Monthly Archives: November 2011

Exam results and existential crises

The good news

The day finally arrived yesterday: we received our results for S104: Exploring Science. There was much excitement and anticipation in the land, and verily did we leap into the course website with glee.

I’m delighted actually – I got a distinction! I knew I’d done well, as I have achieved consistently high marks throughout the course – but the end of module assessment was genuinely tricky, so I’m really pleased.

  • Overall examinable score (OES): 87%
  • Overall continuous assessment score (OCAS): 93%

The self-indulgent navel gazing

The results come at a good time, actually, because I’ve been dipping – rather self-indulgently – in and out of an existential crisis over the past couple of weeks. It struck me, rather more forcibly than I would have liked, that I’m 32 years old and I am not where I thought I would be.

The fact that 1990 is more than 20 years ago keeps assaulting me in an unnecessarily violent manner. I shouldn’t be old enough to remember 20 years ago, surely! I keep thinking of Britpop as a modern phenomenon.

My mortality and the foundations of my existence are at the forefront of my mind, which troubles me. Navel gazing is not becoming, nor – do I feel – is it particularly helpful if it lasts longer than about 15 minutes.

I should have been so much more than I feel that I am at the moment.

Having said that, I would not turn the clock back 15 years for anything; I’m wiser, happier and feel smarter and more attractive than I did when I was but a whippersnapper – I’m just not quite where I thought I was. Either that or the world moved sideways slightly when I wasn’t looking.

I’ve always felt slightly out of time. The 1920s, 1940s or 1950s would have suited me much better than these modern times (female emancipation and general equality notwithstanding). The music, the clothes and the manners of the times delight me. But perhaps we are living in even more exciting times as we prepare to send human beings to another planet…

Getting my Open University results has given me a bit of a kick back onto the right track. It’s only a level one course, but it was bloody hard work, and I really feel proud of myself. Roll on S216 – I’m ready for you.

And while I’m waiting for you, I’m diving headlong into books on science to try to get a head start. Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene” is my current literary beau, and a splendid read it is too. I’ve been advised by a colleague to try a little Stephen Jay Gould as a different viewpoint to Dawkins, to see which evolutionary camp I fall into, so Amazon was duly visited, and Gould ordered. We’ll see where I end up.

Where I want to be is saving the world, one turtle at a time.

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Looking for me…?

I had a serious blog post all planned, on the outbreaks of measles down in Brighton and Hove. I will return to this, as it’s a topic that makes me absolutely crazy.

However, I’ve had such a pleasant day (cleaning windows, tidying, gardening and making chutney, all to the backdrop of 6Music playing stupendous tunes) that I’ve decided upon a more whimsical topic.

Every now and then, I take a trawl through the search terms that bring strangers to my blog; some of them are obviously looking for topics I’ve written about – but others have managed to arrive at my site via an esoteric, some may say bizarre, searches. So I’ll list a few here:

1.  Quantum cat

Well. I did write a short piece about Schrodinger’s cat and within this post was the obligatory photo of a cat in a box. A lolcat, to be precise, telling the viewer that there had been a quantum cat fail.

2.  Bravery will save the world

Will it? How cool! I think that, at the very least, it’s a bloody good start. I’m not sure how you got here, brave searcher, but I think you’re right. Bravery will save the world, and I shall start next summer. With wasps.

3.  Lawrence Krauss a quark

No he isn’t. HTH.

4.  open university s216 preparation

Any advice you can give me would be much appreciated. I am sorry I couldn’t be more forthcoming. Apparently S104 is a great preparation, so certainly do that. Perhaps a bit of pre-course reading? I’ve managed to get hold of the PDFs of the books, so I shall be getting a head start.

5.  Sainsbury’s basics tomato soup

I suspect that you weren’t visiting me in search of soup with mould growing on it, and for that I am sorry. I can tell you, however, that Sainsbury’s Basics tomato soup is an excellent medium for cultivating a population of mould. It also tells a thousand stories about the state of your kitchen…

6.  why is tomato soup a good medium for fungal growth

I’m not sure, to be honest. But it is. I suspect it’s because it’s soupy and organic, and fungus has tame taste in soup.

7.  there are no mistakes in the universe……..I’m not surprised that we connected at the same time!

Okaaaaay… I hope you found what you were looking for. And to refute your original assertion, that there are no mistakes in the Universe, I present exhibit A: Simon Cowell.

8.  Tits

It’s not that kind of a blog, I’m afraid. I do have a rather nice collection of blue tits, great tits and coal tits in my back garden, along with a resident robin and a greater spotted woodpecker. We have a wren too. But I suspect that’s not quite what you were after…

9.  what is nadp.2h

Ah. This I can help with. NADP.2H is one of the products of the light reactions of photosynthesis (together with ATP – adenosine triphosphate). It’s used in the dark reactions of photosynthesis to reduce carbon dioxide to glucose. In a nutshell.

10. marshmallows moon mole

Um. If you were looking for my mole analogy, you probably came to the right place. However, I’d like to think you were looking for a species of mole that lives on the Moon and subsists on marshmallows. Which, as eny fule kno’, grow freely up there.

11. tits are great

Yes, they are!

12. fear of moles

Lol. They’re not scary. They’re cute little furry creatures, and they can’t even see, poor little mites.

13. biohazard duck

Nope. Sorry. I’ve no idea.

14. Foghorn sheepdog

Again, I will have to demur on this question. I’ve no idea why you would search for this, or arrive at my blog. But you are most welcome.

15. clearly, some people are so damn shameless…!!! it makes me laugh…!!!

They are! But there are so many. To whom were you referring? And your excessive use of exclamation marks alarms me; are you familiar with the cuckoo’s nest?

There were a lot of people looking for geeky maths t-shirts, which I approve of. I would like a geeky maths t-shirt.

There also seemed to be a lot of people looking for the answers to S104 assessment questions. Naughty people. You’ll get much more out of the course if you work it out for yourselves.

Thanks for listening dear readers. Please stop by for more entertaining search terms in a few months!

Andalucía: a book review

An old friend of mine is a talented writer and a gentleman. He has a beautiful wife, Anna, and two lovely children. Not so long ago, Anna was diagnosed with breast cancer, and to help him cope, Rik began to write about their experiences. Then he began to write about how they met, and their life together, because he was scared he wouldn’t be able to remember it for their children.

Andalucía is a staggeringly beautiful book that weaves past and present together, describing their colourful life in an Israeli kibbutz, their travels and their family life in Northumberland.

Rik and Anna’s story makes you take stock of your life and appreciate what you’ve got. It’s plainly obvious how loved they are, by family, friends and neighbours.

If you only buy one book for the rest of this year, please make it this one. You won’t be sorry.