katsmeat: (Default)
On Tuesday, I was in Cambridge for the first time in about eight months - Mathworks were running a Matlab symposium at the Cavendish Laboratory, the Department of Physics. It was free to attend and there literally was free lunch, who could possibly say no? I attended two boring and pointless talks (one of which was from Mathwork's UK Head), one sort-of OK talk, and two fascinating and usefull ones. Both of these were given by this woman, which implies I really, really ought to start reading her blog.

In these things, the lecturers tend to have a small stockpile of branded merchendise, to hand out as a pat on the head to any audience member who asks a good question, answers a lecturer's question or points out a mistake. And I got one! A Mathworks USB stick!

My thought process when this happened went something along the lines of... "OMG! Did I really just answer that? I'm so clever! I'm utterly briliant! And here's the bloke walking over to hand me the USB stick. Now politely say thank-you, smile modestly on the outside, grin like a maniac on the inside...

And it's a 1Gb. Oh, wow. Thanks. Jeez, have you had a box of these sitting forgotten at the bottom of a cupboard since 2005?"

So yes, my gratitude seems to last like snow under a flamethrower.

The Cavendish is interesting - incandescently prestigous (29 Nobels according to Wikipedia) yet the buildings look remarkably shabby (they're big on damp-stained ceiling tiles and peeling paint). One gets the impression of buildings built cheaply in 1960-something, that have been since continually chopped, altered and added-to as requirements change. Each time done as quickly and cheaply as possible. There's an vague air of "we don't care about appearances, because we don't have to care about apearances."

There are, however, lots of interesting glass cases, filled with aparatus used by varous exceptionally_famous phycists. I assume these were the things the Science Museum didn't want when they were clearing out the person in question's office or lab after death or retirement. They have the nice tradition of having a rows of annual, group photos of the department's research students. Impressively, I was familiar with about 1 in 20 of the names - Cockcroft, Walton, Blackett, Thompson, Watson, Crick, Bragg, Rutherford. If I didn't know the person, I was at least aware of the name in connection with some rule, law or equation.

After it was over, I took a quick wander through the town, mainly popping through those bookshops that are still open, but not buying anything. Then home.
katsmeat: (Default)
I just submitted an application to the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge – they want a data-entry monkey for 8 weeks, entering meta-data on their image archive. It'll be with the "Education and Public Outreach" department; experience with Photoshop is desirable.

Am I just being paranoid, or does that vacancy sound tailored to a hypothetical, recently-graduated, unemployed sprog of one of the BAS's high-muckety-mucks, who did did some kind of Public-Relations, Meeja or "Design" degree that included a week playing with Photoshop.

Let's hope it's paranoia.

It'd be nice to get - forget the PR muppets, it might offer a chance to hang about in the common room with the researchers, saying things like "I know didley-squat about glaciology and oceanography but I know all about Modelling and Matlab".

Anyway... off to campus. The weekly Grad-bar pub quiz is on and I need some of the free-beer tokens that are a consequence of winning it.
katsmeat: (Happy)
Cambridge yesderday. Met [livejournal.com profile] auntysarah, [livejournal.com profile] the_local_echo then, in the evening [livejournal.com profile] snigl3t and her partner, < lj user= "got better thing to do then messing about with livejournal >.

She introduced me to a monumental waste of time - 6 down, about a 1000 to go.


< sigh >
katsmeat: (Velma)
So... yesterday I was in Cambridge again, mainly to go to Galloway and Porter's academic book sale. They really should say computer instead of academic. As always, the place was stuffed full of O'Reillys that were current edition - 1. But at two pounds each, who's complaining! Anyway, my mother's just bought a MacBook so I bought a bunch of Mac books (I've made that joke before - you can tell). It was worthwhile because they were surprisingly up-to-date, I got a couple of O'Reillys on OS-X Tiger.

Then I took a wander round the Fitzwilliam, though not before making double sure my shoelaces were firmly tied. I'd not been in since they refurbished it about two years ago. Also I wanted to drop the stupidly heavy book-bag somewhere and by then I was pissed off with having to snarl at the tourists as I tried to push through the hoards clogging up the streets.

