Saturday, May 30, 2009

Eddy Gate



Eddy Gate used to be the main entrance to Cornell, situated before one crossed over the Cascadilla gorge. I had the rare experience of entering Cornell through this gate every day in my first year because I lived nearby. I have mentioned before that I found it interesting that Cornell's physical features match the educational reputation perfectly (and I'm not referring to the jumpers). There was little that was more intimidating yet exhilarating than having your first glimpse of this venerable school achieved by first trudging up a very steep hill, entering through an imposing gate, crossing over a beautiful and deep gorge, crossing the campus to the original arts quad, and discovering that the architecture building was the white domed masonry structure perched across the arts quad on the other gorge that flanked the university.

Eddy Gate has an inscription that I read over and over again. It reminded me to be better than I was.

So enter
that daily thou mayest become
more learned and thoughtful.

So depart
that daily thou mayest become
more useful to thy country and
to mankind.

I need a vacation

me (reading from news reader): Rachel Alexandra, the filly that won Preakness, will not run in the Belmont Stakes. The jockey is getting back on Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in his quest for a personal Triple Crown.

SB: You can do that?

me: Why not?

SB: If he wins, does that mean that they are going to put him out to stud?

me: *groan*

SB: Are they going to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for him to impregnate your horse?


Calvin Borel

Monday, May 25, 2009

gone into orbit

SB called me on my lunch break to ask if I had read the news. No, I hadn't. He had heard that North Korea had attempted a nuclear test and was wondering if his news reader had accidentally repeated a story. By now, you have probably discovered that Pyongyang has indeed conducted a second nuclear test.

Analysts say that it will be quite a while longer before N. Korea will be able to present a risk to anyone. So why are they acting out and risking further punitive measures? The South Korean ambassador to the US believes that "They think this will enhance and embolden their diplomatic capability to deal with the other countries, Of course, it may be working the other way. But from their point of view, this is their lifeline, which they want to maintain."

Others think that N. Korea is acting out like a spoiled child to get the attention of the US and others, who have been busy paying attention to Iraq and Afghanistan instead of them. Various analysts claimed that the tests "signaled Pyongyang's growing disillusionment over the U.S. refusal to conduct bilateral talks. Kim Jong Il, determined to seek more drastic measures to bring the Obama Administration to the bargaining table, could even carry out more nuclear tests as a way to bully the U.S. and its allies, experts said today." (source)

I am not sure that all this is aimed at the US. But I don't really know. Maybe the world really does revolve around us. If this is a maneuver to gain attention, it is working. It reminds me of my junior high chemistry class. We had a teacher, Mrs. Rios, who was always at her wit's end with a student named Raquel. Raquel was very, very disruptive. She was poorly behaved in all the classes I had to endure with her, but she was especially obnoxious to poor Mrs. Rios. Perhaps because Mrs. Rios shared a cultural identity with her, Raquel felt especially needy for attention. She would interrupt and yell nonsense and often Mrs. Rios would finally yell, "Cayate, Raquel!" This would cause Raquel to bang her head on her desk until class had to stop while Mrs. Rios dragged her out to the principal's office. By the end of the day, Raquel was back in class, acting quite sorrowful and upset to gain more attention.

Mrs. Rios eventually resorted to trying to bribe Raquel to shut up. She would flatter her or offer to let Raquel assist in the experiments. There were many of us who would have liked to light the flint or pour the tubes together but our good behavior was never rewarded like Raquel's bad behavior was. She even managed to mess up the experiments so that Mrs. Rios had to quickly redo them or just abandon them entirely. One day during a copper titration Raquel decided to point the test tube at the class and let go of the copper so that it fell into the tube. I was the closest person to her and the tube exploded in my face. Later that day I had to sit in the principal's office with Mrs. Rios to explain what had happened. Mrs. Rios explained that it was an accident while I sat there with my face covered in bandages like the elephant man.

As we were walking back to class, Mrs. Rios thanked me for not telling the principal that Raquel did it on purpose. "Why do you let her get away with everything?" I asked.

The problem is that in the real world, problems do not go away. They have to be resolved, appeased, and dealt with because you have to consider the needs of society over punishment of the bad child. You need to make the bad child feel hopeful and validated or he/she will continue to act out. When someone is desperate, he/she is unpredictable and that is an even bigger problem. In the words of political expert Janis Joplin (and Kris Kristofferson), "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." We may be the free world but Kim Jong Il is the most free of all of us because he can pretty much do whatever he wants.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

a little too far

Stormy Daniels, a porn star, has announced that she is gearing up to run in the 2010 Louisiana Senate race. She could be up against Republican David Vitter, who was involved in a little prostitution scandal.

me: Oooh, a face off! I wonder if they know each other?

