Saturday, February 28, 2009

10 Things I have learnt this week

Listening to: Radio 1

  1. Not everyone thinks I'm stupid or weird for wanting to teach undergraduates.

  2. Advice is only useful if you're in the mood to accept it.

  3. Sometimes, the fact that someone lied is more upsetting than the truth they were trying to hide.

  4. You are your own saviour.

  5. I have balls (metaphorical ones, silly!).

  6. I have a "mess with me and you will regret it" voice (not all the time, just when I need it :D ).

  7. I have a suppressed violent streak.

  8. I may be an ancient postgrad, but I've got the moves (and the stamina) to dance all the kids out of the club! (G, that's what the tweet was about :D )

  9. I'm too old to be able to go clubbing and wake up on time the next day

  10. Wham!'s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go was the first song I fell in love with (apparently my mother had to hide the cassette and tell me it was lost, just so I'd stop asking for 'Wuk Me Wup')...and I still love it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Advice for all sexually frustrated postgrads

Listening to: 'Rivers of Babylon' by The Soweto Gospel Choir [African Spirit]

Do not treat undergrads as eye candy (even the really cute ones). You never know when you'll end up being their supervisor.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Some days...

Listening to: Radio 1
Some days, the cogs won't turn.
The muscles won't work.
The limbs won't move.

The sun won't shine.
The clouds won't clear.
The rain won't cease.

The sounds won't soothe.
The words won't come.
Nothing makes sense.

Today is one of those days.

In the words of The Wombats -
I put one foot forward and ended up thirty yards back.
And am I losing touch or am I just completely off the track?
And I don't know why I want to voice this out loud,
It's theraputic somehow.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I want to break free!

Listening to: 'Kick, Push' by Lupe Fiasco [Food and Liquor]

I want to move. Well I have to move in a few months' time, when the lease on this place runs out and College tells me they haven't got rooms for 4th years. I've had a look at a few websites, and rooms in shared houses seem pretty reasonable. But I haven't seen any I like, and I don't think I will.

I'm sick of the student life. I'm sick of sharing a tiny fridge with 4 people. I'm sick of having to turn my music down 'cos my neighbour is a light sleeper. I'm sick of having to keep the volume of my giggles down when Shorty visits 'cos my neighbour is a light sleeper. I'm sick of the queue for the bathroom. I'm sick of the messy bathroom. I'm sick of the messy kitchen. I'm sick of eating my meals in my bedroom. I'm sick of keeping my microwave and my kettle in my bedroom. I'm sick of keeping my toiletries in my bedroom. I'm sick of having clothes in suitcases 'cos I have no room in my wardrobe. I'm sick of not being able to buy books because I have nowhere to keep them. I feel trapped!

I want to get a place of my own - a 1-bedroom flat, or a studio apartment...but they're a lot more expensive than I'm used to. And since my parents are still paying for my accommodation, I feel bad to go for something fancy. But I feel. so. trapped.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Killing time

Listening to: 'Believe Me Natalie' by The Killers [Hot Fuss]

21hr experiment time, yay! :P I decided not to go to the chinese takeaway today, and had Nandos instead. Yummmm.

I've got to take readings every half hour, which doesn't leave a lot of time to sleep, so I have to keep myself occupied. I've got to prepare for supervisions...I'm supervising a course that I was crap at as an undergrad! Not sure how that's gonna work out but we'll see. I guess the trick is not to go around telling people I was crap at it. Oops.

And if I get bored of reading about the quantification of logic trees (which I most definitely will), then I will blog about random stuffage. And if I run out of random stuffage to blog about, then I shall read random stuffage that other bloggers have written. And if all else fails, there's always Spider Solitaire.

I know the most difficult time will come at around 4.30am, when my body aches and my mind is frazzled. But power naps are all I can give myself, so hopefully they'll do the trick. Peppermint tea might help...although I don't really like to look inside the office kettle. And before you ask, there's no coffee...but coffee doesn't have any effect on me anyway, so I guess it's just as well.

Oh well, I've got 12 hours to go, so I'd better get started on the supervision work.

