Er, what?

So there I am, in the UL writing an essay about volcanic eruption styles, when I get politely accosted by a member of the Japanese film crew that’s been in the library for the past few days.  She asked if I was free to attend a sample philosophy lecture for an hour or so as they needed more students to attend for their film.  Feeling procrastinatorial and helpful, I agreed.

Confusion does not even begin to cover the lecture’s contents.  Words such as “metonymical”, “epistemology”, “hypernomia”, “similitude” and “phalanstery”, along with phrases like “the theory of sublimation” and (my personal favourite) “the binary praxis of neoexistentialism” were bandied about as casually as a football at a kickabout in the park on a Bank Holiday. Other topics included the causes of foot fetishism and deja vu (and that they’re probably caused by the same thing apparently), although someone suggested deja vu is caused by experiencing whatever it is that’s causing the deja vu in a previous life, while another “plausible” explanation was that your spirit flows through time and space in a fluid fashion.

I’m still confused by the whole thing really.  Is philosophy really like that, and everything said is totally serious, or was it an elaborate joke?  Slightly awkwardly, a few jokes were incorporated into the lecture, but (what with me very much being a scientist rather than an arts student) they went completely over my head.  There was a reason why I gave up the arts at school.  Now I can confirm that was a good move!

Don’t get me wrong though, everyone was very nice.  It’s just that philosophy very much isn’t for me!

Back in the Library

Ah yes, the new term’s begun in earnest, and as such, I’ve been living in the UL for the past week.  I have a nicely simple revision plan, namely, write up all the lecture notes as revision notes, go through all the scientific papers on the reading lists and write down interesting facts from them, and then do about a million past paper essay questions.  I’m currently on the scientific papers bit, which is extremely time consuming, as each lecture has maybe 10 references or so, and there are 48 lectures to go through.  Still, I’ve got a lovely spot in the library.  My usual place on the fifth floor on the south front is sadly no longer very usable, so I’ve retreated to my backup position of being by the tower on the fourth floor.  The view’s quite good, and I can see my other haunt from here (the one I go to once the stacks are shut).  Life at the moment is boring and repetitive, but it’s a means to an end!  A couple of days ago I thought of something quite interesting to write about, but I’ve forgotten what it is, so you’ll have to wait for my memory to de-hopelessify itself!

The 160th Boat Race

Each year, more or less, since 1829, Oxford and Cambridge have had a race on the Thames.  It’s a huge sporting fixture in the UK, (one estimate is that in 2011, 17.2 million people watched it on TV, which is around 25% of the population of Britain).  Rowing upstream from Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge for just over 4 miles, it’s a great event to go to.

The rivalry between the two universities is deeply entrenched, ever since scholars from Oxford broke away from the university to form a new one of their own – Cambridge – in 1209.

I met up with AW at a local pub near to the start line at Putney Bridge, the Eight Bells, where we enjoyed a pint or two while waiting for the others to arrive, as we were a few minutes early.  LS, another friend from Cambridge turned up.  He graduated last year and has been living in his native Cyprus ever since, but was back in London for a job interview (which he just got offered), so we were all delighted that he’ll be returning to the UK from September.  An hour later, AC and his girlfriend GD showed up (AC got confused with how the tube works, despite living in London his whole life).  I’d not met GD before, but she was very charming, and we had a good chat.  Finally FJ, GS, FL and EB turned up, along with one of GS’ friends.  We all had some beers and chatted about this and that, until it was time for the race.  The race itself was quite late this year (18:00), owing to the tides.  (For those of you who don’t know, the Thames is a tidal river, and so the race has to be timed correctly with respect to the tides).

We watched the start of the race, and promptly hurried back to the pub to watch the rest of it on TV.  Unfortunately, Cambridge got a beating, and we lost by 11 lengths, which was a disappointment to say the least!

The two teams wait at the start line (Cambridge are the nearer team)

The two teams wait at the start line (Cambridge are the nearer team)

After regrouping, GS headed off to visit her sister, while the rest of us went to a pub by Leicester Square called The Cambridge (seemed the best named pub for us), before going out to grab a rather good Chinese (as we were right by Chinatown).  We went to a restaurant that I’d frequented a couple of times before called Mr. Kong, and we had a lot of food!

Afterwards, it was time to go our separate ways.  I said goodbye to everyone bar FJ (who was walking to GS’ place by Waterloo).  I left him at Trafalgar Square, as my train was from Charing Cross (named after the replica Eleanor Cross outside the entrance – the original 13th century one was destroyed during the English Civil War unfortunately). Or rather, it would have been from Charing Cross.  Unfortunately, Network Rail maintenance meant that there weren’t any trains from it. Instead, I walked to Victoria, through Admiralty Arch, up the Mall, past the Palace, and through St. James’s Park, which was rather a nice and peaceful end to a fun day!

