Martin's Blog

Return from IMO

Posted by Martin Orr on Wednesday, 20 July 2005 at 19:46

I have finally returned from the IMO, not having gone to bed since Saturday night. On Sunday night we had to sleep on the floor in the hotel dining room due to the hurricane. In the event however the hurricane both weakened and turned slightly away from us so it did no damage in Mérida.

On Monday we had the closing ceremony, at which the medals are presented. The final cut-offs were 35 for gold, 23 for silver and 12 for bronze so I got my gold! Between the party after the closing ceremony and leaving at 4.30 on Tuesday morning, there was no point sleeping. Since then I have been travelling home.

-- Martin

no comments Tags hurricane, imo, mexico

Hurricane Emily

Posted by Martin Orr on Saturday, 16 July 2005 at 20:33

Hurricane Emily is heading straight for the Yucantán peninsula. It seems certain that there will be heavy rain from tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon, and we may be hit by the storm itself later in the evening (early Monday morning BST). Preparations ae being made, the windows of our hotel rooms have been taped up and some have been boarded up (the biggest danger seems to be from the windows breaking). The expedition to Chichen-Itza tomorrow has been moved forward a couple of hours to ensure we get home before the rain, and the closing ceremony on Monday may be cancelled.

The hotel is one of the three most hurricane-proof buildings in Mérida, so we will be safe in a windowless room. However, whether we are directly hit by the storm or not, there is a high probability that our journey home will be delayed in the aftermath.

-- Martin

no comments Tags hurricane, imo, mexico

Scores and excursions

Posted by Martin Orr on Saturday, 16 July 2005 at 20:23

Well, first the scores for the UK team:

|Saul Glasman |2|7|0|7|3|1|20|
|Nathan Kettle|7|7|7|7|3|2|33|
|Andre Kueh   |3|7|7|7|1|7|32|
|Matthew Lee  |1|7|0|7|7|1|23|
|Martin Orr   |7|7|6|7|7|1|35|
|Jack Shotton |2|7|0|7|0|0|16|

That gives us a total score of 159, our highest since 1995 or 1996. Fiachra Knox from Ireland got a total of 34. Predicted medal boundaries are approximately 34 for gold, 25 for silver and 14 for bronze.

Yesterday we visited Dzibilchaltún, an excavated Mayan city, and went to the beach. Today we had a sports and activities day, but it was outside so it was too hot to do much. We also went salsa dancing last night (learning it in Focus had to come in useful some time).

-- Martin

no comments Tags imo, mexico

IMO exams

Posted by Martin Orr on Friday, 15 July 2005 at 18:19

Yesterday and today were the two exams of the IMO. Yesterday I solved questions 1 (a surprisingly difficult geometry - question 1 is supposed to be easy) and 2 (an easy number theory). Question 2 was much easier than question 1, as is agreed by the whole UK team, our leader and most other people I have talked to. I thought I had solved question 3 (a moderate inequality) but discovered a flaw in the last 2 minutes of the exam. This was in an easy part of the question however so I should not lose too many marks. Our whole team solved question 2; Matthew also got 1, Andre and Jack also got 3, Nathan got all 3.

On today's exam the questions were at least in the right order. Question 4 was an easy number theory which I solved in under an hour, question 5 a middling-to-hard geometry which I eventually got. Question 6 was a hard combinatorics problem which again I thought I had solved only to discover it was flawed in the last few minutes. This time the flaw is much more serious. The whole team solved 4, Andre and Nathan also got 6.

-- Martin

no comments Tags imo

Training continues

Posted by Martin Orr on Saturday, 09 July 2005 at 20:21

In the last three days we have done a further two exams. On Thursday I scored 21 and this morning I got two questions.

Besides this, we went to a baseball game. This is a game in which it is almost impossible to score: the game lasts for nine innings (both teams batting in each inning) and the score was 7-5 which is about average or slightly higher. Basically it is pretty hard to hit the ball (or at least they only go for it rarely), and when you do hit it it is almost always caught. There were really only two innings which were exciting, in which most of the runs were scored.

