Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Christmas 2005 and New Year 2006!

Dear everyone,
Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and Successful New Year!
I suspect this will be my last blog entry for year 2005 :)
(Considering how lazy I am in updating my blog!)
Word of advice for Christmas: cook your turkey properly to avoid food poisoning, heh!
New Year Resolution: Seeing food in a much more different way. I don't really want my boxercise and other fitness training wasted!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Still Under 30

Shockingly I am still under the band of "young person railcard"!

Despite the fact mentioned above....

God! I am getting OLD! Call me paranoid but I can even feel my stamina going down (proved last night on how I lay "dead" straight after walking home at 2am from the "mild drinking session" in a pub), and how I need to catch my breath for the next 10minutes just because am running up the stairs to an office in 6th floor! AM really getting old.... damn..

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Exporting Rubbish - Part of Waste Management?!

BBC One-Real Story has revealed on yesterday's programme (5th December 2005) how 500 tonnes unsorted rubbish has been shipped to Indonesia and other third world countries.

Jakarta itself has already had a problem with its own waste management, bearing in mind that the city doesn't even have enough trucks to transport their own rubbish, let alone having enough space to dump it over. This to be added with imported international rubbish that has lacked of management.


More because of how incompetent a waste management can be and taking into consideration that it will not literally able to help in reducing carbon emissions if it's not properly managed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Down Under

Sorry, might not be blogging for quite sometime as am in need to calm down for a bit after rows of dissapointment with my university that has not paid me for all my lecturing works for the past two months now.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Born on the Same Day

God! At last I'd managed to get round to blogging about this! sorry, Geoff that it took me ages to settle down and right about this!

So, here we go:

One of my very active explorative mate has opened a new project called Born on the Same Day. You might already knew him long before as being one of the "crazy guy" (Neil is the other half) that got into Guinness Book of Record in September 2004 for visiting 275 tube stations in 18hours 35minutes and 43 seconds. I am not going to blab more about it as you can see what it is about on Geoff's web and the Tube Challenge charity gesture written officially by Annie Mole and here.

So, anyway, back to the point! Geoff and Pete is having a project called Born on the Same Day and both whom "appear to have a strange bet on who can be the first to find fifty people" that share their birthday.

By the way, if you are wondering, I am on Geoff's side of betting :) So please, if you have some time, click on their website and happy entering your birthday, your cousins', your parents', your sisters', your brothers', your enemies', your neighbours', ..... etc! and see whether it matched to Geoff's or Pete's!

Have fun!

PS: the Official Logo will be up soon!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I hate politics! and apparently no matter where I am, it always comes up and surrounds me!

I had just experienced one in my own University of Brighton. Not a surprise as it never as liberal as I thought it should be, but to experience it in my own School Division, that's ashame!

Eventhough am not badly affected by it (yet), at the end of the day, the students will be the one that suffer the most.

*deep sigh*

Monday, November 07, 2005

Lewes Bonfire night 2005

Despite everyone warning us that it will be packed with people (the police we were talking to said it's about 80,000 people expected on that day), me and Jon (with him grumbling the entire queue) decided to give it a go and braced ourselves by joining the queue of the pack crowds waiting for train from Brighton Station to Lewes at 6pm (Jon should have the pix up soon). Don't ask me why, but we manage to stand patiently for another half an hour to 45 minutes (with two evil glances I'd made to two very thick face people who leaped across the queue barrier and jumping the queue)! Not because of the trains that were running late, but basically because the train(s) trying to cope in huge number of people trying to get to Lewes. We need to wait for the third train to arrive before we were being able to be "transported" up to Lewes.

The parades were already on when we reached there but I can't say I enjoy it much since we arrived quite late and we were basically at the back of the crowds on the pavement. All I can see was this huge man's derriere! Despite me hopping up and down praying to catch a glimpse of the parade, I believed no one even actually noticed I was there! I literally need to get a "repeat" coverage by Jon who conveniently taking pictures using my cameras and show me the parade pictures through the viewing screen! How sad!! *grumble grumble*

The fireworks was amazing! Despite Jon saying that although he enjoyed it, it's still not the best he saw so far! *Yeah right*! However, for a person like me who never seen any fireworks in my life until 7 years ago, am quite amased by it!

We finished at about 12ish and the queue to get back to Brighton was even worse than when we were up to Lewes. Apparently, we managed to get back at about 1.30am the following day.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Dancing with SBE Repair Centre and Imate

If you fancy testing how patient you are - yourself, you better have the same experience like I did for this past two months!

Having an Imate Jam is a good thing if you fancy a pocket pc phone and when it's up and running. But, when it's time you need to send it for repair, that's when the moment of hell started.

About two months ago now, I had sent my own imate jam for repair to SBE Repair Centre (the only so-called official repair centre in the UK). After calling them beforehand (never knowing that that will be the last ever call that they will ever answer), I got back a quote of maximum around £120-130 to repair it (which is already bad enough). To my surprise, three weeks later, I received a letter from them quoting £350+ to repair it! The same price as buying a new unit!

The reason: housing bezel (scratched). Part to be repaired: *blank*.

Fuming furious, I tried to contact them by email, fax and phone call, requesting them to explain to me the reason for the quote, to no avail. Having reached a dead end, I had then raised the matter further to Expansys (where I bought it from), Imate (the maker) and Kent Trading Standards. Expansys and Kent Trading Standards replied back but heard nothing at all from Imate, the only party that not saying anything for the whole duration of the problem! One of Expansys manager has dealt with the matter directly for me and contacting SBE herself and to my surprise, it seems that it work perfectly fine! Unless they have another different number or something! So, apparently a motherboard need to be replaced and they assumed it is not under warranty. Only when I verified more, Imate agreed that the changes of the motherboard is considered under warranty. Good news. All happy! Well, not quite so..

SBE also contacted me back saying that if I would like to carry on further with the repair of the cosmetic parts, I will still need to pay £30.00 for it. However, SBE stated that it's not a fix price yet as they need to look into it more carefully to see whether there is the only thing that needed to be repair. Having said that, after two emails with no reply (starting from ground zero again) I need to AGAIN raised the problem to Expansys two weeks after that. Surprise surprise! This time SBE get back to me (deja vu moment). This time SBE stated that it's been repaired and ready to be sent back to me with special delivery. Three working days later, after me in need to miss two working days wasting my time waiting for the unit that never arrived, this time I was really in a "duck- goes-into- barbeque pot- feeling". I had then need to email SBE and Expansys again! Being totally understanding, the very same Expansys manager had greeted her teeth again and brace herself calling SBE again. This time, apparently the SBE manager that dealing with me is on holiday! how "sweet"! She proceed further by talking to the MD but to my surprise I had discovered how lack of management they have in SBE. They now said that the item is still on waiting for spare parts! Totally not what we obviously being informed for six days ago!

Almost two months on now since the first time I sent the item to them for repair (one month three weeks, to be exact), this afternoon, I had received a GOOD news from Expansys saying that after talking to the MD of SBE, apparently now the item is ready to be shipped to me by today. I won't bloody hold my breath, for sure. And it better be truly in excellent condition when I received it back.

After deep thought, maybe I should change my area of research to "The art of chasing people quickly!"

So, why is it "Dancing with SBE Repair Centre and Imate"? well, the whole experience does feels like dancing: one step forward but two or three steps backwards!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Friday, October 14, 2005

Guys and Dolls - The Musical

An excellent play, indeed. Starring Ewan McGregor, Jane Krakowski, Douglas Hodge, and Jenna Russell.

