October 26, 2007

A bit of an update

I've had an interesting and busy couple of weeks since I last blogged.  I'm feeling a lot better about my new life in Cambridge now, and am settling in to work well.  The tasks that I have to work on now are much more involved and time-consuming than the ones I started with, and I've had a couple over the last month or so that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  One task, to support a new feature in our flagship project, kept me occupied for something like two weeks, and was a good level of challenge.  More recently, I've started working on some tasks related to smart card authentication (basically using chip-and-PIN technology to log on to our products), and it looks like I'm going to become my department's smart card bitch :)

Additionally, the Citrix iForum in Las Vegas this week has created a bit of buzz (not least because we've started showing off the products of our acquisition of XenSource), and it's reminded me just what an exciting company Citrix is, and what a good thing it is to be working for them.  Whilst Citrix is a nearly-20-year-old $1.5bn multi-national company homed in the US, it still has a feel of a fresh start-up, and part of this is because of the sheer level of innovation going on in the company.  There are some really amazing things happening at the moment.  The emails from the upper echelons praising our hard work were a nice touch, too.  

Outside of work, I have recently joined a gym, and I am continuing with my bassoon lessons.  I've had a few good workouts at the gym, and as it has a pool too I have been cooling off with a swim afterwards which has been really good.  It does, however, mean that I'm at the gym for a good couple of hours, which is no bad thing unless I want to be doing something else with my evening too!  I've also found that I can't practise after going to the gym, as I'm generally too worn out.  This is causing some problems — I haven't practised in about 2 weeks now :( — but I'm aiming to rectify that, starting tonight.  

I've been working on very technical exercises since I started here, as I really wanted to undo the four years' worth of accumulated bad habits and get somewhere close to the standard I was playing at when I started University.  Recently, I had started to feel as though I was losing my focus a bit having been pooled for the Cambridge Phil and not practising as much, and I was almost starting to wonder if I was wasting my teacher's time and my money.  I realised soon into this week's lesson, however, that I was actually starting to play well again, and producing a particularly nice tone, and that if I could just get myself back on track with the practice, I could achieve my aim.  It's not a good feeling to feel like you peaked at 18, and I don't think that's necessarily the case: with determination and hard work, I think it is possible to be playing as well as I was.  I'm still young, and my fingers are still nimble; they just need to re-learn how to move quickly, and I need to re-learn confidence in my playing.  And this is why I think my new teacher is going to be good for me.  She's fun, enthusiastic, encouraging, and has started dropping phrases such as "someone of your standard" into the lesson. I had a couple of reservations before I started learning with someone only a couple of years older than me, but she knows her stuff as well as my second teacher did who used to play with the BSO.  It's also quite telling that my bassoon lessons are the only thing that I don't have any doubts about going to, even though my teacher is a 20-30 minute drive away near Trumpington.  This is all buoying me confidence-wise, and I hope that I will have many more good lessons to look forward to.

I also met up with Paul, one of my housemates from Uni who's doing a PhD at Cambridge now, last week, and we hung out at his with a bottle of wine chewing the fat.   It was really good to see him again and catch up.

I spent last weekend in London with visiting Lorna, and Sarah came down to see us both too.  It was a lovely weekend, and an emotional one too, as Lorna has already hinted.  We wandered around London for most of Saturday, visiting the Tate Modern in the afternoon before settling in for the rugby.  The crack (Shibboleth 2007 by Doris Salcedo) was impressive in size, but disappointingly artificial.  Having read a bit about it before going there, I was intrigued by the idea, but as Zoë later pointed out, it doesn't really say anything in and of itself; you have to read the leaflet to find out what Salcedo is trying to say with it (in a nutshell, it represents the divides in society).  I was disappointed by the fact that it was so obviously artificial, but maybe that was part of the point of it; that the social divides are artificial.  

And finally, I'm going to go buy myself a TV and DVD recorder tomorrow!  They are the last piece in the puzzle for my flat, so I will be properly sorted in a couple of weeks' time!  I'm then heading on down to Southampton to stay with my parents for the weekend before heading back late Sunday afternoon. 

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