Sunday, 23 March 2014


nice skies above the links


new art in the gallery

These are going to be olive trees

Yesterday I had a good run but never took a photo of it. It felt so cold I didn't fancy going far from home so I did my "tough twelve miler". This incorporates 2 laps of Arthur's Seat, the innocent railway to duddingston and home via more hills. It was another post-op pb despite feeling pretty ho-hum when I started, so I was pleased.

Then I had a nap because I was tired from the week. Once I'd finished that I got started doing what I really was meaning to do which is clear the boards for the next part of my studying journey. Everything is done and out the way now except my dissertation and I feel I better make a proper and structured start on it.

But first of all I cleared away all the stuff I won't be needing any more, from courses I've finished now...So I never really made a start - more cleared a space where the studying can take place...
and then, unusually, I had to go out. Too lazy to take the bus I decided to stay sober and drive. I don't go out much so by 10pm I was seriously fading and took my leave. But I had a few things I was needing in the house so I decided to brave late night Tescos to see what that was like...

...What it was like was post-apocalyptic - but not immediately post-apocalypse - more like some time after the apocalypse when things had settled down again. Just a few people who had obviously survived, but not made a full recovery from, the plague  that came with the apocalypse, were wandering around. And me. The shelf-stackers were in too so there was stock all over the floor to be tip-toed over gingerly. And no-one was manning the tills. It was self-service only. All in all a good experience and I'd do it again. If I'm ever up that late again, which I doubt.

Peter is away running the Kintyre way over the course of 2 days so this weekend is the perfect time to get studying. So today surely I will make a start. Just a few things have got in the way. I needed to go a gentle recovery run, and while I was out I had the genius idea that I'd like to grow an olive tree. So when I finished my run I dropped in past Scotmid and got a jar of whole olives (doubling nicely as lunch) - and then went a trip to B & Q to get a pot and some compost. I googled how to do it, and first of all I have to get my olive pits to sprout. I hope it doesn't matter that they've been soaked in brine. Nature is hardy though, I'm sure it will be fine.

While I was in the shower I remembered my last two dissertations and I realised why maybe I am diddling around so much instead of just getting on with it.

The first one was on the the poetry of William Carlos Williams. It made sense to me at the time. We had to submit a title quite early on to be matched with a supervisor, so by the time it was time to really start my dissertation I had kind of gone off the boil with WCW and couldn't remember why I thought he was good. I tried to tough it out anyway. I think it is fair, and not slanderous, to say that my supervisor had a problem relationship with alcohol, and every time I went to see him he just laughed a lot. To be fair I was no star pupil. There had been a special lecture on doing the dissertation, which I had not attended, and we had been advised to look at previous student's dissertations, which I had not done. I had got through my previous years at university not attending lectures and I was quite convinced by my own opinion that in avoiding lectures I was taking care to take a fresh approach to the reading material. I had got by like that til then.
I fell seriously behind in doing anything at all about my dissertation, I had from February until June to write it. I think I had a series of mini-breaks to Edinburgh to see friends and tried to distract myself from the rising panic. In May, I think, I cracked and realised that I had to start writing something - anything - it didn't matter what - because if I didn't submit anything I would not have finished my course and would therefore owe that year's grant back - whereas if I at least submitted something I had some chance of passing and even if I didn't I wouldn't have to pay any money back. This was in 1988 so it was before students had type-writers let alone word-processing packages on computers. I enlisted the help of my poor mum, who was up in Orkney, to type up my untidy scrawlings and post them back to me. She made the mistake, once or twice, of querying what I actually meant by what I was writing, at which point I think I screamed at her "Never mind what it means just type the bastard!" (Or something like that.)  There was no time for that  kind of thinking. And so it was that I did manage to hand it in in time, and I scraped a pass. At the meeting thingy where the board meets you to talk about your dissertation they said that my dissertation was "brave" at which point I laughed and said did that mean rubbish, which set off my tipsy supervisor. There was some throat clearing in the room. Anyhow I had passed. The rest of my work was at a reasonable standard so maybe they just gave me the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe there was some sense in all those words, I don't know. I never read it again.

Then dissertation no.2 was for an MSc in Information Technology. It wasn't quite so much my fault that this one went a bit awry. Because I had a tenuous connection with archaeology,  I was matched up with a supervisor in the Religious Studies department, who had a data-base of sites through the ages in Israel and wanted a program that would show these sites on different maps. There was a special lecture to discuss the dissertation, but I didn't go. And we were advised to look at previous student's dissertations but...well I didn't. I did do a lot of work on the project though, and pretty soon had something up and running. I gave various versions of what I was writing to my supervisor, who didn't seem very keen to see me. Finally, one day, he said he wasn't sure why I was giving him things to read. It turned out he hadn't realised he was supposed to be my supervisor. In the meantime I'd written up the whole damn thing in the first person when it was meant to be in the third person or some dross. It was a troubling day or two. I did pass it though, and I deserved to.

So maybe that's why I'm avoiding my dissertation so frantically, ...but surely third time is lucky. And this time, I have not only attended the lecture, I went to 4 dissertation workshops. I haven't read any of the previous student's dissertations yet, but I've read the list of titles. Maybe I'll go for the burn this afternoon and read one. There's a first time for everything.

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