I never quite got the hang of Thursdays


in Daily updates, Oxford

Manor Road Atrium

With the first inter-term break nearly complete, I have finished one sixth of my total academic time in Oxford. I think this is now the longest I have ever spent without being in Vancouver. While I am still profoundly uncertain about what I will do this summer, it is still comforting to have the overall shape of the next two years laid out before me. I think I’ve done fairly well this term, on a number of fronts, though it will be nice to get my official assessment from Dr. Hurrell, just to see what he thinks in formal terms.

This afternoon, I successfully reprovisioned myself with peppers, free range eggs, lots of kidney beans, cheese, etc. It seemed a good thing to do before the term started, though carrying home £25 worth of groceries (much of it canned) is an activity even less pleasant than revising for tomorrow’s statistics exam.

This weekend, I need to complete the first week’s reading for the core seminar, as well as get a good start on the first week’s reading for the qualitative methods course that is happening this term. Happily, some of the books for the core seminar are also reading my supervisor assigned to me for the break. Due to the mass of reading that remains to be done once the stats exam is dispatched, I should have the most profound hesitance about going to the MCR welcome back party tomorrow night.

I never did get my hands on one of the statistics textbooks, though I suppose there is an outside shot of having the chance to peruse one tomorrow morning, before the exam but after I see Louise off on her return to Lancaster. I am very thankful overall for the statistics courses I took at UBC: especially the statistics for pharmacy students course I took with Alan Donald. Like Farshid Safi (with whom I did differential calculus at UBC), he is a very funny guy and a professor who I highly recommend on the basis of helpfulness, competence, and personality.

I am not entirely certain whether this is a formal Oxford exam, in the sense that I need to wear the whole silly robe and bow tie combination. It’s not happening in the Examination Schools, but it still seems safest to wear the whole ensemble, just in case. I borrowed a graduate robe from the lodge, for this purpose.

  • Another Mac OS X tip: spend $20 and get yourself an Optical Wheelmouse or the Logitech equivalent. It is infinitely more pleasant to use for long periods than a trackpad or single button Apple mouse. I recommend setting it up so that pressing the third mouse button (the wheel) has the same effect as pressing F9 in the normal setup of Entourage: showing all windows simultaneously. I wish I had a fourth button to map to the F11 equivalent.
  • Guinness contains 260 calories a pint.
  • If anyone I know in Oxford wants to borrow The Life Aquatic, they are welcome to do so. A quirky and extremely funny film, I recommend it to people who enjoy slightly absurd comedy. It needs to be returned to the County Library by Saturday, however.
  • Is anyone else disappointed about EU standardized passport stamps? My child’s passport from when I first went to Europe was much more interesting looking than my monotonously stamped current one.
  • Just to remind people, the deadline for ORS scholarship applications is January 20th, and you cannot apply for any other university or departmental scholarships unless you apply for this one as well.
  • On heavily caffeinated days, like the last two, I find myself enormously more likely to be startled by unexpected events: such as suddenly seeing someone enter the room, or turning the corner in a hallway to see someone close to me. The fact that I had something of a reputation for shocked responses to such stimuli when I was at UBC is not unrelated to my $250 a year Starbucks budget. Having hardly consumed any caffeine over the break (barring the occasional cup of tea or coffee with a friend), it’s surprising to see such skittishness return.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

B January 12, 2006 at 10:01 pm

Someone should definitely take up your offer to borrow “The Life Aquatic.” It’s quite a clever film, as you would expect from Wes Anderson, and it has some very strong performances. The remarkably non-evil Willem Dafoe is a particular surprise, along with Cate Blanchett’s cool accent.

Anonymous January 12, 2006 at 11:48 pm

For some reason, the thought of you skittishly writing a stats exam wearing robes and a bow tie makes me laugh. a lot.


Milan January 13, 2006 at 12:01 am

Rightly so. It’s an utterly absurd idea.

Even worse, it might not actually be a formal exam. I might be there in suit, bow tie, and robes while everyone else is lounging in jeans…

Anonymous January 13, 2006 at 12:15 am

For all this whining about money and needing a summer job, have you considered adding some Google AdSense advertising to your blog?

With 2500 hits a month, as you seem to be consistently getting, it might give you a bit of a cashflow. I don’t know what kind of value would be attached to the kind of AdWords you would be likely to attract, but it might be worth a try.

Kate January 13, 2006 at 9:16 am

If it is just a Collection you shouldn’t need to wear Sub Fusc. Those are really only for the formal official exams.

Is it a college exam or faculty?

Milan January 13, 2006 at 9:35 am

It’s part of a graduate program, so it must be a faculty exam. My college has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous January 13, 2006 at 10:49 am

More than 30 university degrees held by people in the M.Phil in IR program: 3 Rhodes Scholars, and more than 500 years of total education…

Milan January 13, 2006 at 11:21 am

The concensus among my learned colleagues is that the exam is not to be written in sub fusc. After all, it’s happening at the St. Cross Building, not the exam schools.

Anonymous January 13, 2006 at 11:47 am

The word is in from Dr. James Tilley:

“This is not a university examination, so you do NOT have to wear sub fusc.”

Kate January 13, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Good luck, by the way!

Farshid Safi February 24, 2008 at 10:21 pm

It was so refreshing to read some of your blogs. I am in Orlando teaching and doing research at the University of Central Florida. Keep in touch.


Milan February 26, 2008 at 3:10 pm


It’s good to hear from you!

What kind of research are you doing?

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