michiexile: (Default)
Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] turnberryknkn's post about seeing the light at the end of his tunnel, for all my US friends, here are some major timings to keep track of in my life:

  • Oct 5-10: Raleigh, NC.
  • Oct 10-11: Lancaster, PA.
  • Oct 11-15: Philadelphia, PA.
  • Oct 15-16: Austin, TX.
  • Oct 16-22: College Station, TX.
  • Oct 23-27: Hanover, NH.
  • Oct 27-Nov. 1: San Francisco, CA.

If you wanna meetup for a beer or something at some point — get in touch. Comments here, or emails to [username]@gmail.com are effective ways to reach me.
michiexile: (Default)
And I've settled on my travel plans for October.

Oct 6-9: Raleigh, NC.
10-11: Lancaster, PA.
12-15: Philadelphia, PA.
15: Austin
16-21: College Station (Texas A&M)
22: Austin
23-27: Dartmouth
28-Nov 1: SF/Bay.

If you're there when I'm there, give me a poke!!
michiexile: (Default)
I have now started settling in my apartment in Edinburgh, and along the way, I've stumbled across a number of things well worth documenting for the all-knowing interwebs.

The Bank Issue

I have enough friends who have moved to the UK to know what terrible travails are involved in getting setup with a bank account. First you wait, 3-4 weeks, for your first utility bill. Then, you bring it and your passport to the bank. Then, 2 weeks later, you finally have everything in place. Waiting two months for your first salary to materialize hasn't been unusual.

I tried to circumvent this with my move.

First, I tried applying to HSBC — who have their HSBC Passport: a bank account explicitly for immigrants. They do adress verification with utility bills from your OLD foreign adress, and thus you can get set early.

HSBC turned down my application. I fail their internal criteria for credit-worthiness, and they will not tell me how or why.

Second, I got in touch with Handelsbanken, where a very nice Edinburgh representative told me that since I'm a customer with Handelsbanken in Sweden, they can get me up and running quickly there. They'll even take a signed lease instead of a full on utility bill as proof of adress.

Being fully set this way, I went into RBS and BoS upon arrival, just to see whether anything could be done quicker.

BOTH had some secret tricks up their sleeves that immigrants aren't necessarily aware of.
At the RBS, they told me about a fast lane to adress verification: you can call up the HM Revenue and Customs (the UK tax agency), and request a form that provides proof of your taxation bracket (the name eludes me). They will then mail this to the adress you state; and this works as a proof of adress.

At the BoS, they told me about an account form they have — with only a debit card, and with severe penalties for misbehaving — but which takes, as proof of adress, the return of a card they send to your stated adress. This is the solution I ended up going with — it will take 1-2 weeks after setting foot in a BoS office until you are all set.

LycaMobile, phone numbers and porting

As I arrived, I picked up a SIM card from a corner store, just to have a phone I could be using. The phone number was particularly pleasing — and so I got quickly attached to it. However, the provider — Lyca Mobile quickly turned out to be not the best choice for me. They specialize in catering to the immigrant crowd, just like Lebara, and others, and so offer decent rates for calls abroad. However, with out infatuation with Rebtel, we don't need international calls to make international calls — so it would be a lot more helpful to have something that gives me cheap UK-calls, good internet access, and is well-established enough that Twitter recognizes them.

I found one: Vodafone has decent deals. And they told me what to do to keep my number — just get my PAC code from Lyca.

You see, the way porting works in Sweden (and thus the way I'm used to it working), you sign a piece of paper, and the phone company slugs it out with your old provider. The way it works in the UK, however, is that you get a code from your old provider and you give it to your new provider, and they then setup the changeover.

Lyca — it turns out — have a track record of being assholes about this. Once I got around to googling "Lycamobile PAC" I found no shortage of stories about the hoops they send customers through.

Now that I have gone far enough in the process to check things out, here's how it is supposed to go according to the industry regulations enforced by the Office of Communications (OfCom):

  1. You call your customer service, and ask for a PAC code.
  2. They read you your PAC code, or send it by SMS, or maybe even by paper mail — within 2h.
  3. Done.

