Hi all, and Happy New Year!

The holiday festivities have come and gone; my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had a lovely fortnight visiting friends and family in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

I am now in the Dominican Republic, where I will be spending a week with a handful of people from the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan Festival, to help one of our number celebrate a milestone birthday. It is warm. There is sun. There will be scuba diving. This is as January should be.

All of this is lovely... but not the point of this entry.

NEXT week, I will be arriving in Chicago and spending about four weeks at Fermilab. My PhD student will be joining me, and we will be building a new particle physics experiment. I arrive [late] on Monday January 11th and leave after work on Friday February 5th to get home for the start of Spring Semester on the following Monday.

Although I will be working at the lab full-time Mondays through Friday, I should have free time on the weekends and evenings to see many of my dear Chicago friends. Believe me, you are missed!

If you are around and available to get together, do drop me a line via e-mail or LJ comment! Can't wait to see you!!!
Gentle readers,

Ten days ago, your friendly neighbourhood Nomad hit the big FOUR-OH. Wowza -- how did that happen? Seems like only yesterday that I was celebrating my 30th birthday at the Event Horizon!

I firmly believe that if one is going to grow older, one should do it in style. Ten years ago, I resolved to throw the biggest Event Horizon party to date... and I succeeded.[*] For forty, I raised the stakes and decided to make it my absolute bestest birthday ever!

So what does that mean? What are the ingredients for a spectacular birthday?

Well, first is location. I love Oxford, but celebrating at home wasn't going to do. I wanted somewhere that would be warm and sunny in mid-March. No point in partying somewhere cold... and, besides, I wanted to go scuba diving! My first thought was the Mediterranean, possibly Corsica or Sardinia. Maybe Sicily. Then I checked: Average highs of 50F? That won't work!

Further South, then, which brings us to the Canary Islands. Yeah, that could work. Average highs in the mid-70s? Now that's more like it!

A plan began to take form: Rent a large villa in Lanzarote and invite everyone I know to join us there for a week. Although not the largest of the Canary Islands, the volcanic landscape and the César Manrique architecture was highly appealing. What's more, the entire island has been designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

In the end, I didn't end up inviting everybody I knew. We topped out at sixteen people, filling two private holiday villas. That seemed like a wise place to stop; coordinating an international week-long trip with sixteen people from two continents was one heck of a lot of work! Lots of logistics to arrange, including accommodation, transportation, and activities.

Lots of work... but it was totally worth it!

So what did we do in our week on the "Island of Fire" (as Lanzarote is known)? Well, we rode camels over the volcanic landscape:

(click on picture for full version)

and we ate food cooked with geo-thermal heat:

(click on picture for full version)

The picture above was taken at the El Diablo restaurant in Timanfaya National Park. The grill is set over a hole in the ground. That's all. No fire below; the heat of the volcano cooks your food for you!

(Also acts as a nifty underfloor heater, too!)

What else? Well, I got my scuba dives -- two off the coast of Playa Blanca (one day dive and one night dive) and another from Puerto del Carmen. We spent time on the beach at Arrecife, the capital of the island. We also took a bus tour around Timanfaya National Park. On another day, some of us went horseback riding (not me), whilst others took a bicycle tour (me!).

On one afternoon, we chartered a private pleasure cruise for five hours; on a different afternoon, we visited a few of César Manrique's architectural masterpieces. My beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat lined us up an excellent sampling of his work, including his Volcano House, his Cactus Garden, and the lookout point Mirador del Rio.

Some of us also made time for hiking. I went on three hikes, around the Montaña Caldereta, along the Timanfaya Coastal Route, and a sunset hike on my birthday itself, climbing the red mountain Montaña Roja, which was just behind our villas.

Here is a shot of yours truly atop the Caldereta (a volcanic crater):

(click on picture for full version)

Plus, there was lots of chill out time at the villas. Besides the two heated pools, we had a jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room. So it became a regular pattern to go out and be active during the day, then come together for a big meal in the evening -- coordinated by my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth. After dinner, we would soak up the amenities and be social in the evening.

By chance, the folks who went horseback riding ran into a masseuse; she was then hired to come to the villa on two separate days, working on half of our party during that time -- some people used her twice!

The penultimate day of the trip was my actual birthday, March 13th. After days of rushing about, the big day was spent at the villas. Pancake brunch, afternoon tea by the pool (served by [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth in a bikini), and lots of good company!

Was my plan a success? You betcha! As you may recall, dear friends, the goal was to make turning 40 my best birthday ever. Spending a week on a subtropical volcanic island with more than a dozen of my closest friends? Riding camels and scuba diving and eating geo-thermally cooked food? You bet this was the bestest birthday ever![**]

Now then, what can I do to top it for turning 50?

[*] Eventually, as I made more friends in Chicagoland, the regular parties would grow to be larger than that special one... but at the time, my goal was met with 25 people celebrating in a two-day party.

[**] Sixteen hours before I left for this awesometacular holiday, there was one extra development that made it even better. "What might that be?" you may ask. Ah, but that's the subject of my next LJ post...
anarchist_nomad: (The Eyes Have It)
( Jan. 1st, 2013 02:44 am)
To all of you out there in 2012 -- which is the bulk of my f-list right now -- here is a message (or three) from 2013:
  1. The world does not end in 2012. (Huzzah!)

