November 21, 2005

Ramblings

I can't really think of stuff to write today. It's the first day of 'Leadership and Excellence'. I'm sure i'm going to enjoy the next two weeks, as I learn about different leadership theories and how I can translate these into practice. How well will these work for me? How well do they work for other people? Will I be able to spot specific management styles as I walk around? Are there specific methods for breaking the cycle of poor leadership?

I've been thinking about why business people choose to look like they've been cloned i.e. wearing a suit, but that choosing to wear the same type of outfit as others in a social situation, for example, would be just plain creepy. I don't get it. It all seems so shallow and myopic. Maybe i'm being naive. What happened to actually talking to people and finding about what they have to say, rather than what their clothes say about them? And no comments about 'that's just the way that it is'. I get that. Sorry peeps, I have the grumps. Can you hear the snarling?


November 20, 2005

Where did my life go?

Come on, tell me…

November 19, 2005

Rantage: The Assignment

I've hit a wall with my assignment. I'm sitting here with the document open and not making any headway. I can't see a way forward with it, possibly because I know that there is so much to do. Maybe I’m at the top of the mountain and its all downhill from here? The best thing is to write something, anything. If I write in my blog, will it help to get me started today? Hopefully.

I'm beginning to wonder how on earth it is possible to produce a worthy post module assignment in 40 hours. Am I doing something wrong here? It is me having an appalling writing process? Does this tutor have unrealistic expectations or is it me getting the wrong end of the stick? The stats assignment is achievable in the time. Do all tutors have unrealistic expectations, having forgotten what it is like to be a student?

M is off to buy a new vacuum cleaner and then off to watch England vs. New Zealand at the rugby club. I'm not going to Shrewsbury to be with the team because I can't justify the time away from writing the assignment. The whole thing is completely shagged. What possessed me to pick something so bloody wordy? Someone bring me some calculus… Is this subject wrong for me? This is the wrong time to re-evaluate my degree choices but an engineering undergrad would have been more enjoyable, something more quantitative at least.

Doing something for 40 hours and then handing it in even though I know that it can be improved is a hard one for me to grasp. Perfectionism is a real strength but it's a fight with myself. I can drive myself through it. The deadline will come and I will submit something. And I don't dwell on it and over time I will see the good points. Beating myself up over what I could have done is illogical and pointless. Why do I put myself through this if this is the way I work? Why on earth do I have ideas of doing further study when I finish?

I'm letting this thing run my life. It only represents 4.72% of the overall degree mark, so a mark of 50% in the assignment is only 2.36% of my overall degree lost. Not so bad. I'm blowing this all out of proportion. Jane: stop the meltdown and get on with it.


November 17, 2005

Assignment Progress

I managed to make lots of progress on my assignment yesterday. I tried writing down any non-work thoughts on a pad of paper and then wrote relevant thoughts into mindmap. It worked really well for me as when the thought was 'out' and recorded, I knew that I wouldn't forget it and my brain left me alone, letting me work with fewer interuptions from myslf, if that makes sense. I think that I trust myself more with mindmaps too. Instead of wanting to put it into a word format I stuck with it (but it was tempting). This 'birds-eye' view is so much better in a mindmap format.

I managed to generate another 1500 words without knowing it (without it feeling like climbing Everest). Today is about tidying it up. I think that its useful for me to split the two component activities clearly in my head. Yesterday I was generating and playing ideas and writing down all of the half thoughts etc and today I will tidy up what I have done i.e. create something that has a coherant structure. Sometimes I get the two parts mixed up i.e. I generate a few ideas, tidy them up, generate some more etc and all the perfect pieces don't fit together as I wanted. And I worry about it as I can't see the bigger picture – I only have a vague idea about what the thing is supposed to look like.

There's no way that I am going to spend anywhere close to this amount of time on any of my other assignments. I didn't start it late, it has just dragged on and on. There's no point bashing my head in about the excessive time spent. I've learned a lot and will move on. I don't think about it when i've submitted it. There's no point analysing it over and over. It only increases stress and worry. And I don't like it…


November 14, 2005

Carbon

This is primarily aimed at Warwick Uni people but for those of you that are interested…

The University has applied for, and was selected to take part in, a governmental pilot project designed to reduce the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by higher education establishments. The University will receive guidance in designing and implementing a series of projects with the aim of reducing Warwick’s CO2 emissions by 10% in the next 5 years. The University has set its own rigorous target of reducing the level of emissions by 2% this academic year.

For the environmentally conscious amongst you, this is clearly quite excting. I would encourage you all to post your ideas using the suggestion form.

Click here also for more info.


Writing

Follow-up to Work from Jane's Blog

I've been thinking a lot about my stlye of thinking and writing over the past few days. This all came about through the PPE assignment which ground to a halt for me midway through last week. I found myself trying to find excuses to do statistics. I mean, honestly! Some assignments go well; they seem to get done quickly and I enjoy doing them. Others just hang around. Why is that? Is it just me?

Doing maths is a very linear process as 99% of it involves a clear starting point and end point with a void in the middle which one should fill with a clear, logical argument. At a first glance, essay writing looks a lot like this, but no matter how much effort, it is impossible for me to write in a linear way i.e. beginning, middle, end.

