Much of yesterday was spent celebrating the birth of my darling [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth. As she likes to continually mention: "I'm twenty-three. I'm old now." When she does this, I generally threaten to break up with her in order to find a new nineteen year old. Seems the only appropriate reply to claiming that twenty-three is old.

The day was full of celebrations around Oxford. We started in the afternoon at The Rose, home to the best cream teas in Oxford. It was all very casual and unstructured, with people coming and going from the party as we sat around chatting. Indeed, after my own tea and scones were finished, I had to duck out for a few hours, missing the second stop -- Far From The Madding Crowd. In the evening, I collected my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, and we rejoined the group for dinner at the Japanese(ish) chain, Wagamama. I don't usually get to enjoy vegetarian gyoza, so that was a nice treat. Then we finished the night off with ice cream (and presents!) at the best dessert parlour in Oxford[*] -- Indulge. Finally, at the end of the night, I went back to the House of the Rising Bun with the birthday girl for some quality alone time.

Due to the unstructured nature of the festivities, we don't have a tally of how many people actually came along. [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth felt no need to count... and the Knave of Numbers (me) was not there for the whole time. Still, I estimate that twenty-something people showed up -- from as far away as London and Reading -- to celebrate. Huzzah!

Hard to believe that so much time has passed. When I first met [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth, she was barely nineteen and just about to start university. Now she's twenty-three and in her second job post-graduation. Not quite sure where the past four years went -- maybe it's hiding under the sofa?

In any case, I don't have a picture from yesterday's party, so I shall re-use this older photo, taken at Oxford's Harcourt Arboretum two years ago:



Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! I know that twenty-two ended on a high note, with many wonderful things falling into place for you right now. May twenty-three be even more spectacular! I look forward to sharing it with you!


[*] As a side note, I particularly like the fact that all of the chosen venues of celebration were local Oxford businesses, save one. Wagamama was the only chain. I may have an Oxford party at some point that follows much of the same itinerary, except perhaps substituting Atomic Burger for Wagamama. And maybe have The Eagle and Child as my choice of pub, instead of Far From The Madding Crowd.

anarchist_nomad: (Loch Ness Monster)
( Feb. 24th, 2011 10:59 pm)
Over dinner this evening, I got told off rather soundly by our highland cow. The conversation went something like this:
Nomad: (conversationally) So, do you ever find yourself missing Scotland?

Cow: What?!? Do you know how racist that is??

Nomad: (bewildered) But... you're a highland cow!

Cow: That's like asking a black person if they miss Africa! I'll have you know that there are highland cows living in the New Forest! Some of them have been there their entire lives!

Nomad: ...


For some reason, it seems that highland cows just don't like me very much. You think they might know better than to pick on the vegetarian. Perhaps these cows are just naturally aggressive. After all, some of you may remember the cow that took a swing at me last Summer when we were in the Cairngorm mountains.

Also, despite his reluctance to be associated with the Land of the Scots, I will note that he is rather fond of the native beer...

anarchist_nomad: (Sunset over Key West)
( Mar. 19th, 2010 11:58 am)
I am writing this entry from Ye Olde Oxford Tube, heading into London. Tis Friday again! Another weekend is nearly upon us!

Speaking of weekends, there is quite a bit going on this weekend! Although that may not be so unusual. Upon looking in my Slingshot yesterday, I was struck with the realisation that my next completely free weekend is September 17 - 19. Eeep! That is six months from now! The last free weekend in the next half-year (June 11 - 13) just got filled yesterday with a narrowboat trip on the Walden III, cruising the Oxford Canal from Banbury to Oxford!

I am used to having my calendar filled two or three months in advance... but not six! I suspect that the surfeit of upcoming trips -- two to Japan, one to South Korea, one to the United States, and one to Scotland -- have a lot to do with it! Thankfully, some of those weekends are only partially booked, with space still available for other activities!

Speaking of weekend activities, last weekend was quite packed! My official birthday celebration[1] was gangs of fun and an awesometacular success! All went according to plan -- we started off Friday evening with the All You Can Eat menu at the Pink Giraffe. Can anything that begins with some of the best vegetarian Chinese food be less than fantastic? As usual, the Giraffe did not disappoint, with favourites like the Beijing [mock] duck and the [mock] chicken satay and the [mock] chicken with cashews and yellowbean sauce. Even the meat eaters enjoyed! As is also usual when doing AYCE at the Giraffe, everyone left the meal feeling like we could roll home[2] and we wouldn't need to eat for a week! We wound down Friday evening with a couple of rounds of Dominion, introducing L1 to the game.

My actual birthday -- Saturday -- began with the traditional phone call from my mother. This is an event that defies description; one truly needs to hear it to appreciate it! After breakfast and a bit of prep work, people began to arrive... which meant that it was time for presents! I got a particularly awesome stack, including some coins from the Royal Mint, comic book t-shirts[3], the new Chumbawamba album, sushi-making lessons, My Neighbor Totoro[4], a very sweet framed photograph, and more! Once all the presents were opened, we let the games begin! We started out with Wise & Otherwise (which my darling [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip won), then moved on to Betrayal at House on the Hill The Shinnin'. I ended up as the traitor -- this was my third time in the role... and I have never succeeded at my task! Guess I am just too much of a good guy! As the day went on, we also played Bag o' Nouns (my team won), Apples to Apples, Lost Cities[5], Monte Python Fluxx, and a few rounds of Werewolf. Good fun!

Partway through the afternoon, we mixed up some liquid nitrogen ice cream. It was a collaborative effort -- F and L2 mashed the strawberries, [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach each helped pick up the supplies, I mixed them all together, [livejournal.com profile] topbit poured the LN2, and [livejournal.com profile] xmakina stirred. I was less than ecstatic... as I had overestimated the ingredients, leaving some of the mix unfrozen by the time we ran out of liquid nitrogen. I really need to purchase a larger dewar! Still, methinks that I was just being a perfectionist -- everybody else seemed to really enjoy the ice cream![6]

In the evening, we ordered pizza and then had a karaoke sing-a-long! Starting with the Bohemian Rhapsody, we moved on to Video Killed The Radio Star, Karma Chameleon, American Pie, Build Me Up Buttercup and more! We even Rickrolled ourselves! This was a phenomenal group to have a sing-a-long with -- I have not laughed so hard in nearly a year!

Throughout the day, calls and text messages had streamed in. That was very nice -- thank you to all who could not make it, but send something on! We had a decent turnout for the party, too; nineteen people helped me bid farewell to the first half of my fourth decade. At the Event Horizon, I would consider this number to be quite small and the party to be a bit of a flop. But, bearing in mind that I still have far fewer friends in England than in either Chicago or New York, it was a decent turnout.

