Friday, 29 January 2016

What do I do all day? (Friday)

At last! The week comes to an end and I can play Skyrim non-stop til Monday!


I am sand-blasted by gale-force winds on the way to catch the shuttle-bus this morning, but make it safely to the Kings Building of the University of Edinburgh with my cargo of fossil Tritylodont teeth intact.

First thing's first - hot tea. With a full mug and a thermos for refills, I set to work answering all the emails I've been putting off since Monday (travelling is a great excuse to procrastinate). After a tedious 45 minutes photocopying chapters from a book the library won't let me keep any longer, I meet up with my friend Amy, who is currently reconstructing the brain-case of a Tyrannosaur for her Masters project.

In the afternoon I make my way to the Zoology department for the practical I'm demonstrating on today - the dissection of a lugworm. For those new to the term demonstrator (we didn't have them at all in my undergrad degree, so it was new to me), demonstrators are basically assistants to the lecturer or class leader. Their job is to support the undergraduate students with their learning, keeping them on track and guiding them to the answers (as opposed to just giving them the answers). It's fun because it's not as formal as being a lecturer, and you always learn new things, no matter how much you think you know about a subject. There is a team of us for this class, and we have a great time cutting up dead things with the students.
The tools for the job.
Dead lugworms, ready for dissection.
It turned out that one of the lugworms being sliced up in the practical was a rare species, only differentiated from the common lugworms (Arenicola marina) by the number of segments in the head region. Lucky for us (and decidedly unlucky for the lugworm) it had been collected for dissection alongside the regular worms. You can always rely on biologists to find rare species... and cut them up for further study (though I should add that although it may be rare, it's in no way endangered or protected).

By 5pm I was in desperate need of a coffee. On the bus ride home I found that the podcast I'd recorded with the up-and-coming radio presenter Stuart Russell had gone live on his website. A nerve-racking hour commenced of listening to check I hadn't said anything too stupid (I don't think I did... you can be the judge!)

Palaeontology Revealed -
And now here I am, finishing a week of blogs, sipping some Balvenie double-cask, and eyeing the PS3 controller. Skyrim, here I come.

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