Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

Listening to: 'I Wish You Love' by Lisa Ono [Pretty World]
Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside
I do like to be beside the sea!
I do like to stroll upon the Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play: "Tiddely-om-pom-pom!"
So just let me be beside the seaside
I'll be beside myself with glee
For there's lots of girls besides,
I should like to be beside
Beside the seaside!
Beside the sea!
Written and composed by John A. Glover-Kind (1907)
Performed by many, including Basil Rathbone (1939)
No I'm not talking about the golden beaches of Mother Lanka (not this time, anyway). Instead, I'm talking about the shingle shores of Brighton. Eh? I hear you say. Well Brighton is famous in these parts - it is one of England's most popular beaches, home to annual conferences for many political parties, and home to Brighton Pride. It is also where Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with Waterloo. How's that, fact fans?!

But yeah, I went there for an entirely difference reason - *drum roll please* PseudoRandom attended a conference! OK so it wasn't as glamorous as Darwin's excursion, but considering this was a UK-based conference, I don't think I could've asked for a nicer place (apart from Cornwall, perhaps). The conference was pretty cool. It was an industrial conference, so while all the talks seemed like sales pitches, they did give me an excellent insight into who is doing what in the UK bioprocessing industry. I'm not sure if I made as much use of the networking opportunity as I would have had I been actively seeking a job, but I did make some contacts, which was good.

To be honest though, the best part of the conference was the travel-and-accommodation-paid two day stay in Brighton! I stayed in a proper hotel, which was a huge change from the hostels I've become accustomed to in Europe, and my room overlooked the sea (well, sort of)! I really liked Brighton. If I had to pick one word to describe the vibe, it would be 'quirky'. I can't wait to go again. I only had time to look at the Palace Pier and the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. Oh and the conference dinner was at the Brighton Dome, which is where the '74 Eurovision was held. But there's some more I want to see. I think that'll have to wait until the weather improves, though.

Nonetheless, I managed to take some pretty neat pics, which will no doubt be on flickr soon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ah yes, so this is how it's supposed to feel (is it?)

Listening to: 'Ran Kurahan Mal' by Bathiya & Santhush [Tharunyaye]

So I'm practising again. There's something exhilarating about being surrounded by instruments and just jamming. Trying out harmonies, switching parts around, trying to keep up with the pianist when (s)he decides to change key on a whim...words cannot describe how it makes me feel. If I could sing and teach for the rest of my life, I'd be on top of the world.

But today's session also came with a realisation. Not only am I missing my old voice, I am missing my old ear, and I am missing my youth. I used to be able to catch a harmony on the 1st or 2nd I have to rely on the pianist to guide me into my part. Maybe I'm just rusty, but it was embarrassing. I know I know, it happens to everyone...but I'm the oldest in the ensemble, by a margin of around 6 years, and I feel (rightly or wrongly) like I have a point to prove. And I did not prove that point today. These kids are fresh out of school, they've already found musical extra-curricular activities, and anyway they're far more talented than I ever was. I, on the other hand, left my talent at home when I came to university.

I feel so out of place.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Label cloud, you say?

Listening to: Radio 1

I've been asked how I got the awesome label cloud that you see in my sidebar. I thought I might as well give the link as a separate post, in case anyone else was wondering :-)

So, here it is! --> Blogumus

I might try and figure out how to put the link in the sidebar too. Watch this space! (Well the space on the right, anyway)

UPDATE: Well that was simple enough! Link to the instructions are below the cloud.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ranaviru Upahara

Listening to: 'I'm Yours' by Jason Mraz [We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.]

This week has been declared 'a week of tribute to the victorious military personnel' who were involved in the Pooneryn mission. As I sit at my computer in my cosy room, I think of the soldiers who are lying in muddy trenches, fully exposed to Mother Nature's fury, with only their weapons for comfort. As I contemplate which outfit to buy for Saturday's party, I think of the soldiers who are wearing the same blood-stained fatigues they've been wearing for the past month (if they're lucky). As I get all excited about seeing my parents next month, I think of the soldiers who don't know if they'll ever see their family again. As the Facebook invites for 31st night parties start rolling in, I feel sick as I think of the soldiers who will be laying their lives on the line throughout that night so that we can be merry. Sick...and proud. Oh so proud of our brave servicemen and women who continue to give their lives for my Mother Lanka. Our Mother Lanka.

