Friday, September 30, 2005

Courtney has gone home

It is hard to be sad for Courtney when she is going home to the states with a huge grin on her face (but I can be sad that she isn't here with me). I am really happy that she is getting to go back, and especially that she has turned in a final version of her dissertation to her advisor. By the end of the day she will be in the land of plenty, with strip malls and Starbucks enough to satisfy her deepest desires. I am sad that I am still over here, but this is how things are working out. I will be in Washington DC soon enough—Halloween—and then all will be right with the world.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Busy Day

Sorry I didn't get around to posting yesterday. It was extremely busy. I was working on fractals in the morning, and around three I started helping Courtney with her dissertation. She printed out her three copies to hand in to her examiners, and I printed out her color pages. Then at five o'clock we headed over the our Polish friends, Voltec and Sylvia, for an early snack, which turned out to be two suppers. At seven we headed down to Bell rock house for dinner with Jen and Jamey, who will be heading to DC in a couple of months time like us. We ate again, this time with Jamey at the helm. We topped off an excellent day with an episode of the Office. Man, what a good time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hell just froze over

And maybe that is a good thing, since it might reverse global warming. It must be a snowy day down there for GW to suggest that people conserve gasoline, while for years he said that exploiting the ANWR will cure our energy needs.

Monday, September 26, 2005

It never gets old

I am really glad that there are tremendous numbers of scientists out there whose job it is to dispel myths and fight for fact. Because they will always be hammered by people with exceptionally small minds. If the scientists were not as adamant and resolute in their convictions, then I am sure the battle would become tiresome, and seem impossible to win. I salute those scientists, and the ACLU for fighting for facts.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Doctor Tool

I am sitting here watching Doctor Who. My god, what a crappy show. Poor dialogue and crappy acting. Special effects that seem like they could have been done on a home computer and a complete lack of sophistication. I can see this passing for science fiction in 1960, but today? This is just another example of British media being infinitely inferior to US. It isn't universally true, but in general it is.

Greedy? Sounds right.

In this article, comments from Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. certainly make him sound pretty greedy to me. He first says that online music distribution should raise its prices (and complicate the distribution) to charge more for certain songs, but then he also mentions that he wants to share in iPod revenue streams. What the hell is that about? Did the music industry get a cut from CD equipment manufacturers? Or tape players? That is a bit ridiculous. Then he says that he wants to get out of contracts with satellite radio and to charge them more for music. Sounds greedy to me.

"Bring out your dead (stuff)!"

Courtney is flying away on Friday morning, and Bernie and Diar are moving in tonight. I will be here until the end of October, but Courtney and I are trying to get rid of all our stuff before we leave. Courtney has paid MailBoxes Etc. to ship some of her stuff home, and she will fly with some stuff, but over all we still have loads of stuff we will leave here. Tim just picked up a box of paper, printer, books, etc. that we didn't need. And we have an ad up at Tesco for some of our furniture. Man, it is not easy to declutter.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Slow Saturday

Not much going today. Courtney just left for her second shift at work. Maybe I should feel bad that I send my girlfriend off to work as I stay at home for a life of leisure. Oh well. Might as well get used to it. Went to the gym and not much else.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Courtney and I just went to Leuchars and picked up Tim, the new Marshall Scholar at St. Andrews. He seems pretty nice. We got him into his flat at Angus House, and tonight we are having him and Garry over for dinner. That should be fun. Both of them probably will be here for the next three years, so it will be good for them to meet.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Mike Huckabee for President?

There is a nice article in the Arkansas Times about the possibility of Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee running for president. I for one would like to see him do it. I think I prefer Huckabee to many republicans (though not John McCain). He seems like he really is compassionate, as opposed to some other republicans.

New Website!

OK. I have put some more stuff on my website Ben Hood. Take a look at it.

