This post is entirely concerned with the organisation of fun social stuff here in Merry Olde Englande. For my dear friends back in the States, you should feel free to read no further unless you are inclined to fly over to join us.[*]

Following the well respected Rule of Three[**], I present to you three upcoming events and ask if you wish to join me for them!

Event The First is the annual pilgrimage to Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice. I have been doing this each Midsummer for a couple of years now, and it is always a lot of fun. See, for instance, the photos in this post if you don't believe me. So... anyone want to join me for Solstice 2009? Just you, me, ancient stones, and twenty or thirty thousand of our closest friends. How can you say "no" to that??

Event The Second is the midnight showing of Troilus & Cressida at Shakespeare's Globe on Friday July 31st. I have been to the Globe before... but never for a midnight performance. The prospect of Shakespeare in the middle of the night is intriguing and, for me, certainly different! As the title for this entry says: It will be a midnight's summer dream! I plan to pick up a few of the nicer seats, at £33 each. If you wish to come along, I can pick up one for YOU, too! However, you can also join in the fun even if you don't want to shell out that much cash; there are a plethora of spaces left for "groundlings" to stand... selling for only five quids per person! I see no reason why we cannot accommodate both budgets and physical requirements to have as many people there as possible!

Event The Third is a bit further flung. In February, I organised a very successful outing to the Babylon: Myth & Reality exhibition. Twas a great day out and much fun was had by all! As a follow-up, I am planning an outing to the Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler exhibition that will open in September and run until January. Tentatively speaking, I am looking at going on Sunday November 29th. That's the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which means that I will most likely have spent the day before at D&J's flat in Greenwich, having another Thanksgiving dinner that can't be beat! I am not irrevocably committed to this date, however, so if there is another that works better for people, I can be persuaded to change my mind!

Keeping track of one social event at a time is tricky enough. Doing three at once requires a bit of special help, so I have created..... A POLL!

[Poll #1390852]

Looking forward to seeing some of y'all at these events (and others) in the coming months!

[*] Which you really should do!

[**] Actually, I can think of three "rule of three"s. Seems appropriate, huh? There is the Rule of Three in Writing and the Rule of Three in Programming and the Rule of Three in Wicca! Pretty spiffy, yes?

Tis the Friday of our content, marry sir:
Didst thou talketh like a Shakespeare anon?
For yesterday, by the hairs of my beard
Twas all to speak merrily as the Bard.

It is indeed Friday and, whether you spoke like a Shakespeare or no, gentle readers, it is time for an entry highlighting the, um, highlights of this week. First, though, we have a word from our sponsors a poll!

Last week, I asked YOU when you could come to play games at the Flat With No Name[*]. The winner from that poll appears to be Saturday May 9th. So it is likely that there shall be a games party anon on that date. Before confirming, though, let me make sure that there really are enough people who can attend to make it worth our while:

[Poll #1389214]

In particular, there will be an emphasis on teaching and playing Betrayal at House on the Hill, using the awesome new set made for me by the adorable [ profile] tawneypup. Other games are also on hand, though, and much fun shall be had by all who can attend!

Right. That said, what has everybody's favourite Nomad been up to this week? I will not bore you with the details go into full descriptions, but here are some notable happenings from the week now ending:

  • One of the attendees from the Oxford University Astronomy Weekend is a member of the Newbury Astronomy Society, about thirty miles from here. Apparently, she liked my talk so much that she e-mailed me and asked if I could deliver the opening lecture to the Society's next season, in September. I was very flattered to be asked and I agreed, of course. The talk on cosmic rays is already written, and that is the part that I hate about giving a lecture. The actual delivery is fun, as are the questions afterward. So there is no reason at all not to give my talk again, to a different audience!

  • Whilst at St. Giles on Sunday to ring for the evening services, somebody looked at the mail... and noted that there was an envelope for me there. Well, that came as a bit of a surprise! I have never received mail at the church before! Turns out, it was from the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Change Ringers. I was inducted into the Guild at the start of the year[**] and this envelope contained my certificate of membership and some information about the Guild. I know that I am only a learner, even after two and a half years of ringing, but it is nice to be part of some ringing societies now. It feels validating, as it were.

