Tuesday, 31 March 2009

money for eating bread

Got $5 for tasting bread today. And last week I got $5 for tasting yogurt. Not quite as lucrative as being in peoples' behavioural psych experiments, but much more fun.

There seems to be a pretty big Food Science department here, and occasionally they do consumer testing. This is the best deal ever as it takes less than half an hour, and all you have to do for your cash is make a few comments about whatever product they've come up with this week. They have a gorgeous consumer testing lab, as well. My Masters supervisor would be drooling. It is a little L-shaped room with about ten little computer desks set along the inside wall of the L. Each one has a little sliding door, behind which is a kitchen. Each also has a wall-mounted computer screen and a keyboard. They're clearly running E-Prime (I'd recognise that font anywhere!), so you just go in, type in the subject number they give you, and someone slides your little pot of yogurt or whatever through the hatch. You taste it, answer the questions, have a drink of water and they take it away and give you the next one. This would have been SO useful for the Consumer Psychology lab!

Busy week this week. I counted up my TAing hours and found I've almost worked all my hours for one of my TA-ships (I have two half TAs instead of one full one). I've done 65 out of 70 hours, with one assignment still to be handed in and the final exam to be marked. Ideally, the prof would then just pay me for the extra hours worked, but that ain't likely... he will probably just do the rest of the marking himself. Either way not so bad, I guess.

Also am making a poster for Guelph's "Neuroscience Day". Sounds pretty silly, but the keynote speaker sounds interesting, and at least it's something accomplished...

Saturday, 28 March 2009

graduation (again)

So, does anybody fancy attending my graduation? you only have to travel to Wales... Got the letter yesterday (thanks for forwarding, Mom) saying I'm allowed two tickets. I certainly hope William would be taking one, should he be in the country! But I imagine it will be pretty boring, so I would settle for him meeting me for a pint.

I also got the letter saying I got distinction, which was a huge relief as I was starting to worry that I hadn't. Not that it makes a blind bit of difference to me now, but... somehow it does.

I see I also have to wear "academic dress supplied by Ede & Ravenscroft". So far, so Harry Potter...

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

the run-around

So I'm a bit stressed about money just now... rent is expensive, but I didn't worry about it too much because I was promised a certain amount of funding for deigning to do my PhD at Guelph (!) However, summer tuition is due soon and my TA-ships will concurrently end. I guess I sort of assumed that they would just give me equal increments all year, but had a word with the graduate secretary (during which I sat down heavily on her chair, which turned out to have wheels on it and leapt backwards, and I ended up on the floor) and it turns out that this is not the case. It's tied to TA-ships and things, apparently. And they don't think they'll have any available during the summer. I really don't understand how this works, as I have a signed bit of paper saying they have to pay me the money... so why not now?! Grrrr, universities. Anyway, she was as helpful as she could be, but had to say she didn't know if anything would be decided before tuition was due. And even if it was, she said, there are hardly any summer TAs.

This was worrying, so I went over to Student Financial Services to see if they could help me out. Person A sent me to the front desk (take a number, wait in line) to ask Person B to help me make an appointment with Person C. But this confused Person B, who kicked me over to ask Person D about it. Person D said, "What? You're supposed to make the appointment with Person B! Oh, for crying out loud..." and brought me back to Person B who then agreed to make the appointment with Person C.

So the appointment was this morning at 10am. Unsurprisingly, I was running late. Managed to get my disheveled self to the bus stop only to find my bus pass missing GRRRRR. But I didn't want to be late for my Person C appointment, so I coughed up the cash for the bus but was very annoyed about it. Bus was late, of COURSE, and crowded, and by the time I finally made it to school it was nearly 10.00. So I ran upstairs to the room where I'd been told to wait, and... no one.

Ten minutes later... no one. Fifteen minutes later I threw myself on the mercy of Person D again, who shrugged at me and said Person C would come get me eventually. After ten more minutes Person D took pity on me and dragged Person C over.

Person C was useless.

I was told she could help me fill out a form which would put me in the running for bursaries (even at this late semester date) and maybe help with scholarship information. But she refused. Said, sorry, can't help you, try reapplying in summer, bye. Then I asked about scholarships and she said, oh, that's Person A's job. Bye.

Person A, however, was awesome. (Had I known this I would have skipped the whole rigmarole in the first place!) She helped me fill out the form (which she said WAS Person C's job) and said she would bring it to the right person and explain that I was applying so late in the semester because I only started in January and no one explained this to me at all.

