Hello hello, gentle readers! I hope that everyone is having an awesometacular holiday season!

This year, for ease of reading (and writing), I have decided to split my journaling of Yuletide adventures into two parts. Instead of one "Twelve Days of Christmas", you get two "Six Days of Christmas" posts. Really, it works out to be six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Thus, without further ado, here is what everyone's favourite Nomad has been up to this Decemberween:

Day Zero: (Thu Dec 20) As the sun set at the start of the Longest Night, our coven -- Dreaming Spires -- lit a candle to hold the light through the long dark. Later in the evening, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat led us in a lovely Yule ritual.

Day One: (Fri Dec 21) At the distinctly dark hour of stupid o'clock five a.m., my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I piled into the car and made the ~75 mile drive to Stonehenge. As noted in my previous post, this was my ninth dawn amongst the Stones -- three Summer Solstices, one Vernal Equinox, and five Winter Solstices.

The first seven Stonehenge dawns took after an early Pink Floyd album -- the Sun was Obscured by Clouds, making a cameo appearance... or often none at all. That changed last year, when we were fortunate enough to witness a spectacular Stonehenge Solstice sunrise!

After last year's great luck, I was ready to accept another year full of clouds, with memories to remind me how glorious the experience can truly be. Imagine my surprise, then, when we arrived at the henge to find the pre-dawn mist slowly dissipating, giving way to clear starry skies! That's right, my dear friends! For two years running, we have witnessed the Sun rising to signify the return of the light!

Don't just take my word for it, though! They say a picture is worth a thousand words... but, truth be told, I think these shots convey the beauty far better than any description that I could ever write:

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

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Guess Who? Your Friendly Neighbourhood Nomad greets his old friends, the Stonehenge Stones!

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Here Comes The Sun! The first rays of light emerge over the horizon!

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This is basically the same shot that I took last year, included here for comparison.
(Honestly, I liked last year's version of this one better -- what do you think?)

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Um, wow. Just wow. Really, do I need to say anything else here?

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From a different vantage point. If you look closely, you can see that the Sun is passing through two of the Stonehenge archways here. Behind the large inner arch in the foreground, there is also the lintel of an outer arch visible. Pretty spiffy, no?

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Finally, the new Sun rose high enough that its brilliant light made everythng else seem dim by comparison. This one is taken well after Sunrise, and shortly before the site was cleared.

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Two years in a row? How lucky is that?! And what an amazing way to welcome in the return of the light! Huzzah!!

Day Two: (Sat Dec 22) Much holiday prep during the day; in the evening, [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat went out for a delicious Yule feast at one of our favourite Oxford restaurants.

Day Three: (Sun Dec 23) Started the day by ringing a quarter peal of mixed doubles -- Plain Bob, April Day, and Grandsire -- at St. Nicholas Church in Old Marston. I am pleased to say that the quarter was a success; this makes my second quarter peal of the month.[*] Later in the day, I also rang at St. Giles Church before their annual candle-lit carol service. Along with [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, we stayed for the service. The atmosphere is really quite lovely, with the church lit up by all those candles and the celebration of the season through singing!

Day Four: (Mon Dec 24) More holiday prep ensued during the day; in the evening, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went out for a Christmas Eve dinner at The Old Parsonage Inn. Over the past couple of years, we have slowly been sampling some of the best restaurants in Oxford, splurging on an expensive meal for special occasions. This marks another one checked off the list! The food was absolutely excellent, and the venue was delightful -- particularly since we managed to reserve the table near the fireplace!

Day Five: (Tue Dec 25) In the morning, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I woke up early to see what had been left under the tree and to open our presents! I received many lovely gifts from my beloved... but, without a doubt, the most impressive was a fantastic new Citizen Eco-Drive watch! Vunderbar -- I have been in need of a new watch! Actually, this is my first analog wristwatch. I have always appreciated the art of timepieces but, until recently, opted for a high-tech digital watch for practical purposes. Now, after a quarter of a century, my smartphone can do everything any watch of mine ever could manage (and more)... which frees me up to go for aesthetics on my wrist, rather than functionality!

After all the unwrapping was done, we spent a bit of quality alone time together before packing up our bags (and a kitty) and heading out to London. Our destination was the latest home of D&J, who were hosting the Christmas feast. And what a feast it was! Other than the roast goose, all of it was vegetarian-friendly: The stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the potato and onion mix, the carrots, the roast chestnut chutney[**], the sweet potato, the onion gravy -- incredible! For those of who could not enjoy the goose, there was even a yummy mock chicken dish as a substitute!

After dinner, we played a few party games like Werewolf and Celebrity[***] before the dessert was brought out: Pumpkin pie and homemade ice cream and cheesecake! My diet may have gotten slightly derailed for a day -- whoops! But, hey, it's Christmas, right?

Day Six: (Wed Dec 26) We stayed over at D&J's after the big Christmas party to spend Boxing Day in our pyjamas with these dear friends. The mellow follow-on to Christmas was part of the plan, with nothing more strenuous in the works than a few rounds of No Thanks! and some Christmas movies, like It's A Wonderful Life and Patrick Stewart's 1999 version of A Christmas Carol.

After an exciting Christmas and a mellow Boxing Day, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I stayed over in London with D&J for one more night, before heading out for more adventures the following morning. But I believe that we have come to the end of Day Six, gentle readers... so stayed tuned to hear about Nomad's Six More Days of Christmas!

[*] The first one, on December 16th, was a quarter peal of Cambridge Surprise Minor -- my very first quarter of a Surprise method... and a significant milestone in my accomplishments as a ringer!

[**] Try saying that five times fast!

[***] A new game, for me, but one that bears a striking resemblance to an old favourite: Bag of Nouns.

Hellllllo, LJ! (or at least all six people that are left here)

A very happy almost-Yule to you all, my gentle readers! I hope that everyone is having a spectacular holiday season! Huzzah!

In just over an hour, the sun will set in Oxford, starting the longest night of the year. Our coven, Dreaming Spires, will light a candle -- as we always do -- to carry the Light through the longest night and into the new dawn. Tomorrow morning, we will greet the new Sun at Stonehenge, as has been our tradition for several years now -- this will be our fifth Winter Solstice spend amongst the ancient Stones.

I shan't dare to hope that we will see anything nearly as breathtaking as the dawn that greeted us last year. That was my eighth Stonehenge sunrise[*]... and the first where I actually saw the Sun make more than a cameo appearance through the clouds. This is England, after all! The temperature is to remain above freezing, so there's no chance of snow on the Stones, either, like we enjoyed in 2009 and 2010.[**] Still, the chance of precipitation is between zero and 20%... so we are likely to stay dry. Unlike, for instance, at Summer Solstice 2008, where the sky leaked down on us all night.

Of course, some also say that tomorrow will be the end of the world. Well, if the world is going to end, I think that Stonehenge is an excellent place for us to see it off! May just climb the Stones to get a better view for the final farewell. I know you aren't supposed to but, really, who's going to stop me if armageddon is in progress??

The one burning question I have, dear friends, is precisely the same one that I had the last time the world ended, about a year and a half ago:

The world ends tomorrow. Fine. I buy that. Who am I to argue? But... at what time will it end?

