to mark us! But I think it went OK, and they didn't ask any particularly mean questions either (I think there are many gaps in our knowledge so we were probably lucky!). Anyway, all over now, just one more presentation to give and that's not for aaaages!

So with that done it was back to hard work. Despite the world conspiring against me (we had multiple tea bag splitting "issues" earlier), I've been remarkably productive. Just about finished the biosynthesis workshop questions ahead of tomorrow. Was hoping they'd all be easy so I could have an extra couple of hours in bed tomorrow morning, I mean an extra couple of hours to do other work. But there are a few gaps in my work (even if you ignore the bit where I was fed up and decided I wasn't going to draw out the million step mechanism...)

I did manage to come up with an answer for this though, whether it's right or not is a different matter though...

The "thing" that I've been trying to sort out for the last few days has now, at least in part, been sorted. Just waiting for 1 of 2 people to e-mail back for part 2!

Right, I should probably get back to this lab report, it hasn't yet worked out how to write itself - must I do everything? :P

Monday, February 27, 2012


Apathy has reached a dangerous level and I'm still somewhere in an ocean of work so I'll keep it short again today.

Continued sorting out what I began on Friday, should be easy right? (well at least when you send an e-mail to the right address). Unfortunately the levels of bureaucracy are deep, and also entwined with other things! I think progress has been made though so fingers crossed! (sorry I'm being a bit vague - there are somethings that need to be kept away from prying eyes, at least until it's actually been sorted out! I will say that it's uni related and not some top secret government thing though so really shouldn't be this difficult!).

For the first time today, I had a chance to sit in our new building and just sit, and not have to do work. It really is an odd building, and far too much wasted space...

Sitting completed it was time for presentation practice. Having done a presentation less than a week ago I'm not that nervous about the actual presenting bit, but the fact my section of the talk is about something I'm not all that sure of, and I'm presenting to someone that not only knows a lot about the subject, but thinks that we know a lot more than we do! This is leaving us open for some horrible questions but there's not much we can do about it now!

Our presentation does at least look quite good though...

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Today has been a day with little to note so I shan't bore you with details Mainly been floundering with maths and statistics -thought we'd cracked the data analysis but have fallen at final hurdle. Deadline approaching rapidly.

Took this picture yesterday, but I thought I'd share it anyway :)

And today's official picture - needed a break from all the sums so turned to organic chemistry! Never thought I'd be saying that... but hey, biosynthesis is quite interesting!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Ah, Saturday. I love Saturdays. Monday is still far enough away that I don't have to worry about it!

Started this morning with my usual Saturday productivity - clothes washed, kitchen cleaned, living room tidied! Then time for some actual work. Slightly less motivation for this but given I've amassed 13 hours of lectures to listen to and make notes from I figured I should probably make a start!

Managed 2 hours by the time I'd organised all my notes and stuff, so not bad. I've got the rest of the weekend, so it'll be fine...
Having mentioned my organic chemistry epiphany yesterday, it would seem to have spread across all of chemistry. It's an odd feeling but I like it. I'm seeing things and understanding them, and working out what's going to happen next - it's nice going "oh, so that's the trans effect doing that, and then the next thing the lecturer says is "this is down to the trans effect", and likewise "those reagents? there's going to be some radical chemistry here isn't there?" and be right about it!. Just hope it's a sign of things to come, although perhaps would have been nice to have felt like this a bit earlier on rather than a couple of months before the end of my degree!

Next on my list of things to do was riding. Clear blue skies and still quite warm outside so I couldn't resist. Doctor said once I was feeling up to it I could start with some gentle 5-10 minute rides, and build up from there because riding will use different muscles so will be good physio. Now before starting I guessed I probably hadn't reached the "up to it" level, the writing involved in going over 2 lectures was enough to give me a shaky hand but my new and still relatively unridden bike was calling me!

My gentle 5-10 mins turned into a not very gentle 15. Blame the bike. It's too fun to ride! Suspect I've scuppered my chances of doing much more work for a while though. Ouch! :( Still my legs are happy, as is the bike!

Will have to push on with work later though. These lecture notes won't write themselves. Nor will my presentation and lab report. Even the fridge is taunting me now!

It's so frustrating not being able to do what I want. If I could write at a normal speed for reasonable periods I'd take my notes in lectures like everyone else and wouldn't have so much work to do, and being able to take normal notes implies a fixed arm so I could spend all that extra free time I'd have at the weekend out riding my bike in the sunshine. I'd be able to carry a cup of tea and a plate of toast up the stairs at the same time too! But alas, we have to go with what we're dealt in life...could be a heck of a lot worse!

2012 Cycling total: 38.0 miles

Friday, February 24, 2012


As I sit here writing this I'm feeling rather summery. Cool breeze coming in through an open window, and clear blue skies to look at. It's not quite summer warm outside but someone has had the heating on for far too long this afternoon so I feel like I'm going to melt...