We were just trying our luck when we strolled along in Leicester Square on Friday afternoon after a horrible and boring pointless half day was wasted in French Consulate Embassy to get my visa done. After visiting four ticket offices asking about the availability of the Guys and Dolls play (all the Stalls seats were fully booked up till 4th December 2005, not a surprise considering Ewan McGregor is the one starring for the play), we ended up on the fifth ticket office, and definitely didn't see it coming when the friendly ticket seller told us that there were two last Stall seats available for the show that night- starting in two more hours!

Call me impulsive, but me and Jon had been in dilemma since months ago contemplating whether we should watch the play and therefore without a second thought had accepted the excellent opportunity for having been able to watch the play that night!

Yes, am glad that we decided to watch the play that night, as it is an excellent play indeed. My favourite numbers have to be the Luck be a lady (Ewan-as charming as ever- hasn't lost his singing touch, however, he did looked slightly worn out) and Marry the man today (sang beautifully and hypnotically with the duet of Jenna Russel and Jane Krakowski). The orchestra, had also served their best throughout the play!

Hoping to catch a glimpse of the cast (ok, Ewan McGregor, in particular), we waited till about midnight at the stage doors, however, to no avail. He must be running away from another exit or something, can't really blame him. On the other hand, we managed to get the autograph of Jenna Russell, a very down to earth and friendly Sarah Brown.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ripped off NUS card

I sure am needed some consolation here. I've made a complain earlier (trust me, it's so unlike me, actually! *wink*) about the outrageous charges the University of Brighton's Student Union has charged their skinned students for their NUS card. Apparently, we need to pay £3.00 for our NUS card, the very same card being issued for free in all London Universities (UCL, Imperial, etc) as well as Thames Valley University and even Sussex University!

"You know what, you are the second person out of 2000+ students that had made a complain about this charges. I even heard other universities that charged £10.00 to get the NUS issued", says the unamused lady that dealing with us in the student union reception, when we express our shock regarding the £3.00 NUS card. She, however, failed to mention which university(s) does that.

Five years ago, when I was just a first year undergraduate student, it was free to have an NUS card issued to UoB's students. The union started to charge us £1.00 the year after that, stating that it's for "administration" cost. Honestly, for the love of God, I don't know where that cost come from cos all they do is have the empty cardboard papers in hand and ask us to write down our own detail inside there and all they do is laminate it, while other universities have it nicely done in a proper NUS card and have their detail typed in rather than written flimsily. No wonder staff in a shop or restaurant or even gym had to have their eyes squinted when looking at my NUS card. I know they still do try to look polite, but I can't help but recognising their "uncertain" facial expression on whether my NUS card is the real one or not. Can't blame them.

About a year ago, we need to pay £2.00 -for the lamination- to get our NUS card done. I was given a firm "no" when I asked them whether I can have my card un-laminated as £2.00 for lamination is quite outrageous.

This year, things started to get even worse. It cost £3.00 to have my NUS issued. The lady in the student union reception explained grumpily -when we midly "question" her- that the £2.00 is for administration fee and the other £1.00 is for the African scholarship charity or something. I don't mind giving anything for charity, but am sure feel much better if I can do it myself on my own rather than being "forced" by paying through my NUS card.

The lady, had unfortunately taking the whole situation personally, told us rudely, "so do you want the NUS card or not?! I don't have time for argument here! it's your decision to have your NUS! We are not forcing you to get it and therefore you don't need to pay if you don't want your NUS card issued!"

"Of course I still want my NUS card issued, and that's the problem, you see.." I tried to explain to her patiently, "I don't really have any choice as NUS card is the only thing that will officially stated that I am from this university. Unfortunately, we, as students, only able to gulp our words in and accept the fact that University of Brighton charged their students £3.00 for each NUS they issued. Maybe that's why I am the only second person out of 2000+ students that raise a complain in regards of this problem because (a) they might be freshers that didn't know the current normal situation yet and (b) cos, like me, they have no choice but to get their NUS issued."

No words from her for a moment, and then..

"Well, if you want to make a complain about the whole situation, you better talk to the President of the Student Union about it!", she said grumpily.

Oh, yes, am sure going to talk to them. In fact, maybe I should even send a copy of the complain to the Vice Chancellor of UoB, Student Union Advice centre, and the SU welfare.

On the lift up to my office, I still voiced my dissapointment to one of my colleague (who actually went down with me to the Student Union reception earlier) and it's about 15 more students inside with us and glad to hear that they voiced the same thought as us as well!

"We didn't know that other Universities has had it for free! We shall go and make a complain to the Student Union Reception as well!" all of them said.

Thank you guys!
An update:

Thanks to one of my colleague, Soma, who had also done a research about the mysterious £10.00 NUS charges, she managed to find various website link below which explain the whole situation much more clearer and which also shows how University of Brighton has overcharged its own students.

London Met
University of Gloucestershire
News about the mysterious £10.00 NUS charge
LUSU online
Henley College Coventry

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Crowds are back!

After spending such an "eerie" and quiet summer in the University, it's kind of weird to see students coming back now as the autumn term has started this week. You don't even have to see a calendar to know when the new term has started. When you seem to hear additional amount of drunken singers outside your flat two to three in the morning, you know that term has started!

I wonder whether I've been shrinking this past few years, as every year I've been mistaken as a new student. This new term is no exception. Never been proud of being a petite, I was trying to walk past a huge crowd of students on the pavement leading to the university when a student representative told me firmly to "stick to my group!".

It was quite a real entertainment seeing her face gone red when my second year student joined me from the other direction and ask me whether am going to give tutorial for second year this term.

"Yes, I will, if I am allowed to break away from my group!"I said with an evil grin.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Choose your PhD Supervisor carefully

The rabbit thesis

One sunny day a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the fine weather. The day was so nice that she became careless and a fox snuck up behind her and caught her. "I am going to eat you for lunch!" said the fox. "Wait!" replied the rabbit, "You should at least wait a few days." "Oh yeah? Why should I wait?" "Well, I am just finishing my thesis on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.'" "Are you crazy? I should eat you right now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit." "Not really, not according to my research. If you like, you can come into my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced, you can go ahead and have me for lunch." "You really are crazy!" But since the fox was curious and had nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit. The fox never came out. A few days later the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to set upon her. "Wait!" yelled the rabbit, "You can't eat me right now." "And why might that be, my furry appetizer?" "I am almost finished writing my thesis on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.'" The wolf laughed so hard that it almost lost its grip on the rabbit. "Maybe I shouldn't eat you; you really are sick ... in the head. You might have something contagious." "Come and read it for yourself; you can eat me afterward if you disagree with my conclusions." So the wolf went down into the rabbit's hole and never came out. The rabbit finished her thesis and was out celebrating in the local lettuce patch. Another rabbit came along and asked, "What's up? You seem very happy." "Yup, I just finished my thesis." "Congratulations. What's it about?" "'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.'" "Are you sure? That doesn't sound right." "Oh yes. Come and read it for yourself." So together they went down into the rabbit's hole. As they entered, the friend saw the typical graduate abode, albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the controversial work was in one corner. And to the right there was a pile of fox bones, on the left a pile of wolf bones. And in the middle was a large, well-fed lion. The Moral of the Story: The title of your thesis doesn't matter. The subject doesn't matter. The research doesn't matter. All that matters is who your supervisor is.

Source: from Professor Phil Ashworth ,University of Brighton.

Unusual Night

I thought it seems a bit unusual when I saw a police van, two police escorts with their motorbikes, a journalist and three expensive cars right across the road from my flat. All of them gathering just right in front of the Brighton Trades and Labour Club.

Hmmm.... I wonder who the person might be under the "limelight" tonight ?!, I thought to myself. I came up with not-so-interesting guess that it might be Tony Blair, based on the reaction of how the tenant on the flat above the Brighton Trades and Labour Club keep looking down at the entrance with his video camera and that it's on the Labour club. Why he bother to take a video of him, well I have no clue.