I hope this war ends soon so that our countrymen can move beyond the past and set about enjoying the future, together, in a united Sri Lanka. Until then, my thoughts and prayers are with those who work towards making that future a reality.
Image courtesy Ministry of Defence

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Decisions, decisions

Listening to: 'Let's Forget About It' by Lisa Loeb [Firecracker]

So anyone who has spent enough time procrastinating on my blog would've noticed that I occasionally dabble in amateur photography. I'm not skilled with all the various variables, and it's a miracle if I manage to take a non-blurry picture without the flash, but I like to think I have an eye for composition. I spot photo opportunities everywhere. Light creeping through bunches of leaves, reflections on rivers and puddles, shadows on walls...the thought "ooh that would make a good photo" crosses my mind frequently.

I also like taking photos of my friends. Of me with my friends. Of us acting silly, of us celebrating birthdays. Of us dancing in a club. My 'people pics' tend to be far less about the capture and much more about the memories they'll bring back when I look at them in a few years' time (and I do look at old photos).

Since mid-2005, my Canon PowerShot A75 has served both these purposes equally well. It has been an absolute gem. But since of late, I'm noticing some circuitry issues, and my baby's internals tend to go crazy just when I'm taking a photo. I find myself coaxing it back to normalcy, by which time the photo opportunity is long gone. It appears that the end is nigh for my first digital camera, and a replacement must be found.

My baby

And this is where it gets complicated. Let us, for a moment, assume that money isn't a problem (ha ha). I would love, and I mean really love, to have an SLR, and play ball with the big guys. I mean those babies are real beauts! And the way people look at you when you've got an SLR slung around your neck...instant respect! :D But seriously, SLRs give the photographer so much freedom to experiment. And omg they look so cool :D

The only negative (again, cost not considered) is that I can't really shove it in my handbag when I'm going clubbing. So I've been looking at bridge cameras and a few compact ones...but I still haven't one that comes close to my baby in terms of balancing arty farty features and fun pic capability. Hmm.

And then there's the money. How much can I realistically afford? I will potentially earn enough money from teaching this term to be able to afford a bridge camera, but I had previously hoped to put that money into driving lessons. I can't ask my parents for money - they've already agreed to help out with the driving - so this either has to come out of my earnings or my savings. Sigh...decisions, decisions.

Is it worth it?

In other news, I'm such a klutz. Heated the last two pieces of chicken curry in the microwave. Took tupperware out of microwave. Dropped now-oily tupperware on the floor. Stood shell-shocked as I watched the larger of the two chicken pieces roll onto the not-so-clean kitchen floor. Floor too dirty (and me too stunned) to invoke 5 second rule (hey I thought it was 10? Oh well.). Waaaaaaaaaah.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A rose by any other name

Listening to: 'Set The Fire To The Third Bar' by Snow Patrol ft. Martha Wainwright [Eyes Open]

Procrastination session II, as promised (well, sort of). I was just thinking...I've now lived in the UK longer than I've lived in Sri Lanka. And that fact is reflected in many aspects of my life - my addiction to X Factor and my love for Team GB, to name but two. But in certain ways I just can't bring myself to become a 'British Asian'.

For starters, I categorically refuse to say 'cheers' when I want to say 'thanks'. It just will not happen. 'Cheers' makes my skin crawl. Possibly weirder than my aversion to 'cheers' is my aversion to the terms Mum and Dad. I did not speak to my Mum and Dad today. I spoke to my mother and father. Or my Ammi and Thaththi - but not my Mum and Dad. I just can't do it! Even when I'm talking about them with my friends (and I tend to do that a lot), I just can't say "My Dad said blah" or "My Mum asked blah" feels so weird! It's like I'm talking about someone else. Yes I know I'm strange.

...oh god I miss them so much. I'll be home in 34 days'...why so long?!?!?! Sigh.

OK sleepy time now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I am

Listening to: 'The Finish Line' by Snow Patrol [Eyes Open]

...borrrrrrrrrred. I should be working on my conference poster. I should have my dinner (goodness knows I'm starving). I should have a bath. I should get some laundry done. I should wash the coffee mug sitting next to me. I should vacuum my carpet. I should clean the toilet.

But I am a lethargic slob who would rather sit at her computer and blog about all the things she should be doing but can't be arsed enough to.

Hmm ok me go have dinner. And then I'll probably procrastinate some more. Whyyyyyyyyyyy? Need motivation. Motivate me, someone. Anyone? Sigh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happiness is...

