Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 in review

Here is Monika's "the best of 2007":

Top 5 books:

Top 5 movies:
  • The Rape of Europa - an absolutely amazing documentary about the fate of art during and after WWII
  • The Namesake - a beautiful story of national and cultural identity in the times of progressive globalization
  • Once - a story about love and friendship expressed through heart-grabbing music
  • The Lives of Others - a stunning movie about totalitarian system that highlights the importance of individuals and their moral choices
  • Grease-sing-a-long at The Castro - everybody knows this one... It's not the greatest movie of all times, but "seeing" it in The Castro is something that everybody interested in mass culture should experience at least once in their lives...

Top 5 restaurants of San Francisco:
  • Parea It is actually a (Greek) wine bar, not a restaurant, so there is not much food there. Still I like this place a lot as it is cozy, has great wine selection, is very intimate and whenever there is live music it is really good.
  • Burma Superstar Burmese restaurant that serves amazingly good food with many vegetarian options. It has excellent QPR. The only problem is that you usually have to wait 30-45 minutes before you get your table...
  • Tawan Best Thai restaurant in the city (well, at least the best among 9 Thai places that I tried). Family-run, "hole-in-the-wall"-type of thing, but excellent, very light food, great service, moreover the prices are bargain and you even do not have to pay a corkage fee if you bring your own wine!
  • Frisson American/Californian food. Nice decor, good food and special points for having my favorite dessert wine on the menu...
  • Fresca A truly wonderful Peruvian restaurant specializing in seafood located just a block away from where I live.

Top 5 artistic performances (theater/opera/symphony/ballet):
  • tings dey happen at The Marsh, written and performed by Dan Hoyle - a very well performed, intelligeny and funny story about oil companies in Nigeria
  • Blackbird at ACT - an absolutely captivating story about ghosts from the past that sometimes hunt all of us...
  • Sweeney Todd at ACT - a minimalistic, yet magnificent musical/thriller
  • Carmen at SF Opera - the most beautiful of all Carmen performances I ever saw
  • Grandpa, It's Not Fitting at The Marsh, written and performed by Will Franken - a very witty political satire that makes you laugh and cry at the same time

Top 5 most interesting youtube videos:

Monika's personal top 5 achievements:
  • I am very happy with myself that I finally started running regularly (at least 3-4 times a week, 5-7km at the time). Thanks to that I feel that I am in reasonably good shape. (I also do other sports - I bike to work every day (that's 10km a day), 3-4 times a week I bike "hill-plus program" at the gym (then it is 30-40km and many many hills...), 2-3 times a week I play squash with Tadhg and Della, but somehow running makes me feel the best about myself. Maybe it is because it is something new that I started doing this year. Or maybe it is because I have a slight muscle fetish and it feels so nice to finally enjoy them also on my own body.)
  • I am also very proud of myself that I started writing a blog, and that I still find time to do it more or less regularly.
  • I am very happy that I managed to find a great place to live with really nice roommates and that within this past year I also managed to find a lot of great friends, many of whom - even in this short time - already managed to make a lasting mark on my life.
  • I am very happy that living in California made me more open towards strangers and that now I can even start talking to people on the streets by myself!
  • I also feel that within this year I managed to balance well time spent on working vs traveling vs having fun/doing sports/seeing people. That definitely feels good and contributes a lot to my overall happiness.

Monika's top 5 failures (and at the same time top 5 things to improve in 2008):
  • I am not a good swimmer and I planned on changing that this past year. I failed. I think now my strategy will be to take swimming lessons - that will at the least make me show up at the swimming pool.
  • This year I only read around 20-25 books, arghhh. That makes around 2 books a month. Embarrassingly little - I definitely have to start reading more.
  • I made no progress in learning Spanish or any other language. My plan for the new year is to start every day with a breakfast during which I will learn at least few phrases in Spanish (or probably in Russian first as I am still planning on going to Moscow and St Petersburg in late April 2008).
  • This year I also allowed myself to sleep much more than I needed to. I decided to cut on that and start waking up every day at 7 in the morning no matter what. In that way I will also finally have time to do yoga regularly and to eat breakfast at home.
  • I definitely feel need to increase my efficiency at work and have my day better structured. For example I feel that I spent too much time checking my email and reading news while in the lab. I will try to limit myself in doing that. Let's hope it will work...

