Saturday, October 22, 2005

Elmside Dinner Party

The residents of Elmside decided to get together and meet all the people in the house they never see. Everyone keeps different schedules, and people on the second floor rarely run across the people on the first floor, let alone those in the flat above! So each room made a dish or two, and we got together to have a grand party. Here is the photographic evidence that said party was a success:

Here are a few Elmsiders now, getting ready for the big event. Let me introduce you to a them! On the left is Amir, a German lad studying finance here. He's also Persian and made us delicious Persian chicken! Next to him are Natasha and her partner Jim. They're both English and have been living in Edinburgh for a while. Natasha is getting a PhD is pathology. Yaa is standing up in the middle, and she is from Ghana, and our next-door neighbor! Yaa is getting a degree in chemical engineering, and has the most infectious laugh. Lewis is standing in the back holding a box of tissues because he was sick. But you already know Lewis! Finally on the end is Peta, from Australia. She also speaks Chinese!

After having arrived at dinner the table was assulted a photographer. So there's lots of pictures of everyone looking rather silly! In this one, we have Yaa, Natasha, and Simonette trying to look prepared. Simonette, who you haven't met yet, is married to our house rep, JP. She's also a student at Cambridge getting a second undergrad in Law. Though she's not in Clare Hall, we let her hang around anyway! Plus she lives here.

Here's JP now, trying to get Stephanie and Boyd to notice the camera! JP takes care of things around Elmside and makes sure we're staying out of trouble. He's the only one in our house who isn't a first year here. He's studying Economics. Next to him are Stephanie and her husband Boyd. Steph is getting a PhD in English Lit. Boyd, like Laurie, is hanging out for the year, though he is working on a degree in Library Science back in Australia, where they're both from. They live in scary flat number 13 on the top of our building (rather, the attic)!

Here are some familiar faces! That's Laurie and Lewis, sitting with the other L: Linda! Linda is a native Brit getting a degree in nanotechnology. She's also on the Clare Hall rowing team! Linda made apple crisp from scratch for our dinner, out of the apples that grow in our very lawn.It was delicious, and we were very impressed!

Finally we've made it back to the other end of the table. Here's Peta again, sitting with Peter and Stacey, our faithful camerawoman. Peter is also a Brit, as well as a linguist! Though he is just beginning his graduate school, he also went to Cambridge as an undergrad at Jesus college. Stacey is a lawyer from Canada, here studying international law.

So here we all are, busy eating and making a big mess.
What a happy little house we have!
I sure hope someone is going to do all those dishes....

Or better yet, everyone can do the dishes!
Look at what mature, responsible graduate students we are.
We all must have had good parents who raised us right... ;)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Laurie really does do things all day!

So while Lewis is frittering his time away learning useless facts about linguistics, Laurie is busy getting many things done. Important things, too!

Laurie has finished not one, but two whole books already in her time at Cambridge. Here's a picture of her reading her favorite, Van Loon's Lives. Van Loon is a pretty cool guy, who wrote history for the layman in the early 1900s. Laurie is devising a way to read the rest of Van Loon's books which are tucked away in odd corners of the University Library. (Also, Tedso just seems to sleep all day. Lazy ol' bear!)

Though Laurie doesn't spend all her time reading for fun. She's also learning about cognitive neuroscience! It seems like there's a lot of fun things happening in linguistics under the heading of neurolinguistics, and so Laurie thought she'd better prepare herself in the event that she decides to pursue this direction in graduate school. Neuroscience isn't very easy though!

Speaking of graduate school, Laurie also spends a lot of time filling in mundane applications! She's thinking about sending MIT this note in hopes of swaying their decision-making process. But instead, she'll probably send some of that stack of transcripts and a well-thought-out application. Ironically, of the 7 schools she's applying to, MIT is the only one that requires paper forms instead of an online application. What sort of "Institute of Technology" is this place, anyway?