  2. 2013 appears to be a very dark place so far.[*]


Right now, I am winding down from a lovely New Year's Eve party here at Chiron Beta Prime with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, the ever-awesome [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach, the fantastic [livejournal.com profile] dragonmamma, and several folks with no LiveJournals[**]. There were games -- like Give Me The Brain and The Shinnin' -- briefly interrupted by a quarter peal attempt at 21:00 to ring in the new year with some Stedman Doubles. Afterward, there was baked camembert (with garlic bread) and a chocolate fondue! Not a bad send-off for the old year, if I do say so myself!

A traditional year-in-review retrospective for 2012 shall be forthcoming. For now, however, tis time for bed. I hope that all of you still reading from last year are having a spectacular celebration... and I look forward to meeting you when you finally catch up with the times!

[*] Though there are street lamps and the like, which helps.

[**] Gasp!

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

(click for full-sized version)

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

(click for full-sized version)

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

(click for full-sized version)

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?)

(click for full-sized version)

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

(click for full-sized version)

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?

(click for full-sized version)

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.

(click for full-sized version)

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.

So let's see -- on the morning after, we find:

  • The White House stays blue, with a Democratic president granted a second term,
  • The Senate stays blue, defying all early expectations because male Republican candidates can't stop making moronic statements about rape,
  • The House of Representatives stays red, because the districts are heavily gerrymandered to make them as non-competitive as possible.

In other words, after two years and over four billion dollars, effectively nothing has changed.[*]

Since the wee hours of this morning, the news has been filled with speculation of what the election results will bring, what we can expect for the next two years. Really, the answer is simple: The next two years will look just like the last two years.

The irony is that this pitiful result is basically the very best that could be hoped for. Realistically, the outcome could not have gotten any better -- there was no real chance of the Democrats capturing the House or achieving a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.[**] On the other hand, it could have gotten quite a bit worse! Polls showed that the White House was never really in doubt... but smart money had the Senate flipping colours not too long ago. Still, even knowing that this was the best possible outcome, two more years of the same old same old isn't a lot to look forward to.

Meanwhile, I had a fun evening at [livejournal.com profile] ayaron's election night party, not heading home until after Mitt Romney's concession speech ended around six o'clock this morning. I'm paying for it today, though, heading into London on less than three hours of sleep. There is a half-day meeting in future long baseline neutrino experiments starting at Queen Mary University of London in about an hour, then I am off to Pimlico for dinner with the erudite [livejournal.com profile] cmcmck.

[*] Some details are different, to be sure. For instance, I much prefer to see Elizabeth Warren hold Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat, rather than Scott Brown. But, from a global view, nothing has changed.

[**] Even if they did achieve the latter, Democrats have shown themselves incapable of maintaining the lock-step party unity of the Republicans, meaning even a super-majority leaves them vulnerable to the filibuster.

Tis one week since the final Event Horizon party began. As promised, here is a write-up of the most excellent farewell!

We had a nice attendance for our housecooling, with thirty-four people showing up to give the Event Horizon a most memorable send-off. The "Furthest Travelled" Award was split between the dapper [livejournal.com profile] gyades, who came down from Minnesota, and the ever-awesome [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup, who drove out from Michigan. Technically, [livejournal.com profile] gyades came further... but he also lives here! So a virtual tie was declared!

There was a phenomenal assortment of culinary delights -- lots of people brought food, making for a truly spectacular feast! [livejournal.com profile] xirpha whipped up his usual cornucopia of soups and deviled eggs and fresh baked bread. None of his famous antler bread this time... but that's okay. I think that antler bread may be a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience! [livejournal.com profile] ashleyknight brought over an amazing pot of boca chili, and there was so much other food that the ordering of pizza -- traditional except for the parties where the grill gets fired up -- never even happened. We had plenty of delicious treats and no one went away hungry. Many thanks to everyone who brought something!

Of course, there were also games to be played! Inside, there was some Settlers of Catan, which I played for the first time in several years. However, the most successful indoor game was, by far, Cards Against Humanity. There was a large game of CAH running in the family room for many hours, almost the whole of the party. People joined, people left -- I believe that there was 100% turnover at least once -- but the game kept going! No idea who eventually won, or even if there was a winner.

Outside, we had the final game of Super-High-Stakes-Mega-Death-Four-Square, one of the signature traditions of the Event Horizon Summer party. It had rained earlier in the day, but we were not to be deterred! A long line of people took part, making for a fun and fast-paced game. The competition was fierce... but, at the end of it all, your friendly neighbourhood Nomad reigned supreme, claiming the top spot once more, from here to Eternity! Huzzah, indeed!!

Just as the rain could not stop our Four Square match; nor did it prevent us from enjoying the fire festivities! Once it became relatively clear that there would be no more rain, I sent [livejournal.com profile] emrldgirrl and [livejournal.com profile] wiktowasichu on a mission to gather firewood. There was a specific request (from yours truly) to make our final burn a big one! Upon their successful return, [livejournal.com profile] wiktowasichu -- who was to serve as Fire Master for the evening -- got a very nice blaze going! At one point, about two-thirds of the party was gathered around the firepit; I consider this an impressive testimony to our Fire Master's skill, as some of my dear friends will always stay indoors and want nothing to do with a cold night -- fire or no!

Of course, with the building of the Event Horizon bonfire, the fire festivities were just warming up! [livejournal.com profile] wiktowasichu had brought his poi supplies and did a few impressive rounds of fire spinning, as did C-of-no-LJ-that-I-know-of. Their efforts made for a great show, and garnered much applause. Indeed, even our neighbour enjoyed their performances! She stayed inside and, at the time, I didn't know that she was watching. A couple of days later, however, we were chatting and she mentioned that she was really impressed watching them spin.

