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############################# A CHRISTMAS CAROL ############################# It was a magical night, last night. Mulled wine, home made eggnog, home made Mince pies, yummy little pecan things, Ben’s cookies (of course). Too much good food. And we read A Christmas Carol. And it was littered with innuendo. Merriment etc. I’d say “only in Oxford”, but it was at Laura’s, from New York, and most everyone there was international. Anyway, it was a fantastic evening and watching Die Hard after we finished A Christmas Carol made it even better. The two go together quite well. Oxford is a wonderful place, it is good to be back! The last email was way too long though. Mea culpa. I’ll leave the investing to my web page in the future, and RSI is done with. Moving on, if you want to see photos of some places I’ll miss, or reasons why you should visit New Zealand and conscript me as your tour guide, go here: http://oxford.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2172895&l=54588&id=36819560 This one just made me laugh: http://www.manitowoc.uwc.edu/staff/awhite/true-philo-sophy-irony.png And I realised that my website was morphing into a wiki, so I ditched what I had written and converted it to DokuWiki. DokuWiki is much shinier than anything I have the time to put together. You can find it where you could find the old one (plug plug), here: http://www.syntilect.com/cgf Enough hyperlinking. Some writing. A couple of weeks before I left New Zealand Susanna and I went up to the Mount, and spent a few days there with Mum & Brian, also Ash, Carmen, Jono, Michelle, um, other people but my memory is bad. That was fantastic, and leaving NZ this time was a little bit less hectic than last time – thank you for all your help everyone! The chance to spend a few days with family, drinking good wine, walking on the beach and swimming in the sea, it was all fantastic. Brian also took us sailing, and was very patient with me when I nearly capsized the boat. Thank you Brian! Summer came early, just in time for me to know what I was going to miss out on and also just in time for me to get quickly and thoroughly burnt. Right now I’m missing that. Ash, Mum and I had a good chat about Sage and the next version too. They both know a lot more about the trading than me so this was very helpful. Ash thinks that Sage 2.0 should be called Kevin and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a good, trustworthy name, Kevin. At this stage it’s just a name though. Sage 1.0 is going through its final off-market testing and analysis, it’s nice that it’s finally there. I’ll write something up for my web page once that’s more complete. It looks positive so far, my fingers are crossed. The travel. God I hate travel, I really do. Being somewhere new is fantastic, I love that, but the process of getting there! In particular I don’t think you should fly through the US. There were some posters at LAX advising us that "new US VISIT procedures are now in effect". They don’t tell you what those procedures are, but somehow I kept getting the intimation that they could be summarised as "US visit? Don’t." I wouldn’t be surprised if the DPRK was more pleased to see passengers in transit than the US. Did you know they have blue shirts floating around LAX now, carrying assault rifles? Admittedly they’re quite polite and were more taken aback than offended when I asked for a photo with them. I didn’t believe my eyes at first, and I didn’t think you would either without some evidence. So I’ve attached that photo. Anyway, I’m not sure what they’re there for. Perhaps they’re worried that the Taliban is going to try for Iwo Jima, California-style, or maybe they’re there to welcome tourists? If anyone has a chance to find out let me know… After successfully navigating LAX and Frankfurt (much easier, the people were so much more polite) I made it to England and my work. Which has become much more theoretical, abstract and detailed since I got back. Which is good. And I won’t bore you with the details this time. What’s bad is that it’s also become a lot more mathematical. Shrug. I’ll get there. My fear of mathematics is being overwhelmed by how good it is to be back. I knew I wanted to come back, but I hadn’t realised how much so, I love it! The things academic yes, but also the friends and quirky institutions, the beauracracy (at times) and the dancing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing a DPhil in dancing. Of the last 7 days I’ve danced 5 or 6. I was right not to miss the banks though. As George Anstey noted, the Cooperative Bank could not have been more inaccurately named. Otherwise? I miss the fruit we get in NZ, but British vege and produce is actually better – huh? – and the market at Gloucester Green is cheaper, even before taking cost of living into account. It’s only really become cold the last couple of days, and there’s still a few minutes of sun some days of the week. In other words things are cheap and the weather is not nearly as bad as I keep hearing it should be. Either the winter is saving things up for me or the UK has a serious image problem (cost, climate). Last but not least, the attached photos and some captions. LAX.jpg I’ve already talked about, I guess I’d just stress that the two in the photo were far and away the friendliest people there. Which is odd. The second is one of Rosanna and me at a dance competition in Bath. I like tails, I really do, but it’s a misleading photo and makes me look a much better dancer than I am. Rosanna should get almost all of the credit for us doing as well as we did, she’s a very good dancer and a patient one too. Did I mention that I loved wearing tails? I also know what a cummberbund is now. The last two photos are just a couple of Oxford at night. When this place empties out it really is breathtakingly beautiful, so quiet, I love it. It’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to. Venice could maybe be the same, if it was empty, and didn’t smell so bad? And that church in Murren… Maybe Oxford isn’t unique, but it is truly special. I love it here. And this epistle’s a bit shorter, if also a bit short on breath. FINIS
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