Here's what happened so far with Lyca:

  1. On September 5, I call them and request a PAC code. They give me 20 questions about why I am changing provider, and then give me a reference number. Tell me to call back after 24h to get my code.
  2. Today, September 7, I call them and request my PAC code. They start on the 20 questions again, and I give them the reference number. They tell me I need to submit a bank statement because my account is a "fancy number". I tell them it's insane and that I will be checking with OfCom about these practices.
  3. I call OfCom, and describe the situation so far. They give me the flowchart above — with 2h maximum time for producing the code — and will now start pressuring Lyca to give me my damn PAC number. If I haven't received it within 24h, I am to call back and escalate my complaint.

I'll update once I know whether OfCom pressure has any effect.
michiexile: (Default)
As so often otherwise, stolen from [livejournal.com profile] silmaril .

The rules: Bold the ones you've read, italicize the one you started. Put commentary in parentheses.

Here be books )
michiexile: (Default)
I know a whole bunch of my old LJ friends have migrated here to DW. Since LJ now is unresponsive for, oh, almost 24h running, it seemed like a good time to at least setup an account here too.

So, yeah, here I am. Name same here as there. I can't carry over much of my content, since, as pointed out, LJ is unresponsive.
michiexile: (Default)
May 14 this year, the triennal Quarnevalen occurred again in Stockholm. I had the good fortune of finding a nice spot early on in this student parade, and was able to take a number of nice pictures.

Here, I'd like to use these pictures as a base for explaining swedish student culture in general and Quarnevalen in particular to friends abroad, and in particular to friends within the hacker/maker culture.

Swedish students )

Calling makers and hackers

The next Quarneval is in 2014. As evidenced by the club Mosquito, and by the several non-student orchestras walking the parade, being a student is not a prerequisite to participate. In three years, we should be able to assemble a cool crowd of hackers and makers, and get some sort of living arrangements cleared out et.c. and build a kick-ass hackers of the world float. What do y'all say?

Song meme

Apr. 14th, 2011 09:59 am
michiexile: (Default)
Nicked off of [livejournal.com profile] reynardo and [livejournal.com profile] lederhosen.

Below are lyrics from the first 15 songs to show up.

I warn you now - my choices are somewhat eclectic, and this does not in the slightest cover the range I listen to. But see if you can work out the song from the lyrics. I've gone with the first few lines unless they particularly mention the song's title. I have skipped a number of instrumental pieces.

It now is time for the great reveal: all titles/artists have been added below.

And here there be music. )
michiexile: (Default)
Some of you, my dear readers here, are actually in the Bay area. If you are, I would be VERY happy if you were able to make it to my going-away-party on April 23 at Noisebridge. I'll try to gather everyone who knows me or [livejournal.com profile] amerikabrev for a send-off (and cleaning out of my house bar too) the way we like to do it. Brownies, games and tea, as well as some booze and LOTS of interesting and cool people will be there. Will you?

michiexile: (Default)
Again following in the footsteps of [livejournal.com profile] reynardo, here are some hints for this lyrics challenge:

Hints )
michiexile: (Default)
Yesterday I was social for the first time. Good fun was had, and our three-four american guests were properly exposed to Swedish humor and social realism (sorry [livejournal.com profile] pastwatcher for that...).

Today was the first day I really seemed awake and alert through the day. I've been on percocet nights and acetaminophen days the entire weekend. Today I haven't taken percocet since 8am, AND I started swallowing whole pills as the evening drew near.

My antibiotics, though, I'll still crush and eat with chocolate pudding. Those things are bloody huge.

The next highlight we're supposed to look forward to is the flaking off of my scabs. That sounds like a singularly unpleasant exercise, and it's supposed to happen this coming week some time. After that, things are almost back to normal, with pain sinking away swiftly.
michiexile: (Default)
I have neglected keeping y'all up to date. If you read my facebook or my twitter, you already know this.

Today has been one of the weirdeest days of my life. At ~11am-noon, I was put under anaesthetic, and in what I'm told was a quite successful procedure, my tonsils and adenoids were removed, my septum realigned, my palate and uvula resculpted and my turbinators reduced. All in all, a full remodel of my nose and throat, complete with an updated wallpaper!

