feeling bummed …

First it’s a Blackberry. I never had much of an opinion on this front; a smart phone is a smart phone and there’s very little about smart phones that excites me.

Sure, it “entertains” by way of providing me with headlines and updates in 148 characters … I read up to 250 tweets in traffic back in the good ol’ days where I spent on average 3.5-4.0 hours of my life daily strapped behind the wheels. Now, I read RSS feeds mostly from CNN, BBC, Reuters and Huffington Post (because it’s fun and light, bordering idiotic and oxymoronic at times).

I do check some emails and like 1.11 billion other people, proclaim to the world the most mundane aspect of my life… e.g.  my booger-no-meter ranks the air quality in Los Angeles lower than New York. Yeah – that kind of updates that you’d rather not know, but who knows(?), it could be useful.

In any case, the Blackberry informed me some 8 days ago that my limit was dangerously low.

LIMIT?!? there is a limit?

And this too was me relying on free Wi Fi available on trains, hotels, airports, public places blah3 to bore people with:

  • the colour of my aura ring (I don’t own one, silly!),
  • I bought a gear-like Rubik cube that spins 360 degrees! (this I am not kidding you and cost me a bomb, but will earn me more geek rights!),
  • I saw a dog with two different coloured iris’, or
  • writing rants like this!

Not one to abuse company property, I had switched the BB every other day and responded only to super urgent emails (3-4 max each time) … and I’ve hit my unknown to me an imposed limit.

If that’s not bad enough, my password to the office server has expired and I am blocked out. But that’s not the best part, which I trust you’ll like: I have to lodge an online ticket to IT to get it rectified! Hello?!??? If I am blocked out, how the {insert preferred expletives} am I to contact you online to get me online? d-u-h multiplied by infinity.

Typically, when things like these happens, I bounced back after a 1 minute rant and go into solution-ing mode. Failing to find one, or being expressively faced with a brick wall (like in this case of needing to log into the server to lodge a complaint), I would regress to the dark ages of being unreasonably stubborn and rebellious.

… and so, here I am sitting in LAX (not my favourite airport) in Starbucks with lousy coffee and a salty and hard sandwich contemplating what I should do.

Situation:

I arrive 18 hours later … with time zone differences, I’ll be roaming Narita for an hour, followed by yet another airport at 4:40am, waiting to board another plane for a 2-day workshop at 8:05am. I don’t have a confirmation of my airline ticket for the 8:05am flight.

I am sure my colleague has done the travel arrangements – she is the best!

But the problem is I simply can’t retrieve any official emails/ notifications with me being barred out of my company server and not having any reception left on the Blackberry!

Honestly, read the caption on my coffee mug that surmise the current situation perfectly: OMG! WT{blip}

OK – am off to board my flight – good bye LA! good bye US!

Back to 90-hours work week! UrrrgghhhHHHHHHHH

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arrghhh… -15ºF (-26ºC)

My friend who continues to run even in winter (in preparation for marathons) had once said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”.

I chuckled and shook my head thinking: ‘Crazy SOB’ as I looked at his photo in head-to-toe body hugging running gear.

I (used to) trek mountain peaks – the cold and wind can be bone chilling cold … I often had to check if my extremities are still in tact. So, when it was said that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes … that sounded really crazy. See, we  crazy mountain goats wannabe were all decked out in the mother-of-mother parka, waterproof pants lined with (merino – if you had the dole) shearling, anti-slipped gloves that fitted snugly – you need your fingers to grip, that is assuming you actually still have any sensation in them, and waterproof boots that weighed tonnes as the hours progressed in them.

I always felt two things in these: FAT. and FAT

OK. Beyond F-A-T and hence, clumsy, I often burned in them.

As body heat is released and trapped, I felt suffocated from my waist upwards, whilst my extremities continued to be icy cold despite the gloves and my cheeks felt as if it was stretched to the max and ‘burnt’ like a badly made drumhead.

With this, I had thought the best solution was really to buy Gore-tex that burns a huge hole in the pocket, which like the boots, gets heavier by the hour. This of course was something I discovered while dragging my sorry arse up yet another peak that’s really not visible until 3 days of torturous trekking accompanied by chants to psyche myself up since I’ve been told that ‘it’s all in the mind’.

{yes, I really should stop getting sucked into words – advertising and super phony taglines}

So, when I was told that I had to be in New Berlin and Hamilton up north in New York state this winter with weather forecasts of -15ºF (-26ºC), I was far from ecstatic. More so when I had to spend some time in California prior to that, followed by Nevada, Arizona, then Singapore… The sequence of: warm, freezing cold, warm, warm and warm, guaranteed only one thing – illness.

OK. Frankly, I didn’t like the thought of having to lug along serious winter wear … I didn’t really have gears that was flattering. See, I own mountaineering clothes, and mountaineering clothes are practical outdoor clothes with technologically R&D-ed stuff built into their synthetic material to keep you warm. Read: not exactly fashionable on 5th Avenue, New York City.

Buying fashionable winter wear just seemed a bit sinful for 0.016 of a year utilization. And had I been given enough time, at least I could have hunted down some online store bargain for a Burberry boots that I’ll love … which ironically would disregard the fact that it will only be worn for 6 days.

But, truthfully, I’ve never been in exposed to the thick of winter, more so one that is this bitter.

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The view through the Amtrak train windows was terrifying. The sound of beating snow storm against it whenever the train pulled over at a station confirmed my worst fears…

………………………………………………………………………………………… … but one gotta do what one gotta do.

