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January 31, 2007

You will be sadly missed

Follow-up to Impulse from [TBA]

That’s the tagline on my latest temptation to keep me from my PhD: the Six Feet Under complete DVD collection. It looks stunning and murky, just like the show! Got to prepare my class for tomorrow though, but lots of dark fun will be had in the next few weeks!


January 26, 2007

Impulse

I feel a bit sick :-/

I just spent a load of money on a boxset of one of the best TV shows ever broadcast. And this is after I received the first series of The Sopranos this morning.

Maybe it would be best if the maths department would keep hold of my salary until I actually need it…

To make me feel better I’m planning to spend the whole weekend reading up on cloud physics and parallel programming.

Sometimes I wonder whether my cells were leftovers and outcasts and decided the only way to survive was to form me.


January 09, 2007

Dilemma

Watching E.R. tonight, I was wondering something. Two doctors who had just attended a funeral heard about a shooting at their hospital and some of their colleagues in life-threatening situations. So they decide to cancel their day off and rush to the hospital to help out.

The rest of the show we only see wounded doctors and nurses taken care of by their colleagues. Meanwhile, standard patients are queueing up outside or diverted to other hospitals.

Anyway, that’s not what I was wondering.

I was thinking, suppose you’re capable of saving someone’s life, but you have to chose between the average UK citizen (decide for yourself what this entails) and a brain surgeon. You have no emotional attachment to either patient. Who would you attend first?

My scary thought is that rationally, I cannot find a way to decide to prioritize the average citizen. The even more scary thought was not that the brain surgeon could probably save lives and do great things. No, instead, I thought how much money had been spent on this person to become a brain surgeon in the first place, and how less taxing he (or she) probably is going to be on society.

*sigh* I’m never gonna sleep tonight


September 02, 2005

I don't like it

Just single-handedly decided the Little Britain craze is over. I think it's clear when you're more amused by Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere that a program's prime has passed.

Had an overly pre-productive day today. Almost got up to catch a ride to campus, but got bored with my alarm and decided sleeping in was the way forward. No one really expected me to get up anyway, so nothing lost. Did make it to my old house before noon though, where I finally handed over money for a long lost gas bill. Received the bill once I'd already moved out, but it was 120something for only three months. Turns out they miscalculated multiplying by 3 instead of 1,4 or something ridiculous like that. Called in new meter readings and got a new bill. 90something which was still too high, as suddenly they dropped the previous meter reading to something we'd paid a long time ago. Gave 'em a ring and after 10 minutes explaining and 10 minutes waiting for them to call back, they finally realized what was going on and agreed we should receive a bill for around 50. Now that was 3 weeks after the first bill. Ah well - the joys of living in non-Uni-regulated accomodation! And left my keys. Called the agency and thank goodness they promised to send my deposit next week. Little did I know that this month's rent had already been sucked out of my account, leaving me to deal with them once more...

Ooh before that I'd already been productive returning Dan's glasses using the lovely Royal Mail service. Seems like everything I want to arrange takes at least 3 steps of communication. Bills session above took 6 steps. Went to PO in town on Tuesday to pick up package but they couldn't help me with the glasses. Went to the PO in Cannon Park today and they had no small safe parcel to mail it in. Went to Haward's across the mall and got a case for the glasses. And a small box. And they offered bubble wrap, which I stupidly declined. Back to PO and got a bubble wrap envelope. Oh my goodness how rubbish is the Wedding Planner?! Even got first class service, but the guy couldn't promise it would arrive in London tomorrow. Then what good is first class service!? Desperation all around.

More productivity at the maths institute. I marked the pleasant occasion of my return to campus by borrowing a book. A real book. To read. To answer your question Nikki, no, all our tables are stable and don't need books to level them. To study. And to help me build the most amazing models in MATLAB. Also emptied my pigeonhole but all that was there was a letter I'd already seen. Later came back to have my fees arranged, but first…

I went to the bank. After an hour 5 minutes in the queue I finally had them sort out my address details which story started early July when they only changed half my details and told me to check with the creditcard company myself. Then decided I wanted to use online banking but they sent my stuff to the Netherlands (home address). Great. Went to NatWest in Cov and they said no everything is fine we know where you live now. Called online banking people (you'd think online banking people are contactable by email but no) yet they said they'd still send stuff to the Netherlands with the current state of my details. Got tired and let it simmer for 2 weeks. Asked NatWest lady to change my details again and after being slightly too rude (sorry NatWest lady) had her phone all the other people and declare to the world I have moved house. Thank you and had them transfer money from one place to another, as you do. Back home I tried online banking but no. I'm not allowed a cheque book. I'm not allowed to pay bills online. I'm not allowed to make third party payments. All I can do with online banking is see how money slowly drips out as I use my debit card. Might be my next hobby once I'm sick of sudoku.

