Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wants and needs

Listening to: 'Mardy Bum' by Arctic Monkeys [Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not]

I want to...
  • Finish my PhD soon
  • Get a job that I love
  • Inspire young adults in my profession to use their skills responsibly
  • Fall in love
  • Commit myself to a man whom I connect with physically, emotionally and intellectually (not necessarily in that order)
  • Bring life into this world
  • Nurture a child and watch them transform into a responsible, independent adult
  • Do what I can to make sure that the future generation is armed with the knowledge they need to tackle the problems we leave unsolved
  • Grow old gracefully
  • Die with the satisfaction that I have made the most of my life
I need to...
  • Be content, even if I don't achieve any of the above
...and for the first time, I think I will be :-).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

3am musings

Listening to: 'Liberian Girl' by Michael Jackson [Bad]

I'm in the lab and trying to stay awake, so please forgive the randomness of this post.

I'm currently full of ideas. An idea for a blog post (a serious one) and an idea for a cover version. And I have no time to develop either. I'm always either asleep or in the lab! I suppose I could try writing the post now, but my cognitive powers aren't at their best right now!

I just had a mini-heart attack thinking I had forgotten to take a reading. But it's OK, I had taken it and forgotten about it. When you walk between the office and the lab every half hour for 20 hours, the memories do blur about half way through. I suppose missing one data point wouldn't be disastrous...I missed one recently 'cos I dozed off. Whoops! Moving on, why did the deuterium lamp on the UV spec have to die today?! I'm gonna have a massive backlog of samples to analyse when I manage to replace the bulb next week. What a waste of time. Stupid equipment getting in the way of my PhD.

I'm dancing in the office. It's helping me stay awake, somewhat. If I was at home right now, I wouldn't be able to have my music this loud, thanks to my uber-light sleeping neighbour. Then again, if I was at home right now, I'd be snug as a bug in a rug in my bed. Grrr.

The clocks have gone forward. So I've lost an hour. Which is OK, considering I'm awake. I think my sleepiness is related to the time I read on the clock, as opposed to how many hours I've been awake. I mean when you look at the clock and see '03:54', you think oh shit, I should be in bed!, no? But I can't not look at the clock either, 'cos then I'd miss the time to take my readings. Sigh.

Hmm I need to renew my visa. But first I need to prove that I'm not a terrorist. No I'm not joking. I need authorisation in accordance with the Academic Technology Approval Scheme, which is a counter terrorism and weapons proliferation initiative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Go figure.

Boat Race!!! Actually to be honest, I don't really care. I tried going once - the last time Cambridge won - and by the time we got to the river, the boat had passed. I mean what's the point? Far better to watch it on TV or listen to the commentary on the radio. I do want Cambridge to win (obviously), but considering The Other Place is fielding a boat with five Olympians, it's unlikely. Yes, five out of their eight raced for Team GB. There should be some law limiting the number of national team members you can have. It's not fair. Last year they had some US Olympian, if I remember right. Honestly, they're turning into Lufbra for boaties (no offence to anyone associated with Loughborough Uni)! Yes yes I'm grumbling, so what. Anyway, Go Light Blue!

Ooh Aussie Grand Prix in a few hours' time. No I'm not into F1, I'm just saying. Kimi Räikkönen's kinda cute. But yes, I shall be all British and say go Button go! Because I think Lewis' ego is bigger than the circuit.

Jane and Lydia are still battling it out in my head. But Lizzie seems to be making her voice heard, so hopefully all will be sorted soon.

I need sleep.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Cover Session #3

Listening to: nothing

Long overdue, I know. Life's been getting in the way. Anyway, I managed to find a decent karaoke version for this track that didn't restrict my artistic license *cough*. Again, I'm not entirely happy with the timing, but there's no editing or harmonising so it shouldn't sound very choppy. The piano might be a tad too loud, but I can rectify that easily, so no biggie.

Here you go - Angel by Sarah McLachlan, from the City of Angels soundtrack. Enjoy!

In other news, yesterday I sent Shorty an email about how I might deal with a situation, saying "I don't want to be like Jane, but then I don't want to be like Lydia either." I can't believe I compared my response with those of two characters from Pride and Prejudice. Sigh.

