Mar. 31st, 2010

maradydd: (Default)
Woke up late-ish-morning yesterday and found out that one of [personal profile] enochsmiles' colleagues was defending his thesis in a couple of hours, so we grumbled out of bed, dressed up, and made our way over to the Kasteelpark Arenberg engineering campus. It gets its name from the castle in the middle of it, which used to be an aristocratic hunting lodge but is now about 70% administration offices and 30% lecture halls for people presenting their dissertations. Markulf gave a fine presentation, and after a short roast by Bart, is now Dr. Kohlweiss. We hung around for a little of the reception, enjoying acceptably good wine and little sashimi-on-toast appetizers, then picked up two copies of the dissertation (I need to read the location-based privacy parts of it fairly soonish) and bugged out early to do some errands.

Said errands included picking up several packages that had accumulated at the post office, including presents from my mom for [personal profile] enochsmiles' and my upcoming birthdays. Nothing was actually labeled, so we divided them up according to who liked what best. I am now the proud owner of a wool-lined tan trenchcoat that is ever so slightly shiny and sheds rain like whoa -- a useful addition to my enormous collection of trenchcoats, particularly with the frequency of rain here -- and [personal profile] enochsmiles has a rain/warmup jacket that shines iridescent greenish-bluish-purple, like the carapace of a beetle. Neat stuff.

We then went home and did a bunch of dishes, since we'd made plans for D and his girlfriend S to come over and play poker later that night, briefly forgetting that we were also planning to put in an appearance at Markulf's post-defense party. So, around 9:30 we texted D and asked them to meet us at Metafoor instead of coming straight to our place; they were running a bit late anyway, so that worked out just fine. Many old colleagues had come to town for the defense, and we spent much of the party hanging out with [personal profile] enochsmiles' friend Lothar, a German now working in Norway at a research foundation that does a lot with both privacy and geophysical imaging. I'm not sure what the two have in common, but [personal profile] enochsmiles has been invited to come give a seminar, so we will probably go visit Norway in the next couple of months.

I think talking to Markulf has given [personal profile] enochsmiles some new perspective on his own dissertation. Markulf is one of those guys who seems perpetually organised and on track, but apparently he spent the last four years having a lot of the same misgivings about the quality and value of his research that [personal profile] enochsmiles has had. It's one of those things that is true for every graduate student, but it helps to be reminded that other people have the same uncertainties and still make it through.

Eventually D and S rolled up, and we made our way back home to break out the cards. D had forgotten the poker chips, so after I poured the beers I poked around to find a suitable substitute; we settled on different values of capacitors. It was both [personal profile] enochsmiles' and my first experience playing Texas hold 'em. He is an amazingly good bluffer (go figure!), whereas I play more cautiously and mathematically (but need to learn the probabilities of various hands better). D is quite a good coach, and I look forward to playing with them some more.

They finally took off around 2, and we retired to bed to watch some of Carlito's Way, the first half of which is really good, but I was too sleepy to make it through all of it. So, today I'm going to clean up the after-hangout mess on the dining room table, noodle around some more on the Drupal project I'm working on, and at some point watch the rest of the movie before D's brother's blues-rock band plays at the Machine tonight.

I'm so glad it's finally spring.


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