Sunday, January 30


For me, what makes or breaks a presentation I give is whether I can find a friendly face in the audience to which I can look at. For my Phd defence, my audience had the following specimens (the room was divided in two, with the right-hand side containing the yawner, and the left, everybody else; committee was distributed evenly)

  • The Committee: front rows, use sparingly, limited interest, but still, most alert. Engage sparingly to avoid annoyance.

  • The Yawner: could not contain his yawns; caught him yawning twice and as such I never looked in his direction again (too bad he was sitting next to Marian and as such I have no recollection of Marian during my talk.

  • The Frowner: right behind the last member of the committee, this one would frown deeply (not helped by her dry forehead skin) in three different ways: (a) I have no idea what you are talking about; (b) hm ... is it so? ; (c) WTF?!?!?!!?!! I found her deeply disturbing but still I continued to look in her general direction because she was better than the yawner. Also, she was a constant in the presentation, as sometimes I would look at her to make sure that yes, she was still frowning.

  • The Stoned: to the bone. This one was Doris, who looked like she would be zonking out on me any minute now.

  • The Positive: Always giving me a thumbs up whenever I looked his way. Used sparingly for re-assurance.

  • The Intellectual: [Daffodil] Looking like she understood perfectly what I was saying - helped by the specs!

Friday, January 28

Never say never

  1. I used to say I will never get married. And here I am, getting married in May.

  2. I used to say that geeks are seriously pathetic. And here I am, marrying one.

  3. Similarly, I used to say that weddings are for idiots. I still think so, but now I understand that some people actually might want their entire family and friends to be there for them on this day (seriously, what's so special about that day?) . And here I am, having a wedding.

  4. I used to feel superior to people that went to school during uni years instead of getting a job and fending for themselves, like I did. And here I am, five years later, envying their obviously superior knowledge about CS stuff.

  5. I used to despise people that went on to get an even higher degree (i.e. master's, PhD). Used to say that they are afraid of facing real life. Who wants to be in school for yet at least five years or so? And here I am, Dr. Claudia.

  6. On a more positive note, I used to say that going to the Himalayas was not for me, as I was a smoker, a drinker, and a fat whale. And here I am, came back from Nepal only a month ago.

  7. I also used to say that I will never ever eat polenta. And here I am, enjoying it tremendously whenever I have the chance.

  8. I used to say that this blog is about photography and graduate programmes. But it was not. It was about climbing, running, stupid little things that I did everyday while trying to piece my obviously distributed and scattered brain into something resembling a human being. And here I am, changing the title.

And yes, there's a DR attached to my name now, although the DR is only of Philosophy, hahahaha!

Thursday, January 27

And this is how I get abused everyday

Yesterday and for reasons that will be explained here tomorrow, Doris got a chance to be alone with my computer and my Facebook account. Where she posted lots of things about various stuff most of which will be discussed tomorrow. However, she also did this to my desk, which I am actually going to keep. That is because the surface of it is a bit rough and it sort of scratches my forearm a bit. And my desk was clean by my standards!! sure there was a bunch of papers on the left hand side, and there might be a gecko living behind them, but it was damn clean! I can still find things on it!

Also notice that I might need to clean the keyboard, as you can distinctly see two white-ish smudges on the space bar where my thumbs press it. Ahem.

Tuesday, January 25

One picture Tuesday

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, come Wednesday (tomorrow) things should pick up one way or another. Until then, let me share with you the reason for which I want to spend all my days in the lab from now on.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, an expresso machine. Yup. A colleague and I are sharing the cost (ONLY 200 SGD) although I have yet to pay him. Nonetheless, gone are the crappy coffees from the business canteen!

Saturday, January 22


Last night we went to see "Carmen", by Bizet. I suppose it did not help this performance the fact that I had previously seen it in Bucharest, only recently. But still, I am most happy that I did not fork out the extra $$ to sit closer to the stage. It was a mixed performance, with caucasians and asians thrown into the pot.