SB: Maybe they could have a f**k off.

me: Uh, I think you took that a little too far there, cowboy.

SB: Maybe they could be running MATES!

me: (throws up a little bit)

nightcrawlers

I spent another day in the office until 5AM putting together a submission. As I exited the office I was about to hail one of the dozens of taxis milling about but decided to walk home instead. I was very tired, but even more, I felt compressed from spending 19 hours in the same office chair and my head was still full of thoughts.

Usually when I walk home late at night from the office I am careful to avoid as many homeless people as possible, and tiptoe around those who I have to walk past. I hate to think that I might wake someone up and remind them that there is no real privacy. I think that the majority of the homeless people are foreigners. There is a multicultural group that coexist in one of the tunnels passing under the road, and they have very tidy spaces and are well kept. I hope that they will be able to move out one day.

At 5 AM there were some other people sleeping on the street that I had never seen. One guy was laying in the middle of the sidewalk along Queensway. I tried to pick my way around him and he woke up and made some strange noises and shook his money cup at me. Okay, so clearly he was nuts. If I had not come to that conclusion from him sleeping in the open, in the center of the sidewalk, then I knew it now.

In the tunnel, the usual group was sleeping. As I walked toward the end, a young lady emerged from her mattress to get herself some water. I was shocked that she was among the group because she was so young. There were some trendy clothes and high heeled boots close by, hanging up to dry. She looked a bit embarrassed that I was looking at her so I said hello and she nodded back.

Times like this make me so grateful for what I have. It is impossible for me to comprehend this young lady's life, working throughout the day and then returning home late at night to a tunnel where people like me pass by on our way home.

When I did finally reach home, SB was snoring lightly with his arm around my pillow and his leg where it usually is, resting over my body. I lifted his leg and crawled into the space to cuddle up with him. He squeezed me and went back to snoring.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

a storm's a brewing

I heard a bit of bad news from a trustworthy source and now SB has confirmation. A highly valued member of his team is leaving under unpleasant circumstances. SB had directly asked him before but got an evasive response. Today he received a message that all decisions are final.

This person also told SB that before departing, he had informed the team's committee that SB was their MVP for the annual awards. SB isn't the best rugby player, but he was one of only a couple who showed up for every match, and gave his best even though he was fantasizing about retiring.

Now that SB is finally taking a step back, he will probably not have an opportunity to win MVP. Worse, he told me that he would really, really have liked such an award. I don't think that telling him that he was always my MVP provided too much consolation.

The MVP will instead go to a professional player on the team who they are trying to sign on for a longer term contract. This player was outstanding and it is not like he does not deserve an honor. But this is his first year with the team, he is more than a dozen years younger than SB, and he will have many years to win this award numerous more times. By choosing to lure the younger member to stay with our club, they have also disregarded the efforts of a longtime, loyal member whose playing days are very numbered.

I feel so bad for SB. Departing member should never have told him this information.

Women are from Venus, men are from Moron

First he saw me, then he moved into my house to increase the chance of pursuit, then he spent a couple of months talking himself out of it, then he pontificated some more, then he decided to wake up when I did and follow me around, then he lured me to spend time with him with downloaded rugby matches, then he decided that he really liked me, then he pontificated some more, then he debated about me with his friend Phil who was in the middle of a bitter divorce, then he discussed me with his friend Larry who was in the middle of a bitter divorce, then I told him that he was a moron, then he kissed me. Time frame: three months.

And they say women are complicated

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

low hanging fruit

The Royal Welsh Regiment is retiring their goat.

I am overwhelmed with the plethora of possible comments to this piece of news.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

and now back to the regularly scheduled program

I am so disconnected from reality that I felt fortunate to be leaving work at 9:30 tonight, as though I was leaving early. After this last round of late nighters, it is early.

And my, how the tables have turned. After months of seeing my hungry and happy face outside his office at lunchtime, he is now the one to have to trek across town to have dinner with me and then send me back up to the office while he goes home. I relish my dinner time break with him.

