Tuesday, August 31

One picture Tuesday

A month or so ago I bought a basil bush. This is because Marian enjoys my thai basil minced chicken rice enormously so I decided that I did not want to buy 2.50$ worth of basil every time, and on top of that pollute the world with the packaging and so on. The bush was thriving when I bought it. The smell of its leaves was very very fragrant. It begged for me to cut it and put it in some food. I could see that me and the plant were going to be buddies for a very very long time to come. I even considered naming it.

The problem is that my room gets the singapore hot sun full on from 6:45am (PLEASE DON'T ASK ME HOW I KNOW) till about 3 pm at least. As such, the plant, like its previous basil cousins (bought some smaller ones from cold storage) started to dry and die. At first I moved it in the bathroom. However, although the bathroom gets a bit less sun, it is still very very hot during the day. Plus, our bathroom is small and it just didn't fit.

So in the end I moved it in the kitchen. It has been two weeks now and the plant is thriving (although having said that, I probably jinxed it and when I get home tonite it will be dry and dead already). And when I say thriving you must picture the plant as a little kitten or little puppy that has just had half its legs amputated and now is thriving with the remainder. And you, the proud owner, can't help to feel extremely proud about your little one's health, while the world looks on with pity. Because the plant now looks like this:

I really really hope it survives because everytime i look at it I feel like looking in the mirror. Dysfunctional: check! Working: check!

PS since taking the picture I went ahead and cut the dry parts at sandra's suggestion. I really hope it survives!

Monday, August 30

The true nature of the internet

Googled today: "google interview questions"

Got back as search hints: "google interview questions answers"

Friday, August 27

Watch out

My mom gave me this watch when I left for Singapore four five years ago. It is a very cheap Tissot. I love it because it is not yellow (I am really not into yellow jewelry thankyouverymuch) but also because my mother bought it in the airport as she was leaving for a business trip and she spent all her per diem (for the entire trip) to buy it.

Five years later and the watch ran out of battery. Being the good girl that I am, I decided to go the official Customer Office on Orchard Road, in the heart of the city, to change the battery. After waiting for a total of 1h:20 mins (40 mins in queue and 40 mins to get a specialist to look at it), the people there showed me the battery and said, "Sorry m'am, your battery has leaked, here's the proof [show battery - no signs of leakage] it's gonna cost you 190 dollars to get all the parts replaced". I swear I was willing to pay 190 dollars (95 euros) for it. But then she said: "it's gonna take 3 months to get it back." And then I ask why.

And then she says because we have to get the parts from the home office, and the home office caters for many shops, 100 SHOPS! and they don't have time for us. And the watch has scratches (do you wear it everyday?!) Plus, it's water resistance has spoiled! [my watch is water resistant to 30 meters, which actually means that if i cry and wipe my tears with my left wrist then that is it] And these are the parts that need changing [and shows me the scribble from the specialist]: dial, smth, smth, hend. The dial?! The hend?! (I suppose the hand?) ?

190 dollars I can take. 3 months I can't take, not with these really really stupid explanations. And typos!

So I took the watch and went to Clementi, where I changed the battery for 6 dollars. The uncle there didn't say anything about a leak, and even if he did I would not have understood him. Ha!

Thursday, August 26

A story of procrastination

Today I got up, then went back to sleep. Eventually I got kicked out of the bed by a hairy leg and instructed to go run as I had promised the night before. Said hairy leg proceeded to spread itself over the entire bed and not leave a single teensy-weensy corner for me. So I ran to school.

Reached school very determined to work as Thursday and Friday I work for myself (i.e. I am doing something that the boss is no longer interested in). The hairy leg reached a bit later and brought my clothes. I changed from my running clothes into others and then had breakfast.

Hairy leg left for class and I returned to the lab. I was about half-way through Stieg Larsson's second book. By the time the hairy leg came back from class I was still reading. We continued to read our respective books until lunch time. I finished this one and started the third one zomg!

After lunch I said NO MORE! I WILL WORK from now on!! So I started to read blogs and stuff. When nothing else new to read was online, I looked at my messenger list and clicked a link. It was a youtube movie of a cartoon I used to watch when I was a small kid, Sandy Bell. So I watched 2 episodes of Sandy Bell.

Then i talked for twenty minutes to a friend. I have to leave in 15 minutes and I have worked for at most two hours today. Shame on me!

Wednesday, August 25

One picture Tuesday

Never knew that Doris went to New Zealand, and to Milford Sound of all places!

