Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Corporate Life

I needed PSGL access to complement my ESSBASE, so I raised an RMS which took more than a week. I then got notification that my PSGL ID was created, so I tried to log in, using my PS LAN ID and PW, but it didn't work. They didn't tell me that my PW would be in RPT. Since I tried to log in three times, the PSGL system locked my account. I had to call ITSC non-LAN help to get my account unlocked. They sent my PW to my RPT, which I was then able to access and log into PSGL.

This is what my life is like lately. There are so many acronyms and things that just don't make sense. And so many things to get access to.

Other than Moody's, my largest organisation was four people. Six if you count the extra part-timers. 70,000 is quite different.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Efficiency Expert

I heard a story on my NPR Most E-Mailed Stories about an efficiency expert. That's his job. He makes sure that people don't waste time, things are in the right place, processes are not wasteful, etc. It is sort of like a cross between a management consultant and an operations specialist with a serious six sigma focus. I had never heard of this, but I'm in. I think this might be the perfect job for me (after Diversity and Inclusion, obviously - I'm loving that right now).

I hate when things don't move quickly (including people walking). I hate extra processes and bureaucracy. I love just getting things done - quickly and cheaply with as few resources as possible. I think I would hate telling people they no longer have a job, because they're just not that relevant, but other than that, I think I found my future career.

I remember when I was in college Jeremy told me that I should be a consultant because I'm really good at criticising people. It's true. I'm awesome at telling people how things can be done better. (Believe me, I always know the best way). Bring it on.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Addendum to the Saddest Lunch Ever

That lunch mentioned yesterday made me think about dietary laws and the such. Matt really watches what he eats. He tries to eat completely vegan with a few exceptions.

I was vegetarian for five years, and I kept some kind of kosher for many many years. For all of those years I thought about everything that went into my body. At some of those points, I thought some much about it that I recognised what it was made up of in order to make the right blessing.

One thing I really miss in my life now is that thoughfulness around eating. Now I just eat whatever. I certainly try to be healthy, but that's about it. I have really loved this "stage" of my life where I just want to try everything. I thought it would last only a year or so, but now it's been about three. Maybe this means that it's ending soon? I don't know.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Saddest Lunch Ever

Today I went out for Chinese New Year lunch with my floor. That's usually a nice, happy thing. For me it was really horrible (though I love the people and the idea...). I was asked if I want vegetarian food. Nope! I eat everything (other than raw onions).

First, there was the yu sheng, which you might remember from CNY two years ago. We toss a bunch of random stuff in the air - including raw fish and a bunch of vegetables. Today I learned that it originated at a Singapore Chinese restaurant in 1962, because Singapore wanted its own CNY tradition. After that, the sharks fin soup was served. Generally, I don't eat at places that serve sharks fin soup. It is one of the most offensive dishes I know - the way they get the sharks' fins is horrible and leaves the sharks in a horrible state. Well, here I couldn't exactly walk off (we have important people on my floor...). I politely refused. The next few dishes were okay and involved some canned cabbage that is apparently quite expensive and abalone which is some form of seafood that I never heard of until I moved here, but now I see cans of it for LOTS of money. I should have eaten more of this course, because the next one was horrible. They put a little baby pig on the table. It's head was cracked in half, from the neck/chin/bottom, and it was put out flat. The two halves of the jaw were sitting on the plate - teeth and all - and then there was the back which seemed to have crunchy skin and some other meat attached. The finale was the little curly tail that was placed at the end of the plate. I really could barely keep my cool. It was horrible. It looked sort of like this, but the head was much more in tact (and split, except for the forehead area). And this picture clearly doesn't have the tail at the end.

After I stopped feeling horribly nauseous, I got a bagel and cream cheese for lunch. And some ginger ale to calm the tummy. Yuck.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

East Java

This past weekend was filled with action, fun and beauty. Matt and I headed off to East Java with our friends, Deeksha and Rajeev.

We went to see Mt. Bromo, an active volcano up in the sky, as well as Malang, where Matt studied abroad in the fall of 1997. We ended up seeing much much more.