Today is Friday. That means we've reached the end of another week - only 5 more until the Easter break! Can't wait, I know I said I was going to try and enjoy my last weeks at uni, and I am trying but I'm fed up of it now to be honest! Not helped by the little things - trying to sort out something which I'm apparently entitled too, pretty sure it's a common request and yet I was still passed around between far too many people to be efficient and still haven't actually sorted it out because everything seems to stop at 4 on a Friday! Could have done with getting it sorted before the weekend but looks like it'll wait until Monday (unless the office-y people are feeling particularly efficient...)

Right today. Anything exciting happened? Not really. I did have a bit of an organic chemistry related epiphany earlier, I realised I'd actually remembered something! Also related to organic chemistry, you may remember yesterday I was telling you about how we did the same thing in 2 consecutive lectures, well it happened again today! We were talking about radical chemistry, initiation using AIBN and peroxides etc. in our organic lecture; low and behold in our polymers lecture (a few hours later, but hadn't any lectures in between) "today we're going to talk about polymerisation using radicals...", still, it was quite nice sitting there knowing where he was going with his curly arrows and predicting his next words!

Plans for my weekend mainly include catching up. I need to catch up on sleep, catch up on jobs and catch up with work. Not sure quite what's happened this week but I appear to be falling down a slippery slope at the moment and an unable to stop despite my best efforts! Was originally supposed to be going home (not been back this term!), and then going to take some pictures at the final round of the Thetford Winter series, but's just as fun right?

I'll leave you with a photo and kind of thought for the day...

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I have to say after however many days of not sleeping, and a week of long days at uni (plus whoever much work at home) I feel in dire need of a holiday! But alas, no such luck! I'll keep going with the caffeine then!

Today has been a strange kind of day, despite feeling remarkably buoyant on the walk into uni sitting down for our first lecture of the day instantly reminded me of just how tired I am. Was actually a good lecture though, most of it was revision of 1st year stuff which I'd forgotten so very useful, and as has become tradition he brought models to show us, and cool things from the lab to pass round!

Next lecture was far less exciting, the lecturer isn't renowned for maintaining attention of students at the best of times but he decided that today was a good day to revise some first year stuff, normally useful but not when it's the same stuff we'd just been going over in the previous lecture, and he didn't bring us fun things to play with!

Had a little bit of time to kill after that because my team decided just before the occasion was appropriate for our first run through of our presentations. Wasn't a great run through but wasn't much we could do about it (although I had to re-write some of mine because the order had been changed without telling me!).

Our group's mentor from GSK (who I'm sure I've previously mentioned as being awesome), maintained his loveliness - he had a quiet word with me before we started because he knew I was nervous. Definitely appreciated his reassurances! Other than some computer crashing problems (which plagued several people) my part of the presentation went really well (in my opinion anyway). I think that's the best presentation I've ever given in fact. Didn't rely on my written script as much as I have done previously. Let's hope Tuesday's (as yet unwritten) presentation goes just as well!

Next was an organic tutorial - our tutor was late due to UCAS stuff, and I had to leave early , although from the sounds of it I didn't miss much. Tutorial part 2 is going to be tomorrow (useful I'm sure but I could really do without more things keeping me at uni!), hopefully he'll finish the tutorial questions, and have time to go over the few bits that I did miss because although I got some of it right there were a few bits which I thought I'd done OK on but apparently not!

My organic tutor this year is really good though, and if we don't have time tomorrow I'm sure if I ask he'll make time for me - he's always quite helpful (even if he doesn't get distracted by rants on the education system!), and does seem genuinely keen to make sure we actually learn and understand everything!

Having snuck out of the tutorial it was off to the doctors with me. Needn't have rushed 'cos he was running late, although thankfully not as late as last time! After a bit of prodding and poking he couldn't find anything new and particularly wrong so the verdict is wait and see and hope for the best. He did give me painkillers though so at least I might start sleeping a bit better now!

If anyone wants to be me for the week so I can go relax on a sunny, warm beach somewhere it would be greatly appreciated. Still have to much work to do for my liking. I need to stop getting flustered and spend less time panicking about the work and start doing instead!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Despite the strong desire to fall asleep, last night turned out to be quite good. One of my housemates realised I was in need of some cheering up and made amazing pancakes (some of which I managed to flip successfully!), we then sat and watched The Simpsons together before watching a film. So it was a really nice evening, and took me all the way through to "bedtime".

Last night was another lacking in sleep though, and I really wasn't with it this morning. Somehow managed to make it into the library for 9 (lectures started at 10) to get going with some more data analysis for labs. I was raided my emergency change pot so I had enough money for coffee, found my headphones too in hope that music would keep me awake!

After an hour of relative productivity it was time for the first lecture of the day. Biosynthesis. Interesting as ever but I have no intention of answering those questions in the exam so it doesn't matter that I had no idea what was actually going on.

