Friday, October 30

WTF is wrong with me?!

I know I am older. I know I am heavier. Shit, sometimes I think I am tougher. But fuck it, I know I am stupid! Because I can't think of any other reason that would compel me to go do boulder - fucking - circuits WITHOUT warming up. Hell, I know some of the routes are difficult for me even when I am warmed up so what the hell was I thinking on Monday when I jumped straight into them? I fell from the last route on a pinchy crimpy jug that left me with finger pain on my left ring finger for the entire night.

On tuesday and wednesday my finger was so swollen I couldn't take my ring off. Last night I managed to take it off (mainly because I couldn't face running 16km with it on - and the abrasion that was sure to follow). And now I CAN'T TYPE. You wouldn't say that by the two posts of today, but whenever I have to type Q, W, A, S, and X I feel PAIN.

Whoever said stupidity doesn't hurt needs to meet me.


If I were to die right now, these are the three pieces of advice that I would leave to my kid (if I had one) and to my friends:

  1. Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups. - cockiness is the father ...

  2. Never trust a fart. - taken both literally and figuratively

  3. Always stretch AFTER you run.

Yup. I won't comment on the first two. For the last one, I have to say that it took me a year of project Elephant and a yoga membership to figure it out: the reason why I couldn't touch my toes anymore was that I had been running for three years and stretching (after running) for zero. While now I know a lot of fancy yoga poses and I stand up much straighter than I used to, where flexibility is concerned, I still am as inflexible as the elephant before when I do not stretch after running. Granted the benefits of yoga are numerous and the change it has done (on my friend especially) is amazing, but in this respect, the only credit I give it is the fact that I have finally figured No. 3 out.

Please suppress your "DUH!"s or your "No shit, Sherlock!"s ... I know that this is what every book & website says, but no book could have ever told me that the difference can be up to 15cm: without stretching after running, the next day my fingers are looming about 15 cm above the ground, with stretching I CAN TOUCH MAH TOES!

Wednesday, October 28

The best birthday present ever!

[hint hint] Introducing the ebook reader from barnes and nobles, the nook! ZOMG i want!

Tuesday, October 27

A memorable Saturday

06:15 am - Struggled to wake up because the climbing session from the previous night had left me swollen like a watermelon. Left in a hurry such that I could meet Regina at 7:15 for the Nike Human Race. Went through a series of heart attacks because she had no place to leave her stuff and the race was starting at 7:15 instead of 7:30 as they had previously said.

7:30 am - started running. To my utter amazement and pride Reg did not stop at all!! Neither did she whine or grump! I was super pleased and happy - even though she did grump afterwards to last me a life time :)) Here we are together with Janice, who ran with us most of the way. We finished in 1hr: 21mins: 34 secs yay!

10 am - 6:30 pm - rushed home to start cooking! Saturday night was the night of the Romanian dinner at my place. For which occasion I cooked/served the following (sorry for the pics, but we decided half-way to take them, by which time the soup was gone and the cabbage was soon to follow):

  • Borscht soup - still not sour enough for Doris' taste, but I am getting there

  • Cabbage stew with sausages - one of my favorite dishes (blame marian for the pic)

  • Roasted eggplant salad

  • Polenta with sausages and cheese - a total failure - I have to stand by my friend when she cooks this

  • Stuffed bell-peppers

  • Mashed potatoes with chicken stew

  • Three types of cheeses commonly found in romanian supermarkets - cow, sheep and smoked cheddar yay!!

  • Tomato salad

  • Mango sticky rice - too mushy

Cherlyn brought DURIAN CHEESECAKE - TWO of them, which I am very happy to say are still in my freezer for me to enjoy and my thighs to enlarge. Charlene and Liying brought delish fruit tarts (some of them had carved faces, so cute!)

We played Wii and we talked and we laughed and it was all again like one big climbing training. Without the climbing but of course, with the food :))

1:30 am - collapsed for some well deserved ZZZ. While writing this I cannot actually recall Sunday.

