Friday, October 31, 2008

Mysterious Faces

I wake up in a sunny morning and their stares are the first to greet me. I go out and their empty eyes are the ones to see me off. I return and their frozen smiles are my welcome. They are staring at me the whole night with their eerily happy faces. Maybe they are amused seeing me trying to sleep under their close watch.

Those happy sockets. The first couple minutes, they looked so cute I couldn't bring myself to plug in my electronics.

Smile to the camera! Look at that expression, they'll be out for someone's soul one of these days.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yay, Smooth Landing!

First day in Denmark -morning, we had about 4 hours drive from Copenhagen to Aarhus ahead of us, but it was a Saturday so the plan immediately became: 'Let's drive somewhere downtown, park, and walk around'. Good idea. We had a map, a compass, and four brains in jet lag mode between us, how wrong could anything be?

It was cold and cloudy. In fact it later rained. Still, the weather was very new for me whose whole life so far has been spent near the equator. The coldest place I've been before was a lab, it was still just a couple degrees below 20 degrees Celsius, and when I felt too cold, I could just go outside. One thing I got after talking to a colleague several days after: the weather forecast is generally the favorite part of the news here, while I most days I hardly notice it if I can be bothered to watch the news at all.

Did we get lost? I prefer to think not. Exploration means not getting lost no matter what. Even when you ask every other person you saw on the street "Where are we?" while thrusting a map to her/him.

It is strange to me how they like to hang their street lamps and traffic lights above the middle of the street with metal wires instead of just sticking them to poles (they do that too).

I always thought I'd like seeing old buildings. Turned out it's true; I do like seeing old buildings. It's almost like something out of an RPG, except that you don't usually see roads for cars in RPGs. I wonder if the Danes play RPG much, or if they just take a stroll in one of their bigger cities. Silly Ryan, there's no random encounter in cities. Isn't that a good thing? You can't really grind for levels without random encounters. Okay.

A canal.

Above two photos looked like some kind of declaration or another. I don't know much Danish (actually very little), so naturally I couldn't decipher anything on those. They still looked cool though.

Canal again, but no boats.

More of the canal, now with bigger boats.

That building was actually built a very long time ago (centuries ago), with traditional techniques. Pretty amazing how they chose to preserve so many.

Remember that anchor. We might see it again a couple posts later in a little different form. That's not a spoiler, take it as a preview.

Well, that couple hours were actually spent mostly only in Nyhavn, so there was actually much much more that we didn't get to see in Copenhagen, but Aarhus was waiting. Funny thing is, we parked about 3-5 minutes walk from the tourist information but ended up not even realizing that piece of info until well after we're far away (and with some energetic map pointing with the locales clocked). Maybe it's the jet lag, or the extra confidence you get when you have a map open in front of your nose. Vi ses!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Don't be. Take a compass, a map, maybe a GPS.

Also, don't panic.

People get older by the second, but that birthday milestone is still special. Twenty-one is half of forty-two, but does that mean it is half the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

A milestone is a milestone, the adventures and experiments would continue and intensify. Maybe, as long as I don't misplace that penguined compass!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ooh, Bricks!

Bricks! And they're not the 'apply directly to face' kind. I remember being a Lego fan waaay back in elementary school. I just kinda forgot how fun it was for years, and somehow became an admirer again after seeing this, among other things. So I was excited like a penguin when they announced they're going to give this away for every employee:

Holy Electrolytic Batman! It's a Lego wind turbine. Building it is one thing, but I guess I can somehow consider tinkering with it to be work-related and convince myself to being productive in the weekend while actively playing around. Also no, I don't think I can somehow make it transform into a three headed robot that breathes sliced bread and cries lemon tea.

Limited edition, you won't see it in a regular store anytime soon, I guess. The box claims to have 4999 pieces and the finished piece would be 66cm tall. Ryan, please refrain from showing off like a penguin.

Right, it's just that I won't be able to build it soon. I'll be away for two weeks trying to get some works done, learn as many things as possible (fact: I'm one of the least experienced at work) , and generally being a clueless foreigner when the time allows :D.

Well, it's not like the posting here can be much scarcer than it already is. Vi ses!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Victory to the Tin

It is pretty embarrassing to say that I cannot recall even once to have worked with a soldering iron during my university days. I remember using breadboards quite often, and wire wrap once. Even then I didn't do the wire wrapping, I got the assembly programming part of the work because the wire wrapping part involved less head-scratching and hair-pulling, although it did involve more tedium.

The last reliable memory of me actually soldering something was in a final electronics project way back in junior high. That was over six years ago. SIX. Oh penguin, the irony is ironing my face flat.

Now I found myself in need of it again and, penguin, my soldering skill is terrible. My hand was shaking like mad, the tin was all over the wire like a silvery disease. Many terminals might have been shorted, I might get nightmares from that. I dearly hope I can finish this task nicely, and safely.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Enigmatic Conversations

Language barrier is tall. I mean tall. If you managed to climb it you might just be able to see north pole on one side and south pole on the other. I wasn't thinking about this much before, maybe because I didn't talk much and when I did, I didn't absolutely need it to be clear.

Well, few weeks back, I needed to instruct some people to build something for a lab. I needed to tell them where to put what and how to connect one thing to another and with what cable. A mistake and the thing might not work, may act wonky, perhaps smoking, and hopefully not exploding. Whatever the case, someone would want me tied on a hot plate and marinated in BBQ sauce. The problem was, obviously, how to get them to understand the instruction, since we're talking about language barrier and all.

The first few hours were smooth. Their supervisor was on site and I could tell him whatever needed to be done and he'd relay it. That didn't last forever, of course. I was then barely getting through with a lot of finger pointing, hand flinging, and imaginary cable routing -while making funny faces. A glimmer of hope then shone: one of them knew Malay. Good, if I use my Indonesian carefully enough, things might just get easier. It did get easier, but not without quite some adaptation. I could get almost all words he said, and after some hours I thought I was pretty sure about the construct.

Miraculously, things went pretty effective after, even the delicate, detailed parts of the project could be done without (very) major glitch. That person's cooperativeness might just be the biggest factor for this to work. The conversations went in at least three languages (fractured English, approximate Malay, lots of hand gestures and funny faces), but the purpose was still one. That was pretty amazing.

The tradeoff might be me trying to hold myself from ending every other sentences with 'ah', and passing 'can' as affirmative response for a few days when I finally got back in the office.