Listening to: nothing

An excellent dinner, followed by fun in the college bar, and free entry to a club with damn good music. And all this with a handful of friends who mean so much to me, I might as well call them siblings.

I am a lucky human being.


Oh and I saw Lily Cole in the bar...she ain't hot.


OK I should go to sleep now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Take it or leave it

Listening to: 'Crack The Shutters' by Snow Patrol [A Hundred Million Suns]

So the story: A 13 yr old girl has won the right to refuse a heart transplant. She has been taking medication for leukaemia since she was 5, and as a result of this medication, she has developed a hole in her heart. She was offered a heart transplant in July 2007 but she refused it on the grounds that it might not work, and even if it did, she'd have to take medicine for the rest of her life. Her Primary Care Trust (i.e. the NHS Trust that manages the hospitals in her area) tried to take her family to court, saying they would remove the girl from their register if she wasn't brought in for surgery (the reason presumably being that she is below the age of consent, and therefore her opinion cannot be taken into consideration). They have now dropped their case, after a child protection officer said that the girl was adamant that she didn't want surgery, and she wanted to die at home with dignity.

I see three (maybe four) potential points for discussion.
  1. She is 13 - can she make an informed decision?
    Well according to UK laws, if she understands the issues and the consequences, she can be considered legally competent. So presumably the answer would be yes. There are plenty of over-18s whose competence is questionable, so I think it's fair to treat these situations on a case-by-case basis.

  2. Should the PCT have gone to court?
    This is where I add my 2c. I would say 'no', and the title of this post should tell you what my view is on the matter. There are millions of people in this country who are not receiving the medical care they require because of the financial and physical strain on the NHS. There are millions of people who want to be treated, who want to be given the slightest chance to improve their quality of life. There are millions of people who are willing to take the risk of surgery because the prospect of being cured is so attractive and they've got nothing to lose. So why should the NHS waste money and resources on someone who doesn't want to be treated? A heart transplant is a huge financial undertaking for the NHS. If the patient in question doesn't want to make use of the services available, so be it! Someone else who actually wants to live can make use of that opportunity. I know it's the doctor's responsibility to have the patient's best interests at heart, but if the patient doesn't care, I don't see why the doctor should.

  3. Her reasons for refusing surgery
    • 'Cos it might not work - Well using that logic, cancer patients (herself included) shouldn't be treated, because none of the medical methods have a 100% success rate. I shouldn't fly home next month, 'cos the plane might crash, or Colombo might get bombed, or someone might ask me about my love life etc. etc. I shouldn't have had my spine surgery 'cos there was a chance of me ending up paralysed. I shouldn't wake up in the morning 'cos I might have a bad day. What bollocks.
    • If it does work, she'll have to take medicine for the rest of her life - OMG this is where I completely lose it! How many people on this planet take medicine every day? I know insulin-dependent diabetics who have been taking daily insulin injections since they were 13. There are soldiers who have been wounded in battle, who wear their prosthetic arms and legs every morning. There are people in developing countries who walk miles every day just to fill up a jug of water...and she's complaining about some tablets? What makes her so special? What a spoilt brat.

  4. Die with 'dignity'?
    Eh? I watched my grandmother pass away due to old age and nothing else (I don't mean figuratively - I was chanting pirith at her bedside when she died) and she couldn't have asked for a more peaceful way to go (unless she was asleep). Let me tell you - there is nothing dignified about death. This dignity business is a fabrication of the media for the purpose of the euthanasia debate, which is irrelevant here. I can understand the girl not wanting to die with a million and one tubes inside her, but the chances of that happening are in no way decreased by her refusing surgery. The use of such a buzzword in this context only weakens her argument in my eyes.
I understand that she has a medical condition that makes her life very difficult, but her reasons for preferring to wither and die make me sad. At the end of the day though, it is her decision and no one can force her, so I respect that. Let me put it this way: I respect her right to choose, but I don't respect her choice. I can do that, can't I?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Read at your own peril

Listening to: my sobs

I indicated. I waited for a lull in the traffic and I fucking indicated, dammit! And I had lights and everything...can't you see a flashing red light moving across the road?! I can't help it if you're as blind as a bat. Scrap that, bats have radar, they would've sensed that there's someone trying to change lanes and they would've slowed down instead of speeding ahead and then tooting the horn as if it was my bloody fault. You're supposed to keep your eyes on the road, dimwit. Not stop in the middle of the road and ask me what I was doing. Asshole. What the hell were you doing? Scratching your balls, probably. Goodness knows they're bigger than your brain. Thank goodness I saw the reflection of your headlights on the road and I slowed down. Else I probably wouldn't be typing this post now. I can't believe you had the fucking audacity to blame me. I don't know whose right of way it was, and frankly I don't care. Having the right of way doesn't give you the right to run me over. You weren't remotely nearby when I signalled and attempted to change lanes the way everyone does.