Wednesday, October 21

Tips for nighttime wildlife spotting at MacRitchie

I do not know if I mentioned this before but in New Zealand it's not going to be just marian and I. Nope, we have invited a very loud russian (Pasha from Russia - say it out loud, it rhymes!) to join us. As such, the training last night found the three of us in MacRitchie. At night, again. With slightly heavier loads (us) and very light load (him), it was a match made in heaven.

Because you see, Pasha from Russia talks. And he talks. And he never stops. And then he takes a second or two to breathe and then he talks again. Mostly about girls. Mostly about his chinese ex which he loved very much but which cheated on him. He needs to process that and thus he talks some more. And I hate his ex some more. Because there are two things that i don't like about conversations: a) when the other person is loud and b) when the story or the storyline gets repeated. On and on and on and on. Rumble, rumble, rumble... ROAR, ROAR, ROAR!

Of course, with the loud Pasha from Russia there was no chance to spot anything last night. This is because the animals in the jungle knew we were coming five minutes before we reached their spot and thus closed their eyes. Or flew away. Or snailed away. The only things we surprised were two spiders in the middle of the track and a frog - granted, their hearing capabilities are different. And towards the end, near the golf course, two birds of unknown nature and a very VERY BIG BAT (like the ones they have at the zoo - i know they are not bats exactly but what are those things?! ... got it ... it was a FLYING FOX) - but we could not come close to them so just managed to see them fly away in the distance.

And to the soldiers that were probably camping somewhere far away in the bushes, sorry for the all the psychological analysis with all the twists and turns and all the reasons why pasha from russia's ex is a bitch...

And the tip ... do not bring Pasha from Russia or at least tire him out - maybe increase his load? (about 3 kg right now)

Tuesday, October 20


Wah Sunday was great and horrible at the same time. I say horrible because it took the Climbaprix people ten (TEN) hours to go through a competition that had 32 contestants and 4 categories. The highlights include: after spending one (ONE) hour plus to put up three routes, the tile on one route turned! Which left some clueless spotters just looking at it - afterwards, the whole volume on which the tile was attached was coming down, so they had to stop the competition again. Before that I had spotted five people standing next to a ladder, one of them holding an impact driver and they. were. just. standing. there. The ultimate fuck-up came when some idiot came to take out a tile on the last route BEFORE the last competitor (and the winner, btw - DORIS!!! YEAH!) had climbed the route - and the fuckwit also damaged the tile (or the nut) such that it was unscrewable back - so they had to replace it. SERIOUSLY!? And then the DJ from open men: "We have about 9 men in the finals ..." I am curious which of the 9 people in the final were not man enough - i guess this decimal value also gave them some trouble when after the open men cat was over it still took them 40 minutes TO TABULATE those particular results and finish the damn thing.

After everything was over San, doris and i went to town and pierced my ears! YAY! I have pierced myself twice before: once i was using one of those small knifes with very sharp blades to open up a walnut when it slipped and cut mah finger to the bone! The other time was when marius slipped on a slope in mont blanc and while stopping his falll i stuck my right crampons into my left calf, very close close to the great vein. BUT never before did I pierce myself intentionally. So yeah, I have earrings now, but I still haven't established why i did it (definitely not because i had told doris and then i couldn't back out :)) ) My ears still hurt a bit and i am reluctant to touch them, but hopefully this will go away soon and i will be able to wear some colorful earrings.

Lastly, san and dor dragged themselves to feed me DURIAN CHEE CHEONG FUN (pictured) even though it was late and they were tired. It was very very very good - the shine in the picture is not me drooling over them although I was drooling!!

Wednesday, October 14

Training with a ZING!

I knew there was another reason why last Thursday I was queen of my flock, chief of my chickens while running to Raffles! It wasn't the oolong tea or anything, it was just that I had resumed hill training in preparation for New Zealand. This time at least I am not the only crazy caucasian carrying heavy backpacks up on Vigilante or in MacRitchie reservoir, I have Marian with me! YAY!