The Event Horizon parties have been going on for nearly nine years, starting very soon after [livejournal.com profile] gyades and I bought the house. As I mentioned earlier, we have some traditions that have emerged in that time, like the annual Mega-Death Four-Square match. For the last five years, another integral tradition has been the walking over hot coals. Firewalking became a part of our tradition by accident, when [livejournal.com profile] osprey_cat asked if she could walk over the coals at the end of the night. Although she had previous experience, I was initially skeptical... but ultimately allowed her. This new addition to the party was an immediate hit and, by the end of that evening, three others -- included myself -- had tried firewalking for the first time! The next year, only three of us did it, whilst many others watched... but, since then, we have had more and more people try firewalking at the Event Horizon every year. In the third year, we had eight people; last year we had nine firewalkers -- including seven first timers! This year, however, we broke all records: Thirteen people walked barefoot over hot coals, and eight of them were doing it for their very first time! Awesometacular!!

As the night got late, some people started to drift away. Eventually, we put the fire to bed and everyone left came inside. The party continued to rock until it was after 3:30 in the morning... when we put ourselves to bed! Even so, that wasn't the end -- not quite yet! The next morning, eight of us made our way to Butterfield's to enjoy an uber-delicious post-party brunch! This included a Butterfield's specialty, oven-baked pancakes, that I have been wanting to try for years. They take half an hour to cook, so I've never ordered them before... but on that Sunday morning, we had nothing but time and good friends to keep us company. We ordered both types of oven-baked pancake, then split them between the five of us so that many people could have a chance to sample this fantastic breakfast creation! Suffice to say, we were not disappointed... and they were definitely worth the wait!

In summary, the final Event Horizon party was a rip-roaring success! Good friends, good food, loads of cuddles, games, Four Square, firespinning, firewalking, and more! Thanks so much to everyone who came out and made it such a wonderful time! I am truly a very lucky man to have such an amazing group of friends.

Also worth noting: The Event Horizon may be shutting down in just a few more days... but there have been thoughts, discussions, and suggestions on how to keep the party going. My beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had dinner last night with [livejournal.com profile] posicat and [livejournal.com profile] tybis; they floated the suggestion that, with the house about to be gone, next year's party could be done at a public campgroup, as a weekend camping event. Definitely an idea worth considering!

So, yes, the Event Horizon will soon disappear into a black hole... but there are ideas, and perhaps -- just perhaps -- we can keep this party going!

[*] Do DOOO da do do.

Many thanks to all who replied to my previous entry about choosing a Bible. I've not replied to any comments yet, as I wanted to watch the opinions pour in without influencing them in any way. A follow-up entry is forthcoming, which will be a collective response to all the excellent recommendations that you have made, my dear friends.

Meanwhile, I am off to bed fairly soon. I just returned to Chiron Beta Prime a short while ago after a spiffy weekend in London with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Whilst there, we got to spend time with [livejournal.com profile] nw1, and also with the ever-awesome due of D&J.[*] In addition to seeing these three friends, we also saw three plays -- all by the Bard, and all ones that we had not seen before.

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre to see a theatre company called Perfect Shadow Mingled Yarn perform what they call "Shakespeare's Bookends". The "bookends" are Shakespeare's first and last play[**] -- "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "Two Noble Kinsmen" -- performed by the same cast. These two plays have very similar plots, and the actors were cast accordingly, with corresponding roles. We saw the Kinsmen as a matinée and the Gentlemen in the evening.

Whilst enjoyable, these two productions were clearly the work of an amateur company working in a black box theatre. Happily, a professional company in Bristol -- Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory -- will be producing the "Two Gentlemen" next Spring. I have already noted the day that tickets go on sale; it will be good to see this again, performed by a more professional cast.

On Sunday afternoon, we went to the National Theatre to see Simon Russell Beale star as the eponymous character in "Timon of Athens". In contrast to Saturday, this was most definitely a Big BudgetTM production, and they did an excellent job with the text. I particularly enjoyed the first act, though the second left me unable to shake the feeling that Timon was a second rate Lear. This is no fault of the actors or director; I think tis inherent in the text itself. Considering that this is one of the least well known Shakespeare plays, it was gratifying to see that the National was completely packed! I was, however, slightly baffled at the overwhelmingly thunderous applause at the end of the performance. The show was good, but not that good! I have seen far better performances of plays that did not receive nearly as much noise at the curtain call.

With these three shows ticked off the list, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have but three more remaining before we have see all of the Bard's extant plays performed live on stage. We have also seen a recreation of his "lost play", "Cardenio", as well as a theatrical adaptation of one of his narrative poems: "The Rape of Lucrece". Whilst both were excellent -- and I would happily see an adaptation of his other narrative play, "Venus and Adonis" -- I am only counting the thirty-eight surviving plays in my goal to see performances of all the Bard's theatrical work.

Thirty-five down; three to go! Exciting! What's left? In alphabetical order, we still need to see "Coriolanus", "Pericles", and "Titus Andronicus".

We already know that the Royal Shakespeare Company will be producing "Titus" in 2013, and I shall be buying tickets as soon as they go on sale in a fortnight. That leaves two more shows to track down. It was always my goal to have "Titus" be the final Shakespeare play that I see; the upcoming RSC performance ups the urgency of finding the other two. I might need a little luck with that, as neither is commonly produced!

Right. On that note, tis off to bed with me! Much busy-ness ahead in the coming week, my friends! Stay tuned, gentle readers, to hear more!

[*] Hurm. Come to think of it, both social encounters were with fellow US American expatriates that we have known from when we all lived Stateside. That wasn't planned; just an amusing coincidence.

