Hans Christian Andersen
jekaliho
Reading's great when you can't sleep. However more challenging stories than HCA ones might induce sleep faster. These are heartily entertaining, here are a few quotes:

The Tinderbox

'"What are you going to do with that tinderbox", the soldier asked?
"None of your business", the witch replied...
..."Don't be silly", the soldier said, "tell me right now... or I'll pull out my sword and cut off your head".
"I won't", the witch said
So the soldier chopped off her head and there she lay'

'The biggest dog took [the king] and the queen and threw them into the air ('so that when they fell down they broke into pieces'). The soldiers were terrified and all the people shouted "little soldier we want you to be our king and marry our beautiful princess"... the princess came out of the copper castle and became queen, which she liked very much.'

Little Claus and Big Claus

'The husband was a good man, but he had a strange disease: he could not stand the sight of deacons.'

The princess and the pea... why would anybody want to marry someone that sensitive? They couldn't even take a drink without hurting themselves.
 
Thumbelisa

'Thumbelisa didn't want to marry the neighbour because the neighbour was a mole.'

'The little prince asked her name and if she wanted to be his wife.'
 

Royal Wedding
jekaliho
So we have a new royal married couple. They look very lovely and provided everyone with a fantastic bank holiday yesterday! Went to London and saw a glimpse of Kate's car arriving in Westminster and saw very tiny royal figures on the balcony. I think I would have needed to get there about half a day before I did to be able to get any closer. London that day was full of joy and happiness. Met some jolly policemen, a street vendor gave me a free flag and lots of people were smiling and taking photos of each other's patriotic costumes in the warm sunshine. Petos, Elva and I got caught by a Japanese TV crew too as we were toasting to the happy couple and drinking wine out of plastic beakers on the street. So classy! 

We saw the wedding service itself from a pub down the road from Westminster Abbey. The words uttered were thought-provoking and reminded me how beautiful marriage can be. And weddings...I need to work out how to get close enough to Harry to be invited to his, 'twould be glorious!
 

 

Oxford
jekaliho
...it can make you or break you.

Make:
This was a wonderful weekend of haphazard occurrences which exemplify many of my points:

1) Went to Oxford Literary Festival. Oxford has many festivals, talks and self-improving events. Attending is fun, pushing yourself to lead is better. During the science festival I helped out with schools liaison activities where I have to be far more outgoing than the quite, contented only-child figure I can recede into. Warwick had many amazing events too but not with as many non-students taking part to remind you that there's more to life than being in your late teens/ early twenties!

2) The festival took place in Christchurch Meadows, Later on I chilled out in the sunshine at Vaults and Gardens with Laura. Both of these places offered fantastic architectural and verdant settings, perfect for hope, happiness and inspiration to set in.

3) There was free gin and whisky at Christchurch, which I followed up with sugary awesomeness at a chocolate festival on Broad Street. Oxford does do food and drink very well. I actually think the university spends too much money on it - I'd rather have cheaper/ more accessible sports facilities but anything enriching is welcome. I did play football today which wore me out far more than most other sports so maybe I should concentrate on simple running around anyway

4) I went to college and analysed some results, forming some great graphs to see my science. Visualising what I'm doing and seeing trends come through is what ultimately makes the PhD exciting (initially it's the fiddling around with equipment, which maybe I love too much and often use as a procrastination tool). Anyway, I actually felt useful and able for once :)

5) India won the cricket world cup, leading to a parade from Uni Club to Cornmarket. Serendipitously I was meeting Elva and Sam in Broad Street at the time so we joined in the fun! "World cup hamara hai" (world cup is ours) was being chanted all around and we continued the joy all the way to dinner at an Indian restaurant. Any excuse for a party and Oxford has plenty what with all the college bops that take place.

6) Starting my Saturday with one Slovakian and one Hong Kongese, I finished it with my materials girlfriend and her boyfriend, with a filling of college friends, other materials friends, friends of friends and (sadly) former friends that I bumped into/ chatted at length with/ celebrated with/ listed to the music of/ glanced at. It's really easy to get to know people here, same as with any other uni if you are willing to venture out of your room, but I'll never take the university experience and the social richness to which I'm exposed for granted.


Break:

1) I haven't used my journal for a while. For various reasons, it was just getting a drag but my life was brilliant without too much technology. Then facebook came along, which warped my mind and enticed me in. Bad thing. Anyway, I also had James. I was enjoying my life loads. I also wrote a non-online travel diary which put me off constant writing for months. Anyway, Oxford changed me. Travelling changed me. Oxford changed the things James and I do, we became less free it seemed. We had to fit into a new culture. When employers ask how I deal with change the honest answer will always be, "optimistically but terribly as I gain more and more layers of life to try and maintain". On the surface I can fit into new situations fairly well and often enjoy myself in the process. However at the end of it I'm never the person I was at the start and that can bring misery when trying to fit in with former routines. On the upside, any change now will surely mean less chance of a mid-life crisis!

