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Archive for January, 2010

Not a very exciting title is it?  Haha.  Unfortunately, that is how the cookie crumbles in terms of getting everything ready for the next few weeks.  February is a fairly short month true but is packed with a lot of work to be done and surprises to be prepared.  But I’m stalling.  Hehe.

This week officially started to add on top of my two rolling classes an interview lab (for the dissertation) and the following week will add on group meetings for dissertations.  In tow, I have 3 essays due in about two weeks (from this point now) along with a formal dissertation proposal coming up, due in a week.  Typing this out makes it a bit more overwhelming to look at but unlike last term where I tried to do it all in one week, I am trying to actually…plan ahead.  A fairly shocking development since my plans to do this always seem to fall by the wayside.  But I really am meaning it this time!  I’m one week ahead in the readings and have already started outlining a couple of things off.  Hopefully means for a casual week 5 (instead of a stress-induced one in my room).

Some interesting things from this week.  I stopped by a Krispy Kreme Donuts shop.   This was due to a friend request and yes, Krispy Kreme does exist.  From what I’ve seen though, there are no actual Krispy Kreme shops.  They are either donut stalls (like the one I snooped out near a train station nearby) or simply sold in supermarkets.  A bit strange as I didn’t realize their presence wasn’t so big in London but yes, in the cold and in the rain, John Wie does deliver on (most) requests! The same evening, I took a stroll down to a semi-familiar pathway to choose between Wagamama, the Japanese ramen house, versus Nondo’s, a supposedly really good chicken place.  I took Wagamama, for sake of price and needing some broth to bring the temperature in my body up a bit.  It was better than before when I had it before I left London in December yet still, as I always seem to say in this blog, it makes me long for Cali ramen.

The weather hasn’t snowed again since that one time it did fairly heavily a week or two ago.  However, the temperature has still been around 30-40 degrees with a great deal of wind chill.  Although my body’s gotten used to the cold somewhat, my face dies usually on the walk home.  The walk to my dorm from the train station is literally a wind tunnel.  Mix that with the cold winter air and bam, it is literally like walking in a frozen ice cavern.  My jaw can barely move for the first few minutes when I make it back into my room.

Ate at another new place this week called Slug-and-Lettuce, a pub chain.  There was a special 50% off deal which is a lifesaver in London.  Used it to buy a small steak and fries.  It was…ok.  Service was charming and the location is pretty close but I probably would only come back for the Monday happy hours which have a similar deal.

Another interesting bit this past weekend has been well, two bits.  One is that there were walking tours all around London for a bit, encouraging people to walk off their New Year’s fat.  I tried to join the one at St. Paul’s Cathedral (there was a gnarly one that was going to go through the London countryside but it was too early in the morning and a bit too long out in this type of weather).  Unfortunately, I missed it due to my usual tardiness.  I ate lunch at a not-so-bad place called Yo! Sushi.  It has a conveyor belt system much like the one at itsu which I had a while ago but I do like Yo! better because of its variety and service.  I also had a coupon for this place (40% off) and although my biggest gripe is still that the food is too pricey for the amount of food they put out, I was pretty happy with the offer.  Soon after, I explored a little bit since I haven’t been to this area for a while and I came across an area where a commercial was being filmed.  Was pretty cool since they can use my image because of a sign they put up.  It had something to do with a lot of geese walking around the city.  That’s about all I got.  Definitely entertaining though.  But yea, watching this procession made me late to the guided tour and they were booked.  Instead, I went to go watch ‘Precious.’  Seems like one of my Top 10 movies of 2009 (which is still in the making) but a bit depressing and spastic.  Heh.  I really am going to finish some reviews and post them up pronto.  Something I’ve been lagging on.

Oh, and I think my guitar skills have definitely become much better.  Not perfect persay but able to bring out a couple songs to my delight.  Hoorah.

Onto Week 4.  Almost at the halfway point… 

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Week 2 was relatively quiet.  That feeling of just missing home still is deep in my soul and is hard to shrug off, making the days a bit more gloomy.  I always hate to say it since being in London is such a different experience but there is no substitute other than getting on a plane now and flying back.  That’ll unfortunately have to wait about 8 more weeks.

Class has started to ramp up to more difficult items.  Readings have gotten much longer and additional work has started to come in.  My plan of attack has been to try and engage with all the material early.  However, this week wasn’t so bright since the readings were so dense for this week alone.  Gah.  3 essays are coming up in a couple weeks along with a couple labs, a more formal dissertation proposal and more readings.  We’ll see how this balances out with my other big plan I’m preparing.

Mmm…food of the week: I went to a restaurant called Bistro 1, a small chain in London that serves Mediterranean cuisine for a fairly decent price, 7.90 pounds for a small 3-course lunch and 10.90 for a small 3-course dinner.  I went for the dinner after a movie screening.  The restaurant in Soho is in a bit of a shadier area, near the small red light district so its advisable to either go during the daytime or with a friend.  My favorite parts of the meal were the appetizer and especially the dessert.  For the appetizer, I had calamari which came with a small salad.  The salad may not be anything special but the calamari and the respective sauce was tangy and tasty.  The dessert was a banana pie with lines of chocolate all the way across the dessert.  Great stuff.  I had that with a hot chocolate which was also delicious.  The main course, unfortunately, was chicken and rice with salad.  The salad took up nearly half the plate with a very small chicken/rice portion and additionally, not very good.  However, the other two sides made up for it.

Interestingly enough, I was checking my backpack to see if I had something on the way back to the subway station when lo and behold, a drug dealer came up to me and asked if I wanted some marijuana.  I shook my head and said no thank you and briskly walked away as quickly as I could.  This was next to a McDonald’s so I thought it wouldn’t be too bad but I should’ve realized that the strip club and the adult DVD store would be places for more shadier things to happen.

