Monday, October 30, 2006

Let's have some perspective, people

It's been a while since I've felt the need to foray in to the world of politics, but the drought has now ended.

I was reading this article on the BBC News Page and learned that according to the Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris,

"Criminalising flag-burning would be an unacceptable restriction of freedom of expression".

I assume that Dr Harris, who obviously cares about freedom of expression, belongs to the same Liberal Democrat party who made these comments for The Telegraph recently:

"Last night the Liberal Democrats called for Miss Kelly, who is also in charge of Government policy on promoting equality, to resign on the grounds that her personal beliefs are incompatible with advancing gay rights."

The word "inconsistent" springs to mind.

I might not be David Cameron's biggest fan, but I still fail to see why on earth anyone would vote for the Lib Dems*. And let's face it, the comments about Ruth Kelly are neither "Liberal" nor "Democratic" so even the party name is a sham.

*Obviously people do vote for them, so if you are one such person I would genuinely like to know what your reasons are.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

They say it's all part of the fun

The ill-timed arrival of "Gregor" was far less disastrous than it could have been and there were no other mishaps to speak of. But then "Hugo" got mentioned and by the end no-one was any the wiser about whether not the curtains do actually match the sofa.

I am however very much indebted to my non-gay gay best friend.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

JP's Cake Corner

A cursory glance at the recent stats for this blog have revealed that several people have arrived in thie corner of the Blogosphere after searching for 'JP's Cake Corner'. I think they probably went away disappointed, but does anyone know who this other JP is, and where he keeps his cakes?

I was also pleased to note that someone arrived here by searching for "he's got a dream about buying some land". Bring on the Shetland banter (and sorry for the in-joke).

Gradumaration

It's been a bit quiet in this part of the Blogosphere recently - the heavy workload required for my MSc is taking its toll, though I am still enjoying it.

Last weekend I was back in Oxford for my graduation, and I had a wonderful time. The ceremony was great, and full of the usual Oxford eccentricities.

For a start, it was all in Latin, with the exception of an introductory speech - explaining why the ceremony was in Latin. Even the Colleges were referred to by their Latin names. The degrees were presented in order from 'Doctor of Medicine' through to DPhil, Masters and BA and between each list of names we were treated to the 'Proctor's Walk'. This was not as exciting as it sounds , and consisted only of the proctors doffing their mortar boards and walking from one end of the Sheldonian Theatre to the other and back again. Apparently it provides an opportunity for people to voice their objections about someone being presented for a degree.

I really quite liked the way that we were presented for our degrees in our undergraduate gowns before processing out, putting on our BA gowns and hoods and processing back in again.

The thing that most amused me about the ceremony was the bloke giving instructions to the students in English. The Latin ceremony was punctuated at intervals by "rows of four" and "face the proctor on your right please" in a voice which would have suited a London Tube station far more than it did the Sheldonian Theatre.

Following the ceremony there was an excellent lunch in college and then in the evening a huge group of us went out for dinner and drinks. Some of us even made a stop at Medhis - who, amazingly, has a new van. His range of cuisine has possibly expanded as well, although disappointingly 'Vegetarians' no longer feature amongst 'Cold Drinks', 'Chips' and 'Burgers' on the list of items on offer.

It was really great to see everyone again. Sunday continued in a similar vein - I enjoyed attending St Aldates in the morning and I sang in the College Choir in the evening. Co-incidentally the one and only Nick Prozzillo was conducting for part of it, which was an added bonus.

The week since has been manic, with the first of many coursework deadlines. I am starting to see why people hate Matlab as well.

One highlight however was the 40th Anniversary service of the University of Bath, which took place in the Abbey. It was my first 'outing' with the University Chamber Choir, and I really enjoyed it. Fittingly hoods were worn by the choir (if applicable) and I was able to wear an Oxford BA hood.

Nim the brave has been bemoaning the recent lack of anecdotes on this site. I will try and rectify that in due course, but now I must get back to my maths. Yummy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ramblings

There has been a lot of talk recently about respecting confidentiality and not saying anything in the blogosphere you may later regret. Sometimes you just have to keep schtum.

In light of my opening gambit I shall have to avoid some of the events of the last week, but suffice to say it's had its moments. Fear not however, I have enough ramblings which are suitable for general consumption to be going on with.

Sam's Town, the new Killers album has so far not disappointed. As a random observation however I am still perplexed as to why my Friends' DVD Box set fitted through my letter box and the Sam's Town CD (both from HMV) did not. Fortunately the Post Office from which I could collect it is only a little way off my route in to uni.

I am starting to settle in to my course now, and although there is a
lot of work I am really enjoying it. My coursework is especially
enjoyable, though it is taking up a lot of time and I fear that I am
just sweeping my other modules under the carpet.

