Friday, September 23, 2005

Quote me happy

Productivity is down this week, with my thesis writing slowing down to a virtual standstill today. Thankfully my thesis is in fairly good shape, so that this downturn in word production should not hold things up too much. In the grand schedule of the PhD I should in fact be entering my final week of studenthood and handing in an account of my three years of original work to the university, before beginning my job as a postdoc the weeks after. As with pretty much anyone who starts a PhD in the UK this three year timescale is generally completely ignored, and not wanting to buck such traditions I to will be handing in late. This does come with certain benefits in that to hand in my thesis I still have to be a registered student at the university, thus gaining a new student card and all the discounted goodness that it brings. Full price at the cinema, oh no, not for me. 10% off my clothes purcheses at Top Man, get in! Cheap drinks in the union, oh yeah! Regular gym membership? Why no, for I am a student and will not pay your extortionate normal rates. It also means I will gain a strange state of duality when I start my job as both a member of staff and a student. My collapse into one state will depend on who my observer is (sorry, it's a quantum mechanics reference - I went to a discussion about these things last night and am now taking the analogy too far).

Oh yes, I should explain the title of this posting - one the things we writing-up students (or at least all those I know) do to waste time is in thinking up suitable quotes for our thesis chapters. I have one so far and have for the last day mainly been trawling Blackadder scripts for another. I'm sure some inspired and relevent quotes are out there, but I ask you my loyal readers (ok, so I know it's only James who ever looks at this - I should link other people in or maybe write something interesting or even just post a bit more often, but all that places the burden of work on me and I'm just too damn lazy) to send me your favourite gravitational wave data analysis quote and i'll whittle them down to the best ten and then hold a public vote on the five that will grace my opus.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wicky for Cricky

In a strange turn of events it seems that the Scottish are starting to grow fond of our most English of English sports - cricket. I think the excitment of this years Ashes has meant that Scots who would dare not show support for England under normal circumstances are ready to join the Barmy Army. Although there are still many who would rather see their family slaughtered than so much as think about wearing the three lions. This strange occurance was highlighted in a Sunday Times article this weekend, which probably wasn't reproduced down south so here it is. This Thursday Scotlands cricketers get to show their talents in a one day friendly against the Aussies, which I'm sure wont be a one sided affair.

My only other comment about the cricket at the moment is WWWhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyy! We had the chance to make it 2-1 god damn it! Bloody Ponting, hhrrruuummmpppphhh. Enough expert analysis of the third test. Roll on Trent Bridge.

Birthday blog

Today I celebrate turning 25! My first quater of a century has been okay, but I expect big things from the next quater. I have also decided that as it's my birthday it can also be my blogs official birthday and in a way similar to the Queen it will have two, with it's real birthday being October 25th. So everyone raise a glass and say happy birthday to me and cosmiczoo, hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray, for he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow...

In an update on the current state of my PhD thesis writing I'm happy to announce that I've got one (almost two) chapters finished. Although this still puts me a few weeks behind my supposed timetable I think it's pretty good.

In the last few days I recieved my first piece of blog spam or blam as I propose to call it in the hope that it catches on, as in "my comments page has has been blammed" or "i'm sick and tired of all this bloody blam, wont somebody do something about it" or some such. You can all view this in the comment section of my last post, but I wouldn't bother. I'm just wondering what sort of scarey program they've got trawling blogs, putting comments in. With the advent of this poorly contrived word i hope that my name will go down in internet history.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The longest journey

In the past week I've started the ordeal that is writing my PhD thesis. I can see this being quite a struggle and the start of some quite magnificent procrastination. It might mean that this blog gets updated more often as I look for any kind of distraction. I also have the problem of not having many actual results to put in my thesis, so much time will be eaten up getting them. Oh well, I'm sure I'll feel good when it's finished.

Any suggestions for good chapter quotes for my thesis will be appreciated. They don't have to be relavent - just amusing.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ballochs to REM

This weekend I visited the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond to see the acclaimed rock threesome that is REM. They were playing in the grounds of Balloch castle and as venues go it's quite a nice setting for a concert. The gig was a whole afternoon/evening event with 5 bands on the bill, and luckily the weather held out throughout despite the ever looming presence of some nasty looking clouds. The first band up were some group from Edinburgh called Aber-something or other. They were a bit shit really, but passed the time for a bit. Next up were an American group called Ambulance Ltd, who again I'd never heard of. They were ok and there set picked up over the 45 mins or so that they were on, but there was nothing outstanding that made me want to buy (or even just download) any of their music. Things got better when the very Scouse the Zutons came on. It was a band I'd heard of and I knew a few of their songs (not that that's neccesarily needed to make a gig good). They were very good and got the crowd going and generally livened things up a bit, plus their female saxophonist was rather attractive and kept appearing on the big screens (the cameramen had the right idea).

