Jolly Old England

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Random Pictures

I took a few random pictures on the way to college yesterday. Basically, they are:

821 - The engineering building, where the computer lab is on the 6th floor.
822 - The construction!
823, 824 - My department.
825 - A cool looking building of some sort across the street from my department.

The rest of the pictures are in the crypt at St. Edmund Hall. I really expected there to be plaques at least, as I had seen in crypts of other places, such as St. Paul's Cathedral. It was really quite empty. But, I'm glad that Annie and I toured it, or we would've forever wondered what was down there. Getting in was funny... You have to get the key from the porter. The conversation went like this:

Annie: "Someone said if we asked you, we could get shown the crypt..."
Me (thinking): "No, not 'get shown', 'see'. I hope he doesn't get confused and think we want him to give us a tour."
Head Porter: "Where are you from?"
Annie, immediately: "California!"
Head Porter: "Sorry, that was my fault. Are you a member of the college?"
Us: "Yes"
...We tell him we're from Norham Gardens....
Head Porter: "What's the name of the guy there?"
Annie said later she thought he was asking who I was.
I was totally confused, and said, "The Sub-Dean?"
We both figured he was like quizzing us or something to see if we were from the college. As it would turn out, some guy lost a mobile phone up in Norham Gardens and it was found or something.

But yeah, "'Where are you from?' 'California!'" was funny, even Annie admits.

Anyway, the pictures are available here.

I'm just leaving... I'm going to hop a bus to Gatwick, then I fly to Detroit. After that, I fly to Minneapolis, then to Thief River Falls via Bemidji. It's going to be a long day of travel. I'll be back in less than 24 hours though!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pictures! ... and such

I did a fair amount of "being a tourist" in the past few days. Also, there was the college Christmas Dinner. Here's the quick run-down...

I went to the Ashmolean Museum. It was good, but very similar to what I had seen before. There was a lot of art and historical things, arranged in the usual manner. A couple pictures are available here.

I visited the Natural History Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum. I enjoyed both of them. They were different from the other museums I've visited so far. It was good to have something different.

The Pitt Rivers museum, tucked in the back of the Natural History Museum, is full of cases of objects of various cultures. It's arranged by object type/function, rather than by time-period or geographic area. The intention is to allow you to compare objects with the same purpose from various cultures and time periods.

The Natural History museum had a lot of displays of various species. It's quite similar to the Museum of Man and Nature in Winnipeg, for example. There were a lot of parents there with their children. I had a run-in with some kids at one display. The display was showing fluorescence. It was basically a little enclosed structure about the size of tent, but taller. It was dark inside, with ultraviolet lights. The kids were of course enjoying this a lot. I didn't realize they were in there and parted the curtains to check it out. They reacted as if someone was invading their fort. I laughed and commented to their parents (who immediately appeared to tell the kids it was my turn... not that I was in any rush... I didn't want to ruin their fun.) that they appeared to be loving it, as kids would.

Sunday night, I went to the college Christmas Dinner. It was basically like formal hall, except:

1. There was no fish course.
2. We got "crackers" (a wrapped package with something inside so when you pull the two ends, it makes a cracking noise... similar to the snappers you throw on the sidewalk). Our table tried to set them all off at the same time, but it didn't work. We must have been the dumb table, as others pulled it off.
3. Inside the "cracker", there was a little plastic prize thing. I got a small millipede-like thing. I left it, accidentally, but I wasn't too disappointed.
4. Inside the "cracker", there was also a fortune/joke thing. I didn't understand mine and neither did any of the other Americans.
5. Finally, inside the "cracker", we got paper crowns. YEAH!

There were too many people to fit in the main dining hall, despite it being one of, if not the, biggest one in Oxford. I was in the JCR Party Room. After the dinner, we all piled into the main hall to sing some Christmas carols. Those that had seats in there stood on their chairs. It was a great time.

Pictures from Sunday are available here.

