Thursday, February 28, 2008

My First Earthquake

So what really happened was that on Tuesday night I went to bed at about twelve or so and at around one I woke up because I felt some shaking. Being in the subconscious state between sleep and awake, I wasn’t really able to discern what was going on. I thought it was the people in the room above me jumping up and down and I remembered thinking, ‘Why can’t these people sleep like everybody else?’

It’s only later in the day that I found out that the tremors were really earthquakes. Apparently it was around 5 in the Richter scale and the strongest that the UK has felt in about 25 years or so. My first earthquake! Don’t know whether I should feel happy or scared.

In other news, a friend of mind brought one of those brown, about A4 sized envelopes with him to the department. In the tea room, he opened the envelope and brought out... lo and behold, a Macbook Air! I don’t know how to use a Mac and I’m not fond of laptops with small screens, but even then, I can’t keep my jaw from dropping! It was so thin! Other people in the tea room saw it and they were fascinated as well. It really is an amazing design.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Indecent Exposure

And so it is the case that in the University of Cambridge, there are two student newspapers, The Cambridge Student and Varsity. The former comes out every Thursday, while the latter on Fridays. Normal national newspapers are supplied in the common rooms every weekday, but I often don’t have time to read those.However, I made it a habit to read the two student newspapers since a) they come out weekly and it doesn’t take much of my time and effort to read them, plus they’re kinda fun to read; and b) more often than not I find them very informative of all the happenings in Cambridge that I might not realise or know about.

But anyway, I guess sometimes even the most eagle-eyed editors will miss some things that shouldn’t appear in a paper. The last issue of TCS features a picture of the Christ College’s rugby team posing for the camera and one of the guys is, errr... exposing himself more than he should. It’s not obvious at first glance. I wasn’t aware of it until a friend who visited my room today pointed it out to me. We had a great laugh out of it. Add the fact that one of the other team members is clearly staring at it. My friend pointed out that he’ll be forever known as the guy who stares at the other guy’s exposed anatomy in a newspaper.

The hilarity of it just made my day.


P.S. No, I'm not gonna post the picture, so don't ask =)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dinners and Tea Towels

Okay, so sometimes in Trinity (or any other Cambridge colleges for that matter) they have these dinners for special occasions and more often than not, not everybody can go to them. Sometimes you’re randomly invited, sometimes you have to be invited by a fellow and sometimes you have to be a scholar. So I was complaining and whining to my friend the other day on how I wasn’t invited to the Rice Exchange dinner for two years now and how some of those who were invited by the fellows got to do things that are not usually allowed e.g. walking on the grass or going on the roof with the said fellow’s permission. Then, just the other day I got an invite to the Commemoration Dinner and this invitation is only extended for scholars but unfortunately enough, I can’t go because I’ll not be in the UK at that time. Great. So I don’t get invited to the ones I can go but was asked to go to the ones I can’t go.

There’s this particular Trinity third year who got the bright idea of producing tea towels with everybody’s faces on them, like those tea towel projects that were done in primary school. Well, maybe their primary schools, I certainly can’t remember having done such a thing. So anyway, the third years all got this small piece of paper each and everybody’s doing a drawing of themselves on them and submitting them to the person in charge. I can’t remember myself ever being artistic, so forgive my humble soul if the drawing doesn’t even closely resemble the subject matter:

Can you recognise me when you see the picture?

It's a small drawing so I'm sorry for the blurriness.

When I was handing mine in, I got the chance to look at all the other submissions. Some of them were bloody hilarious.

I am so buying the tea towels.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Frank Morton day

Well, it’s Frank Morton today (yesterday, actually, since I’m writing this early in the morning). For those of you who don’t know, Frank Morton is sort of a sports day for chemical engineers in UK universities. I wrote about it too last year. This year they’re having it in Leeds and the same as last time, I didn’t go. Why? Because one, they don’t have volleyball and I suck at other sports. Two, last year I was lazy and couldn’t be bothered waking up early in the morning to take the bus to Manchester. So if I go this year to Leeds which is even further up north, that’ll be an inconsistency, will it not? Hehe.

Anyway, because of Frank Morton we don’t have lectures or anything else in the department today so I took the opportunity to finish all my work. Overall it’s quite a productive day. I essentially finished the two exercises that are due on Thursday. Oh, and when I say exercises, I don’t mean jogging or aerobic. I also don’t mean something like a few easy practice questions either. Exercises, in Cambridge chemical engineering speak means coursework or assignments; they typically take two to three weeks to finish. There was a relatively new supervisor who told me that she was surprised when her supervisees (is that even a word) complaint that they cannot have supervision at this particular week because they were all busy finishing some ‘exercises’. She now knows that the exercises are more serious and stressful than the name might suggest.