My thoughts have always been jumpy and it has been a long term stress factor in my life that I can't hang on to a thought for more than about 5 seconds. I wanted to work on it in my head and be able to write somethng on paper that was reasonably well developed.

After a conversation with my tutor, i'm exploring the idea that being scatty can be a strength and that one can get more original ideas by allowing my mind to have ideas and not to stop them coming because i'm busy working on another thought. If the brain is faster than the pen than I should work on methods to increase the speed of recording my thoughts rather than to slow my brain down.

I think a good analogy for what I was trying to do is this: I was trying to paint a perfect picture from a description without a sketching it all out first. I don't allow myself to 'just write'. I realise that I should save the perfectionism for the end 'tidying up' part, and try to appreciate the difference in the two distinct processes in writing an essay.

After reading the first part of Writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day by Joan Bolker, it's clear that that i'm not writing enough. So, I will write more. For a start, I will aim to write something in the blog about how work is going. And I will stop torturing myself when something is not exactly how I would like it and move on.

Mindmaps seem to be the best way forward for me. I will use them properly for my next assignment, which happens to be accounting. Yummy. I thought that I was using mindmaps correctly, but I don't think I was. I didn't believe that I was making 'progress' on an assignment unless I had it in essay form and it had a work count. I don't stick with it long enough and I don't use mindmpas for brainstorming, just for structure. This is something that i'm going to change in my next assignment.

So I'm thinking about what I mean by progress at the moment. How do you determine how your essay is going? Is it by word count? How you feel about it? In comparison to others? If anyone reads this, do reply as I am really interested.


November 12, 2005

Work

Why is it that some assignments come and go with a minimum of fuss and some just won't die? The PPE assignment has been driving me up the wall but I recognise that i'm tying myself up in knots about it.

At the last count, this is the fourth proper essay that I've written since bluffing my way through 1000 words about Twelfth Night at GCSE. I've written other stuff, mainly internet based, in which my fantastic wit and clever observation (haha) covered up my complete lack of experience and ability in the writing department :-)

I'm on a steep learning curve.

More to follow. I need sleep as i'm off to Twickenham tomorrow (today actually) to watch England get whipped by Australia. Wuhoo.


October 30, 2005

Problem Solving With Statistics

The past week has included as much statistics as could be crammed in to 40 hours. Needless to say, I am very tired and welcome the switch this morning from BST to GMT.

I was pleased that I picked up most of the new stuff quickly but I feel that this is only because I understand the basics after doing it at A-Level and in my UG course. The approach was a very practical one but I am quite happy to use the formula without having to derive it from first principles under exam conditions.

The approach has enabled me to view the tools in an industrial perspective and see how they can be used; which situations, pitfalls, benefits etc. I can see all these tools in terms of the experiments which I will design and run. Very useful.

For some people, almost all of the stats we covered was new. This must be a nightmare-ish situation to be in! All the way from the formula for the mean and standard to multiple regression, ANOVA, and pdfs in a week.

Today, i'm going with OLRFC who are playing Worcester 2nds in Worcester. It's not so far and even though away matches are a faff and take up the entire day, i'm looking forward to being somewhere different. Good luck Old Leams!


October 20, 2005

Coffee

I was originally a tea drinker but discovered coffee at some point in my teens. I now enjoy both, but I have a problem. I have become hooked on caffiene again after returning to university (the 2 for 1 on those little sachets of cappuccino in Asda didn't help either). Starbucks, now renamed something silly, in University House is located opposite the Learning Grid (LG) where I spend a lot of time. Its convenient….too convenient. Something must be done.

My plan is this: Caffeine impacts upon the quality of my sleep which is very important to me. I don't think that it actually serves to keep me awake for longer. This is a myth, or perhaps I have an 'unconscious' switch in my head that flips at some point between 10pm and 11pm. Coffee is also nice. I should, therefore, drink coffee as a treat i.e. a few times a week not as a part of any routine. If coffee isn't a part of a routine then my brain isn't hooked on it. I've fallen off the wagon quite badly (onto little sharp pointy rocks) and oh the anguish – I was so good for so long! As you can see, I take my hot beverage strategy very seriously.

I'm keeping track of my caffiene intake in a Bridget Jones stylie so that I can chart my progress. Naturally there will be variation but that will not, I repeat NOT, be an excuse to let myself go and chug gallons of the stuff when the going gets tough. Discipline, Jane, discipline. The weekend in the Netherlands can only be described as a binge so the only way is up. Go me.

I'm cutting down rather than stopping cold turkey. Have you ever tried stopping caffiene? Day 1 is fine but the headache on day 2 and/or 3 is untouchable by any pain killer. But be careful with the pain killers as a few of the branded ones contain caffiene. It'll get ya in the end :-D Am I being overly cynical? Has the grouchiness started already?

Coffee count: 2


October 18, 2005

Mijn eerste blogpost in het Nederlands!

Hallo. Ik ga een paar blogposts in het Nederlands schijven want ik will asap vloeiend Nederlands spreken. Mijn vrienden en vriendinnen van EEE spreken verschillende talen en ik wil dat ook.

Dat is genoeg voor vandaag. Daag.

Roughly translated…

Hello. I am going to post a few messages in Dutch because I want to be fluent asap. My friends from EEE speak different languages and I want to do that too.

That is enough for today. Bye.

Coffee count: 1 large one


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