Friday, April 29

Mistakes of the past

Until now, Qatar airways has got to be THE airline with the worst food I have ever flown - it is even topped by TAROM, the romanian airline. When we boarded our seven hour flight we got a small bread stick as food, and a promise of breakfast six hours later. And this is where the mistakes of the past come to haunt me, because when I booked the ticket I had accidentally left "raw vegetarian" selected in the menu. Afterwards, i went to change it to cooked vegetarian, but turns out that it didn't change. And i got raw vegetarian. Which didn't contain any fruits, suprisingly. And the flight attendant was rude (to everybody), which did even more to sour my mood.

The other options for breakfast were omelette or fried rice. I was somewhat happy with my raw vegetarian as it looked much much better than what my neighbors were having (although they had fruits wtf?)

ALSO, MOST IMPORTANTLY, there was no coffee/tea. And here am I, awake for two hours already and I have not had my coffee. I am slowly turning into a little monster.

Thursday, April 28

Bittersweet - part II

Today I said goodbye to my supervisor. While he will forever remain my supervisor, the next time I will see me he will no longer be my boss. Sadly, he will not be here for my convocation. Nor for when I leave for Adelaide next month. I chocked again, as when I wanted to thank him during my defense. I think he was troubled too, but whether it was because he will miss me or he was scared that I was going to hug him or kiss him on the cheek or something, I do not know.

For you see, our prof is very very shy. The kind of shy that if he were to suddenly be in the limelight (outside professional limelights) he would be so distressed and shudder as if a cold, slimy snake (no offense to snakes!) would suddenly slither up his back. And by limelight in this case would be if somebody would say, ask him what was the color of his t-shirt yesterday or wether he would like prawns or cuttlefish for dinner.

While we have not been friends (and imagine, i was his golden child! how shy can one be?!), he has been a very good professional mentor to me. I do not know about him, but I know that I will miss him immensely. And in truth, the only reason why I am still considering a career in research (rather than only in teaching) is because I think it would make him proud. I guess that in this respect a part of this Chinese make-your-elders-proud has rubbed on me as well.

Tuesday, April 26


On Sunday, Marian and I had our singaporean wedding celebration plus a farewell party for me. It was not a very exciting event but! at least we and I got to see everybody that i wanted to see before I left. With a few exceptions that i see everyday and some that couldn't make it. I do not wanna talk about that, nor about my very pretty dress!

Or the very very cute baby!

But I do want to talk about the fantastic guest book that everybody made! I got fun, quirky, cute, sad, bittersweet messages from everybody, and these messages literally bought tears in my eyes. I cried and cried and cried which did not do my face any good as I was still wearing my non-waterproof mascara. And it was 2 am. And I got a headache. Add that to the late time going to sleep and i was a total mess on monday, which explains the lack of posts. See pics below for details.

Chloe was the producer of my whale-signing CD.

Ely made me cry - with the drawings but mostly with the text.

Jensen drew a portrait of the future hahahahha

Jups drew a PERFECT dyno.

Reg, shaoting, felicia, daffy went crazy! (pardon my finger nail, i dig earth for a living)

One picture Tuesday

On Sunday we had our wedding celebration party + my farewell party (see next post). This is what San and Dor made for me. It's a picture of me with little pictures of me and my times here. I gave San a hug that dislocated her jaw. I don't think she'll ever hug me again.

Friday, April 22

Oh my ...

Last night I had this entire post ready in my head. It was about growing up, getting married, changing etc. I was all glitzy and mature and nice-worded. Well fuck me blind! I can't do it today because I am so truly and utterly shacked from last night's 3 HOUR session of PT.

It started nice and easy enough at 6pm when I met Doris to do her monstrous PT session. We did only 2 half-hour sets of: 10 biceps curls, 10 triceps curls, 10 shoulder curls, 10 lifts, 10 prosperity kitty, 30 wrist curls, 15 elbow curls on each hand, with 5 kg weights per hand; 20 crunches, 20 leg lifts, 6-8 explosive pull-ups (mine were only on crimps so more of the i-will-use-my-momentum-to-lift-up), and then 20 push-ups (for her). Oh yeah, and the 1-minute 90-degrees wall squat, which is the ONLY exercise in this world that I can do better than her (thanks to my monster thighs). My psych had been hovering just a little above zero when I met Doris. However, her psych was minus infinity so by the time we were done both our psyches were minus infinity.