online translators

My father does not speak English (he just knows few words and anyway pronounces them in the way that it takes a lot of my mental power to understand what he tries to say). But of course he is the most devoted reader of my blog. So he uses online translators to try to understand what I am writing about.
So now he translated my most recent post and concluded that I either got or I am going to get secretly married soon, so he tried to pull my tongue on that. Well, not surprisingly, I had nothing to say in that matter.
Second thing that drew his attention was "obsessive-compulsive father", which got translated as "obsesyjno-przymuszajacy (czyli upierdliwy) ojciec". He was not very pleased with that description, but after a short exchange of arguments he had to admit (smiling with laughter tears in his eyes) that he indeed can be perceived as obsessive-compulsive ;) Unfortunately, he thinks that it is too late for him to change.
Ah, parents. Will they ever grow up?

list of unfinished posts for the year 2007

During this year I accumulated a long list of posts that are almost ready, but for various reasons are not complete and therefore not blogged. I will try to finish them in the second half of January (the first half of the month will be very busy for me: I have lots of work to do, my 30th b-day is coming, and I will have friends visiting).

Here is the list of posts that I should finish before I start writing new ones:

3/17: marriage
4/18: the marsh - a breeding ground of new performance
4/21: 2: arrival in Nairobi
5/15: Mission Bay Campus of UCSF
5/16: MPI-CBG
5/19: The Rape of Europa
6/26: June - where did you go?
7/22: earthquake
7/26: men: constant source of entertainment
7/26: men are sensitive
8/13: East African food
8/19: A night at the Masai village
8/31: genes, laughter, boys
9/06: 10 things that I should change about myself
10/01: Anza Borrego
10/07: Death Valley NP
10/15: Joshua Tree NP
10/24: Grand Canyon
12/16: The one with obsessive-compulsive father
12/27: Craigslist

Friday, December 28, 2007

day 7: trip back

Everything what is good, must end. But at least this trip ended with a beautiful sunset.

Cabo Pulmo - day 6: beach again

On our last day in Cabo Pulmo wind finally slowed down and we could enjoy the beautiful beach again:

Cabo Pulmo - day 4 and 5: walking on the beach

Another windy day, another walk on the beach:

Cabo Pulmo - day 3: hot springs

Even though during our whole stay in Cabo Pulmo it was nice and sunny, still half of the time it was very windy there. As on the windy days it was not very pleasant to lie on the beach, we tried to use these days to do other things, like going to hot springs. That was sooooo nice. The best spa ever!

Cabo Pulmo - day 2: the first day on the beach

Walking on Cabo Pulmo Beach is truly wonderful. There are hardly any people and there are plenty of various animals:

Cabo Pulmo: Cremins' Casas

Both Shiva and I agreed that the major reason why our trip was so great, were people that we met along our way. First and foremost I have to mention Cremin, the owner of the house that we rented (see link to his webpage). Not only the house that he rented to us was very cozy and had absolutely stunning views of the village and the ocean, but also he himself added a lot of warmth to our stay. On our first day in Cabo Pulmo he left for us a bottle of red wine in front of our door, on Christmas day he brought us presents and he invited us to join him and several of his friends for a Christmas dinner! Within just a few days he made us fall in love with Cabo Pulmo and its inhabitants. I am sure that sooner than later I will set my feet back in Cabo Pulmo.

The house we rented:

View from the house during a day:

Our house during a night:

Full moon:

Last breakfast in Cabo Pulmo:

My Persian princess :)

Me, view from the windows, hummingbird feeder:

Cremin shows a yoga book to Shiva:

Christmas dinner at Cremin's place (Leticia, Shiva, Diane, Pete, Cremin, me, Rob):

Christmas in Cabo Pulmo: the arrival

The best thing about being single and having lots of great friends is that you can decide to go for holidays whenever and wherever you want.

Shiva and I met for coffee (and dinner) on Sunday, 16th of December, and on Thursday, the 20th, we were already sitting in an airplane to Los Cabos, located on the southern tip of Baja California peninsula. We had such a good time traveling together that we almost missed our connecting flight... - we were the last people boarding the plane and apparently we did not hear when they were paging us several times.

