The 31st annual Astronomy Weekend at Oxford University is now over. I am delighted to report that the physics-fu has been strong with me during this weekend.

Despite the fact that I was up on "Friday night" until four thirty in the morning, I did indeed finish my talk with hours to spare. Kudos to me! Also, kudos to all those who left comments on my last post, giving me some virtual company through the long night. In fact, I appreciate it enough that, more than offering mere kudos, I will retroactively give one hundred points to each person who left a message for me on Friday ngiht.

I must confess that I was somewhat nervous about presenting my lecture on Cosmic Rays: Messengers from the Extreme Universe. Last year's talk was so well received -- getting me invited back for a second year in a row! -- that I had concerns about being able to fill my own shoes. I need not have worried; immediately after my talk, one person came up to me and said that it was even better than last year. Nice! [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat -- who had come to hear me speak -- commented that it was not as funny as last year's talk... but that was not really a surprise. Although I moments that incited laughter in this year's talk[*], I knew a priori that it would not be as funny. It is very easy to make fun of yourself when you are presenting a talk from a search with no results -- like my dark matter lecture -- and those easy inroads to humour are gone when you actually have significant findings to report.

Nevermind. I can live with being a littls less funny this year. The talk went well, and that was the main thing.[**] Indeed, I even had a few people asking me if I would come back again next year... and saying that they would request it on the comment sheet at the end of the course. Hmmm... is it possible to have physics groupies?

It is a tradition on Saturday afternoon of the astronomy weekend to have an option tour arranged for the attendees. Last year, the tour was of Green College. I sat out, as I wanted to rehearse my lecture. This year, it was of the Denys Wilkinson Physics Building... so I was roped into giving part of the tour. The crowd was broken into four groups, with each group taken to one of four places: The rooftop telescope, the electronics laboratory, a lecture by an astronomy graduate student... and the cryo-detector lab. Can you guess where I was based? The groups rotated so that all the attendees got to do see all four places. As a result, I ended up giving four tours -- each accompanied by a miniature dark matter talk -- of my old stomping grounds... and came face-to-face with my old nemesis: the Kelvinox-400! It seems that this was quite a hit as well -- I later got thanked by many people for the tour and, at the end of the weekend, the organiser[***] publicly commented from the stage that he had enjoyed getting to see the inside of my old lab. That was quite nice of him -- were I prone to blushing, I may have changed hue!

One extra bonus whilst in the cryo-detector lab was that I ran into JI, my old graduate student. He will be finishing up at Oxford in a few months and had talked to me in February about the T2K experiment. Knowing there was an post-doctoral opening at Stony Brook, in the group where I worked for my PhD, I encouraged him to apply. When he did, I wrote him a recommendation letter... and put in an informal word or two to the leader of the group, my thesis adviser. Turns out that he got the position... and has accepted it! Excellent! I think that he will be good for the Stony Brook group and they, in turn, will be good for him. It feels quite nice to be able to make such a match!

Speakers at the astronomy weekend are welcome to stick around to hear the other talks. Last year, I surprised the organiser by staying for all of the talks. Apparently, most speakers do not. This year, I did the same. I really don't understand why more speakers don't do this -- I learned some fascinating things! In particular, I was impressed by the talk on Recent Results from the Hubble Space Telescope[****] and also by the talk on detecting exoplanets via the transit method. I knew that, since the first discovery of exoplanets in 1995, the field had come a long way. However, I was blown away to learn that we can now figure out what the atmospheres and compositions are for exoplanets. Wow. Just... wow.

This evening, with the astronomy weekend behind me for [at least] another year, I went to St. Giles to ring bells for the Sunday evening services. Then I came home and had a lovely dinner with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Over dinner, she informed me that somebody had sent a text to our landline today. It came through as a call with the content being read by a computerised voice. Apparently, it was a silly cheese song. Hmmmmm... Who could have done such a thing? I have a hunch who might have been behind such a devious -- and successful -- plan to make us laugh... but I will not reveal my suspicions until they have been confirmed.

As the weekend begins to wind down, I may pick up the phone and ring some lovely people in the States. There are a few special persons that I have not spoken to in Far Too LongTM. Then I may play a game with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat to wind down before bed...


[*] Like when I used the nickname for the Higgs Boson (the so-called "God Particle") to introduce the nickname for the highest energy cosmic ray yet observed (the so-called "Oh My God! Particle").