As the hour got late and people started to head home, we broke out The Shinnin' again for another game. This time [livejournal.com profile] xmakina was the traitor -- helping a giant spider to lay its eggs in one of us and waiting for them to hatch. Alas, the poor victim to get caught in its web was the arachnophobic [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat! Luckily, we heroes managed to free her and destroy the eggs, then get the hell out of the haunted house in time! My explorer did not survive... but at least I was on the winning team! We finished playing around four in the morning... but with two arachnophobes in the game, it was not considered an ideal way to end the night. L1 wanted to play The Shinnin' yet again... but no one else thought this was a good idea. So out came Dominion once more, which I won by a reasonable margin. Finally, we dropped off to sleep around five o'clock in the morning -- which was still my birthday in Eastern Standard Time, where I was born!

Sunday was a much more mellow day. To wind down from the weekend, I planned to have us watch a few of my favourite films. The choices were made according to the movies that I have been waiting to introduce to [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip. We started with The Princess Bride, as I have been waiting to show it to my British friends ever since I learned that the film was not ubiquitous here -- inconceivable! Next up was my favourite anime, My Neighbor Totoro. After those two, we took a break for chocolate cake -- complete with Red Dwarf figures and rocket candles on top! Awesometacular, indeed! Finally, we finished off the films with one of my favourite comedies: Michael Frayne's Noises Off! It was wonderful watching how hard everyone laughed at this hysterical show!

Shortly after the movies ended, I made my way to St. Giles -- accompanied by my dear [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth -- to ring bells for Sunday evening services. Then three of us went up to the roof to watch a particularly striking sunset. Upon returning home, [livejournal.com profile] xmakina and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth and I played Lost Cities (which [livejournal.com profile] xmakina won). Then it was off to Atomic Burger in Cowley for dinner. Finally, I dropped [livejournal.com profile] xmakina and [livejournal.com profile] miss_amaranth off at home before settling down for the evening with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Twas a very good weekend. A very good weekend, indeed!

So now, my dear friends, I am thirty-five! It began with a bang... let's keep the excitement -- and the good times -- rolling!


[1] In contrast to the unofficial surprise party held the week earlier!

[2] Except for the fact that it would mean rolling up a rather steep hill!

[3] Iron Man, and the movie version of the Watchmen.

[4] Extremely important for Sunday! See below.

[5] The four-player board game, which was new to me, rather than the familiar two-player card game.

[6] Either that or they were just being very polite!

As I so often do, I am writing this entry from a coach on the way to work. However, I am not on the Oxford Tube, nor am I heading into London. Rather, I am on the Oxford/Heathrow bus -- the first step on my way to Japan. Back in England, albeit briefly, in two weeks.

Other than the fact that I will be practically fasting for two weeks, given how non-vegetarian Japan is, I am quite looking forward to this trip. It will differ substantially from my other two Japan visits this year, in that I will not be going to KEK laboratory in Tsukuba at all. The first week, I will spend in Tokai, at the J-PARC[*] accelerator facility. This is where we will be making the neutrinos that will travel 300 kilometers beneath Japan. I have never been to Tokai before, and visiting new places makes me happy. The second week, I will be returning to Kamioka. The Super-Kamiokande detector there will find [some of] the neutrinos after they have traversed Japan. I did my doctoral research on Super-K and, thus, lived there for a total of about two years between December 1998 and June 2003. I have not been back to Kamioka since then -- over six years ago now -- and am very excited about returning to my old stomping grounds!


[*] "J-PARC" = "Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex"

anarchist_nomad: (The cape as red as blood)
( Jul. 7th, 2009 11:07 am)
Hello from Japan, gentle readers![*] I arrived here yesterday morning after an uneventful -- but productive -- flight. Whilst I did not sleep more than a couple of hours on the way over, I did manage to edit a report written by one of my students and finish Susan Howatch's Glittering Images. Thanks to the beauteous [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip for loaning it to me. The book was fluff... but good, fun fluff. Besides, fluff is absolutely perfect for reading on an intercontinental flight! I shall start in on the sequel, Glamorous Powers, when I fly to the States later this month.

It occurs to me that, ten years ago right now, I was also in Japan. I was just two days away from heading home for the summer after spending six of the past seven months here. Looking back at e-mails from ten years ago, I see some things just don't change. For instance, I found this exchange, regarding what to do after my return on a Friday evening, between my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and myself:


C: We should plan on sleeping in on Saturday. :)

N: Nope! Have to run around and do fun things together! Which do you prefer? Statue of Liberty, [Bronx] Zoo, or Aquarium?

C: I'm torn between the Zoo and Liberty. Can we do both? :D

N: Dunno... Possibly not in the same day (but maybe). But there _are_ two days in the weekend, so if we can't do both on Saturday, then we do one and the other on Sunday.

Sound familiar to anyone who knows me now? As they say: The more things change...

Another similarity between July 1999 and July 2009 is that then, just as now, I was looking forward to spending a week at Starwood soon after leaving Japan. As always, it will be great to get away from the mundane world for a week of drums, fire, dancing, swimming, camping, hot tubbing, ritual, and fun... all without the need to wear any clothing!

Oddly enough, it seems like a lot of people will not be making it to Starwood this year... for wholly unrelated reasons. Some people are having surgery, others are taking a different Summer vacation for a change; some people cannot afford the gathering this year, others have to work. There are always reasons why people skip a year -- indeed, I have missed five out of the twelve Starwoods since I began attending in 1998. Yet it is odd how many people will not be there this year. The Pagan Heights community, my "home base" at the gathering, will be basically non-existent. As such, I will likely camp in the Fairy Woods again. Outside of Pagan Heights, there are other people close to me who won't be there, too! Like [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42, who has decided to deprive me of her charming company because she has to work -- what's up with that??! Or the enchanting but mysterious [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae.

As always, I am sure to meet many wonderful new people and I am still very much looking forward to the festival; still, these dear friends will be missed. On the plus side, I will get to spend time with my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup once again! And, having no reason to believe otherwise, I assume that most of the lovely people in the Lansing Pagan Village will be present. There is no reason to believe otherwise... right, people??


[*] Where, once again, I get the joy of barely eating in a country that is so very not suited to a vegetarian! Whee!

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!


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!


Just ducked out of the T2K collaboration meeting party. Now I know what alcoholics feel like!

Until I was twenty-six years old, I was not really an omnivore. I was a carnivore. I ate meat. All the time[*]. In contrast, I only ate four vegetables: spinach, corn, broccoli, potato. I had considered the idea of being a vegetarian, but figured that I simply could not do it. What would I eat?

