Tuesday, October 30

One picture Tuesday

And what probably is the corniest picture. EVER. Also taken with a phone. My apologies but today has been a horribly tiring day.  

Got the anonymous feedback from my students. Two things are troubling me: firstly (and I have yet to read it properly) there seems to be very few negative comments, and, moving from that, very little feedback. Secondly, the fact that they liked me does not mean that a) i'm a good teacher, and, most importantly, b) that they learned anything. 

And yes, I bought a handbag but not any shoes! YAY! One minor hurdle has passed but the "big ice cliff" (to quote one of my students when talking about an assignment) is still unresolved. However, I have a backup plan! It involves getting really angry at everybody, quitting and going climbing for three years. These years (and achievements within) should give me a good enough CV for my barista personal trainer career. The sad and at the same time exciting reality of this is that this is actually a very well specified backup plan, in that I have figured out all the climbing venues, all the climbing trips and all the other detail$. All I need is just to get really angry. And while there might be some degree of insanity associated with the fact that one goes to school for 24 years only to let it all go to waste and start a barista personal trainer career, I have to say, it really makes one sleep better at night. 

Monday, October 29

20 years of my life. Wasted!

I spent the entire weekend reading. That, and showing my friend and mountaineering mentor around the wineries of Adelaide. But mostly, reading. Oh, and eating nectarines. Lots of them. That, and reading. I read "The man in the high castle" and "Among others" and started on "Montaineering, the freedom of the hills" and "The Golden Notebook" and "Ubik". I even read a few student reports while I was supposed to be, uh, resting ...

What I'm really not saying, and I should, is that "The man in the high castle" is my first PKD. I will say this again: I am 30 (THIRTY GODDAMMIT!!!) years old and I have just read my first PKD. This means that I have wasted 27 years of my life. Well, really 20, as one could probably not really appreciate PKD until ten years old.

To add insult to the injury, I have yet to read any Heinlein. Or any Le Guin. How could I be so stupid, so out of touch with reality? (<- dexter's laboratory quote) And, more importantly, dear me, where do I start?!?!! There's only so few days left!!! AAARGH!!!

Friday, October 26


At some unspecified point next week there will be a meeting that may or may not decide my future as an academic. Really. The possible outcomes of this meeting are either "yay! still a chance at academia!" or "Boo, gotta start finding new careers! Barista trainer here I come!!"

I have decided that, if the outcome is positive, I will maybe reward myself with a nice beautiful bag that has been living in the window of this shop I keep walking past. And maybe a little notebook if the outcome is really good. If the outcome is negative, I will definitely reward myself with a bag and at least a pair of shoes. Vain, I am.

Also, I have decided I should be an octopus!! Or maybe, I was an octopus in my past life, which would explain why I am not one now and why all this suffering in this current life. As king octopus, I probably wore all my shoes and all my bags at the same time on my hundred-strong tentacles! This was great because I could give my bags and shoes all the TLC they deserved. Other octopodes carried me on their back and I didn't have to carry any loads. Other than, of course, the load of the bags and shoes I was showing off. Of course, as king octopus, I could eat anything and not get fat, and most importantly, I was flashing V8s.

But I digress. The bag has thus become a minor-major focus at this point - and yesterday all I could think of was "Let next week come sooner and the outcome be revealed such that I can finally get me that bag!!!" ROAR!!!

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Tuesday, October 23

One picture Tuesday

Today's photo was going to be an inspirational photo from the grampians. Or maybe, from New Zealand, while I pondered my upcoming trip woo hoo! That is all going down the drain because earlier this morning, I found out that KIWIS GROW ON VINES!!!!!!!

I know that this is not a surprise for some, but it was for me! And, after a quick run around the school, turns out it was a surprise for my boss as well hahaha. Life is good. We're all dodos.

Monday, October 22

Grampians wee!!!!

Marian sent Mary and Claudia sent The Claw. And if I were to stop here, you would just not know first, how fantastically awesome it was, and second, how close we came to Marian sending Lygon Street Massacre and Claudia sending Master Bates.

The beta I had for "The Claw" turned out to be totally useless. There was no way in hell in which I could link the route following it. I could, indeed, do it by parts easily, but really needed a truckload of oomph in order to finish it like that. And so I changed the beta completely, requiring me to hold a shitty crimp with my injured hand, load on it, step very high with my right leg, load the leg, and then cross my right hand in the pocket that makes the claw, and then onwards to victory. There's a video of me doing it - I will post it once I get over the fact that I was not wearing at t-shirt.

The next day I tried Master Bates. The ending section, that requires one to have a bucketfull of stainless steel balls, went within the fifth try. Subsequently, it went really really quickly, every time I tried it. I had done the start in the previous trip and was superiorly confident about it, so I was pretty certain it was going to go. This allowed me to dream. I visualized myself coming back from the Grampians with two beautiful V5s under my belt. I saw myself telling Sibby how I did master bates and how easy the ending was. And then I tried the start.

