Archive for June, 2008

Yes, i have to do an internship/year out/training/work for 10 months. No, i have not sent my applications out yet… I am aware that it take ages for replies (here’s sincerely hoping that there WILL be replies asking me to attend interviews) But seriously… I have my reasons. Mostly it’s because it doesn’t make sense. I have booked my air ticket to Glasgow for the 5th of August (because i have to go back eventually), and the lethal combination of fuel price increase and summer holidays have driven travel prices so high up that it’s unfeasible for me to make the trip across the North Sea more than once. Also, my family is coming to visit in September so i can only start my internship proper in October. Thus i am waiting until i get back from Germany on the 19th of July before sending out applications. Ideally, replies will coincide nicely with the date of my return, so i can then attend these interviews while waiting for my interim and final presentation and external examination on the 13th, 20th, and 21st of August respectively. Here are the important dates for the upcoming 2 months:

5th of July – Super Germany trip starts
19th of July – Return from Germany, Gentse Feesten starts
28th of July – Gentse Feesten ends, packing starts…
5th of August – Glasgow; time to look for a place to stay next year and to find a job
13th of August – Interim review date
20th of August – Exchange students’ Final Presentation date
21st of August – External Examination
8th of September – Family arrives (gotta find a house and a job by then)

One thing about this summer is that everything is spaced in blocks of two to three weeks, ensuring that I do not get too long a break at any time or that i would not be too busy at any time. The pacing is perfect, but it sucks that It becomes exponentially harder to get a part-time job.

By applying so late i hope to avert a few problems – the first being the likely possibility that even if a firm is interested and invites me for an interview, they’re liable to lose interest when i tell them that i am too stingy/rather go traveling than to go back just for an interview, like it has happened to Flora and Nicholas. Secondly i hope to capitalize on the fact that during late July and early August, many of the firms’ existing trainees who have stayed on beyond their required 10-month period to work through the summer will be leaving, freeing up spaces otherwise unavailable up till late June.

Well, I do really believe in the reasons i laid out and i do stick by them, but last but not least I am (conveniently) also only about 70% ready to send out my applications.. haha. Any excuse is better than none to pacify the feeling of uncertainty and pressure i get when people around me are all talking about interviews and jobs. I’m easily satisfied =p

Now stop asking!


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In recent months I find that I have lost the ability to articulate my thoughts properly. I have an ever-increasing notion that whatever I am writing does not reflect my feelings or what I am trying to say. Normally i end up getting more confused. I usually have a few things running simultaneously in my head at any time, but when I start to type I often end up blank and/or typing something totally different. My fingers have always had a habit of acting on their own, but it seems much more worse nowadays.

It’s annoying.

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To do or not to do

For almost a week a full-suspension mountain bike like the one above was locked to a post outside my school along the Zwartezusterstraat. On the second or third day, while walking past it i sauntered over to have a closer look at the bike. Upon going closer i realized that the owner was a real idiot because the lock was placed under the seat, around the top tube. Normally that would have been enough, but with a full suspension bike i reasoned that technically the lock could be removed by merely lifting it over the seat. So i tried it, and it worked – the lock came off easily.

A little context – bike thefts are rampant in Ghent. The general idea is, lock your bike or it will be stolen. The prevailing rationale for the would-be thief when they come across an unlocked bike is if you don’t take it then someone else will. Moreover, as bikes are more a mode of transportation than something for recreation (as they are in Malaysia and i bet other countries), the majority of bikes are simple and functional but ugly and usually something is broken (most bikes in Ghent operate with only one brake from what i can see). So it was quite a rarity to come across a full-suspension bike.

I have to say that I’ve nicked a few things before, but never something that could cost up to 500 or 600 pounds. It was a real struggle between my conscience and the kleptomaniac in me, but in the end my conscience (or the bright daylight) prevailed and i left it there for the time being. I considered it for a couple more days but I didn’t make any decision. Johannes told me sometimes the police leaves traps, and Flora and Nicholas told me not to do it. I couldn’t decide because i know how sad the owner would feel (unlike if it was, say, a typical half-broken old bike) but then again, it’s a brutal world, =p and it was there for my taking, however morally wrong it is. Like it or not, it was a valid opportunity, particularly so in a place where it’s almost expected that if you don’t lock your bike properly it’s likely to be stolen. Plus i couldn’t understand how someone who spent that kind of cash for a bike like this couldn’t even be bothered to keep it secure.

Earlier tonight I went out to have a few beers. When I returned the bike was gone. The only thing left was the lock, still locked to the post.

I don’t really know how i feel now; I suspect there’s a lesson to be learned here. But which? In the meantime, I feel like I’ve found 400 Euros on the street and walked on.

