All 12 entries tagged Work

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December 06, 2006

My first publication

Right. So it’s got nothing to do with maths. And it’s not under my real name. But something I wrote got published in yesterday’s Guardian. Hurrah!

A few weeks ago, the Guardian invited readers to join in on its new Arts blog to discuss the world’s must see works of art. In between all the pretentious comments on the elitist/racist (read Western art biased) nature of the original list, there was room for constructive discussion.

So I thought of which works of art have made an impact on me, and then I remembered the piece that makes discussions about composition fun: Rubens’ Descent from the Cross. I wrote about the original (see below [1]):

Possibly not his best, but still magnificent and in its original setting. The weight of the task at hand fills the entire picture.

Rubens Real

This actually made Jason laugh, as I made it sound the painting was a bit rubbish. What I didn’t write was the fun you can have playing with this picture. If you can find diagonals in a composition, they’re probably there for a good reason! See what happens when you flip the image:

Rubens Mirror

You’ve just created Ascent of the Cross!

1 Original picture taken from exittoart

July 13, 2006

A super good day

Today was a super good day. Although I did not see five red cars in a row, I have been very lucky in not being run over by buses whilst trying to stop them to let me on. In relation to that, my average bus waiting time this week might even be less than a minute. But about the super good day.

I was on time for my lecture (1). "Lecture?" you say. Aye. Whilst everyone is happily enjoying graduation and the complementary fancy lunches and or dinners with parents, I'm stuck in the zero degree maths lecture theatre, enjoying a Graduate Summer School.

Now, don't get me wrong, for this is fun. We got a notepad at the start of the week and every morning we fill it with notes on turbulence and stochastics and dynamical systems and then add some more notes in the afternoon that will help us understand what we learned earlier. Despite more than half of the information being way over my head (at this moment), it is possibly the best learning experience I've had. Ever.

It doesn't end after the example classes (the ones in the afternoon), as we have actually got reading time scheduled in as well. Great idea for hardly any of the attending postgrads and professors seem to be able to absorb that much information in a day. Unfortunately, my reading time has consumed my spare time in the evening, which brings me to the next happy moment.

I finished my poster (2). My very first postgrad presentation of the project I'm working on. It's not very impressive but it's a start. And I already discussed my work with someone before I even put it up! The ruddy thing was nearly going to be the last nail, as indeed I spent all the time I'd left this week on rewriting our article to fit the information to a poster, just like some of the others that were already there. Then yesterday it turns out nearly all posters presentations I've seen have too much text and I had to cut mine even shorter. Thankfully I was raised not too far from the Neanderthal so I managed, though it did take me an extra day refining the edges.

All the time I spent working so hard in the department this week must have changed my aura, for behold, someone actually asked me for advice (3). And I think I actually did help. Like I helped Ali when some website broke and she had to fix it so I told her to just // the line that was dodgy (but don't tell anyone!). And I was actually interested in his project – not that I'm usually not interested in other people's work, but usually those other people are pure maths postgrads and even with all the good will in the world I can't find a way to understand their work. This guy was working on an applied maths problem. Hurrah!

And then there was new Scrubs (4). And it was good. There was also strudel which was good. I really enjoyed The Curious Incident by the way, though it's not as challenging as I hoped it would be.

May 12, 2006


To give myself an idea that I'm actually making progress, I updated my ePortfolio today. Come to think of it, it sounds like I'm regressing rather than progressing, but I guess the point is to narrow down your research.

In other news, I bought a little expensive notebook (I'm impulsive when it comes to shopping) and thought it was time to start noting things. Mainly because today being a TA was easy as the students got to work with soap and water.

So yes, coleslaw.

Is there anyone on this planet who gets excited by coleslaw?

I found a leaflet for a take–away advertising their latest meal deals. Now, to entice everyone, they have coleslaw as a specially included side dish. Just. For. You.

Now, I have nothing against coleslaw. Apart from the fact that there are a million side dishes around that are easier to make and that taste lots and lots better. And apart from the fact that it's so blatantly a word stolen from the beautiful Dutch language. But I do wonder.

Do you eat coleslaw? And if so, why? Do you have coleslaw cravings? If you can choose between side dishes at KFC, do you actually pick coleslaw? Are you more likely to go for my take–away's meal deals because they included coleslaw? Please enlighten me!

April 03, 2006

Another Horsedreamer's Blues

4 out of 5 stars

Last week I was the proud owner of some sort of time turner. You know, the kind that Hermione uses at Hogwarts? It wasn't as if I could go back in time to set things straight, but I did get to do work at over 200% efficiency! While my laptop was flying around trying to calculate whatever 100,000 bubbles are up to, I couldn't use it [even using Notepad caused such havoc that the poor thing nearly crashed head first on our IKEA table] so had to find out what life would be like without a computer and all its goodness.