Small victories of the day include me clearing out the Rev pigeonhole in the Union, which [the pigeonhole] was actually quite full, mainly because of a rogue sweater that has been haunting execs for ages. The other victory was gained at Uni House where I was told to sit down and relax while my department and the University arrange my financial stuff. Minor defeat was suffered when Lord of the Rings beat me and Rich already after the first disk. 1,5 hours of the Fellowship of the Ring and they haven't even left Rivendell!? Great to see all the extended scenes though! While even the soppy music in the Wedding Planner is rubbish. Sad point in movie history. Oh and the start of a Rev blog was celebrated by me an Ali (and probably Rich, though he would never admit it).

What I don't like is that I still have a sore throat after having left Edinburgh 6 days ago.


May 25, 2005

Well

What can you do? I'm tired but need to blog. Don't know why. Not having exams to complain about. Going home tomorrow so should have more interesting stuff to tell next week. Got amazing new CDs but am not allowed to talk about them (it's like having seen Star Wars but downloaded from DC++ not that I know how - honestly!). So let me tell you a story about off campus student housing.

I live in a lovely house on Canley that makes me ill every other week. It only makes me ill because we can't open the windows as they have locks we can't remove. And because it gets dusty and none of us really feels like using the vacuum cleaner. And (until recently) because it's either freezing or it's boiling hot.

But recently someone showed us where the thermostat is and told us how to use it. Amazing technology! But then one day I came home and the hot water tap wasn't running up to speed. Consequence: washing up takes 5x as long and lazy students as we are the dishes piled up. Time to call the letting agency.

Lovely people, but communication wise a bit… bureaucratic. We're not allowed to call the plumbers ourselves, but they can do it for us. So we call the agency they call the plumber who will arrive the next day. Which they don't. So we call the agency who call the plumber who will arrive the next day. Which they do. They fix one of 2 things we need them to do so we ask them if they could please fix the other as well. Nope. Agency didn't tell them to. "So let's say I call the agency now and you leave but then they call your boss and you'll be back in half an hour?" "If your lucky, yes". Great. So we do. And they come back the next day. Yay! Everything is working! Or not.

We try out our heating and the whole house seems to fall apart. Luckily that didn't happen for another month. Apparently some way lots of air was trapped in the pipes and made a racket. We call agency agency tells us it's normal with our heating system and it happened in the last tenancy as well. Sure. So we use it as an extra method to wake up in the morning (but we fail).

April comes and goes.

Had a great weekend just now, and I come home and my lovely housemates await me with a smile. Poor me didn't recognize the smile of despair: a massive leakage (not as in pouring down everywhere, but just a continuous stream of water through a small hole in the ceiling) occurred in one of our bedrooms. Hot water. Why is that hot water? Why do those pipes go into the loft? Why isn't there any light upstairs? So we call the plumber's emergency line but get the answering machine. We realize we have to call the agency first, but they decided to take a break too. It was already past eleven but who knew what could happen so we decide to call for the help of our amazing neighbour who can fix anything.

After being ashamed of waking up the whole family and every other living creature in the house, amazing neighbour comes, sees, and… can't help us. He amazingly climbed into the loft and tells us the hot water tank's overflow isn't working and that there's about 2 inches of water waiting to go down, so we might have to stay up for a while. Great. At least we know what and where it is. Fortunately, the leakage calls it a day so we don't have to refresh the buckets every hour. And we go to sleep.

9:00AM Phone rings. "Hello Thorwald, it's the agency. You called last night. Do you still need help?" "Woo-aaa-elllll there is still 2 inches of water waiting to pour down, we don't know if we can use the hot water, and we still have a power cut, so yeah would be nice if someone could just pop in and say hi." "OK then we'll have someone over in an hour" Back to bed.

10:00AM Doorbell rings. Yay! Housemate is up so she can open. I sleep in while I hear everything going on in the room next to me and in the loft above me. A crack appears over the width of my bedroom. Time to wake up. Housemate relieved as she doesn't understand any other English than the Queen's, or oddly enough, mine. So yeah, plumber/electrician/fixitall guy explains that when my (other) housemate turned on the light in his room, it caused a power cut as the wire was touching the hot water pipe which had melted the safety stuff around it. Apparently must have happened ages ago but now it decided to fail on us completely. Oh and that cut blew a hole in the hot water pipe. Ah! Hence the water! It all makes sense.

