I finally found the time and waking wherewithal to upload pictures from my trip to Oxford last week. As usual these are separated into "artsy" photos and vacation photos. I put captions on most of them explaining what it is, if you want to play the home game.
For those that worry about these kinds of things: Even though there aren't many pictures of people here, that's just because I didn't want to embarrass my friends and colleagues with my gigantic camera at social functions; I did actually have lots of good interactions with people. These photos are mostly from me walking around the city alone, at which time I totally don't mind embarrassing myself with my tourist gear.
Also, now I consider myself something of an amateur photodocumentarist; you can see my contributions (several of which come from this trip) at my Wikipedia user page "brighterorange." Many are from Oxford, others from my home photo studio (i.e., bed) and around Pittsburgh...
I was an infinitely cold and rainy dot
(25 Aug 2005 at 04:59)
I found my power adaptor—it was in my boot!—which is good because nobody sells them around here. Unfortunately I can't copy photos from my camera, so you'll have to wait until I get back for those... Anyway, unlimited power leads to unlimited corruption, or something.
Conference update: After the first day, in which everybody was sort of sticking in their comfort zones, talking to those people that they already knew, etc. (myself included), we've started really mingling, and that is great. I am happy to hear that my presentation was, at least, memorable. Most of the people here do something very different from what I do, but there are a few type theorists, and a few people interested in learning type theory, and I am trying to help. ;) I am learning some things, too...
On Wednesday we went to Bletchley Park, which was the secret intelligence base where Alan Turing and others broke the German Enigma cipher in World War II. This was cool. Lots of room-sized vacuum tube computers. [If only I could insert the images now!] Yesterday was the banquet and subsequent pub visit. There are lots of pubs in Oxford, like dozens, but this one ("The Turf") was particularly neat in that it was hidden thirty meters down what amounts to an unlabeled crack in the wall. I have actually been quite surprised (based on my own knowledge of English beer from explorations of, e.g. the beer cave at D's) that the dominant style here is a bitter ale, rather than stouts. The Turf, for instance, had about 11 beers: Guinness and ten (to my taste) palatable but indistinguishable bitter ales. I did, however, make my pilgrimage to the Bird and Baby, where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis had their literary club while at Oxford. It was fun to have a hand-pumped pint ("Old Hooky") standing at the same mantle that they did while reading their work to each other 60-or-so years ago. [Imagine picture] I'm still in search of a Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout, though...
They have this new security thing where a grid of jets fires bursts of air at your body, a sort of ''puff'' test
(22 Aug 2005 at 10:16)
Well, I made it! Due to a three-hour delay on my first flight, I missed my connection to London by a mere 5 minutes, so I had to take the next flight—twelve hours later. I ended up having to "sleep" in the airport, which is not awesome. All sorts of other things, like exploded watches, lost power adaptors, and ketchup spills, made for a somewhat exhausting trip. But Oxford itself is very nice. I need to buy an umbrella.
I gave my talk this morning, and though I wasn't able to make any of the last-minute revisions I had wanted to make (no power, after all), I still think the talk is good and that it went well. You can check out the slides (although you will have to do the voices for the animated featurette yourself): CS5-CSL23.SWF.
Most of the other talks are way out there. It is very weird to be the most implementation-oriented guy at the dinner table!
I worked really hard this week to (almost) finish two academic projects: the first is the talk for CSL, which I need just to revise and add a little graphical polish to, and the second is a draft of my thesis proposal, a 50-page-and-growing monster that is only a few related work paragraphs and culled footnotes away from being ready. I plan on finishing these both at the airport or on the plane, so that I can relax and enjoy the trip!
Speaking of trip, I'll ask again: Does anybody have any suggestions for things to see or do while in Oxford?
I made an album-a-day this weekend, my 19th and the first one in slightly over a year (!). This concept album is my attempt at making a "Ponyoak," that is, a break-up album, so it is supposed to be sad. I put myself under substantial thematic and technological limitations, so I am too exhausted now to appraise the result. But there are at least 2 or 3 songs on there that I think are really good, which is all that one can really hope for with an AAD. (Well, I guess I could also hope that it reaches Heather emotionally and causes her to fall in love with me again, but given how oblique and actually sometimes a little mean [unavoidable; apologies in advance] the lyrics are, that is probably not gonna happen!)
The seltzer king of Pittsburgh
(08 Aug 2005 at 15:34)
Barry Joseph, the "effervescent Jew", has a web site so singularly devoted to seltzer that he cannot let one song that mentions the drink go uncatalogued by his project. On my 13th album-a-day I have a song called "Seltzer," and so, the logical conclusion is a 15-minute interview of me about the song in his aptly named podcast, "Give Me Seltzer!"
The medical industry has some of the most incomprehensible billing practices I have ever endured. I often receive invoices for services rendered like six months ago (maybe they think that, if I am feeling better from that illness by now, I must be grateful enough to pay), with unexplained numbers all over the place and opaque abbreviations (despite the fact that the page is usually almost totally empty) to the point where I'm like, what the hell is this?. Sometimes they say "this is not a bill" on them, which is even more confusing. Actually, I expect that some day there will be a law that simplifies medical billing, in the same way that the FCC in 2000 introduced regulations to prevent "slamming" and "cramming" (I love those terms) on telephone bills.
Anyway, the point of this is that today I received another inscrutable communique from some blood diagnostics or strep culture or whatever lab, in reference to work probably done over a year ago, but this one had a checque for $86 attached to it, because apparently I had paid some bill six months ago where in fact "this is not a bill." Score!