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Many thanks to everyone who helped out with my job application - I got an e-mail today inviting me to a preliminary interview at the NAO! I'm just a little bit happy about this. I spent a few minutes jumping around my room cheerfully after finding out.
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In preparation for a family party, I got this pizza recipe from an Italian post-doc in the group. I haven't tried it yet, but he is very into his pizze so it should be good. I'm putting it here for my own reference as much as anything, but clearly if you're up for a pizza give it a go!

Recipe below )
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I have "The World This Weekend" on in the background while I finish up the last lot of OU marking for the year. In relation to the death of Marcel Marceau, the BBC reported "... Marceau was a member of the French Resistance during World War Two ..."

Because I'm a bad, evil person, the first thing that came to my mind:

German interrogator: "Tell us where the Resistance is hiding!"
Marceau: ...
GI: "It's no good. He won't talk."
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I am perennially rubbish at keeping up with addresses, with the consequence that I have very few addresses of friends. I would like to remedy this - and thus the poll below, with results viewable only to me. (I hope! Do check before you submit your answers..) If you'd like to give me your address but don't like putting such information on LJ, feel free to e-mail me at ben.fletcher@sjc.ox.ac.uk

[Poll #1052524]

Thank you!

Aug. 29th, 2007 08:33 pm
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I just wanted to say thank you for all of your kind words and congratulations. You all rock. That's all.
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Just a quick note to say that I'll have very limited internet access for the next week or so. On the plus side, when I come back I will finally have read Deathly Hallows!
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Hello, all - quick question. Does anyone in/near Oxford have an old laptop I could borrow for a week or so? I'm off to teach a summer school for the Open University, and there's relatively little computer access. I'm to give a lecture about 3/4 of the way through, and it'd be nice if I could work on my lecture during the week. So if anyone has an old laptop (it just needs to be able to run Powerpoint) that I could borrow that would be lovely - failing that, does anyone know if there are rentable laptops available elsewhere?
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So there have been a few disconcerting revelations recently.
- Any children I have will not be American citizens unless and until I spend another two years in the US. This is surprisingly sensible - clearly if I continue living outside the US, I'm not really strongly into the American things - but it was not how I assumed things worked. I found it more of a shock than I would have predicted.
- I logged into Pern this morning and discovered that Conn has been de-knotted as a Harper. Again: it's entirely fair. I've not really been playing properly since I started grad school, nigh on three years ago! I guess in much the same way the citizenship thing made me realize that I've come a long way from being just an American, this makes me realize that I've moved on from MUSHing. But it makes me sad, as I had a lot of fun RPing Conn over the years.

And less introspectively:
- There are pots and pans in Boswells that cost over £100 each. Now, I know Le Creuset is meant to be really good, but for that much money I'm rather expecting the pan to stir itself!
- Someone in Oxford is weird and twisted enough to produce a musical version of the Aeneid. And they proudly boast that it features songs from Robbie Williams, Michael Jackson and Abba.
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Humor me, if you will, with a poll about this poem by Robert Graves:

She tells her love while half asleep,
In the dark hours,
With half-words whispered low:
As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
And puts out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.

[Poll #976811]

Where this came from )

So the point of this post is to find out how much of a freak I am for holding this interpretation. If you do hold the opposite view, I'd very much welcome any explanation - I'm not really seeing where it's coming from.
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The Oxford Folk Festival is coming up, scheduled for the 30th March to 1st April. Excitingly (for me, at least!) June Tabor is playing at the Holywell Music Room on the 22nd March as a warm-up act for this. Would anyone else be interested in one or more of the following?

- June Tabor on 22nd March
- Spiers and Boden at the Town Hall on 31st March, 4 PM
- Eliza Carthy at the Town Hall on 1st April, 4 PM
- Ceilidh on 31st March at 8 PM (Brookes)

I suspect that the first three of the above will sell out rather quickly, so if anyone else wants to join me for those please let me know ASAP!
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As many of you will already know, last night saw the final of the 16th Oxford Inter-Collegiate Quiz. As [livejournal.com profile] chocaholic7 took some delight in pointing out, this was my seventh outing in that particular competition. The results can be seen here.

In summary - we (SJC A) made it to the final fairly easily, and were then comprehensively out-played by Balliol. I can't really be terribly upset about the loss, though - not when we lost to such a very good team. It's appropriate that Balliol should win this year, as they'll be keeping the current trophy (which will be full with their name added again). Having won the competition six times in the last nine years, no one else deserves that trophy.

Highlights of Finals night:
- The person formerly known as [livejournal.com profile] omap identifying 1963 on the basis of a white paper on railways, causing every quiz geek in the room to look at him and think "saddo."
- Questions on Radio 4!
- The Weakest Drink afterwards

As ever when thinking of the ICQ, many thanks go to the above-mentioned [livejournal.com profile] chocaholic7, whose heroic efforts produced the questions for this year's competition and to [livejournal.com profile] ktroo85, now officially known as Morris Oxford, who was the tournament director.
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I just received an e-mail from the European Science Foundation. To wit:

Please find below information on an ESF Conference which may be of particular interest to you:

Integrity in Research



Because I'm an optimist, I'm going to assume that they think I'll be interested because of my vast reserves of integrity rather than a lack thereof!