Yesterday our leader Geoff went to Mexico. The leaders go to the IMO early and select the problems. After they have seen the problems, they are of course no longer allowed to talk to us. Tom Barnett-Lamb came to assist Adrian (our Deputy Leader) in training us.

-- Martin

no comments Tags baseball, imo, usa

Start of training

Posted by Martin Orr on Wednesday, 06 July 2005 at 19:29

Each of the last three days we have done a practice exam. The first was easy, and if you assumed the same medal boundaries as last year we would have got 4 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze and been placed second to China. I scored 20/21. Yesterday was rather harder, I was the only person to get question 3, but I scored 21. This morning was very hard and no one got more than one question. I think I did get one but it hasn't been marked yet.

In the afternoons we have generally relaxed for a while, then done a sheet of problems. Today we went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where they have a large collection of tropical butterflies (live, flying around in an artificial rainforest). It must require a lot of work to maintain this and the associated exhibition, to ensure that there are always creatures in the correct stage of their life cycle in the different displays. They have huge racks of butterfly pupae and we saw a staff member come and collect all the butterflies that had emerged today.

And if you are interested in the weather it is now raining, very heavily and has been since we left the museum. (Are rain drops really bigger in hot countries?)

-- Martin

no comments Tags imo, usa

Houston Arrival

Posted by Martin Orr on Sunday, 03 July 2005 at 21:41

We travelled yesterday to Houston, Texas for our training camp. This meant leaving home at 5:30 am, and then a six-hour time zone change. Staying in continuous, mostly natural light for 22 hours, with 30-minute dozes at peculiar points during the flight should have destroyed my natural sleep cycle; then a solid 9 hours sleep has got me synced up to Houston time.

On the way I went through Gatwick South Terminal, which strikes me as probably the worst designed airport terminal I have been in: I came out of the domestic baggage reclaim area, and straight into Continental Airlines check-in area (of course this is where I wanted to be, but I doubt it is where most people want to be when they come out of domestic baggage reclaim).

The people in immigration impressed me favourably. They seemed fairly good-humoured and efficient. Matthew was caught out though on being asked to prove that he was going to leave the country, since he didn't have our tickets. Some others were in difficulty simply on being asked when they were going to leave. One thing they are good at is realising that they can make use of the time you are standing in the queue to check your forms are filled in correctly. In Gatwick, the American security people were even better: they actually moved with you in the check-in queue, while asking the questions about did you pack your own bags etc. in great detail.

The temperature here is very hot and it is reasonably humid. It looks like what you would expect a hot country to look like (well I do anyway): brown and green, with softly-coloured buildings and everything fairly spread out.

We are staying in Rice University, where we have a very nice chef who cooks wonderful meals (even for vegetarians) and is continually offering more dishes - except there is far too much of everything already. Perhaps this is because there are very few other people about.

-- Martin

no comments Tags imo, usa

2005 Week 26

Posted by Martin Orr on Friday, 01 July 2005 at 21:09

Yes, I know the week isn't over and it's two days since I last posted but I shall post again for the last time before I go away, to Texas until 11th for training and then to Merida, Mexico for the IMO itself, during which time I shall adopt a different posting strategy (any time I get a computer, probably every 3 days or so).

About the question of post length, I have to say posts look far longer on the blog than when I am writing them - the text box I enter them in is much wider (perhaps this is to do with me using a wide screen laptop to post from). Does anyone know: 1. Is it a bug in the Blogger software that when I choose to display N days, it still displays N posts? 2. Surely there is a quicker way of making a new post than the four clicks I have to go through ATM from my front page? 3. Is there a Blogger bug-reporting page?

Anyway, I have managed to do a couple of things in that short space of time. Primarily the Leavers' Service yesterday, followed by barbecue. Especially pleasing for me was getting the printed Yearbook, given all the work I put into producing it. I also was awarded the Lord Grey Award for Excellence, "the highest accolade we can give in the College" (Dr Mulryne, 2003 Prize Day Address). There was a severe shortage of coffee shop space on Botanic Avenue following this service. The idea that I might well never see many of these people again is a hard one to get round (I will be heading for Poland on results day).

-- Martin

no comments Tags blogger, blogging, imo, methody, yearbook