You hate students on bikes? Well I hate you too, so we're even. If I wasn't afraid of the repercussions I would've done something to show you how scared you made me. Bloody hell 10 mins later and I'm still shaking. I hope you have as miserable an evening as I will now have because of you.

Gah I hate it when my Buddhist principles go on holiday.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Listening to: 'If There's A Rocket Tie Me To It' by Snow Patrol [A Hundred Million Suns]

So I'm listening to the new SP album nonstop these days. So good! It's like everything good from the previous two albums combined. Me happy. And with every song, I just picture what it would be like live. With the crowd singing along, the lights on stage...magic! But I digress.

I've had a good weekend. Shorty was over and we engaged in idle chit chat (and not a lot else). It seems like everyone we know is getting married these days. I mean what the hell?! Is there some kind of 'marriage virus' going around, making everyone want to tie the knot? What's the rush?

I'm way, way, waaaay behind everyone else on the relationship 'snakes and ladders' board. I mean is it even possible to slide down a snake before you've had your first turn? If it is, I'm there. So as disappointing as it is, I'm kinda resigned to the fact that I'm not going to make any advances in this game. I have no chance in hell of getting a guy to like me, so there's no point even trying.

Now it's easy enough to accept this and move on when I'm the only person concerned. However, it's a completely different story when other people get involved. And that's what I'm scared about. I'm going home in a month's time, after a long hiatus...and I'm sure (just like the last time) every one will expect me to be half way up the aisle. "Is there anyone special we should know about, PR?", "So how's the love life men? Any gossip? *wink wink*", "What?! You still haven't got a boyfriend? What are you waiting for child?", "So you'll be graduating soon no? Time to get married and settle down!"...sigh I could go on for hours.

All these years (I mean this isn't a new occurrence by any means) I've been able to fend off the interrogations with "Oh but I'm only [insert age here]!" or "Too busy to think about boys, Aunty!"...but I don't know if these will work any more, especially with most of my friends getting hitched. I'm out of practice on the whole 'making excuses for my existence' front. And it's making me dread the trip home.

So what can I do? I'm tempted to tell anyone who asks that I'm actually a lesbian and my girlfriend is a stripper at a lap-dancing club here. That should shut them up. But woe betide if they actually believe poor parents! I could retort with the "well find me someone then!" line, but then they actually might, and that's a recipe for disaster. After that I'm all out of ideas.

Sigh, combine this and my weight issue and I've got enough dread to make me not want to go home at all. AAAARGH.

Friday, November 07, 2008

OMG I'm so excited!

Listening to: Radio 1

I said I wouldn't miss it and I didn't:
PseudoRandom is going to see Snow Patrol at the O2 in March.

OK I'm going to go get on with the rest of my life now. Breathe, PR, breathe :-).

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Listening to: 'True Colours' by Eva Cassidy [American Tune]

I was around 6 years old when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I knew things were changing in South Africa, but that was about it. And then the Berlin Wall came down. Again, I realised something big was happening, but nothing more. Same goes for the fall of the USSR, a year or so later.

I was 14 when Hong Kong was handed back to China. I was now old enough to realise what was happening, but not necessarily old enough to understand what it would mean for the people of Hong Kong.

There are many more defining historical moments that each of us will remember to varying degrees. Does Barack Obama's election count as one of those moments? I would say yes. All you have to do is take a brief look at the history of African Americans to know that these people have been waiting a long time for this. The election of someone who is not a white male into the White House is a massive step forward for the US.

But surely the whole world isn't having Obama fever just because he's black?! One the contrary, I don't think that has anything to do with it. The way I see it, there are two main reasons why people are so excited:
  1. He's not Bush.
    The Bush administration managed to cement the view of the US as cowboy country. It's all about shootin' them Injuns, y'all! Or Islamic extremists and non-existent WMDs, in this case. The world is sick of it.