Tonight I could not even begin to think of where I wanted to eat- another reversal of fortune for us. Usually I am rattling off a list of possibilities while SB sits there in a daze. He tried to take over the decision making but only got as far as repeating two restaurants...which he happened to be standing in front of. Finally, we decided on Japanese. It was perfect. It was just what I needed. We sat in a dimly lit, enclosed space and all the visual and audio pollution seemed to evaporate behind the curtain at the door.

SB had ramen and I had bonito and a soothing miso soup. Instead of our usual quick witted banter, he had a to take over the conversation. For the next hour he told me about places in China that he wanted to take me to, describing how it was like for him when he first went over ten years ago. I sat in silence taking it all in: the descriptions of the streets and bridges that he remembered, the way people pour tea in Yunan, the sights and smells.

As I was chewing on a piece of mochi, he suddenly looked up. "You have beautiful eyes," he said. I had to take a few moments to swallow the sticky concoction before replying. "Um, thanks. Don't we have the same eyes?" He smiled widely. "Yes."

We both have light brown/yellow centers with green rings in our eyes. They are usually the exact same color but once in a while mine are greener. Since we discovered this, he is very happy to compliment my eyes, and thus his own.



Oh yes, and now back to the retelling of my busy weeks. So before the massage, I lost my libido. It is another example of the tables turning. Until I got my job I could count on one hand how many times SB initiated sexy time. He always claimed that he would have initiated more but I never gave him the chance. Now that I am a half delirious zombie with no sleep, sex is the last thing on my mind sometimes. After a particularly brutal week, I had finally passed out cold on Saturday night. I vaguely recall SB romantically suggesting that he could get me "in the wrapper." I may have been asleep before I could even respond. I woke up at some time in the late morning on Sunday to find SB shaking me. There is nothing more romantic than waking up with shaken baby syndrome. I tried to hide under my pillow as he proceeded to annoy me into waking up.

When it became apparent that I was not getting out of bed, he crawled in with me. "So how about a rogering," he offered. Yes, that's my man, Casanova. He is so suave. The only thing more romantic than that was my response. "I guess so. Do I have to be awake?"

"I guess not," he replied. "Good. Then I'm going to lay here like a starfish."

Okay people, let me defend myself. Once upon a time a few years ago I was a very busy grad student. I was also crazy about my boyfriend (still am). I used to rush home during my hour long lunch break to get him in the sack (he was unemployed at the time). Sometimes during the week I would wake up and want some cuddling. Like I said, he is NOT a morning person. What ended up happening was that he would allow me to have my way with him while he was still groggy and later in the day he could get his. And I could get mine again. Yes!

So it is only fair that I return the favor. Except he cheated and tickled me awake. Apparently sex is better when it is with a conscious person. I was never so picky.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

what would you do?

So something happened at work this week. On Friday evening a woman was invited to speak with us about the Australian Green Building Council. It was a good lecture, and I learned some things despite thinking that I knew most things having been acquainted with the American Green Building Council. At some point in the friendly and informal discussion, she made a joke about the conversations that go on between the Australians and their British counterparts. Before the joke, she looked up and asked me if I was English or Australian. Neither, I replied, and so she chuckled and proceeded.

Toward the end of the talk, a developer who had been invited to the talk asked her questions about how to contact A/C contractors who produced the units that split the cooling and humidifier units. He was replacing the American ones in his building. He kept stressing the word, American, as he ranted about not being able to find these units. She told him that she would be able to find him the information he needed. Then he went ahead and made a disparaging comment on the stupidity of Americans. This was followed by a very loud and hateful remark regarding his hope for the downfall of my country. I could feel my face growing very, very warm as the shock and outrage began to come over me.

Everyone in the room turned and stared at me. As the only white person, I tend to be noticeable. I am aware that I am noticed a lot, but not in any bad way. Mostly my coworkers are curious as to why I am here instead of in a more international firm, or even why Hong Kong. My direct supervisor was sitting next to me and I turned to see him and another architect just dumbfounded over what to do or say. The only person who said anything was the coworker who is similar in age and recently came from an American graduate school. She turned around and told me that she was sorry that I had to hear it and that she was a bit perplexed as only a few minutes ago it had been verified in the room that I was neither English nor Australian and I would have assumed that from my accent, one would have guessed that I was North American.

The thing that most sticks with me, though, was the poor man who hosted the talk. He was sitting at the table with the lecturer and he made eye contact with me for what seemed to be a long moment. He was stricken. In fact, he looked like he wanted to vomit. I actually felt so bad for him that it made me forget about my own lurching stomach and pounding heart.