Sure enough, just few seconds after that, the police stopped the crowded and packed two way Lewes Road and out a man stroll from the Labour club. He walk to the middle of the road, paused there smiling and posing for the camera. From the "sparkling white smile" even babies will know that it's Tony Blair, and off he went to his flashy car accompanied few seconds later by Cherie Blair . All lasted in just 5 minutes though and us the local residence has then been given our normality back.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Christmas-sy feeling

" How weird! this is the first time in so many years that I am actually so looking forward to Christmas!" I said to Jon few days ago when we were just on a tea break in a coffee shop.

"It must be you were all excited and couldn't wait to decorate your flat now that you've got the whole floor for yourself!" he said un amused.

*silence for a moment, thinking...*

Bingo! I didn't even realise it in the first place and apparently he managed to read my mind even better than myself this time. What an improvement.

Two months on

A post by Kat about her moving into a new flat has suddenly reminded me about my own experience, basically just two months ago. I hope Kat will then have a "better" quality of life then on. In my circumstances, it's worth the hassle of moving, no matter how dreadful it is. So, I hope it is the same for her too.

After getting absolutely fed up with the state of my previous flat that I shared with two other dirty tenants and a landlord plus his quite moody girlfriend (see my previous post), I had decided to call it " a day", find a better flat, packed, and bugger off!

Well, it doesn't sound that easy, obviously. After viewing couple of dozens of flats, I had then discovered the "the flat". But while it was in a cold and grey March when I had decided I wanted that flat so badly and I was so desperate to bugger off from the leaky bathroom and slug-loving kitchens, I can only moved in sometime on July!

You can imagine how torturous it felt and surely you know how excited I was when the previous tenant decided to leave two days before my real moving in date! I started the official "moving in" with my first huge batch of bags and we continue almost non stop till way after midnight. Glad that people we encountered that night weren't thinking that we just finished doing some house robbery or something. Since it was raining, we even decided to sleep overnight on our "first ever furniture" which is a giant beanbag.

Apparently, we need four solid days to move all the stuff I had, accompanied by continuous argument with Jon who plead and grunt on me to throw some or all of my magazines, clothings, shoes and books away. Four solid days of moving, and that's after the uncounted trip to Oxfam to donate as many clothings and books as I can. Don't know where all the rubbish were from.. (*scratching my head feeling confused*).

It's two months on now, and.. am still happy as a bunny in my new flat! but, ups, I still haven't given back the keys of my old flat. I better do so soon. Just haven't got the time yet. I wonder how my ex landlords getting on now, he hasn't been keeping in touch lately as it seems that he's got a bit of personal problems himself. Hope he's allright.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

You are under eighteen!! No?!

This time round, I had experienced the most enjoyable yet annoying weekend ever in the past few years. Having been starting my weekend by being racistly abused by one particular evil National Express coach driver, I had then tried to enjoy myself and releasing the bad omen by seeing the play of The Producer (which is a real excellent play! fully recommended!) on that very Friday night and proceeding to watch Howl's Moving Castle (with a very bad sound effects made by a noisy hyperactive little girl who ran around and throwing foods in front of the cinema screen and whom, I presumed, might be high on sugar intake or something) on Saturday matine. For the Howl's Moving Castle, I will rate it 8/10. Spirited Away -as my Miyazaki's favourite movie- still the highest point so far at 9.5/10. However, maybe, if I concentrate more without any disturbance from the "sound effect", I might come up with 9/10. So, I was all pretty jolly good at that stage (okie, apart from the hyperactive sugar kid).

I didn't see it coming, therefore, when the bad omen creep up again on Sunday afternoon in Safeway, Ealing, when we were there to buy some booze for my friend's birthday do. Jon and I was just queueing like any other good normal citizen on one of the safeway till and didn't see it coming when the till staff ask us the very question " Can I see your ID, please?"

Gobsmacked but quickly gain our composure, we explain to him politely for the second time (yes, other till staff on the same Safeway branch has asked us the same question at different occasion, and worst of all, it was for a multivitamin drink!) that all we have is credit cards, debit cards, NUS cards and library cards. At least the NUS cards will state that we ARE over eighteen. But, nope, he insist that we must have something stating our date of birth. Not even my NUS and library cards which stated clearly that I am a PhD student did manage to convince him of our age (and no, am not a genius -otherwise am already in the Guinness Book of Records- so, of course, am over 18).

In a certain circumstances, I will feel very lucky and chuffed to hear that someone ask for my ID, but surely 23-24years old wouldn't be easily mistaken with under 18?! Otherwise, I shall go and apply for Cho Chang role for the next Harry Potter movie, that would be brilliant! (*sarcastic smirk*).

Jon, started to feel annoyed with the whole thing decided to take the matter further by asking another customer queueing just right behind us: "Do I look eighteen?!" he said.

The gentlemen, obviously understand how outrageous the whole situation was, said to the very till staff: "Yeah! come on, man! Stop wasting time and messing around! They certainly are over eighteen!!"

The mentioned till staff, feeling really embarassed at this stage, has, however, still insisted in calling the manager, but even after we were being "clarified" by the manager, another problem arise,

"The price of this beer isn't registered on the database, I need to call the manager again!" he said.

We left that very second decided to just get the drinks somewhere else, leaving the till staff speechless.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tag: Seven

Since I've been tagged with Jon, I thought this is then the best excuse to stay longer on the net (for now). So here it is:

Seven things you plan to do before you die :

1. Bungy jumping from Eiffel Tower
2. Get back my RCM's piano scholarship
3. Finish my PhD
4. Swimming with sharks
5. Opening rabbit rescue farms
6. Built a beautiful ecohome house for my parents
7. Travel around the world in less than 80 days

Seven things I could do :

1. Learn another language
2. Spend less time on the net and spend more time on my work
3. Become a professional pianist
4. Sleeping in a haunted mansion
5. Bullying my undergraduate students (*evil grin*)
6. Join university's net ball team
7. Become a vet

Seven Celebrity crushes :

1. Christian Bale
2. Desmond Harrington
3. Guy Pearce
4. Chad Michael Murray
5. Won Bin
6. Masaharu Fukuyama
7. River Phoenix

Seven often repeated words :

1. Fuck!
2. Shit!
3. God!
4. Setan! (means: "evil" in Indonesian)
5. I know
6. Bugger!
7. Moody cow!

Seven physical traits I look for in the opposite sex :

1. Eyes
2. Hair
3. Height
4. Facial
5. Body overall
6. Derrierre
7. Lips

My Seven Tags go to :

1. Anne-Marie
2. Helene
3. Geoff
4. Norman
5. Matt
6. Neil
7. Ann Pixeldiva

Friday, September 16, 2005

Running away - too early

I know, it's still about three months away before Christmas and here I am already planning my Christmas getaway! Well, not exactly Christmas getaway cos am planning to go away right after end of term which is 16th December and will be back before Christmas..., so let's call it "winter getaway", instead.

The venue this time will be: Paris. So, any advices on where to stay will be greatly appreciated! However, please bear in mind that am a skinned research student, so my budget only able to be stretched up to £20 pppn! :)

Now, I better get back to work (with the brain still thinking about Paris).

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Tube Relief Challenge - The D Day

Since I've already made a promise that I am going to write a brief coverage of the Tube Relief (which I regret it soon after), here it is:

04.30am: Here we are in Amersham! Half an hour earlier than we're supposed to be. The taxi driver was very keen to send us to Amersham by driving so fast that I can feel 1 and 1/2 piece of pizza I gulped for breakfast earlier jumping around in joy inside my stomach. Not a real happy bunny myself, but glad that at least am still breathing.

