Sunday, October 29, 2006

turning back time

I bought The Sunday Times , mostly for its three magazines. And now it's nearly 630pm and I've only just browsed through them. So I'm now wondering why I spent two pounds on something I probably won't have time to read... Where do people get the time to read this backbreaking hefty paper with many sections and three magazines? The train to London I suppose would be a good time to read it. But there's the issue of trying to open pages and not jab your seat neighbour in the eye. I would like to sit outdoors somewhere, sink into a comfy chair, sip a latte and read the papers - all three million sections of it. Instead, they're strewn in a pile on the floor next to the chair. Oh that's right, I suppose instead of being online I could be reading them. I'm afraid that's why it's an addiction. I can't get enough of the Internet. I feel lost and alone without it. It's a huge time-waster. I have piles of uncompleted notes lying around the desk and more books to read for class next week. So I have no choice but to withdraw for a while, maybe get some dinner and read the papers over dinner. And then it'll be back to work. That about sums up my Sunday, oh except for having sat on the beach this morning, reading one of the books for next week and watching more go-getting people wakeboard, sail or canoe. And less go-getting others lounge around on the cafes on the boardwalk. And middling go-getters like me and the guy a few metres away from me who looked like he was studying from notes, who were attempting to laze and do something at the same time. I blame it on daylight savings time.

Friday, October 27, 2006

morbid distractions

Was halfway doing a meme on books when I got stuck on the five books that mean a lot to me. Doing the meme was really just a distraction from thinking about the presentation I have to do in a few hours, which was originally meant for Tuesday but postponed to today. It's been hanging on my back like the mutated foetus of a twin - in London I was reading my cousin's copy of Mutants: On the Forms, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body, a rather fascinating book, which I promptly made a reservation for at the library here, where in the meantime I picked up Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

London weekend


London on the weekend - and during half-term - is all about dodging human traffic: on the sidewalks, crossing the roads, in the stores, in the museums...but it is such a great city, with wonderful old buildings, plenty of free museums and great cafes... plenty to see, despite the weather (although I must say that Saturday was a beautiful day, Sunday not so much). It was especially good to see my cousins, who brought me around and put me up.

We hit the museums - the Royal Academy, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Modern. Opting to not queue for tickets for the new exhibitions, we wandered the permanent exhibitions, but the crowds were too great. I did get to have a look at the Unilever Series: Test Site by Carsten Holler, essentially a series of whirly slides, from the second, third, fourth and fifth floors of the Tate Modern, a former powerhouse. The timed tickets went quick and we weren't staying that long anyway as I had a train to catch back to Brighton that evening. But did it look fun. Sliders got a sack to sit on and off they went - both young and old. Making art fun huh.
Tate Modern
Another highlight was the eating:
Loved those lights!

Delicate cakes and coffee or tea.sketch1
My favourite was the coconut-coriander-green apple snow dome. It sure didn't sound or look too appetising (when it's halved, it kinda looks like a vegetable bao) but we took a gamble and it was great. None of the flavours overwhelmed and it was instead really yummy. The chocolate cake was quite standard, quite chocolatey. The raspberry tart, was well, a raspberry tart (but rather generous with the berries). The cardinal was a purple blackcurrent delight, although it did somewhat taste a bit like a blackcurrent pastille, it did have great contrasting textures.
Coffee and tea were served in these delightful crockery and the napkins all had the cafe's phone number scrawled on them.
The toilet cubicles were egg-shaped pods, rather claustrophic in their airplane-like enclosures.
Korean food for dinner (haven't seen a Korean restaurant in Brighton yet!) where the spicy beef stew warmed me up on a chilly night.
Dim sum for Sunday late lunch at 3pm. In Chinatown of course. Followed by hot tau huay at the back of the Kowloon bakery, where I picked up a boxful of Chinese baked goods home.

The ride back was a half-train half-bus journey, stopping at Hayward Heath and bussing all the passengers back over to Brighton. And then it was a 15 minute walk back in the drizzling rain.

glory glory

I can live for 1 month without a TV, but two days without Internet and I get all shaky.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

two-legged race

I yanked open the freezer drawer (there are three drawers but only two seem to open) and dug around for my chicken legs. I was half-bent on making a soup, cooking up the carrots but realising I'd finished the celery a couple of days ago. And the soup always tastes better with celery.

So I dug around my two half shelves in the fridge for ideas and spotted the jar of pesto I'd picked up at the supermarket. Yes...I could do something with that.

I finely chopped a couple of cloves of garlic, mixed it in with the pesto, sprinkled in some pepper and spread the pesto-garlic paste under the skin of the now defrosted chicken leg. The other was treated to a butter, salt and pepper rub. And then both were placed in my oiled makeshift roasting pan (sheets of aluminium foil with the sides folded up to make a rectangular box and placed on a baking sheet) and into the preheated oven.

