Friday, March 30

A Man Without A Country

"Electronic communities build nothing. You wind up with nothing. We are dancing animals. How beautiful it is to get up and go out and do something. We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you different."

"I am going to sue the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, manufactures for Pall Mall cigarettes, for a billion bucks! [...] And for many years now, right on the package, Brown and Williamson have promised to kill me. But I am now eighty - two. Thanks a lot, you dirty rats. The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon."

"[...] Do you know why I think George W. Bush is so pissed off at Arabs? They brought us algebra. Also the numbers we use, including a symbol for nothing, which Europeans had never had before."

Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, March 29

How I wish ...

The day had 36 hours! This would give me 12 hours to sleep and 24 hours to work/climb/read (not necessarily in that order - work should be last). Just went to the library to get some books, I ended up with a performance analysis tome and three of Kurt Vonnegut's novels: "a man without a country","slaughterhouse five" and "cat's cradle". I hope we will be reading vonnegut for this book club I'm in, i am reading "a man without a country" now and I cannot stop.

I should be working of course, but because my latex crashed inexplicably - i cannot remove it, i cannot purge it, dpkg gives an out of this world error that i can't even find on google, so i decided to reinstall linux. Yup, that's what I am doing right now, reinstalling linux (and still able to blog, how cute!) I would have installed Feisty Fawn, but my gaim client crashes with it, so i am still stuck with edgy eft.

So much for the geeky talk, back to more important issues. First, the sleep problem. I truly need my beauty sleep, you know ... If I don't go to bed by 12 am max, I turn into this grumpy, spaced out person ... The problem is that I wake up around 6 am every morning without any alarm clock, so I really need to go to bed early. If i don't get enough sleep my face gets twenty years older, so I must avoid that also. One thing that makes me envious of singaporeans is their capability to power nap. You don't know what "power nap" is? It's a term christer and i invented during the climbing trip to Kuala Lumpur last year, and it is used to describe the singaporean's secret knack at being able to fall asleep whenever sleeping occasions occur: like during bus rides, long taxi rides, on the matresses in the gym, virtually anywhere possible, given a time span of more than, let's say ... five minutes. We would take a cab to batu caves (christer, kesheng, john and i), get in the cab, talk for a while, and then BOOM! Sleep bomb!! Christer and i would find ourselves left alone to chat: john and kesheng being out for the trip. I wish i could do the same, i suppose you get some secret energy boost from it. Even so, I don't think it's actually sleeping, more like dozing off, because i can't explain how someone who looks like sleeping is able to get off at the right bus stop. Anyhows, kudos for being able to do it, I can't!

Last but not least, starting tomorrow my training begins. Marian has cooked up some evil training scenarios, which include an everyday trip to kent ridge carrying 15 kg, climbing (carrying 15 kg) on the vertical wall in the gym (for matterhorn), running and conditioning.

When, oh when, will i be able to climb extra, go to school, work, read and sleep? To quote my aunt-in-law's late dad, god rest his soul, "you'll sleep when you're dead"!

Wednesday, March 28

Boulderactive on my mind

It's been three days now, and still I have the buzz in my head. I did not know that helping with a bouldering competition can be such an addictive experience. From helping in setting the routes, to the F1 team (the people that clean out the routes after a category finishes and sets the routes for the next one), to judging, and, my favorite activity, blowing the whistle. You see, the whistle is very important, as it helps climbers manage their time, so I felt important for a change :)

Last but not least, the Open categories ... Omg those people really climb at a different level!!! I saw Beatrix Chong climb for the first time in my life and she really really is impressive! And Salfarina Mohd Drus, i mean omg, her biceps is the size of my leg, and i'm no flamingo bird if you know what I mean... I don't know the name of that Open climber from Malaysia that won the open, but he is my new found idol! He is so smooth in climbing without being massive ... yummy... (I just discovered after seeing the pictures that I am one of those massive climbers, and i am so sad ... Fret not, I'll try to find a way to lean myself down)

