Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Happy Birthday, Seeya*!" - An open letter to my Grandfather

Listening to: 'Someday We'll Know' by New Radicals [Maybe You've Been Brainwashed]

To my darling Grandfather,

Today, you turn 92. Today, you celebrate this occasion with your wife, children, grandchildren (except for myself, of course) and great-grandchildren. You have been alive to witness almost every world event of the 20th century. You have travelled the world, broken records (which you still hold) and battled illnesses; and you have seen other members of your generation around you age, and ultimately pass on. You may not understand the concept of the Internet, or be familiar with mobile telephones, but you, more than anyone, understand the fickle nature of life.

I am extremely lucky to have had you near me for the past twenty-three years. But for how much longer? As I wish you over the phone for this birthday, I can hear the toll that life has taken on you. You remembered who I am today, but will your remember tomorrow? Come this afternoon, will you remember that I wished you? Does it matter?

I also hear the pain felt by my Grandmother. She has stood by you for over 59 years... and now she watches you fade, unable to save you. What is my pain, compared to hers? What is my pain, compared to that of my father, my aunt and my uncle? What is my pain, compared to that of the sister who hasn't seen you for years?

You've lived a good life, Seeya - not without struggle, but not without celebration either. Today I will celebrate your life, and the joy that it has brought to so many... but at the back of my mind, I will hope, with every beat of my heart, that I may be fortunate enough to see you once again.

All is temporary...none more so than life.

Happy Birthday, Seeya. May the Blessings of the Noble Triple Gem shine on you always - in this life, and in those to follow.

I love you.

*Seeya is a Sinhalese term for Grandfather.
**Photo taken from the M.I.L.K. Collection.

Monday, May 29, 2006

It's the final countdown...

Listening to: the butterflies in my tummy

Oh crap. This time next week, I'll be half way through my 1st paper. Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. I don't know why I'm saying 'oh crap' actually. Oh yeah...I don't know jack. OK that's not true...I do know some stuff, and past paper questions haven't been a complete disaster. But ugh I still haven't gone through the short notes I made for States of Matter - crystallisation, liquid crystals, colloids, nanoparticles, polymer and paste extrusion, SEM, TEM, AFM...why, Why, WHY?!?!?!?!?

I just want it to end. This time in two weeks I'll be in (hopefully) sunny Prague with two of my best friends, singing silly songs and generally making a fool of myself (I love the idea of girly trips). In three weeks I'll be partying it up (yeah whatever) or lazing on a punt on the beautiful-in-summer River Cam.
The river Cam
In four weeks I'll getting ready to drag my parents all over Cambridge making sure they see every dark and dingy corner before we leave. In 5 weeks I'll be *shock shock horror horror* a graduate!!!

I had a good birthday BTW, which I shall write about after exams. I love how my 'after exams' box has become a dumping ground for everything I want to do but know I won't get a chance. Oh and this was one of the many presents I got -
Ain't he adorable? Yes, I'm sort of a metoyou freak.

OK...breakfast, followed by revision. PseudoRandom, stop wasting time on the Internet. D'oh.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Every cloud has a silver lining

Listening to: 'Ways & Means' by Snow Patrol [Final Straw]

I'm on a *lunch break* from past paper questions. Went down to the post room as I do everyday at lunchtime, expecting to see an empty pigeon hole. As I've said before, I'm not a "my birthday" person, so I was caught completely unawares by the birthday cards I found! Even better was the fact that they were all from home. Never knew post could be this exciting. Why do phone bills and bank statements have to give it such a bad name?

I'm a good girl, so I won't open the cards until Friday... but it does make me happy that they're sitting on my desk in a neat little pile. I'm pretty amazed at the fact that it's made me so eager. Maybe I've found a good thing about birthdays afterall?

Speaking of birthdays, Happy Birthday Jr.!!! I'm glad the Weather Gods have been kind to you today, compared with the last few days!

OK I should really get back to work. Thanks to childof25, I'm indulging in some Snow Patrol. Bliss.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

PseudoRandom = not really random...?

Listening to: 'Panis Angelicus' by Andrea Bocelli [Sacred Arias]

I should go to sleep. I've never had any trouble falling asleep at night... until now. I just stare at the ceiling. I close my eyes, thinking that might work... but the tick tock of the clock is so loud it could be inside my head. I look at the damn thing... I've been awake for half an hour. It's unnatural for me. I'm the one who can fall asleep in five minutes flat; who can have a ten minute power nap... and now I can't sleep. I do fall asleep eventually... but it makes me quite tired when it's actually time to wake up.

