Rang bells at St. Giles tonight. Only tower bells, though, as we had a mere two people for handbell ringing and need at least three to do a minor method or something more interesting. Seems that many people are away for the Summer holiday -- fancy that!

This was the first time that I have rung anywhere in four weeks -- and, believe me, my hands can feel it! The ringing callouses had very nearly worn off while I was in the States, so tonight I tore some skin on the bellropes. Whoops!

Thankfully, my mind did not manage to forget everything that I had learned while I was away. I rang Plain Hunt on seven and eight bells. I did a few plain courses of Grandsire Triples on the #1 and #2 bells, as well as covering on the tenor. Even though covering is pretty boring, it felt good to ring the tenor again. Cast in 1627 and weighing 1456 pounds, the St. Giles tenor is both the oldest and heaviest bell that I have ever rung. I think I'm a bit sweet on it... I rang the treble for a touch of Grandsire Doubles, a covering tenor and the treble[*] for Plain Bob Doubles, and the #2 bell for a touch of Plain Bob Minor. The last one is pretty near the upper limit of my ability... and I pulled it off okay. Thus, I can conclude that my skills -- novice though they are -- have not eroded. Excellent!

So, yes, I appear to have successfully slipped back into my England life. Theatre on Tuesday evening, bells on Thursday. Wednesday evening saw me making a trip to London to spend the evening with the irresistible [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic. To say that it was good to see her again would be a massive understatement. To say any more than that, however, would be beyond the scope of what I wish to share in a public journal.

Best make my way back to Skullcrusher Mountain now. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat is waiting on me for dinner and we have plans to make for the weekend. Tis a big weekend ahead, yes it is, but more on that later...

[*] Not simultaneously!

Rang bells at St. Giles tonight. Only tower bells, though, as we had a mere two people for handbell ringing and need at least three to do a minor method or something more interesting. Seems that many people are away for the Summer holiday -- fancy that!

This was the first time that I have rung anywhere in four weeks -- and, believe me, my hands can feel it! The ringing callouses had very nearly worn off while I was in the States, so tonight I tore some skin on the bellropes. Whoops!

Thankfully, my mind did not manage to forget everything that I had learned while I was away. I rang Plain Hunt on seven and eight bells. I did a few plain courses of Grandsire Triples on the #1 and #2 bells, as well as covering on the tenor. Even though covering is pretty boring, it felt good to ring the tenor again. Cast in 1627 and weighing 1456 pounds, the St. Giles tenor is both the oldest and heaviest bell that I have ever rung. I think I'm a bit sweet on it... I rang the treble for a touch of Grandsire Doubles, a covering tenor and the treble[*] for Plain Bob Doubles, and the #2 bell for a touch of Plain Bob Minor. The last one is pretty near the upper limit of my ability... and I pulled it off okay. Thus, I can conclude that my skills -- novice though they are -- have not eroded. Excellent!

So, yes, I appear to have successfully slipped back into my England life. Theatre on Tuesday evening, bells on Thursday. Wednesday evening saw me making a trip to London to spend the evening with the irresistible [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic. To say that it was good to see her again would be a massive understatement. To say any more than that, however, would be beyond the scope of what I wish to share in a public journal.

Best make my way back to Skullcrusher Mountain now. [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat is waiting on me for dinner and we have plans to make for the weekend. Tis a big weekend ahead, yes it is, but more on that later...

[*] Not simultaneously!

Quick[?] update on various and sundry. I have divided this update into sections, so read only those that may be of interest to you:

Skating: This is the second to last week of the current term, so we finished testing out on the level five skills. I passed the final one -- backwards one foot glides -- and am now officially NISA Level Five certified. I am such a dork -- I continued collecting the little badges that show what level I have passed. We started on level six skills, as there will be a large gap after our last class next week and the following term, which begins on September 8th. By introducing these skills now, I can practice them in-between terms. Also, I plan to buy my own pair of skates when I am in the States later this month. Does anyone in the Chicago (or New York) area know of a skate shop that they would recommend?

Kittens: Gave back Leo, our "loaner kitten", yesterday. He is a sweet boy, and we were sad to see him go. However, I was grateful that we had him for a week and a half, as he helped to transition our [still-nameless] kitten from a life with his mum and three siblings to life with us. By now, The Boy is getting grudgingly tolerant of the new kitten and, as of yesterday evening, we are allowing them to interact together unsupervised. When we are home, they get full run of the flat; when we are asleep or away, we lock them out of a couple of rooms that have not yet been kitten-proofed. Last night, the kitten slept on my pillow, leaning on my head. He is so adorable!!! I was ridiculously pleased, though I did sleep somewhat restlessly, as I was nervous about rolling over and crushing him.

Bells: Participated in a quarter peal attempt at St. Giles last night. Previously, I had rung a quarter peal in April, on the covering tenor. This is the easiest position to ring. It was a six bell method (Cambridge Surprise Minor), so the first six bells mixed up their order... and then I always rang in the sevenths place, after they had all done their bit. It was an accomplishment for me, but the simplest that ringing a quarter peal can be. Yesterday's attempt took the challenge up a notch: We rang a seven bell method (Grandsire Triples). There was a covering tenor -- see the constant position of the #8 bell in the link -- but that was not my job. I rang the next easiest position, that of the treble (the #1 bell). If you look at the link, you can see that the treble moves ("hunts") repeatedly from the front to the back, and then returns. Harder than a covering tenor, but easier than the job of every other bell. I was very nervous about this and not sure if I was up to keeping my ringing from going wrong for the forty-five minutes it takes to ring a quarter peal. In the end, our attempt was not successful. We made it through about 740 of the 1260 changes. This is disappointing, of course. However, I take some comfort that it was not I who caused the band to go wrong. Much to my surprise, I did remarkably well at holding the correct place and at maintaining good striking. One of the other ringers, on an inside bell, went off course... and this caused a domino effect that ended our attempt. I will try again in September and, based on how well I managed to do this time, am reasonably optimistic that I will succeed.

