Tag Archives: Sarah

Friends

Back in blog

So, not as soon after the last posting as I would have liked but it’s better that the year or so break I took, right?

In true blogtacular tradition of days gone by, I’m writing this on a train coming back from an outing with someone(s) awesome(s?). I was over in Manchester visiting Sarah and Martin. Various circumstances have conspired to ensure that this is the first time we’ve met up since before Xmas. As a result, there was the inevitable exchange of gifts, which is often a cause for anxiety for me… I’m never sure that I’ve bought someone the right thing and there’s always the dread of your gift being totally outshone by the gift that has been got for you, showing you up as totally not understanding the other person as well as they do you.

In the end all was well; I was hella-happy with what I got. There’s a guitar tab book filled with the greatest hits of guitar hero. Finally I’ll be able to look down on people who love the game and say “play a real guitar” and show them how. Surely learning the whole book of songs won’t take me long. The other thing is a weird tower building game where you have to pile up hedgehogs.

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Family Friends Games Work

Blog Catchup

I think the chances of me actually catching up with past events in proper detail so I’ll just make a short (ish) summary of events from the new year post ’til now so I can get to the good bit. Almost everyone I know already knows it though. Makes it seem kind of pointless in a way…..

Anyway! After the awesome new year celebrations, I was up working with Steve doing my usual server configuration and other bits and pieces. One of the schools was to have a new IT room with the usual complement of 30 PCs and one projector/smart board combination, but the electricians were unable to finish on time, so we were left with not much to do there and had to leave it until a later date. Following that, there was a visit from Martin (alone, initially) and eventually Sarah as well. Always good to spend time with them, even if we did seem to spend a rather large amount of time walking around… We were showing Wolfgang, one of Sarah’s friends, the delights of Manchester. Among these was a space invader that Sarah hadn’t managed to get a good picture of in the past. I had my trusty new phone to hand to catch the moment, and here is the invader in all his (?) glory:


After saying my (internally) tearful goodbyes to Sarah, Martin and Wolfgang and getting absolutely DRENCHED….. TWICE…. I found myself in Blackpool for Kirtika (aka Kitu) birthday celebration as well as a celebration of Lodi. Lots of nice food was on hand and I ended up staying for a couple of days to help out with homework etc. I found myself re-living the experience of teaching Anu fractions, decimals and percentages all those years ago. It was kind of enjoyable but also a bit trying – it’s probably the first time I have made Kitu (and Piku) sit and study and have to fend off their attempts at wriggling out of it. In all honesty, they probably took a lot longer to do the work than they should have and there was far to much giggling (from them) for it a proper study session like the ones I was subjected to. Anyway, I think that they still like me and that they actually learned something new. Not only that, I think that they, Kitu at the very least, were HAPPY that they had learned how to do these things. I felt really very good about myself for a change :) I also got to spend some time around their new (ish) baby brother, Krish. He still cried whenever I went near him, but at least the amount of time it took to happen seemed to be getting longer! There are some pics from the Blackpool happenings here:


I would have stayed longer, but I had to get back to Manchester to get a job application in on time. A few days after that, I got an email saying that I would have an interview (at Leeds university) in just under a weeks time. In the mean time, I had to put that out of my mind since I was preparing for a visit from AK followed by a fancy dress SingStar party at her place…. Oh yes. So I managed to get hold of some slightly tattered blue jeans, a white t-shirt, a leather jacket and some HUUUUGE and hideous sunglasses to go as George Michael. I didn’t manage to get hold of any crucifix ear rings, but I went without shaving for a good few days before the event to make up for it. The party itself was good – SingStar is never bad – there was even sushi to be had…. how cool is that? I managed to pollute/corrupt/subvert many of the people there with White Russian, which was kind of funny. I don’t have any pictures of the party – I was too busy singing to be all trigger happy with my phone – but I will try and get hold of some and get them online.

A couple of days later (23rd of Jan) I was on my way to Leeds for my interview. Not only was this interesting because of the possibility of getting a “real” job, but also because I would be hopefully meeting up with Mitch. Anyway, the interview went quite well… a few tricky questions, but that was to be expected really, but on the whole I felt reasonably happy with the way it had gone. It was a bit odd having lunch with the other people applying for the job, but it was certainly an interesting experience. Anyway… after around 5 hours and 2/3 interviews I was free to relax with Mitch. While we were in the student’s union playing pool (me not sticking out in my suit at all), I got a call offering me the job! So I am now officialy going to Leeds to become “Grid Support Officer” for the NGS service and White Rose Grid. Exciting and kind of scary all at the same time. In case you are wondering exactly what that will entail, you can get a look at the job description here.

