Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Cambridge Christmas

Without so much as realising it, my final December as an undergraduate is coming to an end. I was hoping for a longer holiday, but time moved so fast between blinks, as they tend to do. I was also hoping to get a lot of work done, but instead I’ve been totally unproductive ever since they closed the department. Not surprising, considering I grew up under fluorescent lamps, and I find it awkward to study with the yellowish light bulbs in my room. Well, that, and the presence of a computer is a bit distracting. Still, I think I managed to cover a lot in my revision, my research project is on track and my French is going along nicely.

Unlike previous years when I always found myself in London, this year I spent my Christmas in the quaint city of Cambridge. It wasn’t very eventful. Of course, not being a Christian, I didn’t go to the midnight mass or anything like that, so there wasn’t much to do. However, Trinity College was generous enough to invite us foreigners who can’t be bothered to go back home to some meals with the fellows. Free, I should add. And there was only one fellow, so it wasn’t that formal. But it was nice, with things like lobster soup, fish pate, cakes and stuff. Guess I didn’t have to worry about starving when the shops were closed.

For Boxing Day, it goes without saying that London is not for the weak-of-heart. From my previous experience, there will be a mass of crowd flooding Oxford Street and nearby areas. It’s certainly something to be avoided if you’re claustrophobic. By comparison, Cambridge’s Boxing Day is relatively milder. Of course, you can’t get the myriad of selection offered by London’s high street shops but it’s still decent. I went out at around 10:30 a.m. and while there were a bunch of shoppers present, it wasn’t suffocating. Plus, a lot of the shops opened on the 27th instead.

So here’s the end result of the two days. Overall, I spent about £160. Not too bad, I’d say. Especially those two jackets that I got for half price.

Well, that’s it then. Looking forward to 2009. Have a happy New Year people!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Mad at IE

Well, not exactly at IE since I haven’t used it for ages. But have you heard about the recent IE vulnerability exploit that affected a few million people and made Microsoft release a security update? The update is what I’m mad about.

I was running some reactor simulations using a finite elements software on several computers in the department. The simulations typically last for 12 hours so I left them on overnight. When I came back in the morning, I found that because of the security update, the computers have restarted and so my simulations are lost.

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a security issue and the restarts have to be done but damned if I’m not annoyed. Especially since the department will be closed next Tuesday so I won’t be able to do any more simulations from then until the 5th of January. Grrrrrr!

Talking about Christmas breaks, I’m not travelling anywhere this year so I’ve ordered several fiction books to get me through the holiday. It’s nice to just curl up in your bed and read, maybe also with a cup of hot chocolate next to you. Ahhh, bliss!

Oh, and apart from simulations, revisions and reading, I’m also plant-sitting this winter break. Here’s a basket of hyacinths which belongs to my friend Jamie who at the moment is off somewhere in Ireland.

What a scintillating holiday companion, he he he.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Some Winter Reading

It was raining this morning.

It’s been raining a lot recently. The kind of weather that is perfect for one to curl up in bed with a book to read.

And that’s all very tempting, if not for the fact that I have supervision work to do, computer simulations to run and groceries to be bought.

Talking about books, I recently bought The Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. It’s a sequel to a trilogy, which I suppose makes it a tetralogy then.

You can tell a good book by the speed that you read it. In this case, I started two days ago and now I’m almost finished. It's really good. But this means that I’m running out of reading material for the winter break. Oh well, of to Amazon we go then.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Week in December

A certain week in December might prove nerve-wrecking for a number of people. No, not me, but some other people. I can see them during breakfast wearing suits... holding maps of the college... looking lost and nervous...

Yup, the interview period is here again. It’s quite fun watching them scurrying about. It brings back memories.

On an unrelated note, Cambridge’s 800th anniversary is looming near. And so, in conjunction, CUSU (the student union) published a book that they give to students for free. I collected my copy from the CUSU office, and it was quite a task to bring it back to the college.

As you can see, it’s quite big and heavy.

I showed it to Lennart, and we tore the plastic covering and opened the book. As it turned out, the book wasn’t quite what I expected.

I was expecting pages upon pages of Cambridge history, details, achievements, all those stuff accompanied with pretty pictures. What I don’t expect is to discover that two-third of the book is filled with description of companies, law firms and banks which might or might not have anything to do with Cambridge at all. I can’t believe I’ve been lugging advertisements back to college.

While I was crestfallen, Lennart just laughed. And then we found that his school was featured in the book and he was like ‘Yay!’. Of course, my school is not in there on account of it not being a famous British public school, but who cares. But then we turned the pages and I found that my previous place of employment, the BP Institute was there, so I was also like ‘Yay!’

See how thick it is?


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The End of Michaelmas

And there you go. Term’s finally coming to an end. We had the Chemical Engineering Dinner last week, the Trinity Christmas formal a few days ago, and the final lecture today. The end of term is not that abrupt of a change, mainly because people will stay for another week or so to finish work and revision, so there will still be students around. Also, I will still be in the department running computer simulations and organising a supervision or two. Yup, work to be done, as always. Except now, things are less hectic and I can probably take a breather or two.

Well, that’s all I guess, now that you know I’m alive. Oh, and have a good winter break.


P.S. Can you see Newton staring smugly at me?