Wednesday, June 29

Information my mother must not get

[and now I realize .. a good blackmail information for some of you out there]

1. That there is a romanian orthodox church in Adelaide - I will tell her this when she comes visit, but I will probably feign that I have just found out this information.

2. That there is a romanian association in Adelaide. I have registered, but only such that I know what are the places, restaurants, shows, etc., frequented by romanians (and here i am grossly generalizing) such that I totally avoid them.

What is the internet council's views on this? If you're an expat, do you actively avoid meeting your fellow countrymen?

Tuesday, June 28

One picture Tuesday

I love my pocket knife because it got me from this

to this

with only 1 hour and a half of screwing. Ha, that sounded bad.

Sunday, June 26

What I did this Saturday

1. I love and hate traveling by myself. I love that I can read my book whenever i want to. But i hate that i have nobody to discuss what i see with, nobody to share the food (imagine that, me wanting somebody to share the food!), nobody to discuss the plan, nobody to look at e frigging map while I drive, nobody to bicker at when I get lost.

2. Yesterday I decided to go to McLaren Vale to see some wineries such that when people decide to visit (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!) I can actually take them some places other than work and my favorite central market.

First I went to Willunga to the fresh market, where i bought fresh grapes and apples and bread and cofffee. Then I wanted to go to Port Willunga and got lost. This is what I found when I got lost.

It's winter here, so everything is a bit barren

Eventually i reached my destination and had a fish for brunch. Good fish. No picture:

And soon I reached the wineries:

Some vines still had dried leaves on them

Had lunch overlooking this hill

Thank god for thick books

Shiraz, anyone?


Thursday, June 23

A Normal Wedding - part 1

Wanted to say "traditional romanian wedding" but it really wasn't all that traditional.

1. Marian and I decided to do the whole thing (civil ceremony, church, reception) in one day, to get it over and done with. First, it was the wedding ceremony. I tried to wear a cheongsam, which is a traditional Chinese dress. I say try because I found that after nepal, my marathon, etc, and with the thesis defense, sampling an enormous amount of food now that i was leaving singapore, etc, I HAD GAINED WEIGHT! So, one week to go before the wedding and I could barely walk in the dress, let alone sit down. Mysterious ballooning of the thighs. Ah well, little did I know that this ballooning was all going to take care of itself during the stressful days before the wedding. I will spare you an account of all the stupid arguments we had, but I will say that I fought with Marian's parents (each at one time), and with my mother, whereas Marian only fought with his parents. He's the wiser of the two of us, indeed.

Anyway, fast-forward to the wedding morning. After being woken up at ungodly hours the previous nights by either Sandra (whose watch was on Singapore time) or various party-mother-fuckers, I woke up this morning at a fantastic 6:30 am! Rushed to the hair dresser with the girls and then back again. Lo and behold, the dress fit!!

We left on time for the mayor's office but while descending the stairs of the hotel, my mother slipped!
And fell headfirst!! Super shocking moment, but thankfully she only had a badly bruised wrist! Whew! Tragic moment averted, this only left us with running to the mayors office, instead of gently strolling.

Of course, Marian was even more late than I was, and everybody was there already. Did I mention that my grandma and my grandpa managed to come?!

It wasn't long before the people responsible for shooing us in had us organized (two in a row) to go in. Next thing we knew, we were in front of the mayor.

You will never guess what I am thinking about. I am thinking that I had not practiced saying "YES" with a strong, convincing voice. And after Marian's sheepish "yeees" (and the mayor's beckoning for him to say it louder), the pressure was on me! I did ok, with only a slight tremor. Here is Marian signing away half his Travian troops to me. HAHAHAHAHHA!

After that it was time to go outside and take lotsa and lotsa pictures. Here are most of my relatives, together with my grandma, grandpa, and three of grandma's sisters and brother. My grandma is almost 80, and my grandpa is 85 - that's why I am harpingso long about that :)

With the girls, of cors:

Now, the wedding photographer made us pose and do all sorts of stuff ... I tried not to tell him to stuff it, and as such I am laughing like a mad woman in most of the photos.

