Neutrons, Paintball & Dinner Parties!

It’s been almost 2 months since I last wrote anythign so I’ll summarise the mains events of the last couple of months!

Andy Clulow arrived on 31st Jan to start his PhD with us (he was in the year below me at Univ). He stayed on our floor for about 6 weeks in the end, took him a very long time to find somewhere suitable to live but eventually he did and now he lives just 50 metres down the road so that’s pretty cool. Good to have him with us out here, he’s been great fun so far.

In terms of work it’s been a very busy time lately. Firstly I flew down to Melbourne with my boss for a day & a night to have a meeting with some people at CSIRO there. Very fruitful meeting and it was nice to see a (very small) bit of another city, hotel was good too. Almost the day after we got back from that trip, Arthur and I drove down to Sydney for a week long neutron reflectivity experiment on the new Platypus instrument at ANSTO. I could write quite a lot about the trip but to cut a long story short the journey was a great experience, good to see some more of the country as we drove down (even if it was a 13 hour drive each way); the experiment was pretty intense with the two of us running it 24/7 for a week between us (although we couldn’t have done it without the help of Mike & Andy who work down there); I think the results we got were pretty good but I’m still analysing them. Again, it was nice to drive over the Sydney harbour bridge and get a very brief glimpse of the opera house. When we got back I had to get through my “one-year appraisal” type thing called to “confirm my status as a PhD student” which was mildly stressful but all went very well. The people on my interview panel thought I had done some good interesting work which was nice. I’ve also managed to get my name on the author list of my first paper! I will update again once it’s actually been published but I’m pretty pleased about it.

I’ve started doing some lab demonstrating as well. Twice a week I take a group of about 15-20 students and guide them through a practical experiment and the analysis of it. It’s quite hard work but it’s not bad and the pay is very reasonable. As a guide, just doing 6 hours of this tutoring a week will increase my total income by over 50%! Haha.

Of course I also had a birthday! I am a whole year older again. Managed to get a good group of us to A Night In India for a great curry (as always with that place). Thank you to those who put some money in my english bank, I used it to buy a new iPod nano to replace my broken MP3 player and it’s fantastic.

Ben & Tilly hosted another One Tree Hill Marathon day which was great fun as well. Sometimes it’s really nice to just sit and eat junk food and watch 9 hours of TV all in one go. I think we’ve already got another one booked in for a couple of months time! Speaking of eating junk food – I have now joined the gym. A new one opened just a 6 minute walk down the road from my house and it’s very reasonably priced. Costs me under £5 a week to have unlimited 24/7 access without any contract so hopefully I’m going to be able to lose a bit of weight and get a bit fitter. I actually had a 30 minute session with a personal trainer that was complimentary upon joining – it was VERY hard work. They offer 3 more 30 minute sessions for a starter price of $60 so after I’ve had a few weeks to get in to the swing of it I might try that.

Other things of note include a paintballing session. This was organised by somebody in the biology department of the university but Karsten had an invite and Andy & I joined in. It cost us about $60 for the day including travel and extra paintballs but it was great fun. All of us ended up covered in bruises and our legs were aching for almost a week afterwards but it was well worth it. There’s some pretty cool pictures that were taken that I have uploaded here & on Facebook. Finally, last night Julie hosted a sit-down dinner party to celebrate her birthday. With a lot of help from her brother and his girlfriend they kindly cooked around 20 of us a full 3 course dinner and we dressed up in suits and ties and had a great evening. Some pics of that can also be found here & on Facebook.

I think that’s about all there is to update people on for now! I’ve got my laptop at home with me this weekend so I can do some more work. I have a presentation to give on Tuesday and lots more work to be done. We’re off to see the Brisbane Broncos playing at home next Friday and loads of Seamus’ friends from Rockhampton are coming down for the weekend so that will be pretty messy I’m sure!

Stay in touch people!

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