November 2nd 2005
Happy Birthday Christine! I would like to apologise to anyone who had the misfortune to encounter me for large chunks of yesterday, I was in a foul mood... mainly because I've got stacks of work and no time or ability to do it. Also, it was just one of those days. But it got better when we went to see Elizabethtown last night - for those how haven't read the archive, we managed to wangle free tickets to the preview of Kirsten Dunst's latest film (although in reality Orlando Bloom was the protaganist). What can I say about it? Many of the scenes were at least 10% too long (some, like Susan Sarandon's speech, were about 500% too long) and so it was fitting that the film itself was about half an hour too long. It couldn't really make its mind up what kind of film it was - I mean, it was marketed as a RomCom, and I think it probably was, but it also seemed to think it had to be a coming-of-age film, that also dealt with the intricate relationship between a man and his (deceased) father. Sadly, it didn't really manage most of its aims: Orlando, bless the kid, just can't carry a film by himself, rendering the voiceovers he did, and the scenes he had by himself, embarrassing as often as not. There were too many sub-plots that could have been dispensed with easily, and I did fear for some time that it would be a kind of Sleepless in Seattle, where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan share about ten seconds of screen time. Thankfully, after a minor start, Kirsten got almost as large a role as Orlando, and there really was 'chemistry' between the two (although not as much as, say, Crazy/Beautiful... but more than you might expect, given the arbitrary coupling). Which leads me nicely onto the subject of Kirsten Dunst. She was as good-looking as ever, with particularly pleasant blonde curls in one scene, but surprisingly, she was rather annoying at first - badgering Orlando with questions and constant chatter, when he was trying to sleep. This aspect of her character was soon worn away, along with her Southern accent that occasionally would burst into life with the vowels, before fading away with the consonants... clearly she spent about as much time with her dialect coach as she did with Pat Cash for Wimbledon. I can't help but feel the film would have been a lot better if the editing had been sharper (scenes often trailed off into nothingness long before the end), and the content had been as good (and Kirsten/Orlando orientated) as it was in the last thirty minutes or so. All in all, a reasonably enjoyable film, but not Kirsten's best. And Alec Baldwin was miscast.
Why is it that Sainsbury's own sausage rolls are practically inedible, whereas Sainsbury's value sausage rolls are the best supermarket sausages ever?
November 3rd 2005
CU Houseparty starts tomorrow! Rock on, kids! Get down with the hip groove, people! You know what I'm saying... hip-hop boogie, lads. I'm running out of touch with popular culture.
November 4th 2005
The following is all based on exam grades that I have achieved in the course of my academic life. In the context of the overall world, I am an outstanding mathematician. In the context of people who have taken A-Level maths, I am an excellent mathematician. In the context of people who have taken A-Level Further Maths, I am a very good mathematician. In the context of degree-level maths students, I would say I'm again a very good mathematician. In the context of Warwick maths students, I'm a good mathematician. Or am I? I know - and am glad - that there are many people at Warwick whose ability far outstrips my own, but I would suggest that my frist year grade puts me somewhere in the top 25%. However, Development of Mathematical Concepts (DMC) is an education module I am taking, that consistently tells me that maths shouldn't be algorithmic - we shouldn't merely learn how to do things, but should take a joy in learning why things are, rather than simply what or how. Personally, I do like to know what things actually relate to, before (or while) I do them, but it is by no means imperative. Indeed, there are many maths problems and concepts where I very much don't know, or care, or want to know what's actually going on, or why what I'm doing gives a certain solution. For example, flux. I haven't got a clue what it is, and I don't want to, but I know how to plug in numbers and what have you, and get the correct solution. Not that it is merely like that - I (sometimes) understand how to do reasonably complex things with it that an algorithmic understanding wouldn't allow me to, but I still don't relate it to anything 'concrete.' Does that make me a worse mathematician? Or a different one? Am I, in fact, a mathematician at all? Or just someone who does maths? All these questions, and more, will hopefully be answered as DMC continues. Although I can't really see it happening. One thing I do know for sure is that maths rocks. Unalterably.
