Time flying by

It's on the late end of the season for roses, but they're still going strong.
It’s on the late end of the season for roses, but they’re still going strong.

Just like that, it’s November! It certainly didn’t feel like it the last few days, which have been clear, mostly sunny, and about 60 degrees F. Today was appropriately cloudy and rainy, though, so maybe we’ll be settling into what I think of as proper English weather–cool and rainy–at last.

Modern art and trees in one of the courtyards at Churchill on Saturday (a beautifully sunny day). The architecture is really growing on me.
Modern art and trees in one of the courtyards at Churchill on Saturday (a beautifully sunny day). The architecture is really growing on me.

After much non-literal wailing and gnashing of teeth, I submitted my NSF GRFP application on Thursday  and promptly turned to making a wizard hat for my Gandalf costume out of a straw hat and a gray towel that were left in the living room of my house by the previous tenants. Since people commented that I looked like Gandalf in one of the photos of me punting a few weeks ago, I knew I should be Gandalf for Halloween. I based my look on the first description of him in The Hobbit:

“…an old man with a staff. He had a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over which a white beard hung down below his waist, and immense black boots.”

– in “An Unexpected Party,” The Hobbit

My boots were brown, not black, and I didn’t have a blue towel to make the hat, but I figured most people wouldn’t notice the difference. I borrowed a hot glue gun from one of my fellow MCR members and spent about 2 hours on Thursday evening cutting, pinning, gluing, and stuffing (the top cone, so it wouldn’t totally flop over).

The items that made the little light bulb over my head turn on: a small grey towel and a straw hat.
The items that made the little light bulb over my head turn on: a small grey towel and a straw hat.
Figuring out where all the pieces go.
Figuring out where all the pieces go.
Still working things out (I hadn't glued anything by this point, just pinned together the top cone and was checking that it fit over the hat).
Still working things out (I hadn’t glued anything by this point, just pinned together the top cone and was checking that it fit over the hat).
Et voila, the finished version!
Et voila, the finished version!
Pre-party selfie in my room. I was pretty excited about this costume.
Pre-party selfie in my room. I was pretty excited about this costume.

I think the hat and the staff (which I found on my run that morning and jogged half an hour back to my house with, getting some very funny looks) really make the costume. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough material or hot glue to cover the underside of the brim, so I kind of had a “farmer Gandalf” look going on in close-ups, but I thought I had a pretty good costume together.

Then my housemate Amanda totally blew me out of the water with her epic zombie makeup:

Really impressive makeup by Amanda.
Really impressive makeup by Amanda.
We have a scary zombie in our kitchen!
We have a scary zombie in our kitchen!

So yeah, she won a very well-deserved bottle of wine for the first prize in the costume contest at the MCR Halloween party. But I came in second, which was pretty cool!

Zombie biting her well-deserved prize. :)
My camera can’t do her costume justice. I am still very impressed. 🙂

Saturday was mostly devoted to de-stressing after what had been a long week worrying about and working on the NSF application and foreseeing a long and busy week coming up (demonstrator prep for a new experiment, hopefully getting some actual research done when my samples come back from a different lab, moving around some lab equipment to make room for a new electromagnet, demonstrating, marking lab books, etc.). My main accomplishment was fixing the rear tire of my bike, which I noticed was completely flat when I was going to work on Wednesday morning. It was a simple operation that took about 2.5 hours, mostly tracking down tools to borrow and trying to get the damn wheel off. The previous owners had tightened the nuts holding the wheel on to the point where I had to ask a random person for help, and he had to go back to his house for a set of proper wrenches (as opposed to the bike multitool I was using). My helper turned out to be a very nice 4th year chemical engineering PhD student who had never patched a bike tube before, so I showed him how and we talked about mountain biking. Yay for meeting nice people!

I spent about an hour and a half with this view while fixing my bike.
I spent about an hour and a half with this view while fixing my bike.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon I had my third (total) outing on the river as a provisional member of NW1 (the 1st novice women’s boat)! It was quite fun, though we spent a lot of time fiddling with the boat before and after going on the river, and of course we weren’t terribly good at rowing in groups of more than about 4 at a time yet. We finally have a training schedule  and I’m really looking forward to rowing on a more regular basis. I also signed up for an erg competition in a few weeks, so I guess I’d better try some intervals/sprints on the erg so I don’t fail as hard as I did the first time I tried a 250 m sprint :).

Well, better get back to work. Next thing I know, the term will be over, and I want to have lots of research data by then!

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