Here's my preparations for the lecture...

We then had an hour gap, yep time for more matlab. I was again quite productive but still hadn't done enough so after a quick group meeting about our presentations tomorrow (which we still haven't actually practised as a group) I found a computer and did more work on data analysis:

Do you see a common theme in my working environment? Coffee was vital today!

I plotted over a hundred graphs, the majority of which needed exclusion of points and contained 2500 data points! Just need to make some sense of them all in the report now...

Tomorrow's likely to be another long day of hard work, as I expect is Friday, although at least by the end of tomorrow there's a chance I might be able to sleep a bit better...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Today's photo is a picture of part of my epic spreadsheet. This is my analysis so far from our lab project, 'cept for some reason unknown to me the graphs I spent 3 hours drawing this morning are wrong, and despite doing what I'm sure is exactly the same thing the numbers appear to have worked when I tried again after getting home.

Be starting that one again then. Matlab at home is terribly slow, and I'm falling asleep as it is so will have to do it at uni tomorrow. Lectures don't start 'til 10 so I'll try and go in for 9 to make some progress on that...

I try to avoid having naps this late in the day because it invariably makes sleeping at night all the more difficult but work isn't going to happen now.

If anyone wants to bring me tea, and some nice pancakes too it would be greatly appreciated!

I'm sure I have lots more I could say today (there have been numerous occasions where I though "ooo I'll put that in the blog"), but they have all escaped me... so until tomorrow folks!

Monday, February 20, 2012


The day we broke science, or possibly the day science broke us...

We turned up to labs as keen as you can at 9am on a monday morning, still being a bit sleep deprived I managed to forget my lab specs but managed to borrow some!

A quick discussion a we decided that (as predicted by me!) we hadn't actually collected the right data to answer the question that we're trying to so had 45 minutes of data collecting followed by a massive graph plot. Now what? We had a bit of a maths fail and after much equation rearranging we decided our heads were hurting too much to carry on so broke for lunch!

Feeling a bit refreshed after a good lunch we had an hour's discussion with our supervisor and got all the maths sorted. Hang on a minute...the one key number we needed was missing, more data collection required. This is where it all started going horribly wrong. Our equipment is so sensitive that anyone leaning on the table (or i'm sure breathing on the equipment) knocks it out of alignment; this had been a problem throughout but it was proving a particular problem this afternoon and we just couldn't get it working again.

There was much cursing and I don't think I've ever been so close to crying in labs (don't think the tiredness is helping!), we had 3 hours of practical time left and we were potentially going to have to do it all again. This one number needed to be obtained in comparable conditions to all of our previous data (and was then going to act as a constant when determining the rest of the stuff) so if we couldn't get it back to how it was we'd have had to collect all the data again under the new (far less than optimal) conditions! Someone from another group (who has had so much time not only has he written his report, he's done it all formatted like a proper paper) suggested we needed a tea break. Tea definitely helped!

We then managed to use some of our previous data to get the numbers that we needed, possibly not the most accurate way of doing, but still pretty close and all we could do! A bit more number crunching and graph plotting and we were down to the final stages of our calculations. By this point we were all a bit fed up of it, and even the demonstrator struggled to help and agreed that we had "broken the ideal gas equation", thanks to some more rearranging and playing with units (someone had given us a rouge "V" term) we got an answer out of the end.

What did we prove? Our experimental technique isn't accurate enough for the applications they wanted to use it for...
Think we could have told them that without doing the maths!

More graph plotting and maths awaits tomorrow because we've got to be ready to present on this by next Tuesday, and hand in the report on Friday (yes that's 2 presentations in the space of a few days and 2 big reports due in on the Friday!).

Couldn't get a doctors appointment until Thursday (I really should have phoned up before the weekend!), but at least that's only a couple more days of tired and broken Becky (although one of those days is presentation day!). Early night tonight though...

Today's photo is another angle of our laser set up: (plastic cups are there to keep the dust out and are removed before use!)

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Well today has definitely not been all that productive...added a couple of hopefully coherent sentences to my lab report but that's about it, the rest of my day has been spent lazing around watching various programs. Sometimes that's what Sundays should be for though, right?

Going to have a busy week or 2 ahead to making the most of it while I can! Although will have to practise my presentation this evening...

Now today's photo, I'm going to regret sharing this one aren't I?

Clearly I'm not actually asleep because then I couldn't have taken the photo, this was taken at around 11 this morning. I woke up before 7, having not slept well (again!), lounged in bed for a while, got up and dressed at 9ish. Had breakfast and then...found bed again! Much dozing followed, and has been the order of the day, and I'm still tired!

Tomorrow involves many hours in the lab, either plotting too many graphs or realising that the data we've got, although possibly interesting, won't allow us to answer the question we're looking at (yes I already have my suspicions...), also, unless there is improvement overnight, be trying to get an appointment at the doctors 'cos I reckon a few days is less than a week and I'm still beyond the help of ibuprofen. Fed up of being broken now!