  • Speaking of ringing, I have made it to both handbell practice and tower bell practice at St. Giles for two Thursdays in a row. Given the London commute, this is no longer a given... nor is it trivial to accomplish. However, the benefits are tangible. On handbells, I have brushed the dust off of my Plain Bob Major -- last week, I assured myself that I could still ring the trebles and tenors; this week, I went back to what I was learning before: the 3/4 pair and the 5/6 pair. Coming along nicely, if I do say so myself. On tower bells, I practiced trebling to a long touch of Grandsire Triples. Also, I extensively practiced my inside bell work on Grandsire Doubles last week, and this week I got in some work on a touch of Plain Bob Minor.

  • Unlike Skullcrusher Mountain, the Flat With No Name is managed by a letting agency. Overall, this is a good thing, as our previous landlady[***] did absolutely nothing ever. However, one disadvantage is that the agent makes semi-annual inspections of the property. Joy and rapture. Wednesday was to be the first such inspection, so I stayed home from work on Tuesday and spent the entire day cleaning like mad. To be honest, our flat needed it. When I began, it was an utter mess; when I ended, it was spotless. However, on Wednesday afternoon, [ profile] cheshcat gets an e-mail saying that they are putting off the inspection for a week. Oi! I had her call to chew them out, and to explicitly state that the flat was currently immaculate and that we would not be cleaning it so thoroughly for them again. The situation is irksome... but at least, with that incentive, we now have a clean place to live once again!

  • For some odd reason, it seems to be the season for old girlfriends to hunt down Nomad on Facebook. I do not have a Facebook account, nor do I intend to ever get one[****]. But a couple of former partners -- who have never met -- recently contacted me asking if I was there. No, that is not quite true. One previous partner asked me if I was on Facebook, as she had been looking for me. The other correctly concluded that I was not there... so she sent me a letter demanding that I get a Facebook account. Indeed, she was adamant and would not take LiveJournal for an answer.[*****] I do consider myself to be on good terms with most of my ex-girlfriends -- indeed, I am rather proud of this fact -- but it is still a tad odd for two to ping me at once because they were searching for me on Facebook! Ah, well. Tis good to be wanted, I suppose!

  • Over the past few years, I have been starting to fill in certain gaps in my education. My cultural education, that is. In 2005, after seventeen years of comic book collecting, I finally read the Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 2007, [ profile] cheshcat and I became two of the last people I know to watch Babylon 5. Now, at long last, I have begun to read Neil Gaiman's Sandman series. No spoilers, please! I have successfully avoided any for close to two decades now! [ profile] cheshcat has all the issues in trade paperback form and I have only read the first three thus far. I have been looking forward to this for ages and am quite excited as I begin to finally see what all the fuss is about!

...and that is about all the news from the week, dear friends!

Now tis time to rush off, as the weekend looks to be fairly full, as well. Tonight, I have a date with the lovely [ profile] bunnypip. Tomorrow, the Oxford Society of Change Ringers is having a celebration for its 275th anniversary -- plus, I may sneak away for a bit in the afternoon to see an exhibition in the Bodleian Library -- and then tomorrow evening, [ profile] cheshcat and I have tickets to see Fiddler on the Roof at the Oxford Playhouse[******]. Then, on Sunday, [ profile] cheshcat and [ profile] dr_jen and I will be going to the Harcourt Arboretum to see the bluebell meadows. They only bloom for about two weeks per year... but when they do, they are a phenomenal sight to behold! And, gentle readers, they are in bloom right now!


I go, I go; look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow.

[*] It will feel good to get out of the rain!

[**] Making it the second ringing society that I am a member of, as I am also a life member of the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers (and the only person with an identifiable photograph on their home page!).

[***] The irony does not escape me that [ profile] cheshcat and I each co-own a house in the States... and yet we find ourselves renting our primary residence in Oxford.

