Wednesday, February 28

It's all in my mind

Yesterday evening during training i learnt a lot about myself. We had to do four sets of power endurance followed by free climbing and afterwards 30 pull-ups in 10 minutes on the campus board. The power endurance consisted of two routes on the 38 degrees wall: do the first route, downclimb to the start of the second route, do the second route, downclimb, end, rest for two minutes then repeat. The purpose of this is to simulate a contest environment where you have 3 1/2 minutes of climbing a route followed by a 3 1/2 minutes of rest. All sounds nice and easy, except that after the two sets i was totally and positively PUMPED. Add to this 3 pull-ups for 20 seconds, rest 40 seconds, repeat 10 times and by the end of it i was DEAD PUMPED! Anyhow, i didn't want to talk about the pump itself, but about how i figured something not so nice about i r baboon.

The thing is, i cannot commit to finishing a route. I get to the end fairly well, but when the last move is difficult or it involves a launch or a higher reach, i just can't go. I thought about it and i reached two conclusions.

One: i cannot throw for something because i never learned how to throw - i am fairly tall (here in asia i can guarantee that you cannot get a height complex) compared to the rest of the girls, so in most of their routes i can use my span to save me from every misery. This is ok, except for the fact that i don't know how to throw (actually i don't trust myself to throw) and i most certainly don't know how to dyno ... It's hilarious to see me jump, i guarantee.

Two: i see my time in the climbing gym as a learning experience. Which is ok, because i am very attentive to my moves, my body, other girls moves and approaches, but for the fact that when it comes to finishing the bloody route i am more content with falling, thinking about it, and then repeating the move/route rather than flashing. Competition => must flash or at least must finish! No time to rest and brood/think!!! Must get myself psyched i suppose. Think angry thoughts or something.

Also, last night while climbing Yap helped a lot, he was repeating while i was climbing: "relax",
"don't overgrip", "commit", "step properly". I will use this as my mantra from now on. I think my brain is my weakest muscle when it comes to climbing, too bad i cannot do pullups with it.

Tuesday, February 27

If at first you don't succeed ...

So I was supposed to go around the campus hauling water bottles with my frail back last night. However, the class i had between six thirty and eight thirty made me sooo sleepy (i have never slept in class by the way, last night i nearly made it) and i had forgotten my knee protection, so i decided to leave it for this morning. The reason why i like to roam the campus at night is simple: i don't want people staring after or at me - i am a curious sight, white girl crawling (walking briskly, i would like to think) up the campus hills during school days. Anyhow, i just had to go, since july is not that far away, boulderactive (bouldering contest) is three weeks away, so ...

I got up this morning at 7 (after repeated attempts to wake up at 6:40, 6:50 - thank god for snooze!), got dressed and came to school. Got here around 7:41. while crossing the street i saw my supervisor's car pass by, needless to say we met in the elevator: "So early?" he says, a grin of apraisal showing on his face. "Actually, i'm going running" i say, shattering his hopes that i might be a good student after all. We talk and talk about the route i am taking (i didn't know the elevator to the sixth floor takes so long, next time i'm taking the stairs), i finally get to the lab, change into my crawling clothes and proceed.

When i get out of SoC, what do you know ... IT'S RAINING! Since i did go to all that trouble to go, i did not give up and completed the route. Nearly fell twice when going downhill cause the sidewalk was very slippery. I passed corneliu on the way, i pretended i did not see him, i'm sure he saw me, the dancing bear.

Notes to self: never do this again during day time; increase the weights - it took me 40 minutes instead of the usual hour; bring extra clothes ...

The thing is, i messaged marian and asked him to bring me a clean t-shirt for my climbing training tonite. He thought i wanted a t-shirt to change INTO AFTER i climb. So now, apart from all the papers, books, two cups, one pair of socks, two stuffed animals, two keyboards, one portable hard drive, ipod, portable calculator, picture of my grandma, that are on my desk, i have put my t-shirt to dry under the desk. Under the desk there is also a copy of the phd thesis and other papers that the guy that was here before left and that i can't bring myself to recycle ... what if the same will happen to my thesis?

