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######################## READ WRITE POLISH, REPEAT ######################## It's been a while, and Hilary's over. So what's new? I'm still dancing. I'm a little bit better, but I'm only dancing 3 nights a week. The plan is to do the Gold ballroom and Silver latin exams in Trinity term though, and Sheridan will dance with me in the College Cuppers competition as well, so I'm a happy chappy. I've picked up Mandarin again, and that's going really well. What I'd learnt previously seems to be coming back to me quite easily, and I find the teaching style here much better than I ever did the lectures at university (ke3shi4 wo3 shuo1 han4yu3 shuo1 de bu4 hao3!!). I'm also the new treasurer of the Exeter MCR. My platform at our 90-second micro-hustings was "elect me, I'm boring", with the implicit suggestion that this might somehow make me dependable. Have I been boring enough? You tell me. My first task as treasurer was to order a new cheque book. It took Lloyds TSB four weeks, but with some nagging and a lot of persistence the Exeter MCR has finally received not one, but three new cheque books. I compare this to the National bank, NZ, who I just called about an erroneous annual charge on my credit card. Thirty seconds after I picked up the phone the problem was solved and Ellen Campbell and I had a good catch up to boot. Lloyds, take note. In other news, I went to my second Finance & Estates meeting last week. Exeter College has been the lay rector of 5 or 6 parishes in Oxfordshire since 1328 and new legislation unexpectedly moved some of the financial costs back on to the college. The Home Bursar wasn't all that happy about being ambushed by a 700 year old obligation, but that sort of thing seems to sneak up on you here more often than you'd think. As treasurer I've also learnt that high table is very good, and that snuff is nearly as unpleasant as Lloyds. But I love German Riesling. I did a wine tasting course and now my tastes well outstrip my budget. Being a good wine taster is really easy though. All you have to be able to do is keep a straight face while you argue that German Riesling tastes more of diesel than of granite. Having the right, somewhat contorted facial expression while you sniff it is really important too. Rector's seminars have been fantastic. I've loved having the chance to talk with Rachel Lomax (Bank of England) and Nassim Taleb (Black Swan, Ash you would have loved this one!) and others. It's one of the best reasons to come to Exeter College and it is impossible for me to explain just how amazing it is that people like this just turn up here once or twice a week... I am *incredibly* lucky! New Years and Christmas were wonderful. I spent Christmas and a few days afterwards with Gramsi in Epsom, and we had a wonderful time. It was lovely to see her again, and Christmas itself was very nice. There are no exciting stories to report, but that's exactly why I enjoyed it so much. Then I finally had a chance to catch up with Kritika in Dublin. I'd last seen her 7 years ago, but she very kindly let me stay in her spare room, and I had a fantastic time there. Ireland is a lot like Central Otago - glacial rocks and wild hillsides; it's also full of lovely people, and I'm sure they played practical jokes on me. How should you pronounce "Caiomhe"? They tell me it rhymes with "lever". So far in this email there's been the curious absence of any work. That's because my life is just one long idyll, punctuated sporadically by bops and long relaxing days on a sunny English beach. But sometimes I do have to work, and that has also been going really well. Fuzzy logic has slipped in to my research topic, but it's otherwise unchanged and I can tell that you're all bored of it already. What am I actually doing though? Well, Alex Potanin and others said to me that I should always be writing something, so I have been. And they were right - it forces me to actually understand what I'm reading. It means you could succinctly sum up my life as repeatedly reading, writing, and polishing though. Last but not least, the images. Only the third one needs a caption. I don't know why our chapel was visited by an angel, and the one from the ball is really just because I like my new dinner suit. But the third image... It's a small section of a map of the computing laboratory, just to give you a feel for the place. The building is a practical joke. Or maybe it's the projection of a four dimensional hypermaze into three dimensions. As far as I can tell, the 3rd floor is spread across three different floors. It's actually quite exciting; just yesterday I found a new shortcut. But I'm not allowed to attach the full map (or even just the full map of one of the floors) because I was only given the images on the condition I not make them public: "it is a security matter, plans must NOT go on the web at all." A security matter? How? Clearly it would threaten the job security of the search and rescue team who need to go hunting for stray students every night, but I'm not quite sure what nightmares a terrorist could unleash if they had this line drawing in their possession. Oh wait, there's a CCTV camera watching me. I need to learn not to grumble so publicly. FINIS
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