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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the runner ups are...

(click for full-sized version)


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

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

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

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

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

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


(click for full-sized version)


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Writing this entry from a motel off Interstate-80 in the middle of Ohio. [livejournal.com profile] gyades and I are bunking down here for the night before finishing our journey to Lansing, Michigan tomorrow... where we shall see in the new year (and decade) with the sweet & adorable [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup!

I expect this to be the penultimate post of the decade for me. Tomorrow will conclude the year properly with my final entry on 2009 statistics and the year-in-review. Meanwhile, as we wait for our pizza to arrive, here is a summary of the Nomad 2009 Decemberween Five State US Tour... so far! Three states down, and two more to do!

Day One: (Wed Dec 23) Started my trip with an unexpected flight to New York City. Upon landing, instead of driving eight hundred miles, I spent a nice mellow evening in Staten Island with Mom.

Day Two: (Thu Dec 24) Christmas Eve is nearly always spent at my uncle's house in New Jersey. This family tradition has been in place since my father and uncle moved to the States circa 1970 -- years before I was born. The other family tradition (i.e., arriving late) was also in full swing; dinner did not begin until 21:30 because that was when my sister and her boyfriend finally arrived! There were fifteen of us present, and we still cover four generations.

My bio-family (father's side)


High points for this year included the return of the carol singing session and replacing the gift card exchange of recent years with a highly amusing White Elephant. The low point was when Dad surprised me by asking whatever happened to the cat that I spent $3000 on in medical bills last year. In answer to this tactless question, I softly replied: "She died." Dad responded by laughing -- I was flabbergasted. After thirty-four years, I know his shortcomings as a father... and this is not normal. Perhaps he had had too much to drink?

Day Three: (Fri Dec 25) Upon waking, my uncle insisted on cooking me a large breakfast. Then it was out the door and embarking on the drive to Boston, to spend Christmas Day with the family of my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. I arrived at 14:00 -- just in time to settle in before dinner. It was very odd to be there without my dear [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat, but everyone was very warm and welcoming all the same. I find that I rather like the tradition of spending Christmas Eve in New Jersey with my family and Christmas Day in Boston with hers. We have been doing this for several years now and it works well!

Day Four: (Sat Dec 26) Spent the day with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat's aunt and uncle. We sat and talked, we played two games of dominoes (I lost at both), and they took me out to dinner. Some time after dinner, I said my farewells and drove a short distance to drop in on [livejournal.com profile] onebrightroad. We got ice cream for dessert, exchanged gifts, and talked for a bit -- joined in part by [livejournal.com profile] sunastria. It was..... interesting.

Day Five: (Sun Dec 27) Drove back to Staten Island and spent the day with Mom and the Kiddo. Some quality family time... and it means a lot to Mom to have both her children under one roof. With the Kiddo living in California and me in England, that no longer happens very often.

Day Six: (Mon Dec 28) Exchanged presents with Mom and the Kiddo. Brought the Kiddo to the cemetery where Teta is buried, as he had not been since she died. In the evening, I drove into Manhattan to have dinner with Dad, one of my aunts, and one of my cousins. The latter two I had not seen in many years. During the drive to Manhattan, the clear sky offered me some stunning views of the New York City skyline. Despite having grown up in the city, its beauty never fails to impress me. The dinner was at a very posh vegetarian restaurant... and was delicious! As for the company? Well, Dad was much better behaved, and it was good to reconnect to my aunt (who lives in Egypt) and her son (who lives in New Jersey) after so many years. Following the meal, I went back to Dad's condo on the upper East side for a few hours before returning to Mom's apartment for the night.

Day Seven: (Tue Dec 29) This day marked the transition from family to friends. In the morning, I met up with the adorable [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and we headed into Manhattan for our annual romp around the Christmas-decorated city. Along the way, we picked up her husband, A, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious, and the marvelous [livejournal.com profile] ms_redcat. We began in Madison Square Park, where we fed peanuts to the squirrels. Then we got lunch -- and got warm -- at a diner before making our way to Macy's to see the story windows there and to ride the wooden escalators. Next stop was the Christmas windows at Lord & Taylors, followed by a taxi uptown. Getting out at Radio City Music Hall, we took in the holiday decorations before strolling over to Rockefeller Center. There, we admired the tree and the skaters... then crossed the Fifth Avenue to see the story windows at Sak's and watch the giant snowflakes light up and dance to the Carol of the Bells. Here are some pictures from the evening:

Weird alien Christmas trees near Radio City Music Hall


Squeeky and me -- we've got balls!