I think this particular Carmen was only selected because she came from France and um, spoke French (ms. Sophie Fournier). Otherwise, her high notes were very low, and she sounded like she was an avid smoker. The quire actually had to tone it down a bit at some point because they were covering her. And here was I thinking that the biggest problem we were going to have with this opera was the fact that the French accent was a bit off. And then Carmen started her "Habanera" and I started crying. Even I have more volume than her. The sad part was that the girl playing Michaela, a Singaporean, had a fantastic voice and would have been much more suited than her French counterpart. And then disaster struck...

The toreador, a.k.a the bull-fighter, was a 1.70m and 60kg Chinese!! Mind you, he would have been very fit for a climber, but not for a toreador! I quickly nicknamed him "El Senor Mosquito" for his imposing figure ... and would burst out laughing whenever "El Senor Musquito" would make his appearance on scene. A good indication of how beefy he was is the fact that he never wore any tights at all, which would have been even more hilarious. Ah well .. good part is that at least I have something to bitch about... the singapore performing arts scene is really not that advanced, so every morsel is welcomed.

Tuesday, January 18

One picture Tuesday

LATER EDIT: Went to the Page One bookshop in the end. They had a lot of books, which I didn't expect for a mall bookshop, but! all of them were wrapped in plastic and you couldn't really browse ... Interesting enough, they were playing romanian music!

A lot has been happening, not necessarily in order of importance: my new shoes are giving me hot spots, the bird needs to learn to put expectations somewhere in the background and on silent, maybe the defense day is coming ... More importantly, I need to get my ass in a librarybookshop very very soon. I have been using hippo (the e-reader) for so long that I miss the smell and touch of books. So we'll be heading for Kinokuniya later and hopefully I will not buy anything!

I am putting up a picture of happy Doris, hopefully to help her with her looming depression. I hate expectations and what they do to some people, myself included. It's the expectations that landed me in open category (san's expectations got the better of her waaaay back in 2007 which left room for me to finish one route and promote although I had not been able to start on the other 4 routes and I still am not good enough for open category - plus, the prizes for that comp were pathetic) and I will never EVER forgive them for that. If the big, old, face full of zits caucasian (the one in the green t-shirt) is the face of your (and others') expectations, this, and i mean it, THIS is what you must do to them:

Friday, January 14


I think I just made the most crucial decision of my climbing life (and no, it does not have to do with carbohydrates) ...

I (together with san) just bought an expensive, very professional, very precise, very aggressive, climbing shoe.

Behold, La Sportiva Miura VS!

Besides the ugly color, it fits like a glove. The fit of the heel is amazing, the thickness of the sole looks promising (although I am not sure it will last as much as the Five Ten Galileo I am giving up).

It also says something about oneself. And I hope it will not say about me: "Wow, that girl has enough money to buy this expensive shoe. Too bad she can't climb for nuts." or "Wow, that girl has enough money to buy this expensive shoe. Too bad, that even with its precise tip, her footwork still sucks."

Basically, i gotta start training and climbing to live up to my shoes.

And also to get Doris to paint something on them because now the THREE of us have the same shoe, in its puky, ugly, yellow color (not pictured).

Wednesday, January 12


[And probably the only mushy lovey ovey thing you are ever going to hear from me with respect to the wedding]

Wedding date: 14.05.2011

14 - the number i had back in secondary school when i used to play basketball.

05 - prime number. Also, may is in spring, which in romanian is "Prim-avara". So it also starts with prime :))


Tuesday, January 11

One picture Tuesday

Recently, the NUS climbing team has grown to a number that is approaching 40. Gigantic! I remember the days when the girls' team had seven members, namely: Sandra, Mei Fen, Nita, myself, Eli, Kayilin (hope I got the names right) and Cherlyn. Then we grew into this:

And then four of us left (san, me, zx, keok) but many many more came. Hell, I still remember when Regina could not do a pull-up (and did not want to try), Ely was heavier and harder to help during campusing ... but I digress...

