Sunday, 30 September 2012

Accommodation and the Provision Thereof

So I've finally found a permanent place to stay here in Australia.  I signed the lease on Thursday, and move in next week.

Once I've settled in, I'll be able to enjoy living in my own place for the first time in a month; but if you consider all the stress I had during my last month in Vancouver, it's really longer than that.  I still need to convince myself that my new place is home, but I've done that before and it shouldn't be too hard.

All this leaves me with no more excuses about getting work done; nor for blogging.  I have several things in the mix, including the long-postponed review of Crawl that's about one-third done.  I hope it will be a productive Spring and Summer!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Michael O'Hare Dies

Apparently, Michael O'Hare, who played Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5 among other roles, has died today after suffering a heart attack on Monday.

I'm a huge Babylon 5 fan.  I got into the show at the right age, when I was an undergraduate, though by then the show had actually finished and I was catching repeats.  And I always preferred Sinclair to Sheridan.  It's not that I disliked Sheridan (and I have a lot of respect for Bruce Boxleitner, after seeing his contribution to the DVD extras).  But Sinclair seemed more interesting as a character; more of a diplomat, while Sheridan was more of a warrior.  It's common to criticise O'Hare's acting in the role, but I never had a problem with it.  And one thing that he could do better than Boxleitner was deliver speeches, a useful trait on that show.

Plus, whatever complaints might be raised about O'Hare during the first season can't really hold to his return as a guest in the third.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Romney's Video

I imagine you've already seen the recent news about Romney's speech at a fundraiser that was secretly recorded.  It's all kind of depressing.  Not that he would hold such views; I may have called Romney the least evil of the Republican candidates, but that's very much damning with faint praise.  Not to mention that the idea that a rich business owner who'd outsourced jobs and paid little in tax should look down on the poor is less shocking, more expected.

It's not that Romney has defended his views once they've been made public.  That was pretty much forced; apologising would appear weak without convincing anyone.

No, what depresses me is that it probably doesn't matter.  The Republican base will, if anything, think better of him for this.  And swing voters either don't care, won't remember or won't even notice.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

ID Problems

I've been in Australia for two weeks now.  Much as I expected, the stress and worry I was feeling prior to the move evaporated almost as soon as I got here.  That's not to say that looking for a permanent place to stay and wading through the new-job bureaucracy has been easy, but it hasn't put me on edge to nearly the same degree.

One thing that has come up is the issue of ID.  I'm not sure if I just had good luck in North America, but the requirements here for apartments or phone contracts seem perverse.  In general, I'm poorly disposed to any demands more stringent than I needed to enter the bloody country.  But it seems to be popular to use a points-based system where a passport is only half the required number of points.  When I inquired about a mobile phone contract yesterday, I was told I would need:

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Race for the White Pillow

Back in March, I wrote a couple of blog posts about the Republican presidential primary for the US.  If you'd asked me then, I probably would have expected I'd write a lot more about that election.  But as the months have passed, I've found myself pretty uninterested in the whole affair.

You might say that's not too strange, since as a Brit I don't get to vote.  But the 2004 and 2008 elections grabbed my attention throughout the whole messy campaign.  Of course, I was living in the US back then; but I wasn't in a swing state and saw few adverts or other campaign literature.  I wasn't watching the national news, but looking things up online.  I went out of my way to get information, especially in 2008.  This time around I find it hard to care.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Way back at the beginning of August, I spotted a paper proposing a new experiment: LEP 3.  This struck me as somewhat amusing; you see, LEP—the Large Electron Positron collider—was the predecessor to the LHC.  When LEP finished its second run, it was dismantled and the LHC built in its tunnel.1  But the idea is serious, from the people at CERN no less.

To understand why, we need to consider the fundamental difference of the LHC and LEP.  As the name states, LEP collided electrons and positrons (anti-electrons).  The LHC collides protons.  There are two relevant differences: protons are much heavier, but are composite objects made up of quarks and gluons, while we believe electrons to be fundamental.  These have the consequence that the LHC (and similar proton machines) can reach higher energies, but with less precision.

Thursday, 6 September 2012


So.  I've made it to Melbourne.

So far there's nothing about this city to mark it any different from the rest of the English speaking world, but I expected that; such is the nature of globalisation.  And I've barely explored the place, just a few areas around the University.  No killer spiders so far!

Also as I expected, I feel much happier to have finished my travelling without incident.  Even with all the quarantine warnings, the Australian customs and immigration services were friendly (if a little slow).  I flew through LAX, and was questioned more closely by the Americans just for that short trip.  Of course, saying that immigration officials are nicer than the US is very much a low bar to pass; I had to pass through less security to enter a UK naval base than to enter the US!

The one big shock has been the prices here, which are pretty high.  Also, there's one obvious thing that marks being in a different country, the money.  The Australian 2 dollar coin is one of the smallest, which is just weird (compare the Canadian toonie or the UK two pound coin).  But in all, I am feeling optimistic about the next year or three I'll be spending here.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


I'm currently sitting in Vancouver airport (yay for free wifi!) waiting to board the plane that will take me away from Vancouver for the last time.

It's always very hard for me when something comes to an end.  I've enjoyed the last three years, settled into a nice routine and made more than a few friends.  I've come to think of this place as home, to a degree I haven't really felt since Cambridge.

But the time has come for me to move on.  My job in Vancouver was always temporary, so I knew this day would arrive.  That doesn't make it any easier.  For the last few weeks, I've often done something and noticed that I will never do that thing in quite the same way.  Throw in the stress involved in trying to get all the packing and shipping finished, and I've felt less than sanguine.

Beginnings are easier.  So once I make it to Australia, I expect to feel better.  Sure, there are still lots of things I will need to do (like find an apartment), but with a better frame of mind and less of a hard deadline I should be less stressed with it all.