Also, not being as involved in Rev anymore leaves me to find a new hobby. The answer lie in the magazine rack of Costcutters, in the geeky section. Computer Arts is a wonderfully cheerful magazine that treats its subject in a professional manner, without losing accessibility to poor noobs to computer graphics. But it had to wait to be read, because at home I found Graphic Design School, which promised to teach me principles and practices of graphic design.

And so it did.

In principle, design is very subjective, and as such the author encourages us to experiment a lot ourselves, and don't take his words as a law. There are however quite a few tricks to learn and a few pit holes to avoid. Some of these come down to common sense – but it is useful to read the reasoning or history behind this "sense" – others are words of caution: design often isn't what you want.

Graphic Design School is a great start if you'd like to get into design. It obviously isn't an art course, but it's a good guide and it encourages the reader to get involved. It convinced me to spend the next sum of money I save on Adobe stuff (Creative Suite 2 for "only" £ 346.63 for students – ok, it is quite a save from a near £ 1000!) instead of another bunch of CDs I'll never play.

January 30, 2006

Question time

Last time I used C++ was quite a while ago, and I need help. Serious help. I built a simple but wonderful program in MATLAB, but I'll need better performance soon, especially as I can't wait for more than 2 years to have it perform operations on arrays with more than 10,000 entries.

So I'm trying to rewrite it in C++, assuming that this more advanced language is more powerful. And forgetting that those lovely simple algorithms in MATLAB such as sortrows, and randn, and variable array sizes are more involved to implement in C++.

So here I am calling the Warwick blogosphere for help. I've got a 10,000×3 array [for instance] and want to sort the first column in ascending order. I'd also like to delete rows without having to rearrange the matrix each time [rows are deleted quite often] and add rows similarly. I'm tired of using Google and and what not, and the book I have is only introductory. If you can help me understand what to do, I… don't know what I'll do, but I'd extremely grateful to say the least!

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!

November 17, 2005

Progress report

It's not going to be as serious as the title suggests though. I've been telling myself and folks at home that I've been working hard lately, so I thought it would be a good idea to track back what I've been up to. Things that relate studying that is.

The first week of November saw the second workshop of the Warwick Turbulence Symposium. After my poor efforts to join in last September, I actually made it to 75% of the presentations. Highlights:

  1. A presentation by Dominic Vella from Cambridge called the Cheerios effect which coincidentally is related to what I may be researching as well. All about how and why particles tend to cluster [I'll let the website explain].
  2. Another chance to see spectacular movies of vortex rings. Very colourful presentation and very clearly explained by Mark Brend. Current research in Warwick's own Engineering Department by Peter Thomas and Mark Brend.
  3. Eberhard Bodenschatz's presentation on Results from Lagrangian particle tracking in turbulence. For Lagrangian particle, read weightless fluid element - basically, you can track 'particles' which just go with the flow, i.e. they're part of the fluid, and find their mean separation. All really interesting indeed, and very important for my research. More info here!

After these meetings I got a lot more excited about my PhD and research, but also realized that just "plankton" might be a bit too wide a subject to study. My supervisor – alarmed by the little progress and the lack of small projects I can actually work on, but also triggered by my interest in some of the problems discussed in the workshop – came to the same conclusion and jumped in to point out 3 problems I could focus on. One involves the coagulation [sticking together] of particles [or algae/plankton] and the resulting sinking; another concerns the movement of bubbles [buoyancy] and the merging and dissolution of them; the last is an analytical problem which for now will be our backup.

On the other hand, my plankton interests were stirred again the weekend after the workshop [4-6 November] as Ali dragged me along to a skills session [pleasantly presented by Casey .] which was filled with biology students. One had to present his press release supposing his research had been successful, and started talking about micro-organisms in water that use photosynthesis. I learned that I should do more with my (Saturday) mornings as you might actually find someone interested in your research! Which reminds me, I've still got to email these people…

The next week was all about Hull. And tracking a book on Brownian Motion [random motion of particles]. Found the book by fortune when the maths library worker made me return 3 books that were 1200 years late [never knew there was a 2 week limit!] and someone else had just returned the much needed book. Hull was found more easily with great directions to the Deep where we met a research student working with a huge basin monitoring sediment movements due to flow. Unfortunately, the basin did not seem to be ideal for our more interesting problem [tracking bubbles] but it was quite exciting to see such a huge installation in action.

Later that day we visited the fluid dynamics lab where my supervisor's colleague and his research assistant had a whole set of small experiments set up. Got to wear goggles and look at water and dye mixing lit by lasers. There's no way I can express my excitement through this blog so I won't try. Let me just emphasize it involved lasers and colours and lots of useful results for my research. Even more useful was their excitement in our plans – especially the bubble problem. They were even so excited that they will build a small scale experiment to check our numerical and analytical results! [Indeed, that means people will depend on me and I should be modelling as I type.]