[**] Understanding that it is difficult to determine a precise chronology of Shakespeare's plays, it is generally considered that the Gentlemen came first and the Kinsmen came last. See here, for instance.

anarchist_nomad: (Intrepid explorer)
( May. 30th, 2012 08:48 pm)
Hello, World! (Or at least the little portion of it that belongs to LJ-land!)

Looks like I've done gone and left my poor journal to languish in obscurity for a fortnight or so. In times like this, I believe the convention response is: Whoops!

To be fair, I have had the best of excuses. The day after my latest entry, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had a visit from the effusive EB -- a fellow attendee of the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan Festival who, alas, has no LiveJournal. EB popped over from New York City to spend six days with us in Merry Olde England. We had loads of fun in and around Oxford, then he and I wrapped up the time with a weekend trip to Old York City.

Three days after EB departed, I followed suit. Not in the same direction, though! With the sweet & adorable [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth for company, I hopped a flight to Spain for five days in Catalonia. Two of those days were spent attending OpenCon Catalonia, a lovely weekend event for polyamorous people. The other three were for exploring!

We visited Barcelona[*], splashed on the beaches of Costa Brava, climbed the city walls in medieval Girona, and hiked the serrated mountains of Montserrat. Each of these remarkable destinations deserves a write up of its own, replete with photos. Time will tell if they get the travelogues which they so richly deserve. In the meantime, dear friends, I give you a single photograph, taken yesterday from an altitude of nearly 1100 meters, near the very top of Montserrat. Enjoy!

Then we got high...

(click for full-sized version)

I take my leave of you now, gentle readers, as I am writing this from Ye Olde Oxford Tube and have very nearly arrived home. Once I arrive, I am off to enjoy a delicious dinner the the Pink Giraffe with my dear [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Have an awesometacular evening, everyone!!

[*] Which I had been to before, albeit briefly, in July 2001.

Lots of stuff going on recently, which means not enough time for LiveJournal. There are several entries that I hope to compose in the not-too-distant future but, for now, here is a classic weekend summary post. Enjoy!

Friday: Worked in London during the day. Returned to the City of Dreaming Spires in the evening to collect my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat; together, we made our way to the Oxford Playhouse. There, we saw a touring company from Shakespeare's Globe put on a performance of Henry V. It was very well done; one of the best productions that I have seen from the Globe. Makes me look forward to their Hamlet, which we have tickets for in July. It will be staged in the quad of the Bodleian Library, which is a rather wonderful setting!

Incidentally, this performance marks the fifth time that I have seen Henry V on stage -- unambiguously earning it the honour of being Shakespearean play that I have seen most frequently. At least for now. On Thursday, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I, along with EB who is coming from the States, will be going to Stratford-upon-Avon to see a production of The Tempest. So, four days from now, The Tempest will tie with Henry V... and, in August, I will also be seeing Richard III for the fifth time.

Meanwhile, there are five of the Bard's plays[*] that I still need to get tickets to see!

Saturday: The Oxford City Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers had its half-annual meeting, which I attended in my role as Hon. Treasurer to present the State of the Finances report. Additionally, the City Branch had its annual six-bell striking competition just before the meeting. Back in March, I was more than a little shocked when the tower captain of St. Giles Church -- my home tower -- invited me to join the competition band! My ringing has progressed quite a bit in recent months, mainly thanks to the near-daily practice in February. Tangible results are starting to be seen, with my first quarter peal on a working bell last month, and my first striking competition yesterday!

In recent weeks, I was very nervous about competing. However, all went very well. We rang at Horspath, which was a new tower for me. Still, their bells are relatively light and rather easy to ring. Indeed, there was even a brief window when I thought that we might win! Our band rang second-to-last in the randomly chosen order. When we finished, I was rather confident that we had managed the best ringing thus far. Which was correct... but the final band out-rang us. Oops! Even so, second place on my first try is not bad!

Here is a picture of our band. after the competition:

And the runner ups are...

(click for full-sized version)

For those with some interest in this weird change bell ringing thing that I do, you can click here to hear a recording of us in the striking competition. The first few single strikes are a signal to the judges, sitting outside, that our practice is over and we are ready to begin. Then we ring in rounds -- a simple reverse scale -- for about a minute. Finally, we ring a touch of Grandsire Doubles for about four minutes, before settling back into some brief rounds before setting our bells.

In this recording, I am on the #3 bell. Which will make it easy to identify me during rounds, though I will be impressed if you can keep track of my bell during the method!

Sunday: In the morning, I rang for church services at Headington. Afterward, I made my way to the nearby town of Wheatley to pay a visit to the Wheatley Windmill, which was having an open day. There has been a mill on this site since at least the mid-17th century; the earliest records are from 1671, noting that the mill of its day had fallen into disrepair. It enjoyed a resurgence in the 18th and 19th centuries, but is now only maintained for historical value by the Wheatley Windmill Restoration Society.

The mill was rather quaint and lovely. Its octagonal shape is rather unusual... and its clockwise motion is exceedingly rare. I arrived early in the day, when they were still putting the cloth sails onto the frame so that it would spin. The weather was particularly nice, so I did not mind the extended wait a'tall. Eventually, they got it going, which was much fun. After watching the arms spin for a bit, I went inside and explored the four stories of the tower. The top was particularly fun, with all the gears interlocking this way and that!

Below is a picture of the windmill, taken by your friendly neighbourhood Nomad. I wanted to share a photo of me posing with said mill... but, in all honesty, the picture that I took was much better than the one that the random stranger took of me plus the mill. Ah well!

The wild winds of fortune
Will carry me onward,
Oh whithersoever they blow.