And I couldn't even start. Not then, and not in the two hundred times I tried after that. Must've been the giant bucket of stainless steel balls I was carrying with me in order to get to the top part. Either that or the grampians gods decided to smack me for visualizing the end without actually being there. Pfft.

Tuesday, October 16

One picture Tuesday

Providing that nothing special happens, this weekend we're going to the Grampians! It will probably be the last or second last grampians trip before going to new zealand. My sekret plan is to try to finish The Claw (V5) in the first day, and work on Master Bates in the second day. It's important to try the claw in the first day methinks, because it's really intensive and it requires me to be superiorly fresh. Or, you know, loose weight, become skinnier, stronger, more mentally focused, all before saturday. DOABLE!

Monday, October 15

Humble and angry

Today the chief engineer from "insert famous web search company name here" for "insert country & region where I am here" gave a guest lecture during my lecture. It was fun and relaxing for me to finally sit in a lecture theatre at this university (damn those chairs are uncomfortable), which was a challenge in itself as these days I find it very hard to sit still for more than 10 minutes (must be the coffee I guess). It was also humbling to think of this very exciting journey from the three year-old girl queueing up for hours on end just for the possibility of maybe getting some food in communist Romania, to sitting in my lecture theatre as the chief engineer from  -insert famous web search company name here- for -insert country&region where I am here- gave a guest lecture. I wouldn't go as far to say that it was a hard journey, although this is relative too, but I would say that it's a loong fucking way, even if you only count it in kilometers and years. And if you consider just how blatantly below average I am both in knowledge and intelligence (but this in itself is the topic of another post), then it becomes a loong motherfucking way. But I digress. Humility was in my thoughts and soul.

And also anger. Initially a bit of a surprise, but then damn outright anger. At the number of students that were NOT there. We got I think, with gross over-estimation, about 55% of the class attending. This is great, and most of the students I had expected to be there were there, but this also means that 45% of the class was not attending. Now normally, I would think that it would be the lecturer's responsibility  to engage the learners into the lectures, into doing assignments, and well ... learning. This is especially true for immature learners that well, are immature with respect to taking responsibility of their learning. I would also think that ah well, maybe the lecture was boring, or maybe they have deadlines, or they are working, or they have a lot of work, or they overslept, or the bus came late or  the dog ate their fucking alarm clock! etc. But not today. Not when we're talking about the opportunity of being in the same room with the chief engineer from "insert famous web search company name here" for "insert country & region where I am here" giving a guest lecture! And asking him questions! and finding out about how stuff works! Potentially asking for internship opportunities! Not today.

In NUS at some point we had a guest lecture from some mid-level software engineer from "insert famous web search company name here".  The 200-people lecture theatre that had been booked overflowed and people had to watch the lecture live, streaming, in another room. The lecture had not been advertised more than what I did, and the little bit of advertising that went on took place a month - A MONTH! - before the visit.

And to this I say:


Thursday, October 11

A call from Kathmandu

The highlight of an otherwise shitty day was talking on the phone with the bird. She was, of course, in Kathmandu. The conversation was, of course, highly philosophical:

The bird (without saying hello): "do you want a spaghetti top or a vest?"


The bird:"ah it was allright. Spaghetti top or vest?!!"

Me:"wha?!! Whatever you like leh"

The bird:" I can't choose so that's why I called you! What would you like?"

Me:"Me?! oh, for me?! I don't know leh, both of them show my guns so both are scary. Pick whatever you like. "

The bird:"so if I get you a spaghetti top then you wear it?"

Me:"ok get the vest. I miss you dodo bird! When are you back?"

The bird: "Sunday. Ok I will hang up, I think this is expensive.. "

I heart teknology.

Tuesday, October 9

One picture tuesday

A while ago I found out that Marian was going home for Christmas, leaving me all by myself for both Christmas and New Year. I visualized myself sitting in the shade with a cat purring on my chest while reading the many many books I had just ordered online.

And then multiple offers piled up to relieve me of my loneliness. At first, I thought I was going to go to Melbourne for a pig out Christmas. But then! Jensen and my favorite producer are coming over to visit, so it looks like I'm going to spend Christmas in the grampians, woo hoo! They too, don't camp.. What is it with people these days?!!?!!

Sunday, October 7


Spotting koalas is like doing pull-ups: the first one is very hard, but the rest follow easily given enough persistence and application. On Saturday I went in my "conquer the motherfucker" (CTM) run. This time, I ran up chambers gully and descended on Mount Lofty. In my next CTM run I plan to run up chambers gully, down mount lofty, and then up mount lofty and down chambers gully. Provided that I'll do it, this will be the final full CTM run for this year. I've been doing so many CTM runs now that I feel there's a need for either a label or a new blog entirely dedicated to CTMs.

I spotted eleven koalas in this run, all in the lower parts of Chambers Gully, before reaching the motherfucker. They were small koalas, big koalas, moving koalas, sleeping koalas, chewing koalas. All were very fluffy koalas.

