This week was frustrating academically. I have to re-analyse my data after a I highlighted an error last week, before I submit it to the journal for good. Fortunately, I wrote down all of the analysis in scripts, so all of the analysis is done automatically. Unfortunately, a key step requires a paid-for program that isn’t available on the computer I use in Cambridge (but was on the one in Adelaide). This means that I have to download and install a free version (legally, of course) to be able to do this step. The installation of this program is full of dependencies and architecture-specific libraries, and getting it all working is taking far too long.
Monday was the day of the Cavendish HEP group dinner at Christ’s College. This is essentially like a college Formal Hall, minus the gowns and the fellows table. After a day in the department, I dressed up and made my way to the college. I arrived in time for the pre-dinner drinks, and went to stand in the corner with the other theorists. We chatted away until the call came for us to go through to the main dining hall, where we sat at the end of the table in a small clique. We were treated to some rather nice pork cutlets, and later, an apple and marmalade charlotte. Of course, there were the speeches near the end, as with all workplace Christmas functions. Dinner over, the theory students (who were a the dinner) made our way to the Pembroke MCR to hang out for the remainder of the evening.
By Wednesday, I deemed that I had been sufficiently productive and attentive through the day. I had been saving up this time to wrap up the rest of my Christmas presents (the others had been sent in the post at the weekend), and built myself the LEGO Christmas snow-globe I had been keeping since my trip to the LEGO store in London. It’s a small but cute little build, complete with snow that fall if you shake it (though when you stop shaking it, gravity kicks in hard).
On Thursday evening, it was time to see Rogue One. I had to see it now, to avoid risking inevitable spoilers, and I wasn’t otherwise going to see it until the new year, while my parents are in town. I rode out to Light Cinema in the south of Cambridge, having pre-booked my tickets.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film. To avoid spoiling it for others, I’ll keep my comments vague. I certainly enjoyed it more than the Force Awakens. Not trying to set up for any movies that haven’t been released means that the story is self-contained enough and any plot-holes are not glaringly obvious. The opening third of the film felt a little confused; the film-makers struggled to provide reason for the motivation of the characters; but once they had that motivation that was quickly forgotten. I really enjoy world-building in films, and this has a lot of that. None of the characters have a hero complex, nor does the film think that they do. Compared to the prequels, the battle scenes were not ranks and files of large monotonous armies, which didn’t make much sense with high-powered long-range weapons. Instead, it follows much closer to the style of modern warfare, (instead of medieval warfare). The two CGI characters were well done; I would have been fooled entirely if I had not known that their original actors couldn’t have been there. There were many references to the original films, a lot of which were subtle, which I liked. Things which could have been considered fan service were necessary to fill in the gaps to provide the lead-in to episode IV, where the story ends, and only one (pair of) cameo(s) feel forced. The biggest let down is the music. Much of it is generic film music. It hints at the original Star Wars themes regularly, but then shies away (except for the Imperial March). I wish that somebody would redub the film to use the proper Star Wars music. Finally, the final 5 minutes were amazing, especially in giving power and menace to characters that may have lost it over the years. On the whole, I can’t wait until the next anthology film.
Finally, on Friday, there were a few more events to attend. In the evening was the Gates Community Dinner, held at the Castle Street Methodist church. This was an informal dinner for scholars and their families who are staying in Cambridge in the lead-up to Christmas. We each were to bring a dish to share. I brought along one of my three puddings (which I lit), other people brought various local or cultural dishes. But by far the most enjoyable thing was the fact that some of the scholars brought along children aged around 2 and 5. So I, and a few of the other younger scholars spent much of the evening chasing around and playing with the young children. This included games like tag, trains, fall-over-when-the-kid-says-boo and throw-things-around-the-room.
After dinner, a group of us went out to visit Joanna, who was hosting a Christmas Carol-oke, that is, karaoke with Christmas Carols. There were quite a few in attendance, both Gates scholars and people Joanna knew from her course. We sang our way through a number of songs, helped by the fact that we had quite a few choristers and other singers (most notably Jake) in the room.
I had to leave early, my parents were arriving by bus from Heathrow. I rode to the coach stops near Parker’s Piece, arriving in time to find their bus already in the bay, and them sitting obediently on the front seat of the coach, expecting there to be another stop closer to the city (there wasn’t). I beckoned for them to disembark, and together with the bags, walked back to the college. I checked them in at the porter’s lodge; they’d be staying in one of the college guest rooms. By midnight, they were in their room. Over the days to come, I’d show them around Cambridge and southern England, but for now it was time for them to rest off their jet lag.