Apologies if that made little sense. My brain is slowly turning to mush!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I've done all my non-uni related jobs already this morning and am not fancying starting any chemistry yet (although must get that presentation finished today...) so I thought it'd be the perfect time to do today's blog.

The lego is back!

Finally my luck has run out and with figure no. 11 comes a repeat...

Still, I'm sure they can happily practise battling together!

Another new addition...

Shall have to use one of my three wishes to get the character I really want next time! (I may have become slightly addicted...).

Nothing else to report here so hope everyone is enjoying the weekend! :-)

P.S. Everyone should watch this - more hugging would make the world a better place...

Friday, February 17, 2012


Well, it's the end of another week, and another day survived with the aid of caffeine.

I intend to use my weekend to catch up on missed sleep as well as tick off lots of jobs from my over growing list of things to do. Or alternatively find some sort of minion to do it for me seen as many of the things to do are really boring, liking buying stamps and envelopes! (stupid forms having to be submitted as a hard copy and not done online...). If any wants to volunteer I'd be eternally grateful - other jobs include shopping, tidying and washing (clothes not me!).

My between lectures time today was remarkably unproductive, I drew a few chemical structures for our presentation, and had the chance to go over one of my exam papers but that was about it - the rest of the time was spent chilling out, drinking coffee and more bizarrely bird watching - we saw 2 (what we assume to be) song thrushes outside ao sat and watched them for a while (and tried to work our what they were!

(Here's me sitting attempting to do work in the Chemistry Foyer, I don't like the library!)

At least today's lectures were quite interesting. Although I think there is to be another casualty to the special topics module...I'm still doing 4 of the 5 topics (and we only have to answer questions about 2) so I think dropping down to 3 is safe. Sadly the one I probably won't be doing again is in the middle of Friday so I still won't finish until 4, I might go again next week, but equally I might not. The topic's not all that interesting and it's the same lecturer who in the previous set of exams I thought I knew the material, and came out of the exam feeling not to bad about his stuff only to find out today that in fact I only scraped a few marks with that half of the paper. Would be nice to avoid the situation again!

I still feel rather broken (might be heading back to the doctors next week...), and am also starving (definitely not eaten enough today!) so that's all from me today. Have a good Saturday everyone! :-)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Am now feeling the effects of not sleeping well. Frist 2 lectures today were a mystery to me because I was half asleep. But at least I turned up, and I recorded them so can listen later and try and make sense of them all!
Next was a 2 hour workshop. Coffee was required!

The caffeine definitely helped, and although I'm never sure of myself when doing these group project things I quite enjoyed this workshop. I got a few things right, and like to think I contributed to the group decisions. Really like our "GSK mentor", think he's realised that I'm the quiet one in the group so made sure I contributed, and that I was happy to be one of the "presenters" - he just seems like a generally nice guy too (and appears to be very good at what he does!) Also found out that our syntheses for our next round of labs have been planned for us (unlike everyone else!), that makes things a lot easier! I'm far better at doing practical work with a "recipe" laid out for me!

Now feel like I have a mountain of work to do with 2 presentations to write, 2 big reports looming plus tutorial work (as well as going over lecture notes and stuff). Determined to make next weeks presentation good, seen as that has been an area that's let me down before . I've started writing it (although I'm writing it out report style I'm hoping to do this one without the aid of notes...); however sleep is beckoning me so an afternoon nap is required before I do any more work I think!

Lectures and various things from 9-4 tomorrow. I may not survive!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Another short post today because for some reason my arm is hurting more today than it was yesterday. Despite extra painkillers this morning this made lectures rather difficult. I must have been pulling funny faces while trying to copy a mechanism down from the board 'cos the lecturer came up to me at the end (he knows I've been having arm issues!), and told me which book I could find the mechanism in if I hadn't got it all down (and said he'd photocopy it for me if all the copies of the book were gone from the library).

Not sure what's making it more sore today, but hopefully it'll be better tomorrow, and I'll be moving in the right direction. Could really do without having to go back to the doctors again!

What with the sore arm, and the amount of organic chemistry that has filled me day I thought I needed all the help I could get, so decided it was best to try and summon my super powers.

Doesn't seem to have worked given that, despite everything making sense when it was explained to us, I'm struggling a bit with these questions. Still, that's the point of tutorials, to learn stuff.

Right, that's enough from me! Until tomorrow folks...

(PS: film and food last night was actually OK because it didn't finish too late, even if housemates then spent an hour talking on the landing!, and we watched a comedy rather than a horror movie!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Arm is slightly less sore today, well I can move it a bit now anyway, although is still not great. As long as this works though I don't mind, so fingers crossed!

Labs this morning was a bit of a matlab session, with 10 minutes of data collection in the middle to repeat some dubious looking data.. Each data set I plotted contained 2500 points and I did around 20 graphs! There were a few arguments with matlab along the way because it got a bit confused by some of our data so took some tactful point excluding to get some lines of best fit.

