Thursday, December 03, 2009


Listening to: 'Tell You Something' by Alicia Keys [As I Am]

I've been so utterly busy that I haven't had time to blog for 2 whole weeks! I should be getting ready for bed now but I was having blogger withdrawal so here I am with a quick update.

Those of you who watched the X Factor results show on Sunday would've seen Alicia Keys' performance. How amazing was she?!?! I'm in love. So in love am I that I haven't been able to listen to anything else for the past 3 days...and I JUST BOOKED A TICKET TO SEE HER LIVE AT THE O2 NEXT MAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it's the day before my birthday, how cool is that?! The only catch is that I don't know if I'll actually be in the UK in May...but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I missed the youtube concert yesterday 'cos I was being sociable, but I'll try and watch the highlights at some point. Her new single Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart is absolutely gorgeous...I can't wait for the album!

In other news, I'm going home next week!!! I'm swimming in a sea of unfinished experiments, horrible weather, a messy flat and a really bad cold, and at times it's difficult to get excited about going home 'cos there's so much to do. I'm also paranoid that SriLankan is gonna mess up my booking, which doesn't help. I am, however, getting excited about my friend's wedding. I'm supposed to be organising the hen party and giving a speech, neither of which I've done it should be interesting. Hopefully I'll get time to actually write the speech! Sigh at this rate I'm gonna have a hell of a lot of things to do on the flight.

The Teaching Associate Programme I mentioned earlier is going really well...I've been observing lecturers and it's a real eye-opener! Wow I was such a horrible undergrad. The only thing I'm dreading is writing essays based on my findings. I don't 'do' essays. Blogging and thesis-writing are the closest I get to writing prose. Anyway we shall see.

Hmm there's nothing else to report, really. Work is going OK *touchwood*, I'm just trundling along until I go home. There's the usual mix of newish music I'm enjoying, like the Alicia Keys track I mentioned above, and the new Plan B track Stay Too Long. He might look like a chav, but the boy's got talent.

OK I'm properly yawning now so I guess it's time to hit the sack. This rather haphazard post marks 100 posts for this year!!! This is a lot more than I usually manage, so it's quite a big deal for me. I've also noticed that my comment count has gone up considerably, so thank you to everyone who reads this blog and takes the time to comment :-). As usual, I probably won't have much time to blog from SL, so this might be the last you hear from me for this year. I'll try and get a few updates in, but if I can''s wishing you a peaceful end to 2009 and a prosperous start to 2010!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bullyproofing my 16 year old self

Listening to: Radio 1

I've been tagged by Scrumpy and Whacko in the latest blogging tag, and 1720GMT today is the big moment for BBC's anti-bullying campaign, I've combined the two into one mega post...
Hello chuti[1] PR,

What?! Don't tell me I'm disrupting your precious O/L revision...we both know you were napping. Ammi[2] doesn't know yet...but as usual, she will soon. No, I'm not the Ghost of Christmas Future...this is November, fool. And can you please stop trying to explain this in your usual painstakingly logical manner and shut up so I can impart you with a few pearls of wisdom? Not that you'd listen to me anyway, you stubborn little...ah, thank you.

OK...since you're supposedly studying, let's start with that. O/Ls will be fine (yes, even your 3 month crash course in Lit.). Ignore the self-righteous bigots who love to trash international schools, you'll survive. You'll love your A/L subjects...except Physics, which you'll just 'like'. A/Ls will seem easier than O/Ls. Yeah you're weird like that...accept it. Embrace it even! More on that later.

FFS don't worry about all those people trying to turn you into a mini Thaththi[3] (you look like him, that's enough)! Do what appeals to you. Remember when you were 7, you told Ammi you'd study at Oxford? Screw that, you're going some place far better ;-)...don't let that horrendous mock interview faze you. At university, your grades will be marginally above average, which'll take some getting used to. But do your best, that's what counts. Oh and you know that desire to help others understand stuff? Keep that at the foremost of your'll be motivation for some serious shit you put yourself through. Your PhD (yes, you do a PhD) will be one heck of a rollercoaster ride...better toughen up your stomach!

Hmm what next? Ah yes. The PMS will more puking and fainting...oh except for this one time when you faint at freshers' fair and the ambulance crew have to escort you out of the hall with loads of people watching. But yeah, the worst is over. You'll lose about 5kg over the next decade. People will continue to give you dagger looks and say you're anorexic...meh. Don't bother with the high protein/high calorie diets, they won't work for you. And I admire your resolve but not eating chocolate won't reduce your pimples, so just get back to the good stuff, k? Oh and LOOK AFTER YOUR TEETH!!!

Now the personal stuff. The easy bits first: your love life will be pretty uneventful for the next 10 years...unless unrequited infatuations count as 'events' (please don't waste your time). You will make some amazing friends, but you'll still keep in touch with the gang. You'll be two continents away from SS but you'll still be as close as ever.

Lastly, the most important part. How can I put this gently...all the times people said nasty things about your accent, your skin colour, your country, your weight, your opinions, your preferred language, your hobbies, your social class (I know you remember every instance)...the bullying has affected you. I know you think it hasn't, and you (and a lot of other people) think I'm being a dramaqueen...but it has. Greater people have turned to alcohol, drugs, self-harming etc., but you've channelled all the negative energy into your studies and you're doing ok. You're doing the right thing, and I'm very proud of you! The bullying won't stop though. People will continue to judge you by your social class (albeit from a different perspective)...they'll also be hurtful about your career choices, your gender, your life choices, your body, your race...and more. We both know that these things don't really matter, and you're principled/stubborn enough not to change simply because you're in a minority of one. But it will hurt. A lot. You will cry. A lot. And when the studies get difficult, when you get stuck and realise you can't do everything on your own...your world will fall apart. The wall you built to protect yourself from the bullies will crumble, and every ugly insecurity you can imagine will surface. You'll hate your body, your mind, your work, your personality, your'll hate every aspect of your life.

Now dry your eyes for the good news - you turn things around. You start writing a public journal (that's this thing) and vent your thoughts. You find people you can confide in. You take the extremely brave step of opening up to your parents. Slowly, but surely, you make your way back. Clichés aside, it really is a voyage of discovery. But remember this...every part of you, the good, the bad and the ugly...they're all you. And you are perfect in your imperfections. You are a good person and you live your life by the Dhamma[4]...with that, you can't go wrong. You'll be bruised and battered by people's harsh words, but you must nurse yourself back to health. Don't let anyone belittle you, your hopes or your fears. Love and accept yourself unconditionally. Please. If not you, then who?

OK I'm outta here. Know that I'm very proud of you, and you don't turn out so bad ;-).

With Blessings of the Noble Trip Gem, and the biggest, warmest hug ever,

Loku[5] PR

Sorry for the long and unfunny read; it's stuff I've been wanting to blog about for a while. One person's bullying is another person's banter and sometimes it's hard to tell them apart, but please try. A little sensitivity goes a long way.

Tagged: Sabby and Lady Divine

1 - little; 2 - Mother; 3 - Father; 4 - Buddhist teachings; 5 - big

Have you met Phil the badger?

Listening to: Radio 1

I couldn't not blog about this. So there's this awesome drum n bass track by J Majik & Wickaman called Feel About You. Chris Moyles seems to think that it sounds like they're singing 'Phil the Badger'...and now every time I hear the song, I have this urge to sing "Phil the badger, Phil the badger"! Some people are saying 'feel the badger' but I think 'Phil the badger' sounds a lot better.

Isn't it funny how we sometimes think we know the words to songs and we sing along, only to find that we're singing something completely different?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

X Factor fever

Listening to: 'Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart' by Alicia Keys [The Element of Freedom]

So Jamie Afro's been booted off X Factor in Week 6. I can't say I'm unhappy...the whole 'one arm up in the air' rock anthem stance was way too clichéd for my liking. But JEdward's still there...WTF. It's ridiculous. There are some serious idiots in this country...I mean imagine JEdward releasing a single? An ALBUM?! Geez...and I thought Mr. Blobby was bad.

