Time goes more slowly when you’re learning a lot of new things. That’s why the world seemed barely to turn when I was a little boy, and how it’s been spinning faster and faster as I get older, knowing the world around me better and better until I can barely be bothered to see it.
Vietnam went well! In a strictly seminar sense. Besides managing (with a little help from a Viking friend) to find the correct origin of “chickenshit outfit”, I’m learning lots about the country’s last two thousand years of being invaded, though I’m wary of these sweeping generalisations about the Vietnamese culture being an immensely fatalistic one. Fascinating reasoning behind it, but seems a bit too simple, a bit to convenient and a lot too inhuman. I asked Rob whether Nick could sit in on the seminar next week, for his learning-about-universities thing, and he gave an enthusiastic yes. My course-related analysis of associated sources (ie, watching a bunch of Vietnam films, then asking Rob how accurate they are) is also proving satisfactory. The Ride of the Valkyries scene in Apocalypse Now, as it turns out, is pretty solid, except that there would also have been artillery.
First Critical Analysis seminar also went pretty well. Of my subjects, it’s probably the one I’m least educated about, so it’s all exciting and new. We did the usual introduction stuff, the four War Studies chaps made a decent showing, and we did our best not to be put out by the protesters outside banging and shouting. They never seemed to get bored (or hoarse. I wonder if next budget review, I could make a packet fencing bootleg Strepsils and Covonia to the angry young men of the campus.)
They were protesting the Browne Report, which seems fair enough. If my parents want to go and be students again, they should probably apply now… The whole despicable reinvention of class-exclusivity aside, wasn’t “universities will charge what they want and create a market where quality education costs more” the whole principle behind the introduction of top-up fees, which totally failed when the unis all went and charged the maximum £3k? At least my degree is now going to be worth twice the nothing it used to be, but if my class year ends up paying interest I had probably better start putting my pocket money into it (except that I heard some jabber about paying it off early costing more somehow; did I hear wrong? how the hell does that work?)
Then I (like all other Brummie students) got this unbelievably smug email from the vice-chancellor coming down hard in favour of Browne’s conclusion and what “value” it offers students. I was tempted to go back onto campus and start banging and shouting with the do-gooders. Not least because two years ago the VC earned £320k plus various benefits including a chauffeur, a free house and expenses-paid trips everywhere – he sent the email from China. I am filled with righteous disgust, and I’m wondering how one gets to be a vice-chancellor.
Rise of Modern War lecture/seminars are also interesting. I was going to do a presentation with Flash and Jon on the armies of Louis XIV, but Louis asked to swap with me so I am now doing Thirty Years War infantry tactics instead (this Wednesday), which I’m really good on. I’m still not terribly impressed by Toby Mcleod (he of the duff Roman Strategy lecture last year), especially when a polite email asking for guidance on the presentation (that I hadn’t had, because I wasn’t the one originally doing it) and a copy of last week’s powerpoint was answered by a single tetchy sentence of marginal guidance value and no powerpoint, but what can I do?
Using a recipe Bill sent me, I made a Thai chicken curry and it was AMAZING. The coconut milk cost a pretty penny but the result was so creamy and flavoursome and delicious that I found myself actually liking coriander. If I could afford to, I would eat like that every night. I’m trying to make a Lebanese-style garlic sauce, like the one Cedars used to serve, but we don’t have a hand blender of the right calibre. I’m feeling open-minded, throw me your crazy recipes from the ends of the earth.
One of the many pieces of worthless spam the History department hands out to me was for a Green Tea Study, asking for males of a given age range (which I fell into), moderately active (which I also fall into) and who were interested in £100 for their time (which I do not fall into so much as do a running jump and a swan dive.) So I fired off an interested email, to which they replied with a couple of extra inclusion criteria, including not drinking (or having recently drunk) more than 3 cups of tea a day. No amount of money is worth tea-deprivation, even retroactive tea-deprivation.
Things are settling down a bit, but time is going crazy slow for me right now. And yet there’s still not enough time in these giant days to do everything I want.
£51 on new quilt cover