Monday, February 26

Chinese New Year day 7

Don't you just love it when certain celebrations take up to a week in festive joy?! Too bad it's not about something that is part of my culture though... So, to sum up this past weekend .... TIRED TIRED TIRED TIRED!

On friday evening i went to my supervisor's home for cny dinner - the whole thing started at seven and ended at eleven (7eleven?) It was quite fun, the food was exceptionally good (i ate like a pig), and apart from seeing my supervisor in shorts there was nothing terrifying about it. Came home around twelve something then left for training saturday at 8. Came back from training around 4. Saturday is the seventh day of the Chinese new year. According to sandra, it's everybody's birthday that day. Soo ... happy birthday everybody!!! For presents please mail them at 32 dover rise ...

Now the training was ... tough, i lead two 6as and my first 6b ever!!! Redpointed them of course, i am still too scared to hang in there till i drop. I am so lame at this, if it's a tough move that goes just about the bolt i'm done, i can't go, i need to rest and think about it... It's really really lame ... Jups said something that made me think though, he was yelling while i was trying to go for this ledge: "come on, just go, like when you boulder!" What do you mean like when you boulder? - simple: the fall i might take is the same as when i would fall bouldering. Easier said than done, though ... Anyhows, i am brooding over this, i brooded over it last night at 10 am when i went running! I managed to finish 12k. I rulz. I also tried a roof top rope, it's really really funny - i fell even though i was not pumped but i was feeling extremely heavy!! Ha ha! Need to lay low on those kaya buns (kaya = a sort of coconut jam)!!! Of course, after you fall you cannot go back!

M. asked me what mountains i am considering for the alps, i told him matterhorn, but that i'd go with whatever he wants. I don't even dare to dream about matterhorn, omg it would be soo great!

Last night we went into town with alex, the new intern (Pictures) and we managed to arrive at the celebrations for the end of cny. It was kinda cool, they even had fireworks. Anyhow, i read my chinese horoscope for this year of the pig (i'm a dog by the way, in case you haven't figured it out yet), and it said that my luck was ok (at least careerwise) but that i would have problems holding on to moneys this year. Well what do you know ... let's see ..

  • 700 euros ticket home

  • 500 euros the alps (at least, not including my way back)

  • 3000 euros aconcagua

  • ??? presents for people back home

Omg i gotta start saving!

Friday, February 23

Purpose of the QE

UUU AAAA!!! I have mentioned the Q and the E! For those not PhD savvy, the qe is some form of examination that graduate students have to pass in order to further pursue their quest for higher knowledge and ... [bla bla bla bla bla].

Now, many a times i have wondered, especially through those empty humid nights (would have said "empty cold nights", but it's not the case here) when i was studying for my first qe, what is the purpose of the QE? My supervisor politely answered that the purpose of the QE is to bring everybody in SoC to a common level of knowledge (through their independent study for the QE) and to test that knowledge through the examination itself, which contains two exams: CS5201 and CS5202. CS5201 will test you in Logics and AI, Algorithms, theory of computation and programming languages, whereas CS5202 will test you in what's left: operating systems, computer architectures, databases and networks. For each of these domains you get ONE question (although it can have smaller questions inside), and for each question you have about an hour to answer. Cool, right??

Problems, anyone? Well ... first of all, as most engineers will know by know, the bottleneck lies in the specification (if you want) of the "common level of knowledge" which depends, in the end, on what the examiner that proposes the question thinks about that "level of knowledge" and what you think is that "common level of knowledge". For example, for this year's computer architecture question, the examiner thought appropriate a question that involved a circuit (and a big one, might i say) and pipeline questions on it. Too bad that what i thought is common level of knowledge (i.e the more general parts of the 883 pages (without appendices) of the Hennessy book ) and what he thought was common knowledge did not interlap. Second of all, how in God's name are you going to bring everybody to the same level of knowledge when some (almost half) of the phd students here don't speak english properly or at least at some level which would allow them to present their "level of knowledge"?