Lovely fixing guys fix everything and drill holes to drain the water and soon the hot water is working again and the light can shine safely and we're all happy. "So see you later!" They say, and a loud bad noise comes from the bedroom. Turns out they stay for a while to clean up the mess. Also, they don't have to use the small loft trapdoor to get up there anymore. There's a new 6sq ft whole in the ceiling of the 2nd bedroom. Amazingly, no one got hurt, only some clothes got dirt spat on them, and nothing got damaged. Well, apart from the ceiling.

So we call the agency and tell them what happened. Kind of. Agency guy comes in an hour later expecting to see some minor water damage. "Ooh – that hole… That wasn't there before was it?" Sometimes you've seen a red on a person's face you never knew existed. Nice guy though, but he can't promise swift repair. "But the hot water pipes are fixed?" "Yes… and the light still works. Well. It would if it would still be hanging there."

Nice guy tells us the next morning that some contractor guy will arrive some day to assess the costs and then some day later when all the beams are dry (which will take a while in a house where windows cannot be opened) the ceiling will be redone. Oh and probably all of it will have to be redone. Yay! New ceiling without cracks! Which means you'll have to move all your stuff… Great.

There's still more going on. Also, I need to decide on whether this whole thing is exciting, or funny, or terrible. First, I'm going home though. If trying to avoid studying isn't exhausting enough, try landlord bureaucracy!


February 23, 2005

Warwick Revelation – Inspired!

Writing about web page http://www.warwickrev.org

Apart from a blatant plug on the blog-system, this entry also shows what I've been up to these days (apart from getting my second flu-strain in 1 month and catching up on C++ to model turbulence by two point vortices). Warwick Revelation are having a concert on the 5th of March at 7:30pm and I'm one of the two guys to coordinate the organisation.

Hopefully, you recognize the poster, or maybe just the general idea, for they are put up around campus, and flyers have been handed out in the Library. If you're sure it's not your thing, then I wonder why you're still reading. If you're not sure, let me try and explain what Rev is about.

While doing my undergrad in Utrecht, the Netherlands, I joined a group of friends to produce the musical Chicago! Never seriously sung before, I decided to join the campus choir (about 20 people) as well, and got addicted by singing actual songs instead of just small bits of a verse I could remember.

When I was admitted to Warwick, I immediately started looking for musical societies. I obviously came across MTW but 1) at the time the website didn't look this great (good job!) 2) nevertheless, they seemed a bit too professional for me 3) I'm not too keen on acting (had 2 lines in Chicago! playing the cop taking in Roxy). Soon I came across Warwick Revelation however, and noticed the great songs they'd done in the past, and the excitement that came across from the colourful website (well done Ali! Not a Christian myself, I wasn't sure about the Christian-basedness, but I could always give it a try!

During Orientation Week (as a new, non-UK student) I asked around about this Revelation thing and people seemed to be moderately enthusiastic about them. Sounded a bit like a bunch of overly happy people having fun singing cheesy songs. Good enough for me!

As a 21-year old (at the time) I decided I was old enough to go on my own, but turned out to be still quite shy when entering the Chaplaincy (again as a non-Christian in a religious environment, slightly uncomfortable). However, I was welcomed immediately by a few girls who introduced me to the ancient tenor TimH, who then had the brilliant idea of introducing all the new guys to one another. Since that day I have gained a friend and met someone new every week at Revelation!

As far as the music is concerned, Revelation is a Rock-Gospel choir, conveniently one of the hardest genres to define! We'll do basically any classic pop/rock tune with lyrics not too strong for those with certain beliefs, and any gospel song with not too much an emphasis on religion for those who don't believe. The result is a mixture of contemporary cheese and classic rock with new funky gospel and soul. All sung by people who might have no talent whatsoever, but who do know how to enjoy singing and how to bring across that joy!

So yeah, organising this concert, that's what I've been up to. If you enjoyed Sister Act, you'll enjoy this. If you didn't (please tell me why – I know it's rubbish in film history terms, but still, classic!) then err I have no idea how to convince you to come (unless you like to see people swaying in colourful T-shirts and have some amazing ability to ignore our singing), but please give it a try! In any case, by having come to this point, you might understand why me and another 150odd souls join this society every year.


January 31, 2005

The longest day

I'm ill. Can't really point out what it is but as I'm writing I'm trying to avoid spilling anything on my housemate's desk. It doesn't include a headache so I am just gonna add a few entries to my blog. Here's what I did last week. Don't go away now - it's almost interesting!