The person who made the statements probably was made aware that I was American. He might not have noticed it during his rant, but his companion certainly looked over at me when she saw everyone else in the room freeze and look at me. She then whispered something to him and he got up and said something to another person in the room, probably verifying that I was indeed American. He did not apologise to me. I wasn't expecting him to, considering the hatred he expressed. I wonder if he lost big in the US stock market and has joined ranks with the other angry, irresponsible investors. After a long pause, the woman continued her lecture, and this included pointing out to the man that the US was a leader in environmental research and innovative design. I was unsure whether this was part of the lecture or if she was saying these things to try and make me feel better, especially when she started waxing poetic about the LEED system and how the US Green Building Council had helped to set up the Australian one.

I was talking about it later with SB and during our conversation I tried to think of any time in my life that I have felt so offended. It was a 9 out of 10 as far as how offended I felt. I have felt offended for far more horrible things happening in the world. I am offended at oppression, torture, irresponsibility, a number of despicable things that happen in the world. But this is the most offensive thing that I have personally experienced. There are probably many people who hate Americans, and probably also with good reason. There are a lot of people who hate Americans with no particularly logical reason. There are people who express their hatred of Americans publicly. I have heard anti-American sayings from drunk people in Wanchai, however I have never personally had to endure an attack on my culture in a situation where it was in my private domain.

And then I had to work until 2 AM, still reflecting on what had happened earlier in the evening with a dazed feeling of disbelief. What an awkward situation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

sawatdee-kapow!

After a very strenuous week (story to follow in reverse chronological order) I needed a massage. It was practically all I could think about after I wrapped up my last review on Saturday and dragged myself home. My shoulders were hunched and I could feel a large lump where the muscle behind my shoulder blade was.

After initial resistance, SB decided to go with me for his first massage. I have not had a lot of massages and they have varied from being awesome to weak (the masseur seemed to be afraid of me and proceeded to pat me for the next 45 minutes no matter how many times I told him that he could use more pressure). I had never experienced a Thai massage, and after the other places told me that they were all booked, I decided to try something new.

With SB in tow I went to a place recommended by a friend and signed on for a 45 minute session. I almost went for the longer one but decided that I would ease into this new experience. A few minutes later, SB and I were laying next to each other in a very dark room. "Do you suppose they do happy endings?" he asked as I tried to reach over and thump him before the ladies came in. For the longest 45 minutes of my life, the diminutive woman who was working on me proceeded to mince me into hamburger meat. I was really getting my money's worth as she flattened, stretched, and pounded my muscles into submission. The only part that I wasn't too fond of was when she went over my legs because they were still sore from the rugby match a week before (probably too much lactic acid build-up) and it was excruciating when she applied her iron grip on them.

Afterward, SB was very silent. I finally asked him how it went. "I think she stepped on me," he replied. Well, yes. That is part of the Thai massage. "And then I thought we were going to die when she got behind me and flipped me over her body." I tried to avoid eye contact. I had been hoisted backward over my masseuse's body just moments earlier and had waited for it to happen to him so that I could giggle as he flailed his arms like a grouse trying to take flight. Actually, considering his size, I shall compare him to a turkey. He was a flapping turkey. I undid a lot of the massage by shaking violently with suppressed laughter.

Poor SB. His delicate and soft body was abused terribly and I do not think that he will be racing for his second ever massage any time soon. I have suggested that maybe we will try out the foot massages until I can locate one with a gentle touch for my big softy. In the meantime, my shoulders are sore, but in a good way. She worked out most of the kinks so that I can start fresh at destroying my posture through long hours hunched in front of my computer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

dusting off

Oh, so much has happened. I have been very busy and something had to give, so it was this enjoyable yet unnecessary blog. Of course I didn't quite realize just how much of an outlet it was until now. Instead of letting things get to me, I had been using them as fodder for the blog. It has been a great coping mechanism. I will often take an unsavory encounter and instead of becoming upset, I start to compose the blog entry. Eventually I will be able to see the humor in the situation.

I have almost a month of stories to unleash. Since my last post, I have gone to Korea to play rugby, got propositioned by a handful of servicemen, lost my libido, lost my mind, gotten my ass kicked by a Thai masseur, watched SB get schooled by a German hockey player with baby fat, and met a few new friends.

I will start with the most recent and work my way back.