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Wednesday, 31 August 2005

Brighton

I was woken up today by the most annoying noise. A squirrel was jumping between the tree branches next to my window and was making what could be the most ridiculous mating call ever. And it was 5am. And he wouldn't stop. Of course my assumption that it was a mating call could be wrong (Cats are another group of mammals that make annoying mating calls). The squirrel probably had his stash of nuts stolen and was himself annoyed. I turned on my cd player hoping "Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama Live at the Apollo" could soothe both me and the squirrel's frayed nerves. And just when I thought I could get at least an hour more of shut eye, came a pack of foxes crying just below my window. I gave up and took a shower. An hour later I was in London, wandering in Notting Hill. Today, I was going to Brighton with my Lab colleagues for a conference. It was so laid back in Notting Hill that I lost track of time and nearly missed the train that leaves from Victoria Station. The train to Brighton was packed like a tin of sardines. I had to stand for the whole trip. It was amazingly summery that half of London was going to the beach. When we got to the University of Sussex, we quickly unpacked and made a discreet exit from the afternoon sessions to spend the afternoong on the beach. (The first lecture was "Calculations of Nucleation of Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes of Different Chirality". I have no doubt that it is a very important work of Science, but it was not my field and most likely was beyond my powers.)

It was hellish and so the first thing I did was take a cold shower

Brighton beach was packed when we got there

I lay on the beach and read, people-watched, hummed, slept, and got myself a tan line

The pebble beach was wonderfully good on the back

While the weather was hot, the water was very cold. Yet, there were a lot of nutters.

This installation art is all I have to show. I dug a hole and used the displaced pebbles to make this mound topped by a heart shaped rock adorned with faux semi-precious stones that I found. This is the life.

The Brighton Pier

Check out Ivor's list of corporate clients.

Onions Galore. This is the Brighton Pavilion commissioned by King George IV. The Indian exterior was designed by another famous Nashman (John Nash the Architect not John Forbes Nash the Mathematican)

We had dinner at the famous Regency Restaurant along the coast. I had an appetizer of marinated anchovies followed by seafood pasta. Superb.

Monday, 29 August 2005

Dead

And there I was - staring at my computer, a blank screen and a blinking cursor....for four bloody hours. Nothing. Nada. Nyet. Wala. Awan. And it was hot. I could not possibly write. And the solitaire program was not helping me compose my thoughts either. And so I decided to take a break and visit the neighbours. I have lived next to Holywell Cemetery for nearly two years now and I have barely explored it. Today, with my mind essentially dead, why not wander around this 19th century graveyard? After all some famous authors are buried here. The nice thing about my backyard cemetery is that it is also a nature reserve. Foxes, squirrels, shrews, rabbits, deer, butterflies, pheasants, including the ocassional stressed graduate student (i.e. me), and the dead all co-exist here. I never realized how big the graveyard is and soon found myself surrounded by overgrown shrubs. I must say it was quite cool and refreshing. And the best thing was my discovery that berries were in abundance! I was quickly transported to my childhood summers. Sitting on the headstone of the Bishop of Soweto (may he rest in peace), I ate half my weight in berries till my tongue was stained purple. The berries were sweet with just the right amount of acidity. The graveyard soil is definitely very fertile.

I suddenly felt alive and went back to my room to polish the last chapter of my transfer report.

My next-door neighbours


Berries were in abundance and covered most of the headstones


I sat in the graveyard in quiet contemplation (where on earth is Lestat?)


Refreshed. I finished off my report (and yes, I use two computers...because I am a geek)

Friday, 19 August 2005


I hope all this hard work pays off....yes, sadly that is a bowl of 3-minute noodles I'm eating...
Nothing really worth posting in my blog for this week. Spent the first three days writing my transfer report (needed to change my status from P.R.S = pretending research student to a proper DPhil). Sad thing was those three days were sunny. I did go out on Wednesday but it was chaos. Film crews were all over the place shooting "Inspector Morse" (and hundreds of geriatric Spanish holiday makers gallivanting ensured that cycling was going to be tricky). I wonder how Inspector Morse would adjust to the times given CSI-like mysteries are now the rage ("hey, horatio, found some DNA here"). But, it would be really nice to watch a murder mystery solved on pure logic alone for a change. On the weirdest of days, ie thursday, Kerry threw a party at her new house. Cool house she has I must say, her backyard leads to the Oxford canal and she's got two spare kayaks. The shock news of the day was that C. decided that she wasn't a lesbian after all and that it was all just a 'phase'. You go girl. I guess it must be the alcohol, but the conversation degenerated to the drugs references in Beattles songs and making a cheeky music video. Friday, I gatecrashed the Geography party. Watched an orange sunset from the top of the Green College Observatory with a rainbow to boot! Too bad didn't have my camera that day. Discussed a couple of expeditions to do. Rasmus suggested taking a kayak along the length of the Amazon which would probably take two months (I tell him about not peeing in the amazon because of certain small critters can swim up the urethra causing severe pain) but Kelly had a better idea about an Antartic expedition. For the moment it's all up in the air, but then everything starts with a dream. The only realistic trip is me joining them for a "climb" up the tallest "mountain" in Britain in mid-September. I hope my ankle heals by then and I can convince them to join me on the Aonach ridge.
Now I'm back to writing my transfer report. Hopefully a full draft done by Monday......(cross my fingers)....