How did the competition go for me? It was and still is the sickest joke of my life. Here's why. In qualifiers rounds I couldn't finish any route, but I got the bonuses, which got me in the finals (why? why?) In the finals, I couldn't start on the first route, which left me crying for my 3 and a half minutes of rest. I mean literally crying. Why I was crying, I can't say, out of spite I suppose, out of suddenly realizing that I suck at climbing? Second route, I got to the bonus, but instead of going for the nearest tile, I tried to go for the farthest ... WRONG! Third route I flashed. Needless to say it is the first route I ever finished and flashed in a competition/mock comp ever! It involved a small jump for me to the ending tile, and it was very hard for me to focus and really give it a shot, seeing how usually I fall just before the end. But I managed to control meself and I am really proud of it. Fourth route, you can imagine i couldn't ... So, I got third place! Which gets me into OPEN!!! You know ... the open cat I was talking about just now ... aaaaaaaaaaa

Anyhow, lessons learned: the routes we set for ourselves in the gym are much much too easy. I should do more leg raises (for the roof route ... i couldn't step), I should train harder...

Things are back to normal otherwise, my ankle still hurts, M. mentioned the "M" word ... as in Matterhorn, but only if I do well ... So, that's about it :)

Wednesday, March 21

Yeah kids, It's here!

Boulderactive is here (or it's going to be starting from Friday, anyway), but I just got a feel about how it's going to be since last night.

So, we set routes and tested them last night until maybe 12 - 1 am, then watched Dosage IV (omg Dave graham's finger tip was brrrrrrrrrrrrr - for those who haven't seen dosage IV ... david graham totally cuts the tip of his index finger when going for a very sharp crimp), then mei fen, liu li and I went to sleep or tried to, anyway ... Thanks to liu li i had a jacket cause i forgot to bring mine!

Anyhow, cherlyn and vincent set and tested some sick brain route on the slab wall until 3 am, and i finally managed to get some sleep around 5 am. I woke up around 8, and just left, came home and went to sleep again until one. I came to school but of course I cannot work now, because I am very very dizzy, as I always am when I don't get enough sleep.

Performance wise, I have a very sharp wrist pain and my ankle is not doing so good, so I am pretty sure that I will totally screw it up. That's why I am planning to have as much fun as possible. Last night instead of writing down the routes I took photos of them, so now I have to centralize the data when i get home (which is going to be pretty darn soon). I will try to put up a photo of last night, one that doesn't have the routes in it, mind you, it's hush hush...

Monday, March 19

Updates from the front

This is your favorite GI reporting live from the outskirts of research! The army's ankle is doing fine, but still our combat unit was unable to climb today due to enemy pressure in the west region. However, we managed to do some pull ups this morning on the campus board.

We were ambushed in our 9 am siege of the gym by Nita who had been climbing since 7 (must follow the example set by other units and give more to our Climbs) and by Jensen who came to bring in some ammo (shoes).

We are still feeling amazingly full after last night's dinner in the mess hall: swiss rosti with poached salmon for the ladies and sausages for the gents.

Over and out

Sunday, March 18

A series of unfortunate events

Marian decided on the spur of the moment on Friday to join the new interns' field trip in Malaysia yesterday and had a really great time from what he tells me. I wish I could say the same about me though ...

First of all I had trouble sleeping, probably due to the long phone call I had with m. on friday evening about our plans for the expedition(s). Anyhow, i managed to get up, dressed and head for training, while still being a little dizzy. Got to climb asia and started to climb, but I was feeling a bit tired after my prolonged climbing session + run with Cherlyn on friday, so the climb wasn't that extraordinary. Anyhow, since it was very very crowded downstairs, I nearly dragged Nita upstairs to a much lighter (climbwise and airwise) environment.

