Jolly Old England

Monday, October 31, 2005

Long Awaited Update

... Yeah, that's right, it's been long awaited...if not by you, by me. :)

Alright, so a lot has happened:

I've had my first meetings with both of my tutors (and a second with my main tutor). They're both pretty good. The actual tutor is obviously the more knowledgable, as he's not a grad student like the other guy... But, they're both smart and nice guys. The tutorials went well.

I've had several "practicals", which are 2 hour sessions once a week in the computer lab. You get an assignment and apply what you've learned from the lectures and tutorials. They were fine. The Functional Programming stuff has been fairly easy so far, but it's getting more complex now. The other courses' practicals weren't quite as easy right away and they've gotten harder as well, but I'm sure I'll manage.

I've been to a couple formal halls. The first one was good, but there weren't a lot of people there. I wasn't the biggest fan of the food at the second one. Instead of a semi-regular salad, we got somethign that was cold prawns (shrimp), bits of bell peppers, pears, and something else (some lettuce-like stuff, I think) served with Thousand Island dressing. Instead of breaded fish pieces, we got a fish. It still had the skin and such on it, and the bones.... Truly, we have invented better ways to serve fish. Still, after I peeled back the skin and deal with the bones situation, it was not too bad.

One of the Americans sat at the high table (with the fellows). It's not surprising, as he's random and game for anything. I thought about joining him, but I decided to get a ticket for the main area so I could hang out with the rest of the Americans... since they hadn't been to one of the formal halls yet and I didn't know how many they'd be going to.

I'm signed up for formal hall again this week... should be an interesting experience.

I've been hanging out with a bunch of the American students (and British ones as well). I have a picture of some of us after formal hall last week.

Yesterday, I toured a whole bunch of the city. I went up in Carfax Tower to view the city skyline from "a birds-eye view". I took the City Sightseeing bus tour of the city. I also went to Christ Church college (if you've seen any of the Harry Potter films... It's the same dining hall, and possibly more was filmed there... I don't know off-hand.)

... Right, so a guy JUST said to me: 'btw interesting last name, i can see the marriage ceremony... "do you take this laager, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love, to hold, to chill when warm, and to drink with responsibility, until death do you part"' ... pretty funny, I thought.

... anyway, back to sites I toured... Christ Church's Cathedral is pretty fancy. It also has some of the fanciest stained glass windows I've seen. I took pictures, though they won't capture it in its entirety. I didn't get any pictures of the dining hall, as it wasn't open to visitors. I poked my head in there for a few seconds, but I wasn't going to go taking a bunch of pictures. As a student of the University, though, I have a lot more freedom to go there than visitors. We can get in to the college free, whereas other visitors have to pay a fee. We can also get in pretty much anytime, as opposed to just during visiting hours. I was walking from Christ Church college to Christ Church Meadow, when I ran across the Oxford Museum. They had a bunch of stuff about the history of Oxford as a city. Christ Church Meadow is massive. It's basically the same size as the University parks... It just happens to be owned by one college.

After the Christ Church Meadow, I went to the Botanic Gardens. They were nice. I'm sure they'd be amazing in the spring.

I also checked out a museum where they have a blackboard the Einstein used when he gave a lecture series here at the University about relativity. There was also an interesting display about penicillin, which was discovered here.

Somewhere along the way, I looked at Blackwells, the big bookshop here. Like the tour guide (recording) on the bus said, "It's got a really small storefront, but once you go inside, it's huge. It's 4 stories of books. There's a cafe inside... Yeah, big.

I took lots of pictures of the things I toured. I also took a few pictures of the college, the college graveyard by the library, the back road I use to get to/from the college, and a hole in the wall that leads to a famous historic pub. It's amazing how things can be hidden behind small openings. When Sal told me about that one, he was like, "You've probably walked by it before and not even noticed." Sure enough, I had. It's right on my way home.

So yeah, that was fun. There are still a couple things I want to see in the city here, but I've still got time. I need to schedule out my travel plans for after the term as well...

The week before last, I attended a Computer Society talk from a FreeBSD guy. He talked about how they have a very formal process for releasing new versions of FreeBSD to ensure they are high quality. That was pretty cool. He just got his masters from Oxford and is working for Google now.

Last week, we toured the Oxford University Computing Services datacenter to see all the servers and equipment that power the network, e-mail, websites, etc. here. It wasn't revolutionary for me, given my job, but it was fun. It was nice to see what they were using, especially since it was similar to what I work with.

After the tour, we were standing in a room having a brief question time. The head guy said if we ask stupid questions of the helpdesk or them, they'll all get together and laugh at us. One of the staff members said something about DNS, so the head guy said something about privacy... It sounded like this conversation in the Oxford IRC chat channel I've been in since I heard about it at the Computer Society Fresher's Drinks...

Bear with me here if you're not a hacker, the computer stuff will be done quickly and this story will make sense...

... So, I asked if he was the guy talking about it earlier. He said, "Yes", but I'm not sure if he quite followed. I asked if they hung out on the OxIRC network, and he said he didn't, or something. Anyway, at this point, question time was basically wrapping up, and one of the Comp Soc guys said, "You must be rlaager". I said, "Yes." He said, "I'm resiak." (Yeah, resiak, if you're reading this, you totally got a whole chunk of my story about you.)

Yay for running across people that hang out in the Gaim development chat room. (I'm a developer on Gaim, an open-source instant messaging client: That was rather novel. It also, of course, reminds me of another story. At the Freshers' Drinks for the Computer Society, a guy (who happens to work at RedHat) mentioned the OxIRC network. He said the server "". I was like, " ... That domain sounds familiar. Doesn't someone run a PGP keyserver there?" He said, "Yeah.... Jonathan McDowell, I think." Yeah, he was someone I exchanged a couple e-mails with back when I was playing with PKS, the PGP keyserver software. So, that was interesting as well.

It's been a good time. Next weekend I'll be in London for the "London Weekend" that Butler has put together. Sal, one of my friends here, will be in town as well (even though he's not a Butler kid). He and I and Alex will probably meet up (along with anyone else that cares to join us). The weekend after that, I'll probably be taking another Butler-sponsored trip, but I'm not sure yet.

That's all for now. There are lots of pictures available here and here.


  • Richie, you are SO lucky, it is so awesome that you are able to actually visit and be in places where historical people/events or current things (such as the dining hall for Harry Potter etc. etc.) See the a few sights and have a great time for me! I am SO jealous!
    I miss you!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:38 AM  

  • Thanks for letting us post comments - very cool of you. I work online
    with my own used college books
    website. Check it out if you get the chance. Thanks again!

    By Blogger Nadim, at 7:39 AM  

  • Hi Richard I have to go

    By Anonymous Tyler Lyburg, at 5:01 PM  

  • Rich Rich Rich, have i not taught you anything. You took like a hundred pictures, but yet none are of you. You need to be takin crazy pictures. You say you were in the harry potter lunch room. Take a crazy wizard picture. What better than actually being part of harry potter's lunch room while being a wizard!! I now expect that there will be crazy pictures of you on the next post.

    Your roommate in Crookston,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:36 PM  

  • Hi Richie,

    We are enjoying watching your website. You are doing a wonderful job of keeping everybody informed. Thanks for the postcard--it was very exciting for the kids to receive it!!

    We hope you are enjoying yourself, learning lots and staying safe!!

    Megan, Drew & Dylan
    Joe & Heidi

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:09 AM  

  • See?! Someone else has something to say about you not taking pictures with you IN them. You'll want them later, trust me. As you would say, "they make for better conversation!" ;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:45 AM  

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