November 7th 2005
Happy Birthday to me! And Simon. And Becky. And so forth. CU House Party rocked, as usual... and I'm not going to my lecture today. Get me. Although I haven't finished the work due in today yet, so I better do that soon...
Well, since I have some spare time on my hands, I'll say a little bit about House Party. We looked at 2 Peter (the second letter written by St. Peter, who, by the way, is a total and utter dude) throughout the main meetings and small groups. The latter threw up some difficult questions that we didn't really manage to get to the bottom of, but certainly shed some light on. Having been a small group leader myself last year, it was interesting to be led by another - Huw, who made an appearance previously on this page under the name of 'Hugh'... cos I didn't know then. Prayer and praise was immense, as it was last year, and exceedingly helpful, and for hours after that the band played 'secular' songs - ie, rock and pop. I even joined them for 'Let It Be', playing on my hands (also known as the hand-ocarina) which was great fun, and quite well received. The problem, as it always is, is that people want me to show them how to do it, and I've never succesfully taught anyone. Well, Christine can get a note, largely under her own steam, and Anthony does pretty much the exact opposite of what I told him, and can carry a tune doing it his way... but I don't think that really counts. During the weekend I made a point of talking to as many people as possible - much as I love David, Christine and Anthony, I didn't want to spend the entire weekend with them, and it was great being with legends such as Steve, James Lee, Guy, Becky, Andy T, Drew, Jason, Dai, John (who used to live in the room I had on campus last year), Matthew, t'other John, AJ, Tom, Dave, Andy Giles, B/ground Andy... the list just goes on and on. Warwick CU rocks. Except Christine, who was supposed to be here ten minutes ago, and hasn't arrived yet.
November 8th 2005
And today I am simply a man. But with a problem. I am a maths student (not the problem), therefore I look with contempt on any degree course that; (i) is an arts subject; (ii) is a science subject that incorporates maths, but isn't maths; or (iii) is a combination of maths and another subject. So, basically, maths and computer science are all right with me (quick thought... are there ladies' toilets in the computer science block? If so, why?). Now, I'm doing an education module, and I'm kinda supposed to hand in an extensive essay plan for Friday... and although I do plan to do it, I can't seem to take it very seriously (ie I haven't started thinking about it) because I can't really take the education module that seriously. I mean, we sit around talking about what we think about learning maths... how is that subject? It's like A-Level English. Except, in English we didn't have to know anything except the contents of the book, and I was quite happy writing essays about a book (or poem, or what have you) that I'd read. But when it comes to research, I'm not a big fan. Actually, it might not even be the subject or the essay - it might be the whole concept of an essay plan. I've never been a fan of essay plans, and I'm especially not a fan of people looking at and 'marking' my essay plans - you can have the finished article mate, but don't criticise Michelangelo until he's finished the hair. Anyway, apart from that, and the stacks of work we get every week from regular maths courses, and the exceedingly large amount of Combinatorics, which outweighs everything else... everything rocks. My birthday was great, starting with a midnight call from Simon, continuing with Guy dropping by, which I hadn't expected, and generally filled with messages and/or cards and/or gifts from wonderful people including all my housemates, most of number 157, several guys from school, all my nuclear family, much of my non-nuclear family, sundry friends from around the country... you people all rock. Rob even gave me a birthday kiss. The last word today goes to Aunty Jacq, who (I'm guessing in reference to a recent entry here) challenged me to find as many women's names in Bob Dylan song titles as I could. I managed Sara, Isis, Maggie's Farm, Absolutely Sweet Marie and Queen Jane Approxmately under my own steam, then checked all the Dylan songs I have, finding only two or three more. But apparently Jacq has got a dozen, leading me to hang my head in shame... and apply the same question to Beatles tracks. Julia, Michelle, Eleanor Rigby, Sexy Sadie, Martha My Dear, Lovely Rita, Hey Jude, Anna (Go To Him), Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Dear Prudence, Long Tall Sally, Maggie Mae, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Polythene Pam... and Penny Lane. Which shouldn't really count.
