All entries for October 2005

October 29, 2005

South Central and Anti–Rants

I was wandering around campus earlier with a south central baguette. I'd gone there having discovered I had absolutely no food at home and south central was where we always used to go last year during lab days.

I was thinking to myself how annoying it is that the price has gone up this year and that the bread never seems to be perfectly cooked anymore then it occured to me that it was infact still good food. It's just that it doesn't seem as great as it was last year.

For £2, those baguettes are fairly large, you have a choice of loads of different fillings all of which are reasonably good, it's not like its really cheap manky ingredients. The bread is baked(mostly) fresh on premisis (I think) and the various mixtures seem freshly prepared aswell. I usually go for the prawn or the makeral as I do like fish and I'm not personally a lover of sticky chicken mixtures. It's quite quick to get served and pay even when there is a massive queue and it was the only decent lunch I could get last year when I lived in leamington and was stuck on campus. So I decided in conclusion South Central is still excellent, even if not quite as superb as last year it's still damn good and is a credit to the Union (especially when you consider what the University has to offer). After thinking all of this, I decided to come and write this entry as an 'anti-rant', as I think I moan about things far too much.

Feeling slightly more positive about life I wandered into the union and got this weekend's signup list which wasn't rediculously full for a change, then wandered to our pigeon whole room and checked the weather for sunday (not great but then it is almost winter so what do you expect??). I also got a cup of tea from 'Cafe Library', always a good boost and wandered to my computing lecture. During all of this I saw several people I know, which is nice because one problem this year has been that most of my friends have graduated and I didn't seem to know many people anymore. So I've decided with all this very out of character positivity that I shall try to always inter-space my rants with anti-rants of some sort, find something positive for every moan I make.


October 27, 2005

Graduate Careers

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

I was writing a comment on the above entry but it got a bit long, so its become a post.

I looked around a few of these coperate graduate fairs last year and came to a stratergy. If you read the company name and the big text on their stand background and can't work out what they do, ignore them.

To give some examples you might read 'BT – British Telecoms', Ok I know who they are, probably not the best but i've got somewhere.
DSTL is "Defence Science and Technology Laboratory", ok thats great, I know what they do and who they are in 5 words.
But then there are the big companies such as, and this is my favourite as we get bombarded with rubbish by them, Accenture:

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation. Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and govenments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, and technologies to help clients improve their performance.

What the hell does that mean? It's an entire paragraph of absolute rubbish that tells me nothing at all. The word 'technology' is the only one that actually gives a vauge idea of what it means. To this day I still have no idea what accenture do.

Fortunately, now I'm planning todo a PhD and have a good idea of where I want to work anyway so have told the careers service to remove my details from their database. I now no longer receive City and Finance job offers and careers information. I originally put myself on the careers system under Science/Technology. I really wish the careers service would try to find some real and useful science jobs for warwick's graduates and stop trying to tempt them to waste their lives on finance jobs.

Rant ends.


October 26, 2005

Fun, Flying and Flour

Well, another week is halfway through and things are moving alongas usual. I am starting to make my application for a PhD at Imperial College that I hope todo with some sort of further involvement with JET. I'll post any further developments here.

I was intending also todo some work on the project on saturday but didnt have access to the data for the whole weekend so that killed that idea.

On sunday I went flying again. Took a group of four people and Chris Deeks brought along another 3 later on. We just managed to get them all a aerotow and a winch. I did some flying aswell, the two duty instructors who both know me tried to send me on my own straight away but I chickened out and asked for a check flight having not flown for two weeks. I had this and then went up on my own. Managed to find a little lift, though the best bit was inside a cloud and I couldn't follow it :(.

Also I talked to Tom Burton on the airfield who is trying to organise a competition between us, coventry and loughborough. The idea at the moment to todo something soon that will involve flour bombing targets on the airfield from the gliders. This sounds like excellent fun and I shall do some more videoing if/when it goes ahead.

On the subject of videos, the Soaring 2005 video is now complete and can be downloaded from http://gliding.oliford.co.uk/videos . This is a great video of everything we get up to on our week long gliding courses. It includes some aerobatics and spins.

Right, now I must go and do some project work.


October 20, 2005

Illness, Airfield and Lost

It's been a little while since last updated mainly because nothing particularly interesting has happerned.

At the begging of last week I was begining to think that I may have managed to avoid the 'freshers flu' (Why is it called this? Its not flu, its a cold usually and everyone gets it, not just freshers) thats been going around. Of course, I shouldn't have thought that because I then caught it. As usual I tend to get these things a little worse than everyone else and so was feeling generally very ill at the end of last week. I managed to get to all my lectures and then on sunday was feeling a tiny bit better so decided to take a group of people to the airfield anyway, just to get out of the flat and off campus.