(click for full-sized version)

You can see that the sail has just been put on the arm at the bottom... but the two at the top are still awaiting their canvas!

On Sunday afternoon, I hopped on Ye Olde Oxford Tube and headed into London. There, in Kensal Rise, I joined in a party to celebrate the 65th birthday of LF, my high school history teacher. She is one of only three teachers that I bonded with in high school[**], so having her in London for a year is really quite lovely! At the party, I met a couple of her other former students, her daughter and daughter's partner... and an old friend of hers that I had met back in March 1990, during a class trip to London!

All in all, twas a most lovely evening, which means that I didn't get back to Oxford until nearly half past midnight. Happily, my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth was also making her way home from London at the same time... so we kept abreast of each others' progress by text message! Silly, I know, but fun!

Finally, I wound down the night with a couple of phone calls. First, of course, I called Mom to wish her a Happy Mothers Day. We had a very nice conversation; indeed, twas the best interaction that we have had in quite some time! Afterward, I phoned [livejournal.com profile] gyades, just to catch up on the live and times of my best friend.

When that was done, I put the weekend to bed by putting myself to bed. Snuggled up next to my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, I drifted off happily to sleep.

[*] Which are: Two Gentlemen of Verona, Pericles, Coriolanus, Two Noble Kinsmen, and Titus Andronicus.

[**] And one of the remaining two passed away whilst I was her student.

The weekend started with a most excellent party on Friday and Saturday, courtesy of the lovely R and the awesome [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach. Many fantastic new people to meet, cuddle, et cetera! Plus cake and sauna and cabaret and ritual! Huzzah! As best I can tell, a fantabulous time was had by all!

After everything wrapped up, the rest of yesterday was spent at home, sharing some quality alone time with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. We stayed up until nearly three o'clock in the morning, playing games, sharing pictures from my recent trip to Berlin, and other stuff.

This morning, I got up early again. These days, it seems that the nights where I get more than four or five hours of sleep are few and far between. I think it has happened once in the past week, on Thursday. As the observant [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach noted, it seems like I'm not only burning the candle at both ends... but taking a flamethrower to the middle, as well. One of the reasons that I love the man -- he says the sweetest things![*]

Today, the early rise was motivated by the need to pack. As I mentioned last month, the bulk of April will be spent in Japan, splitting my time between Mozumi (for shift at Super-Kamiokande) and Tokai (for the T2K collaboration meeting). After it all wraps up, in about three weeks, I will be popping over to Taiwan for a four day holiday. Exploring a new country is always fun -- I am particularly looking forward to ascending Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010.[**] As an extra special bonus in my travels, I will get to enjoy the splendid company of the lovely [livejournal.com profile] bonzifan, who will be showing me around during my stay in Taiwan.

As I write this, the adventure has already begun.[***] Right now, I am sitting on the Oxford Airline bus, making my way towards Heathrow. I expect that we will arrive in just a few minutes. Nearly time to check in and buckle down for the long[****] flight. Next stop: Tokyo Narita!

Happy Easter, everyone! See you from the other side!

[*] Odd as it sounds, I'm not actually being sardonic here. For one trying to live life to the absolutely maximum, complements on productivity are a sure-fire way to bring a smile to my face and warm the cockles of my heart! (One of these days, somebody is going to call me an "overachiever"; when that happens, I may just melt away!)

[**] Currently ranked #3, behind the newly completed Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower and the record-shattering Burj Khalifa -- the latter of which is the tallest structure of any sort every build by humans. Tis nearly as tall as one Sears Tower placed on top of another!

[***] Albeit the less adventurous part of the adventure.

[****] Twelve hours.

Helllllloooooooo again, Chicago!

As previously mentioned, your friendly neighbourhood Nomad will be making a surprise appearance in the Windy City during the first week of March. Although this is a work trip, there will be time for some fun, too! Because what's travel without fun, right?

Here is what my itinerary looks like so far:
  • Thu Mar 01: 14:10 - Land at O'Hare. Go home, settle in. Poly Chicago's monthly karaoke meetup at Sidekicks in the evening! (Huzzah!)

  • Fri Mar 02: 07:00 - Bring Chirp to the vet for dental procedure. Work. 15:00 - Pick up Chirp from vet. EVENING: FREE!!


  • Sun Mar 04: Breakfast at Butterfield's. Maybe some spare time in afternoon. Prepare for big work week ahead in evening.

  • Mon Mar 05: Big important day of work at Fermilab. Collapse in evening. Dinner with friends possible.

  • Tue Mar 06: Recover from Monday. Prepare for Wednesday. Maybe get dinner with certain friends who have recently returned from cruising.

  • Wed Mar 07: Bigger importanter day of work at Fermilab. Includes delivering the Particle Astrophysics Center's weekly seminar. Professional dinner in evening. Pack like mad when all is done.

  • Thu Mar 08: Depart the Event Horizon at 06:00. Fly out of O'Hare at 08:50. Sleep.

Looking at the above plan, t'would appear that the best times to see some of my lovely Chicagoland friends would be on the evening of Friday March 2nd and on Saturday March 3rd.

Well, it just so happens that ten days after Saturday March 3rd, a certain Nomadic Anarchist is having a birthday. So it occurs to me: Why not throw a birthday party for myself at the Event Horizon! That would be pretty spiffy, huh? Possibly even bordering on the awesometacular if enough people show up!

Which means that it is time for that inestimable of beasts: The LJ POLL!

[Poll #1820132]

Those gentle readers who live outside of Chicagoland are also welcome to attend, of course. However, due to issues of distance and the fact that I've not yet completed work on the teleporter, tis understood if you cannot make it. This time.

