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steuard: (Tolkien)
Thursday, December 27th, 2012 02:48 pm
I saw The Hobbit a few days ago, and I enjoyed it. I started to write up some brief comments on the movie to post here, but they got a bit out of hand, so I've posted them on my Tolkien website instead. For those who are interested, have a look at my full review; comments are welcome!
steuard: (Default)
Monday, July 4th, 2011 03:50 pm
As I mentioned in a recent post, I've been collecting a list of "surprising but important bits of life knowledge everyone should hear". I came up with a number of them myself, and got lots of good ideas on Facebook. I'm planning to share these (one at a time) with my students this fall, but I've also collected them together on the web. If anyone wants to suggest more ideas to add, I'm all ears! Here's the site:
Wow, Good to Know!
steuard: (strings)
Sunday, June 19th, 2011 12:11 pm
Just in time to avoid delays due to childbirth, I've finished and submitted a new paper for publication: The KK-Monopole/NS5-Brane in Doubled Geometry. I'm excited about this work; it's the same topic that I presented on a couple of months ago at the Great Lakes Strings conference in Chicago. Since the title is once again largely jargon, I've written up a summary of what it's all about for non-specialists. To be honest, I have no idea how much sense that summary will make anyway, so let me know if you think it's unreadable. I hope you at least like the pretty pictures there!

[Oh, and I've also replaced my user icon with something that looks a little more obviously like strings: strings interacting with D2-branes, to be exact. It's one of my more popular string images out in the wild, and hey, it's pretty, too.]
steuard: (Default)
Friday, February 26th, 2010 10:23 pm
I've recently used Hulu to revisit an animated series that I really enjoyed as a kid: The Mysterious Cities of Gold. I enjoyed it a lot, both out of nostalgia and because it's quite well done. Kim has laughed a bit at how long it took, though: the series is 39 half-hour episodes long.

It struck me that it would be easier to share with others if there were an abridged version: a subset of episodes just long enough to convey the broad feel of the show. So I took notes while watching and wrote a guide to essential episodes of The Mysterious Cities of Gold. I've included a brief introduction to the series and some of my thoughts on it as well. If you remember the show fondly, or if the summary there peaks your interest, have a look!

Was it silly to spend time on this? Of course. But it wasn't all at once, and I enjoyed the process of putting it together. If someone else eventually appreciates it too, so much the better.
steuard: (Default)
Saturday, January 12th, 2008 06:54 pm
I make heavy use of Smart Playlists in iTunes, many of them based to some degree on my rating for each song. I've also started to use the hidden ability of iTunes to show half-star ratings (I use an AppleScript to set those). But it turns out that iTunes gets confused if you put those two things together. In particular, it's not very good at math: it doesn't think that "2.5" is greater than "2".

So I recently broke down and dug into the internals of the Smart Playlist XML file format and created some playlists by hand that will identify songs whose ratings are not perfect integer numbers of stars. You can find them on my website: Half-star ratings in iTunes Smart Playlists. (I've got some notes there about how Party Shuffle works, too.) As usual, my explanation is far too long and wordy, but I've tried to make it easy to find the files themselves. (I know that there are at least a half-dozen people in the world who have been frustrated by the same issue. Well, close to a half-dozen, anyway.) If you've ever wondered how to make this work, have a look.
steuard: (Default)
Friday, September 23rd, 2005 08:32 pm
Kim and I have just moved to a new apartment here in Chicago. It wasn't a big move: just one block north and a few feet west (we're still on the seventh floor), and we had help from a lot of friends. It's a nicer apartment, with a bit of a lake view, a second bedroom, air conditioning, and a dishwasher.

I've put some pictures and more details on my website. Here's the front of the building and the living room:

Front view of our building.         Front view of our building.

If you want the new address, just drop me an email.

The move is our big news for the moment, I think. I'm still working on more physics (my paper just got its official peer review acceptance this week; the reviewer didn't even request any changes); postdoctoral position applications are just around the corner. Kim is finishing up her summer quarter teaching and gearing up for the fall quarter that starts next week (and it's looking very likely that she'll be the chair of her college's math curriculum this year). Life is good.
steuard: (strings)
Friday, July 22nd, 2005 03:18 pm
After far too much time doing the work, my advisor and I have finally published the results of our recent research in string theory. We're very pleased with how it turned out, and we're hopeful that it will end up being interesting or even significant to others in the field.

I'd invite everyone to read the paper in its entirety, but that might not be useful: most of the people I've shown it to don't even understand half the words in the title (and that includes other physicists!). So last night, I put together a webpage with what I hope is a not-too-technical explanation of what we did. You still might not understand it, but I hope it will at least give you some idea of what my work is like. And that page links to the paper itself, too, so you can ooh and aah at just how nonsensical it looks if you want to.
steuard: (Default)
Tuesday, May 17th, 2005 04:18 pm
After much research and many delays, Kim and I have finally bought a new car. It's a 2005 Toyota Prius, and we're already loving it. These things are hard to find: there's about a six week delay if you want to order one with the exact option package and color that you want, and when they do show up for sale on dealers' lots they tend to sell very quickly.

Kim and I lucked out with this one: we've been planning a car trip for this summer, but Kim's work vacation schedule suddenly shifted so we had just a few weeks to find a new car rather than a few months. That made a special order out of the question, but amazingly, someone else had ordered exactly the car we wanted and their financing fell through. (You don't even want to know how long and carefully Kim had to monitor how many local car dealers before we hit the jackpot.) So we rushed to the dealership yesterday, and came home with the shiny new car you see below. (A couple more pictures can be found on my website.) We drove the car 50 miles from the dealership to an errand or two and then home, at an average mileage of 49 MPG. Pretty sweet.

steuard: (strings)
Friday, February 4th, 2005 11:35 am

About a year ago, I gave a talk to the Chicago chapter of the MIT Alumni Club on the basics of string theory (with a few equations). It was a fun experience, and after all this time I've finally put the slides online (along with some explanatory text to take the place of my spoken comments). You can find it at my site on slimy.com if you'd like to take a look.

I haven't linked it up from my main website yet, because I get a fair bit of traffic (mostly from my Lagrange multipliers tutorial, with a little bleed-over from my Tolkien site and my Prom King story) and I still feel like parts of this thing aren't up to "final draft" quality. The slides are fine (I hope!), and they aren't going to change in any case, but I wrote some chunks of the explanatory text late at night (which may have made it even more rambling than usual). So if you have any helpful comments (or complaints), I'd love to hear them! Once I've gotten a few eyes to look at the thing, I'll go ahead and share it with the world more directly.