The all singing, all dancing blog of Alex Guite

Saturday, March 25, 2006

"The problem with climate models is that we don't understand the effect of clouds"

Long time, no blogging.
Recently, the fulcrum about which my life has turned has been lab and a desperate attempt to collect as much data as possible and analyse it before my project viva. Maybe as a physicist I should have got used to this by now, but whole days spent in a dark lab alone really do mess with your mind.
In amongst all of this I found time to help Jad's campaign for the RCSU Presidency, which in part involved me dressing up as an elephant. I didn't really mind as previous experiences as a monkey had been pretty fun. This picture illustrates a regular occurrence when dressed up as a partisan pachyderm on campus. My prediction is that this effect extends beyond merely monkeys and elephants. Indeed, this was experimentally proved last night at the end of term Easter carnival by some guys dressed as rabbits.
Anyway, during the campaign and what must have been a very busy news week, Felix were kind enough to run an article alerting its avid readers to the fact that I was out and about campaigning again, but that there was no need for alarm as this was in no way scandalous. By the way, the real scandal is that the workload of Faculty Union Presidents is so high that it's starting to put off even the most dedicated of volunteers in Engineering.
Even so, five students were prepared to answer the call of service and stand for RCSU President, and almost another 30 stood for other Executive positions. It was a fun and entertaining campaign, made all the more pleasing by Jad's convincing victory. A whole bunch of campaign photos are here and photos of the results being announced are here. Congratulations Jad.
In other news, I had my last lecture yesterday. So what did I learn in my last lecture? If you want to get through cheap champagne fast, the best thing to do is to attend an atmospheric physics lecture and drink every time the lecturer says 'clouds', 'climate' or 'problem'.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Elections, hiking and so on

With the exception of staining the blogsphere with a possibly immature post about the number 69, and a description of what happened when I, yes I, shared a pavement with the former leader of her majesty's Opposition, I haven't blogged much recently. Fear not, for I am back and I am sure you will be happy to know that I have "learnt some valuable lessons" in the last two weeks or so.

Chief amongst them is that some of the symptoms of hypothermia (erratic behavior, offensive language and uncontrollable shivering) are the very same symptoms as those of running a sabbatical campaign.

I know this because for the last three weeks I was Chief of Staff to Ben Harris in his bid to become Deputy President for Education & Welfare at Imperial. I also know about hypothermia because I read a helpful pamphlet before setting out on the RCC Night Hike last Saturday evening. I'm not sure that hiking across the North Downs for five and a half hours at night was the best way to rest after a busy campaign but it was a good laugh. I teamed up with Ben and Mariko to enter the 'novice' category (despite competently walking to the base hut). Our clever Dylan Thomas referencing team name ("Do not go gentle into that good night") was appropriately abbreviated to go "Don't go gently" by the organizers as we romped home a full 14 minutes ahead of our nearest novice competitors. So if you're looking for someone with a track record in walking at a novice level, I'm your man. (Other lessons learnt on the hike: do trust the earth's natural magnetic field, it is generally correct).

In addition to helping Ben's campaign, I also advised John Collins in his bid for the Imperial College Union Presidency. But it didn't just stop there, I even dressed up as a monkey to campaign for the guy. I'm not sure where this leaves my claim to have some dignity. Anyway, the valuable lesson I learnt whilst dressed up as one of our cheeky animal cousins is that girls can't get enough of a human sized monkey carrying a partisan placard. Is it actually possible that in just two hours inside the monkey suit I got more attention from Imperial girls than in four years of going about my normal business dressed as myself? I'd rather not answer, but I keep on telling myself that it was what was on the inside that attracted them...

Last Thursday all this monkeying about came to an end with the election count. Before I get to the results (I once attended a lesson where I was taught about 'suspense', can you tell?) I want to thank Ben for buying me some Innocent smoothies as a thank you present/the result of a bet we had. If a Socialist Worker candidate mentioned Iraq in hustings, Ben owed me a smoothie. If they didn't mention Iraq, then I owed Ben a smoothie. Unsurprisingly I made a smoothie profit.

Anyway, despite my predictions that it would so close between John and Joe Eldridge that you wouldn't be able to see the light between them, I was blinded by the 600 vote margin by which John won. It was one of those moments to be very happy that I was wrong.

Meanwhile, Ben won very convincingly in the first round of STV, and now the Welsh guy I met three years ago when I was organising the first PSU Freshers Ball is going to be Deputy President Education & Welfare. I'm pretty chuffed and still have a grin on my face 5 days later.

Well done guys, but don't forget that I've got my eye on you...

Sunday, March 05, 2006


How adolescent of me to find it amusing that '69' MPs signed a petition calling for tax to be cut on condoms...
There is a serious point to it all of course: it's crazy that the tax code classes contraceptives as a luxury item and charges VAT at the highest rate. I'm glad to see that Gordon Brown is likely to change this in his next budget.
BBC News story

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Things: update

I blogged earlier today about the threat of St David's Day passing me by unless I could find a daffodil in London. Indeed, I was happy to go on the record as saying "you can't get a daffodil in London for love nor money".
I was wrong. I got one for money.
Conclusion: it's a good thing that the Imperial College has a putative Welsh society.

Further update: things which have passed me on the Fulham Road this evening.

  • Former Conservative Party leader Micheal Howard.
I don't think he was thinking what I was thinking as in response to the large grin which I failed to mask across my face he looked, frankly, startled. It was pretty dark this evening. This is the only time I have ever seen him. There was something of the night about him.


Things which have passed me by:
  • The Turin Winter Olympics
  • Pancake day
Things threatening to pass me by:
  • St David's Day, unless I can find a spring daffodil in London somewhere...