Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Dear Stan Nonin

Tempted as I am by the offer of $50 to buy this blog, and slack as I have been updating it, I am sorry but I do not wish to accept.

Yours,

Alex




Dear poor neglected readers,

I am very sorry, perhaps I will post an update soon, but I am not making any promises.

Alex

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lewes Bonfire

This was parked right infront of the police Garage!


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Friday, October 19, 2007

My skis have arrived!

I sent them by ship on September the 5th. Next up about 100kg of books!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Netherburn

My grandparents used to live in St. Andrews, but they left over 20 years ago, and I haven't been back since I was five or six years old.  I was looking for their old house, called "Netherburn", and was cycling along the little path which I thought lead to it 
when I suddenly reached this spot:



I actually made a little recording a few minutes later that I will try to upload if I can figure out how, but here was what I said:

I just had the most surreal experience.  I was looking for Netherburn, and I knew it was along this path, and just as I arrived at this point, I suddenly had this really wierd feeling, like my heartbeat suddenly sped up, and I had this tingly feeling all over and I stopped, and I knew that this was it.  I haven't been back here since I was five, but sure enough, just down the road, this was Netherburn.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hokkaido trip photos

Uploading as I write, but take a look here for pictures from hokkaido.

Hong Kong


I'm in Hong Kong for a couple of days stopover.  Its raining pretty hard, I think we're on the edge of a typhoon.  I hope that doesn't cause any problems for tomorrow night's flight.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Preview of things to come...


My trip to Hokkaido:
  • The craziest youth hostel in Japan (all singing, all dancing).
  • Russian roulette meals with a Gary Oldman lookalike.
  • Hiking with the Hokkaido Bush Pig.
  • Some great pictures, some great people, some good times.
More to come, now I'm in Sapporo, just been drinking duty free cognac with a guy who used to play with general MacArthur's son as a kid.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Moving on...



I'm sorry (as usual) for the lack of recent updates. I have some great photos, but I haven't had the chance to upload them yet. I'm in the middle of trying to get my stuff sorted before leaving. Fortunately I had the foresight to leave a whole month between finishing work and my next job, so I think I have more or less enough time to get things in order, and if I am really lucky I might have a bit of holiday as well!

This is a photo of a cicada shedding its skin taken in Nagano-ken at the end of July.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

There's nothing quite like playing in a typhoon

 


Getting sunburnt and rained on at the same time is an exhilarating experience.

More photos here.

Sadly this will be my last Tajima ultimate with the Kinki Trolls, but it has been a lot of fun.
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Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good News

I got the Job! I will be working in St Andrews from October!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tragedy strikes

My computer died! I am gutted. It was so nice.

I think the video card overheated or something, but fortunately I am slightly sensible and recently set up a daily backup system onto my external drive. (Do it kids, you will be thankful.) It did work for a bit (sort of, only in safe mode 640*480) once I let it cool off so I was able to salvage most other things that I needed, but I am going to miss it's big widescreen and surprisingly good speakers.

I opened it up to have a look inside, which didn't help at all, but I must say I am quite impressed with the way Dell puts together their laptops. Everything fits together very neatly and its very easy to dismantle, there are even little tabs to help you pull out connectors. So I bought another one, but it's one of those lightweight jobbies, so it won't be so good for watching DVDs on.

It seems you can't necessarily count on successfully installing English Windows on a Japanese machine, and the only English ones they have at the big electronics shop in the city centre are Sonys priced to completely rip off tourists. If I was really dedicated I could have got a japanese one, but I have a feeling that might have been quite frustrating.

In other news, I have another job interview soon at a well known golf-centric Scottish university with family connections (both royal and mine), though I probably won't be coming back to the UK again for it. Hmm. maybe if I do a bit of work soon I might improve my future employment prospects, there's a thought!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sorry for the lack of posting...

No camera at the moment, so its not quite so easy to put up lazy entries.

I'm off to Houston in a couple of days for a conference, I haven't been to the states since I was six years old. Wonder if anything's changed?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Well the Tibetan throat singing during the interview was quite an unconventional move...

...but in general I think it went ok. Let's wait and see.