The aftermath of Kerry's BBQ party - Slightly intoxicated housemate shamelessy shagging our staircase. Are you a graduate student with porn-star tendencies? If yes, come to Brasenose.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Random Photo of the Week


His Royal Orangeness Karl Willem and Loyal Human Consort The Nashman sitting on a hill overlooking the Alcazar de Segovia.

Saturday, 13 August 2005

The week that was

Suffering from increased anxiety levels due to an impending assessment of my year's work (insert 'lack of' somewhere in that phrase), I let the week pass composing my thoughts. Along the way, Stella was moving rooms and I travelled 'upstairs, downstairs' helping her transfer her obscene amount of girlie stuff. My favorite is her box of La Flor de Isabela Caprichos (strawberry scented cigarillos). Truly odd, but try to imagine if this catches up. We'd be smelling better coming out of smoke-filled pubs.

The manor where Julia lost her innocence
Thursday was a sad day as it was my friend's last day in middle earth. I have become very close with Julia since we shared a house 3 years ago in Cambridge. I blame her for dragging me into Oxford saying it is a much 'cooler' place. I picked her up from her now empty flat (everything has been shipped) and we spent the whole afternoon procrastinating, wondering how we messed up, why we are not in the real world, why the chocolate drink we ordered was not made with milk, and why couldn't we concentrate on writing our theses. As such, we found ourselves later inside a Bang and Olufsen showroom wondering why anyone would want to spend £9600 on BeoVision sound system. Yet, we both agreed that the Bang and Olufsen designs carried a 'wow' factor. Nevertheless, I could never justify spending a lot of moolah on what is essentially a souped up Samsung.


A rare self-portrait of me

These mugs of chocolate are something Julia and I will forever remember (for reasons I cannot divulge)
The pain of seeing Julia leave probably depressed me more so at 10pm I took a late bus to London to crash my lawyer friend Edna's little room. I wanted a change of scenery and decided I would wake up Friday to work at the British Library instead of my room which is slowly feeling more like a prison cell. Her place is historical because it was where the first anaesthetic was administered. How ironic, as this reminded me of my growing apathy towards a lot of matters. She was within spitting distance of UCL (Coldplay's alma mater). I asked her where the SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) cafeteria was as I might just sit down there and get myself stoked from the second hand smoke. (It is said that you could stand outside the SOAS cafeteria air ducts and smell the distinct aroma of cannabis. Allegedly, by some legal loophole, students can openly smoke the real thing inside. And now you wonder why the future leaders of the world have brains made of slush...). I slept on the floor and amazingly, London was hot that night that I barely needed even a thin blanket.

Edna's London digs where some doctor made his girlfriend a guinea pig by testing on her the a new type of anaesthetic

Freddie Mercury. "We will rock you" musical still running

Isaac Newton by Paolozzi at the British Library

The King's Libray. Despite being a copyright library, I doubt that it has even one issue of Rock 'N Rythm..haha!
I thought I could at least concentrate in the new surroundings of the British Library but I was wrong. There were a lot of distractions here for a newbie. First, there was an exhibit on Hans Christian Andersen ("the psychological terrorist"). Apparently, his tales such as "The Ugly Duckling", "The Emperor's New Clothes" etc were all about him. I ended up watching a puppet show surrounded by a hundred screaming kids.

Mermaid at the Hans Christian Andersen Exhibit

Original Beatles lyrics (one written on an airplane napkin)
Then, instead of getting back to work, I stumbled on some Beatle's memorabilia - handwitten lyrics for classic songs like Strawberry Fields, Yesterday, Michelle, Help, etc. Best part was you could listen to the old Parlophone recordings. In all, I was at the British Library for 4 hours and spent 3 hours wandering. I then picked up Edna and we went to Leicester Square. Dinner was hosted by Ariel at a Mongolian restaurant. The Mexican waitress (don't ask why) was pretty. She lived near the Baja and I asked her about the waves and the food. Mongolian lager didn't appeal to me (Ariel downed two) but it was worth coming back if only to see her........Friday night, was back in Oxford...still procrastinating.....

