Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Review of 2008

So, another year is just about to end. I get the impression that it is traditional (although by no means compulsory) to do a round-up of the year's events, and possibly also to express one's New Year's resolutions, should one be the sort of person who goes in for that sort of things. I tend not to; there tend to be things I am trying to improve about myself no matter what time of year it is.

As this blog does not stretch back this far, my review begins in late 2007: on 12th September 2007 I handed in my MSc dissertation, ending two years of struggle (and joyous part-time work). I got my results a while later, and they were good; exactly what I had set out to achieve and not a mark more. I applied for a job on a new project teaching statistics to social science students and came second, but the lecturers in charge of the project were interested and suggested we do a research project together. I started putting together ideas. After a while they changed their minds and suggested that I would be better doing a PhD first, so I got an application in and started to apply for funding.

Meanwhile, HWSNBN's dad was ill. It turned out that the problem was a brain tumour, rather than depression and diabetes, and he died on 21st December 2007. We don't know that medical competence would necessarily have improved matters (he might have suffered through chemotherapy and radiotherapy then died anyway, with much more knowledge of his impending demise), but, you know, it is nice to know one can trust one's doctors. His funeral was on 28th December; thus 2008 started without him alive in it at all.

The start of 2008 saw me trying to obtain PhD funding (I think the interview was in March) and failing to do so (naturally this is because the panel was biased; there can be no other reason), then looking towards the open funding competition, whose deadline was at the beginning of May.

In the meantime, I tried to become good at climbing (at times building up a reasonably convincing amount of stamina and strength) and have now got to the stage where my skill level far outstrips my physical capabilities. I got this way by doing nothing, literally. For three months. Next time I go climbing my abdominal muscles will not be my friends for several days afterwards.

I also worked on martial arts (Kiaido Ryu); the moves are starting to become more instinctive, but I am still not particularly good. This stopped in September, and will resume on 13th January, at which point I expect to get into rather a large amount of trouble for my lack of fitness.

Hmm, this is jumping about a bit. Back to March, I think. I went to France to stay with Louise in the Toulouse region. That was fun, and the food and wine were excellent. I took great care to appreciate them both fully, and upon my return my climbing harness needed some adjustment. I returned to visit her in Bordeaux in July, and took Anne with me. That was fun. Bordeaux is lovely and I recommend that you visit it (and stay somewhere central) should you get the opportunity. Louise's room had three massive French windows and a balcony overlooking the street. I liked it a lot. Again, we appreciated the food and wine, and Anne got a taste of French pub life.* She did not, however, have much to drink, what with being 12 and not into that sort of thing.

August marked the results of the PhD funding competition. I was looking forward to being a full-time student in October, but had also been wondering whether academia was right for me. I decided that I would take the funding if it was offered to me, but if it was not I would look into becoming an organ builder, as this was something I had vaguely considered for many years, but had not thought possible. Upon failing to be awarded this funding, I did nothing. The letter I had to write to the organ building firm I had selected was daunting because if I got it wrong they would not want me. Eventually, with the help of a couple of good friends, I got it written and submitted in October, I think. They told me that I should learn joinery, then get back in touch with them, so I set about finding a teacher, who shall be known hereafter as Brian. Because that is his name. Brian is a Master Craftsman of many years standing, and seems to be a good teacher. Apparently I am a good student, too, although I must back this up with some actual joinery before we next meet, next week.

Since August, I have mostly just been getting things done; it has not really been a happy time. In September I got a nasty cough and ended up with breathing difficulties which still have not been resolved; their cause has not yet been revealed, for starters. They are very annoying. I have done pretty much no exercise since September due to lack of time and inclination.

In December I played the organ for a carol service, which seemed to go well. This improved my playing, but brought to light the inadequacies of both my organ and my shoes. I am looking to buy new shoes.

I also learned how to make felt.

As 2009 starts, then, there are things that I must do. Firstly, I must get back in touch with my PhD supervisors and look into re-applying for funding. Having worked so hard, it seems a shame to turn down funding should it be available. Academia is more lucrative than organ building (which really does not say much for organ building).

I must also work on becoming good at joinery. Whatever happens, I want to give organ building a go, and I am not going to achieve that by sitting on my bottom. I also have plans to start making musical instruments, such as simple flutes. I am sure that it will be good for me, and also hope that it will be fun. I shall chart this on my other blog, I expect.

I need to get fit again; martial arts demands it, and climbing helps to engender it, as does yoga. These will be my focus in all of the free time that I have lying around.

I have to improve my organ playing, and shall make efforts to do so, probably in the two hour gap I have free between work and Postgrad group on Monday evenings. I am also looking in to buying an electric organ for home, but have so far found them to be too expensive and too far away. Roll on the recession, and all that. That shrinks the country.

Most importantly, I should be a better friend. I am apt to see my lack of free time as an excuse (to be fair, a lack of free time does make it difficult to take on extra things), and not be there for people except for by prior arrangement. I need to do more things to make people feel good about themselves.

I want to make a success of my vegetable garden this year. Realistically, I am not going to do this unless the weather is good. The last two years have been damp and crap, and I have failed miserably (although there are now more paths, and I have materials to make sure there are paths throughout). If the weather is good this year, I may be able to salvage the project and grow something worth mentioning. Of course, if the weather is good I will need to water it (it resides about 7 (or is it 3 1/2?) miles away), but that can only improve how well I look after it.

I want to blog more regularly and more impressively. I speak mostly of suitable use of English, and of not mangling sentences, but decent subject matter is not to be sneezed at.

OK; there are rather a lot of imperatives there. I suppose that none of them is important if I am happy to stagnate. I am not happy to stagnate; I want to do more, see more and experience more. And yes, they are a tall order; they involve keeping going at things and not giving up. I can do that. I shall review this post this time next year and marvel about how much has changed, hopefully. I hope that the changes are good.

So any New Year's resolutions, anyone?

*What sort of a phrase is this? How embarrassing.


Lisa Moon said...

Well, having read through your year-at-a-glance, you seem rather accomplished to my view! Now, I'm feeling the need to do the same; in fact, I think it might make a rather good blog post, no?

Wishing you a wonderful new year.

Abi said...

You should definitely do a review of 2008! It's almost always interesting when people do that, especially when the have not been blogging for a whole year. You should write down your resolutions, too; I've forgotten most of mine already...

Happy New Year!