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Archive for June, 2009

Dusty

Last week I went up to Glasgow to look for a place to stay for next year. From the few viewings I am happy to say I have picked one, though honestly I hadn’t much of a choice; it had to be selected that day. There weren’t more time and it was too much trouble to organise a second round of viewings.

Some weeks ago we started packing. That involved turning the house upside down, causing the air to fill with dust mites.  I am slightly allergic to dust (like who isn’t), but in my case I’m talking actual physical reactions, and very unpleasant ones at that. As a result I have been feeling rather under the weather lately, exacerbated by the long hours on the train ride back…

3 weeks to go, and our tempers are starting to feel a little frayed at the edges. So many things to do….

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Remember when I mentioned that I was surprised to see bits of the Parthenon lying about the British Museum? Well, they were chiseled out from the ancient Acropolis ruins and brought back to London for Lord Elgin’s amusement (he was the UK’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire who ruled Greece at that time), and he sold it to the British Museum in 1816 when he found himself out of cash. It has been there for nearly 200 years, but for the past few decades Greece has been asking for it back.

The Brits has long said they were in a better position to preserve and protect it, but last weekend, Greece’s perfect answer has opened: The new Acropolis museum, designed by architect Bernard Tschumi and which I understand was delayed for years. It seems the Greeks have taken the opportunity to get some pre-opening publicity by stepping up their international efforts (clamouring) to retrieve the Elgin Marbles and to place it where it “rightfully belongs”.

Seems like it’s causing quite a furor. As anyone who has stepped into London’s V&A Museum will attest to, London’s museums are full of stuff belonging to other cultures and civilizations. If the Elgin Marbles goes back to Athens, this will probably set a dangerous precedent (for the UK anyway) for other recently-capable-again countries and governments to try to get back their own treasures. The same principle probably applies to the Louvre etc.

So far, the British Museum’s response is to offer a three-month loan on the condition that they will be recognised as the owners. Greece’s answer was that they (British Museum) can borrow anything they want in return for relinquishing their claimed ownership of the Marbles.

Makes you wonder if the Louvre Abu Dhabi (by architect Jean Nouvel), due to open in 2013, will try anything similar, what with reports of secret buyers snapping up all the good stuff.

The debate goes on, and I for one will be watching this with interest.

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Special Day

Today is a special day. A year ago something special was given into my care. Fragile and helpless as a silkworm or its cocoon, strong and precious as the silk fibers that it produces. Its many intricate layers require careful handling.

I was a temperamental person and subject to volatile moods. I was impatient, had a short fuse and always waiting for the slightest reason to trigger it. Yet when that object came into my care I had to change all that lest the object was irreparably damaged.  I had to learn patience, tolerance, understanding and to control my temper. I had to learn to proceed with sense and caution, reason and rationale. I had to learn to give and not to take. Along the way it became my motivation and inspiration, and my source of happiness. It was the biggest responsibility I have ever held. One I have no qualms about holding, one I am honored to hold.

I hope I can continue to hold the responsibility for a long time.

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Summer Sleeping Habits

I didn’t sleep well last summer, couldn’t sleep well this summer. Born and bred in an equatorial country, I must say that my sleeping habits has not come to grips with this phenomenon that the sun would have the audacity to rise before 6am.

Every morning, I wake up at 5. I go back to sleep and then I wake up again at 6. I go back to sleep again, and then I wake up again at 7. Then again at 8. By now, I should have been accustomed to these changes, but 21 years of reflex take precedence over my sleep-fogged mind – Every time I open my eyes and see bright daylight, I jump to my phone to check the time, worried that I slept through my alarm. Every time I return to the bed annoyed after finding out that it’s merely 4:45am…

Either I need curtains, or I need to sleep at 10pm….. :)

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I submitted my resignation letter a week ago.

Of course, there’s nothing overly dramatic about that. I have known for ages when I would quit exactly, so as far as I’m concerned it’s old news. Making it official triggered some psychological responses though, responses that were initially hard to grasp. I wasn’t exactly sad, because I am far too happy about going home, to be continuing my studies, to be moving to a new place again, to feel any sadness.

There was the usual apprehension and a slight knot of worry as I mull over the logistical issues of packing and moving. There was also the usual wistful pangs as I contemplate leaving the life I have chalked up here and the people whom I have been lucky to met.