What I wanted to say is that the team is ginoromous and it needs the gym. Full stop and that is that. And as such, the rest of us can only climb on Monday/Tuesday before 8 pm, and on Friday. This is really a bummer because if we end work at six, by the time we get to the gym is 6:30 (AT LEAST - san has to travel 1 hr or so), so we only have around 1.5 hours of climbing time. That being said, we tried it last night to see how it would be.

We arrived at 6:30 sharp and started climbing right away, but had to stop because the girls needed to warm up for their training. Five minutes later we could resume again. I must say we really climbed intensely: one warm-up route and after that it was full-on with hard routes (for us ahem), no excuses, no resting, TRY TRY TRY TRY quickly! I can still remember the routes, which is something that has not happened to me in a while. It worked pretty well and by the time the girls came to claim their gym we went upstairs to do some strength training. The two sets we did were horribly hard, as we had been climbing a bit harder and our skin was rebelling. Or we are weak and haven't been doing this in a while. We came down again and the girls were shacked thanks to Jensen's training ( you know when the training was good when the gym is quiet, despite there being 15 or so girls in there). Thus we could do two or three more tries, but by this time I was out of juice and so was san and we had a work day coming up so we left.

That being said, it was nice and intense but I don't think our Mondays will be as cool if there are suddenly 10-15 of us that want to try the routes quickly, without stop, because we only have 1.5 hours to climb. There were some random team people as well in the gym. They were climbing on one wall and really not disturbing us, but I do think that if there are more dinos the team people will get lynched for hogging the walls :)

Also, I want to do endurance on Fridays during lunch or so. First, set up the endurance route, and then climb it ... am taking this opportunity to ask any of the girls reading this (and willing to climb on fri during the day) to tell me what time!

Monday, January 10

Annapurna Circuit Trek - Part IV

[Read the rest of the annapurna story here.]
Day 7. Acclimatization in Manang
Well, what better way to spend the rest day cum acclimatization day in Manang (3500m) if not by doing some light treks? You can't find romanian trekkers around the world, mostly because a) few people have enough money to trek "internationally"; b) those people that have enough money usually by this time in their lives do not want to spend 3 weeks in the middle of nowhere, carrying backpacks and generally feeling miserable. This is why i always try to show face and give romanians a good name in general.
This went down the drain on this morning, when seeing this from the window of my room made me rush outside in the middle of the street in my thermals (they are tight, yeah?) and sandals. Luckily, it was 5:45 am and nobody, except a few yaks here and there, was actually outside.

After a quick breakfast we strolled outside to take some pictures. We took the time to identify the places that had the best apple pie, by sampling each place. Ahem.

We strolled some more and in the end decided to go for a quick trek to a glacier lake that was near our hotel. Pictures below for our drooling pleasure.

I want to paint my house this color:

We finished the day by going to the cinema: a windowless room at the basement of a shop, with a big wood-stove in the middle, benches covered with yak skins and rats (yes, rats) doing sprints from one side of the room to the other. We saw "Into the Wild", which Marian and I had not seen before.

Day 8. Manang (3500m) - Yak Karka (4250m)
We woke up around 6 plus only to notice that a slow and steady snow was in the process. The day before we had selected a coffee shop with nice apple pies to serve as our breakfast HQ for today. It looked like the coffee shop was the chosen one for everybody, because we found most of the trekkers we knew already there. Most of them were really apprehensive about leaving saying that the snow is going to get heavy, and OH MY GOD YOU CAN'T PASS!! and the like..

We continued our breakfast and didn't say anything, but it was obvious we were leaving since we were in full gear. In the end, when we got up to leave, there was a silence in the shop, and finally somebody wished us good luck.

Needless to say that the snowing stopped in one hour or so, and we reached Yak Karka safely but very early, only to be followed by the rest of the trekkers later on. Ah well, it is good to be cautious, but that was ridiculous. After one hour of snowing, the snow was only about 1 cm thick! Anyway, the lack of people on the trail allowed us to see many animals.