*Yawwwwwwwwwwn*...oh dear.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PseudoRandom is loving her PhD*

Listening to: Radio 1

I am an engineer. Give me a complex problem to solve and I'm like a kid in a candy store. This afternoon, I was looking over the results I've obtained over the past few months with the intention of making sense of it all. I didn't manage to solve all my problems, but I did use up most of my whiteboard (or at least the bit I can reach without getting up on the desk) to jot down everything I knew and didn't know about what was happening in my experiment...and it helped clear a few things up. I'm quite excited now. I want to meddle, to test my hypotheses, to be able to go up to my supervisor and show him that I do know what's going on (contrary to his belief). The motivation is back. I can't wait to get back into the lab and do my next 21-hour experiment. Bring it on, baby. Woohoo!

I love doing what I do.

*Subject to change with no notice whatsoever, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Personal hygiene and other random scraps

Listening to: 'My Stupid Mouth' by John Mayer [Inside Wants Out]

We all like to smell nice, right? I'm not big into perfume - in fact I can't tell the difference between the various brands - but I try not to stink. It's quite simple really. Stinky breath? Brush teeth. Use mints or breath spray thingy (I have one in my bag). Stinky body? Have a shower. Use shower gel and deodorant. It's hardly rocket science. Or is it? These undergrads would have you believe so. Oh yes, it's them again. The same undergrads who happily played in the snow two weeks ago when they should've been at their computing session. Oh boy they stink. I mean seriously! You're 20...the hormones are supposed to have settled by now. I refuse to believe that the majority of undergrads in our department have hormonal imbalances. How can I teach properly when the remnants of your lunch are wafting up my nostrils? Yuck. I can almost excuse the guys...lazy buggers...but the girls? Perfect hair, perfect nails, colour-coordinated outfit...and BO. Geez.

And on a totally unrelated note, am I the only one who finds British policemen hot? Yeah I know that sounds really wrong. But there was one outside Sainsburys today and ooh la la la! And it's not the first time. There's something about that uniform, I tell you.

Oh and I was watching trailers on the Apple website, and I saw the trailer for 17 again. Now I haven't seen any of the HSM movies, but this is almost making me want to. Is that I think Zac Efron is kinda lush? I know it's not illegal, but still...?

Sigh...I think I'm the one with the wonky hormones :S

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Aaargh so jealous!

Listening to: 'Listen to Your Body Tonight' by Black Kids [Partie Traumatic]

So Bang Bang was here over the weekend, and we went to see He's just not that into you. I really enjoyed most of it - I won't go into any detail 'cos that would spoil the story. But my major gripe can be summed up in two words - Scarlett. Johansson. Aaargh!!!
Boobs? Check.
Ass? Check.
Lips? Check.
Eyes? Check.
Skin? Check.
Figure? Check.
All. Frikkin'. Perfect. AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!! And she's with that delectable piece of hotness Ryan Reynolds. Life's not fair.

PR a.k.a. 'stick insect' signing out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

An obligatory Valentine's Day post

Listening to: Radio 1

Why is it that society thinks it fit to convince every post-pubescent human being on the planet that they should be 'looking for love'? Doesn't matter if it's emotional love (getting hitched) or physical love (getting laid) - we're all encouraged to walk around with our 'love radar' on. And just in case you were foolish enough to let life get in the way, there's always the commercial crap that is Valentine's Day to give you an annual reminder.

Why are we supposedly so needy? Why does society make us think that we can't live a wholesome life without sharing it with someone? I'm not saying we shouldn't be open to the concept of romance - I'm just querying if it should be the be all and end all of our existence.

Is it a bad thing to strive to be a complete human being, regardless of whether we're with someone or not? Isn't the whole point to find someone that (excuse the cliché) complements us, rather than one that completes us?

Maybe trying to rationalise something as irrational as love is a foolish idea. I'm just bemused as to why society wants us to believe that there's something wrong with being single and not keen to mingle. It's almost as though singledom is a disease that must be cured.

This time last year, I probably thought that if I had a boyfriend, everything would be ok - I'd be less depressed, I'd be less stressed, I'd be happier, even the weather would be better. Today? I still don't have a boyfriend, I am less depressed and less stressed, and yes I am happier. Heck it's even sunny today! Romantic love had nothing to do with it (the love of parents and friends, on the other hand...).

So yeah, I'm not going looking for love. I'm too busy learning about myself, learning to love myself, and finding my own special place in this world. If love comes in search of me, I'll happily welcome it. If not, then so be it. I'm not saying that I don't get lonely sometimes, but I'm dealing with it. Equanimity (that's Upekkha in Pali, for those of you to whom it is relevant) is what I'm striving for. Whether I meet Mr. Right or grow old a spinster, I'll be ok. I can't ask for anything more, can I?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Cover Session #2

Listening to: myself (not as narcissistic as it may sound)

Woo, I've done a second track! As I get more into this hobby, I'm becoming more ambitious, so I've decided to rename the 'acoustic session' as the plain and simple 'cover session', just in case.

