Friday, October 15, 2004

Heaven knows I'm miserable now

Another day of meetings. Started with Departmental meeting in which one of the Senior Lecturers gave us an overview of their research. He had baked some apple cake which made the talk that much more agreeable. I always like some food before my morning nap.

Afterwards the HOD called an extraordinary Departmental meeting for the senior staff. He gave us feedback from a high level meeting he had attended. As expected there was not much in the way of good news. First the budget that pays for the running of the department (equipment, stationary, repairs etc) has been halved. This wasn't a surprise, nor were the messages about tightening our belts, you never had so good, and Ich bin ein berliner (made the last one up). Second, new bureaucratic measures have been put in place to make it more difficult to get things done. This includes reducing the number of approved signatories for official documents. ie the HOD will no longer be able to sign things off, only the head of the school (Dean) will be able to do this now. This lead to groans of "We're doomed" as this individual is known to be more elusive than Ronnie Biggs. While we are thinking about criminals it struck me that reducing the number of signatories will simply lead to more forged signatures when there is a danger of missing a deadline. The HOD continued to describe other examples where common sense had not only deserted the administrators but was actually in orbit around a planet in another universe.

After lunch another meeting, a Research Building Users Group. Another happy gathering of researchers, initially established as a working party to identify problems that could then be rectified. Basically its a big moaning shop but no counsellors are on hand. We relate tales of woe involving the building facilities. These include doors that don't lock or fall off their hinges, leaking windows, sinks that drain onto the floor, poor ventilation, electrical pecularities and the inevitable pigeon guano. Despite many design flaws, the architect is blaming the contractors and suing the different companies that he hired. They in return claim that they were only following instructions. The net result is that my lab remains closed.

Good news, my research assistant came in and told me all about her latest experiments. Beautiful results that made me forget about all the other crap and reminded me why I do this job. Spent some time after she left, looking at published papers, to see if there was an explanation for the results.

Then it was back to the paperwork. This time I had to write a reference for a medical colleague. This was not a problem because she is very good and the reference form was like a multiple choice questionaire. Fantastic! What a time-saver!

The rest of the afternoon was spent diagnosing the fault on a dead imac. After an hour I confirmed that it didn't work.

So my time sheet today reads Science-1 hour; Assorted Bullshit-6 hours; Moaning about my lot-1 hour . This fully justifies my categorisation as being "research active".


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