Friday, June 26

The land of the stupid commercials

There's the

- old men/women talking about how they do not want to impose on their children the costs of their funeral and thus they prefer this or that insurance where it doesn't matter how old you are or any medical history, "for just 35 cents a day"

- cyallis or viagra commercial for men to be "prepared when the moment's right"

- class action law suits calling for potential victims of "if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma call this number; if "you work with asbestos or have been diagnosed with " this and that call here

- prescription drug commercial where they do not say what exactly the drug is for but rather how the patient (good looking men or women in their forties) feel after taking it, but "it might cause liver cancer" or "do not donate blood for six months " after taking this or that

- microsoft commercial where people want to search something online and thus they go to microsoft's search engine, "let's bing it!" (WTF?!)

- specific targeted commercial - "our product achieves 15 percent more protection against reflected sun rays than neutrogena" or our cereal is much better than the other cereal

- the computer doctor selling computer savvy cds by phone mail. Dun forget to order the hit "How to buy and sell on ebay"


Thursday, June 25

Lake Placid and Ducktown

Conference updates yay! Now that my presentation is over i get to blog about the conference, yay! Well, to get the nasty things out of the way, the presentation went ok. The conference location is in this amazing place called Lake Placid (photos below). Yeah I wish I could say more but I guess that all I can mutter (it is 12 am for me by singapore time) is UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE. It is a mountain resort, not the rugged-no-vegetation-on-peaks kind that I love, but rather a mellow (the highest peak is about 2500m), lake-y region. Full of tourists and polite people. So many people have been nice and kind (again volunteering random info) that I am almost afraid that your usual american psycho will jump out of the conference rest room and gun us all to death.

The conference room shares a wall with a US Army Recruitment camp & conference. What can I say, their talks are more common sense I guess but also much louder. Hell! at one point they even had a britteney (how do you spell her name) spears soundtrack on some of their (I hope) educational movies. My mom has been roaming the resort while I go to the conference. Tomorrow we'll have a short day (until 12 only) and thus afterwards we will go hiking. Friday we'll also go hiking and then we are off to New York on Saturday (this is a whole-day trip by bus). This would leave us two more days in New York and then off to Singapore (hopefully swine-flu free).

The skies are dramatic but in a harmless sort of way (so far).

This is the place we are staying:

And this is the lake:

Our inn is right on one of the shores of Lake Placid so we get great views of the lake. Also, the duck population seems to fancy us and thus we get a lot of them when we go sit on the chairs by the lake. Below are some results of the photo session with the people of Ducktown.

Saturday, June 20

Sights from JFK

This guy in a black dog suit (I mean the whole dog) holding a drawing of a very red flamingo waiting for his girl. The look on her face when she realized while scanning the crowds that the red flamingo guy in a dog suit was waiting for her. The laugh and the surprise made my sleepy-oh-my-god-i'm-so-tired-where-is-mom day. (It didn't help that she had sent me a text message from Romania saying "if it weren't for the cab company which woke me up i would have lost the plane").

Not being able to board the air train with the trolley and being separated from Mom. Following her in the next train and finding her! (She had all the money and all passports)

All in all my mom and are staying at this wonderful brownstone house with amazing decorations and creaky wooden floors (pictures to come soon) in Harlem! Close to Central Park and the neighborhood is amazing (have yet to spot white people). Hopefully tomorrow we are leaving for Lake Placid. Today the plan is to get bus tickets and then go to central park and the Met woo hoo!!

Thursday, June 18

Last Days in London

I thought I would be a good girl and post the last two days in london before going to the land of the brave and of the free and where all dogs are fat and carry golden pretzels on their tail. Actually the last day wasn't much in terms of pictures because we went to the British Museum. All I can say about it is rock this, rock that, british took this, british took that, mummy this, mummy that, pottery this, pottery that. I actually had a total meltdown after about 5 hours and fell asleep on a bench while brave Marian went to have a look at Africa and Asia.

Windsor castle was great! Even though the attractions weren't much (state apartments and a miniature doll house) -- although to be honest the state apartments were amazing (so many paintings and weapons and stuffs!! -- but I loved the feel of it (I guess I like rock :D).

As a conclusion, we both loved London! London is somewhat humbling because everywhere you look in the city there's at least one historic building or statue, reminding you that at the time when your own nation's capital was a bunch of buildings and stables and markets, the british were building super castles and (let's be honest) plundering the rest of the world. Furthermore, you get to see how modern life can go on in a historic setting. The jury is still out on whether London is nicer than Paris. This is because we didn't see much of Paris and to be honest we didn't see the bad parts of any of them.

The random people we have talked to were extremely friendly (they talked to us!) something your ordinary parisian will never do I guess. When we went to Windsor we stopped by Victoria Station to check the map (I am a compulsory map checker). This guy walked up to us and asked us if we were lost. I said no but we were just deciding which way to take to windsor. Then he told us that the best way is to take a coach (and subsequently directed us towards the bus station) because the TRAINS ARE ON STRIKE (he had heard it on radio). It was very nice of him to volunteer this info, me says.

