Weekly Shocks' Blog

Losing your lizard poop and other hazards of being a grad student

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the absolutely devastating news about the brilliant young researcher up in Leeds who had his seven-year collection of lizard poop callously tossed away by the university’s cleaning staff. The fools at Leeds offered him the paltry sum of £500 to compensate for their malicious, criminally insane actions, which sent the young fellow into a rage. He killed them all by smothering them in his 15-year collection of rabbit turds. If his jury consists of fellow PhD candidates, I suspect that he’ll not only be set free, but he’ll also be awarded a sweet-ass Junior Research Fellowship at the Oxford College of his choice AND his very own undergrad/slave to carry out all his peon fact-checking work for the rest of his life. I wish him luck.

I kid of course, but in many ways, I sympathize with this poor guy. Clearly, he had been working for years to collect data for his research – and I can’t imagine collecting lizard dung is an especially enjoyable task, but hey, being in graduate school makes people do insane, stupid things – and now it’s simply gone. I couldn’t help but wonder what the value of my own academic work  is and how much I could sue for if cleaners at Oxford somehow tossed it out in the trash. Then I realized they pretty much already had. Oxford isn’t especially keen on giving any of its students feedback, so they (allegedly) burn all exam papers once marks have been assigned, thereby making it damn near impossible to ascertain how your markers arrived at your grade. There is a story here no one can disprove that examiners get rip-roaring drunk while marking, then take the whole bunch of exam sheets and throw them down a flight of stairs. Each stair has a mark designation attached to it, and whatever stair your paper lands on is the grade you receive. This might sound somewhat disheartening, but luckily, in my first year here, I had a brilliant supervisor who prepared me for disappointment and failure by telling me, at our first meeting, that I was a waste of his time and almost certainly going to bomb the entire course, and that was after he yelled at me for sitting in his chair. I think of him fondly from time to time when I’m feeling too pleased about my academic abilities and need a quick shot of self-loathing and insecurity.

On a much more cheerful subject, not only was today Truck Day at Fenway Park, but it also turns out that that cheating, poncy bastard A-Fraud Rodriguez will be joining the Steroid-User of the Month Club for alleged injection fun back in his overrated MVP year in 2003. As if anyone is surprised. God, I love baseball.


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