Looking forward to seeing many of you lovely people sooon!!
Helllllloooooooo, Chicago! Great news!

Your friendly neighbourhood Nomad has recently learned that he will be making a week-long trip to the Event Horizon next month! Surprise!! (Pretty spiffy, huh?)

Those of you who have known me for some time may recall that, since moving to the UK nearly six years ago, I am very regular in making three trips back to the U.S. of A. each year: a Summer trip to go to Pagan festivals, host the Event Horizon Summer Party, and just generally enjoy Summery goodness of the sort that we rarely get in the UK (e.g. heat!); an Autumn trip to attend the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan Gathering; and a Winter trip to celebrate Decemberween and the changing of the year.

As such, at the end of my recent (and excellent) Winter trip, I was expecting the usual half year wait before I could see my lovely Chicagoland friends once more. Surprise! Looks like I get a bit of a windfall. Huzzah! This new trip comes about for professional reasons[*], so I will need to be a working Nomad... but there should be time on some evenings, and especially on the weekend to see my awesometacular friends! Plus, I land on March 1st with time to make it to the monthly Poly Chicago Karaoke night that evening! Hooray!

I will be in town from March 1st until the morning of March 8th. Anyone wanna piece of me? If so, let me know via e-mail or LJ comment and we can plan time to meet up whilst I am in town!

[*] Which means that I will be flying solo, quite literally. My beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat will be staying here in Oxford and as much as my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth would love to accompany me again, she will be taking classes in Winchester while I am gone.

anarchist_nomad: (Loch Ness Monster)
( Jan. 10th, 2012 07:58 pm)
Helloooooooooo, World! Happy 2012 to all of you, gentle readers!

Late last night, my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and I returned to Chiron Beta Prime, after a delightful twelve day trip to the States. Hence my inaugural LJ entry for the new year, now that my galavanting has concluded for the nonce. We had a fantastic vacation, and it was truly awesometacular to see so many of you, my dear friends! The journey took us to New York City for three days, Philadelphia for three days, and Chicago for five days... with one day in between Philly and Chi-town for driving. It was a brilliant mix of sightseeing and socializing with splendiferous people. We ascended the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower; we ushered in the new year with our dear friends at Asylum House and we toured the Big Apple's Christmas sights with friends from the Sooper Sekrit Pagan Festival; we walked the Brooklyn Bridge and toured Independence Hall; we went to poly karaoke night in Chicago, celebrated a birthday with Ohana house, and enjoyed a visit from my favourite Michigoose, the astounding [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup. All this and more, making for twelve wonderful days! Also, it was [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth's first time in the States, and I dare say that she enjoyed herself enough to return at some point.

So now it is the start of 2012, the beginning of the year that will supposedly end the world. Sounds a lot like last year in that regard, doesn't it? As I re-integrate into my life in Merry Olde Englande, I find myself sometimes confused upon seeing people for the first time this year. How long is it okay to greet somebody with a "Happy New Year"? Tis clear when to begin granting such new year wishes; on the day after Christmas, I drop the "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays", replacing them with a hearty "Happy New Year!" But when do you stop? For me, I was cheerfully addressing strangers in this fashion for two or three days, but stopped sometime around the fourth or fifth. However, I am still employing the phrase with acquaintances if I encounter them for the first time in the year. Not quite sure how long that will last before it, too, feels out of place. How do you phase out the New Year greeting, gentle readers?

For that matter, how long is it acceptable to keep one's holiday decorations up? Whilst enjoying breakfast at Butterfield's on January 4th, I noticed them taking down their Decemberween ornaments. At home, on Chiron Beta Prime, ours are still in place, as I have been away for nearly a fortnight. They shall be coming down over the weekend, with our lovely tree being donated to become wood chips in a local park. How about you, my friends? When do you restore your home to its non-December mode?

Finally, and apropos to nothing, I should note that this entry is being written from Ye Olde Oxford Tube. Of itself, this is not surprising, as many of my entries are written thusly. However, there was one unexpected detail when I tried to post. I am online by generating a network connection via my phone... as the WiFi network on the coach no longer allows me access to my journal. This is new and has never happened before. A little investigating revealed that it is not LiveJournal as a whole that is blocked, but my individual journal. It would appear that new content filters are in place... and they seem to balk at accepting the word "Anarchist" in a URL. Oi!

Nearly home now, so time to sign off. I hope that everyone had a vunderbar holiday... and I am rather looking forward to interacting with all of you in the new year! Huzzah!!
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.

anarchist_nomad: (Look Like An Egyptian)
( Nov. 16th, 2011 11:57 pm)
Haven't played this game in a while, gentle readers. Here goes:
  • CHUTE: Am writing this entry on the Oxford Tube, during the trip that never ends. Leaving London after 22:00, we immediately got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the A40. Not exactly what I would expect at that hour. After finally making it through the jam, we seemed to be moving along well... until the motorway (M40) got closed off. So we are now diverting through High Wycombe -- whee! Eventually I will return home. I think.

  • LADDER: Yesterday, I went to Cambridge. There, I presented a high energy physics seminar on the first results from T2K at the Cavendish Laboratory. It went rather well, I think... with some post-talk discussions that may prove rather fruitful in the future. So now I have spoken at both Oxford and Cambridge -- spiffy!

  • CHUTE: I have just learned that one of our darling kitties -- probably The Boy -- has puked all over the bed. Feh. So on my arrival home, after midnight, I will need to strip off the sheets and put clean ones on. Irksome. I love him dearly, but I wish that his walnut-brain were keen enough so that he knew better than to vomit where he sleeps.

