British adventures - Livre d'Or








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livredor
British adventures
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 at 09:10 pm
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I've been wandering round the UK since Sunday evening, including two interviews, and I'm now chez parents.

Flew into the Ryanair fake Glasgow airport Sunday evening. I wasn't sure when on Sunday night or Monday I'd get time for a meal, so I treated myself to lunch in Stockholm at Shanti Soft Corner, an Indian restaurant with a weird name but tasty (if pricey) food. Anyway the journey was painless, the flight getting in to the middle of nowhere in Ayr 10 minutes early, so I ran through the airport and managed to catch a train that left only 20 minutes after the nominal arrival time, rather than having to wait an hour. The west of Scotland is very pretty in sunlight, but a bit depressing in the gloaming and mizzle. Still, I made it to Glasgow safely, and across the city centre to a random hotel found on the internet, name of Best Western Glasgow. It was rather attractive in a gothy sort of way, with lots of dark wood and gilt and very inadequate lighting. They promised me complimentary drinks in the mini-bar, but there didn't appear to be a mini-bar in my room at all. There was a bath though, always a great bonus after travelling, and unlike a lot of budget hotels they actually did the traditional thing of providing soap and bath lotion so that I wasn't stranded after being good and avoiding liquids in my hand luggage.

I was too nervous to sleep very well for the 6 hours I had left to me; not really about the interview, but more about the travelling. Anyway I got up super early and had 20 minutes to spare for my 6:30 train. The train helpfully and rather comfortably carried me to Preston, but just when I thought I'd get away with leaving no time margin (train arrived at 8:55 with a 9 o'clock interview, though happily the uni is right by the station), I got a bit lost in the campus and ended up 20 minutes late and rather bedraggled. I think they felt more sorry for me and impressed at how far I'd travelled, than annoyed by the unpunctuality, but I don't know.

Anyway, they had all six candidates together, gave us a talk about the job and a tour of the department, then asked us into the lecture theatre one at a time, then fed us sandwiches and gave us a chance to talk to the people who would be our close colleagues if we got the job, then half an hour of panel interview each. It was interesting to meet the other candidates, who came from a range of backgrounds, some like me looking to move off the research track after a post-doc or two, one a bit older who is already a lecturer in an ex-poly, and an internal candidate who is just completing her PhD. At the same time it was a little awkward to have to sit making small-talk with eachother while waiting for our turn to present or be grilled! 5 girls and 1 guy; the latter wore a conventional business suit, most of the girls wore smart jackets and decent trousers, but not matched. And the fifth girl wore the kind of Islamic dress that leaves only the eyes visible; it was fascinating, but kind of scary, to observe how half the faculty who came to talk to us completely failed to notice that she was there. The worst case was a guy who went round asking each candidate in turn where they came from and how their journey was, and literally skipped over the sixth candidate as if she were invisible.

They attempted to be helpful to me since I'd come such a long way by moving my presentation back from 11:15 to 10 and my interview from 2:30 to 1, but since I didn't know this until the day it didn't actually help that much. However, since my social arrangement for Monday afternoon was sadly cancelled, I jumped straight on the first train for London I could find, and was in Cambridge for 5:30 instead of the projected 10:30. (Also the train accidentally gave me free internet when I attempted to pay for internet, so that was jammy). So I agreed to meet cartesiandaemon in the expectation of joining his people for geek pizza. But he managed to time things so that he showed up on just the exact bus I was catching from the station, and (in perhaps the most romantic gesture I've ever experienced) brought me a thermos of teeeeeeea. We didn't want to go far since we intended to meet people at 6:30, so ended up in the funny little café / bar place over the cinema. They had raspberry ale and comfy chairs, so it could have been worse. Geek pizza was excellent fun; they were most endearingly happy to just slot me in to their ongoing geek conversations, really very welcoming!

Tuesday I made an appointment at the Family Planning Clinic to get pills. But the nurse wouldn't give me the combined pill because I'm too fat. (I mean, she didn't say it like that, she said euphemistic things about risk factors and such, but that was the gist.) And then she took my blood pressure in the most stupid way ever, basically saying, I'm going to get your blood pressure and if it's not good enough no way can you have the pill. Surprisingly enough, my blood pressure was elevated. We argued a bit; I was trying to find the line between helpful compliant patient and insisting on what I wanted, but in the end she pressed a progesterone only pill, Cerazette, on me and muttered about getting STD and smear tests done. I shall try it and see how it goes; I have heard horror stories about mental health effects which I really Do Not Want, but it might be ok. Also, the annoying nurse tried to fob me off by claiming that 96% effective is really much the same as >99%, but unfortunately I understand statistics! She did say that if I was willing to go through a full panel of STD checks and then wait three weeks, I could have the coil. I'm certainly willing to do that, but it's not practical until I know where I'm going to be living. So at least that's an option. Anyway, lovely pseudomonas cheered me up with sympathy, good conversation and tasty Indian food, which made me feel lots better.