The tree, close up and far away!


Note the nearly full moon in the background on the close-up shot of the Rockefeller Center tree... and the statue of Prometheus below it in the distant shot! Also, it is worth noting that this is very nearly the same shot, taken three years ago, that became my default icon!

To finish off the day, we had a delightful dinner at a Mexican restaurant in St. Mark's Place before heading back to Jersey City to crash for the night.

Day Eight: (Wed Dec 30) In the morning, I saw my dear [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 off to work, then spent some time with her husband, A. In the afternoon, the ever-awesome [livejournal.com profile] gyades picked me up and we drove from Jersey City to the motel in Ohio where I currently write. The drive was generally pleasant, and it was very good to have some time to catch up with such a close friend.

Now, it is off to bed with me! Tomorrow, we finish the drive to Michigan and ring out the year with my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup and, I hope, many other wonderful people from the Lansing crowd! So, gentle readers, I wish you all a very good night!
Writing this entry from Mom's apartment in Staten Island. Not where I had expected to be right now (see below), but all is well. It is just past eight o'clock in the morning, and the sun is shining so brightly in the clear sky that I do not need to turn on any other lights. Yes, I am definitely not in England anymore!

This delightful sunlight makes for a very nice change from Oxford... where, at this time of the year, the sun would not even have risen yet at this time of the day.[1] Despite being less than three days past the Solstice, the trip South has lengthened my days by about an hour and a half... to levels that will not be seen in England until early February! I do not return to Oxford until mid-January, so the Darkest part of my year is finally over! Huzzah! By the time I arrive home again, the length of the day there will be over half an hour longer than it was when I left![2]

As for what I said above, about not having expected to be here? Tis true, my travel plans worked out much differently than I had anticipated. Last year, I designed a plan that was both intricate and delicate -- after celebrating Yule in Oxford, I flew to Chicago on almost no sleep on December 22nd... then immediately drove Lucretia II straight through the night, making the eight hundred mile journey to have a date in Manhattan with [livejournal.com profile] perspicacious on the 23rd. So many things could have gone wrong: The plane could have been delayed, the car -- not having been used for half a year -- could have failed to start, a snowstorm could have prevented me from making the drive, utter fatigue could have inhibited my trek. There was no wiggle room on time, as this very special date[3] took place just after I arrived in the States and just before she went South to North Carolina for Christmas. Happily, all the different parts of this scheme were executed flawlessly... and the plan went forth without a hitch!

This year's plan was modeled on what I did last year: Fly from London to Chicago on December 23rd to get the car from the Event Horizon... then drive eight hundred miles to arrive at my uncle's house in New Jersey for our family's traditional Christmas Eve celebration on the evening of the 24th. If anything, this year's plan was more robust than last year -- Lucretia II has been driven and serviced recently, thanks to the awesome [livejournal.com profile] gyades, and our Christmas Eve does not begin until the evening... giving many hours of wiggle room and even time to sleep at a hotel, if I was too tired to make the long drive in one shot! Everything should have been just fine!

Then cue Robbie Burns.

At four o'clock yesterday morning, I kissed a sleepy-but-adorable [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat farewell... then left the Flat With No Name with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip, who saw me off on the coach to Heathrow. Arrived with just barely enough time to check in for my 07:30 Iberia flight, which would have me hopping to Madrid for an hour, then connecting on to Chicago. All seemed well until the nice man at the check-in counter told me that the flight to Madrid had been delayed for an hour. Hurm. An hour delay with an hour connection? That didn't sound good. He checked to see if Madrid to Chicago leg was delayed, too. Nope. Hurm again.

With my original flight plan impossible, and entirely the fault of the airline, they tried to rebook me on a different flight. Alas, it being two days before Christmas, nothing suitable could be found. However, I am a creative Nomad, so I asked if there was anything they could do to get me to New York City. The nice man at the ticket window checked... and hit paydirt! There was a direct 10:30 American flight from Heathrow to JFK... and I was going to be on it! Heck, I even had an aisle seat! With my flight now sorted, I had a couple of hours at the airport to re-arrange my other plans accordingly -- the Chicago cats needed somebody else to look in on them[4], since I could not make it; Mom needed to know that I was going to be dropping in on her later in the day! Then it was an uneventful flight where I mostly slept and chatted with the cute woman in the seat next to me,[5] who was also going home to New York for the holidays.