And then Chloe came, and in a while Shaoting came. Now you see, I had agreed to join them for a run since Shaoting had said before that they only run 2.4 km on the track. Seeing how I did 10 km the day before, 2.4k did not sound like such a big thing. Right?! RIGHT?! Well, this is where plans changed and they decided to run the SP route (4.5km). And while inside I was all NO, NO, NO, NO, NOOOO! I kept my cool and just went along with it, in a "nothing you decide to run right now can scare me". And thus went another half hour.

And to continue the series of unfortunate events, we joined Chloe and Judith for their speed PT. And this is how at 9pm I was still doing PT. This time it was 3 sets of: put 0.5 kg ankle weights on each ankle and then bob up and down, trying to lift your knees as high as possible, as fast as possible for 30 seconds. After this Chloe and Jud did their campusing and their dips while Shaoting and I just stoned. And then, it was the lunges. After 3 sets of lunges (20 each leg) I have to say that never ever has my butt hurt soooo bad. I never knew they were so effective!!

Wednesday, April 20

Claudia - Climbing Gym: 2-0

It's been a while since i have admitted to embarrassing things on the blog, and I have yet to recount the story of how I chafed my thighs while running. However, the battle between me and the climbing gym last night was so epic that I have to recount it here as well. I am winning this battle because I have prepared long and hard for it and I have one very important ass-et. [You might have noticed how I have been complaining about a slight increase in my mid-to-lower circumference lately, due mostly to the increase in noodle intake and decrease in training due to work and other commitments.]

Why, only last year I recall that I stepped on a very big (size of a watermelon) green tile and I cracked it right in the middle. That tile is now on display and still in use on the bottom right corner of the Sun moon wall in the NUS climbing gym. How could I crack such a big tile is beyond my understanding. Firstly, these tiles are not made of glass, they break people's skulls when they fall on them. The resin they are made of is quite tough. PLUS, I might be the heaviest of the girls, but there are guys that are heavier than me, right? RIGHT?! Claudia 1, Gym 0.

Last night it was different. Sandra climbs and finishes a route that required stepping with the right foot on a small tile a bit to the right - so a lot of load would go on the foothold. Psyched by the fact that the route seemed finishable, I start climbing it too! I swear that while i was starting I thought that the foothold looked a bit cracked! Anyway, I hold something, I step with my right foot, I load, shift [part] of my weight on it, and in milliseconds I am down on the floor again. The foothold is cracked right in the middle, half of it on the floor, the other half still on the wall. Everybody is laughing and San is saying "NO MORE DINNER FOR YOU!!!" Claudia 2, Gym 0.

Tuesday, April 19

One picture Tuesday

The stuff one finds in one's office if one just opens the door: trashy novels (crime novels, harry potter, and some other stuff).
Yerba mate - 2kgs - anybody interested?

Down gloves.

Two blocks of chalk and one chalk box (just when i was starting to say that we need to buy chalk).

One guide book.

One (ONE) climbing shoe.

Monday, April 18

Meet Tommy!

A new addition to the wide range of one-eyed friends that we have. A good successor to Bobby, whose tired old bones cannot write the photos on the card anymore. Initially we wanted to make Tommy a girl and named him Coco, but firstly, I know a cat named Coco and that would not have been nice (to the cat), and secondly, he really does not look like a girl, now does he?

We will use Tommy together in Romania this year, but for now he will be going to China with Marian, and Bobby will stay with me. Tommy will come back to me as soon as Marian will make it to Adelaide (haha, one more reason to wait for Marian to come visit me in Adelaide!).

Friday, April 15

The battle of the Fatts

With my upcoming uprooting (ha!) from the singaporean soil, i have gone a mass-frenzy eating spree, in which i stuff my face with everything asian but mostly thai food, especially tom yam. This is because after my recent trip to Sydney to get my wedding dress I have found that thai food in Australia is a) expensive and b) guaranteed not spicy (at least not for me). As such I have proceeded to eat as much as possible whenever possible. Needless to say, this has an enlarging effect over my soft bits, which is to say that my butt is truly getting bigger because I have not seen any improvements in cleavage.

And since the PT done on Monday with the bird did not totally killed me, I am insisting that I do the same today. And since the PT itself is too boring to be done by any sane person by herself, I have guilted the bird into staying with me and counting my sets. She is now learning to count in Romanian, and hopefully we will move on to food names by next week. For now, it is:

DOY ...
TREY ...
OPT ...
NOAH ...

Wednesday, April 13

PhD Metrics

I am thinking about clearing up my office and my computer. This involves sorting though all the pdf files that I have, all the books, and all the work that I did through my phd. This is enough to send me screaming in the lab because, as most of you know, I am not really a tidy person, and when it comes to keeping stuff organized I fail [even more] miserably.