I started to try out Daniel's route which involved a standing up from a sit-in. Definitely NOT my favorite since I cannot for the life of me do that. Anyhow, I fell. With my right leg (again) between the mattresses (what are the chances of that!??) and on the wooden floor (I don't know if it was wooden, but it felt like it). I heard a snapish sound (looking back, it was more like the sound of one bone griding over another), and then PAIN. It was more painful than any broken/torn/sprained/cut limb I have ever had before. It brought tears to my eyes and I think i frightened the girls when I started to cry.

Anyhow, the boss was there in no time with the mandatory pack of ice, they got my leg elevated and all that. The girls told me how Vincent had a bad dream on Friday of how one of the guys will get injured on Saturday during the training! He was close, what can I say, I'm no guy, but I am a tomboy, so ... I finally regained movement in my toes in about half an hour, so everything seemed alright, except that BOULDERACTIVE is coming NEXT WEEK and I needed to be able to climb!!!! So Yixiang came up with this wonderful idea for him to take me to his sensei (chinese doctor) for him to have a look at me.

We took a taxi, got there, Y. talked to the auntie (older lady) there (no english, please!), got me registered, and we started waiting. And waiting, and waiting. My leg was not swollen (almost half as it was last time), but the pain was big, but I was still feeling a bit awkward when this girl came in with a whoa! swollen ankle. Eh, we all have our pains and ailments ... I finally got in to see the sensei. He looked at my ankle, probed a bit here, a bit there, then he said that since I only sprained it two hours ago, he cannot rub it (thank God!!!), but that he is going to do acupuncture (Shit shit shit!!!). Did I tell you how much I hate needles?!!? Ever since i was stuck two weeks in the hospital and had a penicillin IV once every 6 hours (on the outside of your palm it's the most painful) i totally loathe needles.

Anyhow, he put one needle just below my knee, which got my whole lower leg feeling numb. Came back a while later and twisted a bit on the needle and got my leg feeling number ... The pain was going down in the ankle, anyhow ... Came back a little later and took that needle out and stuck one on the inside of my left wrist, just below the palm. Yikes! I was thinking "I hope you don't hate amos (amo - white/red head - pejorative) dear dear uncle!!" My middle finger and my ring finger suddenly felt like thousands of spines were stuck in them. He got me to move my right foot up and down for a while, and that was it (if he would have come to twist the needle in my palm i would have run, guaranteed)!! He put some clay like thing and wrapped it around my ankle, it felt really really cool and calming! He said to come on monday, but I won't go if I'm ok! Everything seems to be ok for now :)

I left and called my grandma in Romania to tell her about the wonders of acupuncture (she has rheumatism). I finally managed to get home where I took a black pepper salmon with rice takeaway , got into bed with a book, two bananas and the food, read/slept/read/slept/read/slept/slept till today!! Marian called me at one point from Malaysia, asked me if everything is allright (i said yes), then he asked "no broken bones, legs, anything?!" So i couldn't go on lying and just blurted it out, I hope it did not ruin his trip.

I wanted to go climbing today, but marian is totally against it and it feels like I should give my ankle a rest also, so I will be climbing tomorrow, just before they're taking down the tiles (so sad)...

Friday, March 16

A name and a face

Hurray! I finally have a name and a face for all the peaks that we are going to attempt in december - january! [drums drumming in the background]
Ladies and gentlefolks, the peaks in the order of height are as follows:
1. Aconcagua - 6972 m

2. Guallatiri - 6071 m

3. Parinacota (pictured) - 6342 m

I can't wait! It's so good to have a name for those peaks! M. says that we are going to do another one if we have the time. Guallatiri and Parinacota are volcanoes! Guallatiri last erupted in 1960, Parinacota erupted last in 290 AD +/- 300 (how small is 300 in volcano years if you can plus/minus it!!!)