[**] In response to a request from [livejournal.com profile] blaisepascal, the slides for the talk can be found here. Alas, due to some large pictures within, the file is about 56 MB. Can it be made smaller? Of course! However, size was not really my priority writing it in the middle of the night before presenting...

[***] Who is a professor at the Open University, a former particle physics theorist, and a current astronomy... writing a textbook on general relativity. Not exactly a slouch in the achievement department.

[****] Mainly because it had, by far, the best photographs of the weekend!


Some things are just too big to be kept from the world. One of those things makes its public debut now! Gentle readers, I give you.....

The Silly Cheese Song Project!

The SCSP grew out of humble origins. Some of you may know that my beloved [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I have so many esoteric things in common that we have taken to referring to ourselves as the Good Twin and the Evil Twin[**]. One of these commonalities is that, in both of our homes, the saying "Cheese is love" has been a household phrase for some time. For me, I use it to explain to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat why there is more cheese than she wanted on her food. After all, if I love her, how could I not give her bountiful cheese? I am not sure of the origin of this phrase for [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and [livejournal.com profile] plasmonicgrid, but I am assured that it has been in use for quite some time.

In any case, if cheese is love then love is cheese. And, during [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup's recent visit to Merry Olde England, I realised that this could revolutionise the way that we listen to music. Just substitute cheese for love in a given song, and see how much better[***] it gets!

Well, this idea could not be kept to ourselves, so we let [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat in on it the very next day. Indeed, this led to a long cuddle-and-giggle session at the Flat With No Name that was gangs of fun! A few days later, my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip was introduced to the concept. And now, it is ready for THE WORLD!!![****]

Below are just a few examples of how the SCSP improves music[*****]:
  • The Beatles:
    All you need is cheese,
    All you need is cheese,
    All you need is cheese, cheese, cheese is all you need.


  • Foreigner:
    I want to know what cheese is
    I want you to show me
    I want to feel what cheese is
    I know you can show me


  • Heart:
    What about cheese?
    Don't you want someone to care about you?
    What about cheese?
    Dont let it slip away
    What about cheese?
    I only want to share it with you
    You might need it someday


  • Meatloaf:
    I would do anything for cheese
    Yes, I would do anything for cheese
    I would do anything for cheese...
    but I won't do that. Oh no, I won't do that.


  • Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes:
    Cheese lifts us up where we belong.


  • Whitney Houston:
    The greatest cheese of all is happening to me.
    I found the greatest cheese of all inside of me.


  • Pat Benetar:
    We are young, heartache to heartache we stand
    No promises, no demands
    Both of us knowing: Cheese is a battlefield


  • The Supremes:
    You can't hurry cheese
    No, you just have to wait
    She said cheese don't come easy
    It's a game of give and take


  • Belinda Carlisle:
    Ooh, Baby, do you know what that's worth?
    Oooh, heaven is a place on Earth.
    They say in heaven, cheese comes first
    We'll make heaven a place on earth.


  • Jackie DeShannon:
    Think of your fellow man
    Lend him a helping hand
    Put a little cheese in your heart

    You see it's getting late
    Oh please don't hesitate
    Put a little cheese in your heart


  • Air Supply:
    I don't know how to leave you
    And I'll never let you fall
    And I don't know how you do it,
    Making cheese out of nothing at all


  • White Snake:
    Is this cheese that I'm feeling?
    Is this the cheese that I've been searching for?
    Is this cheese or am I dreaming?
    This must be cheese


    And, to conclude, one of my favourites:

  • The B-52s:
    If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says
    Fifteen miles to the... Cheeeeeese Shack! Cheese Shack yeah
    I'm headin' down the Atlanta highway,
    Lookin' for the cheese getaway
    Heading for the cheese getaway
    I got me a car, it's as big as a whale
    And we're headin' on down
    To the Cheese Shack
    I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20
    So hurry up and bring your jukebox money

    The Cheese Shack is a little old place
    Where we can get together
    Cheese Shack baby, Cheese Shack bay-bee.
    Cheese baby, that's where it's at,
    Ooo cheese baby, that's where it's at

    Sign says.. Woo... stay away fools,
    'cause cheese rules at the Che-e-ese Shack!

There are some of the best that I've heard so far -- but they are far from the only good ones out there. Get into the Silly Cheese Song Project... and you will never listen to music in quite the same way again! Got any good cheese songs that you want to share? Post them as a comment and I shall award fifty points for each one that makes me laugh!


