Saturday, January 24, 2009

Selected for an exhibition

I just found out that some work I did has been selected to go in the annual college 'showcase' exhibition. It's the first time PhDs have been included in the event, as it's usually BA and MA work from practice-based art and design courses. I'm an odd one as I'm doing a theory project in an art college, so am pleasantly surprised I was picked!

It's nothing wildly exciting really, some of us did a couple of A1 boards of images and blurb about our PhD projects for a student recruitment event a while ago. I did my contribution really fast as it clashed with a major draft hand-in and I was quite pushed for time, so I wouldn't say I was terribly proud of it (hence the absence of link to the show!) but it's ok for what they wanted. Maybe next time I can do something with video and sound, as I originally wanted. It always comes as a surprise when other staff say they like what I'm doing, mainly because it's been going on for so long now and I never realised I'd be a blip on their radar as I don't deal with them on a day to day basis. It feels like I'm working in a vacuum a lot of the time, with no-one except my supervisors reading my work these days, so the odd bit of nice feedback from other sources is a very welcome bit of encouragement to get it finished!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pullovers and Puns

TheCatsMother and myself have been comparing various cashmere cardigans from different shops recently, in a quest for a nice but reasonably priced one. I tried out one from a mailorder company called Woolovers, though I had to send it back as it was a bit old fashioned in a bad way, rather than old fashioned in a good vintage cardi way. We've spent quite a while pondering how the name was supposed to be pronounced - wool lovers (they love their wool) or woolovers, as in pullovers. The man in the post office asked me the same question, then added his own bad pun by noting that it was 'wool over for the pullover'... (as in 'all over'...) *groan*.

Then he tried to sell me life insurance while quietly singing to himself. I wasn't sure whether his sales attempt was a seasonal thing - maybe Xmas then New Year followed by a credit crunch makes people die more rapidly and without warning, so insurance is more necessary?? I definitely don't look as if I'm at death's door, but I would have bought some stamps if he was desperate to sell me something extra.

Continuing the clothing theme, here's a song by Jess Conrad called This Pullover, recorded in 1961. It's about the relationship between a man and a pullover. It has apparently been described as the worst song ever, but I'd say remember The Birdie Song or Agadoo before making your mind up, as they are completely charmless. Though Agadoo has got some nice dancing fruit and unusually lurid shirts in the video.... well, interesting for 2 seconds maybe...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Panicky post

This is a get-it-out-of-my-system post I'm afraid, so look away now if you like. I'm really struggling with this sodding thesis at the moment. I keep having these horrible thoughts that maybe all the good feedback I've had from my supervisors is wrong and there's some dreadful underlying problem with my work that they haven't mentioned because they want me to finish the thing on time. I know it's ridiculous, as any disasters should have been picked up years ago, but it's that annoying paranoia and insecurity that niggles at me when I'm tired and I've got loads to do.

It's a bit weird getting to the end of about 7 years work, which is what it is - the final month of all that. I'm scared I won't be able to finish the corrections on time and won't do myself justice. I've done a timetable of the remaining days that I can actually work on this when I'm not at work, up to the end of Feb, and it's so dreadfully packed with corrections... it's making me feel a bit panicky which I really don't like, and it makes me freeze and do nothing, so not very productive.

It's all so stupid really, all this panicking.... I have heard the same thing from so many other people doing PhDs. Loads of them say it on the forum, from the first year right up to the end. It's normal, but not nice. You get so close to your work over so many years that it's hard to see it from an outside perspective, and given the number of people who have actually read it... you can count them on the fingers of one hand.... Maybe it's not surprising that occasionally you think yeah, I think it's ok, but maybe I'm horribly deluded in my strange, secluded way of thinking and it's really crap and I just didn't realise.

It's quite bizarre how one actually chooses to do this thing, to spend so long veering between satisfaction with what one's doing and dreadful waves of selfdoubt. Are we a really peculiar type of person to want to do this???? I really don't know. It feels like a strange academic version of the Freemasons but without the handshakes. Shrouded in mystery unless you've been there and done that. If someone's done a doctorate they know what you've been through, like some funny little select group of academic masochists and no one understands unless they've done it themselves. It's a rather curious rite of passage, in some ways...