I initially posted this yesterday but the audio was playing up, hence the repost.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The I-don't-know-what-to-call-this post

Listening to: Radio 1

Hmm...having a bit a of blogger's block. There's stuff to write about, but the motivation to sit down and type it all up is missing. This post is gonna be a bit random, the purpose being just to get back into the swing of things.

Thanks to everyone who wished my mother well (either on the blog or in person)! She's resting at home now and getting properly pampered by everyone who knows her...sorta like a prolonged Mother's Day :-). It also means that my father's doing all sorts of housework, which I find hilarious :D.

The Snow Patrol gig was amazing. Gary Lightbody's voice is like wow. And I don't mean just when he's singing. I swear the Northern Irish accent is the sexiest accent on the planet! I melted every time he spoke. Even when he spoke about how it was his sister's birthday and his 'favourite aunties' were visiting London. Sooo not rockstar :D I think that's what I love about them - they're just so 'earthly'. The band and their music are so tangible. Back to the gig, the performance of Run started with a spine-tingling acoustic version. Practically everyone was singing along, and if you could dare to close your eyes for long enough, the atmosphere was just electric. I almost cried. As for the Matchbox Twenty v Snow Patrol debate, Snow Patrol are far better at connecting with the audience. And MB20 didn't make my heart thump. Does that give away my choice? :-)

I've got a few mega-long experiments this week. I'm quite excited about getting useful data, but not looking forward to the lack of sleep. I don't have time to spread the experiments out over a few weeks so I just have to get to it. It's an interesting time for my project, and the stuff I'm finding out is actually really cool, in a very geeky way. I just hope I can figure it all out perfectly soon!

To be honest, it's an interesting time for my life in general. The depression that plagued me about a year back does make infrequent appearances, but in far lesser doses. Everything seems more manageable. And when it does get too much, I can turn to my parents...something I didn't feel comfortable doing before. Work is sorting itself out, and Spring is making a few flowers bloom for me :-). It just goes to show...when you sort yourself out, everything else falls into place :-).

Oh wow, there goes the blogger's block!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Am I missing something here...?

Listening to: 'Don't Upset the Rhythm' by Noisettes [Wild Young Hearts]

So apparently the ECB's got its knickers in a twist because Aussie cricketers are playing English county cricket just before the Ashes. They're concerned that playing county cricket here will give the Aussies an undue advantage, and England's national selector is thinking of blocking Aussie players from pre-Ashes county cricket in the future.

Now let's be realistic: I think everyone (the English included) knows that even without said 'undue advantage', the Aussies have the upper hand in the Ashes. Why? Because England are, more often than not, phenomenally shite at cricket (the men at least...the women seem to be pretty decent). The 2005 Ashes series was proven to be a complete fluke, and their only saving grace is an egotistical South African who's playing for England on a technicality. There is talent in the team, but there's not enough teamwork and no consistency...and without those, the talent is as good as nowt.

But for a moment, let's assume that the odds for the Ashes are evenly balanced. And after the departure of Warne and McGrath, this assumption is less ludicrous than it sounds. So what if Clark and whoever else comes and plays cricket here? Surely they've played the guys on the English national team often enough to know how they play? And forgive my patchy knowledge of cricketing strategy but surely the English batsmen have more to gain from learning how to read Clark's bowling on English pitches, than Clark has to gain from watching the English batsmen's stroke play? Of course Clark would get used to bowling on English pitches, but I think the effect of that would be nullified by the lack of the surprise element.

And then there's the ECB's attitude towards the Ashes. OK I know the Ashes means a lot to England. But the Aussies aren't the only ones who play county cricket here before touring England with their national sides. Surely that is also an issue? It seems that the ECB is taking the stance "we don't care if we lose to everyone else, as long as we don't lose to Australia". Well I think it's unlikely you're gonna beat one of the best sides in the world if you don't try to beat the others. And if you think that Aussies playing here affects your chances of beating them, the same applies to all the other tours. To me, the ECB's sending a signal that Australia is the only team important to them. Doesn't really send a positive signal to all the other test-playing nations, does it now?