[*] And what's wrong with that?

[**] Somehow I ended up as the Evil Twin! Go figure!

[***] Or at least funnier.

[****] Cue maniacal laughter!

[*****] I present these without credit to the person that thought of them, as several have been independently suggested by more than one person.


Greetings, Gentle Readers!

As many of you know, I have been nicknamed the Knave of (K)Numbers! Indeed, it is even my honour to serve as such in the unofficial [and purely ephemeral] Tarot deck of the Super Sekrit Pagan GatheringTM! Thus, it will likely come as a surprise to none to learn that I have noticed that this is my 999th LiveJournal entry!

In and of itself, that is not terrible significant. However, it is a harbinger of doom my one thousandth post. And that, Dear Friends, is not something that I could let pass without pomp and circumstance! Nosiree, Bob!

Long-time readers of this journal may recall the special edition that was released for the five hundredth issue of Anarchist Nomad! Copies of this rare collectors' edition can be found here! That epic tome revealed the previously untold secret origin of the Anarchist Nomad!

For issue #1000, something even more amazing, more spectacular, more sensational[*] was required! So uncanny and incredible, in fact, that I could not do it alone! No, Gentle Readers, your assistance is required to bring forth the most mighty and invincible issue of Anarchist Nomad ever!

To that end, I ask you to leave a comment in this, the penultimate chapter in our countdown, providing me with some choice words. Twenty-five of them, in fact! But not just any words, mind you! Each word needs to be a very special type. So special that I have prepared a guide to help you in helping me!

The Guide! (Da da DA dum!) )

Please leave your words as a comment -- the best answers shall both feature in the milestone 1000th entry and win one hundred points! Good luck!


[*] And more web of.

Writing this entry from the Oxford Tube. Brain is fried from a three hour group meeting. Have about two hours to regenerate said brain before the next meeting begins. Whee!

It seems odd to relish the commute home as my time to relax. However, today has been ridiculously hectic -- albeit somewhat productive -- making this the first chance I have had all day to do something fun.

Which means I'm not going to talk about anything physics related. Nope. I'm on break. Instead, I am going to talk about theatre!!


So, as I have already chronicled within these [virtual] pages, last week [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to see Chess. Leaving the show, I realised that what I wanted, more than anything in the world[**] was greens, greens, nothing but greens was the soundtrack to Chess. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an "Original London Cast" recording. And I am sure not going to be bothered with the farce that passes for the Broadway version. What I would love is a copy of the version recorded at the Royal Albert Hall last year. However, that will not be released until Spring so, for now, I have to make do with the concept album.

Said album was acquired the next day. One week later, I am not quite sure how many times I have listened to it... but I am well on my way to having the entire score memorised.[***] Good stuff![****]

Since I ice skate on Mondays and ring bells on Tuesdays & Thursdays, Wednesday night is the best opportunity for theatre. Yesterday was a Wednesday, and it did not break the mould. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to go see the Creation Theatre company perform a version of Hans Christian Anderson's tales in the Mirror Tent. These are the people responsible for giving me hypothermia back in August. Since it is now December, they have wisely stopped doing outdoor theatre for the year. The Mirror Tent is a very spiffy venue for performances. It is one hundred years old and normally lives in Holland[*****]. Creation brings it to Oxford each December to use; last year, we saw them do a production of The Brothers Grimm in it! Fun times!

Finally, I owe an enormous:

THANK YOU

to one of the wonderful Dr. Jens on my f-list[******] -- the ever-amazing ever-adorable [livejournal.com profile] jeneralist. She recently brought it to my attention that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan will be starring together in a production of Waiting for Godot that will be touring in the UK next year. Without her intervention, this may have slipped entirely beneath my radar. However, due to her considerate e-nudging me in the right direction, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I now have tickets to see this Dynamic Duo perform in Milton Keynes on March 21st. I suspect that more than one person on my f-list would enjoy seeing Magneto and Professor X waiting around for Godot, so I am passing the favour along. There are many seats left -- if you are a fan of Beckett, Stewart, or McKellan then get thee to a [virtual] ticket booth!


[*] Because I am feeling generous, I will award one hundred points to the first person who correctly identifies where the title of this post came from.

[**] Not really... but I will award another hundred points to the first person who correctly identifies where this line comes from. Note that I even gave y'all a hint!