[****] Similarly, I have never been on MySpace. I spend more than enough time online as it is, and that is not enough for me to keep up with my e-mail and LiveJournal. As such, I do not need additional online distractions, even those that I might enjoy (as opposed to things like Twitter, that I just find annoying). I may get myself a Dream Width account -- just because everybody seems to be migrating in that direction -- but that would be as far as I would be willing to go.

[*****] Somehow this particular partner has always had a way of presenting her demands in such a fashion that they came across as rather sexy, instead of whiny.

[******] Which will be the fourteenth theatrical production that I have seen, thus far, in 2009.

Hello, World!

I've been a terrible, terrible LiveJournaler of late. I know[*]. Life has been... complicated. I will try to catch the wide world up on my comings and goings sometime soon, as I know y'all have been waiting with baited breath. In the meantime, though, I have other matters pressing for my attention. Remember that Astronomy lecture on dark matter that I delivered last year at the Oxford University School of Continuing Education? Well, it was such a smashing success that I was invited back to present a talk on "Recent Developments in Cosmic Ray Astronomy" this coming weekend. Which is lovely and flattering... but also means that I need to write a talk on recent developments in cosmic ray astronomy post haste!

Whilst I may not have time to put together an update at the moment, I do have a hankering to play some games! In particular, I would very much like to assemble some people to play Betrayal at House on the Hill, using the spiffy new set that the exceedingly-awesome [ profile] tawneypup gave me for my birthday! Our games shelf grows ever larger, though, so other hits -- like Apples to Apples and Wise & Otherwise and Settlers of Catan, just to name a few -- are also possible!

I would love to bring all my excellent friends[**] here for gaming. Alas, I have been negligent in assembling the functional transporter. As such, only those who are on this side of the pond can reasonably expect to attend. For those lucky few, I present.... a poll!!!

[Poll #1383633]

Hope to see as many of you as possible sometime soon for a night of terror day of fun and gaming!

[*] Anybody interested in administering suitable punishments can line up in the queue now. (Yes, US English and UK English in one sentence -- don't want anyone to feel left out!)

[**] And even a few of the "eh, they're alright" ones!

anarchist_nomad: (Big Hair)
( Jul. 8th, 2008 11:48 pm)
As promised at the end of the last entry, today's post is meant to share some visual stimuli. So here goes!

Here are three different photographs from the sculpture exhibit at the Savill Garden on Saturday )

The hand puppets also wandered off by themselves for awhile -- taking my camera with them! When they returned, I noticed that they had done some photography of their own; a sample of the results can be seen in their own journal.

Meanwhile, adorable videos of kittens playing can be seen here and here. The videos are all of nine seconds and thirty seconds long, respectively... so don't be shy! Click away!

Finally, some time was spent this weekend brainstorming names for our newest furball. No decision has been made yet, but here are some of the top choices. Which do you prefer:

[Poll #1220065]

A decision needs to be made by Monday, as that is when the little guy -- currently sprawled out and sleeping on our hassock while [ profile] cheshcat watches Doctor Who -- makes his first trip to the vet. We need a name to attach that new medical record to!
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, [ 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.

Gentle readers, some of you might be familiar with the famous sketch that opened the very first episode of The Muppet Show, back in 1976. It featured Mahna Mahna and the Snowths, and is shown below (question to follow):

For quite some time, I had been of the opinion that the snowths were stifling Mahna Mahna's creativity, through the strong application of negative peer pressure and disapproval every time that he deviates from a set -- and rather simplistic -- script. My sympathies went out to Mahna Mahna, and I wished him well in his creative endeavours.

However, when discussing this matter with the beautiful and insightful [ profile] frogcastle some months ago, she proposed a competing interpretation. She painted Mahna Mahna as an egotistical muppet[*], prone to deviating from a rehearsed number solely to upstage his partners with grandstanding. As such, she viewed the disapproval of the snowths as a necessary measure to bring this primo uomo back in line.

