crazy cabbies

really tired this morning, just wanted some alone time to simmer, but my cabbie wouldn't shut up. got the biggest, most hollow lecture on the benefits of democracy since grade school. one of his most desultory points: the CHINESE GOVERNMENT put bush in power. they ordered all the chinese in america to vote for bush. why would the chinese government want a protectionist and ameri-centric US head of state? because republicans value business while democrats value values, and the chinese gov places business above all else. pretty weak. i tried to explain that the chinese in america don't vote, and that even if they did, they wouldn't take orders from the chinese government. he straight out told me i was wrong. well, of course, what do i know about the issue. then the value of my education came into question. if i can't understand the basic principle that governments exist to serve the people, then i must be worthless. sigh.

quick, $8000 for a studio apartment that's really close to work or $14000 for a much bigger, much nicer place? the decision will be made by tonight. studios' appeal lie in their similarity to college dorm rooms. this will not be a Real place. this'll be like a fort i've built out of sticks and pillows in the big city of light. my escape from reality (one of my many). the bathroom in the studio forces you to shower in the toilet, but it does have a glass chandelier. no stovetop, but yes fumehood. an anomaly just like me.


Courtesy of www.postsecret.blogspot.com
It reminds me of both cchu and yelenag, thus it is a good picture, and a good picture it is. instead of saying blah blah blah, my boss of the moment says lalalee lalala. is it a swiss thing?

i've told my apartment hunting lady that i'm only interested in two areas of hk...midlevels (really close to work and bars) or causeway bay (really close to frisbee). seems that my priorities haven't changed much.

pickup last night had lighted grass fields. felt like we were playing in a stadium. people play very...uh...politely? no picks, no fouls...a couple of travels but what can you do. it took me a while to get used to the heat and the humidity...and we were playing at 9 pm! playing during the day must be death on a pale horse.

i've instituted my master plan: i told them i'm a deep (mwahaha). accordingly, i went deep twice to score in the endzone (granted, the d was sparse and perpetually fronting...but then again, most ppl front on me anyways). i also threw two backhand deep scores (to the same guy...he played for the wisconsin b team, and he communicates really well. i threw one that was going OB and he greatest'd it to this kid in the endzone who fumbled it thrice before finally catching it one handed!--most exciting play of the game). the rest of the post will be about my awesomeness at pickup: i laid out twice (caught one), completed a hammer in the endzone, and got a poachy d.

playing with these kids will prolly hurt my consistency. there was another new girl (canadian, ambassador's wife), and she was a really good, really reliable handler, but i don't think anyone appreciated her as they should've. i mean, she played much better than i did (o and d), but i played flashy and she played consistent. and in pickup, i guess flashy wins. maybe next time, i'll work on playing d the whole game...haha, maybe next time i'll be in shape to play d the whole game.

ho hum...

some things rattling around in my head.

i got so tired of sitting that i squatted for a while. heels facilitate squatting. i didn't look very professional. i cut my hair recently, but it looks about the same. i'm finally on my way to long hair. the food here is terrific, but i'm not sure i'd like it if i weren't chinese. i'm without a doubt the biggest girl in the office. i might try to catch a pickup game tonight. i hope that they're nice and that i'm not too out of shape. i've smoked 4 cigarettes this summer. so if i have trouble breathing, i can blame it on that. everyone here eats at their desk. i think that sucks a lot. maybe once i have real work to do, i can leave whenever i finish that work, but for now, i'm twiddling my thumbs, trying to take up space in a Useful Way. When i meet people, i smile even though i don't mean it, which is bad because then i can't find a good point to break out of the smile. it's like eating when you're not hungry...how do you know when to stop? there are a lot of free chocolates at work, but they're all fancy and filled with funny cremes. i want snickers. oh, and they have those liquer chocolates that meryl had. hurrah for references to the old life.