But let's look at the bigger picture of foreign contracts. Some people think that the IPL gives India an undue advantage because foreign players are exposed to the tacticians and strategists working with the Indian national team. I have my own reasons for disliking the IPL, but this is not one of them. That said, the globalisation of first class sport is a double-edged sword. The host country gives the visitor an insight into the conditions in the country (weather, pitches etc.), and the visitor exposes their talent to the home teams. And in the case of a sport where conditions aren't that relevant (such as football) you run the risk of having a first class scene almost completely devoid of home players...which has a major impact on the depth of the national squad. A certain amount of regulation is required to maintain a healthy balance.

So yeah, maybe I'm missing something in the ECB's argument. I dunno.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

If there's a rocket, tie me to it...

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

...and take me home. My mother's fallen and smashed her knee cap, so she's going into surgery in half an hour's time. The practical side of me has evaluated the situation and my parents' voices, and determined there's nothing to worry about. Routine op, short convalescence, plenty of support from neighbours and friends...and my mother's meditation habit has made her calm. The emotional side of me, however, is a wreck. I'm feeling considerably better after talking to SoulSister (nothing like a phone call across two continents to set things right), but I'm still a bit shaky. What the hell am I doing sitting in front of my computer, when I should be at home making sure my parents are OK? My mother's gonna be out of action for about two weeks...and my father has to work...this is the bit where I'm supposed to step in and take over. But what am I doing? I'm getting ready to go to London for a Snow Patrol gig.

Yup, it's time. Tomorrow evening at the O2, 4 friends and I will be watching my favourite current band perform (I'm still undecided in the Snow Patrol v. Matchbox 20 battle). I've waited ages for this. I was excited last night but this morning's events have put a downer on things...must get back in the mood. Mother would be distraught if I don't enjoy myself because of her knee.

Before that, however, I need to go shopping - I'm going to a 1920's themed formal dinner next week! Long lacy gloves, feather boa, low-waist dress...eat your heart out, Roxie Hart!

OK I'd best go get ready. Waaah I just want to hug my mummy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

She-man or He-woman?

Listening to: 'Give Me One Reason' by Tracy Chapman & Eric Clapton [New Beginning]

I was at dinner with some guys from work yesterday. I use the word 'guys' here in its original definition, that being 'young males'. The conversation was therefore very 'guyish' - not in a sleazy way, but in a we-wouldn't-talk-about-such-things-in-front-of-the-girls way. I know this because they told me so. One of them said something rather off colour and started to apologise, and then saw me laughing and said "oh wait I forgot, we don't have to censor what we say in front of you". Which resulted in me laughing even more.

Now this was all well and good, until I remembered that these same guys were genuinely surprised to see me in a dress on Friday. They were surprised when I once said I spend ages on my hair. And it's not just me - there's another girl I know who gets teased endlessly when she wears a dress, simply because they think of her as a guy.

Why?! Why is it that I'm treated like a guy and not a girl? Can't I be treated like a guy and a girl? Or just a girl with an 'in the gutter' sense of humour and an uncharacteristic interest in sport and action movies? It's nice that these guys feel comfortable enough around me to talk about all the off colour things they can think of, but why can't they accept that I'll also wear high heels once in a while? I mean if it's ok for their girlfriends, why not for me?

I just don't get it. I don't think of myself as 'guyish' or 'girly' - I think I'm a healthy mix (and Blogthings agrees!). But I'm thinking...is that not allowed? Have I missed some kind of memo asking me to choose between the two? Sigh I dunno. I don't think I'll ever know.

In other news, I got ID'd yesterday, when trying to enter a pub. I'm 25 for goodness sake. I'm older than the guys I was with! What a bloody joke.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Party time!

Listening to: 'Spring' by Jacques Loussier Trio [Vivaldi: The Four Seasons]

So I've been partying all over the place this weekend. Well OK, just two parties...but still! Can I first say how annoying my sari was to iron?!?!?! Stupid flimsy 6 yards of nonsense. And why is it that my stubborn hair takes 2 whole hours for me to get a salon-finish look?!?! Sigh. Anyway, mini-rant over.

