July 2020 round-up

Last month, I wrote that “all going well, we will be moving at the end of July (please keep your fingers crossed for me – I really need things to not go pear shaped, this time)”. One month later, I am happy, delighted, ecstatic to let you know that we did move! Hooray. I am so, so happy. We finally have a reasonable amount of space for 4 people to live and work / be home schooled, if needed. We also have an outdoor space, which came in really handy in these last few days of July, when we had fabulous weather. And we have a normal fridge (let me tell you that coping with a tiny fridge when it was really difficult to go to stores, did not help my stress levels, during lockdown):

[Fridge: Before vs After]

Most of all, we managed to escape just before major building work started in the development where we were previously living, and which was likely to make our lives really, really, really unpleasant.


The owner of our new place was super helpful, and even let us move in a few days earlier than we had previously agreed. So, we managed to celebrate the kiddo’s birthday in the new place. Yay.



Thank you for keeping your fingers crossed for me, if you did. And for sending me your best wishes, and for checking on me during this time.


The downside of moving houses is that I didn’t make as much progress on a paper as I wished, and had to skip a special issue that I was aiming for.


On the subject of special issues, I am really frustrated that a special issue for which I submitted a paper at the end of last month… then pushed the deadline forward by 4 months! Argh. My co-author and I worked so hard to meet the deadline. Plus, it is a very time sensitive paper (related to Covid), meaning that we can’t just leave it there for 4 months. We will probably have to pull it, and add more data to reflect what has happened since then. It’s the second time that this has happened – it is just so infuriating. I understand extending the deadline for a few weeks or a month. But 4???


Continuing on the topic of frustrating paper news, a paper that I had submitted was rejected, which left me a bid sad. At least, I got a conditional accept on another paper, subject to some very minor revisions, which should be easy to address. I also did some revision work on another paper.


The chatbot paper was picked up by a retail magazine, thanks to the efforts of my lovely colleague, Hayley, in the PR and communications department, at Brunel. I was also invited to do a talk about this research at a practitioner conference later this year. So, that’s good news in terms of helping my work reach a broader audience.


On the other side of the “academic writing” coin, I reviewed 3 papers: I recommended accepting one, making major changes to the other, and… rejecting the third one. Moreover, I had my first assignment as Associate Editor for the Journal of Marketing Management. And… blimey, it is hard to get people to review papers. They either reject or, even worse, they do not reply. If you get a request to review a paper, can you please reply promptly? No response just delays the review process, unnecessarily.


Moving on to research, I am working on a research grant proposal with various colleagues. It is a really ambitious project, and a very competitive bid. I am swinging between “why bother?” and “why not?”… several times a day. I am sooo grateful for my colleagues’ confidence. I was interviewed for a research project on AI, and interviewed a research assistant for a research project sponsored by PARSUK. Unfortunately, what we had planned to do has been derailed because of COVID-19, so we asked the sponsor to let us postpone it a bit so that we can make alternatively arrangements. I hope that they agree, because the candidate is great!


Still on the funding front, I finally got the advert out for the doctoral online bootcamp that Mark Carrigan and I are organising, funded by Techne. The workshop is primarily for doctoral students on Techne programmes. So, if you are one – or you know someone who is – join us for this fantastic (I may be a bit biased, here) programme.



On the teaching front, I marked the assignments relating to the MBA course that I delivered last month. I had a very long exam panel (but feeling immensely grateful to be joining it remotely). And I started marking some exams (only 2 done so far – I better pick up pace on this, or I will have a long marathon of marking just before the deadline).


I examined a PhD viva. It was a really interesting thesis, and a very enjoyable 2 hour discussion. Here is the candidate’s perspective. [PS: Congratulations Dr. Brewis!]


Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 17.57.55

I also had several MSc dissertation supervision meetings, as well as meetings with three of my current PhD students (one of whom will soon be finishing and having a Viva, himself).



On the Division Lead front, I have been doing the workload allocation for next year, and trying very hard to be fair with colleagues, while also having to be realistic that – most likely – I won’t be able to outsource marking, etc… next year.


I handed over my Social Media Champion role at Brunel, to a colleague.



On the personal front, I donated blood for the first time in my life. It’s something that I had vouched to do a long time ago. However, I kept postponing it. However, seeing the regular donation photos by a colleague on his LinkedIn feed kicked me into action. It’s a very simple process, and you get one hour or so to yourself. Top tip: don’t take a book, as it is very difficult to turn the pages when one of your arms as a needle in.


This month also saw the introduction of compulsory face coverings in stores, in England.


One day, when I stopped by the store to buy some milk, at the end of my run, I realised that I had forgotten to take a mask. So, I had to wrap to my top around my face.



I couldn’t help thinking that, if I had done that, at the start of this year, I would be met with suspicion. I might not even be allowed in, with my top around my face. Yet, nowadays, I wouldn’t be allowed in without it. Crazy times. Anyway, I now have a new accessory when I go out for a run. #NewNormal



That led me to think about other things that were now part of my #NewNormal. There is the no handshaking rule, of course; and the impossibility of hugging, which still feels unnatural. It felt especially rude when the lovely Sarah Quinton dropped by the new house, to drop some flowers:




Another change is that hand sanitizer is now a regular staple in the bathroom by the main door:



What new routines or items are part of your #NewNormal?

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