No one ever seems to know the precise time of these things. Always the day; never the time. For something so important, you think they would like to be precise! Do I have time for one last cup of tea, or don't I?

If somebody could provide me with a little more precise timing information, I would be much obliged. Otherwise, have a fantastic End-of-the-World tomorrow, everyone, and I shall write more on Saturday...

[*] Summer Solstice in 2007, 2008, and 2009; Spring Equinox in 2011; Winter Solstice in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

[**] 2010 saw us experiencing a snowball fight inside of the Stonehenge circle! Now how spiffy is that?!

My beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, and I returned to Oxford from Nottingham[*] earlier this evening, where we had travelled to commemorate Samhain with our traditional Ancestor Circle. I was rather lucky, having no new people to toast this year; unfortunately, not all others in our circle could say the same.

I have done this particular ritual more than any other, as I first partook of it in 1994, when I was only nineteen. Nearly every Samhain since, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have repeated the ritual -- that's nearly half my life now! The long continuity means that I know most of the stories that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat will tell, and vice versa; there is a certain comfort in hearing them again, year after year.

We started doing the Ancestor Circle with others in the UK back in 2008; this marks the fifth year that we have held the Circle with our Pagan friends here. This year, we had seven people in our Circle -- besides [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and myself, there was one person who had first joined us in 2008, one person who had first joined us in 2009, one person who had first joined us in 2010, one person who had first joined us in 2011, and one new person for 2012. It made me smile seeing each year thusly represented.

For reasons of privacy and confidentiality, I will not repeat any of what happened within the Circle itself. I will note, however, that this ritual marked the close of the 2011 - 2012 Wheel of the Year. Once again, I am pleased to note that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I were able to celebrate all of the sabbats in this Turn of the Wheel. The Wheel has turned four times since we first committed to making this happen; I am happy to say that we have succeeded in three of those four times; only in the 2009 - 2010 Turning did we slip, when much of our life was thrown into disarray due to the chaotic energy of a particular person who was in our coven during that period. Not only have [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I continued to honour our commitment to WORK all the sabbats, but we have added others along the way. For instance, this Turn was the first time that [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth was present for all sabbats -- so many congratulations to her!

I hope that all had a most blessed Samhain. As the new year begins, there are many new beginnings to look forward to; for instance, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat starts her new job tomorrow and she becomes a British citizen next month. I am excited to see what other adventures the new year will bring.

[*] Well, more specifically, Long Eaton.

anarchist_nomad: (The cape as red as blood)
( Oct. 10th, 2012 11:01 pm)
Returned to the Event Horizon last night, following the nearly nine hundred mile drive home from the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan (SSOP) festival. This marked my sixteenth year attending, and eighteen for my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, who starting going two years before me. We have moved around quite a bit in that time, living in different states and different countries... but we always make the October pilgrimage. The SSOP is my spiritual home, and the people that attend are my extended logical family.[*]

This year, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I were organizers again, like we were in 2010. Back then, we did it all on our own; this time, we were part of a team of six -- working with the ever-awesome [livejournal.com profile] jeneralist and three others, we put together a pretty spectacular gathering... if I do say so myself!

On the long drive home yesterday, I had plenty of time to mull over the long weekend just passed. It was quite spectacular, in many ways... and just what this doctor ordered! There was, of course, all the usual excellence -- like the various rituals, some great workshops, going canoeing, the fire circle, taking in the breathtaking Autumn foliage, going to the Sunday night dance, et cetera, et cetera, and so forth. I did not find time to make it to the sauna this year, but I did spend some lovely time in both of the Sacred Sexuality spaces -- the Temple of Aphrodite[**] and RG's Dark Temple.

As always, there were many awesometacular new people at the festival. I want to make a particularly special shout-out to my newest LJ-friend, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] creativexangst -- welcome aboard, sweetie!

In addition to the parts that are the wonderful staples of the SSOP, there were certain extra bonuses that made this year even more special than usual. For instance, I received multiple heartwarming comments about how well [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had handled the community crisis of 2010, which unexpectedly exploded into our laps during the year that the two of us had been entrusted with the stewardship of the community. Our efforts at the time sucked up enormous time and energy; two years later, however, it is clear that they were a success. This acknowledgement was immensely gratifying. I did the WORK as a labour of love... but it is a nice surprise to see the fruit of said labour recognized.

Another unexpected moment involved finding out that I am a movie star! Okay, a really really minor movie star... but still. Has anyone ever heard of a 2005 film called "The F Word"? I had heard of it before but, not being much of a movie buff, never seen it. Then, at dinner one evening, CR comes up to me and asks if I knew that I was in said film. Um... what?? As it turns out, the movie uses interview footage taken of me shortly after I was released from jail following my arrest at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. I very vaguely remember giving that interview, but I never followed up on it after. The film intersperses the footage of me with a press conference by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, using my words to put the lie to his. Excellent!

Perhaps the most touching moment of all came from the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] bloodsong1.[***] I met this fantastic woman only last year but -- as is so often the case in poly-friendly community -- we have a bit of a strange relation. She is the widow of the ex-husband of my first poly partner, from waaaaaay back in the mid-90s. That's right, my ex-secondary's ex-primary's wife. I very much enjoyed meeting her and was rather pleased that she returned to the SSOP this year. This time around, she brought her two children: IDK (aged 12) and the Cuteness (aged 5). IDK glommed onto me immediately, wanting to play with boffer swords and go canoeing together and eat his meals with me. I was really touched by this bond... and further honoured by a request that his mother asked of me regarding IDK. Without [livejournal.com profile] bloodsong1's explicit permission, I won't mention details in a public forum, but I can say that I was delighted to accept.

This was most likely the final SSOP to be held in the buildings that have been our home for twenty-two years.[****] By next year, the current buildings may be beneath one billion gallons of water; we will be on the same site, but in new structures currently under construction on higher ground. The gathering ended with a procession from the old buildings to the new, bringing our essence with us to transfer to our new home. It was a most fitting ending.

Of course, every ending brings with it the promise of new beginnings. In this case, the SSOP ended with multiple invitations, to visit HY and EB in NYC, to visit with AB and [livejournal.com profile] rbdarkly in Kingston, and so on. As we urgently needed to get back to the Event Horizon to start packing up the house, we had to defer these invitations until we return to the States in December. However, they were still very much appreciated; it feels good to have a community where one fits in so well and just belongs.

With all these amazing happenings, I was feeling very well balanced and grounded on the car ride home -- a most welcome change from the drive out, where I was feeling rather ungrounded about some matters that have nothing to do with the SSOP. I was thinking how very good this year's SSOP was for me... until, sitting down to write this entry, I happened along a post written just after the 2010 festival. Ah, it looks like this may not be the first year that I have come away from the October Festival feeling refreshed, rebalanced, and rejuvenated. I guess that is why P**T*** is home!

I will wind down this entry now with a picture, taken on Sunday afternoon by your friendly neighbourhood Nomad. Tis the famous Wiggly Bridge that is such an icon of the site where the SSOP takes place. Enjoy!

Sunday October 7th 2012: A Bridge Over Peaceful Waters

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There is much to do in the next two weeks before I head back to Merry Olde England. However, that doesn't mean that there will be no time for fun. Having just connected strongly with my East Coast community, I am very much looking forward to connecting with my Chicagoland community at the final Event Horizon party this weekend!

