The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

Can I Cancel Today?

Posted by thearrow on January 27, 2012

It’s Friday and it’s raining really hard. Maybe I should just call in sick :).


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My Wish for 2012

Posted by thearrow on December 9, 2011

To win a million dollars (or more) and have my friend, Diana, be my personal shopper. I’ve never had patience shopping for clothes and I’ve always had a utilitarian approach to it: get things that generally match, in some basic, solid colors and wear them to shreds.

When I went to Romania, Diana, a dear friend from college, was purging her wardrobe and asked me if maybe I wanted something. I looked at the myriad shirts, dresses, skirts, and pants. Um, yes, all of them. And, while we’re at it, can I just have your whole wardrobe, actually? Diana has fantastic taste and a great sense of play. Everything she picks is cool. As for me, give me something brown and comfortable and I’ll wear it for 15 years.

And yes, I could easily turn this into a conversation about money and how I’m squeezed by large but necessary expenses, etc., but it’s really about me not being able to play with clothes and get maybe once fanciful item a year. It inevitably has to be something practical.

So there, Santa. I don’t need you to bring me a gift. Just arrange with the lottery. Diana is already on board and ready to assume her new role.

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Steve Jobs Was a Craftsman

Posted by thearrow on October 6, 2011

I went along with my husband yesterday to a guitar repair shop down in Virginia. He had bought a mass-produced electric guitar a while ago and Larry, the guy whose shop we were visiting, had replaced all the electric components in it, had refinished the neck, replaced the pick ups, and generally turned it into a really fine instrument. The shop is actually his garage and basement. I was impressed by how neat and orderly it was, and by how many pieces of machinery it had. Rock music was humming from a radio indistinguishable from the tools around it and a Great Pyrenee made the place homely.

After testing the guitar and getting his face expanded into a wide grin at the amazing sounds it made, my husband started asking Larry if he played the instrument. He must have since he could build guitars so well. To which the even more amazing answer was, no. He said he wanted to play guitar when he was a kid but wasn’t that good at it, so instead he learned how to build one. On his own, by taking it apart and putting it back, and then by studying books and other materials. He got his basic training from his dad, a machinist, and his grandparents, who were carpenters. As he was saying this, I started looking at rows upon rows of small tools that looked identical, like pliers, but whose tips were slightly different, each adapted to a purpose that seemed very precise. All of them in their neat place, waiting for the right moment.

So here was this universe, quietly mastered by a self-effacing man, from which wonders of woodwork and electrical skill sprung out. Larry can build probably any model of electric guitar there is starting from a block of wood. If I can’t describe his work in more relevant details it’s just because I know nothing about guitars. But it was impossible not to see the exquisite quality of what he did.

In the evening, when the sad news of Steve Jobs’ passing reached me and I started reading the obituaries and the long list of amazing devices that “suffered a sea-change, into something rich and strange,” it struck me that he was, in fact, a craftsman. He focused his immense talent on creating and perfecting exquisite things that give us pleasure. The joy of using them makes us forget how useful they are. The quality of the devices he created is amazing, but it’s transcended by their beauty and the attention to detail that went into them.

That’s why Apple was so intimately dependent on his vision, because he took his creations to a different level, way beyond mass production. He would have had great success even if his devices weren’t so great; if they were just good enough. But a true craftsman is never content with anything less than the highest level he can achieve.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

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I Just Want to Read and Study

Posted by thearrow on August 11, 2011

Why do we have to work every single day? I’d love to take a sabbatical year and just read, play with my camera, and study the many things I want to learn. I have long wish lists of books on Amazon and I’m fighting the temptation to buy all of them. Which would be nuts, of course. I have to resist my collector urge and I need to tell myself that just possessing the books is not enough. I actually need to make time to read them.

But I’m so not in the mood to work, which very rarely happens to me. I haven’t had a real break in years and I’m getting so nostalgic about my time in college when I had so much flexibility I didn’t know how to appreciate. I should have taken advantage of it to read seriously. Instead, I worked… I worked because I wanted to gain experience and some extra money, but didn’t realize how precious and fleeting that time was and how I should have enjoyed being a student.


