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You're a Nerd If...

Smiley Tree ...the first thing that pops into your your head when you see this picture is 'hey, a smiley!' (Seen during my visit to Ibiza last week.)

And I guess you're a geek if you're aware of, or even celebrating, the fact that today, 14 March, is international π day (that is, if for the moment we adopt the utterly counterintuitive American month/date/year system of writing the date). Yes, on 3/14 at 1.59:26 there'll be (or there were, depending on your time zone) a lot of mathematicians quietly celebrating that mysterious little number, and perhaps even tucking into one while doing so. Bless 'em. And by means of marking this momentous date, here are the first four million or so digits of π for your entertainment. The last one is zero.

My European Odyssey
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Leeds / Ibiza / Leeds.
I'm back from a brief visit with my mother, who now lives on the Spanish island of Ibiza. Even though Ann and I were able to drop in for a few days last summer as well, I normally only get to see mum every few years or so, and so I was very keen on using the opportunity of my sabbatical at Leeds University for a quick escape to warmer climes. For an island so renowned as a frequent getaway spot for British and other tourists, though, getting there and back proved surprisingly difficult, and any relaxation which three days away from my research work might have provided had already disappeared well before I arrived back at the hovel on Sunday night.


Sunny DayWe've enjoyed a surprisingly mild and sunny weekend here in Yorkshire, with temperatures threatening to creep into the low tens (though not yet, unfortunately, the low teens). Just as well, too, as over the same weekend the water heater here in the house failed, to be repaired only on Monday morning - meaning no heating or hot water whatsoever. Brrrr. So, I've spent a few extra shifts in my (heated) visiting scholars' office at the University of Leeds over Saturday and Sunday. (But at least one benefit of this has been that it's enabled me to listen to Hannover 96 beat Bayer Leverkusen in a proximate time zone for once...)

Leeds: Second Impressions

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There's been almost no rain in Leeds this Sunday, so (after processing another 50 or so pages of the Benkler I'm currently working through) I've used the opportunity to explore town a little more. This is the first day without rain or snow since the start of the week, and the temperature has risen slightly; there was in fact a little sunshine if you looked skywards in the right moment. The evening sky even has a kind of dark bluish tinge, rather than just fading from grey to black.

Leeds certainly is a town on the move - there's plenty of new residential and office development around the river and train line, and good parts of the city centre look like they've been redeveloped reasonably recently. That's not to say that there aren't still plenty of 60s and 70s municipal building monstrosities sprinkled liberally through town, much as they are in so many Western European cities. Leeds University isn't above reproach in that regard either - the iconic and the ugly (and the iconically ugly) are often just a stone's throw apart.

Grave Matters

Here comes the snow...Well, the inevitable has happened, and it's begun to snow in Leeds. So far, there's been little more than a light flurry, which I understand is less than what they've had further down in England's south - but we'll see how things go as we approach the evening. At any rate, the weather has put a dampener on any idea of further exploring the Leeds University and the city itself - I think I might wait until it turns a little more pedestrian-friendly again.

It's Oh So Quiet

2007-02-07 kitchenWell, the place I'm staying at here in Leeds might be a student house (and therefore, by implication, something of a dump), but once my housemates have gone to bed, boy is it quiet. So quiet, in fact, that I can hear the blood circulating in my ears - an experience which I can last remember having during a trip to Greece in the 1980s - late in the afternoon, just before dusk, we visited a hilltop temple to Zeus on the Western Peloponnesian, some time after the last tourist group had left. Whether out of a sense of the sanctity of the location, or for other reasons, no birds were present anywhere in the surrounds, and I could hear my friends breathing quietly from metres away.

Leeds: First Impressions

2007-02-07 office viewWell, I'm here... I've been very warmly received at the University of Leeds by my host Stephen Coleman and the staff of the Institute of Communications Studies, and I've now taken up residency as a visiting scholar. I think I'm going to get some work done here - and I've already launched myself into tackling a couple of papers which need to be finished soon.

Feeling Fragmented

Dresden, Germany
For the next few weeks I'll be travelling Europe - attending the International Communication Association conference in Dresden and CATaC (Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication) in Tartu, Estonia, as well as taking the opportunity to visit some old friends and family. The first leg of the journey is now finally complete - after 30 hours flight and four hours on the train we've arrived in Dresden. This is my first time in Germany in six years, and only the second time I'm back here since I left for Australia in 2006, so I'm interested to see how the place has changed - and of course the World Cup is on as well so there's plenty else happening right now.

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