Despite leaving Heathrow three hours later than planned, the direct flight meant that I landed at JFK about two hours before I had originally been scheduled to touch down at O'Hare. I hopped a taxi to Mom's apartment, and we had a very nice evening together before I finally collapsed from utter exhaustion at about nine o'clock.

I woke up a short while ago after nearly ten hours sleep -- it is amazing what a difference a little bit of rest makes! Having slept a total of about three hours, in the form of assorted short naps, during the fifty hours between waking up on Monday morning and flying out of London on Wednesday[6]... well, is it any wonder that I finally collapsed last night?

Overall, I must confess that the change of plans seems to have been mostly an improvement. I avoided an eight hundred mile drive and, in its place, I spent an extra evening with Mom. It is also a very welcome change to begin my December blitz through the States without suffering from sleep deprivation! It is true that, as a result, I have no car right now. Once again, though, it is Mom to the rescue -- she is lending me her car for three days so that I can go to New Jersey tonight for Christmas Eve and Boston tomorrow for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Unfortunately, I may not be able to get myself to to Ohio for my date with the charming [livejournal.com profile] livetbd on December 30th. That is quite sad... but at least I should be able to hop a ride from New York to Michigan with the still-awesome [livejournal.com profile] gyades in time to see the beautiful [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup for New Year's Eve!

A post involving upcoming social events in New York and Chicago is soon to follow. Before then, though, I need to hop in the shower and wrap presents in preparation for the big family gathering tonight at my uncle's house in New Jersey! So, gentle readers, a Merry Christmas [Eve] to all, and to all a good morning!


[1] I am taking the time change into account here and referring to time of day, not absolute time. I am well aware that, as I write this, it is about one o'clock in the afternoon in Oxford and so the sun has indeed rising... albeit probably behind a thick gray wall of clouds!

[2] Though, I might add, it will still be nearly an hour shorter than it is for me today, here in New York!

[3] Her first Christmas outing in New York City!

[4] Many thanks to the incredible [livejournal.com profile] xirpha for taking care of this!!

[5] She even gave me her phone number and e-mail address so that I can ping her if I ever go to visit Brussels. Not bad considering that I was half asleep and wearing sloppy travelling clothes for the journey!

[6] I should note that this was done with only one medium-sized can of Red Bull for caffeine, during the drive to Stonehenge on Tuesday morning. Recently, I was wondering if my ability to stay awake for long hours had been attenuating with age. I think that this stint of non-sleep gives me a fairly definitive answer to that question: No, it has not! Apparently, I can stay awake at least as well as I used to be able to in my teens and early twenties!

Back in Oxford now. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I returned to the Flat With No Name a few hours ago, following our respective overnight trans-Atlantic journeys.

My, my -- there does seem to be a bit of dust on this journal, doesn't there? I suppose I should not be too surprised that I did not have much chance to go online whilst I was Stateside. Not much point in travelling if one is going to sit with a computer everywhere, now is there?

My October US tour deserves at least one dedicated write up. However, such will have to wait until tomorrow. Right now, I am very sleepy from the overnight flight and trying to stay awake long enough to avoid having jetlag from this journey. I also have bell ringing practice in a little over an hour. So, for the nonce, here is just a simple summary of my trip...

Nomad's 2009 October US TourTM had five parts:
  1. Part One: Manhattan (1 day)
    In which your friendly neighborhood Nomad takes [livejournal.com profile] bunnypip on a whirlwind tour of some of his favourite Big Apple sights! Includes the Staten Island Ferry, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and more!

  2. Part Two: P**T*** (4 days)
    In which everyone's favourite Nomad returns -- for the thirteenth consecutive year -- to the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan festival! Far too many people to mention all of them here! Highlights included running a main ritual based on Sondheim's Into The Woods musical, attempting to teach the art of change ringing on handbells, facilitating a very interesting discussion on polyamorous parenting... and being elected -- with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat -- to the presidency of the Institute Board. Which means, in plain language, that we are the "suckers" who have to organize the festival for next year!

  3. Part Three: Staten Island (2 days)
    In which the Nomad fills filial obligations by spending some quality time with his bio-family. Notable moments included an important conversation with Dad, as well as going with Mom to visit her friends M&I, who she recently re-established contact with after over two decades. M&I have five children... the oldest of which was my best friend when I was in elementary school! It was quite the Blast From The Past to see them again after nearly a quarter of a century! Very much looking forward to re-meeting their son, G, when I come back in December!

