Workation in Gran Canaria

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A workation is a trip or vacation where you must perform some task for your regular work. Although you may be in a new or exotic locale, you may have to attend meetings, telecommute, or complete projects for your job. — www.wisegeek.com

I think companies should really consider to do this once in a while *grin*, this is what it looks like… Luckily, as a PhD student I have the flexibility to do this kind of stuff. The bear is actually Dr. Bear now, but as a Postdoc who hasn’t started his teaching activity yet, he has the same flexibility. So yeah, we decided to give it a shot. And the destination for our first workation is… Gran Canaria, in Canary Islands!

Why there? Because… it’s November, autumn was gradually changing into winter in Italy, Trento/Bolzano was showering most of the time, and we want warm place, with sun! Our first option was Egypt, but I need to get a visa to go there, while Canary Islands are still in the Schengen area (Spanish islands), hence no visa is needed, my residence permit is sufficient.

The first thing that we need is a good place to stay for a week, with a fast and reliable internet connection (first priority), and a reasonable price (second priority). For location, we don’t really need the shortest access to a beach, because this is usually monopolized by expensive luxurious resorts. We were looking for such a place through airbnb.com and tripadvisor.com, until we finally found a place that we wanted: Villa la Bella (Bungalow) in Maspalomas. Read more »

Linkin Park, “The Hunting Party” in Munich

My first time ever to go to a big concert. And… actually, my first time ever to get out of Munich train station  :D *I passed by Munich a lot of times on my way to/from Dresden*.

The concert tickets were actually part of the bear’s graduation reward *from himself, the cat accompanying him was a bonus :p*, which was followed by a short trip to Canary Islands. As for myself, well, I needed a distraction from a failed interview ;).

As a preparation, we’ve started listening to “The Hunting Party” since months before. “Guilty All the Same”, “Until It’s Gone”, “Final Masquerade” and “A Line In the Sand” were among my favorites. We also trained on this maneuver of me sitting on the bear’s shoulder. Too bad in the end we didn’t do it because he got a back pain from all the training :D.

The concert was awesome!! I was jumping, I was screaming, I was singing along, and… I was standing on my tippy toes all the time *yeah, the curse of being a hobbit*! :D But I didn’t care. People sweat a lot, people stepped on my feet, I didn’t care! I was so happy and excited!! It seemed that once in a while, this kind of relaxation is needed.

Some songs I didn’t know, because honestly, between “Meteora” and this newest album, Linkin Park was out of my music radar (except some of their singles like “Waiting for the End” and “Burn It Down”). To my surprise, they played “In the End” and “Crawling”!! It was like being thrown back to my high school time, which was more than a decade ago *dang, I feel old*! :D I still remember all the lyrics, including the rap part.

Now, as a proof that I was really there, here you go… a recorded video! Not a high quality one, and at some point you will hear my voice singing along, I’m sorry :p.

Next live concert… Muse!

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


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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

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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…