Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

I don't seem to have posted in a while... here's a really bad joke.

One day, a D, an F and an A walk into the bar. The barman say, "I'm sorry, I don't serve minors." So, the F leaves and the D and the A have an open fifth between them.

Actually, I do have something vaguely contentful to post which is that I'm going to be in England from May 18th till May 31st this year. I definitely hope to visit Oxford at some point and am open to suggestions of other places where people I know are that I can visit. I quite fancy doing something college-y... Friday night formal? A Sunday evensong? If anyone I know's defending in that period, I'd be happy to make the train journey up to trash them.
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

Happy Ss. Cyril and Methodius day!

Apparently, some people celebrate the life of some other saint today, but in the Roman ordo, today is the feast of Ss. Cyril and Methodius*! Their story would make rather a good Hollywood movie: they had a big difficult thing to do (evangelising the Slavs); their local boss was a bit of a meany, but their local boss had a bigger boss who liked them (successive Popes were very supportive, even when their bishops weren't); one of the characters dies unexpectedly halfway through; lots of it happens surrounded by gorgeous architecture and/or landscape. Unfortunately, there's no love interest, and the invention of graphological systems isn't one of Hollywood's top themes at the moment.

Anyway, to celebrate C&M day, and to make a nod to the local folk festival, here's some Cyrillic (named for Cyril, who was a pioneer of it):

Моя любовь словно птица, которая готова взвиться в вышину


* Well, this year it is. If 2/14 were to fall during Lent, which it could, this would be the commemoration of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, rather than the feast.
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

Wanna be back in Oxford!

I just got the Old Members' email (who wants to be Johnny Foreigner's Latin alumni when you can be good old English old) from my old college and it's full of tantalizing tidbits. I normally say that the weather in England is always strictly worse than in Berkeley but currently we have rain and they have...

Oxford has been covered with snow and it really does make everything look so beautiful. It has also brought out the child in nearly everyone with an increase in snowball fights and a rather impressive array of snowmen (or in reference to the example that was in Front Quad, snowwomen) dotted around the city centre.

Also, I leave the college choir and suddenly (well... three years later) they have all these fun things happening:

On Sunday 11th February 2007, BBC Radio 4's 'Sunday Worship' will be broadcasting a live programme at 8.10am from Jesus College Chapel. Sir John Houghton, former head of the Met Office and Old Member and Honorary Fellow of the College will be articulating why Christians should be at the forefront of concerns about climate change.
For those of you who prefer a bit more of a lie-in on a Sunday morning or are in a different time zone, you can hear the programme throughout the following week, at any time of day by going to the BBC's Listen Again service


As well as the usual services, Jesus College Chapel Choir are leading eight other colleges in a Corporate Evensong in the University Church, and broadcasting live in BBC Radio 4's 'Sunday Worship' programme (see above). On top of all this, the high point has to be the up-coming choir tour to Rome. For six days in July, the choir will stay in Rome, and sing services and concerts in many venues including Santa Maria Maggiore, All Saints' Church, and St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

We only every got to go to Oxfordshire villages and Wales!

That said, we have some good stuff coming up at Newman choir-wise in the next few weeks, so I shouldn't moan too much. I don't think they'll furnish me with snow, though...

[Italisized quotes used by virtue of fair use. They're probably copyright Alison Profitt-White, Old Members' Officer, Coll. Iesu, Oxon.]
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

To blog...

This isn't my Rome trip write-up, just the notes I need to supplement my short-term memory to be able to actually write it. I just thought I'd whet your appetites.

