Water damage is always worse than it initially looks. Which means that the noise, renovation and construction is going to take even longer than previously schedule. Not particularly surprised. I hope they can find adequate compensation for the university (maybe me too).

Yikes, the ceiling in the office is leaking.
Today happens to be
a) not a good day
b) Chinese (Lunar) new year eve
c) the SIGIR deadline
d) a day which I have not yet slept, or
e) all of the above.

6:00 am The ceiling starts leaking.
6:05 am I email the NUS SoC support staff. Hmm, I wonder if anyone is awake yet...
6:30 am I go outside my office and notice that the hallway door is also leaking, worse than in my office.
6:35 am So I go downstairs to talk to the security guards. He comes up and calls the NUS staff, which may take some time to arrive.
6:20 am I notice another water stain patch on the ceiling
6.45 am There are another two water stains on my ceiling. Only the big one is leaking so far.


Wandering around Singapore is fun and easy to do. You just have to be willing to walk. Locals here don't seem to be into walking much. They prefer the easy way of doing things. They will ignore staircases and head straight for the escalator. But then they will go to the gym to work out. I see this in the States too and have to wonder whether this makes much sense.

Here's a game you can play in Singapore. The only requirement is an EZ-link card, which allows you travel on city buses and subways. Optional is getting lost, asking strangers for directions and the Travellink guide, which gives you some limited access to bus stops and directions.

1) Do a random walk away from your starting point.
2) When you get tired, get on a bus. Look around, ignore the TV on the bus, and get acquainted with your surroundings.
3) Repeat as necessary.

4) When you are ready to go home, look up appropriate buses by asking around or using the Travellink guide to find a bus that comes close to your starting place.
5) Travel home.

I have played this game a couple times in order to find places here but it's always preferrable to have some local help. Alicia, a friend of mine who's local Singaporean, has helped me find over 200% more that I would have found on my own. That's not to say that going out to explore is irrelevant. It keeps me learning about where the myriad (200+ routes) go in their ways across the island-nation.


Climbing time.. Well, I've been to the NUS climbing center at the university three times now. I guess it's about time that I write something about it. Many of you have been victims of my wall-climbing hobbies in New York city, and have been subjected to climb with me. So you know what it is like in New York. There are some pictures in my picture logs if you haven't seen them.
Here's a sample.

Whereas the walls in New York are really more for climbing, the climbing wall at the University (well they use the term "uni" like Australians do) is really more for bouldering here. There doesn't seem to be many people who climb. In fact yesterday was the third time I've been to the climbing gym and the first time I saw someone who wanted to climb. But still very interesting. Lots of people, and a higher proportion of exchange students there, in comparison to the rest of the campus. The best climbers here are the local Singaporean men; who are pretty thin but muscular. Although they are more into just trying strength moves, the women here seem to be better at actually sticking to the wall... Will have to take pictures one of these days.

There is a 3 storied textured wall that is actually used for climbing (it has anchors for fixed lines and belaying) whereas the rest of the gym is mostly for traverses and roof climbs. There seems to be a fairly easy 5.8-5.9-ish route that goes around the entire climbing room (yes, all four walls of the room have climbing holds). That isn't to say that I have been able to do it. There is a section that is all roof (about 10 to 60 degrees from vertical) and that is pretty difficult. The rest of it can't be that bad. I'll have to let you know.

That said, the boudering problems lend themselves to strength training rather than balance and practicing on crimpy holds. There are more surfaces in the gym that are inclined as roofs (inverted) rather than inclined as a mountain. Later in the month I hope to go visit the Dairy Farm, one of the few places in Singapore that you can climb outside. This place I understand is frequented quite often, I guess somewhat like Rat Rock and Cat Rock in Central Park in New York.

More Later...


The next (well, rather the last) couple of messages are excerpts from email replies that I sent out. Enjoy.
Another friend I met here by accident asked me whether I had been to Sentosa yet, the island resort on the south side of Singapore.

I Yes, I did wind up going to Sentosa, as two of my friends from the U.S. came to visit about two weeks after we met in Newton Circus. So finally we got there. Yes, lots of walking and some swimming but too bad there was a bit of rain too.

