All 25 entries tagged Personal

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November 12, 2006

My world renown life

Follow-up to What else to do on a Saturday night? from [TBA]

On a search for the origins of unwarranted abuse hurled at me through the means of blog comments, I realize my blog attracts people from as far away as Australia who wish to find out what to do on a Saturday night.

Including great suggestions found in the comments, and assuming you’re not looking for a list of stuff about me, here are some ideas:

1. Start your own blog. In particular, write about why you’re doing this on a Saturday night. Your university might offer you a blog, or try sites such as MySpace, Blogger, or LiveJournal.

2. If in the UK, and in the winter months, watch X-factor or similar shows. If in the summer months, do not watch television.

3. If known to the world of blogging, try visit other blogs and tell the owner how sad he/she is. It will surely make you feel better and might save your Saturday night.

4. Find a hobby. Try ornithology.

5. Go out for a beer and relax. [1]

6. Plan your next Saturday night. Not leaving it to the last minute implies you can organize for friends to come over. Or to obtain necessary equipment for your new hobby.

7. Make a list of things you could do on a Saturday night that are more fun than making a list of things you could do on a Saturday night (ad infinitum).

1 Please note that this has proven to be one of the more popular options of what to do on a Saturday night. As a result, the suggestion becomes a near paradox.

October 17, 2006


Follow-up to A New Beginning from [TBA]

I love google personalised homepages. They teach you so much. I love my new computer. It’s not very noisy unless I decide to use the speaker system and it doesn’t generate so much heat. It’s colder in my room now though.

I hate sudoku. It consumes all my spare time. At least I can pretend I actually read the Times and don’t just buy it to write out some numbers. I’m not convinced I like the newspaper that much. It seems to stain my fingers more than the Guardian used to, and there aren’t enough pictures. And some of their sentences really don’t make any sense.

I love teaching. No, this is not another teacher’s blog, and most teachers I know don’t consider my teaching real, but I still love it. Not sure if the freshers appreciate my teaching, however, but today I had more students in my class than ever. Unfortunately most of them spread their fluish germs in my general direction. You can look forward to an entry aptly titled I’ve got man flu.

I love swimming. I can’t do it to save my life, but I stay afloat and I do feel healthiest I’ve felt in a long time. Apart from the punctured lung that is a pulled muscle in my back.

I love my degree. It’s a shame I wasted so much time. But I guess there is a set amount of time in a PhD that should be wasted, and I might have reached my quotum in the first 2 years. All hard work from now! If only I could ignore the sudokus.

October 04, 2006

And Eat It

Follow-up to A New Beginning from [TBA]

If you cook at random, you won’t get a cake

If you’re a maths student and still deciding on which course to take, consider Statistical Mechanics. Today, we discussed sex as an incentive, excretion as a means of survival by maintaining your entropy level, and baking cakes.

A New Beginning

Thought an update of life was in place.

Nikki was here. I told her I was looking forward to the start of term, for more buses would run to and from campus per hour. Oh how wrong I was.

Last night I sang in REV again. It’d been about 3 months and my vocal chords weren’t too happy with all the excitement. I can still talk though, and the enthusiasm of some freshers was rather infectious. And the surprising presence of a deserter was very much appreciated.

This morning I’ve been swimming! Ali and I are on a fitness regime – that is, we try and wake up on time to drop off Rich at Westwood and join the queue for campus to get to the Sports Centre and swim for 20 minutes for her to leave again to get to work on time. It worked today. She seemed to have had better swimming lessons than me though. But hey, let’s praise the effort!

I’ve got a new computer. I ordered it through MESH and it was delayed by a month and a half due to the AMD 5000 something processors being in high demand. In the mean time, a new processor came out and they put that one in without me having to pay for the upgrade, hurrah! It’s very shiney and black and I can now watch films without the computer levitating and blowing steam. I’ll still use my laptop but mainly as extra exercise for my shoulders carrying it around on campus.

I’m gonna start teaching on Monday. It turns out it’s not as much teaching as I thought it would be, but I will be in charge of a whole class, so that bit of excitement is still there. I’m also planning on following a few modules, starting noon today, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Jason and Brenda who did their 4th year and MSc with Sergey (my supervisor) last year are still here, so the age of loneliness is over!