The Final Field Trip

Last week marked the end of my final field trip with my university.  Like all field trips, it was as usual, enormous fun, with a lot of hard work thrown in.  Typically, we were working between 09:00-18:00 every day, with a one hour talk at 19:30, but in true student fashion, we partied at night too.

DSC_2700

We were staying in a small town called Carboneras about an hour or two south of Murcia, to the east of Almería, right on the coast of the Mediterranean.  The weather all week was in the mid 20s and sunny, which was a huge change to the normal conditions in Britain! Unfortunately my very pale complexion took a bit of a beating from the sun, but I tried to cover myself completely everyday, so only the side of my face and my hands got burned.  Yes that’s right, you can have sunburned hands…

DSC_2810

Anyway, the geology was great, and there was a huge variety, with everything from metamorphic petrology (which was my favourite), to palæontology.

Oooo!  Pretty!  Metamorphic petrology in action.  This is a crystal of kyanite.

Oooo! Pretty! Metamorphic petrology in action. This is a crystal of kyanite.

On the met pet front, in addition to the kyanite we found (see photo above), on the last day, we went to visit an unusual volcano.  Due to some peculiarities about its formation, it erupted a large number of garnet crystals, which were now just lying around on the inside of the crater.  (I’m a massive garnet fan, especially as my master’s research project was all about garnet).

Garnets just lying around

Garnets just lying around

Something cool that was pointed out to us was that a lot of the third Indiana Jones film was filmed around where we were, such as this beach scene to name but one.

On the final night, our lecturers took us out to a local restaurant for a traditional paella.  It was amazing!!  Pretty much every type of seafood you could possibly imagine was thrown in, along with various meats like chicken/rabbit/etc.

Paella!

Paella!

Overall, it was a lovely way to finish my university geological field career.  It’s been pretty good for field trips (this was the ninth one), and they’ll be sorely missed after I graduate.

DSC_3090

The End of Term

Well, that’s it.  My final lecture ever has been and gone, and now it’s the end of term, and I return home on Sunday afternoon.  Only one more term remains, most of which will be taken up with revision (AJ, you know you miss the UL times we had, don’t deny it)!  In other news, various things have been going on!

Yesterday was the Sedgwick Club conference, which is a new thing this year, I guess inspired by the Imperial one that was on in February. It was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of interesting talks, as well as being able to catch up with the Oxford geologists (some of whom I met when they came down for the annual Geology varsity football match a couple of weeks ago), as well as meeting some Imperial geologists.

Job hunting still isn’t going especially well.  A graduate geologist job with a company in Cambridge that I was really hopeful for rejected me this morning which was a bit of a pain, but on the upside, I’ve got a phone interview early next week for a job in Woking, so hopefully that’ll go well!  It’d be so handy to have an interesting job already lined up before I graduate, and I’d be able to have a delightfully smooth transition to the real world (where the fun of council tax, mortgages, utility bills and TV licences awaits).  This job looks really interesting too, so fingers crossed that I’m lucky!

I’m off to Spain next week for the ninth and final geology field trip of my degree which should be a lot of fun.  The rocks are pretty diverse, with everything from metamorphic petrology to palæontology being represented.  I’ll bung up some photos of it when I’m back.

The Grind Continues

Another weekend bites the dust, and nothing especially eventful has really happened.  Just another weekend in Cambridge.  I had some fun with the geologists last night.  As there was money left over from the Magical Mystery Tour we had at the beginning of January, the Sedgwick Club rather delightfully decided to splash out and spend it on a free keg (72 pints) for us all, and host a beer/pizza/film night in the department.

This week is another standard week, with lectures, practicals, and the ever present job hunt to look forward to.

I’m very excited about the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics that started on Friday, not only because the Olympics are awesome, but also because my good friend Guy (Kanes) Sucharitakul is competing in it.  He carried the flag for Thailand in the opening ceremony, and will be racing in the slalom and giant slalom events on the 19th and 22nd, so I wish him the best of luck for that!  I’ll definitely be cheering him on!

The New Term

Ah, Lent Term.  It’s been a very busy one so far, with my research project being written up etc.  Thankfully that’s all over now, which is great.  The last week or two were a haze of panic, but at least it’s finished.  Since then, it’s been back to normal lectures and stuff which is oddly relaxing in comparison.

Anyway, now’s when I start looking for graduate jobs, and so far it’s been a disaster (rejections or no replies).  I guess it’s pretty standard stuff for graduates, but hey, just keep going and I’ll hopefully find something!