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Archive for January, 2006

Chinese New Year

I can’t remember when was the last time I’ve spent New Year with my family or received a wonderful little red pocket (maybe seven years ago?). Being away from family and many of my close friends, Chinese New Year has little difference from any other day, except maybe it gave me an excuse to shirk from works and enjoy a movie borrowed from a friend. Luckily, the movie was very nice. It’s a French firm called Les Choristes (The Choir) and has a fairly simple and elegant plot with a beautiful soundtrack (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372824/). Well, having indulge myself with plenty of ‘tasty but not so healthy foods’ and a lovely movie, I guess I should be satisfied with this Chinese New Year and put my heart back to studies.

 

Happy Chinese New Year to all my friends.

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A Sanctuary

Last Sunday I traveled to a small town near Cambridge called Grantchester to get away from my hectic student life and free my mind from my mid-terms. It took around 20 minutes of cycling along the river to reach the town. Although this time of year is not the best time to visit Grantchester (or anywhere in UK as January is regarded to be the darkest and gloomiest month), I like the place very much. It’s a small, quiet town with little activities going on, so people who’re looking for parties, shopping, or entertainment would probably be disappointed. But those who enjoy the idyllic mood, deep meadows and open sky along with a serene river might fall in love with this place. Whenever I immerse in the vastness of the nature, I feel the power, mysteriousness, and beauty of the universe. It helps put my life into perspective as my worries, doubts, and desires appear so small and insignificant.

 

After freeing my mind in the wide-open field, I went to a nearby tea shop Orchard to have some tea and a delicious cake (not something I can find often in UK). Lots of past famous figures had gathered in this place before. They include philosopher Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, economist John Maynard Keynes, novelist Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, artist John Augustus, and poet Rupert Brooke. The people I mentioned are friends with each other and often spend their time in Grantchester when they were students at Cambridge. I can see how they come to love this place. Brooke once wrote that Grantchester is a place that will remain ‘forever England’. A great place indeed.

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Lost In Cyberspace

I finished my mid-terms a few days ago. Nowadays I’m less able to force myself to study for exams’ sake. Maybe it’s just an excuse for not studying, but it seems no point to me to cram lots of ideas for the sake of exam without much help in understanding the topics. I’m surprised that even the day before the mid-term, I found myself reading unrelated articles on philosophy, psychology and different blogs online by economists, geeks, and artists. And naturally after seeing many great photos and artworks on the artists’ blogs, I just can’t stop the temptation of sketching and fooling around with drawing software (but too bad I can’t draw what I wanted and inspiration wasn’t on my side either). Luckily I’ve been working steadily throughout my vacation, so I don’t think the exam result would turn out too bad. And I think reading various stuffs online help me appreciates my studies more. Bloggosphere, RSS feeds, and open source online index like Wikipedia make it so easy to get access to information and people’s thoughts and works. Wonderful technology.

 

Here are a few articles I came across today and found interesting.

 

Why Is Economics So Boring?

http://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2005/Coxequation.html

 

How to Do What You Love

http://paulgraham.com/love.html

 

Give interesting thoughts on what does it mean to work on something you like and suggestions toward them. I found it more informative than most self-help books around on getting dream jobs.

 

Viagra and the Wealth of Nations

http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/viagra.html

 

Is Science Killing the Soul

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dawkins_pinker/dawkins_pinker_index.html

Conversations touch upon science, culture, religion, ethics, and aesthetics by two renowned scientists, one biologist and one psychologist, both follow an evolutionary approach.

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Happiness

People generally think it’s good to be happy, and many of us want to be happy and expect ourselves to be happy. But we seldom think about what happiness is. Is happiness a subjective state for the moment, or is it about life as a whole? Even if we know what it is, why should we value it highly or consciously seeking it anyway?

 

A lot of self-help books around these days tell us what a happy life is and ways to find happiness. Some advices may give us insights to our life, but their doctrine of happiness shouldn’t be our expectation of happiness. Unrealistic expectation of happiness such as being happy all the time is unlikely to make us happier.  And since happiness is an abstract and subjective thing, we should find and give our meaning to it.

 

Here’s a suggestion on finding happiness I came across lately from a review on a book about history of happiness. I think the suggestion is fairly sensible. See what you think.

 

“Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness: on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.”

 

-John Stuart Mill

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Exams

Exams are coming and they look scary

Pressure is heightening and I feel worried

 

Need to study and need to revise

To be ready and to be wise

 

Drinking lots of coffee as my mind’s getting weak

Staying up like zombie but the future still looks bleak

 

There’s no time and I know no rhyme

Better stop blogging and get back studying

 

So friends

Don’t be surpirise if I disappear online

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Not a pessimist

I aim to be a better thinker; but find myself continue expressing muddled thoughts

I aim to be a poised man, but find myself continue to be a clumsy, inarticulate guy

I aim to be genuine and true to my heart, but find myself wanting to impress and show-off

I aim to be a better writer, but find my writing inelegant, unfocused, and condescending

 

Despair?

 

No

 

May have to hit more walls, make plenty of mistakes, or appear stupid, but I want to face my incompetence. One day I hope to be able to look back and see how far I’ve traveled and how much I’ve growth. Attaining the aims are nice, but not as important as seeing myself working toward them.

 

 

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of Me.

 

-Emily Dickinson

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Hotpot in Winter

Several Thai friends in Cambridge arranged a surprised  hotpot party for my belated birthday. It’s totally unexpected, and they ingenious led me to it (I guess I lack the  detective instinct of Holmes or Konan). Gathering around a pot, eating and chatting with a bunch of friends was great and gave warmth to the winter. It reminded me of Thailand’s MK and  the uncountable Suki parties my friends and I used to have around these time of year back in Japan.  Nothing beats a hotpot party in the freezing winter.

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