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This summer, I left New York and I spent a lot of time in a silver Proton. I went to P.R. China, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, because my parents said that 'Confucious says that' one learns universal human truths from travel.

On Wall Street you learn what they don't teach you at business school (What they do teach you in b-school is Q: What do you do if a bird shits on you? A: Don't take her out again) or in Complex Analysis or a soybean farm or wherever traders come from; namely, the fact that everything you have to know is in the Kenny Rogers song 'The Gambler.' Two months ago I wanted to be in the warm summer's evening on a train bound for nowhere.

One of my Economics professors told me once that the Proton was a colossal waste of money and a really stupid idea. Malaysia spent billions of dollars of taxpayer money to support that national car modernization scheme to the benefit of the 1% of Malaysians who own cars and the Japanese component part industry. They built the Proton in order to encourage Malaysian heavy manufacturing and to create a middle class in the Henry Ford school of thought. Due to Crisis the price of a Proton has risen is still out of reach to most people.

I picked up my 100-horsepower Proton WAJA at the Avis near the airstrip in Kuantan and set off to drive up and down the east coast from Kuantan to Terengganu, then back to Johor Bahru and Singapore on the new north-south highway. The mellifluous curved highways wend through jungles, beaches, rubber plantations, and 'industrial parks'.

Gebeng Industrial Park contains a petroleum refinery and is about 10 kilometers on each side. It is very beautiful, if only for the friction; massive aluminum pipes and apparatus and missle-silo buildings are lighted like a stadium in the night along a forest road. The red soil looks like the surface of Mars where people have peeled away the skin of Malaysia's green to extract and process the blood of the earth, oil. The crude oil from Malaysia is called Tapis crude and has recently become the marker crude for the region. Tapis is generally light and sweet (and therefore valuable), which refers to its specific gravity and sulfur content.

The Tapis crude and the Brent and the WTI are part of the reason that I get to work as the most junior trader on an energy derivatives desk on 57th street at a large American investment bank. I write options pricing models and yell at brokers who work for me and at the middle office and realize that PDE actually is useful in 'real life' (but not as useful as they would have you believe). I work on important deals, I take positions on Henry Hub natgas swaps and make Starbucks runs to get coffee for everybody else.

This is also how Morgan gets to do something similar (but without the coffee-fetching) at his desk in Singapore. Morgan is a bookish boy of 28 and is the head trader and risen star at his energy derivatives desk at another large American investment bank. He sometimes tells me that he doesn't always feel mature enough to be the 'head of the desk.' Morgan is in love with me. He comes from Limerick and dropped out of boarding school to join a rock band in London; then shaped up and graduated from Columbia at 20. He has a bad habit during conversation of interrupting himself with 'um' but out of him, it sounds like 'ahm', and thus becomes charming and incredibly sincere.

He and his brother owned two thoroughbreds sired from Storm Cat but they had to shoot one after it broke its leg. We both watched last May on satellite the surviving horse's first race in Ireland, from opposite time zones.

Driving in Malaysia's back roads is like dancing in a game of chicken. At 80 kilometers per hour two opposite lines of cars, trucks, and mopeds rush past each other like shells between enemy trenches. Some tiny mopeds have entire families riding at once: baby in front, husband second, wife third, and the toddler hanging on the back. Usually nobody is wearing a helmet. The oil trucks and mopeds lag at around 50 km, so passing by darting into oncoming traffic is necessary but risky. Sometimes I grow bold enough to pass a column of 6 or 7 cars on straighter sections of the winding road by speeding up, the pulling into the lane and hitting the brakes, avoiding a head-on collision with the Proton on my right and a fender-bender with the Proton in front of me.

Before I came to Malaysia I had stopped off in Singapore, and asked Morgan to see his bike. He has a red Ducati 998, and when he tries to start it for me the engine turns but doesn't catch. We call an engineer to come out and take a look at it.

In Malaysia if there are cows or goats on the road in front of you, one must drive very close to them, almost touching, and then lean on the horn. Otherwise they will not move.

Sometimes when I am talking on the phone with him while he is on his mobile heading home, I can tell the exact moment he walks in the door because of the echo of his voice on his walls even from the other side of the world. Many people, when you see their apartments where they live alone, feel it necessary to add the disclaimer, "but I'm hardly ever home" to give the impression of a full life. In Morgan's case, in Singapore, he does not even have to mention it. I search for a wastebasket for a tissue through one hallway, two bedrooms and two bathrooms and can't find one. Apparently he doesn't have wastebaskets yet, after a year, and tells me to leave it on the marble counter and "somebody will take care of it." He fills his time with work and getting certifications; accruing flight time and doing rescue diver training ("The bends be damned!") and figuring out 'the plan'.

"Jennifer." He says, "What are we going to do?"

It is my birthday that day and I am turning 19 years old, like the Muddy Waters song. Since this coincides with the 25th anniversary of the death of Elvis and is all over the front page of the New Straits Times that day, he jokingly suggests running off to Vegas to get married by Elvis impersonators.

