30 December 2009

Another day, another dollar

For everyone's information, I will be moving to the greater Washington DC area in February.

Huzzah for full-time employment! If you're in the area and looking for a roommate with an awesome 50lb dog (or know someone who might be), feel free to let me know.

I will again (emptily?) promise an interesting blog entry soon, but for now, I'm enjoying my winter vacation in Miami.

Also, remember Y2K? Yeah, that was ten years ago.

30 November 2009

November, where have you gone?

It seems November has come and gone without making an appearance on my blog. So here's what has happened since last I left you:
  • I went to the Harvard Band 90th Reunion and got to see some old friends; Jonathan even flew in from Poland for the weekend, in part because...
  • I turned 24;
  • The Phillies were once again in the World Series, but thanks to uncapped salaries in the MLB, did not reach the same conclusion as last year;
  • I got Windows 7 as a birthday gift from my brother John, and so far it is as awesome as all the commercials make it sound;
  • Milo has started sleeping a million hours a day, so I no longer have a puppy's urgent bladder waking me up in the early morning;
  • I bowled over 100 twice in one evening;
  • Thanksgiving happened and I ate my weight in turkey and pumpkin pie;
  • I attended my 5-year high school reunion, which was not as awkward or uncomfortable as anticipated;
  • I finally ordered a monitor (TV) for my computer from TigerDirect's Pink Friday sale, so I can stop borrowing my Dad's.

I have a handful of half-written blog entries in my head about various unrecorded Taiwan experiences, but I'm finding it increasingly hard to write them out. Wrapping up those few last entries will really conclude my year in Taiwan, and as I still tell acquaintances that "I just got back from being abroad," it seems weird to let go of the experience entirely. There has been a real lack of continuity in my life since graduation. I spent a year in another country with another language and a new routine and a whole set of new people, then I abruptly returned to suburban Pennsylvania with a year of holidays and birthdays gone by, finding my friends with jobs and apartments instead of classes and dorm rooms.

Enough of that. I just wanted to say, I haven't forgotten about this blog or about the things I plan to write in it. I thought all I needed was to find the time to create (of which I have plenty), but as it turns out I still haven't found all the right words.

24 October 2009

Milo has fallen for an older woman

I knew it would be an adjustment bringing Milo from our 4-bedroom, 4-person apartment in Taiwan to my 2-to-3-person, multi-level house with my mom's 12 year old dachshund Daphne in the Philadelphia suburbs. Daphne and Milo started off curious about each other. Despite the fact that he is at least four times her size, Daphne calls the shots in this house. Still, though, he occasionally baits her into playing, and has influenced her to stay frolicking outside just a little bit longer than she had before.

Lately, though, instead of claiming spots at opposite corners of the kitchen (their domain during the day-- at night Milo stays with me and Daphne with my mom), they've been sharing the bigger bed and cuddling. While I'm pretty sure Daphne is in it for the comfort and warmth as the temperatures grow colder, Milo seems to have drawn bigger conclusions.

A few mornings ago, I woke up earlier than usual and brought Milo downstairs. As usual, he eagerly went outside to release his bladder's nightly accrual. When I let him in and filled his dog bowl with breakfast, though, he just looked up at me confused. He kept looking from the bowl to the door and back to the bowl. In Taiwan, Milo always downed his food almost before it hit the bowl, eating it more quickly than we thought caninely possible. But here he was, eating a few pieces and then looking nervously to the door.

When Daphne came down just a few minutes later, and I gave her her breakfast, Milo began eating as quickly and enthusiastically as ever. Apparently, he didn't want to get in trouble for starting to eat without his date.

This morning, Milo and I slept in. When we came downstairs, Daphne was already here and (I'm pretty sure) successfully breakfasted. So I let Milo out and filled his bowl. He just looked at it. No eating, not even picking at it. I figured the late wake-up time had thrown off his hunger, so I figured he'd eat it when he wanted. After 20 minutes, he started throwing up. To avoid grossing you out, I'll just say that this kind of throw-up comes from the dog not having any food in his stomach. So here Milo was, getting sick in front of a very indifferent Daphne, with a full bowl of food only a few feet away. So I poured Daphne a second breakfast and coaxed her into eating it, and Milo began gulping his food with gusto.

The poor little guy, hopelessly attached to this older woman who only occasionally cares about him in return. Unfortunately for me, Daphne's biggest manifestation of love for Milo is in the way she often runs to my door to wake him before heading to the kitchen. Thanks, Daphne.

Let's hope he can shake this affection when we finally move out of the house!

Note: This kind of material is all I have to write about while my life is restricted to the Main Line. What can I say, I'm giving it a shot.

06 October 2009

New addition to the technology family

After leaving Poland on September 23rd, after having Jonathan's real computers with which to upload photos and type blog entries, I just couldn't manage to update on my 7" netbook, a.k.a. "baby laptop." Since my normal Dell laptop has been moody for months (by "moody," I mean that it refuses to turn on most of the time), and unemployed people rely on technology to find jobs, connect with others, and keep themselves entertained, I decided to stop putting off the inevitable and get a new computer.