In addition to that, maybe it's also good for health and safety reason that they warned their customer of possibility to get a "neck injuries" caused by anxious client(s) sitting at the back seat that keep "extending their neck" to see the road in front that fly pass them so fast that they thought they were in a rollercoaster ride. Cos, I've got that mild injury myself. I suddenly remember the message I read the night before, typed into the aforementioned taxi's business card: "Customer please sit at the back seat". Now, I think they really should also give a consideration in putting another message there ".. and mind your neck".

By the time we reached Amersham, two other groups were already there but we hardly spoken to each other. A real shame. I guess we were feeling a bit shy to each other for a start and who can blame me for being startled early morning like this when my brain is on "off-duty"? Am not really a morning person, you see. By 05.15am, other challengers had arrived and keen for the challenge to start.

05.25am is the time when we all started to make our way together to the first platform of the day, Amersham. That's after the "Record breaker Men", Geoff and Neil, arrived and uniting everyone together, happy photo shoots of all the challenger, and handing out Red cross and TubeRelief leaflets to be given out to everyone that will be asking what we are doing.

Now, sorry for being cheeky, but if you want to know what happened between 05.25 to about 7.45am, please refer to a more thorough write up made by Geoff and Annie Mole.

Anyway, we then spread up in groups at about 7.45am and start our mission for the day. But since some groups (Geoff's, Sam Cawley's and some other groups) had a slight similarity route to Elephant and Castle and , we decided to continue our journey together. Things, however, start to get slightly ugly when we reached Elephant & Castle and tried to squeeze into northbound Northern line. It was half an hour to 9am, just right at the rush hour time and here we are trying to squeeze in but all I can see is people's derriere. Couldn't really afford to get stared at (eventhough am counted as petite) by pushing myself into the totally packed carriages, we decided to back off and grumpily looked at the train that started to move by now, without us in it. Oh well, minus 5minutes now.

The next train came about 5 minutes later, but Jon -can't help but being such an annoyance- decided to go to another carriage but has forgotten totally about me. Being short and lack of sleep has totally made me a complete idiot as I can't figure out where he is and all I can hear is his voice calling my name from somewhere either on the platform or one of the carriages. Couldn't risk missing another train, I decided to jump inside one of the carriage but still being disturbed by the voice of Jon keep calling my name and I can't figure out where he is. Panicky, I stick my head out of the carriage and look around to no avail. Lucky for me, a young lady at the platform shouted at me "he is there!" pointing at the second carriage away from mine, and I can see his head sticking out as well from the mentioned carriage. Mumbling a brief "thank you" to the young lady, I decided to go out from the carriage where I was and try to run as fast as a rabbit against the stream of people trying to get out of the station. I can't help but feel sorry for those that I bumped into, they must be thinking what on earth had hit him/her in a flash second. Thank God, either the driver understood my intention to run to the other carriage to be "united" back to "the other remaining" of my group or it's just pure coincidence, but no matter what, huffing and puffing, I manage to get to the other carriage just on the right time when the doors started to close. However to be greeted with commuters looking at me oddly. Ups! so time to hand out those leaflets then! :)

Now if you remember earlier that we were being "well equipped" with the redcross and Tube Relief leaflets to be handed out to people who might want to know what we are doing, sadly in our case, nobody really ask us what we are doing, so I just handed the leaflets out anyway throughout the day with a brief mumble of " Would you like to read this?" and were accepted with a smile and "thank you".

Commuters has started picking up and flooded the London Bridge station later on when we were there to get a change from Northern to Jubilee line, continuing our journey northbound. Being squashed with my face to someone's arm pit and my derriere to someone's briefcase, I politely try to wriggle about to get into a better position only to be stared by other "squashed victim" and so decided to look down and examining my shoe laces instead.

It's amazing how much experiences we had in just an hour time. By 09.35am, we had been told off by one of the underground worker through the tanoy saying that any type of digital recording are not allowed in any part of the Canary Wharf station and that we are supposed to ask a permission first from any of the underground staff before doing so. Also by 09.35am, we had gone to a wrong direction and need to double back three stations and Jon had managed to "excuse" himself for about three to four times, which means another twenty minutes missing for toilet stops. I've told him empty bottles are there for a reason..

About an hour later, we came across Norman and Matt and four of us were merrily doing the boring Hainault Loop together before Norman and Matt went on a separate journey at Stratford. I was left with an empty hollow in my stomach seeing them having their perfect sandwich lunch on the tube and wondering how could me and Jon forget about our packed lunch but remembering to bring those sugar boosting snacks! argh!

It's almost 1pm when my stomach start grumbling again and by this time I really can't ignore it. Giving a good excuse of the 12minutes wait for the next Metroline, off we go out the station and running like a greyhound to the nearest food station, Subway. Miraculously that is the only time Jon had ever agreed with my choice of Subway, Italian BMT (he usually complain a lot on how he can't take cold meat bla bla bla..). Few minutes later we were making our way back to the station running like a mad dog down the stairs and surprisingly, three minutes to spare.

It was 16.30 when we made it to Euston for the pitstop. I was a bit startled seeing so many people with lime bright jacket but realised within second that they were policemen and women with sniffer dogs around checking random people. Normal security check, I guess. We were completely exhausted and Euston pitstop seemed just a dream in my mind as I can vaguely remember what happened and hardly able to interact with people.

Anyway, it was 17.27pm and we were in High Barnet when we were discussing that soon it will be exactly 12 hours since we started the whole thing from Amersham. In a way, it seems that we were there just few minutes ago, sitting in front of the station with freezing derriere on the station pavement. At this stage, I started to feel the "workout pain" on all my body mucles! I can also hear myself muttering under my breath on how could I agree to do all this madness without even a second thought, only to be greeted with Jon's thought being said out loud " Somehow, I think this Tube Challenge is quite an addictive thing!". All I can do is greeted my teeth and pretend not to hear it. I can't really say that it actually get into me as well..

By about 7pm, we sat in quite an empty carriage all the way back to Euston after doing one of the Northern Northbound end. Feeling exhausted, I fell asleep conveniently between Brent Cross and Euston before being rudely awaken by Jon at Goodge Street.

"Come on, we need to take photographs here", he said.
"Can't we just stay on and carry on all the way till the end?", I said pleadingly.

That's it! I went down grumpily and looking for an empty bench along the platform. Curiously, all the bench were occupied by people but one left empty and untouched right at the end of the platform. Approaching the empty bench suspiciously (is there something wrong with this bench? why no one seating here?) we realised that apparently someone (later on we figure out it was Geoff ) had sticked a sort of "notice" saying something like "Get your photo taken here".


Right.. that must be the one that scared people off. But anyway, we were happily taking our pictures there, witnessed by commuters inside the train -that come and go- looking at us oddly.

Few hours later, we had completed about 240stations including Ealing Broadway, grab our dinner (two pack of greasy chips) from nearby takeaway shop in Ealing and we had a terrible temptation of just going straight back to Jon's house rather than going all the way up to Upminster. "Imagine, how nice and comfy a bed can be at this time of day", says our evil side. Apparently, heavy heartedly, we manage to get back to Ealing Broadway station and continuing our journey from there.

12.45am: Upminster!! By this time, we had experienced being almost locked up in one of the station in Hammersmith&City line, have an uncountable further toilet stops, being grilled "alive" (we almost know by now how it feels like being a roasted duck) in Victoria line tube, being stared oddly at and endlessly by commuters and members of underground staff alike, and having the urge to runaway back to Jon's house rather than continuing our journey up to Upminster. But most of all, we had experienced the warmth in our heart as we had done what we can to show our support.

03.30am: It's 23 hours after our last sleep. We get back safely, thanks to Helene who sent us home accompanied by "rattling entertainment" between Helene herself, Ann Pixeldiva and Neil.
Everything went blurry after that. The next thing I remembered, I woke up the next day, about 1.30pm and the whole thing seems just a dream.