Upon arrival in Los Cabos we rented a car and started our journey to Cabo Pulmo, a tiny village located on the east cape of southern Baja California. Cabo Pulmo is home to the only living coral reef in Western North America and as such in 1995 it was designated to be National Marine Park. Thanks to that this area is extremely quite and pristine. There are very few people living in the village, there are no phones, no TV, no busy night life (there is total of five small family run restaurants in the village and only two of them are open in the evening). Even to buy food supplies we had to drive for 30 minutes to the nearest bigger city.

Thanks to all that it was extremely relaxing to stay in Cabo Pulmo. Life definitely slowed down for us. After waking up we had nice breakfast, then we went to the beach, walked around a bit, ate lunch/dinner in one of the restaurants, and when it started to get dark we went home to read, talk, relax. I definitely had a wonderful time there and I did not feel like leaving when the time came.

Cabo Pulmo is located just slightly south of Tropic of Cancer:

Road to Cabo Pulmo has many "dangerous turns" ;) It's also full of even more dangerous cows.

We arrived to Cabo just before sunset. Here is view of the mountains from our house:

And here is a view of Cabo Pulmo village:

In the evening we went for a dinner to Coral Reef restaurant, where we met three German girls from Dortmund that were spending a semester of their studies in Mexico. Together with them we played Rummy and drunk many tequila shots:

Late in the night Shiva and I went to the beach and tried to take a photo of ourselves, but it seems that we were to drunk to do that properly (that's the best one of serious of ten or so):

That's glamorous Shiva:

And here I am:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Seasonal Greetings ;)


I wanted to wish you wonderful Christmas time with your families and all the best for New Year! Unfortunately, this year I will not be able to send you personalized holiday greetings as I am unexpectedly leaving for holidays in Baja California (and the village to which we are going has no phones and no internet connection).

Chcialabym Wam wszystkim zyczyc cudownych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia spedzanych w gronie najblizszych Wam osob, a takze wszystkiego najlepszego w Nowym Roku! Niestety, w tym roku nie uda mi sie wyslac do nikogo pocztowek, poniewaz niespodziewanie postanowilam wyjechac z kolezanka do Meksyku (do takiej dziury zabitej deskami, ze az nie ma tam ani internetu ani telefonu).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Apple - the first (and hopefully last) major dissapointment

I bought a new MacBook several weeks ago and for most of this time I was very happy with it. But then, around a week ago, my keyboard stopped working. Or to be more accurate it started choosing when it felt like working and when it didn't. Today I finally found time to go to Apple store to have it fixed and I got shocked by the response of a tech guy there. He told me that he could not help me, that it was not a hardware, but a software (?!?) problem, that Apple was aware of it and that they were working on the solution! It exceeds my imagination how it is possible to screw up keyboard drivers or whatever else the problem is.
A quick google search revealed that similar problem to mine have many other Mac users, and that this problem seems to be specific to Leopard (the newest Mac OS): link 1, link 2. So until Apple kindly solves the problem, I have to either keep on using an external keyboard (what a lovely perspective to carry around with me the keyboard that is bigger than my laptop) or install back the previous operating system.
But the most I am disappointed with Apple because of it's negative campaign against Vista. No doubt that Vista sucks, but still if you claim that you are so much better than your opponent, that puts some responsibility on your shoulders, e.g. make your customers' laptops usable by providing them with working keyboard drivers!

I would pass the third grade ;-)

I found this nice online game thanks to which I manage to teach myself where few "obscure" states of the US are located. See for yourself if you would pass the third grade.