As the announcement came through the speakers that we were pulling up into Utica, New York in 5-7 minutes, I got up, took my backpack off the overhead rack, pulled my fleece turtle neck over my cotton tee and Eddie Bauer’s thermal top, slipped into a down blanket that somehow had armholes and sleeves sewn into them, and coiled a prickly wool scarf around my neck and looped it above my head to protect it from the overzealous frozen flakes that has gleefully given in to gravity.

Gingerly, I stepped out of the train onto the platform to face mother nature head-on.

The first blast of cold wind that hit me was … well, surprisingly not as cold as I had anticipated. The hundreds of frozen mini-droplets of frozen water on the other hand was a totally different story.

Over the next 24 hours, I had stomped into snow beds 14″ high – the pristine white condition was just too tempting, cleared a 20 feet pathway with my boots for my sister who persist to weather the weather in sports shoes, made a snow angel, and stood on street corners and in the middle of the roads for photo ops. Long story short, I discovered a few things noteworthy:

  • it is in the mindproof point: when I’m busy clicking away without gloves and the bulky scarf around my neck, I surprisingly felt no cold and am well aware where all my fingers are as they were mechanically working the camera dials subconsciously,
  • there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes – proof point: things are manageable and surprisingly warm and toasty with the right thermal and waterproof outerwear – I survived comfortably both in-doors and out-doors with a thin waterproof coat with good merino shearling over a fleece and a good thermal. By shedding my parka I don’t have the bulk or weight to weigh me down and cringe at my reflection.
  • loving bitter winters does not make you a SOB – proof point: by the 2nd day I was inquiring about real estates! Sure, I may be nuts, but I am not a guy so the SON-{blip} does not apply to me … But on a serious note, after 72 hours in North Country (New York), I can’t get enough*!

Bitterly winds and endless white powder does make it all the more prettier … but, this comes from someone sitting and typing away in a small lovely boutique hotel (Colgate Inn, Hamilton) that’s well heated and does not have to worry about shoveling snow off the driveway at the very least twice a day!

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 What I was not prepared for though was the wind chills – how snappy dry they made my skin in sheer minutes!

………………………………. … and thankfully for that, I stayed out for brief periods of time, not realizing one could end up with hypothermia or frostbites.

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*As if I have been heard by the Heavenly Gods, the news channel blaring in the background goes on and on about thousand of train and flight cancellation, schools and office shut downs, road blockage – some news links below:

Bitter cold grips Northeast as new Arctic blast looms

Nor’easter blasts millions with snow, wind and bitter cold

‘Coldest air in decades’ to follow storm, with temperatures set to plummet further

hmmm … when will I shake off my ‘luck’ of flight cancellation? 

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to Ulysses or not to Ulysses

I’m terribly hooked onto Bourne books when I travel. I’m sorted this time around. 2 Bourne + my ol’ faithful Salman RushdieLuka and the Fire of Life.

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My sister who is coming along had been harassing me to get her the latest Dan Brown and lug around (and at some point) read various travel/ guide books. I vehemently refused.

I don’t read Dan Brown. Heck, I don’t read much mainstream type books.

Bourne was something I had “accidentally” picked up on the way to Sarajevo-Kosovo-Pristina-Albania-and-what-not at an airport that had limited choices of English books other than {blerk} self-help Malcom-what-ever Tipping Point, Kiyosaki‘s wealth inequality amongst dads that some how diversified into real estate and what not, the Chicken Soup series*, and authors who seemed to be fixated with colours – Blue Ocean, Purple Cows … well, at least the Bourne paperback had three things I like: (1) Matt Damon, (2) Black ninja-like overalls, and (3) Range Rover, on it’s  cover!

As for various travel/ guide books … why bother? All guide books are over-rated and written by easily impressed people or ill-traveled people with limited varied experience to exercise relativity and hence provide useful advise or critique. With free travel apps in abundance that has real people’s photos posted, you don’t need to lug around guide books.

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But as with every long road trip that does not require me being stuck behind the wheels deciphering the GPS, I’m wondering: to Ulysses or not to Ulysses

 This is really the only time where void of most other reading entertainment, I will be forced to finish ridiculously long (some times dry and difficult to read – given the era in which it was written) classic books. The last time I had done this was January this year with Anna Karenina in Africa; where it was first handed down to me, and thus, had to be returned in Africa.

Looking back now, Anna Karenina was an easy feat at 976 pages divided into 8 parts compared to Ulysses which is approximately 265,000 words in length, uses a lexicon of 30,030 words (including proper names, plurals and various verb tenses), and is divided into eighteen episodes. The only thing is, the reward of the 18th (and final) Episode is, it is named after me! … or rather none of our names are original, as we’re both named after Homer’s Odyssey.

“he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

As ridiculous as it may seem, something tells me my decision will be made based on the weight of Ulysses … I’ve got to lug 3 luggages (assuming I won’t be buying any more en-route) for a 2-day “working meeting” that’s happening in the little island south of my home country right after I’ve landed from a 18+ hours 1 (with one short stop-over) flight from LAX in the wee hours of the morning; only to jump onto another flight 4 hours later.

The game plan is a bit hazy at the moment as the carriers are different. The “connecting” flight has not been confirmed. There are no PODs / capsule hotels for rental in the airport in question … but thank goodness for showers … thanking little mercies in advance!

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* I’ve never read any of the Chicken Soup and have no intention to purely because the fonts and colours of the book cover turns me off – sure, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but hey, when you’re seriously up against billions of books being published yearly the 4Ps of marketing applies!

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