The schedule

Last night we left office about 6:30 pm and reached MacRitchie reservoir about 8pm, totalling 1hr and 30 minutes on the bus! The road was very crowded and the stuffy feeling was not helped by the stoopid chinese drama playing on the bus tv. One of the stupid quotes: brother towards his brother about the latter's daughter-in-law who had bought super nice duck rice for dinner (in front of her and the whole family): "Wha, this scrooge is giving us present, she definitely wants something from us!" - I wonder if this kind of talk is real.

The trek started kind of slow because I had used a regular laptop backpack to carry what seemed like 10 kg of weight. I was feeling super uncomfortable, and the worst for wear were my neck and my lower back where I had tried to tightly tie the lower back straps - yes claudia, laptop backpacks are not meant to carry heavy weight. And we trekked and we trekked in the loud jungle - I swear I could hear the cicada on top of my music - and using the light from my trusty headlamp.

We reached about 4 km into the trek when suddenly, while Marian was busy looking at his iPhone (as usual!), I glance up (and hence raise my head on which my headlamp rested) and ...

The spook
I see a bunch of green things crowded in the middle of the trek. I freak out momentarily and start nudging Marian who was still busy with that damn thing. So we are still walking towards them and I am still super freaked, I put the light under my hand because they are obviously lightless and we slowly walk past them. What were they?

Well soldiers of course! Marching in the middle of the night without lights in MacRitchie Reservoir! We passed the first platoon, glimpsed another one in the bushes (those were roaming and really looked like really big, green cockroaches), and we next reached one of their stops (or whatever) where a voice bellowed from the dark (I guess I had turned the light on by now):"WHO'S THERE?!" at which Marian answered: "Civilians?" and the voice answered in a more normal tone: "Oh! [pause] sorry for my voice just now ... " So we passed another platoon - I made a point of passing them on the right (they were walking in the middle of the track) when I saw that their guns (GUNS!) were pointing on the left. I even asked marian if it was illegal to be in MacRitchie at that time of night - you never know with singapore :)

Ah well, after we passed all the soldiers I could resume light again. We trekked for a bit more when what do you think I found in the middle of the road (Marian was again! busy with the iphone) Sorry for the bad quality movie, next time i'll take my own phone that has a flash! Marian also got confused and recorded instead of taking a picture:

It's a mommy ant-eater pangolin with her little baby ant-eater pangolin on her back!! Or is it on her tail?!

Epic end
The rest are normal stuff, we took 20 minutes to get home, showered and collapsed. Before that however, I stopped at an ice-cream shop close to home. I do not like ice-cream normally but I love rum and raisin! So I bought a scoop feeling I deserved it and said "Nevermind" when the lady said that it was slightly alcoholic ... And what do you know after two little spoons I was super tipsy.

An epic end to an epic night - train in the park, find some soldiers, get drunk on ice-cream!

Sunday, October 11

Another running epic

On thursday I ran to Raffles Place again after initially having ran with A. an extra 5 km around NUS. I ran good and strong and managed to top the previous week's time by about 17 minutes. 17 MINUTES! That is a lot! I felt very very good and very light while running. I do no know what happened because the only thing that I had changed from the previous week was a) drinking oolong tea and b) climbing more the night before. Anyhow, I was queen of the road, master of my turf, chief of my chickens, whatever you want to call it. I ruled!

It was in this mood that I set the route for my Saturday run. First I set it in the morning, at around 8 am. Then I set the route: run on pasir panjang, then on south buona vista, then through campus and towards home. For those of you in the dark about this piece of west singaporean geography, pasir panjang is a flat 2-3 km road, south bunoavista is an uphill, sinewy, steepy 2-3 km road, and through NUS I have to go up a single hill, namely the Central Library one. As you see, a bit of a tough route, especially since I was planning to run it in the morning. This is because mornings. They be not my thing. But again, I was chief of my chickens and nothing could stop me.