crazy natives

i was a good girl last night and went to bed as soon as i got home, because i'm starting to babble at work, and social interactions are turning funny (for example, a girl actually apologized to me because i gave her a funny look when she said she didn't want to order dinner with me--like she came up to me afterwards and said, "look, i'm sorry for being so abrupt, i didn't mean to be a bitch...")...on another unrelated note, i had to tell someone about the sexuality of orchids. some french guy sent her purple orchids, and apparently purple stands for sexual frustration and orchids stand for testicles.

ok, so around midnight, someone crazy starts pounding on my door and rattling my doorknob...and i'm like, who the fuck? my first thought is that housekeeping's been sipping on the scissors. accordingly, i yell at them to GO AWAY! and the fucker yells, it's police! and i'm like WHAT THE FUCK?! and the whole time, she's yelling and rattling my doorknob. i'm like in a fucking four star hotel! so then i get dressed and open the door. it's some fucking chinese person who's got the wrong room. i was so mad i almost chased her into the hallway. i'm so much bigger than her i could definitely kick her ass. all i could think about was my good intentions at sleeping ruined. i'm feeling much more rational about it this morning, however, because i did manage to get back to sleep, and now i'm distinctly proud of myself. hurrah for me!

bigger than the average girl

i visited macau again last night as part of the ongoing saga of my work visa validation process. in previous episodes, they've sent me to macau with someone else's visa, having sent mine to china, and they mailed me my visa while i was in london. so, what went wrong? apparently, someone from hr reapplied for my visa while my wayward visa was floating home from china. AND that second application got approved, effectively rendering the one that had been sent to london null and void. i got retained in customs for an hour when i tried to enter hk with it. and the nice lady explained to me that my visa wasn't valid, and i should talk to my company (maybe they've changed their minds about my employment status). great. well, yesterday it finally worked. i held my breath the whole time that the guy was looking at my passport, but the earliest boat they had back was 10:30 pm, which did not help my attempts at jetlag correction at all.

anyways, while i was wandering around at night, i realized something. i feel much safer in hk than i did in the states or even in london. i'm bigger and stronger than most people here! all the homeless people and the hoodlums are skinny fools who couldn't hurt me if they had a blue ox on their side. i know what you're thinking, and i agree: bruce lee looked skinny with his shirt on...but i figure if someone's studied martial arts, they're either: a) too well principled to attack me or b) a triad member who has bigger fish to fry. hurrah for size advantage!


what did the big tomato say to the little tomato?

my last couple of days in london, and i'm stuck at the office studying for my friday exam. sad. i found out recently that one of my instructors lives in winnie the pooh's village! he offered to show me around if i visited. i really want to go, but i don't think i can find a buddy who's interested. but we could play pooh sticks on the pooh bridge, i tell them--they remain unconvinced. christopher robin is dead, but at least he didn't commit suicide like peter pan.

last friday i went to a very expensive teppanyaki place. all the waiters were actually japanese! i think we had to pay premium for them. the highlight was the dessert. i had fireball ice cream, which is crepe, pineapple, whiskey, and ice cream, all cooked on the grill. the cook will turn down the lights before he makes it, so you can admire the roaring flames of the whiskey.

saturday, satoshi and i went to borrough market for breakfast. fresh food and polite service are not mutually exclusive after all. very fresh strawberries and raspberries. the rest of the day was spent at the tate and the tower of london. i didn't realize expressionism and surrealism were classified as modern art styles. museums are like ice cream cones. you really enjoy the first two or three paintings, but then your tongue goes numb, and you keep licking for completeness's sake, but the enjoyment factor goes down considerably. does anyone remember that ramona story where she's sitting in the basement taking a bite out of every apple because the first bite is always the tastiest? if i lived in london, i would make borrough market and tate a sunday morning ritual, but i would only look at 5 paintings every time, and then i would go home (or maybe to st pauls again).

the tower of london was having a jousting tournament when we went...and there were real people dressed up like knights, charging at each other's armor with lances levelled. it didn't look as dangerous as i expected. the lances are just wood after all. i like knights a lot. the rest of the tower was a bit disappointing. castles don't really do it for me, unless there are exciting things inside. we had dinner at an egyptian place. coucous and tangine and some of the strongest vermouth i've ever tasted. i do not like aniseseed in my alcohol. i wonder if that means laura will have to drink most of the french absinthe that i bought.

