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?
One of the things that I love about Oxford is that it is small enough to get around easily by bus or push bike and, whenever you go out, you run into somebody that you know... whilst being simultaneously big enough that there is always something going on. Thus, although I did not leave the city this weekend, there was plenty to do and it made for quite a pleasant weekend, indeed!

On Friday evening, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip came down for a date. When she arrived, we headed into Jericho to get dinner at my second favourite vegetarian restaurant in Oxford -- The Gardener's Arms.[1] As usual, the food was quite good. After eating, I took her on a stroll through Jericho before we headed back to the Flat With No Name. Upon our return, the rest of the evening was spent locked in a room together.[2] Although we see each other frequently, too much of our recent time together has been group social time, or dealing-with-practicality time, or child time. This left us both quite eager for some time with nothing to do but be alone together... and so we opted to forgo the various options for theatre or a concert in favour of sharing some much needed quality alone time.

Come Saturday morning, both [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and I were quite happy, though moving a little slowly. Thus, I put her on the Oxford Tube at about the same time that I should have already been in city centre. Hopping on my bicycle immediately afterward, I arrived at the Town Hall twenty minutes late... but just in time for the start of the day's activities.

Just what were the activities of which I speak, gentle readers? It is a fair question... and -- fear not -- I shall tell you! Yesterday, to celebrate its 275th anniversary, the Oxford Society of Change Ringers had a ringing day. Those of us who were participating were divided into four teams that were to compete in five areas: (1) Ringing six bells down in peal and then up again, (2) Tune ringing on twelve handbells, (3) Ringing an Oxford method on eight tower bells, (4) Ringing Stedman Cinques on twelve tower bells, and (5) a trivia quiz. I am not experienced in tune ringing, which is very different than change ringing -- indeed, one does not even hold the handbells in the same way! Still, I joined in the handbell tune ringing competition.[3]. Our assignment was to learn Ode To Joy; we practiced for some time in the Priory Room at Christ Church, then gave our performance back in the Town Hall. I rang on the fifth and sixth bells of the twelve... and thought that I did reasonably well. Shortly after our performance, it was time for lunch... during which I had several enjoyable chats with fellow ringers.

As I was not participating in the tower bell competitions during the afternoon, I snuck out after lunch and met up with my darling [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat for a trip to the exhibition hall at the Bodleian Library. The current displays were entitled Hallelujah! The British Choral Tradition and After Arundel: Religious writing in fifteenth-century England. The first display covered one thousand years of British choral music in various settings: in churches, at coronations, et cetera. There were a number of impressive manuscripts; true to form, my favourite was the oldest -- the Winchester Troper, used one thousand years ago at the Old Minster in Winchester[4]. The second display was smaller, featuring seven religions manuscripts from the early and middle of the fifteenth century. All were concerned with the suppression of heresay, in the aftermath of John Wycliffe and the Lollard movement[5]. Thomas Arundel himself, as archbishop of Canterbury, had fought to suppress the Lollards; these works were written as the legacy of that religious conflict.

Once we left the Bodleian, I headed back to Christ Church to rejoin the Oxford Society's Ringing Day. We had a group picture taken on the Great Stair of the college[6], then congregated to learn the results of the day's competitions. Our handbell ringing had come in a close second, out of four, in technical merit. Unfortunately, our artistic presentation was rated the lowest of the four groups. I think that this may have something to do with our choice to ring loudly; the judge thought that this detracted from the music. Ah well -- it was all in good fun.

When done with the Ringing Day, I rejoined [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, who was reading in Oxford's lovely[7] Bonn Square. We went out for dinner together, then headed to the Oxford Playhouse to see a performance of The Fiddler On The Roof. The Playhouse puts on many high quality shows and has hosted the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as shows headed to the West End. This production, however, was put on by the Oxfordshire Youth Music Theatre. As such, it was very much a student production -- good, but not quite the same caliber as other shows that we have seen there. Perhaps I am a bit harsh here, but I have seen Fiddler twice before -- both times on Broadway -- and so there were very large shoes to be filled. A sixteen year old playing Tevye -- no matter how good -- is not going to compare to the performance I saw Topol give in 1990 or the one that [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco and I saw Harvey Fierstein put on in 2005. That said, it was still an enjoyable show... and I always seem to forget just how difficult Fiddler is to watch. It is a testament to the potential of these kids that there performance still managed to tug on my heartstrings with the sad plight of Anatevka.

After the curtain fell, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I returned to our flat in Headington. Here, we continued making plans for our fifteenth anniversary -- which is coming up in less than four months -- and then ended the evening by watching the last two episodes of Smallville Season Seven.

Today, I began my day by heading out to St. Giles to ring for the Sunday morning services. Then I came home to meet up with the charming [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen, who joined [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I on our annual trip to Oxford University's Harcourt Arboretum. The Harcourt does not measure up to the fantastic Morton Arboretum that the Event Horizon is near in Chicagoland; however, it does have one advantage. For two weeks each year, at the end of April and beginning of May, the bluebells are in bloom. During that time, the Harcourt has a spectacular bluebell meadow, which is a wonder and a delight to behold. The three of us spent hours wandering around the arboretum, taking in the seasonal beauty. Thankfully, the weather was quite obliging and there was ample sun to take many lovely[8] photographs.

When we finally left the arboretum, which is on the southernmost edges of Oxford, we made our way to the Wolvercote, in the northernmost part, to get lunch at The Trout[9]. Sitting outside by the Thames, we spent a couple of hours enjoying a delicious meal whilst taking in the greenery and the waterfowl... including a very amusing trio of frisky ducks!

After eating, I dropped off [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, then proceeded back into the city centre to ring for evening services at St. Giles. Amongst other things, we rang a couple of extents of Plain Bob Doubles, during which I finally realised that I have this method down quite well. Indeed, I find it safe to say that this is the first real method[10] that I am fully comfortable with. Yay for me! Next, I want to extend this comfort to Plain Bob Minor, as I would love to ring a quarter peal on this sometime in the not-TOO-distant future.

When we were done ringing the changes, I returned to Headington, picked up the first Sandman trade paperback, and headed out to Bury Knowle Park to read some more. It is not quite summer yet, but it is still nice to read outside in the evenings, just before the sun goes down.

Finally, that brings us to the present. It is still relatively early in the evening, but I expect to go to bed soon after posting this. There is a very busy week ahead of me, and I want to get an early start on it whilst also being fresh and rested.[11] Many pentacles need to be hammered in the coming weeks!

So, on that note, dear friends, I will end this entry by saying this: Happy Sunday to all... and to all a good night!

[1] The Pink Giraffe, whilst not strictly a vegetarian venue, holds the title of my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Oxford. Every one of their dishes can be made in a vegetarian form, with a variety of fake meats. As such, it is good enough for me to count as a vegetarian restaurant, since I can eat anything on the menu.

[2] Figuratively, not literally.

[3] Besides, it should give me some appreciation for what it is that [livejournal.com profile] jadesfire55 does with her ringing.

[4] The Old Minster, built in 660, was the precursor to the New Minster which, in turn, was predecessor to Winchester Cathedral, which I visited last month during my birthday weekend.

[5] Wycliffe was a prominent theologian at Oxford in the mid-fourteen century... who was then kicked out for his heretic teachings. He did such devious things as translate the Bible into English. Terrible, really!

[6] Harry Potter fans may like to know that this staircase appeared in the first Harry Potter film, as the steps leading into Hogwarts.

[7] "Lovely" in this one instance meaning "ugly as all get-out." Last year, the city spent two million pounds renovating the square into something quite drab and awful.

[8] "Lovely" actually meaning "lovely" this time!

[9] Somewhat well known, in part, because of its mention in Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novels.

[10] Ignoring non-methods like Plain Hunt.

[11] And I did not sleep enough either night this weekend!


Hwaet!

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 [livejournal.com 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, [livejournal.com 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, [livejournal.com 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! [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have tickets to see Fiddler on the Roof at the Oxford Playhouse[******]. Then, on Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com 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!

So...

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 [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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: (Center of the Universe)
( Mar. 21st, 2009 10:45 am)
Yesterday morning, I went to Queen Mary to work with RT. RT is a post-doc there who is also working on the T2K experiment. Although we barely knew each other before last year, we both did our graduate work at Stony Brook, in the same research group, with the same advisor[*]. These days, however, we work fairly closely together, taking turns on having one of us visit the others' institution every fortnight and keeping virtual contact in-between.

We worked until only about two o'clock, then headed out. Why the reason for this early end to our workday? PC and LW, another two former colleagues from our student days, were in town. Both are now post-docs on the MINOS experiment, and had just landed in London on their way to a collaboration meeting in Cambridge. I had never met LW -- she was another Stony Brooker but joined the group after I had left; PC was never at Stony Brook, but I mentored him in Japan during his first year (and my last) on Super-Kamiokande. Although we had kept in touch sporadically, I had not seen him in over five years... and was thus very much looking forward to getting together again.

We met near the Tate Modern, at the Founders Arms. The weather has been uncharacteristically beautiful lately, so we sat outside and watched the Thames and St. Paul's Cathedral as we drank, and caught up. Lots of stories were told, remembering some very good times... as well as shared bitching about a certain collaborator that is hated, to various extents, by all of us[**]. At one point, popping inside to use the loo at about four o'clock, I was surprised to see one of my colleagues from Imperial College there, too! I expect to see random people I know when I go out in Oxford. Not so much in London, especially somebody that I work with on a workday afternoon!

When it started getting close to sunset -- and, therefore, cold -- we moved on. As we left the Founders Arms, I realised that I recognised their porch as one that I had gotten dead-ended on last May, during my twenty-two mile urban hike around London. Our next destination was The Blackfriar. On the way, we passed Doggetts, which was the second blast from the past for the day. As the venue for both Polyday and BiFest London, I have been there several times, of course. However, the last time I was there, back in October, was to finalise the ending of a relationship. It was my choice to do so, and I believe that it was the best choice... but it was still sad that things had progressed to such a state that such was the right thing to do. Walking by Doggetts, then, I felt a twinge of loss for something that had once been good but, ultimately, not able to be sustained in a healthy fashion.

At The Blackfriar, we came indoors to admire the unusual interior decor of this pub... as well as get food, get warm, and get more to drink. I, of course, am a life-long teetotaler. However, my three compatriots were starting to get a bit buzzed from all the drinking. Given that the three of them were a generation behind me at Super-K, I really had not been out drinking with them before. Thus, they were all quite surprised to see that I am most capable of getting just as drunk as any of them... without imbibing a single drop. This has been true for as long as I can recall, dating back to parties in high school where I was ostensibly the only sober person. I think that it is because I am somewhat empathic, riding the energy of those who are around me. In any case, I managed a couple of jokes and puns that cracked up the whole party, prompting RT to raise a toast -- the only one of the evening -- to me. If I were prone to blushing, I probably would have blushed at that point... but it was very sweet!

Also sweet was something that PC said after the toast. He told me that the advice I had given him, during our brief months of overlap on Super-K, on what to expect during his graduate career there had proven to be quite accurate. He said that, in the past five years, there were many times that he had thought of me... often as something or other had happened that made him think: "Yes, Nomad said that this would happen like that." It made me smile to be remembered and appreciated... as well as to know that I had helped my friend.

Finally, around nine o'clock, we had to call it an evening. PC and LW needed to get to King's Cross to catch the train to Cambridge for their meeting, which began this morning. I made my way to Notting Hill Gate and caught the Oxford Tube back to Oxford. On the coach, I checked my e-mail and found a note from Mom, containing the third blast from the past. From 1979 to 1985, from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, I attended the Building Blocks Montessori School in New York. A woman named DH had been my first grade teacher, then bought the school many years later when the founder retired. Every so often, I would go back to visit Building Blocks. When I last went, in October 2006, DH -- who still remembered me well -- was impressed to see that her former student had become a research scientist at Oxford. She explained to the secretary, who had never met me, that I was "the smartest student to ever go to Building Blocks."[***] In any case, that was the last time that I saw her... and the last time that I will ever see her, as Mom had written to inform me that she had died of cancer, at the age of only sixty.