Car: Am very much enjoying the new car. It is the same colour as Pazu -- my 1998 Honda Civic that I bought new and drove for eight years, until I moved to Oxford. The battery would not hold a charge, though, so I got a guy from the AA to look for it. Given that I am a member, this was free... so why not? He confirmed that the problem was the battery, not the alternator nor a short in the wiring. No problem -- I went out and bought a new battery. While we were chatting, he mentioned that the Rover 400 engines are made by Honda. This news made me happy, as I have the utmost respect for Honda engines! When I mentioned that I paid £300 for the car, he seemed surprised... and jokingly offered me £400 for it. Despite the cheap price, I think that I may be holding onto this car for awhile; it seems like it is in very good shape! Indeed, in the anticipation of driving it for a few years, I ordered a new stereo for the car today. He went on to say that the Rover 400s are basically the same as Honda Civics. I had noticed a fair bit of similarity, actually. I liked my Civic very much and am rather pleased to [sort of] have it back -- with the added bonus of a sunroof! Finally, it dawned on me that I now own a red Rover. That is just cool!

Social: This afternoon, a few hours before our skating lesson, I got a text from KF asking me if I wanted to go out for coffee and then hit the rink for extra practice before our lesson. This was a pleasant addition to my day, as I have had a crush on her for months. We have quite a few interests in common -- SCUBA diving, traveling, history, skating, whitewater rafting -- and I would very much like to get to know her better. The pseudo-date went pretty well, so I find myself wondering what might happen next. I will confess to being nervous, because I have not met her through the polyamorous community, the sci-fi community, or the Pagan community. Thus far, everyone I have ever had a relationship with since [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I became polyamourous eleven years ago has come from one of those three worlds -- worlds that are well acquainted with and accepting of polyamoury. Although KF knows that I am polyamorous, I am not sure how willing she is to set her toes into these waters. There certainly seems to be a mutual attraction there... how far it can or will go, though, is still up in the air.

Theatre: On Friday evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I drove down to Abingdon to see a production of Alan Ayckbourn's play Improbable Fiction. This is, I believe, the second Ayckbourn show that I have seen -- the first being A Trip To Scarborough back in February. Like that show, Improbable Fiction is a bit surreal, and involves a juxtaposition of multiple disjoint locations. It was good fun, though. Perhaps even more impressive than the play was the theatre itself. We saw this production at the Unicorn Theatre, which is housed in a building that used to be a medieval abbey from the seventh to the sixteenth century. With my love of old buildings, this experience was really quite the treat!

Weekend: On Saturday, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and the adorable [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and I took a day trip to the Savill Garden, part of the Royal Landscape near Windsor. The gardens themselves were quite pretty and -- as an added bonus -- there was a sculpture exhibition. Fifty-eight pieces of art were placed at various and sundry points throughout the garden, ranging from annoyingly abstract pieces to lovable penguins and ducks to an awesome velociraptor! The weather, which should have been rainy, cooperated with us remarkably well, making for a very nice day out. After leaving the gardens, we topped off our day with a stop at the Monkey's Forehead for dinner and drinks... just because it has the coolest pub name ever!

On Sunday, I dropped [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic off at the Oxford Castle so that she could celebrate [livejournal.com profile] thirteen_ravens's birthday party. With the exception of cycling to St. Giles church for the quarter peal attempt, the rest of the day was spent sharing some quality alone time with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. We were both a bit shaken by the postponement of her surgery last week... so having this time was significant and important to us both.

.......and that's all the news for tonight. Tune in next time, gentle reader, for fun-filled photos from this weekend and video of kittens playing!
Quick[?] update on various and sundry. I have divided this update into sections, so read only those that may be of interest to you:

Skating: This is the second to last week of the current term, so we finished testing out on the level five skills. I passed the final one -- backwards one foot glides -- and am now officially NISA Level Five certified. I am such a dork -- I continued collecting the little badges that show what level I have passed. We started on level six skills, as there will be a large gap after our last class next week and the following term, which begins on September 8th. By introducing these skills now, I can practice them in-between terms. Also, I plan to buy my own pair of skates when I am in the States later this month. Does anyone in the Chicago (or New York) area know of a skate shop that they would recommend?

Kittens: Gave back Leo, our "loaner kitten", yesterday. He is a sweet boy, and we were sad to see him go. However, I was grateful that we had him for a week and a half, as he helped to transition our [still-nameless] kitten from a life with his mum and three siblings to life with us. By now, The Boy is getting grudgingly tolerant of the new kitten and, as of yesterday evening, we are allowing them to interact together unsupervised. When we are home, they get full run of the flat; when we are asleep or away, we lock them out of a couple of rooms that have not yet been kitten-proofed. Last night, the kitten slept on my pillow, leaning on my head. He is so adorable!!! I was ridiculously pleased, though I did sleep somewhat restlessly, as I was nervous about rolling over and crushing him.

Bells: Participated in a quarter peal attempt at St. Giles last night. Previously, I had rung a quarter peal in April, on the covering tenor. This is the easiest position to ring. It was a six bell method (Cambridge Surprise Minor), so the first six bells mixed up their order... and then I always rang in the sevenths place, after they had all done their bit. It was an accomplishment for me, but the simplest that ringing a quarter peal can be. Yesterday's attempt took the challenge up a notch: We rang a seven bell method (Grandsire Triples). There was a covering tenor -- see the constant position of the #8 bell in the link -- but that was not my job. I rang the next easiest position, that of the treble (the #1 bell). If you look at the link, you can see that the treble moves ("hunts") repeatedly from the front to the back, and then returns. Harder than a covering tenor, but easier than the job of every other bell. I was very nervous about this and not sure if I was up to keeping my ringing from going wrong for the forty-five minutes it takes to ring a quarter peal. In the end, our attempt was not successful. We made it through about 740 of the 1260 changes. This is disappointing, of course. However, I take some comfort that it was not I who caused the band to go wrong. Much to my surprise, I did remarkably well at holding the correct place and at maintaining good striking. One of the other ringers, on an inside bell, went off course... and this caused a domino effect that ended our attempt. I will try again in September and, based on how well I managed to do this time, am reasonably optimistic that I will succeed.

Car: Am very much enjoying the new car. It is the same colour as Pazu -- my 1998 Honda Civic that I bought new and drove for eight years, until I moved to Oxford. The battery would not hold a charge, though, so I got a guy from the AA to look for it. Given that I am a member, this was free... so why not? He confirmed that the problem was the battery, not the alternator nor a short in the wiring. No problem -- I went out and bought a new battery. While we were chatting, he mentioned that the Rover 400 engines are made by Honda. This news made me happy, as I have the utmost respect for Honda engines! When I mentioned that I paid £300 for the car, he seemed surprised... and jokingly offered me £400 for it. Despite the cheap price, I think that I may be holding onto this car for awhile; it seems like it is in very good shape! Indeed, in the anticipation of driving it for a few years, I ordered a new stereo for the car today. He went on to say that the Rover 400s are basically the same as Honda Civics. I had noticed a fair bit of similarity, actually. I liked my Civic very much and am rather pleased to [sort of] have it back -- with the added bonus of a sunroof! Finally, it dawned on me that I now own a red Rover. That is just cool!

Social: This afternoon, a few hours before our skating lesson, I got a text from KF asking me if I wanted to go out for coffee and then hit the rink for extra practice before our lesson. This was a pleasant addition to my day, as I have had a crush on her for months. We have quite a few interests in common -- SCUBA diving, traveling, history, skating, whitewater rafting -- and I would very much like to get to know her better. The pseudo-date went pretty well, so I find myself wondering what might happen next. I will confess to being nervous, because I have not met her through the polyamorous community, the sci-fi community, or the Pagan community. Thus far, everyone I have ever had a relationship with since [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I became polyamourous eleven years ago has come from one of those three worlds -- worlds that are well acquainted with and accepting of polyamoury. Although KF knows that I am polyamorous, I am not sure how willing she is to set her toes into these waters. There certainly seems to be a mutual attraction there... how far it can or will go, though, is still up in the air.

Theatre: On Friday evening, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I drove down to Abingdon to see a production of Alan Ayckbourn's play Improbable Fiction. This is, I believe, the second Ayckbourn show that I have seen -- the first being A Trip To Scarborough back in February. Like that show, Improbable Fiction is a bit surreal, and involves a juxtaposition of multiple disjoint locations. It was good fun, though. Perhaps even more impressive than the play was the theatre itself. We saw this production at the Unicorn Theatre, which is housed in a building that used to be a medieval abbey from the seventh to the sixteenth century. With my love of old buildings, this experience was really quite the treat!

Weekend: On Saturday, my beloved [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and the adorable [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and I took a day trip to the Savill Garden, part of the Royal Landscape near Windsor. The gardens themselves were quite pretty and -- as an added bonus -- there was a sculpture exhibition. Fifty-eight pieces of art were placed at various and sundry points throughout the garden, ranging from annoyingly abstract pieces to lovable penguins and ducks to an awesome velociraptor! The weather, which should have been rainy, cooperated with us remarkably well, making for a very nice day out. After leaving the gardens, we topped off our day with a stop at the Monkey's Forehead for dinner and drinks... just because it has the coolest pub name ever!

On Sunday, I dropped [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic off at the Oxford Castle so that she could celebrate [livejournal.com profile] thirteen_ravens's birthday party. With the exception of cycling to St. Giles church for the quarter peal attempt, the rest of the day was spent sharing some quality alone time with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat. We were both a bit shaken by the postponement of her surgery last week... so having this time was significant and important to us both.

.......and that's all the news for tonight. Tune in next time, gentle reader, for fun-filled photos from this weekend and video of kittens playing!
Highlights from today:

Had a brief conversation with [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic at lunchtime. Nothing particularly significant... but it is always nice to hear her voice.

Rang bells at St. Cross this evening. This was the first time that I rang there in three weeks. It showed. I kinda sucked at the beginning, and even let the rope get away from me once. No injury resulted this time. By the end of the practice, I was doing a little better, though. I got through a touch of Plain Bob Doubles and a plain course of Grandsire Doubles -- both on inside bells -- with no major difficulties!

After ringing, I met [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at Wadham College, where we watched the Oxford Shakespeare Company perform Twelfth Night in the college gardens. One of the things I really love about summer is all the outdoor theatre! This is the third year that I have seen the OSC perform outside at Wadham -- last year they did Midsummer Night's Dream and, in 2006, I went with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress to see them do both The Taming of the Shrew and The Importance of Being Earnest. This production of Twelfth Night was vastly different than the one that we saw at Lincoln College last month; for one thing, it was extremely odd and quite funny... with a beach theme running through it.

On our return to Skullcrusher Mountain, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat produced a yummy dinner and we decompressed from our days while eating together. Then I phoned up my friend RG[*] and we spent an hour and a half catching up on each others' lives. He won't be at Starwood this year, so I'll not get to see him again until P**T*** in October. On the plus side, he is seriously considering a visit to us here in Oxford!

Finally, I am ending my day by writing this entry while a six and a half week old kitten sits curled up on my shoulder. He got there himself, climbing up from the floor via my trouser leg and then my shirt. Once he gets down, I plan to go to sleep, as it is late. Indeed, this entry probably would not exist if he had not settled there! I would have just gone straight to bed... but you can't just give up something as precious as a kitten perched on your shoulder!

[*] No, not [livejournal.com profile] ashnistrike. A different friend with the RG initials... though also one that attends P**T***.

Highlights from today:

Had a brief conversation with [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic at lunchtime. Nothing particularly significant... but it is always nice to hear her voice.

Rang bells at St. Cross this evening. This was the first time that I rang there in three weeks. It showed. I kinda sucked at the beginning, and even let the rope get away from me once. No injury resulted this time. By the end of the practice, I was doing a little better, though. I got through a touch of Plain Bob Doubles and a plain course of Grandsire Doubles -- both on inside bells -- with no major difficulties!

After ringing, I met [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat at Wadham College, where we watched the Oxford Shakespeare Company perform Twelfth Night in the college gardens. One of the things I really love about summer is all the outdoor theatre! This is the third year that I have seen the OSC perform outside at Wadham -- last year they did Midsummer Night's Dream and, in 2006, I went with [livejournal.com profile] resourceress to see them do both The Taming of the Shrew and The Importance of Being Earnest. This production of Twelfth Night was vastly different than the one that we saw at Lincoln College last month; for one thing, it was extremely odd and quite funny... with a beach theme running through it.

On our return to Skullcrusher Mountain, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat produced a yummy dinner and we decompressed from our days while eating together. Then I phoned up my friend RG[*] and we spent an hour and a half catching up on each others' lives. He won't be at Starwood this year, so I'll not get to see him again until P**T*** in October. On the plus side, he is seriously considering a visit to us here in Oxford!

Finally, I am ending my day by writing this entry while a six and a half week old kitten sits curled up on my shoulder. He got there himself, climbing up from the floor via my trouser leg and then my shirt. Once he gets down, I plan to go to sleep, as it is late. Indeed, this entry probably would not exist if he had not settled there! I would have just gone straight to bed... but you can't just give up something as precious as a kitten perched on your shoulder!

[*] No, not [livejournal.com profile] ashnistrike. A different friend with the RG initials... though also one that attends P**T***.

It would seem that I have been a bad, bad LiveJournaler[*]. Looks like a whole week has gone by without me writing much about what has been going on. Moreover, it was a rather intense week, with several major developments including a new job and a new kitten.

By now, it is probably too late to describe my week in detail. Which means that it is time to resort to that quick daily summary review that everyone just loves to read![**]

Sunday: Went to Marston with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat to visit the kittens on their five week birthday. Brought [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic along to introduce her, too. After [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and [livejournal.com profile] lydiasings went back to London, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to tour the gardens and buildings of Keble College, which was open to the public for a charity event. Although Keble is one of the newer Oxford colleges -- dating back to Victorian times -- it is still somewhat pretty, especially its chapel. Okay, it is not Christ Church, but it is still a nice college. After leaving Keble, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I took a stroll though the University Park, stopping for a long while at the pond to watch the ducks and the coots and the geese.

Monday: Went to my third ice skating lesson of the term. We were formally tested on half the Level 5 skills... and I passed 3/4 of them. Not too bad, and I will get the chance to re-try the one part that needs work -- forward crossovers with right foot over left. After the lesson, I rented Hitchcock's film The 39 Steps and watched it at Skullcrusher Mountain with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat.

Tuesday: Spent the day in London at Imperial College. For some strange reason, the vast majority of people that I know in the States have never heard of Imperial. I suppose that makes sense; after all, it is only the third ranking university in the UK -- after Oxford and Cambridge -- and fifth in the world -- after Harvard, Oxbridge, and Yale. It only outranks Princeton and CalTech and MIT; why should anyone have heard of it? In any case, by the end of the afternoon, I had accepted an offer to start a job there after my contract at Oxford ends later this year. Came back to Oxford just in time to pick up [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and take her to see a production of The 39 Steps at the Oxford Playhouse. Adapted from the Hitchcock film, the play was a bit of a spoof, with much slapstick added to make it far funnier than the film.

Wednesday: Brought home the newest memeber of our household -- a wonderful baby kitty!

Thursday: Earned my third "Oxford Physics" polo shirt by giving tours of the cryogenic detector lab to prospective Oxford undergraduates. I gave three tours to a total of about fifty students. This is my third year giving these tours and, as always, there were well received. I daresay that I am a pretty good speaker, even if I do say so myself. In the evening, I rang bells at St. Giles... with particular emphasis to practicing the part of an inside bell on a plain course of Grandsire Doubles and the work of the treble on a touch of Grandsire Triples.

Friday: Spent the whole of the workday at a career development course offered by the Oxford Learning Institute and aimed at the post-doctoral research staff. In the evening, I cycled to the Thornhill Park & Ride on the Eastern edge of Oxford -- which was, in retrospect, a logistical mistake -- and hopped the Oxford Tube to London to visit with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic.

Saturday: Very good date with [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic. Not much more to be said in a public forum.

Sunday: Fell prey to a minor bug and spent the day in bed with a bit of a cold. Spending a day inactive does not come natural to me, especially when there is so much to do, but my body was diverting all energy to the immune system. On the plus side, I used the time to cuddle & play with our kittens -- it is so awesome to have kittens in the house again! -- and to nearly finish the book that I was reading. As an added bonus, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had a nice long chat with [livejournal.com profile] angryjim this evening. It was the first time that I have spoken to [livejournal.com profile] angryjim in about a year and a half; he is one of my absolute closest friends ever, so it was extremely good to hear his voice again and get caught up on each others lives.

Right. Summary accomplished. Time to sleep. There is a busy week ahead...

[*] Anyone want to volunteer to punish me for this?

[**] Okay, I understand that everyone actually hates to read posts in this format and generally skips them... but my journal is part social tool and part an actual journal. So I'm writing this stuff down, boring or not, to remember them later on.


It would seem that I have been a bad, bad LiveJournaler[*]. Looks like a whole week has gone by without me writing much about what has been going on. Moreover, it was a rather intense week, with several major developments including a new job and a new kitten.

