ou want to hear my latest excuse for not having posted here for ages? This time it’s not me that’s been sick (or the DearDiary site), but my computer. I discovered a nasty malware infection on it, and as removing it looked like it was going to be a long and involved process (it was – I ended up having to muck around in the Registry, which is always scary!), I decided to just leave the computer turned off until the weekend when I could look at it properly. Anyway, I *think* I’ve managed to remove everything now – and more importantly, I think I’ve identified which software download it snuck in on, so I’ve removed that as well for good measure.
I couldn’t even sneak a post or two in from work, because we’ve been flat out this week, mostly with preparing the case to have our programme put on a more permanent footing (because otherwise, our contracts all run out at the end of next week, and the archive effectively shuts down). It’s one of those annoying situations where upper management all agrees that the archive is incredibly valuable and needs to keep going, but the university is so short of money that suddenly turning five fixed-term contracts into permanent jobs is a very big commitment, so we need to prove that we’re giving the university a good return on its investment.
So all of us on the management team have been running around like mad for weeks (and especially so this week) trying to gather evidence and write the business case. Which culminated yesterday with me spending the entire afternoon holed up with the Director helping him do a final proofread the document (I told him I was going to take much pleasure in telling everyone how many times I had to correct the grammar of a Professor of English 😉 ) and get the 20-odd appendices in order (and in triplicate). I had to leave sometime after 5, when Harvestbird texted me to say she was downstairs waiting for me, by which time every surface in the Director’s office was completely covered in piles of paper from our efforts to check and sort everything, and we were both approaching panic mode. I did feel bad for leaving him in that state, but we had almost finished (and I didn’t want to miss the talk Harvestbird and I were going to, or leave her waiting down in the carpark for too long), so hopefully he got the last few bits sorted ok.
Anyway, despite the looming deadline, things aren’t quite as dire as they seem, because the most likely outcome is that our contracts will be temporarily extended (again…) so that senior management have sufficient time to make their decision, and even if the absolute worst happens and they shut us down, I at least still have my old job to go back to (sort of – it’s very complicated, but on paper at least I’m only seconded into this role, and my old job still exists. I’d be taking quite a big pay cut going back to it though, and the job has changed so much over the past few years that I don’t think I’d enjoy it much now. There’s some other complicating factors too, but this is a bit too public a space to discuss them). So yeah, at least I won’t be out on the streets, but I’d still much prefer to be permanently transferred into my current job. And of course, the rest of the team don’t have the luxury of another job to go back to, so we’ve all been feeling pretty anxious – there’s a lot riding on this business case!
The talk Harvestbird and I went to was a Royal Society lecture on invisibility. The speaker took a really interesting approach, combining an account of the scientific quest for invisibility (and the current state of the research) with a cultural and literary history of the idea, and the moral values that have been attached to it. It was a fascinating talk, covering so many areas, and the perfect intersection of Harvestbird’s literary geekery and my sciencey geekery, so we had much discussion of it afterwards as we searched for somewhere to have dinner (always a challenge in the central city on a Friday night – though some great new places have opened, and a few old favourites returned, there’s still few enough that they’re all packed from 6-ish onwards, making getting a table anywhere tricky. We walked the length of Victoria Street and back without finding anything, and ended up settling for the Coffee House (which actually was pretty good, but it wasn’t what we’d had in mind when we set out)). Radio NZ were recording the talk, so if you’re local, keep an ear out for it – I assume it’ll be on National Radio.
I went to another talk earlier in the week too – the Linguistics department are hosting a visiting scholar who’s been doing research on a dialect spoken in an obscure corner of the Solomon Islands. She gave a really interesting lecture on the challenges of doing fieldwork in such a remote place, and some of the interesting syntactical features she’s discovering. Cool stuff, and totally inspiring me to get back into study (at the same time as reminding me of how much work is involved – I’m both looking forward to and dreading the start of semester in July).
Right, Parsnips has just appeared and is trying to force her way onto my lap, so it must be time to get the fire going and warm up the house a bit. Had the first really decent frost of the year this morning – winter is definitely on its way!