Tag Archives: personal

I’ll be better next time, I promise!

So, how much time has passed since my last update? Basically half a year, I think!… This is definitely not going according to plan 🙂 .

Anyway, my last update was immediately after I handed in my thesis (end of April). I started my new job as a post-doc researcher the week after. The new job is still at the same place, with the same people — but with additional responsibilities (and without the pressure of a thesis to write…)!

I had a slight break in between, though – my dad came to visit and we did some sightseeing (Dover Castle in extremely foggy conditions, but we powered it through anyway – I’m becoming too English 🙂 ) and at the end of his stay I had my first coastal regatta (@ Worthing) of the season (well, there had been one in Deal in early April but that didn’t count). Funnily enough, we ended up winning our Nov 4+ category that day (unfortunately that was the _only_ win I had during the whole season – we did get quite a few third places, though!).

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Some of the HBARC squad after prize-giving in Worthing regatta! (photo by M. Marques)

So yes, most of my summer weekends were spent on several different beaches around the Kent and East Sussex coast – with all culminating on the South Coast Championships which took place precisely at Herne Bay! It has definitely been fun, if tiresome at times.

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We like the rough water! 🙂 (although in my opinion rough water is fine for sweep rowing, not so much for going out on a single scull! But I guess I just need to get some proper sea legs…) (photo by J Dining)

One other ‘big thing’ that happened over the summer was our house move. We finally moved out of the student digs in Canterbury we were in to a nicer place in Herne Bay. Not only am I now only 10 minutes away from the clubhouse by bike but we now have a proper garage and workshop where I can work on my bikes and other assorted projects! (it also has a nice kitchen, with a 5-burner gas hob and everything! Luxury…)

Oh, and there is also the viva. Yes, that should actually have been the first thing on the list, but I am trying to do it in a chronological fashion (it does make more sense in my head than in the actual text…). So yes, according to my supervisor, when confronted with the size of my thesis (obviously… 😉 ) my external examiner required the whole 3 months to read it. (he did also say that my thesis was probably the heaviest item in his luggage – but I blame the university policies for that, which prevented me from printing on both sides of the paper, making a 250-page book as thick as the Bible!).

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Everything ready for the viva! In the UK the PhD viva is only attended by the two examiners (one internal, and one external) and obviously the candidate. Makes it for a more one-to-one conversation; and even though I had prepared a 30-minute presentation, that ended up being an informal conversation about my work. And no, I did not bribe my examiners with Lidl biscuits, although they were quite welcome 🙂

Anyway, I’m digressing… so, my viva. It took place on the 2nd of August, and everything went according to plan – I had booked a nicer room (our group’s meeting room, which has a proper meeting table, AV facilities and also the kettle & coffee maker: these two are very important!), refreshed my memory by reading the thesis and checking relevant papers (and spotted quite a few mistakes in the process – outch!), so everything was properly prepared. The questioning wasn’t that bad, really – I was just surprised to be asked to compute matrix multiplications and simple signal theory concepts – and in the end I got out with minor corrections (could have been just typographical but since I wanted to change some diagrams, they allowed for that a bit more time). I felt quite honored to be told by my external examiner (who is a very big name in the field, and the editor of one of the biggest journals in the field as well!) that he had actually learned something from my thesis. Amazing stuff, especially considering he started his academic career more or less when I was born!

After properly celebrating with my workmates, my supervisor, and Sally of course, August went on, with a couple more regattas, followed by a lot of water sessions in preparation for the South Coast Champs. By then our crew was coming together – there were sessions when the boat felt really, really good, timing- and balance-wise. It was a long time coming but we felt really happy when it finally happened!

