Monday, 25 February 2013

I seriously love my job.

Something I don't say enough is that my job is incredible. At least once a week - at least! - I learn more about something about which I had had only a passing knowledge.

Take today, for example. The morning was spent in the office, entering data into spreadsheets, struggling with a translation that had gone into French via Spanish. The phrasing was complex but I feel like the translation does it justice - we shall see when it comes back.

In the afternoon I had the chance to go over the newsletter produced by the BDE, the French version of our Students Associations/Unions. It was incredibly well written, considering the author's first language is not English at all, and although I discussed the issues with it in French - I ought to have done it in English, being the English teacher - he often spotted the mistake before I explained it. The BDE organises a lot of really interesting extra-curricular activities, and I'm continually surprised by how many students go along to them - I've seen how much work they have to do, and I don't know how they juggle it. For this particular student to go so far A and B the C of D and produce a ten page synthèse of the events is astonishing. I suspect he sleeps less than me, and yet he is a continual ray of sunshine. He will go far; I guarantee it.

After lunch I had a coaching session with one of the professors, and he explained his course to me - it deals with using waves to measure the sub-surface. In essence, one can send a vibration through the Earth, and that wave will travel at different speeds through different media. By recording how long it takes to get back to the surface, engineers can make an educated deduction about the substances below their feet - whether they are chalk, granite, oil or dwarven halls. These waves are also created naturally, by earthquakes, but since such events are far too destructive to induce on a regular basis, this method is used instead.

Several more students have apparently just woken up from deep sleep and realised that the deadline for the test was a week ago, and the remainder of my afternoon was taken up with adding them to my long, long list. With twenty minutes to go, the director of one of the programmes came in and asked for help drafting a delicate email. A former student had googled himself and found that he had been mentioned in a French paper by his former professor. Assuming that this was because the professor had either cited or, in fact, appropriated his ideas, the alumnus emailed all in a bother, talking about copyright law and the unprofessional attitude of the school.

What had actually happened, had this rude and petulant person bothered to read the paper, was that the professor had mentioned the alumnus along with the rest of his class, thanking them for taking the time to discuss certain ideas in the paper.

That's it. It's as though Adele's mother, upon hearing her name in the singer's thank-you speech, had rushed on-stage and tried to wrest the Oscar away from her daughter, claiming that the work was hers. It is that level of ridiculous.

It irritated me no end to simply read this person's whining; I dread to think how the author of the paper reacted to being accused of intellectual property theft by someone who couldn't spell "google." In any case, the director and I crafted a very strongly worded response which she said she would sleep on. It was very strong; the polite words only sharpened the message, which was - in effect - pipe down and be thankful your name was even mentioned, you ungrateful little rat. It might be more pertinent to politely explain the matter, despite the desire to give said rat the ticking-off he deserves.

I've been in for an hour now and I've got a blog ready and I finished my French homework a day early; the topic was Dîner Catastrophe! and if you're particularly keen to read my stab at French please follow the link. My next topic, for Thursday, is to be a discussion between myself and an acquaintance who wants the recipe for the delicious meal they just ate. It's a work in progress, but if I say that the meal was tantalising (from the Greek king Tantalus) then perhaps that gives you a clue as to the slightly dark path I plan to lay.

I must leave you now to give a lesson but, in the meantime, try to tell me who you're more likely to find in a golf bag: Julius Caesar, Helen of Troy, or Sir Lancelot.

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