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George Carlin

George Carlin died. He was 71. The first time i heard of him was a few years ago when i came across one of his quotes. A few years it might be, but when i first read that he died the quote immediately surfaced… and i suppose it is my duty to share it with everyone =p

“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating in a spa with central heating and you finish off as an orgasm.”

He was ridiculously funny and one of my favourite comedians. (Not that i had many or knew of many)

If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
How is it possible to have a civil war?
One nice thing about egotists: they don’t talk about other people.
If God had intended us not to masturbate he would’ve made our arms shorter.

Google him for more!

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Yesterday we met a Malaysian who had been working in Aalst, Belgium for the past 20 years. Over a long lunch in a Chinese restaurant (a rarity for me) in the heart of Brussels he shared with us many of his personal experiences. He started with “the pitiful European life” because he said “in Europe you eat bread for breakfast 365 days a year”. It was interesting because many of his tales relates with the working-class rather than with students, which we’re used to, or with the filthy rich which are boring and likely to elicit a head-shaking response from me. It was also interesting because he had some good jokes. Also, over the past 20 years he somehow became a repository of random knowledge so that made for interesting conversation. Against a backdrop of police bodyguards and sealed-off roads for a convention of presumably EU delegates and ministers he filled us in on how changes in European politics have had an effect on the life of a typical Malaysian immigrant.

For all his 20 years, we had something new for him too – I convinced him to go with us to the Palace of Justice to nearly sprain our necks gawking at the awesomeness of the interior space. I was there with Maarten earlier in February but it was a Sunday so we couldn’t get in. (However that time we managed to sneak into a really cool abandoned railway station so it was a good day anyway) This time we got in 2 minutes before closing time so that was a bit of a dampener but it certainly had a lasting effect anyhow.

Speaking of Palaces of Justice, a day before that I went for an exhibition by Bronek’s girlfriend Hanne at Gent’s own palace (justitiepaleis or gerechtshof in Dutch). She recently received her Masters in Textile Design and was presenting the bulk of her project. It was really interesting for more reasons then one. First was of course Hanne’s textile designs, second because the new (or nieuw as they say it here) justitiepaleis was a rather nice building designed by Stefaan Beel. (He is a rather prolific and prominent Belgian architect. He builds so much here that sometimes i think he is the only architect in Belgium.)

Also, today we went to Kortrijk for a day trip and stumbled upon an exhibition of industrial design. All these exhibitions are cool because when you see all of them you soon view design from more perspectives than just that of architecture. When you exhibit tables and glasses and chairs in a design exhibition they suddenly become “cool”. Andy Warhol was certainly a visionary.

Those were excerpts of what happened in the past few days. If you have problems reading words and need to see pictures you can find out what happened on the 17th by clicking here. On the 18th Tristyn and Boris came to visit. On the 19th it was Nicholas and Angeline. I’m tired of repeating all the things i learned about Ghent for the 4th time, after Alex and khaiyong in March.

On an ending note, i know sometimes i use the term we without actually mentioning any names. It’s because i am too lazy to write down all the different names who went to different places on different days. Suffice to say just accept that each “we” used in this post refers to different people.

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Take Some Give Some

Twice in the past few days I shared the breakfast table with an elderly French couple. I remembered enough French from one semester of “French for All” to understand the gist of what they were saying. It was strange because it felt as if i was eavesdropping, since they couldn’t possibly have guessed that i understood what they were saying. Then again, was it meant to be a private conversation since it was said in a public setting? Anyway they were merely talking about mundane stuff like the weather.

The Rock Werchter Festival (www.rockwerchter.be) is playing from3rd-6th of July, and is one of the most well-known rock festivals in Europe, with Lenny Kravitz, Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers, Kate Nash, KT Tunstall, Kings of Leon to name just a few from the highly impressive lineup.

On the 5th of July, the date of the best lineup (Radiohead) I will be on the train bound for Mannheim early in the morning..

The Gent Jazz Festival (www.gentjazz.com) starts in mid-july and features jazz greats like Erykah Badu, Diana Krall, Herbie Hancock among others…

Likewise, on the day Diana Krall is performing, one of my all-time favorites, I will still be in Germany…

Damn damn damn!

If you are looking for updates, i am currently saving like hell to be able to go the extra mile (literally). It seems wrong to live normally and still go traveling when times are (generally) harder. This means doing only things that are free (like Euro cup sans betting), cutting down on food and beer, and generally muck about at home or go for walks.

And you thought mamak food was unhealthy… just look at what constitutes cheap food here =p. Alongside Turkish pizzas, they cost the least if you’re not cooking. Talk about the rising cost of oil… and by this i mean blood cholesterol levels.

This post goes on to say that you can’t have everything. You take some, you have to give some too in one way or another. And this sentence means something more but I don’t know what to write about it now. Next post maybe.

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Snowy Evening

One of my favourite poems by Robert Frost:

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Simple, beautiful and perfect

Why can’t life be like that? aha or can it?

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