The thing about X Factor is, unlike Big Brother, you can't forcibly evict people. You just have to hope that more people vote for your favourite. And when the anti-JEdward votes get split amongst all the other contestants, getting rid of the twins becomes quite difficult. Simon passed up a perfect opportunity to weed them out last week, but being the businessman that he is, he kept the crowd-pullers in. Let's face it, half the people who voted this week wouldn't have even watched the show if not for JEdward. And as for those who complained to Ofcom, are you guys for real?! The act that got the least amount of votes got kicked can that be a violation of the code of conduct? I wouldn't be surprised if most of the people who complained were those who hadn't even voted.

Anyway JEdward aside, we've filtered down to pretty much the best of the lot. I'd say Lucie was better than Lloyd, but I guess teenage girls are more likely to vote than boys, and Lloyd definitely gets the teenage girl vote. So Cheryl's got him and Joe, Dannii's got Stacey and Simon's got Olly and Danyl. So what happens next? There's one more 'bottom two' scenario next week, and from then on it's a simple eviction process. So here are my predictions:
  • Week 7: Lloyd and JEdward in the bottom two; Lloyd to be evicted
  • Week 8: JEdward
  • Week 9: Danyl
  • Week 10 Round 1: Stacey
Which leaves Joe and Olly to fight for the top spot in Round 2. Joe's probably my favourite, but I think Olly has a better chance of winning, and I'd be happy if he does.

The whole JEdward thing does beg the question though: how important is the Northern Irish vote? There's definitely regional voting going on, everyone knows that. There's no other way to explain how Eoghan Quigg made it into last year's finals. It'd be interesting to see how the voting numbers change in the absence of an Irish (northern or republic) contestant. Oh well, makes for good tv I suppose.

All in all, I think X Factor continues to be the most entertaining reality tv show out there. Strictly is nice, but the whole C-list celebrity thing makes it a bit boring for me - either have properly famous people or don't have it at all. I mean more people know Phil Tufnell as a reality tv regular than a former England cricketer! This is the show that had Darren Gough, Kelly Brook and Alesha Dixon! C'mon BBC, sort it out.

Anyway I think that's enough about reality tv for one post. We shall see how X Factor pans out. Till then, I'm gonna continue listening to Alicia Keys' absoflippinlutely amazing new single.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why do I even bother?!

Listening to: 'Brick by Boring Brick' by Paramore [Brand New Eyes]

You haul your lazy ass into the lab, with a plan to steadily chip away at that mountain of work that needs to be done before you go home.
You stare mind-numbingly at your computer screen while the hours crawl by, waiting for the 7-hr reaction to be completed, so that you can do the last bit of your experiment and go home for a late dinner.
You go back into the lab as the end time approaches, hungry, bored and tired...only to find that the bottle of solvent you need to complete the experiment is empty. Now there are two possibilities: either someone finished the solvent and put an empty bottle back in the cupboard, or someone didn't close the bottle properly and the solvent evaporated. Either way, it's bad news. You go on a hunt around every lab you have access to, but you can't find what you need.
You scold yourself for not checking the actual contents of the bottle when you checked on it earlier, and curse whoever caused the stuff to disappear. Tomorrow's Friday, which means it'll be Monday by the time you get a new bottle, which means you've now lost 3 days of potential experimental work.
You shrug your shoulders and put your rain-gear on, and step outside to start your journey home. You cycle through the river that was once a main road, all the while feeling the wind push you sideways, and squinting to clear the rain from your eyes.
You get home and try and find space for your soaking wet rain-gear, shoes, socks and jeans on the two radiators, and have a long bath.
You put some Paramore on ('cos nothing else is angsty and melodic enough) and heat up the microwaveable Sainsburys bacon and leek pasta bake (well it was either that or the microwaveable spaghetti bolognese), and sit down to type up a blog post (at least then the day wouldn't have been a complete waste).
And now you will dry your hair (which will no doubt take ages), take a dose of fukitol and get into bed with a good book, only to fall asleep before getting to the end of the first page.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Journal entry

Listening to: 'Rain On Me' by Cheryl Cole [3 Words]

In exactly 4 weeks' time (pretty much down to the hour) I will be touching down at Bandaranaike International Airport. Can I get a wooooooooo hooooooooo?! Thank you. One or two of you will know that I was rather apprehensive about telling my supervisor. This was partly due to my own guilt of taking a break so close to the end of my PhD, and partly due to the fact that the last time I was faced with this situation, the response I got was...
Well I'm not going to tell you not to go, but you know how much work needs to be done...
See why I was scared? Well today's conversation went rather differently...
Me: Could you have a look at my experimental plan for the next few weeks? I'm going home for Christmas and I'd like to make sure I'm on track to finish soon...
Sup: Hmm yup that looks ok...when are you leaving?
Me: Erm...*gulp*...the 8th
Sup: OK let's meet on the 7th morning then
Huh? That's it? Just like that? No disappointed face? No guilt trip? Are you sure you're feeling ok?! Hmm maybe I should just smile and leave before he changes his mind. That was a lot easier than I'd planned.

So anyway, now I'm letting myself get slightly excited about the trip. Two weddings (one family, one friend), one school reunion, a few days out of Colombo (I'm pushing for Galle, need to work on Daddy Dearest), some sari shopping, SS and her sis visiting, fish curry! And of course time to spend with friends and family. I'm sure as hell not gonna let this tiny issue of a wisdom tooth extraction get in the way of my enjoyment. Although I am wondering when I'm actually gonna get a chance to sleep, get cuddles from my parents and watch TV! Hmm...

Now the flipside of all this is, I have a ton of work to get done before I go home. But I'm lazy. It's grey, wet and cold, and I'm sneezing. Not a good combination, I tell you. But I have to motivate myself somehow. The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can finish my PhD. I'll get through this! I can do thi...*achchooooo*!!! Sigh.

In the meantime, I've got Cheryl Cole's album on repeat. Now all you self-appointed music connoisseurs can pipe down: this is manufactured pop at its best. Cheryl is the Nation's Sweetheart, and no matter what the cynics say about it all being a PR stunt, I'm well and truly under the spell of those dimples, and I'm happier for it. In fact, with the absolute disaster that is JEdward, Cheryl's becoming the only reason to watch X Factor on the weekend (although Joe is incredibly sweet and Olly is quite charming...surprisingly sexy even, in an unassuming's those moves, man *swoon*). Danyl and Jamie just get on my nerves. Lloyd is fit (he's 16 so it's not illegal to say that) but he can't sing well enough. And Stacey can sing, and she's decent-looking...but OMG is she ditzy or what?! Last year we had Alexandra, JLS (I swear Marvin is hawwwt), Diana, Laura...this year is such a disappointment in comparison.

But back to Cheryl's album. I didn't really like 'Fight For This Love' when it first came out, but now I adore it. As for the rest of the album...well the stand-out track for me is '3 Words'. I can just picture it being played (remixed by someone like Calvin Harris, probably) in some sweaty club in Ibiza. The bass line is so heavy...just perfect.'s thumbprint is all over the album, but that's not such a bad thing. The lyrics are cringeworthy, and yeah there's a fair bit of autotune, but who cares? The songs make me feel good. That's what matters to me.

Right I better get ready for bed if I wanna wake up on time tomorrow.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Hell hath no fury like...a politician criticised?