[*] "Logical family", in contrast to "Bio-Logical family".

[**] A great many thanks are due to [livejournal.com profile] kenshardik and CG for making this happen on short notice. At the last minute, the person who was supposed to serve as the Priestess of Aphrodite could not come. After a hurried organizer conference to discuss suitable replacements, I tapped [livejournal.com profile] kenshardik and CG each on the shoulder as they arrived and asked if they could run this Temple. It is very much to their credit that they did not run screaming in horror... and thus the "Acolytes of Aphrodite" were born.

[***] [livejournal.com profile] bloodsong1's own quick synopsis of the weekend can be found here; it features an outfit that I really need to get.

[****] The SSOP goes back over ten years further, but it was at a different location before 1991.

In the interests of being a better blogger, your friendly neighbourhood Nomad is taking a momentary pause from the holiday festivities to update Ye Olde LiveJournal.

I hope that you are all enjoying the Decemberween festivities, dear friends. Here at Chiron Beta Prime, a delightful three-day visit from the lovely [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess and J has just come to an end. Whilst they were here, there was much holiday goodness to be had by the five of us[*].

On Tuesday evening, we brought them to see the Mother Goose panto at the Oxford Playhouse. Panto is a very British holiday tradition and, despite having previously lived on this side of the pond for three years, I was delighted to introduce them to their first panto. Needless to say, a good time was had by all!

On Wednesday, as the Sun began to set, we did our Yule ritual at Chiron Beta Prime. Lighting a candle to keep the light going through the longest night, we did our ritual WORK then celebrated by going to the ever-delicious Pink Giraffe for dinner.

There was also much fun to be had, unrelated to the holiday season. A visit to one of our favourite neighbours, the exquisite Coco Noir; a tour of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein sites, including their favourite pub, the houses where they lived, and a trip to their final resting places; dinner at the always awesome Atomic Burger. However, the highlight of the week was very much tied in with the holiday cheer. On Thursday morning, as the longest night drew to a close, we made our way to Stonehenge to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun from within this ancient Stone circle.

Open access to Stonehenge is permitted on the Solstices and the Equinoxes. I have been attending regularly since Summer Solstice 2007. In that time, I have been at Stonehenge for three Summer Solstices, three Winter Solstices, and one March Equinox. Each experience is magnificent, of course... with variations that make it unique. For instance, Winter Solstice 2009 was the first time that I saw snow on the Stones. Winter Solstice 2010 was the first time that I had a snowball fight whilst within the circle. These nuances keep the experience fresh... and this Solstice was no different.

In fact, this time was extra special, as we finally saw the Sun rise. At the seven previous dawns, the sky was overcast and the Sun could not be seen. The eighth time was a winner -- at long last, I have seen the Sun rise, aligned to shine from the SouthEast through one of the Stone arches. Words cannot do this justice; it was truly a spectacular sight to see. Of course, dear friends, with camera in hand, I did my best to capture this uncapturable moment on [digital] film to share with you.

Here is the new Sun, freshly risen above the horizon.

A closer look; with this dawn, the days will begin to get longer once again.

According to the news reports, over one thousand people were present to witness this breathtaking sunrise. This is much more then the tens of thousands who attend at the Summer Solstice, but still a nice crowd.[**] Of course, with so many people present, I was not the only reveler with a camera on hand. You can see many taking pictures in the above photos and journalists were also there. The Daily Mirror has an article on the event here, and the BBC posted some of their own photographs here.

Of particular interest to me is the second photograph in the BBC collection. My first reaction upon seeing it was: "Oh! They took almost exactly the same picture that I did!" In contrast, [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess's first response was a more astute: "Oh! You and [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth are in the picture!" You can tell which of us is the more observant.

For those who do not wish to cycle through the BBC collection, I have re-posted their image here:

Courtesy of the BBC. Can you find everybody's favourite Nomad in this picture?

Yesterday's trip to Stonehenge was definitely the undisputed high point in a very lovely week. Also, there is much more holiday splendour to come! With [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess and J moved on to other travels and [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth en route to her parents, my darling [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are off to London this evening to visit D&J for Christmas Eve... then home late tomorrow night to spend Christmas Day together at Chiron Beta Prime.

Happy Yule and Merry Christmas, gentle readers!

[*] "five of us" = them, me, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, and the adorable [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth

[**] Actually, one thousand is a much nicer turnout. When there are thirty-six thousand people present, as was the case for Summer Solstice 2009, the site can feel a touch overcrowded.

Good evening, gentle readers!

Your friendly neighbourhood Nomad has been a bad bad blogger of late! Too many lovely goings on and not enough time to write about them. Alas, there are far worse fates!

With only six days left before Christmas, what have y'all been up to, dear friends? Enjoying the holiday season, I hope?

Here in the City of Dreaming Spires, all is quite well. The holiday hecticness is in full swing. On Friday evening, we had a party to celebrate the birthday of my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, starting with a feast at the Pink Giraffe -- one of our favourite Oxford restaurants. Once we were all quite, quite full, the party moved back to Chiron Beta Prime for birthday cookies (replete with firework candle), presents, and games. On Saturday, our coven celebrated the another notch in the Wheel of the Year by doing our Yule ritual WORK. Tis a good start to the season, with much more to follow, of course! The fun continues tomorrow, when the lovely [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess and J arrive for a visit from the States!

Meanwhile, here is a Christmas card for all of you out there in LJ-land! From our living room into yours (or wherever you may be reading this) -- Enjoy!

(click on picture for full version)

anarchist_nomad: (The cape as red as blood)
( Nov. 9th, 2011 08:17 pm)
Greetings, gentle readers! Your friendly neigbourhood Nomad has been a bad, bad blogger. Very little about the past month has been written in these pages. Tsk tsk! Thus, the occasional "Week In Review" post has temporarily been upgraded to a "Month In Review". Here are the highlights of the past month... or at least those that I can remember at the moment!

  • P**T***: The Sooper Sekrit October Pagan Festival went very well, as it usually does. This year was particularly poignant, as it is the last time that we will be in buildings that have been our home for over twenty years now (and for all of the fifteen years that I have been attending). Also, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I seem to have found ourselves running P**T*** 2012. Ooops. This time, it will be as part of a team of seven experienced organizers, rather than on our own, that were elected to guide the community through its transition year.

  • US tour: After coming to the States for P**T***, we stayed for nearly two weeks. This gave [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I the opportunity to do lots of nifty things! Whilst in New York City, we went to see a fantastic piece of experimental theatre called Sleep No More, recommended by the lovely [livejournal.com profile] jeneralist. SNM is loosely based on MacBeth and set in a six story hotel; guests don spectral masks and wander freely through the rooms as the action goes on around them. Later, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I made the journey back to Chicagoland; I drove and she read Sense and Sensibility to me. She reads rather well, adopting different voices for each character. In this way, we finished almost the entire book. Back at the Event Horizon, we spent some excellent time with the grand [livejournal.com profile] gyades. We also had a wonderful visit from the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup. Together, the three of us enjoyed breakfasts at the ever-delicious Butterfield's; we explored the Morton Arboretum in all its autumn glory (including a wonderful art exhibit of a glass pumpkin patch!); and we played many games. The Event Horizon Halloween party was also a huge success, as I wrote about in a previous entry.

