Saturday, 28 July 2007

I know what you did last summer...

Well... no. I don't. I don't even know where you did whatever you did last summer. But I do know where you are now as you read this. Well... no, not exactly. Rather, Google Analytics knows, and it tells me all sorts of useless (but intriguing) information about how many people read which pages on my website, which countries/cities they come from, whether they come via a search engine or direct, and whether they read more than one page or just leave the site as soon as they land on it. I don't get IP numbers, just countries. I discovered Google Analytics a week ago, installed the relevant code, and can now tell you that a staggering 41 different people staggered onto this site in the past week. They came from 11 countries. To the person from Manchester and the person from Sunderland - thank you for visiting more than just the one page on this site! Hmm. My Karate grading examiner is from Sunderland... I'm sure that's just coincidence.

So Google Analytics was my excitement for the week. That and running out of time in which to prepare the talk I'm giving next week in Nashville (so I can now look forward to all those anxiety dreams in which I discover I'm on stage without having a talk to give, or clothes to wear...). But the week after, I shall be in Italy, on holiday with Silvia and the kids. No laptop, no work. Just cappuccino, beach, good food, fabulous pool, wine, beer, mosquitos, heat, sun, sea, sand, sunburn, sun-cream, ice-cream, and all the other ingredients of a holiday that will hopefully make this the most relaxing 10 days of the year. And all manner of friends and relatives will be there also. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to that more than I'm looking forward to those inevitable anxiety dreams: preparing talks will be the last thing on my mind, and clothes won't be much of an issue either...

Sunday, 22 July 2007

too tired to think....

Too much altruism in my life. I made editorial decisions on 31 papers in the past week (15 this weekend)*. Between now and August 1st I have to prevent the journal from accumulating any papers to be actioned or sent to review. I leave August 1st, and will be away from the office for almost 4 weeks. I'll be taking 10 days holiday in the middle, with a conference immediately beforehand (in Nashville, getting back on a Sunday, and leaving for holiday on the Monday), and another immediately after (in Potsdam near Berlin, getting back from holiday on a Friday and leaving for the conference on the Sunday). I plan to take a couple of afternoons at each conference to work on the journal so as to clear the backlog that will inevitably accumulate while I'm away.

*Some decision letters can be quite long, and others quite short. Disaster strikes when the quite short ones should have been longer. I've only had a couple of disasters so far (out of 653 decision letters written since I took the job last year - a 0.3% disaster rate).

And because of all this, I'm seriously worried about not having time to write up one of the nicest bits of data I've ever collected in my career. Is this a serious post or what?

If I had any energy left, I'd write about the algae in the pond; the advantages of having a BBQ in the pouring rain (tip: it's an even bigger advantage to have a massive garden parasol with which to cover the BBQ); the possibility that, no matter how unlikely, I may have developed some sort of allergy to milk (stay tuned..); the possibility that, no matter how unlikely, I may have developed some sort of allergy to my job; and the possibility, very likely, that I shall sit in front of the tv tonight, drink masses of beer, and wish that paxil and ambien were freely available in my local supermarket...

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Shameless self-congratulation

Tonight was grading night at the Karate club, and Jamie (currently 9) progressed to 1st Kyu (next belt is black belt), joining his brother Sam (12). Silvia is now 4th Kyu, and I progressed to 2nd Kyu. To provide some context: there are 9 grades prior to black belt, with the most junior grade being 9th Kyu (one has to pass one's first grading to progress to 9th Kyu, so it's not complete beginner) and going up to 1st Kyu. After that, one progresses to 1st Dan, which is the first black belt grade. I never thought I'd make it this far (there's still a way to go, though!). So for tonight at least, life is good, and I can put my work frustrations to the back burner and just enjoy the feeling of having achieved something that I really care about. No doubt by tomorrow the feeling will be forgotten and unwritten data, unwritten letters, unreviewed papers, and unhappy authors will reach out and grab me by the metaphorical throat...

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Just back from a conference...

Just back from a conference in Edinburgh:
  • got rained on
  • ate too much
  • stayed up too late
  • got rained on some more
  • drank moderately but more than I'm used to
  • saw photographs someone took of me and noticed that the bags under my eyes appear to be an independent life-form
  • drank not so moderately, and more than I'm used to
  • learned some stuff that I shouldn't do (research-wise; not drink-wise)
  • learned some stuff that I should do (research-wise; drink-wise is a given)
  • wished that I felt more fulfilled (yeah, I know...)
  • wished that I could look forward to a weekend without doing any work
  • looked forward to a weekend doing lots of work
And when I did get home, I found
  • baby toads crawling over the garden
  • baby fish now twice as large as when I left (and many more now - probably between 20 and 30)
  • data to be analysed
  • a report to be written (due two days earlier)
  • data to be written up
  • papers to be sent out to review (12 of them)
  • papers to make editorial decisions on (9 of them)
  • a Patient Information Sheet (for some research with patients) to be re-written
  • a sense of impending despair
  • a strong desire to find another career

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Wildlife report

pond: fish, baby fish, baby toads, assorted insects
garden: worms, mushrooms, cats, pheasant, assorted plants and weeds
out on the road: the usual roadkill, a very much alive badger, assorted children
office: me
coffee cup: mould