Les Miserables Look Down, Look Down the PhD Version

In the opening scene of the new Les Miserables movie, Jean Valjean (played by Hugh Jackman) is one of many shackled prisoners trying pulling a large ship into a dry dock during rough seas. The work song, “Look down, look down” is quite dramatic and the whole scene is cinematically spectacular and a powerful opening to a great film.

After reading the latest edition of PhD Comics’ parody of Les Miserables, I thought back to the opening scene in the movie and the prisoner work song. The song’s parallels with PhD student life were striking.

Thus, in the sprit of the the PhD Comics parody, I present a PhD student version of “Look down, look down”. Apologies to Victor Hugo, and all musical productions of Les Miserables.

Look down, look down
Don’t look em in the eye
Ad-vi-sor comes
Don’t let em see you cry

Look down, look down
Your funding’s gone away
No grant renewed
You’ll have to stay T.A.

Look down, look down
Rejected you have been
Reviewed with scorn
Submission number ten

Look down, look down
Your data seems all wrong
Your test has failed
Your research takes too long

Look down, look down
No correlation here
P value high
This is your greatest fear

Look down, look down
Your findings don’t add up
Reject H-1
Perhaps you should give up

Look down, look down
Your database has crashed
There’s no backup
Your research has been trashed

Look down, look down
Your thesis is a mess
You can’t finish
You might have to confess

Look down, look down
Your research goals not met
One more review
You can’t defend just yet

Look down, look down
Not yet a PhD
May never come
You’re not as good as he

Look down, look down
Five years are all but gone
Too late to quit
You’ll have to carry on

Look down, look down
Don’t look ‘em in the eye
Look down, look down,
You’re here until you die

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Creating a Video of Vegetative Cover Sampling

As part of my graduate obligations for a course in methods of measuring and monitoring plant populations, I had to do some type of course project. Though our instructor offered several options of varying difficulty, it was clear that he really wanted someone to attempt to produce a video outlining how to do a method.

As I had done a couple of videos for other projects in the past, I was fairly certain that this would be the most difficult of the graduate project options, but after exploring my other project options, I decided to attempt the video.

So over the last few days I’ve been writing a script, planning shots, doing on-site filming, editing, and voiceover work. Then more on-site filming, more editing and more voiceover work. After several hours of dedicated editing time, I’ve finished the video.

I think it’s pretty good. It’s not great, but it’s got potential. The main challenges were equipment related. It was windy on both filming days and I don’t have fancy microphones, so we had wind noise in some of the live action clips. Despite that I was using an HD video camera that I won at a conference, the video quality wasn’t as good as I’d expected, but it was the best method of filming the video with what we had available.

Anyway, the end-result is an 8 minute video that demonstrates how to sample vegetative cover using the point-intercept method. I briefly walk viewers through what cover is, why it’s commonly measured, and how to establish random sampling locations. Then I illustrate how to lay out a transect and how to sample points using a drop rod. I discuss how to record the data and finish with a demonstration of how the recorded data can be summarized in Excel. (There’s a mistake in that section, that I caught very late in my editing and didn’t want to tackle fixing as it would have required a new voiceover that took me four takes to do the first time. See if you can spot it).

If you’re curious you can find the video on You Tube at: http://youtu.be/NhcNjikpApg

Feel free to provide comments – as long as they’re positive 😉