If you are in Oxford and you are interested in some cheap (possibly free) office and kitchen supplies, consider dropping by 2 Church Walk at some point today or tomorrow. I have a three hole punch, large clear plastic box for hanging files, binders, a stapler, frying pans, an electric kettle, a clock radio, and various other things of that sort. More information is on this page.
I should be around for the next few hours. If you are interested, send me an email, give me a call, or leave a comment here.
Our evacuation from this flat is beginning to feel like a desperate retreat: unplanned, sudden, and highly wasteful. It feels as though many of the physical products of the last two years are being burned away or abandoned. Of course, things tend to unwind to a state of maximum disorder, then begin to progress towards comprehensibility again.
It is quite startling to think that I will be in Vancouver in two days.
This afternoon, after my final meeting with Dr. Hurrell, I got back one copy of my thesis and my grades for the M.Phil:
To put those in perspective, have a look at the scale of marks. The thesis grade is a bit of a disappointment, especially considering how I expended well over one hundred times more effort on the thesis than on the exams. I only began serious exam revision after getting back from the Lake District on June 3rd. Based on the very crude method of taking the mean of the five grades, I got 70.2 overall.
Since the thesis is now publicly available in the Bodleian, it seems appropriate to make it publicly available online as well: Expertise and Legitimacy: The Role of Science in Global Environmental Policy-Making.This version has about two dozen minor errors corrected. If you find more, please let me know and I will make the appropriate changes in the electronic version.
The Koutoubia mosque is the largest in Marrakesh, standing out prominently near one corner of the Djemma El Fna.
From the terrace of my first hotel, you could get a glimpse of the old city from above.
This is a courtyard inside the Marrakesh museum, which I found by accident while I was completely lost in the souq.
The largest open space in the Marrakesh museum is a great place to have a rest and read.
The Ali ben Youssef Medersa is very open for a museum, allowing you to wander all over the place.
I am still working on processing my photos – alongside packing and saying goodbye to friends. That said, I did shoot some short and extremely amateur videos in Morocco. Much as I appreciate the power of photographs to overcome entropy, there are certainly some visual spectacles best served by video. The resolution here is low, and the camera work shaky, but the capacity to shoot video is far from the primary function of my cheap digital camera.
If you want to see some good videos, have a look at my brother Mica’s site.
Since I have not been summoned for a viva exam, it is safe to conclude that I passed all four of my final exams, as well as the thesis. While I won’t know how well I did for some time, I do know that I have finished the M.Phil in due time.
The problem with my bike is worse than my original diagnosis. The cause of the hole in the tube is a patch where the actual outer rubber portion of the tire has been worn through. As such, when you try to pump up a new tube inside, it bulges out of the hole. Clearly, the tire needs to be replaced.
That said, I only have three days left in Oxford, and nobody has committed to buying the bicycle yet. Regardless of what happens to it when I leave, the non-functionality of my bicycle now means that I need to walk to the John Radcliffe hospital in Headington for my final brain scan.
[Update: 29 June 2007] I have replaced the rear tire and the bike is now working properly. I am still looking for someone who wants to buy it.
The Cascades dâ€™Ouzoud were certainly a memorable end to the trip. In addition to the falls themselves, there was a good collection of wildlife at hand. There were your standard donkeys and goats, as well as hummingbirds and monkeys.
The specifics of my return journey are best not discussed. It was a trying experience, at virtually every stage.
In any event, photos should begin coming online shortly.
Rather than spend tomorrow wandering aimlessly in Marrakesh, I am going to try to get to the Cascades dâ€™Ouzoud. That means finding a bus to Azilal and then sharing a taxi. The Lonely Planet guide only says that there are two buses from Marrakesh per day, giving no times. The bus company website does not inspire confidence. All I can do is head over to the bus station as early as can be managed and hope that (a) there will be tickets available (b) for buses that have not left yet and (c) will not require waiting around for hours on end.
Here’s hoping I don’t get stranded in the foothills of the Atlas mountains and miss my 9am flight to London on Wednesday. If all else fails, I suppose I can shell out a small fortune for a taxi from Azilal back to Marrakesh.
[Update: 4:15pm] I made it by bus to Azilal and by taxi to Ouzoud. The taxi ride was a bit of an adventure, as it seems to have been optimized for drama. The centre line of the two lane road seemed to be the preferred road position – owing perhaps to the number of donkeys walking by the roadside – and we spent long stretches fully in the left hand lane, particularly in places where the road banked in that direction. Given the hills around here, that meant a lot of blind turns. The falls themselves were very impressive and worth the journey. I just hope the bus that has been variously promised for 5:00pm, 6:00pm, and 7:00pm actually shows up at one of those times.
Wonderful how you can get online from anywhere these days.
Having upgraded from SPF 15 sunscreen to SPF 50, I feel like I am handling Marrakesh well. Today, I went exploring in Gueliz: the more modern part of the city west of the Djemma El Fna. The contrast between the two is considerable, in terms of architecture and layout. The identical sorts of vehicles moving through each – taxis, horse drawn carriages, and lethal mopeds – remind you just how close together they really are.
Between the old and new cities, there is an Ensemble Artisanal that is well worth a look. It is government run, so the goods are of a consistent quality and the prices initially quoted are reasonably similar to those ultimately paid. All kinds of goods are available in wood, brass, and leather. There is also artwork, jewelery, and textiles. Unlike most places where such things are for sale, there is very little pressure applied to shoppers. As was the case in a similar complex we saw in Essaouira, there is plenty of opportunity to see the goods being made – the big carpet looms being perhaps the most interesting to observe.
PS. Almost as annoying as the Arabic keyboards here is the way Windows XP jumps unpredictably between applications when pages load. It is very annoying to puzzle your way through a complex password on an unfamiliar keyboard only to look up and see that you have typed half of it into Google.