The Quantum Angler
He never gets Bohred of fishing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Knowing me, knowing you

I like lasers, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. For the past four years I've had the honour of playing with what is unanimously regarded as the best class of laser known to man - the bounce geometry. The name "bounce" actually derives from the latin bouncius, which means "most efficient, highest power and best beam quality". Times were good, but what I really wanted was money, so I sold out.

I now work for a company that makes other kinds of lasers. I know, I know, these technically aren't lasers, since the term was redefined after Bernard & Alcock revolutionised the field in the 90s, but we'll call them lasers for historical reasons. And despite their obvious handicap, these lasers are actually pretty damn cool. I won't get into exactly how they are cool, because that's a slippery slope (boom boom!), and I'm not a good one for keeping my mouth shut, so why don't you just take my word for it? Cool they are.

As well as a new job, I've also got somewhere new to live! There's actually not so much to say here either really; a flat is a flat. I'm living in a suburb of Stockholm with a New Zealand guy who's main interests appear to be beer and rugby. It's quite a big place, and I've got my own separate entrance which is pretty sweet. Maybe I'll try to find my own place at some time in the future, but for now I'm just going to relax and enjoy the slightly-cheaper-than-London-but-mostly-offset-by-the-really-expensive-food rent. There are some photos on my public Picasa gallery, for any of you who know where that is. Ta for now!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gimme gimme gimme!

I found a bottle of Old Speckled Hen in my local Stockholm supermarket today, but all is not what it seems. Check out the alcohol content in the picture below:

Yep, that's 3.5% Old Speckled Hen. Hardcore ale buffs might also notice that the description "strong fine ale" has been appropriately replaced with "fine English ale", although they'd probably be too drunk to spot that.

"What in the name of Satan's balls is this s***?" I hear you enquire. The answer of course has to do with Sweden's strict alcohol laws. Alcoholic drinks over 3.5% ABV can only be sold in special government-run shops called Systembolaget (although this only applies to consumption off-premises; you can still buy drink in bars and restaurants, but you'll pay nearly an order of magnitude more for it). So, while you can still get the real deal across the street, many breweries do a special girl's version for the lazy drinker (and, presumably, girls). Ok, maybe a bit commie, but I actually quite like having a weaker option, it's nice to be able to have a can or two in the evening without getting drunk.

But enough of that, what's 3.5% Hen actually like? Actually, not that bad! It's full-bodied, bitter, and tasty, unmistakably a Hen. And yet there's something missing. For instance there's little after taste, and predictably it's much easier to drink. At the (h)end of the day though I'm just amazed that there are enough ex-pat English ale drinkers in Scandinavia who are sufficiently lazy to buy this instead of going to System. The numbers surely don't add up! But what do I know? I'm just a lazy ex-pat English ale drinker.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Tennessee man holds strong opinions about poorly-documented 2,000 year-old events in the Middle-East

Bob Franklin, a 43 year-old mechanic from Nashville, Tennessee, has expressed an extremely strong and long-held conviction about events that occurred in the Middle-East some 2,000 years ago. He made the claims on Monday, in a statement concerning the life of a man named Jesus of Nazareth, who scholars believe lived in Judea at around the turn of the 1st century AD.

The overwhelming consensus in the historical community is that little can be said with any real certainty about Jesus' life due to a lack of reliable sources, yet Bob is undeterred. Despite possessing no recognised academic qualifications, nor speaking ancient Hebrew, Bob is seeking to single-handedly turn the world of 1st century Levantine scholarship on his head with his thesis "Jesus was the son of God". Indeed, according to Mr Franklin, the scarcity of real evidence for his claim is itself more reason to believe it. "You got to have some faith," exclaimed Bob in a flagrant disregard of the fundamentals of the historical method and indeed basic rational thought.

In addition to knowing that Jesus was the son of God who died for the sins of man, Bob has revealed an intimate knowledge of the minutiae of Jesus' life, such as the names of his 12 best friends, the exact circumstances concerning his birth and death, and his mother's sexual history. The thousands of years and thousands of miles separating the lives of Bob and Jesus apparently present no obstacle, and the semi-literate American father of three has built up a deep understanding of the Jewish man's life and beliefs. "If there's one thing I'm certain of in this dawg gawn [sic] world, it's that Jesus died for our sins," claimed Bob without any real justification, "and you should all be thankful."

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Money, money, money

As my reader(s) will no doubt already be aware, next Monday I will be beginning my first real job, as a laser engineer for a company based in Stockholm. From the impression I got at the interview, the job could hardly be closer to what I was looking for (with the exception of it being in Sweden). I feel like a marine on the eve of his first deployment, finally being sent off to do what he's trained long and hard for.

The next few months will be very interesting. I've really enjoyed doing laser development for the past 4 years, but what it will be like as a job is a whole different question. I suspect in some respects it will be easier (I will be working with relatively established technology) and in others, harder (the lasers will have to perform for years, not just minutes!) This is also my first job, which means losing the freedom of academia, but gaining evenings and holidays! I know I will miss being in a university, but honestly I'm kinda looking forward to having a real job.

So here I am, sitting in the lounge of a hostel in Stockholm, waiting to go and look at an apartment. I've got my Swedish mobile number, my Stockholm Oyster card, and I know how to say "I don't speak Swedish" in Swedish, but nothing seems real yet. It feels like I'm on holiday, but I know I'm not. I suspect that will change once I have somewhere to live and I start working, and it'll hit me all of a sudden! This is also the first time that anything genuinely worth blogging about has happened to me, so do stay tuned to learn all about my Swedish adventure!