lots of firsts

i got in trouble for sleeping through a lecture. julia called me into the hall afterwards and said, "i noticed you were asleep for about 75% of that presentation. we pay you to be here. we expect you to stay awake." my first instinct was to dispute the number--i only slept for 33% tops. and if she's gonna accuse me of 75, then why the hell did i struggle so hard for the other 42%? i was sensible enough to just apologize. i think it made me the rebel hero of all the other new hires...a ton of people came up to me afterwards and were like, "hey, i heard you got caught sleeping, hahaha, i can't believe what a tightass she's being." gotta work a gimmick to get recognized. any press is good press?

i rather like english beer. pimms is good too. i honestly can't taste the alcohol in it.

we got half the day off friday, so a couple of us bought big red bus tickets (£20!). st. paul's is the pimp daddy of cathedrals. we were lucky enough to go in during a choir service. the whole thing felt very spiritual...solemn but joyous. gothic architecture is such the manifestation of religious feeling. i didn't say a word the whole time i was inside. awesome.

other notes about london: boy do they love their clocks. and the town mascot is a dragon. there's a murder of ravens living in the tower of london, and rumor has it that if they fly away, the whole of london will crumble. brits claim to be unsuperstitious, but who can blame them for hedging...they've clipped the wings of the birds to make sure they never leave. !!! could you begin to imagine something like that happening in the states?!!

london mascot.

buckingham gates.
bank of england. no windows on the first floor = enhanced security? true, until a janitor found an entrance via the sewers.
london eye.
tower bridge. it only opens 90 times a year.
view from london bridge.
westminster? parliament?
trafalgar square.

saturday, dave (an aussie) and i went to stratford upon avon. there's currently a two day rave called global gathering happening there, so we were treated to sights of very weird people on the train. girls would wear bikinis and hairy, purple boots. shorts revealed many a buttock. except for the sluttiness, they reminded me a lot of japanese goths. the journey there took us 3 hours, so our first order of business was to hunt down a good pub lunch: steak and ale pies with local beer. my best meal in london. the hunger helped, but the pie was flaky, the meat was tender...what the fuck did we lose when we got our independence?

after lunch, we rented a rowboat and went up and down the river avon. very idyllic, that town. lots of swans, but they're trying to get rid of the geese. there's a sign that says please don't feed the geese, and if you feed the other birds, try to make sure the geese don't get any. basically, feel free to kick the geese around if you want. anyways, we found some baby swans (or as shuang would probably say: swanlings). i'm a much better rower than steerer. i steered us straight into a motor boat once. after rowing, we had proper british tea and scones. the cream was delicious. once again, why oh why don't americans get that stuff? dinner = english roast with yorkshire pudding (did i mention that everything is called pudding here?). that's three things off my food list.

in swan theater has a box full of costumes for us to peruse. fun fun fun! i, of course, chose the knight and i muscled david into the faery costume.

we also saw shakespeare's birthplace and his burialplace. did i mention i love stained glass windows?

today, i saw the changing of the guards (highly overrated). they play a little ditty, march around some...and then i left before it was over. westminster abbey is closed on sundays, so instead i visited the sherlock holmes museum (221b baker street). very very nearly bought a deerstalker hat.

in hyde park (near kensington, where peter pan is), there's a testiment to free speech called speaker's corner. any demagogue wannabe with a voice and a soapbox can pontificate. today, a christian and his wife berated muslims for their oppression of women. they weren't really trying to convince them of anything...just kept telling them what pieces of crap they are. at one point, he actually said, "i can understand why you're angry. if i had this for my holy book (poke a finger at the koran), i'd be angry too!" i have no idea why the crowd of muslims gave him the time of day. they actually tried to argue him down. if they had just walked away, i don't think he would've been up there very long.

people say americans are dicks, but i bet they've never met a brit. even the people who are paid to be helpful are bitches. and how!


survival skills!