Sunday, 7 August 2005

Random phot of the week


This still photo is called "One half of my room with converse all star shoes from Baguio on the window ledge; Doisneau picture of a couple snogging; an old hi-fi system from my high school era; shelf full of binders, books (including my pirzed collection of Dilbert), cassette tapes, a nearly finished bottle of Absolut vodka, a pint of Peroni lager, a bottle of Catalan red wine (which is probably off by now), my radio alarm clock, mugs of ballpens and markers, data cds, audio cds, hardcore porn cds, blank cds, a packet of swiss "cannabis" (it's actually only hemp); and my nearly obsolete dell laptop (a mere 3.06Ghz mobile Pentium which gets really hot and sucks the battery to death in 2 hours cause it's not a centrino, with 1gb of ram, and a pitiful 40gb hd which is nearly full!)"..........I am quite happy to start writing a report due at the end of this month with my room moderately tidied up. I threw away a lot of junk (these back issues of Rock 'n Rythm must be worth something someday syndrome.....ha!) and now I need to clean the other half of my room...

Requiescat in Pace


And so after two long haul flights, thousands of miles of train, bus, and jeepney rides my old mp3 player is finally laid to rest. For the meantime I am constrained to humming sections of Janis Joplin, Ruben Gonzalez, Eva Cassidy, et al. that have been lodged in my memory rather than through headphones. (Annoyingly, I am still stuck with that Knorr Chinese Soup ditty...). I remember going to Tottenham Court Road a summer ago to put my ukay-ukay haggling skills (honed from my frequent trips to Hilltop and Bayanihan) to use and got this 128mb player which was still top of the line back then. Due to Moore's Law, I could now get 1gb of juice for less than the price I paid for this old one. I won't get an ipod though. Because I want one which also has fm (good way to listen to local culture when travelling) and a voice recorder (essential when too sleepy to listen to a lecture) like my old one. I went to the lab today to see if I can perhaps fix this old mp3 player, but alas, even with the high-tech equipment at my disposal, this one is a goner. But then again, to inform you my dear readers (3 as of last count) of how much profit mp3 companies reap, those two integrated circuit chips that make this all work cost no more than $5.00 each (max), the lcd screen alone would put them back no more than $20.00 (assuming no earthquakes in taiwan), and labour costs are almost nil. You do the math. Oh well, it will take me two more months to save up for a good mp3 player...for the meantime....Hello silence, my old friend.....

Saturday, 6 August 2005


So I've finally recovered from a rather long bout of flu (whoever gave the virus to me, I send you positive karma). The past week has been a bit stressful and fortunately a new week is coming. Naila and I went to the barrio premiere of Haggis' "Crash". I must say it's the best new hollywood release I've seen this year. Great ensemble cast, difficult topic (racial relations), fast pace, and a generally well woven plot. On our way home, we met Justin Timberlake and his posse. Naila and I just gave him a nod as we were both N'Sync fans and we are angry at Justin for breaking up from the group...(haha! yeah raaaaayt..ewww). "Give our regards to Cameron", "It's a shame you weren't with Snoop at Live8", I mumble before leaving hastily. Then I spent three days inside a bunker (ie. dark, only red light...) 8 miles out of the barrio shooting electrons at my sample, some of which were just zapped to kingdom come (I'm a failure!). Anyways, this is a machine I love because it is "off" the network. It doesn't run on windows (hurray!), has cathode ray tubes, rotary dials, and vaccuum gauges . In fact this machine is like our fridge back in Baguio - it's older than I am. Incidentally, I discovered that our driver (who drives the minibus like an F1 car) is a Madonna fan. For how else can you explain him ramping up the volume when "Vogue" came on air. I half expected him to do the dance moves while burning up the road at 80mph (on a minibus, this is fast!). Ashley left this week as well, so as tradition, we went to G & D's (see picture) and I had "smelly bee" (vanilla ice cream with lavender and honey). I hope she has a safe flight back to the jungles of Manila. I cleaned my room last night. I can't imagine how much junk I've accumulated. Then an odd thing happened, I woke up today with this tune from my youth living in the hoods of Baguio - "There are tsekwa soups/ and there are tsekwa soups,/but there is nothing like/Knorr real tsekwa soup/Knorr is one of a kind/humming part coz I forgot what's next/Just add one egg!/make a sound/Goodah!".....now why I was humming this in my brain when I woke up I have no idea.......it's sad really.......

Tuesday, 2 August 2005


His Royal Orangeness Carlos Guillermo cheers the Nashman as he continues a slow recovery from illness. Nothing can be more tonic than a cold cerveza taken in the balcony while looking at the muy caliente senoritas doing the paseo.....