Ever since that fateful conversation, this unanswered question has been churning within me. I have made repeated examinations of the primary text, yet my deconstructions can shed no light on this ambiguity. Thus, I must enlist the aid of you, my dear readers, to help unravel this mystery. Won't you please take a moment to weigh in on the matter through the following poll? After all, we know from the principles of democracy that the majority opinion is always right!

[Poll #1124479]

Of course, reality does not always oblige us by fitting neatly into a dichotomy such as this. Perhaps there is another reason lurking in the shadows? If you think that neither explanation is correct, I urge you to leave a comment in this entry, providing an alternative.

[*] While typing this, I could not help but notice that "muppet" is rejected by the Firefox spell checker. This is indeed a grave affront.

Before I sleep:
  1. I want to announce that the 2008 overnight open access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice will be happening from about 8pm on Fri 20-June until about 8am on Sat 21-June. [ profile] cheshcat and I are planning to go back again this year. When I wrote about our experiences last year, several people commented to say that they would be interested in joining us. Hence this early reminder in case anyone was serious and needs to start thinking about trans-Atlantic travel plans.

  2. Today I learned that the street I live on, the Banbury Road, has its own Wikipedia entry. Don't believe me? See for yourself here. This strikes me as slightly odd. Not quite sure why, but I am fairly certain that no other street that I have ever lived on has a Wikipedia entry!

  3. Quick quiz:
    [Poll #1116350]

      And on that note, I am off to dreamland! (For a few hours, at least) Really -- I mean it this time!
anarchist_nomad: (Big Hair)
( Nov. 13th, 2006 06:49 pm)
Amazingly enough, I have gotten some things done at work today. I say that this is amazing because my mind keeps fluttering about to random other things. Like wondering which song it would be harder for me to memorize the words to: Gilbert & Sullivan's famous song about the Major-General... or Tom Lehrer's song The Elements, which uses the same tune.

Yeah, I think about some weird things when I let my mind wander. Thus, in the spirit of distraction, I present some utterly meaningless poll questions -- culled from this entry and the last -- to share this distractibility with others:

[Poll #866743]

ETA: I have learned from this poll that [ profile] squeektoy42 already know the Major General song... and, though she has not [yet] answered the polll, I am aware that [ profile] resourceress knows Tom Lehrer's The Elements. So here is a public admission that y'all are both way cooler than me! My hat's off to you both!

ETA 2: I should have added an option to the poll: "Who the heck is Tom Lehrer?!?" Ah well, you can choose that answer via a comment if you really don't know (but shame on you if you do not!).
In today's New York Times on-line, I read an article saying that financial statistics from 2004 has just been made public. In particular, the mean and median incomes, as well as the median net worth, caught my eye. In a society that has such a skewed wealth distribution, the difference between the mean income (about $70k in 2004) and the median (about $43k) says quite a bit.

In any case, the numbers geek in me got together with the Anarchist and formulated the poll below. Basically, I am interested in the wealth distribution of my friends, compared to the national average. If you can, please compare your wealth and net worth from 2004 to the statistics released from 2004. If you don't remember that far back, go for your current values. Out of respect for privacy, I have made the poll answerable by all and results are visible to none. When the answers are all in, I will publicly mention only the final results (i.e., no personal data will be mentioned). Furthermore, if you want to answer but have privacy issues with me, feel free to log out and take the poll anonymously. Personally, I think that the social taboo against discussing income mainly serves the wealthy and does nothing to benefit the working class; however, I do acknowledge that such a taboo exists and my poll is breaking it.

And, that said, here is the poll in question:

[Poll #679145]
...or at least it is in my home time-zone of Chicago. Here, in Malargue, it is nearly midnight.

There isn't all that much to talk about from today, actually. It was a pretty mellow day of rest between the end of the Auger Celebration (yesterday) and the start of the Auger Collaboration meeting (tomorrow). I slept in, I caught up on e-mail, I started reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Things like that. I sat outside for awhile this evening with the book, enjoying the outdoor Springtime air. That was rather nice.