[***] Does that make me the Arbiter? (One hundred points to the first person who correctly explains why this is a pun)

[****] Note to [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42: By mentioning Chess again, I am affording you another opportunity to join in on the musical theatre discussion. You were conspicuously absent from said discussion last week, my dear. I will forgive it this once, given that you were away eating dead birds and whatnot. Please don't make the same mistake twice, oh Queen of Musical Theatre!

[*****] I don't know what it is about Holland that produces such spifftacular things! One of the highlights of last weekend, where we went to see Oxford's Winter Light event, was a brass band from Holland -- called Decibel -- that was much fun! They had forward-facing euphoniums and a sousaphone stuffed with a chicken... and they played songs like Eye of the Tiger and YMCA. They also take requests shouted out of a window across the street and one story up by a bloke wearing nothing but a bathrobe!

[******] Yes, there are more than one.


Gentle readers! I have just learned that today is "Bohemian Rhapsody Day"!

Apparently, the appropriate way to celebrate this holiday is to listen to the Bohemian Rhapsody twelve times!

Won't you all join me in the remembrance of this joyous occasion? I will award five hundred points to anyone who comments letting me know that you, too, have honoured this most venerable of holidays![*]

ETA: A bonus hundred points can be won by anyone who posts about this in their own journal and spreads awareness of this important occasion! I first offered these extra points only to [livejournal.com profile] lunarbitch, but it seemed unfair so I now make them available to all!


[*] Honour system here, people. Don't profane Bohemian Rhapsody Day by lying about this. I know the points are valuable, but still...

Tags:
Friday / Saturday: Thanksgiving Party
Friday evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I hopped into Peter, our trusty steed, and drove to SouthEast London to visit with our friends D&J. D&J are fellow Yanks -- brother and sister-in-law to the breathtakingly beautiful [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco -- who moved to London just three months before we moved to Oxford. Although we didn't know each other well when we all lived in Lawn Guyland, [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco wisely put the four of us in touch soon after we moved.

Since then, it has become tradition for D&J to host a Thanksgiving party each November, on one of the two Saturdays closest to the actual holiday[**], and to invite all of their expatriate friends. This year was the third in the tradition[***]. We went out on Friday to remove the stress of travelling out from Oxford on the day of the party... and also to get a little extra time with D&J, who we had not seen since their housewarming party back in September.

The party was good fun: We got to see people that we don't often spend time with, I have an invitation to go boating down the Thames next Spring with the St. Pancras harbormaster, and the food was excellent! In total, there were twelve of us there -- nine expatriated US-ians and three Brits who came along as partners of the expats. Given the demographics, D&J's flat became a temporarily extension of US soil. In particular, somebody decided to forbid the use of British English -- anyone using "top up" or "queue" or "zed" or "bloody" would be penalized by having to take a drink. It was an amusing suggestion... though I am not certain that it is directly responsible for most people ending the evening quite tipsy!


Sunday:
Sunday was a busy day, filled with a variety of activity -- some social, some productive, some fun! Just the sort of day that I like!

We stayed over at D&J's placeon Saturday night as well and had a nice lay in on Sunday. As if making an enormous Thanksgiving dinner wasn't enough, J prepared a lovely breakfast spread on Sunday at around noon -- fruit, pancakes (with real maple syrup), bacon (for the meat eaters), cheese, scrambled eggs, tea, juice! Yum!

After breakfast, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I headed out. Before leaving London, we swung by Imperial College and I showed her the building and office where I now work. Then it was back into London traffic as we made our return to Oxford.

Upon returning to Oxford, I headed to St. Giles Church and rang bells for Sunday evening services. Nothing terribly noteworthy here.

When services ended, I met up with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at Skullcrusher Mountain. On Tuesday, we had moved the last of our belongings into the [as yet unnamed] new flat. However, before leaving SCM for good, we wanted to do a thorough cleaning and perform ritual to release any of our energy -- or that of our kitties -- that still lingered. It took a couple of hours, but we managed to accomplish this. When we left SCM, it was for the final time. Interestingly enough, I think that this is the first time [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have moved house without any help from anyone else or a moving van! We did it all ourselves, using Peter as the only transport vehicle. Admittedly, we moved from a furnished flat to another furnished flat, but still...