Then today I went to Leicester for a post-doc interview. It didn't work out all that well, because the guy I was supposed to be seeing was called away for a family emergency. He had a close colleague interview me instead, with the help of his current post-docs. I gave my usual kick-ass presentation and generally handled the interview well, so maybe the group will recommend me to the prof. But I would strongly have preferred to actually talk to the guy I am hoping to work for! Anyway, I had a really, really tasty south Indian meal in the 40 minutes before the train back to Cam (yes, I've been eating a lot of Indian food recently, but hey, I was in Leicester and anyway I've been pining for it!)

The lecturing job said they would let me know that day or the next, but I've heard nothing. This is leading me to suspect that I'm their reserve candidate, and they are waiting for confirmation from their first choice before they turn me down. I shall nag them tomorrow, but I'm prepared for disappointment. The research job said they are intending to do most of their interviews at the end of May, so I won't hear for a few weeks anyway. So now I just wait and hope.

I won't make it to the Carlton as planned tomorrow, since my parents sort of randomly invited my sibs for dinner without consulting me first. I'm slightly annoyed at having my plans changed on me, but I am very happy for the chance to see Thuggish Poet, so I don't mind too much. OTOH I do intend to show up to the Pembury for doseybat's party on Saturday.


Whereaboooots: Shelford, Cambridge, UK
Moooood: anxiousanxious
Discussion: 15 contributions | Contribute something
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karen2205: default
From:karen2205
Date:April 29th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
29 minutes after journal entry, 08:41 pm (karen2205's time)
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I like Cerazette and haven't had any side effects from it, apart from the lack of withdrawal bleeds, which IIRC happens to 20% of women who take it and is a side effect I quite like.

The other point to note about the effectiveness statistics of contraception is that they're usually based on proper usage of the drugs ie. not missing pills/not having a large gap between pills/using additional contraception when taking certain antibiotics. There's a different set of statistics reflecting effectiveness when used the way they are used in practice.

And *grr* to taking your blood pressure like that! I don't know if you're aware that blood pressure cuffs come in different sizes and if they're using one on you that's too small for your arm (it will still physically fit around your arm) it will give an artifically high reading. I normally have to ask to make sure medical people use a large sized cuff rather than a standard one.
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livredor: body
From:livredor
Date:April 29th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
49 minutes after journal entry, 09:01 pm (livredor's time)
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Thanks so much for this comment, it's really helpful. I think the problem with anecdotal stuff about contraception side effects is that people are more likely to grumble if they have a bad experience than mention if things are fine, so I have heard almost entirely negative stories about exogenous progesterone.

True about effectiveness; POPs may be harder to take "correctly" than combined as you have to be within three hours of your usual time, which doesn't give you much margin if your routine is disrupted. I think I'm paranoid enough, and have a regular enough routine (I don't even have a lie-in at weekends since I'm so often either doing shul stuff or working Sundays), that I probably will take all my pills properly.

Blood pressure: she clearly wanted me to fail the benchmark so she could validate her theory that fat women shouldn't have combined pills. It could be that the cuff was too tight; I don't think my arms are exceptionally huge, but I suppose if I'm obese overall then they might be that much bigger than the average circumference for arms.
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karen2205: default
From:karen2205
Date:April 29th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 09:16 pm (karen2205's time)
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*nods* - though I'm just another anecdote here - I think it's useful to be aware that people have different experiences with different pills so you know to look out for side effects. You're not going to know how they work for you till you try them.

Cerazette unlike the other POPs has a twelve hour not a three hour window (or at least this is what I was told when I was offered a choice of POPs - it's more expensive than the other POPs the NHS uses. I'm not sure why I was asked or why the NHS continues to routinely use the other ones, given that a three hour window is hard to deal with for many people).

And yes, definitely, I've had people be surprised my blood pressure is normal or otherwise try to redefine normal as not including my reading, because of what I certainly perceive as them expecting me to have high blood pressure because of my weight.