Oh and it seems the whole world is getting married. Or it might just be a christian thing.

February 07, 2006

An overly long comment

Writing about Is this free speech? from Ankit's Reserve of General Mediocrity

Hence I decided on a trackback. Also to apologize in advance for possibly being pedantic. From the start.

The Danish paper MUST apologize

They have. The re-pubishing in other Western media seems to be the bigger problem.

If, however, cartoonists and Editors go out of their way to bait a religious group and then hide behind freedom of speech, then we have entered a wrong alley.

I still disagree. In this case, there was a reason for the cartoons when they were still in context. The main problem I see is that the Danish editors did not know the severity of depicting Muhammad [let alone in a degrading manner] and underestimated the impact of the images. As far as the re-publishing in other Western newspapers is concerned, I think that the ones excluding the prophet [eg. the school kid called Muhammad] shouldn't be a problem – cartoons like that have been printed for a long time and have not been cause for violent reactions as far as I know. The cartoons including the prophet could easily be described rather than printed.

Freedom of speech in my opinion is the freedom to say what you believe, and the freedom to inform [or try to persuade] others of your beliefs. If only the book that inspired the article – quite possibly ridiculing islam and the prophet in a similar way in word – were published, there wouldn't have been a problem. If it would have included the images excluding the prophet, there wouldn't have been a problem. The author would have brought his message across and the audience could have chosen to believe it or not.

The combination of the medium [an image - easily reproducible and anyone who can see it will understand at least some of it] and the message [highly offensive to some] caused this to escalate, and I honestly believe there is no reason to review the laws of free speech.

From the BBC we find Article 10 of the Human Rights Act:

The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

The republishing of the offending images was irresponsible [knowing they had already caused a fuss in Denmark], and in that sense could be prohibited by law [a penalty on intentionally threatening local/national/global security]. I'm no Human Rights expert however, and it will be difficult to curtail such rights without losing the original idea.

just because media in Islamic countries show such flagrant hatred for Jews does not mean we demean and sully the image of their prophet in return.

Depending on your definition of prophet, either the Jews don't have one, or it will be a prophet for Islam as well.

About the cartoons: I thought only the ones describing the reactions to the offending comics were humorous. The others seemed unnecessary, and the bomb-turban actually made me want to look away.

January 27, 2006

For the time has come

After a week of hard work it's time for procrastination!

Your answers suggest you are a Counsellor

The four aspects that make up this personality type are:

Planners, Ideas, Hearts and Introvert

Summary of Counsellors

January 14, 2006

The entry I actually wanted to write

I've lived in the UK for more than three years now and have confessed elsewhere already that I yet have to ride a bike on this island. More surprisingly, the apart from London, the places I can be found most of the time seem to be Coventry and, oh yes, the shiny seaside resort listening to the beautiful name of… Hull. No bold typeface. Let alone italics. Just Hull. Two visits [probably more coming] involved Rev. Two visits [probably more coming] involved my PhD.

I've got my second year report to hand in yesterday Monday and I can actually talk about some progress, most excitingly, I can explain what happened in Hull! [Which is why the extension so I could write about the experiment]

I believe as part of the Millennium projects, the city of Hull was enriched with a submarium, the Deep and Hull University managed to make a deal with them and now rent a large room with an impressive basin for experiments. So far, the basin has mainly been used by geologists for sediment experiments [they put lots of sand in it and let the water circulate through the basin and see what effect it has on the sediment, tracking the particles with a clever laser spectrometry system I can't explain - sorry, I'm hardly a mathematician, let alone a physicist], but now the professor and research fellow of the Hull fluids lab have managed to get into the basin's busy schedule and have invited us [well, mainly my supervisor, and I was sent ahead to help out setting things up and just experience what's going on. See live fluid dynamics basically!] to get data for surface waves and hopefully to see some bubbles! [The bubble thing will be explained in a bit]