  • Theatre: Besides the rather spectacular Sleep No More, my darling [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have been to several shows in the past month. The Oxford Playhouse is on a particularly good role, with a nifty student production of The Picture of Dorian Grey, an excellent new show called Family Business, and the thought-provoking Earthquakes In London. Perhaps best of all, however, was a trip to Milton Keynes last week, where we saw Slava's Snowshow. What an absolute delight! Pure, unadulterated joy! Seriously!! If anyone gets the chance to see this, please treat yourself! The entire show is amazing... but the ending alone makes it worth going!

  • Samhain: This year, my Samhain was nice... but not terribly intense. I cannot pretend to be surprised -- it seems normal that when one Samhain is very highly charged, the following year is much more mellow. For instance, Samhain 2006 was extremely intense... and 2007 barely felt like Samhain. Similarly, Samhain 2010 was very powerful, with many rituals to cut cords and burn away baggage... culminating in my first salt circle. In contrast, this year Samhain was relatively quiet. Our coven of five performed our traditional ancestor rituals of the feast and the toast, thus completing another Wheel of the Year. I am very pleased to say that, once again, we managed to WORK all the sabbats during the cycle that just ended. I am even more pleased to say that the year which has now passed was a very good year in many ways -- [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I received our indefinite leave to remain in the UK, no relationships ended and the existing ones grew stronger, I travelled to a couple of new countries and explored more of Great Britain. Definitely a much better year than the one that came before, which was rife with drama, tension, and strife.

    Probably the most important part of this Samhain was a ritual that I ran for somebody else. I was pleased to serve as HP for doing such vital work.

  • Work: Lots going on right now. Fiducial volume optimization with one of my graduate students; particle interaction studies on neutrino-induced charged current positive single pion interactions; professional seminars and outreach talks; you name it!

  • Misc: After being on a de facto hiatus from bell ringing over the Summer, due to travel, I am back to regular ringing at least once per week. That is very good for me. Gaming sessions have also happened a couple of times since my return to the City of Dreaming Spires. Oh, and I met Eric Drexler at a Halloween party last week; we spent some time chatting about supernova and neutrinos as well as projects that fall in the gap between physics and engineering. He is giving a lecture on nanotechnology tomorrow afternoon, which I am very much looking forward to attending.

On that note, gentle readers, I must end this entry. For I am writing from Ye Olde Oxford Tube once again... and we are very nearly home! Have a lovely evening, dear friends!

anarchist_nomad: (Default)
( Oct. 3rd, 2011 02:30 am)
Looks like it is going to be one of those weeks. You know, the kind where I live up to my sobriquet! I am writing this entry right now from Haneda Airport, very near to the observation deck spot where this entry was written.

It is Sunday night. I am in Japan. On Monday, I fly six thousand miles back to Merry Olde England, where I will get to enjoy spending one day at Chiron Beta Prime with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth. On Tuesday, I fly four thousand miles to Chicago, where I will spend one day with the gratuitous [livejournal.com profile] gyades at the Event Horizon. On Wednesday, I drive eight hundred miles to New York City, where I will be reunited with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat[*]... as well as the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and her spiffy husband, A. On Thursday, I rest. Then, on Friday, we drive two hundred miles to the [UNDISCLOSED LOCATION] where the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan Festival will begin! Huzzah!!

Lao-Tzu said that "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Whilst this may be true, the journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single flight!

Just a few more hours until it all begins! Very excited, as this should be a most excellent week, filled with loads of awesometacular people!!

[*] I will also see my darling [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat during my day in Oxford, but we are taking separate flights, on separate days, to separate locations in the States.

Landed in Japan to find the weather is warm[*], the wind is fast, and the rain is heavy. Looks like I have found myself in the midst of a typhoon!

About to hop a bus to Tokai, my first visit there since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Disaster disrupted our operations at J-PARC back in March. This poor country just can't seem to get a break this year!

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that my last weekend in Oxford (for now) was absolutely fantastic! [livejournal.com profile] fire_kitten and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to a dance performance at the Oxford Playhouse on Friday; I attended a bell ringing course on Stedman Triples on Saturday; and we did our Mabon ritual on Saturday night. All of this was fun and good... but the highlight of the weekend, without a doubt, came on Sunday when [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I spent the day at the Cotswold Wildlife Park. My beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat had bought me a ticket to be Zookeeper For A Day, and it was an utterly fabulous! All three of us had a most awesometacular time, with penguins and tenrecs and giraffes and lions and iguanas and lemurs and more! (Oh, my!)

This amazing experience deserves a write-up of its own -- replete with pictures and full descriptions. Such will come but, for now, the above placeholder is all you get, gentle readers... as I must be off to catch the bus to Tokai!

Stay tuned!!

[*] About 26oC, or nearly 80oF.

...the lovely [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth has taken the record for my longest emotionally serious and significant relationship in the UK![*] Huzzah! Congrats to us, Sweetie! And here's to the many fun times ahead!

In other news, this week has been both hectic and full of surprises. Hectic is easy to explain: I leave for Japan in eleven days, with a collaboration meeting to prepare for. I have one or two analyses of my own to present there, plus two or three students that I am helping to ready for presentation, as well.

One day after returning from Japan, I head to New York for P**T***, the Sooper Sekrit Pagan Festival. This P**T*** will not be quite as much work as last year, since we are not the organizers this time. Still, I continue to wear a lot of Official HatsTM in the community: Vice-President (along with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat), member of the Board of Directors, Chair of the Feedback Analysis Committee, and now a new administrator for our new online facilities. Roughly translated, that means boatloads of work! So even though Dreaming Spires[**] is not running the show this year, preparing for P**T*** is a rather involved process. At the moment, I am preparing two workshops, using our expertise from last year to assist the current organizing team, writing the closing ritual for 2010, interfacing with the main ritual coordinators, preparing a private ritual with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, and gearing up to field questions about the feedback analysis. I am not the only person working this hard. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat is certainly doing as much as I am... and I know that several other people on my f-list are also busting their butts in preparation.[***] Tis proof of how amazing P**T*** is -- I would not give so much if I didn't love the community so very very much!

Other items that have (or will have) grabbed some of my attention include: Bell ringing at Iffley on Wednesday and at a new tower -- North Hinksey -- last week; theatre in Oxford tonight, and on Monday with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon; and the annual Oxford Open Doors event this weekend!

As for the surprises? These have come in various shapes and colours. For instance, in one of my online games of Carcassonne: The Castle, it seems as though I may defeat the #2 player on the site to advance to the finals in my current tournament. Being the #14 player, this was not at all expected! In the other part of the playoffs, the fantastic [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach has completed a similar upset, trumping the #4 player to advance. If I can pull this off, it will be the first time that I face off against a friend in tournament play... and for a championship, no less! Definitely not what I expected... but good fun!

Another surprise was, less than one week after declaring my intention to leave the UK bisexual community, receiving an offer to help run the community's biggest event in 2013! Given that the two happenings seem entirely unrelated, the coincidence is rather amusing!