Eventually, of course, I did pluck up the will to go vegetarian. When I did, I had the good sense to not make the shift "cold turkey." I designed a "three-step plan" that lasted for about twenty-six months. I became full vegetarian at the start of 2004, and have been ever since. It is one of the most difficult things that I have ever done.

Sometimes, in jest, I will say that I am not a vegetarian but, rather, a "recovering carnivore." There is truth in those words. There are several foods that I miss, but most of all is Japanese sushi. Conveniently enough, I have not been in Japan since becoming a vegetarian... until now. Although sushi in the United States isn't bad, it is not in the same league. So resisting the temptation was not too difficult.

Tonight, however, at the collaboration party, there were tables and tables covered with catered sushi platters. One of my colleagues described it as tasting so fresh that "it tastes like it was alive an hour ago."

So, yes, now I know what alcoholics go through.

Indeed, there was also enough beer at this party to make it difficult for a recovering alcoholic. I don't drink... but I never have, so it is not even remotely tempting to me. But the sushi? I was practically having the shakes!

A couple of years ago, I contemplated allowing an exception for sushi if (and only if) I returned to Japan. However, I decided that this is not acceptable. I am a vegetarian. Ethics are not only to be followed when convenient. Nor do I wish to undo all the hard work that I did to give up eating dead animals in the first place.

So, ultimately, I was good. I ate tamago (egg) and some of the few vegetables that were available and fruit[**] and ikura (salmon eggs). CKJ, my graduate advisor, saw me eating ikura and accused me of "cheating." It isn't the first time. People always seem to be surprised when I eat ikura. I really am not sure. I am not vegan. If I eat chicken eggs, why does it surprise people when I eat fish eggs?

The party is still going on, but I left to do some work. Besides, I have limited patience for a party that consists largely of sushi and beer. Indeed, it seems like a waste of the ¥4000 that I paid to get into the party. If I can't eat or drink most of what is there, why bother? Maybe next time I will just not pay and show up anyway to socialise, sans consumption.


[*] Well, not whilst sleeping. But you get the idea.

[**] Including pineapple.


Just ducked out of the T2K collaboration meeting party. Now I know what alcoholics feel like!

Until I was twenty-six years old, I was not really an omnivore. I was a carnivore. I ate meat. All the time[*]. In contrast, I only ate four vegetables: spinach, corn, broccoli, potato. I had considered the idea of being a vegetarian, but figured that I simply could not do it. What would I eat?

Eventually, of course, I did pluck up the will to go vegetarian. When I did, I had the good sense to not make the shift "cold turkey." I designed a "three-step plan" that lasted for about twenty-six months. I became full vegetarian at the start of 2004, and have been ever since. It is one of the most difficult things that I have ever done.

Sometimes, in jest, I will say that I am not a vegetarian but, rather, a "recovering carnivore." There is truth in those words. There are several foods that I miss, but most of all is Japanese sushi. Conveniently enough, I have not been in Japan since becoming a vegetarian... until now. Although sushi in the United States isn't bad, it is not in the same league. So resisting the temptation was not too difficult.

Tonight, however, at the collaboration party, there were tables and tables covered with catered sushi platters. One of my colleagues described it as tasting so fresh that "it tastes like it was alive an hour ago."

So, yes, now I know what alcoholics go through.

Indeed, there was also enough beer at this party to make it difficult for a recovering alcoholic. I don't drink... but I never have, so it is not even remotely tempting to me. But the sushi? I was practically having the shakes!

A couple of years ago, I contemplated allowing an exception for sushi if (and only if) I returned to Japan. However, I decided that this is not acceptable. I am a vegetarian. Ethics are not only to be followed when convenient. Nor do I wish to undo all the hard work that I did to give up eating dead animals in the first place.

So, ultimately, I was good. I ate tamago (egg) and some of the few vegetables that were available and fruit[**] and ikura (salmon eggs). CKJ, my graduate advisor, saw me eating ikura and accused me of "cheating." It isn't the first time. People always seem to be surprised when I eat ikura. I really am not sure. I am not vegan. If I eat chicken eggs, why does it surprise people when I eat fish eggs?

The party is still going on, but I left to do some work. Besides, I have limited patience for a party that consists largely of sushi and beer. Indeed, it seems like a waste of the ¥4000 that I paid to get into the party. If I can't eat or drink most of what is there, why bother? Maybe next time I will just not pay and show up anyway to socialise, sans consumption.


[*] Well, not whilst sleeping. But you get the idea.

[**] Including pineapple.


Utterly fantastic three day weekend! Friday was [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's birthday. She turned six[1]. To celebrate this milestone there was a weekend of festivities revolving around this event.

The fun began on Thursday evening, day zero, when I secretly imported [livejournal.com profile] resourceress from Boston[2]. I conceived this little bit of sneakiness many months ago, and we had been plotting together ever since. When I arrived home with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress in tow, I entered our [as yet unnamed] flat and said: "Hey, Hon? You will never believe who I met on the way home from work today!" Suffice to say, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was quite surprised! Indeed, I believe the words: "This is the best present ever!" may have escaped from her lips. Suddenly, the plans to eat leftovers for dinner were cancelled, and we were on our way to Summertown to celebrate at the Mamma Mia restaurant[3].

On Friday, we all got up early and went into London for a day of museum hopping. We hit the Natural History Museum and the British Museum. At the Natural History Museum, we saw the 2008 Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit. It was, in a way, coming full circle... as we went to the 2005 exhibit shortly after we moved to England. As for the British Museum, this was our first visit... not counting the our visit to the First Emperor special exhibit back in March. Twas good fun, and I now have silly photos of me posing next to the Rosetta Stone, a quartet of Sekmeht statues, et cetera. When they finally kicked us out at 8:30pm, we drove back to Oxford and went out for a very nice birthday dinner at the Pink Giraffe. This is a Chinese restaurant in St. Clement's with an array of exceptionally good fake meat dishes! A most excellent choice!

On Saturday morning, the three of us went to Blenheim Palace to listen to a carol service and see the house decorated for the holidays. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have been there before, of course, but it was the first visit for [livejournal.com profile] resourceress so we did a tour of the house. The choral music was good and some of the holiday decorations were quite stunning -- especially the front hall and the dining room! What amazingly large trees![4]

After leaving the palace, we returned to our flat. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was under the impression that we were going to get changed for lunch at a posh restaurant in the city centre... then drive to Manchester for an unspecified evening performance. Instead, she was greeted by a group of people[5] leaping out at her to yell SURPRISE!!! The party that followed was a huge success! In total, we had eighteen big people, plus two little ones. Indeed, our flat was just about at capacity! I made a grocery run for snacks with JTL... who ended up being a one-woman catering crew! Antipasti, quesadillas, vegetarian sausages -- you name it! She whipped up an amazing feast of snacks!