sunday was the best day of all. freya gave satoshi and i the grand tour of cambridge. we saw the apple tree where newton supposedly discovered gravity. i learned how to punt down the river cam. the balance thing is tough. the boats are narrow, so whenever one of my passengers moved, the boat tipped, and my arms would start going like windmills. got the hang of it pretty quickly though.

newton's apple tree

the bridge of sighs...a replica of the one in venice that convicts had to cross before they were killed.

satoshi, on the other hand, rammed us into the same bridge repeatedly, driving the boat anywhere but forward, thus earning the support of the tourists on the bridge. when we finally got through, everyone cheered, but accolade soon turned to ridicule as satoshi, fresh from his success, punted us full speed onto the riverbank, where we stuck like a beached whale. one of the tourists even started videotaping. freya and i were laughing our heads off by now...satoshi is a very typical japanese boy, rowing with all his might, making typical japanese sound effects (are, heeeeee, kchhhh, kkkkk). later that night, his hair caught on fire at the restaurant (he posed for a picture right in front of a candle).

the man likes his ice cream. when we were out, he'd eat at least 3 cones in a day.

cambridge is beautiful, with plenty of green green lawns...but no one is allowed to go on them unless he/she is a duck. what's the point, i say.

the picture that torched satoshi's hair.

click me!


cultural illiteracy

no one here has seen or heard of the princess bride. i've spent a lot of time trying to explain why it's the best movie ever. i get the feeling that no one really believes me, and they only nod out of politeness. this must be how lunatics feel.

instead of learning on friday, the new hires field tripped to a farm to do "volunteer work". most of the day was spent shoveling dirt and weeding (my fellow classmates reacted exactly as you'd expect...they complained--not sure how much useful work they got out of us). we got a nice tour of the farm, and i saw a pig with the biggest balls ever (reminiescent of van wilder). there were also chickens and cows and goats and sheep and ducks. apparently i'm the most gullible person ever. the farmer-man was holding this chicken, and he pretended that the chicken laid an egg into his hand. he talked about the benefits of free-range eggs, including their tougher shells, whereupon he bounced the egg on the ground...i think this is when the rest of the class realized the egg was fake, but i was totally shocked that an egg could bounce like that. accordingly, i got the 'piss taken out of me' for the rest of the day (that means they made fun of me). they also had a Meet Meat and Eat program where we got fresh pork sausage and lamb burgers for lunch. Almost everything we ate came off the farm itself. pretty good stuff. blackberries and elderberries grew freely (but elderberries are no good raw...you hafta make them into jam or wine). i also tried some sorrel that farmer-man picked from the ground. when he asked for volunteers, i was the only one to go. yep, i'm pretty brave :-).

blood coagulent
some pig


of cabbages and kings

it's terrific and sad at the same time when i read about the fun that bostonian friends continue to have. i'm having a fairly good time myself, but i'm greedy and want more cake.

instead of studying for my exam saturday, i visited westminster in the morning. it contains more famous dead people than you can beat with a fat stick (or a chopstick, whichever you prefer). London is positively screwed if zombies attack. or maybe dead famous figures will be more gentle than dead commoners. i saw the graves of chaucer (in poet's corner), newton, darwin, bulwer-lytton, william pitt, elizabeth i, mary queen of scots, richard ii, handel etc etc. speaking of death, i almost killed an old woman, but it wasn't my fault. she shouldn't have been so close to my elbow. it wasn't even crowded. monarchs get really cool swords. wales is represented by a unicorn. i'm too tired to use complete sentences.