  4. Part Four: Michigan (3 days)
    In which [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat accompanies Nomad on a visit to the delightful [livejournal.com profile] tawneypup. Much fun was had by all, in the form of a Halloween party, a visit to a cider mill, Jack-o-lantern carving, a "haunted" hayride, pumpkin pancakes, Apples to Apples, a couple of games of Betrayal at House on the Hill, watching Where The Wild Things Are, a belly dance performance... and more! Not to mention, of course, time spent with my darling [livejournal.com profile] tawneypip -- which is time well spent even when we aren't filling it with a dozen other activities!

  5. Part Five: Chicago (1 days)
    In which Nomad and Chesh wind down their trip by spending one day at the Event Horizon. Although it was not a very long stay at my home, it was most excellent to get to see Stumpy and Chirp and lavish some attention on The Boy's sisters. We also shared a very delicious Indian dinner with [livejournal.com profile] gyades and a Mexican lunch on our own. The Weather Gods smiled upon us and allowed us an absolutely perfect day to escape to the Morton Arboretum to watch the trees resplendent in their Autumn colour.
More detailed write ups of each of these parts shall follow... with pictures to accompany parts one, two, and four! Meanwhile, though, tis time to to get ready to go out tonight!

ETA: Special thanks are due to the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] xirpha for getting me to O'Hare when a meeting prevented [livejournal.com profile] gyades from doing so, as planned. Thanks are also due to the fantastic [livejournal.com profile] winewiskeywomen for noticing my silence and checking in to make sure that all was well with me. I am quite lucky to have such excellent friends!!
Gentle readers, before I begin this entry properly, I would like to ask if there are any Bruce Cockburn fans in the house. If there are, please turn your attention to this amusing article, brought to my attention by the incomparable [livejournal.com profile] onebrightroad.


Yesterday evening had a very "friendly neighbourhood" feel to it. I got home from London around seven o'clock and spent the rest of the evening in Headington, the neighbourhood in East Oxford that is home to the Flat With No Name.

After getting off the coach, I went up to our flat and, whilst waiting for [livejournal.com profile] mattp to arrive from London, I ate some leftovers to get me through the evening. Then I rang Mom since I knew that she would also remember Grampa's 100th birthday.

A text from [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat came in; she and a co-worker were having a drink in the pub across the street from our flat. In response, I popped my head into the pub briefly to greet them and chat for a minute. Afterward, I walked to the bus stop and met [livejournal.com profile] mattp as he arrived. Together, we walked to St. Andrew's Church to join in their Tuesday practice. Although St. Andrew's is just an eight minute walk from the Flat With No Name, I had never strolled through Old Headington before -- the area is quite pretty, with picturesque[*] stone houses covered in ivy.

I had never rung at St. Andrew's before, but the band is a good mix of skillful ringers and learners. The bells are a pleasant, if light, ring of eight. Also, the atmosphere is quite welcoming -- we were both encouraged to come back again! This may pose a problem during term time, when I ring at Mary Mag with the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers on Tuesdays. Still, we should all have "problems" like this!

When the ringing practice ended, most of us headed to one of the two pubs outside of the church. We drank and talked for a bit before going our separate ways. Yes, I definitely like the feel of this band of ringers... and the St. Andrew's practice does have the advantage of being so close to home.

After leaving the pub, we walked home to fetch [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and then the three of us walked to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. The food, whilst not as overwhelmingly awesome as the Pink Giraffe, was still yummy. We had a nice leisurely meal, then strolled home once again.

At home, we chatted and pet the cats, who were quite happy to receive the attention. Particularly The Boy. [livejournal.com profile] mattp and I played a couple of Icehouse Games. Finally, around one in the morning, we all crashed out.

Although I did not leave our neighbourhood at all yesterday evening, I felt like I had a fun and fulfilling time. Indeed, it left me with quite a contented feeling to be able to do so much within walking distance of our home.


This entry has been brought to you, as have so many, by the Oxford Tube. At the moment, I am riding said coach to Oxford, where I will attend the monthly meet-up of [livejournal.com profile] bicon_oxford. Whilst it is always a pleasure to spent time with such lovely people, tonight should bring a special treat! [livejournal.com profile] thoughtseries will be joining us, as he is currently visiting England before going back to teach in Saudi Arabia. I do not think that I have seen [livejournal.com profile] thoughtseries since 2003, when I moved from Phoenix to Chicago. Back in the day -- meaning from 2001 to 2003 -- we were in the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition together, sharing many a struggle, demonstration, and picket line! Not to mention the post-PAC meeting parties! It will be excellent to catch up with him again, thousands of miles away from our old stomping grounds!


