Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The journey begins. . .

Hello! My name is Harrison Vieth, and I’m a PhD candidate in Psychology. I study language production, specifically the nature of lexical access. While my ego requests, nay demands that I continue with an exposition about how wonderfully accomplished and amazing I am (feel free to insert sniggers as you see fit) what I shall instead write of is a general account of an ordinary day in the PhD life.

Having awoken to discover that I’d had roughly 4 hours of sleep, (due in part to not being able to sleep, but also due to an obsession with a certain video game or two) the immediate concern is the acquisition of coffee. If you saw some disheveled, semi-zombified homunculus of a 20-something year-old shambling about the SBS building or at Merlos last Thursday, that was almost certainly me. As you might be able to tell, I love coffee to an amount that many regard as being slightly concerning if not at a clinical significance just yet.

At the moment, I have several deadlines to meet. The first and most powerful is a marking deadline. I tutor a second-year course, and the first set of assignments has returned and thus we tutors must nose-to-the-grindstone and mark. For the more painfully capable tutors *coughNoniecough* this is the course of a weekend's work. For those of us far less practiced, it takes a week or so, especially given I have a near OCD-like tendency to go back and check things. Over, and over. . . .and over again. While I am told this is a normal symptom of New Tutor Syndrome, it's still painful. Still, the pleasure one gets from tutoring outweighs this, for the most part, save when one must resist the consequent urge to take some kind of non-lethal firearm to my next tutorial in order to more forcefully educate the philistine undergrads in my care of the finer points of concision and clear writing. Of course, I wrote some shockers in my undergrad career and thus my rampant hypocrisy remains checked for the foreseeable future.

I'm also designing my third experiment, still in its infancy as a result of tutor deadlines looming. The nature of the behavioural experiments I run (to be the subject of the next blog post) requires a great deal of fine-tuning the stimulus, and thus this week and the following week will be finalising that. While it does sound like most of what I do involves sitting in front of a computer screen, it's just as tiring in many ways as any other activity, and also just as fulfilling.

Alas, the candle burns down and I must return to my marking, but fear not (if you were afeared in the first place), I shall almost certainly write again in the near future about any number of things, including experimental testing, data analysis, and the various legal proceedings involved in rationalizing a marking-based psychotic breakdown.


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