2. After the civil ceremony, the mad rush from hell ensured. Marian had to get ready, with his best man shaving him. They had to then go get the god parents. In the meantime, I had to get ready.

Apple and wine are used as shaving gel, and a biig knife as a razor.

Then, it was off to the god parents. The groom gets a BIG flower in his chest (background: marian took half an hour to pick this one, out of a sample of three flowers).

In the meantime, back at the hotel, my grandmother's sisters were preparing a special song for my veiling ceremony. The song was a cover after a traditional song, and included singapore, the girls, marian's folks, them coming all the way from Moldova to Oltenia... it was fantastic. It also made me cry during the veiling.

Now, the veiling. The godmother, in the meantime transported from the previous picture, puts my veil on. My special godmother also got me that BIG red flower, which I totally loved.

I managed not to look like Hulk's sister (Jensen's exact words), and for this, I am happy.

When Marian came to fetch me, somebody else (aka Dodo) was given in return.

Will Marian give up a tremulous existence with me and take up a relatively mild one with dodo?! (although she might risk poisoning or electrocuting him accidentally?!!) Stand by for the next post!

Tuesday, June 21

One picture Tuesday

The pro-pictures are finally up online and a full-of-photos post is soon to follow, but here's a preview:

Sunday, June 19

A sad running story

The sad benefits of moving from a tropical area to a southern hemisphere temperate area is that, chances are, you'll wear more clothes. My usual running attire has been promoted from tights, sportsbra, singlet to
- stockings
- thicker stockings
- tights
- running shorts on top of tights
- sportsbra
- merinos fleece
- other fleece
- t-shirt
- red balacava.

And yes, I look like a fucking bank robber. This is because on the first running day here I did not wear any scarf or anything to cover my mouth and I totally sandpapered my throat. To the extent that I barely could eat for a weak, to say nothing of running. I am a bit better now, but still have to go for the bank robber look.

Yesterday the predicted weather was "1-2 showers and then we're heading on into the 17s. SEVENTEEENS PEOPLE!" I waited for half a day for the 1-2 showers to come and for the gloomy weather to head into the 17s. As it did not seem to want to go there, but it was also very stable, I headed out. I had to run 30 km and had mistakenly replaced my usual food for these endeavours (powergels) with snickers bars. This turned out to be mistake number two. Mistake number one was wearing the red scarf, which resulted in me panting to increase temperature and humidity of the air that went into the lungs, which resulted in me virtually dying by km 10 - although I hold the steep hill responsible for that as well.

Anyway, by km 10 I was dead and ready to throw in the towel. Of course this was not going to happen, so I plodded away thinking that at this horrible pace it's gonna take me at least two more hours to finish. Alas, heaven heard my silent prayers and rain started to fall. My pace increased and I headed briskly for the nearest bus stop. Of course, after five minutes of waiting there and freezing my ass off, I decided that this was not going to work and i started running in the rain.

[In chamonix, I had bought a rain jacket, that at this point was resting in my office.] Rain here is, of course, like rain everywhere else on this earth. It's cold and wet. As opposed to Singapore, where it's warm and wet.

I continued to run in the rain for five more kms. At some point the rain stopped, thus destroying any hope i had of a good excuse to stop running. Around the 15th km, I stopped again to eat a snickers bar. I think I must've taken a bigger bite than my sore throat could handle because I remember feeling an immense "THIS IS IT!", a short, faint-y like sensation, after which it managed to pass and I wasn't dead. But I was finished with running. I threw the rest of the snickers bar in the trash and proceeded for the bus stop, without absolutely any remorse.

I paid my 4.60 (FOUR DOLLARS SIXTY CENTS) for the bus ticket and sat down and enjoyed the warmth. (yes, buses here are warm when it rains!) Cooked a gigantic pot of chicken soup and enjoyed three bowls of it, after which i went to sleep at 7pm. Slept until 8 am this morning.

