Sunday, June 03, 2007

Look 'yonder' for the little th(o)ngs

James (his middle name) is one of my oldest pals from my school days, and I came across his blog this afternoon. We've known each other since 2nd standard and still continue to keep in touch off and on. Rivals on the basketball court, inter-house debates, soccer field, and GK among other things, we were quite good friends outside school. We debated together (and got routed bad by some budding cross-(l)egging by the BIS team) and generally hung out a bit.
We were also in fierce competition for the inter-house essay competition. If I could put a finger on one incident from our school days, it was an incident way back in 1988 when our man Jamie used the word 'yonder' instead of 'there', much to the shock, amusement and utter disbelief of the rest of the class. We had a budding Joyce on our hands, didn't we!
His blog makes very good reading and it's nice to see that James hasn't lost the power of creative writing to his normal day-job of being a code-writer. He has a rather amusing post on the wonders of faith, which had me chuckling too! Typical Jamie humor!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The PhD

Sunil has a brilliant post (on second thoughts, does he ever write ordinary pieces, I wonder!) on how/why the PhD takes so long.
One of my colleagues from the department (although from a different research group) will be defending his PhD in a week's time. The best part is that he's doing it just three years after he started on it, which is incredible! That should give us mortals some inspiration to work harder towards making an attempt to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Like a lot of people say, one needs to be highly self-motivated to accomplish research goals. Like Murphy's Law wills, a zillion things go wrong; but it's important to keep things in perspective. We often discover (like I have) that stuff we were breaking our heads over for six months to a year have already been accomplished without much of a sweat by other research groups. So what do we do then? COLLABORATE!
Research in a chemical/biological field requires an immense amount of patience and fortitude, as many folks will attest. Cells mysteriously cells adhere to your substrate (when you expect it to be crawling with them!) forget to close valves/turn on pumps...the list goes on. Jorge Cham of PhD comics fame has it down really well, his comic strip keeping us poor lab-rats in splits many times a week!
It never ceases to amaze me how people ask "How many years more?", when they hear I'm a PhD student. Now that is a question many of us prefer to avoid like the plague. And guess what, they're never satisfied with your answer of "x years", hitting back with "why not (x-1) years?"!
But all said and done, it's quite a lot of fun, this voyage of discovery called the PhD!