Next, I dropped [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat (and our cleaning supplies) off at home, picked up my new ice skates, and made my way out to the evening session at the Oxford Ice Rink. There, I debuted my new skates. I learned two things: (1) The blades are so obviously superior to anything that I have previously skated on, and (2) The new skates hurt. A lot. My feet were killing me, and it was all I could do to do some basic forward skating all the way around the rink without stopping! I am not entirely surprised -- the lovely [livejournal.com profile] danaeris once warned me that new skates feel like that until you break them in. Still... ouch! It was a bit disappointing to not be able to do much on the ice; still the only way to break them in is to wear the things!

When I got home from the rink, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I got takeaway Chinese food for dinner. I walked five minutes to pick it up -- I do enjoy living in a much more active area than we previously did!

Finally, it was getting late so I tucked [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat into bed, then wound down my own evening with a phone date with the adorable [livejournal.com profile] livetbd. It is always nice to hear her voice and it was good to catch up on each others' lives. We made plans to see each other when I am in the States next month; I am definitely looking forward to spending time with her again in the not too distant future! We also need to find a way to see a Broadway musical together, as we are both huge theatre geeks![****]

As I said -- the sort of active and varied Sunday that I like! When my head finally hit the pillow, I was thoroughly ready for it... and asleep almost immediately!


[*] One hundred points to the first person that identifies the source of my subject line!

[**] As none of us actually get Thanksgiving Day off here!

[***] Interestingly enough, each year they are living in a different flat from the previous November!

[****] Unless you compare to the spectacular [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42, who is the Queen of Musical Theatre. Even if she cannot identify Into The Woods quotes.


Hurm. I have been informed by Secret LJ GnomesTM that it has been too long since I posted an entry to journal my life. Well, gentle readers, I'm afraid that you all know what this means! That's right -- it's the Return Of The Return Of The Week In Review Post! In fact, it has been so long since I made a proper journal entry that this becomes the Extended Edition of the RotRotWiRP!

So what has your Friendly Neighborhood Nomad has been up to? )
anarchist_nomad: (Baby Giles -- two weeks old)
( Oct. 28th, 2008 10:23 am)
[livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have four cats[*]. The two girls -- Stumpy and Chirp -- live near Chicago, at the Event Horizon, with their uncle [livejournal.com profile] gyades. The other two -- The Boy and Giles -- live with us at Skullcrusher Mountain in Oxford. The Boy was imported from the States in 2006, whereas Giles (see icon) is a born and bred British cat.

He proved his heritage yesterday. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat left a cup of tea momentarily unattended in the living room. When we turned around, Giles was helping himself -- happily lapping the tea up out of the mug. Oi!

While I am ruminating on contrasts between the two sides of the pond, can somebody please explain to me the difference between "while" and "whilst"? Stateside, I don't know anybody who uses "whilst". Here, however, I see both in fairly common usage. When is one appropriate and when is the other? One hundred points to the person who gives me the best explanation!


[*] Not counting Nona, who lives with [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism in Nebraska now.
Posed by [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat whilst we had music playing:
Who listened to Baltimora's Tarzan Boy and said "Yes! We want this for a Listerine commercial!"??
One hundred points will be awarded for each of the three best answers...

anarchist_nomad: (The cape as red as blood)
( Sep. 22nd, 2008 04:44 pm)
In just under an hour, we will be at the Autumnal Equinox[*]. We are moving into what will be my third Autumn living in England, so by now I know a bit of what to expect. As a season, I do like Autumn, with its crisp cool air and the changing leaves. The weather has been surprisingly nice of late; when I walk down the street the Autumn smells remind me of years gone by, of starting school again after a long Summer vacation.

Autumn also brings with it the Super Sekrit Pagan Festival[**] in upstate New York -- the one that I have attended without fail for nearly twelve years now. The site of that gathering, just a couple of weeks away now, is also the physical location of my spiritual home. It is a stunningly beautiful wooded site with a gorgeous lake and a waterfall. Since the gathering is held in October, the trees are usually brilliant in their colours during the festival.

Autumn also brings with it the coming of the Dark. We stand now at the Equinox -- the time when the day and night are nearly equal[***]. Here in Oxford, there are three more days where the Light exceeds the Dark. However, the light is moving away at a rate of nearly four minutes per day. Starting on Thursday -- Sep 25th -- the Dark period begins. At first, of course, it will barely be noticeable. Only after we change the clocks at the end of October will it truly be Dark in earnest. Still, having been raised in New York City -- over eleven degrees of latitude to the South -- the extra intensity of the Dark here is quite pronounced. So, amongst other things, the Equinox is also the time to start preparing for the Dark, enjoying the light here as much as I can whilst I still can.