Now this wouldn't be that much of a problem if not for the fact that I have my finals in two weeks' time. Yes, that soon. Stressful stuff... and yet I'm confused. I don't know if I'm stressed or not, and I find that immensely annoying. I think to myself "must work, must work, have to understand this stuff"... and the very next thought is "I actually have more than a week to do past papers... way to go!". Inconsistency may bring welcome excitement to a cricket match, but it's sure as hell not welcome in this context! It's not that I'm not nervous - I've had the usual warning signs that my body is not as calm as my mind... why am I not panicking? Why am I so calm? If I don't get a super-decent grade this year, my dreams of getting starting a PhD in October can be flushed down the toilet. Why am I not panicking about how important this year is? I'm confused.

As if exams weren't enough of an issue, I turn 23 next week. No I'm not fussed about the fact that I'm nearing *mid-twenties* - I've put my lovelife on the backburner for the time being, so the fact that I'm supposedly running out of candidates is not a problem (for now). Instead, my issue with becoming a year older is that it means I have a birthday. Yes, that is a problem. I've had lovely birthdays, I won't deny... but generally, I can't say I have a *best* birthday memory (OK maybe seeing Joseph at the London Palladium when I was 9), or that my birthday has been the best day in that year... or any of the things that you expect people to say about their birthdays. Make no mistake, this isn't supposed to reflect, in any way, the efforts of my friends - my friends are absolutely phenomenal when it comes to birthdays, you can quote me on that... it's just that I'm not an "it's MY birthday" person, I'm an "it's YOUR birthday" person. I would feel awful if I wasn't able to wish a friend for their birthday, but I don't mind if people forget my birthday... actually I find it quite amusing, and then I remind them constantly of their forgetfulness... evil me :D.

Another (less self-centred) theory is that I don't think much of my birthday 'cos I've almost always had exams around the same time... my reward for being born in the best month of the year ;-).

... And there's always the fear factor. I don't do surprises very well. I remember when I was wearing my plaster cast after my op, I went for a regular check-up. There were ~2 weeks more till it was supposed to come off, but Doc thought it would be good to remove it then and there (it was April in Sri Lanka, with power cuts everyday - not the nicest time for plaster casts). I was excited, but then as soon as he removed it, I fainted. Yup, I just plopped. Had to stay in hospital the whole day just so they could make sure I wasn't gonna collapse again. So yeah, basically... "SURPRISE!!!" isn't my best friend. That said, I don't faint everytime I'm surprised... most times, I just choke on my tears :D.

I'm not exactly sure what the point of this post is. I guess I just need to clear my head. I've been reading so much over the past few days (weeks, actually) that I think my brain's gone wonky. I miss my parents... but they'll be here in a month and a week, so all's good.

Oh yeah, I added a site feed to the bottom of the sidebar, so if you're jobless enough to read this regularly ;-), the link should work with any feed reader (at least that's what the website said... hehe). And I added a visit location monitor... it's supposed to get updated tomorrow so we'll see what happens. Don't worry, I'm not gonna hunt you down :D. Also, I changed the picture link so that you now have to be on Facebook to see the photos. Sorry, I just thought it's best. If you desperately want to see piccies, email me and I'll send you the link. Oh and I reduced the number of posts displayed on the main page, so there's less to scroll through. I don't think I messed about with anything else.

OK, time to say good night to Mr Bocelli and Mr Josh Groban (Mi Mancherai is amazing) and hit the sack. Hopefully I'll fall asleep before daybreak. And in case you were wondering, it's on the 26th .

Monday, May 15, 2006

An Ode to the English Cricket Team

Listening to: 'Dani California' by Red Hot Chili Peppers [Stadium Arcadium]

To be sung to the tune of Build Me Up, Buttercup by The Foundations (you probably heard it while watching There's Something About Mary):
Why don't you catch it now (catch it now)
Bu-u-tter Fingers
You just let them down (let them down)
And mess them around
And then worst of all (worst of all)
You never win, baby
When they say you will (say you will)
But they love you still
You need sun (you need sun)
More than anything darling
Grey skies won't help win the match
So Butter Fingers (Butter Fingers)
Wipe your hands
And learn how to catch
OK I know some bits don't fit exactly, but I think I did pretty well for 15mins of thinking!*

On a less cheesy note, poor England...how many times have they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory? 9 dropped catches in one match...NINE!!! They must be crying. But of course, Well Done, Boys! Possibly one of the worst first innings, and best second innings performances we've put on. Inconsistency can lead to such excitement! Looking forward to a far more solid performance at Edgbaston though, with or without Sanath. Don't get me wrong, I think Sanath is amazing, but one day, he's gonna have to retire for good. And then we're not gonna be able to call him back to bail us out of trouble. We need to find our feet...literally.

