On travel, a new project, and thesis planning


in Daily updates, Oxford, Science, Travel

Spikes near Christ Church Meadows

Speaking with my parents over Skype today, I was reminded of how difficult it can be to communicate through a speech-only medium. It’s especially frustrating when you are making the attempt with someone who you really do want to speak with, but you are having difficulty doing so with any clarity or skill. The extra fraction of a second of Skype-to-phone lag definitely contributes to the difficulty. So plainly, in fact, that when I use SkypeOut to call people, they frequently suggest going on Skype themselves so as to increase the quality of the connection.

Partly for these reasons, I am especially looking forward to seeing my mother in about a month’s time. It’s still not certain whether we will go to Malta, Portugal, or Greece – though the middle option is increasingly looking the most likely. The kind of trip that is being proposed is a package-deal type hiking trip, with 4-10km walks every day and arranged hotels. While quite different from the kind of travel I have generally done, I find the idea to be an interesting one, and one that is likely to be enjoyable. I found travelling with Meghan Mathieson et al to be especially interesting, precisely because it involved traveling in a group and according to a set itinerary that I didn’t control. Hopefully, this expedition will mimic the best attributes of that one.

Oxford life

At the end of this year, I think I should condense the mass of experience I’ve had here into a trio of short guides: one for people considering coming to Oxford, one for people considering Wadham, and one for people thinking of doing the M.Phil in IR. It would offer me a chance to be both balanced and concise, while offering a perspective that people may find valuable. While the information that would be included is already embedded in blog posts, I don’t think anyone is likely to go through the whole collection of hundreds of entries just to gain insights that might be better expressed in three to five pages on each topic.

Thesis planning

I have been investigating the Oxford Environmental Change Institute and it seems like a resource that could conceivably be extremely helpful for my research topic. Their website quotes Dr. Anna Lawrence, of the Human Ecology Program, as saying: “Researchers must find ways to incorporate the experiences and values of other stakeholders in their research.” This is exactly the kind of thing I want to do: look at the means by which such cooperation and outreach is taking place. If I can find some way to get involved with this organization, it might contribute a great deal to my ability to say something new and important on the subject. While it can be difficult to deal with segregation between different areas of academia, the very lack of connections makes it a really exciting place to do work. There is much to be discovered there.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous February 5, 2006 at 11:21 pm

Nerdiest site ever – you may like it.

Anonymous April 11, 2006 at 11:13 pm

A Valediction Forbidding Mourning
by John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
“Now his breath goes,” and some say, “No.”

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’ other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

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