Play paper published with no-one getting hurt

22 12 2017

The curse seems to be over, and the paper I think came out well in the end.

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Is this enough data for Andrea?

22 12 2017

The Excel data we need for Andrea’s PhD from the California National Primate Research Center arrived today. With info. from over 4000 monkeys, in over 136,000 rows, this should keep her quiet for a while…

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Mousie Mason, 1996-2017

19 12 2017

We had our old cat Mouse put down on Thursday. We’d been worrying about her since March: trying to gauge whether her good days still outnumbered the bad (at some point they stopped), and how bad the bad days were (hard to tell, but in the last few weeks I would catch her lying in her bed with open eyes, as if her kidney disease was making her feel sick). She was increasingly lame from arthritis, and stopped coming upstairs for catnip treats (the ones put near her beds never acquiring the same appeal). And last Monday, she suddenly became incontinent. She seemed physically uncomfortable with it, and we also didn’t want to manage it by shutting her in the bathroom (we tried that with her sister Sophie, and it just sunk her into depression). So I called the vet on Thursday morning (calm ‘til they picked up the phone, then instantly sobbing), and Marco arranged to come at 6. I stayed home to make the day as nice for her as I could: whacking the heating up high, giving her treats every couple of hours, and regularly stroking her face the way she liked. She really did have a good day and seemed as happy as she could be (though still with the odd, awful bout of restless staggering about peeing). And when the time came, Marco gave her the sedative without moving her  – she stayed in her box, toasty warm under her favourite heat lamp, being stroked, and slowly, peacefully falling asleep.

She leaves a void: I’ve lived with her since I was 30, so that’s a big chunk of my adult life. I named her Mouse because as a kitten she was small, grey, fond of cheese, and rather shy (I was also reading Tales of the City, and ‘Mouse’ is one of the main characters). She grew up into a reserved little cat, whose caution with new people hid a feisty nature. A talented hunter until well into middle age, she shamelessly brought home mice, frogs, birds, baby rabbits and dragon flies (and a dead parrot that appeared in my house one day, I’m pretty sure was her work too). Once, terrified, I watched her try and see off a raccoon; and she was skunked twice, I bet because she wouldn’t back down. She just loved the outdoors (rushing madly up and down trees when young, and meowing to be let out to sleep in the sun until just a few weeks ago). She also spent the last few years waking us up nightly for cuddles; had a remarkably expressive little face (see her below, aged 20, smiling over her favourite catnip); and was distinctly intelligent. She used to solicit being chased (rampaging about, tail in the air, until someone gave in and ran after her), and once pursued, her favourite trick was to dart through a door and immediately nip sideways and freeze behind the doorjamb so you’d just rush right past her: something I swear revealed insight learning on her part. And when we hand-picked Luke for looking like Sylvie, although this tricked Sophie (who never quite realized we’d segued from one to two kittens), Mouse wasn’t fooled for an instant, despising both with fervour ‘til Luke finally won her affection a couple of years ago (the bottom pictures being from her last night). Mouse was 21 and a half, and is greatly missed.

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Congrats to me and Andrea!

15 12 2017

We won the UFAW ‘3 Rs’ award for her work with two National Primate Centers! (We got the letter a couple of weeks ago actually, but had to keep it quiet ’til UFAW created a press release.)





Lab meeting at the Delta

14 12 2017

To say goodbye to Lauren (whose unorthodox mink enrichment/cat faces contract has just ended) while everyone was still here before Christmas, we held our Tuesday lab meeting at the Delta so I could buy food and drinks.

Left to right below we have: coursework student Aileen, Lauren herself, new-ish MSc thesis student Sam, MSc thesis students Aimee and Miranda, and then PhD students old and new: Andrea, Michelle and Misha (coursework student Basma being kept at bay by weather, MSc thesis student Emma sidetracked by a sick cat, and undergrad Lindsey consumed by exams).

delta-dec-12th-2017-e1513282253359.jpgWe’ve been reading Thinking from A-Z and the Fallacy Files for a few months, and this week were going to go over modus ponens and modus tollens again. But we got in a muddle, not least as I hadn’t done my homework and kept getting the wrong end of the stick (it’s been a brutal semester). So, we’ll revisit that we fresh heads in the New Year. Instead we covered the infamous and some might say tedious “Three Circles” (with fun post-its), as Ian and Derek planned to lead a discussion on this on Thursday.