too many titles for this post

"Sing with me on the quayside
sing by the light of the moon
Dance through a carpet of coal dust
torn from mother earth's womb.
Watch as the tall ships are passing
proud with white sails unfurled
Loaded with wealth from the valleys
bound for the rest of the world."

-Inscription at Cardiff Bay

A view of the Brecon Beacons, Pen-y-Fan in the background and Talybont lake.

The little town of Talybont-on-Usk, population must be less than 500.

The bike.

" Do not all charms fly
At the touch of mere philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine-
Unweave a rainbow..."

Keats, Lamia

I happen to be reading "Unweaving the rainbow" by Dawkins... more on that later.

"I'll take the rain." Sun moves quickly to rain and mist in these parts.

sparks and mensa.

if you don't get it you don't get it. i didn't. she did.

london takes a different hue when exams are over. it slows down a bit somehow.

i was just surfing around blogs for a few moments and i realised how fast everyone else's lives seem to be moving because they've distilled all that fast-paced action into a few lines of text. it makes one feel rather laggard but here goes.

post-exam brought with it the usual sigh of relief. economic history wasn't that difficult because faced with blank paper facts rush in to fill the void. kev, shar and zl came over, although i don't really have any photos because it was exam time for me. brought them out to crush just in time for post-exam revelry.

but apart from that just relishing the chance to walk around and to read. yes get that, immediately after the exams i go get myself a book. i used to not like richard dawkins so much because he used to put himself out in a rather arrogant sort of way as if one could never understand why there should be religion in this world. but reading "unweaving the rainbow" has convinced me that there is a nice side or at least a pretend-to-be-nice side in this guy (after all don't you argue that communication is manipulation?) read through freakanomics because it looked completable and michelle has tempted me with a book on "the paradox of choice", which has tempting pictures of the kanehmann-tversky value function. i am convinced simple curves have names tagged onto them to make them sound cooler than they are i am convinced.
then again i wonder if i should spend my time reading more economics considering this is what i'm doing during term time and although they look at it at a rather more unconventional way i am wary of simply trying to read economics. sometimes the words lie, and i am an easily convinced person.

Apart from that I have been stressing over packing. You wonder how your sprawled out life could ever fit into those boxes, especially if you're the kind of person who is a fire hazard (i don't mean almost burning down the kitchen because you microwaved a croissant for five minutes on a non-microwaveable ceramic plate, haha how the fuck did you do that you know who you are). it did once before when i left singapore and it did once again. i love switching habitats but i wonder whether my fragile constitution will be able to take that much moving, especially if i have to move again at the end of next year. At the same time I always get a real kick out of going to Ikea at Edmonton and seeing what I would buy for my place if I had proper money. And the bus back, although it took forever to come and forever to get back, cut through a whole swathe of London and a little glimpse of how cosmopolitan it was as the ethnicity of the bus passengers changed as it cut through Haringey and then Islington and so on. And the neighbourhood near Ikea had so many Ikea workers I wondered what would happen if Ikea moved out of the 'hood.

I've always wondered where I got that sudden impulse to jump on a train to Wales. I could have gone to Romantic Rome or Voluptuous Venice, but I think something at me balked at the hassle of flying and just going to far. Or it balked at holding a city map wondering which junction to cross again. As it is Snowdonia was out because Virgin trains refused to cooperate and they were doing engineering works at Euston. So i took a pencil and I dropped it onto a map and it said "Brecon Beacons". Beautiful Brecon Beacons.

"The Brecon Beacons provoke a sweeping, spotlit, pearl-grey light. The curving muscular hills, in places almost an edible green, in others, blue burgundy and ochre, are stibbed with thick dark trees and creased by gorges. Underneath lies red sandstone, which has weakened to form this range of rounded ridges, rising and falling like a great, green sea."

Well first of course one has to get there and it was Cardiff first on "First Great Western Trains." Cardiff central was a bit like what I expected Western frontier railways stations to be like, made out of a lot of wood and very functional. Next to it was the spanking new Millenium stadium where Cheltenham were playing Grimsby in the playoff final for promotion to League One. very noisy. We tried some welsh stuff (cawl, faggots, rarebit etc) and were talking to some elderly Cheltenham fans. He thought cawl was chinese soup but he was english after all. Cheltenham were the underdogs, everyone was hoping for penalties. they had the nicer fans too and it must be the whole town coming for the biggest match of their lives on 47 buses.

As I journeyed through BBNP (Brecon Beacons National Park) the combination of beautiful scenery, fresh air and loads of time threatened to induce a personal crisis in me. When you see camper vans, forest information centres and winding hill roads you're reminded of all the nature holidays you had... from some forest in ipoh on geography field trip to all those trips your dad took you to New Zealand or Yosemite. I can understand why my dad doesn't like cities. You slog so hard in cities for so long and on a holiday you want to get insanely lost again? But then again, you climb so many mountains in army then now still want to climb again? but well, some things you like. cycling down the A40 was simply brilliant as it weaved its way through the hills and the valleys and sudden vistas and it was far less torturous than the country roads up and down. well-tarred roads are better to tour on.

And there all my economics seemed to melt away. Of course you can ask questions. Why does Royal Mail still serve towns of less than 200 people? How do they manage it? But faced with the leaves and trees and flowers of which you know so little they threatened to expose your ignorance. and after all, if it's all about paring things down to the essentials, i think they're the bare minimum you need to live after all. some fruits and leaves.

with a map in your hand and illusions of independence, you realise you could be jumping from hill to hill all your life and still not have walked everything "but you don't have to!" there was an old couple in front of us on the trail and there i was 50 years later still walking on old trails. i had perspective again, perspective i had as a kid but it's not very pretty perspective. hurling yourself into life and not wondering too much about it is not entirely honest but it's easier to take. and i know now why reading doesn't have the same pleasure. when i was younger i could do nothing but i could read everything. i am older now and i can do more, but at the same time i have so much less potential. different fields are becoming closed to me, i can no longer convince myself that i will be a 17 year old teenage prodigy playing for liverpool and with that goes some of my amazement and wonder. i guess that's why we have cities. but the sheep were soooo cute. but i dread having to fence my land.

On the way back I passed by Merthyr Tydfill for a change of bus. It's a coal-mining town and there's post-industrial blight. So many of the shops are closed... employment bureaus, and this is deindustrialisation brought to life. As is most of Wales really. Cardiff seems fine but it can be a rough place too. But the people in these parts seem to have a certain soul about them.

i realised how you can try to imagine what someone else is doing at that particular moment when you have not much to do. and i realised for the few months prior that has been it exactly i've been snatching at it a little. i haven't really had time to think about what i have, what i did, or even to enjoy the happy moments by replaying them all over again in my head as i used to do. and i think i should.

but then again i am rushing things again i am rushing off to ireland. it's funny how i rush to try to find the "still point of the turning world." so that, then, cannot be my excuse, its something else.

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