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

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