Sport · Travel

Week 74: By-election results and a Trip to the Thames Valley

The Social Officer By-Election polls had closed overnight, so the first task of the morning was to check the results and announce the final results publicly. However, when I logged on to the voting server, I was met with the rather unhelpful message: “The ballot was tied, so the Returning Officer will need to re-calculate the results manually from the raw vote data and toss a coin to determine the winner of this ballot”. No further information was given. As the returning officer, I needed to work out what was going on. The server linked to a paid proprietary program, which didn’t seem to offer much for the money it wanted. So I instead loaded up an old sheet I’d written for my old club in Adelaide and entered the votes into there. It turned out to be even stranger than I had expected.

There were four candidates for election: Jennifer, Andrea, Chelsie and an option to Re-Open Nominations (RON). The ballot was being conducted through the Alternative Vote system, also known as preferential voting. On first preferences, Jennifer was on 21 votes, Andrea was on 19, Chelsie on 19 and RON was on 1. On the first count, RON was excluded, and the single voter left no further preference, so the second count was 21-19-19. We needed a coin toss to determine who came second: Andrea and Chelsie. If Andrea won the coin toss, Chelsie would have been excluded and her voter’s second preferences delivered to Jennifer or Andrea, which would have resulted in Andrea winning 28-27. However, if Chelsie won the coin toss, Andrea would have been excluded and her voter’s second preferences delivered to Jennifer or Chelsie. But in this circumstance, Jennifer and Chelsie would have tied 27-27, which would have necessitated a second coin toss. So as a result of the coin tosses, any of the three candidates could have won. Emma, who was about to leave on a holiday, as the vice-president conducted the coin toss, which resulted in Andrea winning and being elected.

The rest of the day was much less exciting, heading in to play tennis, check in at the GSCR, before going to the New Museum’s site for the next Scientific Computing session. The student’s were now learning how to make their programs non-linear by introducing functions and for loops, which meant they were now properly programming, not just manipulating variables. Finally, Jacqueline and I went out to dinner at Churchill.

The rest of the week proceeded without much incident, heading in to the department for work most of the week, and briefly checking in with my college tutor on Wednesday morning. The actual work itself wasn’t all that productive, but every little bit counts?

On Friday, I set out on my bicycle to head out to a tennis match, but as I crested the little hill at the end of our street, I heard a slight snapping noise from my bike. As I rolled over the other side, I realised that I couldn’t seem to pedal any more. My chain was still fine, and I was very confused, and so I wheeled my bike back home and went out on my other bike.

When I did get home, I investigated my broken wheel. This necessitated getting a few additional tools I didn’t otherwise have, but by the end of it, I had disassembled my rear wheel and removed the freewheel hub. This is a component that sits inside the rear cassette (cogs) and can only be rotated in one direction, which allows for pressure to be applied when pedalling forward, but can rotate freely when there is no pressure. But it was rotating freely in both directions. It needed to be replaced, so I checked the part number and went online shopping. While I was there, I also ordered replacement parts for several other bits on my bike, which had worn well past their lifespan.

Saturday was a relatively lazy day, spent mostly at home watching the cycling and playing around with the internet. Some days seem to end before they’ve really started.

On Sunday, it was time for another Real Tennis trip. Today, I was heading out to Hardwick House, a court at an old manor house in the Thames Valley near Reading. I took the train down to London, and live-streamed my bike ride from King’s Cross to Paddington to my parents, who were in Hobart preparing to go to their new job as the Maatsuyker Island lighthouse keepers. I then caught a train from Paddington out to Pangbourne, a small railway station overlooking the upper Thames. There was a short bike ride onwards to Hardwick House, along narrow country lanes and through a toll booth. The road to the manor house itself was a private road, which overlooked people hiking, running, and horse riding. I found what I thought was the court, but turned out to be an older court turned into a private residence. They then directed me around to the actual court, where everyone was starting to gather. The Hardwick court was a friendly one, it was run completely by the members, and featured a big Canadian maple leaf on the grille as the club logo. The adjacent manor house was apparently the inspiration for Toad Hall, from The Wind in the Willows, but that was more significant to the British than me. We were playing a series of doubles matches, so that everybody played in two matches. I ended up winning both of mine, the court played relatively easily and it had enough bounce for me to be hitting the ball well enough. We were served a nice stew for lunch too.

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Once I had finished my matches, ahead of schedule, I quickly calculated that I could make it back to Cambridge earlier if I raced to Reading via the back roads. I packed up and left, riding over the rough and unmade road through the beautiful countryside. Many parts of the road were covered in mud and had to be navigated carefully, but I eventually made it to Reading in plenty of time to get back into Paddington. I arrived in Cambridge with enough time to go home and get showered and changed.

That evening, Jacqueline and I headed out to Peterhouse. I was Jacueline’s guest there, as we were joining a host of other Canadians for dinner. Krittika was there too, meaning that Kevin and I were the only non-Canadians at dinner (Kevin is Irish). Nonetheless, the food there was delicious, and the hall was magnficient, even if slightly small. Of note was that the grace came in two sections. We stayed a little after dinner, but then headed home in the cold. That night, the snow would begin to start falling, in what promised to be a cold week to follow.

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