Seven years! 500 posts! Who'd have thought we'd go this far!
I've had this entry in the pipes for a while, and now the fruit of my labour has finally come to errrr.... fruition? Whatever! The point is, this blog has served as a window in to a science student, an honours student, and finally a down trodden PhD student. But now I'm moving on, and I feel its time for this blog to be locked away as a time capsule for the ages.
This Thursday marks the end of my PhD scholarship. As such I intend to withdraw myself from my PhD candidature until such a time that I can submit my thesis (probably years away.) This Friday marks my introduction to medicine at Flinders, an event I'm eagerly and nervously awaiting. I don't know what struggles or perils lie ahead, all I know is, I'm excited!
I'm sad to be leaving the lab, my work family of four years. But I look forward to meeting new friends for the next four. The topic of this entry though is not memorable reflections of life in the lab, but rather a happy conclusion to this blog.
I'd really like to thank everyone who has read it - I know there's not many of you who hung on the whole way! But I appreciate the feedback and comments. It has been a fun ride for me. A special thanks to the peeps on my friends list, its been fun to read what you have to say too.
And so I wish you all the best with your futures, whether you have one or multiple futures. It has been a blast.
I really like Stephen Colbert, he's a genuinely insightful and funny person. In the last episode before he went on the festive break, he reflected on the inequality of the American society, and the failure and deliberate ignorance of its predominantly Christian population. I thought what he had to say, reflected above was spot on.
As a society we have a lot to improve on, whether we be of Christian faith or not. The quality of a society is generally assessed by how we treat those who can't help themselves, so we should all be striving to help those 'beneath us.' I guess ultimately we're just a bit selfish. I know I am, and I think it kills me. Interestingly the Bible reflects on the poor a lot, with the word appearing over 2000 times. Indeed, we are called to serve.
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'"
People often bag Christians, for various things. Their conservative natures maybe, or their susceptibility to doing wrong like everyone else A lot of the stuff they stand for just seems incongruent with 'today's society.' But beyond all that their is a clear calling to love others, but especially those who are overlooked. It's just a shame we often go so far off track! Perhaps then we should all be praying this for ourselves...
God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless."
It may be the prayer of an alcoholic, but even selfishness is an addiction that's hard to kick.
This is the sixth time today I've had hiccups. How weird! Hopefully there isn't an alien in my stomach trying to get out...
Anyway, once again. Thanks for reading this, I'm glad you do. As much as it pains me that my fallback topic for this blog is science, it does take up a fair chunk of my life. So I may as well share some of it with you!
As you may have heard, I'm but a few weeks away from running the clock out on my Ph.D. This for me is super exciting! But one of the side-effects is that I find myself doing more and more ridiculous experiments. Although the experiment itself isn't ridiculous, the sheer quantity of samples is nuts, as I try and get more and more data to reflect upon. Today I hit my record for western blots. I had to load 90 samples in to 6 X 15 well gels. I went mad just preparing all of them, given that 28 were IPs. So by the time I started the hour long loading process I was a loon. For the people around me I'm sure I'm quite annoying, as I groan, yawn, moan and sing jilted bars of songs, off-key and at erratic rhythm. Repetition is optional of course, but I find it helpful to focus the mind (or defocus the mind?) Either way, come medical school. If ever I have to load 35 microlitres of blue liquid in to a patients ear or similar well like orifice. I will be king!
On some level I think its a shame my gel loading skills will go to waste. On another level though, I'm glad someone else will get the practice!
Anyway, thought I better put this one up for the peeps - Scientists out of the biohazard, and in to the conventional suits edition:
I've had trouble with my neck for a while. So much so I can't really pinpoint when it began. Because I spend a fair bit of time at the bench at work, or at the computer. I just put it down to one of those things. After noticing my little and ring fingers were going numb, I decided last week that it was probably time to get it looked at!
So It was with much eagerness and anticipation that I made my first visit to George, the chiropractor. George has in large part been kept in business by the dodgy necks and backs of my parents and siblings over the last 20 odd years. With the exception of sitting in the waiting room as a kid, I had so far not had his healing hands laid upon me. I was quite excited and expectant to say the least!
