A bit of progress on the university front - I've now had a letter… - John C. Kirk
Apr. 12th, 2003
A bit of progress on the university front - I've now had a letter from Imperial, acknowledging receipt of my application. One improvement they've made since my previous applications - they now tell you how many references they've received, rather than just saying "If we don't have them, we'll sit here waiting for them". In my case, they had both, which is what I'd expect (having hand-delivered the letter), but it's nice to have that confirmed. Now to wait and see what the department say... I've looked around at a few other universities, but I haven't found anything inspiring - just eliminated a few possible choices, where they don't do the relevant research. I'm leaning towards the view that it may be best for me to take a year out, i.e. reapply in October 2003 for admission in October 2004. The advantage is that I would then have an actual MSc qualification (rather than just provisional results and predictions), and that my project supervisor will then have a better idea of my abilities, which will help him to write a reference. Also, by applying that early in the academic year, I'll be at the front of the queue for "first come, first served" places. And getting a bit of extra money wouldn't hurt... The obvious disadvantage is that I lose another year. There was a time when I'd hoped to get my PhD by the time I was 30 - if I start next year (2004), then I'd finish in 2007, just after I turn 33. Ah well, see what happens...
On a more cheerful note, I went off to see "Johnny English" last night at the cinema, which I really enjoyed. If you remember Rowan Atkinson's old Barclaycard adverts, it's the same characters from there. They had a nice cameo by Bond (a string quartet who are infamous for appearing naked on an album cover). That inspired me to take a look around their website, where they have various video/audio clips, which I liked. The standard debate here is "Making classical music accessible" vs "Losing the good points that set it apart from pop music". But I think I'm pretty much their target audience, since I don't generally listen to this type of music - they got my attention because of their looks, and they kept it because of their music. So, I went out today and got their DVD ("Live at the Albert Hall"), and I've just finished watching that. I liked it - unlike the Classical Spectacular I went off to a few weeks ago, there was a much higher ratio of fun:boring music. (Only a couple of their songs were a bit dull.) Also, the problem I have with music concerts in general is that there's not much to look at, so my mind tends to wander. In this case, there was a strong visual component, which was good. It's not simply "4 attractive women" - it's more that since there are only four people occupying most of the stage, this gave them space to move around, so it was much more dynamic than previous concerts I've been to.
I also went off to my regular swimming lesson this morning, which went well. I'd never realised that you were supposed to duck your head underwater while swimming breaststroke - I'd always thought of it as a rather useless (i.e. slow) stroke, which just appealed to women who wanted to keep their hair dry. So, it's always good to learn new things. Also did some more diving practice at the end - I'm still doing sitting dives at the moment, and there was a frantic moment when I was just tipping in when the instructor said "You need to sit further back", so I had to grab hold of the side to pull myself back :) The final lesson is in two weeks, but I think I'll do the course again once it's finished (most of the other people are on their 2nd/3rd loop), so that I can learn the more advanced techniques.