Hi friends! Here is a sign of life after some time of absence from the blog sphere. I am still existing!
Some of you have already emailed me to tell me that they missed me and to ask me how I was doing. These emails made me happy and smile a lot. Just know that when you do not hear or read from me, this does not mean I have forgotten or abandoned you, it just means that I have a lot to do. And I will always be back as soon as I can. So this is what I have been up to …
Life has been busy as always, but even more since Christmas is coming closer. This week somewhat was the last chance to run studies before Christmas, since people are gradually getting into this particular mindset resulting from a mixture of elevated alcohol levels due to constant mulled wine consumption, elevated adrenaline levels due to rushing and running errands for Christmas preparation, and elevated spirits due to the other-wordliness of the season. There are psychological effects that can only be found and replicated around Christmas, probably wrecking data quality by augmenting error variance and producing invalid results.
For me, this meant that I was quite busy during the past two weeks to get everything done in time – my supervisor has given me the honor and responsibility to conduct his studies over here while he is in New Zealand, and since he wanted me to collect data for some study, I had a deadline. So, we skyped and exchanged countless emails on the study design, I worked on materials he sent me, and then had to organize everything: doing testruns, collecting a sample for pretesting and gathering feedback on the comprehensibility of the instructions and items, putting the study up with studies from other researchers since we usually share labs (and of course, all labs were already taken until mid December), and finding a budget for paying the participants (which meant begging my way through the whole department). Then, preparing the lab and the study materials such as questionnaires, sampling lists, flyers, billings lists, and so on.
Anyway, I really enjoy this job. It is not mainly a job for money – most importantly, it gets me into actual research business, and I learn so much. I work with high self-determination but also high responsibility, and I really enjoy the challenge. So, I am totally in my element with this. And the best thing is that, due to all my commitment and contributions, I will be on the paper when the stuff gets published – what is likely to happen, since the current study is a follow-up to a previous study which already yielded some interesting results, and both will be published together in one article. You know, the number of your publications is the current in the academia of empirical sciences – this is how the game works, and although this is not the most fortunate condition, you just need publications when you want to sustain in the field. Therefore, having publications – preferably in reputable journals – is a good thing.
Of course, there are also my piano students, and I keep playing myself. And in the meantime, I try to get some work on my thesis done, more or less successfully. The idea of getting it finished this year unfortunately was rather unrealistic, so my new, more realistic goal is to finish it in January, especially since I will present the whole thing in the colloquium at the end of January next year.
Apart from this, social life has kept me busy as well on most evenings (when I would blog and do relaxing things otherwise). There were birthday and goodbye parties, the Christmas dinner of the personality psychology department, the Christmas party of the social psychology department, and various visits to the Christmas market with friends.
Last year, I took you with me on an extended tour over the Christmas market in the inner city. (Click here to relive the ultimate Christmas market experience.) This year, I went up to the Christmas market at the castle with a couple of social psychology friends.
~ the castle Christmas market ~
~ the castle being Christmas-y ~
From the castle terrace, we could enjoy a view over the city beautifully illuminated by countless lights.
And of course, we enjoyed Glühwein, a hot mulled wine sweetened and spiced with oranges, cinnamon, and cloves, that people traditionally have at Christmas markets probably not only in Germany.
I am very blessed now with having such awesome friends! Two of my best friends are also in social psychology, and since we all live for what we do, whenever we meet, it is just a matter of time that we end up with psychology discussions. Over drinks this week, we started collecting ideas and planning upcoming experiments which we will hopefully start conducting by the beginning of the next year already.
~ the three musketeers ~
Finally, after so many months of sagging, just getting along somehow, and worrying about my future, I am finally confident that things will turn out well. I know that great ideas do not come from one person alone, but result from the most inspiring interaction with other people. Especially in science, it is crucial to connect, exchange, and discuss ideas, and for that, you need people who you can totally trust and who would never backstab you. With my lovely co-musketeer ladies, I now have a couple of research ideas going to be pursued in the time to come, and I am looking forward to that like nothing else.
However, all of these things going on were a little too much in the end, and I ended up with getting a migraine the other day. I spend the whole day in bed with curtains drawn and a towel on my face to exclude the light, after returning home from the institute around midday, and then slept for almost 20 hours. Now I am feeling a little better, but having to stay at home to recover ironically gives me an opportunity to update my blog. (This is something for the upcoming New Year’s resolutions – no late-night working and no driving-myself-to-my-limits anymore, and taking more time for other things instead!)
It also gives me an opportunity to provide you with a sick stomach recipe, because my tummy was feeling really weird and I needed to cook something that I would be able to eat without getting myself into trouble. I chose ginger against the nausea, winter squash (I used kuri squash because it cooks down to a nicely mealy consistency) for comforting and easing my stomach, tomatoes for soupiness, and chicken for unproblematic satiety – when I am sick, alone the idea of eating eggs or seafood makes everything worse. Actually, I had made a big batch of this in the morning already, and boxed it since I had a lab day scheduled (which I then had to cancel), and this was good because I could just eat from it throughout the whole day, whenever I woke up and felt hungry, and then went back to bed and continued sleeping.
CHICKEN, PUMPKIN, AND TOMATO STEW
butter or oil
2 tsp of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium-sized winter squash (I used kuri squash, but you can also use kabocha or butternut), peeled (according to kind), seeds removed, and cut into pieces
500 g (1 lb) chicken breast fillet, cut into pieces
500 g (1 lb) tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of ground cloves
1 pinch of ground cardamom
1 handful of fresh cilantro
In a big pot, heat some fat and roast the ginger until fragrant. Add the pumpkin and roast it for a minute, then add a little water and cook the whole thing covered for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom, and cook everything on low to medium heat for 20 minutes. Finally, throw in the cilantro and cook openly until desired consistency, then serve or box or whatever, but anyhow, enjoy!
What kind of food or dish agrees with your tummy when it feels like doing somersaults?