i learned how to make a stretcher out of rope today! we did a simulation where we had to save two girls who were lost in the woods. surprisingly, the brush was thick. my legs are all scratched up. hurrah for brits who don't hafta worry about liability the way that americans do. we used walkie talkies and compasses and everything. at one point i almost ate one teammate's leg. rahul is pressuring me, so that's the end of this post.


not for the weak of heart...

many airports have prayer rooms. i thought it was funny when i saw it in hong kong, but heathrow sports them too. maybe it's only america that's funny. i told a girl that you can buy guns at walmart, and she was appalled. it didn't help any when i explained that the guns are for hunting and that you can buy deer piss too.

london doesn't have any skyscrapers. the buildings are very old, stately, and...curly. the cabs i've seen look like hearses, and the phone boothes are bright red and old fashioned (in true metropolis style). my sightseeing thus far has been constrained to the carride from airport to canary wharf. i've seen westminster, big ben, the tower of london (and tower bridge--aka london bridge), and buckminster palace. i can't wait to drive by kensington gardens (that's where peter pan happened...sorta).

training might be a bore, but the other new hires seem pretty cool. i like meeting people my own age. also, we get 50 pounds a day to spend on food...that's roughly $100! we're being taken offsite to do a teambuilding event for a couple of days, so i made sure i spent my 50 pounds today on frivolous stuff...hurrah for green and black chocolates and mcvities biscuits! i'm pretty pumped to get back and try my goat yogurt and sheep yogurt and bioactive yogurts too. i spent exactly 49.50 pounds.

in spite of time zone havocs, i slept really well last night. i think i would've slept straight thru to my alarm if i hadn't fallen off my bed and hit my face on my nightstand. i didn't actually roll off my bed, but the stupid mattress has rounded corners, so once you pass the event horizon, you're gone. i had time to thrash frantically before i hit the ground (and the table). i spent some time sitting dumbfounded on the ground...pretty funny stuff. if it had been anyone else, i would've laughed hysterically. thinking about it now still puts a grin on my face. i love it when my day starts slapstick...reminds me of the time a van backed over my foot on mass ave.

i took some pictures of stuff...but i have no private internet access right now...and i think the company would object to me uploading pics at the office. anyways, one of the pics was of rambutans, which reminded me of nancy (i bought a bag off the streets).



i love my job. not only do we have casual fridays, we have whiskey fridays! i had johnny blue label today. it went down really really smoothly. there's a decanter that sits on some guy's desk, and they can't fill it with anything but the best whiskey or else the market goes bearish (apparently that means it drops). no bear whiskey for credit suisse (btw, most ppl do pronounce it credit SWISS). and right after we drank whiskey with alex (a managing director...he owns his own racing team...8 cars!), mary came around with the beer and chips cart. how much better could a friday get?! oh yeah, for lunch, karthik (the other new hire) and i went to lunch with both md's (managing directors)...a really nice place called the china club where they have a lot of art hoarded from the cultural revolution. and for the afternoon, we did nothing but socialize with the other ppl on our floor. and then after work, we went to an intern's place to play hold 'em. this is the first time i've played cards for anything more than candy, so i was pleasantly surprised when, at the end of the night, i'm sitting with the high stack of chips. i netted $280 hk, which is like $40 US, but i'm pretty proud of myself considering the buy in was only $100 hk.