Now, I’m in the process of trying to sort out all of the details of moving (bills, new place to stay etc.) and to finish off my thesis. Neither is happening at a rate that is to my satisfaction. Possibly the only plus side to all of this is that it has made me actually start organising my in a more efficient way – I’m using Google Calendar to map out when things should be happening in order to make sure I get as moved as possible to Leeds before I start on the 1st of March. They wanted me to start on the 1st of Feb, but that was just not enough time for me to get myself sorted out…. The extra month might not be enough either! The weeks since finding out and the coming weeks seemed to have filled themselves with events and house hunting stuff to such an extent that the thesis is taking more of a back seat than I would have liked. Although it’s all very stressful, it is exciting. Getting it all down in blog form makes it all seem a bit more… something, not sure what.

At least I’m mostly caught up now. :)

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Belated Christmas Blog

Yay! Christmas came, the geese got fat and I did, in fact, put a penny in an old man’s hat – he was playing some rocking tunes in an underground station.

Sooooooo… I have had a very eventful few weeks, much like everyone else I would imagine. There was the dreaded group meeting, where everyone in the particle physics group stands up for 5 minutes and talks about (i.e. justifies) their existence in the group for the past year. On the evening of the first meeting day (with free lunch – woo hoo!) there was the group xmas dinner. I managed to convince people that going to Revolution (a vodka bar, for the deprived people who don’t know) before the meal itself, and the night got off to a great start. The dinner was at Cafe Istanbul and was awesome. After the meal, we ended up in a club called Mojo. To be honest, it probably wouldn’t have mattered where we ended up – we would still have had an amazing night out. There are, of course, many pictures to be had of the evening, some of which can be found here:

The next day was a bit horrible, not only because of my horrendous headache when I woke up, but also because I had to give my presentation that day. Like most presentation situations, I got overly nervous about it and felt like I messed it up a bit. Even though it was a group of people I know pretty well, it was still an awful experience. The lameness experienced there was very quickly replaced by the awesomeness of having Daniel and Sabrina over for dinner. So quickly that I was only left with 30 minutes to cook up a storm after getting home from the meeting. They didn’t seem to notice it was rushed and even complimented me on my daal. “This daal is fantastic!” Not bad for a boy – not as good as mum makes, but still.

The day after that, I was on my way to London for the xmas period. The whole experience was made all the sweeter by the fact that I knew that the new Zelda game, Twilight Princess, was waiting for me. As if that wasn’t awesome enough (which it was) me and Aradhna managed to cook up a Christmas dinner of sorts which was truly fantabulous. It can be viewed in all its collaged glory by clicking the following thumbnail:

After the “big day” had come and gone, I went out for food, food and food with Sarah (best. day. ever.) including a trip to the Japan Centre, which has a whole floor that sells food and fish we managed to avoid seeing. Looks like we might have to go there again… It’s a tough life. The sushi there was excellent, if a little pricey. I think that Ikkyusan is probably better value overall.

Other than that, I managed to get a much needed new coat. Me and Anu braved the January sales and went hunting and managed to come back with a kill that managed to satisfy me, my sister (she “wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen with me in it”) and even my mother. Wowza indeed.

After that, it was back up to Manchester to prepare for the trip to Blackpool for New year celebrations….. more on that later. For now I need sleep!

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New Phone! Graduation! Hangover Get!

Yay!

I have my new phone. It’s a very spangly Sony Ericsson k800i, designed with picture taking in mind. The camera is pretty good, but the whole thing is made so much better by it’s awesome flash – in a reasonably sized room it makes pictures taken in darkness come out as if lights were on. Awesome.

Like most camera phones, it’s not so great outdoors at night, even with it’s flash. Having said that there are some pictures to feast your eyes on that I took on Thursday when various people from the year above me were graduating with their PhDs. Clicking the following picture will take you to the web album.


The pictures show gowns, drinking and eating that all took place that day. What it doesn’t show you is the SingStar hilarity that ensued after – accompanied by home made Irn Bru WKDs.

Sarah and Martin were in town on Tuesday for her graduation as well, so muchos congrats to her as well. All these smug people with their fancy PhDs… you’d think it would be enough to spur me on to finish my own. Progress has slowed somewhat compared to previous weeks. Maybe the rest of this

This is the second weekend in a row that I am not galavanting around the country and getting frustrated by the train service. It also means that, other than the above, not much exciting has been going on. Hopefully the Xmas/New year fortnight or so will liven things up a bit.

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Shiv Kaushal – Singstar Liason

Long time no blog then… It was good going for a while, I guess, but I am slipping back into my previous habits quite quickly. I have had many interesting things go on since last time, a lot of which I am sure I will forget to put down here but I am sure that the following summary will convince the reader beyond any doubt that the life of a PhD student is anything but taxing. The thing is, it should be taxing – if I was putting in a reasonable amount of work, I would be finished writing up by now.

First off, there is the awesome news that Nicki, who you can see getting married HERE, has had another bundle of screaming joy. Blaney George Phillips was born on the 3rd of November and both are doing well. Loads of congrats and love to Nicki and Marc!