walked to victoria, shopping all the way. bought silk knots for my shirts because i can't afford bloody cufflinks. life is so different from mit. peed in a public toilet, but alas it had no seat. paid 50 pence for it ($1). 20 min time limit before the doors automatically reopen. when you leave, it hurries you along lest you be trapped in the disinfecting process. it actually says, "please leave the bathroom immediately!" makes me feel like i've pulled a fire alarm. took me a minute or two to figure out the sink. it has two spigots, but one is for soap and water and one is for blowdrying. everything, of course, is motion-sensored. waved under one spigot till it spit soap at me...tried to wave under the other spigot for water...process would've been embarassing, but luckily, i was alone.

tried st paul's again...walked along the strand. i like walking around london alone. they have amazing signposting, and every street is labeled. ate dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. really old chophouse. they have a stuffed parrot that used to entertain monarchs named (originally) polly. food was atrocious. had steak and kidney pie. the cider was good though...got a bit tipsy...made eating alone a lot more comfortable. i like my tipsy company. also ordered bubbles and squeak...sounds like some asian version of pinky and the brain. turned out to be a mush of cabbage and unidentifiables...almost tasted like mashed potatoes...there's a reason the dish isn't found more commonly. dessert looked up. got custard and spotted dick. english custard is amazing. so good that it deserves to be said twice: english custard is amazing. spotted dick is sorta like spiced carrot cake. lots of raisins (those are the spots...haven't figured out the dick).

one the way back to st paul's, i found a dead pigeon.

one of my favorite things about london is that you're walking around this fairly modern (albeit short) city, and you'll turn a corner, look down an alley way, and all of a sudden, you're staring history in the face. it's like chipping away a thin layer of dirt and hitting...i dunno, coal or something. anyways, here:

i heard the best subway music ever. some guy on a classical guitar. good enough to elicit a pound from me. he mistook me for a jap, which was awkward. very holden caulfield moment. i felt like we could've connected because i liked his music so much, but then he had to go and ruin it by speaking. communication is hard. i beat a hasty retreat.

saw titus andronicus at the globe on monday. brought a picnic of french bread, guacamole, venison pate (good!), smoked salmon, blueberries, chocolate, and beer. i expected a tragedy, but the play was bloody and comical. four of the audience fainted, and many more left. they got very creative with their death scenes.

yesterday, they let us out of class an hour early. spent the night walking around leicester square and covent garden. street performers and markets. reminded me of roman holiday. found some pretty amazing ice cream at an italian place, but they relied on gimmicks. ice cream itself was so so, but they'd shape it into weird formations and put fruit and stuff in it. i got the spaghetti ice cream (it was supposed to look like spaghetti, with strawberry sauce for marinara and white chocolate flakes for parmesan). in leicester square, i saw an advert for a pub called the crooked surgeon (2 for 1 entres)...the name is distinctly unappetizing in the city that set sweeney todd. also saw a maclaren stroller. what a concept--do i want my babystroller associated with a sports car? power and speed and all that...hmm. bought street pizza. gotta try it. it sucked--soggy, fluffy crust. luckily, satoshi ate the rest. rode the fastest carousel i've ever experienced, which i will once again attribute to the english's brazen disregard for lawsuits. dinnered at kaitenzushi. the best sushi i've eaten outside of japan. not terribly expensive either. afterwards, walked along the river for a bit. beautiful view, liberating wind, bagpipe music from a distance. cherry on top was seeing two suits on another carousel--this one had turkeys and chickens and bears along with the traditional horses. a river really makes a city.

also found this guy, the singing handyman. he parks his truck in a busy intersection and sings for all he's worth. he's got a microphone in there, and he sprays bubbles from the back of his truck. so random and dick van dyke (a la mary poppins).

photodump: atlanta aquarium and last sunday

i went to the new aquarium when i was back in ga, but i never really posted about it. it was very crowded, but it was quality time well spent with dad.