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At the end of a training session with my mate Carlos on the coxless pair. There are few better ways of finishing the day… 🙂 (photo by N Tricks)

Naturally, during all this time my research activities were carried on – we finalised a paper which is now going to be re-submitted soon (issues with reviewers being silly, nothing new there), and I’ve developed new systems, new software, and obtained lots of pretty pictures in the process. Hopefully if I become a bit more committed to updating this thing more images will eventually surface here…

I also bought a new road bike that month. It was a bit of an impulse buy – we had gone to Halfords to buy L-plates for Sally’s car so she could practice and naturally my gaze was diverted to the bike section, where I spotted a big discount on old stock. Ended up getting a low-end Carrera (but with carbon forks and half-decent wheels) for £199 – quite happy with it so far, although I haven’t done any very long rides with it yet (mostly 20 miles-ish each so far). The N+1 rule does not apply here, at least not until we have our own place and not have to worry about moving everything, so I had to get rid of one of my bikes 🙁 . But I wasn’t really riding the hybrid Raleigh that much, especially considering that the bike itself was a bit too small for me! Ended up selling it to one of my co-workers, which was probably the best thing I could have done – it went to a loving home and I still see it from time to time. 😉

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My two roadies enjoying the sun. I took this picture after finishing fitting a new fork on the Granada, since the original one had been damaged during a head-on collision with another cyclist earlier in the summer.

In late August I flew to Porto for a mini-holiday with my family, followed by the customary week-long Physics summer school at my old university, where once again I mentored the LEGO robots project (this was probably the last time I’ll be involved in this, though – I think it is time to move on and let new faces take over and create a whole new project!). Away from my crewmates and the training sessions, and with the Championship looming, I ran and I cycled as much as possible, and I was treated to some nice rides with nice people, as the picture below shows!… 🙂

Me and my mate Cris after a long-ish bike ride along the seafront and riverside. Great time!

Me and my mate Cris after a long-ish bike ride along the seafront and riverside. Brilliant time!

September came and went, with a very welcome mini-break with Sally to Portugal – it was her first time there, and we had a very tightly-packed schedule, so things were a bit hectic. Still, we enjoyed the countryside, Porto, the river, and the nice food (not to mention having my family around). And on Easter next year we will return for more!

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In the Douro valley with Mum, Dad and Sally!

After returning to the UK, winter slowly started to set in. We fought for a bit, still had our Indian summer for a while, not really wanting to swap the summer with the winter clothes or turn the central heating on but we ended up capitulating on early November (although the  icy weather only really started around here last week!). And with November a few more things appeared in the horizon – I became qualified as a session rowing coach (I have completed a British Rowing course – the first one on the coaching ladder – alongside a few people from HBARC and Spitfire), and I had my graduation ceremony where I finally became a doctor of philosophy in Physics (woo, fancy title! 🙂 ).

Naturally, for this momentous occasion I had to have my family over, so my parents came to visit, and after graduation day we took a couple of days off to show them around. Despite the torrential rain in one of the days (there you go, England!) we still enjoyed ourselves.

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Me and my parents at the Cathedral on graduation day. (photo by S Makin)

And now it is finally December, and Christmas decorations are sprouting here and there, there’s Christmas music on the radio, and today I bought my very first Christmas jumper! 🙂 This year I’m actually spending Christmas and New Year in England, for the first time in my life. My brother and sister are actually spending Christmas with us (which is also going to be a first for them), so I’m quite looking forward to the festive season. But there’s so much to finish before that happens… better get on with it, and hope I still have some time to keep this updated. At least let’s hope it won’t be another 6-7 months until the next update… 😉

Wrapping up the year!

And here we are, with less than 1 hour left of 2015! I should have updated this sooner, but I have been busy enjoying my holidays 🙂

So yes, my last update was on the beginning of November! Since then, well, I’ve been busying myself with my routine of work+rowing+sleep+repeat, with the occasional odd event.

I’ve also changed up some gears with regards to the always-present thesis: the deadline is looming ahead, I’ve already submitted the relevant bureaucracy and everything, so the thing needs to be ready for submission before the end of April! But, until then, I still have a paper to submit, a conference to attend (with a presentation to prepare… 😛 ) and hopefully some last results which may still find their way into one of the experimental chapters 🙂 .

