All entries for October 2006

October 19, 2006

Con–Man in Canley

Got this through our door yesterday,

dear Tenant,

Please note the washing machine in this property is on hire from ‘The Washing Machine Company’. It does not in anyway form part of the contents of the property.

The hire period expired at the end of the last student term, therefore the machine needs to be collected for servicing and renewal.

Should you wish to extend the hire term we would be happy to arrange this for you. However the machine will still require servicing, so you still need to contact us as a matter of urgency.

It came with a contact number, but is nothing to do with the person who actually owns the washing machine in our house. I’m extremely tempted to invite him into my house where I will have lots of ‘Home Alone’ style tricks waiting for him, unfortunately i don’t particularly want to wreck the house.

October 12, 2006


Part of becoming a fourth year and getting old is being given the opportunity to supervise first year undergraduates, and perhaps of even stronger appeal than the eighty quid a week Im being paid was the opportunity to influence fine young minds and instil in them a passion for mathematics (note to those who don’t read my blog – I don’t actually have a ridiculously high opinion of myself, it’s kinda self depricating irony I suppose. But then again I’m never one hundred percent confident when using the word irony so it might not be.) I would like to be something similar to the teacher in ‘Dead Poets Society’, although I thought getting the kids to call me ‘Oh Captain My Captain’ would be a little too odd. Supervisions coordinater Dr. Dave recommended that in the first meeting we treat our supervisees to some advice about coping with university and living away from home. Since I’ve not blogged much recently and today I’m feeling particularly well disposed towards my readers* I thought I’d blog my advice for all to see.

Galois1. I shall begin by telling the story of Évariste Galois. Born in France in 1811 Galois was a man of extraordinary talent, perhaps the most naturally gifted mathematician of his generation. He got bored at school and performed poorly, although he read many advanced papers on algebra while still in his early teens. However he was unsuccessful on his two atempts to enter l’Ecole Polytechnique, France’s finest university, reportedly because of his inability or unwillingness to make clear the difficult steps in his arguments. At the age of twenty after a love affair with an unknown woman broke down he agreed to fight a duel (no-one is exactly sure why). He stayed up until the early hours on the before the duel writing down all his mathematical thinking so that his ideas would not be lost should he die, and much of his work makes modern day Galois Theory. Galois was killed in the duel.

From this story we can glean two important pieces of advice for life
i) Always present your work in a clear and understandable manner.
ii) Don’t fight in duels.

2. On a slightly different theme to my last offering, I would advise everybody to eat as many blueberries as possible. Blueberries are superfruits, they stave off disease. If you like you can make them in a smoothie, my favourite recipe is bananas, blueberries and cranberry juice.

3. It is often said that humans loose ten percent of their body heat through the head. I don’t actually know if this is true but purchasing a fine hat (the sort that can be raised if one has a chance encounter with a beautiful lady) will always be a good investment.

4. Try to avoid talking about maths to non mathematicians, they don’t find it very interesting.

5. Go night orienteering. This involves waiting until it’s pirch black then entering a forest with a head torch and a compass and a map attempting to find little white and orange markers in the middle of big patches of brambles.

6. Don’t buy paper from Tescos, it doesn’t detach well.

If anybody else has any life advice feel free to leave it as a comment, advice is always worth having.

*I like to imagine that my readers fall in to two categories, bespectacled European intellectuals who play a bit of blues on the side and find time to read my blog between bouts of important diplomatic work, and young enthusiastic mathematicians who view me as some kind of guru. Please don’t anybody feel the need to dispel this pleasant image I have of you all.

October 02, 2006

Back In The USSR

Well actually i’m in Coventry but I’ve had ‘Back In The USSR’ in my head all morning and Coventry has many grey high rise flats and barbed wire fences, and in all honesty would you have started reading an entry entitled ‘Back In Coventry’?

This morning I went to the language centre to sign up for a language module and the queue was huge and I was thinking ‘Oh man, I’m stuck in a corridor and it’s really hot and the people in front of me are talking about Thomas Hardy and they probably don’t even know the triangle inequality’, all I had to entertain me was my Plan Your Degree Course book. Soon however I was rescued by a kindly man who had clearly recognised me as a lover of leather trousers, spicy sausages and <insert your own inoffensive German stereotype>, who told me that if I was doing German I could go to the front cause the big queue was for the French and Spanish desks. I signed up without too much hassle and escaped the hoards and went to Oxfam to buy some books.

I browsed the fiction in Oxfam and had six books in my hand by the time i’d got to authors names beginning with C so i decided to call it a day there, bought my books and left to browse the Union’s stalls. Now I know it’s traditional to talk about how things aren’t as good as they used to be, but when it comes to the Union’s stalls at the start of term I think I may be justified. I remember with a wistful smile having chocolate bars, pot noodles and condoms stuffed into my arms as I staggered through the union, while all I was offered today was NTL broadband, which according to posts on my previous entry isn’t all that great.

Finally I left the union and went to the computer rooms in maths, where I ordered my brother a birthday present (his birthday was yesterday), and because I was in particularly fine spirits I didn’t even select super saver delivery but had it sent to him first class. Staggered by this act of generosity I went home to have lunch. That was my morning.

October 2006

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