Wednesday, March 31


I try to work eight hours per day but ...

1. I get distracted by the huge number of beautifully written, colorful, funny, smart, caring blogs out there. I am a reader by nature (should have been an editor I think, and not a PhD student - notice how "PhD student" suddenly got promoted to a job), meaning that I would rather read a book than see a movie for example. I successfully productive day is one where I do not open my RSS reader and I do not read any (but a chosen few) blogs (for which i go directly on the website). Which of course, the next day means I have to spend more time reading to catch up.

2. I get distracted by my nook, aka hippo. I keep reading it (especially if the book is good) without feeling extremely remorseful, mostly because it is e-ink, which makes it almost electronic. Which makes it almost non-procrastinative.

3. I get distracted by any form of snacks on any of my friend's desks. Basically, they are calling me. If Marian has any food snacks on his desk I must have it. I must check on it, nibble a bit, then guiltily put it back until there is nothing left to put back. I know now for instance that yesterday Cristina (in another lab, waaay down the hall) still had some belgian seashells (i gave them to her, ha!) that were really calling me. They are still calling for me now. Sometimes, I open my overhead cupboard and search for snacks, thinking that there might be something left from that time, long ago (6-8 months?) when Sandra brought me Mamee. Alas, nothing is there.

4. I get distracted by coffee. And water. And tea. And of course, what goes in, must come out.

5. So I am distracted by toilets, too (see above).

6. Lastly, I am distracted by future trips. Climbing in Chiang Mai the day after tomorrow!!! Going home in June and climbing in Lacu Rosu!!! Going to India in November!! NEPAL!!! And those that are still an idea in my head: Kinabalu, climbing with Sandra and Doris in Europe wherever it is that we will settle, mount Rinjani.

Tuesday, March 30

The gods want me fat

It is as clear as daylight that there is some conspiracy very very high up to make me fat. It's as clear as the fact that my ass forms a black-hole around my midsection which pulls me off the wall every time I want to climb.

I was supposed to go to Climb Asia today to pick up a guidebook for Chiang Mai (going there this weekend). As such, I planned my run around this trip: was going to run to Harbour Front and then take the MRT to climb asia. I was actually looking forward to this run because frankly, I am getting tired of the runs around NUS. It's the same thing over and over again, and if it's not flat, up, down, flat, down, up, up (the A1 bus route) it is up, down, up, flat, up, down, flat (the A2 bus route), with an equal number (and steepness) of ups. As such, the (mostly) flat run to Harbour Front, while a bit longer, was very very appealing. And then I find out that the team has two guidebooks which are readily available on campus. And there goes my run flying off the window.

I grudgingly shift my brain* to a run around campus and try to find some variation in it - maybe run two loops, maybe skip one stretch ... Anyway, there is nothing that i can do since i have to pass by the gym anyway. So i resign myself to the NUS run.

But noooo! The gods are not merciful as it has been now raining for half an hour and it does not seem to stop. And it's not drizzling either, it is one of those "holy cow, i hope the roof doesn't start to leak" kinda rains. And i feel my butt getting bigger and bigger and my fingers are screaming in agony because it's them in the end that have to hoist it up the wall. And no, typing is not adequate training for them either :)

*Something that i still have trouble doing: if i had originally made a plan to do something, i cannot undo it or do something else in exchange because OMG. IT WAS A PLAN!!! HOW CAN YOU NOT FOLLOW THE PLAN@??!?!

Monday, March 29

75 cents

The last day in Boston was the only day that had good weather (more pics to come). So, being the hard-working girl that we all know and love, I took the subway to Harvard station and walked around the Harvard campus for a while.

I stopped for lunch at one point, and had my salad while watching people play chess on some tables outside the cafe. Two or three old people advertised 2$ matches. I do suppose that for those two dollars they would kick your ass in two seconds flat. I say this because I saw one of them arrange the pieces according to some picture in a book, and then closing the book and proceeding to play the whole thing by himself, like a true pro planning to do this the whole day.