With regards to Photonics West, I had some fantastic news back in November! As I was getting ready to head to the boathouse for a nice early sculling session I checked my e-mail and found that SPIE has awarded me a travel scholarship to attend Photonics West! (and the sculling session that followed was also brilliant, great conditions!) Pretty chuffed with all of this, it is, after all, the “holy grail” of Optics conferences! 😀

Just before I headed back to Portugal I participated on a running race at the University, which followed part of the Canterbury parkrun course, the particularity of which was that the runners were encouraged to dress as Santa. They had prizes for the first male and female finishers but also to the best dressed Santa – and, guess what? I won the “best Santa” category! 🙂 (apparently I was considered a “sporty Santa” with my red running shorts… 😛 )

Right, so I returned to Porto thinking I was heading to my second Summer, and I wasn’t too mistaken – some of the days here have been quite similar, weather-wise, to those I had in Kent throughout August! If it wasn’t for the shorter days one could even be mistaken…

With about 1k to go here... still smiling, so I was definitely taking it easy! :)

With about 1k to go here… still smiling, so I was definitely taking it easy! 🙂

And my time in Porto has been spent between catching-up dinners with my mates, training for the 10k Sao Silvestre (the performance in it wasn’t that stellar, well away from my PB, but this year I decided to take it easy and enjoy myself…) and working a bit on my thesis (almost finished a chapter already! 🙂 ) .

Right, and because this is the last post of the year and I want to use all the clichés available, I will look back a bit on what 2015 brought to me: I met some fantastic people in many different places, heard some very inspiring stories, had fun, worked, sculled, rowed, ran, pedalled, photographed, read, etc, etc! (these items are not listed in any particular order!)  I have to thank everyone that made this year special, and I look forward to having more memorable moments in the years to come. (I am already practising the “Acknowledgments” section in my thesis – good thing that does not count towards my thesis page limit, otherwise I’d be in trouble! 🙂 )

OK, over and out! See you in 2016! 🙂

A very large update… so large, Windows would be proud of it!

I have to admit, I had to check my last post to remember the last time I posted here. “Update blog” is always there in my to-do list but it has been continuously postponed due to more urgent tasks needing to be addressed.

Finally today I got some time to kill while I’m performing a clean install of F22 on my laptop so I figured I might as well get on with it!

So… my last post seems to be related to a little bike ride I did to East Blean Woods as I was recovering from a silly knee injury. Well, the knee is all better now (I’ve even managed to drop my parkrun PB to 20:04 afterwards, that’s all the proof I need!), and the bike featured on the previous post is currently lying in the shed with no chain and an un-matched wheel.

Effectively the week after I wrote that post I came across a listing on Freecycle of “two boys racing bikes” – I had a quick look and something didn’t add up as the proportions seemed to suggest they were of an adult frame. So I wrote to the poster and asked about the frame size, to what she replied “well they were 17-18 year olds, they are not small bikes!”. I set the wheels in motion then, stormed back home, fitted the bike rack in the car and drove away to get them 🙂 And although they needed some refurbishment I ended up with a pair of nice old road bikes – a 1986 Raleigh Granada and a mid-80s Puch Medallion (we were unable to trace the model to the year yet). The Puch needs a lot more done to it, but the Granada is now my everyday bike, after giving it the “cheapo” treatment – I only had to shell out a bit more (~ £50 more) because I wanted 700c wheels to use my Schwalbe Marathons in them, and the Granada came with the older 27” size. So I basically got a road bike for next to nothing! (it does have some surface rust but nothing too major – plus it acts as a theft deterrent 🙂 )

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The Granada with the Reculver towers as a backdrop. The return journey was a bit costly with some headwind! 🙂

It is a bit big, though (25” from the bottom bracket to the seatpost! Those “boys” were not small, definitely way over 6ft tall !), so we’ve changed the stem to make the bike more compatible with someone of my stature. Although it isn’t too bad – I have some clearance from the top tube when I have to stop, that’s all I need!

