December 2007: Michaelmas Term Completed
Term goes quickly at LSE. This is for two main reasons. The most dominant is probably the rigorous requirements of the coursework. The school saturates the students with information, partially expecting them to figure it out by themselves later. The other reason is because of the rigorous social standards that we students uphold. Students for aeons have - somewhat speciously - surmised that the mental gravity of onerous academic regimes can only be countered with equally onerous recreational regimes.
I've made great friends in both the economics department and at Bankside, my residence hall.
Above are some of my friends from economics.
Banksiders on the Salsa Boat.
Escaping Central London
Sure, everytime I walk along the Thames at night I reflect on how mint the lights look and how fortunate it is to spend a year in London; that does not preclude a dim, but constant desire to escape city center. To fix my urge I have travelled to several of London's preservation areas: Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath (seen below; click to enlarge), and Victoria Park.
On a separate excursion I took a fifteen hour day trip to the beautiful county of Surrey. There I hiked one of the 'rail-to-ramble' treks called Country Squires. The eleven mile walk takes you over the rolling hills of Surrey, through woods, across fields of heather, and past farmer's pastures. Unfortunately at 4:00pm, finished with the hike and with the sun getting low, I realized that I'd lost my wallet. In desperation I re-ran the entire eleven miles - I, of course, did not find it. Halfway through the second run, cold and tired, I became wholly indifferent to its recovery. Eventually, I relied on the charity of others to get back to London. Nonetheless, the hike was magical and the perfect remedy for inner city claustrophobia. I made a small slide show.
LSE Public Lectures
One of the benefits of attending LSE is that the school is a European magnet for important and high-profile lectures. One of the first lectures that passed through LSE was Alan Greenspan speaking about the state of the US economy and his new book. The event I most enjoyed was Craig Venter, the molecular biologist. He synthesized life and managed to supplant his creation into an e. coli bacteria, which then proceeded to replicate the introder in place of its own chromosomes; eventually the bacteria exhibited only the traits of the synthetic organism. His ability to speak publicly was also exceptional. Hearing him talk about his work made me want to be a biologist the same way reading 'Surely, You're Joking Mr. Feynman' makes one want to become a physicist.
Other lectures I attended discussed the psychology of saving and investing, the merits of a carbon cap-and-trade scheme vs. a carbon tax, and the state of the English novel as viewed by the Booker institution.
From left: Dr. Craig Venter, Dr. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, Professor David Laibson of Harvard
My Mom, Elven Discipline Priestess, Visits
My mom, Bonnie Nardi, kindly visited me in November. She had come to Europe to meetup with a Danish colleague, but squeezed in a few extra days to see me. While she was here we cooked a great stir fry with peanut sauce, visited Borough Market and bought a $25 meat pie, remarkably ran into my mom's friend at Victoria Park before having tea, and took a taxi to Epping Forest. She now thinks it'd be great to take a yearlong sabbatical and live near Epping. It was nice to see someone from home, even if she did play WoW one evening.
Clockwise from upper-left: My mother on Millennium Bridge, A flower in Victoria Park, My mom with tea, the $25 meat pie from Borough Market.
Macbeth, Starring Captain Jean-Luc, er, Patrick Stewart
Curious waves of cultural pressure wash over you when you move to London. For instance, the insouciant expectation that one attends and enjoys the theater. In a hurry to accomodate, rather than resist, this development I bought tickets for the Shakespeare play, Macbeth. I've never read Macbeth, and before going I did not know the plot. I thought it'd be great fun to show up and wonder to myself 'I wonder what's going to happen to this Macbeth dude?'. As it turns out the language of Shakespeare prevents easily following along with the subtleties of the plot and leaves the theater goer to follow the plot almost exclusively from visual cues. As a result, I cannot say I enjoyed it. I treasure having watched Patrick Stewart perform a Shakespearean role live, but that's the end of my theater days for now.
The Lent term starts on January 7th and runs through middle March. It's back to the grind for the second of two terms.
Homepage for Chris Darrouzet-Nardi
Updated December 21th, 2007