Since having returned from Italy, I have been working very hard at the day job; the days have been exceedingly long and full of pressure. I also worked most of the last weekend, both Friday and Saturday. Thankfully, it seems that almost all of the tasks have been completed, although as Donald Rumsfeld famously said, "there are things that we don't know that we don't know".
Accompanying me for the past eight or nine days are stomach aches which range from the mildly annoying to the extremely painful. It's not clear how much these are organic and how much they are psychological - probably 50:50. Things seem to have died down now, although there is still a lingering ache.
The only extra-curricular activity which I had time for was a conference of Priority users, which was held on Monday. This meant that I had to take time out of my extremely pressured work schedule. The conference was on a much larger scale than I expected: apparently slightly more than a thousand people attended. Whilst the location seemed suitable when only a few people were there, it later became extremely crowded. I saw someone that I know, but before I could react, that person disappeared and I never saw her again, despite wandering around for about 15 minutes, specifically looking for her.
The evening before the conference, I prepared a hand out about my research: an explanatory note from me, a letter from the university, the consent form and my SEMS paper. I printed 100 copies of this five page document and stapled them together. I purposely arrived at the conference venue early so that I could distribute the papers. Although I expected a few booths, I hadn't expected the scale of what awaited me. I saw that there was an area with small tables set up so that people could sit down, eat, drink and talk, so after considering my options, I decided to place a few copies of the hand out on each table.
I managed to distribute most of the hand outs this way, then had a cup of tea myself. My stomach was performing acrobatics so I decided not to partake any of the culinary delights being offered. A woman appeared at my table and collected the few hand outs which were on the table, adding them to those which she had already collected. I asked her what she was doing and she said that it was forbidden to distribute those papers. I said that they were mine and that at least she should return them to me. Eventually all the hand outs were returned. A more senior figure kept on saying that it was forbidden; I tried to explain, the more senior woman said that she would try and find out whether I would be allowed to distribute the hand outs, but of course she did not return.
I realised that no one could stop me handing out the papers to people as they went past. This was difficult at first as no one was coming my way and anyway I'm too diffident for this. Eventually I got better at this and managed to distribute personally about 80 copies. I saw that most of the people actually read the hand out and seemed intrigued by it, although later on I saw a few discarded copies. One person actually said to me later on that the research seemed very interesting. Naturally I included two email addresses and my mobile phone number.
Four days later, I am still waiting for the first response.
The conference itself was very disappointing: it was very strategic and modern, whereas I am a tactical and traditional person. In other words, there was very little said which was of direct interest to me; the conference could have been about any ERP program. After a break, I consulted my phone (which had been turned off; it seemed that I was the only person not consulting his phone all the time), I saw several messages from my manager, asking where I was and imploring me to return. As I wasn't feeling well and wasn't enjoying the conference, I decided to leave.
This was a very disappointing day: I didn't make a single contact. I am very depressed regarding the future of my studies as without companies willing to participate, I have no research and without research, I have no doctorate. It may be that the pressure of the past fortnight is influencing this depression, but at the moment I can't see any alternative to cold calling companies, and that hasn't been successful so far. Even the person that I met the day before going to Florence has yet to answer the emails that I have sent him.