Don's Diary

February 17, 1995

Thursday. This is it - the day I submit my thesis after four years of (mostly) hard work. Spend the morning investigating "how animals think". Today's subjects are Ramblie, a Jersey x South Devon heifer, Shamal, an Arab filly, Oberlix, an Arab stallion, Vixen, a female llama and Rupert , a floppy Spaniel pup.

The first half hour is spent collecting the subjects from their various fields. Have an interesting time informing Castor the very friendly bull that he did not really want to jump his daughter Ramblie when bringing her through his field. (It was a short cut you see - and I foolishly thought that he had all of his attention on one of the adult cows). Fifteen minutes later the subjects are waiting for their "lesson". At least these non-human subjects are less boisterous and noisy than human infants. How often do human children stand quietly munching (Vixen), resting against each other (Shamal and Oberlix), cudding (Ramblie) or just plain asleep (Rupert) before their lessons? Sounds like a dossy morning - it is not. Each subject spends 20 minutes doing his/her lessons. I, meanwhile, am frantically logging their behaviour and the (even more erratic) behaviour of their teacher, Marthe (my ex-PhD supervisor). This research has been going on for almost a year now and you would be surprised what these subjects can do! By 11.30am it is all over and the subjects reunited with their cronies in their fields. A further half hour is spent assessing the results. I am about to return to the little smoke (Exeter) when Marthe asks if I want to go to a conference with her on animal communication - not enough time.

Arrive at the thesis binding place bang on time clutching my box in which to transport the many copies of my thesis. I am informed that the binder only has to put the labels on. One hour and 12 minutes before the faculty office, to which I have to submit the thing, closes! Am stared at while I am waiting - I have my farm jeans and wellies on (both moderately clean) hence looking my usual scruffy self. I pay for the binding and with 45 minutes to go receive my beautifully bound thesis complete with gold sticky labels. I hit every red light on the way to faculty office on the main site of Exeter University, . Still at least that gives me time to sign the relevant bits of each copy. It arrives on the submission desk with a whole 14 minutes to spare.

Friday. Teaching this morning. Two groups of second-year students, about 20 "Agrics" (BSc agriculture) and 30 "Toms2 (tourism management). It is the first lecture of this series with a substantial amount of material to get through before embarking on the main part of the course. Despite a few pre-lecture nerves I realise, again, just how much I enjoy teaching. Come out of the lectures buzzing. After the four hours (with a coffee in the middle) it is back to my PC to update the handout for next time.

As the teaching in SHF230 relies on using the Minitab statistics package on a computer I need to prepare some examples for the students to work through, hence spend some time scrabbling through the Farmers Weekly and tourism text books.

Saturday. Back up the farm for more observations of the cognitive subjects, until midday when I put my "horsy" hat on (literally). Marthe gives me a lesson on Crystal, one of her horses. I then meet a friend with her horse and we go off for a few hours on Dartmoor. It's so nice to get away from it all.

Sunday. I swore that I would not work at weekends anymore, but fail and spend a few hours dreaming up Analysis of Variance examples. The rest of the day is spent visiting my grandparents and helping sister move. Get home 11pm completely knackered!

Monday. Morning spent helping students - tutees with problems, project students with various methodological and statistical questions. I love this but wonder why I often find the answer to problems on the way home . At last get around to finishing a report writing document for the third-years. I bundle my Teaching and Learning in Higher Education documentation into a folder for tomorrow's course at Plymouth. Then prepare for a meeting with the coordinator of the remedial mathematics (REMAT) project tomorrow.

Tuesday. Leave Exeter at 7.30 a.m. for Plymouth. Had my first taste of the TLHE course where I was bombarded with paperwork that I had missed out on (through PhD deadlines). The REMAT meeting was constructive. By 2.30pm I was on the A38 - how nice it would be to stay on it until Exeter. By 3 pm I am back at Seale Hayne with my whirring computer locating some "lost clusters" jamming up the works.

Wednesday. Start by sorting snail mail and email, tackle Naftfhe membership and discussed tax forms with a colleague. A quick trip down the corridor to two of the many Johns in this place. One to return and comment on his book chapter, the other to ask him to be my TLHE mentor. A trip to the library follows even looking over a few recent issues. An hour of data inputting follows - I really ought to save that for mid-afternoon when I am at my most braindead. Get my thoughts together for a meeting about dairy cow welfare. Developing lecture notes until 6.30pm. Partner has given up on me ever being home at "normal time".

A new lecturer in the faculty of agriculture, Plymouth University.

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