This has been a year of many changes, and I do not expect that to stop this Autumn. Next week, I begin my new position working on a new experiment. There are wonderful new relationships in my life that are each growing and evolving into something unique and special. And there is a adorable new kitten in our home, who is bouncing about energetically -- occasionally stopping to attack my leg -- as I type this.

Also, for those of you in the South, I wish you all a very Happy Spring!

[*] Actually, I have cheated slightly by setting the timestamp of this entry to the time of the actual equinox.

[**] The festival is a private gathering and, as such, should not be mentioned in a public forum such as LiveJournal. It really is not so secret as I make it out to be -- that is just for fun -- and I am both able and happy to discuss it in direct personal communication.

[***] It is a common misconception that the time from sunrise to sunset (called "day") is precisely equal to the time from sunset to sunrise (called "night") on the Equinoxes. In actual fact, the day is always longer than the night on an Equinox. One hundred points to the first person that can correctly tell me why. Fifty points to anyone who can incorrectly tell me why in a way that makes me laugh.


You know it! You love it! You've been waiting three hundred and sixty five days for it! And here it is! It is now Talk Like A Pirate Day! Arrrrrrrr!

Enjoy it whilst it lasts, mateys! For we all know that Talk Like A Pirate Day comes but once a year![*]

Personally, I am hatching plots to make an official holiday called Talk Like A Ninja Day. Preferably on March 19th[**].


[*] Sort of like Christmas and Physics Didn't Destroy The Earth Day!

[**] Fifty points to the first person who can tell me why I chose that date.


Tags:
So... Hamlet. Saw it last night, as I may have mentioned. In the car, riding home from Stratford-on-Avon, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I started putting together a Muppet cast for the play[*]. It is not finished, though, so I thought I would ask my gentle readers for some assistance in completing the company.

Here is what I have so far: )

Suggestions for filling in the gaps are welcome. Improvements on the existing cast will also be taken under consideration. Preference is given to Hensen era Muppets[**].

Have at it, my friends! And a hundred points will be given to each Muppet suggestion that makes the grade!

Also, while we are on the topic of (a) Hamlet, (b) Patrick Stewart, and (c) Muppets... here is an old classic for y'all to enjoy. Enjoy!




[*] For the record, I am quite aware that the Muppets have brushed up with Hamlet the Dane from time to time. I know that Gonzo was once slated to play the role, and Link Heartthrob has done so. Nonetheless, I do not believe that a complete Muppet Hamlet exists and it is which that I wish to cast.

[**] Yes, I know that this is discriminatory to post-Hensen Muppets and that some of them (i.e., Pepe the King Prawn) are quite Muppetational. But there it is. Everyone's a little bit racist.


Did I mention that this was going to be a busy week? I do believe that I did...

One of the goals for the week is now accomplished: This afternoon, I submitted my completed application to NASA for one of the open astronaut candidate positions.

I will keep my proverbial fingers crossed for this... but I won't get my hopes too high. With my doctorate, I do meet the basic qualifications for the post. On the other hand, I understand that roughly one hundred people apply for each open position. Not knowing anything about the quality of the other applicants, I can approximate that I have a 1% chance of success. This is not terribly large... but it is higher than my chances would be if I did not apply.

[*] Fifty points to the first person who can correctly identify the song and singer of this title. No looking it up, either!

Way too much going on right now to write about all of it. Those of you who I had the pleasure of seeing at [livejournal.com profile] thehalibutkid's awesome birthday party know some of it. Sadly, the rest of you -- particularly those in the States -- will have to wait. How ever will you cope? Perhaps by knowing that one month right right now -- July 16th -- I will be flying towards y'all, for a summer vacation tour of the States. NYC, Chicago, and Starwood[*].

Anyway.

Things worth noting[**]:
  1. The aforementioned awesome party in BirmingHam was, indeed, awesome! So awesome, in fact, that I did not get home until mid-day Sunday.
  2. Many thanks are due to [livejournal.com profile] oilrig. He knows why.
  3. After ringing for services at St. Giles yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to Marston to visit the baby kittens -- now four weeks old. Should I post pictures?
  4. I was completely on my game at ice skating tonight; rarely have I felt more skilled or comfortable on the ice. KF and I impressed the hell out of everyone by doing the spins correctly from the starts; the lovely [livejournal.com profile] danaeris deserves credit for this.

