July 17, 2012

So, any readers I may still have have probably figured out that I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the ole’ blorg recently.

It’s not like I don’t have stuff to write about – I’ve been up to a lot in the past couple months. It’s that I haven’t had an excess of time and – perhaps more importantly – will.

The blog isn’t dead though – consider it in a state of cryogenic suspension, or perhaps slumbering at the bottom of the sea… waiting for the stars to be right.

That is not dead which can eternal lie, and in strange eons even death may die

In the meantime, here’s a picture of cats!


Real Favorite Music

April 28, 2012

So I’m almost totally at a loss for what do next in my research. This is not an unfamiliar state for me to be in. In fact I probably spend most of my time in it (it’s probably my ground state – harharhar, physics joke!). Sometimes you just need to sit and stare at a blank page in your notebook while the subconscious mind does it thing. Sometimes you need to go do something that occupies your immediate attention. Much like a dim star* insight is frequently best seen by not looking directly at where you think it should be. Most of my “breakthroughs” (if the meager progress I make in the course of my day could be called that, somewhat hyperbolic-ally) happen while I’m doing things like brushing my teeth, or going to the bathroom. This is how I justify saying that I’m working, while it may appear as if I’m just dickering with my iTunes playlists.

It was while doing just that, that I realized you can sort your playlist in order of how many times a song has been listened to! Somewhat trepidatiously, I clicked the button. Would I be aghast and shammed by my TRUE musical preferences. Would Lady GaGa beat out Blind Guardian and Bad Religion?

Well, I didn’t do so bad actually. Though the results were somewhat surprising:

#1.) 43 listens: End of Line (Photek Remix) – Daft Punk

I knew that I listened to this track a lot. I’ve even blogged about it before. But I didn’t realize I listened to it this much – far more than any other song, even. It’s kind of my “pump up” song, I guess.

Click here to listen. You may want to open in a new tab.

#2.) 27 listens: Willful Suspension of Disbelief – Modest Mouse

Odd that this song is so high up. I like Modest Mouse a lot and listen to them all the time, but this isn’t even one of my favorite songs by them. Don’t get me wrong – I do like it – just not as much as a lot of their other stuff. It’s the first track on an album I really like as a whole. Maybe I often put it on with the intention of listening to the whole thing, and then click it off? Eh, who knows.

#3.) 25 listens: Derezzed (The Glitch Mob Remix) – Daft Punk

Another surprising entry. And I think, perhaps, another beneficiary of the “First Song on an Album That I Really Like Effect”.

You know what to do.

#4.) 24 listens: Three way tie: Someone to Believe – Bad Religion, Bus Stop Boxer – Eels, So Much Beauty in Dirt – Modest Mouse

Bad Religion: This is just a cool song. Great lyrics. Energizing. Good message. Listen to it:

Oh, and in case you think it’s odd that an atheist punk rocker is singing about “believing”, the thing you’re supposed to believe in is yourself. Woah.

Eels: I always want to write “The Eels”, but they’re not “The Eels” they are just “Eels”. It’s odd I know. It’s an odd guy. Some trivia: he’s the son of the guy who invented the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Anyway, this song is haunting and beautiful and I’m not surprised I listen to it a lot:

Modest Mouse: Another track I’m not surprised I listen to a lot. A neat little song:

#5.) 23 listens: Three way tie: Flyswatter – Eels, Super Theory of Super Everything – Gogol Bordello, Benzin – Rammstein

Eels: Here they are again. This one doesn’t make you want to crawl into a hole as much as the last one. Here is the official music video:

Gogol Bordello: This has pretty much everything one could want out of a song: Irreverence, Raucousness, Physics References. This is kind of a weird “session” version of the song, but as a bonus you can see the lead singer’s righteous ‘stach. Someone in the youtube comments remarked that it “killed fascists”.


Rammstein: It’s about time this list got some metal. I like this song becuase I can actually understand a lot of the lyrics:

#6.) 22 listens: People are Strange – The Doors

The Doors: People ARE Strange…

Obviously this reflects only my recent musical tastes. Since the last time I installed iTunes, anyway. If this stretched all the way back to high school you would see a lot more Zep and Metal.

That’s all for now. Hope you found some cool new music.

* Old astronomy trick. Your peripheral vision is more sensitive to dim light than your direct vision.


April 24, 2012

Hello Interblogs,

I just turned 30 years old. I’m kind of ambivalent about it. My favorite present was a chef’s hat Petunia got me which I am currently wearing as I type away while my goulash simmers nearby. I got lots of other neat presents too, but I won’t so gauche as to list them all.

I managed to avoid a Logan’s Run type scenario. Which is fortunate, as I’m sure they hunters or whatever would have caught me. No way am I going to Carousel.

It was a weekend of celebration! Which was cool. The night before my birthday proper I had my “party” at a bar here where each table has its own beer tap and you pour your own beer. It records how much you drink and you just get charged by volume. There’s even TV screens in the bar that rank the tables according to which one has drank the most. The bar is a chain as well (based in Czech Republic (this is interesting since I was in Prague for my last b-day)) and the TVs also ranked the bars according to which ones have quaffed the most. Every once in a while people would cheer when Vienna moved up a place.

