Reflections on the St Brigid’s Day Holiday

It’s Monday 6th February 2023, which means that today is a new experience for me: a Bank Holiday in February. This is taking place on the first Monday after Imbolc, a Gaelic festival marking the point halfway between the winter solstice and vernal equinox. The 1st day of February is also the Feast day of St Brigid of Kildare (c. 451-525), one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Saints Patrick and Colm Cille. . From what I’ve read, St Brigid is an a sort of amalgamation of a pagan deity and an early Christian figure, part legend and part real person. One of her miraculous powers was the ability to change water into ale, which perhaps explains her enduring popularity among the Irish.

Anyway, it’s nice to have a day off even if it is just a week after the start of Semester Two, well before exhaustion sets in. Last week I started both my modules. I was particularly apprehensive about the first laboratory session for Computational Physics 1 on Thursday. In previous years the first session has always generated a lot of technical problems. This year we are running a new version of the operating system on our Linux cluster as well as a new version of Python. Students are issued with accounts specifically for use on this cluster and even logging for the first time and changing passwords has proved a challenge. I am now also using a digital display screen instead of the old data projector I used to have and which conked out last year.

This time, however, there were no significant problems at all in the Lab. Let’s hope the same is true for the Tuesday lab, which is a repeat but with a different (and slightly larger) group of students. In recognition of the likelihood of technical hitches I don’t usually aim to do very much in Lab 1, but this time I managed to cover quite a lot of material. By next week I’ll be starting to get the students to write bits of their own code. Thereafter it gets increasingly hands-on. There’s no efficient way to learn coding other than by doing it, so the sooner they get going with that the better.

I don’t actually have any lectures timetabled on Mondays this semester and, since the lab for tomorrow (Tuesday) is a repeat of last Thursday’s, I don’t have anything urgent to prepare. I’m therefore using the time off to do some Open Journal business – including publishing a paper – and, despite the cold, do a bit of gardening to prepare for Spring.


One Response to “Reflections on the St Brigid’s Day Holiday”

  1. […] A blog about the Universe, and all that surrounds it « Reflections on the St Brigid’s Day Holiday […]

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