January Shenanigans

Yes I know, I’ve neglected this blog for far too long, but I’ve been busy!

First of all, Christmas happened, which was lovely as per usual.  I went to see my family and ate an obscene amount of food as is the tradition.  New Year was spent seeing old friends, and no sooner had I settled back into the normal pace of working adult life than I contracted a rather unpleasant bout of tonsillitis that put me in bed for a week.

Anyway, that’s all over now.  Last weekend I ventured back to Cambridge for the first time since graduation, and I had a marvellous time, so this post is going to be about that really.

It’s surprising really, but when I arrived, it was like I hadn’t really left.  Nothing really ever seems to change there, and upon going into the geology department (which was my first stop), I came across a lot of my friends, as many of them have stayed on for Ph.Ds or to work there, and it was brilliant to see them again and to compare notes about the various things we’d been up to in the meantime.  Of course, no visit to the department would ever be complete without popping in to see Fabio, and it was great to catch up.

After my little trip to the department was done, I met up with JS (with whom I was staying that night) in The Mill (an excellent pub of many in Cambridge), and we had a quick drink.  HL turned up too, and it was good to see him again too.  He was visiting the medics, so was only around a short time.  JS and I headed back to College to wait for AW, and once he arrived, we headed off to Formal (which was great, as I’d not been, well, since graduation).

The next day, I bid farewell to JS, and AW and I popped out for a morning fry up in College, after which we went to the UL to re-register as alumni members (so that we can borrow books again if we so wish).  Then I headed over to my sister’s college to dump my stuff (as I was staying with her that night) followed by making for my favourite café – the Indigo Coffee House – to have one of their excellent hot chocolates.

20150124_134441

Their walls are covered with all sorts of foreign currencies, so I donated a note I’d saved from Suriname to their collection.  I don’t think they had any from Suriname, so it’s another country for them to tick off.  Apparently they’ve got around 80-90 countries’ worth of bank notes in total at the moment.

They're literally  not joking!

They’re literally not joking!

Once we’d finished our drinks, AW informed me that there was an ale festival going on in the University Social Club, so we went to see what was on offer.  FL and EB turned up a couple of hours later, but I only saw them for a few minutes before heading back to my sister’s as I had to get ready for a Formal at her college that night (that my parents were also coming to).

It was a Burns’ Night themed Formal, so there was of course haggis and a poetry recital, and afterwards there was a ceilidh which was enormous fun.

The next morning, it was time to leave Cambridge.  It’d been a great weekend visiting, and I’m sure I’ll be back again soon!

Advertisements

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 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.

A Big Challenge

Those of you who know me, as well as those of you who have bothered to read the About Me page will notice that I like books.  Indeed, my post entitled Groundhog Day mentions my ordering a book about Cambridge University Library.  Anyway, with that thought in mind, and by looking through my travel bucket list, I realised that although the country of Bhutan fascinates me, and in spite of my trawling wikipedia relentlessly for Bhutanese topics, I still know very little about this most enigmatic and isolated of countries.

You can imagine my delight when I came across a book (published 2008) that reviews said was very comprehensive, and full of information about this country.  Not only that, but it was written by a former Bhutanese diplomat, and so ought to be pretty accurate (and is endorsed by the Queen Mother of Bhutan).  Should be a decent read then, but where to buy it?

It was at this point that it got a bit tricky, because it seems like you can’t buy it.  “I shall find it in the UL!”, I thought.  They don’t have it either.  The same story applies to the British Library (which boasts 150,000,000 items in its collection).  I even bit the bullet and checked the Bodleian Library (but luckily it’s not there either).

After an exhaustive search (Blackwells, Waterstones, various Hay-on-Wye establishments, etc.), I elected to hunt down the publisher.  However, they don’t have a website.

My next desperate attempt was to have a look on WorldCat, which is a catalogue of the collections of libraries from all over the world.  The three nearest (and only) public libraries that have a copy of this book are in New York, Washington D.C., and Singapore.  However, they all have it down as reference only.

After a lot of digging around, (and I mean a LOT), finally I tracked down one new copy for sale.  There is only one on the whole internet it seems.  A shop in the US is selling it.  So, there are two options.  Either, pay lots more money than I’d normally be willing to for a book, or write to the publisher in Thimphu by post (as there’s no website/email address, or even a fax) to see if they’d sell me one?  Hmmm, I’ll need to have a think about it.

Strange Dreams and a Restless Night

I didn’t sleep too well last night (see my previous post entitled “TKC” for an explanation), and now that I’m alone with my thoughts, one anonymous face amongst millions on the commuter train to London, I start to remember the dreams.  Those peculiar and illogical visions that plague, haunt, or delight us.  One can dream of one’s greatest desires and then be woken to discover that it was merely an illusion, eliciting sympathy for poor old Tantalus.

One dream involved a car hitting me, I survived and was unharmed, but my friends and I had a whip round to pay for the damage ($230 if I recall – definitely US$ not £).  Things then got out of hand for some reason (I think someone said something sarcastic), and we ended up in a strange version of the UL, pursued by the driver of said car who was angrily chasing us with a gun trying to shoot me.

The next dream involved me being in London, outside some church (a representation of Westminster Abbey perhaps?).  Anyway, if you said something of a seditious nature, bulbous lightning rods appeared on the walls and roof (they looked a bit like if a tesla coil met one of those springy wall mounted door stop things you get to stop the door hitting the wall), and produced an arc of light that made the nearest person disappear.  Testing this out, I stood well back, and said some things (of a seditious nature of course), and a couple of passers by got caught in the cross fire.  I became bolder and went closer, but it was too close!  I tried to dodge, but to no avail.  I was hit!  So what happened next I hear you ask?  Well, I was transported to the early 80s.  I guess it was a bit like the effect of those creepy weeping angels off Doctor Who mixed with Ashes to Ashes.  My first thought in the 80s?  “Hong Kong is still a British Territory, I could emigrate there much more easily now than in 2013!”.  Yes, quite…

Dream the third involved me being in a large tent (the setting of Downing May Ball now that I think about it), although I think it was supposed to be Hong Kong.  Anyway, someone there decided that I was to be quickly and efficiently disposed of, so there was a lot of me trying to evade death again…

The final dream involved me living and working on a building site with some friends.  We had a portacabin to live in, and one day I was the only person inside.  Anyway, someone came along to demolish it, so once more, I had to escape being killed.  Everything inside was destroyed, but I survived (along with my phone), so that was alright.

Psychiatrists, feel free to form an orderly queue…

This Is The Life

Another peaceful and fun day today, I could get used to this.  After a morning in bed with some easy to watch TV (i.e. Friends), I got up for lunch with my friends which was enjoyable as always.  I then popped to the UL for a couple of hours in the early afternoon to do some digging around of Easter Island material, and I was not disappointed.  I spent a while perusing a detailed map of the island, to get a sense of the scale and the layout of the place before I visit in September, and then read a book about it.  After that, I played Uno in the gardens with JT and HB which was a lot of fun.

Tonight is composed of a formal at Homerton, with TI (who I shall be meeting in an hour at the bus stop to get the Uni 4 there), along with native Homertonians SP (big shout out to you SP as I know you follow this blog) and JA, thereby making the group sometimes known as Team Dalradian (after the banter filled summer of mapping we shared). It looks like it’ll be enormous fun, and I’m looking forward to it greatly!