Thursday, November 25, 2004

Revolving doors: energy saving neccesity or impediment to easy access?

Is it me or are more revolving doors springing up around the place? I admit this judgement is based only on a the fact that revolving doors have just been installed at my local cinema, but when I was in Boston I also encountered revolving doors at every entrance. I assume that the point of such things is to keep heat inside and therefore save energy, but they're just a bloody nusance to use. I remember as a child revolving doors were a wonderous thing. They were far better than your common door which you'd push and it would swing open. They provided that bit of extra excitement to the generally mundane operation. But really, in practical terms of what a door is supposed to do i.e. allow easy access to somewhere, then they are almost the worst way of doing it. It's taking something that does it's job perfectly well and then thinking of how you make make it several times less efficient and harder to use. I for one am against this proliferation (if indeed it is happening and isn't just a figment of my imagination forged by my inconvenience on visiting the cinema last night) and hope you are to.

As I was at the cinema last night I might as well say what I watched - I went to see Bad Santa. Well in fact I went to see the Incredibles, but that wasn't out yet despite my flatmate going to a preview on Saturday. I hadn't read anything about Bad Santa, but the title didn't fill me with confidence about it being a great film although my flatmate had said it was actually quite good. I was pleasantly suprised to find that it was good and pretty funny as well - you haven't seen comedy until you've seen a midget punched in the bollocks and topple over like a skittle. I should get to the see the Incredibles next week.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Bye Bye Beta Band

Last night saw an unexpected benefit of my coming to Cardiff - I got to see the Beta Band on their farewell tour. They played in Glasgow last Friday, but I only found this out on Friday night after the gig had started. Fortunately when I got down to Cardiff I was told that they'd be playing Thursday night, so I jumped at the chance of getting a ticket. I thought that getting a ticket the night before the gig would be rather challenging, but seemingly the people of Cardiff don't know the wonders of a live Beta Band gig and hadn't bought that many tickets (so little in fact that the venue had to be changed to a smaller room.)

I had rather high expectations of the gig seeing as the last time I saw them (back in 2000 at the London Astoria, supported by the bizarre Icelanders Sigur Ros) it was probably the best gig I'd ever been to. In fact it still is the best gig I've been to. This time was slightly different, the rather poor crowd turn out meant that the atmosphere was slightly lacking at from the start. I think the band were slightly pissed off about this. The songs were done really well but there was something missing. This all changed towards the end when the crowd suddenly picked up and the gig turned around. The band properly got into it and everyone started moving and cheering at a higher level. The encores were excellent. Still didn't match the last time I saw them, but something very special would have had to happen for that. A very good gig nonetheless - when it properly kicked off at least.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

So very, very tired

After the high life of jetting to different continents I've now come down to earth by flying to Cardiff. I am here to for three days of grueling hard labour in the search form neutron star quasi-normal modes with Prof. Bangalore "Sathya" Sathyaprakash. The problem being I'm severely knackered. It was my girlfriends birthday yesterday, which envolved a party on Saturday (no sleep there), tidying up and feeling shit on Sunday (very little sleep that night as I was far too hot) and going out drinking last night (again very little sleep) followed by having to be up extra early this morning to fly here. All-in-all I'm not in top shape. Tonight will involve as much sleep as I can manage to squeeze out of the night, unless someone invites me out for a pint that is.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Triumphant return sans baggage

Hi all. Sorry for the long wait between postings again. I've been jaunting around Boston for the last few days after the meeting I was at and didn't once connect to the internet. That's three whole days without checking my email once, how amazing is that?

The last time you heard from me I was going to give a talk at sais meeting presenting some wonderous (well not that wonderous results). The talk was all ready, the results were presented in a lovely table format, and then the day before giving the talk I find out nearly all the results were WRONG! Needless to say this made my talk far less exciting as the actual interesting bit (i.e. the funky number bits) had to be removed. Oh well, I still got to say something and may get the chance to present actual, not wrong, results in France in December.

I'll just say a bit about what I did whilst touring Boston. Firstly it's a really pretty city to visit in the Autumn. All the leaves on the trees are in hues of red and gold and it just looks really rather nice, I might add a link to some pictures soon. It's also bloody cold. The temperature was hovering around the 3-4C mark, although I only found this out after using the converter on my phone to get from Farenheit to Celcius. Wrapping up warm was a high priority.

I took the "famous" Boston Duck tour, in which you get driving around the sites of Boston in an old WWII amphibious landing vehicle by a guy with a plastic duckbill around his head. The guy was actually rather good despite the strange head gear and his penchant for quacking all the time. I got to learn a bit more US history than my generally fairly low pre-tour level.

I also went up the second tallest building in Boston - the Prudential Tower. It has impressive views - of the tallest building in Boston. No, really the views were very good and provided a good vantage point to get your bearings.

I visited Harvard University to have a look around. When you go there and see the student accomodation you realise just how bloody rich the university is. All the halls are really nice buildings and are situated in the lovely surroundings of Cambridge. Whilst there we must have looked like Harvard student as we got invited to a Toga party. I don't know what it is about wrapping a sheet around you to go to a party but American student seem to think this is the greatest thing in the world.

Anyway enough of my touristy ramblings. I might say a bit more about Boston later, but know I need to get home to see if my bags which got left in Heathrow whilst I came up to Glasgow have been delivered yet.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Reaction from Boston

As I'm in the US at the moment I thought I'd briefly have to say something about the election result. I've not really been able to poll any Bostonians about there views, but the reaction of my fellow scientists at the meeting I'm at has almost unanimously been dismay at Bush winning. At Heathrow airport when I was heading out here they had a TV with BBC News24 showing that Kerry had conceded which seemed to make the majority of Americans around me quite dispondent and apologetic. I heard a story from someone on another flight over here that when the pilot announced the news one person at the back of the plane started clapping - now that's some celebration.

Despite all the doom-mongering that has been talked about the world exploding if Bush was re-elected I've yet to notice a change. Maybe it'll happen tomorrow. He so far seems to have taken the quite horrific action of getting a new Scottish Terrier.

You'll be pleased to know that I got my presentation written yesterday and it's very good to. I'm presenting new upper-limits on the gravitational wave amplitude from 58 pulsars if that makes any sense to you. Let's just say that they're completely new and unique results which are really exciting! I now just have to give it the talk, which'll happen on Sunday.

Yesterday I was working till nearly 9.00 pm and tonight I'm going to be discussing work, albeit over dinner, all evening. Then the weekend will be taken up with meetings, so it's going to be a long weekend. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

From England to New England

Sorry to have neglected my blog for the last week. I'm sure you've all missed a lot (or at least James, who's the only person that I know has looked at this). I've been quite busy getting ready for my trip abroad.

I am currently sitting in a meeting with my scientific collaborative partners. This meeting has been kindly organised by the good folk at MIT in Boston. At the moment efforts are underway by me to finish writing a presentation, which I think I'm supposed to be showing a draft of this afternoon.

Oh well, better get back to work.