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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Observations - 31st December 2011

"When a man plays a woman in a dress, you're halfway there. It's inherently funny. When a woman plays a man, for whatever reason, it's not that instant kind of funny." - Tina Fey

***

[On boardgame meetups] "For best results, don't sit near the door where the newbies gravitate, ask where people work before the game starts and if they say anything about insurance, disappear to the next table."

Someone: "Your tweets are very disturbing"
Me: "I'm a very disturbing person"

"This is the first Malay man I've ever seen who does housework" - On her relative

Thinking of putting out an album called "The most annoying Christmas songs... EVER!!!"

Trying to figure out why Meebo turned from a great messaging portal to another me-too Social Media monstrosity

Anyone born after the invention of earphones has no excuse using speakers instead.

As with money, so with time: don't throw the good after the bad

RT @mrbrown As long as people don't vote with their feet, they will always be at the mercy of fare hikes & high ministerial salaries


Apparently in Indonesia you've halal pork because there halal means nonstolen

Malay and Japanese, despite both having words for it (persetubuhan and seikou), take a leaf from English and use "seks" and "sekkusu" to refer to sex. Go figue.


What agency do the mentally ill have if you always blame the illness? If they can't control themselves they should be committed

"400 species have homosexuals, only one has homophobia, which is unnatural now?"
"It's also natural for many of those species to perform rape... which is unnatural now?"
"Millions of species have patriarchy, only one has forced equality, which is unnatural now?"

"I hate the way some Malay teachers use the word 'non-Muslim' like it's venom" - On her Malay classes

To some people, empirical questions are actually ideological ones. Yet when facts become politicised, they become distorted. For example the Cock was labelled as possibly chauvinist for his observation that young Upper-Middle Class women in Singapore may be good at managing the budget, but they are not good at growing income.

RT: @markleggett: Ten seconds. That's how long you would wait before calling the cops if a stranger peacefully "occupied" your property with no clear purpose.

RT: @sickipediabot: When I turned a fruit into a vegetable I called it a magic trick...the police called it a homophobic attack


RT @LiquidCoke I'm not racist but my pussy is..... Hahaha

RT @winebos: A man on a date always wonders if he is going to get lucky....A woman already knows !!

RT: @Evil_Dumbledore: Why post a picture on Facebook with the caption 'OMG I'm sooooooo ugly' and then get annoyed when I agree? #LadiesWeWantAnswers

RT @rudeshock Love is blind but marriage is an eye-opener.

RT: @iaryl: "I miss the days when Halloween was about showing off your costume, not your cleavage."

RT: @LoLSnaps: My girlfriend treats me like a god. She barely notices I exist until she needs something.


"I personally find Christians far less grateful to their surgeons than non-believers. I suppose if they really believe their healing is due to God's miracles, they can't be expected to be all that grateful to their doctors. It's really unfair because they will seek the best medical treatment. There should be a law against this. Anyone who wants to see a doctor must sign a statement that he will not attribute his healing to any other agency apart from his doctor's skill and the efficacy of the medication and treatment. If he's going to be grateful to God, he is at liberty to forgo medical treatment."

"If Adam was made from dust, why is there still dust?"


@shaunkoh: I love how personable the bus drivers are in Ann Arbor, instead of the Singaporean mistrusting observations of whether I pay my fare
I used to greet our local bus drivers with the same characteristic warmth that I was accustomed to giving and receiving.
I wasn't strong enough to keep on doing in before mistrustful/confused stares. And broadly speaking, that's what I got. It's disheartening.
Singaporean society lacks a distinctly human element. We seem to be systematically turned into self-interested KPI driven robots.
@MeiyiChan: maybe it's cos you're a guy, cos I don't have that problem lol
Me: everyone's nice to girls ;)

"Chinese from Southern China and Indians from the southern parts of the country... appear to be a 'milder' and less antagonistical or confrontationist in nature... This is a personal observation - the Chinese in Singapore are more accepting and mild mannered than those who are in Hong Kong for example. Similarly, the Indians from the states of Tamil Nadu or Kerala who were the original immigrants, are typically less combative and aggressive than the typical North Indian ( Punjabi )."

"when you wake up to a bright world... ....you know you're late for work"

RT @sickipediabot I've come to realise that if a Facebook profile picture has two people in it, it always belongs to the uglier one.