Actually, the first event happened earlier this month, but I need to mention it anyway: I have some sort of foundation for my thesis! And I've only been doing it for 4 months (seriously, that's quite an achievement seeing that it's mostly a trial and error process). But yes, I had some trouble getting excited about earlier articles I read – too technical – so my supervisor googled another name in the field I'm interested in and voila, here I am, fully enjoying and understanding three articles about the influence of turbulence on the population dynamics of phyto- and zooplankton, a system that plays a vital role in the global carbon cycle. Will explain more later.

Second event: Departure of housemate. Now, I'm not sure what the rules are for housemates that are your friends when they leave (as in, no bad word about the dead) but let me just say, he didn't make it easy. I'll just note that I spent my whole Thursday doing the dishes he left for his goodbye dinner (which I didn't particpate in, see below). Still need to clear out the fridge. You get the idea.

Third event: Concert team meeting. Actually, this is not of any interest to anyone, but let me just say we got a great design team, and an awesome (SC accent) publicity crew, so it's bound to be a wonderful night. What night, you say? Saturday 5 March, Coventry Central Hall (near the Litten Tree), Inspired!, brought to you by Warwick Revelation Rock-Gospel Choir. Keep ears and eyes open for more publicity!

The longest day: Wednesday 26 January.

  • Woke up at 8am which only happens once a blue moon
  • Had graduation (MSc in Mathematics) which only happens twice a lifetime or so – blatantly lasted 1,5 hours longer than advertised
  • Mom and sis visited which never happens (as they'd usually spread their visit and mom would come with dad) – blatantly ended up shopping in Coventry
  • Walked home from Coventry Railway Station, which is bound to happen more often this year
  • Said goodbye to leaving housemates and hi to his friends some of which are also my friends – made them improvised dessert (stroopwafels with cream and hagelslag, yumm!)
  • Went over financial details with housemates so that everything was (more or less) sorted
  • Went to bed 1.30am fell asleep before 4am, I think – surely there are longer days, but when are they so packed with events?

In the mean time, I ruined my throat singing a really high bit in Rev, which signalled the arrival of swollen tonsils (Wed-Fri)/ flu (Fri-Sun)/ severe cold (Sun-now). I was planning to go to Edinburgh for the weekend for EdRev's Ball and to see many friends, but yeah, thought that wasn't too clever an idea… Don't think I can write this much about this week as I'll probably stay in for most of the time.


January 13, 2005

A Medicine, a Bargain, a few Housewives, and Definately

A Medicine

Is what I need to get a healthy biorhythm. At the moment I fall asleep around 3am which is fine, and I wake up at around 9am which is fine, but I don't get up until say noon. That doesn't have to be a problem, for as a PhD student I mainly need to plan my own time. However, I want to get up in the morning and take a few classes that will actually help me getting my degree in a few years. Basically, what I need is some kind of drink that makes you want to get up, say, the opposite of Horlicks. Any ideas?

A Bargain

Though some people dislike Tesco's, I do feel obliged to tell you about a wonderful deal they have running right now: 18 glasses for less than 4 quid!? 6×3 differently sized glasses for just over 20p a piece. Apologies for blatant advertising but I just had to share this knowledge.

A few Housewives

Wasn't sure whether or not to capitalize few, but anyway... Today I saw the return of Marcia Cross to the world of TV drama in the form of a desperate housewife who resorts to household tasks when trying to avoid discussing her feelings. Anyone who is old enough to have seen her burn down Melrose Place should watch Desperate Housewives Wednesday night on C4. Just continuing my commercial activities here. No I don't get paid. And yes I do work on my PhD.

Definately

It took me 10 minutes to type that word: definately. Another ten minutes lost. Why? Why would you write that? A definition is definite and definitely not definate. Seeing most people who write definately are native English speakers you forced me to Google it and at the moment it's 24,000,000 against 2,500,000 definitely vs definately. I'm not claiming there are no accidental spelling errors on this blog or anything, but please stop messing with my head!
P.S. To the linked person - you seem to be easygoing and I needed an example. Hope you don't mind!


December 23, 2004

Barbados (Friday evening and Saturday)

We swam off the JR grease with some good games of Ianball (sounded more appealing than having something to eat and drink), and got ready for an improvised trip to a local church.

