So, I woke up this morning early to go find the registration meeting for the Physics third-years. First, I tried my new granola and el-cheapo milk, which tasted great even at room temperature. The milk tasted pretty bad alone, I think, but that may have been a momentary orange-juice-after-toothpaste sort of thing. I had to ‘borrow’ someone else’s bowl and spoon from the “gyp room” (kitchen), but today I bought my own. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this excited about, well, anything. I may well be more excited about this extraordinarily tasty granola (or “mueslix” as the English prefer) than I was about going to England in the first place, simply because it’s taken so much effort to make it real.
Then again, that may just be misattributed excitement from the fact that my first lecture is tomorrow. !!!. Maybe the excitement is spilling out like the corona around a Sun of apprehension about the real start of the new year. Anyway, my day.
I walked to the new Cavendish laboratory, a sprawling complex with so many locked gates that it’s essentially impossible to get where you’re going if you don’t know how, even if you know your destination, which I didn’t. My first attempt at entrance put me on the wrong side of the complex, next to what appeared to be a helpful sign that might even contain a map but was instead a board informing visitors about the Roman settlement that had been discovered when they started excavation (in the 1970’s, it would seem). Anyway, it took me about 15 minutes to find my way in, and that only with the help of a fellow Fitz physicist. The lecture, about the structure of the courses, was entirely uninteresting but given by the most engaging lecturer I can remember seeing, due in no small part to a great Scottish accent. (I think it’s Scottish, but I’m still a novice at accent-identification.)
After the lecture I had to choose my experiments, stop off at a public cluster to check my e-mail and find out where to meet people about bicycles and spanish (more on that later). I decided to try to exit the complex towards the center of town, my destination. This turned out to be a very poor idea, and after half a dozen passages through buildings and doublings-back I was eventually forced to go out exactly the way I came in. When I got to town, I made my first bicycle stop, for a bicycle that I had thought would cost 10 pounds. Instead, I was shown a beautifully refurbished ancient machine selling for 100. Ahh, the miscommunicative powers of e-mail.
From there I walked to Fenner’s cricket ground, where my second bicycle quarry lay. To get there I had to pass through Parkers Piece, a historic field (think perfectly manicured lawn) mostly because it is the only piece of grass in Cambridge on which students are allowed to walk. It is claimed that association football (i.e. soccer) was first played on Parkers Piece. I’m terrible at estimating sizes, but I think Parker’s Piece is very nearly square, with each edge as large as the longest edge of Brigg’s field. Maybe larger. In other words, huge. Getting to Fenner’s cricket ground was incredibly tricky, mostly because I walked around the entire field and peeked through the windows of all of its buildings before finding the one that wasn’t entirely empty. When I finally found the person selling this bicycle and took it out for a ride, I was taken aback. He’d said that the rear wheel was loose, but in fact, the pedals were badly bent and the forward gear-shift had snapped.
So I’ve decided to buy the first bicycle I looked at, if it’s still available.
Oh, I auditioned for FitzBarbershop group today. It was interesting: there are only 3 of them left out of the 8 in the group, and their auditions have absolutely no structure or planning at all. They made it up as they went along. They were very impressed by vocal percussion, but I don’t think I did the sight-reading very well. It seems like, due to a shortage of basses, I’m needed in the choir regardless.
Final note: I’m more excited than ever about I2P, the Invisible Internet Project, which aims to create a totally secure anonymous layer over the internet that itself looks like the internet. In other words, run any insecure protocol (e.g. e-mail) over I2P, and nobody, inside or outside the network, can match the receiver’s or the sender’s online identity to a real one (like an IP address). It’s already running, it’s incredibly scalable, it’s fast (delay of about 10 seconds, max) and it’s moving right along. The thing that’s gotten me really excited is that one of their subprojects could easily replace LiveJournal with a completely decentralized pseudonymous blog friendnet. Sweet.