Listening to: 'Kings and Queens' by 30 Seconds to Mars [This is War]

Over the past week, there's been a furore regarding the sacking of Prof. David Nutt, and it's got me thinking about the role of science in politics, the purpose of advisory boards, freedom of speech etc. etc. For the uninitiated among you, here's what went down.
Prof. Nutt was the head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which (most notably) advises the government on the classification of harmful substances. The council members are actively engaged in the study of harmful substances (research, and presumably treatment of addiction) and are therefore experts in the field. The council presents scientific data to the government regarding the impact of substance use and abuse.
Now I haven't read the paper myself, but apparently Prof. Nutt's recent research shows that alcohol and tobacco are statistically more problematic than cannabis and ecstasy (in terms of dependence and physical harm). To this effect, he was a fierce proponent of a re-evaluation of their classification. He indicated in a lecture that he believed the high (in his mind unnecessarily so) classification of cannabis was more 'politically motivated than scientifically justified'...for which he was fired by the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson (a more detailed account can be found on Wikipedia, as usual).
It's sad that less than a month after the BBC (a government-related organisation) allowed BNP representation on Question Time (seen as a classic display of 'freedom of speech'), someone has lost his government-related position because he publicly disagreed with government policy. The Home Secretary's argument was that Nutt cannot sit on an advisory board and criticise government policy...but surely as a citizen of this country he's allowed to point out what he sees as wrong? Presumably the lecture was used to express his personal and professional opinion. If he was a parliamentarian and therefore a representative of the government, then yes I'll accept that he shouldn't be openly criticising his employer (he should resign, and then criticise them). But this brings me to the next point: do advisers represent the government?

I'm gonna Advisers represent the community from which they were selected for their advisory positions. So in this case, Prof. Nutt represents the scientific community. So what is the role of these advisers? Well, they respond to the government's request for advice. The government is at liberty to either accept or reject that advice. In the interest of transparency, the government is encouraged to explain their decision...but as far as I'm aware, there's no official requirement to do so. If the government chooses not to be transparent, people will speculate...and that's exactly what Nutt did.

Now in my opinion, Alan Johnson could've done the slimy politician diplomatic thing and fudged a reason for disregarding scientific evidence. Having lost family members to both alcohol and tobacco abuse, I wouldn't be surprised if Prof. Nutt's research is solid, but I can also understand if there were some non-scientific factors (such as crime statistics or cultural influences) that contributed to the government's position. I mean, there must be some reason that the government decided to ignore the facts, right? Johnson could've risen to the challenge and pointed out these reasons, thereby highlighting the complexity of policy-making...instead, he resorted to the thuggish option. Such a knee-jerk reaction merely gave Prof. Nutt's opinion more weight, and considering the public's current view of politicians, did the government no favours.

My personal views on alcohol, tobacco and cannabis are the same as they are on all stimulants (except chocolate and coffee, now those are sacred :P ), so I have no vested interest in the relevant government policy. I'll accept whatever policy is employed, as long as it is justifiable. As a member of the scientific community, I have a lot of respect for sound scientific research, but I accept that there are situations in which other factors take precedence. What irks me is the government's inability to accept constructive criticism...a flaw that's becoming more apparent with every crisis that NuLabour faces (and there have been many in recent times). With an election coming up, you'd think they'd try and get their house in order...or maybe they've accepted defeat already? Tick tock NuLabour, your time's running out.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Cover Session #7

Listening to: 'Help Yourself' by Amy Winehouse [Frank]

One of my favourite genres of music is soul. I don't mind if it's Motown, Chicago or blue-eyed soul, I love it all. I'm not sure when I got into it...but I have a feeling my neighbour playing The Commodores full blast every Sunday morning when I was growing up had something to do with it!

The song I've chosen to cover this time was co-written by Carole King, and originally performed by The Shirelles. It's been covered gazillions of times from the '60s up until this year - the Wikipedia entry for the song has a list. I've heard a few of them - notably those by Dusty Springfield and Carole King herself...but the original and the Dusty version are too fast for my liking, and the Carole King version I find a bit frilly (for lack of a better word). The only version I've heard that manages to capture the vulnerability depicted in the lyrics is, unsurprisingly, by Amy Winehouse.

I love Amy Winehouse. I think she's an amazingly gifted musician. Her Back to Black album is possibly my favourite out of all the albums I own. I remember playing it in the car for my parents when I was home last year (after the "careful, the language and themes aren't very family-friendly" warning)...they loved it, and my mother said she could hear the sadness in Amy's voice. I really really hope the next album (scheduled for release next year) lives upto expectations...goodness knows she's had enough of drama in the past two years to get some lyrical inspiration!

Anyway, back to the song. I knew I wouldn't be able to do Amy's version justice, so I kinda made it a bit more '60s-esque (I hope) with the harmony and the tempo...along the lines of this version by Brenda Lee. So here is my rendition of 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow' by The Shirelles (and Amy Winehouse, amongst others). Enjoy!

If you want to listen to it offline, you can download it here. I can't believe it's taken me this long to get another cover done! Ah well, better late than never :-). There's a bit of distortion in places and you might need to turn the volume up a bit...hopefully all these technical hitches will be sorted out for the next cover, whenever that is.

Right, now it's time for bed. Or rather, it was time for bed a while back. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"What a girl wants...

Listening to: nothing her very own Mark Darcy, who'll like her just as she is."
OK yes yes it's soppy I know. Don't blame me, blame Jane Austen, BBC and Colin Firth.

Monday, October 26, 2009

No one does period drama like the BBC

Listening to: nothing

I just finished watching the final episode of the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma (available on the iPlayer here if you're in the UK and you missed it...and I think it's on youtube here). Oh. My. God. How does the BBC always manage to do this? They take a guy who's ok looking, put him in Regency England attire, add some sexual tension and transform him into this totally and utterly irresistible man-god. Most famously they did it with Pride and Prejudice's Mr Darcy, and now they've done it with Mr Knightley. I mean let's be honest here, Jonny Lee Miller's all right, but he's nothing special. But as Mr Knightley? hubba hubba, *swoon*, *drool*, weak at the knees...and so on and so forth. Sexy is an understatement.

But now I'm left with a dilemma. Should I go to sleep (and no doubt have very pleasant dreams), or satisfy my now-whetted appetite and indulge in a bit of lake action with Colin Firth?

"Well hello there, Mr Darcy..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shameless plug

Listening to: Radio 1

So I know I haven't posted any songs recently...I just haven't had the time. I have an idea for one song and bits recorded for another song, so hopefully I'll get around to completing them soon.

In the meantime, it's business as usual over at the Darkside...Gehan's just done a beautiful rendition of Rob Thomas' Ever the Same, and in case you're one of the few ppl that follows my blog and not his (eh? what's wrong with you? :P ), this is to plug the fact that the backing vocals on the recording are by yours truly. So go check it out here!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Quick Update

Listening to: 'Hypercaine' by DJ Fresh [Kryptonite]

About a month back, I blogged about my 'philosophy of teaching', as part of my application for the Teaching Associate Programme. The essay I handed in was more or less what I put in that post, if at all slightly modified based on the feedback I received. Apologies for those of you on Twitter who have heard this already, but I just wanted to say, I GOT IN!!! It's been a while since something good happened without any heartache, so I'm chuffed, to put it mildly. The introductory session is next Wednesday, so only then will I know what's in store. It doesn't matter though...I'm one step closer to doing what I want to do with my life, and that feels good.

However, it's not all hunky dory. I had an interesting meeting with my supervisor this week. The good news is, the end of my PhD is in sight! The bad news is, I have tons of experiments to do before I head home for xmas. And by 'experiments', I mean those of the 22-hr variety. So I'm in for more than a few sleepless weeks. I'm worried that my body won't be able to handle it, but I have no choice. I'm going to have to banish the word 'tired' (and its various synonyms) from my vocabulary. But if it means I can have a proper guiltless holiday at home (with some proper sleep thrown in), it'll be worth it.

OK gotta run now. The wonderful Ajahn Brahmavamso is giving a talk in half an hour...I've never seen him live so I'm looking forward to this!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Doing my bit

Listening to: 'Take Off Your Cool' by Outkast ft. Norah Jones [Speakerboxx/The Love Below]

I found out about Blog Action Day via this post by Whacko. It seemed like a cool idea, so I registered my blog on the website, thereby making a commitment to blog about Climate Change today. Now that I'm sitting in front of my computer, I can't think of what to say. Oh well, I'll just ramble as usual then.