I did however get a good break at the weekend when I enjoyed visiting
some friends in South Wales. I watched some rugby, was well fed and
enjoyed some quality banter. What more can I ask for? This coming
weekend is also going to be spent away, for I am graduating (as you
do). I'm quite excited about it and I am really looking forward to
seeing friends and family and having some good times.

I am slowly getting used to the buses. I don't like them still, and I
have come across some very mean drivers. However as an evil necessity I am
coping with the concept of bus travel more than I was before. This
may or may not have something to do with the fact that I set a new
record on Tuesday and have had no irritating hold ups for a while.

Talking of buses, everyone's favourite bus geek had some interesting opinions on Christians and Catholicism when I logged on this morning.

I still like living in a proper house, with all that that entails. My
cooking skills are slowly improving (I enjoyed having some friends for
dinner last week) and the proper living room is still something of a
bonus. The problem with having a TV though is that you become
addicted to it. I have found myself absorbed with the new Robin Hood
series, for example. And the problem with having a video recorder is
that you miss it when it breaks. Couple the two together and it
becomes very traumatic when you realise that you might have to miss an
episode of something.

Back to doing something more useful than sharing my thoughts with an
eclectic online audience.

October 17th

For the benefit of www.historymatters.org.uk...

For me October 17th 2006 started at 7.30am when I awoke in a daze wondering who was ringing me at that time; but I then remembered that my phone is also my alarm clock and that was a more plausible reason for it vibrating on my bedside table. (Just to clear up any worries, my alarm does not make the same noise as my ring tone. However, I have no excuse for taking a while to notice this).

I didn't have time to mourn the fact that no-one was ringing me after all as it all came flooding back to me that I had planned to have a leisurely breakfast in front of the TV. My plan was foiled however when I realised that there was no milk. Bummer. Never one to be defeated though I headed off to my local convenience store, with a view to rectifying this problem.

Besides milk, I also purchased some apples and some bananas and some gum. Oh and I had decided that I fancied some eggs, so I carefully selected a free-range box, paying careful attention to the best before date (at that point I had no idea how long eggs keep for and I didn't fancy feasting on 6 in 24 hrs).

I couldn't resist the lure of the baker next door and purchased what later turned out to be a rather delicious iced doughnut. I was mildly annoyed that I was charged 60p when the sign quite clearly said 55p but didn't demand my 5 pence back despite feeling that it breached certain principles (it was, after all, only 5 pence).

So, with a bowl of cereal, a cup of tea, a fried egg sandwich and a glass of grape juice (which would have been orange had I not opened the wrong carton) I watched the video of BBC One's Robin Hood from Saturday.

Then just as I was leaving my housemate surfaced and we enjoyed a brief chat. I began to fear that I would be late for my lecture but I am pleased to report that instead I set a new personal best for getting in to the Uni. Ladies and Gentlemen, I made it in 17 minutes. This was more by luck than judgement given that each of the buses I needed to catch happened to be waiting at the stop when I approached, but it made me feel good nonetheless.

My lecture was a complete waste of time. I couldn't see the board, and despite having a note-taker to copy its contents down for me the lecturer spoke too fast about things I didn't understand.

I then headed to my office and ate my doughnut at my desk whilst checking my emails. I then made a lot of progress with my coursework before heading to the Chaplaincy for the ecumenical Communion Service and lunch. This week it was taken by a Methodist Minister. Given that I went to a Methodist Chapel on Sunday I began to wonder where my allegiances lay.

Lunch was nice, as ever in aid of Oxfam.

The afternoon was not blogworthy, consisting of four hours of lectures and computing labs.

After a quick bite to eat and a chat on the phone with a friend I went to the Chamber Choir Rehearsal, which I enjoyed. As an added bonus I found that I can wear an Oxford BA hood at the big service next week...so long, of course, as I can obtain one first (which, sadly, could be a mission).

Someone called Barry very kindly gave me a lift home, and threw some intelligent conversation in to the bargain. I conversed again with my housemate and watched the News. This was followed by an interesting program on C4 called 'the Holy Hottie' about an ex-porn star who set about making it her mission to preach the Good News to America's sex industry. It was a good program (save for a few dodgy puns) but I was too tired to see how it ended and opted for some sleep instead.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Russians are Invading

The Mathematics Department here seems to have a reasonable quota of Russian lecturers, one of whom teaches me in two modules. I was amused to note that when he was abroad his lectures were taken in each case by a "good friend and colleague" who was also Russian.

The lecturer in question is it has to be said something of a legend, with his sense of humour, and comedy accent. What really amused me last week however was an email he sent around - it turns out he writes like he speaks.