I went with the pesto chicken for dinner, served with sugar snap peas and carrots and baby potatoes. The other leg I'm saving for tomorrow.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It was oddly quiet at 1am. I listened but the only thing I could hear were the waves.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

weight of it all

I'd reached my loan limit on short loan books (those you can take out for a week) at school. My classmate had to get two books out for me. I've got books on the shelf, books on the table, books on the windowsill. I bought three old books at the school library sale for 5 pounds and convinced my classmate to go back and add another to her pile. The library sends these automatic email reminders about when books are due which bugs the hell out of me, as if somehow alleging that I'm about to forget to renew or return them. Alright already!

I've wondered how to structure my notes - according to themes? according to who said what? It seems rather important to know that Catherine Hall says this but Thomas Holt says that and then again Ann Stoler said this other thing. Then for the other class, it's Giddens vs Beck vs Bauman vs Rosenberg and yet not vs all the time. Two of my pens have already run dry with my doctor's handwriting and it's only been two weeks of school yet.

I woke up this morning wondering why it felt so warm and found the heater had magicked itself on in the middle of the early morning. Yet the kitchen's always freezing. Having breakfast, I wondered what I'd have for lunch and wondered then why I always have to lead with my stomach. Then I start making my grocery list, knowing that when I'm on my way back from the store, I'd remember something I forgot.

Have to make some sense of this.

PS happy birthday dad.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Start today tomorrow

We've been having amazing weather this past week, although I suppose I shouldn't gloat about it too much as it's supposed to rain next week and temperatures will drop.

But I've been indoors, trying to work out certain head-scratching concepts and theories and reading in preparation for my presentation next week.

Unfortunately it's a Friday night and I can hear what are probably undergrads yelling at themselves at the nearby Kings Road Arches where there are a couple of clubs by the beach. It's on nights like these where I wonder what I'm doing here - time zones away from loved ones and good friends, miles away from comfort zones, bank account running dry.

Then on other days, sitting outdoors having lunch and chatting with my classmates, walking through The Lanes to get to one of the pubs, looking out my window and watching the waves come in, going past the Royal Pavilion on the way to school, getting that "aha!" moment when everything I've been struggling to read suddenly clicks and makes sense for a change, I know.

I guess I might've missed out on today's moment.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Good eats

Everything is so big in America!” she said. “It makes Britain look like toytown.”
Nigella Lawson goes shopping in New York (via The Food Section)

Fish on Monday? I eat it all the time...

Anthony Bourdain answers five questions

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Going green

One thing I really like about the campus is the number of eating spots on campus. There are takeaway sandwich places, cafes, cafeterias, dining rooms and bars, in what looks like nearly every building, such as the medical school, the arts centre, the education school, two in the arts area. If I'm not wrong, there are some seven places on campus with a bar. But besides drinking, these are also places to pick up quiches, baguette sandwiches, paninis, coffees, big breakfasts etc. The only things I've had though are a quiche and a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich cos I've been bringing packed lunches (and saving money). So why am I telling you this? Because one day I'll get tired of my sandwiches/carrot and celery sticks/bananas and dive in and eat something hot.

Meanwhile, I filled my stomach this evening with a rather green dinner of penne with broccoli, sugar snap peas and celery in a pesto sauce. And now it's back to reading. This time, something about global culture.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I don't have to run day

Cooking for just one person takes some getting use to. Back in Sg and in Illinois, at least there would be someone else to cook for or to force leftovers on.

Here, I tend to throw too much pasta in the pot of boiling water, and have to keep the leftovers for another day (but also not for too long as there's very limited space in the small fridge).

The almost-perfect rice I cooked on the stove the other day is still in the tupperware in the fridge. But I decided to ignore that and cook myself a sinful Sunday supper of round two of the pork and pork recipe from Jamie Oliver I found in a magazine while browsing for free at Barnes and Noble in Champaign. This time, no mash and instead, it's served with garlic baby button mushrooms and broccoli.

And this time, apologies for the photo quality.

I don't feel like I got anything done tonight, apart from cooking this and another episode of Hustle. Oh and I got some groceries from Somerfield, including a bar of Green & Black's dark chocolate (which I found out last week can also be bought from vending machines on campus)

Saturday, October 07, 2006


So I went to the Jubilee Library here in Brighton, just a 10-minute walk away through some rather crowded streets, down through The Lanes, past the jewellery stores, past the stores full of knick-knacks, past the many vegetarian cafes and then you get to this great glass building.

And it's nice on the inside too.

So I got my library card on the spot and took out three books. Rather pleased.

reading more

Haven't been reading fiction much... except for a few pages of Pride And Prejudice which I read before sleeping. All my reading's been for school and I want to read other books but have yet to sign up for a library card.

The last book I read was during the trip here, and it was Diana Wynne Jones's Howl’s Moving Castle which R had bought for me to entertain myself on the plane. It helped make the film make more sense and definitely was entertaining, plus a nice easy read.

Sometimes I think, after spending the whole day reading, do I really want to read more? The answer is yes. So it's time to get that library card!

Friday, October 06, 2006

in moderation

Happy Zhong Qiu Jie!

Ok so I've never wished anyone that before and I don't know if you're supposed to. But on this cloudy day, I can't catch a glimpse of the moon and I miss my mom's homemade snowskin mooncakes.