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Networking While Drenched in Sweat

Posted by thearrow on July 20, 2011

We have a brutal week with 35-37 degrees Celsius (almost 100F) and humidity up the wazoo. Walking feels like swimming in glue. And exactly today, one of the hottest days, I had to get some food for lunch with my colleagues, which involved walking many blocks with the backpack on right after I got out of the metro. By the time I got to work my shirt was almost all wet; there were big wet spots on the front and a huge one on the back. I looked awful. Thankfully, I could stay in my office and the A/C took care of it.

But in the evening I was supposed to go to an event (at a wine bar) sponsored by one of our vendors and I really didn’t want to miss it. Not only because of the wine (although that’s always a big plus) but it promised to gather interesting people from industries other than my own. So I toughened up and went there, walked about five blocks to the metro and another five from the metro to the bar. As imagined, my shirt was a big mess. I went to the restroom and realized that I cannot possibly take the backpack off, that’s how sweaty I was. It was embarrassing, but I wanted to stay. So I decided to keep the backpack on. Now, how professional it is to mingle when looking like that, is a different question. But I decided to do it. I figured there must be others in a somewhat similar state.

To my dismay, everyone looked fabulous, as if the plucked out of a nice spring. Also, I was not on the RSVP list, despite the email confirmations. I did get a name tag and proceeded to the bar, although I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t belong there. Not only because of my backpack, but it was clear all those people didn’t talk about something I could latch on to. I check my email and, what do you know, my event is actually tomorrow. Ugh. I had schlepped all the way there and lost a good part of my evening for nothing.

I returned the wine glass to the bar and told the barman that I was at the wrong event. He was very nice and said, “you might as well drink the wine since you’re here.” I took two sips to quench my thirst and left. “See you tomorrow!” he said. When I go there again I’ll have a friend.

As I was walking out, all I could think of was, how on earth am I going to avoid this tomorrow, when it’s going to be even hotter than today? Very simple: I’ll bring a spare shirt with me. There’s no other way. Oh, and no backpack, just a regular purse for a change.

In the end, it was all for the better that I did a dry run today. Or a wet run, rather.

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I Don’t Mind the Netflix Price Hike

Posted by thearrow on July 15, 2011

The beloved DVD rental and streaming service is now deeply hated by everyone because it raised the price for its most popular plan (one DVD at a time + unlimited streaming) by 60 percent. Or, 6 dollars. Get real, people! Ten dollars was way below the value of that plan. Netflix looked at its rental and streaming numbers and figured it could do better.  Or you can read David Pogue’s post to see what the company had to say and get lost in their fumbling explanations.

I’m fine with the price increase, though. I’ve had close to 500 movies in my queue for years and I think cancelling my subscription at this point would be stupid. Am I locked in? Yes. But the queue of movies has value; if I lose it I’ll forget what I wanted to watch and I’m not good at watching movies anyway. Plus, you can’t stream just any movie from Netflix’s otherwise large database. Even so, I can stream almost 200 of the 500 movies in my queue. Hey, that’s good enough for me.

And really, six more dollars more every month is not a deal breaker.

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Some Short-Term Planning for You

Posted by thearrow on May 11, 2011

Later edit: Here’s the van of the radio station with the apocalyptic message, in downtown DC. I took it before the NPR story but forgot about it. We have only 5 days left 🙂

Not sure you knew, my friends, but the end of time is coming on May 21st. Yes, 10 days from now. You’d better prepare for it by, well, not preparing for May 22nd! When, unless you’re raptured, you’ll be in a living hell on Earth anyway, for which no one can ever prepare adequately anyway. But you’ll only have to wait until some time in October, when the Earth will be destroyed.

How do you know it’s the end of the world? You’ll be rattled in your bed at 6:00 a.m. by a huge earthquake. But wait, isn’t your 6:00 a.m. someone else’s 2:00 p.m.? Yes, but everyone will get their own personal earthquake when the clock strikes 6:00 a.m. where they are. It’s kind of like watching the New Year’s Eve fireworks around the globe on TV. Every hour — bang! See? It’s already more exciting.

And what if you have kids? It doesn’t matter. A couple who already has a child and another one on the way have quit their jobs and have planned to deplete their savings by May 22nd. They’ll be flying economy to Heaven anyway.

And who figured this out so precisely? A very religious actuary. Talk about some serious Bible number crunching!

But isn’t the world supposed to end on December 12, 2012, according to the Mayan calendar?


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