Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Singaporean Pasttimes

We're off to Bali for the next nine days, where I will finally be deprived of even my Internet access :'( . Hopefully in exchange for wild times at the beaches and rivers of Indonesia, assuming the rainy season does not take its toll on us.

Here in Singapore, I've partaken of the two Singaporean pasttimes: eating, and shopping. Pictures should come soon of me enjoying my banana leaf food (update: pic), chicken bryani, among others. Even a pleasant eight-course meal at the Singapore Swimming Club*. We've done the club circuit, visiting the Singapore Cricket Club, the Raffles Sailing Club (now THAT is a yacht club... it's like a self-contained resort!), and the Tanglin Club. Needless to say, we had several refreshing pints of Tiger Beer at each location.

[* It may seem wierd to some of you that a swimming club would be a key place to find upmarket meals. However, in this part of the world, club memberships are a prestegious commodity, that are bought, sold and traded among the financial elite. As such, many of these clubs become important social venues, often exceeding even their original function.]

Not much else to tell. Back in a couple of weeks! Postcards will go out soon I hope.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Flying American Style

Here I am in Singapore, sitting in front of my Mother's laptop, surfing the net. But it's not entirely the same as Seattle... here I have cable ;)

Just kidding, I'll relate what tales of have from Singapore soon enough.

Flight over was my first run with Northwest Airlines, taking an A330-200 first on a 11 hour leg to Narita, Japan, then changing over for a 7 hour leg to Singapore. And, as much as I dreaded the experience of an "American airline" for the inevitable marathon journey, it wasn't bad at all. Plane was modern, had on-demand video, music and games in every seat (yes, even in economy), and I didn't have to deal with overly annoying children at any point during my travels. Most of the movies sucked, but at least they had "Miami Vice" which I did actually want to see.

The one thing I must say for Northwest, they know nothing about customer service. My first hint was that I arrived at the counter, to find ZERO counters dedicated to paper tickets. So it was "E-ticket checkin", or "Go to hell". Of course, with only one attendant on duty, it took awhile to even ask, and of course get berated for being in the e-ticket line (there was another line???)... wait awhile 'over there', and eventually a few of us are helped.

If you like in-flight service that doesn't bother you, NWA is for you. They get you in the air, then disappear for hours at a time. At one point, I waited 15 minutes on an attendant call, just for some water (being sick, I'm dehydrated to the point of being in pain), at which point I'm told to wait for the next drink service in 15 minutes and "Is that it?". But at least I wasn't the poor girl in the bathroom as we were landing, as the stewardesses yelled across the aisles mocking the poor clueless passenger. HELLO? WE CAN ALL HEAR YOU!

One regret was Narita - we were a little late arriving, and the security checkpoints were backed up. So in the end, all I got to see was the blur of my peripheral vision as I went running for the last call on my connecting flight. I was hoping to at least have a chance to pick up some random tacky Japanese airport merchandise to bring home.

On the plus side, I always love Singapore customs. They don't talk to you. At all. A depressed stare, read over your entry card, scan your passport, and send you on your way. Every time. This of course beats Seattle, where I received the dreaded "SSSS" on my boarding pass (ie. TSA secondary screening). At least the man assigned for the inspection of my personal spaces had a sense of humour; possibly the first in the history of all US Government officials!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Going Away

Hey folks, in a few days I am leaving to Singapore to meet up with my parents. I'll be there for a few days, and then, off to Bali with me (in the tropical South-East-Asian country of Indonesia). I'll be there until pretty much the end of December.

I expect to have minimal Internet connectivity. But then again, even if I have a great connection... lets face it, am I going to be using the Internet? Or am I going to be sitting on the beach sipping drinks

[editor's note: last year, the answer was strongly 'The Internet' (WoW is addictive, quiet you!). This year I'm not bringing my laptop for specifically that reason.]

So, to everyone, have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


Using the reward of free movie passes I received from work (I did my part for Big Bill's Windows release), I decided to go check out Borat, see if the hype was justified.

I can see why they are getting sued by so many people. Some parts are simply silly, offensive, or repetitive - there's only so many times a badly-pronounced body part reference is funny. The mix of unscripted mocking of Americans can be funny sometimes, but in a movie which is an obvious parody anyways, it almost doesn't fit.

On the other hand, it has some good laughs. In fact, it feels almost like Mr. Bean - a very direct form of humor dervied from bizarre situations.

Still, I think people may have been stretching in their interpretation of the film of a parody of American views on foreigners. Lets face it, Rick Mercer already beat them to that one.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Oooo new gaming

Why would I, having a full-time job and a sliding thesis want more gaming? Well... I do. I'm compulsive, and it makes me happy, so yay for games.

First off, my poor compy is WORKING AGAIN! Hooray! It was locking up under 3D stress (but not a thermal issue), and was really pissing me off. It was either the video card or the chipset. Thankfully, I now know.
It was a gamble - basically I staked a $250 card replacement on a 50/50 prognosis. Thankfully, I was right, and the computer seems stable. Plus, I really like the card. Not only does it run extra cool, barely spiking past 60 (my EVGA Geforce 6800 GT would regularly hit the 135C thermal shutdown point), but it's also faster. My score on 3DMark 2006 went from 2000 to over 3700. Also, my Vista "Gaming Graphics" performance index went from 5.0 to 5.8.

Also, my Xbox 360, one hard drive replacement later, is finally working. I really love this console. Despite being more than content with the wide selection of Xbox 360 Live Arcade games, I've also picked up Saint's Row. It's a shameless GTA3 ripoff. But I like GTA3, so it really was a perfect choice.

So, what's the moral of this story?

A weekend trip to Fry's can be very expensive and very gameilicous.