Unfortunately, I got to a complete standstill after Hull, and needed detox from too much excitement about this PhD project. If you read this blog regularly, you might understand that working every day for 2 weeks in a row is highly unusual [to be honest, I doubt I've ever properly worked more than 4 hours each day for more than two weeks in my entire academic career. Not sure if I should write that on my blog. Though the good thing you should note is that now I am reaching this state! Progress people! That's what counts!] Also, there was a Rev weekend in Bristol to attend. I did bring the book on Brownian Motion in an attempt to keep the work going - and actually read and enjoyed... and understood some of it – but my supervisor didn't buy the excuse on Monday and metaphorically kicked me butt hoping I'd start modelling.

It's Wednesday night now, and where am I? I've felt even more useful this week getting to know the other Fluid Dynamics students better and offering them help [no, I'm not really sure how I can help someone who has studied maths here for 4 years, but I thought the gesture could mean something]. Turns out my UC knowledge might be of some use, as everyone is suddenly talking about Hamiltonians and classical mechanics, for which I have a wonderful book sitting on my shelf. Which reminds me I should bring it to campus and offer it to those in need. Also had another great day in the library finding 3 useful books, one of which must be the biggest book in the world [Computational Fluid Dynamics]. Thank you to all the people supporting me in the effort to attack this literary fitness machine.

I used my Tuesday to find those books and to finish off the last major task for the December workshop (again Warwick Turbulence Symposium). I'm getting quite excited about this conference now, and hopefully I'll be ready for the next improvement: actually talking to the participants and see if I can say something useful.

Then tonight I found new appreciation for the people from MATLAB, who provide us with so many useful and varied resources on the internet, for F R E E ! I found a lovely .m-file modelling Brownian motion of 100 particles scattered around the origin and have already added a force (e.g. buoyancy) making it look like two fruitflies racing to reach the top of the domain. You should have seen my face – happiness all around! Now I've got to make them disappear when they reach the "water surface" and add a few more thousand bubbles. And make them merge when they come to close to one another. And have them in different sizes. And make them dissolve with some (low) rate. And write it all out in C++ [I assume I can make a program function better and run faster in this language than in MATLAB, especially if I have to track 10,000 particles...]. And then I've got my first project finished! Hurray!

So that's what I've been up to this side of November, apart from the Rev stuff and the supervision of freshers. In other news, I've finally tidied my room.

September 06, 2005

Shiny goodness

Daily productivity check.

Got up late as usual, but after breakfast managed to do two hours of work non-stop! Managed to learn a bit more useful MATLAB commands, and am about to transcribe my tiny project from C++ to an m.file – result! Granted, telly was on in the mean time, and I did end up watching Brainteaser halfway through. In my defense, my friend told me to watch it as a Revver we met at RESITS was playing (and won).

Following the unwritten rule in our house (or maybe just in my head) I ended up doing dishes, which expanded to cleaning all kitchen surfaces. Quite a lot of mank gathers in the most annoying places when you decide to let dishes dry themselves instead of wiping them dry. Spent about an hour scrubbing and scratching and inhaling lovely CIF fumes. In the end, no available toxic could get rid of the mould (the type that's almost black – any suggestions? CIF doesn't do the trick) but the rest looks great!

Managed to refrain from touching any more CSS styles, and might write up that project in a bit. Note that this could actually bring my daily productivity to the standard I set err... here. That is within two weeks! Don't worry - I can count - leaving out the week in Edinburgh here.

September 02, 2005

I don't like it

Just single-handedly decided the Little Britain craze is over. I think it's clear when you're more amused by Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere that a program's prime has passed.

Had an overly pre-productive day today. Almost got up to catch a ride to campus, but got bored with my alarm and decided sleeping in was the way forward. No one really expected me to get up anyway, so nothing lost. Did make it to my old house before noon though, where I finally handed over money for a long lost gas bill. Received the bill once I'd already moved out, but it was 120something for only three months. Turns out they miscalculated multiplying by 3 instead of 1,4 or something ridiculous like that. Called in new meter readings and got a new bill. 90something which was still too high, as suddenly they dropped the previous meter reading to something we'd paid a long time ago. Gave 'em a ring and after 10 minutes explaining and 10 minutes waiting for them to call back, they finally realized what was going on and agreed we should receive a bill for around 50. Now that was 3 weeks after the first bill. Ah well - the joys of living in non-Uni-regulated accomodation! And left my keys. Called the agency and thank goodness they promised to send my deposit next week. Little did I know that this month's rent had already been sucked out of my account, leaving me to deal with them once more...

