Tallinn prep is now in full swing. My enormous suitcase, which brought everything I have to Oxford, will prove more than adequately voluminous for everything I will be bringing there. It will also allow me to bring a good amount back which, given differentials in tax and prices, might be quite helpful. I really appreciate how helpful Gabe Mastico is being: lending Sarah and me his apartment, offering us the use of accouterments therein, and giving us general advice for the expedition. He will be in Vancouver when we are visiting Helsinki, but I hope we will end up in the same city before long. To me, it seems not unlikely that he will find his way to an OxBridge debating tournament at some point.
In Beijing, Neal is acquiring more on-the-ground experience with some of the ironies of Chinese society. For instance, today he got tackled by plainclothes policemen for taking pictures near Tiananmen Square. The incident reminds me of the opening from Milan Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” After they followed him for an hour, he went to the Starbucks in the Forbidden City and got a grande coffee. Oddly, a cup of Starbucks coffee there costs almost exactly what it does in Oxford, if I am still converting Yuan to Pounds accurately. He will remain in the Middle Kingdom until the fifteenth of January.
The next month:
- 15 December: Travel to Radlett by train.
- 16 December: Travel to Stansted Airport by car, then fly to Tallinn.
- Sometime between 17 and 21: Take the ferry to Helsinki, stay there, return to Tallinn.
- 22 December: Fly back to Stansted, travel back to Oxford.
- 24 December: Spend Christmas with Sarah, in either Radlett or London.
- 13 January: Quantitative Methods Exam
- 15 January: Hilary Term Begins
This evening, I finished Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost, which Nora gave me as a birthday gift. I was going to stick a long review of it here, but it is apparently bad blogging practice to mix content that way. Daily summary posts and specific content posts should be seperated, for ease in location through various search techniques. As such, the review will appear later: here, and on Everything2.
- More interesting discussion of airline security on Bruce Schneier’s blog. A good quotation: “Sept. 11 had nothing to do with exploiting airport security and everything to do with exploiting our mindset at the time.”
- The Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) is looking for artwork, including photography, with which to decorate the Manor Road Building. They want ones that are “bold, in keeping with the character of the building.” The building looks like this. Can anybody think of any photos of mine that fit the bill? The 100 Pound book credit would be quite helpful to me. Unfortunately, the negatives for all of these are in Canada. I do, however, have high quality scans of most from Lens and Shutter. For some reason, this shot from the 2003 New York blackout comes to mind. I think it would work best cropped square and centred. What do people think?
- One of my favourite videos made by my brother Mica is now online. It’s an amusing one. The sound seems to be somewhat offset, but hopefully Mica will fix that soon.
- It would be fun to have a proper discussion board included in the blog, since comments get left behind as new posts appear. Does anyone know of some good, free discussion board software? Ideally, I would want to host it myself. I’ve always enjoyed introducing people.
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- I stayed up way too late yesterday, woke way too late today – it’s happening again.