Monday, September 29, 2008

Oooh, Another One!

In case you missed the previous one, you can find it here.

Saw this one on my way back from the dept, just in front of the Senate House. I think it’s a different company, albeit offering the same, errr... service.

And yes, apparently I don’t have anything better to do during the fasting month than putting up perverted posts like this.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today, Tomorrow, Oh Well...

For some reason, I thought they are looking for the new moon today instead of tomorrow. And so, I spent tonight waiting and refreshing certain web pages for the announcement to appear. By nine, I was furious.

Why the heck is nobody saying anything?

And then I texted a friend in London, and he told me Eid might be on Tuesday or Wednesday, and I felt really stupid afterwards.

Anyway, this will be my sixth Eid in the UK. Goes to show how long I’ve been here.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Summer Holiday, PhD, and Clocks

Right, after twelve weeks of working on a research project, I’m finally having my (long overdue) summer holiday. It feels so good not to have to walk for half an hour every morning to West Cambridge and have sandwiches for lunch instead of a proper hall meal. Not that I’m having lunch anyway since now is the fasting month. Still, it was a good experience and I learnt a lot, though I secretly envied Will, my engineering colleague who got to play around with the finite elements method in his research project whereas I’m only using the simpler finite difference method. But I suppose it’s only fair since he learnt about it beforehand in his course so he got to use the more advanced one while I don’t really know anything in the beginning so I got to handle the less complex method.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, the finite elements/difference methods are usually used in computer modeling to solve differential equations. And if you can’t make heads or tails what that last sentence is about, then don’t bother.

So anyway, as much as I love the summer project, I’m just about bursting to have a proper holiday with no obligations to do anything whatsoever. And I reckon I have about two weeks worth of holiday from now until the 7th of October. It’s probably a bit too late to call it summer holiday though, but who cares? And my plans for this holiday is to rest, play games and catch up on my reading, since I seem to have accumulated several fiction and bunches of Economist magazines on my bookshelf that I haven’t read yet. Also, I think I’ll learn LaTeX, since everybody around me seems to know how to use it. I’ve already installed the necessary components on my computer and borrowed a book from the library. While we’re at it, I’ll see if I can learn AutoCad too, and I’ll try to fit Photoshop in there as well. Is that a bit too ambitious, you think?

Yesterday, Lennart asked me if I want to do a PhD. My supervisor also asked me the same thing about ten days ago after he said he’s impressed and satisfied with my work, and I realized the subliminal message behind his question is Would you be interested in doing research in this field, in this institute after you graduate? I told him I will be going back to Malaysia to work. But really, the answer to the question of whether I want to do a PhD or not is of course yes! Those who know me will probably have guessed how I feel, but the thing is… I will graduate with an M.Eng Degree, and there’s this one more step, one more academic level just beyond that. It’s just… there, the end of the conveyor belt. And it’s not like it’s rare or very difficult, since tons of people are doing their PhD every year. So I feel that if I don’t do it, it’ll be something that I regret, like I haven’t completed the journey that I’ve started. I guess I'll ask around and see what opportunities are available for me, so we'll see how it goes.

Aaaaanyway, I was walking around Cambridge this morning when I spied this strange golden apparatus at the corner of Corpus Christi College. There were also other people around, staring and taking pictures. I know I’ve seen this in the news recently, but I can’t remember much except that it involves Stephen Hawking and clocks and stuff. So I checked back and this is what I found. And this.

Here's a photo that I've taken:

And here's a closer look:

Cool, huh? Albeit a bit odd.


Edit: If you want to know more on how it works, there's an excellent youtube video about the clock here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Moving Rooms

Late last week, I got an email from the accommodation office saying that I should move to my room next year before Monday the 15th, or else. And so, I packed my stuff over the weekend and managed to find two volunteers to help me move them. Well, they might not be totally voluntary, but let’s pretend we don’t notice that. What I failed to do was to check whether the big trolleys are available, so in the end we had to use this small-ish wheelchair type trolley and made several trips back and forth, but oh well.