Hurrah!

Feb. 15th, 2007 07:54 pm
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This evening, St. John's Dolphin Lecture Room played host to most of the remaining matches in Group F of the ICQ's first round. Results:

- SJC A bt St. Cross 340:120

- Jesus A bt Wycliffe B ??

- SJC A bt Wycliffe B 375:115

So we (SJC A) are definitely going through to the second round. We even just beat Somerville for highest points for in the first round thus far. Now all we have to do is keep from repeating what happened last year after a similarly strong first round performance!

ETA: Just ran into a member of SJC C, who have just beaten Exeter B soundly. So we should get three teams at least into the second round playoffs!
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I've just been glancing over the ICQ results so far, and I notice that it's not at all impossible for all three of St. John's teams to make it into the second round! Not _likely_, necessarily - it's hard to tell until all the results are in - but definitely possible. Has that ever happened before? I know I've managed two SJC teams into the second round before, but never three.
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Meme, because I don't want to travel out to Iffley when it's cold and wet and miserable. This is the initial lyrics of the first 25 songs that a random shuffle of my library produced. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: identify the songs.

Meme )

In other news, I was rejected in my attempt to book tickets for the Now Show, with the unhelpful message that either my application was wrong or the showing was full. One would have thought that the difference between those two was significant enough to merit different error messages, but apparently not... I think they just want to tempt you into calling their premium rate number.

Hurrah!

Feb. 5th, 2007 10:21 pm
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Some of you may remember SJC A's inglorious exit from last year's Oxford Inter-Collegiate Quiz - a second round defeat to St. Peter's B team, playing with only three players. Who, to add insult to injury, then sent only a single representative to their quarter-final match.

This year's situation and tonight's result )

Outside of quizzing my life has been pretty quiet, mostly slogging away at lab work. I did manage to - by the skin of my teeth! - acquire a shiny new blue belt in Sul-Ki-Do. Other than that, I've been putting a lot of time into preparing for the Open University teaching. I even had an anxiety dream about it.

What Ben's subconscious gets up to )

Happy Feet

Dec. 20th, 2006 11:03 pm
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Am home for Christmas now - doing a couple of hours worth of work a day to keep my hand in, but mostly I'm quite enjoying the chance to relax a bit. Playing very silly games - my father, my youngest brother and I are currently playing our way through the original Neverwinter Nights single-player campaign. So far it's mainly reminded me of how annoyingly obvious the first set of 'secret' baddies are, and how infuriatingly impotent your PCs are to do anything even once they've belatedly worked out the cunning conspiracy. So if anyone has any recommendations for modules suitable for co-operative multiplayer, do let me know!

The main entertainment for today was, however, not computer based - we went to the cinema to see Happy Feet.

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Sigh. It's all one word again, it appears - it's like now that the bowlers are ticking over again, the batsmen are insisting on their turn at being rubbish! Most depressing statistic for the day - Harmison and Panesar put on more runs for the tenth wicket than any other partnership during the innings. Jones is out for a duck again. Bell is apparently feeling nostalgic for the 2005 series, so has decided to reprise his much-admired bunny role. I wish there was some conclusion to be drawn, but I'm not sure there is - just that England seem to panic when they start doing well, and so stop doing well very quickly. At least they're back in their comfort zone..

Yay Monty!

Dec. 14th, 2006 08:50 am
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Five wickets for 90! Four from Harmison! Australia all out for 242! My God, it looks like England have remembered how to play cricket!

... of course, they now have to face Shane Warne on a pitch that's clearly spinning. But it looks like we might actually have a live series.

Job Update

Nov. 27th, 2006 08:42 pm
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I got rejected from both of the internships at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology - one without even an interview. This is particularly puzzling, as the writing sample that I prepared was actually for the requirements of the one that I _didn't_ get invited to interview for; I kind of kludged it into the requirements of the other one just on the off chance I might succeed. But apparently not.

In more positive news, the Open University _does_ want me - to teach the course about atomic and quantum physics that I mentioned previously. So hurrah! This was celebrated on Friday evening with Belgian chocolate truffle cheesecake and dessert wine.

In other news, I've been continuing to enjoy Launchcast for its ability to provide background music somewhat suited to my tastes. Thus, five songs that I really like and would never have known about except for Launchcast:
1) 'I Don't Believe You', by The Magnetic Fields
2) 'God of Wine', by Third Eye Blind
3) 'Perfect World' by Simple Plan
4) 'City of New Orleans', by Arlo Guthrie
5) 'Zoe Jane' by Staind
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