The plan for the rest of this project is mainly data analysis and looking at reaction kinetics and potentially a bit more data collection using a different laser just to see if that makes any difference. As interesting as some of it is, and the applications are definitely important, as a lab project it's going to get rather dull. Always a little bit soul destroying just crunching lots of data, when you know a computer could be doing all of it for you, we probably could have automated the data collection process too!

Most of our graphs are saved and we didn't get physical copies, but here's the most interesting looking one. This graph proves that taking more samples improves error margins with data. A real revelation eh?

Most of the graphs were far less exciting and were just showing an exponential decay of signal times!

I should probably mention valentines day...I think I have reached the point in the day where getting swept off my feet by my Prince Charming, or a knight in shining armour is looking unlikely. I quite fancy an early night but we're having some sort of compulsory film and pizza evening in the house so we can all be alone together! Can't really afford pizza, nor do I particularly want to sit and watch a horror movie but I'll try and be sociable, at least for a while.

I think newly sore arm, lack of sleep and lack of enthusiasm to do anything chemistry related (not being helped by the fact as of Thursday we're going to have lots of work to get done, in a very short time and there's no real way to start it early) is making me grumpy again!

It's times like this that being able to ride my bike or go for a drive would be rather useful but sadly neither of those are possible!

Hopefully I'll be a bit more smiley tomorrow - should have slightly more sleep under my belt and Wednesday lectures are normally good :-)

Monday, February 13, 2012


Just a short post today as I'm sitting here with ice on my elbow and would rather not move my arm!

I'll begin with arm related things. After a 30 minute wait to really build up the nerves and then getting nice and comfy on the bed (presumably in case I fainted!) I opted to watch the injecting process and was quite surprised. I'd been promised 1 "hole" and he stuck to that but needed to reach several different points, didn't realise quite how much wiggle room there is inside an arm! The very fact that he had to stick the needle in the sorest bit meant it was bound to be an uncomfortable process, although it was OK until he started trying to reach the further away spots!

Very impressed with this doctor, I just hope it works otherwise we're back to square one again and this will have been for nothing!

Despite advice to rest arm and ice elbow I needed to get back to labs. We had successfully aligned the laser in the morning, and I'd left the boys collecting data. Despite soreness which painkillers weren't helping I opted to continue with labs and we managed to collect over 100 data sets, we're going to have lots of fun on matlab tomorrow...

Was an amazing feeling when we first saw the characteristic ringing down though...high fives all round!
Amazing isn't it?

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Thought I'd post early again today, given that my day is likely to consist of very little (it's Sunday, I'm allowed a quiet day!).

Am hoping to continue my Star Wars education later, I am familiar with the stories and have played numerous games but have never actually watched the films. Made a bit of a faux pas (do you make a faux pas?) by starting with Episode I and going chronologically, rather than starting with number 4, but never mind. Enjoying it thus far. Can't believe what I've missed out on!

Star Wars lego is one of the things I had been introduced to (although sadly only the Wii game and not the actual lego), but my own lego collection is growing thanks to the Sainsburys round the corner. They've bought out a whole new series of mini figures now and some of them look really good so undoubtedly my collection will be growing...but here is what I have so far!
The "family"

Sometimes things get a bit tense...

Isn't lego great?

I'll blame my impulsive buying (got ice cream too!) on the fact I'm getting a bit nervous about tomorrow. What have I let myself in for? It's rather distracting, I don't suppose I'm going to get much work done today (although thankfully did get a few hours done yesterday!)

Thanks for reading folks!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


So, my plans for this rather cold, but very sunny weekend?

Lots of work to do. Need to keep on top of making notes and reading this semester so hopefully can get lots done this weekend. Plenty of breaks to though seen as weekends are for relaxing.

Had a lovely Saturday so far, started off by waking up warm thanks to the fact we can now have the heating on and when I eventually got up I had a bacon a cheese sandwich for breakfast and a leisurely cup of tea. Did the washing too. Then down to work. Thought I'd start with polymers 'cos although the first lecture wasn't good it picked up a lot yesterday and I really enjoyed it (and I'm far more likely to make notes about things I enjoy).

See look, I did work!

Next on the list of things to do (seen as I think I earned a work break!) was riding my bike. Doctors orders. 5 gentle minutes before Monday was his "prescription" so I could tell him how I got on. It may have turned into 10 slightly less than gentle minutes, but I can't help myself. That was the first proper ride on the new cross bike and I decided to ride to the canal. Despite being more than a little bit cold outside I really wanted to carry on, but I behaved and after a quick break turned round and headed straight back home again.

It seems that it's going to ride really well, although I need to fiddle with seat position etc. - can't wait to get in some proper rides with it!