I can't say I was that bothered about Climate Change when I was growing up. What with exams, friends, boys etc., environmental responsibility was a non-issue. Then I came to the UK and my room in College had a recycling bin, the student body had an 'environmental officer', and we had a course on 'sustainability'. I was being more environmentally responsible, but not consciously...I was doing so simply because the infrastructure was in place.

Things are a bit different now. I carry a shopping bag with me at all times so I don't have to use polythene bags, I have a compost bin, I recycle paper, glass, cardboard, batteries, and plastics (at least whatever the Council has the facilities for), and I'm conscious about energy consumption. British Gas' 'Zero Carbon' option is pricey, but it ensures that my consumption is matched with renewable sources. And I really don't know what everyone's complaining about - the light from the energy-saving bulbs I'm using isn't harsh at all!

I'm not sure why I started doing all this. The infrastructure was available, yes...but it was by no means 'in place' like it was at College. I could've easily ignored the green wheelie bin and just dumped everything in the black bin. But something's switched inside. Environmental responsibility has kicked in.

The climate is changing. No matter what the cynics say, society's impact on the environment will someday blow up in our faces. We could lobby governments, criticise politicians for not making a genuine effort, blame everything on the oil companies...but at the end of the day, this is our planet, and we are responsible for our actions. I think the productive (and responsible) thing to do, would be to follow the 3R's in our own little way.
  • Reduce consumption
  • Re-use assets
  • Recycle waste
I mean, why not?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Please Make it Stop!

Listening to: 'The Long Day is Over' by Norah Jones [Come Away With Me]

Don't you just hate mood swings? It's the loss of control that gets me. I strive to be level-headed, rational...and the idea that a simple setback could reduce me to a blubbering emotional wreck is rather unnerving, to say the least. And by 'simple setback', I mean something trivial like a bad hair day. Or a traffic jam. Or a supervisor meeting...oh wait, that last one's not trivial, is it? Damn.

Oh well...I used to think that it was meeting my supervisor that triggered my bad mood. Maybe I should just time my meetings better?
"I'm afraid I can't meet you next week. I'm going to be in a bad mood then."
That'd work, yeah? Hmm.

The good news is, after listening to some pirith and some Norah Jones, I'm calm. The bad news is, today's 'episode' was just a warning: the next few days are gonna be jam-packed with stomach cramps, back aches and nausea. I guess there's only one thing left to do...

The images are by Half Moon Bay...their stuff is hilarious!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Show me how you get down

Listening to: 'Horchata' by Vampire Weekend [Contra]

The UK loves choreographed 'group' dances. Whether it's a traditional ceilidh, the Hokey Cokey or the Macarena, a fun song with easy steps (and some alcohol, presumably) will be enough to get the crowd on the dance floor. The latest song to feature its own dance moves is Migraine Skank, by Gracious K. Melodically, it's nothing special...but I just can't get enough of that grime beat!

Can you spot Diversity and Flawless, of "Britain's Got Talent" fame?

Gracious K happens to be the cousin of possibly the UK's most commercially successful grime artist, Dizzee Rascal. He's just done a remake of the early '90s track Dirty can see his version, as performed on the Live Lounge Tour, here.

Moving on from grime and on to...drum n bass. I am absolutely loving this track by DJ Fresh.

Check out the crazy dancing!

Another dnb track I'm really liking is the new one by Chase and Status featuring Plan B. They collaborated before on Pieces (which was awesome) and now they've come together again for End Credits, which is scheduled to feature in the movie Harry Brown. I haven't been able to find an official video for the single, but you can listen to it here.

I realise I've been quite heavy on the beats in this to finish off, I'm gonna throw a curveball and go for something more chilled. This track is off the soundtrack to (500) Days of Summer (which I loved; how cool is Zooey Deschanel?!). It's a cult-ish soundtrack, with the likes of The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian and Regina Spektor, but my favourite is Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap.

Trippy, huh?

Sigh, this song makes me wanna fly. Equally cute and trippy is Vampire Weekend's new one Horchata, which you can listen to (and download...legally!) here.

OK so yeah, those are just some of the songs I've been obsessing over lately. There are others, but I'll leave them for later. A family of frogs seems to have taken shelter in my throat, but hopefully home remedies will rectify the situation soon. I can't believe I've got freshers' flu before I've even met any freshers. How lame is that?! Ugh.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Identity Crisis

Listening to: 'Time After Time' by Eva Cassidy [Time After Time]

I've wanted to blog about the British National Party (BNP) for a while now. Aside from the usual excuses, I've been putting it off because I didn't actually want to check out their website, but I also didn't want to base my opinion on hearsay. Today Radio 1 ran two interviews on Newsbeat: a pre-recorded interview with two 'young' BNP members (you can read the transcript here), and a live interview with the BNP leader (based on listener responses to the first interview). After hearing those interviews (and - as a result - wanting to punch something for most of the afternoon), I had a look at the website (which I won't link to; google it yourself if you must) and decided it's time to blog about it.

The BNP presents itself as a political party, but it speaks like a lobbying group. It seems to base all its solutions to Britain's problems on one principle: that Britain exists solely for the ethnically British - everyone else is unwelcome. The mission statement begins with -
The British National Party exists to secure a future for the indigenous peoples of these islands in the North Atlantic which have been our homeland for millennia.
Their definition of indigenous Brits is
...the people whose ancestors were the earliest settlers here after the last great Ice Age and which have been complemented by the historic migrations from mainland Europe.
They go on to say that -
The migrations of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Norse and closely related kindred peoples have been, over the past few thousands years, instrumental in defining the character of our family of nations.
OK yes, technically they're right. Descendants of these European communities are the only people qualified to call themselves ethnically British. The problem I have, is that they believe that Britain doesn't belong to anyone else. Not the descendants of African slaves forcibly brought to the UK by these 'pure-bred' Brits themselves, not the offspring of mixed marriages between pure-bred Brits and others...not anyone that considers themselves culturally (but not ethnically) British.

The BNP seems to think that everything bad in this country is the fault of immigrants. There appears to be a fear that ethnic Brits will be wiped out because of immigrants (though considering the birth rate amongst chavs, I think that's highly unlikely). Multiculturalism is bad for Britain, apparently. OK, if that's the case, let's get rid of every single foreign influence in modern Britain. We're left with half a national cricket team, half a national football team (and virtually no Premier League), no 'favourite national food', no spices, no tropical fruits, no Guy Fawkes' night, no tea, no coffee...I could go on. Yes I'm exaggerating, but you get my point. The idea that someone could think that multiculturalism is bad for a country is beyond me. Positive evidence is all around us. I'm not saying that there aren't negative repercussions of heavy immigration, but to replace one extreme with another is totally and utterly, for lack of a better word, daft.

What the BNP is doing (and scarily becoming more successful at doing) is exploiting the xenophobic tendencies of the average ethnic Brit. I've said before that xenophobia is rampant and normal in a multicultural society...the BNP are acting as firestarters and turning that xenophobia into racism. As disappointed as I am that people are voting for the BNP, I can't say I'm surprised. Different sections of British society have been let down time and again by the major political players, and this romantic notion of birthright is attractive to many. I just hope Labour and the Tories (and the LibDems, in theory at least) wake up in time.

But all this talk of being 'ethnically' British versus 'culturally' British has got me thinking: do we have to be ethnically linked to a place in order to call it home? Using a similar definition to that used by the BNP, I am 'ethnically' Sri Lankan (they don't differentiate between races, so neither will I)...but 'culturally'? I guess Sri Lankan and British. Now does being culturally British mean I have to stop thinking of myself as culturally Sri Lankan? Does being ethnically Sri Lankan mean that I can't think of myself as culturally British? Does one have to be both ethnically and culturally 'pure' in order to be accepted by a society? I have touched on this topic before, but I'm nowhere nearer to finding an answer. Will I ever find one? Only time will tell.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Listening to: cookies being devoured (by myself)

I've grumbled a bit about 'everyone' getting married, I know. But I have to say, with each wedding I've been invited to so far, I've been made to feel really really special. It may not be anything more than a nice gesture on the couple's part, but it's made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The fact that these people value my friendship so's a bit hard to believe, to be honest. With every metaphorical turd that's flung in my direction, it's moments like this that make me think I must've done something right along the way.