in other news, i'm getting very tired of karthik. the guy just doesn't shut up. and he always has to be right, even when you've got amazing evidence on your side. and he's a little condescending. i think he's got a pretty skewed view of the world. like a certain kind of guy comes out on top, and everyone else is weak and undesirable, so then of course, he has to emulate the cocky assed behavior that "confident" guys exhibit. during dinner, he actually said that engineers have small dicks (he did engineering in college, and then got a masters in financial engineering). i think the context of the statement was something like, "oh, i tried to go into engineering, but it wasn't for me. those guys are such wusses, they let you walk all over them, they just all have small dicks." to which i immediately replied, "oh, you've seen a lot of engineer's dicks?" (i'm pretty proud of myself for that one...i'm not usually so quick with my comebacks). and then later, he said something like "in the world, there are dicks and there are pussies, and if you're a pussy, you get screwed." it's weird cuz he's such a climber and a suckup, but you can tell it's due to his weird idea of what constitutes success. like he's not at all conniving or malicious...underneath he's a nice guy, just misguided. he's so afraid of being weak. embrace your inner yin, karthik, lest the yang engulf your soul. whatever, i've no patience for fuckers. and! the boy tries to buy his friends. his dad owns a textile factory, and he tried working for daddy for a bit, but he left to get out of his dad's shadow, but not far enough to escape daddy's pocket. he bought us all kinder surprises when he went to the super market. KINDER SURPRISE! i haven't opened mine yet...gonna save it for the flight to london. sweet! yeah, but a terrific day overall.


photo dump: sewage

after brunching with the del rosario clan at neighborhood (my first cream of wheat experience...delightfully sweet and tapioca-y...i out-ate her huge cousin denis, who's a body builder?), i decided to drop my wallet down the sewers of a yardsale (but not before a bought a sweater and a rabbit bear). elvo and i went to the police, who called the public works people, who sent a guy with a rake and a big truck. whilst awaiting his arrival, lvo discovers that we can lift the cover off ourselves...and the yardsale girls are nice enough to lend us a golfball retriever, so we start digging. the sewer is a lot deeper than we initially thought...lvo considered jumping in...what a friend. the public works guy was useless. basically told us we need to wait for another guy to suck out the drain, but that guy wouldn't come until a day or two later. bastard. we decide to go after the wallet ourselves. after all, we're mit students. we just built our very own sticks and stuffed our very own bobs! we won't be defeated by a drain!

went back to lvo's for reinforcements. tried to jimmy the pool net, but got caught by his redfaced maintenance guy. lvo butters him up, he lets us take it anyways (without the previously threatened $300 security deposit). the net is LONG, so we hafta thread it thru the jetta. there's keister, comforting it and encouraging it thru its upcoming trials. one long thing understands another, after all. ernstwhile, i'm a scrunched horizontally in the back seat so the mothafucka can go diagonally into the trunk.

nancy, liver, the meryl clan all came to help out. the task turns out to be more brunt work than ingenuity...we didn't use our buckets at all! here's nancy testing the depth of the goop. she really got down into it. division of labor-wise, she was the net flipper outter, which meant that she had to get the closest to the stinky stuff.

lvo was the scooper outer and i was the picker atter. keister documented the whole sordid affair like the good camera-boy-sheep-shepherd that he is.

the passers-by kept looking at us funny. they objected to the stench.

and just as the skies darkened and the going got tough, lvo found it! yay!!!! see? a happy ending is a good ending. and i sorta feel that picking thru shit all day brought us closer together. go team sewer! the whole experience felt very kanny.


my HR department keeps screwing me. first strike, they missbooked my return flight from the ny interview. i paid out of pocket to move my flight up a day. second strike, they missbooked my hotel room for my week in hk. no monetary damage, but it was stressful to fly in and not have a reservation. third strike, they sent me to macau on a wild goose chase after my work visa. the situation is pretty severe, cuz they can't pay me without my visa...so i'm currently unemployed, working 12 hour days for charity. it's not like i'm actually adding any value for them, but i want my money!

right, so the sticker for my visa comes in yesterday, and i needed to leave the 'country' so that they can stick it on my passport upon reentry. i go happily to macau, where i spent the afternoon shopping and gambling (actually, the casino's are WEAK and smokey and just plain lame. there were maybe a handful of people in the two that i went to...and the gamblers are so quiet and serious...not festive at all...the slot machine i played could've learned a thing or two about fun from an atm). for dinner, i had this crepe-ish thing full of curry beef. not bad. my first street vendor experience thus far. i tried to drink a papaya juice, but it was so nasty that i threw it away. the place i got it from uses the same food processor for all their drinks...so there were bits of carrot and who knows what floating in my glass. disgusting.