Can now see why he suggested the 5 gentle minutes. Bit sore now! Hopefully once things settle down after being injectified on Monday it shouldn't be too long 'til I can build it up a bit more. I really hope so anyway!

2012 Cycling Total: 36.2 miles

Right, lunch time (left over stir fry), and then back to work...I'm avoiding catalysis for the time being so organic it is!

Friday, February 10, 2012

10/2/12- The Exam Result Blog!

There was much tension as we all went into uni this morning and sat through the first lectures of the morning, and then one by one throughout the day our fates were revealed!

Mine was a fairly early meeting, just as well otherwise I'd have been a nervous wreck! Was handed my paper and didn't really know what to say (other than "how do I find out the one that's missing?"). It wasn't a terrible performance, and if I'm honest wasn't far off what I felt from coming out of the exams but doesn't change the fact it was my worst ever performance in a set of exams and has now left me with some work to do come the summer if I'm going to get a 1st!

My tutor is getting me one of the papers to go over because although I came out thinking it was a hard paper, I can't see how I lost *that* many marks.

The annoying thing about it is that I worked hard over the last semester, and it didn't really pay off. This means I'm going to have to try and work even harder over the coming months. Far too many of the marks left to be decided are in organic chemistry (given that we have the big organic exam, an optional organic part of module, drug discovery and organic labs left to do!), and organic chemistry has provided me with my lowest exam results in previous years. Definitely need to work hard.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Once the boring matter of uni was out of the way (much of which I have already forgotten) I met up with a friend from home today. Had an amazing afternoon/evening.

Somehow managed to spend our entire afternoon in Cotswold Outdoors, McDonalds, Pets at Home and Sainsburys before heading to the cinema to see War Horse.

Was a rather cold afternoon with hints of snow but was filled with warmth and laughter (that sounds a bit soppy doesn't it?). I fell in love with the chinchillas and rabbits (and everything that moved in the pet shop!)

Had some fun in what was left of the snow too (didn't take these one 'cos I'm in them!)

After that is was film time, I'm probably one of the last people to see War Horse. Have to say I was impressed, although I had been falsely informed about the ending - didn't cry either!

All in all had a really great day, just what I needed before tomorrow - more hours of lectures than I care to think about with exam results mixed into the middle. I feel like there's a lot more depending on these than previous exam sittings and I'm rather nervous. Not that there's anything I can do about it now. Have emergency Ben and Jerry's on standby!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


So today...

I decided on one of the options in our "special topics" module that i'm not going to do (5 options and we only need 2). My original plan was to go to them all because I'm here to learn right?

Unfortunately nucleic acids has not turned out to be what I was hoping. Firstly it's *all* biology, which in principle would be ok, but he assuming a certain amount of previous knowledge, which despite my a-level biology I am most definitely missing! Even if I could put up with that he has, in both the lectures so far, finished late (or just not finished!), and messed up the hand outs. Not to mention the fact we had a room change today (from the top floor of one building to the top floor of another!), but opted to not tell us... Not that I'm bitter or anything. Anyway, an extra free hour for me from next week onwards I think!

Once lectures were finished for the day (thankfully the organic lecture which followed the aforementioned disaster was remarkably enjoyable and calming!) it was a couple of hours hanging about (library time again!) before seeing the new doctor.

I turned up rather early, I got bored of biosynthesis work in the library and it was too cold to walk slowly! Was rather empty in the waiting room...I really wanted to have a little nap across the empty seats...

He was really nice, and seemed to know what he was doing which is always good! After much questioning, poking and prodding it has been decided that I should go back next week to be injectified. Wasn't sure if it was the right way to go, but seems like the best course of action so I'm going for it! Handily my appointment is in the middle of labs so I expect I'm going to have a fun afternoon...

He did however, say I am now allowed to ride my bike. But there's a catch, only allowed for 5 minutes at a time and not very regularly either. Still. Sure I can get through a lot of miles with that ;-)

Thanks to some great on-timeness at the doctors I made it back to the chemistry building in time for the final talk of the Nyholm Symposium, by our very own Prof. Martyn Poliakoff! Was a really great talk, although would expect nothing less from the legend! Being an avid follower of periodic videos ( and a student at the home of the site I had heard much of it before, but was still really enjoyable. Although felt very odd sitting there as a student, given that the majority of the audience were academics!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Your mission should you chose to accept it is to point this laser straight down the centre of the cavity. This sounds simple doesn't it? Lasers point in a straight line, and the cavity is also straight.

Oh, did I forget to mention that to get it into the cavity you will have to use 2 mirrors to reflect the beam, and then the cavity has a mirror on each end which the beam must be exactly perpendicular to and hit centrally.

This is what we were faced with a 9am today:

We had had been briefed yesterday by our supervising professor, he spent over an hour talking us through it but had warned that there was a good chance we wouldn't manage to get our laser aligned perfectly in the first lab session. Despite the fact we knew just a fraction of a degree of misalignment on any of the 4 mirrors would lead to a huge walking of the beam (due to the nature of technique) we were still confident - how hard can it be?