Anyway, thanks Lennart and Bao for helping me carry my stuff even though you guys are either: a) tired from a volleyball game or b) sleeping. It’s much appreciated.

So here are some pictures of my new room. It’s much bigger than my previous one with a kind of wall dividing the living room and the bedroom. There’s also an en-suite shower and the kitchen is just next door. It’s on the third floor and next to a busy road but if I close the windows then I can hardly hear the people down below so that’s fine. Please excuse the mess, I haven’t had time to unpack everything yet.

My stuff in my old room

The living room

Living room from a different angle

The bedroom

The only thing I don’t like is that the room doesn’t come with its own fridge like mine last year. I know it might be a luxury but I think I was spoiled a bit by living in Trinity. Well, not having a fridge is probably a good thing as pointed out by Lennart, who hinted not so subtly about the environmental impacts of refrigerators. Okay, okay... I’ll just learn to share the fridge in the kitchen then.

On a different note, this week will be my last week for the summer project. So after this I’ll be free. What’s sweeter is that my supervisor is gone to a conference in Germany for the week so I don’t have much to do at all. Just one or two more experiments, collect my salary and that’s it.

Talking about experiments, as you might know I’m watching paint dry. And the typical duration of me watching paint dry is about four to five hours. So the other day I brought a book with me to read and this book is ‘The Subtle Knife’ which is the second in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. Anyway, there was this post-doc who’s also working in the lab at that time (which I’ve mentioned about before here) and he saw me with the book and we started having a conversation about books. It turned out he read ‘The Subtle Knife’ in his second year undergraduate when he was taking a break from revision. I was surprised because I thought the book only came out recently. After all, I’ve only heard about it last year or so. But it turned out the book was published in 1997. Well, what do you know. Seeing me there reading must have brought him back to those times, I guess.

He recommended a book called Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. However, since I’m not particularly interested in science fiction I’m not sure if I’m gonna read it. We’ll see, I suppose, after I finish with His Dark Materials, and the Watch tetralogy, and Jasper Fforde’s latest, and others.


Monday, September 08, 2008

It’s Getting Cold

It was cold and rainy for the past couple of days, so I was staying inside most of the time. But the cold is really not just because of the rain. It’s September already, and I guess the summer months are finally behind me. For my first summer in the UK, let’s say it’s not quite what I expected (or rather, what I should have expected). There was one week when it was really hot but the rest were normal or rainy.

There are still two more weeks before my summer project ends. I’m actually looking forward to it. Not that I don’t like my project, but it’s just that I haven’t had a proper summer holiday yet. For a summer work, twelve weeks is just a bit on the long side.

On a happy note, some of my friends are coming back to Cambridge, so I’m not as lonely anymore. Also, I took a look at my room next year. I can’t see the inside, but they’ve put my name on the door so I can move in when I want. There’s a kitchen right next to it, which is really sweet.

I’ll post some pictures of the inside when I move in. Also, since my friends are here, that means I can get some cheap (free) labour to help me move my stuff. Yay to exploitations of human labour!


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

It’s the Fasting Month Again

Hello! So now’s the 2nd day of Ramadan in Cambridge. So far, everything’s going alright. It would be even better if I don’t have to go to work but that can’t be helped, I guess. Three more weeks to go, and then I’m free (the work, that is, not Ramadan). This year, the fasting time is longer than back home. Iftar is currently around 8 p.m. and subuh is about 4:30 a.m. So I wake up at 3:30 to eat and then go back to sleep again.

I remember when I first came to the UK, subuh was around half past six and iftar was amazingly around 4:30 p.m. Plus, it was cold so fasting during those times was really nice. Furthermore, when I was in AC, I have a bunch of people eating together with me for sahur. Not just the Muslims, but some Christians, Jews and others as well. Ah, those were good times.

So anyway, have a good fasting month for those who are fasting, wherever you are. This year’s Eid will take place before term starts so I wonder who’ll be there in the UK to celebrate with me. Guess we’ll just have to see.