Anyhow, one of the old guys was beating the hell out of a very young boy, there with his whole class (apparently some robotics competition at the University of Boston). The old man with the book was free so this homeless guy approaches him. I say he was homeless by the way he was dressed and by his shoes, but in retrospect he was smoking a cigarette which would suggest at least some money right?

Anyhow, the homeless guy reaches into his pocket and takes out a fist-full of coins. He counts them slowly, swaying from side to side. Points his palm to the old guy sitting at the table.

"I have only 75 cents", he says.

The old man nods him to sit down. He then asks the homeless guy something, I suppose to the effect of his chess proficiency.

"I, I ... I think too much", answers the homeless guy. [at this point i freaked out because i was just taking his picture, see below]

And they proceed to play.

I do not know what impressed me: the massive discount, or the fact that a homeless guy would spend all his money on a game of chess. Maybe this is just Harvard, maybe it's in the water ...

Wednesday, March 24

Boston, MA - day 2

Everything would be just fine if it weren't so cold and it didn't rain like it was spring in hell.

Run-wise and climb-wise i have not been the best today. Because this morning it was raining cats and dogs and ducks, I went running to the gym! On a treadmill! I only lasted about 2 miles before the boredom got the best of me. I do not understand how people can run on treadmills, especially since when i come off the treadmill I have trouble walking because i am still very dizzy (confirmed with the prof, i am not crazy, it happens to him too!)

I WENT CLIMBING in the MIT gym! It is in the Walker Memorial building, which is like a planet-away from the NUS SRC building that hosts my dear NUS gym. Unfortunately, the gym is very very small. It was a fun hour nonetheless - there were very few people in the gym [picture is not mine, I have yet to see the sun]

I literally SWAM back to the hotel. We went for dinner afterwards. Unfortunately, it was chinese food, but to my surprise I quite enjoyed it although the portions were gigantic (yet another one of the reasons americans are SO HUGE!)

It was also the first time I opened a fortune cookie! Mine is the one on the left - is it hinting that I need to blog?! I opened the prof's as well.

Tuesday, March 23

Boston, MA

Well, yesterday went by ok... I managed to keep my mouth shut long enough for people not to notice the fact that I suck. I also managed to actually do some work with the boss even though we were both so jet-lagged we were literally snapping at each other. One day down, two more to go.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to climb yet, but I ran around the charles river! And saw ducks, and wild daffodils! Other than that, the hotel room is great! Outside it's c-c-c-c-cold!! And the trees have no leaves!

The view from my hotel room

I want one of these armchairs!

The charles river (boston is on the other side)

You know you have been reading too much of Song of Ice and Fire if you take a photo of this:

We are in this building

MIT square:

I bet they would look much nicer with leaves!

Monday, March 22


The previous post was not true!!! I want to thank Singapore Airlines for putting me right next to my boss - him at the isle and me next to him!! I also want to thank Singapore Airlines for giving us a good conversation topic - the age of their aircraft, the small size of the screen, etc.

Nonetheless, I bore the trip much better because I kept on snacking on rice crackers. Delivered by Sandra and Doris who came to surprise me! SURHPRISE!!!!!!!

PS. BTw, boston is beautiful. The trip was crap. Sleep!

Saturday, March 20

A cruel joke

So I am in a meeting with the boss (i.e. the one i am traveling with tonight! - the first part of the journey will be ok because we checked-in separately hence we will not be sitting close yay!!).

And he says: "Oh, we will have a lot of free time in MIT ..." (and he seems to ponder)

At this point (i have been in this meeting for the whole day, give or take) my mind wanders and I see visions of visiting cambridge, and Harvard Square and strolling by the river, taking a lot of pics and so on...

And then he continues:
"So, could you print the papers we have published, I want to start working on the next paper..."


Hopefully i will see SOMETHING!

Wednesday, March 17


During the Boulderactive week, I drank an average of two large coffees with a dash of milk, from either coffee bean, spinelli, or mcafe. The first days of this week I gave myself two consolation coffees, sort of like a pat on the back for being weak and not competing, as well as being stuck in singapore most probably till the end of this year (more about this later). But today no more! Back to my own brew! My own brew is either instant coffee with milk (DOUBLE YUCK) or simply brewed coffee. Because I am too lazy to wash the french press, what i do for brewed coffee is something like:

1. boil water.

