Saturday, February 21, 2009

York and Vikings

Traveled with other Gates scholars to the historic city of York, 3 hours to the north. I was pretty exhausted and it was an all day trip, but I still enjoyed it a lot. York has many old buildings, from ruins of its walls and castle to York Minster, one of the larger cathedrals around. The highlight though was watching a reenactment of a battle between Vikings and English from 954, which we're watching here. Strangely the vikings seemed to be the more popular side amongst the crowd.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rugby Playoffs!

Rugby playoffs started today, and we played Homerton, a college from the second division (we're in the third, there are three total). So we were seeded lower, but we came out really strong and took it to them, winning 22-3. It was particulary nice for me since I had a bunch of friends show up and I had an exciting game, with a few longer runs, a blocked kick, and later managed to catch my own kick about 30 m downfield in a full run-one of the rarest plays in rugby. I was named man of the match for the second time of the season.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spring Ball in February

Yesterday was Churchill's Spring Ball (or May Ball), although it was not in Spring or May, it was in February. Many colleges hold May Ball, which is kind of like a more grown-up and over-the-top prom. The basic premise is a black-tie evening with the entire college decorated for a theme, Churchill this year did 'Tokyo: The Neon Sunrise.' The colleges all compete to have the biggest and most expensive ball, which Churchill can't really compete in so we have the earliest instead.

Still it was awesome, one of the most fun big-event evening I can remember ever attending. There was tons of live music, lots of games like laser tag, sumo wrestling, a mind reader and other performers, and of course food. One interesting thing was Silent Disco, which is a room with many people dancing to different music via headphones (above). The effect is quite strange when you turn your headphones off.

Of course, probably the most unusual thing for Churchill was that we actually had lots of women show up. Probably figure since it's a male-heavy college it was a good event to go to. That's my game-theoretic explanation. Not sure if that's it, but I can rule out my vest as the reason women came...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nikola Tesla is rolling in his grave

Minor electrical mishap occurred down at the computer lab today. No injuries or equipment damage, but it made a really loud noise. The full incident report is here, apparently it will be a part of future health and safety lectures. Although I didn't do much wrong, the adapter was one of the worst designs ever built, I'm astonished this kind of thing doesn't happen more often with this model.

That was the most excitement for this week though. I'm just working, a lot, these days, trying to get a few papers out there.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Great Blizzard of '09

The most snow fell in the UK in 18 years today, I was told. It wasn't much snow in the grand scheme of things but we did get a foot or so of nice powder in all-day snow fall.

I decided the bike was inoperable, so I walked to work, but it was well worth it. I brought the camera and was just snapping photos of everything, it was beautiful to see my surroundings coated in snow, like a whole new version of the world. Massive problems occurred as the roads aren't equipped for such a huge snowfall in one instance. So many departments shut down, we received an email recommending we leave before dark because the snowy roads weren't safe at night. I had plenty of fun though, making a snow angel for the first time in my life I believe. We also had a massive, semi-organized snowball fight and some more snow football.
Glad we enjoyed it, because it was mostly gone or turned to ice by the next day...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Sunday

Definitely a different Super Bowl Sunday than the usual affair in the US. For one thing, I gave a 30 minute talk, with presentation slides, about the rules and history of the game. For another, the game starts at 11:30 PM, and there are no funny American commercials.

Fortunately, this was a fantastic game with a really exciting second half, and everybody enjoyed it thoroughly. We also had a nice selection of American beer and junk food available.

Best of all, I got my traditional half-time game of football game going-despite the fact that it was 1 am and it was snowing. A good time was had by all.
I didn't get to bed until around 4, but it was okay, after submitting 3 papers for publication due to crazy conference deadline overlaps, I was ready for a nice break.