Aetheria was a fantastic success. I was unsure right up until the night quite how things would go down, but I certainly had faith the committee would pull together. As it happened the whole night ran more smoothly than any of us could have imagined, meaning that we were all able to enjoy ourselves a little too. In every way we had built upon the foundations of Bohème and improved. The cold was an issue once more, and although the new layout offered more protection than last year the most common complaint was that it was still freezing. Nevertheless a plethora of readily available hot drinks made it considerably more bearable. The main bands were well received but it must be said that the comedians left something to be desired — that thing being a legitimate sense of humour. However the two-pronged combined attack of Dodgems and fireworks are, I now realise, practically a pre-requisite of any real seventy grand party. And we threw a pretty mean one at that.
Ticketing could not have been sweeter, Ackers confirming over the radios that we were on fire. Indeed, security were genuinely shocked when I informed them we had just over 600 people inside the compound before 10pm as they had barely seen any queue at all. At our peak during the VIP entry we were actually processing people at the rate of about 10 a minute (which would be 600 people an hour), later dropping to just 2 of the 4 computers we had running since wristbanding was the slowest part of the chain. It’s a great feeling when a system just works. Most gatecrashers were caught before they even entered the compound, making Downing Ball one of the most secure around — even one of Cambridge’s legendary gatecrashers had his come-uppance as he was unceremoniously marched off the site.
The Ball website has now been updated with a feedback form and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Dave, the President Elect is already churning through ideas for next year before even putting his committee together, so values any input at all. Certain invdividuals seem to be courting him rather strongly in the hopes of gaining a place on next year’s hallowed team. He seems convinced that I will be working on next year’s website, though I have yet to agree to this. One year of mayhem may well have been enough, but we shall see.
Last night’s committee dinner was a suitably inebriated affair although having spent Sunday clearing up and dismantling, many of us were still too exhausted to get terribly drunk. Others were not. Photos arrived this morning of several people passed out (sorry, asleep) on Sara’s floor including a certain Fellow…
The Ball may now be described as imminent. Marquees line the lawns, standing at attention while workers scurry beneath them with all the urgency of a makeshift army barracks. This year’s intelligent heat-conserving layout looks like a real improvement over last year’s freezing vastness. Meanwhile the dodgems… actually I can’t really think of a suitable simile for the unloading of dodgems from a bloody big lorry. With a little Austin Powers-style driving they managed to get them through the main gates fine, while the lorry bringing Die Hard’s equipment managed to take out the Pizza Hut sign across the street. The committee’s efforts have been doubled and redoubled (err, quadrupled?) in the last day as everything is moved into its final position for the night. Just moving things around college is complicated and strenuous enough, let alone coordinating with distributors from outside. Drink deliveries have produced such plentiful supplies that when we need a break, smoothies are now more abundant than water. The Mule is back in action so you’ll see it zipping around college. Just give it a wide berth if you see Joel in the driver’s seat.
I’ve recovered pretty well with the help of the antibiotics. On Tuesday I had to drag myself into London for an interview with Bird & Bird, since they refused to rearrange it, although I can’t be too harsh towards them since they did offer me a job immediately afterwards. Unfortunately it begins in May Week, but I’m keen to do it nonetheless since the firm’s technology focus makes it the perfect sort of place for me.
Tomorrow you’ll see me involved in all of the most untechnical jobs you can imagine from lugging fencing around to securing large outdoor heaters. The entry system will have a final test at 4pm — I’ve already taken a look at the marquee which will be my home for the first part of the evening and it’s actually quite spacious. And after that it’s just a short sprint to zero-hour when I’ll hopefully see you as you enter Aetheria for a wonderful night.
Several days between updates again, I know, but this time I have a legitimate excuse. What started out as a simple flu got a lot worse so I’ve headed home for a couple of days to recover from what has now been diagnosed as tonsillitis. It’s weird how slow life seems outside of the hectic Cantabridgean jungle. I’ve now seen a doctor and been prescribed a five-day course of penicillin-based antibiotics so with any luck I should be back in a day or so looking perkier. Or at least back to my cynical old self. Thank God for mould, eh?
Since I’ve been confined to a bed for the last several days I’ve been chomping through episodes of House. Note to self: possibly not the best idea when ill to watch a show whose premise is to find fun ways that tiredness and a little cough could kill you. At any rate, for fans of the show I thought I’d share a few sites I came across. I love a lot of the popular music selections from old school rock to jazz and play.house will help you find the songs from a particular episode. If you can be patient with its pondorously slow server, Mad TV’s House spoof is spot on, though unsurprisingly meaningless if you’ve never seen it.
The Oscars actually managed to produce a shock result this year, which has partially restored my faith in the Academy voters. I believe Crash is a far more deserving film of the year than the expected shoe-in Brokeback Mountain, although Ang Lee’s direction earned him recognition independently. The rest of the big four went as I’d predicted, and it was particularly nice to see Clooney bag a statue for Syriana since Good Night, And Good Luck failed to impress quite enough. There have been some complaints about failure to properly recognise Kong, but it won the awards where it’s real strength lay — Kong himself, a feat of special effects marvel but not necessarily overall filmmaking prowess.
And finally, Jehan put me on to this film which seems to have slid under the radar and he highly recommends it. Lucky Number Slevin certainly seems fast and slick, and so long as the plot can keep up with the sharp dialogue, it could be a winner.
We’ve got the booklet for the Ball off to the printers now. It weighs in at 24 pages, including the cover. Although meticulously laid out, with a map that looks deceptively clear and simple, a lot of the work had to be done in a very short space of time once our ents and sponsors were finalised and we knew precisely what food and drinks would be going where. Such things are in flux right up until the contracts are signed which tends to be closer to the day than you might imagine. However, it now looks gorgeous and Sannam at Digital Imaging is putting together a full proof, while their lithograph has already started producing covers.
The cost was a couple of nights without sleep which resulted in a pounding headache and left my immune system pretty well shot so I’ve been ill for the past few days. It also meant I ended up taking my Annual Painkillers early this year: Kirsten brought me a pack of these wicked cool Nurofen liquid capsules. Seriously, if all painkillers looked this funky, maybe I’d take them more often. Now they just need a blue variety and we’d have a whole Matrix thing going on here too. The marketing practically writes itself.
I’ve heard a lot about the dolby technology that produces a 3-D surround effect with just two speakers, but I was truly astounded by this demonstration of 5.1 surround sound with headphones, simply by manipulating the way our brain interprets the sounds we hear. It’s by far the clearest demonstration of the effect that I have come across. Of course for full effect it requires that the two sound sources are pressed right up against your ears, so with the standard speakers the effect is significantly diminished.