Of A Very Shiny Crystal Ball Called Google

Imagine this feeling. You have this very shiny crystal ball on your hands, and you can’t wait to put it safely on a shelf, so you can show it off to everyone. However, it’s reaaally heavy, and it took a lot of effort and carefulness to place it safely on the shelf. Just when you think you’re really close, you somehow let it go. You stumbled, or your hands just gave up because it’s too heavy. It then fell and broke into pieces.

That’s exactly what I felt last weekend.

When someone from Google contacted me, asking whether I will be interested to do a summer internship there next year, working with him, I was ecstatic. I met this guy in a conference, and luckily he was quite interested with my research. I’ve been trying to get an internship position there *well, actually anywhere, big companies are preferable though ;)* since last year, but without knowing anyone that could recommend me, it’s hardly possible to even get an interview.

Reading the email, I was jumping around like crazy. It was my boyfriend who brought me back to the ground, saying this doesn’t mean that I will go for an internship there. He’s right. The guy confirmed it. I still have to go through the regular protocol, including passing the dreadful technical interview. So this is like my ticket, not for the internship itself, but for a chance to get one.

I got two phone interviews scheduled three weeks after that, 45 minutes each. The first one was purely technical, live coding on a Google Doc. The second one was more focused on the research I am doing. The first interview was more terrifying than the second one. Talking about my own research was easier than solving a random coding problem, no matter how basic it is :p. Before the interviews I was studying like crazy, recalling all the basics about data structures and algorithms, practicing on Topcoder, reading all the tips and tricks. On the day of the first interview, I thought I was ready, or maybe more like I was trying to convince myself that I was ready. It turned out no, I was certainly not.

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Tentang ‘bising’-nya media sosial


picture is taken from here

Seru rasanya mengamati para pengguna media sosial di Indonesia, yang ramai-ramai beropini dan berdebat pada masa pemilihan caleg dan presiden, yang mengomentari hal-hal sepele macam cara mengalikan bilangan bulat, dan yang terakhir… masalah pilkada langsung dan tak langsung. Lalu ada yang berkomentar: “Males liat timeline isinya ricuh politik”, atau “Ah, timeline isinya tentang perkalian semua”, termasuk saya juga sih ;). Padahal sebenarnya sih yang salah ya yang mantengin timeline hampir setiap saat :D.

Saya jadi berpikir, ini sebenarnya sebuah kemajuan lho, bahwa kita mampu beropini dan berpikir kritis, walaupun mungkin kadang medianya atau cara penyampaiannya kurang tepat. Kenapa saya bilang kemajuan? Setidaknya untuk saya lho ya. Karena berkaca dari pengalaman saya, sistem pendidikan di Indonesia tidak melatih para siswanya untuk beropini, berpikir kritis, memiliki pendirian atas suatu masalah dan tahu cara berdebat secara elegan.

Lalu saya pun mengingat-ingat, apa saja yang saya pelajari di masa SMP dan SMA dulu? Saya belajar banyak! Tapi masalahnya, otak saya hanya dicekoki pengetahuan terus-menerus tanpa sempat mencerna: “Untuk apakah ini?”, “Mengapa begitu, mengapa bukan begini?”, atau “Saya tidak setuju dengan Pak/Ibu guru!” Untuk yang terakhir, saya jadi ingat beberapa cerita siswa yang dimusuhi oleh gurunya (dan diperlakukan tidak adil), cuma karena berani berdebat dengan sang guru.

Untuk pelajaran ilmu pasti macam matematika, fisika, kimia, dan biologi, saya rasa metode pengajaran yang saya dapatkan dulu sudah cukup baik. Cukup banyak jam praktek di laboratorium supaya siswa lebih paham lewat eksperimen. Tapi untuk ilmu sosial macam sejarah, agama, dan ilmu kenegaraan (dulu namanya PPKn ya)? Saya rasa siswa hanya dididik untuk tahu. Walaupun mungkin masing-masing siswa mengembangkan pendapat masing-masing di otak mereka, sayangnya tidak ada kesempatan untuk menyampaikan itu, dan untuk tahu opini siswa lain, untuk kemudian berdebat tentang itu dan kemudian memperluas pandangan masing-masing.

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On Cats and Their Affections

picture is taken from here

My mom once said, unlike dogs, cats (as pets) are not feeling attached to the people, but to the house. That’s what differs cats from dogs: the level of affection, loyalty and attachment to their owner. Our cats are free to roam wherever they want, but they always come back to our house, for food, and comfortable place to sleep *sometimes, our warm laps* :D. Yeah, I think cats are affectionate and loyal to someone who provides them food and place to sleep.