By now, it is probably too late to describe my week in detail. Which means that it is time to resort to that quick daily summary review that everyone just loves to read![**]

Sunday: Went to Marston with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat to visit the kittens on their five week birthday. Brought [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic along to introduce her, too. After [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and [livejournal.com profile] lydiasings went back to London, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I went to tour the gardens and buildings of Keble College, which was open to the public for a charity event. Although Keble is one of the newer Oxford colleges -- dating back to Victorian times -- it is still somewhat pretty, especially its chapel. Okay, it is not Christ Church, but it is still a nice college. After leaving Keble, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I took a stroll though the University Park, stopping for a long while at the pond to watch the ducks and the coots and the geese.

Monday: Went to my third ice skating lesson of the term. We were formally tested on half the Level 5 skills... and I passed 3/4 of them. Not too bad, and I will get the chance to re-try the one part that needs work -- forward crossovers with right foot over left. After the lesson, I rented Hitchcock's film The 39 Steps and watched it at Skullcrusher Mountain with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat.

Tuesday: Spent the day in London at Imperial College. For some strange reason, the vast majority of people that I know in the States have never heard of Imperial. I suppose that makes sense; after all, it is only the third ranking university in the UK -- after Oxford and Cambridge -- and fifth in the world -- after Harvard, Oxbridge, and Yale. It only outranks Princeton and CalTech and MIT; why should anyone have heard of it? In any case, by the end of the afternoon, I had accepted an offer to start a job there after my contract at Oxford ends later this year. Came back to Oxford just in time to pick up [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and take her to see a production of The 39 Steps at the Oxford Playhouse. Adapted from the Hitchcock film, the play was a bit of a spoof, with much slapstick added to make it far funnier than the film.

Wednesday: Brought home the newest memeber of our household -- a wonderful baby kitty!

Thursday: Earned my third "Oxford Physics" polo shirt by giving tours of the cryogenic detector lab to prospective Oxford undergraduates. I gave three tours to a total of about fifty students. This is my third year giving these tours and, as always, there were well received. I daresay that I am a pretty good speaker, even if I do say so myself. In the evening, I rang bells at St. Giles... with particular emphasis to practicing the part of an inside bell on a plain course of Grandsire Doubles and the work of the treble on a touch of Grandsire Triples.

Friday: Spent the whole of the workday at a career development course offered by the Oxford Learning Institute and aimed at the post-doctoral research staff. In the evening, I cycled to the Thornhill Park & Ride on the Eastern edge of Oxford -- which was, in retrospect, a logistical mistake -- and hopped the Oxford Tube to London to visit with my beloved [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic.

Saturday: Very good date with [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic. Not much more to be said in a public forum.

Sunday: Fell prey to a minor bug and spent the day in bed with a bit of a cold. Spending a day inactive does not come natural to me, especially when there is so much to do, but my body was diverting all energy to the immune system. On the plus side, I used the time to cuddle & play with our kittens -- it is so awesome to have kittens in the house again! -- and to nearly finish the book that I was reading. As an added bonus, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I had a nice long chat with [livejournal.com profile] angryjim this evening. It was the first time that I have spoken to [livejournal.com profile] angryjim in about a year and a half; he is one of my absolute closest friends ever, so it was extremely good to hear his voice again and get caught up on each others lives.

Right. Summary accomplished. Time to sleep. There is a busy week ahead...

[*] Anyone want to volunteer to punish me for this?

[**] Okay, I understand that everyone actually hates to read posts in this format and generally skips them... but my journal is part social tool and part an actual journal. So I'm writing this stuff down, boring or not, to remember them later on.


anarchist_nomad: (England sightseeing -- Mind the monument)
( Jun. 21st, 2008 09:06 pm)
Good morning!

Yes, nevermind the time stamp -- I just got up a short while ago, having spent all of the shortest night awake at Stonehenge to celebrate the solstice with my dear [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] lydiasings.

This was my second year of spending the Summer solstice at Stonehenge. Just as I wrote last year, it was intense and fantastic! Druidic rituals at sunset and sunrise, fire, giant horns, drum circles, dancing upon ancient fallen Stones. All within a Stone circle that is five or six thousand years old... and in the company of about twenty-eight thousand close friends! Lets just say that the energy levels were pretty darn high!

Same as last year, sunset was at 9:26pm and sunrise was at 4:58am. Funny how that works, huh? With the long twilights, lasting at least an hour and a half, there were less than four hours of true darkness. Unlike last year -- which was clear until just before dawn -- there was complete cloud cover throughout the night and a light rain the entire time. Thus, instead of watching the sun come up from the Eastern edge of the Stone circle, we went to the heelstone at dawn to be in front for the Druids' ritual.

Due to the rain and the clouds, I got fewer nifty pictures than the ones that I took last year. However, here are a couple worth sharing:

Sunset at Stonehenge -- believe it or not, this is before most of the crowd had arrived!


Getting a bit intimate with one of the sarsen Stones...


As far as I know, no pictures of me ended up on the news this year -- my ego will just have to cope somehow!

Overall, Solstice at Stonehenge is an incredible experience and I expect that I will do it yet again next year. I know that last year, several people expressed interest in joining this year... but were not able to come for various logistical reasons. If you are one of them, mark your calendars now and come with me in 2009!
anarchist_nomad: (England sightseeing -- Mind the monument)
( Jun. 21st, 2008 09:06 pm)
Good morning!

Yes, nevermind the time stamp -- I just got up a short while ago, having spent all of the shortest night awake at Stonehenge to celebrate the solstice with my dear [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] lydiasings.

This was my second year of spending the Summer solstice at Stonehenge. Just as I wrote last year, it was intense and fantastic! Druidic rituals at sunset and sunrise, fire, giant horns, drum circles, dancing upon ancient fallen Stones. All within a Stone circle that is five or six thousand years old... and in the company of about twenty-eight thousand close friends! Lets just say that the energy levels were pretty darn high!