It was a merky miserably day but we had a couple of people on the trip who seem keen to keep coming which is always nice to see. I didn't fly myself as with a cold I would have just made a complete mess of it. You can't really fly when ill as you don't have enough brain power, the altitude changes can mess with the pressures in your head if your nose is blocked and its rather difficult without your balance being completely right.

I have now finished watching the first series of Lost. I can say overall I liked the ending, it was suitably wierd although it would have been nice if it had at least answered some of the original questions before throwing some new ones at the poor viewer. Seeing the black rock was good, I really didn't expect that.

We now have a reasonable idea about how our 4th year project is going to go. It bascially involves looking at the data from a big particle accelerator (BaBar) and trying to find a signal that corresponds to a new particle.


October 09, 2005

Flying and frozen butter

Today I took 7 random new people off gliding for the day. We had a good day in all, I got everyone two flights, one of each type which was great since it was really busy and coventry uni had turned up with several people. Some of them even got a third flight and one got todo some aerobatics.

As for me, I had two winch flights. Last weekend I hadn't done any winching for a long time and made a complete mess of a couple. So when I went up today I didn't expect it to go well, especially since the winching had generally been quite bad today. As it happens they both went extremely well. A couple of people on the ground even commented that my flight looked very good all round. So today I'm happy.

The winch driver was new I think and things were a little hit and miss all day. On the first launch, the glider didn't get more than 8' from the launch point as it was snatched forward and overshot the cable. The second flight broke something half way up and did an 'advanced' landing very quickly at the other end of the airfield. It slowly improved throughout the day apart from one noticeable launch where the T21 (a big ancient glider made of a wood frame and canvas, with no canopy) dissappeared down the field and refused to take off. I went down on a tractor to fetch it and came half the way back without noticing the winch cable was caught up on it.
(I'd like to point out, for the benefit of those reading who dont know gliding, this is not at all normal and also not actualy dangerous, launch failures is something you practice often and can cope with easily)

Also I seem to have solved a community problem. My tutor was asking me if our heating worked, it doesn't. We spent some time trying to find out why it was off, eventually deciding it might be todo with the thermostat which consists of a small electrical component in the hall. My solution (as opposed to submitting a fault report) was to wedge a block of frozen tesco value butter on it. We now have heating!

Today is definately a good day.


October 08, 2005

A day of nothing

Well, that was a succesfull day of avoiding doing any work.

I got up at 10 thinking I would make an effot to start reading stuff on my 4th yr project. By 18:00 I had done the following:to:
Finished fixing my printer
Read lots of blogs
Watched some scrubs
Fixed the gliding club's internal database
Wrote a rant about warwick sport (see below)
Watched an episode of Lost
and helped my borther fix my dad's computer back in devon.

At this point I managed to get the books down from the shelf and had just started reading when I got an MSN message. So I spent parts of the evening (interspaced with eating and such) fixing the computer of a friend I havn't seen since the first year. As is always the case with computers it took a lot more effot than expected but she gave me plenty of tea and biscuits to help and I got to find out how and what everyone on my hall in the first year is doing now.

The net effect is that I have read a single page of a book, hmmm. I forgot how hard motivation at the start of a project like this is. The funny thing is that working over the summer, despite being nearly 8 hours per day was relativly easy. There is something about student life that makes doing a realtivly small number of hours work disproportionately difficult.

p.s on the subject of Lost, for those who have got bored of it around eps5–7: keep watching. It gets intersting again around ep9.


Warwick Sport

I did promise myself I wouldn't use this blog to winge, but I want to see what people think about this brand new shiny warwick sport. I couldn't seem to find any recent discussion of it on the blogs.

I run the gliding club this year and did so last year. We are technically a sports club and so fall under the control of the Sports Federation and now Warwick Sport. Despite this we are not a typical sports club, i.e I don't think we've ever been to score and most of our members come on our trips only once or twice through the year.

The thing about Warwick Sport that most people outside of sports seem to be complaining about is the membership fee which is now £30 rather than the old Sports Federation's £15. The increase is supposedly to pay for the sports centre facilities and to go to the club's budgets which were apparently being underfunded in previous years. It's true, our budget has gone up by 50% on last year and we are using this to subsidise the flying of our members so the saving is passed on.

On the other hand, we don't use the sports centre. We dont need a gym, sports health support or anything like that. We especially don't need the swimming pool for gliding, unless we wanted to attempt a water landing or something I guess. So I not sure why we are paying for this.

