January 13, 2010

Filler 58

It is snowing again, very tiny flakes that look more like fog. Sifting lightly onto tree branches and rooftops, but no prospect of settling more fully. This whole arctic spell has been, again, a thorough disappointment here in the overheated city centre, a bit icy, a bit nippy, but cursedly short on the white stuff. You know I'm no fan of winter, but if it has to be cold and dark it could at least have the decency to be picturesque as well.

Work proceeds at the rather glacial pace of any endeavour that depends on (i) the cultivation of cells and (ii) the design, manufacture and assembly of intricate machinery. Neither of these things is the ostensible purpose of my PhD, but you need the means before you can get to the end. Not that even having the means is any guarantee. And the means themselves might not be attainable. But, like, whatever.

In any case, (i) and (ii) are currently dominating my work time, especially (i). The general plan is to confine the bulk of cell culture duties to one day a week, but just now it's taking up more than three. This is partly on account of the New Year fresh start after clearing the decks before Christmas, partly because I'm experimenting with several different culture protocols, but anyway it's excessive.

Christmas, btw, lives on at home, as we have yet to bring ourselves to undec the tree. It's just too pretty, and goes so well with the flat. Perhaps tonight. Perhaps.

In case you were wondering, my most distinctive Christmas present was a ukulele, from Ian. However, I am not yet able to play Dy-na-mi-tee, Wuthering Heights or Smells Like Teen Spirit.

What else? Liked Avatar much more than I expected, doubtless because of expecting so little. It was a bit daft and a bit long and a teensy bit Roger Dean, but real prettylike. Especially Sam Worthington. The animation was fantastic, in a whole other universe from the leaden mo-cap-by-numbers mannequin ilk of Beowulf. And the 3D was mostly subtle and nice, and only occasionally fell apart when whooshing around too fast in too complex environments. Definitely worth going out to the big screen for, and how often can you say that these days?

Oh, and, it's that time again: birthdays. Happy Faustus yesterday and happy Alastair the weekend. See y'all around (but Alastair sooner, I suspect).

Posted by matt at 8:40 AM | Comments (0)

January 5, 2010


I'm not entirely unsympathetic to those who complain about the slippage of century start points. Theirs is a pointless, party-pooping argument, but sort of correct in it's crassly literal way. Anyone who attempts to extend it to decades, however, is clearly an idiot. Decades are not ordinal, and 2010 isn't noughty.

In any case, this new 10 year stretch has begun in mostly unremarkable fashion. True, we've got a new Doctor, after the most dragged-out regeneration ever, and can raise a glass to having seen the back of Russell T. And various people have been snowbound, prompting imbecile questions in the House about global warming. It's coming down right now and perhaps may even get a little foothold here in the chilly Smoke, though surely not for long. YMMV.

But the main thing for me is the return to the grind, embarking on the long slog of what ought to be my final year. We'll see about that, but just now I'm feeling oddly optimistic about the whole thing. I still have no data and only an outside chance of getting any, but I do have a plan of attack, a way forward, which makes a nice change. It's even possible, after some testing today, that the long-awaited (two years and counting) laser confocal additions to my SICM rig may be (very gradually) edging towards viability. That didn't seem the case at all before Christmas, and in all likelihood the hope will vanish again just like the falling snow, but for now let's cherish both.

Posted by matt at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)