Category Archives: Tim

R1 Frustration

My mental capabilities aren’t what they were ten years ago when I embarked on my undergraduate studies.  Certainly that’s how it feels a decade later as an unsettled post-grad student.

I’m working on finishing my R1 or at least the first complete draft of it.   The literature review has been a particular struggle in terms of crafting a coherent discussion from a wide-ranging collection of papers.  It’s only 1000 words and so how difficult can it be?

There’s a definite leap between two paragraphs in the literature review.  My supervisor suggests a few papers that I should cover in my review.  These fall into three categories.

  1. Papers I haven’t read before.
  2. Papers I have read before and remember reading.
  3. Papers I have read before and don’t remember reading.

Although I have issues with not having included all three types of paper, it’s the third that particularly troubles me.  I track down a suggested paper and save it on my computer.  “A file with the name you specified already exists”.  Does it?  Apparently I downloaded it six months’ ago.  Oh yes, here are my notes.


The problem was summed up nicely by Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell on a radio programme last night.   A young triathlete was saying how good he felt about his training and what a privilege it was to have sport as a job.  I could identify with this, obviously not as an athlete but as the recipient of a studentship which means I can devote my time to something I enjoy.  Then James Cracknell suggested that he should make the most of it while he has no children.

After another week of disturbed sleep, it’s-too-early-in-the-morning visitors, crying baby, ill little girl, falling asleep at 9 pm and not being able to remember what I’ve read I have to agree.

Technology and the easily-distracted mind

Since I started my PhD adventure I have been finding it hard to focus, with reading academic texts and writing anything meaningful being particular issues.  I am often a little bit tired and struggling to juggle too many thoughts and tasks.  I am hoping my newly acquired piece of late 1990s technology will help rid me of some distractions.

Continue reading

Modelling the impact of planned interventions

Time for a brain splurge about one thread from a thought provoking meeting with MWJ earlier today.  I’ll sum Mark’s idea up as “what if you could reasonably accurately model the impact of a series of planned interventions on a simulated classroom?” and hope I didn’t miss the plot completely. Continue reading

Choose two charities not to help

I’ve just completed an online voting process.  As a bonus for bothering a 20p donation will be made to charity.

However, this is not the kind of decision I like to make…

Pick a charityA “Please don’t put me in a moral dilemma like this and pick one for me” button would be nice.  Or what if the donation was 21p and not 20p?  That way there could be a “split it three ways” button.


Just a quick post about incompetence on a very small but very personal level.

It has just taken me three attempts to put the correct URLs in the correct places in a blog post. The problem? There were only two references to get in the right order and yet it still took three attempts.

This must be a similar level of ineptitude as when it takes me more than two attempts to put a USB connector (an A connector if you’re interested) the right way round in the socket.

How hard can it be?

It vexes me. I’m terribly vexed.

Taking cuttings

The winter just gone took its toll on several plants in the garden.  One particular casualty was a rosemary bush which was dead apart from the end of one branch.  Rosemary is one of my favourite herbs to cook with and so a month or two ago I took a cutting.  This evening I planted it back in the herb bed.  It doesn’t look great but it has taken root and will hopefully like its new pot-free conditions and fresh soil.  Time will tell.

As I firmed down the soil I found myself comparing my cutting-taking exercise to that of salvaging something useful from a failing project.  There may be times when something useful can be taken from the ailing project and used as the starting point of another project.  There might be times when there is nothing workable to salvage, but it’s still worth documenting what happened.  This might lead to an unexpected use of the work in the future or might at least save somebody else the pain of making the same mistakes again.

Having had more experience (some -v- none) of taking cuttings than of salvaging useful work from failing projects I thought it might be worth analysing the experience.  My starting question was that I could have just dumped the whole thing and so why didn’t I?

  • An interest in saving something from it.
  • Recognising that it could still have something to offer if used in the right way.
  • Being able to identify the one small usable section of a large dead plant.
  • Having the skills to give it the best chance to grow into something new.
  • Being prepared to invest the time, effort and the right resources to make it work.
  • Accepting that there was no guarantee of success but still having a go.


The Hazards of Forced Participation

If someone has had the opportunity (gaps in talking) to contribute to a group discussion, but hasn’t spoken up, then maybe:

  1. they haven’t got anything they want to contribute at that moment; or
  2. they don’t feel comfortable or confident expressing their views in the group situation; and
  3. they may well not appreciate any attempts, within that group situation at least, to cajole them into participating.