Friday, May 23, 2008

Scottish Moment

I'm here at work at the somewhat early hour of 10am (for the academic world). I'm sitting at my desk with the window open giving a nice breeze. It's quiet. And I can hear a bagpiper playing Scotland, the Brave, somewhere in the distance.

Photo from

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Weekend in Oxford

This past weekend, I finally ventured out of Scotland to other parts of the UK. I took the train down to Oxford to spend the weekend with friend and fellow member of Team CB, Xenia. On Saturday, we ran in the Oxford 5k Fun Run. If you follow the link, you'll notice the runners, presumably from last year, actually have bibs with numbers and it looks all official like. They lie. Rather than going into the details, I'll just point you to Xenia's race report (both very true and very funny). Based on my watch time (the only time I have for the race), I completed the 4.9k in 37:15. Which is actually pretty good for me, but I did end up walking for about 3-4 minutes of the race. Bummer.

Chri..err..Xenia and I spent the rest of the day walking around Oxford and enjoying the sun. Xenia is a terrific tour guide! I learned all about the weird collegiate setup that is Oxford, about pimms and punting (a very good way to look silly). It was a beautiful day to be out and about. And Oxford really is a neat place to wander around. Here are some pictures from my tour.

This first picture is of Wadham College (I think).

It turns out that the University of Oxford isn't
really a university as we typically think of a university. Imagine if someone picked up all the small liberal arts colleges in Ohio and plunked them down in the same city. Oxford is kind of like that. Each college is much, much more independent than a college in a US unversity. I also learned from Xenia that the castle-like, up-and-down, edging bits on the building are called crenellations.

Oxford was interesting because, like Edinburgh, the city and buildings resonate age. Here is a picture I took along Broad Street.

Although you can feel the age as you walk around, the weightiness of Oxford was very different. Buildings and sidewalks in Edinburgh are made up of all this dark, grey stone. The stone buildings in Oxford have a much warmer feel, probably because they are made of a lighter sandstone.

Enough about stone. This is a picture of one of the guys they have ringing the Sheldonian Theatre.

I think it looks like he's going to sneeze. Hopefully it won't happen during graduation, which is held here.

These next few pictures are of the Bodleian Library.

If you look closely at the second picture, you'll see they have Latin above the doorways. Apparently, you need to know Latin just to know your way around this particular library. I'm guessing you won't find any fun romances here.

And now we have the Bridge of Sighs. No wait, wrong bridge. That one's in Venice. This particular Bridge of Sighs is a replica. I can't help but wonder what message they were trying to send to their graduate students.

And here is me, in front of the Radcliffe Camera. "Camera" seems like a funny name for a library, until you realize they were just trying to be all pretentious with the Latin again ("camera" means "room" or "chamber" in Latin according to the Wiki page).

This next building is part of All Souls College, or more formally, The Warden and College of the Souls of all Faithful People deceased in the University of Oxford. I can't help but wonder what the requirements are for getting into this particular college.

This next batch of pictures were all taken at Christ Church College, which is very pretty and not Latin. (Ok, there was Latin in the Chapel, but I didn't take any pictures there.)

For all you Harry Potter fans, this dining hall in Christ Church is the one they used to film the dining hall scenes for Harry Potter.

Ok, enough buildings. One of the very, very cool things about Oxford was the parks and greenspace. There are two rivers that run through town, where you can find ducks and geese, including Canadian Geese, which is a bit surprising. My best guess is that the geese in these pictures are Greylag Geese. Although this one looks like she's walking, she was actually posed that way for several minutes.

And look, goslings!! Awwwwww.

Ok, not geese, but also not animals that I was expecting to find in Oxford.

And since I love trees, as usually I must include a couple that I thought made for particularly interesting pictures.

And that concludes your tour of Oxford!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

For a Limited Time Only

I'm only going to leave this up for a few days, but I thought I'd share. This is my favorite picture from my graduation, two Sundays ago. My Amazonian younger sister Susan is on the left. She is currently going through grad-school hell. My older sister Cindy is on the right.

Congratulations to me!