Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Professional Whinging

Firstly: The Goldschmidt conference registration costs more than 900 bucks. What is the point of holding a major conference in this country, if the registration costs as much as a plane ticket to Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Singapore? What can they possibly spend a grand per head on? We’d better be getting free AFL tickets, commemorative broaches with ¼ carrot Argyle diamonds, and a silo of free beer for that price. As is it, I’ll probably hitch down and crash on friends’ floors for the week in order to make up for the cost. Yay, 800 km hitchhike in the dead of winter!

Secondly: The journal Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research might as will be written in cuneiform on Sumerian tablets, such is its technological savvy. The whole point of publishing articles about standards is to create uniformity, so that everyone uses the same values for the same standards, allowing comparison of results from different labs. If you can’t access the journal, you can’t use the published values. So for a journal that deals mainly with standards not to be available online is idiotic. What’s the point of providing abstracts only if the only reason people look at the articles is for the methods and data tables? The whole thing is organized so poorly that in order to find the article I needed, I had to google the first author’s institution, click through to his staff web page, get the reference, plug in the journal into the library index, write the call, volume, and page numbers down on a dead tree, and pull the damn thing off the shelf. It was so 1990’s that I got the urge to join a grunge band, make an IPO on an IT company with no products or business strategy, and pick up a brunette intern with a low-cut blue dress.

Thirdly: Why is it that our chemical store has compounds containing every element on the periodic table… except gallium, which I happened to need for an experiment this week. What are the chances? 1/92? OK, more like 1/83, since 9 of those elements are not stable, but still. The whole problem with elements is that they are elemental; you can’t just whip them up from some other compound or chemical. So that experiment will just have to wait.

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