2. put one spoon of coffee in the cup (cup may or may be not washed from the day before)

3. pour hot water on it

4. allow the beans to settle.

5. drink - sometimes still have to chew some beans (SINGLE YUCK)

This morning i was lazy so i opted for the DOUBLE YUCK. By noon I was suffering from severe withdrawal, headaches, drowsiness, and a temper to fuck off even the bravest and the mightiest of them all. Told friend to suck it up when she was complaining about the toughness of her first ever "get fit" program. Told lab mate to and I quote "you could stop whining for a change" - while the words in total accordance with what i felt right then (and i still do now after a gulp of hot SINGLE YUCK option) .. still ...

I am still holding strong and not buying any branded coffee - two reasons: it's expensive and i do not know what to do with the cup! It is un-recycle-able waste!

Definite symptoms of caffe

Tuesday, March 16

Boulderactive 2010

Yesterday I was so tired I went to my boss to re-sign a form that I thought i had lost. Turns out I had already submitted the form to the secretary on Thursday, but apparently I had totally wiped Thursday out of my mind. That's because it came after Wednesday and Tuesday, and before Friday, Sat, and Sunday which were the actual days of the competition. During Boulderactive 2010 the amount of dust, chalk and grime that my face was subjected to, together with the lack of water, resulted in eight (EIGHT) pimples on my face. I will call them Snow white, Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy. You do not want to know how one of them earned its "Snow White" name, to say nothing about Sneezy.

Again I did not take part, mostly because I am weak, but also because I wanted to help out more than previous times. As usual, many things to be inspired about, many things to be scared of. The high walls (5m) led to a lot of injuries (at least 19), with at least two ankle sprains and one knee ligament tear. So sad that one of the sprains and the knee injury came to our girls, right after they had qualified for the finals.

This year I was inspired by the little people, Doris and Jansen. Doris got THIRD for open women!!! Short and skinny (even by asian standards, which makes one really short and really skinny) does have its advantages. Not going to talk about how strong Doris is (there is a reason we call her Boris), but will talk about how after a disappointing qualifying round one can regroup, rethink, sleep, and do a very good job in the finals. Good job Dodo, I am so proud of you!!

Jansen (another short and skinny person) inspired me with his composure and control plus very smooth footwork during the last route of open men. Like everybody and I do mean the entire mall was watching him climb and cheering and hooting and all that. This would have sent me squirming for a mattress to hide under but he was cool as a cucumber and finished the route to a raging audience. No typewriter effect, no hesitation, no nothing. I can't become skinny (ha!) nor short, but on footwork, control, and composure I can work.

Because San and i didn't climb at all last week (except when we set the Boulderactive routes), we went climbing at CA last night. Met with Charlene and Daniel and had three and a half hours of non-stop, all-out bouldering until our fingers and various joints were sore. Hopefully the whole week will be like this because next week I will be at MIT - they do have a climbing gym but who knows when they are open?

Thursday, March 11

Most shacked

Spent the night from Tuesday to Wednesday painting the walls at Boulderactive 2010. It has been a while since I did not close a wink the whole night. Spent the whole of Wednesday setting routes for novice and inter women finals. Afterwards, sandra and i went climbing at ca.

The climbs were pathetic as i was most shacked by that time and i was already speaking nonsense. Crashed at home around 9 after i didn't trust myself to go look for a cab so i took the bus home. Slept like a log till 9:30 am (most luxurious since i do not make it past 7 usually). I dragged myself out of bead for fear of a meeting with my boss that got cancelled in the end.

Still have to prepare tutorials but how can I since i feel like a very VERY big tractor rolled over me more than once. And i still have paint under my fingernails!! Below are the pictures of one of the walls. Before you congratulate us on our craftsmanship, we only painted the background!!

I like the first version of the guy more!

Tuesday, March 9

Which science fiction writer are you?

I am:
Isaac Asimov
One of the most prolific writers in history, on any imaginable subject. Cared little for art but created lasting and memorable tales.