I knew she can't spell though :))

Friday, August 20

Back to childhood

On Wednesday I went running with Marian. We were talking and talking and then BOOF!!!! I was instantly transported back into my childhood:

Of course I insisted on running because the knees were still warm and I didn't feel a thing. But then I dropped my iPod and it shattered on the ground (nothing wrong with it, it was in a case, whew!). And i still ignored all these signs and continued running. But when I started getting stitches on each side alternatively, I decided that 3 signs were more than enough, so I stopped, all the while ignoring the background music of "I told you so!"s.

Eventually when we got home I was brave enough to grab the Aloe Vera + Propolis spray and go straight for it. I aimed, looked away and fired straight at the wound. The burning sensation was so overwhelming that I nearly bit the tub, so i decided that one single shot means I have cleaned it already. That is why one can still see pieces of the sidewalk upon close examination.

Wednesday, August 18

One picture Tuesday

In COM2, SCHOOL OF COMPUTING, NUS. Nerds no need 2 write. "Maybe"

Tuesday, August 17

Climbing in Putrajaya

Definitely the gesture of the trip: Oh yeah!! [As seen here in Vector's performance in Despicable Me - haven't seen despicable me? it's cute and funny, go see it if you need something like this in your life]

We rented a car from JB. The car was ok, i.e. it didn't fail or go awry on us. But other than that, i would have traded it instantly for anything not malaysian made. We almost lost plastic parts of it at least twice. Sandra opened the door and the plastic cover for the door just fell out. I dislodged some plastic cube which was covering something or other right next to my brake. I know for sure that some button to the right of the steering wheel was there when we started but was missing by the end of the trip (could see the wires). Moreover, if I stood straight while driving I could not see half of my board due to the non-ergonomical position of the steering wheel. Speaking of ergonomics, the car was a BOAT. It was big like a boat, slow like a boat, it had poor sealing all around (like a boat). There. I've said it. And the color! URGH! (I am finally happy that I can speak nasty about it because before I was afraid I would jinx it).

The drive to KL and back was uneventful. BUT KL!!~!!@#!!@! ZOMG! The street signs were too low. The signs were all in malay (you would think that considering the gigantic amount of tourist the populated streets get, they would at least put the signs in english, or using internationally-known signs). Like the sign for the one-way streets. It SAYS Jalan Selantaran (or similar). WTF>?!@ The streets were crowded but I didn't care much about it - with an automatic car there really isn't any effort in driving. But for directions?! And the poor person giving them!?... Marian and I ended up almost having a row in the first day out in KL; his GPS (ahem iPhone) was not working well and we were like the circling the same block for like the zillionth time and then I was like "Your gps sucks" and he was "NO, you can't give directions!!" So yeah! We switched and I moved to the driver's seat. And then afterwards I was emigrated to the back while sandra gave Marian directions. Growl!

Climbing in Putra was fantastic. Well, at least compared to whatever it is that we have here in singapore. The tiles felt much better than those at yishun, and the routes were much much longer. Sandra was my personal slave-driver during this trip. She would not allow me to rest and chicken out until I had at least tried SOMETHING. My usual approach as we all now is to rest on the rope, bestill my beating heart, work out a possible sequence, and then go again. Stop and repeat. Kinda lame, but this once I could not do it in full cause Sandra was watching yay! THANKS! I climbed a very inclined overhang!! Rested at EVERY quickdraw but at least i did not come down (yes this paragraph is a loser's lament so if you skipped it, good for you!)

Marian almost finished a 6c! The dodo bird as usual climbed harder routes but not by much harder cause she had to stay with us, at the intermediate lead wall, ahem. Better luck next time ...

We tested our span! I win, but not by much. Sandra is very close to me although she is at least half a meter (hahahhahaa 13 cm) shorter than me (Sandra is one cm taller than the bird, by the way)

The trip was all about funny faces:

And durians and food (when i got back i could not see my abs! - they are back now, but more about this in another post)

And visiting; we visited the Petronas Towers - Can you believe it that Doris had never been!@?; and Melaka

And relaxing [Sandra is afraid of these!]

And goofing off

And queueing (for the petronas towers, to get back in singapore - more about that later)
Than it was about climbing.

Friday, August 13

Putrajaya climb directions and topo

Below are the directions on how to get to Putrajaya Climbing gym in KL.

