the king's excrement (2007-11-09 - 10:38 a.m.)

Ugh, time is getting away on me. Last weekend seems like about a month ago, but time goes so fast and I can't believe it's already almost my birthday. Very confusing.

We've started doing bouts in fencing at the end of every lesson (I go twice a week, usually - Tuesday and Wednesday. I was going to go once a week because I'm pretty busy, but Coach Simon mentioned that I wouldn't get better as quickly and that was all it took to get me out there more often). The first time we tried it, I won every bout and was quite pleased with myself. Since then, I've been beaten twice, which is quite annoying. Both times it was guys who were considerably bigger than me, but you'd think there'd be a way to take advantage of my size. The trouble is they have a longer reach (and one of them does historical reenactments in his spare time. I made the mistake of asking if that's like
and got the most disdainful possible look in reply. No, this is HISTORICAL, it's ACCURATE and SERIOUS and totally different from those other people running around on the hill hitting each other with fake swords. Oh, right then.) Anyway, I have a lot of serious footwork problems to sort out and I tend to adopt a hockey-player stance while fencing, which turns out to be a really bad idea. If I can manage to sort those things out, I might have a shot at beating the big guys once in a while.

Went to the Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr Rotary Club meeting last night. Try saying that five times fast. (I did ask - it's something akin to h-cLANvarVECHan with the ch sounding sort of Scots, as in loch. The other is pen-MINE-maw-er, I think, although I'm still not quite sure what the "maen" is supposed to sound like). Apparently they invite a few international students to dinner every year and I was hand-selected. (Which is to say, there are hardly any other North Americans!) I tried very hard not to get annoyed with the thousandth Rotarian told me about their nephew in Toronto. Why is it that every single person in Britain has a relative in Toronto? Then they want to talk about Toronto, and I have nothing pleasant to say. Anyway, it was very kind of them to invite us and I took the opportunity to enquire about Rotary as a possible source of PhD funding. They told me I would have to ask my home Rotary club to sponsor me as an international student, which doesn't sound likely to happen. Still, worth a shot and one of them kindly offered help me track down the name of the person at home I should speak to.

Went out to Conwy Castle last weekend, with Thandi (Zimbabwe) and Aonghus (Ireland). Man I love castles. This was a particularly good example of the non-restored variety. Aonghus tells me that they used to paint castles white, then smear the walls with the king's, er, excrement to prove what a rich diet he had and therefore dissuade attack. I have no idea if this is true, but it was difficult to look at the castle the same way after that little bit of information.

Holy cow, I just had a look to see what I've done since I last posted. Let's see, there was Hallowe'en (fun), the handing in of two large papers, a very interesting lecture on dreams, Guy Fawkes' Day and a trip to Beaumaris to see the fireworks with the fencers, some invigiliation (which I think is a hilarious word for what I would call proctoring) and lots and lots of Matlab homework.

The dreams lecture was particularly neat. This is a lecture series on cognitive neuroscience which is open to the general public - a great idea. I thought dreams were associated with REM sleep, (which they are to some extent), but apparently you can bring on a dream by anything that triggers the brain to change brain-wave patterns to a more awake-type pattern. That's why sometimes a noise will bring on a dream, and you incorporate the noise into the dream. Also, dreaming is correlated with spatial ability, so if you are rubbish with a map you tend to dream less, apparently. Weird, no?

I have a meeting with my supervisor now, but will try to post some photos this afternoon.

backwards ~ onwards

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Missed anything?
moved! - 2008-05-12
Sunday = time to ramble on - 2008-05-11
apparently I'm doing monthly updates these days. Sorry. - 2008-05-04
watershed - 2008-04-06
end of trip - 2008-03-31

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