So in I went, and it was straight down to business. I told him my problem, he decided he'd like to manipulate my C5-T1 region and face down on his table I became. I knew there was going to be some cracking, but having never experienced it, I wasn't really sure what that meant. Suffice to say, I was surprised when my head was suddenly twisted and a number of clunks screamed out of my neck. For some reason I found this hilarious and couldn't stop laughing. I was still chuckling quietly when he repeated the procedure for the other direction. Such a weird feeling, not painful and quite enjoyable. Anyway, my neck feels amazing now. How often is it that you go see a specialist and walk out fixed? I don't know why the medical field is so skeptical of chiros...
Speaking of medicine, I got all my enrollment details and such a couple weeks ago and eagerly enrolled myself in to med for next year. Such fun! It reminds me of the excitement of undergrad, where you eagerly enroll yourself only to then find yourself in a degree that requires you to work. Viva la honeymoon! I'm not sure if there's anything else I should be doing to prepare myself for the transition. However, I have been continuing to try push out this PhD...
Despite the excitement of a few weeks ago, everything went to sucksville again. I've found myself swinging like a pendulum between quiet acceptance of this outcome and a range of other emotions that have found themselves poured out on this blog over the past 3 years. Perhaps I have finally reached the final stage of grief that is acceptance? Who knows. I reckon I have enough for a masters at least, but I don't believe anyone would buy a PhD thesis.
I got to have a chat about this with the Big Cheese at the school dinner. It was good, as I'd had my edge taken off by a couple of drinks and took the opportunity to vent my frustration with science. My main complaint was that regardless of how hard I throw myself at the project, even to the point where I burn out, it still all comes back to naught. As an experienced supervisor, he seemed to have seen it all before and reminded me that 'rarely does anyone submit their ideal thesis, in the end they submit something that is "good enough."'
It reminds me of what Sarah used to say (Paraphrasing) "You only have to submit one thesis... so just submit it and get it over with" I'm not sure whether to be encouraged by the success found in being far from your ideal? Or whether I should be discouraged that it's so hard to achieve the excellence you wish for! Oh well, I'm upbeat this morning. I've had a good sleep for a change. I think I'll credit George for that too!
My final thing of note: At the school dinner, Julie and I decided it would be an excellent idea to try and start a round of applause during one of the guys speeches. We had been looking for an opportunity to start one for a few minutes, when a nearly appropriate moment developed. It seemed moderately correct as he had just finished bagging the physiologists who were no longer part of the school, and congratulating us all on turning up. Seizing the lull between sentences we gave a total of about 5 claps, before realising it wasn't going to take... and then everyone laughed at us. Loudest laugh of the evening mind you...
After an interesting week, I've decided, without any decision process, to take the day to take the day. I can't remember the last Saturday where I actually did nothing. Nothing at all. I do feel slightly racked with guilt, but at the same time its good to reflect upon the still moments.
I spend a lot of time at work funnily enough, but its been an excellent opportunity to bond with a good group of people. As I feel the clock running out on my PhD, I'm starting to appreciate more and more, and pre-emptively miss my work family.
The honours students finished this week, and I can't help but cast my glance back three years...
"Well, life has taken a funny turn! Honours wrapped up today. Strangely, it finished with a 15 minute viva, worth 15% of the years grade. I find this quite interesting, as the thesis I spent 10 months preparing for was only 40% or so. Oh if only I could have spent 40 minutes on my thesis instead! Well not really. It has been a terrific year, and unfortunately I shall very soon find out how I went. I say unfortunately in case things go bad, but I hope they don't. I feel reasonably confident about my prospects I guess. ... And tomorrow, I can't believe it. I'm back to bean picking again. It's crazy I know. But it has been 11 months since I last did paid work and I think it is about time for a holiday. I'll take January off I think. Though I must wonder to myself... here I am two science degrees later and... I'm picking beans. Oh well, I'm 21 so finally I'll be picking many a bean at maximum wage."