Feeling sick

Well, when I woke up this morning I felt pretty bad. Sore throat and headache, etc. So, I have decided to work from home today. Courtney went to Boots and bought me a bunch of medicine, so hopefully I will be feeling better by noon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

.mac Family Pack

I just ordered the .mac family pack from Amazon. It is only $150, about $30 cheaper than at Apple. With this, I can give four other people in my family online space to put up pictures and movies of my nieces and nephews. I am super excited about it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Margaret and Mattie away!

I just drove Margaret and Mattie to the airport this morning. I have driving that road to Glasgow about six times in the last week. I think I could do it in my sleep, which at times this morning, I did. Well, M&M are away now, in the air flying towards Chicago. Mattie was happy when I left, so if she starts crying it is Margaret's fault. Oh, and Garry is going to take my fiance Courtney to a Ceilidh. I think he is trying to move in on my girl.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Where are you guys?

Well, I have reworked my astronomy report a little bit that I have to send to Sara Seager, and I haven't gotten any comments back from anybody! Is that because all of you are too lazy to e-mail me? Or, well, I guess this could be the case: is there no one out there reading my blog? I am now crying a single tear (like the Indian in that commercial)…

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Long Time

Sorry for such a long time since my last post. I just got back into town last night after taking my parents and sister and niece up to Ullapool for a few days. We stayed at a cabin on Little Loch Broom and the family went onto Skye one day. I will update a little bit more later, but I am beat. We had to take my parents to the airport this morning at 7 am, and we have to do that again on Tuesday with Margaret. Baby Mattie is so cute.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mom and Dad are here

Courtney and I headed over to Glasgow Airport this morning at 7 am with Kallie. We got her checked in and then we met my parents, who were getting off the flight Kallie was getting on. We all sat and had some coffee, and then sent Kallie on her way. We picked up our rental car (hella cheap rental car, only £92 for seven days on a full-size!) and then drove back here to Saint Andrews. Now, they are napping, as old people are want to do.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Baby Mattie is sick

Baby Mattie has a 103° temperature. She is probably going to be just fine, but since Margaret was supposed to fly with her tonight here to Glasgow, her temperature was enough to ground her. So, we have rebooked Margaret and Mattie on a flight on Tuesday night. Mom and Dad will be here tomorrow morning, however, and they don't know this yet, but they will be staying here a couple of nights, while we wait for Margaret and Mattie. She is such a smiling baby. I hope she isn't too upset about the fever.


No time to write yesterday. David and his friend Paul came up from London to get David's stuff. Now Kallie is nearly packed up also. We are keeping some boxes for a friend named Molly for the next week, and when those are out, the apartment will be pretty clean. I am packing stuff up for my parents to take home. They will be on a flight tonight and in Glasgow by tomorrow morning. Man, I won't know what to do with all this space.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Home early

I know a fire is (nearly) never a cause for celebration, but some fire in Dundee cut off our network connection, which means I get to come home early and work from home. Yay! It really means that I will pack up some trunks for my folks to take home to the US when they get here next week.


I am an enormous dork but I think this High Definition footage of the shuttle lifting off is a beautiful sight. Anyone who has a quick internet connection, and a reasonably fast computer can take a look at the stunning quality of HD (just download QuickTime 7, now in final form on Windows). And NASA particularly shows it off well.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

t-mobile sucks

Yesterday I started getting texts on my t-mobile telephone about news stories. I didn't sign up for these, so I didn't understand why they were coming. Well, apparently, you can sign up for news texts pretty easily (and I guess this happened when the phone was jostled around in my bag), but to stop the texts (I hope), you have to send a text to 3030 with a code word and the word stop. So, "stop UK news" to 3030. Of course, you can't just select a menu item in your phone, like you can to sign up for the service. No, that would be easy. Bastards. I don't know how much they have just charged me for that crappy service.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

eBay Listing

Courtney and I have put up an eBay listing of one of my pictures of Jack Nicklaus on his final round at the British Open this year. We have framed it in a mahogany-ish frame and included are two rare 5 pound bank notes featuring the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and Jack Nicklaus. You can see some more pictures of the photograph and notes.

iPod Nano

Apple has just released a new iPod, the iPod Nano. It is flash based and comes in 2GB or 4GB versions. It looks super cool.