The first 'party' was the department annual dinner on Friday. Food was OK, music was mediocre (What you mean you don't know what cheese is!?! Where have you been all your university life?!)...but the company was great. A few friends from my undergrad days managed to make it, and we had a great time. As for my supervisees...well let's just say they were somewhat surprised to see little ol' me prancing around in a sexy dress ;-).

So that was Friday. And then on Saturday, my friend who had come up for Friday's dinner drove me down to London for my second 'appearance' of the weekend. Managed to find my way around the extremely useless London Underground (I mean how is it that almost every line in Central London is having 'planned engineering works' on the same weekend?!?!) and made it to Shorty's place with surrogate little sister in tow. Using Shorty's as a base, my friends and I got all glam (me in aforementioned sari) and then made our way to the Imperial College SL Soc Dinner Dance. Which in hindsight, should probably be renamed the "OMG I haven't seen you in so long!" Dinner Dance. I lost track of how many people I met after however many years - mostly from school days. It was surreal. The entire evening was a blur of "OMG hiiiiii!!!" and 'brown party songs' - i.e. no cheese, just rnb. Which was fine, since I can't really imagine 400-odd brown people bustin' a move to ABBA. I would've preferred a bit more baila, but the music was mostly decent.

It was raining on the way back to Shorty's, which was a bummer, but oh well. We got ready for bed and then someone decided we should play one round of Cranium...we went to sleep at 6am.

I made my way back to Cambridge after lunch, and got myself a Marks & Spencer microwaveable lasagne for dinner (which despite being 10p more expensive than the Sainsburys version, doesn't taste any better :S ). I have a supervision tomorrow afternoon for which I could not be less prepared, and my supervisor is breathing down my neck asking for results. Sigh...the ball's over Cinderella :-).

Until next weekend that is...bring on Snow Patrol!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Climb every mountain (or maybe just one really big one)

Listening to: '9 to 5' by Dolly Parton [9 to 5 and Odd Jobs]

So if you've noticed my twitter updates, you would've seen some of my tweets being addressed to RedNoseClimb. If you haven't spent a considerable time living in the UK, you may not be familiar with the whole concept of Comic Relief/Red Nose Day and the Red Nose Climb, so I'll give a brief intro.

Comic Relief is a British charity set up in the '80s by Richard Curtis of rom-com fame. Every year, the UK celebrates Red Nose Day - the main fundraising event for Comic Relief. The idea is that you raise money doing fun/interesting things, and every single pound raised goes to charity (i.e. none of the donations go towards admin costs). The money goes towards long-term projects in the UK and overseas (primarily African nations), and the BBC is one of its main supporters.

I usually donate 50p or something, but this year's different - I've already given £3 and I'll probably end up doubling that. Not to Comic Relief in general, but specifically to the Red Nose Climb. Why?!

The Red Nose Climb = 9 people climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for insecticide-treated mosquito nets (to aid in reduction of Malaria cases) in the African continent and mental health awareness in the UK. OK, climbing the 4th highest mountain in the world is pretty good, but it still doesn't explain why I'm infatuated with it. Here are the 9 people (you may not recognise some, but still...):
Cheryl Cole - from Girls Aloud and X Factor
Chris Moyles - Radio 1 breakfast DJ
Kimberley Walsh - from Girls Aloud
Fearne Cotton - Radio 1 weekend DJ
Gary Barlow - yes, from Take That
Alesha Dixon - formerly of Mis-teeq (the one who did the rap) and now enjoying solo success
Ronan Keating - yes, from Boyzone
Ben Shephard - TV presenter
Denise van Outen - TV presenter and actress
These are not people like us. Apart from the DJs, they spend their days being pampered, and dancing around on stage and TV with make-up and bright lights. They're the ones in the celeb mags, stumbling out of nightclubs and into taxis in a drunken stupor. They're not the type to go climbing mountains. I mean even Chris Moyles...have you seen Chris Moyles?! He doesn't look like he can climb a set of stairs, let alone a mountain!