Which led me to the conclusion that the purpose of the qe is purely to prove to the graduate student that IT is the amoeba of the academia food chain. That the graduate student should have no personal life before the qe and loose all form of self respect after the qe. Students that pass the QE will also loose all form of self respect by the act of proclaiming their unprecedented victory (see PhD. Progress). Students that fail, well ... no need to talk about them, is there? The QE should prove to the student that NUS and SoC (or other enforcing faculties, as is the case) have the ultimate say, albeit whimsical, in the student's life and career.

The thing that really really bothers me the most is that if it weren't for aconcagua (for which i need to raise moneys, so i need to stay in soc) and my supervisor, i would just forget about it, fail the qe, convert the phd to masters, pack up and go home to my mountains, my dog and my mom. Not that the moneys are great, mind you, the scholarships in europe are much bigger!! Rent and cost of living is also going up here, but the scholarships are going down ... Amoebas don't need much to live anyhow... And what is also really annoying is that soc is not harvard or yale or whatever to say that their filtering process should be harsh.

Viva la revolucion!

Thursday, February 22

What I do at night

So the story is this: there is this romanian book called "Toate Panzele Sus!" by Radu Tudoran - it's one of the first travelling and adventure books that i have ever read and it sort of spiked up my imagination and made me the compulsive traveller that i am today. I won't go around to tell you what it is all about but the bottom line is that this guy ends up travelling around the word on a ship, following Magellan's route. He fights pirates and all that, falls in love, you know, the perfect recipe for a childhood adventure book.

Anyhow, m., as being the first romanian to ever go around the world in a yacht under romanian pavilion, wants to follow the route that the ship took in the book, and document the whole trip. Quite exciting i would say ... Marian and i are trying to put up a web site for him. It will be housed here - right now only the intro is really working (still alpha though). I am experiencing biig problems because i dun know how to turn a .psd into a nice (i.e that will load up fast) web site - this version that we have right now is quite unsatissfactory (it kinda sucks) - we used Fireworks(tm) for all the button links, but it makes soooo many little gifs (or jpgs) that are quite annoying to watch when loading. Last night around 3 am marian had this idea of using "map" tags, but it was too late for it. I'll give it another shot tonite though.

LATER EDIT: Marian convinced himself that his idea sucks (as i said in the first place, mind you), so we're now back to building the website by hand from scratch, importing layers from the .psd files into gifs and then putting them in the html. Cool! Just didn't get a chance on working on it last night, cause i injured my knee climbing.

Wednesday, February 21

Back to work after CNY

Had the stupidest dream last night/this morning. We were climbing aconcagua and we were just preparing to leave from base camp. There were two ways to the summit that started from base camp: one took the normal route and one took the polish route, going left and right respectively. I was convinced that we were going up the polish route, so, when everybody took a left instead of a right I started to yell and complain that we were supposed to go on the polish route instead of the normal one. We started to argue, black clouds started forming on the polish side. The normal route was bright and sunny. I was screaming and yelling and stomping my feet like I used to do when i was a very spoiled child. Woke up with a headache.

Speaking of headaches, here's the movie that m. made about his and vlad's trip to the alps in 2006. Vlad complains at one point about altitude headaches (will i get those also?) It's in romanian, so don't bother if u don't understand it (unless you want to see the superb scenery). The movie covers Dufourspitze, Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. It left me with a stupid grin on my face (still wearing it! *gush*) cause it got me to imagine me, myself and I on those routes. I can't wait!!! I'd better stop dreaming and start training, july is not that far away (I hate planning this far forward in my life, used to take it one day at a time - it's only for mountaineering though, i still take it one day at a time for the other aspects of my life - whew!)