we lucked out and caught a lot of feeding times.
some of their tanks have a cubby area underneath so you can crawl in and stick your head into the exhibition area. i got kicked by a little kid while standing in line, but it was worth it.
the piranhas didn't swim at all...they just stayed very still in their tank...eerie...
this guy is the aquarium mascot. there's also a guy dressed up like him. i pushed a couple of little kids out of the way to get my photo taken. i've never felt more adult.
as always, the giftshop is the most fun.
last sunday in london, i went for a run in the morning (i really need to buy a new camera so i can take it on long runs with me), and in the afternoon, i walked from temple station to london bridge. lots of cool stuff along the way:
view from millenium bridge. the government spent tons of money building the bridge but had to close it for repair almost immediately because it resonated with pedestrians' treads. it leads from the tate to st paul's.
temple church. closed for refurbishing till september. sigh.
goldsmith's grave in the temple churchyard.
shakespeare's globe...i'm seeing titus and andronicus here on monday...standing tickets for 5 pounds. experiencing shakespeare like a peasant--priceless.
southwark cathedral, built around 600AD (or was that 60 AD?)--suffice it to say that it's old.
can of shit from tate modern. proof that anything passes for modern art. i think art that doesn't concern itself with aesthetics or perspectives isn't art at all. statements do not count. fuckers. oh, and although the 'artist' sent out 49 cans of his shit (this one is #4), no one has opened one to verify that there's actually shit inside...apparently, part of the art is the mystery of not knowing.
duchamp's fountain. i don't really like readymades either...at least the shit guy had to put his shit in the can and then seal the can.
i do, however, like cartoons.
everytime i see one of these signs, i get all excited because i think it says toilet. public toilets cost 50 pence in london--that's equivalent to a whole dollar! i've gone to peeing in the bushes instead.


my bathtub wants me dead

the transition step from outside the bathtub to inside the bathtub is very difficult. every morning i see my life flash before my eyes as my foot slips under my weight. this morning, i slid about half a foot before i managed to clutch the sink in desperation. seriously, the walls of the tub are really high and really narrow, and i'm sure the degree of curvation is abnormal...the flat part of the tub seems very small. to get in, i hafta go on tiptoe of my left foot and land on tiptoe of my right. this is why more litigous societies are better--they make friendlier bathtubs! if they were worried at all that i might fall and sue them, i wouldn't hafta suffer thus.

last night i dreamt that i was grocery shopping with atong and nancy. at one point, i asked atong a question, and she gave her atong shrug, but then words started scrolling across her belly (just like the stock ticker that i walk past every morning), and the words said all the things that she was thinking. her thoughts were very insightful and funny (just what you'd expect from quiet people who look perpetually bemused). i spent a lot of dream-time laughing at her thoughts. it was terrific. maybe the dream is linked to the advent of her blog.


melissa has a new boyfriend!

how come i never hear about these things? and i had no idea that yelena has a blog now! anyone else have new possesssions they want to tell me about? melissa, i expect a lengthy comment telling me all about him (appearance, how'd you meet, his origins, who likes who more, who asked who out, how far you've gone, etc etc). sheesh.

rock, scissor, plastic bag?

i taught johanna (a swede) how to play ticshamtoe to pass the time during class. a couple of us invented it when we went to the boston harbor islands. basically, you rosham for moves, but the sequence of moves stays the same (you always place xoxoxoxoxo...), so the first rosham winner gets to be x and places an x whereever (his opponent is automatically o). the second rosham winner places the o (regardless of whether he's represented by o or x), and so on. the roshing completely changes the defensive strategy!

i won five roshams in a row to win the first game, and she gave me a dirty look. during the second game, i realized that she never threw rock so i started throwing paper lest she lose interest in the game entirely. at one point, i tried to explain to her why she kept losing the rosh's, but i'm not sure she believed me. that's when i lost interest in the game. during lunch, i realized the problem: the swedes have no concept of paper! they play with plastic bags instead. no wonder i had a natural advantage. other interesting things i learned about swedes: their favorite desserts are salty licourice and blueberry soup. seriously, they rave about these "treats". we asked one of them what goes in a blueberry soup...like blueberries and what else? and she said that you don't actually use blueberries, you get the soup as a powder out of a packet...yummy! after reading laura's entry about swiss food, i'm beginning to appreciate american food lots more.