Links - 31st December 2011

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." - General George S. Patton (attr)

***

There’s enough real racism in Singapore – TOC needn’t cry wolf - "Reading The Online Citizen’s sensational report on what a PAP MP said about Malay and Indian MRT drivers and then watching the video itself, I wondered how the website’s reporters might have covered Barack Obama’s landmark speech after winning the Democratic Party nomination in 2008. TOC might have said something like this: Barack Obama has told Americans that “our sights were set too high” and that “this country was too divided; too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose”. If you think this pessimistic prognosis from a president famous for giving people hope sounds suspect, you’re right. Obama did say the words above, but they are taken slightly out of context"
Comments from others: "he's an MP - he's meant to represent ALL people. and he of all people should learn how to filter his words and not mouth off like that"
"I was stuck in a train on Thursday evening with a Malay train operator, and when he tried to communicate to us commuters in the train, I could barely understand what he was saying"
This is what happens when empirical questions are transformed into ideological ones; apparently if you don't think Malays and Indians in Singapore speak perfect English, you're racist; we bash politicians when they tell us what we don't want to hear, but also when they lie to us. We bash politicians when they are genuine, and we bash politicians when they give sanitised PR speak. Power isn't always adequate recompense, especially when people's minds are already made up. Also he was quoting what a SMRT PR employee said, so it's not even his opinion


Men ‘love their cars more than their wives’ - "One in ten guys admit that they cherish their motor more than their other half, while four per cent revealed that they prize it above their children"

Vivre un an sans huile de palme, un défi moderne - "Souvent présentée sous l’appellation "graisse végétale" ou "huile végétale", l'huile de palme est plus difficile à dénicher lorsqu’il s’agit de ses dérivés, contenus dans les additifs alimentaires (E 304, E 305, E 471) et dans les agents actifs des produits d’hygiène et d’entretien (laurylsulfate sodium, acide palmitique, laureth sulfate, glycéryl stéarate). "Ma tâche se complique avec le temps car je découvre constamment de nouveaux dérivés de l’huile de palme, regrette-t-il. Par ailleurs, j’ai récemment appris qu'on pouvait aussi la retrouver dans la nourriture des animaux, ce qui réduit encore l’éventail des produits que je peux consommer.""

War on Iran has already begun. Act before it threatens all of us | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian - "The case against Iran is so spectacularly flimsy. There is in fact no reliable evidence that Iran is engaged in a nuclear weapons programme. The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report once again failed to produce a smoking gun... [Iran] has invaded no one in 200 years"
This is like some strange alternate reality

Gen Y Workers to Employers: Flexible Hours, Not 9 to 5 - "Increasingly, companies are creating workplace-flexibility programs because it makes good business sense, not in the least because that’s what their employees are demanding... more than half of Gen Y employees prioritize social-media freedom over a higher salary when evaluating a job offer. Furthermore, more than half say the Internet is an integral part of their lives... More than one-third (37%) of Gen Y workers would take a pay cut if it meant more flexibility on the job... Gen Y workers are always connected to jobs through technology"

Carbon Footprint - "An analysis of the carbon footprint of Christmas in the UK shows that consumption of items such as food, travel, lighting and gifts at Christmas produces as much as 650 kg of carbon dioxide (CO²) emissions per person - equal to 5.5% of the UK annual carbon footprint"

Jirka's Blog - "This is a continuation of my previous attempts to envision Disney characters in “real life”"

Top Ten Reasons Why Large Companies Fail To Keep Their Best Talent

Lost, Missing and Found Posters - The Funny Side ~ Kuriositas

Why data roaming costs too much - "On the best-value tariff we could find, a Vodafone UK iPad user pays £15 for 2GB locally, but £29.99 for
50MB when roaming outside Europe. That's an increase of 79,000 percent. This may be one of the highest differentials in the history of commerce — and it's between two different retail rates, not even wholesale to retail. By comparison, estimates for the mark-up for cocaine from grower to consumer range up to a maximum of 32,000 percent... 'It's the equivalent of walking into a bar in Germany and being told 'here's a glass of wine for €500 (£439) because you're a Brit or a Spaniard'... "It's very difficult to generate real loyalty if half your customers hate you for egregious pricing — customer loyalty is earned and you don't earn it by showing contempt for your customers," Bubley says. "Whoever the head of data roaming is for some operators must have to go to work every morning knowing his customers hate him.""
Quora: "In an efficient market, competition will drive prices down. When it comes to roaming however, the market is not efficient as there are too many players involved". Ahh, economics!