Monday, February 19

Chinese New Year day 2

I cook, therefore I am. I finally managed to do some cooking today! I cooked: bread crumbed chicken breast with baked potatoes for marian and teriyaki chicken with steamed rice and steamed kang kong with garlic sauce for me!! It was amazingly relaxing (i.e. TIRING)!!! I also managed to get the two dishes done almost at the same time, which is quite a feat considering that our stove has only two burners ... It was quite an implementation of a distributed algorithm, I would say :)

I also found out two important things:
1. In order to steam the rice you also have to boil it first, otherwise it will take AGES for it to be steamed - i boiled another bowl of rice and discarded the one in the steamer in the end, you can imagine how the kitchen looked like!
2. If you leave the kang kong leaves in the steamer for too long, they will loose all their color and become mushy and not so good - i had two versions of kang kong: one mushy and one not so mushy. I also improved the garlic sauce by adding tons and tons of garlic (andreas once said that we romanians would put garlic in pies if we could)

You can see the portrait of the chicken teriyaki. Luckily I remebered to take a picture before eating it all up!

Later edit: Marian complained that i did not take a picture of his dish also and requested that i cook again, take pictures and blog. Soo funny!!!

Friday, February 16

Why the french suck [RO]

Si uite asa am vrut sa jucam tenis de valentines day. Era miercuri, zi de tenis, plouase putin la pranz. Tan tanam! Se duce marian si face rezervari pentru terenul patru de la ora 9 la ora 10. Ne prezentam frumos la 9 fara 5 (8 fara 5 dupa ceasul meu care este setat in continuare - de vreo sase luni - dupa ora Thailandei) cu catel si cu purcel in fata terenului. Si incepem sa vorbim. Ne povesteste mihai despre cat de destepti sunt aia de la OSA (Office of Student Affairs) ... si vorbim ... si vorbim ... si vorbim ... Pe teren, un tip si o tipa. Jucau bine. Muuult mai bine decat o sa joc eu vreodata. Ea se tot uita la noi, si el la fel (intre timp schimbasera terenurile).
Protocolul de la terenurile de tenis zice asa (cel putin asa era pana acuma, sau ma rog, cel putin asa era cu toti asiaticii): il vezi p-ala ca te asteapta sa iesi, il intrebi dc asteapta la terenul tau, incerci sa termini, spui ceva de genul "sorry" si termini in cele din urma. Cei doi insa ... se faceau ca ploua... Se duce marian sa confirme ca intr-adevar avem rezervare si ne hotaram sa intram pe teren. Intram, ne asezam pe marginea terenului, ii zambesc tipului, el se uita la noi, eu zambesc in continuare ... el, nu si nu, nu zice nimic. Banuiala deja imi incoltise in minte: "sa vezi ca e francez!" Pana la urma intreb : "How long do u think it's gonna take?" El balmajeste ceva (cu accent puternic francez) si continua sa joace :) Trecuse deja un sfert de ora din ora noastra de tenis cand in sfarsit se hotarasc sa se opreasca, sa-si adune lucrurile si sa plece (deja si douazeci). Ea ne intreaba inainte de a iesi cand am facut rezervare, ii spun, si pleaca. Si atat! Nu tu sorry, nu tu scuze, nu tu "era un meci important, vroiam sa-l bat pe uratul asta", nimic!
Si te mai intrebi de ce se uita toti cu atata dispret la albi (alb = amo = "roscat" - cu sens peiorativ) - pai daca te porti cu atata lipsa de courtesy cand vorba aia esti printre cei la fel ca tine (mai mult sau mai putin), cand dai de auntie sau uncle pe strada cum te porti?
Iti zic eu: tipi, urli, iti manifesti frustrarile in cel mai nepoliticos mod cu putinta, "you loose face" cum se spune, dupa care incerci sa arati cat esti de bazat aruncand cu un manunchi de bani.