Anyway, I must remember that it's an original and really interesting piece of work, and there's a good feeling surrounding it at the moment, so all the hard work and angst will be worth it in the end. Not my words btw, but the supervisor's feedback on the draft before Xmas. Oh well, I'd better get on with it again.... *sigh*....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Unbelievably tasteless

I couldn't believe anyone could be so utterly inappropriate and tasteless when I heard the news report last night about the Conservative Party activist who had planned to attend a New Year's Eve fancy dress party dressed as Madeline McCann (the still missing child) and posted it on Facebook. His outfit was intended to be "a blonde wig, pink pyjamas, a teddy bear and a vial of fake blood" - the clothes she wore when she went missing. Someone else at the party went as Baby P, the toddler who was in the news recently for his death following months of horrific abuse, a 'fancy dress' outfit I find even more tasteless than the McCann one.

It's not as if they're uneducated, as that activist is apparently studying at the University of London. He was listed as the Branch Chairman of Staffordshire Conservative Future organisation, though has now been removed from that post. I have a fairly black sense of humour on the whole, but that incident seems rather twisted to me and I can't see how it could be considered either entertaining or funny. Are these men really the future of the modern Conservative party - people with absolutely no idea about what matters, is appropriate behaviour or is actually amusing to large sections of the general public?? Don't you have to be 'in touch' with the people you want votes from??? David Cameron will have his work cut out to portray a new caring Conservative party if there's many like that bubbling away in the background.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Use of cat and dog fur banned in EU

According to a report on the BBC site, the use of cat and dog fur has finally been banned across the EU from the start of 2009, after a nine year campaign by a Scottish Tory MEP.

Apparently, more than two million cats and dogs are said to be killed for their skins in China every year. Many shoppers buy goods made with the fur unknowingly, as exporters attach false labels. MEP Mr Struan Stevenson, whose campaign was conducted with the support of the Humane Society International, said the furs were even used to make cat and dog toys which parents bought for their children, not realising that real cats and dogs have been killed and skinned to make the products.

Although I find the whole thing revolting anyway, using it for kid's toys has a particularly macabre irony, especially if the family has pet cats or dogs. It's just one step removed from using fully-fledged taxidermy specimens for toys. A good result for Mr Stevenson though!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Horoscopes make me feel shifty, but I like them

Hello to any passing blog readers - happy new year! I've been scrutinising my horoscope for this month and what 2009 might allegedly hold for me, probably along with loads of other people. Mentioning it makes me feel a bit shifty though, as if it's some dodgy illicit habit that I shouldn't admit to in certain company (on the blog's ok, of course).

I don't know why I read them, but I have been for years in one particular magazine. Every month I think it's time to stop, as it's probably a waste of money - a couple of quid on a magazine full of typos and frequently rather suspect grammar, with articles that make me cringe slightly and always go unread. Topics like the 'jelly baby spell that changed my life' and articles about fairies. I like to think I'm fairly open minded about these things - no reason that fairies don't exist, any more than aliens may or may not do, along with any other more conventional spiritual entities - unless you've seen them, it's a case of belief. My mum's side of the family have always been interested in psychic things, from uncle's Aleister Crowley habit to my late gran's spiritualist leanings.

But I still feel dreadfully shifty when I queue up in the newsagent to buy my monthly horoscope fix, hoping no-one notices what I'm holding. Sometimes I also buy something more respectable, like The Guardian or the Times Higher Educational Supplement, as if to show that I might be buying that magazine, but my brain's still intact, to anyone that notices (which is very unlikely). It seems worse somehow than buying the Daily Mail or the News of the World, which I also occasionally do if there's something odd in them.

I don't know why I feel like it's something illicit that I shouldn't admit to doing. Maybe it's the logical scientific side of me that thinks it's silly. Maybe it's the apparent girliness of the whole horoscope thing I don't like, as if it's tainted with some negative aspect of femininity. Or maybe there's some intellectual snobbiness involved and when I'm Dr so-and-so I won't care.

Well, whatever it is, I shall continue to read them, shifty or not. I had my horoscope done ages ago by someone with a glass eye (which was slightly distracting, if I'm honest) but it was strangely accurate and I have continued to read them in a particular magazine ever since.

So this month's snippet of astro-advice for me is to 'plod on' with my work. It's definitely relevant - it could have been written for anyone trying to finish a PhD. It's nice to know that what I'm doing is affirmed by certain heavenly configurations. Reading horoscopes is harmless enough as habits go. Maybe anything that sensibly confirms what you are already doing, or want to do, is ok in these times of global doom and gloom.

Song for the day: The Floaters 1970s soul classic 'Float On', from Top of The Pops. The lyrics are a bit strange in retrospect, but fit the blog post ok!