Which science fiction writer are you?

I had just started to think again about getting a job, and applying and all that shit. And I started panicking again (of course!) so I started reading some more blogs, and I came across this test. One of my favorite Sci-fi writers too!

Monday, March 8

A day of firsts

First day I actually nodded to sleep (for about five minutes) at my desk.

First day ever! when i went for tea with my supervisor dressed in shorts and a climbing singlet (why oh why was I not wearing a t-shirt at least?!) This is after today until lunch I was actually wearing a dress, but I decided to change and go for one last climb in the gym before we take down the tiles .. And to top it off I even met him this morning while wearing the dress! The look on his face was priceless when he saw my afternoon wear.

Supervisor has seen me in tights with pink hotpants over them: check
Supervisor has seen me in tights, going running: check
Supervisor has seen me in shorts with SINGLET! (why oh why?): check

How long until he initiates a dress code i wonder?

PS For those who might wonder why i shy to wear a sleeveless, cut singlet in front of my boss - witness the INCREDIBLE HULK:

Friday, March 5

Unexpected constraints

When Marian and I got together I used to complain that he does not read a lot. Well to be honest, he didn't read at all, preferring to spend his evenings in front of one or multiple movies or playing games. I used to complain that the computer will fry his brain. That he should be reading to increase his vocabulary and all that blah blah blah. Little was I to know that all this will be coming back to haunt me.

Recently, he has developed a certain fondness towards the fantasy genre - you know, the one with the kings and the dragons and the magic and the knights and the swords and the 14 volume books where each volume is a white weapon in most of the countries in this world. Throughout his reading saga, I have managed sometimes to pass on him some books (other than sci-fi) that I enjoyed. However, I have so far managed to forestall the moment when he would be sharing a book (877 pages in one volume WTF?!!) of his. Like this i managed to miss "Wheel of Time", a 13-volume saga that I know would have killed me.

But no more! He has been raving about "A Song of Ice and Fire" to the extent that at one point i said "Ok, I will give it a try." (if only to keep him from telling me about every chapter and every thread in the book - this strategy backfires!) All nice and dandy, he went ahead and put it on the nook (from now on to be referred to as the hippo - because it can drink so many books but still stay fit and healthy hahaha) and proceeded to bug me every time I was reading something else. To the point where now A Song of Ice and Fire is the Approved Book and the rest do not even exist. I am slowly making progress through book 2 (only 4 yay!) and this is all we talk during lunch (e.g. strategy backfire!!), and the book is blissfully free of magic and stuffs, but! I usually read more than one book at a time! Which i cannot because I am always grilled if I am reading the Approved Book :)

It has not helped me that I finally got Jensen's "What the dog saw" which is a very large and horribly conspicuous brick, and that I am also expecting Shu Hui's book - thankfully this one takes a long time to materialize.

The second book has 877 pages on the hippo. l have not looked at the third nor the forth but i expect them to be the same. I managed to finish the first one in about 2 days, but the last half day was horrible, with me literally banging my head and asking "oh when oh when is it going to like ever finish?!" I guess it's only some books that you never want to end ...

Thursday, March 4

I lost THE ring

This is how i feel right now: cute but STUPID (and i know i am insulting the bird in saying this). A series of unfortunate events has led me to lose Marian's ring. ZOMG how could i be so foolish, so stupid, so out of touch with reality? The ring adorned my hairy left ring finger for a year or so and now it is gone. Pfft.

Dramatic wailing ensured and a lot of profanities did caress my tongue, but in the end it is gone and I will have to replace it. Stoopid is as stoopid does.

Monday, March 1


Two things i wanted to celebrate here. Well not really celebrate but still. One is the above cartoon which actually fills me with dread because I know that my thesis is not even half as good as Cecilia's (and she's a cartoon character for crying out loud). The second is that I've weighed myself today and i hope to god that muscle weighs more than fat because otherwise i will have stop eating for at least three hours. To give you a clue, it is fair to say that 10% of my weight is NOT closer to the 5kg bar. So much for deception.