And, of course, I wrote about a really fantastic surprise earlier in the week: Receiving the incredible list of shows lined up for the World Shakespeare Festival next year!! Hooray!

Hurm. This post was supposed to be a quick events round-up leading into an entry about the bells of St. Giles. However, the lead-in seems to have taken on a life -- and a length -- of its own! Perhaps better to end this update now, then, and make a completely separate entry on the bells. Stay tuned, gentle readers!!

[*] For the pedants out there, I should state that I am not considering [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat when counting. Since I imported her from the States, she does not qualify here!

[**] "Dreaming Spires" = Our coven, founded at Samhain 2008.

[***] In the interests of respecting your privacy, I won't say who you are publicly... though do feel free to stand up and take a bow if you like! Y'all know who you are, awesometacular people, and you are absolute gems!

Back from Brushwood now, tanned and relaxed after a week of festival. I just pulled into the Event Horizon, finishing the 502 mile drive in 7 hr 25 min[*] -- possibly record time!

Although I have been going to Brushwood for Starwood (and, last year, Summerfest) since 1998, this was my first Sirius Rising. Twas fun! A decent crowd of approximately 1200 attended, and the weather was absolutely perfect -- the best that I have ever seen in a week at Brushwood! Clear skies and warmth with virtually no rain all week! This also made for some spectacular views of the moon, which was full on Friday (more on that in a bit).

Not surprisingly, my favourite parts of the festival were the site and the people. It seems that, after sampling the new Summerfest in 2010, many of the former Starwood crowd decided to try out Sirius this year. Excellent! I frequently enjoyed the company of the Lansing Pagans & Co. I got to spend some delightful time with the adorable [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] livetbd. And, of course, I had the pleasure of seeing many old friends who I only meet once a year.

Being a water elemental, I also indulged at least once per day in the "sacred rite" of jacuzzi-pool-jacuzzi-pool-jacuzzi! And almost every night saw me dancing to the drums by the Roundhouse fire. The main sequence of rituals was a bit light, but there were some elements[**] that worked rather well; I may make notes to incorporate some in future ritual design.

Speaking of ritual design: On Wednesday, some of us noticed that there was no full moon ritual on the programme... so we designed and ran our own on Friday night at the Earth Shrine by the North Pavilion. It went well, particularly for such quick work, and we brought in about fifty people. I was particularly touched on Saturday by a few comments that I received from some of the ritual attendees. Apparently, it had been rather meaningful to them -- twas gratifying to hear, as making a positive impact on others is the whole reason that I put effort into such things! The grassroots Friday night ritual may become a tradition; apparently another is being put together for Friday of Summerfest. The idea is to rotate the HP and HPS to give many the opportunity for leadership; I was asked to run the next ritual and would have accepted were I staying for Summerfest! Ah well, there is always next year (more on that in a bit).

Other events worth noting were a rather intensive Lakota sweat lodge on Friday... and, of course, the final night bonfire on Saturday! The wood for the final fire was piled about twenty feet high, with the effigy of a fire dragon on top. Although significantly smaller than the Starwood bonfires of yesteryear, the Brushwood bonfires are still the largest of any that I have encountered.

Overall, everything that was there was excellent! However, I could not help but noticing what was missing. Ever since ACE and Starwood left, after 2009, the energy at Brushwood has been much more mellow. I miss the old intensity. I miss the midnight rituals... I miss mud wrestling and human bowling... I miss the "Meet, Beat, and Greet"... I miss "Party Like A Rockstar" and the "Rumble in the Jungle"... I miss the Pufferdome and the Time Machine. Heck, I even miss the so-called "Faildome" of 2009, if for no other reason than it made for great jokes! Brushwood after midnight used to feel alive and pulsing with energy; now all there is at that hour is the Roundhouse. Much as I do love drumming and dancing about the Roundhouse fire, it is a loss that the other options are all gone.

With that in mind, I spent a goodly part of the long drive home thinking about what I want to do in the future for Summer festivals. It seems that this is a time of considerable flux for festivals in the NorthEastern quadrant of the United States -- Starwood is now at Wisteria, in Ohio; Summerfest came into being last year; Pagan Spirit Gathering has moved very close to my house, the Event Horizon, in Chicagoland. Tis not obvious what my choice of festival should be in 2012. However, tis late now, so these musings should be the topic of a later post.

I hope that everyone has been having a wonderful week! I look forward to sifting back through my f-list to read about what y'all have been up to!

[*] Including one short fueling stop.

[**] No pun intended.

anarchist_nomad: (England sightseeing -- Mind the monument)
( Jun. 22nd, 2011 12:43 pm)
For those of us in the North, yesterday was the Summer Solstice -- the longest day. As one who thrives on sunlight, this is a wonderful time of year to be living in England, with long lingering twilights that give us skies which never go quite dark. Astronomical twilight begins after 23:30 and lasts for only about three hours -- the rest of the time is nautical twilight or brighter!

In recent years, I have been celebrating Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, taking part in the overnight open access to the Stones. This year, having spent both the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox at Stonehenge, we decided to do something different. Thus, we held our Solstice revels at an ancient Stone circle that is a bit closer to home -- the Rollright Stones, here in Oxfordshire.

The Rollrights are a rather picturesque arrangement of Stones, in three parts. The so-called "King's Men" comprise the main circle of Stones and remind me a bit of the Castlerigg Stones in the Lake District. As we were there for ritual WORK, not as tourists, I did not bring the camera this time. I shall return to take pictures -- particularly since they are so close to home -- but, in the meantime, you can see some photographs here.

Originally, we had planned to hold Summer Solstice at the Rollrights last year. However, just before, PE2 broke our car and we were unable to travel anywhere. Our plans, thus deferred, materialized this year with a potentially interesting impact on the ritual. )

Although quiet and secluded, other groups wandered amongst the Stones during our time there. Some were simply tourists, whilst at least two other groups also appeared to be doing some sort of ritual WORK. The site is quite lovely, with breathtaking views of the countryside from the King's Men Circle. I definitely plan to return -- both for future ritual WORK... and also as a proper tourist with camera in hand!
I've but one weekend in Oxford between the recent trip to Europe and the upcoming week to Asia. That weekend is rapidly drawing to a close now. It has been mellow, but fun!

On Friday evening, things got started when I came home from work to spend a spiffy night with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, the exquisite [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] fire_kitten, and the devious [livejournal.com profile] ayaron at Chiron Beta Prime. We ordered pizza and played games; I taught Puerto Rico to [livejournal.com profile] fire_kitten and [livejournal.com profile] ayaron and managed to squeek out a slim win during a close game.

On Saturday morning, we made our way just outside of town to pay our annual visit to the bluebell meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum. Thanks to the hottest April on record, the bluebells were a bit past their prime, but they still made for a pretty stroll.

Here is my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and I in a lovely Beltane photo at the arboretum:

And here is a peacock, just because:

On Saturday evening, our Beltane ritual took place, marking the halfway point in the wheel of the year. In 2008-2009, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I worked ritual with more-or-less the same group at every sabbat. It worked really well and coalesced into an experience that was greater than the sum of its individual rituals -- most of which were pretty spectacular by themselves! I missed doing that last year, so we have returned to the practice for the 2010-2011 turn of the Wheel of the Year. Once again, it is proving to be rather powerful WORK.

