Friday, 29 May 2009

Comment is free

I HAVE been aware for some time that I never get any comments on the posts that I put up here. But because I have focused so much on what I have been trying to say and on making things look pretty, I never once noticed that this could be because there is no button for you to press to leave a comment.

There should, according to my settings, be a little link at the bottom of every post stating the number of comments and directing you to a commenting page. The peculiar thing is that this DID once exist, because I got a snotty little comment once about my criticisms of the Johnstone River Crocodile Farm, and another snotty comment telling me that the Dutch, not the Portugeuse, first discovered Australia. Criticism is healthy, although positive comments are also appreciated.

After delving into settings I didn't know I had I seem to have rescued the function to add comments, but that little link at the bottom of every post is still missing in action.

So, since comment is free and discussion is marvellous, please do feel free to join in with my adventures as normal service is resumed.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Encore une fois

I AM very aware that this blog is a bit of a mess. It is one of the reasons I post less these days, as I don't know any longer what I should be posting. Should I post personal thoughts, like a diary? What about stories? Should I use it to entertain, or to inform? I could use this to continue to teach sciencey things (there's at least half a dozen unfinished points in those Darwin200 posts) or other factual things I've discovered and want to share, for example, but do they belong in a separate blog, dedicated to informing, and keeping this just for the stories, or personal reflections? It's hard, and I think I need to decide. Or at least find some more stories to tell, and then it wouldn't matter.

I'm also aware that I hide behind all sorts of details and disparate facts and figures to avoid being personal. I give the impression of being well read, simply so I don't have to open up. From a quick browse of this site you can find out many things that I'm interested in, but little about me. Or at least I think that is how I come across. So, just for once, I'm going to try to be candid.

My name is Simon. I live and work in London, working for a science journal. In six weeks, however, I won't be in this job, as I am halfway through my three-month notice period. I've always been careful about what I say here about my job as I am aware that it is very easy to find this site and identify me, and that is not going to change. The truth is, I found the job challenging, and I had to grow up a lot to handle it, but I have enjoyed it. I will genuinely be sad to go, but I have made my decision and I have exciting plans ahead. I won't be leaving completely, however, as I will be taking freelance work over the summer. It's a good job, and I've had the privilege of access to cutting edge scientific information - indeed, the privilege of editing it - for over a year now. But I'm moving on. Rachel and I will be heading to Australia for six weeks (expect travel anecdotes), and then I am moving back to Birmingham to start a Ph.D.

I'm apprehensive, in truth. When I moved to London it was a big change, but I was excited. The grand adventure fell flat. I haven't liked being in London - I continue to love the city, but I can't live there. For various reasons it has made me extremely introverted, which saddens me. I've never been loud or extroverted but I used to be much more open to opportunity and uncertainty. I now struggle at parties or gatherings to interact and get to know people. I could give explanations for this, but you don't need to hear them: this is just how I feel. Also, my house is in a delightful area (right on the edge of London), but there is so much around that I haven't truly appreciated, and now time is running out. Trent Country Park is just up the road, but it was only a month ago that I finally went for a walk in it. I have achieved so much, and yet there is much I wish I had done. This has made me fractious and irritable.

It makes me nervous about moving again. There are many reasons to be very excited. But what if it falls flat? What if I should be staying put, and sorting out the problems associated with London instead? It's a quandry. On top of it all I will be doing a Ph.D. - and I'm very aware how much work that will be. I want to make this move, but I think I'm rejecting the effort it will require. I just wish things would fall into place.

So that is where my head is at.

This week has been bizarre. My replacement has been decided and starts next week. For six weeks I will have full responsibility to train her; meanwhile I need to pack up, find someone to take my room, and finalize details of the Australia trip; fun though looking at Google Street View for the entire Sydney to Perth route is, it is not proper planning. I'll have just one last chance to see the bits of London I haven't got to yet (which is most of it), one more karaoke trip and one more box of greasy goodness from Wok in a Box on Oxford Street. This has all been playing in my mind, along with a lot of work to do to get ahead before I go. On Wednesday, it came to a head, and I became snappish and grumpy, but by Thursday I was fine.

My efforts to look after my health after my bout of flu are going well, but I'm still stupidly thin, still hypoglycaemic and still lethargic much of the time. On top of that, my toe has become dodgy. Again.

But this week has also been a good one. I got a wonderful endorsement from Rob Dougan, the musician behind Clubbed to Death and the sublime album Furious Angels, via the ever engrossing world of Twitter. Also, my musical collection, overheard and in danger of becoming stale, has been given a new lease of life through the greatness of Spotify. I have been invited to a supper. I went to an excellent Skeptics in the Pub meeting on skepticism and politics, which I might write about later. Rachel and I went to an excellent church 'community' this morning in Bournville, and who can complain - the sun is shining! Lots of great things are happening to me and are about to happen to me. The last year has been difficult, but it has made me stronger in certain ways, and I have learnt a lot. I am going to take this opportunity for change to correct the ways in which I am weaker. I have the support of a great many people, especially my girlfriend Rachel who I love a lot, and I am going to take the opportunities that come at me and make the most of them. The Simon of two years ago wants out again, and I think it is about time I let him.