As a result, I can now tell the difference between a stamnos, a bell-crater, a column-krater, a calyx-crater, an oinochoe, a hydra, an amphora and a lekythos.

Seriously, I'm good. Go on... test me!

Although what was embarrassing was I got so absorbed in the Greek pots that I didn't notice I was leaning on some fourth century BC Athenian's grave marker. This was despite the greatest concentration of Do not touch signs I've pretty much seen anywhere. Anyway, I rightly got a sharp reprimand from the gallery attendant. You see, I was cynically sniggering at the red-figure stamnos who's card described as having a hoplite warrior arming himself on one side and a man making love to a youth on the other... guess which way round it faced in the display case. Yay! Victoria lives!

On the train back, I was playing with my Palm's Bluetooth and noticed some unknown person on the train carriage had a Bluetooth phone called "Young Bi Boy wants to Play".

There was a strong temptation to Bluejack his phone with a message asking if he was any good at backgammon.
katsmeat: (Default)
Up betimes and to setting in order of my bicycle. I did change the bearings on the back wheel. Though discover the bearing cones were pitted, which did vex me mightily as I am sure spares are going to be a swine to source.

Then by train to Cambridge, to call upon the booksellers, Galloway and Porter, at their ware-house in Cherry Hinton where a great multitude of books were, this day, in sale to the publick for little very money. From thence to the house of Mrs [livejournal.com profile] snigl3t to take coffee and admire the new motorcycle helmet her husband has bought for his birthday.

Then together to see "Snakes on a Plane", a strange conceit though it did please me mightily. Then, after a fine dinner at CB1, home and to bed.
katsmeat: (Default)
Friday, I was in Cambridge and met up with [livejournal.com profile] snigl3t's partner in the Cambridge Blue. I suspect I got him fairly drunk (completely unintentional, BTW).

Saturday, I want round some bike shops to see about some parts I'd ordered. What is the point? Each shops only deals with certain distributors so they only stock bits from certain manufacturers. Also, I've been waiting for a pair of tyres from one for nearly three weeks. Screw them! Ordering on-line is cheaper, faster and postage-free of you go to someone like chain-reaction. I think I'm only still going to the brick-and-mortar shops to keep in with them, in case I need a favour. What that might ever be, I really don't know

Sunday, I've come in and I've been pretending to work.

Actually, I found my copy of George Dyson's book on Project Orion last night. As it was in my mind, I looked up the Wikipedia Article. To my joy, the article linked to pdf's the original 1964 project report, which I'm currently skimming.

Nuclear pulse propulsion - a ten-thousand ton spaceship propelled by thousands of small nuclear bombs - the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.
katsmeat: (Default)
Another evening at the dry-ski slope. Only one bloke went home in an ambulance - he fell forward and broke both wrists. I'm glad I wear wrist guards. Tomorrow, I'm doing the tourist thing at the Duxford Air Museum with my new American office mate. A day off is probably a good idea because I think I'm losing it. I managed to put on different shoes this morning and only noticed when I was taking off my snowboard boots when I came off the slope. They were similar shoes, but even so.

Incidentally, tomorrow is also Empire Day ... so have a good one!
katsmeat: (Default)
More snowboarding at the dry-slope this evening. I'm slowly accumulating safety equipment - each time I hurt myself, I go out and buy the bit that protects that part of the body - so it's knee pads next. I wonder if there's an easier way to do this.

I also signed up to help out. You get free hour on the slope in exchange for each hour behind the counter, handing out boots and skis. So that's Monday's 8pm till 10pm sorted out. According to the bloke who run's the snowboarding side of things, the big benefit is that the instructors are much more likely to help you out. Generally, they're wary about giving people pointers because a lot of cheapskates deliberately take one or two lessons, then try to leech free advice to get themselves up to standard. If you're a known 'staff member' then the the instructors are much more relaxed.

I'm off to Cambridge tomorrow, to go to Galloway and Porter's warehouse sale of academic books. I used to dislike Cambridge, it always seemed too crowded, grimy and had too much traffic - really a mini-London. But it seems to be growing on me. I should get up there more often.


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June 2012

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