There were so many memorable moments from the party. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat received a set of jacks for her sixth birthday, which became a surprise party hit! I did learn that (a) jacks are dangerous for somebody with OCD, and (2) I am apparently on my way to becoming a jack shark![6] We also played two games of Werewolf, led by [livejournal.com profile] alextiefling. I was on the winning side both times... though I was killed in each game. Once by my fellow villagers and once by werewolves! I can't catch a break! Several games of Set were also played, and I won the one where I took part.

At the end of the night, we transformed our living room into a slumber party. Eight people slept in our flat that night, and apparently our living room can fit four air mattresses with relative ease! Thanks go out to D&J as well as [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen for loaning us air mattresses; also to [livejournal.com profile] alextiefling and [livejournal.com profile] friend_of_tofu for bringing their own to sleep on!

The party continued into Sunday[7]! After I procured a small feast for breakfast, seven of us headed to the Oxford Castle to see the Earth From The Air art exhibit. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had already been there last month, but we only saw about half of the one hundred and twenty photographs on display[8]. This time, we finished up our viewing and brought friends along to appreciate the art. When finished, we chilled out warmed up in the castle's cafe for a bit. Then [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat led a group of four to the Eagle & Child, whilst I brought the rest of our group on a walking tour of Oxford.

Eventually, the two halves of our party merged again and we went to St. Giles Church for Sunday evening service ringing. [livejournal.com profile] mattp and I rang, whilst the rest of our group watched to see what change bell ringing is all about. For [livejournal.com profile] resourceress, it was a return to the tower, as she was present in July 2006, when I went there for the very first time. With the exception of D&J, we all returned to our flat after the tower bell ringing finished. There, we were joined by JP and L&M for a handbell practice. This was most welcomed by me, as my London commute has prevented me from ringing handbells since late September! Also, everyone present got to have a go at handbell ringing! For [livejournal.com profile] resourceress, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, and [livejournal.com profile] prolificdiarist, this was their first attempts!

Even after the ringing ended at 8:30pm, the party was still going on! I was surprised, but pleased, to see [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's party continue for so long! We made and ate dinner at home, then played a couple of games of Set (I won two and [livejournal.com profile] mattp won one) then a game of Bohnanza ([livejournal.com profile] prolificdiarist won with twenty points, I came in second with seventeen, [livejournal.com profile] mattp and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat each had sixteen).

When our game of Bohnanza ended, it was one o'clock in the morning. The party that had begun thirty-six hours earlier was finally winding down. We brought out the air mattresses once again -- there were still five people sleeping under our roof. By morning, three of us had left to go to work in London, whilst [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat went to her job in central Oxford.

If I do say so myself, this birthday bash was a phenomenal success! Despite all the complex plans, everything went off without a hitch! I was thrilled to hear nearly all the guests enthusiastically tell me what a wonderful time they had at it... and I am so pleased to give my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat such a happy milestone birthday. Thank you to everyone who joined us!! Additionally, the one-two surprise of importing [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and the party qualify this weekend for the list of Big Surprises that I have given to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat through our fourteen years together![9]


[1] In cat years.

[2] Due to a transporter accident, most of her hair ended up staying behind!

[3] No Abba connection -- sorry!

[4] Okay, they may not be large by Rockefeller Center standards... but these were indoors!

[5] One co-conspirator in particular deserves special thanks for arriving early, tidying the flat, and letting everyone in!

[6] No relation to my neighbour, the Headington Shark!

[7] Before it did, however, [livejournal.com profile] mattp and I snuck out early to ring bells at St. Giles Church for the Sunday morning services.

[8] Fifty-three, to be exact.

[9] This is probably the fifth entry on that list.


Utterly fantastic three day weekend! Friday was [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's birthday. She turned six[1]. To celebrate this milestone there was a weekend of festivities revolving around this event.

The fun began on Thursday evening, day zero, when I secretly imported [livejournal.com profile] resourceress from Boston[2]. I conceived this little bit of sneakiness many months ago, and we had been plotting together ever since. When I arrived home with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress in tow, I entered our [as yet unnamed] flat and said: "Hey, Hon? You will never believe who I met on the way home from work today!" Suffice to say, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was quite surprised! Indeed, I believe the words: "This is the best present ever!" may have escaped from her lips. Suddenly, the plans to eat leftovers for dinner were cancelled, and we were on our way to Summertown to celebrate at the Mamma Mia restaurant[3].

On Friday, we all got up early and went into London for a day of museum hopping. We hit the Natural History Museum and the British Museum. At the Natural History Museum, we saw the 2008 Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit. It was, in a way, coming full circle... as we went to the 2005 exhibit shortly after we moved to England. As for the British Museum, this was our first visit... not counting the our visit to the First Emperor special exhibit back in March. Twas good fun, and I now have silly photos of me posing next to the Rosetta Stone, a quartet of Sekmeht statues, et cetera. When they finally kicked us out at 8:30pm, we drove back to Oxford and went out for a very nice birthday dinner at the Pink Giraffe. This is a Chinese restaurant in St. Clement's with an array of exceptionally good fake meat dishes! A most excellent choice!

On Saturday morning, the three of us went to Blenheim Palace to listen to a carol service and see the house decorated for the holidays. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I have been there before, of course, but it was the first visit for [livejournal.com profile] resourceress so we did a tour of the house. The choral music was good and some of the holiday decorations were quite stunning -- especially the front hall and the dining room! What amazingly large trees![4]

After leaving the palace, we returned to our flat. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat was under the impression that we were going to get changed for lunch at a posh restaurant in the city centre... then drive to Manchester for an unspecified evening performance. Instead, she was greeted by a group of people[5] leaping out at her to yell SURPRISE!!! The party that followed was a huge success! In total, we had eighteen big people, plus two little ones. Indeed, our flat was just about at capacity! I made a grocery run for snacks with JTL... who ended up being a one-woman catering crew! Antipasti, quesadillas, vegetarian sausages -- you name it! She whipped up an amazing feast of snacks!

There were so many memorable moments from the party. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat received a set of jacks for her sixth birthday, which became a surprise party hit! I did learn that (a) jacks are dangerous for somebody with OCD, and (2) I am apparently on my way to becoming a jack shark![6] We also played two games of Werewolf, led by [livejournal.com profile] alextiefling. I was on the winning side both times... though I was killed in each game. Once by my fellow villagers and once by werewolves! I can't catch a break! Several games of Set were also played, and I won the one where I took part.