We spent 3 hours this morning (the total of our lab session) turning various screws to adjust the mirrors, moving the laser beam by fractions of a degree, to be visualised in various ways. Several times we were sure it was perfect (the first of which came after just 45 minutes!), but each time we fired up the photomultiplier tube, hoping to see the characteristic ringing down on the oscilloscope we were greeted by a simple laser pulsing. We had at least managed to get the laser through the tube, but no matter how hard we tried we couldn't get it aligned enough to collect the data we needed.

We had a chat with the professor midway through the session, and afterwards too and decided that although part of the problem may just be our ineptness a could be down to the fact that the laser had been mounted too high (and due to the safety procedures in place this was something we couldn't fix ourselves), and this was making it difficult to get a perfectly horizontal beam. They're going to lower it for us in time for the next session on Monday.

Really hoping we don't spend all day Monday having to do the same thing, it would be really nice to actually collect some data. It's also making my lab notes really boring, given that we've just been following basically the same procedure each time we've tried to align. I should ave written it out once and then just said repeated lots of times!

Despite our epic failure to achieve anything it was a remarkably enjoyable sessions (high praise coming from me 'cos I really don't like spending time in labs!), there was no pressure on us because it was expected that we wouldn't manage it today (and if we did it would have been a pleasant surprise), and we were just left to it so it was nice to be given the opportunity to work out how to do it all ourselves and work independently (and without anyone breathing over our shoulders!). We could happily do this knowing that with the possible exception of the PMT we couldn't break anything, and there were various mircoswitches and safety features in place so we couldn't do any harm by getting it wrong.

So yes, that was labs today. Tomorrow is 3 hours of biology/organic chemistry lectures (mainly somewhere in the middle) followed by seeing new specialist doctor guy. Already getting a bit nervous...

Monday, February 6, 2012


Phew. Nearly didn't get a blog today!

We start the practical for our lab project tomorrow morning, although our supervisor expects we'll be spending the entire time fiddling with laser alignment and we won't get onto data recording until next week!

Not sure why I'm feeling quite so stressed all of a sudden, feel much better now knowing that my literature summary is handed in (although would feel even better if I could fit everything I wanted into the 2 page limit!). I've come to the conclusion that uni is bad for my health because having spent over an hour talking to our supervisor (and professor of chemical physics) I was feeling a little apprehensive about starting this project...

Came home and had a desire to cook some real food. Opted for stir fry (given the contents of the fridge), it was very yummy but the stirring and chopping required didn't go down well with "the arm". Having then finished this piece of writing I felt copious amounts of Ben and Jerry's was required to de-stress me a little bit, remarkably it does seem to have helped. As has my physio stress ball!

I know I'm going to miss it when it's gone, but the amount of work we have over the rest of this semester is scaring me a little bit and at the moment I can't wait for it to be done (only 39 days at uni left until easter!)

Probably not helping that I've slept worse than usual for the last couple of nights, sore armness combined with the renewed worrying about isn't conducive to a good nights sleep! But I'm sure I'll be fine...

I just need to relax for a few hours before I go to bed, so until tomorrow folks!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Today's blog should have been filled with delightful snowy scenes, however I got up early and went out with the camera so it was foggy. (and cold!). Never again am I getting up and going out that early on a Sunday morning!

There are also few foggy scenes to be scene because my memory card has corrupted itself and therefore the only photo I have is the one I took on my phone, so it will have to do! You can just imagine the rest, they were amazing ;-)

Despite the cold and the fog, it was quite nice getting outside, being so early it was really quiet so it was just me, my music and the sound f the snow crunching under foot! (how poetic?)

Once I'd defrosted and then given up trying to fix my memory card I figured it was time to get the CRDS report finished. It is now just about 2 pages long and almost has everything that it needs in it (I'm not happy with the fact I can't do the maths, but even if I could there wouldn't be enough room for the answer!). Just need to do some tweaking and try and get in a bit more science content I think...

That is a mission for later today, or maybe tomorrow (probably today because I can't bring myself to become one of those people who does work on the day it's due in!).

In the mean time I think I'm going to hide in bed and watch some Frasier because I got up too early so I'm sleepy, and my arm is giving me "gyp" but I'm not allowed more painkillers yet. It's all maths' fault!

Ah yes...Monday tomorrow. 8 weeks and counting until the Easter holidays!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


As today will mostly be filled by maths (and a hopefully great dinner with a a friend) I figured I'd get in early this morning with the daily photo.
It's cold, but always worth it when this is the view from the window...

Just a tad icy (hoping for snow later on!), and yes, that water is on the inside of the window, and is running down my wall...

This one I like, so this can be the "official" photo of the day...

Might se slightly too far down the path of cold to be wishing I was riding today, but still - looks lovely out doesn't it?