November 10th 2005
A disclaimer about my last entry: my mother, who would choose arts above science any day of the week, has told me in no uncertain terms that my previous statements were... how shall I say it... wrong. Or at least, showed what a wrong kind of person I am. Like Mr. Wrong, if you will. Now, my mother, being both female (thus always right) and a Thomas (thus usually right), must be right. So I apologise. Indeed, many of my friends at Uni study arts subjects (it took great strength of will not to put quotation marks around the word study), and are none the worse for it. The fact they roll out of bed sometime around midday for their weekly lecture does not create any bitterness in me. Well, it does, but I'm working on it... what more can I say? My father is a mathematician, like myself, and therefore probably understands what I'm getting at a little better... I will leave you with the philosophical pronouncement of an arts student, which may clear up the whole situation for you all. Or may be arbitrary.
Each man hates the thing he most desires.
November 11th 2005
My good friend Rob opined to me the other day that blondes are a lot scarier than other women (himself happily coupled with a brunette)... of course, I replied that all women are scary. But I think he may have a point. Good-looking women (and there are a lot at Warwick, particularly in the CU, for some reason...) are much scarier than other women... and while that wasn't quite the point he was trying to make, it touched upon it. Not sure what I'm getting at here. Maybe instead of digging this hole, I'll tell y'all about a Tuesday I experienced a couple of weeks ago. Having a 9am start, followed by an hour break and an 11 o'clock, I rose from my slumbers at around 10.40, dressed in moments and rushed to the bus stop (my main motivation being that the afore-mentioned Rob and I are competing to see who misses the fewer lectures)... however, after waiting ten minutes or so, I gave it up for a bad job and went home (the bus passing me on the way... although I'd have been too late to go into the lecture anyhow). When I got home, I decided to go and buy some bread, so out I went, then tried to get my keys out to lock the door. Sadly, however, I'd taken them out of my pocket at some point, leaving me locked out of an empty house, with no folder or bag. So I decided to go round the corner, to seek company from our friends at 157... however, everyone was out there. Deciding I didn't want to wait at the bus stop any more, I walked into campus... on the way, it started raining. Not heavy rain: just enough rain so that I'd notice it, kinda the day's way of saying "Yes, Colin: this day sucks." I ducked into Tesco, bought some stuff, wandered onto campus, fell further behind Rob in the stakes, and the rest of the day didn't go too badly... By the way, since then I have pulled ahead 8-7 in the lecture stakes, although there's plenty more term to go. Those who are wondering how my arts student status is going, I wrote the essay plan ('statement of intent') tonight, and although I don't think it's very good, I quite enjoyed doing it... and I've been to two seminars in the last two days, the first of which was quite rewarding. When I'm done on the cake, I'll start on the humble pie. Speaking of pie, I need to buy some food...
November 12th 2005
In case you were wondering what I got for my birthday, here's a picture of pretty much the whole kit and caboodle. Hopefully you can work out what all of it is, cos I ain't gonna tell you.
I realise I forgot to put in Cross-Examined, a Christian book that Guy got me - sorry Guy! Maybe in the updated edition of the photo...
Parkinson's Law suggests that stuff expands to fit the space it's in, or some such. I've found that this is true with my assignments, insofar as I delay work until I have to pack it into the same, short space of time. This week I only had a couple of assignment sheets, but for some reason I didn't do much work this week, so I have to do all of Algebra tomorrow, and I haven't finished Vector Analysis... this is where I'm slightly jealous of Rob, whose tutor goes through every question, telling him how to answer it... and while I've always preferred doing my work alone, it's also slightly annoying that various mathematicians of my acquaintance work in packs, meaning they all get higher marks than me. This term has been almost entirely spent working hard (this week being something of an exception) with marks hardly rewarding the effort. Although I got my 8/25 altered to an almost-respectable 13/25, there has been a severe dip in my average marks this year, and although I'm told that that's usual, it still sucks.