At the end of the night, we transformed our living room into a slumber party. Eight people slept in our flat that night, and apparently our living room can fit four air mattresses with relative ease! Thanks go out to D&J as well as [livejournal.com profile] dr_jen for loaning us air mattresses; also to [livejournal.com profile] alextiefling and [livejournal.com profile] friend_of_tofu for bringing their own to sleep on!

The party continued into Sunday[7]! After I procured a small feast for breakfast, seven of us headed to the Oxford Castle to see the Earth From The Air art exhibit. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had already been there last month, but we only saw about half of the one hundred and twenty photographs on display[8]. This time, we finished up our viewing and brought friends along to appreciate the art. When finished, we chilled out warmed up in the castle's cafe for a bit. Then [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat led a group of four to the Eagle & Child, whilst I brought the rest of our group on a walking tour of Oxford.

Eventually, the two halves of our party merged again and we went to St. Giles Church for Sunday evening service ringing. [livejournal.com profile] mattp and I rang, whilst the rest of our group watched to see what change bell ringing is all about. For [livejournal.com profile] resourceress, it was a return to the tower, as she was present in July 2006, when I went there for the very first time. With the exception of D&J, we all returned to our flat after the tower bell ringing finished. There, we were joined by JP and L&M for a handbell practice. This was most welcomed by me, as my London commute has prevented me from ringing handbells since late September! Also, everyone present got to have a go at handbell ringing! For [livejournal.com profile] resourceress, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, and [livejournal.com profile] prolificdiarist, this was their first attempts!

Even after the ringing ended at 8:30pm, the party was still going on! I was surprised, but pleased, to see [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's party continue for so long! We made and ate dinner at home, then played a couple of games of Set (I won two and [livejournal.com profile] mattp won one) then a game of Bohnanza ([livejournal.com profile] prolificdiarist won with twenty points, I came in second with seventeen, [livejournal.com profile] mattp and [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat each had sixteen).

When our game of Bohnanza ended, it was one o'clock in the morning. The party that had begun thirty-six hours earlier was finally winding down. We brought out the air mattresses once again -- there were still five people sleeping under our roof. By morning, three of us had left to go to work in London, whilst [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat went to her job in central Oxford.

If I do say so myself, this birthday bash was a phenomenal success! Despite all the complex plans, everything went off without a hitch! I was thrilled to hear nearly all the guests enthusiastically tell me what a wonderful time they had at it... and I am so pleased to give my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat such a happy milestone birthday. Thank you to everyone who joined us!! Additionally, the one-two surprise of importing [livejournal.com profile] resourceress and the party qualify this weekend for the list of Big Surprises that I have given to [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat through our fourteen years together![9]


[1] In cat years.

[2] Due to a transporter accident, most of her hair ended up staying behind!

[3] No Abba connection -- sorry!

[4] Okay, they may not be large by Rockefeller Center standards... but these were indoors!

[5] One co-conspirator in particular deserves special thanks for arriving early, tidying the flat, and letting everyone in!

[6] No relation to my neighbour, the Headington Shark!

[7] Before it did, however, [livejournal.com profile] mattp and I snuck out early to ring bells at St. Giles Church for the Sunday morning services.

[8] Fifty-three, to be exact.

[9] This is probably the fifth entry on that list.


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Just got back from the OUSCR Cheese & Wine BBQ party.

There appears to be a bit of a theme going on this weekend. Tonight was the aforementioned OUS BBQ party. Tomorrow I will be driving up to Birming'am[*] for a BBQ party to celebrate [livejournal.com profile] thehalibutkid's birthday. And Sunday, assuming the weather is good and I am not feeling sick of them, there is a Pool & BBQ party. Can you guess the theme for this weekend?[**]

Anyway, back to tonight: At the end of each term, the OUS always has a cheese and wine party[***]. Since today was the last day of Trinity Term -- and the academic year -- the C&W was also a BBQ party. So we started at about 7:30 with a cheese party... and, in time, it morphed into meat (and meatless meat) party. Further on, the meat party transformed into a dance party[****]. Good deal, as I had not been dancing since BiFest last month. Some time around midnight, the dance party slowly started to change into a lots-of-people-gathered-around-a-computer-monitor-looking-at-pictures party. Which was not nearly as much fun. By about 1am, there was nobody dancing except me and one other person; the change to a LOPGAACMLAP party was complete. To me, that made a natural point for departure.

Overall, a fun evening. Now off to bed after I post this and then up to Birming'am[*] tomorrow. Sadly, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] redandfiery has temporarily fled from Birming'am to France -- can't say that I blame her -- so I will not be graced with her presence. Alas! But it will be good to see [livejournal.com profile] thehalibutkid and the extremely cuddly [livejournal.com profile] sanjibabes and [livejournal.com profile] oilrig and lots of other nifty people!

Right. Two more things, completely unrelated, and then I sleep:

Thing the first -- Yesterday evening, at St. Giles, I rang on an inside bell (the #3) in a plain course of Grandsire Doubles. This was a first for me and, thus, is noteworthy.

Thing the second -- It has come to my attention that there are people who are unaware of why my flat is named Skullcrusher Mountain. If you have not yet heard the brilliant song of the same name by Jonathan Coulton, I can only forgive you if you click here and listen to it now! It's safe, it's legal, and -- trust me -- it's worth the three minutes of your life that it will take to listen...

Sleepytime now. Assuming that anyone is still awake and reading this, good night.

[*] Apparently Brits pronounce "herbs" with the first letter because, as they say, there's an "h" in it... but they don't apply the same logic to "Birmingham", which -- you may have noticed -- also has an "h" in it.

[**] No, there will be no points for guessing this one. Too easy. C'mon, people, there are valuable prizes at stake with these points! Can't just give them away!

[***] Not to be confused with the Fermilab Wine & Cheese, which is a series of seminars.

[****] It is worth noting that, through all these transitions, the wine was a constant presence.


Just got back from the OUSCR Cheese & Wine BBQ party.

There appears to be a bit of a theme going on this weekend. Tonight was the aforementioned OUS BBQ party. Tomorrow I will be driving up to Birming'am[*] for a BBQ party to celebrate [livejournal.com profile] thehalibutkid's birthday. And Sunday, assuming the weather is good and I am not feeling sick of them, there is a Pool & BBQ party. Can you guess the theme for this weekend?[**]

Anyway, back to tonight: At the end of each term, the OUS always has a cheese and wine party[***]. Since today was the last day of Trinity Term -- and the academic year -- the C&W was also a BBQ party. So we started at about 7:30 with a cheese party... and, in time, it morphed into meat (and meatless meat) party. Further on, the meat party transformed into a dance party[****]. Good deal, as I had not been dancing since BiFest last month. Some time around midnight, the dance party slowly started to change into a lots-of-people-gathered-around-a-computer-monitor-looking-at-pictures party. Which was not nearly as much fun. By about 1am, there was nobody dancing except me and one other person; the change to a LOPGAACMLAP party was complete. To me, that made a natural point for departure.

