Last night in Cambridge

Tonight is my last night in Cambridge. I’m leaving on this impossible journey tomorrow morning, when I will meet my partner and another friendly hitching group, walk to the Hitch breakfast, and then try to catch a ride in the direction of Portsmouth.

Today I made last-minute preparations: buying soap, sunblock, and more high-density food. I have been convinced, rather than trying to hunt down an acceptably small bottle of shaving cream, to forego shaving for the duration of the trip. I have packed every kind of clothing, including many dress and near-dress shirts in order to look maximally spiffy and minimally dangerous. I have my camera and unconscionably many spare batteries. I have an extremely expensive flashy flashlight. I have books, notebooks, maps, and a sleeping bag. I have enough high-calorie-density food to survive for a good long time. I have a towel.

If it were possible to be prepared, I would be.

Note: this site may go down for a day or more, soon. Fear not; hopefully it will reappear shortly thereafter with updates as to the state of my hitching.

Weekend Update

It’s Friday afternoon, and I’ve been having such a wonderful time that I haven’t had a chance to post.
Yesterday I planned out a precisely timed sequence of, washing, drying, eating lunch, going to supervision, getting my hair cut, and meeting with my supervisor, not necessarily in that order. I managed to get almost all of them done, and done well, although the barber claimed to have a hangover on Thursday from the amount he’d drunk Sunday, and generally failed to demonstrate that he understood what was going on around him. For example, despite a continuous conversation for most of the incredibly slow half-hour haircut, he never realized I was an American, indeed, he explicitly pegged me as British. I definitely haven’t picked up a British accent.

After dinner, Chris, the same guy who had wangled me into the boatclub dinner without a ticket, wangled myself and Tom into a Cambridge Union debating society despite none of us being members of this members-only club. His skills are quite impressive. The debate was on the topic “This House Loves the 1980’s,” and listening to experienced debaters wage lighthearted verbal warfare over such a ridiculous topic* was extremely entertaining.

Today I had another supervision, which went well enough, and then lunch with my hitch partner and friends. Lunch was overpriced but wonderful eggs benedict and excellent conversation, after which we went shopping for essentials for our trip. We bought a roadmap of Europe, tourbooks of France and Spain, and a wonderfully enormous sketch pad for making signs. The pad is A1 size, which, when folded out to use the back of one sheet and the front of the next, provides over 6’6″ of room. Together with a handful of markers, we should be plenty visible.

I should really start packing, but I don’t have too much time. In 45 minutes I have to pick up my rucksack and sleeping bag from the hitch coordinator, and then I’m going out to dinner with my hitch partner. I’m slightly worried about this trend toward eating every meal with my hitch partner, seeing as we’ll definitely be doing that once the hitch starts (the rules forbid you to split up even if you want to). On the plus side, I can’t imagine a better person to spend the trip with; she’s even planning on bringing my favorite book that I’ve never read, Gödel Escher Bach.

I’m very excited, and more than slightly scared.

* People old enough to remember the 80’s: my generation has a very strange vision of this decade. We connect the 80’s, more than anything else, with music. Really awful music. (It seems to have escaped our attention that today’s super-popular music is no better.) We find any reference to the 80’s intrinsically hilarious. This phenomenon is as universal as it is inexplicable.


I had planned to use this site to keep in touch during my 11-day adventure, and since I’m serving it myself, from my room, that meant that I needed to be able to leave things in my room while I was gone. However, I have talked with the domestic manager, who informed me after much searching through documents that guests would need to be in my room one day before I returned, and that I must therefore empty it this weekend. From there I went to talk to the Fitz IT officer, who graciously agreed (after questioning the ethics of hosting this site on the Cambridge network) to lend me a connection over the break.


Sorta working

OK, I’ve figured out how this site now works.
Long story short: just leave comments, and I’ll take care of the rest.