That same night, the movie I watched was Ninja Assassin.  The interesting thing to always note about the UK is that films have a weird schedule compared to the US.  Sometimes, they come out simultaneously as the US like Avatar while other times, they come out even earlier or much later as in the case here with this ninja film.  By the way, the film isn’t too hot.  A lot of CG, a lot of gore, and a lot of action but little in terms of plot and character.  Still, it was a free pre-screening so I didn’t complain and I got to see a new movie theater in itself.  It was quite nice called CineWorld in a old school building so the architecture had a nice look and there were people dressed up like ninja.  Joy.

Sunday night, I got to see a special preview of ‘Princess and the Frog’ which also had not yet been released in the UK.  One, I got to see another new theater, the National Film Theater 1 which is a nice, new style theater with recliner seats and just a nice aura to it all with the lighting.  Second, the directors, Ron Clements/John Musker, were there afterwards for Q&A along with senior animator Andreas Deja and voice actress Anika Noni Rose.  It was pretty enjoyable with a good amount of insight into how 2D animation came back after almost dying away and just the whole love affair they all had with New Orleans.  By the way, the movie is much better than I expected and even though it may not be as good as ‘Up,’ it makes me long to go to New Orleans and for more 2D animation.  I also got to shake their hands and have a quick chat with the two directors.

So yea, another week…kind of interesting but yea…preparing for major things coming ahead both for my school and for others…

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[Note: Apologies, seems like I put this in the wrong section. Heh. All is fixed!]

Hm.  So yea, I’m back in London.  Haha.  I should be feeling a bit more thrilled since I really do like the city but yea, the weather really does reflect my mood: murky, gray, and constantly either foggy/raining/snowing.  Why?  It’s a number of different…’things’…that lie on my mind both physically and emotionally.  Yet I know that I need to soldier on, being 1/3 of the way through with the current school year (although work-wise, I know I’m about to hit the hardest part soon enough).   But please, don’t think I’m constantly depressed or emo.  It’s just a different, more solemn mood that I guess works with how London is at the moment anyways.

I arrived Monday morning after one of the not-so-great flights into the airport.  Air Canada is a flight carrier I probably won’t take again.  I had a layover in Edmonton, Canada after about a 5-6 hour stint up in the air and boy, it surely had to be one of the worst flights to be on.  My entertainment system was down.  My Ipod ran out of juice.  Three children, strategically placed to the front, side, and backside of my seat were placed and of course, all wailing throughout the entire flight, and all food had to be paid for.  On the ground, Edmonton, I realized, (at least the airport) was located in the middle of nowhere.  It made for a pretty scenery shot as I post here yet it really does not make a battered man feel much comfier.  Passing through Canada customs, lugging my luggage again through security were the worst parts.  Sbarro, luckily, was a better highlight of the layover.  The flight to the UK was better for sure.  The larger plane had some groovy light shows on the actual inside of the plane (colors soothingly change from blue to orange).  Think ‘Star Trek’ and when a ship goes into ‘red alert’ mode or something at least similar to that.  And yea, the entertainment system was working…after the crew reset it 10 million times and had it functioning about halfway through the flight.  Heh.  A large list of complaints?  You bet.  What I’m glad, though, in the end, is that I think I have my list of air carriers I will take if possible to the UK: British Air and Air New Zealand.  🙂

I landed Monday morning, about 3-4 hours before class.  Note, I’ve done this before after Thanksgiving.  I had one day of lecture luckily and afterwards, I ran home and yea…had a nice long rest all day.  Tuesday had two more classes come up, one lecture and a seminar.  The great aspect about this term is technically, there are few classes.  Mondays and Tuesdays are my only consistent days of classes while I have labs and dissertation meetings coming up scattered throughout the rest of the days.  Makes life a tad bit easier for the first couple of weeks at the very least although as I mentioned before, things will ramp up midway through the term mostlikely.

Another interesting part about the week (and arriving in London) was it snowed right before I came and midway through the week.  Note, it’s great to watch snow fall to the ground.  Very lovely.  It’s not fun to walk through ice-laden sidewalks.  Of course, I shouldn’t be complaining as much since London has a team of great ‘custodians’ that go through the streets in the weekday morning and literally clean as much as they can before the morning commute.  But yikes, slipping and sliding on the London sidewalks makes for a…fascinating sight to say the least.  However, it really was beautiful to see just to make the point clear.  I do hope it snows once more to actually get to play in it (I was way too tired and still recovering from the flights to do much).

And finally, I went to Cha Cha Moon, a Chinese restaurant opened by a guy that has a popular chain of ramen houses (that aren’t really that good when stacked up to actual ramen).  It was listed as a relatively cheap and good place to eat.  For most part, the food was alright.  Standard noodle fair for a pretty decent price.  I really shouldn’t complain since I’ve been living off of Subway literally for the past week and having Cha Cha Moon was indeed a treat.  However, the rice and the tea especially were the low points while the noodles were definitely the higher part of the meal.  The area itself was interesting too, right by a popular shopping district yet still kind of tucked away in an alleyway.  Go figure.

Cheers and see you next week!

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Hi everyone.  Gosh, it’s been a while since the last update.  I just arrived to London this past Monday and have been kind of bombarded by a lot of work…namely a final essay due this upcoming Monday which I have finally nailed the topic down.  Joy.  If all goes well, I hope to be done with the bloody essay soon to finally get back to my reviews and a decent blog post.

Until then, I have updated the header of the page with something that reflects London in the past week.  It’s a picture of a small park I pass by everyday on my way to get food.  However, I realize it’s all not that pretty or stylish and hope to rectify that in the coming days when I can explore the city more.  Until then, though, enjoy the white London heading and hopefully coming soon with a much better update.  Cheers.

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