So last the last few weekends have been filled with SingStar awesomeness. The weekend after Irina’s birthday/flat-warming, I was in Blackpool and got to introduce all the lovely people there to the phenomenon that is SingStar. I even got to play with Kitu and Piku (my amazingly fabulous nieces) and even had the sense to capture the moment in digital image and video form. There is a lot of that kind of stuff I have still to put up on my Picture Page, I will post again when I have it availble for hypertextual consumption. Not only was Kitu and Piku rocking the house amazing in itself, but I also had a new disc to enjoy – SingStar Legends. This brought the total number of songs at my disposal to 200 – killer.

That weekend also saw Birthday celebrations for my cousin, Amar, . The whole thing was lots of fun not only because of the large fireworks (it was on the 5th of November, after all) but also because I got to tend to a bonfire (awesome) and even saw Vijay dancing. There was also a guitar shaped birthday cake, which particularly struck a chord (groans all round) with me – more so for Amar, I guess.

After word got out that there was another SingStar disc to be had, Ella Fitzgerald and all, we were back at Irina’s the following weekend. It was an absolute belter of an evening. I was introduced to the amazingness of White Russians and loved them even without having seen “The Big Lebowski”. The huge selection of songs meant that we were singing away through the night and I got home after eight in the morning! The following couple of days were pretty messed up and unproductive for me but led nicely into Aradhna’s fencing match in Manchester last Wednesday.

Keele Vs. Manchester should, I suppose, give me some kind of moral dillemma as to which team I should be supporting but I found it quite easy to cheer on Keele without any guilt. I really am dead inside….. Unlinke the unhappy outcome of the same fixture last year, Keele won, much to the delight of the team captain (Aradhna). While I don’t fully understand what’s going on sometimes (sabre is just too weird) I do like watching the fencing. I especially love seeing Aradhna, aka AK, do her thing “on the piste”. There is such a slow, measured, calm and deliberate approach in her style that is actually quite menacing. I should probably never upset her ever again. Videos may follow soon.

This weekend was yet another SingStar flavoured one, but in Cambridge this time. Sarah’s workmate Laura was having a birthday party with the added twist of being a cocktail party with a formal dress code. I had also been asked to bring along my bag of SingStar tricks and I was happy to oblige. After several large White Russians – having watched The Big Lebowski earlier that day – the music started flowing. Watching men suited and booted and women in fancy dresses – in the good way, not like vampire costumes, but even those can be good at the right time and place – watching them all sing away was really an odd sight to behold. It made dragging the PS2 up and down the country (or down and up in this case) worth it. Went to Ikkyusan for sushi buffet again with Sarah and Vijay, before getting on the train back to Manchester and it was even better than last time. Spending time with Sarah and Martin was great, as ever and I look forward to seeing them again soon – probably on the 12th of December when Dr. Sarah is in Manchester for her graduation. Can’t wait.

Thesis has been crawling along, which is not surprising if you consider all of the singing I have been doing lately. I think I might have to crack and start putting in diagrams to pad it out. I did manage to find out how to put fancy fonts in through latex though and they are fancy. You can see an example here. Probably not the best use of my time, but I am thinking about starting every chapter off with something similar – there doesn’t seem to be anything in the guidelines against such fonts.

Somewhere in the blur of the past few weeks, I also got a letter from CCLRC saying that I was on the reserve list for the job I had applied for and then another one saying that they were unable to offer it to me. Lame. Not that I expected much from my first interview anyway. I guess that the outcome is better than I was expecting, but nobody likes rejection. According to Sarah, I already have an unofficial job – one that seems to appeal to me. The job title will make more sense if you have seen Van Wilder, but I am apparently now to be referred to as Shiv Kaushal – SingStar Liason. Sweeeet. There are plenty of worse things to be known for, that’s for sure.

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Twenty Pages!

Horray for me! My thesis is now roughly twenty pages longer than it was this morning, which is pretty good going, in anyone’s book. Most of it came from using a sty file from Sarah that puts all of the formatting as it should be according to University regulations and also adds some empty (for now) pages for a glossary, acknowledgements and other things. There was some real work though – I added a few pages about the Firefox extension part of my work and it felt good to get some actual words down rather than just writing in bullet points of what I will write later.

I am currently on 52 pages (including the empty ones) without any diagrams or screenshots of the bits of software I have worked on, which is pretty reasonable considering the fact that there are a couple of chapters I haven’t even started on yet. I found a thesis in our group’s library that is less than 100 pages and mostly diagrams. Not sure if I should be concentrating on quantity rather than quality, but at this point any measure which makes me think I might have a chance of finishing this before Christmas is a good thing. Ideally I will be finished before December the 8th so I can treat myself to a Wii…. how cool that would be!