That is, until Saturday morning rolled in. Woke up as planned, except my fingers were stiff from Friday's climb. My eyes were not opening properly and I was (still) super sleepy. I was no longer chief of my chickens, being ousted by unknown enemies during the night. Marian was kicking me to get out of bed and go running so I had to do what I had to do. There was no water to drink so I geared up and started right away. I managed to open my eyes fully after the first km or so, but I was still dizzy and very thirsty.

By the middle of pasir panjang I had super cramps and had to stop. Walked around for a bit and then started jogging (no longer running that is). Rain started to pour (or course, why not?!) but I continued my jog on Pasir Panjang. I jogged and I walked and I jogged some more. By this time I was super thirsty. I turned into South Buona vista and decided that I will take the 200 bus home.

I know that the bus comes once every half an hour so I decided to run uphill from bus stop to bus stop until the bus came. I would reach a stop, wait for a while (the road is sinewy so you can't really see much), then start running again. I made it up three bus stops or so. I stopped midway towards the next one to rest (too uphill for me) when I saw the bus coming. And now the chief of her chickens turned around and she and her flock started sprinting downhill towards the previous stop. And I mean sprinting because I was super desperate not to miss that bus. I barely caught it and only then because I waved it to stop right as it was passing me and the driver was kind enough to stop - was it my pink pants that did the trick? Or do you think he saw how desperate I was? I got off the bus then walk-a-ran home where I collapsed ashamed of myself and embarrassed in front of my chickens.

My sprinting was an act of supreme, pathetic lameness, and what better way to make sure I never forget it than to share it here...

Saturday, October 10

Science is shit

I wonder if it was a frustrated graduate student that tied a roll of toilet paper to the rim of the last floor of the Science building. Whoever it was, thank you, I had a good laugh while on my way to climbing last night. Which by the way was super super nice! We did easy but fun routes that succeeded in raising our ego by 200%.

Thursday, October 8


There is no free lunch. This is what my supervisor is very fond of saying - i can tell that he really likes this sentence because his face lights up when the says it.

For example, last night we actually climbed really fun routes, which is something we haven't been doing in a long time. However, this morning my fingers were stiff, and some of them continue to be even now, later in the day. Trade-off numero Uno.

Next, this sem I am not tutoring under the same lecturer as last sem, which actually means that I get tutorial solutions mostly on time, and full comprehensible sentences in emails. However, this lecturer is new and young and has crazy ideas how he should be present during the tutorials while I give feedback to students about their projects while ANOTHER tutor answers student's questions about the tutorial at the same time. Like WTF? Trade-off numero Dos.

Apparently, there are no more ants in my boiler. However, it seems that now they have moved to Marian's side of the lab, which currently hosts more people than mine. However, those people seem to care less about the increasing number of ants (especially near their trash bin) which will result in the end in more ants coming my way. Trade-off numero Tres.

Next, today my supervisor took on the daunting task to draw me a diagram that HE likes, instead of me doing multiple tries until he gets even a little bit satisfied. However, I was stuck with grading his mid-terms for half a day, while he corrected my last diagram. Trade-off numero Quatro.

Lastly, climbing with the more technical people (Sandra that is) have taught me to hold crimps and sit-in on tiles. Sitting-in is also a must when one has a BIG butt like mine, because that is the only way one can actually hold shitty crimps. However, from a sit-in position (let's say on the right leg) it is very hard to stand up and go fast towards another crimp (towards the right). Actually it is close to impossible. At least for me. Last night I tried at least FIFTY times (uncounted) to do that particular thing and it seems I could only stick the last crimp when I wasn't thinking about it. Hell I am still thinking about it, which will probably decrease my chances of sticking it tomorrow. Actually, I am not sure if this is trade-off numero Cinqo or just the zillionth unfortunate consequence of HAVING. A. BIG. BUTT.