Tue: Arrive mid-afternoon. Horrible long walk from train station to hostel with heavy bag with broken wheel. Go to Santa Susanna to pick up tickets for Papal audience and go to Mass. Went to OK trattoria. Went to La Traviatta.
Wed: Papal audience: wow. St. Peter's basilica: good. Discovered wonderful buy-by-the-slice pizza: happiness. Tried to go to Mass at English college, but it seemed to be closed for Christmas vac. Walked in on pontifical Mass at San Andrea Apolostolo by mistake: v. cool. Then off to strange but fun take on vespers at Santa Maria in Travestere.
Thu: Walked up to Spanish Steps: less impressive in real life (and drizzle) than in films. Went on walking tour of centro storico: interesting. Got lost / went for walk (take your pick). Tried to visit Jewish Museum, but they didn't have change for a ten (???). Toured Collosseum (trivia question: who named it Collosseum?). Went to Mass at Trinita dei Monti (in French for a change), then to concert of opera arias (much better than actual opera I went to on Tuesday).
Fri: Vatican Museums (including Sistine chapel), Castel Sant'Angelo. Meant to do Forum, but didn't have time, so went to visit Maria Maggiore instead. Mass + Exposition/Benediction at Il Gesu: very moving. Went out with hostel people to Epiphany Eve-party (v. big in Rome, it seems).
Sat: Started off with pontifical Mass at Maria Maggiore (relic of crib, so where else for Epiphany?), then toured another three of the Major basilicas (John Lateran, Holy Cross, Saint Laurence outside the walls). Meant to do Forum, didn't have time. Went to bizarre concert at Holy Cross (teenagers singing Christian pop and a rapping Cistercian monk), then more sensible concert at Maria delli Angeli (Rossini's Petite Messe Solemne). Hung out with hostel people.
Sun: [Yet to happen...]
General: hostel oddities; variable Italian-language competencies; horrible Roman street signage (or lack thereof); my own lack of good walking shoes.

Oh, and happy new year!
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

Christmas / New Year's

I had a good Christmas. The small parish near the domus familius that struggles to provide hymns on normal Sundays really makes an effort with Christmas music and even gave us an anthem during the OOR! It's a very cosy and friendly little parish and I enjoy getting the chance to visit there.

Christmas Day itself with the family was very nice. My main present was a new watch -- my old one broke late August and I'd been making do with my phone since then and hating it, so very glad to have a new watch now. People seemed happy with my presents too: middle sister has been wearing Cal sweater and exchanging Go bears!s a lot; youngest sister liked the boots but didn't like that I wrote Have a boots-iful Christmas! on their card; father has now joined the iPod generation.

On Friday, we went for my "Goodbye meal" (slightly odd timing with all the other events happening this trip) at a very nice local restaurant. My starter of pepper and goat's cheese mousse was very nice, but didn't come with enough bread; main course of tarted up seafood lasagna was very good, though the shrimp was a little over-cooked; vanilla brulee to finish was tasty, though the top wasn't quite crispy enough. Basically, an excellent meal (I'm not happy if I can't find anything to quibble about). The bill came with a confusing statement -- Only excellent service deserves a tip! -- we weren't quite sure if this meant that service was included or whether it was just a bland platitude.

Spent NYE in a pub for the first time ever (I've normally gone to house parties). Very good evening -- affordable drinks, good company, nice atmosphere. Photos will be going up on facebook soon (possibly not till I get back to Berkeley). The one downer was that I had to go home without my jacket as someone else had taken it home by mistake. All sorted now (actually, while I was writing this post) as they've realised their mistake and brought it back to the pub, so I'll have to go over today and pick it up (it's a hard life!).

Off to Rome tomorrow (early!), so I need to pack and finish the Teach Yourself Italian book/CD I got for Christmas (very pleased with it by the way -- tourist focussed, very immersive, not afraid to do a little grammar here and there, just a bit lacking on vocab).
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

Seat Karma

Twenty-three hours and fifty five minutes before my flight was due to take off (I'm in England now, btw), I checked in online and got an aisle seat in the exit row, which I was very excited about. That was good news.

The bad news was that my row contained half of a married couple and the whole of their young baby. So, being the generally kind hearted (and modest) soul that I am, I agreed to swap seats so as husband and wife could sit together in the exit row to look after baby. This left me with a minging seat -- j in a non-extra room row that looked like abc defg hjk.

But then, there was good news. One of the World Traveler Plus passengers didn't board, so the cabin crew offered me her seat as a thankyou for having taken a worse seat to help the family out earlier. (World traveller plus is a roomier version of World traveller, which is what BA call standard class).

This, and the food being quite good, made up for the film selection being nadge. I watched Scoop which was passable, but v. poor for a Woody Allen movie. There was also the option of Volver which I'd have liked to have seen but I was never organized enough to start watching near enough the start for it to be worth it.
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

Linguistic ignorance at the beeb

So, Mark Liberman's posted about a new piece of hopeless reporting relating to language on the bbc website. Unfortunately, he either didn't take the quiz or missed a trick.

At one point they claim Mcfitty is an adjective. This seemed rather unlikely to me, though I'd never heard the term, as I knew of fitty as a noun and Mac- as a derivational morpheme that attaches to nouns to form nouns (eg. MacJobs), so I did a google:

(1) Nice work on the McFittie front!
(2) I bum Lee too harshley hes a lilk mcfittie!!!!
(3) [...]who refers to me as a "McFittie."
(4) Who I'd like to meet: A Pretty McFittie!