Ooh before that I'd already been productive returning Dan's glasses using the lovely Royal Mail service. Seems like everything I want to arrange takes at least 3 steps of communication. Bills session above took 6 steps. Went to PO in town on Tuesday to pick up package but they couldn't help me with the glasses. Went to the PO in Cannon Park today and they had no small safe parcel to mail it in. Went to Haward's across the mall and got a case for the glasses. And a small box. And they offered bubble wrap, which I stupidly declined. Back to PO and got a bubble wrap envelope. Oh my goodness how rubbish is the Wedding Planner?! Even got first class service, but the guy couldn't promise it would arrive in London tomorrow. Then what good is first class service!? Desperation all around.

More productivity at the maths institute. I marked the pleasant occasion of my return to campus by borrowing a book. A real book. To read. To answer your question Nikki, no, all our tables are stable and don't need books to level them. To study. And to help me build the most amazing models in MATLAB. Also emptied my pigeonhole but all that was there was a letter I'd already seen. Later came back to have my fees arranged, but first…

I went to the bank. After an hour 5 minutes in the queue I finally had them sort out my address details which story started early July when they only changed half my details and told me to check with the creditcard company myself. Then decided I wanted to use online banking but they sent my stuff to the Netherlands (home address). Great. Went to NatWest in Cov and they said no everything is fine we know where you live now. Called online banking people (you'd think online banking people are contactable by email but no) yet they said they'd still send stuff to the Netherlands with the current state of my details. Got tired and let it simmer for 2 weeks. Asked NatWest lady to change my details again and after being slightly too rude (sorry NatWest lady) had her phone all the other people and declare to the world I have moved house. Thank you and had them transfer money from one place to another, as you do. Back home I tried online banking but no. I'm not allowed a cheque book. I'm not allowed to pay bills online. I'm not allowed to make third party payments. All I can do with online banking is see how money slowly drips out as I use my debit card. Might be my next hobby once I'm sick of sudoku.

Small victories of the day include me clearing out the Rev pigeonhole in the Union, which [the pigeonhole] was actually quite full, mainly because of a rogue sweater that has been haunting execs for ages. The other victory was gained at Uni House where I was told to sit down and relax while my department and the University arrange my financial stuff. Minor defeat was suffered when Lord of the Rings beat me and Rich already after the first disk. 1,5 hours of the Fellowship of the Ring and they haven't even left Rivendell!? Great to see all the extended scenes though! While even the soppy music in the Wedding Planner is rubbish. Sad point in movie history. Oh and the start of a Rev blog was celebrated by me an Ali (and probably Rich, though he would never admit it).

What I don't like is that I still have a sore throat after having left Edinburgh 6 days ago.

August 18, 2005

Change of Wind

Odd how song titles change when you rearrange the words. On another note, I decided to change the appearance of my blog. Feeling more leafy than blue nowadays.

Does this mean you're gonna write more about your PhD?
Maybe. But then I wouldn't use this blog very often which is a shame coz it's a great thing (not necessarily this blog, but blogs in general, and Warwick blogs in particular).

So then what?
I actually found another way to procrastinate, which will soon enough be combined with this blog. It will give the blog some kind of purpose, and hopefully, if I dedicate a specific amount of time to blog, there will be less scatter of thoughts and more time blocks to work on my PhD.

What on earth are you talking about?!
Current activities between lunch and dinner (tea?) (quite similar to this one actually) follow a pattern like this:

Game of sudoku – moving a piece of paper in an effort to make a room look tidy – check email – move Fluid Dynamics notes closer to laptop in effort to do some work at some point – game of sudoku – check headlines – check email and blogs – walk to Morrison's and buy something we already have – organize emails – glance at notes to see if there's anything I can quickly do before dinner in an effort to have done anything useful – game of sudoku while the TV is on

Invariably my housemates encounter me in the living room watching TV as they come home, thinking I haven't done anything with my day. Given the above schedule (which they know by heart) I can't blame them, but I actually did do some work this week! As I already mentioned in another entry. I'm quite frustrated if you haven't noticed. I also don't like the way this entry is going. Stop it! Anyway…

Proposed activity pattern (between lunch and dinner – this is supposed to be my activity peak of the day):

Collect notes and books to start working – play a game of sudoku (or do something else I'm addicted to which will take 10 minutes) – work (no, really!) – do something nerdy so that I can blog about it later – work (sic) – blog about the nerdy thing I did earlier (maybe while the TV is on)

With 10 minutes on sudoku, and an estimated 40 minutes on blog and similar web activities, that leaves me about 4 hours to work! Not just in a week, but every day! All the great research I could do…

EDIT: In the preview I noticed that the proposed plan doesn't include a trip to Morrison's. Do not worry, I will still eat. It's just that my housemates kindly suggested I suspend my daily excursions because of the products I bring back. Specifically the Kia Ora mixed fruit squash won't make it through their throats. I might still go to buy bread though. Which will cost me another 30 minutes. But I can alternate it with blog entry writing. Oh the possibilities. Somebody save me!

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