Archive for the ‘work’ Tag

Exodus Advent: 87 Days To Go   Leave a comment

Burn, 12 hours later.


Injury of the day: Got out of the shower and towelled off; then, bending to pick up my underwear I burned my butt against the towel heater/radiator.  That’s my world: I need a Safe Word for my fucking house. (FYI: In real life, it’s “Oxford,” because if you’ve arrived at “Oxford” the fun is over.)

Sent 200kg of parts and derelict equipment saved for parts to the skip, today.  Very satisfying although I would take a lot of it with me if I could; no one here is ever going to use any of it (they’ll need it, but they wouldn’t recognise that fact nor even that it is something that would fill that need).  Also, started bringing boxes into the house for early packing.





Posted September 25, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in work

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Exodus Advent: 88 Days To Go   Leave a comment

Monday 24th September and there are 88 days left until I am furloughed.

Walking past a glass wall on my way to the lab, I saw a pigeon fall to the floor near a dying tropical plant.  It must have flown into the side of Chemistry Research Lab unaware of the mistake it had made.  Metaphor.

Also, got a firm start date at the new job of 3 January, two weeks short of the 10th anniversary of my start at Cambridge.  Spent most of the day clearing out instrument spares no one will ever use here once I’m gone.  Catharsis.

Posted September 24, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in work

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Exodus Advent: 89 Days To Go   1 comment

Crossed the 90 days remaining mark yesterday.  We didn’t have Dom Perignon (↑), but they were better bubbles than usual.

Started a massive To Do list to try to keep focused and productive this final stretch.  Edited Jackie’s citizenship forms and booked in a final checking service appointment.  Awaiting confirmation of start date to see when to move from here.  Can’t stop thinking about boxes — where to get them, how much to pack away now, etc.  All is chaos.

Nearly cut my left thumb off whittling last night.  The blade is sort of a surgical blade, curved and larger than the ones at work but essentially a scalpel.  Shouldn’t do pull cuts on such stiff wood (some really old rosewood from the arms of the Chinese Sex Chair) nor when the hands are really tired (I had been hacking away for 4 hours by then) nor, especially, when I’m that high.  It was not at all difficult to dislodge the blade from the bone but it definitely was stuck into it, about a midway between the knuckles.  A deep cut, it is only about a cm long so I’m not too bothered.  The sculpture is planned to be a hare in full flight and finally starting to assume shape close enough for me to start the fine carving.


Posted September 23, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in work

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Farewell to Oxford   3 comments


Or should that be, “Good Riddance?”

Regardless, it’s a long goodbye.  I’ve been tunnelling out of this dump for more than 3 years and I’ve still got a 3 month notice to work out.  But, “up here, I’m already gone”:





Posted September 20, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in work

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This Week I Have Been Mostly Reading …   1 comment


I don’t have many people at work I consider friends and one of them left the labs for good, yesterday, frustrated by the nonsense in the University, the Department, the lab and his research group.  He lasted nearly 2 years before The Great Funk (not the good kind, either) set in.  The brightest burn out the quickest (while a dim bulb like meself carries on toward the 10 year mark).  We didn’t have many conversations but every one of them was engrossing, intense, and completely free range (not free ranging, but free range, like chickens pecking at the soil).  During one of these, an offhand comment about acid during a longer discussion of one of my frequent head injuries (the one where I was struck by a falling tree whilst running in a snowstorm near Athens, Georgia) stuck with him; not a tripper himself but open to it, he applied his freakish eidetic memory to a choice of parting gifts and presented me with Michael Pollan’s How To Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics.  I am touched by this unusually thoughtful gift and I hope he knows how much I will cherish it (not least because I was going to buy it for myself when it comes out in a trades/paper edition).