[*] Or should that be "picturooney"?

Today is September 11th. On this day, I always do two things:

#1) I pause for a moment to remember the horrendous acts of terrorism that were perpetrated against a democratic nation by the enemies of freedom and liberty. I observe a moment of silence to remember the tens of thousands who died. Thirty-six years may have passed, but the victims are not forgotten. People of Chile, you are remembered.

#2) I phone my Mum to wish her a happy birthday.
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!


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!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Miles Driven: 1492


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Miles Driven: 1492


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Nov. 13th, 2008 08:13 pm)
Currency )

and

Rankings )


[*] One of which is the Event Horizon.

anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Nov. 13th, 2008 08:13 pm)
Currency )

and

Rankings )


[*] One of which is the Event Horizon.

Back in England once again, having landed at Heathrow about ten hours ago. Am now riding Ye Olde Oxford Tubee into work, which seems like an ideal time to write more about my trip.

The first third of my holiday was P**T***, which I have already written about in summary. This entry, then, picks up from last Tuesday and covers the second third of my trip -- the time spent in and around New York City.

Tuesday and part of Wednesday were spent with Mom, being mostly mellow. By "mostly", I mean that there was an expedition made to notarize and ship the final (?) papers necessary to finish the Accursed Refinance of the Event Horizon[*]. Other than that, we sat and talked, we went to dinner... nothing terribly exciting. Just time catching up with Mom.

Wednesday evening, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 picked me up and we went bowling. Despite being without my ball and shoes -- both of which live in Chicago -- I did reasonably well: I bowled a 147 in the first game and a 167 in the second. In the first game, I bowled a turkey near the end, finishing with five marks in a row! This made me quite excited; it has been several years since I bowled a turkey! Had I not wasted the first four frames of this game finding a ball that I felt passably comfortable with, I may well have broken 200 points! After bowling, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and I got dinner at a Mexican restaurant that she recommended -- very yummy food! Then we went back to her place and hung out. I taught her how to play Egyptian Ratscrew[**], we fired Nerf darts at each other, et cetera. All good fun! Eventually, AP and [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae -- who was visiting from Michigan -- joined us and we all sat around talking until Way Too Late.

Thursday, I had a date with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae in New York City. Since this was her first trip to the Big Apple, I wanted to give her a whirlwind tour worth remembering. We started by ascending the Empire State Building to get an aerial view of the city. On returning to the ground, we bought some New York pizza for lunch. Having fed ourselves, I brought her to Madison Square Park, where we fed nuts to the uber-friendly squirrels there. She particularly enjoyed an instance where one squirrel distracted her whilst another stole a nut out of her bag. Sneaky little buggers! After leaving the park, we took a walk to (and through) Times Square. This involved stopping in a fair number of gift stores and riding the indoor ferris wheel in the Times Square Toys 'R' Us. Very silly, but lots of fun! Following Times Square, we took a subway downtown and into Brooklyn. We picked up a snack at a local deli and ate it outside, when walked back into Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. Thus, I was able to show [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae one of my favourite skyline views of the city, to compliment the aerial view we had taken in earlier. Next, we made our way to Chinatown, where we drank tea, looked at anime, and spent way too much money on swords[***]. Eventually, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and AP joined us and we hit a dim sum restaurant for dinner.

I do believe that I succeeded in my mission of showing [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae a good time in NYC. There is only so much that one can squeeze into a single day, but I think I did a reasonably good job of it. In any case, she seems willing to pay me a visit in England next year -- and perhaps in Japan at some point in the future -- so I will presume that I did not fare all that badly!

After dinner, we all headed back to Jersey City and crashed. There were only a few hours before [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae and I needed to head to LaGuardia to fly to Michigan. Still, it was very nice to squeeze in a little cuddle time with her in the night. Special thanks go to [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 for waking up at Stupid O'Clock in the morning to drive us!

So that was how I spent the middle third of my vacation. Tune in next time, gentle readers, for the final installment: Nomad Does Michigan!

[*] I have not yet checked my e-mail from the past twelve days, but I dearly hope that there is a note from [livejournal.com profile] gyades telling me that this monkey is at last off of our collective backs.

[**] I was particularly impressed with myself in one game, as I was down to a mere four cards and still came back to win! Admittedly, two of those four cards were a queen and a jack, so it was a very good set of four. But still an impressive feat.

[***] Her, not me.


Back in England once again, having landed at Heathrow about ten hours ago. Am now riding Ye Olde Oxford Tubee into work, which seems like an ideal time to write more about my trip.