Friday, October 5

Sweet thoughts

Until I started to actually earn something, I used borrowed gear for all my mountaineering trips. And by gear I mean everything other than backpack and boots, as gore-tex and merino base layers and crampons and harnesses and ropes and helmets and poles and gloves and beanies etc were very expensive. This always resulted in me wearing clothes that were too big for me and had weird color combinations, making for very very funny pictures. For example, I used a down jacket that was size XL for Aconcagua. It was very good (kept my knees warm too!) but it made me look like a very very fat blue! penguin. With an orange beanie!

I cannot begin to say how much my mother opposes me doing any type of climbing and mountaineering, and long distance running for that matter. Oh, and trail running. And bungee jumping. She would really love it if I did more tennis, not-long-distance running, and frankly, would be very happy if the only sport I did was chess. She gets so disturbed and so worried about any trip I take (probably more disturbed as she ages), that I don't even tell her anymore. All of our grampians trips have been "trekking with friends". I did not tell her about the last Alps trip (and had to take the photos down from picasa as well), and I will not tell her about New Zealand either. At least not about Mount Cook. When I went to Aconcagua she checked (and worried) about the wind conditions and the weather conditions and every fucking little thing more than we did. She, of course, had interwebs, which we didn't.

Even with all this, when I went in my first alpine climbing trip, she bought me a (very expensive for Romania) pair of crampons that I badly needed and I didn't have money for as I was at the time a poor-er PhD student. That pair of crampons turned out to be the first technical alpine piece of gear I owned. I have yet to take them out and look at them but here is a photo of how they looked when they were new:

Wednesday, October 3


... definitely my favorite sin.

On Sunday I went for the usual long run with the club people. As my running partner is still out of commission and will probably be forever for "not short" distances, I had planned to run alone. I had my running playlist and my not-bouncy-waterproof headphones on, and was ready to run at whatever pace I felt like. Which was, on a lazy Sunday morning, after climbing harder on Saturday and reading ALL THOSE ABSTRACTS!, a slow to very very slow to "I'd be faster if I walked" pace. The run went through North Adelaide (nice, pwetty!) and then all the way to Regency park (not nice, not pwetty!), and back again, for a total of 18km.

I had planned my slow slow pace by texting San and telling her that I will be stopping throughout my run to take pictures of pwetty North Adelaide in spring.

And then we started the run. For some reason that was later edified, I started at the front of the pack, but not exactly leading the pack. Once we reached the first uphill section I moved at the front of the pack, because of my tendency to sprint. Up. Hilly. Sections! And yes, I'm still trying to stop doing that. This however, posed two problems.

Firstly, I had no idea where we were going, although I had a map. This is because the instructions that came with that map were "head north on X street, then west on that street and then east on the other street" etc. Why not say left and right and straight and back!?! WHY?! Also, the map itself, as in the drawing, was so badly printed that you had to be "not-a-tourist" to know where the hell you were going. And so, a lot of pressure on me: had to take my headphones off everytime I reached an intersection and wait for people from behind to shout at me if I were to be taking the wrong turn. Hopefully shout after me, because they do enjoy to pull tricks on you!

Secondly, I was at the front of the pack. Which meant that I had to keep going at the front of the pack. As I'm absolutely pathetic at pacing - my pace has three levels: "This is slow", "I can't really talk right now", and "WHAT THE FUCK!?" - I needed to pace myself to ensure that I was within sight of the group (so as not to get lost) but still in front of it (so as not to loose face), without turning to look behind too often. Heh. Vanity.

Turns out that the group had run Yurebilla* the previous weekend and the faster runners were still recovering, and therefore were slow as snails.

And so we ran.  I stopped only when I really had to, but I didn't sprint either. I did a thorough review of every part in my body that hurt. I did this review many many times, and frankly, my conversation with myself either went through the list of pains and aches or was interrupted with more complex philosophical issues such as: "Oh, a bird! Oh, two birds!" or "What should I have for breakfast when I get home?" or "If I run on the street now, will cars run over me?!".  I guess this is really the place where you want to be for a "not short" run: not mulling over the world's problems, having arguments with your various relatives or (ahem) motherfuckers,  or giving in to your inner voice (always negative, if you must know), but just humming along without caring about anything.

The pace was not bad either: I think in the end it turned out to be 5:25 min/km, which, provided that I kept this for the remaining 24kms, would get me under 4hrs/marathon, without even stressing about it. So I guess the morale is not to really stress about it.

*Good thing I didn't know Yurebilla was on, or I might have tried it this year.

Tuesday, October 2

One picture Tuesday

Labor day long weekend was upon us: we couldn't go to the grampians because a conference track I am chairing had its deadline over the weekend, which implied that I to work 2/3 days to get it done. And so I did. However, on Saturday I slept in, snoozing blissfully until 6:45 am!

On Sunday I couldn't sleep in more than 7:00 am because I went for the sunday long-ish run (more about it tomorrow!)

However, yesterday i so totally slept in, waking up at 7:30 am and going for a run up Chambers Gully (the motherfucker was conquered again, hooray!).

And yeah, this is Suzie, our cat - just realized she never made it here - she likes to sleep on her back.