Joys and frustrations

I'm pretty upbeat today, despite the fact that my thesis project is going down the toilet. Why, you ask? Well, although, I've already scrapped Plans A and B, and have to come up with Cs and Ds as we go along, at least I know what's not working out, and can do something about it. Definitely better than plotting and planning all semester, and pinning all my hopes on a piece of paper.

As those in the know would realise, you have to be a little insane to do research on ecology. Sure, there are perks, such as the very obvious one of diving for work (no-one tells you of the seasickness and the long long hours), and getting paid (albeit peanuts) to dive on coral reefs in exotic locations (sometimes). For me, one of the major thrills is the challenge of unravelling the mysteries behind each organism that make up an ecosystem. Each time I dive, I'm just amused and amazed at the wonderful complexity that can arise from a driver as simple as natural selection, something akin to fractal patterns, where within seeming chaos lies an order, and it's such a joy to unravel each question to find the underlying pattern.

Sounds fine and dandy. So what's so bad about being an ecologist? You know the complexity that I love so much? It's just terrible for experimentation! So there I have this really neat fish predator exclusion experiment, which is just great on paper- collect a bunch of sponges, cage half of them, see if fish eat them. Simple! Well, I found out recently why noone seems to work on encrusting cryptic sponges....They're a real b**ch to remove! And when I tried to collect rubble pieces with the sponge growing on it, the wondrous complexity everpresent on the coral reef has it such that loads of other organisms grow on the same small rubble piece! Argh. So much for the best laid plans of men and marine biologists. Times like this, I hit myself on the forehead underwater and ask myself why why, why did I quit my job to come to graduate school? Why didn't I do something 'safer', like genetics work, or pure biochemistry? Why afflict myself with the vagaries of weather and life itself? Damn ecology!

With all these plans that I'm flushing down the can, why am I still putting myself through all this torture? When it comes down to ultimately...I guess I just wouldn't have it any other way... :)


Sivasothi said…
Hey, hang in there! It'll all be meaningful in the end!
bluebabe said…
Hanging on as much as we could...Yesterday, Tropical Storm Barry developed just south of Florida, and we're grounded yesterday and today as well. 3 more dive days left before we have to leave...
Jeffrey said…
Ai ... sorry to hear you didn't manage to complete your experiment setup in time ... next time :)

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