theglen: Things Mr. Welch can no longer do in D&D 3.0 - "115. My musical instrument does not double as a personal flotation device.
156. When one person forgets to buy rations eating the half-elf is not our first option.
243. Cannot cast haste on the king during a long winded speech to get him to hurry the hell up.
252. I cannot order the Druid to transform and roll out.
260. Gnomes do not have a racial bonus in bobsled.
295. When my enemy blinks does not give me an attack of opportunity.
380. I cannot use the ventriloquism skill to convice the fighter his new sword is a magical talking one.
401. When a virgin sacrifice is demanded I will not look knowingly at the paladin, netrunner or Hermetic.
407. I will not blow all my starting funds on hookers and booze.
433. I will not find a peaceful solution to the adventure just to piss off the power gamer.
449. I will not switch to an entirely new class every single time I level.
476. The alignment of 2 years olds is not automatically Neutral Evil.
559. Even if the Ranger offers his sword, the elf his bow and the dwarf his axe, my gnome can't offer his accordion.
651. My alignment is not Sarcastic Good.
672. Teleport Without Pants is not a real spell.
695. Buying the Elf Babe a trampoline and telling her it boosts her Dexterity isn't fooling anybody.
843. It doesn't matter how high his hit points or damage reduction are, we aren't sending the dwarf into battle via catapult.
847. Polymorph Mother-in-Law is not a real spell."

Liberal, communist Muppet brainwashing needs to stop - "There is a pig engaging in an inter-species relationship with a frog. This is literally the slippery slope that sprang into people’s minds when they voted yes on Prop 8... I did like the Chronicles of Narnia, if only because any film where the characters remain in the closet for nearly the entire movie is doing something right"

Sex Trade: Men's Lives: GQ - "Sex bartering has been a part of my married life for so long that it's hard to believe there are couples who haven't thought of this yet. Now when I see a father at the water park with three young children and no mother in sight, I no longer think, "What a cool dad" or "How sad—widowed so young." Instead I think, "That guy's getting fucked for hours tonight." One of the biggest "deals" my husband and I ever "closed" was over a handbag that I wanted after our second child turned mine into a paint canvas. Among other things, I agreed to a Brazilian wax. Yes, I could've just bought the bag and skipped the bartering (and the wax). But what the hell fun is that?"

I’m Too Smart To Understand Human Beings - "A group of self-selected high-IQ people feels the need to have stickers on their name tags to let strangers know whether it’s okay to come up and hug them... I can’t help but think that there are many other groups of people who would manage to negotiate this particular social minefield without the help of any stickers at all. There are many different ways to be “intelligent.”"
"I imagine a disproportionate number of mensa-ites have Aspergers, or other forms of autism"

Muslim outrage at police advert featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat

Sex without commitment? Doesn't mean there are no rules - "Intercourse isn't always involved in casual sex: Studies have shown that prevalence rates drop to 15 per cent when actual intercourse is involved, shooting up to 75 per cent when “sexual activity” is the descriptor. Surveys conducted over the past decade suggest friends with benefits (FWB) – pals who develop sexual relationships – are extremely widespread. Some studies estimate that 50 per cent of post-secondary students engage in FWB. While not traditionally monogamous, FWBs are the most “sexually exclusive” of the casual-sex-relationship types: You are expected to disclose information regarding other partners who may be floating around. “It is the most like a real relationship – it was most likely to lead to a real relationship,” said Ms. Wentland. “You respect your friend with benefits”... “Sex” buddies are commonly mistaken for FWBs but are actually the reverse, beginning as one-night stands that evolve into something akin to friendship as partners meet more frequently and get properly acquainted... booty calls rarely call, preferring to text: “A ‘booty caller’ would sometimes make a telephone call if the caller was too intoxicated to compose a legible text message... Indeed, with the exception of one-night stands, who don’t converse much beyond their drunken collision, and FWBs who talk on the phone, teens having casual sex overwhelmingly communicate via text, with MSN and Facebook chat a close second. This way, “fears of rejection are minimized”"

The teen sex sleepover: Why so squeamish, mom and dad? - "The researcher argues that as Americans “dramatize” teen sexuality into an opera of raging hormones and dueling sexes – boys who want to “get laid” and emotionally vulnerable girls – their kids are forced to sneak around. Dutch parents, meanwhile, have “normalized” the issue: They accept that their kids are having sex and might actually be doing it in loving relationships. Ms. Schalet contends that this kind of permissiveness rewards Dutch parents with less deception, stronger familial bonds and fewer one-night stands for the teens. She also claims the polarity in Dutch and American attitudes is writ large in teen sex statistics: Dutch teenagers are far less likely to become pregnant or contract an STD, and far more likely to use contraception than their American counterparts"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

France/Spain 2011 - Day 10, Part 3 - Las Médulas

"I quit therapy because my analyst was trying to help me behind my back." - Richard Lewis

***

France/Spain 2011
Day 10 - 26th March - Las Médulas
(Part 3)

The next stop was Las Médulas, a Roman gold mining location and another World Heritage Site.