2) I love my PhD topic but it can bring lots of stress! I often feel inadequate and, although I make progress, I wonder if it's ever as fast as it should be? Maybe I spend too much time thinking about other things, e.g.
a. It took me ages to work out how a Mobius strip cut in half around its perimeter would still be a continuous strip. This was whilst lying in bed almost asleep. I had to test it physically for me to understand, despite having watched Wind and Mr. Ug (youtube it) that very day.
b. If I wanted to give everyone in the world a passport-sized photo of Petos eating something (I realised I have at least two applicable photos) then, lined up from Oxford to San Francisco, they would form a band of 1-2m breadth.
c. How can I improve my muscle strength? I found out that there’s a 16 year old weightlifter who can lift a bar a few kg heavier than me! My absolute limit is 25kg and then I’m bent double. My 22kg San Fran bag often took a few attempts to lift to back height!
d. How much work could I do in the time it takes me to write a journal entry?

Focus, Acceptance and Courage :)
jekaliho
 During the past many months I’ve done a lot of thinking. This thinking, I’ve realised, equates to about ten hours in each month I’ve ever lived, which I’m sure is a waste of my time so I’m going to write down some thoughts so I don’t go over the same ground again.

The 2011 census will form a major part of this post because I happen to be filling it out right now. I say I like multitasking but I think I just get distracted too easily. It IS in purple and white and that colour combination is seriously one of my favourites! Although maybe I shouldn’t multitask as I filled in my name wrongly... I always get too eager and give more information than asked for (I used to love filling in forms when I was younger… made me feel all grown up). Thankfully the census was so kind as to give me another two opportunities to get it right (or to write something totally different to confuse them). Why is question 17, ‘this question is intentionally left black, go to 18’? This isn’t Monopoly where you land on a box with the sole aim of getting to another one, each should have a purpose. Very weird. Anyway…

Using the old ‘life is a rollercoaster’ analogy wouldn’t be inappropriate. Over these past months I’ve experienced ecstatic highs and stomach-churning lows. Seemingly I’ve been trying in vain to find out who I am. Yet this struggle only exists BECAUSE of who I am. On my walk home this evening, I came to realise that there are two paths to my personal happiness: one is being a free-spirit and the other is seeing people happy. Surely the whole purpose of life is laughter? This life dual-core is decorated with several aids to happiness that are not essential, e.g. work success, interesting books, plays, films, good food, travelling etc etc. Part of being so free is the willingness to explore. “What’s the point in freedom if we never really use it”, said Mole. This is all well and good until your freedom and eagerness for exploration cause discomfort to others. When my two fundamental purposes to life conflict then I am conflicted and tumble into the future totally unsure of myself because I’m either too cowardly or have too much sense to make any drastic changes.

…I’m sitting here thinking about my soul yet according to the census I am defined by immaterial notions such as religion, ethnicity and marital status but being classified in this way is farcical (OK, I realise that isn’t the point of the census). It is boring though. Maybe this household should host a huge sleepover for 27th March to give myself a little bit more form-filling joy…

As heart-breaking thoughts of how I have quashed the tenderness of others sprang to mind I saw a shivering homeless man and thought, ‘there is so much more wrong with this world than my life and that of the few others I have affected’. This didn’t really help lift my mood but I figured that people can look after themselves and everyone has some amazing things in their lives. I decided to count my blessings (and hope that the others to whom I eluded are doing the same):
  1. I’m working in a fascinating area of science (or so I think) with some amazing true friends
  2. I have a breadth of friends with whom I share different experiences and joys – variety is the spice of life. They’re all different and I love that. The world would be so boring otherwise
  3. I have a pretty decent family and awesome parents who will be fantastic role models for when/ if I become a mother (as an aside I’ve recently discovered that kids are pretty amazing…I’m worried it’s the first step to broodiness. I did consider changing my facebook profile photo to one of me with Syarif and Yati’s baby but they might get scared, decide that that’s a hint I want to steal him and a) never talk to me again and b) never let poor Adam venture into Oxford himself until he’s old enough to beat me up)
  4. I live comfortably in a nice house with a garden containing a huge shed and a pear tree. I also have fab housemates.
  5. Although I don’t think I excel at anything, I do have talents in a few fields and I should really apply those and build on them more
And then the more immediate blessings:
  1. I’m going to San Francisco on Sunday…hasn’t really sunk in yet, to be honest that hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind. I’ll probably notice a few days in when I ask myself why it takes me half an hour to walk across my local bridge compared to the usual ten seconds.
  2. I’ve just bought some Lyle’s golden syrup – viscous heaven

As I said, I’ve done much thinking, most of which I haven’t eluded to because it is so conflicting. There are some important lessons though:
  1. You can think too much. Focus on the task of the time and being carefree will come naturally. Reflecting is important but too much can consume you. In the words of the Buddha, “do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment”
  2. Accept that true happiness comes from acceptance of my quiet, easily excited, summer-loving self, from not being at all self-conscious and from having the bravery to let go of anything causing hurt whilst supporting and uplifting everything and everyone I love.