I quote:

"[please attempt] Questions 1-4 of the Sheet 1. (If you've missed a shit a few more copies are in my doorfolder, 1W 3.18)."

So there you have it. Mathematics tuition and relief from constipation all in one.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Grrr

I've not blogged from my phone for ages, but now I feel compelled to. I've been stuck on this bus in the same spot for 10mins now because of some inconsiderate bloke who's badly parked his van. We can't go forwards, or backwards. Van man did eventually return to his van but has so far proven inept at getting out of the way.

Time to get in to uni this morning (including, it has to be said, a pleasant stroll along the canal): 45mins & counting.

Defined by user

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mmm Metro

I'm not yet coming close to liking the bus, and I had to wait for ages this morning as lots of full buses sailed past my stop (well, if they will use the world's smallest buses at peak time).

Nevertheless I did get to enjoy my free copy of the Metro. I learned today that the male Bridget Jones is a growing phenomenon, with lot's of guys wanting to find that special 'one for them' and no longer having the stereotypical fear of commitment. Fortunately though they manage all this without the need for big pants.

I also learned about the World Pea Throwing Championships - apparently the winner threw a pea 24.6m at the event in an East Sussex pub garden. And to think I missed it...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Lounging in the Waldorf

Last night I went to see the Bath University Musicals Society production of Ain't Misbehaving, and it was awesome. It was performed to a very high standard indeed, and I really very much enjoyed it.

Incidentally, the abbreviation of the society (BUSMS) sits well with that of Bath University Student Theatre (BUST) and juvenile though it may be, it did make me smile.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Semi-Loose Collectives (and other things)

In reading this article I was intrigued by the use of the term "Semi-Loose Collective". Does it mean what I think it does?

Yesterday I found myself unimpressed with David Cameron, and agreeing with Jack Straw (don't worry, I still chose to buy the Telegraph rather than the Guardian this morning). I think what Mr Straw said about women wearing veils is a fair point and I should probably get around to airing my views on the subject. In light of an article on Newsnight about troubles surrounding a dairy in Windsor run by a Muslim, the whole issue of Islam and relating to Muslims is fast becoming a hot topic.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Each to their own, I guess

I met someone last night who wants to install a DVD player and screens in the back of the headrests in his car. Not for the back seat passengers (if indeed there are any) but "because it looks good when the car is parked."

Meanwhile, further to yesterday's post I skimmed this this morning, and thought it made for interesting reading.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Boris: What a legend

I love having a proper sofa in a proper living room on which to chill out and watch a proper TV and last night I caught the end of Newsnight. Aside from the worry that it makes me feel old (maybe "mature" would be better) I really enjoyed it.

The article about the Conservative Party Conference was interesting. There is a lot of fuss about the "A-list" and having candidates who are representative of society, yet I worry that it is more political correctness gone mad. I thought a good point was made by Jacob Rees-Mogg about not discriminating against Oxbridge candidates - if as is claimed Oxford and Cambridge do attract some of the brightest minds in the country then this should be an asset, not a hindrance. After all, we are talking about people to govern the country and make important decisions.
One of the "A-list" candidates interviewed talked about the need for candidates to empathise with their consitutents and gave the example that some people just couldn't relate to working class families struggling to make a living and residing in a council house. This may be a fair point, and in theory it is good to make sure that all walks of life are represented. However, if an MP comes from a council house background he would find it just as hard to relate to the likes of Mr Rees-Mogg. So unless you have many MPs for one constituency it's never going to be the case that everyone is well represented in practise, and I think it is much more important that those who govern us are chosen firstly on their ability to do the job, and not on their background.

Meanwhile, I was greatly amused by the need for the press to follow Boris Johnson around, in case he "said something" (the conference being apparently un-newsworthy otherwise). The Newsnight coverage made me laugh, and as my title says: What a legend...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"True to form where you and bikes are concerned"

My title today reflects my friend Harry's reaction to my latest disaster -
half of my bike-lock key remains in the lock leaving me in the unenviable
position of working out how to steal my own bike. Fortunately I was
visiting friends and the bike was not locked to anything fixed, but it is
still a big and quite depressing problem.

That aside however, life is good. I am starting to really like Bath. I
like the fact that I have a desk and computer in the MSc room. I like the
fact that the CU is lively and ecumenical. I like the 50m swimming pool on
campus, which is free for students. I like the way people put washing up
liquid in the fountain in Great Pulteney Street making it go all foamy.

I don't like the buses (and cannot therefore understand Mugford's love of
them) but I am slowly getting used to them. Slowly being the operative
word.

I still miss poncing around in a gown.