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Friday, June 30, 2006

Off on my travels...

Is it wrong that a small part of me hopes that England doesn't make it to the World Cup finals? It is a purely selfish whim, because if they do, I shall spend the duration of the match at 30,000 feet halfway across the Atlantic - and you just know that US Air won't be showing the match as part of the inflight entertainment...

Finally, I have booked my tickets for a job hunting tour of North America. Two labs in the US and two in Canada will be enjoying the privilige of my company as I beg them for a job.

It has been stressfull beyond belief though. First the quibbling over who pays what (only partly resolved, but I at least have agreements in principle), then the seemingly simple job of getting my references to the labs. Problems with emails, absences and the loss of one of the references by the referee have had me tearing my hair out for nearly two weeks - and I still haven't got one of my referees to answer my emails or phone calls yet!

But perhaps I shouldn't have bothered. One of the labs contacted me today to say that they had grave concerns over the contents of one of my references. My abilities as a team player and commitment were both questioned. I was absolutely pole-axed. I feel completely betrayed. I thought that the long heart-to-heart I had with my "good" supervisor had cleared the air over that. Apparently not.

Now I am completely paranoid. Is this the reason that I have had a half dozen really, really good interviews, only to be let down a week later by a short note mumbling vaguely about "more experienced candidates"? Is this one reference the reason I have spent nearly 12 months sitting on my arse in a fucking sport centre getting more and more depressed?

One silver lining is that this unusually candid potential interviewer has asked me to explain what the problem was. So this evening, I wrote a lengthy email explaining how the project was not what I had hoped for and the many problems that I encountered(such as other lab members quitting unexpectedly, leaving me to sort their mess out and the absence of any technical support). I was careful not to come across as whiney and studiously avoided identifying anyone by name (or even gender). I then finished with a paragraph emphasising the good that came out of the project and the positive feedback various audiences have shown when I have presented my work to them.

As always, I sought the advice of the two wisest people I know before hitting Send. Both Mum and Dad agreed that my reply was balanced and told my side of the story, without being too whinging. Time will tell.

Ultimately, we decided that even if this lab withdraws its offer, I should book my tickets any way and still split the cost 4 ways. We'll just cover the cost of the 4th stop and I'll simply go sight-seeing for 2 days. I can't delay any longer, already the cost has risen £50 over the past 48 hours as I've waited to hear back from my references.

On a related note, MSN Passport sucks! It refused to recognise my login details when I tried to book my tickets. Although it's all sorted now, I've just spent 10 minutes retrieving the contents of my wallet from behind the wardrobe after I grabbed the nearest non-breakable object (it was either the wallet or my cell phone) and hurled it at the wall in frustration. I'm glad I live on my own - my little temper trantrum ill-behooves a man of letters.



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