Just to sum up the whole thing: We are still not afraid!

Tube Relief Challenge 24/08/05

And, we are still open for donation (please click here)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

One Stop Short of Barking by Mecca Ibrahim

Just a small simple line to describe this book:

If you haven't got it, you might as well get your hand of it before it's sold out! A very interesting, in-depth and hilarious story of "going underground". Venue: London.

I want this book now!

or, visit the co-author's web for more.

Tube Relief Challenge - 24 hour before the D Day.

Woke up startled at 6.45am on Wednesday morning. Had a bad dream and only managed to doze off three hours beforehand. I stumbled across my flat looking for the lightswitch, only to find out that I was looking at the wrong wall (I must be thinking that I was still in my old flat), and so needed to stumble across the other section of the wall. Switched the light on and standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, thinking what I should do next while my slow brain started to register that I needed to quickly get ready and packed my stuff as my coach will be living to London at 7.45am!

7.30am: Start walking (no, it's in fact running like a greyhound) to Old Steine to catch my coach and arrive there a minute before 7.45am (good record! since am a slow walker) just when the driver about to close and get ready to leave! Huffing and puffing, I get into the coach ready for the day.

10.20am: reach London Victoria. The clouds were hanging low, praying under my breath that I will be able to get to French consulate before the rain started to pour!

10.30am: Joining the other queuer by standing right in front of the gate of visa section at the French consulate. Now, some of you might be thinking what on earth was I doing standing in front of French consulate embassy like there is nothing better else to do, oh well.. of course, it's because I need to apply for a visa to go to France! simple, eh! nothing complicated ;) Anyway, just to remind the reader which might need to apply for visa in the future, you better plan your holiday well in advance since their meeting appointment always fully booked two months in advance! some nationality, like me, wasn't able to even get the visa the same day you applied (basically, you need to book an appointment to apply, then you go home and wait for them to send you the notification that you has been granted a visa-which usually take another one month- and only back to French consulate after that to have the passport stamped) so, maybe it's worth to plan half a year in advance! ;p

I was lucky that I managed to find a last minute cancelled appointment and managed to get there just the same time as am going to do the Tube Challenge the next day. Little that I knew, the next few days will be my longest days ever..

10.35am Heavy wind started to come and go, accompanied by the drops of rain that became more and more heavier every minutes (apparently I forgot to pray under my breath for the rain not to pour while am waiting outside, instead of just hoping it won't rain before I get to the French consulate. At this point, I started to curse under my breath.). By 10.50am, I was soaking wet and no matter how big my umbrella was, the wind with the rain just kept breaking through me.. half an hour to go until my appointment and long queue has started picking up in front of the French Consulate and we were left standing soaking wet for another half an hour! The Guard came out for a brief second handing out two big umbrellas, a nice gesture eventhough there are about 20people queueing there, means: two umbrellas weren't going to do any much help..

11.36am 5 minutes later than supposed to be, the gate had finally opened and in all the queuer. I had only managed to go out from the French consulate at 17.00. You might all be wondering, again, what the hell am I doing inside there.. hatching?! well, I wasn't really sure either, but I had spent the whole entire hours inside there waiting for my turned to be called. The first time I get in, there were about an additional 35 more people still waiting for their number to be called for interview. Each number lasted about 15-20minutes and only two to three counters were opened at any one time. Eventhough I was better equipped with my "Yes Man" book (Jon has post the review of it) to past the time (after learning from my past mistake to wait a whole full day in the French consulate), I still merrily nominate 24th August 2005 as one of my longest day ever in my whole entire life. Something that doesn't come up often.

17.15pm Bracing myself against the rain back to South Kensington station and getting ready to head to Ealing by now. Also just realised that am just arriving at South Kensington station at exactly "the most wonderful time" (= rush hour!) of the day. Soaked from head to toe, am ready to be squashed like an orange juice inside the tube. Lucky Jon was meeting me in South Kensington, so, at least I've got a friend, for I won't be squashed alone.

by 20.30pm, we finished dinner and now back in Jon's place reviewing our routes for tomorrow with me wasn't being able to stop sneezing and decided to call off our meeting in the pub with other challenger in the Amersham and instead tried to sleep off the cold!

23.00pm, I was still trying to sleep but the adrenaline has started to creep up by now..excited for the Tube Relief?! you bet..

2.30am, before even realising that I had dozed off, the bloody alarm has gone off and time to get prepared and ready. While Jon busy updating his blog, I was trying to steal few minutes to continue sleeping, to no success.

3.45am, I had discovered a new technique of sleeping called "sleeping on the go" by leaning my body halfway against the wall and sleep. It actually quite convenient and just about to doze off before being rudely awaken by Jon that has finished tying up his shoe lace!

4.00am getting into the taxi. Amersham, here we come!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


For those of you who are wondering why I haven't posted anything yet from the Tube Relief event, please bear with me for a few more days. I promise I'll do so once I get back to Brighton (soon). To blog at the moment, I need to rely entirely on Jon's internet and computer access (poor me..). The thing is, from 5 hours he spent on the net, only 10minutes I managed to get through him to at least check my email (first five minute when he went taking bath and the other five minute when I managed to divert him by saying that the landlord's cat was at the window pleading to get into the house).
Anyway, in case you are seriously going to wait for my Tube Relief post (which I doubt you will ;)) I merrily would like to tell you that I will only post a highlight of the Tube Relief event. For the most up to date and thorough coverage of the Tube Relief, please refer to our official Tube Relief Challenge blogger, Annie Mole!

So, good day, everyone! Hope you had a lovely bank holiday!

PS: Tammi, hope you are OK and hope Hurricane Katrina wasn't affecting New Orleans much! Worst come, my flat are always open for all of you (and, of course, also four of your chihuahuas!)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

WWF - online campaigning

WWF has launched an online campaigning project to help them in influencing the UK decision-makers. To be an online campaigner for them means that you are to prepared to take a few minutes to send a letter or e-mail to a decision-maker whenever there is an opportunity to influence environmental policy or legislation for the better or to lobby against environmentally damaging practices.

Further queries to be addressed to:

Ben and Jerry Sundae Common Message

Since Jon has covered almost all of the Ben and Jerry's Sundae concert, I had decided to then concentrate more towards the message that was left behind this best and incredible "Five Quid Concert" I have ever attended so far.

One important thing that has left me feel enlightened when leaving the venue on the previous Sunday was the thought of them trying to raise the concern of the vast increment of carbon emission in the Earth by handing out a Ben and Jerry's ice cream tub but with a compost and seed packed inside it to every audience that leaving the venue. The tub can then be used as the first step of planting the 'tree' - the pot. Along with the time goes by, the plant can then be transferred to either a bigger pot or straight to the "outside world".

For further details, you can visit their website. Apologies for the bad quality pictures, wish I had a better camera.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

'One man fight'

What a strict bureaucracy we have in Brighton University. This post is about my 'fight' in just having an upright piano transferred from Falmer Campus to Moulsecoomb campus (3 miles journey that can be completed in less than 15 minutes but last a total 24hours in paperworks and emails pleading for transfer cost and a little more for maintenance).

It's all started yesterday when I received an email in my office mailbox from Estate and Facilities Management that three upright pianos are free for university use. Having always been very keen to have one to practice myself, I thought it's an excellent opportunity to raise this matter and voice my keenest to have one transferred to Moulsecoomb campus. To my surprise I had discovered a long and winding road to a strict bureaucracy they have in my university. Having agreed to confirm myself that the mentioned piano will be use for university use, I found myself standing alone in a middle of empty field where no one in any University of Brighton's department able to help me with the cost to transfer the piano (£50.00 +17.5% VAT) and a small cost to maintain it. Having spoken to my Head of School of the Environment, he (as much as he wanted to help) unfortunately could not justify how School of the Environment will be able to pay for it as the piano will not be used as 'academic' purposes. Having thought of contacting the Sports and Recreation Department, I had also came up with a dead end as they (again, unfortunately) raised the problem that they have no say in regards of this matter and therefore it's not under their budget to support my pure innocent idea. I appreciate their help so much as to safe me from running around to each department and house pleading them to pay a small amount to transport it to Moulsecoomb campus, the sports and recreation department sent my plea to choir and chaplaincy department, oh well, to no avail..