Same as last year, sunset was at 9:26pm and sunrise was at 4:58am. Funny how that works, huh? With the long twilights, lasting at least an hour and a half, there were less than four hours of true darkness. Unlike last year -- which was clear until just before dawn -- there was complete cloud cover throughout the night and a light rain the entire time. Thus, instead of watching the sun come up from the Eastern edge of the Stone circle, we went to the heelstone at dawn to be in front for the Druids' ritual.

Due to the rain and the clouds, I got fewer nifty pictures than the ones that I took last year. However, here are a couple worth sharing:

Sunset at Stonehenge -- believe it or not, this is before most of the crowd had arrived!


Getting a bit intimate with one of the sarsen Stones...


As far as I know, no pictures of me ended up on the news this year -- my ego will just have to cope somehow!

Overall, Solstice at Stonehenge is an incredible experience and I expect that I will do it yet again next year. I know that last year, several people expressed interest in joining this year... but were not able to come for various logistical reasons. If you are one of them, mark your calendars now and come with me in 2009!
Hurm... it appears to be Tuesday. How did that happen?

Let's see. Saturday )

After such a late night, I suppose it would have made sense to sleep in on Sunday. )

As spifftacular as the weekend was, I think that -- contrary to its reputation -- Monday was even better. )
Hurm... it appears to be Tuesday. How did that happen?

Let's see. Saturday )

After such a late night, I suppose it would have made sense to sleep in on Sunday. )

As spifftacular as the weekend was, I think that -- contrary to its reputation -- Monday was even better. )
anarchist_nomad: (Big Hair)
( Jun. 6th, 2008 04:20 pm)
So somewhere along the line I seem to have picked up a few friends on this side of the pond. Tonight, after work, I am off to the Gardiner's Arms -- a vegetarian pub here in Oxford -- with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and C&M, then back to Skullcrusher Mountain for gaming.

Tomorrow, I have a choice: I have been invited to the 90th birthday party of one of of the St. Giles ringers. I have been invited to go on a hike in the Malvern Hills with C&M. And I have been invited to visit one of my colleagues and relax in his jacuzzi.

And that is all before heading out to London tomorrow evening to help the lovely [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic celebrate her thirtieth birthday!

Back in Oxford on Sunday, where -- weather permitting -- there will be a punting and picnic outing organised by [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach during the day, followed by a kitten-viewing party in the evening. Also, the charming [livejournal.com profile] danaeris is heading into Oxford to spend a couple of days at Skullcrusher Mountain and pay our fair city a visit.

Look out, weekend, here I come!
anarchist_nomad: (Big Hair)
( Jun. 6th, 2008 04:20 pm)
So somewhere along the line I seem to have picked up a few friends on this side of the pond. Tonight, after work, I am off to the Gardiner's Arms -- a vegetarian pub here in Oxford -- with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and C&M, then back to Skullcrusher Mountain for gaming.

Tomorrow, I have a choice: I have been invited to the 90th birthday party of one of of the St. Giles ringers. I have been invited to go on a hike in the Malvern Hills with C&M. And I have been invited to visit one of my colleagues and relax in his jacuzzi.

And that is all before heading out to London tomorrow evening to help the lovely [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic celebrate her thirtieth birthday!

Back in Oxford on Sunday, where -- weather permitting -- there will be a punting and picnic outing organised by [livejournal.com profile] wolfpeach during the day, followed by a kitten-viewing party in the evening. Also, the charming [livejournal.com profile] danaeris is heading into Oxford to spend a couple of days at Skullcrusher Mountain and pay our fair city a visit.

Look out, weekend, here I come!
The weather this weekend in Oxford was better than just about all of last Summer. Gives me hope, it does, that we will actually have a Summer this year.

[livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic came out from London on Friday evening and we spent much of the weekend together. We had fun doing things like walking through tunnels under Broad Street, where books are sent about by the house elves who work for the Bodleian Library. We also went into the Radcliffe Camera -- which resembles Sauron's temple to Morgoth on Númenor[*] -- saw the Divinity School and Duke Humphrey's Library[**], and visited the Convocation House where, on two or three occasions, Parliament has been held. We also took advantage of the stunning weather to come outside and above ground -- several hours were spent stroll and lolling about in the Oxford Botanic Gardens. There, I showed her Tolkien's favourite tree and the bench that Lyra and Will meet at in the final chapter of the His Dark Materials trilogy. We also got a glimpse of the Lord Mayor, who I still have not had to kill.

After getting out of bed today, we had a quick lunch together, then went out on our separate paths. Mine took me to the lab, the city centre and, in the evening, to St. Giles where I rang bells for services. My ropesight needs much work, but is obviously improving -- I rang the treble on some Reverse Canterbury. It is a method I have never rung before and am entirely unfamiliar with. However, the treble only hunts from front to back, repeatedly. Using this knowledge and ropesight, I could work out where I should be (more or less). The best campanological news of the evening came after tower bell ringing, though. JP and BM came back to Skullcrusher Mountain with me and we practiced our Plain Bob Minor on handbells. I rang the trebles and, for the first time, made it through the extent. Which is to say that we rang every possible combination of bells -- for six bells, this is 720 changes and takes about twenty-five minutes. A nice little milestone for my handbell ringing, and I am quite pleased by it!

Now I am watching the long twilight over Oxford as I prepare the Kelvinox for tomorrow. There is a long and busy week ahead, but much in it to look forward to. In the meantime, [livejournal.com profile] resourceress pointed me towards this little "film" -- featuring my favourite and second favourite super-heroes -- which is a bit of a laugh!

[*] From the outside, anyway. From the inside? Not so much. (Though I image that the interior of the camera is much more strikingly beautiful.

[**] The same Duke, I might add, who was younger brother to Henry V and features in the History Plays.
The weather this weekend in Oxford was better than just about all of last Summer. Gives me hope, it does, that we will actually have a Summer this year.

[livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic came out from London on Friday evening and we spent much of the weekend together. We had fun doing things like walking through tunnels under Broad Street, where books are sent about by the house elves who work for the Bodleian Library. We also went into the Radcliffe Camera -- which resembles Sauron's temple to Morgoth on Númenor[*] -- saw the Divinity School and Duke Humphrey's Library[**], and visited the Convocation House where, on two or three occasions, Parliament has been held. We also took advantage of the stunning weather to come outside and above ground -- several hours were spent stroll and lolling about in the Oxford Botanic Gardens. There, I showed her Tolkien's favourite tree and the bench that Lyra and Will meet at in the final chapter of the His Dark Materials trilogy. We also got a glimpse of the Lord Mayor, who I still have not had to kill.

After getting out of bed today, we had a quick lunch together, then went out on our separate paths. Mine took me to the lab, the city centre and, in the evening, to St. Giles where I rang bells for services. My ropesight needs much work, but is obviously improving -- I rang the treble on some Reverse Canterbury. It is a method I have never rung before and am entirely unfamiliar with. However, the treble only hunts from front to back, repeatedly. Using this knowledge and ropesight, I could work out where I should be (more or less). The best campanological news of the evening came after tower bell ringing, though. JP and BM came back to Skullcrusher Mountain with me and we practiced our Plain Bob Minor on handbells. I rang the trebles and, for the first time, made it through the extent. Which is to say that we rang every possible combination of bells -- for six bells, this is 720 changes and takes about twenty-five minutes. A nice little milestone for my handbell ringing, and I am quite pleased by it!

Now I am watching the long twilight over Oxford as I prepare the Kelvinox for tomorrow. There is a long and busy week ahead, but much in it to look forward to. In the meantime, [livejournal.com profile] resourceress pointed me towards this little "film" -- featuring my favourite and second favourite super-heroes -- which is a bit of a laugh!

[*] From the outside, anyway. From the inside? Not so much. (Though I image that the interior of the camera is much more strikingly beautiful.

[**] The same Duke, I might add, who was younger brother to Henry V and features in the History Plays.
You know what they say: If your weekend was so active it leaves you limping, then you know that it was a success!

Don't have time for details now, but here is the synopsis: On Saturday, I left Oxford and made my was to London for BiFest. Had an excellent time, meeting lovely new people and seeing some faces that are happily becoming familiar. Besides the people -- which was really the best part -- there were nifty workshops, yummy food, and a spiffy dance.

Sunday morning, [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and I lay in until after noon. This delayed the start of my London walk by a couple of hours. By one o'clock, I was on my way, however. The original plan for the route can be seen here, and is just over twenty miles. It begins in Lewisham, near Greenwich Park, and ends up in Regents Park. Now that I have done the walk, I need to map out the actual course that I took, which I estimate to be about twenty two miles. I added some extra detours when something interesting, like the Old Bailey, caught my eye. Indeed, I got quite a splendid tour of London from this walk. Yesterday turned out to have a musical theatre theme -- while walking, I listened to soundtracks from five of my favourite shows.

After the walk ended, around nine o'clock, I went to the Pembury tavern and met [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and others to unwind. [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic gets thanks and public recognition for being remarkably sweet -- she saved food for me when the kitchen closed so that I would be able to eat!

Once we left the tavern and made our way back to her house, I took a nice hot bath to relax the sore muscles in my left leg. The right leg is perfectly fine and doesn't notice that it very nearly walked a marathon yesterday. However, I must have pulled something in the left leg, because it is noticeably stiff and I am limping.

This morning was very lazy, and I did not actually stand up until after three o'clock. Shortly after I did, it was time to make my way back to Oxford my my ice skating lesson. Although we are technically a level three class, we have now covered all of the level three and four skills -- and started in on level five this week! We are halfway through the term -- three lessons down, three to go -- and I am hoping to pass the tests for level three and four. While it might be nice to get an early start on level five, actually passing it can wait for the next term. I must confess that my performance in today's class was less than stellar -- having one wooden leg is not an advantage on the ice.

That brings us to the present. I am currently in the lab, getting the cryostat set up for tomorrow. Yes, I know that it is ten o'clock in the evening and a holiday. What is your point? I am a scientist, we know nothing of set working hours!

Actually, the work here should be done shortly, at which point I will head home to lavish attention on The Boy and to make phone calls to [livejournal.com profile] resourceress[*] -- to talk about Iron Man -- and [livejournal.com profile] gyades. Then it is off to sleep -- early, I hope -- as a busy week awaits.

[*] Resourceress being the only partner I have ever had who shares my love for the Armored Avenger.

You know what they say: If your weekend was so active it leaves you limping, then you know that it was a success!

Don't have time for details now, but here is the synopsis: On Saturday, I left Oxford and made my was to London for BiFest. Had an excellent time, meeting lovely new people and seeing some faces that are happily becoming familiar. Besides the people -- which was really the best part -- there were nifty workshops, yummy food, and a spiffy dance.

Sunday morning, [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and I lay in until after noon. This delayed the start of my London walk by a couple of hours. By one o'clock, I was on my way, however. The original plan for the route can be seen here, and is just over twenty miles. It begins in Lewisham, near Greenwich Park, and ends up in Regents Park. Now that I have done the walk, I need to map out the actual course that I took, which I estimate to be about twenty two miles. I added some extra detours when something interesting, like the Old Bailey, caught my eye. Indeed, I got quite a splendid tour of London from this walk. Yesterday turned out to have a musical theatre theme -- while walking, I listened to soundtracks from five of my favourite shows.

After the walk ended, around nine o'clock, I went to the Pembury tavern and met [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic and others to unwind. [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic gets thanks and public recognition for being remarkably sweet -- she saved food for me when the kitchen closed so that I would be able to eat!

Once we left the tavern and made our way back to her house, I took a nice hot bath to relax the sore muscles in my left leg. The right leg is perfectly fine and doesn't notice that it very nearly walked a marathon yesterday. However, I must have pulled something in the left leg, because it is noticeably stiff and I am limping.

This morning was very lazy, and I did not actually stand up until after three o'clock. Shortly after I did, it was time to make my way back to Oxford my my ice skating lesson. Although we are technically a level three class, we have now covered all of the level three and four skills -- and started in on level five this week! We are halfway through the term -- three lessons down, three to go -- and I am hoping to pass the tests for level three and four. While it might be nice to get an early start on level five, actually passing it can wait for the next term. I must confess that my performance in today's class was less than stellar -- having one wooden leg is not an advantage on the ice.

That brings us to the present. I am currently in the lab, getting the cryostat set up for tomorrow. Yes, I know that it is ten o'clock in the evening and a holiday. What is your point? I am a scientist, we know nothing of set working hours!

Actually, the work here should be done shortly, at which point I will head home to lavish attention on The Boy and to make phone calls to [livejournal.com profile] resourceress[*] -- to talk about Iron Man -- and [livejournal.com profile] gyades. Then it is off to sleep -- early, I hope -- as a busy week awaits.

[*] Resourceress being the only partner I have ever had who shares my love for the Armored Avenger.

anarchist_nomad: (Mailbox Madness!)
( Apr. 15th, 2008 12:32 am)
Today is now April 15th 2008. This is the day that the Royal Mint begins to ship sets of the new coins of the pound sterling. With a little luck, I will soon have a set on its way to me!

Speaking of the new coins, the delightful [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic has brought to my attention a BBC opinion piece about the new coinage. As with most reviews of the new design -- which splits the Royal Shield of Arms between six coins -- this one has an overall negative perspective. However, it is a review worth noting because of one particular line:
Fitting round coins together so that they form the appropriate square picture sounds like a task for a particle physicist, but it could be intriguing to try.
Need I say more?

Another friend, who is a professional numismatist[**], had this to say about the new coinage. )

Personally, I have come to the conclusion that I like the new designs and I think that the idea of a six part image is innovative and cool. I will definitely be purchasing an uncirculated set. However, I like the old designs, too, and believe that they are more appropriate for general use. I think it would have been better if the new designs were part of a commemorative set, possibly only minted for one year, rather than the standard currency of the UK for the foreseeable future.

Is it wrong of me to hope that the Queen croaks within the next year? It would mean a new set of coins for 2009 -- same reverse designs but a new monarch's head on the obverse -- which would make the coins that are about to be released a one year edition, which would be quite special.

Also in the news, but having nothing whatsoever to do with coins of this or any other realm, are two New York Times articles that caught my attention today. The first, entitled Union Killings Peril Trade Pact With Colombia, talked openly about the ongoing murder of union leaders, which has been taking place for many years. Back in December 2003, I heard a Colombian unionist speak in Chicago about the atrocities that take place there. I thought it was good to see an article like this in the mainstream press... however, I also found it striking that the NY Times managed to completely avoid mentioning by name any corporation that backs these killings in order to profit from union busting. A small company that you may have heard of, named Coca Cola, is one such corporation. Methinks ye olde New York Times is afraid to anger its advertising base.

On a much less disturbing note, the NY Times also had a travel article about the pubs of Oxford. Although I am a lifelong teetotaller, it was fun to read and think: "Yup, I've been in that one. Been there, too. Have not been inside that one, but have walked past it many times..." Ah, I do so love living in Oxford!

[*] At the party on Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] artremis introduced me to my new nickname: Astro-Muppet!

[**] I speak of AB, husband of [livejournal.com profile] rbdarkly, for those who know them.


anarchist_nomad: (Mailbox Madness!)
( Apr. 15th, 2008 12:32 am)
Today is now April 15th 2008. This is the day that the Royal Mint begins to ship sets of the new coins of the pound sterling. With a little luck, I will soon have a set on its way to me!

Speaking of the new coins, the delightful [livejournal.com profile] ms_katonic has brought to my attention a BBC opinion piece about the new coinage. As with most reviews of the new design -- which splits the Royal Shield of Arms between six coins -- this one has an overall negative perspective. However, it is a review worth noting because of one particular line:
Fitting round coins together so that they form the appropriate square picture sounds like a task for a particle physicist, but it could be intriguing to try.
Need I say more?

Another friend, who is a professional numismatist[**], had this to say about the new coinage. )

Personally, I have come to the conclusion that I like the new designs and I think that the idea of a six part image is innovative and cool. I will definitely be purchasing an uncirculated set. However, I like the old designs, too, and believe that they are more appropriate for general use. I think it would have been better if the new designs were part of a commemorative set, possibly only minted for one year, rather than the standard currency of the UK for the foreseeable future.

Is it wrong of me to hope that the Queen croaks within the next year? It would mean a new set of coins for 2009 -- same reverse designs but a new monarch's head on the obverse -- which would make the coins that are about to be released a one year edition, which would be quite special.

Also in the news, but having nothing whatsoever to do with coins of this or any other realm, are two New York Times articles that caught my attention today. The first, entitled Union Killings Peril Trade Pact With Colombia, talked openly about the ongoing murder of union leaders, which has been taking place for many years. Back in December 2003, I heard a Colombian unionist speak in Chicago about the atrocities that take place there. I thought it was good to see an article like this in the mainstream press... however, I also found it striking that the NY Times managed to completely avoid mentioning by name any corporation that backs these killings in order to profit from union busting. A small company that you may have heard of, named Coca Cola, is one such corporation. Methinks ye olde New York Times is afraid to anger its advertising base.

On a much less disturbing note, the NY Times also had a travel article about the pubs of Oxford. Although I am a lifelong teetotaller, it was fun to read and think: "Yup, I've been in that one. Been there, too. Have not been inside that one, but have walked past it many times..." Ah, I do so love living in Oxford!

[*] At the party on Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] artremis introduced me to my new nickname: Astro-Muppet!

[**] I speak of AB, husband of [livejournal.com profile] rbdarkly, for those who know them.


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