Thursday, March 31, 2005

Shoe laces

I didn't know that shoe repair shops are the place to buy shoe laces...

I needed to replace shoe laces for one pair of my shoes. Initially, I thought I could get one by visiting shoe shops. So I went to Neal Street, Covent Garden, where lots of shoe shops are clustered (see this page for more). Among ten shops or so, only two shops had shoe laces. And the choice was quite limited. I wanted to have thin shoe laces, usually used for boots or leather shoes, because I was sure thin laces would fit my shoes perfectly though the original one was not so thin. But none of these shops had thin laces.

On another day, I went to Church's, a posh shoe shop on Regent Street. They didn't have any. Then I went down to Harvey Nichols, a stylish department store near the famous Harrods. Their shoe shop didn't have laces either. A shop attendant there told me I should go to a shoe repair shop.

I had no idea where shoe repair shops are located. I grabbed my Time Out Shopping Guide and spotted a shoe repair shop called Krantz and Son (180 Drury Lane).

Today I went there and found the most wide-ranging (in terms of length, colour, and design) stock of shoe laces. I bought a pair of 120cm thin shoe laces for 2.45 quid. Going home and replacing the old laces with this new ones, and voila! My shoes now look better than before!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Two Japanese ladies in London

Thanks to Kiyo and Alberto, I found a nice cafe-restaurant in Angel: Art to Zen cafe-gallery. The atmosphere is arty with contemporary abstract paintings hanging on the walls. But for some reason it's not pretentious at all.

And the food is excellent. I ordered salmon and mussel tagliatelle. This tasted amazingly brilliant. And it cost just 5.50 quid. There are also some Japanese meals available.

It seems like the owner of this cafe is a Japanese called Akemi. I'm not sure if she's the chef. But she's done a great job here in London.


With Alberto, I visited the Serpentine Gallery. Until 10th April, the gallery features a Japanese contemporary artist Tomoko Takahashi, who was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2000. Her installation was crazy. Just crazy. At face value, it seems to be a total chaos; lots of rubbish are just scattered around. But look more closely and you'll feel a subtle sense of order in it. I felt the artist's enormous sensitivity. You may at first think you can construct this installation too. Think more and you'll realize you would go crazy if you have to finish it on your own.

Alberto, who usually is quite sceptical about contemporary art, was reminded of his childhood by looking at Takahashi's work. He seemed to like this rubbish art in the end.

On the final day of the exhibition, visitors will be allowed to take away any materials used for this installation. This kind of playful ideas can be seen in the installation as well, which probably contributes to the rather soft and tender atmosphere for a contemporary art exhibition.


I've been wanting to buy a turntable as most drum and bass tracks are only available in vinyl. At last, I did a bit of research by Googling a lot this morning. After two hours of research, I found it costs no less than nearly 300 quid for my purpose.

There are basically two types of turntables out there: home-use and DJ-use. Main differences between these two are (1) belt drive or direct drive; (2) with or without built-in phono-preamplifier; (3) without or with pitch control.

The first difference is about whether or not you are unable to scratch records. For my purpose, I don't necessarily need to scratch, but if possible, I want to practice scratching just for fun. So the DJ turntable wins here.

The second difference is about whether or not you want to connect your turntable to the Hi-Fi system without a phono input. If you just plug a turntable into your stereo, the sound level will be very low. You need to amplify the vinyl sound. But my stereo does not have a phono-preamplifier. Connecting a DJ turntable to line-in inputs won't work. The home-use turntable wins here.

The final difference is about whether or not you are happy with the speed of music just as fast as recorded. I want to listen to drum and bass with vinyl. But DJs always play records a bit quicker than the recorded speed. I'm used to that speed by going clubbing or listening to the radio. So I want to control the pitch of music. The winner in the final round is the DJ turntable.

So I need a turntable with built-in phono-amplifier AND pitch control. The only option for this type of turntable seems to be Vestax BDT-2500, which costs nearly 300 quid. This one is a belt-drive type. So I can't scratch. There seems to be no direct-drive turntable with an amplifier built-in.