November 14th 2005
My good friend Anthony got me a box-set of Mr. Bean for my birthday, and whilst watching it, various points came up: firstly, I remembered the episode 'The Curse of Mr. Bean' quite well, but I had had no idea that Angus Deayton played both the swimming pool attendant and the geezer on the bench (see below)... in fact, this was in 1990, before his rise to fame as HIGNFY host, so at this time people may only have known him from... I dunno, was RadioActive around then? Maybe. It led me to wondering why Angus isn't on the Dude List - I have a vague memory of putting him on it, then removing him. Perhaps the whole drugs thing was too recent. But I think he should almost certainly be there... the other point about Mr. Bean was his beautiful relationship with his Teddy Bear - am I alone in regarding this as one of the nicest things on television? The picture below just can't encapsulate how great it is, but does show a bespectacled bear, which is never a bad thing, eh Pluggy?
November 15th 2005
Yep, that's how I might soon look, as a result of various 'agreements' with Ant, Becks and Rob. Well, except the green background - there's no knowing about that. I chose it because I like green. It's my favourite colour. By the way, my mother keeps reading this and reprimanding me because of the contents, so in case any maternal eyes are hovering, I'm a good boy who does all my homework and gets to bed every single night.
November 16th 2005
What a day it was yesterday! A fantastic day that will no doubt go down in the old annals. First of all, I didn't miss any lectures (ain't you proud, ma?) so Rob didn't move ahead of me in the whole lecture-missing stakes. Secondly, our Combinatorics lecture ended five whole minutes early! Oh yes. Then Knife of Dreams, which was published about a month ago and which I ordered from the library about half a week ago, was available for collection, so I picked that up in the afternoon. Then I watched Neighbours - and Steph's pregnant!! At long last. A wise lady of my acquaintance said it best when she said 'Way-hey'. Then that evening, I got my hair cut by Becky, who informed me at the end that she'd 'done something a bit different'. But, to her credit, I like it (unlike last time... but that's another story). The only downside to the day was that for the second time this term - indeed, the second time in two weeks - I failed to win the Warwick Boar crossword competition. Awful.
November 19th 2005
Bob Dylan last night was fantastic. What can I say? I had been warned that his voice was pretty weak nowadays, but the opening number, Maggie's Farm, dispelled my fears - it was absolutely stormin'. As usual (or so I understand) Bob didn't sing the songs like he recorded them, but instead sped up every line, sang it differently, had a completely different backing... you name it. That could get slightly disconcerting, especially when it was a song I knew and loved, but once you'd got used to the changes, they were excellent. In all honesty, perhaps, had I been introduced to Bob's music on the night, I'd be unimpressed, since he simply doesn't have the vocal power (or musical variation) that he used to have, but the concert was always going to be about him first, and the music second. I saw Bob Dylan live - that was the main thing. The fact was that he was very good as well, which was an added bonus, with a (mostly) great set including classics such as Ballad Of A Thin Man, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Highway 61 Revisited, Mr. Tambourine Man, Like A Rolling Stone, All Along The Watchtower, Visions of Johanna, Chimes Of Freedom... and lots of songs that I didn't recognise, either because I hadn't heard them before, or because they were so different to the versions I kind of know. Anyways, it's getting late, so I'm gonna go to bed, but I'll add some more about the whole Bob thing (and maybe even some pics) soon.
November 21st 2005
A couple of gripes about work, if I may. Firstly Analysis: the assessed questions all contain the caution This work for credit must be entirely your own. Do not discuss it with anyone else! Do not read anyone else's work or permit them to read yours! So, of course, I do the sheet alone, do not discuss it, and refuse assistance from others. However, many mathematicians of my acquaintance - Rob, Anthony, David and Christine - cheat every week. And this week, not for the first time, honesty has come back to bite me... for a large chunk of the questions, I differentiated something wrongly, thus affecting all my answers (which I had thought were correct). Obviously this is mainly down to my foolishness, but had I too decided to ignore the instructions of the lecturer, I would in all likelihood have got the answers right. Secondly, Combinatorics. It would appear that the powers that be are doing thier best to make sure no-one studies this module, by putting lectures at 9am and 11am on a Tuesday, and 10am on a Wednesday (when most second year maths students start at about 1pm on both those days), then setting massive amounts of questions to be done, of which only three are marked, meaning that we spend hours on questions which we might as well not have answered. Perhaps they want rid of this module? Sadly, they had not considered the fact that those of us who have already devoted hours and hours to the course will not drop it in a hurry, solely because we do not want to have wasted all that time. Well, that's my griping done for the day... Bob Dylan pictures, I'm afraid, have not turned out very well, but there will be a few on here when I get the internet working at home (currently I'm on a Uni computer). Till then.