Overall, a fun evening. Now off to bed after I post this and then up to Birming'am[*] tomorrow. Sadly, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] redandfiery has temporarily fled from Birming'am to France -- can't say that I blame her -- so I will not be graced with her presence. Alas! But it will be good to see [livejournal.com profile] thehalibutkid and the extremely cuddly [livejournal.com profile] sanjibabes and [livejournal.com profile] oilrig and lots of other nifty people!

Right. Two more things, completely unrelated, and then I sleep:

Thing the first -- Yesterday evening, at St. Giles, I rang on an inside bell (the #3) in a plain course of Grandsire Doubles. This was a first for me and, thus, is noteworthy.

Thing the second -- It has come to my attention that there are people who are unaware of why my flat is named Skullcrusher Mountain. If you have not yet heard the brilliant song of the same name by Jonathan Coulton, I can only forgive you if you click here and listen to it now! It's safe, it's legal, and -- trust me -- it's worth the three minutes of your life that it will take to listen...

Sleepytime now. Assuming that anyone is still awake and reading this, good night.

[*] Apparently Brits pronounce "herbs" with the first letter because, as they say, there's an "h" in it... but they don't apply the same logic to "Birmingham", which -- you may have noticed -- also has an "h" in it.

[**] No, there will be no points for guessing this one. Too easy. C'mon, people, there are valuable prizes at stake with these points! Can't just give them away!

[***] Not to be confused with the Fermilab Wine & Cheese, which is a series of seminars.

[****] It is worth noting that, through all these transitions, the wine was a constant presence.


Spring is here, spring is here! Life is skittles and life is beer!

With apologies to all my dear friends in the Midwest, who are being buried under ludicrous amounts of snow, the weather here in southern England has been just amazing lately. The temperature is warm and the skies are sunny and clear. I have been wearing a lighter coat when I go out... or sometimes no coat at all. Perhaps it is premature to declare winter over... but I am going to do so anyway!

So what has the Nomad been doing in all this gloriously warm weather? Not posting in his LiveJournal often, that much is certain. Let's see if I can briefly catch the world up on my comings and goings.

Saturday was Brighton BiFest )

Sunday was a lazy morning, and we did not get out of bed until after noon. When we did, I drove [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic to a date with one of her other boyfriends. I made the following observation: It is a good sign that polyamory is working well is when, at the end of one date, your boyfriend drives you to a date with somebody else. Hooray for healthy relationships! After dropping her off, I drove back to Oxford under much the same conditions -- sun, speed, and singing to loud music -- that I had enjoyed on my way to Brighton the day before.

Sunday afternoon turned out to be less busy than originally planned. I had expected C&M to come over for a long walk -- we need to start training for our next attempt to walk across the Isle of Wight in May -- and to play Puerto Rico with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Then I was expecting to ring bells for services at St. Giles and to end the evening with a swim. I did ring bells, but all the other plans fell through. C&M canceled at the last minute and by the time the pool was open, I was feeling tired and decided to postpone for a day. Besides, I realised that Sunday was the last day that I had no plans until Saturday February 23rd[*] and I should take advantage of that. So, except for bell ringing, I stayed in and took care of boring-but-necessary household chores. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I also spent some fun time together: We played a low scoring game of Bohnanza (I won 10 to 8) and a game of Skip Bo (she won 30 to 17), then ended the day, by watching several episodes of Smallville.

Monday was a fairly ordinary work day. Nothing terribly exciting to report. I have undertaken to execute a set of major changes in the hardware attached to the K-400 cryostat; thus, there was no cooldown last week and will not be one this week, either. In the evening, I headed to the sports centre, jumped in the pool, and swam the mile that I had defrayed from the previous day.

Today, I spent a very large portion of my day finalising my application for another two years to remain in the United Kingdom. After [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat double checks it, it should be ready to go into the mail tomorrow. Time to cross fingers. I also spent some time outside, running various and sundry errands. This was somewhat deliberate, as I wished to take in the still-spectacular weather. In less than an hour, I will head out for this evening's activity: bell ringing practice with the OUSCR at Mary Mag. Also, later tonight, I have a phone "date" scheduled with the delightful [livejournal.com profile] frogcastle. We are currently in the midst of our longest separation, which will continue for another couple of months, so it will be very good to hear my Beloved's sweet voice once again.

Oh, and although I cannot go into detail in a public forum, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat continues to rock mightily!

[*] Oddly enough, despite a fairly full calendar, I seem to have no plans at all for the weekend of Feb 23/24. I am open to ideas and suggestions if anyone knows something nifty that is going on (within a two hundred mile radius of Oxford). However, I suspect that after being continually on the go for twelve days running, it would not be terrible if I stayed in that weekend to rest and deal with mundanities.

Spring is here, spring is here! Life is skittles and life is beer!

With apologies to all my dear friends in the Midwest, who are being buried under ludicrous amounts of snow, the weather here in southern England has been just amazing lately. The temperature is warm and the skies are sunny and clear. I have been wearing a lighter coat when I go out... or sometimes no coat at all. Perhaps it is premature to declare winter over... but I am going to do so anyway!

So what has the Nomad been doing in all this gloriously warm weather? Not posting in his LiveJournal often, that much is certain. Let's see if I can briefly catch the world up on my comings and goings.

Saturday was Brighton BiFest )

Sunday was a lazy morning, and we did not get out of bed until after noon. When we did, I drove [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic to a date with one of her other boyfriends. I made the following observation: It is a good sign that polyamory is working well is when, at the end of one date, your boyfriend drives you to a date with somebody else. Hooray for healthy relationships! After dropping her off, I drove back to Oxford under much the same conditions -- sun, speed, and singing to loud music -- that I had enjoyed on my way to Brighton the day before.

Sunday afternoon turned out to be less busy than originally planned. I had expected C&M to come over for a long walk -- we need to start training for our next attempt to walk across the Isle of Wight in May -- and to play Puerto Rico with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. Then I was expecting to ring bells for services at St. Giles and to end the evening with a swim. I did ring bells, but all the other plans fell through. C&M canceled at the last minute and by the time the pool was open, I was feeling tired and decided to postpone for a day. Besides, I realised that Sunday was the last day that I had no plans until Saturday February 23rd[*] and I should take advantage of that. So, except for bell ringing, I stayed in and took care of boring-but-necessary household chores. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I also spent some fun time together: We played a low scoring game of Bohnanza (I won 10 to 8) and a game of Skip Bo (she won 30 to 17), then ended the day, by watching several episodes of Smallville.

