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Friday, January 27, 2006

Well ....

I typed out my first draft of S330 TMA01, today. So that means I went through 2 whole blocks of mindbogglingly difficult stuff, in, erm, just over 3 weeks. What does that say about my TMA attempt?? I've left notes to myself, throughout - like, "enlarge" and "add diagram?" and "WHAT?"

Well ...
The SXG390 materials (what little there is of them) arrived this morning. I can play with the project plan over the weekend (maybe - let's not forget that the Rock and Gem show is at Newton Abbot Racecourse this weekend - and a nice pair of ammonite bookends beckon; together with a lump of aquamarine in matrix, if not too expensive - and we have to varnish the sides of the stairs). Anyway, I have quite a few links already, and have filed those over on Furl (thanks Bill) and am having a look at RefWorks, as recommended by the course team for reference generation - although I'm beginning to think it might be quicker and simpler to do it myself. And I think I have a title. But I need to talk to my tutor about it first. And he lives in the Republic of Ireland ....

I'm beginning to get so scared of Mt Rainier lahars, that I'm afraid to go there! :)

Well ...
How's about tracking a space suit?

It's a satellite. The Russians have bunged it loose in space. You can track its orbit, by picking up its signal on an FM Radio. See also NASA.

Well ...
I dunno. What next? A nice glass of wine for me, I think!


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Whale takes turn for worse

Well, I'm not surprised that the poor thing has taken a turn for the worse - his (her?) internal organs will be squashed to billio with the air pressure - not to mention the stress. But they are trying. If his health doesn't improve, they will put him down ...

Sky have been following it all day! Even now, in the dark! Even CNN has the story as headlines on its site. I hope he makes it.

MUCH better news for (the mighty) Everton as they beat Arsenal 1-0 at home, lunchtime! (And the hub paid to watch it - LOL!)

And I received the tutorial information for S330 - we get a day school at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth - wow!!

Aw, the whale died ... :( Very difficult not to start blubbering ....

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New Horizons

After 3 days of hanging around NASA TV at tea-time, listening to the very patient man telling us what was going on ("Hello, this is Atlas command .."), high winds, too many clouds and several aborted countdowns - finally New Horizons blasted off to Pluto!

What a great sight! Brought tears to my eyes! I hope I'm still be around when the data comes back, in 9 years time!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sweet Sensation!

I dumped MU120 and now feel FREE!! I was getting really stressed out, wondering how I was going to do all that work and I knew that something had to give. I really didn't want it to be the Oceanography - so it had to be the maths. I didn't need the 30 points for anything, that was the thing. (And, note to self, next time you decide to do a 30-point course 'through the winter', remember that it's NOT a short course and will go on until June!)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sinking ...

in a sea of work! I've been happily working away on the Oceanography and thought I was getting somewhere (though slowly) and had 2 TMA questions drafted. And I bought the most lovely book "Invitation to Oceanography", at a fraction of its cost price, from eBay, which will help me enormously (I also bought, from eBay, a maths book, "Engineering Mathematics 4th Edition" for 20p, but I don't want to talk about maths). Only yesterday afternoon, I was thinking to myself how lucky I was, sitting in the cozy sitting-room, in the peace and quiet, warm and contented, reading about the oceans. Then the 3rd mailing of MU120 arrived ... And I realised just how much work there was still left to do. And HOW am I to fit it all in? And I tried to do some work last night, but, with other people home, it was just too noisy to concentrate properly (parabolas, oh boy). So, I am thinking of deferring S330 til next year now. I'll see how I get on with the maths - maybe if I can get the majority of it behind me in the next couple of weeks, S330 still stands a chance. If not.. :(

There is no rush.

Still not started SXG390, although I *could* be getting on with some 'plans' - I still feel I'd rather get my topic sorted with my tutor (whoever) first. I bought a 2nd hand book from Amazon today though, which will help me a bit.

(I'm so lucky to be able to do a project on something so interesting, too - but I would like to have time to enjoy it).

Yesterday, the feedback letter for U316 arrived. Very goods and excellents for everything - surprisingly, more excellents for the report than for the project - and I thought what I wrote was complete garbage!! And, today, confirmation of my Bachelor of Science degree popped through the post. I dunno how I feel about it, actually - it makes me feel a bit stressed for some reason. Certainly this graduate Can't Do Maths!!

Oh, and I sorted out some more holiday accommodation. The 3 Bears person let me down and told me I could only rent for 3 nights, so could I please spend another night there. No. So, we're now in the cabin at Jasmers, called Laze Daze.

And I booked a lovely place, down by the lake at Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta - and another place on the plains of Montana on the banks of the Missouri at Fort Benton. Never heard of it? Nor me - but it's peaceful and interesting and there's an ice-cream parlor on the premises ....

And the paint stripping stuff works! It's a slow job and it does stink a bit - but it works - that is a surprise!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Getting ready to strip!