I won't go on -- this is blatantly a noun, you can insert for yourself the typical rant about lack of basic linguistic awareness amongst journalists, etc.
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

Technical Query

I seem to remember that if I ssh into my math account, there's some very simple one line command I can type to set my math email to forward somewhere else (my gmail). However, I can't remember what it is. Does anyone else?

(This is prompted by the huge amount of math spam I got today that I've decided I want gmail to deal with not me).
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

Prison, Mexican dancers, frogs and plantains

The title gives you a brief summary of last weekend for me. It was a good weekend, but a very busy one.

Friday night, I had my first night teaching math at San Quentin prison. Disclosure rules limit the extent to which I can blog about this, so I'll play it safe and just say that I'm incredibly glad I signed up for this -- it was an incredibly rewarding night and I'm sure it'll only get more so as I get more used to things. Hopefully, my stomach won't turn quite as badly during the few seconds we're locked in the sally gate next time.

Saturday night, I went to St. Joseph the Worker's where Bp. Cummins was visiting to bless their new icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The service was interspersed with music and dancing from the Ballet Foclórico and was in general great fun. While it's always good to see a full church, it was especially good to see so many young people and to see so many people in a Catholic church for a service other than the Mass. St. Joseph's is the main Hispanic church in Berkeley (I think it's the only one with at least weekly Spanish Mass) and I think Americans with Latin backgrounds have done much better than, say, the Irish or Poles at preserving Old Country extra-liturgical devotions.

After that, I went home and watched Magnolia with rdore which was quite good. I felt the sound track overly dominated at times, it could have been a bit tighter timewise and they should have synched the monitors with the cameras in the bar scene, but apart from that it was good.

Sunday night we had the department holiday party which I'd been organizing with Bianca. Bianca had really been the brains behind the operation, but I'd put in quite a bit of leg work so I was keen for it to go well. Which, I think, it pretty much did. We sold 80 tickets, the space was great, the food was good and I enjoyed the bar service (other people were complaining about the speed but I guess I must have got lucky).

Right now I'm just winding down for the semester. Pretty much finished my Christmas shopping (just need to pick something up I've got on reserve at a store and I'm done). Now, to get started on that reading I wanted to get done over break...
Coleg Iesu Rhydychen

I stormed the ice

Well, we had just won the big rivalry game (vs. Standfurd) and everyone was doing it and I was egged on by a priest, so I suppose it was OK, but I've never been part of a pitch invasion before.

The scene for this was the Big Freeze, the annual Cal vs. Stanfurd ice hockey game. I'd never really gotten into hockey before, but Fr. Charlie was cajoling some Newman peops into going and I thought I might as well. Turns out it's a really fun game to watch: the penalty box rules keep the game varied, icing forces them not to play a "long ball" game (yes, I know I used to be a Dons fan, but there's a time and a place for everything...) and the existence of walls adds a interesting element.

Also, Cal won (7-3), which helped make it fun to watch, but didn't completely dominate (they were 2-2 at one stage, though I don't think the Cardinal ever actually had the lead). Apparently, this was an unusually high scoring game, which might mean it was unusually interesting to watch, but Fr. C said that the ref.s were stopping play far too often for minor things and games are more interesting to watch when they let plays last a bit longer, so maybe that would balance out. The ref.s didn't seem to have any notion of playing advantage from the little I could gleen. I don't know whether that's sportwide or just these ref.s.

Anyway, after we won, the Cal fans (to be honest everyone apart about 6 people there seemed to be Cal fans) stormed the ice. I was surprised how easy it was to walk on in sneakers*. One of the players came up to me and asked me to take a picture of him and his girlfriend** on the ice. Afterwards, I shook his hand and congratulated him and he thanked me for coming, which seemed kind of weird but apparently this is the best crowd they've had for any game for years. I felt a strange sense of brush with celebrity, even though I've no idea what his name was, or even if he'd had any ice time that game (he wasn't the substitute goalie who's the only guy I know didn't get any).

It was fun, and I may be trying to drag people down to the ice rink next season.


* See a previous entry for why I call these shoes sneakers rather than trainers.
** Well, I presume she was his girlfriend. Maybe she was just a random groupie? Do hockey players have groupies?