Sunday, October 31, 2010

sharp practice

I don't like shaving, but I don't want a beard either. It would be too itchy and probably ugly as well.

I have read the short book "sharp practice" by Anders Larsen. The book was a history of shaving and also a good manual on different techniques for shaving. Some of the sections on the history of shaving looked like they were copied of the Internet, but he told some good stories. I liked one where he fell asleep in a barber's chair, and the barber shaved all his hair off.

The book was particularly good for learning how to use a cut throat razor. The reality is that I don't have time to properly learn how to use one. Also, it would be a problem to take a cut throat razor in my hand luggage. Still I used to like looking at the cut throat razors in the shops around Manchester Piccadilly railway station.

I would look so cool shaving with a cut throat razor - much more of a man than now, when I shave with a wimpy Gillette Fusion. And I would save money, given the high cost of the fusion blades.


n the past, my understanding of wine was summed up by the phrase: "I would rather have a beer". I do know that I should have red wine with meat and white wine with fish, because this was covered in the film "From Russia with Love."

Occasionally I get invited to people's homes for a meal, so I bring a bottle of wine. I do find it stressful to chose the wine, because I have no idea, what is considered a good wine. In an attempt to educate myself, I ordered from Amazon the book "I don't much about wine, but I know what I like" by Simon Woods. The book gives a number of hints about wine. I don't want to become a wine snob. I now know that screw tops are not as bad as I thought, before reading the book.

Now I am tempted to get a case or two of wine from Amazon.

The secret ascension

I think I have read most of Philip K. Dick's novels. So how I am going to keep the paranoia going? Luckily Michael Bishop wrote "the secret ascension" that is written in the style of Philip K Dick and actually features Dick as a character from another reality. As you would expect there is an alternative reality, but also stories of normal folk, who are just trying to survive.


For a long time I resisted taking photographs. I prefered to let the memory of the scene stay in my brain with no artificial reminders. It is also now almost impossible to walk around any tourirst site, because everyone is taking millions of pictures with their digital cameras, and you don't want to get in their way.

I now of course sometimes take pictures. They do brigten up my blog. My technique is to take a picture when I see something I like, or some scene I can weave into a blog posting. I don't do any planning of the visual aspects.

At my mum's house there was a book called "Creative photography" by David Kilpatrick from Marks and Spencer publishing. The book was full of tips and techniques and frankly an eye opener. I will think more about foregrounds and backgrounds. I have even looked at the instructions of my camera so that I could learn about the zoom.


I have so much to do, but today I have been distracted. It is Halloween and Satan is tempting me. I miss the sound of fireworks, as children in the Uk get ready for Guy Faulkes day, by throwing fireworks at strangers.

I was planning on learning hypnosis today, but I am even too apathetic to do that.

The one downside of living by a forest is that it gets depressing when the trees lose their leaves. Ok, so perhaps the new colors are pretty, but it looks so bleak and barren when I look out and see through empty branches to a big road.

I have tried to read some uplifting poetry on the internet, but "Gacela of the Dark Death" by Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca made me feel worse.

The Girl who played with Fire

A month ago I finished reading "The Girl who played with Fire" by Stieg Larsson. This is a very popular thriller based on the exploits of Lisabeth Salander .

Lisabeth had a hammer, a can of mace, and some condoms in her bag. Why can't I meet a chick like that? She likes computers too.

After I had told my German teacher that I liked the books by Stieg Larsson, she asked if I dreamed of blood. Luckily I didn't mention that I sometimes read the work by Marquis de Sade.

What is science education for ?

After the many and continuing crisis in the funding of physics in the UK, I have been reading more about science policy.

A couple of weeks ago I finished a books of essays called "What is science education for" . The book was a series of essays prompted by the introduction of some new science GCSE in schools. There was a tension between educating non-scientists and those who wanted to do science at a University level. I am now of the opinion that we need better science educated politicians.

All this worrying about particle physics in the UK will probably affect future relationships. If we are shopping for engagement rings, and my partner says "diamonds are a girl's best friend", I am likely to respond with "I fucking hate Diamond -- it keeps stealing money from particle physics" .


I have been trying to learn German again. It turned out that there was a free lunch time course at the University. So for two hour and half seesions per week, I try to master Deutsch. The course is a well hidden secret, because there are two students from chemistry and three people from our physics research group in the class.

At the end of the last semester the class was tested for the A2 level. Someone in the EU has standardized the tests for different languages. To cut a long story short. I failed the test. I was the only person who failed. I did all the homeworks and studied for the exam. The exam was actually an order of magnitude harder than the homeworks. Two days after the exam, I went to a meeting in Graz, so I was also writing a talk, and I couldn't do a last minute push.

Anyway, excuses, excuses. So it is just me and the bottle tonight, so time for some shots.....

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Second day in Sarajevo

Frankly I had seen most of the old town on the first day of my visit to Sarajevo. So on the second day, I decided to visit a museum. There were two museums close to the railway station.

I should have taken a tram, but it was such a hassle to buy a ticket. Anyway I walked by the tram lines that also followed the river. It was a bit of a boring walk with standard buildings, after I left the old town area. It started to rain.

I wasn't entirely sure that I was going in the correct direction, so I was happy to see signs for the museums. The signs seem to point over the over the river, so over there I trudged in the miserable rain. But then there were no more signs and the area looked residential. So back over the river I went, and I continued my journey to the train station.

I finally did see the museums. I chose to go into the one about the history of the Sarajevo. On a web page somewhere I had read that the was some dispute as to who pays for the museums. ands indeed it did seem slightly run down. The entrance was run by a family.

Everything was in a one big room. There was a lot of historical stuff that showed that Bosnia was a separate country with a long history. This is a big deal, because both Serbia and Croatia have recently wanted to swallow up Bosnia. Before this trip I was slightly cynical about whether Bosnia was a separate nation (based on no facts I might add). I was more convinced by the museum and additional reading that I did. The museum also had exhibits about the siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995. This was really tough on people of Sarajevo. One of perhaps many complaints of them was was that there was an arms embargo, but that only stopped the countries that didn't have large stock piles, such as Bosnia. (There was a Star Trek episode that explained this to me). There were some home made guns on display.

Outside the museum there was kind of small fair. There was a stage with traditional singing, and people doing various fun sporting activities, such as playing table tennis. The rain had stopped so people were smiling. Also there were people in military uniforms teaching the kids to punch pads and use padded sticks. I wanted to do some boxing as well, but I only knew how to say "thank you" in Bosnian, and not "I want to punch my fist through people's heads".

The museums were near the American embassy. There was some kind of fair being set up, sponsored by Redbull, involving tram tracks. I had some chips and a beer at a restaurant near the railway station, and then walked back to the old town.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Stray dogs and cats

There were a lot of stray dogs and cats in Sarajevo. As far as I can tell in Wuppertal, most people have about 3 dogs each, unless they work in the theory group, when they own 2 cats. I was shocked to see animals on their own in Sarajevo, especially given how fast the cars drive. To prove this I show a picture of cat. I think the cat wanted to be friend (if I ad food of course).


I was walking around Sarajevo. I saw another interesting building. In the window I saw the apple log. This most be the coolest Apple store in the world.

Evening in Sarajevo

Obviously like many people I travel to broaden the mind and try new experiences. So that is my excuse for drinking so much local beer in Sarajevo. My tourist map did show where the brewery was, but I thought that was going too far.

There was alcohol available in Sarajevo but it is not a place with a lot of drinking dens. Most people sat outside cafes with a coffee.