We spent the day in Yak Karka walking around, drinking a lot of water, and taking photos of yaks! Of all of us, only Claudia was a bit swollen (see next post to see how this turns out)

Thursday, January 6

Resolution Day

I must admit that my initial intention was really to blog about the Annapurna circuit trek, with which I am still two reports short, but, inspired by one of my friends' latest decision, I decried to talk about resolutions. New year's resolutions at that, since, after a tiring new year's night, I am finally coming to terms with the fact that the new year is indeed, coming. And of course, with this realization comes my need to plan and list the stuff that must be done this year. Like get married, graduate, loose [some of] the butt and so on and so forth. A bit more thinking and the list changes. As I am slowly and surely approaching 30 - zomg I still think like an 18 year old, I realize that some things about me need to be changed. So I am replacing the usual new year's list with the one below.

  • Give people second chances - I always decide in the first 20 seconds of meeting somebody whether I like them or not. Regardless of the answer, this changes only very very rarely. If I decide that I don't like somebody, I almost instantly raise my guard, and it shows. Similarly, I am very quick to dismiss former friends that have wronged me. And once I see one wrong, the rest are soon to follow - because let's be honest, if one opens her eyes big enough, one is sure to find we all suck.

  • Do not checklist my life - I do not do this, but I know that A LOT of people do, especially here in Singapore, and I guess in many other worlds: car [check], wife[check], kids [check], house, possessions, money... I know a lot of people need this for self assurance, and for evaluating their lives, and I hope I never fall in this trap.

  • Live everyday by itself - I lived last year between four important milestones: new Zealand, going home, submitting thesis, and going Nepal.  Secondary milestones were going chiang mai, the kl trip, and the kinabalu trip. I lived between these milestones only by looking forward and thinking about the next. This was wrong. And other than the four things, I dun remember much about last year - did I get my ears pierced then? I want to have my life made up of days, and each individual day with it's own stories and life. Not only will i definitely live longer, but i think i will feel more fulfilled. For example, today is obviously Resolution Day, whereas yesterday was work-till-u-drop day- should have as little of these as possible too!

Tuesday, January 4

One picture Tuesday

Here's looking at the New Year. 2011, I am watching you!!

Monday, January 3

A happy announcement

So, to keep it up with the great announcements of the day before, I have one announcement to make that clearly wins over the one that we climbed Mt. Kinabalu.

I am coloring my hair pink!!!!

Wait, no, I am not. I be too old for that. But!

Marian and I are getting married! Yup. It's been around for a while, but we have just bought the tickets to Europe and so, providing any unforeseen circumstances such as death or hot mistresses, the two of us will be getting married on the 14th of May, 2011, at the Sf. Apostoli church, in Caracal*.

*Those of you that know me and read this blog, if you can make it to Romania, COME!! I mean, how often can you see me in a dress? And willingly in a church?

** I wanted to tag this post with "lime ju", which is what I normally use when i am happy-chappy. However, I realized that this deserves more than just a "lime ju" so, wishful thinking ahead, I replaced it with the hottest, most spiciest, lovely thing that I know I will never ever get tired of. I find good ones, I find bad ones, I find horrible ones, but I never ever give up on it. Yup, you got it, the tom yam soup!

Sunday, January 2


And a happy new year everybody! Climbed mount Kinabalu (again) and descended a via feratta (for real, not the plastic-y, fake one in Singapore), all during the night of the 31st December -1st January! A tiring, but still exhilarating way to start the new year! My charity project, in which I sometimes take people mountaineering, was not a stupendous success like the Nepal trip, but it wasn't a horrible failure either. The two people we were with were unfit but complaining, which by now I am really intolerant to. Nonetheless, it was great and we ALL made it in the end. The sad part is that I still have to accompany 2 more people to Kinabalu, which only means that I have to descend those horrible stairs again.

The only problem with having such a great start to the year is that the rest of the year must match the start. Hopefully, this year I will (finally) manage to graduate and find some poor sucker to hire me, for real money in a real job :)