Finally, we wound down Saturday with a very interesting kink discussion. Details of which are not suitable to be repeated in this forum.

Sunday morning -- today -- I had an excellent lie-in with my dearest [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth. The early afternoon was dedicated to practicalities, like setting up logistics for my upcoming trip to Japan (work) and Korea (play). In the evening, I rang bells at St. Giles for a quarter peal attempt -- the method was Grandsire Triples and I rang the treble. Ringing was followed up by a stint at the Barton Pool with [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, where I did my usual mile of crawl. We then headed to the cinema, where we met [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] ayaron for the 21:00 showing of Thor. Visually stunning, I expected better of a collaboration between JMS and Kenneth Branagh. Still, there were amusing moments.

All of which brings us to the present moment. When I finish this write-up, I will phone the sweet [livejournal.com profile] livetbd for a spell... then make my way off to bed! Less than one week remaining in Oxford before I jet off again, and much to do in that time!

So, as you can see, gentle readers, it has been a quiet weekend but a good one, nonetheless. I hope, dear friends, that you have also had a pleasant time... and that you have a lovely night!
Happy Beltane, Everybody! Hooray for Beltane and warm Spring weather!!!
anarchist_nomad: (Intrepid explorer)
( Apr. 7th, 2011 07:02 pm)
Welcome, gentle readers, to my first post written at the age of thirty-six. Wowza, it has been a long time since I wrote in this space; probably the longest gap in the seven and a half years that I have been keeping this journal!

My apologies, dear friends, for going AWOL. Twas not my intent, but there has been a lot of life going on of late and somewhere along the line I simply fell out of the habit of updating. Let's try to re-establish that habit, shall we? After all, most of you are a continent away and I only get to see you a couple of times each year, if that. This journal serves as the primary means to keep in touch en mass, and it should continue to fill that noble function!

To this end, I shall attempt to bring y'all up to speed in the near future with a "State of the Nomad" review post. That should at least summarize the past month of recent events, from our explorations of England[*] to bell-ringing milestones [**] to a lovely nine day visit from my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup[***] to theatrical escapades[****] to Paganesque goodness... and more!

For now, however, I want to resume journaling by picking up from the very topic where I left off: Namely Japan and its recent earthquake problem. It is with some sadness that I have learned of the latest quake that hit a short while ago today, recently enough that it was still red (indicating "within the last hour") on this map when I first saw it. It was "only" a 7.4 magnitude, compared to last month's 9.0, and so the tsunami waves are "only" expected to be about three or four feet tall. Only. My heart really goes out to the people there, with all that they have had to endure in the past four weeks.

The whole situation in Japan has had me very wound up over the past month. All of our foreign collaborators were repatriated safely, including the four students from Imperial College who were on long term assignment there. For the three who were in Tokai when the quake hit, you can see that they were severely affected. At one point, I took the arm of one and shook it, explaining that I was illustrating the worst quake I have ever felt in Japan. I then offered my arm and asked him to show me what he had felt in Tokai, where the quake was about a six. He declined to do so, saying that he would have to pick me up to demonstrate, as he had been "tossed around like a rag doll" when it hit. Oi. No wonder they are having trouble re-adapting. One student has taken a month off to go to Israel and recuperate; it says something when one heads to Israel and the Middle East -- especially now -- for relative rest and relaxation!

Besides our people, there is the J-PARC facility to consider. At present, it is not operational. Damage assessment is still ongoing, so there is no definitive estimate of when we will turn T2K back on and resume collecting neutrino data. Optimistically, it could be by the end of the year. Time to cross fingers and touch wood.

Ironically, despite the quake, this will be the first time that I attend the middle collaboration meeting of the year on schedule. We have three big meetings per year, early middle and late. I began attending in January 2009, shortly after I joined the project. In 2009, our middle meeting was cancelled with less than 24 hours notice due to an outbreak of swine flu in Japan, then rescheduled for two months later. Some people were already in flight when this happened. Whoops! In 2010, the middle meeting happened on schedule... but I, and many others, were unable to attend due to the Ash Cloud That Ate Europe (i.e., the eruption of the Icelandic volcano that grounded flights out of Europe). Now, in 2011, the worst disaster of them all hits -- one of the four greatest earthquakes on record. In response? Our meeting is moving location, as Tokai is not currently suitable to accommodate us, but will take place in Tsukuba (at the KEK laboratory) on the appointed dates. Go figure!

By coincidence, today was not only the day of another large quake in Japan... but also the day that I learned that the meeting will be taking place when it was originally planned and that I will be travelling to Japan next month to attend. I've some Super-Kamiokande shift to do afterward, so I am planning to be in Nihon for about two weeks next month. Very much looking forward to the returning, as I do love Japan!

The Oxford Tube has almost returned me home now, so I should post this and get ready to disembark. Probably for the best, really, as the only other things that I have to say about Japan involve commentary on the news coverage in recent weeks. Given that the coverage has been sensationalistic and horrendous -- focusing an undue amount of attention on nuclear reactors and all but ignoring the fact that half a million people have been homeless and without food, water, or power -- it is probably best that I not launch into that rant now.

Hope all is well with you, dear friends! Hello, LiveJournal, it's good to be back!

[*] E.g., Dover, Windsor, and Chester

[**] E.g., my first attempts at ringing spliced methods, half a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples on a working bell, and touches of Stedman Doubles and Triples

[***] Replete with an awesometacular party, a road trip, and lots of gaming!

[****] E.g., Derek Jacobi's King Lear and Chess and Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece performed by the RSC

[*****] E.g., Equinox dawn at Stonehenge with [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and [livejournal.com profile] josington, experiencing ritual by the local Druids... plus a fantastic Oestara ritual run by my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and making contact with local Oxford Pagan groups.

Good Friday to you, gentle readers! As you may (or may not) have noticed, the Nomad has not been the most conscientious blogger of late. To that, I say: Um... whoops! In an attempt to get the LJ ball re-rolling again, I bring to you that time honoured and ever-reviled much anticipated of entries: The Week-in-Review post! So sit tight, dear friends, and fasten your seatbelts! The week is about to begin!

Friday: Last Friday, I spent the day with a visiting [livejournal.com profile] josington. Although I stayed home from work, it was still a workday and, thus, we passed the time by installing Ubuntu and other useful software onto my new laptop. In the evening, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to visit the supertastic [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach, who gave us lessons on how to make our own [vegetarian] sushi. Much yummy food was made and consumed; there was also a game of Settlers of Catan, in which I eked out a very difficult win. On our way home from [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach's place, we picked up the adorable [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth from The Island. Once home, all four of us -- [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, [livejournal.com profile] josington and I -- stayed up late with much talking and cuddling.

Saturday: Woke up early and made my way into city centre with [livejournal.com profile] josington to attend OxCon, the annual gaming convention hosted by the Oxford University Board Game Society. These days, I mainly attend for the Puerto Rico tournament. This consists of four games of PR, with tournament points calculated based on the scores of individual games. I have been participating since 2007, making this my fourth year[*]. By the end of the third game, I was ranked amongst the highest four players, thus earning myself a seat at the top table for the final game. Alas, I came in third (of four) there and so I did not win the tournament. Maybe next year.