Right, and a week after this happened I headed off to Porto with my two housemates, in what was supposed to be a 2-day conference followed by a nano-holiday (3 days, plus the weekend). The conference was all right, although the chairs in the lecture theatre could have been a bit more comfortable (!) , and I had the chance to network with a lot of Physics PhD students in Portugal doing a whole range of experimental research (the symposium was limited to Engineering Physics submissions). Another presentation under my belt, which is always good – you only realise how well you are within a given subject when you have to explain it to other people, especially those who are non-specialists.

Canoeing on the Douro! It has been 3 years since I last took the canoe out on the river - I was missing that!

Canoeing on the Douro! It has been 3 years since I last took the canoe out on the river – I was missing that!

After the conference I took out my scientist hat and put on my tour guide one. It was a short holiday, but one that I can actually call a holiday in the sense of the word – we did things, we went out and visited stuff. Ranging from canoeing down the Douro to a nice cycle ride round the Gaia seafront, topped up with a nice meal at a seaside restaurant, it was really nice. (well, the bikes could have been better! I really need to keep a good bike in Portugal, but for that to happen I need to get rid of the bad ones first… )

We then came back and I went straight back to work (the following day, at least – we got home quite late as we had an evening flight, plus a 2h drive down to Canterbury from Stansted). A lot of things awaited me – a couple of papers we sent for peer-reviewing, including one which has been basically stuck for the best part of an year (through different journals, not-so-competent reviewers and a franken-manuscript which could have definitely been written a bit better…), plus the usual experimental work and the thesis writing (I intend to have a bit more written till September, but first I need to find a way of marrying all the different projects and experiments I’ve been involved with and getting a coherent output – which can be difficult when you work with incoherent light all the time! (ha ha)

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Cycling in the Peak District with James!

Little breaks are always welcome, though. I do my share of recreational (ie, non-competitive) sports, namely my runs, cycles and sculls, but sometimes it is quite good to just disconnect in full for a whole weekend (at least for now, while my thesis submission date is still a bit far away). I had the “excuse” of helping out a mate of mine who had a job interview up in Nottinghamshire and thought a weekend trip to the Peak District wouldn’t hurt, especially now that I had a nice road bike to explore it with! So we had a nice weekend where we did about 60 miles between two days (distance-wise it wasn’t a big deal, there were a few big hills along the way but it was mostly to appreciate and absorb the surroundings!). If it hadn’t been for the breakdown we had on the way back it would have been perfect – we ended up on the side of the A1 in the middle of Cambridgeshire with a broken clutch cable. 😛

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Beautiful scenery and nice, quiet cycle routes. Perfect!

The annoying bit about it was that I knew I could fit a replacement one myself, it was a very simple thing, but I needed to have an auto parts shop open (on a Sunday, good luck!) which had the cable in stock. So in the end we just had the car recovered back to Canterbury (thank goodness for the breakdown cover I kept paying for but never had to use, until that moment at least!) and a few days and £15 later I had the new cable perfectly connected and working. At least it was better than the blow in the exhaust which created another blow in my finances (a few days before the trip to the Peak District I found a big hole in the middle section of the exhaust, £100 for a full replacement… but I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it, in the past two years I’ve been considering replacing it but waiting until I had a fail on my MoT test, which surprisingly didn’t happen!)

Habemus clutch cable! So much grief for a £15 part...

Habemus clutch cable! So much grief for a £15 part…

Anyway, all good now, this weekend has been a bit quiet… I helped out in the parkrun doing the lead bike (I originally wanted to run, but I’ve managed to do something to my shins as a consequence of a 10k race I ran last weekend and after which I didn’t stretch properly…), which is now a doddle with the Granada, which is significantly lighter than my old Oakland 🙂 . After that I went to a bike jumble in Faversham where I got some nice cheap bike parts for the soon-to-be refurbishment operation of both the Puch and the Oakland (still don’t know what I will be doing with the latter, though…), and in the evening I decided to go for a nice bike ride, and along the way I thought about visiting a friend of mine living in Herne Bay, which turned out all right if it hadn’t been for the fact that I didn’t bring my bike lights (as I originally expected to return home in an hour’s time), hence the return journey was a bit scary – I did have my red one in the rear, but nothing in the front! Anyway, I’ve managed to clock almost 30k in a bit more than an hour – not bad, especially considering that I had to use some shared paths which slowed me down a bit.