The Basin

Okay, so I might have called it the fishtank in prior conversations, but it is an impressive construction [no leaks!] about 12 by 6 meters, about 2 meters high. On one side, it has six panels that can move independently and create the waves [the system turned out to have a built in maximum frequency of 1.2Hz - 6 waves in 5 seconds - which seemed justified by the enormous effort put in by the panels to push the water forward] and there is the possibility to divide the basin in 2 for instance to simulate river flow [having the water rotating around the barrier]. Some of it might sound a bit lame, and seeing the surface waves we're looking for are meant to be simulations of open sea, you wonder how much is possible. Well, with 1.2Hz with the basin only filled 70cm a wild turbulent pool was created that I'd rather not swim in [well, if it were a bit deeper] - I've got a nice movie [filmed from below the water surface - which looked really cool actually!] if you're interested. We even saw proper breaking waves! [a wave rolling over as opposed to two waves crashing into each other]

Surface Waves

If anything, it's not in my wallet of knowledge, but at least I can try and explain how they're measured. The idea is that for instance you force the waves at a certain frequency [in this case, 1 or 1.2Hz] and have some sort of sensor measure the surface elevation, which will give you a noisy wave signal. Then let a computer program analyze the signal and average over lots of signals and you'll end up with a frequency spectrum. The program will have measured the contribution of each frequency to the wave signal. In this case, you're looking to find the large contribution in the forcing region, and a noisy contribution at higher frequencies that can't be picked up by your sensor.

The sensor will be partly submerged in the water [see photos in experiment gallery. The sensor consists of two sets of wires, one set transmitting a high frequency signal and the other receiving it. The receiving wires will be a certain distance apart, which defines the highest frequency that can be picked up by the sensor, in our case 5mm implied about 12Hz]. The idea is that water has a far higher [insert electricity term here, my guess is conductance] than air, thus when the waves are higher, the signal will be stronger.

Eventually, we measured the wave spectrum a couple of times, and I believe in most cases our measurements agreed with the literature. Hurray! Only when the water was too wild [good for my research, bad for surface wave research] it seemed to deviate.


This is where it gets tricky. This week's experiment was mainly set up to study the surface water [and get used to the basin and it's configuration] and the only further experiment done involved releasing tiny glass bubbles in the water that will float and then lighting them with a laser sheet and hence showing more clearly the surface structure. I think. All on camera, I hope.

Now, all I have on camera is aforementioned film, and with a far more professional camera they took some better lit images of an area where bubbles were frequently created [nearer to the pads and the walls of the basin - mostly see through by the way]. But I also have my memory filled with lovely images of waves crashing into each other and lifting up but then crashing into the water releasing a column of bubbles that would rise but didn't bother too much about the turbulent surface of the water.

Something similar could be seen with dust particles left in the water: they would kind of go up and down in circles, but they wouldn't change their average position significantly. This is all nicely explained by exponential decay of the surface waves [obviously, a flat basin floor creates a boundary condition of zero amplitude for waves there, requiring some kind of decay from waves at the surface] but it helps to see for real. The bubbles showed this same kind of motion in addition to their buoyancy. Also, they turned out to be very small, and they stuck to the surface longer than I expected.


No. It's too late. I'd just like to comment that this is how I store science stuff in my head [or in this case, on my blog]. Don't worry about my report, it will contain far more detailed information and less yatter ["ali" -ism] - mainly coz it has to be 10 pages long, but still. More will follow some point though, as I'm bound to go back to Hull and look at more bubbles for hours in a row on days in a row and not get bored [I kid you not!]

December 27, 2005

He wakes up in the morning

5 out of 5 stars

How about those urges? I'm a very inactive person. Not passive, just not active. I think quite a lot, don't worry, there is a reason I'm at this university, but I tend to forget to write thoughts down and do something with them. Sitting around all day thinking wears me out, but I need actual exercise if I want to sleep at night. Similarly, I need not forget to do some proper thinking on a hard day's work [to me, singing in Revelation or doing a day's Christmas shopping in London or Amsterdam counts as exercise]. Thinking time can be replaced by chilling to the best CD I bought in ages - Carole King's Tapestry [thanks for the suggestion Vix!].

After a day of hard work – the kind of day I have when I have walked the Maths Department – Student's Union path in 5 different ways, only to find out I spend the same amount of time no matter which path I take – it's an urge to listen to something smooth, or to watch something mindnumbing such as Neighbours. I haven't had the pleasure to get into the storylines of the main Australian export product, mainly because fortunately those days don't happen too often.