  2. He's a thinker (and a talker).
    Now why is that such a great thing? Well think of the presidential memorials at (and near) the National Mall in DC. Ab Lincoln's memorial has the Gettysburg Address and the 2nd Inauguration Address on its walls. Jefferson's Memorial has quotations from his writings, including the Declaration of Independence and the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom. At JFK's grave at Arlington Cemetery, there's an engraving of his famous "And so my fellow Americans..." quote. Barack Obama has already made at least two speeches with quotations that have the potential to outlive him. There has always been a place for inspirational orators in US history. And Obama fits right in.
Personally, I wouldn't say I have Obama fever, but I am happy he won. Now I just hope he delivers.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Skinny people have issues too

Listening to: Radio 1

I called a relative back home today - they had lost a loved one a few weeks ago and my texts hadn't got through, so I called to sympathise in person. They've known me since I was waddling around in a nappy, so it was nice to talk to them. Until, of course, they asked the dreaded question.
So, have you put on any weight?
I mean what the...?!?!?! Why is everyone on this planet obsessed with my weight? I'm not dead or dying, isn't that good enough for you?!?!?!?

It's taken me long enough to get rid of my weight complex without having people making me feel guilty for not being curvy.

OK, rant over.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

So many thoughts, so little energy

Listening to: nothing

Ugh. Just as I recover from freshers' flu (well not totally, 'cos I've been sniffling steadily for the past few weeks), I manage to catch the bug that's doing the rounds in the department. Two and a half days of moderately high temperature followed by a stomach that can't digest anything. Why is my immune system so absolutely - for lack of a better word - shit? Sigh. Maybe I need to start taking my vitamins again.

I'm going to try and pen down the things on my mind, just so that I don't feel completely useless (in reality, I just want to curl up in bed).

So first of all, the Black Kids concert. Oh wow, what an experience. They were excellent (as was Ladyhawke, who was supporting - she's so shy!). The crowd, on the other hand, was nothing like I'd ever experienced before. Now I've been for a grand total of 4 concerts (including this one) so I'm not the most experienced out there, so please excuse my ignorance...but moshing? crowd surfing? I thought these were the stuff of legends? Apparently not. And worst of all, the partakers were all under the age of 16. Yes, sixteen. I felt so out of place. There were some others who looked like they remembered the 80s, but not many. The funniest part (in a tragic sorta way) for me was during the changeover, when they had music playing in the background. All the kiddies were singing along to the Mystery Jets' "Two Doors Down"...but when that was followed by INXS' "Need You Tonight", it was the senior citizens' time to shine. And yours truly knew the words to both songs. Talk about being in limbo! But yes, the concert was fab, and I even splashed out on a fancy Black Kids t-shirt!

Next up is the Brand/Ross phone call fiasco. I'm not gonna explain the whole thing but the link gives a time line that should explain everything. Personally, I can't stand Russell Brand. I don't think he's funny. And I definitely don't see anything attractive about him, so I just don't understand the hype. Jonathan Ross, I dislike to a lesser degree. I've seen his chat show a few times, and while I don't find it as entertaining as Jay Leno, it's not unbearable. Does he deserve the rumoured £6mil salary? Probably not. But then I don't pay the license fee that contributes to that salary, so it doesn't overly concern me. What does concern me though, is the furore that this prank call thing has caused. As many people have commented before me, aren't there bigger things to be worrying about right now? The UK economy has shrunk over the past 3 months and if it continues to do so over the next 3 months, we'll officially be in a recession. In 3 days' time, the citizens of the USA are going to poke around in the future of the Western World. The UK apparently has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe. Aren't these the things people should be worrying about, rather than whether some overpaid DJ should get the sack for talking about his sexual escapades on the radio? Sigh I don't get it.

Third, is Quantum of Solace. Yay I saw it yesterday! Spent the entire afternoon trying to get my fever down so I could go. It was worth it :-). I guess I kinda miss the cheesy Bond, but in a way I think he's best where he is - in the past. The new Bond is more mysterious, more uncontrollable, and definitely more believable. Daniel Craig doesn't really push my buttons, but he's excellent as an enigmatic 007. And there's something about Olga Kurylenko that's quite cute. So yes, thoroughly enjoyable.

Hmm what else. Oh Snow Patrol tickets are out next week. I can't wait! And I have so much X Factor to catch up on, it's beyond funny.

OK now I'm pooped. Time for my soup :-(.