August 22nd, 2008

kieth: crazy


I just got an e-mail from HR requesting that I bring in my passport and entry clearance so that they can make copies because they didn't have any on file.

Now, I distinctly remember, when I first started work here, bringing in my passport, having the group secretary make copies of both of those things, both of us signing them, and delivering them to HR. So as far as I can tell, they bloody lost those copies.

Perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised given the propensity of British administrators for misplacing vast quantities of sensitive information.

Poll #1246334 Placing faith in the administration

Should I comply with this request?

Just do it, don't make a fuss.
Yes, but you should write "ATTN: THE INCOMPETENT GITS" before your signature.
Refuse to comply until they tell you what happened to the previous copies.
Set the building on fire.
lolcat: science

Royal Astronomical Society library

During the Saturn After Cassini symposium that I attended a few weeks ago, we were allowed a visit to the Royal Astronomical Society's library, with a 2.5 hour (!) guided tour. This kind, if garrulous and tipsy, gentleman also permitted us to peruse and handle the pieces of the collection that he'd laid out in our honour. I was the first one to be permitted to hold a book. It turned out to be a £750,000+ copy of the Principia Mathematica. It made me, shall we say, a little flushed. We slowly became accustomed to the liberty, although we continued to be wowed by the collection itself.

I didn't bring a camera because I didn't think we were going to be allowed to take photos, let alone handle the books. But one chap in our group, a very nice German postdoc named Daniel Heisselmann, brought his Nikon dSLR and kindly sent me the pick of his shots when I requested them.

Early 1600s illustrations of Saturn (with ears!)

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To wind down the tour, he took us to the top floor of the library, gave us wine and showed us early photographic plates of the surface of the moon and solar eclipses. I don't think it really made us any less giddy, although after two solid hours of non-stop historical tuition, I think we were all quite tired. But it was certainly fantastic and a tremendous honour. I won't forget it.