I guess that's what friends are for, eh? :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

"The Art of Being Arty" and other mildly entertaining anecdotes

Listening to: 'How Come You Don't Call Me [Neptunes Remix]' by Alicia Keys ft. Justin Timberlake [Songs in A Minor]

Typing a blog post at the cinema again. Not your bog standard Vue this time, but the much more sophisticated Arts Picturehouse (cue 'oohs' and 'aahs'). Why sophisticated? Well for starters, they let you bring booze into the theatre...and in glasses too (as opposed to a well-concealed brown paper bag). And then there's the reason I'm here tonight - the Cambridge Film Festival. Yes, very posh I know. Oh well, the movie's about to start so I'll type the rest from home.


Now, where was I? I suppose I'd better give a chronological account of my day. Or at least the out-of-the-ordinary bits. Was chatting with labmates in the morning, and as usual, I was accused of bullying them. I asked them why they don't bully me in return, and one of them said "but you're so lovely and nice...until we realise that you're actually not". Heh. But it's OK, we all love each other really. Honest!

In the afternoon, I helped out with the Cambridge Alumni Weekend celebrations, by taking some alumni on a tour of the department. Oh wow, I've never seen outsiders show so much interest in what we do! They asked so. many. questions. And none of them were superficial. I'm talking proper intellectual discussions. As an academic I was thrilled to see non-academics take such an interest in scientific research; as a tour-guide I was panicking that we'd be late for the post-tour presentation! It was interesting to hear these people talk amongst themselves about our research. I think when you spend enough time in a field, the 'wow factor' fades and you take things for granted. Listening to our research being called 'fantastic' and 'amazing' made me proud. Of course the post-tour talk was something else altogether. How many 83 yr-olds do you know that can give a presentation about work that they're currently involved in?! Sigh, JFD is a legend.

After the talk was done, I went back to the office to check on the cricket (more on that later) and then headed over to the cinema. The movie I was so interested in seeing was none other than Machan (to those of you who have probably seen it a million times already, yes I know I'm late, get over it :P ). In a word: wow. Had I seen the movie without the context of the film festival, I never would've guessed that the director was someone foreign to Sri Lankan culture. I suppose Ruwanthie de Chickera's script had a lot to do with that, but still. The director was present for a Q&A session after the screening, and he said that he hadn't wanted any Western influence on the narration of the story. I think he achieved that perfectly. There were parts of the movie that made me choke up, possibly due to homesickness...or maybe I'm going soft, who knows. And of course when you grow up with Doo Daruwo on in the background, Iranganie Serasinghe becomes family...I almost let out an audible 'aww' when I saw her on screen.

Machan presented a very serious problem in a very 'real' way. None of the depressing melodramatic 'woe is me'-ness that you get in a lot of 'serious' films. On the contrary, I was laughing through most of it. It reminded me a lot about how ordinary Sri Lankans deal with adversity. Our happy-go-lucky attitude is both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. And then the tourists. During the Q&A session, someone asked why the tourists at the hotel were depicted in a purely negative light. Part of me wanted to turn around and remind him that the rest of the world doesn't necessarily see the West as the dog's bollocks, but the rest of me told me to shut up (thankfully). The director said that he merely portrayed what he had witnessed during his stay in Colombo. Nuff said.

Anyway, after being thoroughly impressed with the performance of the Sri Lanka National Handball team, I came home to be equally unimpressed with the performance of the Sri Lanka National Cricket team. Why oh why did we have to lose to England?! Now that'll be the main topic of conversation at my labmate's bbq tomorrow. much for not being bullied.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mummy (and Daddy) Cool

Listening to: 'Like You'll Never See Me Again' by Alicia Keys [As I Am]

I told my mother about this blog about a month ago. Blogging had been discussed before (I recall being asked what a blog was, and if I had one), but never in detail, and never in the context of the 'online community'. It was perhaps the community aspect of blogging that prompted me to tell her; I've always been very close to my parents, and the idea of excluding them from something that had become an important part of my life seemed somewhat unnatural. I haven't told her where it is, but then she hasn't asked either. I probably wouldn't tell her if she did ask, but that's a non-issue at present.

I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive. A part of me was anticipating the "but there are freaks on the internet!" response, and I was expecting some disapproval of the whole 'clandestine blogger rendezvous' thing. However, I was to be pleasantly surprised! My mother was happy that I was communicating with people outside the Cambridge bubble, completely trusting of my ability to judge character (go figure!) and perhaps most of all, thrilled that I was singing again. It's interesting to note that my parents give my 'online' friends the same attention that they give my 'offline' friends (especially considering that even I'm not sure how the whole 'online friend' thing works).

And boy, do they give my 'offline' friends a lot of attention. I'm pretty sure some of my friends chat more to my parents than they do to me. And I heard many stories about them from my friend's wedding last month...they seem to act more my age than I do! I've lost count of the times I've been told that my parents are 'cool', 'fun', 'easy to talk to', or something along those lines...naturally I'm the only one that's witnessed the 'strict disciplinarian' side :D

I was watching them today, waving at me on skype while being rather cutesy with each other. They were telling me about their escapades on the internet, and we were discussing the cricket, tennis and Whitney Houston's comeback. And it occurred to me, they really are 'cool' (albeit a tad embarrassing, at times), and I am really really lucky.

I'm not sure if it's just a bad case of homesickness, but I felt an urge to blog about them now. So there you have it.

OK I'm gonna go dry my eyes now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Intimidator

Listening to: 'My Baby Just Cares for Me' by Nina Simone [Little Girl Blue]

Yes I think that would be a good supervillainess name for me. I can picture it now:
Scarier than a nightclub bouncer.
More stern than a menopausal schoolmarm.
And able to repulse South Asian men with a single glance.
Look, down the supermarket aisle!
It's a geek!
It's a freak!
It's The Intimidator!!!
Yeah yeah I know it's tenuous...humour me, please?

But seriously, what is with the Sri Lankan guys working at the supermarket?! Is reciprocating a smile from a girl from their home country a violation of their contract or something? They've handled my credit card so they've seen my surname...I'd say it's pretty damn obvious where I'm from! I'm not asking that we become best buddies...if that had been my intention, I would've initiated a conversation a long time go...but is returning a polite pleasantry too much to ask for? Honestly!

It brings back memories of parties I used to go to in Colombo. Horrid affairs. I'd get introduced to a guy and I could predict how long it'd take him to find an excuse to disappear. OK I can handle that once, maybe twice...but every frikkin' time?!?!?! And of course it only got worse after coming to Cambridge (as I mentioned waaay back in this post). It got so bad that once when I was on holiday in SL, I was invited to a party and I asked my parents to make some 'plans' so I wouldn't have to go.

So yeah, I guess it's nothing to do with the supermarket guys. Or the Cambridge phenomenon. It's Ms. Supervillainess over here that's got all the issues. Who would've thunk it, eh? Gah.

Meh. I'm outta here. I've got people to intimidate.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Running on empty

Listening to: 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell [United]

Rafa just got thrashed by Del Potro 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. I think I still have a pulse, but it's hard to tell. So sad. The thing about Rafa is, you know he does his best. Always. And it was pretty obvious that he wasn't 100% fit throughout the tournament. So you can't be mad at him. He'll be back. He'll keep trying and one day he'll get there. He won't let the US Open become to him what the French Open was to Sampras.

I was supposed to go to work today. I'm supposed to be doing an experiment now. Instead I stayed at home and made an omelette. With bacon and jalapeño peppers. It was good.