LOTS OF WORK! I actually worked in the library for the first (and last) time.

Today, I had my last tutorial. I got my evaluation from my tutor. It was basically along the lines of, "You struggled due to your lack of background in the maths elements. You overcame that and learned a lot." It was very positive. I should pull off at least a B+ when it's all converted into US grades. That's pretty cool.

After that, I had lunch. After lunch, I went to Magdalen college. It's HUGE! HUGE! They have acres and acres of land. There's a deer park inside, for example. I walked forever.

After that, I went to Christ Church to visit their dining hall. The third time (this time) was the charm. I had a good chat with one of the porters there. It turns out that none of the Harry Potter stuff was actually filmed inside that hall. They took all sorts of pictures, measurements, sketches, etc. and built a set based on it. They did film outside the dining hall though. Also, there were a couple Rembrandts in the hall. They were good, as were all the other paintings. I'm not really an art expert.

Next, I went to visit the Bodleian Library (aka the library with the name I can never spell and always have to look up). I obviously couldn't take pictures there. It looked at a few of the reading rooms. It looks like quite the library.

Pictures from today are available here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner

Random pictures from the dinner today are available here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My how time flies...

So, I'm getting pretty close to coming home. On that note, Sal figured it was key I check out New College. He's a big fan. So we went there today. I took some pictures.

As usual, pictures are available here.

701 - Famous statues at New College.
702 - Outside New College's Chapel... apparently, these places have a name and it starts with a C, but I don't know what it is.
703 - Apparently some scene in Harry Potter is filmed here. The tree looked interesting.
704 - Lots of statues over the altar
705 - A picture of the huge organ in the chapel, blurred... I kept it because it looks crazy weird the way it blurred.
706 - A good picture of the organ.
708 - Apparently, not all of the stained glass windows are "stained". Many are "painted".
709 - New College Dining Hall
710 - New College Dining Hall
711 - New College Dining Hall
713 - A fancy gate. This looks a lot like the palace gates at Buckingham Palace, just not quite as ornate.
714 - The Teddy Hall library (the Church of St. Peter in the East) from the other side.
715 - New College has a medival wall around a lot of it.
716 - Near the wall at New College
717 - ... And yet, outside the wall, there is this lovely sixties-looking building.
718 - ... with a weird statue.
719 - The painting on the wall in Teddy Hall.
720 - Our lovely wall hangings.
721 - Annie totally grabbed my camera to play with it and took a picture of Sarah.
722 - I got a picture of Sal. He was waving his hand, so it looks like he has a blob on the end of his arm.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I toured two royal palaces today. It was a grand old time. I took some pictures outdoors, but photos inside were strictly prohibited. I imagine it's because of the idea that the flashes could damage paintings and such, and people are too dumb to know how to turn off their flash.

There was fairly tight security at the first one (Windsor).... metal detectors and all. I wasn't expecting it. It made some sense after the fact, when the staff member from the study abroad company pointed out that the royal standard was flying over the castle. (The royal standard would be a flag with the royal coat of arms on it.) Thus, he reasoned that the Queen was actually in residence at that palace today.

I went through a hedge maze at Hampton Court Palace. It's the first one constructed in Britain, a very long time ago. I wasn't very impressed. It was fairly small.

There was a massive pool. I have three pictures. The first is just normal. The second is zoomed in as far as my camera will go (with optical zoom). The third is as far as I could get with digital zoom. Anyway, the water is only a few feet (maybe 3 to 5) deep, but that's still a lot of water!

Windsor Palace pictures are available here.

Hampton Court Palace pictures are available here.

I took one picture in London. It's available here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

December 1st, 2005, a day that will live in INFAMY!

It turns out that I'll be able to get the amount of travel in that I wanted by traveling on weekends. I've seen a lot of wonderful things in the UK thus far and it has been and will continue to be an awesome experience. I've pushed up my flight home. I've updated the countdown accordingly.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Snowmobile Fanatics and Erick

I'd like to throw out a major thanks to my friend and co-worker, Erick Hamness. He has allowed me to use his server to host all the pictures for this blog. Everyone should visit his site at If you're into snowmobiles, there is some good discussion going on there.