Before I go on to the final two bands I should mention the state of the male toilets at this venue. For the men there was a fenced off area claiming to hold urinal, but upon entering it you found yourself wading through a muddy quagmire mainly composed of piss. This was not a nice thing. There were a few actual urinals, but the general idea was to just piss against the walls, with no real drainage. As the ground was fairly saturated from rain during the week the piss just sat on top mixing with the mud to make a nasty concoction. That said I have seen worse at festivals.

Another strange thing about this concert was the mix of people there. Well not really the mix, but just the large number of neds (read chavs if from the south). There were loads of them getting totally wasted over the course of the afternoon and being twats in general.

Back to the bands. After the Zutons we had Feeder, who were average really. Nothing special there. Then came REM. They were very good, with Stipes prancing round the stage with a blue striped face (why?). I was singing along for the majority, although have yet to get into the songs from Around the Sun yet. They probably played a bit too much from Around the Sun, and I would have prefered to hear more from Reveal. Very annoyingly I didn't get to see the end of the set, because of the bloody trains. The last train back to Glasgow left Balloch far too early, so if you wanted to catch it you had to leave the concert just after the encore started. This meant we probably missed a good 20-25 minutes of music. Boo.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Best game ever!?

I've not made a post for a while, but have been spurred into action. What a game! Really, what a fucking game. I'm sure you know i mean the European Champions League Final between Liverpool and AC Milan. A game of two halves indeed. What were they playing at in the first half, but what did Rafa say to them for the second half? It was quite, quite amazing!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Gambling. Aren't we all losers in the end!

It's been a week since I lost a vast sum, well £20, in a foolish bet in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last Friday. My good friend James, who is very knowledgable in the ways of horse racing, gave four tips for the races. And very good they were. But I was greedy. Not content with betting on individual races or other such prudent courses of action, I put all my money on an accumulator. This meant I was banking all my money on all the horses placing in their races. There was big money up for grabs and I just saw the pound signs. All was going well for the first three races. Brewster came in third in the first race, my bet was still good. Then the excitment of the Gold Cup itself, when Kicking King produced an awesome victory for such a young horse. People were saying his time had come a year early. So two down and all's looking good, with Sleeping Night up next. Another victory for my horse. It's brilliant, there's just the one race left and I can practically smell the money - which is quite impressive since I was betting online and all the transactions were electronic. There's over an hour or so to wait for the next race, so I busy myself with work trying not to think of the extravagences I'll be spending my winnings on or the rounds I'll be able to buy everyone that evening. I'd been listening the to the previous races online, but for the final race I couldn't get any webcasts. On the BBC website I just had to keep clicking reload and hoping the results would be forthcoming. I was still confident though, my luck had been good so far, and surely Bongo Fury couldn't fail. Fifteen minutes after the race supposedly finished and the BBC still haven't updated the results, I'm getting quite anxious now. Then finally the page reloads and there they are - the results. I scan franitcally for Bongo Fury - not first (oh well I only need a place), not second (it's still good), not third (only one more chance now), not even fucking fourth! That's it, the money's gone, the bastard didn't even place. I was in shock, remorse filled me thinking of what I could have done with that £20 if invested wisely - that's eight pints that is. Oh well, I've learnt not to be quite so brash when making gambling decisions and am safe in the knowledge that I'll be more wise next year.

That was a week ago, but not much else has happened this week. Happy Easter one and all. Lets all remember Christ being nailed to a cross. Ah what a lovely image to have on so called Good Friday.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

King Kitson

Just writing with some more comedy info. I did indeed go to see the comdedian Daniel Kitson last night and he was hilarious. It was quite a marathon of a gig as it went on for almost 3 hours, not that anyone really minded as it was quality stuff and meant you definitely got your moneys worth. I almost didn't get to go as when I got to the venue the tickets were sold out. Luckily some foolish people didn't turn up so I got in in their place. Ha ha, the fools. Daniel Kitson is apparently a notoriously slow starter when you go to see him and he kept apologising to those in the audience who hadn't seen him before that there would be some jokes soon, honest. Even his slow build up was pretty damn good and many other comedians would be proud if their quality stuff was that good. When he did get into the main material it was non-stop laughter. I had seen him before at a comedy night at UCL, but that was about 6 years ago and only a shortish set. He's honestly gone from strength to strength and is now a comedy circuit must see.