I haven't done a cover for a while. The duet with Gehan was posted almost a month ago, and that was long overdue to begin with. And apparently the last time I posted a solo cover was in April. It's September now. I think of all these songs and then I can't be bothered. Too much effort required. Would sound shit without accompaniment. My vocal chords have retired. The excuses are endless, really. empty end to an empty day. Why did I wake up? Oh yeah, the omelette.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Listening to: Radio 1

Last night's US Open Men's Quarterfinal between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez was suspended in the middle of the 2nd set tie-break due to rain. I've been having a look at the comments on the US Open website and two themes caught my attention.
  1. Get a roof! - The US usually laughs at Britain for being old-fashioned, stuffy and generally uncool. So maybe they still wear white at Wimbledon, and maybe it's all about the traditional formalities (bowing/curtsying to any member of the Royal Family was only discontinued in 2003)...but after the retractable roof was installed over Centre Court, there's no way you can call us 'uncool'. Maybe it's just me, but I let out a little giggle when I read the comments telling the USTA to take a page out of the All England Club's book. Really, if they're gonna have such a tight schedule, there should be a much better inclement weather policy. Tsk tsk USTA.
  2. What a rip-off! - The plan is, the Rafa-Gonzo match will be recommenced after the completion of the Kim-Serena Semifinal. There are quite a few issues with this.
    • According to the BBC website, it's raining in NYC and start of play will be delayed by at least two hours. How many more delays can we afford? While I accept that Kim and Serena shouldn't have to suffer because it rained last night, I don't see why Rafa and Gonzo should suffer either. As far as I'm aware, only the Arthur Ashe stadium is being used for matches today (apart from some peripheral courts for doubles/girls/boys matches). Why not use the Louis Armstrong stadium for the Rafa-Gonzo match? And what about Wozniacki and Wickmayer? They're gonna have to wait till this 'extra' match finishes to get on court for their Semi. And considering the first two sets have been tie-breaks, I'll bet they're in for a long wait. How is that fair?
    • What do you mean my ticket isn't honoured? Or maybe that should be 'honored' (heh, Americans). According to the website, tickets that were valid for the Thursday night session won't be valid for the continuation of the Rafa-Gonzo match. This has got a lot of fans riled up, and with good reason. Unlike Wimbledon, it appears you can buy tickets for a specific session for the US Open, so presumably the people who got tickets for Thursday night actually wanted to see Rafa and Gonzo. Now in my mind they could've issued last night's audience with special passes that would allow them in for the Rafa-Gonzo match but not any of the others being held today. That would've been even easier if it was being played on Louis Armstrong. But nooooo...the USTA in a display of infinite wisdom is denying all the Rafa/Gonzo fans and frustrating all the Wozniacki/Wickmayer fans. Way to go.
Anyway, what to do. I'm more than a bit concerned about Rafa's fitness, but we'll see. I'm currently awaiting the start of the Kim-Serena Semifinal, which should be good. Clijsters has had a dream comeback to the professional circuit, and it would be lovely to see her beat Serena. But only if it STOPS RAINING!!!!!!!!!


Monday, September 07, 2009

My philosophy of teaching

Listening to: 'End of the Road' by Boyz II Men [Cooleyhighharmony]

I’m currently applying for a place on the Teaching Associate Programme here, and a major part of the application form involves me detailing my philosophy of teaching. Yeah I’m not entirely sure what that is either. Well I am, kinda…it’s just that all these ideas are floating around in my head and the last time I wrote a 500-word essay was… … …you get the picture :D. Anyway, I was procrastinating over the application when Whacko talked about education in his Going Global blog (thanks for the timely - albeit unintentional - kick up the backside, Whacko!). So when I escaped to London last weekend, I took with me a print-out of his post for inspiration and a notebook, and used the train journey to jot down my thoughts. The result was a multitude of bullet points and fragmented sentences, with no continuity whatsoever. Joy. Now with the deadline looming, I have no option but to sit down and force myself to collect my thoughts. Here goes.
For those of you not familiar with the Cambridge undergraduate system, supervisions are small-group tutorials designed to complement the standard large-group lectures. I haven’t lectured yet, but I have been supervising undergraduates for three years (eek!).

If I were to summarise what I believe to be the role of a teacher, it would be to equip students with the skills they require to achieve their potential. This requires dissemination of information in a manner that enables students to understand what they learn, understand its relevance, and use it when necessary. In my experience there are four objectives that must be achieved in order for a teaching experience to be successful. They are detailed below.
  1. Instil enthusiasm

    In order to make the student receptive to the subject being taught, it is necessary to instil enthusiasm in the course and the lesson. Looking back on my personal experience, the majority of university courses that I performed well in were taught by lecturers and supervisors that were visibly enthusiastic about their subject. They created a relaxed, interactive environment conducive to learning, and encouraged discussion where appropriate. They also highlighted the relevance of their subject outside the classroom, thereby giving the student added incentive to pay attention.

  2. Promote understanding

    The Cambridge ethos has always focused heavily on mastering the fundamentals, and with good reason. Given the current rate of scientific advancement, engineering practices are rapidly evolving, but they are still based on the same scientific principles. It is therefore important to ensure that students are comfortable enough with the basics, so that (in keeping with Cambridge tradition) they may go on to be at the forefront of technological development.
    It is also important to acknowledge that intelligence and ability vary across the student population. It is the teacher’s responsibility to develop an approach that maximises the individual student’s chance of understanding the topic. I do not believe that there is a ‘one size fits all’ method in this respect. This is especially true in Engineering sciences, where there is a healthy mix of highly theoretical and practical modules. In my previous supervisions, some of my students have been able to grasp a certain concept directly from the lecture; others have required me to explain the same concept in one or more alternative ways.

  3. Assist retention

    While the teacher should make it easier for the student to understand their subject, the student has the ultimate responsibility when it comes to the retention of knowledge. The teacher can, however, improve the student’s chances at the examination by carrying out continuous assessment via examples papers, issuing revision sheets, going through exam papers from previous years, tying the course content into that of other courses to establish relevance etc. These are all methods I have used in my supervisions. As someone who has been a student on the courses that I supervise, I feel I am also able to share my personal experiences with my students, which will hopefully aid their exam preparation.

  4. Bolster confidence

    The purpose of an Engineering degree is not purely academic. It is important that once students have studied each course, they are able to use the knowledge thus gained as professionals in the field. There are many students, in my experience, whose technical knowledge is more than adequate; however they lack the confidence required to display this competency. It is a supervisor’s responsibility to recognise these students and encourage them to engage in discussions, explain concepts to less able students, and become more confident in their own ability.
It is my belief that a teacher that keeps these points in mind will be in a position to have a positive impact on their students. However, my opinion is based on three years of supervising experience, and I am well aware that I too have a lot to learn.


So erm, yeah. That’s what I think. Hopefully they'll like it. As far as I'm aware it's not something that'll affect whether I get on the programme or not, so let's see. It’s 2.50am now, and I cannot stress enough the relevance of this PhD Comic. Me go sleep now.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Love is a tagfest

Listening to: 'Have a Nice Day' by Stereophonics [Just Enough Education to Perform]

I've been tagged by the Divine Lady herself. It took me a bit of soul-searching to come up with something, and in the process I discovered that I've turned into a cynical old fart. Oh well.

Anyway, on with the tag. Love is... amazingly corny comic strip that's been going for almost 40 years!

If you want more, see GoComics
Sorry, I couldn't resist :D.

Jokes aside, I tried to think of a definition and all I could come up with was this...

...everything my parents share with each other and with me, and I with them.

Open tag, and I dare you to try and beat TheWhacksteR's definition ;-).

Friday, September 04, 2009

Joys of TV Science

Listening to: 'Sweetness Calling' by She Hit Me First [-]

I'm doing an all-night experiment and I've just finished watching two episodes of CSI:Miami online. I have one comment, presented perfectly in this comic:

Sigh, Hollywood.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights but You Were Staring Straight at Me

Listening to: Radio 1 least I hope so, Alex! (or should that be ____?!)