I have also been reading my twit feed fairly regularly and recently added Existential Comics to list of followed accounts.  This is a recent one, typical of the genre:



Ironside, RIP   Leave a comment

Over the last 25 years, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work for — often with — a couple of dozen eminent scientists, able to honestly call most of them friends.  During my short tenure at Cambridge, I never met Stephen Hawking (unsurprisingly), but one of my bosses there who is now what passes for ‘head of research’ at the University told me a couple of amusing stories about him while we were out for a long jog in the fens.

Yesterday was busy at work and it slipped my mind that he finally slipped the coil.  I headed home and, as I passed University College, it took a moment to realise why the College banner was at half mast.

Loads has been in print these past 36 hours about his Pop Culture importance like his appearances on episodes of The Simpsons and Big Bang Theory (among other tele programmes).  People forget about his brief tenure in the early 70’s replacing Raymond Burr while he was in prison for smuggling heroin across the border at Tijuana:

Posted March 15, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Obits

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The Locker Room, Northwood Hills, Middlesex   Leave a comment


Pub #2067:

Lightly raining and windy out, I got lost in the fading light and veered northwest from TJ’s Sportsbar (when I should have had bearings of WSW). Powering through the climb to Northwood Hills Station whence I could easily find my way home, light glinting on a raised beer glass inside the Locker Room distracted me. Of course, I went in.

The only other pub in the area closed down several months back so this new venue is a more than welcome addition. Instead of “Locker Room,” I’m getting more a sense of a West End playhouse version of an industrial site: chain linked fencing to define zones and furniture fashioned from scrap lumber and metal. They seem to mean well, they have at least one ale on (although I went for a lager), and the short track speed skating from the Winter Olympics was on tele. Result.



Posted February 26, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Let’s Talk About Running   Leave a comment


I’m not close to many people I work with in the labs but most of the support staff are fantastic. I was having a warm beverage with one of the guys from the mechanical workshop and this conversation ensued.

“Did you make any New Year Resolutions?”
“Same two as every year: don’t talk to non-runners about running.”
“Why’s that, then?”
“It would be rude to bore the shit out of them like that.”
“You said there were two.”
“More of a corollary, due to the ethical implications of the first.  I intend not to talk to other runners about running.”

The wry smile told me he gets it.

[I know this diary technically violates both of those rules; but, I can’t stop people from listening to me talking to myself.  The shoe is from today’s jog and has nearly 1100 miles on it and will stay in service until the sole on it or those on the left ones of the twin pair transmit light — probably another 500 miles or so.  The tweet, below, is what everyone should take home about resolutions, running, or anything else that might occur in these pages…I wish I had written it.]


Posted January 9, 2018 by Drunken Bunny in Made Me Laugh, Running

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Group Christmas Dinner, Exeter College Oxford   3 comments


The enforced jollity of the office Christmas party is worth avoiding but I feel obliged to show up at least every other year.  There’s always the opportunity for the Dutch farewell, the Irish goodbye, the French leave … pissing off before the games get started, essentially.  This year, I pulled more of a Northern Irish goodbye: this is where you tell a few key people in advance to limit any loss of life.


This year, our research group had the do in Exeter College which has one of my favourite chapels at the University.  Since this is almost certainly my last Christmas at Oxford, this was a nice surprise and blunted the edge of the generally shit situation.



Our Professor’s P.A. chased up our RSVPs diligently and also checked for any dietary requirements or prohibitions.  I replied, “I don’t like things with mayonnaise in them. Other than that, if you consider it food, then so do I.”  It was more a joke than anything, but as the starters were doled out one of the servers stopped by my assigned seat to ask, on behalf of the chef, if it is because of eggs that I don’t want mayo. “No, I just find mayonnaise an abomination.”



So, the assigned seating resulted in bespoke treatment from the kitchen.  Fantastic attention to detail, there.

It was surprising, then, that I was seated only one space away from the shithead who’s continued residence in the lab has prompted my efforts to find other employment (which has, finally, come to fruition albeit delayed until the early Spring while the folks at the new site write a position for me).  This particular dickhead is a complete sociopath and unwilling to take a hint, a request, or a direct order to shut his fucking mouth and leave someone the hell alone.  It isn’t a secret that I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire, so this seating arrangement is especially egregious (or, maybe the boss just wants to hurry me along — this is the sort of move to encourage it).