Well, I can't be bothered to incorporate these into some sort of prose, so you'll just have to follow the links. They're all pictures except the last one.
Bob et al
November 22nd 2005
10-10. This one goes out to you, Rob.
November 24th 2005
Is it too much to ask that our internet work for some reasonable period of time? Well, the answer's baked right into the question, ain't it? A reasonable period of time. Towards the beginning of term, we had quite a few problems with it, so the good people of Warwick came and renamed something, which appeared to do the trick... for a while. Now the router has to be reset pretty much every time I want to go online, and whereas Dave and Rich can use another wireless connection, this doesn't seem to work for the rest of us (I'm currently trying to use it, actually, so if this ever gets online, I'll be pretty surprised). We asked them to come out and fix it (again, not an unreasonable request), and while they're at it, to fix our phone. So far no-one's bothered to turn up, so our phone's been completely out of operation for weeks, and our internet's been unreliable for quite some time. At the moment it claims to be on 48Mbps (an all-time high) with a veery good connection... which doesn't really explain why it times out whenever I try to do anything much. And then works for a bit. Then gives up the ghost. And so on, and so on... good night.
To continue the grumbling theme, I bought a pad of A4 paper the other day, and it weren't the cheapest in the world either, so I thought it again not unreasonable to expect the paper to actually fit in my ring-binder. I mean, it's a regular ring-binder, all the other paper I have fits, but no, the holes in this pad are too far apart to fit. Yes, for some reason, the makers of this paper believed that the commonly accepted hole-positions were too mundane for him, so he ruined my life. Perhaps forever.
November 25th 2005
I've written at least once previously about Harry Potter on this page, but must do so again, since I went to see the fourth installment yesterday, at Cov Skydome. I came out having definitely enjoyed the film, and whereas certain among my company confessed themselves disappointed, I have to say that I was not. OK, it doesn't compare to the book, but we knew that a long time ago - well before the first shot of film 1, we knew there couldn't really be any comparison. But this was the best of the Harry Potter films to date, with the younger performers almost acting at times - the Weasley twins remain unconvincing, and nothing Ginny has done thus far has convinced me that she and Harry will make a good couple... and Hermione enunciated a little too much... but for the main part you could watch without squirming. It's been said every time that Ron is the strongest of the main three, and I think that remained the case. One of the main complaints about the film that I heard was that it was rushed, and this was certainly true towards the beginning, where the Quidditch match was almost completely ignored, the significance of the Death Eaters skimmed over, and the allegations against Harry minimal. And yes, many other things from the book (my favourite in the series, I think) were missed out due to time constrictions, but only one addition - the dragon chasing Harry round Hogwarts - felt really tacked on. The supporting roles were fine - Alan Rickman had very little to do, but Fleur and Victor made the most of their (relatively minor) roles, and I thought they were spot on with Cedric. Voldemort himself was done reasonably well, although he didn't seem quite scary enough... and Cho Chang was, inexplicably, Scottish. From the Aberdeen Changs, presumably. The 'romance' scenes were as painful to me as I'd expect, but not properly developed yet (since that comes in later books) and, sadly, characters like Neville, Draco, Seamus etc. didn't have enough time to develop further. The absence of 'ooh look, magic!' or 'ooh look, CGI!' moments was an unexpected pleasure, given the furore over Quidditch and what have you in previous films. Anyways, to conclude before I come out of the Harry-Potter-fan closet any further, I enjoyed the film. Not enough to buy it, but enough to watch it when Simon does... or maybe even buy it for him next birthday.
