Hedgehogs do exist!

Although this news that hedgehogs do exist will not be a revelation to many of you, I can say I saw my first hedgehog outside of captivity. I was walking one early morning and out of the corner of my eye I see a black blur climb up on the sidewalk and go towards bushes and stop. Thinking that I must be losing my mind, I walked over to try to identify the leaf, plastic bag, or crumpled up advertisement that just rolled up on the curb. I cross the road and get closer to my subject only to have a little hedgehog face staring back at me! We locked eyes, both confused by the others presence, until the hedgehog defense mechanisms kicked in — it turned around and buried its face in some leaves, the classic “I can’t see you so you can’t see me”-trick. Excited and perplexed by this encounter, I left the frightened creature alone and continued along my way.

Although I truly saw one, I really wondered why and how the possibility of the encounter ever occurred… After a quick google search of “Do hedgehogs live in the UK” (this was the second returned suggestion, I’m apparently not the only one), I have learned that hedgehogs are apparently fairly common in the UK and under threat. This is a much happier theory than a child lost his hedgehog one afternoon …

Churchill Formal Hall Candlelight

Anyway, the food here is really not as bad as I anticipated. I’ve been able to bake a few chicken breasts and some potatoes to put with a salad to take for lunch most days, and I’ve cooked a few dinners a week and eaten at formals and out the rest of the time. I guess I’m spoiling myself when it comes to formal hall food – award winning chefs are hired to plan the menu and cook, so the food is always extravagant  and delicious.  Plus, it’s kinda fun and a good reason to leave work to go get dressed up in suits for dinner. I just need to invest in more formal wear…

Sunrise over the Cam from Magdelen Boat House
Sunrise over the Cam from Magdelen Boat House

A little back to reality here… work (school) is going well. I’m I’ve finished my third week in lab (sitting at my desk) and have been learning quite a bit. Most of my day is split a couple different tasks – learning the theory  and numerical processing behind Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and learning how to use two different CFD programs – OpenFOAM (an open source C++ CFD library) and STAR-CCM+ by CD-Adapco and Siemens – as well as some additional software that is used by our lab (including LaTeX and a Linux cluster). As one could imagine, the licensed, corporately developed code is a little better when it comes to the Graphical User Interface… In the long run, I will be using CFD to model combustion and will hopefully couple this to other work my lab does, but for now, there’s a lot to learn before I get there. I’m trying hard to make sure to take ample notes to be able to install all of the CFD programs all over again as well as have a small packet of condensed CFD theory for next years graduate students – it’s a hair more time consuming, but good practice.

West Cambridge Sunrise
West Cambridge sunrise on the way back from the gym

Outside of the working hours, I’ve been enjoying rowing more and more. Robinson’s boat club has finally divided up the novices into two teams and Pedro and I made the first novice male boat, NM1. We had our first outing as a crew on Thursday morning and it went very well. I’m anxiously looking forward to tomorrows outing and the Queen’s Ergs event as well (comically, I noticed they use the same WordPress theme as me). Since I need to be awake early for rowing a few times a week, I’ve decided to make mornings my gym time on the off days. I’ve been making it about 3/4 of the time, but I think I’ll get better about it.

Sunset off Pembroke Street where I work.
Sunset off Pembroke Street where I work.

I think I’m also finally getting over this cough that I’ve had for two months now. The first round of antibiotics didn’t do anything and the chest pains got worse. I’m now on a more aggressive antibiotic that covers pneumonia and various strains of bronchitis and my cough has subsided greatly and pain is less frequent. I’m hoping it goes away entirely. The surgery here (doctors office) did recommend me for a chest x-ray and a spirometry (breathing) test. I’m curious if they’ll show inflammation.

This afternoon, I’m headed to London with my friend Danny to go see IAMX in concert. We’re hoping to catch one of the last trains out, but we’re gonna play it by ear.