Ah yes, I'm supposed to be revising. Damn.

*This isn't the first time I've 'revamped' popular songs. See White Lent Term.

Friday, May 12, 2006

And on this day...

Listening to: silence (yes, still)

Today, I did something I hadn't done in eleven years. My reasons were in part justifiable - my physical condition doesn't allow me to stay in one position for long (i.e. I have to get up and walk around), and that can cause problems when following a set programme with about three thousand other people around you. Now this reason was only valid until I left my junior school. After that, the opportunity never arose. Either that, or I was revising for exams and not really in a mood to wander on down to the temple for an entire day.

Since coming to university, it hasn't been an option either. In my first year, I had lectures. In my second year, it was a week before exams. In my third year, I was in the middle of Design Project. This year, I decided to forget the excuses and actually do it. OK, so there's no temple nearby...but that doesn't matter. Should there be witnesses? Why? Do I not trust myself to adhere to the precepts? I would be my witness. My conscience would guide me through a day of reflection...and revision, of course.

Those of you who are familiar with Buddhist practices in Sri Lanka will probably guess what I'm on about. Observing Sil is a tradition for most practising Theravadan Buddhists: it is a time to focus on our Buddhist way of life and remind ourselves of the path that we walk along. This Access to Insight page can explain The Eight Precepts and the significance of observing Sil better than I can.

So how did I combine religious observances with revision? Well, took the Eight Precepts at about 10am, revised till 11am. Went and got a sandwich and ate that before noon. Back to revision. At about 4.30pm, I was feeling a bit, well, bored...so I took my copy of Ven. Walpola Rahula's What the Buddha Taught, and I read a few chapters. Then I went back to revision. Stopped revision at about 5.30pm, read some more of the book, and ended my observance at 6.30pm. I've revised...in more ways than one.

You may or may not agree with the teachings of Lord Buddha, and that is your choice. You may or may not consider yourself a Buddhist, and that is also your choice. However, I urge you...if you do agree with His teachings, and if you do consider yourself a Buddhist, observing Attanga Sila is a very rewarding experience. Please don't deny yourself of this experience by making excuses like I have for the past eleven years.

Sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā!

Preethi Vesak!

Listening to: silence

Vesak. It is a time to remember. A time to reflect. A time to purify one's mind. Not that we shouldn't do this at other times...but today is special.
I am chief of the world,
Eldest am I in the world,
Foremost am I in the world.
This is the last birth.
There is now no more coming to be.
Thro' many a birth in samsara wandered
Seeking, but not finding, the builder of this house.
Sorrowful is repeated birth.
House builder, thou art seen.
Thou shalt build no house again.
All thy rafters are broken; thy ridgepole is shattered.
The mind attains the unconditioned.
Achieved is the end of craving.
Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.

And as such are remembered, the words of Lord Buddha. It is 2,550 years since the passing of this Great Human Being, and it will serve us well to reflect upon His teachings and nourish our lives.

A peaceful Vesak to you all.

Sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā! - May all beings be happy!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lazy summer days are for...

Listening to: 'Your Love Is Mine' by Corinne Bailey Rae [-]

...revision, apparently. Nonetheless, summer is here. I don't care what you say about it still being the 1st week of May - my windows are open, and that means it's summer in England. Besides, 26.5°C can't mean anything else now, can it? Reminds me of the TV advert for Ford's Summer of Love campaign...although the Austin Powers look-alike (albeit with better teeth) in the ad wouldn't necessarily be my ideal 'summer fling potential'. Then again, beggars can't be choosers ;-)

Moving on...

Someone, somewhere along the line, upped the ante of these blooming exams. So much for not being stressed. Here I was, just about to get stressed about not being stressed enough...and suddenly I have reason to get stressed! I should be happy, yes? And my doctor...she says my hormones are wonky...who would've thought, eh?

Aargh bloody lawnmower outside my window drowning the honey emanating from my speakers (no, not literally)! I guess the smell of freshly cut grass is a consolation. That reminds me, better check the pollen count. Yay, it's high...bring on the hay fever :-|

Hmm I'm sure there are more things I wanted to say, but they probably all amount to two things:
  1. I need amazing grades
  2. I want eye candy* (preferably with a triple-digit IQ)
And oh yeah, I'm an idealistic pedant. Most of the time.

OK, lunchtime. Adios amigos.

*n.b. use of 'want' instead of 'need' - I'm not that desperate! LOL