Archive for May 31, 2018

Hullo Bolinas – Gary Burton

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on May 31, 2018 by telescoper

I don’t know why this track just came into my head but while it’s there I thought I’d share it. It’s from a rightly renowned album by Chick Corea and Gary Burton recorded at a live concert in Zurich in 1979, but this number just features Gary Burton on the vibes. I bought this album on vinyl when it first came out and was completely gobsmacked by the miraculous nature of Gary Burton’s four-mallet vibraphone playing, especially on this track. In a subsequent interview on the radio I heard Burton dismiss his extraordinary technical accomplishment, explaining that the mallets are really just like fingers and it is no harder than playing the piano. I think his modesty is misplaced, as fingers bend but mallets don’t. Or do they?

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Maynooth Matters

Posted in Biographical, Education, Maynooth on May 31, 2018 by telescoper

Well, it’s another lovely day here in Maynooth and it feels even nicer that now that I’ve finished the stack of examination and project marking I had to do relating to the Computational Physics module I’ve been teaching for the past term.

I was feeling a bit guilty that I only just got the marks ready before today’s deadline, but it turns out that mine is far from being the last set to go into the database.

Tomorrow we have an internal meeting to discuss all the examination results and then on Tuesday next week we have the full formal meeting of the Exam Board complete with visiting External Examiner. It’s always a busy period preparing for these meetings as not only does everything have to be marked, but also all the marks need to be checked and double-checked, and various statistics produced ready for the forthcoming meetings. We take all these things very seriously because they’re so important.

I’m not sure students appreciate how much goes on behind the scenes at this time of year, but in this period they are finished with their academic work and probably out and about enjoying the sunshine. They were cooped up indoors sitting their examinations just a few days ago while we staff were in a state of comparative relaxation, and now it’s our turn to suffer.

Anyway, it’s at busy times of the year that we rely heavily on the efforts not only of administrative staff, without whom the whole business of examinations would grind to a halt. We rely on them all round the year, in fact, but their contribution is particularly obvious during exam season.

As it happens the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University will soon be losing an invaluable member of administrative staff who is retiring in a month or so. We have an advertisement already out for a (full-time) Executive Assistant with a deadline of 17th June to provide us with a replacement as soon as possible.

Anyway, Monday 4th June is a Bank Holiday in Ireland. It’s the equivalent holiday to the Late Spring Holiday in the UK (which is always on the last Monday of May), but here in the Emerald Isle it is always the first Monday in June. This year it happens to be on my birthday! So after the ordeal of tomorrow’s pre-Board meeting I have a long weekend to relax before the official meeting on Tuesday. I’m not sure if the fine weather will last, but I intend to do a bit of sightseeing if it does.