Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So at last, I'm a student again. Yesterday I enrolled at the Institute of Psychiatry (at King's College London) to do a full-time Masters in Neuroscience. Teaching starts tomorrow!

It felt strange to be with a group of 40 or so freshly graduated youngsters. There is only one other old guy - a psychiatrist from Slovakia - but the young folks are being very friendly and not treating me like some kind of freak.

The cycling is going OK so far, except for getting caught in a cloudburst yesterday afternoon. 11 miles each way, it's a fair old distance, but only takes me an hour and a quarter, about the same as tubing and bussing it. Only cheaper and healthier.

Tomorrow we do some chemistry revision and sessions on how to revise, how to do coursework, how to pick up your email, that kind of stuff. Then on Monday it's down to the real thing - receptors, amino acids and proteins, rat brain anatomy, etc. I can't wait....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Never attack across open ground!

My son Phil came over last Sunday for lunch and a game of Up Front!. We played City Fight 501 - thanks to a guy I've never met called Andy Maly who, many years ago, kindly posted me a whole stack of Up Front! articles from The General, all the away across the Atlantic at his own expense. If you're reading Andy - thanks again! I'm still reading them and using them.

Phil chose 3 small American groups, with reinforcements to come on later, while I spent the whole 501 points up front on high morale Germans, an MMG and a LMG. My firebase was awe-inspiring, as Phil found when he tried to rush me across open ground. He was inspired I think by Cpt. Winter's cries of "Keep moving!" in Band of Brothers. Unfortunately without adequate fire support these tactics led to a massacre.

Poor Phil, after Up Front! we sat down to watch Kiki's Delivery Service, but Phil was exhausted by his exertions and fell asleep before the appearance of the mandatory airship that you always seem to get in anime films.....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Computers ate my week

A frustrating week with my computer. Windows interface going screwy, and unable to connect to my wireless router. All these faults are intermittent, hard to track down. Hard to Google for answers when you can't get online. Think I've tracked it down to my cheapo wireless card from EBuyer - a new upmarket card is in the post.

I thought it'd take me a day to get my car listed for sale on EBay - with these problems it's taken me all week. Today I can connect to the internet and finally managed to get a nice listing into EBay. Just about to press the GO button, and suddenly I can't login to EBay any more. No idea why.

Sigh. I HATE computers.......

Monday, September 10, 2007

My other hobby is more dangerous

I got back yesterday from 2 weeks holiday to hear the news that a paragliding friend was killed at my club last week. Stick wasn't a close friend, but I have often flown with him and been helped out by him with advice on conditions or a pre-flight once-over before launching on the winch. He was always ready with a sarcastic remark and a twinkle in his eye. I'm really shocked that he's gone.

And of course, being human, I'm also thinking about how this affects me. Stick had hundreds, maybe thousands of hours under his belt. He was a far more experienced and better flier than I will ever be. Yet he was killed anyway. He had a frightening, painful, and premature death. I'm not particularly good at paragliding, it would be very easy for me to have an accident. In fact I've already had one (flew myself into a small tree immediately after takeoff).

And this comes shortly after meeting a guy in a wheelchair (not permanently hopefully) at Greenbelt - another paragliding accident.

So is it time for me to give up and concentrate on the boardgaming. Let's face it, no-one ever died playing Civilization (did they?)

I guess most long-term paragliders have reached this point at some time and decided - in the end - that the rewards of the sport are worth the risks. That you have to die some day - that cholesterol or cancer will get you in the end even if you never fly again. When I started the sport I think I would have agreed - I was single, in a boring job, a bit lonely, and probably didn't feel I had that much to lose. It's different now, I'm newly married to an amazing woman, I'm starting on a new path with my Masters course. I'm really looking forward to the next few years, I'm not ready to go yet. And I don't think that paragliding is quite the overriding passion for me that it was for poor Stick.