Disclaimer: those peaks are not difficult climbwise, they involve minimum ice climbing (for the last two), and just good training for Aconcagua (if you take the normal route, which I think we will ... although my feet ache for the polish route)

Since we still are on a climbing related tone, Boulderactive is coming! It's probably the most important bouldering competition of the year, it's organized by us, so the pressure is [VERY] high! I am trying to get as much climbing in as possible, before they get the tiles down from the gym, so this is why I've been so silent. This year I am in intermediate category, but from my point of view I am a very well trained novice, so no striking performances from me... The target is for all the girls to qualify for the finals (wtf?!), but I'm trying to ignore it and to put a more positive target on the canvas, like maybe, climb my best, enjoy the comp and the organizing and all that.

Copyright: The photo is taken from Peakware and the author is Edilson V. Benvenutti. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 14

Geeky questions, Ltd

Why, oh why is this happening to me?
Why do I have to restart the bloody winblows because it refuses to see my flash drive?
How can I mount a flash drive in windows from command prompt?
How can a flash drive get BURNED in windows?
Why does it take five minutes for windows to restart?
Why is it that it takes ten minutes after the reboot in winblows for my computer to manage to breathe?
Why doesn't winblows see the flash even after I gave it a reboot (it had maybe one week of uptime, can you imagine that?)

Why does skype consume so many resources (I know the answer to that question, but it needn't be so, right?)

Why is it impossible for an application developed in dot net to run on a windows platform, even if it is an exe file?

Is there any linux application that makes installers for windows?

Is there any ide for fast gui development ide, such that I won't need to use vs2005 and can get on happily with my life in linux? (Omg, I never realized how comforting the Ubuntu splash screen is ...)

Why can gaim put my various accounts into one bucket, such that I don't have to worry about being logged on or not, and yahoo!messenger cannot?

Why do I have to do this, instead of simple, snuggy research?

What happened to all my pet projects? Am I comfortable with dedicating all my free time to training?

Tuesday, March 13

Kina baloo

Just found the purrrrrfect training place. It's a 500 m 50 degrees something slope right here close to the school!! It takes me 6 minutes to go up and down it. Last night I only managed to go 4 times, cause I had just upped the weights (I think I am close to 12 kg by now), and it took me about 20 minutes to get there. Cool!!! I was getting sick of going around the campus, plus the hills are not that challenging.

I have booked kinabalu also, they didn't have anything available on the 31st of may because it's a private holiday, but they did give me a slot in for the 12th of June!
Yupii! So I am traveling in the middle of the week! How cool is that?

I also booked the flight, it was cheaper than on the 31st! (only costs S$125 for the return ticket) I also bought a S$7.5 Air Asia insurance, I wonder what it covers...
Mt Kinabalu - 12th - 14th of June Here I come!

I still haven't figured it out how I will get from Kota Kina baloo to the kina baloo park, but I have 3 months to figure it out, don't I?

Monday, March 12

Manic Monday

Mmmm, after running 10 km last night, talking to me mom until ten something, then watching "Volver" until midnight, you can imagine my reluctance in getting out of bed this morning.

This weekend was quite full: I went to training on saturday, where of course I sucked (after my previous bragging on friday), then I came home and slept a good part of the day, eventually woke up in the evening, had dinner at this wonderful thai restaurant where they have the clearest tom yam soup (they didn't put as much seafood as they used to, though) and went to see "Letters from Iwo Jima". In the end got to bed around one. I am not a night person, really, I hate going to bed late, especially since I wake up at six (no alarm clock needed) every damn morning.

Sunday was a bit quieter, we spent the whole morning cleaning the apt, then in a futile attempt to save some moneys we went to buy something for me to cook. Ended up with marian eating at kfc. I didn't give up though and cooked poached salmon with white sauce and potatoes on the side. Mmmmmm .... No pictures yet, I left bobby at home, but I will upload one tonite. After eating we got around to play one hour of tennis, where I whopped marian's behind, with a great score of 4-3 at games. How can those people play 5 sets I wonder, when it took us so long???

Things to do today include: WAKE UP!!!! and making reservations for kinabalu - i wrote them an email but no reply yet, so i will call. Over and out.