Parkrunning... but on a bike. :)

Parkrunning… but on a bike. 🙂 These guys are fast! (thanks Gaby Bates for the photo!)

Right, now the laptop finished its clean install – I now have to get all the data and things reinstalled onto it. This is going to be a long day… on a final note, let’s see whether I can keep up with the updates in here in a more frequent fashion!

Spring is getting here!…

Indeed it is, even though in a windy and overcast day like today it seems hard to visualise that. And with Spring we have the unavoidable Spring cleans, it is also a good time to perform a situation check on how things are going and try to improve them if necessary.

Last time I’ve written a “proper” (ie, long) post was basically at the end of my Christmas holidays (that was back in January…). Since then the days have been getting progressively longer and milder (I cannot use the word “warm”, that one is reserved to Portuguese weather!) and the term is basically finishing! I’ve finished my lab classes, even though I still have a sizeable pile of lab reports to mark 🙁 .

My lab work has been progressing well, I now have good results to communicate, with a couple of publications being prepared at the moment. Thesis-wise things have been stationary as I’ve been finding it difficult to juggle lab work+classes+marking+a bit of personal time, adding anything else to that mix would blow things up, I guess.

And with regards to that “bit of personal time”, I’ve been trying to make the most of the outdoor conditions, because even if it is not “warm” (but mild) one can still enjoy oneself and do some nice things. I’ve been doing a lot of sculling lately (as it was probably evident from some pictures I’ve posted here not too long ago…), having finally sorted out the lightweight sculling single which was being refurbished before I left for my Christmas break (and what a great boat it is!…).

I also managed to convince some of my lab colleagues to join me in a 10k race which will be taking place in Whitstable over the May bank holiday. Given that two of them were not regularly doing sports we had to take it really easy in the beginning, but we’ve already managed to do 10k in ~1h with no stops, hence it is starting to look good!

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In February we also had a nice day trip to Belgium. While the weather wasn’t as spectacular as the same time in the previous year when we went down to Boulogne-sur-Mer it was still decent enough to allow us to visit Brugges and buy a lot of fantastic Belgium beer!

And now I’m looking forward to a couple of days at home. The weather forecast looks very promising – but to be honest anything usual for Porto at this time of the year would be better than what I’m currently looking at outside my window – the sky is absolutely white, the trees are moving like crazy and one just does not want to leave the house at all (I don’t intend to do it… and I have plenty of things to keep me busy here anyway!)

OK, break’s over. Let’s get back to work!…

On trail mixes…

IMG_20150214_225537This is a remnant of my trip to America last October – I’ve been having this quite regularly but it is still far from empty! This particular mix (spicy tex mex) was one of the most “civilised” ones, with mostly nuts and seeds – but I have seen similarly sized jars with everything including sweets and MM’s in it! For someone who is only used to see seeds, dry fruit and eventually some sugared bits of fruit in it that was a bit of a revelation 🙂

So, yeah…

… I’m back in the island. (I definitely should commit myself to improve the diversity of my blog post titles! 🙂 ) Actually, I’ve been back for a while now (couple of weeks) but things have been hectic (predictably…) and sitting here for 10 mins writing a blog post requires the right state of mind (I’m ditching my 10k-erg session for this, BTW… 😉 ).

Definitely missing Porto and everybody there, even though I have already bought my Easter flights and I should be back in a couple of months. It gets better as time goes by, but it always feels like I’m leaving everything there in “suspended animation” from my part, only to realise whenever I return that it wasn’t the case at all.