I have to say I'm not entirely happy with this one. Every time I listen to it, I wish I had a string quartet at hand...or at least a drum set...but I have neither. The timing's a bit off and some of the samples end a bit abruptly, but this is a learning curve, so I'll remember this stuff for next time.

So anyway this time I've gone for indie instead of jazz. The song is One Day Like This by Elbow. To be honest, the inspiration was more from Snow Patrol's Live Lounge version than the original, but it is a beautiful song nonetheless. I might give this song a second attempt at some point, but for now, enjoy!

Talk about bad timing

Listening to: nothing

I went out to dinner last evening and ate mussels. I spent the entire night throwing up. Now I feel like shit. Remind me never to eat mussels again.

I've just lost two weeks of work due to my conjunctivitis, and one week due to the Electronics section sitting on my pump. I'm at risk of losing another few days because I'm too weak to walk. Is this someone's idea of a joke?! I'm supposed to be finishing my PhD this year! I'm already behind 'cos I've spent months on pointless reports because they needed 'proof' that I'm capable of doing a PhD. And now when I've finally proved that, I keep falling ill! I mean WTF?!

I'm scared.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is it OK to like M.I.A.?

Listening to: Radio 1

Those of you who follow Dee's blog would've seen her comment about the implications of liking M.I.A....and it got me thinking...are patriotism and liking M.I.A. mutually exclusive?

Now I don't really have to introduce M.I.A. do I? I'll assume that you've read the Wikipedia link and already know as much about her as I do (or more), so let's move on.

At the after-party of the SL Soc ball in Cambridge, the presumably BBCD DJ played 'Paper Planes'. One of my friends said "What can they be allowed to play that?!" But no one (to my knowledge) went and told the DJ to change the record, so it played on. I wasn't really sure how to respond to my friend at the time, but I think now I know...I think they should be allowed to play it. Let me explain.

As far as I'm concerned, M.I.A. is a Sri Lankan who is labouring under the misconception that our national forces are deliberately harming our peace-loving citizens. There are many like her, both inside and outside Sri Lanka. Do I hold that opinion against her (and others like her), or hope that the actions of our people will speak louder than the words of those who oppose the military offensive, and that she (and they) will eventually see the truth? Do I disown her, a fellow countryman, because of her views, or do I hope that she will one day see past the lies and feel proud to call herself Sri Lankan, the same as I do now? Do I disregard her concerns as being pro-LTTE propaganda, or do I try and understand why she's saying what she is? Do I disallow myself to be swayed by the infectious rhythm of 'Boyz' for fear that I will be deemed a traitor, or do I appreciate her talent for what it is (it doesn't matter whether you like her music or not - she has achieved star status because of her music, and that should be commended)?

M.I.A. is just one of many 2nd generation expat Sri Lankan Tamils, encouraged by her parents to cultivate a notion of hatred towards the Sri Lankan government. If we respond to her hatred with similar hatred, what reason does she have to change her views? My favourite verse from the Dhammapada comes to mind -
Na hi verena verani
sammantidha kudacanam
averena ca sammanti
esa dhammo sanantano
Yamaka Vagga #5
The English translation being -
Never here by enmity
are those with enmity allayed,
they are allayed by amity,
this is the timeless Truth.
So there we have it. Maybe I'm rationalising, I don't know. I am a patriotic Sri Lankan, and while I won't go so far as to call myself a 'fan' or buy music or go to a concert of hers, I do like some of M.I.A.'s music, and I don't see a problem with that.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tweet tweet

Listening to: 'Rockin' Robin' by The Jackson 5 [-]

No prizes for guessing what this is about. So I was messing about with my photos on Flickr and realised that I have uploaded over 270 photos! Which I thought was pretty cool. In fact, I thought it was so cool that I wanted to tell someone about it. And then it stopped being cool. I got a vision of me emailing a friend with my amazing news and them replying with "That's nice". It's not nice!?! It's frikkin' awesome man, that's what it is!