Oh. My. Goodness. So Shorty and I are standing in the crowd, waiting for it all to kick off. I tell her about a rumour I'd read on the Arctic Monkeys website about who the support act might be, and we giggle about how amazing it'd be if the rumour were true. Yeah as if, right? But then the lights dim, the spotlights brighten, and who walks on stage? It's only flippin' DAVE GROHL!!! Followed by John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age). OK I'll admit I didn't recognise the others (yes you may hurl insults at me now :P ), but I had heard about the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures being formed...I get points for that, right?

They were a-meh-zinggg. Maybe it was just the fact that we didn't know the songs (the band has been performing publicly for less than a month), but it felt like we were spying on a private jam session. An absolutely phenomenal jam session. I can see these guys rocking well into their nineties. Two non-music related observations: I lost track of how many times Josh Homme switched guitars, and now I know why Dave Grohl has long hair :D

Then it was the Arctic Monkeys' turn to wow us. And oh boy did they?! I have a sneaky suspicion that Alex Turner had downed many a bevvy before coming on stage, but his performance (and that of the whole band in general) was spectacular. The new material was awesome (I ♥ 'Cornerstone'!), and the old favourites were extra-special. The crowd reaction to 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor' was electric, to put it really really mildly. As was the reaction to 'Still Take You Home'. It was an indication that the crowd was full of proper Arctic Monkeys fans...which is always nice.

Oooh purple!

It was definitely the most energetic gig I've been to, and the aches and pains I'm suffering from today are proof. An excellent evening, and I'm still struggling to believe my luck. To whoever performs at the next gig I go to, I say: good luck at topping this.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Welcome home!

Listening to: Test Match Special

The Urn is back. Andrew Strauss and the boys have won the 2009 Ashes 2-1 with a massive victory at the Oval.

We can talk till we're blue in the face about the role of the umpires and the pitch, but the collective eyesight of cricketing umpires has been on a steady decline for many years now, and further incorporation of Hawk-Eye is something the ICC should seriously consider. The fact remains that England played well when they needed to, and Australia came up (marginally) short.

In addition, Freddie Flintoff has retired from the longer version of the game and England has bid farewell to one of its most inspirational test cricketers in recent times.

As I said on Twitter -
I feel so British right now! :D

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh. Em. Actual Gee.

Listening to: 'Feeling Good' by Muse [Origin of Symmetry]

First, there was Matchbox Twenty. Then there was John Mayer. Most recently there was Snow Patrol (see here to see how excited I was about that), with Diana Krall, Ladyhawke and Black Kids along the way. And now...
I'm going to see Arctic Monkeys live at the Brixton Academy NEXT WEEK!!!
Yeah you read right: next week. I got an email from the Arctic Monkeys website a few days back, saying registration was open for pre-sale tickets for a special concert next Wednesday. So I figured what the worst I wouldn't get an email back, and at best I'd get the opportunity to see them live. I wasn't actually expecting to get picked, but I did! Imagine that (well there goes my quota of good luck for the next 5 years :P). Anyway, after a mini scheduling crisis, managed to confirm that Shorty would be able to get off work in we're off!

It hasn't done wonders for my budget, but who cares :D. I kinda wish it had been when Alex Turner had a better hairstyle, but hey, can't be too picky no? :D

So yeah. I think I'll work half-day on Saturday (my usual 'off' day) to compensate for the fact that I'll be leaving early on Wednesday. Work is horrendous at the moment so this'll be a good mid-week break I bet. And then it's back to London the following weekend for a wedding! Oh the life I lead :P

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Cover Session #6

Listening to: 'Ain't No Rest for the Wicked' by Cage the Elephant [Cage the Elephant]

Back in February, there was a comment on one of my posts; a proposal of sorts. I wasn't sure if it was meant seriously or not, but I decided to assume that it was. If it wasn't...oops, too late! :P.

Anyway, six months and a few emails and mp3s later, here we are! Yes, PseudoRandom has actually recorded a duet with the mighty Darkside! It was his song choice, and considering how much of a Snow Patrol fan I am, I guess it's no surprise that I was more than willing. My contribution kinda took a back seat due to the PhD, moving house etc., but thankfully things settled down and I managed to find time. And I won't deny that I may have been a bit 'keen' to get this done before he becomes famous and all ;-).

I have to say I'm really proud of this; when I started this blog, I never imagined I'd be using it to showcase my own singing, let alone a duet with a blogger two continents away! As Shorty said,
Amazing thing
Profound, I know. Anyway, enough chat. Here it is: 'Set the Fire to the Third Bar' - originally by Snow Patrol featuring Martha Wainwright, from their album Eyes Open. Piano and male vocals by Gehan, female vocals by moi (duh). Enjoy!

If you want to listen to it offline, you can download it here. And for those of you who live to see Gehan's headless videos *cough*Jerry*cough*, there's a video version up on his blog :-).

Friday, August 14, 2009

After Juliet

Listening to: 'Saints and Sailors' by Dashboard Confessional [The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most]

Poster nicked off their Facebook event page; tv ad here (login required)

A week from now. At the Lionel Wendt in Colombo. Go see it if you're around.

How many artists can Mika get sued by?

Listening to: Radio 1

How many of you have come across Mika's new single "We Are Golden"? I have to admit I'm not a fan of the song (and an even lesser fan of the video), but here it is (bad quality but no copyright issues, so you should be able to see it wherever you are) -

Exhibitionist much?

There are quite a few "omg this sounds like..."s floating around the internet, and the major players are Belinda Carlisle's Heaven is a Place on Earth and Annie Lennox's Walking on Broken Glass. For me, this blast from the past popped into my mind as soon as I heard Mika's track -

Can you believe I wanted to marry the guy? When I was 8, of course.

Compare Mika's track from 1:06 to Jason Donovan's track from 0:54. See what I mean? No? Oh well, just me then.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I love you, Archchi

Listening to: Radio 1

Fourteen years ago today, I sat at my grandmother's bedside and chanted stanzas from the Book of Protection while she breathed her last. She was my nanny, my friend, my 'toy'...she used to feed me when my mother wasn't looking, I used to tell her about my day at school, and I used to 'experiment' with her hearing aid (much to her annoyance, naturally). She was a wonderful woman; maternal, jovial, strong. She is long gone but people still sing her praises. I am proud of her.

I was 12 when she died. She didn't live to see me grow up into the woman I am today. I'm not yet fully maternal, jovial and strong, but I like to think I will be, eventually. I hope she will be proud of me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

4 Chords

Listening to: Radio 1

So I'm listening to Scott Mills on Radio 1 at the moment, and he's broadcasting from the Edinburgh Fringe. There's just been a live performance by Axis of Awesome, and I just had to share the recording of their song '4 Chords'. Enjoy!

Tweet tag

Listening to: Radio 1

So there's been a request from St. Fallen for me to publish a Wordle of my most tweeted words. Here it is -
Wordle of my tweets via

Not über exciting, as you can see. But then, that's hardly surprising.

Tagging WhacksteR and Chavie. Because.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I should be working, but...

Listening to: Radio 1

It just struck me that I haven't blogged in a while, so this is supposed to be an update of sorts. Not that there's much to update. I've been working, and that's about it. Went to my first 'British' wedding...'twas very nice, and the bride seemed totally relaxed and actually happy, which is a far cry from the Sri Lankan weddings I'm used to! I regret not taking part in the ceilidh, but I guess tripping on my sari and falling flat on my face while attempting the Flying Scotsman probably wouldn't have been the ideal wedding present for my friends. Note to self: to the next suddha (i.e. 'white person') wedding, wear a dress.

Aaaand...erm yeah. Went to the Grantchester Orchard yesterday with friends, and have possibly got an allergic reaction to something there...I was seriously rocking the 'Angelina Jolie hamburger lips' look last night :-|. Antihistamine seems to be working, thankfully.

I'm at work now and feeling rather hormonal and work-shy, so instead of doing one of my 22hr thingies, I'm (supposedly) preparing stuff to show my supervisor. It's time for me to start thinking about getting more funding, so hopefully he's in a good mood!