The Ideology and Religion Shit List

Got reminded recently about this excellent introduction to world's religious, philosophical and political views:

  • Agnosticism (1) What is this shit?
  • Agnosticism (2) Maybe there is shit or maybe it happens; then again, maybe not.
  • Altruism (1) Want some shit?
  • Altruism (2) Let me give you my shit.
  • Americanism Who gives a shit?
  • Amish Shit dost occur.
  • Anal Retentivism Keep your shit to yourself.
  • Anglicanism Our shit doesn't stink.
  • Apathism I don't give a shit.
  • Archimedesmism If I had a lever that's long enough, and a place to stand, I can move the earth -- even if it is full of shit.
  • Aristotlism (1) Once a shit is stretched by an idea, it never again happens in its original shape.
  • Aristotlism (2) Shit is real.
  • Neil Armstrong This is one small shit for me, but one giant heap for mankind.
  • Asatru If shit happens, blame it on Loki.
  • Atheism (1) I don't believe this shit.
  • Atheism (2) There is no shit.
  • Ba'Hai All shit is truly shit.
  • Baptist You are shitting wrong, therefore you'll be punished.
  • Baptist Fundamentalism Shit happens because the Bible says so.
  • Blondism I'm stupid as shit.
  • Bowdlerism **** happens.
  • Branch Davidianism Shit burns.
  • Breathairians We don't have to eat that shit.
  • Buddhism (1) Shit happens.
  • Buddhism (2) If shit happens, it really isn't shit.
  • Bushism (1) What shit?
  • Bushism (2) Read my lips, no new shit.
  • Calvinism Man is nothing but shit.
  • Calvin-and-Hobbesism Man, this shit is fun.
  • Caninism Shit happens in the neighbor's yard.
  • Capitalism (1) Do you buy this shit?
  • Capitalism (2) How much will this shit cost?
  • Capitalism (3) Shit happens, and it'll cost you!
  • Carmensandiegism Where in the world is that shit happening?
  • Cartesianism I shit, therefore I am.
  • Catholicism (1) If shit happens, you deserved it.
  • Catholicism (2) Everybody gets shit.
  • Chauvanism We may be shit, but you can't live without us.
  • Christian Fundamentalism The belief that Hell is where everyone must mind their own shit.
  • Communism (1) It's everybody's shit.
  • Communism (2) Everyone's shit is everyone else's shit.
  • Computerism Why won't this fucking shit work?
  • Confucianism Confucius say, "Shit happens."
  • Creation Science (1) We have proof that God created all the shit that happens.
  • Creation Science (2) Shit happens all at once.
  • Creation Science (3) ...And the Lord said "Let there be shit"...
  • Deja Vu I think this shit happened before, but I'm not sure.
  • Descartes I shit therefore I am.
  • Dianetics (1) Even shit can make money.
  • Dianetics (2) Shit your way to a better life.
  • Egoism I AM the shit!
  • Egotism My shit is the only shit that matters.
  • Empiricism Shit only happens if I see it happen.
  • Employerism This shit is your fault.
  • Energizer Rabbit Shit happens... and happens... and happens...
  • Environmentalism (1) Recycle this shit.
  • Environmentalism (2) Shit happens, but it's biodegradable.
  • Euphemism Caca happens.
  • Evangelism You need our shit.
  • Evangelicalism (1) I can heal people -- but oooonly with the help of yourrrrr shit.
  • Evangelicalism (2) God has a wonderful plan for your shit.
  • Evolution (1) Shit happens gradually.
  • Evolution (2) Shit is getting better all the time!
  • Existentialism Shit doesn't happen; shit just is.
  • Existentialism, General Your shit is what you make of it.
  • Existentialism, Sartre We are defined by our shit happening.
  • Felinism Shit happens... bury it.
  • Feminism Men are shit.
  • Freudianism Shit happens as a result of repressed sexual urges.
  • Geocentrism Our shit is the center of the cosmos!
  • Green Peaceism Save this Shit.
  • Hare Krishnaism Shit happens shit happens shit happens rama rama.
  • Hedonism (1) Fuck that shit; let's party!
  • Hedonism (2) This shit is fun!
  • Heisenbergism Shit happened, we just don't know where.
  • Hinduism (1) This shit happened before.
  • Hinduism (2) This shit is not a religion. It is a Way of Life.
  • Hippyism Make peace with shit.
  • Hitchhikerism The answer to all this shit is 42.
  • Idealism That shit's all in your mind.
  • Illuminism We make shit happen.
  • Interrigationism 'Ve have 'vays of making you shit!
  • Islam If shit happens, it is the will of Allah.
  • Islam, Shi'ite When Shi'ite happens, kill Salman Rushdie.
  • Islam, Sunni Why do Shi'ites always happen to us?
  • Jehovah's Witnesses (1) No shit happens until Armageddon.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses (2) Let me in your house and I'll tell you why shit happens.
  • Jehovah's Witnesses (3) Good Morning, I have some shit for you to read.
  • Judaism Why does this shit always happen to us?
  • Jungianism All shit that happens is an aspect of the archetypical shit generated consensually by the mass subconscious.
  • Kennedyism Ask not what your country's shit can do for you, but what your shit can do for your country.
  • Kierkegaard This shit is highly improbable; therefore, we should believe it happens.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. I have a shit...
  • Libertarianism Keep your hands off of my shit.
  • Logical Positivism Shit = S+H+I+T.
  • Lutheranism Catholicism is shit.
  • Marines It's not just shit, it's an adventure.
  • Marxism, Classical The workers take all the shit, but they're gonna dish it back out again.
  • Materialism Whoever dies with the most shit wins.
  • Mathematicism Necessary and sufficient conditions for shit to occur are: 1) Shit must exist and be continuous in a domain D 2) No shit must exceed SHIT on the boundary of D.
  • McCarthyism Are you now, or have you ever been, a shit?
