Tag Archives: work

7 years here

3 days ago I got a notification that I have been on WordPress for 7 years. It sure doesn’t feel like 7 years. I’ve blogged for longer, just on different domains. I haven’t been on much lately, mostly due to the fact that I’m preparing for the overwhelming work that is the month of May. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it, but being busy sometimes makes me forget about my blog.

Since my last post, I’ve been up to a few things. Without further ado, I’ll keep you guys posted, a little late, but it’s here now.

2 weeks ago, I went to meet a shiba breeder! I was really nervous, mostly because I’d only had one encounter with the breed prior to this meeting. That was enough to toss me into the rabbit hole that is shiba-information on the internet. After reading a lot, I figured it was no longer enough to just read. Sooner or later, I just had to talk to someone that makes a living out of this magnificent breed. So I mailed a local and reputable breeder and it turned out she has training sessions every two weeks! I signed up faster than I could ever type on a computer keyboard and off I went.

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If there were words of how happy I was, I would use all of them a million times over to describe this picture.

On this grass field, stood probably a dozen shibas. Just standing outside the fence had my heart pounding so hard, I could swear it was up my throat. After two seconds of grasping the reality I found myself in, I walked in. I was greeted by a few dogs and also got to play with a few 6 month old puppies. The breeder and I got to talk a little bit. I told her how I found out about the breed, but I never got to the part where I am very nerdy about the things I’m passionate about. I’ll get there. There’s another training session this Saturday and I’m thinking of bringing Zoe. She’s been telling us that she wants a dog. The funny part? We haven’t told her we decided on getting a dog. The catch is that this week’s training session is on agility, and I’m not sure I can run with a dog with Zoe with me. We’ll see how I’ll solve it. It’ll be fine if Zoe isn’t too clingy.

On another note, the Dutchman showed me a Final Fantasy event. To those unfamiliar with me, I adore the series (another thing I’m nerdy about). During this whole 2h long event, I went full fangirl. I think the only thing that can top my reaction to that event, is if I got to meet sir David Attenborough.
Anyway, I got all happy and the Dutchman went and bought me a PlayStation 4. Yay! Another console added to the family. Now I just gotta finish the thesis before I indulge in all the games I have had to put aside the past few years.

I also applied for a PhD at my home university. I didn’t get it but for some reason, I’m not disappointed at all. I think it’s one of two reasons, or maybe a combination of both, that I don’t feel disappointed at all. 1. I didn’t want it bad enough. Don’t get me wrong, I really would love a PhD, it’s just that the project wasn’t interesting enough to throw me off the planet. And reason 2, that the position should definitely go to the best fitting candidate. I mean, it’s an investment after all. Would you employ someone not fit for the job, if you knew it would cost you approx half a million dollars?

I don’t know why I don’t feel much about it. Maybe because it was a limnic (freshwater) project and not a marine one. My heart does beat for the ocean. I stopped thinking about as to why I don’t feel much over it. Colleagues have asked and everyone has been more bummed out than I have. I don’t know. I love my colleagues and it’s really sweet they care enough to be bummed out for my sake. I’m sure, though, that there is a PhD out there for me. It’ll show, and until then I’m just going to enjoy this ride.

And I’m going out to sea next week, woho! A lot is happening and I’m over the moon about it. That’s about it for now, I can’t remember anything more that’s interesting enough. Okay, maybe that the Batman vs Superman movie was a huge disappointment (2/5). I’ll be back soon, promise!

//c_Cae; back to analysing and writing


One of the reasons I love what I do

Except that I work in the very field I’ve worked hard to get myself educated in, there’s the people I work with that make it all better.  Let me tell you why.

Yesterday was the Swedish equivalent of Mardi Gras. On this day, we enjoy the particular creation called “semla” [sem:lah]. This is a soft (sometimes brioche) bun that’s split in half, filled with an almond mixture and a layer of cream in between the halves. Looks something like this:


They’re real tasty but most the time I can only have one, because just looking at a second one makes my blood vessels clog.

Because I had to leave early on Monday, I didn’t get a chance to have one with the unit meeting the same afternoon. Marie, the best lab engineer one can have, offered to save one for me. I told her it’d be really nice if she could save one, but it wasn’t a necessity. Later that day, this drops into my mail box.

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translation: Hi Helena, I put away one semla for you in Marja’s box. See you tomorrow then!? /M

It still makes me smile like a fool, I absolutely love the love that’s there. Can’t believe I’m this lucky, right?

Then, today my algae lab supervisor mailed me and asked me for some data and to look up some materials for a class. I replied saying that I would have it done tomorrow since I’m home with a sick mini-me. This was her reply:

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translation: Hi Helena, No worries. Take care of your daughter! /Karin

And I’m over the moon. How did I get so lucky, that I get all of this in my life? I still hate the fact that this is almost a closed chapter, but this makes it a much better memory later. It’s simply beautiful, that’s what it is. I’ve said it before, and I do it again. Appreciation is our greatest need, and all of this, just proves those words are true.

//c_Cae; back to writing what I can

Handling data

It’s true what they say, the larger your dataset, the greater the confusion. Here I’ve been for a week now trying to make sense of my data, and how far have I gone? Not very. At first I tried to plot everything and maybe that will make sense. Did it help? A teeny bit, but I still can’t draw any conclusions from them. It doesn’t make things easier that I have about 15 graphs and figures to understand. It’s tough but it’s still incredibly interesting. I’ll keep trying, but it isn’t easy learning three programs at the same time. Sometimes, I just want to fold and lie down for a few days. Somehow, when that happens, it’s always a Friday…


//c_Cae; keep on goin! 