The church service was great – lots of singing halleluiah, and a brilliant drama showing the problems in the Carribean – and it wasn't too hot with all fans working and some more rain outside. Yet, the evening turned out a disaster with half of us (nearly) fainting. The lack of proper food during the week (yes we had snacks and bites, but hardly a substantial dinner) in combination with sunburn, lack of water, and balance issues (from the Jolly Roger), the first one of us passed out during the service, and by the end some 5 girls were being nursed by Josie (one of the Ribits folks who fortunately stayed around!) near a huge fan.

We stayed at the church for an hour or so – presumably waiting for the girls to feel better – and got served more water and some food. Ready to leave, I suddenly found out the situation was far worse than 'just' exhaustion: an ambulance had been called for one girl had stopped breathing and another felt needles throughout her body (won't go too much into details as I don't think it's necessary, and I guess you can understand the seriousness of the situation). With the rest of us in the church's bus to bring us back to the hotel, we got worried and slowly one by one the domino effect kicked in, and almost all either freaked out or started to feel faint. Not all passed out, because that would be silly, and really unfortunate, but some (including the wonderful people from the church) stayed calm and again provided us with water and food and this time prayer as well.

The craziness didn't end there, for as soon as we got back to the hotel, and we had to tell those who hadn't come along to the church what was going on, we slowly started freaking out again. A hotel is fortunately a better place to calm down, and soon one of our rooms was turned into a ward. It must be said that by this time, some of the guys had passed out as well, and I had to sit down myself (even started undressing – apologies to any witnesses, it was really hot!) because of heavy sunburn. The rest of night we devoured all ice cubes available in the hotel and some good mac'n cheese and bananas (thank you 'nurse' Esther and 'nurse' Melody, and Amanda and Abi as well for dedicating your appartment to us 'patients'). I don't like bananas, but this one was finished in no time! I still can't imagine what the situation must have looked like for those arriving later… After 2 hours Chrisi dropped by again and dismissed me from the 'ward'. She was also able to tell us that the two girls in the hospital were both stable, so we were ready to take a rest.

Saturday was dominated by err drinking as much water as possible (peed 4 times in 2 hours or so!) and eating as well. The girls had returned early in the morning and were being taken care of by their friends (basically forcing them to eat and drink and rest as much as possible). We all felt OK enough for our flight, but once our trip back to the UK started, we seemed to start a re-run of last night's drama. Fortunately, Josie (who is actually officially a nurse) was still around to help out and make everyone feel better, and we all spent our last Bajan dollars on water so that there would never be a shortage! The flight was fine (I basically slept through all the turbulence over the Atlantic – some had to stay awake most of the time for the second night in a row however, to stand by in case any more treatment was needed) and by Sunday morning we were back at Manchester Airport, arriving at Warwick in the afternoon, within a few hours all cooled down from our hot bizarre trip to Barbados.

As far as I know, everyone who went on the trip is still breathing, and ready and tanned to celebrate Christmas. Josie caught up on her lack of sleep within 3 days. I didn't suffer from a jet lag despite a sleepless night - that one was due to my first cup of coffee ever. My house is up to temperature after I'd told my housemate to turn off regulated heating hoping to save some pounds (I had to wear scarf and hat in my living room). Watching Dutch version of Popstars right now as the losers (those evicted in the early stages) are ruining 'Winter Wonderland', good to be home...


October 20, 2004

Spiders

OK, so we have spiders in our house. One of my flatmates apparently has them biting in his arm causing allergic reactions; another (male – don't want to be prejudiced, but still!) starts screaming and leaves the room as soon as he sees one not bigger than this . dot; the final (female :)) actually manages to control herself… So what about me?

Well, guess I have to thank my mother for always telling me that spiders are about the best creatures to have in your home as they eat all the other annoying bugs etcetera. I also enjoyed moving around the long-and-thin-legged-ones as – if they wanted to – they wouldn't be able to bite you anyway :) [am usually not that cruel though!]. As long as their bodies don't get any bigger than two peanuts I'm fine and just keep them where they are. One exception though: the evil house spider with double fangs creeping through your sheets just when you're about to go to bed.

Anyway – reason I had to report this is to tell you I have actual proof of the spider's usefulness! I would take a picture of it and post it but that would be too shocking I guess. But the thing is, this long-and-thin-legged one that has been hanging around in one corner of my bedroom for a week now has managed to catch the one fly living in my room and wrap it. [don't ask me why on earth a fly would go to the outskirts of my room where there's nothing to eat. ah well].

Was just wondering if you guys 1) keep spiders in your room; 2) chase them until they're out of your sight; 3) let them chase you until they're out of your sight; 4) kill them; 5) bring them to the garden; 6) anything else (that's not disturbing! so no stories about people eating zillions of spiders in their lifetime!).

Back to work now!


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