I've spent the last 18h hungry, dehydrated and offline. I've spent the last 6 or so awake again from after the surgery, in a mixture of oddball hilarity, zonked out on morphine, eating all the icechips I could melt and dealing with, well, pain that needs morphine every hour on the hour.

I'm still hungry, but apparently I'm doing rather well. So well, in fact, that I now grabbed the computer for some browsing for the first time in spectacularly long.

See all y'all when I'm back on my feet.
michiexile: (Default)
Bolded where applicable. Some questions answered for what I did, rather than what I do.

My answers )
michiexile: (Default)
So it turns out my english conforms to the american english dialect spoken in... )
michiexile: (Default)
I just lay myself down to sleep, so that I'll be fresh and amazing for my job interview tomorrow.

And took with me, as a last thing to read, Tom Leinster's 2-page paper “Sheaves do not belong to algebraic geometry”.

And now I'm back out of bed, in front of my computer again. That punchline is amazing. Inspiring. Dangerous even. The paper makes me think about how these constructions would play out in type theory — especially since the sheafification observation is “really” (in some sense) about final monad algebras (or initial comonad coalgebras), and thus hooks in neatly with Lambek's Lemma and with how Haskell does type definitions.

And the construction of sheaves and their equivalences to étale spaces is SO much clearer in Leinster's categorical language than most treatments I've read so far.

Dammit! I don't have time to sit down and port this paper to Haskell! I have sleeping to do!!
michiexile: (Default)
…or How Robert M. Pirsig broke my brain…
…or Those Books that alter your reality while you read them…

I finally picked up ZAMM a few weeks back. Insisted we buy the bargain books version at Borders in spite of [livejournal.com profile] amerikabrev trying to temper my shopping lusts. And then I devoured the book. Not satisfied with just reading the book, I then constructed a Google Map with the path travelled, and immediately ordered Lila from Amazon.

I have now, just now in fact, read through Lila as well. I'm less impressed and less moved by it than I was by ZAMM — to a large extent because it reads more like a tome of philosophy, and less like ZAMM did: longer quotes from literature, and more and larger chunks of solid philosophizing trying to apply insights from the previous book to moral philosophy. This makes it less inspiring since it's less of discovering thoughts and more of applying them.

However, I did notice as I read these similarities to other books I've read. Pirsig does the same (kinda backhanded) trick that Ayn Rand does in embedding his philosophy into novels. And at least ZAMM had the same reality-altering effects on me (though softer) that the Illuminatus! trilogy had on my first read through. (Pehr, Jon, you both probably remember that Krakow trip and my sudden descent into numerology?)

Just as with Rand and just as with Illuminatus! though, I'm not sure I buy it. Not when I come out of the reading trance again. Part of it is that I'm just not all that interested in metaphysics — I have a very materialistic outlook, and don't view the Hunt For The Ultimate Buildingblocks as all that relevant to my current life. As such, Pirsig's “Everything is just reified Quality” becomes a neat but irrelevant thesis in much the same way that most religions do. The parts I enjoyed — in both books, actually — are the ones where Pirsig is commenting on Academia, and on Didactics, while the increasingly dense ruminations on the defintiion and preponderance of Quality felt, well, neat but at times rather academic.

My fault, almost certainly, is to read it in my 30s and not in my teens, when I was moldable. Just like with Rand, I came too late to the party to be utterly consumed at any length by the texts…
michiexile: (Default)
Christmas goose.

Stuffed with cornbread stuffing enriched with:
* prunes soaked in mulled wine
* cashew nuts
* grated granny smith apples
* pecan nuts

Glazed with:
* Molasses
* Lingonberry juice concentrate
* Gingerbread spices — cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cumin

Roasted in 325ºF for about 3-3.5 hours, until a leg thermometer read 165ºF. Subsequently allowed to cool, transported, and crisped in 425ºF for about 10 minutes with refreshed glaze, until it smelled like toffee.

Incredibly nommy.
michiexile: (Default)
And as a comparative backdrop to my previous post, here are the first tweets of each month, through 2010:

January Thank you #python for reminding me why #haskell is the only decent programming language IRC channel around.

