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First time in Singapore

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ll be in Singapore for the month of September traveling for my company.  While cross training some of my colleagues on the magic of what I do in New York, I’m aiming to experience as much of Asia as possible.  After all, I’m 19 hours away from home, might as well make the most of it.

The 19 hour Singapore Air business class flight was excellent!  I fully understand why Singapore Air is ranked #1 in most airline surveys.  The food was excellent, the seats were spacious and reclined 180 degrees, the staff extremely polite and accommodating.  I was dreading endless hours confined to a seat when I first heard of travel time.  Thanks SingAir for making it a great experience.

Housing is in a corporate apartment for the month.  I’ve always stayed in hotels with previous business travels, this was going to be a more authentic experience living with other locals.  The first thing I’ve noticed is the inconvenience of having to buy my own groceries.  The supermarket is a 15 minute power-walk away which is annoying considering I’m used to running downstairs and getting a beer in seconds back home in NYC.  Commuting to the office is tricky also, the trip consists of a shuttle bus and a train ride.  There are two shuttle buses, 7am and 8am, weekdays.  I just barely made the 8am shuttle yesterday, would have had to taxi into the office otherwise.  The surrounding area is very suburban, good for jogging but not to good for socializing.  I should drop some pounds while here since I’m buying fewer groceries just to avoid carrying them, and jogging/discovering the neighborhood whenever possible.

The office is a very relaxing environment, no one’s stressed out like in NYC.  It must be partly owned to minimal conversations with NYC staff given the 12-hour time difference.  Everyone’s friendly and others actually smile back in the elevator — imagine that!

Food, Food, Food, I can’t begin to do the food justice.  Highlights include chili crab, Indonesian garlic chicken, authentic samosas, Singaporean chicken-rice and noodles galore.  I didn’t take enough pictures, but plan to edit this post when I have some graphics to show.

The common alcoholic will have a tough time in Singapore.  Liquor, beer & wine is very expensive.  Maybe worse, liquor is watered down in many places.  Nothing gets under my skin more than paying $15 for a watered down gin and tonic.  I’ve been sticking to bottled beer recently since at least I know what to expect.

Stay tuned for more…

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A Lesson In Composure

August 19, 2010 1 comment

When I think back to the past few months for things that I’ve learned, composure stands out as the most valuable lesson so far. It extremely valuable to avoid emotional reactions when receiving disappointing news… and there’ll be a lot of that in life, best to get used to it early. A couple scenarios will help drive the point across.

Death in family
Losing a loved one can be a confusing time for a family. People will look for guidance and support, most easily provided by the composed person able to suppress emotions in public. I’m not advocating a person suppress their emotions altogether, but postponing their sadness is a sacrifice for the good of the family as a whole is a very deep sacrifice. My aunt recently guided my family though the loss of our grandmother and I’m certain she was torn inside, she’ll always have my respect for her sacrifice.

Career setback
Missing out on a promotion can set a person’s career back for months or years. It would be easy to slack off or lose respect in the workplace out of spite, but this could cost more in the long run by losing key references or even seeding a negative future reference. I see some of my colleagues suffering through this now and encourage them to either tough it out or make a professional, fresh start. Above all, don’t be childish about not getting your way.

Hostility
The worst thing to do when someone is ranting at you is to rant back, the situation will undoubtedly spiral out of control. Understand the ranting person is incapable of thinking rationally, they minds are focused solely on venting their anger or frustration. Let it wash over them and consider them unconscious for the duration. When they come to, if they are in any way normal, they’ll realize they were being childish.

Bureaucracy
This is an easy one, try smiling or complimenting the metaphoric person at the DMV counter. They must dislike their job, and you wouldn’t make their day any better by losing your cool, either.

Moral of the story
Keep your cool, it pays dividends

Social Experiment #1, Pie Brains

August 17, 2010 Leave a comment

New York City is a great place to experiment with society given the dense population. Three of us decided to do just that this past weekend.

The concept was simple, randomly compliment people and observe their reactions, and maybe initiate some conversations. Inventing the practice would prove to be a little more elusive. A thumbs-up from one stranger to another for no particular reason at all… now in NYC, you can’t just walk up to someone and give them a compliment, you’d be labeled a lunatic or perv. So we brainstormed on how we’d convey our message. One of us had the idea to use Olympic style grading where we would proudly hold up 9’s and 10’s for those unsuspecting pedestrians that happened to cross our path. We would only offer 9’s and 10’s since this was a mission of positive reinforcement for the general public.

the concept

the concept

We chose a date, Aug 15th, and a place, Union Square Park in lower Manhattan and began our prep. Admittedly, Tom (thinker@thinking atoms.com) did most of the legwork. Some background music from a mini radio with speakers, a great playlist of tunes and construction paper to make the signs were all provided by Tom. We’d call ourselves the Pie Brains, a catchy name we all agreed on. Kmart supplied Jason and I with lawn chairs, Tom had his own. The morning of the event, we huddled in Heartland Brewery in the northwest end of the park to color in our animated Olympics score cards. The coloring was fun, flashbacks to P.S.2 art and craft classes made me feel like a kid again.

the practice

the practice

We strategically chose to camp in the south west corner of the park, an area where the pathway constricts, allowing us more people interaction opportunities. Like bears camping for salmon migrating upstream, we stationed ourselves and mentally prepared ourselves to show some love :). It was great to see the smiles on all the faces, no one received lower than a 9, we only had 9’s and 10’s, after all. Lots of people chuckled and tourists, cameras at the ready, made sure to use them. The comments were priceless, some that I remember were “thanks, I needed that”, “brilliant”, and my personal favorite, “well done guys” from a woman with a grin that would put that cat from Alice In Wonderland to shame. Of course, there were some sneers from people that didn’t see the humor in what were were attempting and we respect their opinion. This is NYC, after all, we were expecting to be boo’ed out of the park.

Tom, the Thinker

Tom, the Thinker

Golds

Golds

The NYC Park Department officials showed up about an hour into our event and politely gave us the rules of the park, in which we were in clear violation of. We were instructed to move to a different location and turn off the radio immediately ‘or else’. We happily complied with their instructions knowing that our first social experiment was a success, however brief it was.

HI, NYC Parks Department

HI, NYC Parks Department

We’ll be back Union Square and other parks around NYC, either with a Parks Department permit or roaming on foot (tentatively scheduled for Aug 28th). It was great to see people smile, I hope they went on to enjoy the rest of their day, infecting other people with their happiness and chuckling about the four dorks sitting in Union Square. When you see us again, don’t be shy to stop and chat or take a pic with us.

— Chris

First Entry

August 13, 2010 2 comments

This first entry is inspired by the people yelling and screaming about social drama right outside my window… what a waste of life! Why do they need to bother me and everyone with an open window at 10pm in the evening, my prime relaxation hour?

My escape is a small bar down the street with free WiFi and an awesome beer, SteenBruge.  I hope the bar isn’t packed, I truly value peace and quiet.