Thursday, 30 June 2005

Well I finally have my own Internet connection, Yay!
It's working obviously since I'm blogging now, I was amazed by how much in the way of updates for all my important software there was, thank goodness I don't have a limit on Internet use during the first month. Don't have a new e-mail account yet, so just keep using the old one for now.

Although there was a little difficulty with getting hold of my modem. Apparently ParcelForce are unable to consider the possibility that in a block of flats calling the office is a good idea if the person is out. Alternatively there is the option of leaving one of their "I sorry, we were unable to deliver this". After finally getting hold of them I arranged to go to their depot and collect it. A good brisk walk of 50min got me there. And I was able to collect it at last and take a bus most of the way home. Sigh, such is life.

Some more positive news, my stuff is unpacked and organised at last, it's really feeling like home now, Kate, my support worker, resembles Abigail, a little disconcerting at first, but like Abigail, she's a nice person to talk with. The Book Club was a little disappointing, no one else turned up! Kate has volunteered to help me meet with a book club member so at least I should know next time if it's been cancelled.

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

I don't make any claim to understand this, but it still raised a smile - which isn't an obvious fringe benefit of maths by any means. S'from the guy Adrian asked me to add to the blogroll.
The blurbs for today on Universalis are quite good. I expect they were lifted from somewhere, but they're uncredited.

St Peter:
"I do so love St Peter," says a friend of mine. "Whenever he opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it".

She is right, of course. Whatever else St Peter may be, he is not the model of a wise and noble hero. He walks on the water – but then panics and starts to sink. He makes the first profession of faith – and moments later blunders into error and is called Satan by the Lord. He refuses to be washed, and then, when the purpose is explained to him, demands to be washed all over. And, of course, he betrays his master soon after having been warned that he will and having sworn not to. If Peter is the rock on which the Church is built, what a fissured and friable rock it is! How much better, we think, to have chosen the Sons of Thunder, for their energy; or Judas Iscariot, for his financial acumen; or John, because he was loved the best.

The choosing of Peter teaches us a lesson. The Church’s foundation-stone and its first leader is not all-wise, all-knowing, good, heroic, and beautiful. He is a very ordinary man who makes about as many mistakes as we would in his place, and kicks himself for them just as thoroughly afterwards. If St Peter had been a hero, we could easily have despaired of ever becoming like him. If St Peter had been great, and noble, and good, we could have told ourselves that the Church is for the saints, despaired, sat down, and not bothered. But the Church is not just for saints: it is for confused, impetuous, cowardly people like us – or St Peter. The rock crumbles, the ropes are frayed, the wood is rotten – but, although that improbable building, the Church, is made of such inferior materials, it grows (on the whole) faster than it collapses, and it is grace that holds it together.

In the end, it was grace that gave the coward the courage to bear witness when it counted, grace that gave the fool the wisdom he needed to set the infant Church on her way, grace that taught the impetuous man patience and forbearance.

We none of us admire ourselves, however much we would like to; let us not try to admire St Peter either, but admire instead the grace he was given, and pray that, weak as we are, we may be given it too, and may use it.

St Paul:
St Paul is not an attractive figure today. We are still knee deep in the overripe fruit of late romanticism: we admire men who feel, not think; who enchant people into following them, not argue them into submission.

There is even, nowadays, a fashion for saying that Paul invented Christianity as we know it, that he set out with the cynical aim of fashioning an enduring institution; and that the real Christianity, the Christianity of Christ, is something quite different from and far nicer than the Christianity we know.

Yes, Paul’s mind did shape the early Church. Yes, without him things would have been different. And all the information that we have in the New Testament is entirely consistent with the whole thing being a Pauline conspiracy.

But so what? "Consistent with" is a treacherous phrase. The evidence of my eyes is entirely consistent with there being an invisible lion in my fireplace, because you can’t see invisible lions; but I still don’t believe there is one. I trust the world, I have faith in it, and invisible lions are not part of that faith. I trust God, I have faith in the Holy Spirit – I say so out loud on Sundays – and I believe that God called Saul because he needed him, and that the renamed Saul did and said what needed to be said and done.

Paul is not some cold and remote intellectual – just read the Epistles, and see if that stands up. Paul is always reminding people of his weakness – look, I know what I ought to do, and I keep on doing the opposite – look, I have this thorn in my flesh and God absolutely refuses to take it away. Paul is not all mind – he does have his troubles too.

But yes, Paul does have a mind, and that raises problems in an age that doesn’t, that uses "clever" as a term of abuse. Remember, though, that we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. Perhaps we cannot love St Paul very much nowadays; but let us at least pray for the grace to love God with our minds, as he did.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Four things

  1. Could we add Craig's blog to the list at the top? He's a nice chap in my office who's keeping a blog of his mathematical exploits.
  2. We're off to Alton Towers on Thursday!
  3. For anyone unaware, for a limited time you can download Beethoven's Symphonies from the Radio 3 website. I missed out on symphonies 1-5, so if anyone got them, please get in touch.
  4. I'm off to my first (since I was at a Catholic secondary school) mass tomorrow. I've not suddenly decided that we need a Pope or anything, but I've joined the church's choir, so I'm off to sing!