The big news of the day was that I received my first job offer for my next position. Since my current job at Fermilab ends next September, I started job hunting last month. I'm in no rush -- I have over ten months left -- so I have only been applying for jobs that hold a particular interest to me. So far, I have applied for ten positions. Three have requested interviews, which will happen next month. One seems likely to request an interview soon. Three more have not gotten back to me yet; they were for highly competitive prestigious fellowships (at Harvard, Princeton, and Berkeley lab), so I won't be terribly surprised if they never get back to me. Two more -- at the University of Chicago -- were just sent out yesterday, so of course I have not heard from them yet. And one of the applications has become a job offer... without even a request for an interview.

This offer, from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, is from one of my Auger collaborators. His current post-doc is leaving New Mexico to take a tenure-track position at the University of Utah. Since I know the professor who is hiring -- and I know he likes both me and my work -- I had figured that I was highly likely to be offered this job. However, I was expecting to go through the usual process of interviewing for it first. Getting offered the job outright was a bit of a surprise. The New Mexico position is appealing, for several reasons. It would allow me to continue working on the Auger Observatory, where I feel that my work is not nearly done, and it would mean a move back to the SouthWest, which I love. On the other hand, I do not feel ready to leave Chicago yet... especially since [ profile] cheshcat just moved here in July! So it remains to be seen whether I will take this position. I need a little time to see what other offers I get, [ profile] cheshcat needs to visit Albuquerque with me, and she and I need to discuss this in detail... both with each other and with anyone else in our extended clan who might consider moving with us. But now that I do have an offer, it means that I can start to ease off on sending out new applications. I had another fourteen job openings that I was planning to apply for; now I will only send out a handful more applications and then stop. Which, in a way, is a relief. The damn things take a long time and are not particularly interesting to put together.

Finally, on a completely unrelated note, I posted a poll in my journal last month, asking about people's high school experiences. Thirty-one people responded to the poll, and I just decided to do a quick numerical analysis of the data. I assigned a number to each of the possible answers to the poll, as follows:

+2 = "Best years of my life!"
+1 = "They were pretty good."
0 = "I got through them okay."
-1 = "They were pretty difficult; I was glad when it was over."
-2 = "Worst years of my life!!!"

0 = "I didn't go to high school"

The numbers were assigned so that a positive number corresponds to a positive high school experience, while a negative number corresponds to a negative experience. Using this scheme, I worked out the mean and the standard deviation for the answers that I received.

The average high school experience of my friends who answered the poll is: -0.74 +/- 1.01.

Not surprisingly, the standard deviation is high because the number of people who responded is small. However, the mean indicates that, by and large, most of the people I know had a negative experience of high school. Actually, this just verified what I already expected. And, for what it is worth, both the mode and the median answer was -1, or "They were pretty difficult; I was glad when it was over." Any statistics geeks in the audience are now free to make sneering remarks about when it is ever appropriate to use the mode...
Coincidentally, just days after my high school blast from the past, [ profile] cassiopia was showing me some of her high school yearbooks today. I was struck by what a normal and pleasant experience she had had: Clubs and plays and a boyfriend. It all seemed so normal. Quite the contrast from the hell that high school was for me, what with running away from home (twice) and being kicked out of the house (many times!) and having my mother call the police on me and punching a hole in my bedroom wall and being almost continuously depressed and lonely... y'know, things like that.

I was undoubtedly the most colourful character in my high school, but I was certainly not very happy back then. I don't regret it per se, as those experiences shaped me into who I am now. Not in some abstract way, either, but in very direct ways that are obvious to me. Nonetheless, when I was a depressed teenager, I heard many people tell me to cheer up because those were going to be "the best days of my life." What a thing to tell a depressed person! Luckily, I had not believed them -- if I had, I probably would have truly been suicidal with nothing better to look forward to! However, my conversation with [ profile] cassiopia made me wonder about other people's high school experiences. Which leads to my first LJ poll:

[Poll #591991]

I'll be curious to see the results on this. I have a prediction already (which I won't reveal, to keep the analysis somewhat unbiased) and I am curious to see how closely it resembles the truth.


anarchist_nomad: (Default)


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