Research · Socialising · Sport

Week 22: Closing the Chapter (hopefully)

Most of my simulations finished on Monday morning, but some took days longer to complete. In the meantime, I tried investigating a point one of the referees had commented on to see if I could reconcile my results with some results from other works. I tried writing a script to plot the results, and when that gave strange results, I asked to borrow a similar script from one of my collaborators. Problem was, my installation of MATLAB gave an entirely different set of results to my collaborator, even though we were supposedly running the same script. I had no explanation for this, and spent many frustrated hours trying to hypothesise why it might be the case. I came up blank. Eventually, though, my simulations did finish, and I now had fixed everything to the importing of the data and generation of the plots was a little more seamless. There were one or two plots that had to be ironed out, due to some changes in units, but on the whole it turned out well. Unfortunately, the results were less encouraging than the original, wrong, results, but better than what I had been looking at for the last two weeks. Importantly, I could now reconcile them with my theoretical predictions. Once I had everything completed, I edited a few bits of the paper I had written and sent it off to be re-reviewed.

Throughout the week, there were things going on in the evenings. Starting Monday, Krittika invited me to a pub quiz at The Mill, reputably one of the most difficult in Cambridge. It proved to be so: our team of Krittika, Annalise, Ryan (a friend of Krittika’s) and me struggled, lacking in knowledge of questions relating to England. We dutifully came last, though would perhaps had done better if we had recruited an Englishman.

On Tuesday evening, Callie invited me to her fascism reading group. There were about a dozen of us in the GSCR. We spent an hour discussing the origins of antisemitism, though got sidetracked into the origins of anti-immigrant sentiment despite Callie’s best attempts to keep us on track. Next week promises to be a little less political, but who can predict it?

On Wednesday evening, I attended my first training with the Darwin College Cricket Club. I’ve not played cricket outside the backyard since high school, but for whatever reason, my batting was some of the better that I’ve done in the nets. My bowling left a lot to be desired, however. That said, it was fun to give it a go again.

On Thursday, Callie had a spare ticket and so invited me to a formal at Newnham College. I hadn’t been to Newnham before, so happily took her up on the offer. There were about a score of Gates Scholars in attendance, which made it difficult to get seats all together. Dinner was braised beef and ratatouille, which was quite nice, if a little harder cooked than I would have preferred. We socialised afterwards in the quite packed Newnham MCR. The night ended by attempting to fix a squeaking in Annalise’s bike. Bike repair is something I’m becoming quite accustomed to in Cambridge.

Friday night was another Council organised event: supper club. The premise is that scholars host other scholars for dinner parties across Cambridge. Due to some degree of cancellations, I was assigned through three different groups before I ended up being hosted by a mature-aged scholar named Luis. He cooked us some chicken in a mushroom sauteé. Again, not wanting to be ungracious, I brought along an apple crumble. The other guest, Josh, brought along a side. We chatted about a wide range of topics, before finishing off with a range of French cheeses. My favourite was a cow’s mountain cheese from the Savoie.

Having resubmitted on Friday, I needed to get out and forget about work for a while. I spent all day Saturday wandering in and out of clothes shops trying to find something I liked. I also treated myself to a somewhat disappointing haircut, something I had witheld until the point where I resubmitted.

Sunday was much more useful in my attempted escapism. Sunday brunch was instead Sunday Roast, hosted again at Darwin, with the now expected roast pork and Yorkshire pudding (which people know how to eat now). After roast, Jacqueline asked me to take a look at her bike, she was worried about a clicking in the crank-set, and there wasn’t much I could do without a workshop full of spare parts.

That afternoon, I went to Jesus College for the first time: Krittika wanted to learn about Rugby, and had invited Annalise and myself along to try and explain as we watched the England vs Italy game in the MCR. I knew some things as an Australian, but being from South Australia, where Australian Rules Football is more popular than rugby, and Australia, where League is more popular than Union, I couldn’t explain many of the subtleties. Fortunately, there was a rugby fan in the MCR who could explain the intricacies. Annalise brought along left-over pikelets and salsa dip too, so we were able to snack throughout.

For the third weekend in a row, I went to visit Joanna and Danny for knitting and binge-watching the US reality show RuPaul. It was a nice and comforting to sit and relax for a couple of hours, and I attempted to return the hospitality by helping cook up stir fry for dinner.

My last engagement for the weekend was to meet up with Jacqueline to go to a world premiere arrangement of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for Piano and Organ in the King’s College Chapel. It was an interesting technical set-up: since the organ is up on the choir screen and the piano is down in the nave, it is not possible for the organist to see or hear the pianist, so they had to set up a video and audio link between the two so they could play together. They also streamed a video feed from the organist down to the audience so we could see what was going on. It was certainly an interesting experience; the piece isn’t designed to be played with an organ. The piano was virtually unchanged from the regular prescription, so the organ takes up much of the work normally taken by the orchestra. Where it mimics the horns, it did quite well, but there are elements of rapidly changing staccato notes which got a little lost in the organ. The deep echos of the chapel didn’t help its cause. Towards the end of the piece, the tempo slowed down, and thus the organ could keep up a little better. Plus it was reaching a crescendo, so the organ sounded truly majestic. All told, it was an interesting experience, but wouldn’t become my preferred arrangement for the piece.

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