Lest you think Laurie's days are spent solely in pursuit of leisure, here she is trying to get a job! There are lots of applications to be turned in. In Cambridge, though, they don't really do "rolling hiring" like back home. They accept their applications up to a certain date, start interviews on a certain date, and then.. well, that's as far as she has gotten. So most of the places Laurie is applying for haven't even stopped accepting applications yet! But most should start interviewing in early November. Fingers crossed!

Yet to be perfectly honest, all Laurie really does all day is drink tea. Lots and lots of tea. Out of this tea pot they just bought from Marks and Spencer which is entirely too large. You'd think, after all that caffeine, that Laurie would be doing a lot more than sitting around and reading books and filling out computer applications. But that's the way the biscuit must crumble...


For those of you who don't know, the above picture is one in a long line of photographs, stretching back to Lewis' kindergarten days. They are the traditional first-day-of-school pictures. This is the first one to feature a coat and tie, however, both of which were found in his grandfather's closet. Lewis is also sporting his grandfather's shoes and a fine to-go cup from Seattle filled with delicious Teacup tea. For the record this picture was actually taken on the first day of school. We are big dorks.

Hmm this is shaping up to be a big in-crowd post, but for those of you who don't know the title [skul] is the phonetic transcription of "school". Oh dear. The rest will be universally understandable, I promise.

So about school. Lewis has 7 required classes every week, and is foolishly electing to take two options in addition to these. He'll spend all year stuffing himself with information about phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, crosslinguistic variation, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, sociolinguistics, translation theory, and whatever projects he decides to do for his research papers. If he seems distant or confused when you talk to him (for the next decade), bear this in mind.

At the moment Lewis is trying to decide whether to research pre-Chomskyan linguistic theory, Wittgenstein, or Hungarian. He would eventually like to compile a huge tome which compares linguistic theories from different time periods and cultures. Everyone (including Lewis) seems to be oblivious of anything besides the last 50 years of European and American linguistics.

Ah forgive the rant, but Lewis' brain is already becoming addled. Hey, look at this!
This oddly fishy-colored building is the English Faculty Building, home of the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics. We're on the top floor with the awesome views. I bet the Department of Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic wishes they were up there. But they ain't.

Summing up: classes are going well, the huge library is filling Lewis' brain with tasty goodies, and all is well. Stay tuned for a post of Laurie news!

Friday, October 07, 2005


Ah, Cambridge in the Autumn... But what's that you say? You've never seen Cambridge in the Autumn? Well, my friends, the experience will soon be virtually yours.

Here's Laurie, beckoning us through the back gate of Kings College. Let's go!

Ah, the Kings Kows in their verdant pasture.

Hey, that looks like a bridge!

Hey, that looks like a Cam! And here we are standing on our first Cam bridge.
It's the Kings College bridge, and from here we can see...

Kings College! Breathtaking isn't it?
That's the big chapel on the left.

Kind of hard to imagine, non?

I still can't.

Ah, but there's the front gate of Kings. Let's pass through and see what we can see!

The City Centre!
Here's looking left (a.k.a. north;
and note Great St. Mary's in the middle -- we'll come back to that),

and here's looking right (south). Maybe we'll head this way

(after a little rest).

Onward! Past the Cambridge Wine Merchant (students get double or nothing discount on a trivial persuit question), and past St. Catherine's and Pembroke as well...

And here we are at the Anchor! It's one of the more famous pubs in Cambridge.
Established in the 18th century, it's right on the water.
May we suggest a ploughman's lunch with some tasty cheese?

Here's the view from the Anchor -- note the punts. They're the funny-shaped little flat boats.
Every college has some punts on the river, and you can pay a little to go punting on the Cam.
You get a flat boat and a big stick. We haven't tried it yet, but it looks fun.
Looking closer, you might also see some cows on the island over there. We're not sure who they belong to. Possibly Darwin College, which is just to the right of our view.

And a half-block upstream (farther south) from the Anchor is the Student Union.
If you don't like the architecture you might still like the view from the 3rd floor.