London Weekend

So I spent the weekend in London with the Butler program. On Friday, they had a dinner for us. Then, Saturday, they had a riverboat cruise in the evening. Finally, this morning they had a brunch.

The dinner had really small portions, but it was good food. I was on the bus with several other Butler kids, and we were almost late, as the bus was way behind schedule. That's apparently fairly common. We made it though. The riverboat cruise was fun. There was good food and I spent some time chatting with people (mainly Alex, who is really cool and a smart fellow as well). The brunch had good food.

In all the free time I had the last two days, I toured London. I took part of the Big Bus tour, went to the National Art Gallery, took more of the Big Bus tour, went to St. Paul's Cathedral...

St. Paul's Cathedral was amazing. It totally tops the one in Oxford, obviously. During World War II, Winston Churchill said it was a symbol of hope and that it must be saved from the bombing at all costs. A whole lot of volunteers kept watch, putting out fires... Speaking of fires... It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, a famous British architect. He was commissioned to renovate the existing cathedral. He recommended tearing it down and starting over. His recommendations were not well received. However, "6 days later, the London fire did it for them" (quote from the recorded audio tour on the Big Bus). He's buried in the crypt underneat the cathedral.

The cathedral is really really tall. I went up to the top. I've gotten better with heights, but I still wasn't a fan of that part of it. Still, I had to press on, given that I'm not likely to be back there soon, if ever. I took some pictures of the view from the top. Picture taking was not allowed inside the cathedral.

I went to the Sherlock Holmes museum this morning. I visited it yesterday, but only the shop, not the museum portion. It was interesting... It's weird in that I know Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, so none of the item they have can be real, but they put serious effort into creating objects from the various stories.

After the brunch, I went to the Tower of London. It's actually a castle made up of many towers. I didn't get to see everything, as this country shuts down rediculously early, but I saw several hours worth anyway, which was enough.

I also checked out the Tower Bridge. It would have been interesting to go way up and check out the view, but they were closed. I can't imagine it'd be that different from St. Paul's though.

Pictures are available by clicking here and then choosing 11-4, 11-5, or 11-6, for each of the days.

Pictures of interest:
0482 - A "trouser" press, in our hotel room. Yeah, I totally pressed my trousers.
0486 - National Bank of Kuwait International (I found it funny, with both the national and international parts...)
0487 - Recyling advertisement on the side of the bus, using parts of words from various products.
0494 - There are four of these giant lions. Apparently, the British captured a whole bunch of Napolean's cannons and melted them down. The whole area is Trafalgar Square, commemorating the big victory.
0523 - The guy in front of me squeezing through a narrow passageway up to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral.
0562 - The best shower I've had the entire trip.
0577 - "Dr. Watson" He's real (and knows a couple phrases in a whole bunch of languages). The rest of the "people" in the Sherlock Holmes museum are wax.
0588 - Yes, a police warning about orange peels. I wonder if that's real...
0640 - The giant armor is for someone 6" 9'. The smaller armor is either for a dwarf, or not real. Nobody is sure if it was actually worn by a real person.
0641 - King's Heads -- They're just replicas, don't worry. ;)
0644 - The London fire was pretty hot. There were several examples of warped metal on display.

Random Thought:

I had several confusing experience with the Tube this weekend. I had to change trains more than I thought I would've had to, got on the wrong train a couple times, and such. Obviously, you just hop off at the next stop and re-plan, so it wasn't a big deal.

P.S. Even though I know you're not reading this... To the guy who posted a comment about selling used college books. I hope you have a horrible, horrible day. You write one blog about stopping spam and at the same time you spam people's blogs with advertisements for your used books. You're a bad, bad man.