About six hours later, I got an email saying they're giving me $500. SCORE! Suddenly I feel perhaps the legwork was worth it. That will help, and I guess I'll just keep bugging the grad secretary about when they might know about summer appointments and things.

all in all, not a bad day's work... I HATE uni administration, though!

ps. yes, I sent a nice thank you email.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Intrepid Explorer

It is so gorgeous and sunny out! (Alberta, eat your heart out). I almost like Guelph when it is like this. I missed my bus this morning, so I finally went exploring in my back yard. And yes, exploring is what it is. It is HUGE! It is also full of random buildings, at least six of 'em. Sheds and greenhouses and garages, it would appear. Also, there is some sort of vineyard (?) or at least a bunch of vines growing on poles. I cannot ID them. Mom, you have to come check this out! There is also a BBQ/firepit type thing and a lot of random stuff. And a clothesline I didn't notice when the snow was three feet high. I would like to do a bit of a garden but am not sure where - maybe among the vines? Anyway, the ground is still frozen so I guess I have a while.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Mountaineer

Man, did I ever miss getting the Mountaineer every week. Life is not the same without the Police Report.

"Woman assaults man with snow shovel"

"Area man breaks into home, steals ladies' panties"

Ahhhhhh... nothing quite like it. Thanks Mom!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

other stuff about Guelph

There is a Dutch store in Guelph! Full-on, two whole aisles of dropjes and chocolate sandwich sprinkles kind of thing. (I still don't know what is up with that - sandwiches made of chocolate sprinkles and loads of cheese, and I don't think I saw a single obese person in the Netherlands). I guess it must be pretty Dutch around here. My landlady just married a guy who owns a honey business called Dutchman's Gold. (By the way, she is by far the best one I've ever had [except Judith, of course] - this is an old house and things keep breaking, and everytime I mention something that needs repair she has her husband in to fix it the next day. Except the dripping tap, but she did have a plumber in to look at it so I can't complain too hard).

Went to check out the Anglican church today. St. George's. It is GORGEOUS - proper full-on cathedral style. Built in 1873, according to the literature the church ladies pressed on me. It was a nice service too, mostly sung Morning Prayer with a choir. (Bit hard to follow, though - they kept switching books and didn't use the BAS). And then everyone sitting around me said it was nice to see me (? maybe I looked particularly good today!) and loads of people introduced themselves and invited me to coffee. Three of them offered me rides home. It was a bit overwhelming, in fact, so I got a bit freaked out and skipped the coffee - but after barely a soul talking to me for three months, it was a nice change. Looks to be your typical Anglican congregation, average age about 73, but they were all very sweet and I will definitely be back.

Monday, 2 March 2009

I Heart Reading Week

Once again I am getting in trouble for not blogging. February was pretty crazy, though - Del came to visit and we went to Montreal for a couple of days, and then I had a conference in Niagara Falls for a couple of days. Montreal was awesome, although the 9ish-hour bus journey was not so great. (Oh, to some day not be a starving student and be able to afford the train!) I had been there once with Grandma, en route to Halifax - we just had a quick change-over, but she was kind enough to watch the bags for a few minutes so I could pop up to street level and have a look at Montreal. And I loved it! I vowed to go back, and poor Del got dragged along for the ride. (He wasn't complaining too much, though - although I did discover roughly 8 bus-hours in that he gets bus-sick).

We stayed in the Latin Quarter, which was funky and interesting. It was walkable to all over the interesting part of the city, so we explored Old Montreal and the Chinese Quarter and McGill area on foot. The weather was cold but clear, but Del was very excited about the Underground City, so we stayed indoors a lot. We just missed a winter festival (boooo!) but did get to see pot-smoking workman building a giant ice slide that extended down a few city blocks, and an ice restaurant outside! Very cool (har har har).

Back from Montreal on Wednesday night at 11, clothes into the wash, fell into bed, up at 8 am and off to Niagara with my entire lab! My supervisor hired a car that fit all of us (including Del, who I couldn't exactly ditch in Guelph by himself) and booked us hotel rooms. The conference was small but enjoyable, and as my labmate Asma isn't from around here either (she's Indian, in fact) we were both excited to go take the obligatory tourist photos of the falls. We went out for dinner that night and GOOD LORD! They said it was tacky, but I was expecting sort of English seaside tacky. But this was a whole other level of incredible tack. The flashing lights, the screaming Pharoahs and Frankensteins, the six or eight 4D RIDES!!!!!... man, it was something else. I was fascinated. Sadly, I was there to be all thoughtful and academic and didn't get to explore much. Lucky Del got to wander around all he wanted, though. (And what did he do? Bought $20 worth of fudge!)

So that was Reading Week, and it was fun. But sadly it's over, I'm much poorer (though very pleased with how it went down) and way behind with work. So this week (month, in fact) it is nose the grindstone and spending down to the bone!