As with any gruesome task, it is best to start with a break and a background assessment of what I have to do. During the last years of my PhD, I have collected:

- 8818 .PDF files
- 1061 .JPG files (on my work computer, I am truly scared to see what a count on my laptop will be)
- 76 .TEX files (some of them are not mine, ok?)
- 9226 .JAVA files
- 27000 lines of code (excluding desperate student emails)
- 6 flight itineraries (god knows what happened to the rest!)
- 1668 MP3 files (looks like i don't listen to a lot of music)
- 1453 electronic books - but i read a lot haha

Tuesday, April 12

One picture Tuesday

Because operation nightmare has reached a happy conclusion, I am more than happy to bask in our success. Pretty much like this little guy - (s)he uses this rock quite often!

Monday, April 11

Operation Nightmare. Part I

I never thought it would really get to this, but I think I am a bit out of shape when it comes to shopping. I guess it is because I had to finish a thesis and do stuff but then again I will not complain here. I knew I hated weddings when I jumped on the wedding wagon but this is getting ridiculous... I mean why do you have to match the jewelry to your gown? Who cares about that anyway? Why do you have to have matching shoes for your civil ceremony dress? WHY? WHY? WHY?

My bridesmaids and I have been looking for a dressy enough shirt that one of them can wear for the numerous weddings that she has to attend in the near future. And this is where I find that singapore is truly a really boring place because all we could find were formal, i-gotta-go-to-work-and-look-serious-in-this kind of shirts. I mean, is it too much to ask to put just some silver threads in the fabric or something like that? Why oh why must they all be either white or erm white? And of course how many shades of white you can try on?

Yesterday we achieved 50% of our objective and managed to find a superb dress for Doris (aka The Dodo) to wear (it's not chinese as the one below but it is golden... I love it!!!)

Today we are hitting the stores again in search of the elusive shirt - and i just remembered that Esprit has a formal - dressy section! To get all of them to come I have traded my soul with the devil: I will join dodo to do her Physical Training (PT) (the same dodo who is third in the climbing open women category) and whom i can better at climbing only by grabbing her while on the wall and pulling her off it... This means her PT will not be easy and I will probably not make it till the end! which would leave me fat (as before) and with a tattered pride. All of this only because we need three people to make a decision (we go by 2/3 majority haha) and as such Dodo needs to skip training. Sigh ...

Thursday, April 7

A different kind of training

Sure, as a climber you get a lot of hand-foot coordination. And balance, and core control, and resolution, determination, and commitment (some of us a bit less on the last one - oh my god what am i going to do in Fontainebleau?!?!) And of course, if you are a member of a team or willing to improve yourself, you are all too familiar with training, doing infinite amounts of pull-ups and so on. And of course, if you really want to improve and do harder routes, you are left to intensely contemplating for what seems like eternity how to grip a handhold in a particular way, how to shift your (stately) butt on a tile etc. And all of these will help me in this particular situation.

At first, Marian and I decided to dance the tango for our wedding. But then when I couldn't find a short dress, we decided against it because there's nothing like a big white whale gliding on the dance floor. Good thing we did because even trying to learn the waltz is proving a different kind of training. Oh don't get me wrong, we are very very good on hand-foot coordination. And on tempo, and at least one of us remembers what we have to do (we found a video on the web and we are copying that). Endurance we have since we're also runners.

The problem is grace. I for sure will not be the most graceful bride what with the defined back muscles (THANK YOU JENSEN!!) and the gung ho - "we can move any mountain!! ROAR!!!" - attitude. And Marian has a tendency to bend his knees and stay on his heels (a direct consequence of the national dances he's so good at) that he's miles away from tall, stiff, austrians dancing the waltz.

And so, we train ...

Tuesday, April 5

One picture Tuesday

Ierba mate - incredible analgesic, endurance drug, hunger and thirst quencher. 0.5 kg mate = 1 gr cocaine. Putre, Argentina (near the border with Bolivia) - 2008.

Monday, April 4

Mount Kinabalu and Via Ferrata

Well this post is about four months overdue but still, better late than never! I had previously been to Kinabalu but i was there alone. This time I wanted Marian to climb it too, and also to be away for New Year's eve, as it has been my plan for the last 3-4 years. That is, away from civilization. Add that two labmates that were also willing to come and ther eyou have it, we were a party of four!