Guess that I will still be left to where I had started. Still no piano in Moulsecoomb campus, six years since the first time I asked them when I was even more naive about it (I was just a fresher undergraduate at that time). Guess that, again, I will still need to go all the way to Falmer and pay £2.60 bus pass just to practice my piano (I can't see how green this supposed to be). Apparently, £50.00 will give me only about 20times practice to Falmer while £50.00 to transfer the piano to Moulsecoomb will give unlimited time for me AND other students to practice. How's that?

Oh well..who say the World is a fair playground?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Why Tube Relief 2005?

We know the reason for Tube Relief 2005: (as stated in Geoff's website)

i) Charity. People often do this and raise a few pounds & pennies. This time everyone gets sponsored in aid of the bomb relief charity and we really go for it. Let's get thousands of pounds this time.

ii) Defiance. Solidarity. Togetherness. We are not afraid, and we well get back on the tube - the whole tube - and prove that we are more than happy to ride it. We will do the thing that we do best - ride around the tube system.

On Thursday 7th July 2005, at least 50 people died in the worst terrorist attack ever to happen in London. As well as the dead, there are horrific injuries and people who will be mentally scarred and unable to travel on London public transport system (tube and buses) ever again. For those that have no other means of transport, they had no choice but to travel by public transport but accompanied by fear !

Personally, as a person that working in the Built Environment area and concentrating specifically at sustainability, this matter really tore my heart apart..

Some people almost forgotten on how useful and sustainable public transport is, those whom especially always had a bad principal of using their private cars just to go to a convenience store that located few metres away from their house (those in America, especially, with their 4X4!). Public transports are there for a reason! It helps in reducing Carbon Emissions (especially now when the world is force to do something to reduce all type of pollutions due to climate change).

In this post, I would like to take the opportunity to say how I envy London public transport for giving a positive example, not only to other cities in England (such as Brighton), but also other countries where public transport wasn't really put into practice yet (such as Indonesia).

Supporting Tube Relief 2005 will help us in putting the broken pieces back and giving people their confidence back in using public transport that will help in minimising the environmental impact!

Your donation, no matter how small (or big), will help tremendously. We need your support. To donate online, please visit us on:

Support Tube Relief 2005, Support our environment.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tube Relief 2005

Jonathan and I will be attempting 'Tube Relief 2005' next month. If you would like to sponsor us, please click on the button below:

Please visit Geoff's Not Afraid site for details.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Review

Before I posted anything, for those of you that haven't finish your sixth Harry Potter book, I kindly ask you to look away, now!

DUMBLEDORE is dead!! (I've warned you to look away..though..) I won't expect it in the first place (I thought it might be Snape) but reading it along the way, Rowling had unmistakenly given the 'soft clue' that Dumbledore is whom people will talk about later on.

Now, I won't praise myself of finishing the whole book as fast as other people. Well, in fact, I am a slow reader and like to enjoy my reading slowly. I bet, if you wanting to find out what happen, you might already found out about it from other faster reader, anyway! ;) That's why you'd probably know how annoyed I was when my other half had gone Harry Potter mad "marathon" and finished reading it in one night (or one and a half day?? I can't even be bothered to remember when he finished it). What makes me gone ballistic is the fact that he can't shut his mouth and try to give me clue on what will happen!

Anyway, some people might say that the sixth book is the best so far, unfortunately, I find it less interesting than all the previous one. I find that the tension in the sixth book had been built up very slowly, and in fact, am quite surprise that there is no twist and everything has been put very straight forward. It's a shame that the details of the story has been 'diverted' to other less important feature, which makes it as though the sixth book has been 'purposely' made thick just for the sake of making it 'thick' (to put salt into the injury, the sixth book is, in fact, 161 pages less than the Order of the Phoenix - eventhough I won't really point this out as something negative as total pages can't actually prove how good and enjoyable a story book can be).

Other discussion that is 'at large' at the moment is about whether Snape truly killed Dumbledore or it's pretentious. Opinions gathered mostly said that Dumbledore will be back on the final book (am pretty sure of this) either because he 'pretend to die' or as a "memory".

But, back to the point as whether Snape is actually truly killed Dumbledore, I myself will look at it from the bright side that Snape is still actually Dumbledore's man or at least killed Dumbledore as being asked by agreement beforehand with Dumbledore (remember how Dumbledore made Harry promised to keep forcing the poison down Dumbledore's throat in the cave?). Some people say that Dumbledore's last word "Please" is just a plea to Snape to spare his life, in fact, I thought it's more of a plea to assure Snape to attack him, his 'scared expression' as described in the sixth book, I will say more towards scared expression of Snape backing away rather than killed him. Well, this is just my theory, though. The truthness of this will only be one more year, unfortunately! So, I might be wrong, but I'll put my brain temporary at this theory, just to keep me happy for a year ;) There, I said it.

London Blast - the Day After

I might not call myself as a Londoner (as am travelling to London only every weekend or twice a month for work related matter) but am glad and proud to say Good Job for Londoner no matter who they are; the key public sector staff or civilians. Their calmness and professionalism in dealing with this terrible ordeal, something that really need to be look up for!

Deepest condolence for those who were affected by the blast..

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Blast

Four explosions confirmed had taken place in London today - three in the tubes, one in number 30 bus- (between Edgware Road and liverpool street tube stations, between russel square and king's cross tube stations, at Edgware road station, on bus at Tavistock Square). All public transport has been put to halt and mobile phone network (especially one located in London) might be clogged up as emergency purposes has been prioritised. Stay alert, tune in to radios and TV, but don't panic .

Source: BBC NEWS/ In Pictures/ London Blast

For a full update, please refer to:

An update:

15.26pm, News Conference by London Metropolitan Police state that 4 explosions across London central with more than 33 fatalities had occured today.

emergency hotline number for the London blast: +(44) (0) 870 1566 344

Friday, June 24, 2005

An update

For anyone that were left puzzled on what's going on after my last post about the proposal thesis outline writer's block.....well, am glad to say that am still breathing! :) Three days of fast-drumming heartbeat really have put me on the top adrenaline and all the energy I've got left for the thesis proposal presentation! Allow me to say... PhD experience does exhaust me a lot and with the 'mood swing' changes every second (instead of 'monthly' or weekly) it does actually even worse than the infamous PMS! My life expectancy has been reduced by ten years now...

On the other hand, had decided to run away to London to 'keep my feet on the ground' and after all, it's Wimbledon (we decided to queue overnight for the Saturday's match) and summer sale!!! Really need to get some stuff for the new flat! (one more week to go!!!!)

Have a good day, everyone!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Thesis Proposal Deadline

Help! Help!! I am stuck! My Thesis Proposal deadline is coming up but for some reason I feel that my aim and objectives are still blurry! If you, reader, have any input or advice, please feel free to give me a comment! Anything and everything to build up my thesis proposal will be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Channel Tunnel Folkstone-Calais

A very interesting experienced I had encountered during our journey to attend the DURABUILD Conference in Rouen, France in May 2005. I've just realised that not many people know about the Folkstone-Calais Channel Tunnel and in fact our coach driver got nervous as it was his first time going through the tunnel with the coach as well! So here is the shots I took just for future interest

More can be found at my flickr

Saturday, June 04, 2005

countdown to my new flat!