When I read that, I can only see the ridiculous happiness and confidence that was clearly overflowing. If I had the following three years again though, I may well have done some things differently knowing now how things have panned out! But I don't regret this path I've been guided on. It's been an excellent experience, and I love the connections and relationships I've formed.
Anyway, enough raw emotion. After a roller coaster of a Friday, I didn't go to work for the first time ages today. And it feels amazing. Actually, I'm not sure its amazement I feel. I'm feeling really jumpy, edgy even. I'm struggling with not being at work weirdly.
Ah this blog is failing so hard. I give up, I promise I'll get better. I actually have a plan for this blog, even though it is a strong candidate for euthanasia.
Spy cat, it was nice to meet you in person. I always enjoy how small Adelaide is. My apologies for distracting you from your exam revision though :P
It has been an interesting week in my life. So here's the rundown. I purchased a Jeep. A second hand one of course. It is the dream car I have always wanted, but as usual, once you own the dream you can see some of its 'special qualities.' Still, it has been quite amusing, albeit costly. The costly part sucks though, because.
My scholarship runs out in February. I had naively hoped that might be able to wrangle a six month extension on to it. Alas, no. My life as a hobo is slated to begin earlier than planned. All this because I am starting medicine. What a cruel punishment!
I had this financial execution delivered to me at my annual review earlier this week. It was fine, but they painted me a timeline where I have to have my thesis submitted by August. Hmmm. Hmmm, the irony is. If i submit my PhD, and qualify for a higher degree. I make myself ineligible for government support, namely AuStudy. Although its a modest $10,000 a year. That's $40000 I'll forgo over the course of a medical degree. Or, the equivalent of two years of PhD student wages...
It is fair to say, the implications of my actions have finally hit home.
Anyone want to buy a kidney?
The other thing that happened in the lab this week, was a centrifuge destroying itself. One of the new girls in the lab set a centrifuge going without a bucket in the rotor, causing it to be imbalanced. This caused the whole rotor arm to fly and dislodge the central mechanism. Although I wasn't in the lab at the time. Anything that routinely spins up to 4000rpm getting lose generally makes a fair bit of noise and is generally considered a health hazard. Fortunately, unlike some other extreme incidents where people have been killed by flying rotors. Everything stayed within the armoured shell of the machine.
Now obviously, it shouldn't have happened. We all know how to balance a centrifuge, but on occasion ditzy moments can occur. Now the school safety guy is making a big deal out of it and no doubt, we will be forced to go to a lecture and another set of signs about safety will appear in the lab.
I'm doing sound at a wedding, right now. Well actually the wedding starts in 45 minutes, and I'm listening to Chris play the organ. I've never been to a wedding where someone has actually had 'here comes the bride.' as their walking in music. Today is my first!
What's more shocking though, is that the bride is actually not walking in to that song. She's walking in to Shania Twain, after here comes the bride has played. I can't remember the name of the song, but its the one you're thinking of, and its bad.
I think Todd Flanders said it best when he said "Ahh! My freaking ears!"
On occasion I like to hit the 'random' link on live journal, and see what others are writing about. It's actually how I discovered a number of your blogs. I just came across one persons, and enjoyed it. I'm not going to disclose it, at least not now.
In one of their posts though, they had quoted a song I like, solely for its lyrics.
How Deep The Father's Love For Us Stuart Townend
How deep the Father's love for us, How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss, The Father turns His face away As wounds which mar the chosen One, Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross, My sin upon His shoulders Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there Until it was accomplished His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything No gifts, no power, no wisdom But I will boast in Jesus Christ His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom.
It's an interesting song, because it highlights the unusual concept of Christianity: "Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer"
It's a hard concept to wrestle with. Still! Even though I'm reasonably familiar with it now. The idea that actually, it's not me earning my salvation by doing good things. But that salvation is a gift of love, a gift from God...
"How deep the Father's love for us, How vast beyond all measure That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure"
On a worldly justice level, it doesn't feel right. But on a spiritual level, it's all so amazing.
Whether you believe God exists or not though, I still think the biblical account of Jesus' life, death and resurrection is quite uplifting.