The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for February, 2010

Bathrooms in America

Posted by thearrow on February 24, 2010

One of the things that absolutely kills me here even after 8 years + is the lack of privacy in bathrooms in public places. For security reasons, the stalls do not have full doors. I’m sure you remember many movie scenes with people killed in a bathroom stall. I think that’s why they leave about a foot (30 cm) of empty space from the floor to the door. The same for the divider between stalls. You could almost literally hold hands with someone else while peeing.

Which some people actually do, in a metaphorical sense: they talk to each other while taking care of business. I had to do this on occasion too, even if I was mortified, because I had bumped into a chatty colleague. For the life of me, I cannot get used to them. It’s a relief (in both senses; ha ha!) when I use the bathroom at this chain of French restaurants, La Madeleine, which has completely separate stalls with full doors and walls. And no, it’s not a fancy place (way out of my league). It’s a regular, very down-to-earth eatery with a lot of bathroom common sense.

Here are two pics I’ve managed to snap before a colleague came in. Good thing she has a sense of humor. She saw the camera, I said “I know it’s weird,” and she just laughed.

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Posted in cultural differences | Tagged: | 10 Comments »

What’s the Buzz?

Posted by thearrow on February 19, 2010

I just wanted to add my voice to those quite unhappy with Google’s latest thing, Buzz, which automatically started following some contacts in my address book. I am so glad it just got sued over it, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It absolutely deserves it. Don’t get me wrong, I like Google overall and have no problem with the automatic search of my email that inserts so-to-speak relevant ads on my mail page. Because I knew about it in advance, so I agreed to it when I started using Gmail, and I never click on those ads anyway. Whereas with Buzz, I just found out that, overnight, I’ve started following a bunch of people I have no interest in ever being in contact with again. They just happened to be in my contacts. And, as you might know, I didn’t necessarily add them there since Google keeps the addresses of everyone you’ve ever emailed. That’s something else that had an unintended spillover effect that drives me nuts: all those unwanted contacts ended up on my Droid phone. But more about that some other time.

Right now I’m just pissed off at the intrusion.

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Another Highlight of the Day

Posted by thearrow on February 12, 2010

(Something similar to this.)

It took me two hours to get to work today, of which one was spent in traffic on a one-mile route (to a metro stop that was open). The day ended late and, on my way home, I saw half a dozen or so people hooked to their BlackCrackberries. I rolled my eyes thinking that, after staring at a big screen for eight hours, I couldn’t possibly handle another hour of squinting at another one. I’d rather stare in the void in a catatonic state as metro stops pass by. Sometimes I can’t even read a magazine, that’s how fried my brains are. I recently bought a Droid phone and had it connected to the work email but not even the coolest app can convince me to hook myself to it like all those people, especially at the end of the day. Jeez, I’m drowning in email at work. Why on earth would I want to look at it on the way home?? Are those people nuts?

Before I finished the thought, I heard a ping in my pocket. Of course, I couldn’t resist not checking it. And, lo and behold, it was an email from a super duper New York Times reporter whose pieces I never miss. I couldn’t believe my eyes; I had to read his name twice. So I started typing frantically to respond; we had just what he was looking for. I think I’ll print out and frame his thank-you response :).

It’s things like this that make sometimes day-long grueling work worth it.

And the lesson of the day: never judge other people!

Posted in work | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

It’s the End of the World

Posted by thearrow on February 10, 2010

We’re in the middle of the second huge snowstorm, a powerful blizzard, only three days after the previous one ended. This winter is close to breaking the snowfall record for the DC area. The federal government (and my office) have been closed since midday last Friday and it will be a miracle if we can get to work this Friday. Everything will be closed tomorrow, too. I have to say that, after more than three weeks of moving, at the end of my wits with exhaustion, I very much enjoyed waking up late and working in my pajamas when I felt like it.

This is how some shelves looked like at the grocery store last Thursday, before the first storm wave. I think I bought enough food to last me three weeks! Better safe than sorry.

Posted in photography | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Snow Beauty

Posted by thearrow on February 7, 2010

We just had one of the heaviest snowfalls on record in the DC area this weekend (between 1 and 2 feet, or 30-60 cm). It was magic. As it happens, there’s a very pretty park behind our building (in Maryland, no longer Virginia) so I couldn’t wait to take a (frozen) stroll. Even the parking lot was beautiful!

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