In the evening, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] fire_kitten rounded out our numbers to five. We made our way to the delicious -- and vegetarian -- pub, The Gardener's Arms for dinner, then came home to play games. We started with Apples to Apples, in which the delightful [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth achieved victory, then finished up with Bohnanza, where my darling [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat took the cake. Or at least the beans.

Sunday: Sunday began with [livejournal.com profile] josington and I making our way to St. Andrew's church to ring bells for services. After that, she made her way to a Quaker meeting whilst the four of us who were left headed out to the church-turned-restaurant, Freud, for brunch.

In the afternoon, we all reconvened in Chiron Beta Prime and prepared for our Imbolc ritual. This was the third ritual that we have WORKed together in the current turn of the Wheel of the Year. Just as we did two years ago, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have committed to observing all eight sabbats during this turn. In October, my dearest [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat ran our traditional Samhain ritual; in December, I stepped up to the proverbial plate and ran Yule; now [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat re-took the reins to be HP for Imbolc. The ritual itself was rather interesting, involving elements that I had not worked with previously. I cannot give much detail in a public forum, but my sweetie put together another job very well done!

After ritual, [livejournal.com profile] fire_kitten needed to go. [livejournal.com profile] josington and I headed out at the same time to ring bells for evening services at St. Giles church, in city centre. Shortly after we returned home, [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach arrived. Together, the five of us played Puerto Rico. Because I had not played it enough the day before, of course! Actually, I rarely get tired of PR... and a five player game has a very different dynamic than the four player rounds that I was engaged in the year before. Due to this, I started out way behind as [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat took a commanding lead early on. She was so far ahead of everyone else that I bet her a pizza she would win. As the game went on, however, some early investments in infrastructure began to pay off and I caught up, winning by eleven points. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat still passed everyone else by a wide margin, but I claimed victory... and she claimed a pizza!

When the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach left, the four of us remaining wound down for the evening with an episode of Jeeves & Wooster.

Monday: Monday morning started, as Monday mornings so often do, with the weekly T2K UK analysis meeting. One of my students was giving a presentation, so I paid particularly careful attention to her talk. It went rather well, I am pleased to report!

After work wrapped up on Monday, [livejournal.com profile] josington and the delicious [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and I met my sweet [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at The Mission for burritos. Then the evening's extra-curricular activities began.

This week, the theme seems to be a double-dose of evening activities. For instance, on Monday evening, [livejournal.com profile] josington and I rang bells at St. Leonard's church in Eynsham -- a new tower for both of us! This makes the eighteenth tower that I have rung at. The Eynsham bells are a little tricky, though nowhere near as frightful as what [livejournal.com profile] josington has dubbed "The Devil Bells of Garsington". Actually, the #4 at Eynsham was rather nice... and the #2 was not bad, either! The band was moderately experienced, so nothing more than Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles was attempted.

When ringing ended, we collected [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth from the Island and went to the aforementioned Oxford Go Club. I played on a 13x13 board with the same gent who I had squared off against the week before. It was close... but he did defeat me, 23 to 11. Meanwhile, the lovable [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth had been learning to play. She and I had a 9x9 game and she did very well for her first match!

The evening ended with us gathering up [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and going for bagels and ice cream at G&D's... then [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth had some lovely alone time for talking and snuggling and whatnot!

Tuesday: During the day, Tuesday was filled with errands. My dearest darlingest [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had our semi-annual dentist appointment, which I am pleased to report went rather well. Then I made a blood donation before bidding [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and [livejournal.com profile] josington farewell.

In the evening, my first extra-curricular activity was bell ringing at St. Andrew's church, here in Headington. That was followed with heading into city centre to meet [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at the Burton Taylor studio for a performance of Edward Albee's first play (from 1958), The Zoo Story. I have seen this before, but not for many years. Indeed, [livejournal.com profile] yavin7 and I starred in a production of The Zoo Story that I had directed for my acting class at Hampshire College, way back in 1992! It was interesting to re-visit the play with adult eyes. Whilst I still enjoyed it, it was not as compelling as it had been all those years ago.

Wednesday: I began Wednesday -- Groundhog Day -- in a time loop... as some of you may have noticed. Then I made my way into London to spend the day working with RT and others at Queen Mary University of London. Upon my return to Oxford, my first evening activity was to ring bells at St. Mary the Virgin in Iffley. I followed that on with a T2K-SK meeting at 22:00. When the meeting ended, my wonderful [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I enjoyed a lovely stir-fry that she had cooked in her new wok, then I wound down for the evening.

Thursday: Yesterday began by continuing the string of meetings that had begun the night before. The first was our weekly Imperial T2K group meeting, which I chaired. Then I had a brief one-on-one with one of my doctoral students, GK, before the collaboration-wide T2K analysis meeting began. We are very close to approving our first results, so the meetings are coming at us fast and strong!

In the evening, I scaled back to only one extra-curricular activity. In honour of a visitor from Sweden, I opted to forego ringing at St. Giles, playing with the Oxford Go Club, and attending the Oxford Pagan moot. Instead, we convened at Skullcrusher Mountain for an evening of transhumanist gaming. We started with Betrayal at House on the Hill, in which AS commanded a hoard of bats determined to suck us dry. Thankfully, we scared them off and won! Particular kudos go to H, our visitor, for role-playing the Professor so remarkably well!

After Betrayal, the kid gloves came off and we played Illuminati. This was a rather long game, and extremely hard fought. I played the Bavarians and, after many hours and a couple of close calls, finally managed to squeeze through to victory!

Hmmm... If one considers each game separately, I suppose that Thursday can be counted as having two extracurriculars, too! Each game certainly took longer than the other activities this week!

Friday (again): Today has been mostly spent on working. And writing this entry. This evening, I will meet my phenomenal [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at the Oxford Playhouse to see our third show of the year, Master Class, a piece based on the life of the opera singer Maria Callas.

And that, gentle readers, is the week that was. Still with me? If so, congratulations for sticking it out through the dreaded WiR post! Consider yourself awarded fifty points for sheer perseverance -- well done!

[*] I was unable to attend in 2009, as I needed to be in Japan for a T2K collaboration meeting.

anarchist_nomad: (Atum -- Sol -- Ra -- Sun)
( Feb. 3rd, 2011 04:57 pm)
Yesterday was Groundhog Day. It was also the day that I proved that the Nomad fails at obscure humour. It has been observed that the previous entry was posted twice. It seems that all who noticed this glitch chalked said duplication up to a mistake. Alas, not one of my dear friends observed that the time loop might have been in honour of Groundhog Day.

Does anyone remember the 1993 film, Groundhog Day? I'm not surprised that my Brit friends may have let this one slip by... but surely some of you Yanks can recall it, no? After all, it has even been added to the United States National Film Registry for being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

For those who do not remember -- or those who have never seen the film -- here is a brief synopsis: The main character, Phil, is caught in a time loop on February 2nd. He repeatedly wakes up at 6:00am [1] on Groundhog Day as his clock radio plays Sonny & Cher's hit I Got You Babe.[2] As a meteorologist, Phil is in Punxsutawney to interview the famous groundhog with whom he shares a name, Punxsutawney Phil[3]. Although he is stuck in a time loop, he can remember all of the previous events. No one else can.