Or I can buy Numark TT200 for less than 200 quid (reputable DJ turntables like those made by Technics and Vestax cost more than 300 quid) and some phono-amplifier like TerraTec Phono PreAmp Studio USB for 100 quid.

But I don't have 300 quid. My budget is 200 quid...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

No more frequent blog-updating

I don't think I will be able to update this blog as frequently as before.

All my energy is directed towards research. I don't have any energy left for anything else, including blogging and even (sadly) loving someone.

I think I'm happy if I can only do research and enjoy listening to drum & bass and dancehall reggae on the radio. (I realise I now prefer dancehall to hip hop. Hip hop is about to die. No new stuff comes out in that genre anymore. In a response to Chris's post on 50 Cent, the whole story can be found at BBC 1Xtra's website. He always picks a beef (a hiphop slang term for fight). Last year against Ja Rule. This year against Fat Joe and Jadakiss. I don't care what rappers do non-musically. But I can't appreciate his rapping skill. He doesn't move my mind in any way. I don't get why he's so popular.)

An update to 28th February: I got an email message from SMYE2005 Conference Committee last Wednesday, saying that my paper is now selected "because of a cancellation of an accepted paper." As I remember correctly, there were 200 papers accepted. So my paper was ranked as 201st out of 800 papers submitted. Not too bad.

But since I applied, my research has been going through a radical revision. I wasn't sure if I could present something substantial when I got the acceptance message. I have to make my mind by 15th. So I gave up this weekend and worked at the School. And I've decided to attend the conference.

I have chronically stiff shoulders and my spine feels funny as I'm touching a PC keyboard almost all day (to run a lot of regressions with Stata). That's another reason I might as well refrain from blogging by sitting in front of a PC for extra hours.

Oh, I got another good news last Wendesday. A friend of mine in Tokyo got accepted at Havard University's PhD programme in Political Science. Congrats!

Oh my. Once I start blogging, I can't stop! Bad for my shoulders. I'm outta here.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Journal Publication in Economics

I'd had a cold since the day after the night of losing my bag (see 26th February). Now that I'm fine, I'll resume blogging.

A day of Stata programming. For the first time in my life, I make my own Stata command. Yey. (Note for non-economist readers: Stata is a software essential for those researchers who want to test theoretical predictions or to establish stylised facts by using data.)

I found an interesting essay:

Pranab Bardhan (2003) "Journal Publication in Economics: A View from the Periphery," Economic Journal, vol.113, pp.F332-F337.
Here's the abstract:
In this paper we point to special problems faced by economists in `peripheral' fields (like development economics), particularly those at early stages of their career, in publishing their research results in mainline journals, and how this creates a kind of vicious circle that may be damaging to our profession.
In the economics profession, your reputation as a researcher is determined by how many papers you publish in mainline journals. This essay kind of reveals insider information in the process of publishing papers in such journals. If you're a PhD student, or aspiring to be so, you'll find it interesting.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

UK broadband

I'm grumpy about my ISP, Nildram.

My current contract with them is 512kbps broadband service for 22.99 pounds per month. (If you live in Japan, South Korea, the United States, or maybe other rich countries, you'll be surprised by hearing this. But this is true. In UK, this is the standard price for as slow as 512kbps Internet connection in the 21st century...)

Before I knew, Nildram began a new broadband package with 2Mbps and 15.99 pounds per month (though customers will be charged more to download more than 1GB per month, which is I'm totally not sure enough for my heavy usage of the Internet). They never told me about this new service.

What's more, if I transfer to this new service, I have to pay one-off fee of 39.99 pounds! What the hell is this price system? (And this is the explanation they offer, which totally doesn't make sense.)

FAQ on Applying to PhD in Economics at NYU

I'm not sure if this page is already popular among those prospective econ PhD students, but I found NYU offers detailed FAQ on applying to PhD program in Economics. Check it out and spread the word. Special thanks goes to Kimura-kun (his blog in Japanese) for letting me know this webpage.