The much anticipated meeting

It went well! I have no idea what happened, but we discussed (read: the others talked, I listened) the project and most of the time I was thinking how out of my depth this feels. I’m probably wasn’t, because if I was, I wouldn’t be there. My supervisor would definitely not have invited me if he felt I wasn’t up for it. Obviously, he sees something that I don’t. Yet. I have a few things to do now and if I am honest, I have no idea how I’ll pull it off.

I want to finish my thesis before April, that’s when we’re going to see John Cleese’s stand-up show in Gothenburg. I want it to be some kind of reward for tackling a very important mile stone of my life. Completing my thesis means my long dream will come true. It feels more real than ever, and I feed off of that fact, which has resulted in a very happy me. Finishing the thesis before April will mean a lot of work and no more slacking weekends. Not really sure if I’m up for that, but I think working just a little during the weekends will be alright. I’m pretty sure the Dutchman will make sure I’ll take my breaks.

Then there’s the lab work and running the lysozyme protocol. Those will be a breeze, since the protocol is something I know by heart now. I did develop it specifically for the cultures we have but it’s nothing I really talk about. Some think I should, but I think I’m too humble to do so. Modifying that protocol means all the cultures will be ready for DNA extraction in less than two weeks after I’ve gotten all my stuff.

At the same time, I have meetings to attend. Small things, really, although I recently got a job as a course assistant. That’s a first. I’m pretty convinced people see things in me that I clearly don’t. It’s exciting, really, but it’s also way beyond my comfort zone. As much as I love new challenges and learning new things, it scares me an equal amount. And I keep telling myself, if you’re not scared of losing it, it’s not worth fighting for.


//c_Cae; 2016 – a big year, indeed

Writing spree

I recently started analysing my collected data and I encountered several problems. Instead of letting the rage take over (trust me, this was hard), I decided to read up on articles I had collected throughout the year and summarise them so I later can write my own thesis article. My keyboard is on fire and things are coming along smoothly. I think I can  pick up on the analytical problems soon.

About the meeting I was going to have on Friday, it was postponed to tomorrow! One of us got sick and thought it would be better to rest up instead of cramming in such an important meeting. Very considerate, and it’s partially why I’m also working at home today. I didn’t initially intended to, but the heavy snow clouds and winds convinced me of staying home. It’s better to, because as much as I love being at the university, I really would dislike being stuck there (there’s no food).

Back to work!

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These are about half of the windows I keep up when working. It’s weird how little that looks like from here.

//c_Cae; another sad day for music today, but at least now Freddie, Bowie and Lemmy has another one to join their never-ending party. Rock in peace.

Exciting times!

Yesterday, I updated my thesis supervisor about how I was doing. First, we caught up from all the holiday festivities. I love how friendly things are at the department. I told him about my progress and he was pretty impressed, telling me I’ve done a splendid job so far. He thinks I’m good, but I think I can do better. Sometimes, I really hate my over-achieving attitude, but it has gotten me places I’ve never been before and quenched my thirst for knowledge.

After some lively discussion on some matters, he invited me to a meeting on Friday. A meeting that is actually outside of my thesis work, but includes ocean acidification. I’d say my knowledge about that matter has increased significantly over the past year. Other than that and that the people involved in it wants to publish a paper about it, I know nothing about this project. I guess I’ll find out this Friday. So for the first time in forever (no, I did not intend to make that sound like taken from Frozen), I am looking forward to Friday.


My face when full of anticipation.

//c_Cae; off to write that thesis report!

First meeting with international senior scientist

I know my last post was about how great my Friday that week was. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know that better things could come my way. Most my days I walk around thinking life doesn’t get better than this, and then, it does. Oh, if this post seem a little bumpy in the writing, it’s because I’m still excited.

Every Thursday, the Biology Institution has a seminar where they invite a guest lecturer to give a talk about their research topic(s). This week was about the invasive cane toad in Australia by Rick Shine from the University of Sydney. By that piece of information, my dear avid readers, you know that it would instantly get my attention. First, it’s an Aussie giving the talk, specifically, from the very university I want to get into. Second, it’s about an invasive species, and toxic at that. That really floats my boat. I went to the seminar like any person waiting to be let into the chocolate factory.

My thesis supervisor, Johan, was Shine’s host here, and there were an opportunity to meet up with Shine after his talk. I doubted for a few days, but decided to go anyway because if his topic already got me fired up enough to jump to the moon and back, there would be no harm to go meet the man. So I signed up. After I saw Johan at the talk and got myself introduced, he was super-excited over my interest. Understandable, I was basically jumping up and down.

I only got 30min with Shine and it was too little! I didn’t even get the chance to ask him my questions on his toads. After he heard about my thesis on publication bias, that was all we talked about. For 25 minutes, we were all over the climate change debate and biases. I could tell he was about has excited about my topic as I was with his. He even wants to read my thesis! That got me, and Johan got excited as well and told me we have to publish my work.

Hold on. Wait a minute, what? Publishing work is great, but I’m only half way through my analyses. Yes, I have some interesting indications already, but they’re inconclusive because not even half the data set is analysed yet. I really don’t want to get too excited in advance, but this is exactly what I wanted to hear. It confirms to me that Johan has faith in my work and so I need to work harder (is that possible?). I have a feeling this opens up a lot of doors for me. I’ll keep my eyes on that PhD door, though. It has to open soon.

This was great news, and probably the best Friday so far. This and the fact that my best friend in LA landed a huge job makes it all better.

//c_Cae; high on life!