Highlights included:
  • Seeing the sunrise over Mt Batok, which was actually much cooler looking than Mt Bromo
  • The cool weather and fresh air everywhere we went
  • A surprise root beer float (no, we don't have A&W root beer. We have awa root beer.)
  • Eating a quail egg (for the first time)
Lowlights included:
  • Getting lost in Malang after being in the car for about 8 hours already that day. Our driver called and got directions at least five times, but each time he kept driving for 20 minutes before he figured it out that he wasn't going the right way. Literally it took 45 minutes to drive where we could have walked in five minutes.
  • Seeing an area where a company drilled in 2006 - and it started a mud volcano. Since then the mud hasn't stopped flowing out. 14 people were killed and 25,000 people have been displaced. It's a super smelly, gross lake now, and they can't figure out how to get it to stop. So sad.
  • The tea plantations - which wasn't really a LOWlight, but it was not as cool as we expected. The Cameron Highlands were definitely way cooler than this tea plantation.
Interestinglights included:
  • Peeing in a bathroom that was just a floor. You just pee on the floor, and it goes into a hole in the back. That was weird.
  • Another pee story - after walking to a Candi (temple), I had to pee, so I went next to the river and squatted. When we walked further down the path, we saw some army guys that pointed to a toilet and said that only children pee in the river. Adults go to the toilet. Oops. How was I supposed to know that the one structure (that looked like it was going to fall over) was a toilet?
  • We came out of our "hotel" in the mountains and ran into a guy with a gun. Just walking around. With a gun.
  • We took a jeep ride up to the top of the volcano where we saw the sunrise over the other volcanoes. It was the roughest ride ever. It reminded me of driving through the desert in Israel with the guy I was dating while at Hebrew U - he owned a jeep shop and he would take me jeeping through the desert. I think it was more fun when I was 21.
A link to more photos is here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I get made fun of by many people for the number of friends I have on Facebook.

I have generally had a rule where I don't friend people unless they're a really good friend, though I did one "friend" session of INSEAD people when we were splitting up after P2. In general I have not been up for numbers, but I happen to know a lot of people. I also really value relationships.

I went to camp, Hebrew school, high school, public university with 35,000 people, grad school (twice), did a one year volunteer program, studied at Pardes, went on volunteer trips, lived in five cities (since Facebook), and in general, I just know a lot of people. It's not my fault.

This morning I had time, and I did a weed - I at least got rid of the people I can't remember or really don't care to keep up with.

Some interesting facts with those who are left:
  • I have 21 Rachel friends (with multiple spellings)
  • There are 30 names for which I have at least five friends with that name (with multiple spellings)
  • I have 17 David/e/Davey friends
  • I have 16 Sara/h friends
  • Other common names include Michael, Jen/Jenny/Jennie/Jennifer, and Dan/iel of which I have at least ten friends
Definitely biblical names and Jewy names had the most prevalence. Not surprising considering my Jewy life (before I moved to Singapore that is).

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dialogue in the Dark

This week we had a two day meeting of the Diversity and Inclusion Council for the bank. Most of it was super interesting and enjoyable - great people, great conversation - but one part really stood out. We did something called Dialogue in the Dark. Apparently it was started by a guy in Germany, and he franchised it, and it has turned into museums and activities all around the world to raise awareness about visual impairment.

When you arrive you get a white cane, and then you basically enter a dark room, and you're told to find your way in. You don't know where you're going, what you'll do when you get there, or anything. It was so scary. I'm super afraid of the dark - it's not in my control, something can jump out at me, it's a really vulnerable feeling. At the beginning I felt weak and scared, and I hated it. We stood in one spot (waiting for everyone to come in) for a long while, and I thought I was going to pass out. I kept practicing my yoga breathing. I asked a super top level Korean banker if I could keep my hand on his shoulder. Quite uncomfortable! Though, once we settled down at our tables and started doing our exercises, I closed my eyes, stopped trying to see, and I was able to just relax and enjoy.

I was surprised at how vulnerable I felt. I was surprised at how hard some things were - like knowing where the room ends, or really understanding what something looked like without seeing it. But...I was also surprised at how quickly we learned to cope and relax. We were mostly successful, and we were happy with not being perfect but getting the job done. People's personalities really came out. The woman who talked a lot in the meetings REALLY seemed to talk a lot in the dark. The quiet people were REALLY quiet. The problem solver solved all of the problems, etc.

In the end, the woman who ran the program (and was extremely condescending, since she was speaking to a bunch of senior level bank executives, and she talked to them like they were little children) said, "now, don't you want to meet the people who guided you through everything? Then you can see who they are!" Well, yes, frankly I did want to meet Halimi (who was super great), but what she called "meeting" is really "seeing" and those blind people don't ever get to "meet" anyone according to her definition. I didn't like that at all.

We had all of the visually impaired people tell us about their banking experiences and what we could do as a bank to support them better. Some interesting points:
  • Most of them did not read Braille. Especially the ones who became blind at a later age...they just never learned
  • There are computer programs that "read" the screen and help them navigate on the web, so internet anything is useful to them
  • The computer programs cost about US$1,000, though...
  • The iPhone, which I would think is super unfriendly to visually impaired people is the phone of choice. Even though it has a touch screen and no identifiable keys, it has special software, and they love it.
  • ATMs (or other services) don't need headphones. They said that all blind people walk around with headphones, so you just need a jack, and they can plug in
Anyways - it was "eye opening." Great experience. Highly recommended.