Monday was a fairly ordinary work day. Nothing terribly exciting to report. I have undertaken to execute a set of major changes in the hardware attached to the K-400 cryostat; thus, there was no cooldown last week and will not be one this week, either. In the evening, I headed to the sports centre, jumped in the pool, and swam the mile that I had defrayed from the previous day.

Today, I spent a very large portion of my day finalising my application for another two years to remain in the United Kingdom. After [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat double checks it, it should be ready to go into the mail tomorrow. Time to cross fingers. I also spent some time outside, running various and sundry errands. This was somewhat deliberate, as I wished to take in the still-spectacular weather. In less than an hour, I will head out for this evening's activity: bell ringing practice with the OUSCR at Mary Mag. Also, later tonight, I have a phone "date" scheduled with the delightful [livejournal.com profile] frogcastle. We are currently in the midst of our longest separation, which will continue for another couple of months, so it will be very good to hear my Beloved's sweet voice once again.

Oh, and although I cannot go into detail in a public forum, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat continues to rock mightily!

[*] Oddly enough, despite a fairly full calendar, I seem to have no plans at all for the weekend of Feb 23/24. I am open to ideas and suggestions if anyone knows something nifty that is going on (within a two hundred mile radius of Oxford). However, I suspect that after being continually on the go for twelve days running, it would not be terrible if I stayed in that weekend to rest and deal with mundanities.

Only one chute this time, but it is a big one. I shall start with the ladders:

Ladder: Earlier this week, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat used some Quorn Mince to whip up some sloppy joes. They were delicious! I have a soft spot, left over from my misspent youth, for sloppy joes... but, due to my vegetarianess[*], have not eaten any since a trip to the Chicago Diner in 2005. Kudos to Chesh for making such a yummy dinner!

Ladder: The days are finally noticeably longer. As of Monday (Feb 4), the number of daylight hours in Oxford is finally longer than that of the shortest day in my hometown of New Yawk City. With each passing day, about three more minutes of sunlight is added, too.

Ladder: Yesterday evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I played another round of Bohnanza. This is a game where she is better than I... but I did manage to win for once, with fifteen points to her nine.

Ladder: My application to extend our UK visas for another two years is almost ready to be submitted. I spent a fair bit of time on this today, and the form is in pretty decent shape now. Hopefully I can mail it to the Home Office by Monday. Assuming this succeeds -- and, with my Highly Skilled Migrant status, it is likely -- then we will be allowed to remain here until March 2010. At that point, I will need to re-apply for Highly Skilled Status and re-apply for visas for another year. If that all works out, then in March of 2011 -- five years after [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I first arrived -- we can apply for indefinite leave to remain... and eventually citizenship. So far, things look optimistic on this front, though it makes me appreciate the experience of being an immigrant and makes me very angry at folks (like my mum) who carry an anti-immigrant chip on their shoulders. Short of getting married for a green card (or the foreign equivalent[**]), I am about as privileged an immigrant as you can get: a doctorate, a job at one of the top two universities in this country, citizenship from a rich nation, and financial assets. And I am still investing large amounts of time to make things fall into place. I can only imagine how horrific it must be for those in a less fortunate position.

Ladder: During handbell practice at St. Giles tonight, I rang the tenors -- that is, the #5 and #6 bells -- on a plain course of Little Bob Minor for the first time. It went well. I also rang the trebles for a touch of the same. On tower bells, I realised that I am getting quite good at ringing the #2 bell for a plain course of Plain Bob Minor -- and even managed it without a covering tenor behind us (to tell me who to lead off of). To be fair, I have an extremely good memory for numbers and am definitely using it as a crutch. The #3 bell follows the same pattern but has a different starting point, so I doubt I could ring that bell for this method. I need to force myself to learn standard skills, like ropesight, that ringers with a less spectacular memory employ... and I made a request of JP tonight that should help me do exactly that. Meanwhile, I am having good fun at seeing all the spiffy new things that I can do.

Chute: By a terrible coincidence, Foxy and The Boy are both experiencing health problems, so soon after Totoro's death. These are not related incidents, as Totoro passed from renal failure and the other two have very different problems. Foxy (see icon) is losing weight at a dangerously fast pace. She was eight pounds when she moved to Oxford in Aug 2006. She was seven pounds two weeks ago. She was six and a half pounds this week. Her coat looks terrible. Other than that, her behaviour is quite normal. She is active[***] and affectionate and talkative. She does not appear to be in pain. We are simultaneously very nervous and hopeful this is a thyroid condition. There is evidence -- though not yet proof -- of this diagnosis, and it would be a treatable problem. Meanwhile, The Boy has a growth in his mouth that is increasing in size. We need to have it removed and biopsied to see if it is benign. Other than that, he seems perfectly normal... but the fear of a cancerous tumor is haunting us. The surgery to remove this growth is about £250. Already, since New Years Eve, we have spent £410 on veterinary bills. Although I worry about The Boy, our "war chest" is shrinking and so we are waiting to see what Foxy needs -- as she seems in the more precarious position -- before committing money to this surgery. It is a very delicate balance, and quite nerve wracking. I do not know how I would cope if I lost another kitty so soon. Any good thoughts or energy that you may wish to spare for my little ones would be well appreciated.

Ladder: On the other side of the pond, we have three kitties, as well. Nona chose [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism to be her human and, thus, relocated from the Event Horizon to Nebraska when [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism did. She seems to be settling in quite well. [livejournal.com profile] gyades brought Stumpy to the vet this week for a rabies shot -- thus ensuring that she is still eligible to fly to the UK -- and she was pronounced to be in excellent health. Thank goodness! I am not sure how many more feline medical crises I could cope with. Chirp was elusive and, thus, is still due for a vet visit. I will keep fingers crossed, though I do not believe that there is any reason to be concerned about her well being.[****]

[*] Hmmmm... should "vegetarianness" have one or two "n"s in it?

[**] I do still tend to think in US-based terms. It is a bad habit, I know...

[***] For a cat that is three months away from her fourteenth birthday.

[****] Other than the fact that she is chronically obese. But that is not news.


Only one chute this time, but it is a big one. I shall start with the ladders:

Ladder: Earlier this week, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat used some Quorn Mince to whip up some sloppy joes. They were delicious! I have a soft spot, left over from my misspent youth, for sloppy joes... but, due to my vegetarianess[*], have not eaten any since a trip to the Chicago Diner in 2005. Kudos to Chesh for making such a yummy dinner!