A few notes on quotes:
“The greatest thing you ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”, I thought this was easy but I’ve changed my mind. Guess that’s why you have to ‘learn’ it.
“Friendship is the flower growing by the side of the road – never try to pluck it or possess it and it will blossom for you”, sweet and very true. However you shouldn’t forget that it will blossom more strongly if you feed and water it.

Shake the tree
jekaliho
Two and a half years since my last post! Lots has happened in my life: I'm now in Oxford doing a PhD in organic solar cells. One day I will save the world! I've had a relaxing Christmas. Tomorrow I'm going back to Oxford.

I wish I'd written about my travels - maybe the highlight of my life so far (bar meeting certain people and having awesome good times). Thankfully for the world my lengthy tales of the Australian outdoors, humid Malaysian cities, Vietnamese wonders and Bornean apes are in a two-volume paper form never should be written out here. The world is amazing and my oyster. I am such a lucky girl.

This post is for Stuart, whom I saw over the holidays and who revealed that he occasionally looks at my profile to laugh at my pineapple. Or it brings him joy. Something like that. I wonder how long it takes him to read this...

Enjoy this post because, at this rate, I'll be in my thirties when I write the next one!

Summer of James
jekaliho
I've been such a livejournal slacker. And I'll continue the trend by making this short because I have a cycle rack and bike to fix to the back of my car! After a shower maybe. I also need to send an email to James. Then, and only then, shall I get some much needed sleep!

Rather a lot has happened in my life in the past few months:
April - June = revision, exams, lots of librarying, lots of B-rooming, lots of P520ing, poster making, poster presenting, walks with James around campus, squash,  a couple of games nights, a few pub nights, a few bike rides and many other random things such as broom-handle fights...I might add more as it comes to me!
June = no exams! Freedom to do more fun things! Final Fling and Feeder, seeing Shakespeare in Stratford, going to Warwick, London, Leam, Birmingham with Lau, results, happiness, packing
July = Working with BP, graduation, London trip, Westcountry trip, 3 Richmond trips!

Yes...I need to get on or else I will be a zombie when I get to Bridgwater tomorrow. 
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It's a hard life if you have a hard shell
Jen
jekaliho
A snail crawled up my bathroom window today. I was having a shower at the time and looked to the window and saw what I thought was a leaf outside, that I presumed was hanging from a spider's web. I carried on showering, looked back and it had moved. I quickly shut the open window above it because I didn't want it to get in and it had been pretty speedy for a snail. Then I realised how much of a hard life some snails must have. It took that snail about five minutes to climb up half a window and if getting in was its aim, for me to shut the open window was probably  quite gutting for it. Or maybe it was just going for an exploration and was having a really good time. Perhaps it was showing off its climbing skills to all of its friends. I hope so.

I have been doing things in my life other than watching snails but these small incidences provoke writing here more than the big things.

In other news...congratulations to Corinne on passing her driving test!
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Real Ale
jekaliho
Went to the Real Ale Festival last night! Dr Busker was there - great band! Had some Princetown Jail Ale to be patriotic (to Devon) along with a few others including a rather nice Lemon and Ginger Ale. Nicola and I went onto the Crystal Maze night. The challenges were quite fun but it would  have been better if I hadn't wanted to go to bed straight away (my lack of sleep had finally caught up with me)! Had my fortune told by mumsie though! That was fun :)

Yes I still haven't written about the holiday. I bet I won't do it until summer, it's just such a mammoth task!

I'm alive
jekaliho
I should really write about mine and Craig's Swiss-Germ holiday but that will take ages! Was fun, full of snow but bitterly cold at times :( Since the holiday I've enjoyed the following festivities: Christmas, my 21st parties and various uni fun. I'm currently in Cambridge and hope to do some work whilst Craig has rowing races. The end for now! Thought I'd post to let people know I still exist. 
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RAG Week 2007!
jekaliho
I'm not a helper this year. Was going to be but missed the first meeting. Nicola and I sent each other Roses in lectures. I was given mine by a very cute St Bernard named Bernard and a dolphin delivered hers. The chocolates I sent to my friends in my physics class were very tasty too and Yorck (our lecturer) had some too :)

Currently making notes on papers and this weekend I'm off to Cam (Fri-Sat) then my parents are up so I'll be off to Brum (Sun) and then I think it might be a DVD night on Sunday. And then it will be Week 9. Of 10. My interim report is currently 4 pages of notes. Someday it will be 10-12 pages of nicely written NMR/ Raman/ glass forming theory, which I'm currently getting my head round.

I chipped part of my hubcap off today :-s Hope my Dad doesn't notice. I will buy a new one, just not before next year. Although it feels weird not telling them. There's a couple of other things I didn't tell them out of wanting to spare myself the guilt but it does feel strange.

Anyway, looking forward to this weekend :) Project day tomorrow, which will be quite fun until the NMR lecture.

Adios mis amigos/ Au revoir mes amis/ Auf wiedersehen meine Freunde/ Zaijian ren

I'm worried that I'm forgetting not only German, but now French due to doing Spanish. By the way the last goodbye (in Mandarin) says 'goodbye people' because I can't remember the word for friends! I think it's punyou. Anyway, night! (noche, nuit, Nacht, tau!)
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