The first third of my holiday was P**T***, which I have already written about in summary. This entry, then, picks up from last Tuesday and covers the second third of my trip -- the time spent in and around New York City.

Tuesday and part of Wednesday were spent with Mom, being mostly mellow. By "mostly", I mean that there was an expedition made to notarize and ship the final (?) papers necessary to finish the Accursed Refinance of the Event Horizon[*]. Other than that, we sat and talked, we went to dinner... nothing terribly exciting. Just time catching up with Mom.

Wednesday evening, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 picked me up and we went bowling. Despite being without my ball and shoes -- both of which live in Chicago -- I did reasonably well: I bowled a 147 in the first game and a 167 in the second. In the first game, I bowled a turkey near the end, finishing with five marks in a row! This made me quite excited; it has been several years since I bowled a turkey! Had I not wasted the first four frames of this game finding a ball that I felt passably comfortable with, I may well have broken 200 points! After bowling, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and I got dinner at a Mexican restaurant that she recommended -- very yummy food! Then we went back to her place and hung out. I taught her how to play Egyptian Ratscrew[**], we fired Nerf darts at each other, et cetera. All good fun! Eventually, AP and [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae -- who was visiting from Michigan -- joined us and we all sat around talking until Way Too Late.

Thursday, I had a date with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae in New York City. Since this was her first trip to the Big Apple, I wanted to give her a whirlwind tour worth remembering. We started by ascending the Empire State Building to get an aerial view of the city. On returning to the ground, we bought some New York pizza for lunch. Having fed ourselves, I brought her to Madison Square Park, where we fed nuts to the uber-friendly squirrels there. She particularly enjoyed an instance where one squirrel distracted her whilst another stole a nut out of her bag. Sneaky little buggers! After leaving the park, we took a walk to (and through) Times Square. This involved stopping in a fair number of gift stores and riding the indoor ferris wheel in the Times Square Toys 'R' Us. Very silly, but lots of fun! Following Times Square, we took a subway downtown and into Brooklyn. We picked up a snack at a local deli and ate it outside, when walked back into Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge. Thus, I was able to show [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae one of my favourite skyline views of the city, to compliment the aerial view we had taken in earlier. Next, we made our way to Chinatown, where we drank tea, looked at anime, and spent way too much money on swords[***]. Eventually, [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and AP joined us and we hit a dim sum restaurant for dinner.

I do believe that I succeeded in my mission of showing [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae a good time in NYC. There is only so much that one can squeeze into a single day, but I think I did a reasonably good job of it. In any case, she seems willing to pay me a visit in England next year -- and perhaps in Japan at some point in the future -- so I will presume that I did not fare all that badly!

After dinner, we all headed back to Jersey City and crashed. There were only a few hours before [livejournal.com profile] fawx_fae and I needed to head to LaGuardia to fly to Michigan. Still, it was very nice to squeeze in a little cuddle time with her in the night. Special thanks go to [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 for waking up at Stupid O'Clock in the morning to drive us!

So that was how I spent the middle third of my vacation. Tune in next time, gentle readers, for the final installment: Nomad Does Michigan!

[*] I have not yet checked my e-mail from the past twelve days, but I dearly hope that there is a note from [livejournal.com profile] gyades telling me that this monkey is at last off of our collective backs.

[**] I was particularly impressed with myself in one game, as I was down to a mere four cards and still came back to win! Admittedly, two of those four cards were a queen and a jack, so it was a very good set of four. But still an impressive feat.

[***] Her, not me.


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.


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: (At the Haymarket)
( Sep. 11th, 2008 03:49 pm)
Today is September 11th. On this day, I always do two things:

I pause for a moment to remember the horrendous acts of terrorism that were perpetrated on a democratic nation by the enemies of freedom and liberty. I observe a moment of silence to remember the tens of thousands who died. Thirty-five years may have passed, but the victims are not forgotten. People of Chile, you are remembered.

I phone my Mum to wish her a happy birthday.
anarchist_nomad: (At the Haymarket)
( Sep. 11th, 2008 03:49 pm)
Today is September 11th. On this day, I always do two things:

I pause for a moment to remember the horrendous acts of terrorism that were perpetrated on a democratic nation by the enemies of freedom and liberty. I observe a moment of silence to remember the tens of thousands who died. Thirty-five years may have passed, but the victims are not forgotten. People of Chile, you are remembered.

I phone my Mum to wish her a happy birthday.
.

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