Thing is, a long time ago I promised myself i will run a marathon every year. I thank heavens still that my exact words weren't "I will finish a marathon every year", so this means that I don't have to finish the Goldcoast marathon on July 3rd. Right?!? RIGHT?!?!

Thursday, June 16

Touching the sky

Many times while climbing you feel like you are touching the sky. Whether it is above you or the wind is wooshing under your butt and you look down or behind you and see a big, deadly, valley

or the deep green water

you are definitely close to something much bigger and more important than yourself. Add to that the adrenalin, the sudden pang of your [more] conscious brain that sometimes tells yells at you: "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?! Trying to get the both of us killed?!", the never-ending competition with yourself, and the realization that if you really think about it, there's only a small thread and a piece of iron that keeps you from dying, and I knew why people are addicted to climbing. And until this honeymoon/grad trip I thought there was nothing that could equal it for me.

Until the dodo bird insisted that we do paragliding. Tandem of course, which meant that there was another instructor flying with us. There were four of us and two instructors only, which meant that Marian and I went first and the instructors returned for dodo and san. I got the more pro (ha!) instructor, which was also taller and had bigger forearms (queue fetish). He was 43, didn't look a day over 30 and told me that many climbers once they start paragliding climb less and less.

And I could see why. The ultimate silence, the exquisite liberty and control, the wind flapping, the fantastic views.

And the small piece of cloth between you and eternity, the adrenalin - I screamed my lungs out when we did a 360 - and the ultimate thrill when you drive (he let me drive, woo hoo!!), the true MAGIC of it all, are all the ingredients one needs to be addicted to it. If you ever have the chance, go try it! Of the entire Europe trip, these were the best money spent (other than on the cherries)

Tuesday, June 14

One picture Tuesday

One of the reasons why I think I will enjoy Australia (and Adelaide) is the various types of birds I keep seeing everywhere!

Monday, June 13

My Nemesis

I am a weak climber. I know it, my fellow climbers know it, hell, everybody that has heard me climb knows it. The bane of my climbing existence are slopers because I do not train them enough, i have a weak wrist and a big bum (working on the first and the third). I am reasonably good at overhangs because I might be weak and fat but I am also strong beefy. I went climbing on Saturday at the gym and I nearly cried because it was crowded (again) and full of kids (again) - note to self: do not go to the gym on weekends. Anyway, after using their bouldering facilities for a while (pathetic, they are), one of the staff invited me to go climbing with them on Sunday. And off I went. Perhaps I should not have done the last two sets of campusing when they told me that.

Anyway, when i got to the climbing crag (Norton Summit, fyi), my grin turned to doubt and was later replaced by sobs of frustration. And here's why:

1. Overhang. About 30-35 degrees. Not much. Not much my ass!

2. Unfamiliar rock - quartz with sandstone (?) - no jugs, no pockets. Slopers (mostly), ledges, pinches, and crimps - Sandra would love it here!

3. Little roofs!

4. Gradewise: one 21, one 23, and the rest from 27 upwards. 21 is 6b.

Result: I top roped! HA!

Sunday, June 12

It's been a week now

And finally I think I can talk about the farewell without starting to cry. And I know everybody is waiting with bated breaths to know wether I cried or not before I entered the gate.

And the answer to this is ... almost.

I was getting ready to go through the gates. And I was walking in front trying to control the tears that were already filling my eyes. When Daniel, who was walking besides me, sees the tears and says: "Awww... don't cry!" Which of course started them a bit but I managed to control them despite Daniel's insistence "Awww... don't cry!"

And I reach the gate and turn around to hug Sandra and Doris and I see that San is crying already and then of course all floodgates were open and there we were, the three of us, crying like lunatics.

And of course now that the floodgates are open I can't stop at all. And i go through customs and through airport clearance, and through the gates and I am still crying. And of course I have no tissue and the mucus flood from hell is spurting from my nose (yes, I wiped it on my pants thank you very much).