Just before I disappear back into the world of quantitative NMR, I'd like to draw attention to the 'See All My Photos' link on the sidebar, which used to link to my photostream on Flickr. It still does, but via a funky new site developed by my friend haelio (his lovely photos are here). My Flickr account hasn't been updated in a while, but I have taken a few new photos that need to go up there. I should get my home internet sorted out this week, so hopefully those photos and the somewhat dubious cover I'm currently attempting should find their way online soon.

OK, back to work...*sigh*

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Listening to: Radio 1

So I've been at the new place a week now. All unpacked, photos up on the wall etc. - it's great! I'm actually liking chilling out at home, which is more than I can say for the previous place. I won't be getting internet until BT sorts out the phone line though, so there's been some heavy duty radio tunage going on. I usually listen to daytime radio and then switch off when it gets to the specialist shows, but I've listened to some of them in the past week and I'm actually enjoying the music they play! Yes I'm still more into the mainstream stuff, but the specialist shows do play some mainstream music, which is good for me. I've got a few new favourites, which I thought I'd share. I haven't included vids for all of them, for whatever reason, but feel free to snoop around on the internet if you fancy. Hope you enjoy!

No Sleep Tonight - Enter Shikari

So wikipedia says these guys are 'post-hardcore'. I'm like 'huh'? I don't usually like shouty songs, but there's something about this song that makes me wanna close my eyes and spin around in the rain with my arms stretched out...erm yeah.

If you like that, also check out Biffy Clyro's new track 'That Golden Rule' if you can find a decent-quality version.

UPDATE: here's the video to That Golden Rule

Rock It - Sub Focus

I appear to have developed a fondness for mainstream electronic drum n bass. This version takes a while to 'get going' compared to the radio edit, but I still like it :-)

If you like this, try anything by Pendulum or Chase and Status.

Blue Skies - Noah and the Whale

Total wind-down. I tweeted yesterday (I think) that this song makes me want to hug some one. They (evidently) haven't got a video for it yet, so here's a live version. You can listen to the studio version on their myspace page.

If you like this...hmm...Kings of Leon. Anything off 'Only By The Night'. I need to get me that album.

Oh and check out Muse's United States of Eurasia (with Collateral Damage, unless you don't like classical music).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I've got the key, I've got the...

Listening to: Radio 1

...what?! You mean you don't know the words to 'The Key The Secret' by Urban Cookie Collective? :O Clearly not 90s enough :P

Hehe yeah anyway, I've moved house :-). I got the keys on Friday (title makes sense now, eh?), with the intention of moving slowly but systematically over the next four days. As luck would have it, my hormones decided to play spoilsport (yet again), so I ended up doing most of the moving yesterday and this morning. The living area is currently cluttered with bags of various 'stuff''s gonna take me a while to get things in order. Just as well that I haven't got an internet connection at home (yet) to distract me!

Aside from the practical stuff, omg I hate moving with a passion. It's tiring, it's unsettling, it's dusty, it's just...wrong. And since I seem to have a natural aversion to asking people for help (even after they've offered), it results in me crying on the phone to the parents saying I can't take it any more. Anyway, it's over now, for another I-don't-know-how-long. I just need to make sure I don't collect more things that I can do without.

Sigh...right I should stop procrastinating on the internet at work, and go home and do some unpacking. It's a good thing I actually like my new place :-).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Do you not want my money?

Listening to: 'Insomnia' by Faithless [Reverence]

So I finally got around to removing the 'Api Wenuwen Api' link on the blog...not that it's any less relevant now than it was before, but...I dunno, time for a change I guess. Problem is, I don't know what to replace it with. Ideally I want to link to a charity organisation that I trust and can easily donate to from the UK. The charities I trust tend to be the ones set up by Sri Lankans; their overheads tend to be less than average, and they tend to be pragmatic and sincerely empathetic, compared to the post-Imperial sympathy of 'rich' multinational charities. That's not an opinion I can back up with evidence by the way, it's just a gut feeling.

I had a brief look at a few local charities that are working in the IDP camps. All state that they're by Sri Lankans, for Sri Lankans etc. etc. Unfortunately, they seem to work on the notion that the only Sri Lankans who want to donate are either in Sri Lanka or USA. If you're in the UK, it's assumed that you're rich enough to pay the wire transfer fee every time you want to donate. Am I going to pay ~£20 extra every time I want to make a £5 donation? Don't think so. The only viable option at the moment seems to be using PayPal to donate to the US branch of Sarvodaya. Why can't they just set up a charity bank account in the UK?! I might as well coerce my father into going to the bank and donating money on my behalf every month.

Sigh. I'm guessing there are practical and financial reasons for not making it easier for people in the UK to donate, and the PayPal option is probably not such a bad idea (although I wonder how much of my donation will be swallowed up by a 'currency conversion charge' somewhere along the line) is a bit annoying, though. And when I'm already stressed and in a bad mood, it just compounds the "I don't belong" feeling. Gah.

If you know of a Sri Lankan charity that doesn't make it difficult for people in the UK to donate, please let me know.

Monday, July 06, 2009

OK, now what?

Listening to: 'Always Be My Baby' by Mariah Carey [Daydream] Wimbledon men's final prediction was pants. The 'other' Andy (i.e. Roddick, duh) made the final against the greatest tennis player of all time, but Federer needed two tie-breaks and a mega 16-14 fifth set to overcome the American. Words used to describe the final include 'epic', 'awesome' and 'boring'...I'm just stunned that Federer only managed to break Roddick's serve once in his 38 service games throughout the match, and even that only when Roddick was clearly showing the strain of his 5-set QF (v Hewitt) and 4-set SF (v Murray). I was also stunned that Roddick squandered 4 set points in the second set the words of possibly the most controversial (or entertaining, take your pick) tennis player of all time, you cannot be serious?! (Aside: how's this for attitude?!)

If last year's tournament was one of 'epic rivalry', this was one of 'epic 5-setters'. Cilic v Haas went on for so long that they had to come back the next day for the fifth set. Murray v Wawrinka was played under the brand spanking new (retractable) roof, complete with floodlights; the fifth set finished at 10.38pm. And then there was Roddick v Hewitt, in which I think the cameramen spent more time filming the two wives than the players! There were probably others but those were the matches that stuck in my mind. I have to say I got very excited when I saw the roof being brought on. And hey at least I was right about one thing...this was one of the driest Wimbledons we've had in a while!

I feel sorry for Andy Murray. The boy tries, he really does. The British press should shut the hell up about him being a 'surly Scotsman' and start concentrating on his tennis. So he's not the most charismatic, best looking, most stylish player on the circuit. Who cares?! There's a BBC article today about how Roddick's coach has said that his game needs to become less defensive. Now that's what we should be focusing on: his tennis. I can't say I'm surprised at Stefanki's comments though...'defensive gameplan' seems to run deep in British sport.

Hmm...I suppose I should talk a bit about the women's game *yawn*. I have to say I was quite impressed with Elena Dementieva. Her shrieking wasn't too annoying and she actually made Serena struggle! Now if only her game was a bit more consistent! Dinara Safina on the other hand, seems happy to be the most consistent loser on the women's circuit. Seriously, it's about time she tried to win something important for a change. And she's still No.1...what a joke. Maybe I'm being unduly harsh, but still. When are we going to see some real competition for the Williams sisters?! The Eastern Bloc is letting us down!

Anyway, as the Facebook group had posted, "there's a Wimbledon shaped hole in my life today". In fact, there's a sport-shaped hole in my life today! T20 WC: over. Wimbledon: over. Pak v SL: haven't been following too closely but it's not looking good. Hmm...oh wait, the first Ashes test starts on Wednesday! Excellent! And Brett Lee is out for at least two tests. Maybe England can capitalise? Hmm...nah I didn't think so either. And when I get sick of watching England get massacred, I can switch back to the tennis for the US Open. Will Rafa be fit? I hope so.

Summer of sport, why must you distract me so...*sigh*