I can't believe it! it's only a month left before my official move to the new flat! I know..some of you might be thinking how sad I am for counting down so far in advance..but believe me, if you are living in a dumpster place like my current flat, you wouldn't be surprised!

the story of my new monitor - update

Now, maybe I had been punished more for complaining.. anyway, on our way to the post office (last another half an hour, cos the only one that has parcelforce is located in the town centre), Jon had came up with a bizarre idea that it might not be any problem with the monitor and that it might probably be something to do with my graphic card (one thing that I tried to let him know in the first place, but he kept refusing to believe!) anyway, we were then in a 'battle' whether to send it over to amazon or not and thinking that if it is actually something to do with our graphic cards, there is no way we can get back our money we spent for sending it back to amazon!

So, we decided to go back to my flat (leaving other people in the post office looking confused to both of us, they might be thinking what are we two weirdos doing in the corner of the post office seriously discussing something for about 15minutes and than flee out again!), and walk to my office to download the most up to date software for my graphic card!, went home, use my old monitor to upload it, finish installing, then swap back to the 'troubled' monitor. and YES! we made it! it works!!!! and YES! we also did burn calories!!! 'what a day'!..*deep sigh*

Friday, June 03, 2005

the story of my new monitor

I might have been punished for my laziness and lack of exercise this past few days...

Apparently, I had ordered a new 19" monitor acer from Amazon few days earlier and having told that it will only arrived a week later, I decided to go to my office as usual yesterday morning around 9am only to receive 'supposedly' good news from amazon that the item has been despatched the day beforehand and has arrived in Brighton branch that morning at about 8am! (5days earlier than anticipated!) I called the courrier and rushed (basically 'running') home praying that I won't miss the delivery guy as I really am excited to get the monitor up and running in a tick (I had used my old 17" monitor to do my AUTOCAD drawing and it strained my eyes completely). Waiting for hours at home is quite a pain, luckily I have brought home the last batch of student courseworks that I need to mark with me that time (even that doesn't really entertain me enough!). Waited and waited from 9.30am to 4pm-ish, I realised that I need to go back to uni for a meeting with my supervisor! luckily, I'd managed to drag Jon to cover for me while I ran back to uni for the meeting. However, a very sad news indeed though as for some reason, right until I had finished my meeting at about 6pm, still no sign of the monitor coming!! So then I went home exhausted after running here and there and 'ready' to face the challenge again the next day.

Now, to cut the story short..this time I decided to call the courrier customer service twice just to make sure that the delivery will be done today and yes, it did! So we waited and waited and waited and it comes at 2pm!!! In fact I might have scared the delivery guy as I managed to open the door just a second after he knocked! (he might be thinking that he is the little red riding hood and we are the wolf waiting in the bush for the victim to arrive!) yay! so we unpack the packaging, plug the monitor straight away and....*deep sigh* there is another problem that for some reason the monitor keeps flickering every 10 seconds! everything has been checked proof, cable, connection, power..etc...still we see no solution...gutted and gobsmacked...we decided to return it and to do this, again, we need to go to school and let amazon know about it, print the return label, go back home again to pack it back to its original packaging, and gone out again to send it back to them!!!!! what a lovely day we have for the past two days!

NB: it took about 15minutes (normal walking) single journey from my flat to school, or make it 10minutes when running...OR 20minutes when the wind blows in different direction! So, maybe I dont need to do my fitness regime for another week then ;)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


A very sad story indeed.. I had discovered this website from BRE:

However, to go to their conference, it will cost me a whooping £265 inc VAT, per person PER DAY!! I am dying to go but my university couldn't afford sending me there due to such an expensive entry! another sad news is that I can't even go there by myself as it is very difficult to get to BRE in WATFORD without a car (mind you, am still trying to get my international licence here, actually, and it's still pending due to my 'timidity' in afraid of failing the driving test!)

The conference topic itself will actually be very useful for me as it is directly collaborated with my research topic in sustainable prefabricated housing!

So, if you, reader, happened to have a link (or knew) with BRE or any of the person below: Professor Walter Leal (TuTech, Hamburg), Per-Arne Nilsson (City of Malmo), Ruukki, Tony Woods (BRE), Rod MacEachrane (NHBC), Clive Clowes (The Housing Corporation, Alan Yates (BRE), Vic Handley (Van Elle), Dan Brown (Advance Housing)

Please, can I (-a hardworking but very desperate research student with limited budget) obtain their presentation?? It will even be better if I can get to interview those people listed above!! It will be greatly greatly appreciated! The payment is a pint of beer!!

Friday, May 27, 2005

What is your score?!

OK, this is good fun! Fine, yes, I am supposed to do my work but it's a Friday night and we are looking forward to our second long bank holiday this month. I can't really concentrate much on anything except having fun with lots of red wine and music!

Now, before you continue reading, let me remind you that this quiz result is totally UNTRUE! I am NOT a loner!!! urm..well..maybe with a bit tendency towards 'psychopath' ;) ..anyway, have a good weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Student Accommodation Development by UNITE Group Ltd - Kentish Town

UNITE Group Ltd aimed to be one of the leading modular manufacturing facility especially in providing a fast and good quality accommodation for student and key workers. My review in this post will be concentrating mainly on the UNITE's recent student accommodation development in Kentish Town area, made after our site visit on Thursday 12th May 2005 (all pictures are pending, subject to approval from UNITE Group Ltd).

The key driver: The rapid expansion of higher education to a point where over 32% of school leavers go on to some form of higher education has led to increased pressures on facilities, including residential accommodation as over 1.8m people are now students in higher education. UK universities has therefore being challenged to provide a fast and good quality acommodation especially for the new students. To overcome this problem, out-sourcing the ownership and management of a university's can be one of the best idea where the entire stock of student accommodation with occupation can be obtained through leasebacks and service agreements such as 'stock transfer' - as stated in UNITE's first research report back in June 2000 - would enable university to upgrade existing halls of residence, add new accommodation (potentially without capital outlay) and pass the time consuming management process to a focussed, specialist operator.

The UNITE Group Ltd itself has already managed, or has in the course of development, over £180m worth of student accommodation in the UK, for a range of academic institutions.

UNITE's Piccadilly Court (source:

One of their recent development is constructed in Kentish town area where the student's block is consists of volumetric modular units comes in the form of standardised en-suite study bedrooms, kitchen and living facilities as well as bigger volumetric units designed as a en-suite studio flat. The Kentish Town Development is constructed with on-site steel structural frames and the fully furnished modules than delivered to site and easily craned to be seated on the structural frames and joined to create an accommodation block.

The downside of this type of construction is that each lorry unfortunately will only be able to bring two modules at once and since the modules are fully furnished, there is greater chance in it being damaged during the transportation.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


“The key challenge is between using MMC and traditional methods of construction and not which material is used”. I am totally agreed with this statement. The obvious difference between MMC and traditional methods of construction lies on one being made off site and one being made on site. However, what if a particular site has a factory located far away? isn’t it better to construct the whole thing on site? How much time and cost can be saved to produce a wall, for example, off-site rather than on site?

“Modern Methods of Construction are not generic solutions that can be applied as effectively everywhere in the country or indeed internationally. Modern Methods of Construction may not be as cost-effective in developing countries where labour is cheap and plentiful. They are particularly effective in Japan where land and labour costs are extremely high”. I am trying to see it from the different angle here. From my point of view, I will say that Modern Methods of Construction is actually a quite generic and flexible solution that can be applied as effectively everywhere in the country or indeed internationally. It can be made better by ‘tailor made’ the whole Modern Methods of Construction to suit a particular country. In developing countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, MMC can be tailor made to create more job opportunities in the pre-assembly factory hence improving the economy of the developing countries. In Japan or developed countries such as UK, however, MMC can be implemented but while land and labour costs must be extremely high, AUTOMATION and/or ROBOTISATION and/or MECHANISATION can be incorporated into the whole production method. For the definition of those mentioned techniques given above, please refer to my previous post “The Definition” on 19th April 2005.