Long story:
This version of WordPress has a new way of handling comments. If you aren’t a registered user and you leave a comment, it will appear, but only you and I will see it. If I decide that it’s not spam, I can mark it as a valid comment. From then on, you can post and your comments will appear instantly. If you’re already registered, I never even have to mark that first comment from you. Currently, there is one small problem: user registration isn’t working. This is basically due to the rules of use on the Cambridge network, which doesn’t allow me to run an e-mail server as I would need to. I will eventually work around this, one way or another.

Now to find a less generic site theme…


Classes just ended, and to celebrate, I’ve upgraded my blog!
I don’t actually really know what that means exactly. I suspect the protocol for posting comments will be rather different.

More craziness

Crazy day.
So, I had made an arrangement with a historian friend of mine to do a lecture exchange. On Friday I visited a lecture on Republicanism in English Political Thought (no, not that kind of Republican), and today he came to Concepts in Physics lecture on cosmology. That ended at 11, at which point I came home and showered, leaving me a few spare moments before I had to shower and head off to lunch at Wetherspoon’s (a chain pub) at 1 PM. Lunch was a meeting with my hitch partner and a few other hitchers at which point we sorted out plane flights (we’re all flying back from Jerez to Stansted on the 31st) and discussed hitching strategies, though that was a case of the blind leading the blind.

I had two pieces of work to hand in for translation class, which would have made sense geographically to bring with me to lunch, if I’d had the foresight. As I hadn’t, I was forced to walk all the way back to college, print out the papers, and walk back to Christ’s college (founded by Alfred P. Christ, no relation) to hand in my essays. Except that, having gotten to Christ’s, I quickly realized that I had got the wrong college. Luckily, my second guess, Trinity, was correct. At that point it was 3 PM, and I had two hours to do enough work for my next supervision to appear diligent, or at least not delinquent. I took over a table at the nearest bookstore coffee shop and proceeded to work like hell for the next two hours. In the end, I managed to complete every problem that we covered in supervision.

To conclude, I just got an e-mail confirming that I will have a rucksack, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat for the hitch. I’ve even been offered a tent, but our hitch reps say they took one last year and ended up just setting it up on their hotel-room patio in Morocco for novelty value. Frankly, I’d rather travel light.


I came out of dinner today and the sky was the most beautiful sweep from deep Arizona blue to to a subdued aquamarine. Aaah.

I had a crazy day, mostly because despite spending about four hours last night trying to figure out a physics problem, I made absolutely no progress on it until today, when, after the fifth draft, I finally figured out how the problem worked. Actually making it work took until 2 PM, which turned out to be a bit of a problem. The problems were due at 2, and had probably just been collected when I dropped mine off. Additionally, my faraway Spanish class started at 2, and it was 2:30 by the time I had racewalked there. I took a mock exam, which I did absolutely horribly on, so badly that I had run out of things I was capable of doing by the end of class, despite being half an hour late.

Now I’m going to try to do at least a few more problems, since this was for the short-tempered supervisor.


I feel like the darkness has been lifted without warning, and all of a sudden it’s still light out at dinnertime. It’s funny how the things that take us by surprise are often the most gradual ones.

If I guess my schedule properly, I will spend the equinox in the south of France.

A quote

Rather than write, the lazy blogger simply quotes.
And I quote, from my attempt to translate some Lope de Vega.

Oh, unfaithful self! Wherefore do I live? Wherefore do I attempt to attain that most sad life that is given to the slave? What woman of my years has passed them with so many frights and misfortunes? Where is this imprudent love of mine taking me? What end am I promised by the unequalled insanity of parts of me, that could have warranted preparation for heaven? If I have spent the best part of my life in this labyrinth of love, what do I have to find in myself but repentance for those that left me?

(Emphasis-on-nonsense mine)

Edit: switched in a very slightly more sensible translation.

A test of my new e-mail post system

If this post appears, that means that my e-mail post system is
working, which will hopefully allow me to use text messages to make
blog posts from <em>anywhere in the world</em>.

How I’m going to say anything meaningful in 160 characters or less
(the limit of SMS messages), given my propensity for verbosity, is
another matter.