That's enough eulogising about Daniel Kitson. I think it's time to go and drink some Guiness to keep St. Paddy happy.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Half a fist of fun

Last week saw the start of the Glasgow Comedy Festival. This is providing many comedy delieghts to see over the next couple of weeks and I plan to make the most of it - or at least as much as my bank balance will allow. On the first day of the festival (10th March) I went to see Stewart Lee (hopefully explaining to people the title of this blog entry). I'm pretty bad at writing reviews of stuff, but I can say that he was very funny. You to can witness just how funny when the DVD of the gig comes out as that was being filmed on the night, so you might even see my face popping up in the crowd. Quite a lot of the show revolved around 9/11 related stuff, so it wasn't entirely topical, but still funny. He also struck a good vein of comedy by ripping the piss out of the Scottish (or Scotch as he called them), which is quite brave in a room full of Glaswegians. We even got a special guest appearence from Kevin Eldon (if you don't recognise the name then you'd recognise the face as he's in just about every comedy sketch show/satire around) doing some poetry.

I will also be seeing the other half of the Lee and Herring comedy pairing when I go to see Richard Herring in a couple of weeks time. His show has recieved very good reviews so far. Other comedy I might go and see this week is Daniel Kitson. The last time I saw him he was very funny and has since been seen on the likes of Pheonix Nights. Bring on the laughs.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Your scientists need you

I should just mention that you can all do your bit to help me with my job of finding gravitational waves. Einstein@home is a program you can run on your own computer in the background or as a screensaver that will search for gravitational waves from neutron stars using real data, when it would otherwise be idleing. People may have heard about SETI@home which uses home PCs to search for extraterrestrial radio signals, well Einstein@home is better so there!

So go on do your bit and help the search.

Back to the blog

After a long time not posting anything throughout December I tried to see if I could go even longer without writing anything. And guess what, I managed it. I'll try to be more regular from now on, but I'm sure apathy will set in fairly soon if I don't have anything pressing to write about.

You must all be wanting to know what I've been up to in my sabbatical from blogging. You might expect that it was taken up working hard on the current big astrophysical problems and you'd be partly right except with the hard bit. A slight (well large) malaise has set in over the last few weeks where work is concerned due to affairs of the heart completely outweighing affairs of the head, leading to excess drinking. This has happened at a rather unlucky time in that I'll be having to think about writing up a thesis rather soon.

On the interesting astronomy front there's been quite a lot to talk happening recently. One of the things that has interested me was the observation of an extremely powerful gamma-ray burst (GRB) on 27th Dec 2004. This event originated from a magnetar (an extremely magnetic neutron star) in our galaxy and managed to saturate many spacecraft instruments and even slightly ionise the Earth's atmosphere. One interesting quote was that if this burst had happened within 10 light years of the Earth, it could have destroyed the ozone layer and caused a mass extinction - luckily it was about 50000 light years away on the oposite side of the galaxy. There's also been a fair bit in the news about methane on Mars being possibly the result of life, but I can't be arsed adding anything on that (maybe if someone wants to know I can put a link up).

That's it for now, i'll try not to have another competition with myself to see if I can outdo my last downtime.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Carlisle a no go

Hi all. Sorry about the lack of postings for the month, I've been a busy man. Well that's not quite true I've just lacked anything to say other than the completely mundane. I suppose I could have passed comment on what I did over christmas and new year, but was too busy not doing anything to go on the computer and type out an entry.

This weekend was supposed to see me heading down to Cumbria to see my friend Mike, but was slghtly disrputed by the very bad weather. I was going to travel down on the coach only to find that Carlisle was a "no go area" as it seemed to have been completely submerged. Mike also informed me that he couldn't even get out of his village due to flooding and a fallen tree blocking the road. All the rain was a bit too much for me so I spent most of the rest of the day in bed.

Oh, I forgot to say about the workshop I went to in mid-December. I was in Annecy by the French Alps for a four day meeting. Annecy seems a nice place although I really didn't get to see much of it as we were there for the meeting and no more. These meeting are normally times when I'd give a blog entry every day whilst sitting through the more boring of talks, but the internet connection was so frustratingly slow that doing anything on the web was a huge hassle. This was caused by about 120 people being routed through one socket and all trying to access the internet at once. Other than the talks (of which I had to give one) the food and wine were pretty good (as long as you weren't vegetarian). I was disappointed at the lack of snow on the mountains though. It just wasn't picturesque enough without the snow.

A bit of space news - the Huygens probe should be hitting Saturn's moon Titan on the 15th so watch out for that in the news. Also we are now in the World Year of Physics also known as Einstein Year so look out for all those physics related events which should be happening near you.