Ladder: The days are finally noticeably longer. As of Monday (Feb 4), the number of daylight hours in Oxford is finally longer than that of the shortest day in my hometown of New Yawk City. With each passing day, about three more minutes of sunlight is added, too.

Ladder: Yesterday evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I played another round of Bohnanza. This is a game where she is better than I... but I did manage to win for once, with fifteen points to her nine.

Ladder: My application to extend our UK visas for another two years is almost ready to be submitted. I spent a fair bit of time on this today, and the form is in pretty decent shape now. Hopefully I can mail it to the Home Office by Monday. Assuming this succeeds -- and, with my Highly Skilled Migrant status, it is likely -- then we will be allowed to remain here until March 2010. At that point, I will need to re-apply for Highly Skilled Status and re-apply for visas for another year. If that all works out, then in March of 2011 -- five years after [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I first arrived -- we can apply for indefinite leave to remain... and eventually citizenship. So far, things look optimistic on this front, though it makes me appreciate the experience of being an immigrant and makes me very angry at folks (like my mum) who carry an anti-immigrant chip on their shoulders. Short of getting married for a green card (or the foreign equivalent[**]), I am about as privileged an immigrant as you can get: a doctorate, a job at one of the top two universities in this country, citizenship from a rich nation, and financial assets. And I am still investing large amounts of time to make things fall into place. I can only imagine how horrific it must be for those in a less fortunate position.

Ladder: During handbell practice at St. Giles tonight, I rang the tenors -- that is, the #5 and #6 bells -- on a plain course of Little Bob Minor for the first time. It went well. I also rang the trebles for a touch of the same. On tower bells, I realised that I am getting quite good at ringing the #2 bell for a plain course of Plain Bob Minor -- and even managed it without a covering tenor behind us (to tell me who to lead off of). To be fair, I have an extremely good memory for numbers and am definitely using it as a crutch. The #3 bell follows the same pattern but has a different starting point, so I doubt I could ring that bell for this method. I need to force myself to learn standard skills, like ropesight, that ringers with a less spectacular memory employ... and I made a request of JP tonight that should help me do exactly that. Meanwhile, I am having good fun at seeing all the spiffy new things that I can do.

Chute: By a terrible coincidence, Foxy and The Boy are both experiencing health problems, so soon after Totoro's death. These are not related incidents, as Totoro passed from renal failure and the other two have very different problems. Foxy (see icon) is losing weight at a dangerously fast pace. She was eight pounds when she moved to Oxford in Aug 2006. She was seven pounds two weeks ago. She was six and a half pounds this week. Her coat looks terrible. Other than that, her behaviour is quite normal. She is active[***] and affectionate and talkative. She does not appear to be in pain. We are simultaneously very nervous and hopeful this is a thyroid condition. There is evidence -- though not yet proof -- of this diagnosis, and it would be a treatable problem. Meanwhile, The Boy has a growth in his mouth that is increasing in size. We need to have it removed and biopsied to see if it is benign. Other than that, he seems perfectly normal... but the fear of a cancerous tumor is haunting us. The surgery to remove this growth is about £250. Already, since New Years Eve, we have spent £410 on veterinary bills. Although I worry about The Boy, our "war chest" is shrinking and so we are waiting to see what Foxy needs -- as she seems in the more precarious position -- before committing money to this surgery. It is a very delicate balance, and quite nerve wracking. I do not know how I would cope if I lost another kitty so soon. Any good thoughts or energy that you may wish to spare for my little ones would be well appreciated.

Ladder: On the other side of the pond, we have three kitties, as well. Nona chose [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism to be her human and, thus, relocated from the Event Horizon to Nebraska when [livejournal.com profile] polymorphism did. She seems to be settling in quite well. [livejournal.com profile] gyades brought Stumpy to the vet this week for a rabies shot -- thus ensuring that she is still eligible to fly to the UK -- and she was pronounced to be in excellent health. Thank goodness! I am not sure how many more feline medical crises I could cope with. Chirp was elusive and, thus, is still due for a vet visit. I will keep fingers crossed, though I do not believe that there is any reason to be concerned about her well being.[****]

[*] Hmmmm... should "vegetarianness" have one or two "n"s in it?

[**] I do still tend to think in US-based terms. It is a bad habit, I know...

[***] For a cat that is three months away from her fourteenth birthday.

[****] Other than the fact that she is chronically obese. But that is not news.


anarchist_nomad: (Sunset over Key West)
( Jan. 12th, 2008 02:18 am)
LADDER: I bought [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat an origami kit this week, to give her something fun to do while she convalesces from her injury. She seems to like it quite a bit, and it very good at it, too. She might end up needing a second book on the topic soon.

CHUTE: We have an altar or a shrine set up to Totoro now. We burn a candle on it daily. Also on the altar is Totoro's collar, a catnip mouse that we had purchased for him in the States (which he never got to use), and a stuffed knit likeness of Totoro that [livejournal.com profile] resourceress gave to me last month, for Yule. I miss my kitty, and I think that both Foxy and The Boy miss him, too. Anyone with more Totoro stories to share, please let me know. We are collecting them and will compile them when we have enough. It is one of the ways that [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I are working through this tragedy.

LADDER: Much as I hate to do product placement in this journal, I must say that Quorn mince is some very good stuff. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat made an excellent dinner for us last night -- pasta with a hearty "meat" sauce. Tasted fantastic... and we both independently realised that, with a slightly higher mince-to-sauce ration, we could make veggie sloppy joes. I have not had a sloppy joe in years!

CHUTE: This week's cooldown in the K-400 had to be aborted because the 1K pot was evaporating helium at a very rapid pace. This is the first failed cooldown in a very long time -- such a nice change from the first nine months, where the fridge did not work at all -- but it does irritate me. I have a couple of hypotheses as to what happened, but I will not know for sure until next week, when I break open the cryostat and take a look inside.

LADDER: Tonight, we took C&M out for dinner, to thank them for their recent help with cat care and for rides to and from Heathrow. We had a yummy Indian meal on North Parade (which, long time readers of this journal may recall, is south of South Parade). Then we came back to Skullcrusher Mountain to play Puerto Rico. It was a very odd game, and I played with nothing at all like my usual strategy. It worked, though -- I won with sixty-four points. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat came in second with fifty-five. M had forty-nine, and C had forty-two.

LADDER: Tomorrow, [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic is arriving from London for a weekend visit. This makes me both excited and happy. Need I say more?
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