Yearly Archives: 2011

Monthly Notices (Vol. 1)

But not the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ;) Anyway, I always publish in Astronomy and Astrophysics… Sorry for the bad astronomical joke… (If you can call this a joke…) But as I had no posts recently on the blog, I have to admit there is no better title for this entry. And this might get more and more common in the future, as my motivation for blogging is lower and lower these days.

Starting with a reference to A&A was not completely accidental, as I spent November and the beginning of December working hard to finish my second first-author paper, which I will submit to the mentioned journal in January. I spent several evenings at the Institute to meet my internal deadlines, but it was not that difficult (the stress is on the relative difficulty, I am not complaining that I had not enough pressure or tasks to deal with), as November is the low season in cycling (which means that I basically did not ride at all), so I had nothing else to do. Now the paper is basically 99% finished, and my supervisors – and me too – are very happy with the work I have done. We still need to wait for the final comments from the rest of my co-authors (I have already received two very positive ones with only minor comments to consider), but then it should not take more than a week of work before I can really submit after the Holidays. So I expect to have a second paper by the time I turn 27. Damn, I am getting old…

No matter how much work I have, I do not work on the weekends, this is one of my principles. This way I could join my friends to Bredene (where we played board games, had a great walk along the nice coast of Belgium across high grass and sand dunes in the wind – unluckily I expected crappy weather so I had only my phone with me to take pictures with, instead of my DSLR -, and we went to the concert of the Symfonisch Orkest van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel in which Ilse plays the French horn), help Tijl in building his terrace, play FIFA12 online (sometimes I rock, sometimes I suck, it really depends on how much I can concentrate, so now I do not play it anymore after midnight), and watch Rules of Engagement (thanks to Clio’s suggestion), which is really great (and especially Season 5 is hilarious).

After I was done with the paper, I had time to do other things too. First of all I took part in our programming battle at work (no results yet – update from January, 2012: I won 2 out of the 4 categories, the precision, and the length (so the shortness) -, but it was a nice task to solve, and I did it using python of course), then – maybe I had a bit too much time in my hands – I have written a small code to do N-body simulations in 3D. It was something I always wanted to try, and it was even useful, because I finally managed to figure out how to do 3D plotting in python, and how to do numerical integration using different methods. So it was not a waste of time at the end. (See video and description on Youtube.)

In December I restarted training on the indoor trainer (this is already the beginning of the next cycling season), and the AstroTeam went to the Velodrome in Gent again, now in our custom cycling kit, as a real team. I was a bit annoyed by the fact that I had forgotten my helmet at home, so I had to rent a crappy one, but besides this small mishappening, it was a great evening. I did three twenty minute sessions, and in the last one (which was the best of all) while I was riding with a fast group (at approximately 40-45 km/h), high, near the top of the curve, the guy in front of me crashed (after touching the rear wheel of the biker in front of him), and although I had already accepted the seemingly inevitable, that I would unavoidably crash into him or his bike turned across the slope in front of me, I passed him by centimetres as he slipped down the steep banks quick enough… I was a little bit shocked. I have never been this close to a real, classical bike crash. It was really something you normally see on the TV.

Now I am back in Hungary for the holidays, so I might have time to write about other (hopefully more interesting) things during these two weeks.

Great wine and a good book

I have to admit I do not read as much as I should. Most of the time I read only the news or scientific papers at work, but not novels in my spare time (in my what?), although I like reading. In the first years of secondary school, I was one of those guys whose library card had to be replaced several times during the year, as it always got filled up pretty quickly. But now I am mostly just too lazy to find a new book and start reading. Still, once in a while I run into a good novel, and then I really can not put it down. Yesterday I was helping with the painting at Tijl’s house (if I have no future in astronomy, I am a good painter too, as it turned out), then we went out for dinner (I had the best pasta of my life, seriously – such a shame I did not manage to finish it…), and although I felt tired, I kept reading my book till 1 AM… It is The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, and although I am only at page 250, I love it. It is the perfect story: a bit of history (jews and World War II), and a bit of romance (I like that), all well written. Oh, and some of the main characters are Hungarians ;) I first saw the book on Amazon while I was observing on La Palma in October, then when I was visiting my parents, I bumped into the Hungarian translation in the book store, so we bought it. Normally I would prefer the original language (especially in English speaking movies), but when you do not use your mother tongue 95% of the time, then it feels really good to read something in that language richer in words than the daily news…

And what can be better than enjoying a good book? Enjoying a good book with a glass of great wine (and matching background music). For that purpose, I have opened a bottle of Royal Tokaji Late Harvest 2009. It is a very nice, sweet dessert wine, check out the official site for the tasting notes. I am no expert in wines, but I am very picky when it comes to alcohol, and this is a very pleasing wine. And it is much cheaper than my other favourites from the same vineyard… If I remember correctly, a 500 ml bottle is only a bit more than 8 €. I should not forget to bring some reserves after Christmas.

Festina La Vuelta 2011

I can barely remember the last time I wore a watch, but now after getting new glasses, a bunch of new clothes, and a haircut, I decided to buy one as part of my move towards a bit more mature look… Of course, it has something to do with cycling, as it is one of the watches Festina made for the Vuelta this year ;) (Taken with a new Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens! Portraits, shallow depth of field, here I come!)