Friday, February 3, 2012


I shan't go on much today, given that yesterday's grumpiness (which I feel is deserved) has somewhat ran over into today. Not helped by the fact I had 3 lectures spread over 6 hours which leads to a lot of wasted time, and it's cold (don't mind the cold outside, but inside is annoying), and I still have half a report to write on Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy, and it's the half which I don't understand yet so it may take some time! Oh, and our last lecture of the day involved what seemed like a 40 minute (ineffective) sales pitch and me having to stand up at the front and wave my arms about for a while.

Yeah, that's why I'm not going to say too much today, it'll just turn out to be an endless rant!

I'm hopeful that a meal meant only for kings will get me in the right frame of mind to attack work. Unfortunately I'm having fish fingers but that's close enough right?

On the plus side the sun's out, and there's snow forecast for the weekend (even I'm likely to be stuck inside for most of it!)

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I have up to this point successfully avoided doing any work today so I thought now would be a good time to get blogging!

Had 4 hours of lectures this morning (well running into the afternoon), the 9am in surface and interface studies turned out to be much better than expected (it's a shame really 'cos it's one of a number of options, I was hoping it'd be rubbish so I didn't have to go to that one again!). Captain Chemistry as he will now be known (mainly due to his likeness to a rather famous captain from theTV), managed to incorporate talk of giant people, blowing up chickens, atoms holding hands and the story of how he was electrocuted and should really be dead into his lecture whilst telling us lots of important chemistry things too. Definitely a skill that some of the other lecturers need I think!

The second lecture was unremarkable, other than the fact it cam so close to getting cancelled due to a fire alarm in the physics department (I didn't know maths could catch fire!), which turned out to be a false alarm.

Lecture 3 was a 2 hour one, the first half was really quite dull but we then moved onto team skills and stuff 'cos we're working in the groups for the next ~10 weeks. I'm apparently apparently an analyst (or an owl!). And according to Belbin I'm a "specialist" - it all adds up to mean I'll work hard, but only if a clear plan has been set out and I'd much rather work on my own than in a team. Feel sorry for my poor team members then! :P

The important news of the day is arm-related I'm afraid. Saw the physio again, after some poking and then worried face pulling she decided that she thinks there's more going on than just the muscle stuff she spotted 2 weeks ago. Being referred to a new doctor (have an appointment next week), and he can then either come up with a way to fix me or refer me again to a specialist (either here in Nottingham, or get me sent back to my original consultant at home). I'm not particularly happy about it 'cos we seem to be going round in circles and I'm not getting any better, not to mention the fact I've lost count of the amount of medically qualified people that I've seen who haven't been able to figure me out.

Really wasn't a confidence inspiring experience! =\

Thankfully the physio has been to see the new doctor and has explained the situation so he's ready for next week so at least I shouldn't have to go over the whole story again...

So yeah, not happy at the moment. Although my spirits have been lifted by copious amounts of tea (only a scientist uses the word "copious" in everyday conversation)!, and a gingerbread man made by my amazing housemate!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I should probably start by mentioning yesterday. "Christmas" with the house was really great, it's rare that we're all together as a group so it was nice to get together and do something. Was also very odd because thanks to some donated decorations, and our belated secret Santa it actually felt like Christmas! We had Christmas dinner too it was amazing.. (this isn't today's photo seen as I took it yesterday!):

Back to reality this morning though with 3 hours of lectures in a row, all biology and organic synthesis based. The middle of which was the first ever lecture that I've been in where the room was so full that people had to sit on the stairs (aren't central timetabling good at assigning appropriate rooms?). Followed by a quick lunch and then getting going with a piece of writing on "cavity ring-down spectroscopy". Haven't got very far yet, but as I've just finished the background stuff I thought now would be a good time to right the promised blog!
Hee's the book which I expect to become my bible over the next few days (the only copy of the the only book our library has on the subject apparently!)

So, down to business. It has been a month since I started this photo (and blog) a day challenge type thing. I've had feedback from a few people who seem to be enjoying it, which is always nice - I started blogging, and will continue to do so, primarily for my own benefit, it means I can keep an accurate(ish) record of things that happen as well as take advantage of writing's head clearing ability - but of course if anyone else gets any benefit from reading this is great and I always like to hear from people who have been reading.

Having to write and take a picture everyday has proved challenging, given that much of my time is taken up by uni work (and far too much of my time is still being spent being prodded by people with varying medical qualifications) which isn't all that interesting. But I feel that over the last month this blog has proved useful to me with documenting my (brief!!) return to cycling as well as helping me with general future crisis, I'm still pondering it, but getting it down onto this blog, and into words means it's at least not at the forefront of my thoughts all the time. I'm definitely grateful of the therapeutic nature of blogging! :-)

Over the coming days, weeks and months I hope to continue documenting things that happen to me - both the significant and the mundane (sorry!) because it is, after all, the everyday things that makes us who we are.

Thanks for reading and for your continued support!