The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
Thursday, 1 February 2007
Someone called me a dilettante today.

I totally understand WHY they called me that, because I expressed an interest in ‘not settling down in one topic’.

You see, when you do a PhD, you put blinkers on (as well as strapping yourself to a bed of nails upon which you lie each night, further burdening your load with a concrete slab of ‘guilt’ tethered to your chest) and narrow your field of vision down to one particular thing. In my case, it was the epidemiology of Campylobacter jejuni in commercial broiler flocks in New Zealand.

Pretty specific, no?

Then I spent two years working on the surveillance of outbreaks. Not outbreaks themselves, you’ll note, but looking at how many there were, where they were etc. I also did some work on genotyping strains of TB. Not DOING the genotyping, just talking about how it will be a good idea in a few years time, if you’ll please continue to fund the project. Still, it was all reasonably specialised, as well as “not really what I wanted to do”.

When they interviewed us for EPIET, one of the main questions they asked was, “what area do you want to work in?”. You can pick between things like, “gastrointestinal diseases”, “respiratory infections”, “sexually-transmitted infections”, “nosocomial infections”, “zoonoses”, “vector-borne diseases”, “vaccine-preventable diseases” etc.. You can even get even more specific if you so deside: TB, FLU, HIV. Those diseases often get their own special departments.

But what if you are vehemently against specialising? What if you think you’re not much good at specialising (because you get bored too quickly, too easily) and are better placed in a position which coordinates, which has to know a little bit about each of those family of diseases, and see over-arching common goals etc. That way the knowledge that person has can possibly be applied to new situations as they arise, and can see things from a fresh perspective, or can see where efficiencies can be made due to undertaking similar tasks across all programs (you follow?).

So what I really really really want (apart from zigga zigga ahh) is a job that allows me to do that. Is that a crime!? I came into epidemiology with the understanding that my attention span is short (almost to the point of ridiculous) but that I love learning new stuff, and preferably under pressure. The idea was that this field would provide a variety of disease problems/issues/situations and I would constantly have to learn how to deal with them, because they wouldn’t be like each other.

When it appears that, in reality, people don’t want some bloody ‘jack-of-all-trades’ dilettante with a bit of veterinary science background, some food science background, a dangerous amount of knowledge in laboratory techniques, a PhD and an EPIET diploma (not to mention a smart mouth) merely dabbling in their precious disease fields.

So what do I do? Who wants what I’ve got to give?

And who EVER thought that my work situation would so acutely reflect my personal life?

Labels: ,

posted by Nomes @ Thursday, February 01, 2007  
  • At 5:25 am, February 02, 2007, Blogger Mums said…

    Hi GNomes,

    WE DID!!! That's why we wanted you in a science field. Can you imagine how much more bored you would have been in arts; where petty domains are treated like chiefdoms, and there's absolutely no way anyone would let you get a toe hold?

    But never fear. One day there will be someone who wants a dabbler, just keep learning new stuff, and eventually the world will realise they NEED people like us - knowing snippets about lots of things.

    Oh, and I think this rant should be called navel fluff gathering!

    Love, Mamma

  • At 5:38 am, February 02, 2007, Blogger Mums said…

    PS Incidentally there's no slur in being called a dilettante - not when it means "a lover of the fine arts" according to OED. But I would love to know what Ambrose Pierce would have made of the word.

    It is only more recently that the use has been altered to a pejorative meaning "amateur".

    Love, Mamma

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