instead of paying attention in class, i'm learning how to write macros in excel. yesterday i made a random number guessing game (exciting, i know, but cut me some slack, i'm learning vb via the help menu...not even internet to offer code samples). today, i started to make a rosh game. tomorrow maybe i'll figure out tictactoe...you see where this is going. the ultimate prize would be sudoku...but then i really wouldn't learn any finance.


photo dump: stonehenge, etc.

my pictures are taking forever to upload. sigh. on the brightside, i finally saw peter pan! it took us two hours to find him, hidden in some obscure corner of hyde park. people gave us lots of wrong directions, and some of them just said, "there's a statue of peter pan here? huh!" no sense of priority or culture.

as soon as i found him, i climbed on top and made rahul take a photo of me. a brown man walking past stopped to scold me, but instead of just telling me to get off of peter, he said, "you're lucky that statue isn't breaking." breaking? it's not like he's made of bronze or anything...oh wait, he is made of bronze...breaking?! do i really look that heavy? do i really look like i'm five? (don't answer either of those questions please, or i'll break some bronze on YOU).

along the way to peter, we passed the princess di memorial fountain, but it had just closed. some people were still inside, however, so we figured there must be some way in...which led to us hopping the fence. a custodian came by and asked us how we got in, to which our answer was, "ummmm...got in? you mean to this fountain? like past the fence? (gesture vaguely toward some indefinite direction)" to which he promptly replied, "you can't just hop into locked memorials! i'm calling the police on you." which is ridiculous, because he can't hold us there, and by the time the cops come, we'd be gone anyways. but we obediently left. there was one 8 year old kid who just pretended he didn't hear the custodian and stayed in the fountain. the custodian threatened some more, and then gave up. i think our correct answer to his original question should've been, "no comprende, amigo." what's with the people in this country making false threats anyways?

i saw footloose with savage the other night, but it was hard to get past the fake american accents. one guy was very obviously irish. the british don't give a shit if you eat in their theaters. they even sell ice cream during intermission.

in celebration of the aussies' last day, the firm took us to an ice bar friday. everything inside is made of ice (including the cups), and people can only stay inside for 40 min at a time. my poor toesies were freezing. afterwards, we went to karoake and then a club. dancing in heels kinda sucks. makes me hafta reevaluate my entire style. i missed meryl and cchu lots...people kept josling me around, and i felt kinda alone. funny how crowded rooms can do that to you. when i vowed to punch the next person who pushed me or stepped on me, i decided it was time to sit down and cool down. apparently i wasn't the only one with problems. johanna showed me the bruise left by someone's stiletto. heels suck.

got home at 2:30, caught a few winks, woke at 5:40 to meet kat for our stonehenge, etc venture. ended up missing the bus by 2 seconds (literally saw it turn down the street), and had to chase it in a taxi. what a rush. the day was spent in wessex county, where sir thomas hardy set all of his works. there's even a scene in tess that happens at stonehenge (speaking of literary sites, i stumbled on goldsmith's grave near temple church yesterday--he wrote she stoops to conquer, the vicar of wakefield, etc). kinda makes me want to write to mrs case and frau. oh, and did you know that the word sheriff comes from the words shire's reive? and that the town of marlborough is so named because that's supposedly where merlin is buried (merlin's burrough), and a public education at their secondary school costs 21,000 pounds a year (that's roughly $40,000!!).

the walls of old sarum castle, the original location of salisbury cathedral. the stones are made of chalk, left from when a shallow, warm sea covered britain.
salisbury cathedral, home of the magna carta.
also home to many a dead person.
salisbury cathedral windows.
more salibury cathedral windows.

lunched at the george hotel, featured in dickens's martin chuzzlewit.
stonehenge. built in 3500 b.c. (before the advent of the wheel), requiring 1500 years. nowadays politicians can't pulloff projects taking more than 10 years. i blame it on slim shady and the internet.
avebury. a town built within a mile-round stone circle.
getting atop this rock was not easy.

and here are some random photos i've taken:

superhero phonebooth.

cornish pastie.

statue in front of buckingham.