Monday, July 31, 2006

How you know...

That the top you're wearing really is too low cut - when the boy at the coffee bar at the station asks for your phone number within 10 seconds of you approaching the stall.

Friday, July 21, 2006

National Geographic

So I mentioned the National Geographic look to a friend of mine and she knew exactly what I meant, despite not going for them herself. I have since found out that there is actually a "National Photographic look" which means a certain kind of photograph. This is absurd, as obviously when you say the "National Photographic look" you mean:
- 3-day old unshaven, as if he' been to a place where you can only shave with a blunt hunting knife (scene from Crocodile Dundee) and bluntly cut short hair.
- Tanned, weather-beaten look; crucially on fair skin - there is a certain tinge of the colonial past about the National geographic look, plus of course it's usually only the countries with fair people who have enough money to pay people to do nothing but take photographs of birds the year round. No self-respecting National Geographic would ever dream of wearing sun-lotion of course.
- Shorts or very faded jeans - I think the look used to include cargo shorts with lots of pockets, but as this item of clothing has been taken over by metrossexuals who, gasp! use moisturiser, it has fallen out of fashion with the national geographic look. I have also found out that the National Geographic Societyactually sell these kind of clothes (and shoes -see below) for extortionate prices.
- Worn moutain boots or sandals - the national geographic look cares enough about its appearance not to wear socks with these.
- Thin as if you have had to survive for several weeks on a traditional Ethiopian diet of fried locusts.
- Optional - a manual camera

Now, I have never seen a real-life National Geographic photographer. The closest I got was Clint Eastwood in "Bridges of Madison Country" and he looked, as he always does, a very good version of his unique self. I also suspect he was much more of a gentleman than true national geographic photographers.
However, I have seen countless examples of the national geographic look here in Cambridge. This intrigues me. Besides some people from the Zoology Department, who do travel to far-flung places to collect exotic species, and the people from the British Antarctic Survey (who are the new real national geographic anyway), I can't really find an explanation for all the other ones I have seen. Plus the over-abundant number of clothes shops that cater for this look. I couldn't find any special link between the National Geographic Society and Cambridge, historical or current, and as far as I know, Cambridge doesn't produce more explorers than your average British place (I am willing to be corrected on this). So why this trend? And also, to what will the national geographics metamorphose in winter? At the moment, my bets go to the University professor look - i.e glasses, corduroy jacket with leather elbows and an inspiration on Indiana Jones. But I hope to be surprised.

Friday, July 14, 2006

So the picture I was going to put to open this post was the poster of the film “Village of the Damned” by John Carpenter. The film was reasonable, based on a short story which is quite good: aliens invade earth in a subtle way and a lot of the women in a small village fall pregnant at the same time, they give birth normally, but all the children, besides being the same age, are all very fair and blonde, with light eyes and identical haircuts, dress the same way, go around in pairs and don’t socialize with anyone different, are much smarter than the few other children around, function as a hive by communicating telepathically with each other and believe that they are much superior than the normal humans and thus attempt to take over the world. However, the poster was a bit gruesome.

So, how is Cambridge treating me? I found a room in a nice house pretty quickly, my housemates are very nice, and everyone in general in Cambridge has been super-friendly. Working in the Zoology Department is still great, added bonus is that now I am working part of the time in the Zoology Museum, helping to create an electronic catalog of the insect collection. Do you recall that part of Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” where he mentions this zoologist that liked to give dirty names to the species he identified? I am sure I have come across a few of them. Plus, some beetles Darwin collected, etc. I occasionally have to pull out the drawers where the insects are kept and am always terrified that I am going to cause a few centuries of History to go down in dust. Bill Bryson also came to mind in the two talks of the British Antarctic Survey I went to see – this has all the stuff to make a great new Bill Bryson book. Will update more soon.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Faking it

So more news since my last update - I will be working in the department of
Zoology of Cambridge University from 10th July to 8th September. So I am now looking for a room in Cambridge for that period, when I find it I then have to figure out how to transport my stuff from London to Cambridge.
This job in Cambridge is mostly secretarial, but I will also be helping to catalog the insect collection of the Zoology museum. Last month I temped for them for three days, and got a lot of positive reinforcement (which is usually an unknown experience for scientists). They liked my work so much that they created this job for me. Scientist fakes secretary was a success.
The reason I have landed in Cambridge is that I was looking for temping jobs here as well as in London, since I have good friends here,but whereas my PhD seems to count as 4 years of a waste of time in London, here they do seem to be able to perceive some of the skills I acquired. Or maybe I just got lucky with the temping agency. I am trying not to think that I am considering Cambridge as an acceptable place to live because I am growing old. Regarding permanent jobs, I did get offered one (which is always good for confidence) but decided not to take it as it was in the middle of nowhere. Anywhere that doesn't have a good selection of coffee-shops is just too extreme for me. Other jobs in the pipeline failed to come through, but have plenty to apply for, mainly in scientific publishing.
Meanwhile, once I have found a room, have to acquire the ability to work on my thesis in the evenings and weekends. Will see how that goes...