Thursday, February 15

OMG I am going to the ALPS!!!!

M. answered, said it was ok for the 10 days!!!!!! I am so exhiliratingly happy! I went to tell Marian and I frightened Verdi (his colleague) cause I was jumping up and down and grinning! Whew!
Now I gotta tell mom, but then I know she won't mind ... the ten days, maybe eleven ... depends on what flight I can get. I have to check maps and all, see whether I am leaving from Zermatt or from Chamonix, i really hope it is from Zermatt.. the french suck (And I mean really suck ... especially after last night! I will tell all about it in another post)
M. also said that it was indeed a good idea to go Kinabalu before the alps, he didn't say anything about going to kinabalu after the alps .. maybe it won't be necessary.

HA! I gotta train!!! Really hard! I slacked this week, last night and this morning didn't feel like training at all so just played a bit of tennis...

I read about Chirstine Boskoff (hope i got the spelling right) who is presumably dead after being swept by an avalanche somewhere in China (they found the body of her partner, Charlie Fowler), who is/was one of the top female mountaineers. She said in an interview that before her first Everest climb she used to get up at three in the morning, and drive to some hill close to where she lived, and climb that hill up and down, up and down, carrying a very heavy backpack. 3 AM!???? Now that is fucking determination!

I gotta get into focus also!
But I also gotta start working, if I don't work I won't get paid, and then ... mo money, mo problems :)

Wednesday, February 14

down down down

Today I am feeling down. I am in dire need of motivation. I dun feel like working at all... I feel like waking up M. and asking him to answer the email I just sent him.
So, it all boils down to this: we are planning an expedition to Aconcagua in Jan-Feb 2008 (this is why I have been carrying all those water weights around campus). It has been my dream for quite awhile now, but only this year it seems I will be able to raise the moneys to go there. So you can imagine I am quite eager to go. I also wanted to go to the Alps and do some climbing there - i have a picture (no, 2 pictures) of Matterhorn taped to my desk's wall ... so when M. said he's going to the Alps and that I should come you would expect me to be HAPPIE!!!! But I'm not ... Thing is, this month of leave that I am taking is the only one in three years (2006,2007,2008) in which I will be able to go home, so I wanted to spend it at home, if not really at home with my mom (I know she misses me dearly), but at least in the same country... So what to do? I have written to M. and asked if he'll take me for 10 days (he says it will only last 2 weeks, but I know it usually lasts more, especially since I don't have any saying in- "we gotta go back now") - but this means that I can't help with driving back and packing up the tents and all that ... and it feels to me like I'm taking advantage in a way. I feel so troubled, in one place I want to go to the Alps, no matter how long it takes, on the other hand I can't do this to mom, it doesn't feel right.

I only hope that M. understands and will allow me to go for the 10 days and then fly out or smth... But I think that he won't, he'll just say forget it, or smth... Aaaa ... I am so sad, I hate choices like these.

Later edit: thanks to Nita for encouraging me to send the email.

Friday, February 2

White man

"But the White man never guessed at what the Red man saw and heard and felt. The White man bought death and emptiness to this place. The White man cut down wise old trees with much to tell; young saplings with many life-times of life ahead; and the White man never asked, Will you be glad to make a lodgehouse for me and my tribe? Hack and cut and chop and burn, that was the White man's way. Take from the forest, take from the land, take from the river, but put nothing back. The white man killed animals he didn't need, animals that did him no harm; yet if a bear woke hungry in the winter and took so much as a single young pig, the White man hunted him down and killed him in revenge. He never felt the balance of the land at all.

No wonder the land hated the White man! No wonder all the natural things of the land rebelled against his step[...] White man joked that Reds could even track a man on water, they laughed as if it wasn't true. But it was true, for when a White man passed along a river or a lake, it bubbled and foamed and rippled for hours after he had passed."

Orson Scott Card, Red Prophet