Anyway, enough with the sentimentalisms – progress, moving on. I finally finished my first batch of ~60-70 lab reports I had to mark (great Xmas present, I should say), went further regarding a few publications and experimental work we’ve been doing but I am no closer with regards to knowing what I want to do next. (well, I need to finish my PhD dissertation, but I knew that already 🙂 )

We had snow for a morning here – hooray! I’m still mesmerised with the sight of falling snow (being a southerner I had never seen snow falling until I came to the UK – in Porto it snows every 20-odd years or so), and the ground looked so white and pristine afterwards. Unfortunately the weather is still too warm (tell that to the people back home! 😛 ) for the snow to settle, and by the time I went home there was no more of it.

Apart from that, things have been quiet, just a succession of days where work is followed by a lovely bike commute home (even with these cold, dark days!). After spending 3 weeks home with my family I find it quite relaxing to have my own sorting out to do and my own meals to prepare – I would have found the sheer thought of that absolutely daunting three years ago!

Right, all done for now. Let’s see if I will be able to update this more frequently over the coming weeks, probably with smaller (and less introspective) posts. Although this has been one of those ‘politician-style’ promises…

Wrapping up the year!…

So, here we are, 2014 almost over (indeed it is 2015 already in some parts of the globe!) and I have yet to write my year wrapping-up post in here. Since I have better things to do than to be here on the computer let’s get started! 🙂

2014 was good to me, broadly speaking – looking back, I had some fun, visited a few places, ran a few races, and progressed in my work. Definitely not a bad year, and I dare say it might have been one of the quietest and most relaxed I’ve had so far (and yes, I am a PhD student, I should be stressed!). I reckon this is the calm before the storm… as 2015 creeps in, I can already see this is going to be a year of decisions – I have to start looking beyond my thesis and my PhD as I’m due to submit my thesis at the end of this coming year, and I have to write the aforementioned thesis, too.

Where am I going to go? What am I going to be working on, 1 1/2 years from now? Those are very legitimate and interesting questions, to which I have no answer at the moment, unfortunately. I’m hoping that by this coming Summer I already have some of the answers.

So yes, 2014 was a piece of cake compared to what is coming!… 🙂 To sum it up, a terrific 2015 to all of my readers, may this coming year bring you plenty of great accomplishments!

Here we go again…

Here we go again...

So yeah, after that amazing week in Arizona I’m back in cold, damp England. Well, I can’t really complain – much to my amazement it was quite warm on my arrival, so warm that I was actually roasting inside my car while stuck on yet another M25 traffic jam while returning from the airport!

But the weather here is like a Heaviside step function – Friday evening was still amazing (17 degrees C at 8 PM!!), and by end of Saturday the cold, the wind, and the rain muscled themselves in. As I’m writing this I have outside a balmy 6 degrees C and 95% RH. Anyway, this is not the Met Office so I should probably stop talking about the weather! 🙂

Going back to my trip, I have yet to organise my 1000+ photos I (with some help from the front seat passenger) took whilst on the trip to the Grand Canyon and the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. It is going to take a while but it is going to be worthy, there are some spectacular and exquisite images in there.

Right now I’ve been busying myself with teaching, preparing student chapter activities, researching and thinking about more potential research. Obviously still trying to cram a few runs and sculls in the meantime, especially with S Silvestre so close by (and I have to say that I’m being rubbish at preparing myself for it – I miss the training sessions I was having with my rowing mates back in Porto, here I feel I don’t push the same!!).

Finally got some time to sort out the website and make it look the way I wanted – I feel it is better this way, first time visitors will not go straight into my blog content, which might be a good idea, especially if people from a more “serious kind” end up in these pages!

OK, I think it is time for bed now – tomorrow is going to be a big day, especially since we’ll be hosting a joint colloquium with a few other research groups from different schools within the university. It has all the potential to be quite interesting and to foster potential collaborations between people with a broad range of interests and skills, which is something we definitely lack and that I did see in abundant quantities in the States (more on that in a later post…).