When I got on the plane my first stop was to the bathroom, where I picked up a big wad of tissue paper, because the girls had made a scrapbook for me and I knew I was going to cry. And cry I did, at every single page (pictures to come, once i find the camera cable).

This was despite the romanian couple that was sitting behind me and that was having the FIGHT FROM HELL (in romanian of course). I got to know all the private details of their life, how much they hated and despised their respective families, and how they were new immigrants, going, of all places, to Adelaide. And they fought and fought and screamed and fought and I was sure they were going to get a divorce right there and now because nobody says "death is going to de-flower your mom" (I KID YOU NOT) to somebody else and expect that somebody to be married to them after this?!!?! Right?! And I was caught in the worst of situations because I should have said something the moment i heard them speak romanian and how would it look if I said something now, three hours into their fight? And I was crying (because of the scrapbook) and angry (because of the nasty words they were saying to each other) and as such I devoured Jensen's bak kwa.

My only sweet revenge was when, before landing, I opened up charlene's box of chocolates, turned around and offered them some (in romanian). By now they were happy with each other again but the look of embarrassment (on his face) and surprise (on hers) was priceless.

And the image of sandra crying still brings tears to my eyes because it's not often that her hard shell cracks, least of all in front of so many strangers.

[and i promise, this is one of the last depressing posts]

Friday, June 10

Oh my, has it been so long?

Just realized that maybe, just maybe, I haven't been blogging for ages. The reason for this prolonged silence is that yes, I have moved to Adelaide. Initially I wanted to blog when a successful move happened, but sadly I can't do that yet. So, short of everybody declaring me dead or the equivalent, I am blogging now.

In the past eight (EIGHT) oh my god has it been that long?! - days, I have done the following:

- took a plane to Adelaide

- got greeted by the C-C-C-COLD! It's freezing sadly, and it's only 12-14 degrees here. I guess one of the reasons for this horrible C-C-C-COLD is that I have chosen to fill my airplane bag with rope, quickdraws, running shoes, training clothes (climbing pants, running SHORTS ha!) etc. And .... summer clothes. This is because when i looked online, the weather said 20 degrees in Adelaide (must've been a hot day fucking hell)

- met up with Claudia and Bogdan, our Nepal trekking friends, who flew from Goldcoast to help me for a while with settling down.

- went to the climbing gym - the situation is kinda pathetic as the bouldering wall there is flat, but maybe there are more gyms around?! [gotta research this out]

- got myself an australian phone number

- ATE GOOD FOOD (but I am craving my tom yam like madd) - the western food here is quite delicious and not pricy at all (for australian standards, mind you)

- bought a CAR. This is the most significant purchase I have made (other than the 200 den stockings - the stockings I wore for my wedding were 15 den haha) in a while. Also, the most expensive yet. The car is a toyota echo and her name is Snow White. (guess why, pictures are coming up)

- found my office! It has a window!! (pictures coming up)

- got my application rejected! Here you have to apply for a rental property. If the owner/landlord/agent likes you, then you get it. If not, too bad. Good thing i have a car, worse comes to worst, I can sleep in the car!

- it was only after Bogdan and Claudia left, that i have truly started to feel alone and lonely (cue violins). I have trouble sleeping and eating - but this might be because I'm stressed about not finding a house as well - keep your fingers crossed!

Ok, this is it for the updates, will be resuming our normal flow this weekend!

Thursday, June 2

Thoughts on leaving

I have been alluding to this for a long time now but I guess it is a good time to make an official announcement: on Friday, 3rd of June, I will be leaving Singapore and shifting to Adelaide - yay! aussie pictures coming up!!

Now before I bring out the tissue I want to say that throughout the years I have become VERY, VERY good at leaving. I am capable of leaving my family, dog, mother, grandmother, favorite place in the whole wide universe, turn my back, get on the plane, and not shed a single tear [Other than the violent sobbing in the plane toilet and the occasional roar during movies such as "UP!" and "Kung Fu Panda 2" (yes, when that duck looked into the panda's eyes and said "don't leave, Po!" I was bawling).] While I am so good at leaving, I am not so good at keeping in touch, and thus I have kept very few (2) friends from the olden days.