November 26th 2005
If you smoke, than either; (i) you're stupid, or (ii) you used to be stupid, and now you're addicted. I mean, how many other products will people willingly buy when they have the note 'by the way, this will kill you'? Smoking has no benefits (except that it's quite calming...) and lots of drawbacks, which don't need to be repeated here. (With this in mind, I voted 'yes' to the motion banning smoking in our Union). Which is why I'm often surprised to see people smoking on campus - surely, to get to Warwick Uni, you have to be non-stupid? Whenever I see a campus smoker, I have to assume that they're either visiting, or studying something feeble like Basketball Studies or Contemporary Liberality. Or English Lit (that one's for you Simon). Anyhow, there is (quite rightly) strong feeling against smoking in many quarters, and yet there is not such feeling against drinking, and I don't know why... both past-times are reasonably pleasant when you're doing them, and grossly unpleasant for others around you, making your breath stink and inducing nausea in both cases... except, smoking doesn't cause you to lose awareness or responsibility for your actions, smoking doesn't lead you to picking fights for no apparent reason, smoking doesn't make you a dangerous driver. And passive drinking is probably as dangerous as passive smoking - few people actually suffer from the latter, whereas many people are killed or harmed as a result of passive drinking: suffering the onslaught from drinkers in the vicinity. And I know what you're thinking, everything I've described is more drunkenness than drinking per se, but where do you draw the line? Even the smallest amount of drink changes your personality. And anyway, many people live long, fine lives with the accompaniment of cigarette smoke: is smoking only bad if you get cancer, heart disease, emphysema? No, it is not the end result, but the hypothetical, that people rally against (and again, rightly so), so why isn't this also true of drinking? It is a strange country we live in, where teetotalism is unusual, but non-smoking is the norm. Before I leave you, something I forgot to mention in my review of Elizabethtown: Orlando Bloom's supposed suicidal tendencies were so unrealistic as to be laughable... indeed, his method (a knife attached to a cycling machine) was intended to be humorous, and at no point was it even slightly convincing that the guy wanted to kill himself. Sorry, skipper.
November 28th 2005
Woo-hoo! Perrin rescued Faile at last! If you're not a devotee of the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan, then you won't understand that. Even if you are reading them (Ant) you won't have a clue what I'm talking about until you're most of the way through book 3, or into book 4. But I've been waiting about three years for it to happen, I reckon, so I'm well chuffed. And get me! I've already done well over half my Christmas shopping. I'm a model for the twenty-somethings of today.
November 29th 2005
It's a while now since I wrote about cooking, and how the whole 'cooking from scratch' malarkey is over-rated and unnecessary. Well, I still stand by that, but in compromise, I have twice made myself an omelette over the last week, which satisfies the fussy (sorry, discerning) since it's all raw ingredients, but also makes sense, what with being quick and easy. And tasty. None of this spending an hour making something you can get out of a packet anyhow (and for less money): omelette may just be the perfect dish. Unless you're vegan, of course. In other news, we had our 10.25 social on Monday night, and we decided to have a Glassball social! Basically, we set up three tables for Glassball (not regulation size, but wotcha gonna do?), played for a bit, then had a tournament. After a bit of a chaotic start, we settled down okay, and in the end even Becky and Mel entered the tournament. Sadly, all the girls who entered (Becky, Mel, Laila and Lucy... Christine didn't play) went out in the first round, and the final was (yet, yet again) Anthony vs myself, but I think people had a reasonably good time. Three people even hung around long enough to see the conclusion of the final (I won, if you must know). But let me turn to that more important topic of conversation, that of my hair. And Rob's hair. To recap, whoever misses more lectures has to do... something... to their hair (I haven't told my mother what it is yet, so none of you can know. Unless you check out Ant's blog), and at the beginning of the week, it was stuck at 10-10. Well, that's all changed, since in the last two days, Rob has missed every single one of his lectures, putting me four points to the good, and coasting it, so much so that I bought the... hair modification tool... last night, in preparation. And don't worry, there'll be pictures (sadly, I forgot to bring my camera to the 10.25 social, so there aren't any pics from that). [Edit: Apologies for incorrectly stating the challenge. Everything above is now true. I hope.]