  • LADDER: The reason that I am coming back from London so late is that I had a very nice dinner in South Kensington with my high school history teacher. She is one of only three teachers that I actually liked in my high school (and only two of those are still alive). We last saw each other in October 2007, when I dropped in during a visit to NYC. However, she is now living in London for a year and looked me up online. I was rather pleasantly surprised, and it was a lovely evening of chatting and catching up. We have tentative plans for her and her partner to come visit Oxford next month, where I will treat them to one of my now-famous tours.

  • CHUTE: The new Muppets movie -- which comes out next week in the United States -- will not be released in the UK until February! What the...?!? I have no idea why some films are released concurrently in both countries, whilst others have an enormous lag. The latest cinematic adaptation of Jane Eyre, for instance, had a whopping six month delay -- coming out in March for the US and September for the UK. I very much hope that this Muppet movie will still be in the US theatres come late December, because I really don't want to wait three more months!!

  • LADDER: Quite by surprise, I appear to be headed to Berlin in March! Apparently, I am taking a five day holiday with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] faerierhona (plus one other). Rather excited about this, as I have not yet been to Germany properly... and Berlin is very much on my list of European cities to visit. As an added bonus, it looks like she has found us a splendid apartment for the trip -- located right on the Ku'damm! Excellent -- couldn't ask for a better location than that!!

  • LADDER: Speaking of plane tickets and March, the ever-exuberant [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] jadesfire55 have now purchased their tickets to come visit us in Merry Olde Englande! Huzzah! Looks like there will be much happiness and excitement in Oxford (and beyond) during the last week of March!

Additionally, there is one more ladder. It is a sooper sekrit ladder that I cannot talk about in this space... yet. If things go well, all shall be revealed in time. Stay tuned, true believers!

Getting ready to head out the door and make my way to Brushwood for the Sirius Rising festival. Although I have been coming to Brushwood since 1998, I have never been to Sirius before. From 1998 through 2009, it was always to attend Starwood... and, since Starwood and Brushwood parted ways, in 2010 it was to attend the new Summerfest. I am rather curious to find out what Sirius is like. The answer shall begin very soon!

Before leaving the outside world for a week, here is an update of what Nomad's Summer 2011 US trip has looked like so far:

Thursday: Hit the ground running! Shortly after returning to the Event Horizon, I made my way into the city for the Poly Chicago's monthly karaoke meet-up. Twas fortunate timing that allowed me to attend! It was great to be back at Sidekick's... and even greater to catch up with [livejournal.com profile] raven_ap_morgan, [livejournal.com profile] salexa, [livejournal.com profile] sciffy_circo, and [livejournal.com profile] xirpha. What a lovely first evening in Chicago!

Friday: On Friday, I started the day working, with two meetings. After a productive handling of business, I switched to pleasure in the evening... allowing myself to be kidnapped by the lovely [livejournal.com profile] emrldgirrl and [livejournal.com profile] datahawk and taken to a pool party in Elgin. There, I enjoyed the company of fantastic old friends -- such as [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin & [livejournal.com profile] unclevlad, and the ever-awesome [livejournal.com profile] wiktowasichu -- and met a plethora of delightful new people, too! Most of which transpired in the water, which makes everything even more awesome than it already is! Sometime around five thirty in the morning, I stumbled sleepily through the Event Horizon door.

Saturday: On Saturday, I accepted an invitation from the adorable [livejournal.com profile] playfulkitten89 and the excellent [livejournal.com profile] samiitiger, joining them in Wisconsin for the opening day of the Bristol Renaissance Faire. There, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting [livejournal.com profile] playfulkitten89's best friend, the enchanting [livejournal.com profile] kittycait13. Over the course of the day, I met more wonderful folks, as well as the joy of running into friends like [livejournal.com profile] imandunewen, [livejournal.com profile] kritterfox, [livejournal.com profile] posicat, and more! I practiced my extraordinarily rusty archery skills with a compound bow, watched the Suitcase Shakespeare Company perform an hour-long version of The Taming of the Shrew, danced around a drum circle for the first time in 2011[*], learned to play some new dice games, and enjoyed the most delicious strawberry smoothie! Mmmmmmm!

[livejournal.com profile] da_pupdetz were there, too... and have produced their own LiveJournal post, complete with pictures! Go on and click it -- you know that you want to see [livejournal.com profile] da_pupdetz decked out in their ren faire garb!

When the faire ended, a lucky thirteen of us descended on the nearby Sweet Tomatoes for an extended evening of dinner and conversations. Around midnight, all finally broke up and I made my way home -- tired but happy!

Sunday: My Sunday started by sharing some mellow time with the fantastic [livejournal.com profile] gyades. We talked and then watched The Blues Brothers together. Mellow, but fun. In the evening, I started preparing for my trip to Brushwood and got some various and sundry done about the house.

...and that brings us to the present, dear friends! Not a bad start to my Summer trip, I must say!

Now, gentle readers, tis nearly time for everybody's favourite Nomad to leave this world for another! Five hundred miles of driving will soon commence, bringing me to the always amazing Brushwood for a week of Sirius summer pleasure! See you on the other side!!

[*] More of that to follow tonight, when I arrive at Brushwood!

Good news from today! I just delivered the Alfred Curtis Memorial Lecture to the British Astronomical Association. To say that it went over well would be a bit of an understatement. This is the first time that I have delivered a named, or keynote, presentation... hopefully the first of many!

