01 December 2005

Blurbs/London/Grad Dinner

It's been a busy week here amongst the dreaming spires. I've been busy at work preparing for the latest of our fortnightly WTCCC Analysis Group meetings at the Wellcome Trust Building in Euston Square, London. Last night I took a break from my frenzied preparations for the meeting to go to Blurbs at BNC. Blurbs is the very silly name for one of my favourite college activities. One of the fellows and one of the graduate students each gives a 30 minute presentation on his field of study, followed by dinner and 2nd desserts. There's copious wine available from start to finish, and the dinner is high-table quality, which is actually really excellent (especially compared to the crap they serve in hall to the students).

I love Blurbs both because it offers a high quality meal and lots of wine for only a couple of quid and because it's one of my only opportunities to hear about people studying topics far afield from my own. Usually the two presenters are from vaguely similar areas of study, although never exactly the same (mostly due to the finite number of Fellows in the college). Previous nights have included Economics, Gender and Place in Medieval Romance, Contemporary Character Analysis in Macbeth, Suicide and Self-harm in the British Prison System, Eliminating Legal Fictions, and the Future of Renewable Energy in the UK. Last night was a little closer to home, with Branwen Hide presenting on protein folding and the Principal, Roger Cashmore, presenting on Dark Matter and the origins of the universe.

The talks were good and dinner was of the usual high quality (the first course was this fabulous dish of quails-eggs on some kind of mushroom stuffing) and I got to catch up with some BNC folks I don't see that often. At 2nd desserts (basically port & chocolates in the common room) the principal broke into his private stock and shared an '83 Warre's vintage which was definitely the best port I've ever tasted. I couldn't stay for more than one glass, though, because I had work to do before my presentation at 9:30 AM today in London.

Back home I was up until about 2 putting last minute tables together and trying to keep my voice down while I cursed at my computer so that I wouldn't wake my housemates up. I actually enjoy getting up at 6:45 and cycling down to the rail station while it's still dark out (as long as I only have to do it once every two weeks). Jonathan (from the Stats department here) and I rode first class again (Lon had gone on an even earlier train to meet with other people in London at 8:30). It feels a bit weird to be surrounded by high-flying business types, but the cushy seats and tables meant I could use the hour productively instead of being crammed in the back with the plebs.

The meeting went well (I'm 3 for 3 now on not embarrassing myself in front of any of the important people who attend these meetings). The only down side of such success is that it always means more work for me to do for the next one (which thankfully isn't until after New Year's). Lots more work to do in the next two weeks before I head home for the holidays, but for today at least, I deserve a break.

Luckily tonight is the end-of-term graduate dinner at BNC, where there will be more free wine and post-prandial port. It's a black tie affair, so expect to see photos of me in my DJ and gown soon.

Finally, props to my man Gayaume for blasting across the NaNoWriMo finish line.

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