It’s nearing two in the morning now. I guess it’s been a while since I last worked past midnight. Usually I’ll stop doing anything that requires heavy thinking straight after dinner.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Impending Doom

Ever since the incident where I have to wipe out and restore my hard drive, I have this feeling of impending doom in which my laptop will just fail and refuse to start up again. It is nearing three years since I first bought it, so I think the end of its lifetime is looming in the horizon, just that I can’t see it. It might be another one (or two) years if I’m lucky, might be another few months.

Lately there’s this weird noise coming out of the hard drive sometimes. It made me worry. Despite that, the laptop’s actually working well. I guess the wisest step for now is just to backup everything of importance and hope for the best, that it will not fail anytime soon.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It’s Half Term

Well, now (actually tomorrow) is the fifth week of the eight weeks of term, so we’re halfway there. I’m feeling the pressure of things, which is noticeable because I just complained to a few people today about work. I never complain about workload so you can tell how ‘under pressure’ I feel. Don’t you ever wish that there exists a device that you can press a button and time goes by really fast and then in the blink of an eye the term is over and you don’t have to do anything anymore? If it’s just lectures and course-related work I can handle it but I have to finish the L’Oreal project with my team on top of that so things get a bit crazy.

The May Ball tickets are now on sale so people have started asking Trinity students whether they have any spares. Unfortunately, since I’ve been to the May Ball last year and will probably go next year, I don’t think I’m attending it this time around. So, for people asking me for tickets, tough luck.

Four more weeks to go... maybe I should start a countdown.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Mathematician’s Cake Hunting

Yesterday there was a career fair called The Works in the New Museum site where my department is and it’s all about alternative paths like voluntary works and environment and the like. There I met two other Cambridge students from my previous school (Atlantic College), one of which I haven’t seen in quite a while, the other I haven’t seen at all since I left the school. That reminds me of the fact that unlike in my first year, this year we haven’t had any UWC meetings or gatherings where we can get together and see each other’s faces, which is a pity really. I guess I might meet up with one or two other people later at some point and organise some reunion kind of thing. That would be nice.

I was having some difficulties with my stats course because the notes weren’t very clear, so I thought I might be able to get extra help by visiting the stats website. My lecturer is the head of this Computational Modelling group in Cambridge and he puts all his supplementary materials on the CoMo website, so I looked there. In the middle of this, I found out that they put an Easter egg on the site. There were several images on the site that contain pictures of cakes, and when you click on the cakes you’ll find a link to their recipes. There were eleven cakes in total. As it turned out, instead of looking at the supplementary materials, I spent my time hunting for these cake recipes within the site and didn’t manage to do any work at all.

Well, at least I got all the cakes.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pancake Day?!

My friends were cooking pancakes for dinner yesterday. I thought it was a bit odd because unless they’re savoury pancakes, people don’t normally eat them for dinner since they’re not filling enough. Didn’t really say anything though, since I enjoyed watching them spent their time tossing the pancakes into the air.

Turned out that yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. That explained it, even though such a concept sounds strange to me. Oh well, guess you learn something new everyday.


Friday, February 01, 2008

It’s Been Hectic

Hello there! Didn’t mean to be reclusive for quite a while but life has been busy lately. Some people from L’Oreal came to discuss with us about the International level competition which will be held somewhere around 12-14 March in Paris. Apparently, we also need to write a four-page report on our solution by the 28th, which we will present during the competition itself. Furthermore, our current solution, while sounding good initially, doesn’t seem to be working very well (and this also seems to be the opinion of people in the Chemical Engineering department, that it’s not very practical) so we have to either modify it or come up with a new one. If we don’t come up with something good it’ll be very embarrassing (the competition being international and all) so this sets us off to a busy week with researching, meeting people and other stuff. Plus I have assignment deadlines on top of that. Oh, how I miss the first 20 years of my life when I’m never so busy.

People from Mars came to the department today (the chocolate company, not the planet). Well, actually it was just one person and he was a recent graduate of Cambridge and a friend of mine. Anyway, the point is, today during break we enjoyed ourselves with free chocolate bars and all that he brought with him. There’s also a free draw with more chocolates as prizes, the largest being a tin of Celebrations chocolate. Guess who won?

He he he.