Hey look, more punts!

Heading back north, we pass by Cambridge's second famous pub, the Eagle.
This is where Watson and Crick (co-discoverers of DNA) used to have pints and discuss their ideas in a less-formal and more-drunk environment. The back room of the Eagle is called the RAF room: It's ceiling is covered with graffiti from servicemen stationed there during World War II. The property was donated to Corpus Christi College in the 16th century.
May we recommend a juicy bowl of meat?

A bit farther north and we're at the central market. A lot of little vendors plying their wares.
A hardcore local merchant informs us that the goods at the market are industrial bilge, but we'll get to him later...

Speaking of industrial bilge (and cheap, tasty food), here we are in Sainsbury's!
It's the only supermarket in the City Centre, and it's pretty quality.
Lettuce is tiny here. But may we recommend the Kinder Eggs?

Yet farther north, and we've arrived at the Cambridge Cheese Company.
This is the shop in which we found the aforementioned local merchant who disparaged the market. And he has every right to do so. He has the finest quality assortment of cheeses, honeys, ciders, and various other comestibles that one could imagine. He is also a veritable goldmine of information about other quality establishments (or the lack thereof) in Cambridge. Apparently there is only one pub that serves the best locally produced ale, and now we know where it is. Thank you cheese man, and thank you for the 3/4 kg of delicious cheese.

Heading back south, and speaking of quality local establishments, here we are at the Cambridge University Press bookshop. Need I say anything about the wealth of knowledge that is the CUP? Perhaps I should mention that students recieve a 20% discount...

And here we are, as promised, back at Great St. Mary's Church (just across the street from the bookshop). This is the central church of the University of Cambridge. University officials must live within a 20-mile radius of this church; otherwise its association with the University is historical.
Well, now we've made a nice circle and covered many of the sites in the Centre. Let's head back over the Cam back toward Clare Hall.

Here's an interesting gate which leads to Trinity College's courtyard.
More accurately, it leads out of said courtyard, as this gate is only used by graduating students on their way to the graduation ceremony. It's called the Gate of Honor. Note the cool sundials.

Back over the Cam. Hey look -- a punt! This is a view from a Trinity College bridge, looking toward the Clare College bridge and in the background is the Kings College bridge which we crossed over on our way into town. Remember the Kows? I bet they're at least on their third round of cud by now.

Our current path takes us right past the University Library, which is a massive and ever-expanding building. It contains every book published in England since 1912, and many others as well. It's also a half-block away from Laurie and Lewis' house!

Speaking of Laurie, here she is...

and here is her house!

We hope you've enjoyed your virtual tour spectacular of Cambridge. Join us next post for an exciting episode in which Lewis goes to class and Laurie executes countless exciting tasks.

Photo Journal: Elmside

Today we finally got all the necessary things together (internet connection, camera, free time) to take a few pictures around town to show everyone at home. So here's our first Cambridge blog entry: a small tour of our house.

Here's the front gate to our building, Elmside.

This is our building as viewed from the back garden.
We're the middle set of windows on the top floor!

The common room is good for eating, watching TV,
and getting our house mates addicted to Set.

The kitchen is where the magic happens.
So long as the magic is salty.

Doggie and Tedso make sure no one uses our bed while we're gone.
Doggie is sporting a very fashionable Clare Hall scarf these days.

Bees like to fly in our windows, looking out over Scholars Garden.
Sometimes Clare Hall has barbeques here, with more salty food.
And beer.

The sunlight looks really cool coming in our festive curtains in the morning.

All-in-all, Elmside is a lovely place to live. It's more warm and toasty than I had expected from a Civil-War-Era home, and our house-mates are nice. Clare Hall (our College) loans out art from its collection to decorate rooms with, so we should be getting some art pieces soon. Also, it's very near by the site where Lewis has all his classes, and only across the lawn from the main College building + dining hall. We've done well.

A "virtual-tour" of Cambridge will follow!