  • Josh McDowell-ism (1) Anyone who investigates the evidence for this shit and doesn't see the truth as plain as day is a nincompoop.
  • Josh McDowell-ism (2) Anyone who investigates the evidence for this shit and doesn't agree with me must want to have sexual intercourse outside of marriage.
  • Mennonite None of this modern shit now.
  • Momism You'll eat this shit and like it!
  • Moonies Only happy shit really happens.
  • Mormonism (1) Your shit is shit, but our shit is the ONE TRUE shit.
  • Mormonism (2) God sent us this shit.
  • Murphism Shit always happens at the worst possible time and place.
  • Narcissism My shit don't stink.
  • Native American This shit is sacred when it happens.
  • New Age (1) Why did I happen to create this shit?
  • New Age (2) This isn't shit if I REALLY believe it's chocolate.
  • Newton's First Law Shit that is happening tends to keep happening.
  • Newton's Second Law You have to push to make shit happen.
  • Newton's Third Law Every shit that happens has an equal and opposite shit happening.
  • Neitzscheism (1) If you're not Ubermenschen, you're not shit.
  • Neitzscheism (2) A man without a shit is not a man.
  • Neitzscheism (3) Shit is dead!
  • Nihilism Everything is shit.
  • NIMBYism Your shit's not gonna happen here.
  • Nixonism (1) Shit didn't happen, and if it did, I don't know anything about it.
  • Nixonism (2) I am not a shit.
  • Objectivism Shit=Shit
  • Occultism We eat our shit.
  • Optimism (1) That shit won't happen to me.
  • Optimism (2) This shit, too, will pass.
  • Paganism (1) Shit happens. Accept it.
  • Paganism (2) Shit is a part of nature and makes things grow.
  • Panglossism This is the best of all possible shits.
  • Paranoia Shit happens because it's a plot.
  • Pascalism We are just shit. But we are thinking shit.
  • Patriotism (1) My shit, right or wrong.
  • Patriotism (2) Give me liberty, or give me shit!
  • Patriotism (3) Give me shit, or give me death!
  • Pessimism That shit is going to happen.
  • Platonism There is an ideal shit, of which all the shit that happens is but an imperfect image.
  • Politically Correctism (1) Don't call it shit. That's not nice. Call it "Nutritionally-Deprived Output."
  • Politically Correctism (2) Nutritionally Corrected Output happens.
  • Positive thinking Shit is what you make it.
  • Pragmaticism It may be shit, but it works.
  • Protestantism Let shit happen to someone else.
  • Psychology I can help you deal with the shit that is happening.
  • Rastafarian (1) Shit happens, but if it's all right with Jah, it's all right with me.
  • Rastafarian (2) Let's roll that shit up and smoke it.
  • Reaganism I don't recall if shit happened.
  • Reaganism, Nancy Just say, `Shit happens.'
  • Republicanism We earned our shit.
  • Robinism Holy shit, Batman!
  • Rousseau Only natural shit is worth shit.
  • Schroedingerism Shit does not happen until you smell it.
  • Scooperism If your shit happens here, you gotta pick it up.
  • Secular Humanism Shit happens, but there's a rational explanation.
  • Seventh Day Adventist No shit on Saturdays.
  • Shakespeare To shit or not to shit, that is the question.
  • Sherlock Holmes I know where this shit came from.
  • Shinto Shit is everywhere. So as long as you're stepping in it, show it some respect.
  • Skinnerism If eat then shit.
  • Socrates I am shit. But I know I am shit.
  • Solipsism (1) All this shit is a creation of my imagination.
  • Solipsism (2) The only thing I can be sure of is that my shit happens.
  • Spockism The shit of the many outweighs the shit of the few... or the one.
  • Spockism, Reformed The shit of the one outweighs the shit of the many.
  • Dr. Spockism Encourage your child to make shit happen.
  • Spoonerism Hit shappens.
  • Stalinism The state treats you like shit.
  • Stoicism (1) This shit is good for me.
  • Stoicism (2) Shit happens -- deal with it.
  • Sturgeon's Law 90% of everything is shit.
  • Subgenius Shit happens -- SO WHAT? GIVE ME SOME SLACK!
  • Surrealism Shit is shiny and shaped like a Buick.
  • Taoism The shit that happens is not the true shit.
  • Televangelism Your tax-deductible donation could stop this shit from happening.
  • Thermodynamics: First Law The shit that happens cannot be created or destroyed.
  • Thermodynamics: Second Law When shit happens, it happens from a place of more shit to a place of less shit.
  • Thermodynamics: Third Law Disorder is the inevitable result of shit happening.
  • Totalitarianism Shit doesn't happen unless we say so.
  • Trekkism, The Original Series To boldly shit where no shit has happened before.
  • Trekkism, The Motion Picture(s) This shit is happening again.
  • Trekkism, The Next Generation This shit happens again every week.
  • Trekkism, Deep Space 9 Shit happens on the other side of the wormhole.
  • Trekkism, Voyager Shit happens on the other side of the galaxy.
  • Twelve-Step Programs God, grant me the serenity to deal with this shit.
  • Unitarianism There's only one shit, but you can have it happen any way you want.
  • Unix Shit Happened. Core dumped.
  • Ursism Shit happens in the woods.
  • Utilitarianism (1) Do that which generates the greatest shit for the greatest number.
  • Utilitarianism (2) Let's make the best of this shit.
  • Vacuum That shit sucks
  • Vandalism I'm gonna wreck this shit!
  • VMS Want to make shit happen? No Privilege for Attempted Operation.
  • Voodooism Shit doesn't just happen -- somebody dumped it on you.
  • Voyeurism Look at that shit happening.
  • Waldoism Where *is* that little shit?
  • Xeno's paradox It's logically impossible for shit to happen.
  • Yuppieism It's my shit! All mine!
  • Zen What is the sound of one shit happening? PU!
  • Zoroastrianism Shit happens half the time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