40 year-old virgin

As a 40 year-old virgin, I have nothing but heaps of praise to foist upon this movie of the same name. It was funny but not rude, romantic but not mushy, and the main protagonist was a dynamic character with very likeable traits. He was also spot on, I think, for a 40 year-old virgin, from the choice of sheets to the shelf of action figures still in box. Well written, well acted. This is a tremendously funny movie, and well worth the £4 my girlfriend paid for me to see it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Yay! I found a plane ticket home for £252! That is pretty good, I think. It is about $450, and I can spare that to get home. That will take me to Washington DC, and then I will need to find a flight to Arkansas the next week for Trulie's Wedding. I get to go home!

Stupidest little things

Sometimes I let the stupidest little things upset me. And it doesn't really matter at all. Oh well. Who cares if we use leap seconds or not? Apparently me.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Kaiser Chiefs

Just downloaded a great album from iTunes, Employment from Kaiser Chiefs. I like it. Nothing too hard. Very catchy.

Veneer of Civilisation

"How quickly the thin veneer of civilisation can be stripped away."
—The Daily Mail in London


I just iChatted with my brother, who is a doctor in Shreveport, Louisiana. He is afraid that when it is all said and done, there will be tens of thousands of people dead in New Orleans. Gods. I hope he is overestimating, but I guess it is not an outlandish number. What a tragedy.

Casino Party!

We did a kick-ass casino party back in February for my birthday, and we are thinking about doing another one this Saturday. It will be a combination party for Courtney and I getting engaged, and a send-off bash for Kallie and David, who will be leaving for good this weekend. Fun will be had by all.

Fine Monday morning

Well, it is back to the grind. Courtney came back yesterday, and we had a nice tea with Ms. Anna Roth and Ms. Lorna Walker. We are talking about putting up an engagement webpage. I will probabaly check out GoDaddy for some good names. Then we can put all our pictures and registry information in one place. WooHoo! Anything to not do astronomy.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Bush and Science

There is a great article in the NYTimes today about Bush and Science, and specifically his science advisor. Take a look at it. I think it shows that scientists are somewhat naive about science in society. They think that there is always a right and wrong answer, and that since they are smartest, they know the right answer, and others don't. At least that is how I think about the world.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Courtney is back tomorrow!

Yay! However, have I done enough astronomy yet? No. So, I will go into the office tomorrow morning, and try to get some stuff finished, or at least started.

$100 Billion

A insurance company recently suggested that the devastation of Hurricane Katrina would cost around $100 Billion dollars. That is a nearly unfathomable number. It is more than twice the gross domestic product of Costa Rica. I wonder how much prevention would have cost, perhaps rebuilding the levees to better handle hurricanes, or better yet, creating a system which would work with nature instead of trying to dominate it.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Well, I have been doing a shed-load of work lately. I made a new movie, which shows a variation over incident angle and the value of flux at all emergent angles and phis. I hope that makes sense to someone. Hopefully that someone includes me.

Revamped website

For everyone out there (hey, Ben, maybe Rivers if he gets bored) who is checking this space, I put up a new webpage. It is pretty bare, but it links to most of the information that I have up on the web. I might play with it a little bit more later. Right now I am worried about learning about Fortran code, but there will come a time when I can learn about CSS.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Report!

If anyone is interested in Monte Carlo radiative transfer modeling in extrasolar planets, then have I got a webpage for you! Really, if anyone knows anything about this stuff, then feel free to leave a comment and I will contact you. It is good to hear from people with similar interests. Um. Yeah.

New graph!

Well, I just finished up a program to tile a fractal cloud model onto the surface of a planet. You can check out some of the output on this webpage. It still needs a lot of work before I am convinced I didn't do anything wrong.

That explains it!

Well, the controversy about evolution in the US makes so much more sense when you view it through the eyes of morons. Or, scientifically illiterate citizens. Jon Miller seems to know a lot about scientific literacy in the US, or the lack thereof.