The beer tap and first beer.

The rankings at one point in the evening. Poor Wien gained a couple spots not too long after this. Only to plummet back down.

So, on my actual birthday, having stayed out into the deep recesses of the dark night previously, I was in a mood for a quiet day and evening. We “decided” to “go” to an Indian Restaurant we both like. We also decided we’d stop by a bar for a “quick drink before dinner”.

Of course it turned out Petunia had planned a surprise party there with about 20 people. I was totally ambushed. I remember walking in and thinking “Oh, my friends are here too. What a coincidence………. Oh!”

Hello Dear Readers,

I had been meaning to add a couple points of interest to my earlier New England Trip Post.

I love Chinese food, especially as it approaches “authenticity”* (never mind what happens in the limit). In this quest one oftentimes runs across foods that seem odd to the typical American. Here’s a page from the menu of a place in Boston’s Chinatown:

I tried the Crispy Sticky Milk. Here’s what it looked like:

It was some kind of gooified milk-like substance which was deep fried and served with a sweet sauce. Pretty good actually, more like a desert than an appetizer.

We took a train from New London to New York City.

Aside: Pro-tip: If you’re going to be hanging out in NYC with no hotel room, and don’t want to schlep your luggage around everywhere you go, it pays to have gotten there on Amtrak. You see, there is NO WHERE you can store your luggage in the city, due to fears of people trying to blow up luggage rooms, apparently. The single exception is that if you are an Amtrak customer, they will store your bags for you at a reasonable price. Apparently there are no other options than trying to bribe a bell-hop at a hotel or stashing them in the bushes at central park.

Anyway, back in train station in New London.

While waiting on our train to arrive, I perused some cards that some local school children had written for Coast Guard men and women who would be at sea during Valentines Day – which were hanging on the wall. Most were precisely what you would expect: a heart shaped piece of construction paper with some generic “Thank you for keeping us safe, I know you must miss your family, here is a crayon drawing of some flowers and/or Lady Gaga.” But there was one interesting variation on this formula:

Good work BDJMS!

Now there’s a kid with some imagination. Who wouldn’t want a card with a heart-bodied, buff, Wolverine-clawed, Valentines Vampire, dripping blood from his fangs?

No one. That’s who.

* A tricky concept, to be sure, I’ll leave its un-quotation-marked definition to the cultural anthropologists.

Instant Coffee

March 30, 2012

I walked into the kitchen at work today, and where the espresso machine usually sits there was a horrible void. It was extremely disquieting, specifically I believe I made a sound like “mrphf?!” I’m not even a huge coffee drinker, I never really touched the beverage at all before the influence of Petunia. Since then, plus the influence of Vienna, I’ve grown quite accustomed to it; though I typically only have one small cup of espresso in the mornings, around the time I break my fast.

In place of the machine (which has been producing inconsistent brew recently) was a container of instant coffee, comprised of thousands of tiny brown crystals. I eyed them suspiciously – they were clearly placed there to prevent an all-out rebellion (the “famous” mathematician Alfréd Rényi frequently said “A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems”* – the quote works equally well for physicists).

I decided I would try it, so I got some hot water and dumped in a few spoonfuls of dehydrated coffee gravel. I quite enjoyed watching the stuff dissolve – but that was where the enjoyment stopped. I tasted it. It was weak. I put more in, and… it tasted okay. I brought it back to my desk where it became incredibly sour and cigarette-butt-ish tasting.

Bleh. Are all instant coffees this bad, or did I just try a bad brand?

* This quote is commonly misattributed to the eminently quotable Paul Erdős. Also, an interesting insight from wikipedia: The sentence was originally in German, being a wordplay on the double meaning of the word Satz (theorem or residue of coffee).

I Can Be All Fancy Too!

March 20, 2012

So my friends over at after dinner sneeze have been posting wine reviews.


I want to show that I can also be sophisticated! Here’s my wine review:

Dark Horse Blood Wine:

Pretty metal \m/. A friend of Petunia (and I) brought it back from Serbia for us. Which was very nice of her.

I would say that it’s thicker than most red wines. And… good? It tastes good. I mean I like it. Also, it has hints of oak and cherrywood.*

Aforementioned friend said there was also a “Bear’s Blood Wine” which she said she would bring back for us next time. Rock on.

* I don’t even know what this means.

How did I spend my St. Patrick’s Day this year? What wild hijinks did I get myself into at one of the many “Irish” bars around Vienna?

Well, I sat at home, read science fiction novels, and drank green* tea. I had a blast.

Currently I’m reading “Redemption Ark”. It’s pretty badass. I described it to Petunia as “Imagine H.P. Lovecraft was an astrophysicist.” The deep-space, hyper-technological, paranoiac horror has toned down a bit since the first chapter – but it’s still a strong under-current.