Friday, March 9

Good news

Pssst! Psst! Over here! Shhh! Shhh! Don't let anybody hear me, or else things might start to go wrong! I have some good news to tell today ... I think my climbing is getting better! By a small notch, but still, it is something to brag about... Last night was the first time in a long long time that I left the gym without feeling like a total loser, so I am quite happy about it! I am whispering because absolutely every time I start to brag or be happy about anything in my life, things start to go downhill really fast, so I am trying to keep this one very secret.

Today is the day when I make reservations for Mount Kinabalu.
Proposed departure date: 31st of May.
Proposed return date: 3rd of June.
Estimated budget: $$.
Estimated training level: -- (as in minus minus)

I hope it won't be crowded, because it is a school holiday, but I think it will be ok if I make reservations early like this (I have to reserve a bed at a hut at 1500 m) Also I must book a guide. I think the whole point of guides on Mt Kinabalu is not to help tourists get to the top (it has stairs for crying out loud!) but to prevent tourists from wandering around unsupervised in the jungle and destroying everything.

Anyhow, it's going to be a great experience, I will get to see how I handle altitude, I will try to make the climb really fast (in Kinabalu you actually climb the whole 4100m, since you start from sea level, not like in the Alps for example - not that they are actually comparable, the Alps make up for it by their difficulty) and at the same time carry a load similar to the alps - maybe I can get my guide to let me carry his stuff? That would be so cool!

Thursday, March 8


We went to see "300" last night. If you still can find it in you to take in a hero story, please please go see it! Go see it in a cinema, don't pirate it! It's really worth it. Although it was not as stupendous and fantastic as the trailer and marian wanted it to be, it's still a wonderful story, very well told. Leonidas is really a figure to remember, not as much as Xerxes, though. They did a really good job at portraying the Persian army as I think the greeks saw it - the allegories were subtle, but not so subtle as not to be caught by most ;). On the other hand, I think they overdid it on the last battle scene, for me at least there was so much ketchup flowing at one point that I was getting quite bored. I also didn't like the men, did they really have abs like that? Wrapping it up: courage, determination, freedom, madness. I like!
Overall grade on imdb for me: 8.

PS. I am still amazed that they let the movie go on without censor, it's really quite something for Singapore.

Tuesday, March 6

On my way to school

It's amazing how you start to notice things when you have a camera hanging on your neck. It's the search for the best subject for your photos that gets you to notice things, I guess. I'm sure I would not have seen the leaves falling and the humming birds humming had I not had Bobby (that's my camera) with me, even though I am quite observant (I once noticed an eagle flying above a very crowded mountain town, you know).

I have been trying to take Bobby to school for about three weeks now, and this morning I finally remembered to take him. I would have wanted to catch a picture of Adolf, the cat that looks like Hitler (Adolf is not his/hers real name) but apparently he was in a very important meeting. Adolf hangs out with this big black cat (Rommel?) on a patch of green next to an HDB. Besides Adolf and Rommel, right next to the HDB, there are at least twenty - thirty pigeons every morning (I guess they are fed by some people there). The pigeons swirl and swarm, but Adolf and Rommel pay absolutely no attention to them, being very very busy with the affairs of state. I hope that one of these mornings I will be able to get an audience with Adolf. Rommel ignored me completely today, so the shots of him are not very nice either.

Monday, March 5

Geek fight!!

Or .. The geek fight that could've

It all happpened with Andreas bragging on friday about how he managed to install Aiglx and Beryl on his edgy eft distribution and how it was all looking nice and dandy. That gave birth to a sneaky plan in my not so sneaky mind: go home, secretly install edgy eft (i had dapper drake) , install aiglx and beryl and then rub it in Marian's face!! Him with his macos and his eye candy!!! I can have iCandy too!!

I would have installed them on my machine at school but i had a test with my supervisor and I was really really really stressed: what if i wrote something so absurdly stupid that he couldn't face me no more? Unfortunately, i bragged to marian BEFORE i managed to get around doing it (busy weekend climbing and visiting looserland).

This proved to be a tactical mistake. Last night, as i was crawling into bed for a well deserved rest, marian was getting ready to install feisty fawn (i really don't want it, cause it's still not bug free it seems) on my computer. So i guess i lost the geek fight that could've ...

Marian is definetely a better geek than i am! Hoooray!!!!

Sunday, March 4

I've been to looserland

Yesterday.Mock comp at the school gym. Intermediate cat. Just us, the powerpuff girls.

I started first, because i don't like to hear everybody cheering for somebody else and me wondering if the route is hard or anything. Four routes, 3 and a half minutes for climbing, 3 and a half minutes for rest. To make a half an hour story very short, i only managed to finish one of the routes, one that everybody else finished.

First of all, my mind was somewhere else during the climbs, because otherwise i cannot understand how i could've missed some footwork. Could it be because i was nervous (scared shit) ?? I dun know, probably ... Second of all, due to over gripping the tiles, i was pumped dead after the first route (which involved a launch ... needless to say i didn't finish that one) The second route was too crammed, the third route involved a jump, so i barely got it together at the last route. Charlene (aka The Mouse), Sandra and Shumei finished three routes. I was not the only one with a bad day, the same seemed to happen to Ning Feng, who, after telling me to relax and focus on the mental part, he went and totally ruined his first two routes, but in the end pulled it together for the last two. Good for him! Needless to say my day yesterday was totally ruined, went and got a case for my ipod - even though the new generation ipods seem to pe scratch proof, they're not! - shopping therapy, had some dinner and afterwards got into bed with a good book (saw "dead's man chest", it sucked).

Today however, i went back to the gym and tried the routes again, competition style, with marian timing me (i'll go again later but this time i'll decrease the resting period). Couldn't finish the last route now, but finished the crammed route. First route was still impossible, but after the mini sets i figured it out: there was this two finger pocket in which i was not stuffing my finger's properly, only putting in the first 2 thirds of my fingers, must've thought i was a guy or something, to have that much finger strength!! The third route (the one with the jump) is still impossible. I realized that when i am not stressed i am not overgripping the tiles (no shit, sherlock!)

My take on how things are going is this: either i am growing weaker or the routes are getting harder. Anyhow, i just wanted to say that i've been to looserland and it ain't pretty!

Thursday, March 1


When i said that i am a dog in chinese zodiac, i meant of course that i am loyal, playful, hard-working etc (not modest as you can see). However, there's another image of the dog that portrays i r: the image of the stray dog walking in the rain, tired, hungry, but who continues to walk to somewhere, not giving up his purpose. Well ... that's how i feel now.

Firstly, M just upped the stakes a bit, including some 6000 peaks in the andes, besides aconcauga. This is so accidentally cool! However, it involves around 30 something working days of leave (instead of the paid 20), which means that i either have to get my supervisor to agree to pretend i only left for 20 days (i really don't like this, one thing is for me to lie, but making another lie is really beyond my understanding), or to take extra 10 non-paid days of leave. I will try to contact whoever is responsible here at NUS, maybe i can get a sort of special leave or something, in exchange for a photo exposition. It will also mean an extra 2 weeks worth of moneys for me. Since i am not rich (read ... i am always NEARLY BROKE) this means that i really really gotta start saving.

So the sacrifices start now. I was planning to go to the Phantom of the Opera show that is showing here this spring. I am not so keen on Sarah Brightman but i absolutely love Webber, so i would have paid the moneys (the cheap 70 bucks ticket of course), but now, in the grand scheme of things, i gotta give up on it. As a consolation, i am now listening to jesus christ superstar.

I will be going to "300" though, the ticket is only 10 bucks and marian has been driving me crazy with it.

I really do not enjoy making choices like these, usually i just go "oh, the hell with it! moneys come and go!" but this time .... aaa

In the quiet words of King Leonidas, via marian: "Spartans! Enjoy your breakfast, for tonight we dine in Hell!"