As a result, I cut the evening even shorter than planned and skipped coffee and pudding.


Just as well, I reckon.  The next item on the agenda would be the distribution of Secret Santa presents.  I find the joke gifts insulting and tiresome so I only ever give these to people I find loathsome.  One year, I drew the name of an especially arrogant sack of shite and bought a presentation-style wine box and stuck a bottle of Buckfast in it.  The box was more valuable than the bottle, and his disappointment at the contents was worth going over budget.




But, generally I try to give thoughtful treats even though I have never received anything useful, beautiful, or even slightly amusing.

I plucked the name of one of the new DPhil students and did a bit of cyber-stalking to find that he is a classical music buff.  I really don’t know anything else about him, so I decided I’d just get him some music that I would like for myself.

The record store I went to had a really limited classical music selection so my first (the recent re-release of Glen Gould’s Goldberg Variations) and second (Beethoven’s 7th, especially for the 2nd movement) choices were not in the bins.  I settled on Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony (#7) as a piece of music with a moving story of its premier performance.   Besieged and starving, under relentless Nazi bombardment in Leningrad the musicians — drawn from troops and the citizenry — broadcasted the piece from a bombed out hall to loudspeakers across the city and down the defence lines.

An appropriate piece for the start of any doctoral programme.

[UPDATE: Someone dropped off my Secret Santa gift and I re-gifted it to a colleague.  “Don’t you want to know what it is?” he asked and started to open it.  “Get that fucking thing out of here.  I mean, ‘no, no thank you.'”  I am quite sure it was shit, figuratively or maybe even literally.]



Posted December 13, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in work

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The Cherry Tree, South Norwood, London   2 comments


Pub #2016:

Fully dark enough that I had to break out the supplemental lighting, I was only one stop away from completing this part of the days running as I turned from snapping the evidential photo of Norwood Junction StationThe Cherry Tree was there, gorgeous, and open so I nipped in for one final nip before the last jog and the long ride home.

The fellows next to me were bitching about work, but it sounded like they were just having personality conflicts of a minor nature in their respective offices.  Offices, I repeat, as there was a palpable working-class vibe in the bar.  I must have been smiling and a little too obviously eavesdropping.  I looked up and one of them asked, “thoughts?”

“It just begs my favourite work-related question, doesn’t it?”  I took a sip and they both leaned forward, probably not expecting the American accent.  I continued, “Here it is: what is the 2nd worst job you’ve ever had?”

Second worst?”  I nodded and held up a halt-hand.

“Yeah.  Everyone thinks their current situation is the worst, but if you stop and have to rank things…” I took a long gulp, “…it can give you some sense of perspective.”

“Okay, then, what’s yours?” asked the guy having problems at his job.  Normally, I would point out that I asked first but I figure they had some crappy job training for the crappy job they currently have and before that, maybe, some retail.  I decided that perspective I suggested they needed was what they should get.

“Ooooo, I think 4th or 5th down the list of shit jobs would be working on my Uncle’s dairy throughout most of my early teenage years.  This deep,” I illustrated by putting a right-karate-chop on my mid-thigh, “in cowshit every morning before and afternoon after school and, as the smallest-armed person in the family, I got to do all the artificial inseminations.”  I gave it a second’s pause but interrupted the next inquiry by putting my left-karate-hand-marking-device on my extended right arm at the deltoid; “I spent my youth stuck this far up cows’ cooters.  Hey, do you want to hear how they harvest semen from bulls?  Hogs are funnier,” I added, honestly, “but we tended to buy pigs on-the-hoof.”

“Aw, mate, I don’t know what to say to that.”  Of course you don’t, I thought, and shrugged before focusing on Man City v West Ham for a while.  They changed the topic, anyway, and didn’t include me anymore (which was fine).



Posted December 4, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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