The plan was to climb Kinabalu on the night of the 31st to the 1st of Jan 2011, and then descend on the Via Ferrata. The via ferrata was more the cherry on the cake for some than the actual climb. For others, it was really hard and they struggled to pull through but pull through they did, much to their increased confidence and esteem after that! I was a bit miffed by the fact that you are actually downclimbing the via ferrata rather than climbing it, and also by the fantastic price (~400RM) we each payed, but I thought it would be a nice touch.

While in 2007 I payed for everything separated by myself, these days it all comes in a package: accommodations in Laban Rata, buffet lunch and breakfast, etc.

Here's us at park headquarters. We came in early and by 7:30 am had gotten ourselves a guide and were ready to go.

What I really hate about the normal route on Kinabalu is the amount of stairs that you have to climb (and descend). This is why last time I took the Mesilau trail. And while last time it was all about training for the Alps and Aconcagua, this time it was all about taking it slow. And slow we took it.

It was the rainy season and as such the rain started around 11 am and kept up for the bigger part of the day. Good thing for our rain jackets!

Around 3000m B. started to feel the effects of altitude and lack of training and we had to move very slow (and hear him wail). Nonetheless, he pushed through and we were at Laban Rata in no time. Of course, flowers and pitcher plants greeted us on the way.

At Laban Rata we dried our clothes while waiting for the buffet dinner.

In the meantime, around 3 pm, we went to the Via Ferrata guys for briefing and safety instructions. Chris Bonnington had been there!!

At night, during dinner, Marian unveiled why his bag was much heavier than ours: he had been sekretly carrying a bottle of champagne, which we shared with everybody in the mess hall. A great New Year's celebration at 6pm.

And so we went to sleep. At least we tried, because B. was sadly still feeling the effects of altitude. We woke up around 1am, got dressed, and headed out. Our formation was me, B., C., and Marian closing the line. It was dark, thankfully not cold (last time i froze my ass off), and drizzling. I am very happy about the "dark" part of everything, because like that neither B. nor C. could see the walls we were moving on - there is a roped section on a slab wall that I think might be scary for noobs. We moved slowly, very very slowly because B. was really struggling to put one foot in front of the other. Amazingly, he did not quit and we managed to reach the top before sunrise.

We took various sunrise pics and then started to descend for our second part of the journey!

We got to the meetup place for the via ferrata descent. Here's us looking very pro:

And we started the descent. This is where things shifted in our group. Where before C. had been the rock between the B.-C. duo, now she was suddenly aware of the enormity of the task at hand (we had to descend 600m! on a vertical wall! rock! harness! gear!) and was slowly breaking under pressure. In contrast, B. was loving every minute of it, trusting the gear, and all in all having a fantastic time. This time, I was the first, followed by Marian, B. and C. last, next to our guide - a good thing too because he could take care of her - a bad thing too because he was prone to joking and saying stoopid stuff, which i do not know how well went down with C.

The route was nice enough to keep Marian and me somewhat entertained, but it was also very very long, enough to break C.'s composure and leave us wondering how much more is left.

I loved my new yellow jacket and i think it comes out quite nice in pictures.

We had various bridges we could monkey on:

And we reached Laban Rata before the morning rain

A quick breakfast - the buffet breakfast was over by now but they let us order something - about a half an hour more of rest, and we were off. Sadly, B.'s knees chose this particular moment to give in and it took us quite a while to negotiate the horrible steps below, but in the end we reached the park entrance (among the last), but happy and content. I was even more happy because Marian had snuck ahead and collected a LOT of wild raspberries for me.

We were supposed to have buffet lunch, but it was 5pm by now, so they allowed us to have buffet dinner instead. The food was not great but we had free flow of tea ...

Friday, April 1

Ripping a band-aid

After running my marathon in December last, where I got my best present ever, I had reduced the amount of running. Partly because I defended, partly because I was looking for jobs, but I guess I also needed a break. So I kept my running to a minimum, around max 10-12 km per week.

But recently I have been trying to really up the stakes as i wanna run a marathon in July, and I tried to go up to maybe 5 km per run. Sadly, I have been finding this incredibly difficult. I think it is because I have been running around 6 pm when it's very hot. And also my route contains 4 steep hills. Excuses or reasons, I had been finding it very hard, stopping during the run, asking myself "why" questions ...

So this is why on Monday I ran 10 km. I did stop and it was a bit difficult, but after this my 6km run yesterday went smoothly and without hick-ups. I did not need to stop and I did not feel like stopping. I did not ask myself "why" questions, and also, I have been able to think about and solve other stuff.

I love the feeling I get when the answers to important questions (in this case what shoes to wear for my farewell party) come to me during runs. It's a double epiphany!