Hot Time in the City

For a reason I don’t fully understand, my hotel provided down comforters to each of the rooms. For those cold in the 80 – 90 degree heat, they could safely curl up in bed sans probleme. Unfortunately, I had a tendancy to wake up at about 4 – 5 a.m., wide awake and sweating. Even tossing off the blankets at that point made no difference.

An early rise and pleasant breakfast under my belt, I headed off to Changi airport to fly up to Kuala Lumpur. First Class on Singapore Airlines was a treat, with attentive service and access to the phenomenal First Class Lounge, where a chef prepares snacks for members and a small buffet spread is laid out. On our short 55 minute flight featured a quick meal and more entertainment and service than some US transcontinental fares. And for less money than the comparable transcontinental fares.

Kuala Lumpur itself was covered in haze.

The car ride in to the city took about an hour, with a pleasant driver playing US songs, to my amusement. Asking after the cloudy skies, he suggested it might be related to wild fires around the city, driven by the nature of the dry season currently underway.

At the hotel, I crashed hard, sleeping for three hours while watching the latest American Idol episodes from the states. The hotel lobby was swinging when I woke up in search of food. A Chinese group was singing a collection of American hits, dancing literaly on top of the bar.

And then, it was 1 a.m. and time to sleep again.


Buy Now

Singapore, like so much of Asia, breathes shopping. Wednesday being my last full day there, I decided to partake in the ritual myself.

A casual walk down to Espalande started off the spending spree, where I pciked up a few items, key of which was a few butterfly magnets. Oddly enough, I’d been looking for these the world over, though I never thought to find them in a small shop in Singapore.

After a realxing full body massage, I headed out in hunt of the HMV on Orchard Road. Three stories in one of the many shopping malls dotting the road, filled to the brim with J-Pop and K-Pop and DVDs and CDs the world over, many on sale, combined with a favorable exchange rate. I splurged, picking up about 10 – 12 discs of movies and music. Whether they’re any good, or I can even play them, remains to be seen.

Wednesday also marked the beginning of the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations in Singapore. To mark their passing, a fireworks display was set off down by Marina Promenade. The fireworks themselves were spectacular enough, but the flaming fields across the way where they launched them from was just as equally disconcerting.

The ambiance around the celebrations added to the evening, as revelers were out in force shopping and entertaining themselves up and down the promenade. The bright lights and street fair atmosphere made for a pleasant ending to my Singapore stay.


From Snow to Sweat

The flight departed Newark late, an equipment swap and flight crew issue pushing our departure back by a few minutes. By the time we reached Detroit, the snow had already covered everything.

The next thirteen hours were spent in mental hibernation, a state where your mind is unwilling to confront the events occurring to the body. The cramped space, low lighting, and humming background noise all combine to create, as the woman across the aisle from me said, a vision of what hell is like.

To my disappointment, the flight to Tokyo arrived with such a small lead time I had no opportunity to enjoy Narita International Airport. My own guilty pleasure, sitting in the airport listening to the announcements in Japanese, would have to wait. All was redeemed with a seat change from row 10 to row 5, moving me up from coach to business class. I had often heard of the “elusive” operational upgrade, where so many have boasted they receive these on about 25%+ of their international flights. Yet this was my first experience, and I was overjoyed at receiving it.

Singapore, the beautiful garden city it is, continues to delight. Heading to the MRT station, I was overwhelmed once more by the raw energies of Asia. Shopping here is like a religion, and one cannot find an MRT station without being overwhelmed with stores hawking clothing and electornics. I spent the day wandering about the grounds of the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery before heading to the botanical gardens to see the orchids. A late return to the hotel combined with dinner, before I found myself here downloading a few episodes of Strangerhood, a discovery from one of the Wired magazine articles I read on the plane, as I stare out my window over the Central Business District (CBD).

Tomorrow, I head out in search of relaxation, fireworks, and more shopping.


Who Approves?

What Ruy Teixeira doesn’t understand is that Gallup is like an empire in the polling industry. When they act, they create their own realities, something Ruy and the others in the “reality-based” community don’t grasp. So if Gallup says that party id shifted in the past week from +9 Republican to +1 Democrat, by its very nature it must be true.



The victory was sweet. I couldn’t be there, but I watched on TV as Rutgers solidly beat UConn Sunday at the RAC.

Stringer has had a great year, and without a doubt the team had a string of huge victories. But knocking off perenial pain-in-the-ass UConn eclipses even the great string of wins over top 10 teams.


An Update

A week from today, I’ll be taking to the skies again on a well-deserved sojourn to Southeast Asia. The past two months have been packed with non-stop work and activities, and a few days of pleasant, warm Asian energy will provide some respite from my otherwise dull grey Northeastern lifestyle.

While the Rutgers men’s basketball team has fallen horribly in Big East play, my time with the alumni association has been eventful. With seven “dorm storms” scheduled over the next three months, a slew of committee meetings, and any other activities occurring, my evenings have been uneventful. All the while, my committments to the project I’m co-leading at work have consumed most of my time.

The good news is all these endeavours are progressing well. The flipside? The reward for good work is more work. Still, the alterternatives are no work. So, I’ll take it.