That's about all the time we[***] have for tonights, folks! But, before we go, I make this generous offer: One hundred points to anyone who leaves a comment that makes me laugh. Not just smile, but actually laugh. No real reason for it... it is just always good to have more humour about!

[*] Which, while technically in the SouthWest part of Upstate New York, is really a place unto itself!

[**] That can be told in two sentences or less. No run-ons!

[***] Well! Somebody is feeling very royal tonight? Suppose it is better than reverting to speech where I talk about myself in the third person. A la "NOMAD SMASH!!!"


There is a lot going on that I could write about.

I could write about how, after ringing practice at St. Cross yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to the Oxford Playhouse to see a production of London Assurance. This brilliantly witty play, written by Dion Boucicault and performed by the famous Watermill Theatre company, inspired Oscar Wilde... and it is easy to see why.

I could write about development and progress at work with the R&D for new cryogenic detectors.

I could write about ringing practice at St. Giles tonight, and how I practiced -- several times -- ringing the treble for a touch of Grandsire Triples in the [slightly ambitious] hopes of being ready to ring it for a quarter peal in the not-too-distant future.

However, even with all that has been going on, I was not planning to write a LiveJournal entry tonight. In just over sixteen hours, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are leaving Oxford to spend the holiday weekend exploring the Peak District... and there is much that remains to be done before we go! If you were expecting to hear from me, via e-mail or LJ comment or some other medium, it probably will not happen until next week. Don't take it personally; now you know why.

But if there is so much that needs to be done, why am I sitting here writing this? Good question!

Well..... tonight, at Saint Giles, I had a bit of a surprise )

[*] One thousand points to anyone who can correctly tell me what I am quoting in my title. I doubt anyone can do it... but surprise me!

So far, no one has managed to win the two hundred points for naming all ten plagues of Egypt correctly. Perhaps an easier challenge (or two) is called for then.

After my officemates and I could only come up with five of the ten plagues, we got back to work decided to try our hand at naming the ten commandments. We did better -- reaching six of them. We then moved on to naming the ten Bill of Rights amendments to the US constitution: seven of ten this time. Not bad, but still not perfect.

Anyway, again I challenge my dear readers to do better than three Oxford scientists. One hundred fifty points to the first person who names the ten commandments and another one hundred fifty to the first person who names the ten BoR amendments[*]. Once more, I remind the reader to play fair! This is a memory game, so no looking anything up -- do it from memory, only!

Good luck!

[*] Just as I mentioned yesterday that I had a favourite plague -- the plague of frogs -- I also have a favourite Bill of Rights amendment: The third. Only one I can think of that has not been violated in some form, too! Try as I might, however, I don't think that I can pick a favourite of the ten commandments...

Tags:
Just got in a short while ago from seeing Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Oxford Playhouse.

For those who don't know, it is of the musical romantic comedy genre. One thing I have recently realised -- from my disdain last Autumn for The Boy Friend and the fact that I can't remember squat about shows like Crazy For You -- is that, generally speaking, I do not like this genre. Occasionally, though, a show is quirky enough to be the exception to that rule.

Millie is one of those exceptions. This show is random and silly enough to stand out. I was a little disturbed at watching some chorus girl get drugged and shipped off to Hong Kong to work as a prostitute. Other than that, though, it was thoroughly enjoyable! Good music, unexpected plot twists, and more patter songs to add to my patter song obsession.

Meanwhile, our distraction in the office today came after a hailstorm. Yes, that's right -- a hailstorm. Somehow, the storm got us onto the topic of the ten plagues of Egypt. We tried to name them all but, sadly, the three of us put together could only come up with five. Can you do better? (No cheating with consulting references!) Two hundred points to the first person who can name all ten! I do have a favourite plague, to be sure: It is the plague of frogs! Personally, I think that a plague of frogs is awesome and we are very much overdue for another one! Bring on the frogs!!!
Admittedly, we are only five days into my thirty-fourth year on the planet... but so far, so good. Good explorations, good theatre, good party, a clean(ish) flat -- which is always good! -- and tonight, at Week Five of our six week Level One ice skating course, I passed the test for the Level Two skills! So kudos to me!