INTEGER has stated in their key outcomes that “it is important to remember that the building process is simply a means to an end. The end product is more important than the process employed. The long term viability of the building is more significant than the building process employed”. A statement that unfortunately I am not really agreed with. From my point of view, the end product is as important as (not more than) the process employed. We must bear in mind that MMC is used because of its faster construction time and also to reduce CO2 emissions as well as wastes generated on site. Therefore, we must also taking into the consideration that volumetric modules used to construct a particular house, for example, might require a more frequent transportation to and from the site and factory (a queries I had made to one of the prefabricated housing manufacture has stated that a lorry apparently has only been able to transport about two modules in one go) hence creating a higher fuel consumption which can incur a higher cost at the end product. If a non volumetric pre-assembly that being used to construct a particular house, for example, its weight is the one that need to be taken into consideration, the heavier the weight of the wall panels be, the higher the fuel consumption will be as well. Sometimes, decision to use modules, for example, will lie entirely on the site location. My interview with one of a local architect has put me in the alert of the horrendous difficulty that can occur if MMC has not been thought through since the beginning of the design stage. Apparently, the modules delivered to the particular site has to be craned on top of the neighbouring houses and poor old people in the neighbourhood need to be ushered away for a ‘cup of coffee’ while they craned the modules pass their roofs, which resulting in a bigger risk in health and safety and might also means that it incur higher cost at the end product.

“There is a need to ensure that the buildings are used properly”. In my opinion, this can mean thousands of interpretation. It might means that the particular buildings need to be designed based on their needs (for example, you wouldn’t want to design a particular building near shore or beach, such as Brighton, in steel construction that can easily get rusty due to the ‘salty’ air around beach area). But it can also be interpreted as “you can ONLY use a particular building designed for a particular purposes!” which I am entirely opposed to. To me, sustainability means that a particular building should fit as much function as possible to prevent unnecessary changes and demolition. This means that a building to be designed with, for example, easily removable internal partition or, in conclusion, as flexible as possible for future change of use.

“MMC is still seen as more expensive than traditional options. The guarantees that can be assumed with traditional structures are simply not there. Therefore RSLs are not keen to change the way they build”. Unfortunately, I found this as quite a pessimistic gesture. I am not promising anything but I have noticed that this means there is still not many research has been undergone to make MMC process better. It will be good to do a research on how sustainable MMC can be maybe, for example, by implementing and establishing the life cycle assessment of not only each particular materials but also as a ‘whole’ end product. By doing this, there can be an improvement that hopefully can be made when you are comparing the traditional construction and pre-assembly construction.


At the end of the seminar held by INTEGER on 21st April 2005 on MMC, Alan Kell- the managing director of i&i Limited- had run a quick sessions with all the attenders on what each person's think they have learned from the seminar and what action can be taken from then on (apparently, Alan has reminded all attenders for the second time before the last presentation that he will be going around asking people of their opinion and how shocked and gobsmacked I was to later realised that almost 1/3rd of the attenders slowly 'running away' quietly one by one. Thank you to my supervisor, Professor Andrew Miller, who was there giving me a 'support smile' when I was looking at him in horror! he might not be realising how bad I wanted to 'run away' as well! However, I am glad he was there giving me no excuse at all to 'show myself the way out' as it actually gives me much much more confidence in speaking out in public and letting my opinion heard by other professionals! I owe him many thanks!)

Anyway, the key outcomes are as follows:

  • The key challenge is between using MMC and traditional methods of construction and not which material is used.
  • It is important to remember that the building process is simply a means to an end. The end product is more important than the process employed. The long term viability of the building is more significant than the building process employed.
  • When using MMC communication and consultation within the design team is essential.
  • MMC requires much more planning and up-front effort before work starts on site. One of the challenges is whether MMC are flexible enough to respond to site-specific differences and challenges.
  • Using MMC means getting the contractor and the manufacturer involved at an earlier stage in the design process than on conventional projects. The contractor can then advise on what MMC options are feasible.
  • Contractors are in an excellent position to advice on what MMC options will enhance effective delivery and what will cause problems.
  • Modern Methods of Construction are often used ineffectively because the guidance is overlooked and site processes are not used properly.
  • Cladding systems is one area where MMC can offer significant benefits however there are concerns over the limited lifespan of cladding materials.
  • The question of tolerances (designed and delivered), and potential mismatches, is extremely important when using MMC.
  • There is a need to ensure that the buildings are used properly.
  • Sustainability is an area that the MMC sector has often overlooked. However, MMC has the potential to offer significant sustainability benefits which have not as yet been quantified. These includes:
    • Minimising waste - considerable waste is produced on building sites where unwanted materials are often simply thrown in skips and sent for landfill. MMC offers the opportunity to re-use unwanted materials and to design buildings which use standardised components. Factories can also store materials in covered areas and so are unlikely to be damaged by adverse weather or vandalism. Unite Group were able to reduce their waste down to 0.6% material waste by value, compared with 10-12% on a conventional building project.
    • Quality control - fewer defects as work is carried out in a controlled environment and components are cut to an exact size. this also reduces the chances of cost over-runs.
    • Speed of construction - quicker construction times lead to less disruotion for local communities and the enable the property to be put in use earlier.
    • Improved health and safety on site.
    • Transportation - the number of small vehicles to the site is limited as there are fewer individual tradespeople travelling long distances to reach the site.
    • MMC offer the opportunity to overcome the skills deficit currently affecting the UK construction industry. The average bricklayer in the UK is over 50 years old. The opportunity of working in a controlled, safer, cleaner and more stable environment has the potential to attract more workers into the construction industry.
  • More quantification is required of the actual and potential sustainability benefits of using MMC. Little convincing evidence currently exists.
  • Some of the major challenges MMC must overcome include:
    • building market confidence
    • convince insurers of their resilience and reparability
    • convince lenders of their longevity and durability
    • convince surveyors that the building will hold its value
    • changing public perceptions
    • the perception that it is more expensive than traditional build
    • standardisation versus customisation
  • There is a need to co-ordinate the generic business benefits of using MMC
  • The benefits of MMC need to be quantified more effectively. BRE would encourage the MMC industry to work with them to achieve this.
  • The lifetime costs and benefits of MMC need to be clearly defined and widely publicised.
  • Build Offsite is an umbrella organisation which encourages industry to work together to enhance the profile of MMC. Sustainability needs to be included in this agenda.
  • The industry is facing similar challenges now to those faced in the 1950s and 1960s. In terms of housing there is a requirement to create places that people want to live.
  • Modern Methods of Construction are not generic solutions that can be applied as effectively everywhere in the country or indeed internationally. Modern MEthods of Construction may not be as cost-effective in developing countries where labour is cheap and plentiful. They are particularly effective in Japan where land and labour costs are extremely high.
  • There is a requirement to look at the supply chain in a regional context, looking at local materials. The concept of "near site" construction.
  • RSLs are being required by Housing Corporation to deliver both MMC and sustainability. RSLs are looking at ways to incorporate MMC into their design briefs.
  • MMC is still seen as more expensive than traditional options. The guarantees that can be assumed with traditional structures are simply not there. Therefore RSLs are not keen to change the way they build.
  • The Housing Forum is establishing a working group on MMC which will de-mystify some of the anecdotal evidence.
  • Should requirements specifications include use of MMC? Should clients be specifying off-site manufacturing? Client specifications should be performance based rather than technical.
  • Clients need assurances that they will be able to carry out maintenance easily and will not be tied to a single maintenance provider.