Monthly Archives: November 2010

A couple more special songs


The slide guitar at the beginning of this song is so beautiful it almost hurts. The arrangement is breathtaking.

This one is raw and powerful. Even before I worked out all the Spanish lyrics I still bawled my eyes out!

There are some much more upbeat ones too (they’re from Shakira’s 1998 MTV Unplugged concert/album), but these are my two favourites of the moment.


A (very small) break at the beach


One day a couple of weeks ago, when I was struggling to concentrate on work and feeling a little bit low, it suddenly occurred to me that the number 42 bus goes from right by the campus to a beachside “village” (within the city limits) in around 20 minutes, and that it might do me some good to get some wintry sea air into my lungs and take a little break with a change of scene. I don’t know why I never thought of that before. It was such a lovely thing. Taking a couple of hours out in the middle of the day was more than compensated for by the increased productivity it caused… even just in the half hour before I went, I probably achieved more than I had during the rest of the morning.

I recorded the sand blowing across the beach in pretty waves of its own:

Had lunch in the swimming pool cafe where all the other customers were old ladies nattering away in large groups. Sometimes I love just quietly watching people carrying on their daily lives around me.
That salad is quite impressive for Scotland

I thought I would have a good think through what was making me feel so yucky, but all my mind wanted to do was switch off and I let it. A brisk walk across the swirly sand and I felt warm inside and my energy was back.

I may make a habit of this…

Driving, earthquakes, and science communication


Finally, a quiet moment to catch up on the endless stream of things I want to write about!

This week, at my instructor’s suggestion, I did a mock driving test. I wasn’t sure about doing it, but it really helped me in a way I didn’t expect. In the absence of instruction and continual feedback, I was forced to recognise that I am actually doing the driving, and I felt a kind of confident sensation of presence, of really fully being in the driving seat and deserving to be there. And it struck me that this is a process that is happening in lots of areas of my life simultaneously. I’m finally starting to find my courage, starting to fully inhabit my own life… starting. About time! (BTW, I failed the test, of course 😆 – only a couple of serious errors though!! I still have a couple of months until the real one.)

A pattern I found in earthquake data has been found in human communications too. I find that so cool… Basically quite a lot of phenomena that come in discrete events – like earthquakes, messages, and quite possibly blog posts(!) – have an element of random initiation and also an element of clustering in time (aftershocks), so they can show some similar statistical properties which you wouldn’t necessarily think they would share. I love that!

Last week I was fortunate enough to go on a 3-day course called “Research, Researchers and the Media” about communicating science to the public. It culminated in recording a 20-minute radio programme in the BBC studios in Glasgow – not to be broadcast, of course, but very exciting to do! The whole course was excellent and to be honest it took me well out of my comfort zone. No sooner had we arrived (almost) than we were given recording equipment and told to create both a TV and a radio news piece on a given subject, in groups of 9. The writing and recording was to be done in the morning and editing done in the afternoon with the help of the expert facilitators. Well, I nearly had kittens! By a process of elimination I was assigned to be the TV presenter; didn’t have time to write a script and had to basically wing it… but it’s AMAZING what you can do when you are put on the spot. Not that my performance was amazing – it really wasn’t 😉 – but it definitely wasn’t the total failure I would have imagined. In a way that is the biggest thing I took away from it – the realisation that there are far too many things that I’ve been telling myself I “can’t” do, or hesitating, waiting to be sure, when I should really just go and do them.

Here are some pictures from the final day in Glasgow.

The mixing room:

The green (well, more like pink :P) room:

A recording room kitted out for doing radio dramas. The door leads to a kitchen and there is a bedroom at the top of the stairs – all for sound effects, not for actual use!

The multi-textured stairs:

In the recording booth: