anarchist_nomad: (One Day More)
( May. 1st, 2009 12:11 am)
I'm being bad right now, writing this entry whilst also participating in an international video conference for the T2K Super-Kamiokande working group. What can I say? We are up to the final talk, on a proposal for a blind analysis... which is not exactly a topic that I care about.

Today has been a really good day. My darling [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I got to sleep in until about half ten, as we were both taking the day off from work. Catching up on sleep was definitely a good thing, as I have not been resting nearly enough of late. The beauteous [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip arrived at the Flat With No Name around noon, with L1 and L2 in tow. After getting food and whatnot, we made our way into city centre, where we had two o'clock tickets at the Oxford Playhouse.

The performance of the day was a theatrical adaption of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, performed by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. As it is too long to reasonably collapse into a three hour show, the show was presented as two three hour shows. Part One ran from two until five, after which we had a two hour break for dinner. Part Two ran from seven until ten.

Alterations from the novels still needed to be made to make the show fit. For instance, Mary -- the dark matter researcher -- was completely removed. So was Lee Scoresby's death. Nonetheless, the show worked well. Really well. During the second half of Part Two, I was starting to feel frustrated... but then the ending was done so well that I ultimately ended up forgiving them.

Overall, then, I thought it was a really good show. So did L1, who absolutely loved the books. Additionally, it was most appropriate to see it performed in Oxford, where much of the story is set. Indeed, at the end of Part One, I announced that I had found a window to another world -- if we walked through the theatre doors then, like Will and Lyra, we would also find ourselves in Oxford! The author, Phillip Pullman, lives here as well... and apparently he made a surprise cameo appearance in last night's performance!

After the show, there was a short question and answer session with part of the cast. I asked a question about the puppetry in the show -- which had been excellent -- and started a discussion about that. Needless to say, [livejournal.com profile] da_pupdetz[*] were quite chuffed by this!

When our day at the theatre finally ended, we zipped back to the Flat With No Name as quickly as possible, as I had my video conference beginning at 11pm. Is still going on. When it ends, I am off to bed immediately, as I need to wake up at half four to go back into city centre to celebrate the May Morning festivities. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, having done it all before, is sleeping in until her regular wake-up time, then going to work as normal. [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip is joining me, though, as is L1 and L2. The usual singing from the Magdalen tower will happen at six, I am ringing with the OUSCR at half six, the usual contingents of Morris dancers and street bands will be present, and breakfast is at half seven.

Looks like sleep isn't on my agenda for the next day or so. I only expect to get three hours tonight, due to the late-night meeting and the early-morning festivities. Last year, I was asleep again by nine o'clock in morning for a nice nap. Not so likely this year, as I would like to bring L1 to the Oxford Botanic Gardens[**] when they open at nine o'clock tomorrow. Then, at 11:15, I have another meeting to attend, this time from the T2K UK analysis group. Should be done by 12:30, at which point I can squeeze in a little bit of rest before tomorrow evening, when I have a private Beltane ritual and celebration to attend!

Still, sleep or no, this is a four day weekend with many fun things in it... and it is just beginning! Can't really complain about that! (Who need sleep, anyway?)

I hope that all of my fellow Pagans are also having an excellent Beltane weekend... and I wish all of my fellow Anarchists a marvelous Mayday!


[*] Who may well be my daemons.

[**] Largely to flesh out his His Dark Materials experience, as Will & Lyra's bench is located in the Botanic Gardens.


Today was a surprisingly good day. Not surprising because I had expected anything bad to happen -- I hadn't and it didn't. Just surprising because not very much at all happened... and yet a number of small but positive things contributed to making it a good day.

It actually started last night, when I was ringing at Mary Mag during the first OUSCR practice of Trinity Term. Right after walking in, the master asked me if I wanted to ring a touch of Plain Bob Triples. Now nobody actually rings Plain Bob Triples. They ring Plain Bob Doubles (five bells), Plain Bob Minor (six bells), or Plain Bob Major (eight bells). No one rings Plain Bob Triples (seven bells). Indeed, the standard book of methods that I use doesn't even have PBT in there!

As such, I am not at all practiced in this method. I do consider myself quite adept at Plain Bob Doubles, though, and getting skilled at Minor. Sometimes I can do Major, but not reliably. On the fly, I pieced together what I know from Major -- since eight is close to seven -- and Doubles -- since five is also an odd number of bells -- and gave it my best shot. Amazingly enough, my best shot was quite good! I kept the method consistently for quite some time... and I could even hear that my striking was well placed. Very nice, if I do say so myself!

I have been doing a fair bit of ringing lately, and I feel I am making more progress. So that put me into a happy mood that continued into today. From there, things just got better.

For one thing, the weather today continued its recent trend of being incredible! By and large, one of the things that I dislike most about living in England is the weather[*]. Of late, though, that complaint is baseless. Good! Coupled with the fact that the days are now nearly fifteen hours long -- and still growing -- it is positively a joy to be outside! On my way into work this morning, I had a lovely bicycle ride across Kensington Gardens, taking in the weather and the lake and the greenery!

Work itself continues to go reasonably well. I still have more to do than I can get done. But what else is new? Progress is happening, and I am getting excited about the upcoming trip to Japan. Not as excited as I will be about the September Japan trip -- where, at long last, I get to return to my "home" area of Gifu and Toyama after six years away -- but excited
nonetheless!

It goes on from there, though: Our flat was inspected today, and passed with flying colours. As a nice side-effect of this, the Flat With No Name is now quite, quite tidy. Just the way I like it! When I got home from work, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was in a cheery mood. No matter what else is going on, that always brightens my day. And if it is an already-bright day? Well, so much the better! And brighter! I arrived home just as her music -- set to shuffle play -- switched onto Another Day (from Rent). With no discussion, we naturally slipped into a very energetic version of this duet. We had a blast... though I think that we may have startled both kitties!

After eating dinner, I had a delightful "phone date" with the terrific [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup. She has only been gone for a couple of weeks, but I definitely miss her. Ah well -- at least it will be May very soon[**], at which point I can say that I am seeing her again in the month after next!

Finally, the day is almost done... but I have an excellent weekend to look forward to! Tomorrow, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip is coming down to join [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I for a two-part theatrical rendition of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy at -- you guessed it! -- the Oxford Playhouse. Then there is a weekend of Beltane fun to follow! Huzzah!


[*] In contrast, one of the things that I miss most -- aside from certain special Anarchists -- about living in Phoenix is the delightful weather there!

[**] In just over twenty-four hours!


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.

Writing this entry from the Oxford Tube. In and of itself, this is not uncommon these days. However, there are a couple of unusual bits to this journey. One is that I am sitting on top, in the front, with a lovely view of the road and the setting sun. I usually sit downstairs at one of the tables, to accommodate my laptop. The other difference is that there is a tantalizing [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup sitting next to me, gently dozing. Indeed, she is the reason for the first change, too. And the fact that she is asleep gives me time to write this entry.

There has been much going on this week, and I don't have time to write about it all in detail. Here, though, is a snapshot:

Monday: Had a very busy day at work, in that I needed to produce a number of plots and distributions to send to a colleague in the States, then I had volunteered to do a question & answer session with high school students... all before leaving at five o'clock. The early departure from work[*] was because my dear [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I were going to attend a drum class and jam session at the Lake Street Community Centre in Oxford. I had learned about these back in November, quite by accident. However, the conflict with ice skating lessons and whatnot had kept us from going until now. It was really great to play, once again, on the beautiful djembe that [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat had bought for me for Yule 2005. It had been far too long! Methinks that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I will be going back for more of these classes in the future...

Tuesday: Woke up early -- 6am -- Hand drove to Heathrow to pick up the charming [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup, who is visiting for the week. The airport pickup went without hitch and I was so very happy to see her again! We made our return to Oxford without incident, where I introduced her to the Headington Shark and then to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. To my delight, they seem to be getting along quite swimmingly![**] After driving [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat to work, we grabbed pasties for breakfast. Then I took [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup on a tour of Oxford. Most of it was a simple walking tour, showing off my city. We went by Carfax, the Martyrs' Memorial, Oxford University Press, the Eagle and Child, and more. We stopped in the University Museum of Natural History and lingered there until it was time to meet [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat for lunch. We all ate together at an Indian restaurant; afterward, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat went back to work whilst [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and I went home to nap. We got up when [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat left work to shower and prepare for the evening.

The evening's entertainment was a trip to Stratford-on-Avon to meet up with the beauteous [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip and see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform The Winter's Tale. This is the third time that I have seen this play on stage... and it was, by far, the best! The first time was an amateur production in Oxford in December 2007, the second was last August -- also in Oxford -- by a touring company from Shakespeare's Globe. The Globe does good work, but they are just not in the same league as the RSC. This production was fantastic... and it managed to increase my appreciate of the play by a couple of notches! After the show, we all hung out and chatted for a bit before [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip needed to go to her home and we needed to go back to ours.

Wednesday: Slept in with [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup who was somewhat sleepy from several days of insufficient rest. Once awake, we headed into Oxford to explore my home city for a second day. We had lunch at the Eagle & Child, in the Rabbit Room where J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis used to meet every week. We climbed the last publicly accessible tower in Oxford that I had not yet ascended: the old Saxon tower (c.1040) of St. Michael's at the North Gate. Whilst atop the tower, we heard the buskers down below playing a variety of songs. When they reached "Dancing in the Moonlight" we couldn't resist breaking out into a dance of our own, together on top of this nearly-a-millennium-old building! Loads of fun! After leaving the tower, and the attached church, we took a break from crepes in Bonn Square, then climbed the Oxford Castle Mound. On our descent, we took a stroll through the grounds of Christ Church, entering on St. Aldates and emerging at the botanic garden. Then it was a walk across the Magdalen Bridge and up to Headington Hill Park before catching a bus home. In the evening, we went out for dinner with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at G&D's so that we could have bagel sandwiches and ice cream!

Thursday: Today, I had to go to work. There was no way around it. We had our usual group meeting, and preparation needed to be done for a meeting in Oxford on Monday. Plus we have an international video conference at 11pm tonight and I am introducing my students to the global T2K SK group. [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup joined me for the trip into London, showing me how to play Settlers of Catan online along the way. Then we walked across Kensington Gardens together and I showed her where I work before sending her on to the Natural History Museum and the V&A whilst I got down to work. We met up again after my meeting ended and are now making our way back to Oxford -- very nearly there -- where I shall bring her to St. Giles Church and show her what all this change ringing stuff is about! Then dinner at the Noodle Bar Nation and home in time for my late night meeting!

And that, gentle readers, is the news of the week. So far! The only thing I really have time to add before the coach gets into Oxford is a comment about how very wonderful it is to have my dear [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup visiting here with me this week. I'm looking over at her sleeping in the seat next to me as I type this -- and simultaneously watching the bright red sun set below the clear horizon -- and I can't help but feeling like I'm a pretty lucky guy!


[*] The week before I had not left before seven o'clock on any night, and sometimes stayed as late as ten.

[**] Possibly because [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat is [usually] much less frightening than a shark?


The uncharacteristic weather here in England, which started with my birthday last week, continued to be unusual through the weekend. Which is to say, warm and dry with sunny blue skies. No complaints from this Nomad.

On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to Milton Keynes[*] to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen perform as Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot. I had seen a version of the play performed, also with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, in the mid-1990s... but I must confess that I remembered none of it. It made that much of an impression. I saw Beckett's Endgame with [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism in 2005... and the best thing that I could say about it to her was: "I really wish that this had been your idea!" Suffice to say, Beckett is not my favourite playwright.

That said, I have to say that this production of Waiting For Godot was simply phenomenal! [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had front row seats and, thus, a perfect view of the action[**]. I have concluded that, as a play, I think Godot is far superior to Endgame -- it simply makes more sense. Much more sense! Furthermore, I had prepared myself by reading commentaries on the play, so that I was able to have maximal appreciation for this performance.

The other members of the case -- playing Pozzo and Lucky and the boy[***] -- were quite good. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were, simply put, outstanding. We have seen Ian McKellen on stage once before -- in the RSC production of King Lear -- and we have seen Patrick Stewart trod the boards several times. Individually, each is already outstanding; together on stage, they defy description. Despite my propensity for words, nothing I say here can truly do their work justice. For my friends on this side of the pond, I heartily recommend purchasing tickets whilst it is still possible to do so!

As a side note, I will observe that when I saw McKellen in King Lear, he ended up stripping naked when Lear goes mad. As Gogo, in Waiting For Godot, he also drops his trousers near the end when Estragon removes his belt to see if it is suitable for the "heroes" to hang themselves with. Seems that I can't see Sir Ian perform without him stripping to some extent or another!

One other observation: Watching Stewart and McKellen perform side by side in roles that are effectively interchangeable has made me realise that Patrick Stewart is, just slightly, the better actor. Both are, of course, incredible! But Stewart brings just a shade more exceptional talent to the stage. Had I not watched them perform side by side thusly, it never would have been noticeable enough to distinguish -- the difference is that small and subtle.

After the show ended, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I discussed whether to be fannish and gather near the stage door. Having spoken to and shaken hands with both Stewart and McKellen in the past, we didn't feel a burning need to do so again. On the other hand, we were waiting for [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip to arrive... so we may as well wait by the stage door instead of the car! Stewart came out first, interacting with his fans in as polite and pleasant a manner as usual. He duly signed autographs on everyone's programmes, then went along his way. A short while later, Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup -- the actors playing Pozzo and Lucky -- came out. Since we were there anyway, we had them autograph our programme, too. After all, their performances had also made the show what it was! Sir Ian, we were told, was receiving a back treatment and would not be coming out.

The timing worked out well. Shortly after we were done gathering autographs, [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip arrived with L2. As we moved everyone (and everything) into Peter II for the drive down to Oxford, L2 had questions about the show that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had just seen. Since L2 is nine, we tried to explain who we had seen by using cultural references. We asked him if he had seen the Lord Of The Rings movies. He said no. We had more success with the X-Men franchise and explained that we had seen the actors playing Magneto and Professor X:

"Ian McKellen is Magneto." we explained.

"And Professor X?" he asked.

"That's Patrick Stewart." I said.

It was at this point that I looked up and saw somebody walking by, about five or six meters away. I pointed and basically repeated myself: "Actually, that is Patrick Stewart."

Perhaps it is a moment where one needs to be present to appreciate the humour... but I found it amusing. We did, of course, lower our voices and allowed the man to pass in quiet dignity without intruding upon his personal time and space.

I am almost back to Oxford now, so I shall finish writing about this weekend later. All in all, though, this outing made for a wonderful Saturday afternoon. Again, I strongly recommend this production to my local friends... and I want to give a very special thank you to [livejournal.com profile] jeneralist for making me aware of it in the first place!


[*] Getting to the show on time was quite an experience. Due to a series of miscommunications and errors on our parts, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I left Oxford with insufficient time to get to the show before the curtain went up. This is quite the aberration; [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I go to the theatre fairly often. Yet, in our nearly fifteen years together, we have only ever been late to two shows: An Inspector Calls in Connecticut in 1995 and Marlowe in Chicago in 2005. Both times, abnormally high traffic caused us to arrive after the curtain went up. Still, this is not a common occurance. In time, I am certain that we will be late to a third show... but I did not want it to be this one! To rectify the situation, we coalesced as a team -- I drove like a madman whilst she monitored the GPS navigation unit to keep me on track, watch for speed cameras, et cetera. I kept me eyes glued to the road to keep us safe, whilst she handled all of the directions -- allowing me to fully concentrate on going as fast as safely possible. I find that our sat-nav's time estimates are usually quite accurate for my driving. This trip, however, I managed to shave fifteen minutes off of a seventy-five minute trip. That's better than a 20% improvement! We arrived with time to park, pick up our tickets, use the loos, buy a programme... and still be in our seats five minutes before the curtain went up. Kudos to us!

[**] Or inaction, such as the case may be with Beckett.

[***] As opposed to The Boy.


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!


Knowing that the perfect is the enemy of the good, it seems wise to resume using my LJ as a journal now, rather than wait until that magical moment when I have enough time to compose my Jan/Feb summary. I don't have that much time right now... but I do have enough to write about today.

Today I slept in, as a consequence of being in an international meeting until nearly midnight[*]. Mirroring the end of my night, I began my day by participating on a national meeting. Yes, Gentle Readers, it is one of those weeks, where we have our usual Thursday afternoon group meeting... followed by a late night international video conference, followed by a Friday morning UK-wide video conference! Whee!

This afternoon, I went to a talk in the Cultural Platform series, organised by Oxford Inspires. The main speaker at this platform was Shami Chakrabarti, once called "the most dangerous woman in Britain." I thought that the talk was good. She is definitely an excellent speaker, though I must admit that her views were a bit too much to the centre for my liking. Phillip Pullman was also in the audience, and she made several amusing attempts to [playfully] embarass him.

This evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are going to the Oxford Playhouse to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Othello. There is a certain aesthetic to this. After all, the two most frequent sources for our theatre fix are (a) the Oxford Playhouse and (b) the Royal Shakespeare Company, which usually required a trip to Stratford-on-Avon. Having the RSC perform at the Playhouse for a change seems..... I don't have the right words. Much like a comic book fan in 1975 must have felt when the first Superman / Spider-Man crossover took place, I would imagine. I am particularly looking forward to tonight's performance, as the role of Othello is being played by Patrice Naiambana, who we saw as the Earl of Warwick last year in the History Cycle plays. He did a phenomenal job and I will be quite happy to see him on stage again. Tonight's performance will also feature Natalia Tena as Desdemona; those of you who are particular fans of the Harry Potter films may recognise the name, as she played Tonks in the movies.

After the theatre ends, I shall be loading the car and driving North, starting another road trip[**]. Can anyone tell me what day comes six months after August 28th? How about six months after August 29th? August 30th? August 31st? Well, I'm not quite sure when the actual day is, but there is a six month anniversary to celebrate sometime this weekend, and that is just what I intent to do!

Have a lovely weekend, Gentle Readers, and I shall "see" you all again on Monday!


[*] Mind you, rather than complain, I should be grateful! The meetings are set to start at 7am in Japan. Right now, they run from 10pm until midnight in England... but once we change the clocks next month, it will be 11pm until 1am!

[**] The last was two weekends ago, when [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I spent the weekend exploring Cambridge to celebrate our tenth Double-D Day.


As has been my tradition for four years now, this post -- probably uninteresting to anyone not named Anarchist_Nomad -- is a quick summary of the relevant statistics for 2008. Admittedly, I should have done this about a week ago... but better late than never!



NOTES:
[1] In decreasing order of time: United Kingdom and United States.

[2] In chronological order from first entry: New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio

[3] For the purposes of this entry, "long" is defined as being between 800 and 2000 miles. Even with my "Christmas-on-Wheels" extravaganza, I only had one segment that was longer than eight hundred miles. Most of the time, I drove no further than about four hundred before stopping to visit somebody.

[4] Without a doubt, 2008 was a record year for me, when it comes to theatre. I saw a show, on average, every nine and a half days! Nice!

The list of shows breaks down in the following fashion:
  • Pantomimes: 3 -- Rapunzel (Jan, Chipping Norton), Robin Hood (Dec, Birmingham Hippodrome), Sleeping Beauty (Dec, OP)

  • Shakespearean plays: 19 -- Richard II (RSC), Henry IV, part 1 (RSC), Henry IV, part 2 (RSC), Henry V (RSC), Henry VI, part 1 (RSC), Henry VI, part 2 (RSC), Henry VI, part 3 (RSC), Richard III (RSC), Measure for Measure (Creation), Twelfth Night (Lincoln College, outdoors), Twelfth Night (OSC, outdoors), As You Like It (OTG, outdoors), Much Ado About Nothing (Creation, outdoors), The Winters Tale (Shakespeare's Globe touring, outdoors), Hamlet (RSC), The Taming of the Shrew (RSC), A Midsummer Night's Dream (RSC), Love's Labours Lost (RSC)

  • Musicals: 3 -- Avenue Q (West End), Thoroughly Modern Millie (OP), Chess (OP)

  • Other: 13 -- The Rivals (OP), A Trip to Scarborough (OP), Plaza Suite (OP), Educating Agnes (OP), London Assurance (OP), The 39 Steps (OP), Improbably Fiction (Abingdon), Animal Farm (Creation, outdoors), Lucky You (OP), The Woman In Black (OP), Noises Off (OP), Liberty (OP), Hans Christian Anderson (Creation, Mirror Tent)
Which makes the Oxford Playhouse my most frequented venue, with thirteen shows, and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Courtyard Theatre a close runner up, with twelve shows.

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

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

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


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

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

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

Finally, I owe an enormous:

THANK YOU

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Had a proper date with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat last night: Dinner and a show, all dressed up and everything. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat picked the restaurant -- a Thai place very near to Carfax[1]. The identity of the show that we would see after was unknown to me until we got to the theatre -- another in the series of "surprise theatre tickets" that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat bought for us back in August.

Upon arrival at the Oxford Playhouse, I learned that we would be seeing the Oxford Operatic Society[2] perform Chess. I congratulated [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat on coordinating our dinner (Thai) with the show (which is partially set in Thailand)... though she denied that there was any conscious link between the two.

Until last night, I had never seen Chess before. I have to say that I definitely enjoyed it! It is not one of my absolute favourite musicals... but it definitely made the grade in my book![3] I would see it again, and I have charged [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat with going to the library today to find the soundtrack for us to listen to.

Thus, it was not surprising that, on boarding the The Merry Oxford Tube this morning, I went to Wikipedia -- the source of all human knowledge -- and looked up the show, to learn a bit more about it. What was surprising is what I actually learned.

For starters, the show began life as a concept album, a la Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Between the release of the concept album (1984) and its first performance in the West End (1986), some changes were made. Not terribly shocking. Indeed this is quite normal; who here remembers the sub-plot in Evita wherein Che desperately attempts to get rich selling insecticide? Exactly.

No, what first startled me was reading about the transition from the West End to Broadway, wherein the entire show underwent dramatic changes. Two chess tournaments, separated by a year, were reduced to one. The roles of challenger and champion were switched. The reception of the press to the US-ian was completely reversed. And the ending? Not even close! Wow. May as well remake Les Miserables, but end it with Eponine and Marius going off to live with Jean Valjean in the glorious new era following a successful revolution![4]

Somehow, I am not at all surprised to learn that the Broadway version was a complete flop.

Still, what really raised my eyebrows was reading that, due to "an unknown contractual stipulation", the London version is not permitted to be performed within the United States.[5] Wow. Double wow. Not allowed to be performed in the United States??

Having read the synopsis of all three versions, I am very glad that that Oxford Operatic Society choose to produce this show. I believe that the London version is the better one by far... and it baffles me to hear that I would not have been able to see this show if I were back in the States! Furthermore, it boggles my mind to know that, when talking to any more my friends back home[6], the musical that I am talking about when I refer to Chess is not the same show that they will be referring to (if they have seen it).