Erm sorry, yes, back to the topic at hand. I'm now on Twitter. I'm not sure if that makes me a twitterer or a twit (har har), but who cares! I can now voice all those one-line opinions that aren't worthy of blog posts without having to worry about inundating my friends with pointless emails. And I have one more hobby, potentially. Which ain't such a bad thing, methinks.

And since it's the first thing that popped into my head when I heard the word 'tweet', here's a video of the Jackson 5 singing Rockin' Robin. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

When is enough, enough?

Listening to: Radio 1

I love children. I would love to have children of my own. Would I go to the same lengths as 'Octo-mom'? Probably not.

Being the broody hen that I am, I have thought about what I'd do about motherhood if Prince Charming trips over his laces and falls into a bottomless pit on his way to rescue me from perpetual singledom. Would I ask a friend to donate a few tadpoles for IVF? Erm no offence guys, but maybe not :P Would I visit a sperm bank and risk birthing the offspring of a psychopath? No thank you! So I decided the most responsible way I could bring up a child as single parent would be to adopt. The money I might have spent on IVF would be used for my kid's welfare, and I figured that's pretty sensible, right?

Now all this is my personal opinion and therefore I won't criticise any single woman who wants to produce her own offspring. If she can afford it. I don't just mean the IVF. I mean from planning the conception to the kid leaving school. Parenthood to me is much more than just popping them out every so often - it's giving a human being a solid start in life. A huge responsibility, and even more so when you're on your own.

So back to Octo-mom. Her background has suddenly come to light - unemployed, disability allowance, bankruptcy, six kids under 7yrs, IVF - these are just a few of the phrases circulating in the news these days. Now maybe she'll surprise everyone and turn out to be Wonder-mom, in which case I'll apologise for this critique. But realistically...does it look like she can give all her fourteen children a solid start in life? Will she use her earnings from the various book/tv deals that are in the pipeline for further IVF treatment? Or will she use those earnings for her kids' welfare and continue to use taxpayers' money for IVF? Or will she use those earnings for her kids' welfare, decide that enough is enough and be content with her now-massive family?

Either way, good luck to those kids.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Acoustic Session

Listening to: Radio 1

So the conjunctivitis is back with a vengeance and I'm at home again. I've been told to rest my eyes so that rules out most of the stuff I could do at home - catch up on emails, process my photos, prepare for tutorial sessions and so on. Can't even go for a walk 'cos it's snowing again and the pavements are slippery as hell.

So yeah, this is pretty much all I can do. Not a patch on Gehan's videos, but oh well...make do with what you have, eh? I've been wanting to do this for a while and I've got a few options lined up, so we'll see if this becomes a regular feature or not. OK me go get some shut-eye now. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Unity in Diversity

Listening to: 'Suddenly I See' by KT Tunstall [Eye to the Telescope]

Some would say that there's no point in looking back, and that apportioning blame is counter-intuitive to progress. Others would say that retrospect is essential in order to understand the bigger picture. What do I think? I think that retrospect is needed, but not as a means to apportion blame. It should be with a view to learn from our mistakes and avoid them from recurring. If there's anything I'm sure of, it's that history cannot be allowed to repeat itself.

It's been 61 years since the Brits gave up in the Indian Ocean. I remember reading about our quest for independence during O/L History. It didn't strike me at the time, but it is now more than apparent that we were not a 'united', or rather, 'unitary' Ceylon, even then. We learnt about the founding fathers of our nation - Senanayake, Dharmapala, Gunawardena, Arunachalam, Ramanathan, Siddi Lebbe (and others, whose names I forget) - who all campaigned for their own kind. Did we ever try to fight our common enemy together? Not in the books I read. We were too busy ensuring the progress of our own ethnic groups to be concerned that we were falling into the very trap that the Brits themselves had set - 'divide and rule'.

There are more recent examples of this phenomenon in action. It is rumoured that the Prabha-Karuna split was due to differences between Northern and Eastern communities within the LTTE. It could also be said that the reason the LTTE still exists is that the mainstream political parties have been too busy slinging mud at each other to address the situation properly.

So as we commence our 62nd year of self-governance, I have one main wish. That when our soldiers finish doing what they set out to do, we stop thinking as Sinhalese, Tamils, Moors, Burghers and so on, and start thinking as Sri Lankans. This should not mean a watering-down of our cultural identities or a suppression of our history. We should be proud of our cultural heritage, but not use it as a weapon against our fellow countrymen. The cynics would say that 'unity in diversity' is an unattainable Utopian concept, but the cynics have been wrong before.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Bad day at work (you have been warned)

Listening to: 'False Alarm' by KT Tunstall [Eye to the Telescope]

I hate undergrads. Honestly. They are the most selfish, ungrateful, careless, irresponsible, immature subset of the human species. The only thing that separates them from chavs is that they have some grey matter between their ears...although they do a damn good job of proving otherwise. Let me explain, by telling you about my day.