You are going to kill me, but my directions read like this:

1. Follow the GPS coordinates below:

Latitude: 2°53.32716
Longitude: 101°40.0948800000003

(can search google maps for 2.888786, 101.668248)

These are the coordinates taken in front of the gym, but because our software didn't have the street right in front of the gym, it took the coordinates of the highway right in front of the gym. Only problem is, if your driving direction is different than that highway stretch you end up having to exit, turn around, etc, and GET LOST (there are no signs and no people to ask)

2. So basically, from Kuala Lumpur, follow the signs (or lack thereof) towards Jalan Tun Razak or the highway (Sembaran), and from there to Putrajaya. Next, follow the directions to these coordinates, until you see a BIG BROWN SIGN on the left that says: Taman Cabaran (sign might be hidden by trees but do not despair). From this moment, quit listening to the GPS and shut it down if the voice annoys you, and just follow the signs (or go straight forward if in doubt). Taman Cabaran is the adventure park in which the gym is located. The gym is a big grey building and as far as we could tell it was the only big grey building in the park. (if you see any people - I am not kidding, that place is deserted - you can ask them about directions too)

There is no topo for any of the walls but! we asked the guy there and he told us the grades for the routes on the Intermediate Lead Wall.

Route list:
Green - arete - 6c
Blue - 6b
Grey - 6a+
Orange - 6c+ (Dodo said "Oh my God!" on this one, and she didn't on the 7a)
Grey - 6b
Yellow - 6b/6b+
Brown - 6b
------------------------- (marks change between walls)
Blue - 6c
Green - discontinued
Red - 6c+
Orange - 7a
Grey - 6c
Brown - 6c+
Marble green - 6c+
Marble white - 6b+
Greeen - discontinued
Grey - 6b
Yellow - 6b
Brown peanut - 6a+
Green blue - 6a+
Green sloper - 6a+
Blue - discontinued
Green white - 6a
Yellow - 6a (left - 1st anchor) /6a+ (right - 1st anchor)
Blue - 6a+
Brown - 6a
Orange - 6b+

[Click for a bigger version of the panorama - rightmost slab excluded]

I guess

My previous [longer] relationship was with a disturbed alcoholic that had commitment problems and father-figure issues. We loved each other to the end of the moon and back and we fought extremely often and everytime we fought like it was world war 2 all over again. He had a communication problem and i thought that everybody can go and fuck themselves if they don't like me. I entered that relationship as a spoiled girl and emerged, with commitment problems and father-figure issues (actually, i had the latter from before), but definitely a much wiser woman. [Oh yeah!]

Nowadays, while Marian is god's send on earth (in terms of patience, love, companionship, friendship etc) I still notice that we fight like it's fucking world war 3 again. The reason is that I can't just let go of things. And he can't either (but don't tell him that I said so). And then i get super pissed of and reach the conclusion again that people can go fuck themselves if they don't like me.

And with respect to non-climbing friends (or acquaintances sadly) for the past few months I have been conducting an experiment, in which I do not ask people how they are doing, or ask them to go out and do stuff together, but rather wait to see who asks and who cares. This was a direct consequence of the fact that I was writing the thesis and it. was. sapping. me. of. everything. Fullstop. period. The sad result of this experiment is that nobody asked and nobody cared. And of course i started to remember how when their respective lives where going downhill I was there to comfort, listen, and care.
Now of course the logical answer from me is just a big FUCK YOU, a shrug, and a slammed door (I be good at that).

Do we notice a trend here? I guess we do. I notice that things with somebody can be either super cool or they can go fuck themselves. It's kinda sad and I hope it does not make me bi-polar or anything. The even sadder part about this is that it's getting a bit lonely here people*! A bit like high-school but not quite, since the guy I am smitten with is my boyfriend and I no longer think I am fat and ugly.

* Now don't get me wrong, I will not go and jump off the roof of COM2 clutching a note that says "nobody woves me"! The main cause for this rant is that I used to enjoy coming to work because I also had good friends here. It was fun to laugh and chat or do stuff. Nowadays, I just come to work; and rush to leave work to climb (or run) - although this was a major increase in productivity, it just turned work into a big "meh" **.

** Now if this blog was really about graduate programs - I would have commented about the chances of making good friends during phd.

Wednesday, August 4

How to run 10k

Had problems running 10 km? Thinking you can't do it oh no nononono? Well then, THIS is the place to read.