No, then the opposite: days I just get to sit in the maths common room, trying to find where I forgot the semicolon in my m-file this time, only interrupted by the occasional visit from my supervisor giving another direction to the research. I'm safe on Tuesdays, when the silence is broken by Rev and 2 hours of recharging of the brain by releasing all energy by singing and jumping around pure chaos. But that's just one in seven days. The best way I can recreate the Rev atmosphere at home is – you guessed it – to turn on the taps and put on some Bon Jovi and run through the house singing and dancing along while cleaning dishes. The foam acts as the chaos part here.

Bon Jovi is just an example – anything loud with as much diversity and as much sound as possible will do. On a more contemplative day, Israel will do, and The Killers did a great job last year. While looking for my family's Christmas presents [at Fame in Amsterdam, if for some reason you need to buy something CD/DVD/Game related and you're in Holland, it's a good place to start] I came across the best that would encompass my 1 CD + 1 DVD limit for this year's holidays. It's actually 2 CDs and a DVD, but since they come in one box I thought it'd be ok. And it's more than ok!

Guitar, Bass, Drums, Violins, Brass, South-African voice that can linger – yup, the noise criterium is met. It all comes together in a great sound full of funk and rhythm that would endanger the melody requirement [melody - can't sing along if there isn't a recognizable tune!] if it weren't for the amazing song structures the musicians [or maybe just Dave Matthews] come up with. This particular collection has 27 tracks, 2 of which are part of a documentary [mainly pretty pictures with pretty Dave Matthews Band(DMB) background music, talking about how the concert came together], and 3 contain two songs – I don't know how many songs are on their name now, but DMB have a big enough selection to have some songs beautifully complementing one another.

Where many bands tend to create a great studio sound, but fail to convince us in live sets, DMB's live sets are mostly beyond amazing, where their studio albums usually sound downright dull. Their Central Park Concert suffered from a poor song selection, resulting in me only taking 1 of 3 CDs to England. Using the mirror, it's my loss I haven't given the new songs from those studio albums [Everyday and Busted Stuff] a fair chance. On the other hand, it's the great instrumental intermezzos or elaborations on songs that make the live sessions so great, and apparently they only worked in the older, better known songs. On The Gorge, the band seem to have had enough time to elaborate on those newer songs, and create new 'classic' overlaps with for instance Everyday and Where are you going.

Any DMB - even a studio album – would deserve 3 stars under my regime. A live album with a proper song selection would get to 4 stars, but in this case it's the DVD that earns this collection the ultimate star. I didn't really understand the appeal of music DVDs, and it's mainly the CDs that made me pick this set. But then us poor Europeans will need to pay for a ticket to America to see this band live, and even if only in your living room, with a DVD you get to see the band live. This concert's director has done an amazing job in capturing the essence of the band, where everyone has a vital part and encourages one another. So much fun on stage is mirrored by the crowd, who are ecstatic seeing the best band in the most beautiful surroundings [indeed, the 'gorge', in Washington State along the Columbia river looking over the river's canyons]. Seeing the band is called Dave Matthews Band, it wouldn't be unthinkable to see him 90% on your screen, but instead, the dirctor focuses on the key band member of each phrase, cunningly using the gigantic screen behind the band to capture the crowd or another band member. The Oscar in this case goes to the violinist, who becomes one with his instrument and puts so much drama and energy in his play that he gets the band to center around him on his solos, without ever forgetting to support the rest when his part is absent, even if only plucking the occasional string of his violin. And he never stops smiling.

Get this set if you've ever thought DMB are good. If you're interested in this band, this might be a bit too much to start with, but it's probably their best collection to date. If you'd like to hear a few songs first, I'm not sure if they're on iTunes, but try and find Ants Marching, The Space Between [was a minor hit record a few years ago, I think as part of a Nokia ad], #41, or Lie In Our Graves.

December 11, 2005

Stupid, this test is

But the result could be quite interesting. Also, try this site and find where on the political spectrum you are. Don't expect it to give you an idea who to vote for in an election, you're most likely to end up far away from political leaders. For some reason, I turned out a left-wing anarchist [like the Dalai Lama!].

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

December 05, 2005

Early in the morning

My personal best this year. The first one to blog in the morning! Sitting in the maths common room waiting for an order to help out more. Slowly the visiting professors – workshop participants – come in. It's quite exciting really thinking that I've contacted most of them over the past few months, even though it was mainly giving them travelling info. First talk in an hour or so!

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