Friday, July 29, 2011

Reflection on Research

It's been several days now since we gave our final research presentation, and I thought I would post a bit about it.

I was in a research group with my brother Aaron, and we researched the Devolution of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Peace Process, both of which took place in 1998.  We concluded that both of these events have improved peace and prosperity throughout Northern Ireland, and our research findings supported this.  There have been no new terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland since the last bombing soon after the Good Friday Agreement, and the new government has done well under the power sharing system.  Northern Ireland has had much faster economy and job growth than the other UK countries as well.  

I am very satisfied that I chose this as my research topic.  I learned an incredible amount about something I knew nothing of before, and my knowledge has grown in other areas as well.  I don't think your brain can ever fill up, so there's no reason to not learn as much as you possibly can about the world.  It was also a great experience to do research as an undergraduate, something I hope to do again before I graduate.  This experience will make future research projects easier to do, and I am excited to continue in research.  

I believe Tony Blair deserves a ton of credit for the success and implementation of both the Devolution of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Peace Process.  He advocated it nearly single handedly near the beginning, and fought tirelessly for months to make it work out.  He succeeded where previous leaders had failed, or didn't even try.  Many people consider it his greatest triumph as Prime Minister.  

Goodbye Oxford!

Well everyone, this is the end of the program, and I have just arrived home.  I had a totally awesome time, and am so glad I participated.  It was great to meet and get to know all of you better, and I hope we can hang out more at UW in the fall.  I think this was an incredibly valuable experience, and I have come home with a wider world view than I had before.

The UK is really a very different place from the US in many ways.  Usually we think they are the same except with a Queen, but honestly the only similarity is their language.  I think the differences between the US and Great Britain make a trip there all the more valuable.  In my opinion it is so important for people to learn about other cultures and countries.

Summer is in full swing here at home, and things are strange to come back to when you've been gone for a month.  I'm just getting used to everything, and before long school will be starting up again.  I will see you all there!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Powerpoint Presentation

Ok I was all excited to post this, but now I suppose it will be unhelpful since I don't know how to post documents with this thing...

Photos of London Trip!

The incredible crane room in the Tate modern.
This is less than half of it, it stretches far behind the camera.

The Tate Modern from outside, showing the old smokestack.

One of the goofy modern art paintings in the Tate Modern.

This one was really long, this only shows about a third of the length.

The pile of sunflower seeds! Each was handmade out of porcelain.

View from near the top of the Tate Modern, where they have a nice balcony.
You can see the Millennium Bridge, and Saint Paul's Cathedral across the river.

This painting will mess with you mind!
Even through the photo its wavy effect can almost be seen, but it was best in person. Try tilting your head 45 degrees or so each direction, and see if the waves move.

Saint Paul's Cathedral from the side.
Definitely one of the nicest buildings I've seen.

London Eye and Tate Modern

Yesterday we went to the London Eye and the Tate Modern Museum.

The Tate Modern Museum is inside an old power plant.  The building is huge, and has this enormous crane room just past the entry.  There was a lot of modern art there, including splashed paint styles, grotesque and dark paintings, metal sculptures, and things that were so weird that I'm not sure how to describe them.  I will post some pictures of some of the stuff we saw.

The Tate Modern is on the Thames right next to the Millennium Bridge, the pedestrian bridge that famously featured in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (in which it was destroyed).  The bridge is really very cool, and leads straight across the river from the Tate Modern towards Saint Paul's Cathedral.  We walked across the bridge and visited the Cathedral before we went to the Tate modern, and it was amazing.  The architecture is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, both inside and out.

After a lunch break we all went to the London Eye, the big Ferris wheel looking thing across the river from British Parliament.  We rode in one of the glass capsules all the way to the top, where we got an incredible view of the city.  It really helps you to realize the scope of the city from that hight, London is not a small place.

Pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cloud Atlas

Well I finished reading Cloud Atlas last night, and although it took longer than I expected to read, it was really interesting and enjoyable to read I thought.

The "nesting doll" structure of it was unusual, and it worked out better than I expected it to.  The story starts with the beginnings of six stories, finishes the sixth one, and then finishes the first five in reverse order.

My favorite story was "Half Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery".  It was about a dangerous nuclear site, and a reporter attempting to expose these reports to the public, and the company hit-men trying to kill her.   It was written in a thriller style, reminding me of some Sherlock Holmes stories or Michael Crichton novels, or various action movies I've seen such as James Bond.  Naturally the story style and narrative was appealing to me, and the story itself was intriguing, so these things contributed to my liking for it.

My second favorite story was "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish".  It was about an old man who accidentally ends up in a nursing home, and is not allowed to leave.  He nearly goes crazy at the loss of his freedom, and he plots several escapes.  This story appealed to me because I identified so well with the protagonist.  He values his freedom above anything else, and despite the convenience of the nursing home, he never stops fighting for the return of his freedom.

The other stories were interesting as well, and all of the stories had similar themes and plot arcs, such as the fall of society or characters, the successes of barbaric groups over more peaceful ones, and a general pessimism about the future of the world.  This last commonality I take slight issue with, as I have always been an optimist about the future of the world, but still find it interesting and valuable (albeit depressing) to read the fears others have for the future.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One of Francis's Rams.

Francis's adult ewe flock.

Some adult ewes.

Young ewes with the Dorset countryside behind them.