Getting back to it!

So yeah, I’m back to Canterbury after a much-needed holiday. Too be absolutely honest, it wasn’t much of a relaxing holiday (with teaching, half-marathons and stuff), but then again it was enough for me to wind down a bit in terms of my lab work (in essence I had a holiday from the lab!).
And now I’m back to “normality” – after more than two years in Canterbury (and over a year and a bit in my current place) I feel I’m already getting slightly rooted to this place, and being in Porto feels foreign, almost as if I’m just visiting from a tourist point of view!

Even though I have just arrived a couple of weeks ago, soon I’ll be off again – I managed to be able to attend a big international conference which is not in Porto (because I’ve done two of those already…). This time I’m off to Tucson, Arizona for Frontiers in Optics/Laser Science 2014, where I’ll be presenting some of the work published earlier in the year (and depending on the outcome of the post-deadline abstract we submitted earlier this week, perhaps even a bit more! But I’m not holding my hopes too high…).

It feels really exciting, as I’ve never been in the States before (actually I’ve never travelled outside Europe!), and this conference in particular seems to have people from virtually all over the world (I’ve been in touch with a few other participating students in order to arrange cheaper accommodation and they do come from basically everywhere, ranging from the United States themselves to the Far East!). And, unlike the two other international conferences I’ve participated so far (EWOFS back in 2010 and RIAO/OPTILAS last year) this time I’m actually giving a talk! Even though I’m quite accustomed to public speaking this is quite a daunting task, especially since there might be some top “celebrities” in our area of research in the room.

So yeah, it will be fun. And after the conference I’ll head to the Grand Canyon for a couple of days – very looking forward for the drive, even though it will be quite a long one (380 miles just from Tucson to Page, by the Glen Canyon Dam). Better get some appropriate soundtrack for it!
And on the meantime I’ve just been busying myself with more lab work (some exciting things and collaborations seem to be happening, with a lot of potential research avenues to explore! Although I will need to start forging a concise path soon, as I only have 1 year of PhD left…), teaching (can you believe that the undergrads are back already?? Soon there will be tonnes of marking as well… 🙁 ) and lots of rowing and running (the weather has been relatively kind to me, even though it got significantly colder over the previous weekend!). And I have to prepare Sao Silvestre – it is already in December and my goal for this year (which seems a bit too overly-ambitious) is to go under 40 minutes… (at least I need have a better time than my 43 minutes and something from last year!)

OK, I’m off! Catch up soon.

And… done!

Already completely recovered from this past Sunday, which is surprisingly good! (today I’m already going out for a “light” training session, just to get the blood flowing)

Me and my half-marathon partner Diogo. Here we were about 5k to the finish line!

Me and my half-marathon partner Diogo. Here we were about 5k to the finish line!

The race was great, weather-wise it was a bit dodgy at first with some thunderstorms and the skies blackening up but when the time came the weather actually cooperated! Only a little breeze and relatively cool temperatures (esp. when compared to last year, although it did not prevent me from having some fantastic tanlines – see below!). This year I did most of the 21.1k accompanied by one of my rowing buddies (he did push a bit further at the end) which helped keeping the pace constant. We were averaging about 4:27/km during the first half of the course, dropping slightly to 4:28/km in the end which enabled an overall time of 1h35m01s (656th out of about 4400: not bad!) – more than 12′ less than last year!

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I’m very happy with this, although this now means that the stakes are now much higher for next year – I need to go under 1h30m! 🙂

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Here we are, more than ready to do those 21k!

Later on I’ll be having a very well-deserved francesinha with all the people that have trained with me. And this coming weekend we have our annual river descent, so I’m very looking forward to that too. And then… I say goodbye to Portugal, as I’m only back for Xmas (and S Silvestre… 🙂 ). Definitely a good send-off, and I am now fully energised for another term of research and teaching!

This year it didn't turn out defocused but there's still a finger in front of it! :)

This year it didn’t turn out defocused but there’s still a finger in front of it! 🙂