Bad news from today! The lecture, and the questions that followed, did not end until about a quarter past twenty-one. Driving from Winchester to London looks to take an hour forty, according to MultiMap. Thus, this year's "God Is..." party is a bit impractical. If I go now to pick up [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, we wouldn't arrive until a little before midnight. Three and a half hours of driving for three hours of party doesn't seem like an efficient use of time. Ah well, there's always next year.

Unknown news from today! A mys-TEEEER-ious package arrived at Chiron Beta Prime this afternoon. As no one was available to sign for it, it will be held Royal Mail's depot on Monday. Mys-TEEEEER-ious, indeed!
anarchist_nomad: (Center of the Universe)
( Feb. 28th, 2011 01:02 pm)
This entry serves as a quick follow-up to two different posts from last week:

First, it has been suggested to me that the upcoming social schedule could be more effectively presented on its own, free from encumbrance by my typical babblings. To that end, here goes:

Gentle [UK-based] readers, please mark your calendars for the following events:

  • Saturday March 19th -- Party in Oxford at Chiron Beta Prime to welcome the lovely [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup to Merry Olde Englande. Come on out to play games, hang out, and meet this uber-awesome mega-terrific woman on her first trip across the pond in two years! All on my LJ f-list are invited. Crash space provided with an RSVP.

  • Sunday May 15th -- Like Pink Floyd? Enjoy The Wall? Your friendly neighbourhood Nomad has an extra ticket to see Roger Waters perform the whole of one of his greatest works live on stage at the O2 in London! Interested? Ping Nomad directly for details!

  • Saturday June 4th -- The second annual Oxford BiFest will be taking place from 11am to 11pm at the Oxford University Club. Last year's event was such a hit that we are doing it again -- bigger and better than ever! Come along and join the fun!

In an entirely different sort of follow-up (to this post), it would appear that one of the last three surviving veterans of the First World War at the time I wrote the entry has now moved on. Yesterday, Frank Buckles, a US ambulance driver in the Great War, passed on at the age of 110. Now there are two -- both British. Only Florence Green, a waitress for the Women's Royal Air Force, and Claude Choules, a combatant with the Royal Navy, remain.

I will note that this ends the follow-up to last week's LJ entries. Sorry to disappoint those who here hoping, but there is no further announcement from our highland cow at this time.

anarchist_nomad: (The Eyes Have It)
( Feb. 24th, 2011 07:54 pm)
Good evening, gentle readers!

I write this entry from the Oxford Tube, as it slowly seeps through the morass of traffic that is the A40. Said traffic jam provides the perfect excuse for writing an entry that has been percolating in my head for quite some time.

March is nearly upon us. The days are getting longer, the air is getting warmer. Spring is starting to, um, spring! This Dark Period has been rather productive, with progress in several areas -- not least is my impending application for settlement in the UK. As the Dark receeds, however, it becomes time to venture forth once more and seek out new adventures and excitement! My beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have our first road trip of the year coming up this weekend, with several more explorations to follow in short order. The outward looking outlook of the Light also means that it is time to start planning more social activities. And that is precisely what this post is all about!

There are a few events coming up that may be of interest to the UK-based portion of my f-list. Take a look below and see if any of these suit your fancy, dear friends:

March: Party time! My birthday -- which falls on March 13th this year -- is a mere three weeks away. Having had two most excellent birthday parties last year, though, I am planning a three day road trip with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth to celebrate this year. Besides, there is a better reason to party just one week later: The terrric [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup is coming to town! After nearly two years, my lovable lass is returning to Merry Olde England, much to the delight of [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and myself. Any time that we get to spend with her is a sheer delight, and the last time she popped across the pond we all had quite a blast! Most of my UK people have not had the pleasure of meeting dear Tawney... so we will be throwing a party in her honour. If you are on my LJ f-list, you can consider yourself invited!

March 19th at Chiron Beta Prime. Be there!

May: As the Royal Wedding will be giving many of us an eleven day holiday from April 22nd to May 2nd, there will be no big social events organised by us in April. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are planning a nice long road trip to the continent to get away from it all. Not quite sure which places we plan to visit just yet. Berlin, Prague, and Vienna are just some of the places on our list.

In May, however, there is much niftiness to be had. Regular readers of this journal may recall that, back in October, the Kiddo and I went to see Roger Waters perform The Wall live at Madison Square Garden. What an absolutely amazing concert that was -- one of the best that I have ever been to! Puppets, flying pigs, amazing animations... and, of course, the building and destruction of the wall itself! If you like, check out a fan-recorded clip of the show here!

The US tour of The Wall has now finished... but the European tour is just about to begin! As it turns out, I happen to have two tickets to see the May 15th performance at the Venue Formerly Known as the Millennium Dome in London. The seats are not as good as the fantastic ones that the Kiddo and I enjoyed at MSG, but they are not bad. My person that I originally wanted to take to this show when it was announced last year is no longer available. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat then had right of first refusal; she did, indeed, exercise that right quite well, having refused to go several times now. Pink Floyd is not exactly something that we agree on. Thus, I have an additional ticket. If you think you might like to go to the show, drop me an e-mail and we can talk.

June: In June, Bisexual Oxford brings you the second annual Oxford BiFest! We will be returning to the same great venue as last year, the Oxford University Club. There, from 11am to 11pm, there will be twelve awesometacular hours of workshops, social events, and pure unadulterated fun! (Okay, we will let adults in, too)

Check out the Oxford BiFest webpage here... and stay tuned for the announcement of workshops and other programming!

I have to say: 2011 has been off to a fantastic start already. Now, with the warmth and the daylight coming, things are only going to get better! Wahoo! Fasten your seatbelts, good souls, the ride is just about to begin!
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.



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