The wind's finally died down and it's relatively quiet again. I finally cooked almost-perfect rice on the stove (back home I cook it in the microwave) and have plenty left over for fried rice another day. I ploughed through many pages of reading and finally understand what the critique of the critique of the analysis of the theory.... means or at least I think I do. My pen ran out of ink. I vacuumed the floor. I did some laundry. I made many cups of tea. I took a walk by the coast when the sun finally broke through. I read some more. I wasted time online. I listened to the ipod. I said hi to some friends on MSN. I took my daily multivitamin. I sat on the windowsill to read. I stayed in. I went out. I got tired of reading. I blogged. And now I shall read somemore.

Staying in

I'm supposed to go to the school library to do some reading for Tuesday's class. But the rain doesn't seem to have stopped from yesterday morning and the wind's gone wild again.

Looking out of my window sure isn't pretty.

Surely that's a good reason to stay home instead and down plenty of hot tea.

I'm after all, well stocked with books!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Day and night, night and day

It's rather amusing that despite the four years of working - and in that line of work having to meet and query strangers everyday - I get butterflies on the first day of class.

In the end, it turned out ok. The class is a pretty small one - eight of us. And it was a bit of relief to find out that I'm not the only one struggling to make sense of both the long reading list and the material.

The prof started off the first hour with a quick but very clear and logical rundown of the history of the British empire, which kind of answered some questions I'd been having about some of the readings. It makes me realise how ignorant I am of world history. In my first year at junior college, I took History but only learnt about SE Asia and modern world history. I'd heard of things like the Seven Years War but never really knew what it was about.

The second hour he opened it up to us, to talk about what we've read and any questions we had. I liked that he was rather casual and that he didn't talk down to us, as some lecturers are prone to doing.

After class, went to sit out in the sun with the rest of the classmates to chitchat and divide up the work for the seminars. They're a pretty nice bunch, with most of them being younger - having either just finished their undergrad degree or having just a year since school. The one who is older has quite a bit of experience related to this field, having worked for an NGO, so has an interesting point of view.

And at night, the RAs of this building (it's an off-campus international postgrad university residence) took about 50 of us on a pub crawl, to those dark, woody, small little places known as English pubs - well not as dark as I'd expected (I suppose I was imagining speakeasies). All were within five minutes walking distance to the flats (told you it's party central). Didn't want to drink much so just had a couple of half-pints, which cost about 1.5 pounds each.

It was interesting to meet people from the other floors. My floor seems to be mostly Asians, except for 1 Canadian, so meeting people from Turkey, South Africa, Mexico was great.

Monday, October 02, 2006

going going...

I'm finally catching onto how to shop at Argos. The first time I walked into the store, I wondered what was up with the lack of display space, and really, with the lack of anything on display. People stood at counters, flipping through thick laminated catalogues.

How it works is: You spot something you die-die-must-buy, you write down the number (or you could check if it's in stock first) and then you bring it to the cashier to pay for it. You get a receipt and a number. So you take it over to the collection area and you wait for your number to be called. Then you get your goods.

But what's better is that you can look at all this stuff online first. Then you reserve it and pick it up at the store. It's online shopping, but offline, when it comes to payment and pickup. (Alternatively you could get them to delivery but there's a charge. Plus the store's a short walk from the flat)

So I got a single duvet for 8.99 pounds today. The heater didn't seem to last through the night so it got a bit chilly. I thought I'd better be prepared for worse...

Today's weather: just one of those rainy days where it seems like every other half an hour it's wet. I walked as fast as I could with two large plastic bags and then I got to that dreaded junction with Kings Road where the wind from the coast hurls itself through the street at you with such force that you have to stagger and push your way forward. It didn't help that I was getting smacked by the rain too. So for the rest of the day, I've decided my place is indoors, despite needing to get groceries. I'm not going to be fooled by the bits of sun that keep shining through... sunny one minute, rainy the next..

Tornado sweeps along the Sussex coast!

Coastguards put out a warning to shipping after a tornado was seen sweeping along the South Coast just after dawn on Sunday.

Now why didn't I see this? Oh right... I was fast asleep...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

one more

Another photo taken yesterday.

Its pouring outside now.

Sunday: a study

The heat finally came on last night and it was, well, nice and warm-ish.

I'm not sure if I've finally adjusted to the jet lag or if it was because I was tired but I was out just after midnight and woke at about 8 this morning. Rather pleased.

Today's weather report: windy. The waves are rolling on real high and there's the usual occasional quick drizzle.

Finally had toast for breakfast this morning after finding a small wholemeal loaf at the supermarket. I've been having cereal for the past few days and had begun to miss bread a little. Next thing to get from the supermarket: cold meat for sandwiches. And more fruits and veg of course. I suppose I'll see what fresh meat I can find too. Haven't actually bought any of that yet.

Today's been a sit at my desk and read day. And sometimes a sit on the window sill and read day. Trying to get a grasp of things before class on Tuesday. And since the shops open only for a few hours on Sundays, no point in going out with the crowd when I can do that (minus the crowd hopefully) tomorrow.