This is weird. It's weird. Very weird. Fuckin' weird.[7]

Anyway, overall yesterday was quite a lovely day, ending with quite a lovely date. Good food, good show, and alone time with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Definitely a winning combination!


[1] The tower that marks the centre of Oxford.

[2] Last year, we saw them perform The Boy Friend (after which I declared that I would not need to eat cheese for a week). In 2006, [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia and I saw them put on The Gondoliers.

[3] I loved it. It was better than Cats.

[4] Javert lives next door and babysits the grandchildren sometimes.

[5] I realise that, with Wikipedia as my only source on this thus far, there remains room to doubt the validity of this claim. For the moment, however, I choose to tentatively accept it as true.

[6] As I am doing with quite a few right now, by writing this.

[7] I'm so mad that I don't know what to do.


The past thirty-six hours -- from Monday evening until this morning -- have been really good! There hasn't been any one single Major Good Thing... but there have been loads of little things conspiring to put me in an excellent mood!

It started with quite a nice ice skating lesson on Monday evening. I had a couple of breakthrough moments where various and sundry maneuvers seemed to click into place. I still can't reliably do an inside three-turn[*], but my backwards crossovers are looking good and my continuous curves -- both inside and outside edge -- are nice, too!

After skating on Monday, I had a lovely phone date with the even lovelier [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup! It is always good to hear her voice... and it will be even better to see here again next month! It was also a good way to end my evening; after getting off the phone, I collapsed into bed with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat.

Tuesday began with the perfect commute, as I wrote about yesterday... and the day just got better from there. Apparently, I was right about the perfect commute being a good omen![**] For one thing, the weather was clear and sunny -- at this time of year, I will take all the daylight that I can get! Also, over the course of Tuesday, I received word of various and sundry bits of good news -- much of it I cannot repeat in the public domain -- which left me feeling bouncy and happy. Indeed, the bouncy happiness threatened to bubble over... so I went up to the level eight terrace and had a phone chat with Darelle so that I could bounce at her from the roof for a bit!

Tuesday evening was bell ringing practice with the OUSCR at Mary Mag. The return commute was nearly as smooth as the morning's -- only a three minute wait for the Oxford Tube -- and the ringing was quite nice. In particular, I fell into a groove whilst ringing the treble to St. Simons Triples and was ringing impressively well (for me)! These days, I am working on improving my ropesight and my listening skills. Also my bell handling, so that I can make more natural distinctions between a slow stroke, a steady stroke, and a quick stroke.

When practice ended, I picked up noodles for [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I for dinner, then met her at Skullcrusher Mountain. We ate, then removed the last bits of our things from the old flat. With all of our stuff gone, the last task was to get the kitties moved. We had left them to the end, visiting daily with food when we came to pack. The idea -- which seems to have worked -- was to set the new place up reasonably well before unleashing them to destroy it! Before moving the kitties, we bathed them. We do this once or twice a year with our cats, using baby shampoo with conditioner to clean them up. So long as you start them on it young, they tolerate it. They never like it... but they tolerate it. For Giles, who was six months old yesterday, this was his first bath ever! He squirms like a wild thing when we so much as try to clip his claws... so both Chesh and I had anticipated the bath as being quite a challenge. Giles surprised us by taking it remarkably well -- mainly he just went limp and let us get on with it! Good kitty!

Once Giles and The Boy were clean, we put them in the car and left Skullcrusher Mountain. We need to return for cleaning and to do a farewell ritual for the space... but we are now officially moved out! Nice! Indeed, this has been one of the easiest moves I have ever done[***]. We did it all in eleven days, all by ourselves[****] and using only my Red Rover for transport. The new place is not fully set up set... but by spreading the packing over eleven days, we have had time to get a good fraction of our things into place as we went along.[*****]

The poor kitties didn't quite know what hit them! First, Mommy and Daddy take away all the things that they are used to! And go away each night! Then they get shoved into water!! And put in a carrier!! In the car!!! Then taken to a strange place!!!! Poor The Boy, he was very clingy and vocal as he explored the new place -- I made sure to lavish tonnes of attention on him! Giles, being a kitten, was less traumatised and happily explored his new home. Even though it was late, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I stayed up with them for some time, helping to acclimate them.

Finally, Chesh fell into bed and I hopped into the shower to wash the yuck of the old flat off of me. Then a "quick" hop online to check for mail from one or two certain someones... and into bed myself!

All in all, quite a nice day and a half!

The one downside to it all has been that, amongst all the activity of the past few days, I really have not enjoyed a full night's sleep since Saturday! I will endeavour to rectify this tonight. This evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have theatre plans at the Oxford Playhouse. I don't know what show we are seeing yet -- this is the second-to-last of the "surprise theatre" tickets that she bought back in August -- but their shows usually let out shortly after ten pm. With any luck, I can grab a quick dinner and be in bed by shortly after eleven o'clock, thus luxuriating in the luxury of eight hours rest!


[*] But that's okay as the term is only half over. I have three more weeks to learn how!

[**] Certain good wishes from certain special people probably didn't hurt with this, either!

[***] Not counting those rare times that we have had professional movers, like when I moved from Arizona to Chicago to start work at Fermilab and the lab paid for the relocation costs.

[****] I believe that this alone is a first!

[*****] We were also able to re-use boxes after unpacking them, which is a nice eco-bonus!


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? )
Definitely living up to my moniker[*] today!

Woke up, as I so often do, in Oxford. Promptly headed into London. This time, my destination was not Imperial College, but Queen Mary University of London. There, I was meeting with a colleague who is also a new post-doc on the T2K experiment and also did his doctorate at Stony Brook under CKJ. I barely knew him back then, as I finished up shortly after he arrived, but we have been starting to coalesce into a team at our new positions.

After our meeting at QM finished, I started heading back to Oxford. Indeed, I am writing this -- as I do with many entries of late -- from Ye Olde Oxforde Tubee[**].

Upon arriving back in Oxford, however, I shall not be staying long! I intend to clean up a bit at the new flat and collect [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Then we are off again!

Where are we off to, you may fairly ask. Tonight's entertainment is a return to Stratford-upon-Avon. There, we will see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Loves Labours Lost. This will be the nineteenth performance that I have seen by the RSC[***]. It has been about nine weeks since I last saw the RSC do anything -- I need to be a good theatre junkie and keep feeding the habit!

After that, we return to Oxford where I shall sleep, as I so often do.

It seems that recent events have conspired to turn Oxford into less of my home city and more of my base-of-operations. With a job in London, a passion for travel, a sweetie in the rural middle of nowhere, an addiction to Stratford-on-Avon, et cetera, et cetera, and so forth... well, I have been back from the States for twenty-five days now, and only two of them have not involved doing something outside of Oxford! Quite a change from the early days of when I was living here -- still without a car -- when I could go weeks without leaving Oxford!


[*] "Nomad", that is. What did you think I meant?

[**] Thank goodness for mobile broadband! It has made this commute so much more productive!

[***] Also, just for the record, it will be eighteenth trip to Stratford (as one time we went on a Saturday for two plays). It will also be the eighteenth play that I have seen the RSC perform (as I saw them put on Richard III twice). It will be the seventeenth Shakespearean play that I have seen RSC perform (as I once saw them perform MacBett -- an Ionesco parody of MacBeth). And it will be the seventeenth RSC show that I have seen with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, who has accompanied me on all but two of these expeditions!


The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced the line-up of shows for its 2009 season. These include As You Like It, Julius Caesar, The Comedy of Errors, and The Winter's Tale. I have seen all of these performed on stage before -- some more than once -- except for Julius Caesar. However, RSC junkie that I am, I will probably tree to see all four shows. After all, I have not seen RSC perform any of them before.

Is it just me, or does it seems somehow ironic that their performance of The Winter's Tale runs from 31-March to 03-October?
Tags:
At the start of the previous entry, I mentioned that the past couple of days had been busy and fun... then promised I would update about them later. No time like the present! Yes, I am still in a Samhain state of mind... but there are also things to be joyful about. At times like this, I invoke my favourite Walt Whitman quote, from Song of Myself:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.


Thus, without further ado, here is what everybody's favourite Nomad has been up to for the past couple of days:

On Wednesday, I woke and drove myself to the Park & Ride. Got on the coach, sat down, set up laptop. Learned that there had been a "major accident" on the M40 -- the motorway between Oxford and London that comprises the bulk of my commute -- and that it was now closed. Promptly got off the coach, drove home, and e-mailed in to say that I would be working from home. As it turns out, two lorries had collided at about three in the morning. One was carrying lard, which ended up all over the six lanes of the M40. The London-bound side did not re-open until after 4pm; the Oxford-bound side was closed until after 11pm! Not a day to commute into London!

While in Oxford, I also took the opportunity to run a couple of local errands. One of these was to pick up a mobile broadband subscription for myself. When I decided to do the Oxford/London commute daily, it was with the assumption that I would have WiFi on the coach so that the bulk of the commute could be productive. Turns out that the Oxford Tube WiFi is horrendous and not at all conducive to productivity. Having my own independent and reliable net connection? Priceless![1]

Wednesday evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to the Oxford Playhouse to see a show called Liberty. I am very glad that they gave me Liberty, because I don't particularly care for the alternative[2]. The show is a new production, put together by the Lifeblood Theatre Company and Shakespeare's Globe. Written by an English playwright, the show is set in France, during the revolution[3]. The show was very good. Not brilliant, but definitely very good. Many parallels drawn to the United States in the post-9/11 world. It was poignant in several places, too. Definitely enjoyed -- kudos to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat for choosing it! As an added bonus for the evening, I got to spend some time before bed chatting with the delighful [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious! Always a good thing! I am very much enjoying getting to know that woman better!

