An annoying part of my job is trying to convince people to give me money to do the things I’m doing anyway. We’re graded in effect by how much we spend, if we do cheap science with the only spend being on consumable items we are graded poorly. Most of the science I do is pretty cheap, the capital costs have already been paid, so it’s cheap to carry on with the equipment.

To really hit the high points in science you need to be spending vast sums. You can’t spend what you don’t have, so you need to apply for grants.

The pot of money available to be awarded is small (compared to government spending on just about anything else) and way over subscribed. Any particular application for money has somewhere between 1/10 and zero chance of getting funded. Money tends to go to money, so if you’re starting with zero your chance of getting any more tends towards zero too.

We just got turned down for a big grant. It would have funded some very cool science and half a dozen new researchers at the start of their careers for three years. The effort that went into the application was on the order of a human-month. Personally I spent about 3 days on it, others spent far longer. Time that could have been spent doing research.

It’s basically a scam. One we have to keep playing and trying on the off-chance it pays out in our favour and we can start the next project and think about writing the next application.

A failed application is worth about 0.1 of a brownie point to the powers that be, so I won’t be out on my ear yet. I just need to apply for lots more grants, at several days each and keep the the research and keep up the teaching and everything else. It’s a good thing time is elastic and we can easily add as many hours to the day and days to the week as we like, isn’t it?


It was going to to happen sooner or later, my good luck backed by distance, masks and hygiene couldn’t last forever. I’ve got a cold.
I’m not sure where or how I contracted it, which is annoying as that lapse in my defences could have let in something rather more nasty.
The cold came mid week in my first week back at work after two weeks holiday on the Northumbria coast (had intended to write about it here, forgot and enjoyed it instead).

I’ve manage to go nearly two years without feeling this dreadful.

I have a head full of cotton wool at the moment, so the above might not make sense.

Grapes of 2021

Many small grapes.
Small grapes

The grapevine has not done well this year – well, that’s true; the vine itself has done very well, with many new shoots that needed pruning and several hundred tiny grapes formed. My complaint is with the size of the grapes, they are all far too small to be useful for anything. In fairness this is only the vine’s third year. I’ll see how it does next year and see what feeding and pruning treatments I need to give it.

No chateau-shed wine this year.

The DG effect

Today, Diamond Geezer posted his round-up of things open in the month ahead – always a good, useful read. One of the entries he highlighted was the opening of the British Vintage Wireless & Television Museum for open house 2021. I left a comment to the effect that I’d visited a decode or so back, I’m not sure I ever wrote it up here, but I did add a link to the photos I’d uploaded to Flickr

I’ve not really done anything with Flickr for a while, I’ve posted some astrophotos there, but nothing much recently. To find the vintage radio museum album, I had to log into Flickr. I’ve remained logged in today and I’ve just been exploring the new interface (new to me anyway). I’ve spotted the stats from today; there were definitely a few click-throughs from DG’s comments page. Although I’m somewhat obsessive about collecting and analysing data, I don’t actually collect website stats – I’ve no idea how many people (if any) read what I write here or look at photos I post. Twitter is the only place I really take notice of that, any only because the information is so readily available.

I just found it interesting that I can draw an almost certain link between a throwaway comment and link on a website and an up-tick on traffic to some old photos.

220 view on photos from a decade ago that I linked to on DG's blog today
Definite uptick on traffic to photos I linked to from a comment on a blog post elsewhere