fast forward a couple of hours...i'm at immigrations trying to convince them to stick this thing on my passport, and the guy says, "are you this person?" and i'm like, "uh, yeah..." and then i look at the stupid sticker. i'm definitely not that person. fucker. yeah, HR gave me the wrong sticker. this morning, i go ask them about it, and they say, "oh shit, i mailed your sticker to china." umm...competency anyone? so what now? i doubt i'll get it before i leave for london...does that mean i don't get paid for the duration of my training? that would suck big time. fuckers!

in other news, i think i'm picking up british slang, but i'm fighting it as hard as i can. for instance, when i said fuckers up above, i really wanted to say buggers. shhh. i'm excited...for lunch, i'm having chinese food! yay! and then apartment hunting this afternoon.

oh, the other day, we had a team dinner at bonheur. it's a pretty upscale french place. appetizer = foie gras with scallops. i didn't realize that foie gras = fattened duck/goose liver. it's very heavy, but rather tasty. apparently, it's illegal in israel, california, and chicago. i feel like such a daring-doer. and then for dinner, i had lamb with a black truffle sauce. black truffles cost at least $750 per kilo in french markets. they're only found in two regions of france, and they grow unpredictably so ppl hafta use highly trained dogs and pigs to find them (dogs are more popular than pigs because it's hard to transport pigs and it's hard to stop them from eating the truffle once they find it). according to www.foodreference.com, "In France, the truffle commerce has always been secretive. Truffle “hunters” try to avoid the taxman as much as drug dealers." such excitement all in one night, no wonder i had trouble sleeping.



i miss america. it finally hit me on the plane that i would be living in this weird, foreign place (realizations triggered by the 'tomate jus' carton and the metric temperatures). two years is a long time! perhaps only the leaving of one's country can evince such fondness for its eccentricities. i hate that other countries who call their currencies 'dollars' use the $ sign. why would they want to use the US's initials to brand their money? sheesh. and i was thinking...i'm not ashamed to be an american. i mean, we're making a mess of things abroad...but who could do better? sure everyone could've avoided the war in iraq, but on a broader scale, who could really keep from fucking up? not england (empirical), not france (they can't even keep themselves sorted), and certainly not china (ha!).

i used to think that china was (maybe) politically preferable to the US because at least most ppl in china know that the media is bullshit. i mean, both countries screw ppl over, only the US likes to pretend it doesn't, using free speech and free press as bromides to lull citizens into a false sense of information. but at least the US feels the need to pretend. that means that the government is accountable in some form to the ppl, right? well, maybe intentions don't really mean much.

enough ruminations. narration now: business class is amazing. i watched 6 movies on the way over, and drank TONS. i got a little too tipsy in the vip lounge in LA...it took a lot of effort to stand upright, so i spent as much time as possible asian squatting. i was very afraid i'd pass out or throw up or something. i couldn't close my eyes because then it got hard to open them again. i'm sure i was quite the sight. oh, and the lounge had prunes! i was very excited. teehee. luckily, i got to the plane intact. the guy who sat next to me might've had a lech for me..i'm not sure. he was very nice, but very sketch. he kept trying to ply me with alcohol. i had a sip of his scotch...smokey. i think i liked it...but not enough to order my own. he also said things like "you're very pretty" and "you look very peaceful when you sleep" and "i like your shoes, i keep trying to get my daughter to buy a pair of those, but she won't". yeah, he has a daughter and a wife and a zillion pets. hmmm...and i'm not flattered that a 50 year old man thinks my shoes are sensible, but his 17 year old daughter doesn't think they're cool enough. i spent most of the ride hiding between my earphones. what exactly do you say to someone who tells you you're a peaceful sleeper (besides the honest truth: you're creepy, stop watching me). i think i managed a feeble "thanks"...but maybe i should've said "you too"? he was perfectly gentlemanly though...like he offered to get me things when he got up, and he helped me put my luggage up...just very thoughtful, little things...but maybe with nefarious intentions? who knows. i'm just glad i'll never see him again. despite social awkwardness, i was very comfortable. the seats recline almost all the way (like your body can be straight), and you control your own little tv (so you can choose from a menu of like 20 movies and a bunch of tv shows and even a couple of video games...the game selection was weak tho). and the food...oh the food. well, maybe the wine menu was more exciting than the food. but still. lots of culinary exploration. monkfish and arugula mashed potatoes, seafood congee, mushroom omelettes, smoked salmon, etc etc. i also think i have a new drink of choice: mimosa (compliments of mr creepy man).


photo dump: jazzfest

we look pretty formidable on the line, no? even little daphne carries her share of badass. and atong looks like a thug who fell out of the wrong side of her closet. nice shorts tongie.

nancy's like the rosh version of goku from dbz. her fists of fury and her deep look of concentration will send any challenger to their knees. daveh is like piccolo and maybe atong is gohan. bring it, cruel world, bring it. she'll scramble your brains and pierce your soul. her craftiness knows no bounds. when you think she'll throw paper, she throws rock! when you think she'll throw scissors, she throws paper! when you think she'll throw rock, she throws scissors! and just when you think you can't think no more, she'll throw lefty rock! oh ho, you say, i've roshed lefties before. pshaw, you say? you are no match for the nancy switcharoo. she'll pump with her right and throw with her left. she'll pump with her left and throw with her right! take my advice, saiyans, just hand her your dollars, eat the nasty concoctions, and give up your better seats. there's no thwarting nancy.
heehee. phne-ne is such a character. she's squeezing chocolate covered nuts outta that bag of melty chocolate goop.
yelena resembles the dog much more closely than i do. they have the same coloring. and notice the look of pure aloofness that they both achieve so well (so my tongue is hanging out of my mouth just so, who cares?).
just plain fucking cute. we're adorable.
honeysuckle is quite the horder of shiny trinkets. what do you expect from a trollop? of course she's gonna like her bling.
i lost a rosham with the boys, and i had to eat some drippy, warm, pickled things from a paper bag. jonbar failed to mention that the rosh was only for one pickle. shawn rescued me from my brave attempt to choke down the whole bag. here's the smug bastard now.

poutine in all its stickey-slimey glory. i won the rosh to lick the plate clean. gravy man gravy. ketchup made it better.

in case you missed it in my earlier post, we won! so if you are smite-present or smite-past, come next year!


photo dump: the whites

:::white mountains:::
memorial day weekend, erika, nancy, tongie, and i went to the whites for my inauguration into the hiking world (besides fuji of course). these pictures really don't do the views any justice...i ate a lot of almonds and prunes. erika was the queen of the swedish fish, and nancy carried the low-sodium wheat thins like a pro. hmmm...i don't remember if we entrusted atong with any food...maybe her only duty was to stay alive. apparently, she got overheated on the carride over. that's a 3 hour ride in an air conditioned car, sitting next to a cooler. tongie amazes me sometimes. she doesn't sweat like a pig.

i forget where we went the first day...it had a name like little hilly bloke or something cutsy, ya know? it took me a while to get used to erika's bro's hiking boots. those mofos are heavy. second day, we hiked pierce and eisenhower, and third day we did franconia ridge. franconia is gorgeous. there were a lot of little flying buggies that LOVED atong's shirt. her back was always dotted with them. charming.

we dressed in beautiful, capilene colors. i think i was wearing green that day (the only one not in a silkweight...the black sheep of the crowd).

while roasting marshmallows, atong got greedy and used a too long stick. and when her marshmallow (inevitably) caught fire, she couldn't reel it in fast enough to blow it out. she brandished her flaming marshmallow imploringly at me, but i was too choked with laughter to do anything more than spit feebly at it. let this be a lesson to you all. that's erika giggling in the background.