February michiexile‎ just bought 90 uranium glass beads, fluorescent in black light. Now to figure out what to do with them...

March @k8nowak Is the derivation of that fact accessible?

April @sc_k Heck - I sat a seder this year, and I eat lamb and eggs for easter regularly. It's CULTURAL, not RELIGIOUS!

May Typing up solutions for the practice midterm. Some of these problems might be a little bit involved...

June @tyrsalvia I love that version of that song!!

July Editing photos from Greece. White marble and more white marble.

August Nawwwwwwww! According to a student email, my course made him consider a (math-heavy) Economics major instead of avoiding all math classes.

September @furrygirl Quite! What would you say is the best part of America? And what should we do with squirrels instead? #definitelyaforeignerhere.

October @divbyzero I once ran into an article with the three main quadratic identities. Written with “filled star” and “unfilled star” as variables.

November Quote from [url] . So the TSA designs their procedures based on the impression they give, not on their functionality?

December Loving the occasionally odd color scapes in Amélie.

Not as confident about these being accurate as I am with the LiveJournal posts — twitter is lacking in history features, and the Google Realtime search was … finicky. However, I do notice that the threshold for posting is MUCH lower on twitter than on LiveJournal, and that a lot more sits in conversations with other people, rather than statements on their own.
michiexile: (Default)
As usual, it is from [livejournal.com profile] silmaril I take my cues. Here's what's been going on for me in 2010 — as captured by first sentences of first post of every month.

January A new year.
An retrospective and prospective post about decades past and future.

February But #House doesn't do funded research does he?
My twitter feed, reacting to someone else tweeting about the latest House MD episode

March Today I went to the anarchist book faire in the Golden Gate Park.
All of March had exactly one post, and it was complaining about the anarchist sub-culture.

April Sometimes I have these instances where my life takes on a strong taste of having been scripted by primetime TV series authors...
Once I shut off the twitter-to-LiveJournal feed, my posting waned egregiously. Only a single post in April too.

May Dearest @Susanne Vejdemo, dearest amerikabrev, it's been a decade.
Commemorating a decade as a committed couple. The other post that same day was a photographic manifesto.

June I'm in Ναύπακτοϛ for the International Conference on Topology and its Applications; and that is as good a reason as any to write a little Travelogue.
Posting picked up once conference travel got started.

July There are more pictures.
Continuing the travelogue started above.

August With inspiration from my beloved amerikabrev, here's the lyrics, and a rough translation (by me) thereof, of one of the ABSOLUTELY biggest summer hits of all time.
A view into the Swedish psyche.

September Dear Editor. I'm a 3rd year grad student. Some of my friends say there is no Bourbaki. My advisor says “If you see the personality in the lemmas, it's so.” Please tell me the truth: Is there a Bourbaki?
And we're back to once a month. This was the “Yes Virginia, there IS a Bourbaki” random burst of creativity. I picked more than one sentence from this just to get the mood.

October On Richmond at Dufferin in London, ON, you'll find the neat little restaurant Garlic's.

November As stolen from fluffboll who took it from a number of Facebook friends of hers.

December: As usual, it is from [livejournal.com profile] silmaril I take my cues.

Why, yes, that last one is self-referential. As it turns out, my LiveJournaling has waned a bit lately — in part due to increased twitter activity, and to a large extent due to frantic, but not very creative or mind-engaging activities attacking the academic job market this year.

This past year I've gone low traffic on my LiveJournal, and almost no traffic on my mathematics blog (last two posts are from August and April). On the other hand, I post daily on my Twitter, and I've started a daily photo blog, that I'm still maintaining. My LiveJournal posts are moved explicitly by engaging ideas that capture me enough to sit down and do something about them — between the summer travelogue and the bursts of creativity (August, September) I feel that possibly the quality of my posts has gone up. At least compared to the twitter feed.

What do you think?
michiexile: (Default)
As stolen from [livejournal.com profile] fluffboll who took it from a number of Facebook friends of hers.

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Books owned and/or partly read are in italics. Mark books you want to read with an X.

I've read 35 of them. )


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