Never say toilet. Say restroom.
May 27, 2001
Dear [52 names],
Even though I have not much to tell I thought it was time for an update.
Women. After painstaking research I have come to a fairly satisfying conclusion about the female part of the American population in comparison to the female Dutch population. Needless to say, I am talking about women's looks and sexiness. My conclusion is this: the average attractiveness of women in Holland is higher, but the standard deviation is higher in the US. In other words: whereas women in Holland are more attractive *in general*, the high peaks and steep lows are more extreme in the US. There are some very bad looking people around here, really. The high percentage of extremely fat women (and men) is incredible. Add to that the bad, bad clothing that lots of women (and men) wear, and you're slowly getting the picture. But... once in a while I stumble upon a woman of rare, and utmost beauty not to be seen in Holland. Subject closed.
Factoid: toilets in public restrooms are not closed. (Never say ``I am going to the toilet'', but say ``I am going to use the restroom'' or ``I am going to wash my hands.'') Usually, the toilet is attached to a wall and there are 3 wooden planks around it. The tiny space is open from the floor 20 centimeters up so that one can see feet and the whole thing is roughly 1.80m high so that you can also see part of someone's head when he stands---the use of ``he,'' not ``(s)he,'' is intentional in this context. The door closes in such a way that you can peek through the crack (of the door, that is). Not only is it highly embarrassing for the person sitting there, it is even more embarrassing for the people using other toilets. I will not elaborate on the symphonic repertoire of sounds audible to everyone in the neighborhood. I cannot fathom how a country so puritanical and prudish can live with such shabby restrooms. (Did you know that toilet paper is sold as tissues to wipe babies' noses with? Nobody shits in this country, you see.)
Some people seem very confused about a few things. I'll explain it again. I am working at Mazu and *not* at MIT. I will start my Ph.D. at MIT no sooner than September.
For those of you who want to read up on my scientific progress: visit my Web page at www.thomer.com. You can download and read my latest paper (in Acrobat-readable format). This paper has been accepted to the 10th USENIX Security Symposium in Washington D.C., August 2001. I am going to give a talk there.
Random, non-private, fact: the price written on a product is never what you end up paying for it. Everything has 5% tax added to it.
Another factoid: things you can eat do not have this tax. Result: me trying to convince the cashier that eating toilet paper with a Honey-Dijon dressing is a fabulous idea. She didn't buy it. I had to pay the tax.
The hairball (sometimes referred to as ``cat'') is moving out! Unfortunately, the owner is also taking the piano (sometimes referred to as ``piano'') with her. She is not only taking the piano with her, but also the rest of our furniture. We have an echoing, empty house. We have an echoing, empty house. The only thing I am planning to buy is a wireless hub. Who needs a table or chair if you can roam around your house with a wireless Internet connection?! Wireless kicks ass. It's raining.
Question 1: who puts that small sticker on each apple?
Question 2: where does all the trash that this country produces go? The worst thing is that people think that consumption, consumption, consumption is their God-given right. It makes me sick to my stomach and I promise you right here and now that I will mention this in every e-mail I send. (You may feel like asking me what *I* am doing to produce less trash. Go right ahead.)
I am learning to type with 10 fingers. I realized that part of the arm and wrist problems that I've been struggling with during the past few years may be caused by my bad typing technique. I am constantly moving my arms around to move my finger to the keys that I need. Now, my hands keep still and only my fingers move. Many years ago I was taught---reprogrammed---to breathe properly. I was told that part of my stuttering was caused by a bad breathing technique. (Whether this is true in my case, I seriously doubt.) The point is that learning anew to breathe was easier than learning this new typing technique. It is very hard.
My cashier in Star Market saw that I was buying shaving blades. He held it in his hand, looked at it, and then looked at me. ``But you have no beard growth,'' he said. I was too shocked to answer. Indeed, I hardly have a beard, but that is something I consider luck. I wasn't going to discuss this subject with the cashier at Star Market, though. I looked around whether other people had heard him say it---no---and decided to drop the subject. The guy went on about his own beard growth and I realized then that I had a new story for my monthly e-mail reports. It stopped raining now.
Work: I'm doing fine at MIT. I just said that to confuse you. I am doing fine at Mazu, of course. Not much interesting news to tell. I'll spare you the gory details of what I'm doing. OK, I won't spare you the gory details. It's pretty bad. The most fitting analogy I can think of right now is having to operate on a mosquito with a butcher's knife. Oh, rain started again. I hear the weather is great in Amsterdam.
I think that I have come to realize lately that ``vacation'' is over. I am here for real and I am here to stay for a long time. I no longer have a house in Amsterdam, which is the most alienating thought I had since I was picked up by men from Mars last year. Whenever I feel lonely and the need to go back home, I think of my reason(s) to be here. That helps a lot. Did you know that 100 degrees Fahrenheit is body temperature?
Other random facts or thoughts do not occur to me right now. It is time to sleep.