Most importantly, there was also something more, something that I can’t find the proper word for. It’s not exactly “regret”, because I think the word “regret” evokes a very strong, powerful emotion, something with very serious and far-reaching implications. Yet it could be construed as a oversimplified, very mild and harmless form of regret – something that perhaps can be described as, after having grown in the past year, having looked back and learnt the lessons and spotted the differences, the usual thoughts surface: if only………….

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cantgetfinances

Can’t get finance? Why, they’ll be happy to get it for you, it seems.  I pass this used car garage every morning on my way to work. Having nothing else to look at I constantly scope out the prices of the offered cars and wonder if I can afford one. The signboard was posted late last year/early this year, when the economy plunged into free fall.

ontheway

This double-carriageway road is well-used and busy, and is liable to clog up with traffic during the morning rush hours. Not that you can see it from that picture . On that particular morning, cars travelled at perhaps 10 mph. IF they even deigned to get on the road in the first place.

Because travelling at 10mph is rather slow – and it was apparently not possible to go much faster – the office announced that people can start leaving at lunch. That was funny because some people only managed to get in just before lunch, after hours of inching through the snow.

Staying was obviously no problem for me, so I stayed and worked on. By 3pm the office was nearly empty. I left at 4:30, not because I was bored, but there was only one more person in the office, and I had a feeling he was waiting for me to leave so he could leave.

officesmall

My office in all its steel-clad glory. Bullnose canopy, aluminium louvers and aluminium-framed glazing, white render walls, some jutting-punching-through volume kinda thing, as well as the plain silver steel panels – almost standard elements and materials used in much of the firm’s earlier work.

Sometimes when I look at this building it seems that the message that they’re trying to say is – This is us, and this is our work. If you like what you see, come on in.

I have to say, it does get a little repetitive drawing the same things over and over at times. It does seem like there’s been a little bit more variety recently though, which is definitely not a bad thing in my book.

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To Stand in One’s Shoes

A few months ago my dad asked why I did not want to get a TV. “Why not?”, he asked. “You can at least watch the news , or watch some programs at home.”

I told him, not only the TV license cost more then I would be happy to pay, I could pretty much watch everything I ever wanted and read all the news on the net, and get free radio besides. With UK’s relatively fast internet, I said it was like a TV, only better. That’s my entertainment needs covered.

Besides, much of my social life is conducted virtually. Aside from the handful of friends I have in this region, I handle the rest of my relationships (as in with friends) via social networking tools. That’s my social needs covered.

I don’t have a super memory. So I constantly get facts wrong, mix quotes up, forget dates, convert wrong figures, use wrong mathematical formulas. Yet when I need to produce something – a paper, a blog post, a drawing, a presentation, or even to answer a sudden question from someone on the phone, the internet becomes my calculator, converter, source-verifier, dictionary, encyclopaedia and library all available at my fingertips.

Often, just before I hit the publish button here I remember to check my facts with Google, only to find out half of them are inconsistent with what I just wrote, saving me a potentially huge amount of chagrin and embarrassment. (Yes, I could be right and the internet wrong, but I’m not going to put any money on the odds of THAT).

It might be easier if I have never experienced this library before, and therefore will never knew what I would have lost, but I can only imagine how it must suck to suddenly have this vast library removed from my fingertips without a moment’s notice, or to have certain sections of the library suddenly removed. Perhaps, it is even worse still to know the resources that lie out there, only to also know that it is forever denied to me.

Just putting my feet in other people’s shoes, and no, I wouldn’t like that at all.

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Mid-Week Update

Earlier than ever, we’ve started the initial moving processes by packing away non-essential stuff, and when I fill up a box I start listing and categorising them systematically to help in the unpacking and organising later.  It’s lots of work, it’s annoying, it’s arduous and most of all it’s boring. It’s exactly the thing I don’t want to be doing after a day of staring at a monitor drawing all manner of vector lines for 8 hours. Most of the week nights have been given to these tasks, after my nightly dose of TVB. Weekends are reserved because Flora has very fortuitously have got three Saturdays off in a row. Three!

Everything is now official, the countdown has started, and the tension of the unknown (of the future) is exciting and infectious.

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