Except now, as I have loads of time on my hands and not so much money, I went the somewhat cheaper route and decided to build my own computer. Of course, building your own PC is not the cheapest route for everyone. If you aren't picky about the quality of your parts, or you have to buy an operating system separately, it's better to buy one from Dell or HP or something. As it is, though, I had the time and the pickiness and the generous-Microsoft-brother connections to build my own computer.

So, after painstakingly going through newegg sales and combo deals, I picked out my parts and gathered enough courage to hit the "Submit Order" button. I can continue to wonder if more searching on more websites would have led to cheaper parts, but it's all in the past, and I resolve to be happy with what I have.

There were three points where I wanted to cry and send it all back to the store:
  1. I opened the box for the case and the front cover had snapped off. After a few deep breaths, I tried to superglue it back together instead of sending it back. And it worked! Problem solved.

  2. After putting everything together, I flipped the switch to the power supply and everything started flashing and clicking. Apparently, this was a bad thing... After deciding I needed a new power supply (thanks to advice from the internet), I took out the power supply and wiggled the wires and tried again, just for funsies. And what do you know, it worked!

  3. When I was sure I had everything right (including a functional power supply), I kept getting a video card error. After much panic and frustration, I just pushed a little harder and the video card clicked in.
So seriously, these were my three biggest problems, and they were fixed by supergluing plastic, wiggling wires, and pushing to hear a click.

Now, as I anxiously await the Windows 7 release on 10/22, I'm using the free Linux-based operating system Ubuntu. I don't know much about Linux or command prompts, but I am internet-surfing and document-editing (and blog-posting) at unprecedented rates. And I get that little pinch of satisfaction from knowing it's on something I built on my own!

You've probably read to here (if you've gotten this far) thinking, "...so?" Well, the moral of this story is that building your own computer is totally doable. I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about software issues, but I didn't know the first thing about PC components a few weeks ago. Between the (albeit somewhat outdated) tutorial on PCMech and the manual that came with my motherboard, it wasn't an incredibly challenging experience, and was finished within a 24-hour period.

And now that I'm back to the world of real computing, I'm of course on a strict regimen of hulu, grooveshark. and writing.

05 October 2009

Wienertrip 2k9: Day three

Now, the long-awaited conclusion to Jonathan and my trip to Vienna!

Sunday was less exciting than Friday and Saturday, so you haven't been missing much. We overslept and missed mass with the Vienna boys choir, but did manage to get standing room tickets to see the Lipizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School, which is part of the Hofburg Palace. No pictures allowed, but I snuck a few as evidence:

As the venue emptied afterward, I took another. A very pretty interior for a horse show:

I'd say that the show must be great for people who love and appreciate horses. For those who are allergic and have kept their distance from the animals (me), it's not the best choice. It was still a good experience, despite the 3 packs of tissues I went through.

Afterward we walked around Vienna and got some of the famed Wiener schnitzel; some sort of meat (veal?) cut very thin and then breaded. Fantastic? Not really. But good enough for me to eat, which is more than I can say for a lot of foreign food.

As you can guess from the size, I wasn't able to eat the whole thing. I'm pretty sure Jonathan rose to the challenge, though.

After a little more aimless wandering around the city, it was time to go to the airport and head back to Krakow. As wonderful as Vienna was, it was nice to get back to Poland, where the exchange rate means dividing, not multiplying.

22 September 2009

Wiener Trip 2k9: Vienna, Day Two

Saturday, we did not have nearly the agenda that we'd had on Friday, but still managed to see quite a lot of the city.

We first wandered to Stephansdom, a huge, very old, very beautiful church. The exterior is daunting but still approachable, while the interior is enough to take anyone's breath away. We didn't do any formal tours, but I took plenty of pictures.

The exterior:

The interior:

We wandered around, walking from Stephansplatz to Karlsplatz, taking pictures of many random buildings, eventually reaching a farmer's fair happening around the Hofburg Palace. So we sat, enjoyed, and took pictures.

Jonathan eats a Wiener wiener and drinks some Wiener beer:

I stand in front of a pretty building in the Hofburg (I believe it is now the National Library):

A building, most certainly part of the Hofburg:

A street on our way to somewhere:

We stand in front of the Federal Parliament building:

Later that night, we ventured to the Staatsoper (State Opera House), where we had obtained last-row (but non-obstructed view!) tickets for 20 Euros apiece to see Manon Lescaut. The opera house was beautiful, and unlike the Volksoper, it had English subtitles:

After the opera, we walked around the area and had some famous Wiener sachertorte and apfelstrudel. And took some more pictures.

All in all, a fantastic day.