Tuesday, October 6

The Setup

Well of course the ant traps do not work. I know this because, even though the number of ants has diminished considerably, there is still a terrorist group that insists to meet inside my boiler. I do not know what exactly attracts them to my boiler ... Probably it is the considerable warm and fuzzy feeling the boiler emanates after i use it to boil water. This compared to the freezing (24-25 C) temperatures in the lab. I don't know what it is exactly, but the fact of the matter is that every morning before I put water to boil for my (yuck) instant coffee, I have to kill a couple of ants and fish some from the small water puddle that is still inside the boiler. I hate starting my day in such a murderous manner, so I put up the setup you see in the picture, namely I attached an ant trap to the boiler lid. I did this yesterday, and today the number of ants is the same (you can see two bodies in the corner left of the picture). I wonder if there are more powerful traps out there.

Sunday, October 4

Yearning and getting fat

Yes I am a stress eater. Ok fine, I am a glutton by nature, with or without the stress. But these days, oh these days things are not looking good (dear me, I wanted to write good but i wrote "food" instead! SHEESH!).

For the past days I have been craving and yearning rock (first) and adventures (second) like never before. Much more so after I showed the pictures from our two-week climbing trip to Krabi back in 2006. I miss Tonsai and our super fun times there so much that when I see the plastic handholds in the climbing gym (GYM! I love you!) I just want to scream. And what can one do when one needs adventures? Well, one is to plan them. Which I did, but alas, no climbing holiday in the foreseeable future. So what else can I do? Well, first feel like a loser for not planning climbing trips. Then fell guilty. The, of course, stress eat!

Which brings me to the second part of today's title. Marian just returned from Romania with a lot of cheese freshly made by his parents. Yes. Cheese. With milk directly from the cow's ... um... udder!?! Some of it is going into the freezer for future sharing with guests BUT what should I do with the rest?! Actually a better question would be, how long will it take for the Cheese to be gone? I mean when I know that there is a open pack of snacks, actually an open pack of anything food, I will not rest until it's not longer there. Next is the fact that the reasons why I would love to move to France are cheap cheese, good bread, and great climbing locations. That pretty much should give you an explanation why I am so super happy to be in school right now, instead at home where I would be within walking distance of. The. Cheese.

Friday, October 2

Timeless gadgets

So, one thing that I know about me is that whenever I hit a serious plateau in my non-climbing sporty activities - ok, not necessarily plateau, but let's say when i am starting to get lazy - I buy new gear/gadgets. It is so that I bought the Nike+ sensor in April 2007 and I begged marian to buy me the Polar running watch for Xmas last year (ok, i was begging in October or so). The Nike+ counts my km based on the length of my average running stride, and the Polar watch monitors my heart rate and beeps whenever it goes above (or below) a given threshold.

Unfortunately, it was only last night that I found out that neither the Nike+ program on my ipod, nor the Polar watch, can tell me the bloody time while they are in use!!! Last night it was really important to know the time. This was because I first ran about 5 km with Regina and A., at a snail-on-red-bull pace, and afterwards proceeded to run to Raffles Place for my 1:30 mins yoga class. And because of the snail-on-red-bull pace that I could never shake off even after I left the girls, I was constantly afraid that I will be late.

Add to this the fact that around Queensway MRT I suddenly started to feel very thirsty. And then thirty seconds after that I started to feel that I really need to pee. It's an amazing feeling, running while at the same time contracting ones ... everything ... to prevent ... leakage ... and also wetting ones lips because of thirst. With these thirsty urinary feelings came also the very strong desire to QUIT and take the MRT. Especially since I felt it had taken me a long time to run there, and given my current "undecided" state, it would probably have taken me even more time to run to my destination. Knowing the time would have made such a big difference.

Ah well, in the end I stopped at Queensway MRT when the sight of a restroom degenerated my ... desires. When i came out from the loo I bought a 0.5 l bottle of water and drank it all while sitting on a bench and contemplating the pros and cons of quitting. Again, the fact that i had told 2 people i would run to raffles place saved the day. Very slow, but very satisfying 16-17 km.