It's not only the people and the place but also the food. I know that the english food suxs big time, but! there is this chain of shops called "Pret" which sell great sandwiches and soups (I HEART soup) and, more importantly, they have one in Trafalgar Sq. You can sit down and have your lunch and people watch by Nelson's column! Woo hoo!

Without further ado, I give you Windsor Castle! And yes. That baby is sleeping and that guy (yes, he's a guy) is his father.

Not one of my best hair days, what can I say?

Changing of the guards with live band!! (The guy on the far right is a girl woohoo!)

View of Windsor:

Marian and the guards. I guess it's a guy's thing? (because I really can't understand his grin)

Back there is where the Queen lives.

Modern day knight with polyester sword. Water, degradation and rust proof.

That kid will loathe his father during teenage years. I can see.

St. George's chapel! Home to the Order of the Garter, I kid you not!

Musical in a theater on our way to the British Museum.


One of the many treasures inside the museum (more pics here):

My "I am very hungry" glare:

More pics of Windsor here.

Sunday, June 14

Joel Spolsky on Google and Microsoft

Now, Google -- which has 10,000 workers worldwide -- is very different from Microsoft, and the two businesses have very different cultures, which is evident when you visit them one after another.

When you are a guest on Google's campus, for example, you get free Wi-Fi service. You simply connect to one of the open hot spots that blanket the area, and you're ready to go. Microsoft has free Wi-Fi, too, but to use it, you have to register with a receptionist who enters your name, your affiliation, your e-mail address, and the name of the person you're visiting into some kind of computer system, which then spits out a page with a temporary password. The receptionist has to walk to the nearest copy room to pick up this page. He or she also hands you a brochure that is intended to teach you how to get on the Wi-Fi network but in reality provides little more than a stern warning that you must not ask the receptionist for any tech help, because The Receptionist Knows Nothing.

Thursday, June 11

A Coke Product Marketer's Dream

Taken from the desk of a romanian intern here.

54* 92 cans of coke + 2L bottle + 0.5 L bottle = 20.32 33.16 L of coke. WTF?!

*Picture does not show all properly

Tuesday, June 9


Just came back from a very expensive Physio session. The guy taught me how to tape my ankle and to ice it after I run. He said that I have a ruptured ligament but not to worry as I still have two in that area. I didn't ask if it was a full rupture or just partial.

I will take a moment to hyperventilate because I just realized I ran a marathon with a ruptured ligament. Pfft.

Monday, June 8

London Day II

In which everything goes wrong but everything is right in the end. Reached Westmister Abbey at 8:45 am only to find that instead of opening at 09:30 as usual, it would open at 12. Arrived at the Royal Guardhouse for the guard change only to find that the changing of the guards will not take place at 11 as scheduled, but at 4 pm. Bobby's battery died a slow death so we had to buy an adaptor (I had forgotten it in bucharest) and head back to the hotel to give Bobby some juice. I think we walked zillion kilometers that day.

That day was also the day when we engaged in conversation with the natives. The first encounter was at Westminster Cathedral around 8:10. We stumbled upon it and were staring at a map that was showing the location of the sermon (it had moved from Westminster Cathedral to another church), when this old man comes to us and tells us that there will be no sermon here today because there is a new bishop coming and so the sermon moved to this other church and if we want he can show us the way and we can go together.

Next, while we were staring at Westminster Abbey and trying to get to grips with a) the new plan and b) the cccc-c-old, a man carrying what looked like a old Nikon camera, came to us and asked us something along the lines of "Do you have a bomb?" "A what?" "A bomb!" he says. "A pound!" he says again. We said no. "Not even [enter something here]". "nope" we say. "How 'bout a penny". "Nope" we say. "Not even a penny?!" he says. "Nope" we say. "Hmm ... It is closed" (he says looking towards Westminster Abbey). "Yeah, we'll come back later ..." Then he leaves us and says "Next time have some pennies". WTF?!

Then, while feeding the squirrels (pictured) in St. James' Park, this elderly man walking past starts talking to us about what he read in the paper about the squirrels. How they are vermin and they destroy the flowers (at that point exactly the squirrel I was trying to coax with a piece of my green apple was removing what looked like a flower bulb from the flower bed) and that they are not native to England, only the red-tailed ones are, and how the administration plans to remove the squirrels but then if you remove them what else would we have in our parks?!

That day was the day in which I climbed on everything that I could find, including the lions that guard Nelson's monument in Trafalgar square and one of the lions from the front of Buckingham Palace.

Westminster Abbey:

Arch on the entrance to Dean's Yard, Westminster Abbey

Entrance to the choirsters cloisters, Westminster Abbey:

Inner garden of Westminster Abbey. Darwin has a monument in Westminster Abbey. How 'bout that?!

Trafalgar Sq:

Just climbed a 5c:

St. Martin in the Fields:

The horse liked me!

Royal Guardhouse:

Houses of Parliament and Marian:

Changing of the guards:

Feeding of the squirrels ceremony:

Fowl in St. James' Park:

Pillar @ Buckingham Palace:

Contemplating the difficult traverse:

Using the undercling:

Resting after the climb:

What to say to this?

Tired after the zillions of km:

Houses of Parliament from the other side:

Fairy tale sunset

St. Margaret's Church: