Martin Orr's Blog

End of Michaelmas term

Posted by Martin Orr on Monday, 05 December 2005 at 09:20

This week was the last week of term and I returned to Belfast on Saturday. There was an exciting climax to my round of lectures. I did Law on Monday; on Tuesday I had arranged to go to Chinese History (for Oriental Studies) at 11. I had found the second year Trinity art historian, who told me who the first year was but I still hadn't found her; according to my reading of the lecture list, the only remaining Art History lecture was at 10 on Tuesday. So I had to borrow a bike in order to get between the History of Art and Oriental Studies departments.

However when I arrived at the Department of History of Art at 10 am, there was clearly no lecture. I assumed that the art historians had decided to take the last week off and that I would be unable to complete the subjects this term. However I found Sophie, the art historian, in the afternoon and she told me that there was a lecture on Wednesday morning. It turns out I had misread the lecture list, although I'm still not clear how it maps onto reality. Anyway that done, there was little to do in the last couple of days and it was odd to be hanging around Cambridge with no work needing to be done.

-- Martin

no comments Tags cambridge, lectures

Fire in the College Chapel

Posted by Martin Orr on Monday, 28 November 2005 at 08:46

Yesterday I was stewarding at the College Advent service, the biggest service of the year. This meant welcoming people and directing them to seats; but also being in charge of fire safety. In fact in the event of a fire I was responsible for getting people through the main doors from the Chapel into the ante-Chapel; this is a major job as there were 500 people in the Chapel and only one other fire exit (and that exit is newly added). Fire is in fact a significant risk at this service because it is all candle-lit. Fortunately that part of my duties was not required.

The last few days of this week were very busy as I had one examples sheet due in on Thursday and another on Friday, as well as a German class and supervision on Friday. I now have just two more questions left to do on my last examples sheet for this term, and two more supervisions. Plus a German listening test on Friday, the day before I come home. In terms of going to all courses' lectures, there are three left: Law, Oriental Studies and History of Art. There are also three more days of lectures. History of Art in particular is difficult as there is only one first year in the college doing it and I don't know who they are. So I may or may not get that completed.

For those in Focus, see you on Sunday,

-- Martin

no comments Tags cambridge, chapel, languages, lectures, trinity

Elections and mentoring conference

Posted by Martin Orr on Monday, 21 November 2005 at 18:43

This week I voted in two elections: termly elections for all the officers and committees of the Cambridge Union Society, and a by-election for the Vice-President of the Trinity College Students Union. I took my voting responsibilities very seriously and went to the hustings preceding these elections at which all the candidates gave a speech. In the case of the Cambridge Union, this lasted over 2.5 hours and very few people bothered to go except the candidates and current officers.

This weekend I also had a maths mentoring conference. The mentoring scheme is where school pupils who are good at maths are sent a sheet of problems every month and assigned a mentor - either a teacher or an undergraduate - to help them and mark their work. I have been in the advanced level of this scheme for several years, as well as being a mentor for the junior level. Now I have become a mentor for the senior level i.e. for people in sixth form who are not of Olympiad standard. Anyway there has just been a mentors' conference in Trinity, where we had talks and workshops on how to comment on people's work etc. We also had a very nice mentors' dinner on Saturday night.

-- Martin

no comments Tags cambridge, imo

Programming contest

Posted by Martin Orr on Tuesday, 15 November 2005 at 14:04

This weekend I went to Stockholm for the ACM North-west Europe Regional programming Contest. This was a very short trip - we were in Stockholm for about 48 hours from Friday evening to Sunday evening. The organisers had scheduled talks on a variety of computing topics on the Saturday morning; we didn't go to these in order to get some time for sightseeing. I'm glad I did this because the part of Stockholm where the competition was and where we were staying was pretty dull, but the centre of Stockholm was worth seeing. It contains a lot of water - being built on a series of islands - and contains many impressive buildings.

On Sunday there was the competition itself. We solved five problems out of nine, which put us in fourth place. The other Trinity team solved three problems and came around the middle. I was pretty pleased with this position, although I know we could have done better if Mark and I had done a lot of practice at coding quickly as Paul has (however this does not seem to me a useful skill for anything other than programming competitions).

On the journey home, I observed that check-in in Stockholm Skavsta airport was done entirely manually: they had a printed list of passengers on which they ticked your name off and then wrote the details onto a boarding pass.

-- Martin

no comments Tags ioi, programming, sweden

Cambridge week 5

Posted by Martin Orr on Wednesday, 09 November 2005 at 08:30

I'm pretty busy at the moment, largely due to the fact that I am going to Stockholm at the weekend for the ACM programming contest. This is a competition in which universities send teams of three, broadly similar to the IOI except that you work as a team and the trip is much shorter (only three days). Trinity is sending two teams; the one I'm on also has Paul Jeffreys, UK/GB IMO and IOI medallist, and Mark Thompson, GB IOI medallist and member of the UK IMO squad.

As well as training for the competition itself, it has also meant I have had to reschedule a supervision from Friday to this afternoon. With two supervisions yesterday as well that has meant a lot of work the past few days, but fortunately it is all done now.

What else have I been doing? My parents came to visit Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, which was great. On Sunday there was the Freshers' Concert in the Master's Lodge: anyone in the first year could audition to perform in this, and we had a range of stunning performances on piano, violin, viola, bassoon and voice. The first year choral scholars also did a couple of pieces - Cole Porter and something similar, very different from their usual chapel repertoire!

-- Martin

no comments Tags cambridge, ioi, music, tcms, trinity

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