This means three things: First, I can ostensibly perform the skills listed here. Second, I can sign up for the Level Three course that begins next month. And, third, I now have two spiffy badges to certify the officialness of my progress! Even better, they are coloured red and gold, one of my two favourite colour schemes[*].

After skating, I cycled back to the lab. That is where I am now, albeit briefly, to start the transfer of helium into the K-400 cryostat for the next cooldown. I need to put in the transfer tube and start our diaphragm pump, which will run overnight, sucking the cold gas that evaporates from the liquid helium and using it to pre-cool the cryostat from room temperature to 4.2 K. By morning, the refrigerator should be cold enough to hold liquid helium, so I will complete the filling then.

[*] Fifty points to the first person who can guess my other favourite colour combination!

That's right -- in about half a month your Friendly Neighbourhood Nomad will be turning thirty-three. March 13th is the big day!

In years past, I have chosen to mark the momentous occasion of me entering the world by throwing a big old party at the Event Horizon, complete with dozens of friends, decorations, balloons, and a floating dragon. Last year, that tradition was broken because I was in England and had only a handful of friends in the country. Instead, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I celebrated alone, by taking the day off and having a little adventure on our own in London.

With the day fast approaching, I have been trying to figure out what to do this year to celebrate. I do have more friends on this side of the pond now... although only a few of them live in or near to Oxford. I am fairly certain that I know more people that I would socialise with in London than I do in Oxford.

So, I am indeed thinking of hosting a party. The "when" would be Saturday March 15th... but the "where" of it is in question. I could certainly have it here, in Oxford, at Skullcrusher Mountain. I have also received a very generous offer to make use of a space in SouthEast London -- Dulwich, to be specific. Since I can, at least sometimes, be sensible, logical, (oh) responsible, practical, I have decided to choose the location based on which would be most convenient to the most people who wish to attend. To figure out which place that is, I have created that most useful of creatures -- I bring you the LJ POLL!
[Poll #1144789]
Don't be shy -- tick all the boxes that apply to you. In about forty-eight hours -- that's Thursday evening, after my bell ringing lesson -- I will tally the votes and choose a venue accordingly, based on the results. Or, if no one answers, simply decide that nobody loves me and proceed to collapse into a sobbing heap on the floor, determined never to have a birthday again.[***]

Meanwhile, I am off to Mary Mag for tonight's bell ringing practice with the OUSCR. Remember -- vote early and often!

[*] To be fair, I am not broke -- and should not become so unless Foxy's medical bills continue to grow without end. Similarly, I am not unemployed -- and won't be if my visa is approved so that my contract at Oxford can be legally renewed. However, I am turning thirty-three and, as such, could not let that lyric -- from such a wonderful play -- go to waste.

[**] Unless, of course, teleportation technology reaches the macroscopic level rather quickly.

[***] Okay, I admit it. This is not really going to happen. So don't withhold your vote just because you are looking forward to the entertainment value that it would provide. Nice try, though.


ETA: One hundred points for the first person who can tell me how many songs I referenced in some form during this entry. An additional two hundred fifty points to the first person who can name all of the songs.

Came to work. Fiddled with cryostat. Nothing significant to report... yet.

Went home at lunchtime and had a delightful conversation with the entrancing [livejournal.com profile] frogcastle. Said conversation reminded me of how much I cannot wait for her to come visit England this Spring!

Took a detour on my way back to work to donate another half litre of my blood. It's not like I was using it, anyway.

While having precious bodily fluid siphoned away, I listened to random music on my MP3 player. One song, from a musical, came on that I have not listened to in some time... and made me smile at the sheer goofiness. One hundred points to the first person who can successfully identify where these lyrics are from[*]:
Now my insecticide contains no dangerous drugs
It can't harm humans but it's curtains for bugs
If you've got six legs, I ain't doing you no favours

Another hundred points to the first person who can identify the historical character who is supposed to be singing said lyrics.

Tonight, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are off to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Richard II. And thus starts our long awaited viewing of the history cycle!

[*] Contest rules as follows: Honour system here -- if you don't know the answer, don't look it up (or, if you do, don't answer here). Void where prohibited by law. And, in the interests of fairness, any people named [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 are ineligible to play. Mainly because such people already know every lyric to every piece of musical theatre already written. (Sorry, sweetie!)
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