Sunday, 26 June 2005

Morning all,
I've just returned from a week on the Isle of Skye, on my first international maths conference. I'm not sure that it counts as international for me, even though it was a twelve hour bus/train/bus/train/walk a bit/bus journey to get there, but people had come from all over the place.
Goran, Dave and my self didn't register in time to stay at the college (the whole thing was held in a Gaelic language college right on the coast of Skye), and had a two mile walk to the conference each morning. Very pleasant though, and Goran only got locked out of the hostel once during the week - having got back at about 1am - the hostel locks up at 11:45.

I achieved something I'd never done as an undergraduate, making it to four 9am lectures in one week. Most of the talks were very much over my head, due in part to the specialised nature of UK maths PhDs. My first year was spent getting up to speed, as there's a large gap to bridge before any research can be done, leaving two years to focus almost exclusively on a single area in order to produce a thesis. In contrast, American PhDs take five years, and will provide a much broader education. The extra time is needed though, as a US undergraduate degree contains far less mathematics - they'll have "majored in maths", rather than studying it exclusively for three years.
Having said that, there were two lectures in particular I thoroughly enjoyed, and it's been valuable to have time to step back from my own work. I feel like I've got a clearer idea of where I'm going now, which is handy, as I'm planning to submit around Christmas or so, which doesn't leave very much more time for research.

Evening activities were fun, and included a Gaelic singer, whisky tasting & a Celidh. The excursion to climb a mountain wasn't on the best day - visibility was hampered by the thick cloud covering the hills. I came down with a pretty grotty cold towards the end of the week, so I'm quite glad to be home for a bit of a rest. The schedule was quite tough, but it was well worth going.

Now I just need to decide whether I should aim for a job as a professional mathematician or not...

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Well I've finally moved to my new bedsit and things are going well, 80% unpacked 40-50% organised. But it looks like a home now, so when I have the time, I'll probably sort out the rest.

The very welcome assistance of the Foyer staff enabled me to get almost everything was moved in record time. Far cheaper than hiring a van and thankfully less exhausting, I've gone for the traditional boxes of chocolates as a thank you.

It was really nice to come back and see Mum returned from work, looking as good as when she used to go to Frimley Park Hospital. She seems much happier and hopefully when she's back on the shift system she'll be able to go out and do more with Dad which should help with dispelling the last remnants of the rut FPH dragged her into.

Once I've got a telephone and checked that the line's working I'll send my new land line number to every other Dobson, Garrett and Forni that wishes it.

Friday, 17 June 2005

This man has kindly provided video clips of himself practising juggling so that you too can learn the joyous skill of it:


Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Just a quick note to say that I have a house again!

Sunday, 12 June 2005


Saturday, 11 June 2005

Hello there. I now have a new phone. People who are on Bebo already can get it from them, and anyone who isn't can sign up. It's that or pay even more to text everyone.

Thursday, 9 June 2005

I wonder if this inspired Mr. Shakespeare:
Now Elisha came to Damascus. Ben-hadad the king of Syria was sick. And when it was told him, "The man of God has come here," the king said to Hazael, "Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD through him, saying, 'Shall I recover from this sickness?'" So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, "Your son Ben-hadad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, 'Shall I recover from this sickness?'" And Elisha said to him, "Go, say to him, 'You shall certainly recover,' but the LORD has shown me that he shall certainly die." And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept. And Hazael said, "Why does my lord weep?" He answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women." And Hazael said, "What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?" Elisha answered, "The LORD has shown me that you are to be king over Syria." Then he departed from Elisha and came to his master, who said to him, "What did Elisha say to you?" And he answered, "He told me that you would certainly recover." But the next day he took the bed cloth and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Hazael became king in his place. - 2 Kings 8:7-15

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

Things are getting a little busy, I'm trying to stockpile boxes rather than attempt to buy them. One of the Foyer staff thinks she'll have some info about transportation by Friday. I'm going to take some measurements at Mortimer House tomorrow. I've got an appointment on Thursday to try and sort out some benefits.
Isn't moving house just the most exciting thing to do? *Sigh*, well I don't have enough free time to worry about this, just getting on with what I can do is enough.

We're having a run of crap clocks to work on at the shop, oily worn-out low-grade tat which we have to restore to working order. And let us not forget the ham-fisted bodgers who worked on these before, using only the horological knowledge gleaned from Antique's Roadshow and DIY skills at the limit on wobbly shelves. Preserve us from the metalwork teachers who think that they can safely make their own fusee barrels, designed to hold the largest, most powerful springs in common use. We can only warn them of their peril.

Friday, 3 June 2005

I've got a place at Mortimer House, and can move on Monday 20th June.
However, the booking in can take 2 hours, so what's the best way to move my stuff?

Suggestions will be gratefully received.

Thursday, 2 June 2005


Just thought of another pun I'll never be able to use:

Kyrie elision.

Grammar and the liturgy - these are a few of my favourite things. If I were Nihil Obstat I could maybe use it, but it's probably for the best that I am not.

Wednesday, 1 June 2005