But they're doing it. They're leaving behind the make up and the hair straighteners, the aftershave and the snazzy outfits...heck they haven't showered since Sunday! They're putting aside their diva lifestyles and putting up with the altitude sickness. All to raise some money for people who need it.

So far, people have donated over £1 million for the climb...and there's still two days for them to reach the summit. One could argue that they could've donated the money themselves between them, but I prefer it this way. It makes them more human.

I hope they all make it safely to the top, back down again and back home.

If you're in the UK and would like to donate £1 to the Red Nose Climb, text 'climb' to 88808 :-)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

New(ish) music (perhaps?)

Listening to: Radio 1

So this was supposed to be my 200th post. I've fallen in love with three pretty different songs recently, and I wanted to share them.

First is Chip Diddy Chip by Chipmunk. He's a British grime artist who'll hopefully follow in the footsteps of Dizzee Rascal and Kano. This song is getting tons of airplay on Radio 1 (obviously my main source of music).

Next up is something totally different - Fleet Foxes. Very folksy. From Seattle. This one's called Mykonos.

Finally, something more upbeat. Red Light Company are from, well, all over the place - US, Aussie, UK. This is their latest single Arts & Crafts.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Shell shocked

Listening to: Radio 1

You'd think that after spending half of my life in a country where nonsensical terrorist attacks are the norm, I'd be used to this. But I'm not. The bubble protecting the nation's sweethearts has burst...and I am in shock.

We used to have fond memories of Lahore. No more.

May those who died rest in peace, and may the others recover from their physical and psychological trauma.

My 200th post wasn't supposed to be like this. Sigh.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Mad World

Listening to: 'Meccano' by Red Light Company [Fine Fascination]

The world pissed me off today. Thrice.

1. "You're poor, therefore you must be unhappy."

I was listening to the radio today, as I always do, and I was listening to Jo Whiley's Changing Tracks. Today's story was about a girl who spent her gap year in Uganda, and what a great time she had and how it changed her life etc. When speaking of the Ugandan kids she worked with, she said the following -
...despite living in abject poverty, they were always smiling...
Well what did you expect? Did you think they'd be walking around feeling suicidal just because they live in a poor country?! Honestly! The concept of contentment is alien to the majority of these studenty types. They live in a world where your self worth is measured by how many colours of nail polish you have, or the type of iPod you own, or how drunk you got at last night's party. They float from the skies to these 'developing countries' thinking that they'll make a marked difference to the region and come back talking about how lovely the people are. And those people? To them, they're just a nice foreigner who came on holiday.

I'm not saying that these students don't have good intentions - they do. What I'm saying is that a lot of them don't understand a life outside their own. They don't see how a child from a rural village can enjoy life. They don't see that there's more to life than material possessions. They don't see that one year of teaching English is not going to change the futures of these kids at all. I just can't see it as anything other than a glorified holiday.

2. Tailor-made babies

According to this article, a fertility clinic in the States is offering sex and physical trait selection. Yeah that's right...if you want only a baby boy with only blue eyes and only blonde hair, head over to this clinic. I really hope this is just another case of BBC editorialising things 'cos if it's the truth, I want to puke. I can understand using this technology for screening of genetic disorders such as Down's Syndrome and Huntington's Disease. If parents choose to abort a pregnancy that would result in a baby with Down's Syndrome, that's their prerogative. But to discard a foetus because it has the wrong hair colour?!?!?! How superficial are we getting? This is a human life we're talking about, not a washing machine!

3. Rules are rules

So apparently the team from Corpus Christi, Oxford that won this year's University Challenge has been disqualified, because one of their team mates graduated half way through the competition and therefore ceased to be a student. OK, rules are rules...and while I would've preferred common sense to prevail (because I think they deserved to win), I can accept the BBC's decision. What I can't understand is, if this was such a big issue, why didn't it come out earlier?! Why wait until they've won to bring this up? Why wasn't it highlighted during the however many other matches they played? Have they checked the details of every other participant in the history of University Challenge? Or was it just that some bonfire pisser got upset that this college had won twice and decided dig around in the hope that they'd find some goss? Well they found some, so I hope they're happy.