Those of you who follow Scrumpy's blog will know that it's snowing today. Highest snowfall in the region for 18 years, apparently. Now don't get me wrong, I love snow. It's so white and pretty, it makes me very happy. Until I have to trudge along to work in it, that is. For those of you not familiar with snow, here's a not-so-profound fact - it turns to sludge very soon. Horrible, slippery sludge. I didn't fall today, but I did come close about thrice - twice with my camera in hand (hey, I said snow was pretty, didn't I?) and once (on the way back home) with a heavy bag of grocery shopping. But back to my day...

As part of my plan to fatten my CV up for a career in higher education (and because I needed the money for my camera), I'm doing some undergrad teaching. This involves hanging around the PC suite for two hours at a time, helping the kiddies learn how to use two technical software programmes. There were two sessions today. Both were bad in their own way. During the morning session, there was a nincompoop who kept asking the most idiotic questions on the planet.
Erm how do I do the first bit?
What do I do next?
How do I do that?
WTF...I'm here to help you when you get stuck, not to spoon feed you! You're supposed to pay attention during the lectures, fool. And maybe read the question for a change? Ugh.

So after the first session, I met up with a friend of mine and went to play about in the snow until lunch. I took so many pictures (my camera says I took 93 today)! Cambridge is so pretty. Lunch was good too, with an amazing mushroom soup and chicken kiev. Yum.

And then I left the snow and went back to the department for the 2-4 session, expecting to see 14 undergrads trying to finish up their work quickly and get back to the snow. But how many did I see? 3. Yes, a measly three. The others didn't even bother to show up. Too busy playing in the snow to remember their degrees, obviously. Now you may wonder why I'm complaining, but hear me out. They've been given four sessions for 4 questions. Now what happens when they miss one session? They suddenly have too much to do and not enough time. And then who has to help them finish the work (because this country doesn't seem to like the idea of failing people)? The demonstrators, i.e. my colleagues and I. Ugh. And to make matters worse, one of the three who did bother to show up insisted on listening to his iPod on full volume and partaking in some bid on Ebay while doing his work, and another one insisted on answering her phone every time it rang (which was quite often), even when we were teaching her! Where's the dedication, people? Double ugh.

But it gets worse. After my painful demonstration session, I went back to my office to mark some tutorial papers for tomorrow's tutorial. How many careless mistakes can one person make in one paper?!?!?!?!?! Every single bloody question ended with a "I don't know where I've gone wrong!" instead of an answer. Well why don't you look at your work for a change, you muppet?! AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was a bad undergrad, but surely I wasn't this bad?!

Oh and yes you read career of choice is university education. I actually want to teach these buffoons for a living. What's wrong with me?!?!

Sigh. Rant over. I've had my echinacea and raspberry tea, and eaten an entire packet of Cadburys mini eggs, and am feeling a bit calmer now (and maybe slightly nauseas? Hmm). I shall have a hot bath, have dinner and get into bed. Tomorrow will be better. Won't it?

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Listening to: 'The Lightning Strike: What If This Storm Ends?/The Sunlight Through the Flags/Daybreak' by Snow Patrol [A Hundred Million Suns]

So I know the idea of 'going to the sales' is that you check out the clothes that are on sale. And I know that you're supposed to stay away from the clothes that aren't on sale, because they are too expensive for you. No matter how adorable they are. No matter how many different Audrey Hepburn-esque poses come to mind with you wearing these non-sale items. No matter how...
Sorry what? Oh yes, receipt in the bag is fine, thanks.
D'oh! But how could I not buy this?! Sigh.
Isn't she gorgeous? Stripy thingy isn't new, I just put that there for contrast.

Oh well, I'm rationalising my purchase by telling myself that since I spent only £110 out of my £200 camera budget, I can afford to spend £40 on a coat. I earned this money, dammit! Sorry what was that you said about a recession? Hmm.

OK me go back to dreaming about prancing around Cambridge in this coat...which is all I'll be able to do with it for a while, it's supposed to snow next week! Brrrrr!