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Cute dog in parking lot

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Las Médulas from parking lot

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Without cars in the way

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Car belonging to someone from a historical reenactment society

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Map of "Natural Monument and Archaeological Zone of Las Medulas"

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No chestnut picking
Maybe they need them for local delicacies

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A monument to EU money. Notice that it is correct to the last 46 cents.

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Sheep-like Dog

In the village there were more cats than I'd seen in the rest of Spain.

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Church and backdrop

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"Agoga"
As you can see it was raining (we were almost at famously-rainy Galica), which made extensive exploration impossible (besides which it was already almost 5pm)

The path started out promisingly, being properly paved. However:

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It soon ended, presumably as EU money had run out.

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Derelict house in the background

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Deterred by the rain and the mud and the wind, my companions gave up, but I pressed on.

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The path here was flooded so I had to bypass it by the side

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Looking ahead, I saw that there was something to see at the top of a slope, with a path clearly worn out for me by previous travellers. So I tried to go up it. Despite the aid of my stick, it had been and was still raining, so it was muddy and slippery, and I slipped many times. My umbrella also got ruined by the wind and rain.

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Indentation in rock from hydraulic mining

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Information on the mining techniques

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As I was coming down I realised that I had not been meant to trek up the slope, and there was a semi-proper path up, which would not have involved slipping. And that others had taken this path and had probably been giving me weird looks:

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The smart way up

When I got to a warm building, I found that the reenactors were deploying. Probably to get out of the rain and into a warm and dry area.

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A majestic entrance

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The support staff follow the legionary

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Roman reenactors

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After I'd dried up and recovered a little, we left.

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Rundown shack in village

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Flags

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We then proceeded to a lookout, Mina de oro de Las Médulas.

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Mist (cloud) rolling across the hills


Path up
Me: "It's damn cold"
It was also still drizzling

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Sign for the lookout: Mina de oro de Las Médulas

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View of valley. There is a shop below but it was closed


Majestic Panorama 1


Majestic Panorama 2

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Camera stitches

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Mist enveloping valley

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(there was quite a bit more to Las Médulas that I didn't get to see: an aqueduct, a town of Orellan town and walking in one of the hollowed-out chambers. You can find out more on Wikipedia)

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Rainbow

We spent the evening at the nearby town of Ponferrada. Walking along the streets, we saw:

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Churreria

Unfortunately Spanish restaurants were getting more and more ridiculous, and the place closed at 9:30pm, so we decided to pop in for some churros first.

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The hot chocolate. Which came out from the Espresso machine.

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Menu on wall

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Churros con chocolate

The freshly squeezed orange juice was the best I'd ever had - sweeter than Florida's Natural, even. So in this trip I had the best milk, OJ and confit d'Anatidae I'd ever had. The OJ was so good I had another, and it was as good. How did they ensure the consistency? And both cups and the platter cost only 6,4€.

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Close up

3 of us had one portion, and an old couple ordered a double portion.

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Churros

The bar lady and the kitchen lady were both girls in their 20s. My theory was they wanted to close early at 9:30pm (this is Spain - this is not late) and go clubbing. Or go for dinner/tapas.

We didn't find many food places (later we found out we'd gone down the wrong street contrary to the hotel guy's recommendation), so we wandered into a random restaurant.

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We had Lasagne negra, Carbonara and Frutos del mar:

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Unfortunately it was the worst meal I had in my entire time in Spain. And I couldn't find the langoustines. So we couldn't finish it.

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Missing dog poster


It's interesting seeing windmills on snow-capped mountain tops.

There were signs on the highway for Santiago de Compostella which showed a person walking. Presumably the easier walk makes up for the pollution and the risk of being knocked down.

The Spanish like to boast about the length of their bridges. Even on viaducts their lengths are on the signs with the viaduct names.

The power supply in the hotel was designed by a genius - turning off the room light cut power to the power socket in the hall.
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