Wiener Trip 2k9: Vienna, Day one

First, I'd like to thank LOT Airlines for having unusually low weekend fares to Vienna. Second, I'd like to thank Guesthouse Arabella for providing us with a lovely tenth-floor apartment to stay in and a free map of the city. Third, I'd like to thank the many friendly Austrians who spoke English with us. We are very fortunate to have grown up speaking what has become the world's international language.

Vienna is an absolutely gorgeous city. Cities don't generally make much of an impression on me. Tall skyscrapers and perpendicular blocks, whether of New York City or of Shanghai, often mesh together in my memory. The Old Town of Krakow is an exception, and so is the entire city of Vienna. Of course, when you are the seat of empires, in power for centuries, I imagine you have the resources to build a lot of really cool stuff.

I could wax poetic about various aspects of the city and our trip, but instead I'll give you a quick photosummary (with limited description) of what we did.

Thursday night, we checked into our hostel/apartment. Tenth floor, great view of the city. The sunrise on Friday morning:

Friday, we headed off to Schloss Schönbrunn, the Hapsburg summer palace, and took a (no-photo) tour:

Then we wandered the immaculately-kept, free-to-the-public gardens behind the palace:

We even entered and eventually escaped from one of the labyrinths:

Finally, we wandered into the Vienna Zoo, which is attached to the gardens (it was originally the royal family's wildlife menagerie), because zoos are always a good idea:

Later, deciding to do something musical, we went to the Volksoper (People's Opera House). A friendly worker helped us get third-row orchestra tickets at a student rate of 12 Euros to see Fra Diavolo, which looked a little more like a musical than an opera, but was still entertaining. Mostly spectacular were our great, otherwise-160Euro seats in this lovely opera house:

This has gotten lengthy already, so I'll put the rest of the trip in a separate post. Enjoy, and sorry for the belated updating!

18 September 2009

Something I never thought I'd do again...

is own a pair of rollerblades*.

Seeing that the rollerblading fad is in full swing here in Poland, and knowing that I do not enjoy running without purpose, Jonathan bought me a pair of rollerblades so that I may accompany him on his mile+ runs in the park. Little did he know that I am probably more speedy and more coordinated on bare feet. But I tried:

And if I weren't so afraid of losing control and running head-on into a Polish child without knowing the words for "Look out" or "Help me," maybe I could even get good enough to go on those mile+ loops around the park. Will the U.S. grant me a more comfortable practice environment? We shall see...

*This post brought to you by the "I have no idea how to condense the trip to Vienna into one blog post yet but feel guilty about not updating at all" foundation.

08 September 2009

O Jamników: March of the Dachshunds 2009

Imagine my excitement when I learned that, every year in the beginning of September, Krakow hosts the Marsz Jamników-- in English, March of the Dachshunds. For those not from my Pennsylvania life, my family has always had dachshunds and only dachshunds (that is, until the recent addition of Milo). They are my mom's breed of choice, so for my whole life we've always had a short-hair miniature dachshund (or two) roaming around the house.

This past Sunday was Krakow's annual March of the Dachshunds. Jonathan and I had no idea what to expect. What it was: over 200 dachshunds, many of them in costume, parading one block (from the Barbican to the Rynek down Florianska Street) with their owners and various dachshund fans, led by a marching band. After this there was some sort of ceremony, where the best-dressed dachshunds were introduced, dachshund poetry was read dramatically (all in Polish, unfortunately), and children presented their dachshund-inspired art.

As you'd expect, I took about a million pictures. I'm torn about what to put up. Some readers would be content with a few representative pictures, while others, I'm sure, would love to see all the dachshunds I managed to capture in their full hilarity. As a compromise, I've put a few pictures and a video here, and I've created a facebook album with the set in its entirety. Enjoy!

Dachshund owners and enthusiasts gathering by the Barbican on parade morning:

Many dachshunds were in costume:

Some dogs were not so happy about it:

While others took the opportunity to make new friends:

An excerpt of the parade:

At the ending ceremony, as incomprehensible Polish words washed over us, at one point the audience was instructed to raise up their jamniki (dachshunds)... and they did:

Even Jonathan, who is not a great lover of dachshunds (or small dogs in general), found this event preposterously entertaining.

Remember to click here for more pictures!

07 September 2009

Kościuszko Mound

At the suburban edge of Krakow and walking distance from Jonathan's dorm, there is a former royal hunting grounds that has been turned into a park. Within the park are several memorial mounds (not burial mounds); last weekend (not this past weekend), we went on a walk through the park and ended up at Kościuszko Mound. Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Kościuszko was involved in the American Revolutionary War and also a Polish revolutionary. There are memorials of him all over the US, too, from Boston Common to Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Anyway, this was yet another beautiful day in Krakow, so I took a lot of pictures. Enjoy!

The path through the park:

A view from the park bench where we had bread and cheese:

From the base of the mound:
Krakow from the top of the mound:

Jonathan, with the Tatras far in the distance:
An attempt at taking a picture with the view of the city behind us:
More posts to come.