Archive for July, 2008

On dating

I am re-reading Microserfs for the 3,141,592nd time.

This passage sums up the story of my life:

“Many geeks don’t really have a sexuality – they just have work. I think the sequence is that they get jobs at Microsoft or wherever right out of school, and they’re so excited to have this “real” job and money that they just figure that the relationships will naturally happen, but then they wake up and they’re thirty and they haven’t had sex in eight years. There are always these flings at conferences and trade shows, and everyone brags about them, but nothing seems to emerge from them and life goes back to the primary relationship: Geek and Machine.

It’s like male geeks don’t know how to deal with real live women, so they just assume it’s a user interface problem. Not their fault. They’ll just wait for the next version to come out – something more ‘user friendly.'” – From Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs

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Top Tech Flops

Very funny article detailing some of the recent top tech flops.

Part of the Fortune series on 101 Dumbest Moments in Business.

Why I’ve been so quiet

Various reasons, some exciting happenings, some not so great.  Ultimately it’s because I’m rapidly turning into this man:

I bet this man does not have a blog.  If he did, I would like to read it.

“Got so mad at the lawnmower I blew it up with my shotgun.  Neighbor across the street yellin’ at me to not drink the whiskey in front of her kids.  I should shoot her too, shut her trap.  I love George Bush and God bless the USA.  I got the right to bear arms, constitutional item #4 gives that to me.  So boo-ya.”

So there goes Dubai

I am back in Singapore.

I wrote about Dubai to a friend:

“It is certainly a spectacle.  Man-made glass green spires jutting out of this desert straight up into the sky.  World’s tallest building (looks like a twirling minaret), huge indoor ski park, and an ocean where the water is as warm as a hot Japanese spring.  I like the contradictory tones of the city… walking through the Mall of the Emirates I see teenage girls wearing the skimpy spaghetti-strap Western clothing pass next to girls perhaps of the same age… but covered from head to toe in their burqas.  Surreal.

I know it sounds cheesy to use the word “mirage” while I’m in the desert, but Dubai really does seem like a mirage.  It shimmers in the heat, in the spaces where there are no skyscrapers, I can see across the endless flat land.  It all feels very temporary.  A gold rush mentality and right now it’s the middle of the boom.  People are clamoring to come here, setting up shop, grabbing at the billions of electronic dollars whizzing around in the shipping, oil, and sky around me.  But one day all will come to a screeching halt and the city will empty.”

Dubai: First Impressions

The airport is modern – but not as modern as I expected.  I would say it’s a generation behind Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport.  For some reason they must not have enough chairs in the place… first thought was the terminal area looked like a refugee camp.  Picture 747-loads of people sprawled on the floor or attempting to sit anywhere that had a ledge.

The drive into the city reminds me of Las Vegas.  The buildings ahead gleam lights, and when you’re in the middle of it there is a bizarre artificial manufactured feeling.  Every building is a skyscraper, even the residential apartments.  They blow away anything Singapore has in terms of height.  The world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai, stands above them all.  I’m not sure if it’s operating yet (2009 opening?) but its lights are on.

The Raffles Hotel in Dubai is shaped like a pyramid.  Of course this makes me think of Egypt and then makes me wonder why they chose that shape for Dubai.  Perhaps there are pyramid-like structures in this country as well.

According to my taxi driver (who was from Kerala, India – I may have spelled that wrong), 72% of people in Dubai are not from the UAE.  Interesting to be a native and be the minority.

It’s hot.  That is a stunningly obvious statement but it’s hard to fathom until you’re in the thick of it.  Even late at night it’s 33 degrees outside and feels even hotter.  When I inhale it’s like drinking warm watery soup… right into the lungs.  Let’s see what the daytime heat will be like.  Perhaps I will get a tan.  Or perhaps I will die.

Everything about this city screams money.  Every billboard, sign, and banner touts luxury.  Invest. Build. Luxury.

If you want to go to the Burj Al Arab (supposedly the world’s only 7 star hotel), it costs 200 AED to enter (USD 55).  Otherwise you are restricted to taking photos of it from 1 km away.

Dubai restricts internet sites.  Flickr and Twitter are inaccessible.  Youtube shows all videos as being unavailable.  For the world’s “fastest growing city” and place for foreigners to do business, this would be a huge reason (for me) to not live here.

Many American fast food chains and restaurants are here.  Mcdonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, Applebees, etc.  In fact I saw a KFC 1 block away from another KFC.  Hmm, maybe they have Taco Bell!

This place really feels like Las Vegas.

Flickr in Dubai

Want to see the photos your friends are sharing via Flickr?

Well, if you’re in Dubai, you can’t.

Voila!

DubaiBlock

“We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates”

Onboard

On the airplane, winging my way to Dubai. Flying over Pakistan at the moment – for some reason I expect to see explosions, guns, and Bin Laden running around when I look out the window but instead I see… nothing. That’s my media-generated, American short-sighted, literal 30,000 feet up view of Pakistan.

I brought my Zune MP3 player and have had Death Cab for Cutie on repeat for the past 4 hours. I am sad that I won’t be able to attend their concert in Singapore when they come in August. Instead I will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Funny that I really like them now compared to when I lived in Seattle… they played seemingly every weekend and I don’t think I ever saw them (wait, I think I saw them at a festival one year, but only briefly).

Checking the weather in Dubai, it says that it is 33 degrees but that it “feels like” 48 degrees Celsius. For those of you inclined to Fahrenheit, that translates to about 118 degrees. If I happen to have a spare egg in my pocket I’m going to see whether it will actually sizzle on any asphalt.

Maybe all these Death Cab songs are making me feel melancholy, but I keep thinking about life in Seattle and how I seemed to have much fewer worries than I do now. Perhaps as one gets older it’s natural to be involved in more activities, worry more about career, fret about the future… or maybe I had a simpler time back there.

Anyway, here are some places I’ve tried out recently that I have been happy with (and no, this is not an “advertorial “).

Charlotte Tattoo & Hair – I went for the haircut, not for a tattoo (though one day!). The shop is at the ground floor of Sunshine Plaza, and the hairstylist is a lady named Vivian. 18 bucks for a haircut, not bad! Not a hurried 10 minute job but a thorough good haircut.

Basil Alcove – They have re-opened in slightly bigger digs at Fortune Centre (man, I really hate the British spelling of Center… it has always bothered me, but I force myself to spell it that way since I am living out here, after all). The chef, Xander, has started up a Sunday brunch. I went yesterday by myself and whiled away some time reading a magazine and trying out the various breakfast entrees. Eat hearty.

In a sudden announcement last week, I learned I am getting a new boss at work. That always brings about uncertainty, so I’m sure this week in Dubai will be interesting as I get to know him and his work style.

Based on this blog entry, my brain is all over the place.