That’s of course, just a general theory. There are many cases that made us think differently about our cats. My favorite story, when my mom opened her suitcase and started packing, one of our cats sat inside mom’s suitcase and stubbornly refused to move away, disrupted the packing process, as if he knows my mom would leave house for a while and tried to stop it. Or when I called home and started to call my favorite cats’ names, they said the cats were looking everywhere searching for me because they heard my voice, indicating they missed me (the crazy noisy girl that used to play with them). Or.. a story from the past that I still remember so dearly, on my first night alone without my parents and my sister because they had to move to another island (I was 12, and had to stay in Java for the sake of my education). I was crying the whole night, with a cat stayed still next to my pillow as if comforting me, until I fell asleep. The cat was gone in the next morning.

I’m not sure if the cats are truly thinking like what we are thinking they are. However we, as sentimental humans, will keep on perceiving the actions of our cats as whatever we want: that they love us. That’s why most humans have pets, so that when they feel so low, thinking that no one cares for them, at least their pets do.

There’s another story about a cat, who can’t help but feeling anxious waiting for her bear to come back from his trip in Kyrgyzstan. Does that mean the cat misses the bear? Maybe. I would definitely think she does. And now you might ask what a bear is doing in Kyrgyzstan. I don’t know. Well, the bear mentioned seeing snow leopards and lynxes. Maybe that’s what makes the cat anxious, snow leopards and lynxes are surely more beautiful and attractive than the cat ;).

I miss you, bear…

Pssst… Please

Finally… a quiet evening.

Well, not so quiet since the hostel I’m staying at is exactly at a crossroad somewhere in the city center of Dublin, but… manageable. Anyway, I had a very noisy day today.

First, I got a headache from some Africans’ continuous loud chatter in the train from Trento to Verona. Please don’t get me wrong and call me racist. It’s just that… they talked to each other so loud (more like shouting to each other) and not only 2-3 of them but all 8-10 of them. After 15 minutes and there was no sign that they would stop talking, I decided to find some peace in another car.

Unfortunately, one won’t be able to do that in a plane. When I was boarding the flight from Verona to Dublin, I had this ominous feeling because I saw so many toddlers on board. Oh, they’re so cute, sure. But when they started screaming and crying during the take-off and landing, and running around (also, while screaming) the isle during the flight… I began banging my head and wanted to cry myself. The problem is, usually when a toddler is crying, the other toddlers around somehow could feel his/her pain and start crying too, initiating a choir of screams.

No no, I’m not a children-hater, I just don’t know how to deal with them. I have no experience whatsoever in babysitting, except playing with kittens. And by far, for me, kittens are still more interesting than babies.

I’m not a parent yet, so I don’t know how to handle a toddler, let alone a toddler in a flight. But I do know these babies must feel uncomfortable, or even scared during the take-off and landing. I remember there was this story of a couple of great parents distributing packages of candies and earplugs to all passengers, along with a message,

“Hi! My name is Cade, and I am only 16 weeks old! This is my first ride on a plane. I’d like to apologize in advance if my ears start to hurt or if I get scared or cry. Here are some ear plugs (and a little candy) just in case! I hope you have a great flight!”

On today’s flight I couldn’t see well how the parents handled their kids, but at one point, I heard a woman shouted uncontrollably, “Stop crying!!”. So loud that all passengers might hear that. And of course… that didn’t help, the crying and screaming get louder and louder instead. I believe she’s one of the moms, I don’t think an unrelated passenger would say that to a stranger’s kid. Hearing the frustration in her shout, I felt a pang of sympathy. I stopped sighing and put my earplugs (thankfully I have them) instead, though they didn’t help much.

I wonder how much patience does it take for being a parent. Judging from today’s experience, I think… I haven’t collected enough ;).

Sailing in the Adriatic Sea

Ahoy!

This time the cat and the bear are on a sailing adventure! Both of us had never done this before. We’re so lucky that one of our friends knows how to sail and that he proposed to go sailing for our summer holiday :). So, in the end, the crew consisted of 5 members: the cat, the bear, a Siamese cat *ehem, because she’s Thai ;)*, Capt. polar bear, and another polar bear :p. Here you go, the crew seen from the top of the mast by the cat and the bear…

We started traveling by car from Italy towards Croatia, to Murter to be exact. There, in the harbor, the boat had been waiting for us. The boat is a Bavaria Cruiser 40 S, named ‘Judita’, more details can be found here. It’s actually quite big, there are 3 bedrooms inside, besides a living room and a kitchenette. The living room inside was almost never used, because we always eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and after-dinner-drink outside near the cockpit *there are two benches and a fold-able table*, accompanied by summer breeze ^^.

The trip was going like this…

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