Update: Well unfortunately I didn't get the job. I came a close second apparently. I know the guy who got it quite well, he is a very nice chap, and I'm sure deserved it. They said lots of nice things about me so I'm sure something will turn up eventually.

The tibetan throat singing wasn't a problem though from what I heard!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Beyond Belief 2006

There is a lot of very interesting stuff from this grand gathering of the atheists, videos of which have been put online on their website.

Session 7 has Richard Dawkins on second, but the first speaker was very interesting, especially when talking about the implicit associations test. (Go to 23:19).



Another good moment here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Back in the U of K!

I have some good news! I have not one but two job interviews lined up, on the 29th of March and the 5th of April.

I'll be back then from the 23rd to the 7th! And since I have a round number which shall not be named birthday coming up just afterwards I am thinking of having some sort of get together, maybe in london, on the 30th or 31st.

If you can come, leave a comment!

Monday, February 26, 2007

On the cult of genius in physics

A very good post at Cosmic Variance:
...During high school or college, many aspiring physicists latch onto Feynman or Einstein or Hawking as representing all they hope to become. The problem is, the vast majority of us are just not that smart. Oh sure, we’re plenty clever, and are whizzes at figuring out the tip when the check comes due, but we’re not Feynman-Einstein-Hawking smart. We go through a phase where we hope that we are, and then reality sets in, and we either (1) deal, (2) spend the rest of our career trying to hide the fact that we’re not, or (3) drop out. It’s always bugged the crap out of me that physicists’ worship of genius conveys the simultaneous message that if you’re not F-E-H smart, then what good are you? In physics recommendation land, there is no more damning praise than saying someone is a “hard worker”.

Well, screw that. Yes, you have to be clever, but if you have good taste in problems, an ability to forge intellectual connections, an eye for untapped opportunities, drive, and yes, a willingness to work hard, you can have major impacts on the field. ...


But I'm pretty bad when it comes to figuring out the tip at the end of a meal!

But seriously, this is definitely an issue, especially at the undergraduate level I think. I do have the feeling though that this is a particularly anglo-saxon problem. I may be overgeneralising from my own experience, but it seems to me that in continental Europe and Japan there is less of an expectation that you have to be an ├╝ber-genius to make any useful contribution. This may be because there is a bit more of a hierarchical system in these countries, and there are plenty of top professors to point to that are very much not Feynman-level brainiacs, though they all have something going for them, be it political cunning or just good luck and initiative.

I do wonder as well how likely it is that the people you pegged as future stars early on will actually end up there. I wouldn't be surprised if we are pretty bad at predicting future winners.

(N.b. this is all an attempt to play down expectations for my future nobel prize, in case you were wondering.)

Update: A nice followup from Chad Orzel.

Frisbee tournament, Wakayama prefecture

From Wakayama Ultimate 24-25 Feb 2007


I had a great weekend playing frisbee in the freezing cold just south of Osaka. The stranded shark is at the place we were staying, a sort of kid's holiday camp with all sorts of cool facilities, including a pizza oven! What was even more awesome was they had a place for making a campfire, and loads of wood, and they gave us newspaper and matches to set one going! My little pyromaniac heart was set all a glow, quite literally. And we got that fire going with just two matches I'll have you know.

Pity we lost most of the frisbee games, but it was good fun all the same.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cabaret on YouTube - Ysabellabrave

Cabaret is one of my favorite karaoke songs (as my friends know only too well), and here it is sung by the beautiful and talented Ysabellabrave, whom I just discovered on YouTube, though apparently she has been causing quite a stir in the world wide web for a while now (in a good way!).



Update: A comment from the Diva herself almost immediatedly! She sure knows how to charm the audience!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Random thought about the universe

Suppose the universe is just a big simulation being run by superintelligent beings on a huge computer. What if quantum mechanics is essentially a compression artefact?

A lot of the wierd effects you get come from the fact that elementary particles are indistinguishable. Maybe its because the aliens didn't get quite enough grant money to buy the top of the range computer with enough memory?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Yakushima








For more photos click here.

Update: and here.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shocking!

I just got an electric shock! Usually its only 100V in Japan, but I managed to pick the special 200V three-phase outlet.

I'm OK though, apart from the strange new ability to see through clothes.
 
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