Despite this bit of sad news, I can say that yesterday was an excellent day. It was great to catch up with old friends, and to make a new one in LW. I don't often mesh well, socially speaking, with other physicists, for a variety of reasons. There are exceptions, of course, the most notable is [livejournal.com profile] gyades, who is my best friend! However, I very much like both RT and PC, and LW seems good to spend time with, too. So, yes, an excellent day!

Now I must be off to run some errands and then, this afternoon, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are heading to Milton Keynes to see Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart perform in a production of Waiting For Godot...


[*] I graduated and left the group shortly after he joined, which is why we barely knew each other. That and the fact that, in my last two years of school, I was rarely ever at Stony Brook. Those were the days that I lived in Arizona, worked in Japan, and went to school in New York (i.e., at Stony Brook) -- when I first adopted the name Nomad.

[**] The prson in question being a somewhat charismatic, but vicious and cruel, individual. The degree to which we can't stand him is quite proportional to how much we have had to work with him. Still, in a collaboration of 120 people, having only one such person is probably doing quite well.

[***] Yet another opportunity for blushing!


First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who sent along a greeting for my birthday! In any medium: LJ comment, LJ post, e-mail, text message, phone call, card. This year, I was blessed with a barrage of good wishes. Including from some people who I would not have automatically expected to remember my birthday[*]. What a nice surprise!

I did have a great birthday weekend, which I will try to write a travelogue about later. This makes three such entries from the past month that I need to write. I know, I know -- I deserve a proper thrashing from the LJ Flogger Fairy. I suppose that if I weren't such a perfectionist, it would be easier to scribble down a few lines. But I like to write detailed entries -- especially when I travel! With pictures and everything! I don't really know if anyone else enjoys them, but the work that goes into such proper travelogues pays off later, when I refer back to remember details of what I did whilst away.

Meanwhile, I will note that today -- March 1818 2009 -- is the first day of the year in Oxford where the amount of daylight time exceeds the amount of night time. I expect that this will be true of many places in the Northern hemisphere, as the Equinox is only two days away. Today in Oxford, the time from sunrise to sunset is twelve hours, two minutes, and thirty-eight seconds. For the third time, I have successfully endured a dark English winter. Go me! When we move the clocks forward to British Summer Time in a week and a half, there will be even more daylight to revel in! Excellent!

So far, this week has been nice, though probably not particularly interesting for anyone to read about. The irony of this is that it makes the week much easier to write up than the weekend, which was far more interesting. On Monday evening, I met the lovely [livejournal.com profile] pogodragon after her class and we went out together for a long-awaited dinner. It was lovely to have time to sit and chat with her, getting to know her better. The food -- we went for Indian -- was excellent, as well! Tuesday evening was similarly themed, although with less charming company: My boss had to work a very late night and so I went out to dinner with him and some other colleagues. Nothing terribly exciting there at all.

Tonight will be a little bit better, and it will introduce a little variety into my week. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have tickets to see the newest Alan Ayckbourn play -- Life & Beth -- at the Oxford Playhouse this evening. This will be the eight play that I have seen in 2009. Eight plays in eleven weeks. Not a bad start to the year!

In any case, the coach is getting ever closer to London, so I suppose that I had best finish pottering about on LiveJournal and start reading through some old talks that are relevant to one of the projects that I am working on now for T2K. This way I can start the day running[**] when I get into the office!


[*] Come to think of it, the same thing happened last year. I am beginning to suspect a certain mythical cat's involvement in all this, but she just grins at me when I broach the topic.

[**] Proverbially, of course!


Astute readers will have noticed that I have not yet written the promised summary of January and February. Do not abandon hope, all ye faithful! I still plan to do a synopsis, as there were several important events and milestones in that time. Not least of which were two weekend adventures -- one in Cambridge and one in Essex[*] -- to celebrate important anniversaries. At the very minimum, I plan to write a travelogue for each before embarking on my next weekend adventure in eight days!

Meanwhile, what has March (i.e., this week) brought to everybody's favourite Nomad?

Bell ringing )

Particle Physics )

Bus racing )

Watching the Watchmen )

What else has been noteworthy? )

So that is the Great Nomad Update (GNU) for this week! Tune in next time, gentle readers, for more... ah, but that would be telling, wouldn't it?


Footnotes )

Looking back at previous years, it seems that I rarely blog about the Decemberween[1] celebrations. I suppose that this is not too shocking -- I spend most of Decemberween on the go, and away from a computer. By the time that the holidays are over, too much has elapsed to try to chronicle it all.

This year's attempt to do a holiday write-up is perhaps an illustrative example; it is now late January and I am still not quite finished with my report! I realise that no one else much cares at this point what I was doing one month ago. Indeed, since my holiday in the States ended, I have come back to England, left England for Japan, and returned to England yet again[2]. Obviously, I am well behind in my blogging and it would make good sense to simply give up. However, I am not known for my common sense... and it would feel wrong to leave my travelogue unfinished. Thus, I resume telling my story.

Tuesday December 30th: Woke up at Mom's place again[3], gathered my belongings, and headed out with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Mom was very happy to have had our company, but was obviously quite broken up to see up go. I will try to bring her to England for a week in 2009; I think it would be good for her.

The plan had been to drop [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat off with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress at [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42's house, then drive four hundred miles to Ohio by the evening to have a date with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] livetbd. Well, we all know what Robbie Burns has to say about plans, don't we?

Just after we arrived in Jersey City, right before I was about to bid farewell to my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, we received a phone call from C&M, who were back in Oxford. Apparently, Giles -- our seven month old tiger kitten -- had gone missing. Oh, crap! We had a series of friends looking in on our Oxford kitties whilst we were away. In addition to feeding and watering them, we asked our friends to make sure that the cats were okay. This was added to the cat care request after last December, when we returned home to find our poor Totoro at Death's door from kidney failure.

But I digress from a very important point: Oh, crap! Giles had last been seen on Boxing Day -- four days earlier. When T had gone to the [as yet unnamed] flat on Dec 28, there was no sign of Giles. Now C&M were there, and he was still missing. At first, I assumed that Giles, being a cat, had simply found a good place to hide. We spent nearly an hour on the phone with C, guiding him about the flat and suggesting places to search. It began with known hiding locations, then progressed to any possible spot that we could conceive of that Giles might get into. We had poor C moving furniture about and climbing on top of things. Still no Giles.

Oh, crap! After searching every conceivable location in the flat, it began to become clear that somebody had accidentally let our cat out. Which means that he was likely lost to us. I had been reluctant to believe this; for one thing, it seemed quite improbably. Yet, as Sherlock Holmes said, when one eliminates all the other options, then what remains, however improbable, must be true. I was also painfully aware that this was one year, to the day, since we returned home to find Totoro nearly dead. Needless to say, both [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I were becoming very upset.

We kicked into emergency mode. We asked C&M to check with the neighbours to see if they had noticed a tiger kitten about. We called T to see if there was any chance that he had let Giles out. Although that had been my original suspicion, he managed to convince us that he was not at fault. We alerted local cat shelters. Then we called the company that manages our flat to see if they had sent over any repairmen to work on the flat in recent days. After all, there are only a limited number of keys to our flat. T has one and C&M have one; both convinced us that they had not let Giles out. Neither [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat nor I had done so, of course, since we were on another continent. It is possible that Darelle or [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen could have done so... but since both were out of Oxford, it seemed unlikely. The sole remaining key belonged to the company that managed the flat.

It was out of hours, so we called their emergency number. The woman who answered said that if I called back in an hour, when she was near a computer, she would check for me. However, she also said that they do not normally do repair work between Christmas and New Years. Hurm.

So maybe no one could have let Giles out. Perhaps he was in the flat after all? But... where? He likes to hide from people who are not [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat or [livejournal.com profile] anarchist_nomad, but where could he be hiding? I came up with a cunning plan. We asked T to go to the flat and remove the cat food. Leave plenty of water, but no food. Then, when C&M returned on the following day, Giles would be quite hungry. In such a case, he would likely come out when anyone -- even a stranger -- rattled the food bag.

With all these plans in place, I finally departed from Jersey City, several hours later than planned.

Total Miles Driven: 1509

Shortly after leaving on my journey, I got a phone call from C. Apparently, T had gone back to the flat and, before he got inside, noticed Giles lazily washing himself in the front window.

That little $H!+!!!!!!!!!!

I was relieved, incredulous, and furious at the same time! Where they hell could that little terror have been hiding? To this day, I still do not know his secret spot! While covering away in it, however, he managed to scare, upset or disrupt a large number of people: There was T, his wife and mother (who he brought on Dec 28 to help search the flat for Giles), C&M, [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen (who T had called on Dec 28), Darelle (who [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen had called), me, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and A (whose home we turned into Command Central for our emergency operations), [livejournal.com profile] resourceress, plus [livejournal.com profile] livetbd (who I was now hours late in meeting) and her husband D. How could one little kitten cause so much trouble??!

Anyway, I phoned [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and let her know that all was well. I then continued making my way to Youngstown, Ohio.

I arrived at [livejournal.com profile] livetbd's house at 11pm -- far later than planned, and much to late to have a proper date. I am grateful that both she and her husband, D, were understanding. As cat people themselves, they understood, and have been in similar situations themselves. Still, I felt somewhat guilty and promised to make it up to [livejournal.com profile] livetbd with a theatre date in Chicago the next time that I am in the States. She did not turn down this offer of penance.

After the three of us spent some time together catching up, D went out to midnight karaoke with friends. That left [livejournal.com profile] livetbd and I to have some quality alone time together. Priorities are important: We started off with her giving me a tour of back porch. There sits the new hot tub that they had installed since the last time that I visited. A full appreciation of the installation work required closer inspection, which I was happy to engage in. Nothing quite like soaking in a hot tub in the middle of a cold winter night! Especially when one has some rather delightful company and a distinct lack of clothing!

I am quite grateful that [livejournal.com profile] livetbd, like myself, is a night person. Despite my late arrival, we spent quite a few hours -- inside the hot tub and out -- deliciously enjoying each others' company!

Total Miles Driven: 1914



Wednesday December 31st: I wish that I could say that Wednesday began as well as Tuesday had ended. Alas, this was not to be the case. I awoke -- with far too little sleep -- around 10am to the sound of [livejournal.com profile] livetbd crying. Even before I pulled on clothing and rushed downstairs, I feared that I knew what had upset her. I was not mistaken. During the night, one of their cats -- who had been very sick -- had passed away.

Like [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I before moving to England, [livejournal.com profile] livetbd and D had had six cats living under one roof. Since my previous visit, one had escaped, so they were down to five. Now it was four. My calendar sense was tingling -- two cat crises in less than twenty-four hours... plus, they lost their kitty on New Years Eve -- just as we had lost Totoro on New Years Eve the year before.

Both [livejournal.com profile] livetbd and D were, understandably, rather upset. My heart went out to them; I could feel their pain. I gave both sympathy and advice on options for dealing with the body. When D decided to bury their furry friend in the backyard, I helped to dig the grave. I stayed with them for a few hours longer than I had originally intended, because I could sense that my presence was appreciated and doing some good.

Eventually, however, I did leave to finish the return to Chicago and the Event Horizon. Neither [livejournal.com profile] livetbd nor D were going to go out to celebrate New Years Eve. Who could blame them? How could they? Who can lose a loved one, then immediately go out to party? The previous New Years Eve, when Totoro passed into the Summerlands, [livejournal.com profile] gyades and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I cancelled our plans to party into 2008 in London. However, I had party plans and very much needed to keep them. I could not spend two consecutive New Years Eves in a row mourning for dead cats. In a very real sense, I needed a New Years party to help me bring about closure for my dear Totoro.

Thus, slightly before 1pm, I said my goodbyes, hopped into Lucretia II, began the four hundred forty-one mile drive back to Chicagoland. The trip was uneventful. Six hours and fifteen minutes later, I pulled into the driveway at the Event Horizon.

Total Miles Driven: 2355

I arrived home just minutes before 2009 began in the United Kingdom, putting an end to my "Christmas on Wheels" adventure! I texted Darelle one more time, hoping to be the last text that she received in the old year. Then I waited to a short while past midnight -- giving her time to celebrate the changing of the year properly with those that she was actually with -- before calling her up. It was rather amusing to have a phone call spanning the years! And, of course, it was absolutely wonderful to hear my beloved's voice once again!

After a nice conversation with Darelle, it was back into overdrive. Unpack, shower, eat -- all as quickly as possible, so that [livejournal.com profile] gyades and I could get to the O'hana New Years party as early as we could! We arrived around 8pm and spent the rest of the evening enjoying good company, good food... as well as a pool and a hot tub! Hot tubbing two days in a row? What an excellent way to end the year! Indeed, I could easily make a habit of it!

I will not write too much more about the New Years party, as it already has its own LiveJournal entry. Suffice to say that, at a few minutes before 11pm, I got out of the hot tub and phoned [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat -- who was in Connecticut with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress, TinMan 2.0, LaForza, and others at the Treehouse New Years party -- to welcome her into 2009 in my home time zone. To mark the occasion, I turned the telly onto the same station that they were viewing at the Treehouse so that we could watch the ball drop together. Then it was back in the hot tub for me! At midnight, Chicago time, we all celebrated the local onset of 2009!


[1] "Decemberween" is the term that I use to refer to the period from December 12th to January 1st. Those three weeks contain [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's birthday (Dec 12), [livejournal.com profile] resourceress's birthday (Dec 20), Yule (Dec 21), Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. As such, the entirety of those three weeks gets merged together into a single long holiday; one that involves an enormous amount of travel and visiting and celebration.

[2] Not strictly true, as I am writing this in Narita Airport as I wait to board my flight. However, by the time I am able to post it, I will be back in England -- most likely on the airline bus to Oxford.

[3] Still not surprising, as this is where I went to sleep again.

anarchist_nomad: (Default)
( Jan. 22nd, 2009 11:14 am)
Awhile back, I asked if there would be interest in a group outing to the Babylon: Myth & Reality special exhibit at the British Museum. There seemed to be a fair bit of enthusiasm, so let's do it!

The date for the outing is Saturday February 21st. At the moment, there are still tickets available for late morning and also for the afternoon. Additionally, I am toying with the idea of procuring tickets to a West End show[*] for that evening -- either in advance or on the day of, at the TKTS booth.

Before I buy tickets to the museum exhibit, though, I would like to know who will be joining us. After all, how else do I know how many tickets to buy? Thus, we invoke that most sacred of LJ traditions: The Poll!

[Poll #1335496]

Museum tickets are £8 each. Please only answer if you are serious about coming, as I will buy tickets for all, based on the number of people who can make it. I will leave the poll open until I get back from Japan on Sunday night, after which I will buy the tickets.

We can figure out what show to see later, if there is sufficient interest to go see a show...


[*] Not sure which show yet, but that is a detail... and one that will be largely determined by who is interested and what is available.

Tags:
Monday December 29th: Woke up at Mom's place[1], brought Lucretia II in for an overdue service, had breakfast, and got showered.

After all was in order, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 arrived. She and The Kiddo and I went out bowling. I had brought my ball and shoes from the Event Horizon; it was nice to have them again. The last two times that I bowled -- in October (with [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42) and July (with The Kiddo) -- I had to do without. We bowled two games and I did very... average. My long term mean score is 150 points per game. On this day, it was 149.5. Like I said, very average. Actually, if I had had time to warm up, I suspect I would have done better than average, as the first four frames of my first game were much poorer than the rest of what I bowled.

Once we had finished bowling, we went back to Mom's apartment. [livejournal.com profile] gyades had arrived and was swapping presents with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. When they finished, the four of us -- [livejournal.com profile] gyades, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and I -- piled into Lucretia II and drove into Manhattan.

Our first destination was Madison Square Park, where we often go to feed the squirrels in the shadow of the Empire State Building. That park has the friendliest gray squirrels that I have ever met! Although I enjoy feeding them on my own, I particularly like to go there with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat because she gets an enormous "little girl smile" on her face! Whilst we were in the park, the scrumptious [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco joined us... complete with a pink fuzzy hat (replete with pink fuzzy ears).[2]

Two bags of nuts later, we met up with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and AP[3] at a diner to share a late lunch as the sun went down. I had an excellent dish -- macaroni & cheese topped with vegetarian chili! Yum!

On leaving the diner, [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco (and her furry pink hat) had to depart. The rest of us headed onwards to the evening's adventures. We made our way up to the Macy's holiday windows, then to Lord & Taylor for more of the same. En route, we passed the New York Public Library, with its giant stone lions in the front. Of course, this meant that we[4] had to stop to climb on the lions for a photo opportunity. When we arrived at Saks on Fifth Avenue, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 made a very interesting observation about the version of Carol of the Bells that they were playing this season. She noted that it was very, very familiar. It turns out that the recording is of a bell choir that she was a part of! Wowza! Very nice!

As we proceeded along the streets of Manhattan, our group had a remarkable synergy. You see, Gentle Readers, although [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat has been steadily recovering from her injury since the September surgery, a full day of walking about New York City is still beyond her current capabilities. She can walk just fine over short distances -- often without a crutch or even a leg brace now. Still, hours of walking in crowded streets would not yet be wise for her to attempt. As such, we borrowed a wheelchair to make the outing possible for her. During our travels, we all came together as a team to protect my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. AP pushed the wheelchair; [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and [livejournal.com profile] gyades stood at the sides to prevent any clueless pedestrian from crashing into her; [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 was our "lookout" to run ahead and check around corners. Finally, in the front of this procession, I stood with one crutch, politely shoving people out of the way if it looked like they might run into Chesh's recovering leg.

It made me quite happy to see some of the closest people in my life coming together as a team to protect one of our own. It was in this configuration that we entered Rockefeller Center. The crowds there were wall-to-wall[5]; I began carrying both crutches to shove folks aside -- still being ever so polite about it! In this way, we got [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat a ringside seat to watch the skaters gliding about on the ice. We have done this together many times before, of course. Indeed, during our very first December together -- back in 1994 -- I took her out to eat at one of the restaurants that has windows looking directly onto the ice rink[6]. Still, it is always nice to come back to this place. Despite all the crowds, it is always a very peaceful experience.

Once we were done at Rockefeller Center, our group split up. Everyone who is not named [livejournal.com profile] anarchist_nomad eventually went to get food. Everyone who is named thusly stood in line[7] for about two hours to spend too much money[8] to become one of the skaters. Ever since starting my ice skating lessons, I had been wanting to skate on the ice at Rockefeller Center -- gliding along beneath the giant Christmas tree and the statue of Prometheus. The last time I was on this rink was December 31st -- nearly fifteen years earlier -- and back then I could only shuffle about on the ice, not skate. I did very little in the way of tricks, but it felt phenomenal to glide elegantly along this very famous patch of ice. The lovely [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 took pictures[9], and I am very much looking forward to seeing how they came out!

I remained on the ice until they closed the rink and kicked us out at midnight. Then I rejoined the rest of the group which, in my absense, had acquired a new member: The enchanting [livejournal.com profile] ms_redcat! This brought the total number of people taking place in our outing to eight... all of whom, I noted, are P**T*** attendees. Most nifty! It was like creating a little microcosm of P**T*** and carrying it along with us! I did not get to enjoy [livejournal.com profile] ms_redcat's company for long, but it is always good to see her... and she used the opportunity to give me my 2006 Yule presents, too!

Soon afterward, we all went our separate ways, with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I heading back to Staten Island to spend another night at Mom's apartment. We got in shortly before two o'clock in the morning, and went to sleep soon thereafter.

Total Miles Driven: 1492


[1] Not surprising, as this is where I went to sleep.

[2] One bonus of this hat is that the strings hanging down from it made it very easy to steer [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco in whatever direction I chose. Very handy, that!

[3] AP == "husband of [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 with no LiveJournal"

[4] In this instance, "we" really means me. And then, after some encouragement (from, um, me), [livejournal.com profile] resourceress, too.

[5] Or would be, had there been walls.

[6] It was a belated birthday dinner and we waited at the front of the restaurant until they had a window seat available so that we could watch the skaters whilst we ate.

[7] It was in the US, so it was not a queue.

[8] Twenty-eight dollars, as opposed to the four to six quid that I spend at the Oxford Ice Rink.

[9] As well as fetching the car from the carpark before it closed, thus making it possible to fulfill this skating dream. Thank you, Squeeky!!


Just got back to the Event Horizon, putting an end to four state tour that comprised the second part of my holiday adventures[*]. In the past ten days -- the last ten of 2008 -- I have driven 2355 miles. Indeed, today alone, I drove 441 miles to get from the Ohio home of the lovely [livejournal.com profile] livetbd back to the Event Horizon!

My little "Christkrieg"[**] was fantastic! An excellent balance of friends, family, and adventures. I would love to write about it in more detail, but I need to hop in the shower and then be off to the Ohana clan's New Years Eve party! With any luck, I will find time[***] to write about it all soon, at least in summary!

Meanwhile, today's drive went quite well. I covered the 441 miles in six hours and fifteen minutes -- counting two stops for fuel. Along the drive, I listened to CDs that I had been given for Yule and Christmas -- an awesometacular three-disc mix that the charming [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious had made for me and a bootleg recording, courtesy of The Kiddo, of the Last Play at Shea concert that I had been to in July.

As a side note, I should say that a hidden advantage of driving through the plains of Eastern Indiana is that you can see the whole orb of the sun in the sky... even at a quarter past five in December!

2008 certainly ended much better than it began. As my last words in LJ for this year, I leave y'all with the following lyrics:

A picture postcard
A folded stub
A program of the play
File away your photographs
Of your holiday

And your mementos
Will turn to dust
But that's the price you pay
For every year's a souvenir
That slowly fades away



[*] The first part took place in England: The two pantos, the Yule ritual, dawn at Stonehenge, et cetera. The second part was "Christmas-on-wheels", and covered New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio. The third, and final part, will take place here in Chicagoland... starting now!

[**] In my horrendous fake German, this means "Lightning Christmas"... which was my 2007 name for what I am now calling "Christmas-on-wheels".

[***] Speaking of time, I should say that I have not read my e-mail or LiveJournal in over a week. My Christmas-on-wheels simply did not allow for time spent in the virtual world. So if I have seemed out of touch, don't take it personally. I will try to catch up on all communication sometime in the not-TOO-distant future.


Just a couple of random and sundry as I ride home on Ye Olde Oxforde Tub:

Random the First: Is anyone in the Chicago area able to give me a ride from O'Hare to the Event Horizon on Monday (Dec 22)? I will be landing at about 1:30pm. I can always take a taxi if necessary, but I would not at all object to saving fifty dollars! I can sweeten the deal with offers[*] of dinner, foreign gifts, undying gratitude, sexual favours, whatever...

Random the Second: Being largely cut off[**] from most of mass marketed media, I only recently learned that a film adaption of Will Eisner's The Spirit is soon to hit the cinemas! Whilst I have never actually read any of the Spirit comic books, it has been on my [rather considerable] reading list for some time. After all, Eisner was one of the greats! It does not hurt one bit that Frank Miller has written the script, either! I was poking about online earlier to learn a little more about the upcoming film. It sounds like it has potential! I also was looking over the visuals on the promo posters -- one in particular managed to grab my attention...

Random the Third: I really need the powers of Jamie Madrox, especially for New Years Eve! I think I have about six different options on the table right now. Even restricting myself to the Chicago area still leaves three possibilities! Want to do all of them! Need more Nomad![***]


[*] I will be leaving the Event Horizon almost immediately to drive to New Jersey. However, I will be back from Dec 31 to Jan 05 and can make good on those offers then.

[**] Quite happily and voluntarily.

[***] Yeah, I know -- I have friends, pity poor Nomad! I am certain that somebody on my f-list is cueing up the world's smallest violin...


Just got back from an Illuminati night at [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach's abode. Vegetarian sushi, good company, and world conquest -- a very fine way to spend a Friday evening! I am proud to say that I emerged from my game[*] victorious! As an added bonus, my win means that the extremely cute LT owes me a lunch[**,***]!

Off to sleep soon. Busy weekend ahead. Indeed, I was looking at my diary earlier... and realised that I am booked fairly solidly from now through about the end of January. Eeep! Better make sure that I don't get sick this Winter -- I simply don't have time to be out of commission at all! Not with several birthdays and holidays coming up, followed quickly by two collaboration meetings -- one of which is in Japan!

Which is yet another reason to leave LiveJournal for the night and go get some rest. Merry Friday to all, and to all a good night!


[*] There were enough people present that we ran two games in parallel.

[**] Or "dinner", as her Northern upbringing would have her call it.

[***] We bet lunch on the outcome of the game. Win or lose, the bet means that I get to have lunch with a cute woman sporting fiery orange hair... which is ultimately a win! (Clever I am!)


anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Dec. 1st, 2008 10:31 am)
This entry is a follow-up on an attempt to organise an outing to the British Museum to see the Babylon: Myth and Reality exhibit.

The response to my initial query was good, so I am plowing ahead. If you are not interested in joining us (or unable to for reasons geographical[*] or otherwise), you can feel free to skip the rest of this entry. Unless you just like hearing me speak...

Hearing me speak... about scheduling![**] )

We now return you to your regularly scheduled LiveJournal...


[*] After a successful preliminary test in October, I regret to say that the transporter is not yet ready for widespread use.

[**] Whee!

[***] Void where prohibited by law.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


I am taking a page out of the tantalizing [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup's book and organising a museum outing! Or, at least, putting out feelers to see if setting one up is a reasonable endeavour!

So..... here goes!

Click here if you are in the UK-based portion of my f-list )

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

So what has your Friendly Neighborhood Nomad has been up to? )
Heading back to Oxford after my first day back at work. Seems like an ideal time to finish blogging my latest US trip... )
At Mom's place in NYC now, touching a computer for the first time since leaving Skullcrusher Mountain last Thursday. Don't have oodles of time[*] -- I am only online via a "borrowed" wireless connection[**] while she is out running errands -- but I wanted to post a report back on how the Super Sekrit October Pagan gathering went this year.

Short Version: Freakin' incredible!!!

Middle Version: P**T*** is usually a very Good ThingTM, but some years are better than others. There have been years, for instance, marred with drama. In 2001, the war in Afghanistan began while I was at P**T***, which put me in a very bad headspace. This was my twelfth P**T*** and, until now, 2003 was the absolute best year -- a year in which everything went right. I started grading my P**T***s that year, giving 2003 an A. This year was at least as good, maybe better, earning another A grade for P**T*** 2008.

Longer Version: I don't have time to write in full detail about the weekend, but here are selected highlights...

Overall
The weekend weather was phenomenal! Without a doubt, the best that I have ever seen at this gathering. Perfectly clear skies from Friday through Sunday, and temperatures in the mid-70s during the day! Gorgeous! Certainly a far cry from the flooding we had in 2005, when GH brought a canoe to paddle around in the fire circle! Only last year even comes close, and this was even better! Also, the trees in the area are in their full Autumn colour now... and, for some reason, those colours are more vibrant than usual this year! I don't know why that is, but I certainly appreciated their stunning beauty!

Friday
  • Arrived at the site with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at about 5pm. Once again, there was the strange temporal magick where, upon driving onsite, the entire year in-between vanishes into a very, very small time. It felt like I had last been there just a day or two before.

  • Gave the usual barrage of welcoming hugs to people as they arrived.

  • Embarrassed myself in front of [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco's mother. I had not seen this incredible woman in nearly a year. Thus, when I saw her arriving, I bounced up to her with great enthusiasm. Some woman I did not recognize was near the car with her. [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco asked me: "Do you mind if I sleep on top of you and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat?" What she meant, of course, was the bunk bed above ours. I knew this, but responded with: "Sweetie, you can sleep on top of me any time you like!" At which point she said: "Oh, by the way, have you met my mom?" Er... oops! I apologized immediately but, apparently, the only person even slightly phased by all this was me. Her mom knows about our relationship and has heard far more shocking things -- not about us! -- from other people without blinking an eye.

  • Found PS, one of the organizers for this year's gathering. He handed me a program and opened to Sunday evening -- one workshop in particular: "Physics -- It's What I Do". I had not volunteered to present another installment in the popular Physics For Pagans series this year... so apparently I had been drafted into doing it, instead. I laughed pretty heartily at seeing my name on the program after all!

  • The opening of Aphrodite's Temple was particularly memorable this year. Just before said opening, I had been cuddling with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious and getting to know her a bit better. Thus, when the opening began at 10:30pm, we went to it together. We stayed on in the Temple afterwards, enjoying some quality not-so-alone time. Finally left the Temple shortly before 3am. It was quite a splendid way to spend the evening!


Saturday
  • Was recruited by TinMan 2.0 to play a small role in the Archetypal Shakespeare Company's production of The Magic Flute. It was a small role, essential given that the performance was that very night and the rest of the company had been rehersing for months. Nonetheless, I was pleased to have been asked and excited about trodding the boards again for the first time in many years!

  • Participated in a Wild Hunt. This is my third one. I always end up as a hunted creature, although now it is by choice. During my first Wild Hunt, at Samhain 1995, I had automatically assumed I would be a hunter, despite the random selection of roles between hunter, hunted, and hearth-keeper. It just fit who I was. I was genuinely surprised to be selected as one of the hunted... and the ritual turned out to be intensely profound for me. At the time I was caught, I experienced what could be best described as a "near death encounter." To say that it shook me up a lot would be an understatement. In any case, the Wild Hunt has taken on quite a bit of meaning for me since, despite the fact that it is essentially just ritualized "hide and seek." The next time I participated in one such Hunt was Beltane 1997. I still have the horn that I won from that one. This time, I also won and eluded capture from the hunters by leaving a clever false trail and wading across a river in bare feet. I did such a good job of hiding that, by the time I returned, there were actually people worried about me because no one could find me!

  • Enjoyed a nature walk with GH and a group that he was leading. Indeed, their turn-around point was very near where I was hiding during the hunt, so I simply joined them for the second half of their walk. People were surprised to see me appear out of nowhere at the point where they were deepest in the woods. When asked where I came from, I just mentioned that I had been experimenting with my transporter back in the bunk houses.

  • HIGH POINT OF THE DAY: Was asked by the 2009 P**T*** organizer if I had ever been approached to run the gathering. When I said that I had not, he asked if I would be interested in doing so in 2011. Um.......... YES! I had to discuss it with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat before agreeing, but we decided that we were definitely up for accepting!

  • Performed The Magick Flute with TinMan 2.0 and [livejournal.com profile] pomoloco (who was one of the stars) and others. This rock opera version was a lot of fun and very well received!

  • Main ritual! Good stuff! Very musically oriented, including a P**T*** version of "My Favourite Things"

  • Dancing and drumming by the bonfire! Fun, with the added treat of watching some very talented poi spinners!


Sunday
  • Attendend a fun workshop on tying knots in Aphrodite's Temple. It was recommended to bring a partner to tie knots with, so I brought the aforementioned delightful [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious. We remained after the workshop was done to admire our handiwork.

  • Canoeing and swimming! There is a pond and a small waterfall on the site. Weather permitting, I always try to take out a canoe for at least a little while. After all, I am a water elemental! At lunch, just before I was ready to grab a canoe, ES and some of her friends grabbed me and said: "We are going to take out a canoe. You have to come with us." Good timing! We were joined on the lake by [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious and some of her group (SB, JW, and JF). We paddled across the lake, then hiked to an area behind the waterfall. SB had never been there before and suggested we go for a swim. She asked how cold I thought the water would be. I said, "Very." I had no intention of swimming in it. She looked at the long drop off the rock we were on and asked how one would get down. I showed her a place where one could climb down the rocks. She asked if I would go in if she did. I said, "Maybe." Guess who ended up first in the water? Yes, it was me. And, yes, it was cold. Upon jumping in, I began treading water furiously to generate heat. It didn't work. When we got in, we clutched each other tightly to share body heat. It didn't work. I got out after, with SB and ES following behind me. I was in the cold water for less than five minutes... but it felt very good and invigorating to have had this little swim!

  • Back at the central part of the site, I was informed that the P**T*** board had turned down the idea of [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I running the gathering in 2011. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat looked hurt and rejected. As it turns out, they decided that we should run the show in 2010. Also, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat already knew this and was faking her reaction to take the piss out of me. Brat! I am very excited about this... but it means that we have only one year now to plan the 2009 Main Ritual! Eeeep! I am very excited to be selected to organize a P**T***; this community has been a part of my life for a very long time -- over twelve years. The site is my spiritual home and the gathering is a pilgrimmage for us. It feels very good to be acknowledged as capable by the community and it feels wonderful to be able to give something back after all these years!

  • Gave the latest "Physics For Pagans" talk. It was a bit impromtu, having not known it was on the program. However, I think it went reasonably well. About twenty people attended and there were some good questions. I have already been asked by a 2009 organizer if she can put me on the program for next year. What can I say? I agreed. At least I know that I get a break in 2010! I promised Chesh that if she puts me on the program then, I'm putting her down for an all-day writing workshop intensive!

  • More fire! More drumming! More dancing! More poi!

  • Dance party in the main hall! With lots of cheesy 80s music! I was spending time outside with [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious when I heard Footloose playing inside. I told her that I had to go because I could not resist the lure of cheesy 80s music. What a great surprise to learn that she was right there with me!

  • Post-dance party: Received an astounding massage from [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious in the massage space. It was just what I had needed; my back and neck were so tense! Afterward, we retired to enjoy the last night of the gathering.


Monday
  • Attended only my second business meeting ever in all the years I have been attending P**T***. Usually, I avoid them. I guess that, for the next few years, I will really need to attend. Chesh and I were formally confirmed by the community as the 2010 organizers. Very cool!

  • Learned that the Wiggly Bridge on the site has apparently been added to a list of national historic bridges or some such. Peachy keen!

  • Lots and lots of long goodbyes and farewell hugs.

  • Lunch at a Japanese restaurant with a dozen P**T***ns who did not need to rush right off! It was good to spend extra time with people, especially those who I may not see for another year. After the meal ended, they gave us little bowls of pineapple for dessert. This made me think of a certain person and smile...


And that, gentle readers, was my weekend! Hooray! I feel grounded and centered and well connected with this community, which has been a part of my life for so many years now. Only fifty-one more weeks left until P**T*** 2009!


[*] Which means that I will not be checking personal e-mail or my LJ friends page.

[**] Mom has no internet connection of her own. This is the woman who, until three years ago, still owned (and used) a rotary phone.


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