However, this time is different. Not only am I leaving behind a hoard of friends that have touched me and shaped me in ways I have never thought possible but I am also leaving behind a husband, my two bestest friends (aka the besties, for those big bang theory fans out there), tom yam soup, DURIANS, and last but not least the stuffy and chalky climbing gym. Not only that, but I am going to Adelaide all by myself (issue Celine Dion "All By Myself") to face the world of lecturing alone. And what really scares me is the fact that I have tears in my eyes as I write this, which only means that tomorrow when I will really leave I will be a spectacle of sobs and mucus. Hurray!

So I guess, what I'm trying to say is I'm leaving, but I'm not. Australia is only 8 hours by flight away (hey, compare it to Singapore->Europe!), 2.5 hours time difference ONLY!, there's climbing in the Blue Mountains and New Zealand is fantastic! So if you don't come visit, I will muahhahahahah! (right now I know for sure that I will be back in July and November, yay!)

Wednesday, June 1

Techincal helpdesk saga

I know for sure that there is somebody in this school that will be eternally grateful that I will be leaving soon. And that person is the one that is manning the technical helpdesk here at our NUMBER 12 in the world COMPUTER SCIENCE school. For you see, helpdesk here is run by non-extremely-technical-savvy people that rely on printouts of "next->next" screen to identify/fix problems.

Problem no 1: A while ago the internet connection on my desktop was down. A quick check to other comps in the lab revealed that they were still online, so the problem had to be either with my computer or ... . Anyway, I did all the usual things, restarted everything etc, even went to the trouble to change my mac address to the wildcard we sekretly hold in our lab, but to no avail. So I decide to call the helpdesk with my problem. The lady there, after listening, says: "Go to control panel -> settings " . And I say, I can't go there, it's a Mac. What do you mean it's a mac? Says here it's a windows PC.

And I say "It's a mac!"

She: "Ok. Go to control panel, settings ..."

After going to and fro she decides it's a problem with the fact that I have MacOS and therefore she can't help me. And that I should send her an email (see reason for problem number 1 - WTF?!?!?!!!!!!) with the error (WHAT ERROR!?!). After several more angry calls in which she finally changes her attitude (once realizing that I might be calling from a student lab but I am not only a student FUCKING HELL WAS THAT NECESSARY?!), and during which internet connection fails on all comps in the lab, she finally calls back to say that: "Internet is down. Will be fixed." and she hangs up!

Problem no 2: Today I needed to access an online form to extend something. Of course, I log in, and I find that said link does not work with any browser, neither Firefox, Chrome, Safari. I try a PC as well, in which I only (to my shame) try Firefox.After it does not work, I send email saying it does not work. Prompt reply: "Your browser has issues. Try internet exploder on PC".

Of course, I go try and lo and behold, it does not work! Email back saying it does not work.
"Then is either your notebook or PC problem.

Alternatively you may come down to ... to fill in the

Future prodding reveals that if you log-in with a staff account, it works. With student account it does not work - although it's students that are supposed to use that eForm. I send her this revealing bug - probably some authentication since they merged such that login is done with NUS accounts, and also I send her my account with my password.

To which she candidly replies: "Dear ...

You are not supposed to sent your password thru email. The eform ONLY works if a student has both NUSNET and SoC a/c.
" - > lo and behold, EVERYBODY in the lab (yes, I had them try) has both NUSNET and SoC acc!!!!!!

There is steam coming out of my ears at this point!!!

And her last answer:
"Dear ...

I am aware that you are extending your SoC a/c

Please login using your NUSNET staff a/c ... to extend your SoC a/c

Don't worry about other user in the lab, if they have problem they can sent an
email to ...@...

Let's settle your case first.