Anyways, the school term has started and finally I get a chance to teach. I'm not nervous yet. I'm sharing lecture responsibilities with three other professors and there are two sections. I'm teaching the later section on Saturday mornings, the other one is on Wednesday. So, I get to see what the other more senior lecturer does as a clue. Very helpful.

Anyways, things here are starting to calm down and am starting to think about actually doing work. My weekly routine is starting to form so I will have started to block time off for enjoyment as well as teaching and research duties.

With my friend Chi-Wah from NY and her friends we have visited many of the places that I remembered from the first time I was in Singapore. I'm slowly getting familiar with the roads here and the bus transit system. It makes me feel more at home when I don't feel like I can be easily lost.

A certain friend here asked about the 'shock' of moving here from the U.S. and what I felt about it.

So here is part of the answer.

Yes, I agree with your points about moving to Asia... I will tell you that I have always had a bit of an identity crisis and I guess this happens to everyone who is multicultural or multiracial. Being in the U.S. as a minority, you feel a bit more unique and proud to have a different heritage than others around you. But I can understand now why so many people here dye their hair and change their appearance because they want to differentiate themselves from the masses (at least that is my impression) and thus why this is less popular in the States. Here, I feel less comfortable conversing in Chinese, whether it be Mandarin or Cantonese, because I find my skills at both are lacking. I think this type of uneasiness is important to experience because it forces one to grow to fit a new mould; to adapt into a new environment. It's more dynamic than a peaceful and relaxing experience, but for me, that is the choice that is right for me.


Ann and Chi-Wah stayed with Shirley during their stay here. Shirley, or Shir, as Ann calls her, is probably one of the most adept people I have seen at making her guests seem especially welcome. Despite the fact that Singapore is a pretty tiny country, she managed to carve out a whole week's worth of activities for Ann, Chi-Wah and myself to try out. She invited all of us to a number of the end-of-the-year activities, including the regular tourists sights such as Sentosa (a historic island/fort turned into tourist beach land) and the downtown quay area but also a friend's BBQ and clubbing.

I had almost managed to thwart enjoying myself as I had managed to get a couple things wrong during Chi-Wah's and Ann's stay here. On the first night, I didn't receive her email (yep, it really never came), and didn't relize that we were all supposed to go to a club. Well, I had to go home to change and quickly come back to the club. In the following days, I (again) forgot to bring my long pants, lost my keys and managed to misplace the bug spray (for the night zoo tour, that's actually quite fun, although a bit pitiful for the animals I'm sure). In spite of that, it was a tremendously busy busy and social social week which made me feel very good to be around such a nice group of people.


Chi-Wah and Ann have already arrived and left and as such these entries are actually a bit post-dated, but not expired. Anyways, the first day after they arrived I had an exciting day not only hanging out with them and their Sing friends (who I will talk more about later) but also because I managed to lose my keys on New Year's day. A funny way to start the new year.

So I left my keys somewhere in Clarke Quay and managed to return to NUS after the day's activities. I slipped into the faculty lounge and worked for a tiny bit before deciding it was just too hard to stay awake for another day doing work. So I looked up the nearest hotel (btw, most of the hotels in the yellow pages were in Geylang, just statistically speaking... which was funny because I only learned the day before it is the red-light district of Singapore), which is a small inn off of the NUS campus. My friend Yi had stayed there when she came to visit Singapore when I was interviewing here at the end of March last year.
Anyways, I took the taxi there, and found out that they needed proper ID to let me stay in the hotel. This is quite different than in the US, where they will take anyone, regardless of their background, if their credit is ok. So, I walked the thirty minutes back to the NUS campus to sleep in the faculty lounge (which was pretty okay, actually, because the lounge is air-conditioned and has a small sofa with removeable cushions.

I woke up the next morning to the alarm clock built in to the handphone and started working for a while. Our administration officer, Theresa, came in and found me here bright and early, working from the faculty lounge. She was actually the right person to ask about getting a spare set of keys for the office and so I was able to go back into my office and pick up the second set of keys for the apartment. So I'm okay for now.

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