This site gives info on blood pressure cuffs vs. arm sizes (it's a site about pregnancy for fat women, but is the best info on blood pressure cuffs I've found). I think it's reasonably applicable to the UK, as I think blood pressure cuffs are relatively standardised, but I've not checked this out beyond finding out enough to know that I need a large cuff to get an accurate reading.
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(no subject) - aendr (4/30/09 08:03 am)
forestofglory: default
From:forestofglory
Date:April 29th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
48 minutes after journal entry, 01:00 pm (forestofglory's time)
(Link)
I don't know what to say about the clinic. I think they treated you quite badly, and I want to express my sympathy.

My continued good wishes for you job hunt.
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livredor: teeeeeeeeea
From:livredor
Date:April 29th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
52 minutes after journal entry, 09:04 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thank you, that's really nice of you. Sympathy and good wishes are totally what LJ is for!
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lisekit: Rani
From:lisekit
Date:April 29th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
50 minutes after journal entry
(Link)
D had a nurse appointment and he was all anxious because he doesn't like GPs offices, so they had to take his BP 3 times! But they let him do so for an accurate reading, so that was good.

Om nom nom South Indian fud nom

it was fascinating, but kind of scary, to observe how half the faculty who came to talk to us completely failed to notice that she was there.

I think that's rather the point....?
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hairyears: default
From:hairyears
Date:April 30th, 2009 12:09 am (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 12:09 am (hairyears's time)
(Link)
Good luck with the interviews - and 'reserve' may well mean that you're first in line if anyone in the Department lands more funding.

As for Leicester, I have ineradicable prejudices about the place, having spent some very unhappy years there; but if they hire you, I am prepared to concede that there is a redeeming feature. Where did you find a decent curry? Akash Tandoori?
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lavendersparkle: IUS
From:lavendersparkle
Date:April 30th, 2009 09:28 am (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry, 09:28 am (lavendersparkle's time)
(Link)
Was the horror story about Cerazette mine? It made me go batshit crazy. I think hormones have quite a strong effect upon my mental state. I get emotional symptoms of PMS if I'm not using hormonal contraception.

When I got my IUS, they lost my chlamydia test. I had to reassure them that I was about as sure as you could be that I didn't have chlamydia. I also get annoyed that some medical people think that any risk below x are all the same. I get annoyed when sources only quote reliability as 'more than 99%', as if no one could care about comparisons beyond that.
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naath: default
From:naath
Date:April 30th, 2009 10:08 am (UTC)
13 hours after journal entry, 10:08 am (naath's time)
(Link)
I don't know how the survey for the contraceptive-effectiveness data but it's possible that >99% means "in our trial it was 100% effective but there's the margin of error to consider" (which I was told by my doctor is the case for Implanon, but my doctor was not a stats expert so may have not actually read the relevant trails).

Livredor> stupid clinic. :-( I'm on Implanon which is Prog-only just not in pill-form. I haven't had any Hideous Side Effects Of D00m on it.
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lavendersparkle: IUS
From:lavendersparkle
Date:April 30th, 2009 11:28 am (UTC)
15 hours after journal entry, 11:28 am (lavendersparkle's time)
(Link)
I don't think that it's think, because I've seen effectiveness rates quoted which do have decimal places. I was thinking about the way that the family planning association are unwilling to use decimal places in their literature.
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simont: default
From:simont
Date:April 30th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
16 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Sorry to hear you won't be in the Carlton after all. Ah well, next time perhaps.

I'm entertained to hear that you found geek pizza "welcoming". It's been about four years since I went to it (coeliac diagnosis rather put a crimp in the idea), but my general memory is that that wasn't a word a typical newcomer to the group would use, due to the generally ... robust ... tone of the usual sorts of discussion and debate. Though, of course, they took exactly the same tone with each other as they did with newcomers, so yes, they were in fact welcoming in the sense of rapidly coming to treat you just like one of them. It's just that not everybody realised it :-)
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:April 30th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
(Link)
I'm entertained to hear that you found geek pizza "welcoming".

I think we were slightly lucky. We never overlapped at pizza, but I expect the character is still similar. Pizza is always interesting, but only sometimes sociable, as it were, but several of the most technical people weren't there, and dropping one sociable person into the mix often turns the whole party sociable.
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syllopsium: default
From:syllopsium
Date:April 30th, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)
16 hours after journal entry
(Link)
There's nothing wrong with lots of lovely Indian food - I have plenty, and lots of it isn't 'curry' (although, granted, restaurant food tends to be less healthy than home cooked some of the time).

Feh at the clinic. You're not fat!

Here's hoping on the jobs :)
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feanelwa: default
From:feanelwa
Date:May 1st, 2009 09:25 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 09:25 am (feanelwa's time)
(Link)
Yes, I was thinking that - I've only met you a couple of times but I recall you as being not especially fat or thin.
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