Hence the clues left in yesterday's post. They are all there, calling out in their little clue-voices to be found! Don't believe me? Check out this short clip:

I had several hundred points on hand, ready to cheerfully award to the first person who suggested that I might have slipped into a time loop. But, sadly, no one did.

So, as I said at the start of this entry, the Nomad fails at obscure humour. Or else all of you collectively do, gentle readers. Perhaps it amounts to about the same thing...

Yesterday was also Imbolc, which is the first day of Spring by some calendars. Huzzah! Indeed, there is some significance in this: Today is February 3rd and, for the first time since November 7th, the amount of daylight hours in Oxford is not less than the minimum received in New York City. As a NYC native who has lived half his life in the Big Apple, I use the City that Never Sleeps as my reference point. On the Winter Solstice last year, New York received 9h 15m 05s of daylight between sunlight and sunset. Today, over six weeks later, Oxford receives exactly the same amount, with a precision of one second. The deepest part of the Dark Period -- which I use to refer to the 87 days where Oxford receives less hours of sun than the NYC minimum -- has now ended! Huzzah! Verily, the daylight is coming back!

This last sentence is probably of little use to those who are now under the Blizzard that Ate the United States. Still, for somebody who has been back in the Deep Dark North for nearly a month now, I certainly do appreciate the change!

Interestingly enough, the latitude difference between my once home of NYC and my current home of Oxford is just about enough so that we spend about 1/4 of each year getting less than their minimum (i.e., Winter), 1/4 of the time getting about the same amount (i.e., Spring), another 1/4 getting more than their maximum (i.e., Summer), and then a final 1/4 getting about the same once again (i.e., Autumn). The pattern is clear... but the fairly even divisions of time makes for an interesting coincidence.

[1] Note the time stamp on yesterday's entries.

[2] Note the "current music" on yesterday's entries.

[3] Note the subject field on yesterday's entries.

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! (And Happy Imbolc, too!)
Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! (And Happy Imbolc, too!)
anarchist_nomad: (Center of the Universe)
( Dec. 4th, 2010 11:59 pm)
A few days ago, there was a meme making the rounds in which people were supposed to sum up 2010 in a single word and then encapsulate their hopes for 2011 in a different word. Not being one for memes, I did not participate. However, recent days have involved many plans for the new year.[*] Additionally, it will soon be time for me to make my annual "goals list" -- which I do in lieu of resolutions -- so I have been giving some thought as to what I am hoping to achieve in 2011.

In terms of theatre, the new year already seems to be richly stocked! My beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I already have fifteen sets of theatre tickets for the first third of 2011. Not too shabby, especially as I am planning to spend a month working in Japan during that time! Eight of these shows are in our most frequented venue, the Oxford Playhouse, with a couple of others elsewhere in Oxford -- Marlowe's Dr. Faustus performed by Creation Theatre in the basement of Blackwell Books and an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece at the Burton Taylor Studio. The five other plays will take us further afield: The RSC's new theatres will be the venues for The Tempest, Romeo & Juliet, and another rendition of The Rape of Lucrese. Milton Keynes will be where we see Derek Jacobi as King Lear, and in Woking the lovely [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth joins us for Chess. For the past few years, including this one, my annual theatre count has tallied in the high thirties. With such a strong start, I am aiming to break 40 shows in one year for 2011!

With regards to travel, I have been looking at where the obvious holes are in our English sightseeing and attempting to fill them in. Thus, at a minimum, in 2011, I want to visit Windsor Castle, Chester, Westminster Abbey, the white cliffs of Dover (as well as nearby Hastings and Battle), the South Downs National Park, and the Broads. Also, at D&J's Thanksgiving Party, TH and I made plans for where to go cruising this Summer on his narrowboat; looks like in 2011 we will be cruising the Thames upriver from Oxford -- should be fun! Additionally, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I want to complete the tour of Wales that we started on our fifteenth anniversary in 2009. Back then, we spent five days exploring South Wales; in 2011, we plan to take a similar amount of time in the North. Outside of Great Britain, I would like to take a long weekend off from one of my Japan trips to finally visit South Korea. I had been planning a nice lil' trip to Seoul back in May this year but, to paraphrase Mr. Burns: "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men... can be thrown asunder by volcanic ash!" The other travel question is what to do with the eleven day holiday that has been brought to us by the Royal Wedding. Possibly a road trip to somewhere on the continent? Must ponder further...

Looking at Pagan events, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are no longer responsible for running the Super-Sekrit October Pagan Festival, but we will surely be attending. Indeed, 2011 will make my fifteenth consecutive year of doing so! Besides, the circle that we opened for P**T*** 2010 is still in place and we need to be there to take it down! For my Summer festival, I am a bit more perplexed. This year, I found Brushwood's new SummerFest to be very..... okay. I had fun, but it just wasn't anywhere near the intensity of Starwood. I miss that. So, for 2011, I am currently undecided about whether to return to SummerFest, whether to sample Brushwood's larger and more established Sirius Rising, whether to follow Starwood to their new home at Wisteria, or whether to make a long-overdue return to Free Spirit. Ah, would that I had all of July off to sample three in a row! Any thoughts from you fellow Pagans? Where will you be going in Summer 2011? Additionally, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have plans to get more involved with local Pagan community in Oxford and the UK. Nearly five years after moving to the City of Dreaming Spires, we are still feeling the lack of community on the East side of the pond and we are hoping that this will fill an open need.

In bell ringing, I would like to ring my first quarter peal on a working bell. Thus far, I have only rung QPs on a covering tenor or a hunting treble. In 2011, I would like to ring tower bells for a quarter of Plain Bob Minor or Major. Plus, I would like to ring the trebles to a QP of Plain Bob on handbells. I would also like to get to the point where I feel competent to ring touches of Grandsire (Doubles or Triples), and Stedman (Doubles and Triples). Finally, if I reach the stage where my plain courses of Cambridge Minor are smooth, I will be a happy camper; touches of Cambridge can wait for 2012.

Interestingly enough, I have a very difficult time in assembling professional goals for the coming year. It is a very exciting time for T2K and I want to continue working with my students to get some physics results. But framing specific goals for the next twelve months? That is proving to be more elusive.

Of course, there are other goals that do not fit into specific categories. I would like to go SCUBA diving again in 2011, I would like to try gliding again, I plan to compete in an Olympic Triathlon, and I want to write the book that has been percolating in my head. Plus, I am toying with the idea of reading my entire Iron Man collection, starting from 1963's Tales of Suspense #39 up to the present day.

Those are my initial thoughts as the list of goals for the new year start to come together. What about you, gentle readers? What are you hoping to accomplish and achieve in 2011?

[*] Indeed, there are so many plans falling into place that my next completely free weekend is that of June 3rd to 5th! Not sure how that happened. It used to be usual to find that weekends for the next two to three months were full. Six months, however, has come as a bit of a surprise!

[ETA: Why does the emoticon for "thoughtful" always look so sad? Being thoughtful is not a bad thing!]



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