Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thesis advice

I had a meeting the other night with one of the new lecturers in EGS. He comes to UCT from the USA and seems to work days, nights and weekends. Our meeting started at 9pm (night owl that I am). I went over my last couple of months and where I see myself heading this year. I was offered some interesting advice.

Plan your thesis so that it fits into two or three papers plan what you want to present in the papers and then your research has a focus, a streamlined idea. Plan the figures you would want in a paper, no more than ten that summarise of highlight something you wish to discuss. Anything more you probably would just add to your thesis and never explain properly in the flow of text.

Think about the type of journal you are aiming for, is it a review of the literature available? Most journals want to print new work so if you want to discuss old work you have to include suggestions of new areas open to this type of technology or how the literature has lead to the experiments you're working on.

Do not go into a doctorate working for three papers and not a thesis. A thesis is a valuable tool to present a body of work as it developed. UCT has a newish option open for doctorate students, doctorate by papers. Your thesis is them a collection of three papers published and an introduction and conclusion to link them all together. The nice option is that if the papers are already published, the examiners cannot fail you, your work is already peer reviewed for every paper and they are more making constructive comments.

Plan your timetable to produce at least two papers by the middle of your second year, and a third by the end of the second year. This way you have time to write up your thesis and get published before you head off to post-doc and don't have time anymore.

Just some food for thought, use, don't use.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I have not been to Clifton for years due to a combination of overcrowding, cold water and friends choices but was pleasantly surprised on Sunday that Clifton 1st Beach is quieter and therefore quite nice to visit. The water was still cold though.

The reason for my trip to the beach, an engagement party. I think there is something in the air, I have 3 sets of friends who have gotten engaged in the last month. I offer congratulations to all.

The day ended with a glorious, if short-lived, sunset behind some clouds

From undergrads to oldies

UCT Summer School offers a wide variety of courses for all student ages, even the old people. Campus this week is bursting with older students (mostly retired) who are here for one day or two day workshops from literature to history to computers. Its seems a quick way for UCT to make money and provides an excellent social scene. I find it fascinating that the demographics of UCT can change so drastically overnight.

In other news, I have finally finished my PhD proposal and can hand it over for approval. I wait with bated breath for the comments.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Countdown to O-week: 18 days

There is a limited amount of time before campus is swamped with newbies, otherwise known as undergrads. PHD Comics have a wonderful account of this.
As part of the Ballroom committee I will be on Jammie plaza for the week handing out flyers, dancing and probably getting sunburnt. I will also take a few snaps of the chaos. Maybe we can convince the Ikeys Tiger to dance again, that made for a laugh last year.

If anyone is interested in trying ballroom and latin or salsa at UCT, visit www.ballroom.org.za for class times and fees. We start lessons on 17 Feb 09 at 5pm.

Girly Girls in Science

I recently discovered a posting by scientific researcher that starts "My name is Irene and I am a Girly Girl in Science", maybe I should start a bio like that, its a very accurate description. She suggest we start a Girly Girl in Science (GGS) Anonymous Association, I would join.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book: Critical Mass by Philip Ball

For those of you who love the science of society, this book really is for you. I'm on my second read, the first time round I didn't finish it because of time constraints, but I recommend it to anyone no matter their field. Critical Mass delves into the question of how society emerges from individual actions and how one thing leads to another.


I went to see Twilight over the weekend. I had not realised that during my stay overseas the movie prices had escalated to R45 a ticket. Besides the obvious changes from the book, I didn't quite realise that the movie was aimed at a younger market, namely the type that require less wit and flowing dialogue. I was sadly disappointed. I can only hope that the sequel will include better dialogue and maybe a more rounded explanation of each characters unique skill, something they just left out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Venue Booking in CT

For those of you who have ever tried to organise a large event in CT will understand the frustration of people not getting back to you with quotes, saying yes and then saying no cause there are bigger corporate people the venue MIGHT be needed by. If anyone has any suggestions for a venue that you can lay down a dance floor on and seat roughly 500 people, I would really appreciate it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert: Watershed

I have been meaning to go to a Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert for the last few years. I finally managed to see Watershed last night. We packed a picnic and arrived when the gates opened at 3.30pm. There were queues like you would not believe. We spent the next two hours eating and chatting and I realise I should have taken a book or magazine.

I was worried that their music would be too chilled for the event but Watershed have a very good dynamic on stage. They were on time and did an encore of three songs which I am sure was all preplanned. Their new album has some fantastic tracks, I say some because I have yet to hear the whole thing. Did you realise that every album they have produced has a song about a train on it? Typical men...

The organisers said the band had 20 mins to sign CDs at the end and I hope they starting signing faster because we passed the queue on the way out and it was long. I highly recommend going to a concert, Parlotones is still coming and Arno Carstens. Check them out at: Old Mutual Kirtenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts or the Facebook group

Magpie tendencies

I fully admit to magpie tendencies. I cannot walk past a jewellery store without looking at the earrings on display and I won't even discuss beaded earrings in accessory stores. Over the years I have received and made many pairs of earrings and have finally done a count. Total: 73. Not bad considering my compulsive buying in every country I visit.

How to store this many? My mom came up with the idea from a jewellery store, she took Hessian and edged a piece wrapping the top over a wooden stick, then attach a hanger to it to hang in your cupboard. This way none of them get tangled or disappear.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hout Bay Hike

Hiking is not my favourite activity but I felt compelled to try again. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I am not as unfit as I assumed and managed the Hout Bay Radar Station. We ascended into the clouds in the morning and camped out for lunch in the burnt out buildings at the top. As we feasted the clouds blew away to reveal the coastline form Melkbos to Kommetjie.

The clouds gave way to sunshine and with it heat. If anyone is looking for a nice hike that takes an hour each way I highly recommend the Radar Station, especially on a clear day.

Tigger Tigger

I ventured into Tiger Tiger for the first time on tuesday night. I somehow doubt I will ever make it into Tiger again on student night. It was packed, the people there were decked in their best and young, very young in comparison. It make you feel very old when music from the 90s plays and the majority of the crowd don't know it.

Before my foray into Tiger we stopped off at Beluga to catch the tail end of the half price sushi half price cocktail special they run everyday. I love their sushi but the service left a fair amount to be desired, especially when the food took over an hour to arrive.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Constantia Uitsig

Constantia Uitsig is a winefarm nestled between the mountains of the Cape Peninsula. Well-known for its white wines, it also has a restaurant and a River Cafe. My family ventured to the River Cafe for lunch yesterday and were pleasantly surprised at the vast array of choices avaiable on the menu. The popular order of the day was the Karoo Lamb Burger followed by River Cafe Chocolate Brownies. I must say though that the Strawberry Pavlova was demolited at great speed.

Time Out

For those that live in Cape Town and wonder when everything happens and where the new in things to do are Time Out Cape Town 2009 is for you. Its R40 for a magazine from CNA and is packed with touristy ideas. It also has the website addresses or contact details for everything they suggest. Your social directory has arrived.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Naughty-cal New Year

The last sunset of 2008 over Hout Bay. I love watching the sunset over the mountains and the moon rising especially on a warm evening. 2008 ended on a good note and gives me hope that 2009 will be an even better year. I wish everyone a happy New Year.

I spent the night partying away in Naughty-cal style with friends and I loved some of the costume ideas from the night. 276 knots and octopi and the ancient mariner made debut appearances. I chaos was minimal and the entertainment surperb.