martial law

26 years ago martial law was introduced in Poland (also see BBC summary: link). I was almost 4 years old then and one of the earliest memories that I have from my childhood is connected with this event. I remember my parents whispering behind my back about current political situation in Poland, I remember them being worried and not sure about future, and deciding that for my safety it would be the best if they would send me to my grandparents who lived in a small village in the middle of nowhere. I also remember that once I was at my grandparents' place I got measles. Then having a skin rash seemed much more exciting (for me) than martial law...

Monday, December 10, 2007

new hairstyle

I have no time to write posts, so at least enjoy my new hairstyle:

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Dana and Brian

While in Dresden I stayed with Elena and I even had a chance to babysit Dana (now 5) and Brian (now 3) when she went for her piano lesson. It was so nice to see that some people never change! And that they can still make as amazing tiramisu as you remember ;-)

Here, courtesy to Photo Booth, Dana, Elena and I:

Dana and Brian can already play by themselves without much supervision from anybody else. Here they are in their room:

Here Brian and Dana keep themselves busy trying to play the piano:

Brian is actually pretty good at it. When I see him play I start to believe in reincarnation.

Dana also has an artistic soul, but her talent is painting. Here she demonstrates to me her recent drawings:

I took photos of some of them, because I thought that they were amazingly good as for 4 year old: