anarchist_nomad: (Look Like An Egyptian)
( Mar. 1st, 2012 09:18 am)
Writing this entry from an airline coach en route from Oxford to Heathrow. By this afternoon, I will be back at the Event Horizon, and I hope to see several of you, dear friends, at Poly Chicago's monthly karaoke tonight.

February was a quiet month for travel; I rarely left Oxford. A handful of visits to London, one overnight with my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth in Winchester, and some ringing in towns and villages around Oxford proper. That's all. With March upon us, and Spring immanent[*], tis time for the Nomad to start Nomading once more!

I begin March with a one week trip to the Windy City, visiting Chicago and Fermilab. This is mainly to meet some people at the lab and deliver the Particle Astrophysics seminar next Wednesday. Afterward, I will return to Oxford for one week before popping off in the other direction to spend five days sightseeing in Berlin with the fabulous [ profile] faerierhona.[*]

Rounding out March is a ten day visit from the ever-adorable [ profile] tawneypup, and the always-awesome [ profile] jadesfire55.[*][*] This is certain to involve some domestic travel, as road trips around the UK are a must -- particularly since it will be [ profile] jadesfire55's first time here!

That, gentle readers, is the Official Nomad Forecast for March 2012. This should be a nice way to kick off the year's travelling; subsequent plans include a three week trip to Japan in April, followed directly by a visit to the lovely [ profile] bonzifan in Taiwan. There is also talk of a possible expedition to Spain in May with my sweet [ profile] miss_amaranth before my return to Japan in June for Neutrino 2012. And, of course, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I are in the process of planning our big trip for the year. Stay tuned, dear friends!

[*] Hooray!

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 [ 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 [ profile] tawneypup. All this and more, making for twelve wonderful days! Also, it was [ 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!!
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 [ 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 [ profile] tawneypup and the fabulous [ 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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*] Including one short fueling stop.

[**] No pun intended.

Just got back to Mozumi after a night out in Toyama with KM. KM is probably my oldest friend here, as he was the postdoc assigned to look out for me when I first arrived in December 1998 as a young student. Since then, we both wandered away to other experiments, meeting frequently when we each ended up working in the world of ultra-high energy cosmic rays. As chance would have it, we have also both come back to our roots in recent years, with renewed ties to Super-Kamiokande for each of us. This means that we now meet here, in our old stomping grounds once more.

Going out with KM is always a treat, as I generally only see him about once a year these days. As always, we had a great time and chatted about everything under the sun. He remains a total sweetie, refusing to let me pick up the tab in any of the places we visited tonight. I did not have the heart to tell him that I get reimbursed for my receipts, so it would not cost me anything to treat him for once! Instead, he has made a donation to the Imperial College HEP travel budget by buying my dinner and drinks.

As an added bonus, today was the annual festival day for the big temple in Toyama. Thus, the streets were filled with people all celebrating in a carnival (or fun fair) atmosphere. It was really nice to stroll through. Also, for those of my dear friends who have not been brushing up on their Japanese geography, I should note that Toyama City is the capital of the Toyama Prefecture, and is a city with about 420,000 people -- just slightly more populous than Atlanta, Georgia. Hopefully this gives some perspective for the size of things in these parts. Toyama is a forty minute drive from Mozumi, which is well and truly the middle of nowhere.

Off to sleep now, as work continues apace... and that pace is rather brisk! Before I go, however, I would be much amiss if I did not wish a very happy birthday to my darling [ profile] tawneypup. So here goes: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART!!! My dear Tawney is the very embodiment of awesometacularity -- as anyone who knows her will attest -- and I hope that she has an utterly fantabulous day of birth!
anarchist_nomad: (Feeling horny)
( May. 25th, 2011 10:17 pm)
Fourteen years ago today, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I made an fundamental change to our young relationship. After nearly three years of being exclusively monogamous, we decided to transition to polyamory. We had already discussed the shift in abstract terms, but it all became rather concrete when my first secondary partner fell into my lap at [ profile] rbdarkly's Beltane celebration. Some six hours later, we emerged from the Temple of Aphrodite and, for [ profile] cheshcat and I, we never looked back!

Over the past fourteen years, we have each enjoyed a goodly number of partners, as well as being part of a poly family for eight years! There have been times of high relationship velocity and times of high stability. Since marking last year's "polyversary", I have mostly been in a period of low relationship velocity, as I have committed my energies to strengthening connections and building stability into my existing relationship structure.

To wit, not long after the last polyversary, a disastrously unhealthy relationship came to an end. Afterward, based on sage advise from a Pagan elder, I resolved to focus for a year and a day on cementing sustainable foundations for my remaining relationships. To that end, although there have been some mutually enjoyable flings, I have quite deliberately refrained from adding any serious partners for some time. In retrospect, I believe that this has been a good choice and I am rather pleased with the results: My beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I are approaching our seventeenth anniversary, still fiercely devoted and committed to each other[*]; my darling [ profile] tawneypup remains an important part of my life and, as we close in on our third anniversary, she remains unique as the only emotionally serious partner with whom I have been able to maintain a long term intercontinental relationship; and my sweet [ profile] miss_amaranth has become a precious part of my daily existence... whilst remaining as deliciously desirable as ever!

Tis not only the more emotionally entwined relationships that have value, though! Indeed, that is one of the joys of polyamory! Rather than promoting a single type of relationship, one can explore the entire spectrum of relationship dynamics! Thus, partners that I see less frequently and may not interact with on a daily basis are also valued highly, with lovely thoughts of them flitting through my head when we cannot be together. I shall not recite names, as it would appear less than tactfully discrete, but I am pleased to say that those relationships also seem to have settled into a stable place with high enjoyment of all concerned and low low low levels of drama! Huzzah!

(Must remember to thank said elder for his sagely advice when next I see him this Summer!)

Looking back at the past fourteen years, polyamory has brought both good times and bad into our lives. Balancing them out, however, the good far outweighs the bad and I would not undo this change for the proverbial world! Here's to the many joys, loves, and adventures that the next fourteen years will bring!

[*] Although, to be fair, this was less the focus of the past year as those foundations were rooted firmly long ago. Nonetheless, it does not hurt in the slightest to lavish time, energy, and attention on a long-standing partner!

I blame [ profile] wolfpeach. Yes, indeed, I do.

It was about two months ago[*] that I randomly encountered him on Ye Olde Oxford Tube as I made my way back from London. Foregoing my usual seat at one of the small onboard laptop tables, I sat down next to my friend to chat, rather than engage in my usual online antics during the journey home.

Partway through the trip, he asked if I would excuse him for a moment, as he wished to briefly check on one of his online games of Carcassonne: The Castle. I was intrigued.

I had originally become familiar with the game shortly after my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I moved to Oxford. Not knowing anyone there at the time[**], we made a point of importing many of our two player board games... plus buying others for our new home. Carcassonne: The Castle -- a variant of the more commonly known multi-player Carcassonne -- was one such game. Although I enjoyed it, twas was not much to [ profile] cheshcat's liking and so we eventually donated our copy to the Oxford BiFest raffle last year, to help raise money for BiCon's scholarship fund. From there, it found a good home with the aforementioned [ profile] wolfpeach. I confess that I had not thought of it much since, as we have developed a much fuller Oxonian social network and, accordingly, two player games have become the exception, rather than the rule.

Returning nearer to the present, that selfsame [ profile] wolfpeach introduced me to the website known as There, one can play a variety of two player games online -- thirty-nine to choose from -- at one's convenience. You make a move when you are able; your opponent is notified via e-mail and returns to the game to respond at their leisure. Since that introduction, many of my spare moments have been wasted spent on this site. I am currently engaged in a fierce multi-week game of Go with the awesometacular [ profile] gyades, and I have played a multitude of short games -- including Dominoes, Battleship, Penguin, Connect Four, Lost Cities and more -- with [ profile] cheshcat. My staple on the site, however, remains Carcassonne: The Castle, with both [ profile] wolfpeach and my darling [ profile] tawneypup as frequent opponents.

This seems to be a game well suited to my natural talents. Thus far, I have won over 80% of the twenty-one games that I have played. What's more, as play continues, my dear opponents sharpen their games, forcing me to resort to new strategies and tactics if I am to have any hope of maintaining an edge. Of the 108 active Carcassonne players registered on the site, I am ranked 18th... and I suspect that I am improving. Hmmm, perhaps I should enter a tournament at some point. After all, I am having too much fun to stop now!

As I said earlier: I blame [ profile] wolfpeach.

[*] March 15th 2011, to be precise. A Tuesday.

[**] And being able to count all acquaintances in the UK on the fingers of one hand -- with a couple left over!

anarchist_nomad: (Intrepid explorer)
( Apr. 7th, 2011 07:02 pm)
Welcome, gentle readers, to my first post written at the age of thirty-six. Wowza, it has been a long time since I wrote in this space; probably the longest gap in the seven and a half years that I have been keeping this journal!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well helloooooooooo, March!

Daylight lasts eleven hours, the Spring Equinox is right around the corner, and the ever-excellent [ profile] tawneypup will be here in eighteen days! Huzzah!

What else? Well, today is St. David's Day, the feast day in honour of the patron saint of Wales. Any Welsh people on my f-list? Happy St. Davidness to you!

In honour of St. David's Day -- or, perhaps, just by coincidence -- I launched an effort to remain indefinitely in the country that subjugated Wales nearly eight centuries ago. This morning, I mailed off the forms needed for my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.[*] Fingers crossed now![**]

What else what else? I am on Ye Olde Oxford Tube right now, heading to meet the lovely [ profile] miss_amaranth for a date. It's been just over a week since I last saw her, but it is always wonderful when we can share a little along time together!

What else what else what else?? Let's see... I have been working closely with a new PhD student who is a very quick learner and off to a nice start. Despite the fact that he only began last week, he is already close to producing interesting work. We should have him presenting for the T2K-SK analysis group and the Neutrino Interaction Working Group (NIWG, pronounced neewg) soon!

What else else else else??? Ringing at St. Aldate's last night gave me lots of good practice! I had a couple of gos at ringing the #2 bell in Cambridge Surprise Minor. Still needs work, but it is coming along! I also rang a touch, albeit unaffected, of Stedman Doubles, which went very well, indeed! Stedman is such a beautiful method and my practice on it is really progressing well. The highlight of the practice for me, though, was ringing several methods, spliced together, for the first time. We rang Cambridge Minor spliced with Little Bob and Plain Bob. What fun!

Actually, my bell ringing has been making much progress of late, despite the fact that I have been too lazy busy to bore you write about it here. In recent weeks, I rang Little Bob Minor for the first time, conducted plain courses of Grandsire Triples and Plain Hunt, and more! Very exciting! I also hit a personal record last week by ringing seven days in a row, for a total of eight ringing sessions. Huzzah!

What else else ELSE else else???! Well, [ profile] cheshcat had an excellent day out on Saturday, where we visited Windsor Castle and the surrounding areas, including a walk down what is officially the shortest street in Britain. That was loads of fun... and ticks off the fourteenth box on the "Top Fifteen Most Popular Destinations in England" list. Hard to believe that one of the places closest to me was visited second-to-last on the list! Methinks that only the Cotswolds are nearer! Still, fourteen down and one to go! That trip was much fun and really deserves a proper entry of its own. So that is precisely what it will get. Stay tuned, gentle readers!

[*] And it is a bloody good thing that I did this now, too! The applications get continually more expensive. Last year, when I applied for my current Tier 1 visa, the cost was £870. Now, it is £1150. In five weeks, it goes up to £1458. To think, fifteen years ago, the application cost nothing at all!

[**] Hopefully, our application will be approved -- and soon! Making the application involved sending the UK Border Agency both of our passports. Thus, we are effectively grounded until the application is processed. This could take as little as two weeks. It could also take six months or more. All their website says is that they aim to decide 95% of applications within six months. Hurm. As the name implies, the Nomad is not a fan of being grounded. [ profile] cheshcat and I have plans for an eleven day road trip to the continent to avoid celebrate the Royal Wedding next month, and I have a trip to Japan for a T2K meeting and SK shift in May. Knock on wood that the Home Office is faster than they let on...

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 [ 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 [ profile] cheshcat and the lovely [ profile] miss_amaranth to celebrate this year. Besides, there is a better reason to party just one week later: The terrric [ profile] tawneypup is coming to town! After nearly two years, my lovable lass is returning to Merry Olde England, much to the delight of [ 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. [ 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. [ 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!
Today has been a really good day in the life of the Nomad. Lots of little things going right.

For instance, I spent the day working at Oxford Uni with one of my students on an analysis that, after moving glacially for some time, is finally beginning to build significant momentum. Nothing quite satisfies like a good day of productive work. In the evening, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I went to the Oxford Playhouse to watch a production of Chekhov's The Seagull. Translated by Michael Frayn[*], this marked our first theatrical outing of 2011. Twas not exactly a happy experience -- it is Chekhov, after all -- but it was well done.

Together, those would qualify today for "good" day status. To make it over the threshold for "really good" requires a little something extra. Today provided two such serendipitous extras![**]

The first is that my dearest darlingest [ profile] tawneypup was able to find reasonably priced flights so that she can come over in March to visit us for a week. It will be delightful to have her return! Any time that I can spend with this wonderful woman is an absolute pleasure -- plus, we have many plans afoot to make her trip as special as can be. After all, she is rather special herself, so she deserves it! Suffice to say that both [ profile] cheshcat and I are rather chuffed at this development! [ profile] tawneypup is coming! Hooray hooray!!

If that were not enough, we received some other news of the happy-making and bounce-inducing variety. Earlier this month, tickets to the Royal Shakespeare Company's 50th anniversary season went on sale to RSC members. As we share a full membership, we pounced on the seating charts the day that the tickets became available and procured the best seats in the house for several shows. In April, we will be seeing a reconstruction of Cardenio, one of Shakespeare's "lost" plays, in the Swan Theatre. In May, we see MacBeth in the brand new Royal Shakespeare Theatre. In June, we have tickets to The Merchant of Venice in the RST, and in August we will watch A Midsummer Night's Dream there as well. Except for Cardenio, we have seen all of these plays before -- indeed I have seen the Royal Shakespeare Company perform them all in the past. Thus, this will not increase our "Shakespeare Number", which is still 30/38. Nonetheless, one of the joys of living in Oxford is our close proximity to Stratford-upon-Avon... so why not indulge in the RSC?

Anyway, that was all done weeks ago and I had not thought about the tickets since. Not until today, when [ profile] cheshcat received an e-mail from the RSC with more details of the upcoming ensembles. It would appear that Jonathan Slinger will be playing the title role in the Scottish play! We have been big fans of Slinger since seeing him do stellar performances as both Richard II and Richard III (not to mention Captain Fluellen) during the eight-play History Cycle, back in February 2008. Alas, we have not had the pleasure of seeing him on the stage since then... until now! Excellent!

As for The Merchant of Venice? Today's announcement revealed that the role of Shylock will be played by none other than... [wait for it] ... Patrick Stewart! Huzzah! I have seen the good Sir Patrick treading the boards several times in plays such as The Tempest, A Christmas Carol, and Hamlet. However, we have not been treated to one of his performances since March 2009, when [ profile] cheshcat and I went to see him star alongside Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot. It will be a delight to see him once more, and I suspect that he will make a most excellent Shylock!

Now that Patrick Stewart has been announced for The Merchant of Venice, I suspect that tickets will be selling out rather quickly -- particularly the good seats. After all, I remember moving to Oxford in 2006 and learning that we could not see Patrick Stewart as Antony in Antony & Cleopatra, as all tickets had long since been snatched up. Thus, it is very nice to know that my dear [ profile] cheshcat and I already have our seats... and they are the very best in the house! Huzzah!

For anyone who is interested, I would strongly recommend popping over to the RSC's home page and buying your seats as quickly as possible! Sir Patrick's performances are really not to be missed!

So, yes, all together this makes for a rather splendid day. Nice job, Wednesday! Here's hoping that Thursday continues the trend tomorrow...

[*] A brilliant playwright in his own right, responsible for such gems as the hysterical farce Noises Off! and the gripping drama Copenhagen.

[**] So perhaps I should refer to it as a "really really" good day?

anarchist_nomad: (Loch Ness Monster)
( Dec. 1st, 2010 05:30 pm)
Greetings from Tokai, gentle readers! Having touched down in Nihon[1] yesterday, I write to you once again from the ever-exciting J-PARC, home of the world's most powerful neutrino beam!

What's that you say, dear friends? In Japan again? How did that happen? When last we left our hero, two weeks ago, he was shopping about for a new high power laptop and whatnot. How ever did we get from there to here?

Well, the past couple of weeks have been rather busy and, truth be told, I've been a less than conscientious blogger. For shame, I know! So there have been some little adventures in the last fortnight -- like spending a secluded weekend on the Isle of Wight with my sweet [ profile] miss_amaranth to celebrate our anniversary... or watching A Streetcar Named Desire and Jesus Christ Superstar at the Oxford Playhouse with my beloved [ profile] cheshcat... or presenting a particle physics seminar on supernova relic neutrinos at Queen Mary University of London last week... or a Thanksgiving party that couldn't be beat in London with the ever-awesometacular D&J -- but, alas, their chronicles were destined not to be told!

After spending November -- the first of the four Dark months back up in the far North -- I am rather pleased to have escaped to Japan for a couple of weeks! In the days before my departure, the gulf stream seemed to have failed us, leaving Merry Olde England considerably colder than would otherwise be found in late November. In contrast, whilst waiting for my bus from Narita yesterday afternoon, I noted happily that the temperature was about 60°F (17.5°C) as darkness set in at 17:00. Quite a pleasant change -- both from what I left behind and from the steam bath of August during my last trip here! Also, although expected, I am finding the vast increase in sunlight to be even more delightful! Due to my relocation from Oxford (51° 45' N) to Tokai (36° 28' N), there be nearly two hours more sunlight each day.[2] Huzzah! Even better, though, is that the quality of the sunlight is very much improved! Right now, the Oxford Sun peaks at a paltry 16.5° above the horizon; as a result, even the best sunlight we get there -- at midday and when clouds permit -- has barely more than half the intensity of the zenith Sun.[3] In contrast, the Tokai Sun still rises to 32.6°, giving it 81% intensity when compared to the solar zenith. If you crunch those numbers, gentles, you will see that, at present, Tokai's sunlight is nearly 50% brighter than Oxford's! Huzzah, indeed!

An unexpected side effect of this trip is that I seem to have missed out on snow everywhere. Less than a day after I fly out of Heathrow, the UK seems to have been walloped with an unseasonal amount of snow! Last I heard, the M25 was at a standstill and Gatwick Airport was closed... to say nothing of these pictures from the North! We all know how the UK shuts down at the slightest hint of snow -- very glad, then, that I escaped before it was too late! Meanwhile, my darling [ profile] tawneypup reports that Michigan has also got the white stuff! Looks like everywhere is getting hit except where I am. Must be because I am all warmth and sunshine!

Besides being my first full day in Japan, today is also the first of December. Goodness, how did 2010 get so close to ending? I am rather excited about this month, as it promises to hold much travel and excitement. Such is welcome after a relatively quiet November. Tis true that there were the mini-adventures named above... but most of November's busy-ness was spent on relatively quiet activities -- like making progress at work, or moving into our new flat, or setting up said flat when the move was through[4], or frequent bell ringing.[5] All of this is well and good; I like building things up. Still, I have missed the buzz of excitement that was October, when I ran a Cosmology Day School at Oxford University... then jetted off to New York City to see Roger Waters spectacularly perform The Wall at Madison Square Garden... then ran a long weekend Pagan gathering for about a hundred people... then swung by my Chicago home[6] before heading to Michigan to visit with the lovely [ profile] tawneypup for a weekend of Fall festivals and games and horseback riding! After which, it was time to return to England for a meeting in Warwick, the excitement of the Super K Sonic Booooum! 2 at the Manchester Science Festival, a delightful date with the breathtaking [ profile] sweetcyanide, four different plays[7], and then closing out the Wheel of the Year with no fewer than five separate Samhain rituals! Whew -- October! Now there was a most excellent month!

Thankfully, after the relatively quiet November, it looks like December will be similarly exciting. Indeed, this month's adventures shall span three different continents! I shall be here in Tokai until the twelfth, preparing for and then attending our last T2K collaboration meeting before we publish our first results. Then tis back to the City of Dreaming Spires with me, arriving just in time to celebrate my beloved [ profile] cheshcat's birthday! In the week that follows, there will be bell ringing and no fewer than five theatrical outings -- three in Oxford and two to introduce us to the Royal Shakespeare Company's brand new theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon. Then my dearest [ profile] cheshcat and I are planning a little weekend getaway in mid-December before the holiday fun begins in earnest! After our High Energy Physics Christmas party ends on the evening of December 20th, I am officially on vacation for the rest of the year. We begin the celebrations with our Yule ritual on December 21st and 22nd, including our third annual Winter Solstice pilgrimage to Stonehenge. Nearly everyone who joined us last year will be coming along again -- including the lovely [ profile] fire_kitten and her Texas-dwelling sweetie! Hooray! Also, my beautiful [ profile] miss_amaranth will be joining us for the first time. More hooray! And -- if I am truly lucky -- the stunning [ profile] pomoloco will be visiting from the Isle of Manhattan and hopping on the Stonehenge Solstice bandwagon![8] Keeping my fingers and toes crossed here! Just hours after returning from Stonehenge, [ profile] cheshcat and I take to the friendly skies, bound for New York City. There the usual Christmas-on-Wheels (C.o.W.) begins with the traditional all-family Christmas Eve in New Jersey, followed by visits to family and friends in New York, Boston, and Connecticut... not to mention embarking on the annual tour of Midtown Manhattan in all its December glory -- a tradition that has gone on for longer than I can remember -- with the amazing [ profile] squeektoy42! Finally, 2010 wraps up in Philadelphia, where I have budding plans with RG and possibly some other fantabulous P**T*** people!

All in all, I am bouncy with excitement at what promises to be a uber-astounding end-of-the-year spectacular! Look out, December: Here I come!

[1] Japan.

[2] At present, Tokai receives just under ten hours, whilst Oxford has to make do with barely more than eight.

[3] About 55% intensity, by my estimations.

[4] A process that is still ongoing, I might add!

[5] Besides many regular practices -- including ringing at two new church towers -- I also rang half-muffled bells for Remembrance Sunday services and rang at a wedding for the first time. The latter was a rather odd experience, not least of which because I had never been paid to ring before!

[6] Just long enough to visit the Morton Arboretum in all its Autumn glory... and to dispense a surfeit of petting to my darling Chicago kitties, Stumpy and Chirp.

[7] Including a bizarre bit of experimental theatre called A Western, which involved too much ketchup, and my first time in Oxford's New Theatre to see Spamalot.

[8] Otherwise known as Peter II, my trusty steed.

anarchist_nomad: (Intrepid explorer)
( Oct. 19th, 2010 10:44 pm)
Have been back in Oxford for about twenty-three hours now. As is my preference, I hit the ground running. In my time back, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I have taken possession of our new (and improved) flat[*], dealt with various errands, and then went out with the excellent [ profile] josintgon this evening to see a delightfully unconventional piece of theatre called A Western. Not bad for a first day back... though, had I timed things slightly differently, I could have also rung bells at St. Andrew's Church after the show ended. Ah, well!

The performance that we saw is part of the Oxford Playhouse's "Playhouse Plays Out" scheme, which puts on unusual shows in unusual locations. This time, the venue was the Angel & Greyhound pub in the St. Clement's neighborhood. There was much audience participation -- including everyone getting to shoot the hero at the end of the piece. Other than the lingering smell of ketchup, which was used liberally to simulate blood, I do believe that a fantastic time was had by all!

Having been home for about twenty-three hours, I have another nine hours remaining before I leave again. In the morning, I am off to Warwick for two days to attend a T2K UK meeting there. Then, on Friday, I make my way to Manchester for a few days to participate in the Super K Sonic BOOOOUM! Gold exhibition at the Science Festival. Not quite sure when I get back to Oxford again; either Monday or Tuesday next week.

Meanwhile, I did have an utterly fantastic weekend with my darling [ profile] tawneypup and much of the uber-awesome Lansing crowd! This deserves a write-up of its own... possibly tomorrow evening from my hotel room in Warwick. Gentle readers, stay tuned!

[*] We still have the old flat for three more weeks (which is good, as [ profile] josington has moved to Oxford and is now living with us) and will move incrementally.

Sometimes, I just need to admit that I am pretty flippin' awesome! Today's Cosmology Day on "Particles & The Universe" went phenomenally well. I absolutely hate writing talks -- which inevitably leads me to pulling nearly-all-nighters[*], but I love presenting them as well as interacting with my audience afterward. This course was particularly fun, as there were only two presenters. We complemented each other nicely -- he is a theorist, doing astro-particle physics with an emphasis on the "astro", whilst I am an experimentalist, taking my astro-particle physics with the emphasis on the "particle". Twas a winning combination and, during the Q&A sessions, we often built off of each others responses in a most constructive manner.

I had originally been invited to co-run next year's Cosmology Day as well. Nominally, the topic will be "Radiation & The Universe." This is getting a bit beyond my areas of research experience, though, so I am inclined to bow out. I have been asked to consider designing a day or weekend school in particle physics for the Oxford University's Department of Continuing Education. My idea, which I get more excited about each time I think on it, is to have a school themed: "Particle Physics: Beyond The Standard Model". Rather than focus on recent results, look to what might be coming down the pipeline soon. The topics could include searches for supersymmetry (including first results from the LHC?), searches for grand unified theories (particularly proton decay studies), and new physics from the neutrino sector (leptonic CP violation, searches for sterile neutrinos, searches for majorana neutrinos, et cetera). Yes, definitely getting excited about this idea! The concept of designing my own course for the University of Oxford appeals, also!

Meanwhile, after a brief nap, I have spent the evening preparing for my trip to the States. In just over four hours, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat will be heading out to Heathrow to make our way home! I have received a couple of queries about my itinerary; rather than answer them individually, let me just spell out here where one can seek the ever-elusive Nomad. Standard warning: Almost all plans are tentative and subject to change! (Except P**T***, of course!)

Sun Oct 03: Fly from London (LHR) into New York City (EWR), landing at 14:20.

Sun Oct 03 - Thu Oct 07: New York City. Based in Astoria with the squeektacular [ profile] squeektoy42 and her husband, our main activity will be to finish up the necessary organizing to run P**T*** 2010.[**] Occasional time off for good behaviour seeing the lovely [ profile] ms_redcat on Monday, as well as joining The Kiddo to hear Roger Waters perform The Wall at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

Fri Oct 08 - Mon Oct 11: Upstate New York. At last, the Sooper Sekrite October Pagan Festival! Brought to you by the award-winning team of [ profile] cheshcat, [ profile] anarchist_nomad, and [ profile] gyades. P**T*** is really my spiritual home and it will be so good to return for my annual pilgrimage!

Mon Oct 11 - Wed Oct 13: New York City. Returning from the SSOPF, I plan to spend a couple of days in Staten Island, visiting with Mom. [ profile] cheshcat may or may not have other plans of her own.

Thu Oct 14: Fly from New York City (LGA) to Chicago (ORD), landing at 12:30.[***]

Thu Oct 14 - Fri Oct 15 (Day): Chicago. Planning to spend some quiet time at the Event Horizon with [ profile] gyades and [ profile] cheshcat in the evening, as the three of us have not really had alone time together in far too long! Probably swing by the Morton Arboretum with [ profile] cheshcat on Friday, whilst [ profile] gyades is at work.

Fri Oct 15 (evening) - Sun Oct 17: Michigan. After [ profile] gyades leaves work on Friday, the three of us will be making our way to Lansing to visit with the terrific [ profile] tawneypup and the rest of the uber-awesometacular Lansing group. I've been talking about -- and missing -- my friends from the Lansing Pagan Village in recent days. It will be fantastic to see y'all again!

Mon Oct 18: Fly from Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR), arriving at 21:55.[****]

Overall, I am rather chuffed about this itinerary and very much looking forward to it. There is time with my NorthEastern crowd, there is a Pagan festival, there is family-of-origin time (with Mom and The Kiddo), there is concert time, and there family-of-choice time (at the Event Horizon), and there is time with the wonderful Lansing crowd! Most excellent!! The only thing missing, really, is more time in Chicago. It looks not so possible to see all of my excellent Chicago people this time around. My dear friends, you shall be missed! To rectify the situation, I believe that I shall be taking an extra week off at the December holidays; spending the first week of 2011 in Chicago should give me time to catch up with you wonderful Windy City residents!

On that note, gentle readers, I leave you. Because, I must confess, the subject line of this entry is currently a lie. Thus, I am off to rectify that situation, too! See many of you quite soon!!

[*] Should this be called "most-nighter"?

[**] Less than one week to go! Very very very excited!!

[***] Anyone able to provide a lift to the Event Horizon?

[****] The trick here is that we depart O'Hare at 06:00 on Monday morning. This means that we need to be at the airport at 04:00, thus leaving the Event Horizon around 03:30. Any intrepid night owls willing to share our last night in the States and then give us a lift to the airport? Pretty please? We'll make it worth your while...

I composed the initial part of my holiday write-up from a motel in Ohio, USA. Thus, it seems somehow fitting that I now write its counterpart, concluding the holidays from a hotel in Tokai, Japan![*] Without further ado, here is a summary of the last two states visited in the Nomad 2009 Decemberween Five State US Tour! Have at it, gentle readers!

Day Nine: (Thu Dec 31) Arrived in Michigan with [ profile] gyades, where I greeted my darling [ profile] tawneypup and her husband, [ profile] plasmonicgrid. After settling in, we were introduced to Little Big Planet and the four of us spent a couple of hours bonding over the Playstation 3. When finished, I took a call from the future -- the charming [ profile] cheshcat, the beautiful [ profile] bunnypip, and the marvelous [ profile] miss_amaranth phoned from 2010! We chatted for a bit, then it was time for homemade pizza paninis!

Guests[**] began arriving at half eight -- in total, fourteen people attended, making for a cozy little group. We played a couple of games of Bag of Nouns -- each time I was on the winning team by just a razor-thin margin of victory! I passed around the Signspotting book that [ profile] cheshcat had given me for Yule -- it was generally a huge hit, with much laughter ensuing! At midnight, we watched an animatronic Dick Clark ring in the new year -- and decade! -- as we enjoyed malts at midnight! Yummy!

We got comfortable in the new year by chatting and having random attacks of silly string. Around two o'clock in the morning, it was suggested that we go to sleep... but we played Apples To Apples instead! Despite an early lead, I came in third with six cards to my name. Apparently, I am "pure" & "eternal"... as well as "chunky", too! More sleepy -- and slightly tipsy -- musings followed, so it was nearly six o'clock in the morning before people finally made their way to Dreamland. Definitely a fun way to see out the old year and welcome in the new one!

Day Ten: (Fri Jan 01) After a lazy lie-in, [ profile] tawneypup and [ profile] gyades and I went out for a delicious breakfast of omelette and hash browns and pancakes! Then we exchanged gifts before packing up for the drive to Chicago. [ profile] gyades drove on first in his car; [ profile] tawneypup and I followed half an hour behind in hers. The weather outside was frightful -- much snow and ice assailed us. Still, my dear Tawney handled the roads expertly... and the slow speeds required gave us all the more time to talk in the car! When we finally ran out of things to say, we spent the last hour or two singing various and sundry songs together, especially a few duets!

On our arrival in Chicagoland, the three us of went out for a dinner of Mexican food... followed up by games! I managed an amazing rally to beat [ profile] gyades at air hockey... only to lose the next game to [ profile] tawneypup. I then scraped by a win -- in overtime! -- against [ profile] gyades in foosball before we all headed in to the Lazer Tag arena. This time around, I tried a new strategy: Hide in one of the highest spaces and try to pick people off sniper-style. It didn't pay off, though; not enough people in my field of view to rack up sufficient hits. Out of fourteen players in our free-for-all, I ranked only twelfth -- compared to [ profile] tawneypup (clad all in black ninja gear) at #3 and [ profile] gyades at #5. Oh, well -- better luck next time! After our session shooting each other in the backs[***], we returned to the Event Horizon for some good old fashioned Rock Band. That topped off the night well, until we were all ready to collapse into bed!

Day Eleven: (Sat Jan 02) After waking, [ profile] gyades and [ profile] tawneypup and I made our way to the Morton Arboretum to wander about the grounds. Although this magnificent arboretum is located only half a mile from the Event Horizon -- making me a frequent visitor when I am local -- this is only the second time that I have dropped by in Winter. The ground was covered in snow and the sun glistened beautifully off the shiny white surfaces! I had never seen the arboretum like this before -- it was absolutely lovely! We drove slowly through both sides, stopping in the middle to wander on foot. We attempted a gnome hunt... but found too many gnomes were hiding beneath the snow! Whoops!

After we returned to the Event Horizon, we let the games begin! [ profile] tawneypup and I played Tic Tac Doh! using my Icehouse pieces, each winning several games. We then moved on to Martian Chess -- also an Icehouse game -- where I won. By this point, [ profile] xirpha had arrived; we broke out Betrayal At House On The Hill and played with all four of us. Interestingly enough, we stumbled on the one scenario -- out of fifty -- where there is no traitor! Instead, the four of us had to collectively defeat our evil twins, which I am proud to say we managed without sustaining any casualties! Go us! By this point [ profile] gyades was feeling a bit off so he went to take a nap whilst [ profile] xirpha taught [ profile] tawneypup and I how to play Ingenious; the first game was a close win for [ profile] xirpha (eight points for him, with seven for each of us), whilst the second was a much more dramatic win for [ profile] tawneypup (eleven points for her, seven for me, one for [ profile] xirpha. Next up, we played Empire Builders. This was a close game -- and a long one! -- but I managed to achieve a victory! By this point, the lovely [ profile] wyldekyttin, & [ profile] unclevlad, as well as the charming [ profile] emrldgirrl & [ profile] wiktowasichu had arrived! We introduced them to the now-infamous Bag of Nouns, which was a hit! I teamed up with [ profile] wyldekyttin and [ profile] unclevlad against the rest... but, alas, we were undone! At the end of the game, we were behind three points!

We had a little time to chat and schmooze before we needed to head out to catch the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. My dear friends, I am proud to say that your favourite Nomad is a Rocky virgin no longer! Before the show, us virgins were rounded up and made to mimic barnyard animals having an orgasm -- my turkey garnered great laughs... and came in second only to the walrus! The show itself was lots of fun! The shadow cast was excellent and came equipped with very elaborate props! Of course, I have no basis for comparison... but [ profile] tawneypup has seen half a dozen such productions of Rocky -- and she thinks that this one was the best! Originally, we had planned to dress me up as Magenta for the show; to that end [ profile] tawneypup had brought a French maid's costume with her. Alas, time did not allow... so there are no compromising photos to share with you, gentle readers! Perhaps next time!

The cinema itself was impressive, with a fantastic ambiance and seating at conference-style tables. This permits a full restaurant menu, with food and drink delivered throughout the show. I very much enjoyed the venue and plan to return on future trips to Chicago -- either for Rocky or just for other movies! The admission fees are quite reasonable (only eight dollars), though everyone is required to purchase at least one item from the menu. No complaints there -- tis a good deal! Meanwhile, I owe thanks to [ profile] wyldekyttin and [ profile] unclevlad... as the surreptitiously intercepted and paid the restaurant check for [ profile] tawneypup and I![****]

When the show ended, we bid them farewell... then returned to the Event Horizon to collapse into bed once more, circa three o'clock in the morning!

Day Twelve: (Sun Jan 03) Vacation over -- hop a flight to Japan!

Thus completed the Nomad's Twelve Days of Christmas in the US of A -- all in all, it was an excellent holiday and a wonderful start to the new year! Now I am in Tokai, batteries recharged and eagerly looking forward to the start of our next collaboration meeting tomorrow! The experiment is turning on now so these are some very exciting times!!

[*] Hey, I've got a name to live up to!

[**] Other than [ profile] gyades and I, of course!

[***] And front. And shoulders.

[****] Indeed, I would have thanked them sooner -- and in person! -- except that I did not learn of this until after we had already parted ways for the night!

anarchist_nomad: (One of my babies)
( Jan. 3rd, 2010 02:46 am)
Just got back from seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- I am no longer a virgin! Writing this entry whilst [ profile] tawneypup gets ready for bed, so I have to be quick. I get about three hours of sleep, then need to wake to pack for Japan. In five hours from now, I will be on my way to the airport!

Today continued the 2010 trend of excellence! Had a lovely outing to the Morton Arboretum in the morning, followed by a nifty games party at the Event Horizon, then Rocky Horror to cap the day. I have enjoyed the company of my darling [ profile] tawneypup, who I don't get to see nearly enough, as well as several other excellent Chicago friends! As I write this, my darling kitty Stumpy is sitting by my left elbow -- curled up, cute, and purring. Life is good!

A more detailed write-up should follow from Japan, when I summarize the last few days of my holiday trip. For now, though, merry Sunday to all... and to all a good night!
Just returned to the Event Horizon, with the lovely [ profile] tawneypup in tow.[*] Tis good to be home... and nice to start the new year (and decade) by coming to my own house.

The New Year's Eve at [ profile] tawneypup and [ profile] plasmonicgrid's house was gangs of fun! I learned a nifty new party game called Bag of Nouns that I am eager to import to Merry Olde England; I saw plenty of spiffy people (there were fourteen of us there in total); and there was a plethora of good food, good company... plus malts at midnight! Cameo "appearances" were made -- via telephone -- by my beloved [ profile] cheshcat, the beautiful [ profile] bunnypip, and the charming [ profile] miss_amaranth at midnight GMT... then again at midnight EST. Around half five in the morning, we finally collapsed into bed to get our first sleep of 2010!

The New Year partying continues tomorrow, here in Chicagoland! Gentle readers, please come on over to the Event Horizon at or after 13:00 tomorrow for an afternoon of gaming goodness. If we reach a critical mass, the notorious Bag of Nouns may also be inflicted introduced here, too! At night, we will be heading into the city to catch The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Believe it or not, your friendly neightborhood Nomad is a Rocky virgin! Come along and watch me get "deflowered" tomorrow night!!

Hope to see some of you soon! Meanwhile, [ profile] tawneypup and [ profile] gyades and I are off to finish the first day of the decade with dinner, some Lazer Tag, and then some Rock Band! They say that what you do on the first day of the year determines how the rest of the year will be[**]. So it looks like 2010 is shaping up to be boatloads of fun!!

See you tomorrow, my dear [Chicago-based] friends!

[*] Not technically accurate, as she was driving. More like she returned with me in tow, but never mind that...

[**] The proverbial "they" is, of course, full of proverbial dung on this point, but never mind that either...

anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Nov. 4th, 2009 11:38 pm)
Welcome to the first ever FiR post in this journal. "What is FIR?" you may be fairly asking yourselves, dear friends. Good question! Long time readers of this journal may be aware of my recurring use of Week-in-Review (WiR) posts. As these went on, they evolved into the RotWiR post[*] and, later, into RotRotWiRP[**]. Now, however, due to nearly unprecedented levels of falling behind on my blogging, Nomad Production Studios brings you...... the Fortnight in Review post!

At this point, please feel free to run about like Kermit the Frog, waving your arms wildly and shouting "YAAAAAAAAY!"

Really, the FiR post is quite self-explanatory, I think. Having been back in Merry Olde England for half a month now, it really is high time that I say at least a little of what I have been up to since my return. It will likely not be interesting to anyone who is not named Nomad... but at least I will have made a record to refer to in posterity. Or something like that. Feel free to skip to tomorrow's [as yet unwritten] entry if you are bored. I won't hold it against you -- I promise!

So, without further ado, here goes:

Tue Oct 20: Return to the States via Madrid, finding work related texts starting almost immediately after I landed. Meet [ profile] cheshcat, who had returned from the States via Dublin. Our reconnection at Heathrow went unbelievable smoothly -- this sort of thing doesn't happen in international travel! Return to Oxford in mid-afternoon and spend time unpacking and settling in. In the evening, ring bells at St. Andrew's Church in Headington. Close to midnight, [ profile] bunnypip arrives and we spend some quality time alone together.

Wed Oct 21: Do productive stuff [that is not at all interesting to write about in detail] during the day. Attend the monthly Oxford Bi Meetup in the evening. Spend a lot of time talking to somebody that I find increasingly interesting.

Thu Oct 22: Imperial College T2K group meeting in the morning. Assorted productivity in the afternoon. Ringing practice -- on both handbells and tower bells -- at St. Giles Church in the evening. An international T2K SK video conference at night.

Fri Oct 23: Various productive tasks during the day. In the evening, [ profile] cheshcat and I went to see The Madness of King George III at the Oxford Playhouse, my 32nd play of the year. [ profile] bunnypip arrived at the Flat With No Name whilst we were out, so she was studying and waiting for us when we returned! This is a Good ThingTM

Sat Oct 24: Our annual ancestor feast and toast for Samhain. Intense, as usual. I have written somewhat about this elsewhere. The ritual proper ran for about seven hours, from roughly 9pm BST until nearly 3am GMT.

Sun Oct 25: Sleep in to recover from the late night. Have a lazy morning with certain spiffy people. In the evening, the adorable [ profile] weegoddess and her lovely husband, J, came to visit us as the last stop on their Leaving The UK tour. It was very good to see her again... and particularly enjoyable to meet him for the first time. We started their time in Oxford off by taking them to the Pink Giraffe for a delicious All You Can Eat RPG dinner!

Mon Oct 26: Spent the morning wearing my tour guide hat, bringing [ profile] weegoddess and J on a one day whirlwind tour of Oxford. I do so love sharing the awesomeness that is my [adopted] city! I only wish that they had had more time to spend here, to properly appreciate it all. Still, they did seem to enjoy what we had time to take in! In the evening, we were joined by [ profile] cheshcat for dinner at the French restaurant on North Parade. Yum!

Tue Oct 27: A very bizarre morning where nothing went as planned... thanks to an area power outage in the night that lasted until the afternoon. Thankfully, the crisis was manageable and the things that absolutely needed to happen were made to happen. All's well that ends well. In the evening, [ profile] cheshcat and I celebrated our 5555 day anniversary by going out for dinner then seeing the RSC's Days of Significance at the Oxford Playhouse -- my 33rd play of the year. Alas, the show was somewhat disappointing. Later in the evening, we also celebrated our eight million minute anniversary.[***]

Wed Oct 28: Had a productive day at work in London at Imperial College, including an interesting talk on recent measurements of the mass of the W boson at the D0 experiment in Fermilab. Returned to Oxford in the evening to have a pre-birthday dinner for [ profile] dr_jen with [ profile] wolfpeach and [ profile] cheshcat.

Thu Oct 29: Brought [ profile] cheshcat in for her surgery in the morning. Rang both handbells and tower bells at St. Giles Church in the evening, before visiting my beloved [ profile] cheshcat in the hospital post-surgery.

Fri Oct 30: Visited [ profile] cheshcat in the morning. Did stuff during the day. Returned in the evening with [ profile] bunnypip and L2.

Sat Oct 31: Visited [ profile] cheshcat in the morning. Brought L2 to a haunted farm for Halloween in the afternoon. Returned to the hospital in the evening to play Fluxx and Bohnanza with [ profile] cheshcat (and [ profile] bunnypip and L2).

Sun Nov 01: Visited [ profile] cheshcat in the morning -- getting to see her stand, post-surgery, for the first time. Spent time with L2 and my darling [ profile] bunnypip during the day. Rang bells for Sunday services at St. Giles in the evening before returning to spend more time in the hospital with [ profile] cheshcat.

Mon Nov 02: Missed my morning visit to the hospital, due to a T2K phone meeting. After working at Oxford Uni with one of my students during the day, I returned to the hospital to spend evening time with [ profile] cheshcat. Before bed, I had my first conversation with my darling [ profile] tawneypup since my return to England. As ever, it was very good to hear her lovely voice!

Tue Nov 03: Work at Oxford Uni, a seminar by one of my Imperial colleagues, a surprise win at chess, two more hospital visits (joined by [ profile] uberredfraggle and [ profile] bunnypip), and an evening of alone time with [ profile] bunnypip. Written about in more detail here.

That brings us to the end of this historic FiR report! History has been made and you, gentle readers, were a part of it. Remember this moment fondly in years to come...

[*] "RotWiR" = "Return of the Week in Review"

[**] Whilst the eloquent [ profile] dcseain has observed that this sounds an awful lot like a birdcall, "RotRotWiRP" is actually the "Return of the Return of the Week in Review Post".

[***] Yes, I am aware than "anniversary" comes from "annum" and literally can only refer to years. For the moment, though, I do not have a better word for "dayiversaries" (let alone minuteversaries!).

Blessed Samhain, to all those on my f-list who celebrate it!

Samhain this year was meaningful[1] without being devastating[2]. It was also long. Rather than do our annual ancestor ritual on Samhain proper, as originally planned, we moved it a week earlier to accommodate [ profile] cheshcat's surgery. Difficult to do ritual with a High Priestess who is confined to a hospital bed.

The ritual itself went quite well. I have been doing this particular WORK nearly every year since 1994 -- and my beloved [ profile] cheshcat has been doing it for even longer. It is simple in design... yet extremely powerful. All the more so when you do the same remembrance WORK year after year.

As it turns out, doing our ancestor toast one week before Samhain turned out to fortuitous for several reasons. For one thing, it meant that the clocks changed back to GMT whilst we were in ritual space. This brought a practical benefit -- not ending quite as late as we would have otherwise -- as well as a symbolic one. To wit: for me, the Dark Period of the year begins when we change our clocks back, putting the sunset before five o'clock in the afternoon. Having this change coincide with our Samhain ritual seems rather appropriate.

For another thing, doing our WORK one week before Samhain effectively stretched the sabbat out to a week this year. That was good, as it gave me time to process a large number of endings -- and new beginnings -- that are going on right now. For instance, this ritual just completed one full turn of the Wheel of the Year where we had been working every sabbat with the same group of people. A very fitting ending. [ profile] cheshcat's surgery was this week, too -- an end to one era and a beginning to a bright new one! Again, quite appropriate.

On the plus side, I managed to make it through October 27th without breaking up with anybody.[3] Though I will add that, after having been mostly quiet since July, my relationship velocity is picking up again. Whilst nothing is definite as yet, I can feel which way the winds may be blowing. I have a hunch that there are a couple of relationships that are naturally winding their way down right now... and I am cautiously optimistic about the potential that a couple of charming new people may hold. Some endings, some [possible] beginnings -- and it all feels rather good and healthy.

One other way that this Samhain is significant is that, for once, it really does feel like the new year to me. I have many different ways of ticking off the year -- at Samhain, at the start of the calendar, at my birthday, at Starwood, at P**T***, at the new academic year -- and Samhain is generally not the most important of these. However, this time around, it feels like the most natural place to start off the year. Much of time between this Samhain and next is mapped out reasonably well: I know which trips I want to take[4], I am helping to organise two large-ish events[5], my experiment will be turning on and publishing its first results, et cetera, et cetera. So, besides beginning the Dark Period, this Samhain really does kick off a year that promises to be busy, intense, and rewarding. I look forward to seeing what fruit it will bring.

Welcome Winter, waning season
Now with night the new year comes
All who honour elder kinsfolk
Dance the dead to earthly drums
Souls respected, save the living
Those with whole and hallowed hearts
Blessings be on those who bide here
Blessings be on those who bide here
And indeed on all the Earth!

Of course, besides being Samhain, October 31st is also Halloweeen[6]. Yesterday, on Halloween, I brought L2 -- who is nine -- to Millet's Farm, a short ride from Oxford, to do the corn mazes and haunted attractions there. Other than that, though I did not do much on Halloween proper... because I was preoccupied with visiting [ profile] cheshcat, who is still in the hospital recovering from her surgery. The beautiful [ profile] bunnypip came down to stay for the weekend, helping out around the house and spending time in the hospital with [ profile] cheshcat and I.

It would be a very sad thing to miss Halloween... so we made sure to do it early. Whilst in Michigan two weeks ago, my darling [ profile] tawneypup threw a Halloween bash to kick off the season, as it were. Twas fantastic to see so many people in the Lansing crowd[7]... and the immensely talented [ profile] tawneypup threw together a quick costume for me in under twenty-four hours. She had a Miss Piggy costume from previous years, so I wanted to go with her... as Kermit the Frog! Everyone always calls me a Muppet anyway -- for one night, I got to actually be one. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

Kermie & Piggy -- together again!

Alas, poor Kermit! I knew him, Horatio!

I hope that each and every one of my dear friends has had as excellent a holiday as I have. The Dark Period has begun.[8] May it hold joy and growth for us all...

[1] Unlike 2007.

[2] Unlike 2006.

[3] By odd coincidence, October 27th happens to be the day that I am most likely to end a relationship. Don't ask why -- it just is.

[4] One to Korea in May, one to Scotland in June, one to explore Japan with [ profile] cheshcat in August, and one to North Wales at some point in between.

[5] Oxford BiFest in March and P**T*** in October.

[6] And my father's birthday. But nevermind that.

[7] You know who you are, lovely people!

[8] Assuming that, like most of my f-list, you live in the North. If you do not... well, Happy Summer to you!!



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