- Start by going out on a 5k rum run with your boyfriend/fiancee/husband/etc - no matter, s/he has to be human, and must like you - a lot - otherwise this does not work

- Throughout the run complain about the following: s/he is running too fast and you have a stitch; s/he is NEVER running right next to you, always a bit in front and therefore you always feel like you are chasing him - hence you run faster, hence the stitch

- When he decides to run behind you, complain that he's making you feel chased (because you can see him with a corner of your eye) and THAT'S WHY you had to dash into the unknown, unlit night at 4:40 min/km. And he had to chase you, lest you get raped at night. in the park.

- When he decides to run in front of you, run slower such that at one point you are so far behind that he can't see you. Then complain that you'll get raped at night in MacRitchie HA! Because he doesn't take care of you!!! [the rape theme can be changed to something else, of course - variation is always the spice of a relationship]

- A very accurate measure of love is a) the step where he will crack; if he doesn't crack the first time, b) and how many times you can do this to him until he gets to the next stage... Read on...

- Once he can't take it anymore, he will start complaining that this is not a run, it's a fucking kidfest and he hasn't had a nice good run in ages. Now be careful, as THIS IS THE SPOT where you want to be!! Once he says that, you must say: "FINE! Pick a 10k route and we run it on Tuesday!"

- Now this is perfect. Because he has been wanting a longer run for so long and! you have been such a bee-itch, you will feel guilty and you will try your best to finish this run sans whining, complaining, bitching, quiting, etc. You are allowed to yell THIRST!! WATER!! THIRSTY!! from time to time, especially since you have been stuffing your face with junkfood the whole day and your entire mouth is dry but you still have little white specks of saliva around your mouth. Of course you are thirsty now, one whole pack of Cheddar soy crisps will do that to you - thanks san! But under no circumstances you are allowed to quit, stop to buy water, or complain about his running.

Monday, August 2

Oskar speech

Probably went through the most scary moment of my life when I submitted the thesis today to the secretary - actually, to the secretary's secretary cause the secretary was out to lunch (sheesh!). Below is my oskar speech, for those of you who are reading here and are not on Fbook (ahem!). Of all of those mentioned below, clarifications and extra hugz are really needed for the following a) the prof (first paragraph - and only one that has one for himself - this one really wrote it with all my heart and without inspiring from other ack's) b) marian (ahem, needed one by himself ahem but it's not a love story what?), c) san and doris for reasons written below and many more hahaha, d) marius (for showing me that you CAN do mountaineering at fifty-fucking-four years old) , e) mihai and mariuca for settling both marian and me in during the first years and last but not least f) my mother - "raising me" should read "putting up with me and my impossible self - really" for about 23 years (i would have kicked myself out long before that). So, here goes nothin'!

It is with unbounded gratitude that I write these lines. I would like to thank my supervisor, Professor Yong Meng Teo, for supporting me throughout this thesis with patience and knowledge, while at the same time allowing me room to follow my own way. Professor Teo has taught me how to look at a problem, what important questions to ask, and how to present my ideas clearly, focusing on the big picture and the important insights, rather than the intricate details of methods. More importantly, through his never-ending patience and kindness in dealing with his students, he has shown me that teaching is an act of patience and understanding, rather than a simple information exchange. I am happy he was my
supervisor throughout these years and could not wish for a better advisor.

I would like to thank my thesis committee, Professors X and Y, for their continuous feedback and encouragement. They have both given me their precious time and provided me the resources I needed. I would further like to thank Prof. Rassul Ayani and Dr Simon See for the helpful and insightful discussions on simulation, composability, and distributed computing. Dr Verdi March has always offered feedback and highlighted important issues during our seminar talks.

In the daily work in the Computer Systems Research Laboratory, I was surrounded by many great friends and brilliant colleagues. To Marian, for being a constant support throughout all the stressful times, putting up with me and making me laugh or focus when needed, there are no words to express my gratitude. To Mihai and Mariuca, thank you for all the coffee breaks and companionship throughout the first part of this quest. To Bogdan and Cristina, thank you for all the insightful conversations on life and computer science, over the never-changing food from the Science canteen. To Marius, I am grateful for showing me the power of believing in my dreams. To Sandra and Doris, thank you for being my climbing guinea pigs and sharing the cost of durians with me, although I always ate the bigger part; you've made this foreign country seem like home. To Cristina, Nandini, Dmitry, and Aleks, thanks for all the fun in this last stretch.

Finally, I thank my mother for raising me, supporting me through my university studies, and always pushing me to give my best.