Friday, 22 November 2013

PhD positions (2) at the University of Connecticut

I shall be accepting applications for two PhD positions starting in the Fall of 2014 at UConn. If you'd be interesting in working with me, please send me an email with a brief description of your experience and interests. UConn has much to offer, including a graduate training program in Language Plasticity (broadly construed) and a vibrant inter-departmental cognitive science community. If you want to find out more about what I do, there is a reasonably accessible summary of my work over the past however many years that can be downloaded here - the last few sections describe my more recent work, as do my most recent papers with Yuki Kamide and with Nick Hindy (available from my website, or via google).

I'm back!

Yep... it's been a long time coming. And as I've said before: A lack of posts here is a real cause for concern: If you spot my absence for an extended period of time, you should send, as a matter of urgency, any of the following: money, chocolate, coffee, alcohol. Experience tells me that each of these crucial ingredients is useless on its own, and each works far better in the presence of the other (except for the coffee which should only be consumed with alcohol if in a Galliano Hotshot). A quick run down of what I've been doing in these past few months:
  • editing (never ends...)
  • despairing (about editing)
  • caring (my dad was seriously ill, but is now recovered. I'd forgotten how much time it takes to cook three meals a day for someone!)
  • researching
  • despairing (about data)
  • celebrating (other data)
  • vacationing
  • conferencing
  • grant planning
  • future at UConn planning
  • entering into a contract to build a house in Connecticut!
  • planning that house (with help!)
  • admining (not mining for ads, but doing admin)
  • despairing (about futility of admin)
  • teaching
  • despairing (about teaching)
  • writing
  • despairing (about lack of time in which to write)
  • publishing the 2nd paper to come out of an amazing collaboration with the folks in Philadelphia
  • patenting an 'invention' which will shortly see the light of day (we release the iOS App in January)
  • despairing a bit more (about the difficulties of managing the development of an app while simultaneously trying to hold down what feels at times like three jobs: York, UConn, Cognition)
It sounds like a lot, and were it not for some fantastic support (from family, friends, King Richard (not the one under the carpark), James (not King James, but close), Brian (not the Life Of... but similarly life-changing) and colleagues scattered here and there) I wouldn't be nearly as cheery as I am! So stay tuned for more regular updates.

Friday, 12 July 2013

time has flown, and I'm about to...

The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity that has kept me away from here. Most notable amongst the flurry of excitement (can a flurry last for so many months?) has been the decision to move to the University of Connecticut (starting August 2014). So what with the visits, job talks, interviews, etc. etc. it's been a busy time. I'm also on the home-stretch to releasing an app for the iPad, a venture that has taken three years to reach this point. Stand by for more regular updates, and sneak peaks at the app.

Even more notable... by the time I leave on Sunday for the airport (taking the kids to New York and beyond) I shall have cleared the queues at Cognition. The first time since probably the middle of last year. I intend to celebrate in NY!

So... to that future me who will one day look back on this online diary, you will already know whether the app is as hugely successful as we all predict it will be, and whether my office at UConn will double as a bike store for the other faculty (I did indeed dream that the other night)... but for the current me, these are both still unknown. Please don't spoil it by reaching back into the past and telling me now what the future holds...

Friday, 22 March 2013

Christopher Ward

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit the offices of Christopher Ward, a british watch-making company offering a range of high-end watches at distinctively affordable prices. Their reputation is built on word-of-mouth, with multiple glowing reviews on the international watch forums. I'm in the process of putting together a series of short articles, written primarily by others, for their magazine and company blog on the Psychology of Time (I confess to not being amongst those that work on this topic, but I have friends who do). What I saw, and heard, was hugely exciting to a watch nerd.

The best thing about watches is that unlike smart phones, they don't come into quite the same degree of contact with those hazardous bacteria the likes of which can only be cleansed away with disinfectant wipes. And yes, I am the proud possessor of yet another watch. And it looks even better in person —on my person in fact— than it does in print.

On an unrelated note, my misgivings about the UK's obsession with the forthcoming "Research Excellence Framework" are growing to new highs as I hear various accounts of universities' strategies to inflate their ratings. The REF is an exercise in which university departments are rated each 7 years or so according to their research productivity and "impact". If it were not for the long queue of submissions at Cognition that require my attention, I would undoubtedly be ranting on the subject right now. I shall store it all up for next time.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Too busy to write, or wipe

It's a never-ending treadmill: teaching, marking (that's "grading" to our US cousins), supervising undergraduates, analysing data, reviewing grant applications and in my case, editing a journal. And whereas one cannot easily put a number to the quantity of teaching or marking or supervision or data, one can put a number to the number of manuscripts I see through from initial submission to either an accept or reject decision. This week (i.e. the very end of February) saw a milestone: Since taking on Cognition on June 1st 2006, I have seen through to completion just over 2,500 manuscripts. Which, across the 6 years and 9 months I've been doing this, works out at just over one a day, 7 days a week. Of course, that simply counts the final accept or reject decision letter. It doesn't count the letters in between asking for changes (I only wrote one of those each two days), nor does it take account of the time taken to choose reviewers for the 1,500 manuscripts I sent out to review (one each working day), and then, when the reviewers came back, the time I spent reading the reviews and the paper. Roll on Dec 31st 2014 when I shall release my precious into the editorial fires of Mount Doom. And then I shall be free.... free!!

But I love it. I just wish I had more time to devote to the other things I feel passionate about, such as the relationship between bacteria on iPhone screens and the University of York's insistence that paper towels in their kitchens are unhygienic and that a more hygienic experience is to dry your apple, or the hands you just cleaned to prepare your or someone else's food, in the toilet (for our US cousins... that's the room, not the piece of porcelain or, if you live your life on trains and planes as I do, the stainless steel). Yes: The University of York do in fact have an official policy that encourages hand-drying in the toilets and prevents its cleaners from supplying the (now empty) paper towel dispensers in the kitchens with paper towels. As for those iPhones, I can't really explain why so many have all sorts of nasty bacteria on them (first reported in the UK but then replicated a year later in the USA). I'm sure the University of York's policy can't help. But it seems to me that the simple solution, for keeping fecal contamination off your iPhone, is to use those little wipes pre-moistened with screen cleaner. That'll clean up the bacteria nicely. Though it might just sting a little.

Friday, 11 January 2013

coffee time!

All I can say is that it IS worthwhile buying a bag of coffee beans from La Colombe in Philadelphia, flying them back to the UK, and making morning coffee with their Nizza bean (though I'd advise using more than a single bean). It is fantastic, and I shall no longer worship at the altar of the Illy bean. Must now figure out how to find an affordable supply in the UK of my new morning nectar. Sadly, it is nowhere to be found in the UK (and they don't ship outside of the US). I'm not alone in my affinity for La Colombe: Leonardo di Caprio has his own brand of coffee that is in fact produced for him by La Colombe. Leo - when you're done reading this, could you just pop a couple of bags in the mail for me? Thanks, mate!