A man's coming out, tomorrow afternoon, to measure up for our new stair carpet (at last!) - so now I want to strip the white paint from the stairtreads(?)- getting it back to its natural wood and varnishing it. We're going to try this stuff, which claims to work and not to half choke you to death. They did actually stock it in B&Q, although it was hiding away, behind the cheaper poisons. I'm not sure I'm holding too much hope for success.

Well, I have swapped the night in Portland - and the night at Grand Coulee (although we'll still go through that way) for, not one, but two nights at Mount Rainier! And I've gone mad and booked us Three Bear Lodge for the two nights. 200 yards from the park entrance ... hot tub in the woods ... xbox .... sleeps TEN!! :)

S330? Struggling, but at least there's been no more geoids. SXG390? Not started yet - but I've already embarrassed myself on the conference, by not understanding the little instruction we already have!!

Bummer! After telling me it was OK to reserve, the owner of the 3 bears has now told me 3 nights minimum! Rats!

Friday, January 06, 2006

The year starts today!

My National Parks Calendar 2006 finally arrived from Las Vegas. January is the Grand Canyon, which is apt, as Paul bought our 2005 (in 2004) National Parks calendar from there - which is really why I wanted to replace it with similar. Along with the calender, I ordered a book on Mt Rainier - and I'm not disappointed with that! Thoughts now turn from the mysteries of the deep oceans (briefly, I'll attack it again this afternoon!) to my SXG390 project (on Mt Rainier!) - but, more joyously, to our trip to the USA in June and seeing Mt Rainier in the flesh! And now I'm tempted to swap the night in Portland, for a night up there (the Chief Seattle room!), on (or close to!) that mountain, so we can see it when we wake up. Bring on those wild huckleberries!! Apparently, there are blue ones and red ones, growing on the slopes - as well as salmonberries and thimbleberries!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

'Ere we go!!

This morning (9:20 - the delivery bloke woke me up! :)) I received the first mailing for S330. Also, this morning, the SXG390 FC conference opened. Oh, now I'm muddled!!

I've realised that I ALWAYS prepare for each course in exactly the same way. First, I put the parcel down and just look at it (in anticipation). Then I make tea or have a smoke or something - but I must be comfortable - no distractions - dishes done; that kind of thing. So then I open it. It's always a case of snipping those awful metally strings with the scissors and they always boing all over the place. And then I lift out the contents. And I just look through, giving nothing much attention - just checking it's all there (perhaps sniffing the books). Then I get on with other things - whatever those other things happen to be on any particular day (today it was to chat for a bit on the newly opened SXG390 conf!!) Then, generally after a bit of lunch, I sit down on the sofa, with the parcel contents and go through it systematically. Always I read the course introduction and study guide, all the way through. And I read all the other bits and pieces. And then I look through ALL the books. Then I check I have a new A4 refill pad and pens and pencils etc. And then I open the first book and start reading!!

Did all that today too. Great books - lovely illustrations and photos - great smell. They even provided graph paper! And a quick chemistry tutorial (seems like a lot of students don't understand moles ... well .... )

But it's REALLY HARD! I had read two chapters of the set book (biological stuff) beforehand, and that hadn't been too difficult - but this stuff (geology! :)) - IS!! After only page one, I had had to look something up in the (new) Earth Science dictionary - bathymetric. It's actually just the ocean equivalent of topography. Well, why didn't they say that???? And I only had to read 4 pages, before I had to look up stuff on the internet!! I mean, geoid - I couldn't understand the explanation!!! "Many people find the concept of the geoid confusing". They do? :/ "The crucial point is that although it has 'highs' and 'lows', it is a surface of equal gravitational potential. This means that if we could cover the geoid surface with balls, none of them would show any tendency to roll 'downhill'. Also, a plumb-line would always hang at right angles to the surface of the goid, so it is the surface of the geoid that defines what we think of as 'horizontal'." Oh, I get it now (NOT!)

Best thing I read today was that we're allowed to take the Glossary and Data Bank into the ex*m with us!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Where did that year go?

Looking back, without thinking too hard, 2005 seems like it was a boring old year, with nothing much new or exciting going on. But, think harder and a few little things come back to mind!

I finished my (ordinary) degree
Nick got married
Hub was made redundant
First visit to Andorra (not sure that will be repeated!)
First visit to the Isle of Wight
Discovered Stover Nature Reserve (searching for dragonflies for U316)
Put on weight (resolution LOSE half a stone)
Started to smoke more (resolution GIVE IT UP completely)

2006 has started grumpily. I have my first hangover for 2 years ... Hub is putting up new fences, and has destroyed the jasmine bush in the process.

And, I registered with 43 Things, listed "Learn Japanese" to do - then, by mistake, clicked that I'd done it!!!! Now I can't put it back onto my list, which is completely empty! Oh well - there's ambition for you! :)