Personally I can cope with the student membership fee increase to £30, but I have slightly more problem with the associate membership fee, which has risen from around £45 or something last year to £130. Their argument for this goes along the lines of 'we want all the funding to benefit students only and not pay for people who arn't part of the university'. This is a fair argument in theory, until you look at clubs like us (I'd guess that it applies to quite a few others aswell).

It takes quite a few years to get into gliding. Flying is not like playing football or swimming which most people can do, at least vaguely, when they start uni. So all of our more enthusiastic members are usually in their last year. These are people who run the trips, are on the exec and organise everything. It's not exactly simple running trips to the airfield, its quite a hazerdous place with lots going on and no amount of union risk assesments, impact courses or other assorted paperwork will stand in for a trip leader who knows what they are doing. This year all these sort of people have graduated, leaving me to run the club by myself. Being nice people, they are willing to drive all the way from wherever they are in the country, run trips for the club and help out organising things. So now, we repay their dedication to helping the new student members by trying to charge them £130 for the privelidge of helping run things. Does this seem wrong to anyone else?

To be fair, Zain, the new sports officer has been trying to find a way around this because he agrees I can't run the club by myself and the student members will suffer from the charge. He seems to be taking quite a long time to sort this out though and in theory, he is the head of the Sports Federation. He is a sabatical officer and should have a lot of control over the students union sports organisations. I don't know this for sure, but I just get the feeling that he doesn't actually have the same power now that Warwick Sport is under joint control of the university and the student's union. Have we sold off our sports federation?

Another more minor annoyance is that Lisa, the sports administrator and all the sports clubs admin is now in the sports centre, but yet the union computer systems, club pigeon holes and Zain, the sports officer are still in Union North. I have spent much of the past few weeks walking between the two buildings.

I have heard from a few people that the overall memberships are significantly down from previous years. Our's is a little less than normal but then it always tends to grow steadily throughout the year.

I'd like to hear what other clubs think about the new Warwick Sport to see what the general feeling is, especially if any other clubs have the problem with associate memberships that we do.


food experiment

Last night I had a steak for dinner. Something I always liked when I worked at the restaurant was pepper sauce but never had chance to have it on a steak. I was also quite bored last night.

So I decided to attempt to make some from what I could find around the kitchen:
Flat mate's oxo gravy granules + water
Some fried onion
Some crap white wine we have laying around the kitchen
Gunge from the steak pan.
Milk
Peppercorns from the pepper grinder put into a bag and hit with a rollng pin a lot (apologies to the flat below us)

Guess what, it worked! It was rather nice actually


October 06, 2005

Updated updates.

Well, i'm back at uni for the 4th year. It's been a while since I've updated my blog and I shall now attempt to justify this.

The last time I wrote something here was back in August at JET. After finishing work at JET I went back to devon where I didn't use the computer an awful lot so never did an update there. After this I came back up to Warwick but went flying. I didn't have a computer there and was fairly busy flying and making videos (more on gliding later). This left me the problem of having too much to write about, so I figured I'd leave the blog until I had time to write about it all. Unfortunately every week just gave me more to write about and less time to write it in so I'm going to it in bits.

Going back to Devon was quite interesting. I am refusing to call it 'home' now since I've spent only 4 weeks there this year. Still, I managed to see a few of my old friends from college and met up with Tammy, a girl I knew from work last year a few times. All this fun was interspaced with working in the garden. My mother's is fully aware that I can't afford rent and food while I'm home so she is nice enough to make me work for it instead, usually in the garden. Now I ought to qualify this as it's not your usual grass cutting and washing the car.

The first summer I went home I was charged with the job of constructing a summer house or 'chatlet' as we refer to it. It was bought as a flat pack and I had to put it together. Again, this isn't a day's work screwing together a small shack. Its about 15' x 10' base and was laid on a piece of concrete that was 2' higher in one corner than the others. It involved buying bricks, sand, cement and timber for creating a level base and then about four weeks construction work. For anyone that's interested, I can't imagine why, it's best to get an idea from the photos:
http://www.oliford.co.uk/photos/A-chatlet/

I now live in this thing at the end of the garden when I go home . This gives me the slight independance that you miss when you go home after a few years of living at uni and not being woken up at 7:00 in the morning by the non-students.

This year I was given the job of paving a part of the garden which I managed with my mother's help in about a week, leaving plenty of time for watching another series of 24 which has become a bit of a tradition every time I go back.

A week before term started I loaded my car with all my junk and headed back up here for one of the Gliding Club's week long flying courses. This was quite an interesting week and deserves an entry all to itself, which will hopefully come in the next week sometime.


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