A Lovely Time the Day We Went to Bangor

What a two weeks it’s been, a real roller-coaster of work, more work, travel, sickness and finally a little something that almost felt like down time.  Almost.  One of the givens of working on a PhD is any time you stop you start feeling guilty about working (you know, forgetting about all the extra hours and hours you’ve put in elsewhere).  A process of take not give it seems.  Anyway, here are the recent highlights of the past couple of weeks.

  • SPARC Europe Roadshow: Went across to Coventry University on the 4th Nov to a roadshow organsised by SPARC Europe.  I was mostly going as one of my supervisors suggested it, but it was also a chance to catch up on developments in the field.  Some very good talks from the likes of Prof Rupert Gatti (who I heard speak in June too), Prof Gary Hall and Dr Jonathan Hall, mostly focusing on open book publishing.  Very interesting to hear about the economic and practical models, as much for my own benefit as I would be talking about OA in Wales the following week.  Buttonholed Prof Hall at the end for a few questions, and to ask if it was okay if I followed up with him at some point as an interview subject.  Think that would be a very interesting discussion indeed.  I will add that Coventry remains a nightmare to drive and park in, which reminds me why I never normally go there.  Still, driving there and back cut the travel time from somewhere over 3hrs to about 90 minutes there and back!
  • Bangor University, Nov 2014Bangor University: Spent 9-11th November in Bangor, where I was speaking at two events on copyright.  I was talking about creative commons, open licences, free culture and (yes, no shock) open access.  One event was for Welsh librarians, the other for local academics.  Seemed to go down well, although I struggled to get my slides in under time (as you’ll see below I’ve had an awful fluey cold that seriously knocked me sideways – was still fighting it even in Wales).   Next time (if there is one!), one slide I think in total and I’ll just talk!  Folks who hosted me at Bangor University were lovely, and I can’t thank them enough for the invite.  Although next time I’m booking my own hotel (first night in my choice of Premier Inn was lovely, second night in their more expensive choice…yeah, let’s just say i’d never stay at that venue ever again!).  Both talks are available online:
  • Sickness: Came down with a cold a week last Wednesday, managed to teach Thursday and Friday (just) and work on my talks for Wales; but lost many hours to just needing to sleep in the day (and failing to sleep at night with nasal drip and crippling sinus headaches).  Not sure I was 100% okay to travel on Sunday, but I didn’t want to let people down.  As it was I had to bail on some of the more social elements of the Wales trip as a result of sheer post-cold exhaustion.  And as of writing 10 days after coming down with it I’ve still got the traces of it lingering.  Mrs Llama’s had it at exactly the same time, so at least we can understand what the other’s been suffering from!
  • Day off: Having worked right through the weekend to get my talks for Bangor ready, and travelling across England and Wales I took a whole day off when I got back.  And spent it struggling to get Fallout 3 to work on Windows 7.  Gave up in the end, damn it, I loved that game!
  • Teaching: Thanks to RED Week this week I’ve not had any teaching (boo for no pay, but hooray for some time back).  That said I’ve still been having a fair few email exchanges advising my students.  Not that i get paid for this part of the job, it’s all just extra exploitation of the PhD student resource by the university – and thankfully I’m not the only one who gets just a mite concerned about this.  Previous week I led sessions on leadership (101) and media law (102).  The leadership session fell a little flat I felt with the students, none of whom really stepped forward into a leadership role in the class exercises.  Was this due to me fighting a cold, the material or a lack of leadership potential in the class?  Dunno to be honest, but I felt rather deflated by the end of the session.  Media law on the other-hand despite the class not looking forward to it went fairly well.  Had some very active discussions around what you can/can’t do (or indeed get away with) in media legally with some splendid examples.  Most amused by at least one group who seemed to be channeling the News of the World in terms of legal ethics…do hope they were paying attention to what could be the result!  Next time looks like there’s a spot of role-playing for me to do too, so that should be great fun!
  • Planning and preparation: So what’s next…planning, background reading, preparing for my hopeful round of interviews with academics.  Need to start setting these up to run over the next few months, but can’t really press ahead until I’ve had discussions with my supervisors next week.  So just trying to do as much constructive work as I can for now.
  • Summer School: Oh yes among all this work, illness, teaching and travel I also wrote a 2000 word paper proposal and application to attend a summer school in Germany next year.  No idea at all if I stand much of a chance (suspect it’s slim) but I did have a very useful discussion with Kornelia about it (she’s applying as well) over Skype.  I miss our weekly discussions when we were both teaching module 101!  Don’t actually see any other PhDs or academics now on a regular basis at all.  Damn the lack of office space in the dept…maybe I should just find an empty corner and set myself up in it! 😉
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