On Thursday, I got to skip the Oxford/London commute yet again. No, the lard was all gone from the M40. However, there was a small T2K meeting at Oxford. It was very technical, dealing with the data flow from the Multi-Pixel Photon Counters (MPPCs)[4], through the front end electronics, the back end electronics, the various stages of the data acquisition system, and then the "near-online" computing chain. There was a lot that I missed, due to the highly technical nature of the meeting, but I still found it to be very useful.

Thursday evening, I made up for not going to London during the day. I picked up [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach, then drove us all into London to see Jonathan Coulton perform! Last time we saw him perform, back in March, it was at a small venue in Camden, and he went on alone. This time, the show was at a larger venue and he was accompanied by his frequent touring companions, Paul & Storm. I had not seen P&S perform before -- very glad that I have now! Generally speaking, their music does not have the same brilliance as JoCo's -- though I particularly liked the song Opening Band -- but their stage presence is incredible. One of the highlights of the evening was when somebody suggested Paul do a Cabaret routine. He replied, quite snarkily: "Twenty pounds!" I raised my hand, auction style, in the balcony. However, when he said he wanted it on the stage first, I balked. For one thing, I didn't actually have that much in my wallet! About to move on, some fan in the front run actually put twenty quid on stage. Go figure! So he did a Liza Minnelli routine! Very nice! I also got to make a jackass out of myself get some laughs from the crowd when people started shouting out requests. It started with one guy repeatedly requesting Shop Vac. He was so persistent that he eventually got his way. As a result, everyone started shouting out a request for JoCo -- all at once. Not one to sit idly by, I shouted out a request of my own... but not for a JoCo song. Spontaneously, I yelled out: "PLAY FREE BIRD!" JoCo heard me and laughed, then said "No, I'm not going to play Free Bird." Which made everyone else in the house -- who had not heard me over the din -- laugh. Well done, Nomad[5].

Today has been a fairly ordinary and mundane day. The highlight, so far, was that I got to make somebody special feel better. Tonight, of course, is our Samhain ritual. Heading home now to get ready and transition into HP mode...


[1] Okay, actually the price is fifteen quid a month. But that doesn't sound nearly as clever.

[2] Cake, please. Yes, I'm making these jokes on Samhain. I am not always known for being the brightest card in the deck. See next entry.

[3] Who would ever have thought that a Brit would make a play about the French Revolution??

[4] A new piece of technology intended as an alternate for the well established photo-multiplier tubes (PMTs) when one needs to work in an environment with a magnetic field.

[5] I learned today that the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup did very nearly the same thing at a Gaelic Storm concert quite recently. I knew that there was a reason I adore that woman!


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.


anarchist_nomad: (The cape as red as blood)
( Oct. 9th, 2008 07:49 am)
Last night, I went out to dinner with AB, one of the graduate students from the CRESST group at Oxford. At the end of the meal, we received fortune cookies. My fortune read: "You are about to depart for a land of sunshine."

This was very good news for me, as I leave in six hours for the States, and shall be spending the weekend in the woods at P**T***! The gathering is always fun... but eleven years of experience have taught me that it is usually more enjoyable when one can hike in the woods, rather than when one can paddle a canoe in the firepit[*]! It looks like those fortune tellers may be right on the mark, too! The weather report for the site calls for sun and clear skies all weekend; highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. I don't think that I could ask for better P**T*** weather! Very much looking forward to seeing many of you there tomorrow, my dear friends!!!

Goodness -- this will be my twelfth year in a row at P**T***. My, how the time flies!

I will be back in Oxford late on Monday the 20th. Until then, however, I will be largely out of electronic contact. Whilst at P**T***, I will effectively be in a different world and, thus, virtually impossible to reach. After the gathering ends, I will be travelling and largely away from a computer. For anyone who might need or want to know, here is my tentative schedule )

Okay, six hours to go. Time to pack and do all those other last minute things that need doing at the last minute[**]...


[*] This did happen one year when the rain was particularly heavy!

[**] Apropos to absolutely nothing, I want to note that I have recently seen two plays. On September 24th, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat went to see The Woman In Black. And this past Saturday, October 4th, we saw a production of one of my absolute favourite comedies, Noises Off at the Oxford Playhouse. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this entry. However, I do like to keep track of the theatre I see and have been rubbish about updating this journal for the past couple of weeks. So I figured if I did not mention these plays now, before I fly away, it was never going to happen. Hence this somewhat incongruous footnote...


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