Whenever I am in Asia I always stop when I see those rickety stands by the empty highway with a lone woman in a headscarf selling red and green iced tea, because they seem too much alone, like a mirage. Sometimes on these roads over the jungles, refineries, beaches, and goats I feel like I am intruding on somebody else's Marquez novel; Somebody elses' stone palace standing in ruins, monkeys in jungles in the soporific four o'clock heat.

A few days later, when I turned onto the leg of the coastal highway near Cherating, traffic slowed to a halt. At that moment I am attempting to find my way to Kuantan town in the dark, so when cars stop around a bend I think it is a traffic light and rejoice in civilization. When I finally round the turn, instead of town lights I see a dead man lying on the road. There is an old red non-Proton car with a man-sized hole in the windshield. There are pieces of a moped lying all over the road. There is finally the man, alone, with bystanders peering from a respectful 20 feet away, afraid to touch him. His helmet lies 30 feet in the other direction while his blood seeps back into the red earth.

I drive by in the grassy shoulder in the shiny silver Proton and twenty minutes later when I pass the borders of Kuantan town I see an ambulance all flashing lights and siren pass me on the other lane, probably 40 minutes too late. A few days later I drove past the spot again. Blood and car and man are all gone while only pieces of the shattered moped are still glinting across the highway.

On my way back south to Johor Bahru, I ride the tailwind of a 40 km/hr oil tanker for an hour and I do not try to pass. In JB I returned the Proton to Avis and hop on the ferry to Changi Point in Singapore. Morgan met me there, and we got into a cab.

The Ducati engineer told him that he must always remember to start it at least once a week. He has just gotten back from diving, and for dinner we have digestives and Volvic. His Jacuzzi on the roof is always on, though he never uses that either; I lecture him on wasting energy and he replies to me, with an odd smile, that he is just keeping us in a job.

Today marks the start of my second year here on this site. I am grateful for all of the assistance and especially to those who have taken the time and trouble to say: do this/don't do that. For those who have been here for more than a year and are curious what I have learned from one year, please msg me. For anyone who has been here less than a year, I have a message for you:

Some basic facts about e2

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Thanks again. Rock on.

The other day, Scoresby and I were talking to each other at work via AOL Instant Messenger. We were talking about something that made the baby topic come up again, about the movie "My Neighbor Totoro," about how it makes us want to have a kid to show it to, but that we don't think of it as a "kid's movie"... that we don't think of anything as only "for kids" because we don't think of kids as different from us. It struck me that this is the best possible attitude toward children. Not to talk down to them or think of them as just kids or any of the negative, condescending things that some people say and think about children. We talked about how we would treat a 4 year-old as an equal and not as a child. About how a baby for us wouldn't be a thing that we own, but a new person with their own opinions and thoughts. We've talked about it many many times, but it never felt right until this moment, via IM. It just became very clear to me that we are ready to have a kid. Not to have a baby but to have a person.

So... there we were. We decided to have a baby while talking on Instant Messenger. I started to cry and typed, "i am crying". Now, anyone who knows me knows that I wasn't always this easy to make this decision. I am not a girl who loves babies. I am a 29 year-old who has never wanted a baby. In my family, when someone annouces they are pregnant, I say, "Oh, I'm so sorry" or at least think it. When Scoresby and I have a kid, it will be the first planned pregnancy in my family.

And it will have been planned on IM.

I know, I know, I promised not to do daylogs until "higher levels", but hey, this is sort of a special ocassion.

Three years.

In September 1999, I started studies in University of Oulu.

I had previously noted Slashdot linking to this "everything.blockstackers.org" and they had these odd banner ads in Slashdot too. Darth Vader and Smurfs and Stuff. I didn't know what the hell this site was about... and didn't get much wiser.

Then I noted one of my Biggest Idols, and a friend, was an user.

I followed the example. And became user. And wrote stuff.

"I have seen things you people wouldn't believe...
...and kept on carrying the books, 'cuz that's my job."

Well, it's been three years. My friend is still level 1 and has, I think, logged in once to E2. Can't really blame him, he seems like a busy person. I'm still here, noding as usual. I don't think I have changed much, though. From the beginning, I was mostly taking this business seriously. Well, a thing or two to regret, but that's all past. Now, I just have one thing to say:

I love you, people.

I have to say that as a community, E2 has been one of the nicest I've seen, even though not always a perfect one - but then again, none are. I have, as a whole, very much liked my time here, and I wish that things will be just fine in future.

I have survived another year. I shall survive for all eternity.

My statistics today:
server time: Friday, September 6, 2002 at 21:57:18
Local time: Saturday, September 7, 2002, at 00:55 EEST
Writeups: 1533
Experience: 38459
Level: 10 (avatar)
C!s spent: 1144
Lowest and highest rep at the moment: -3..67
Lowest and highest rep ever: -6..68
Occupants in the Heaven: 137

I guess there isn't too much to tell. At about a quarter to four this afternoon, my boss said "I have some bad news - we're going to have to let you go." I said ha-ha-ha and then "early, right?" He said "well, yes, that too, but..." and I immediately knew. See, he's made that joke before, teased me that he's letting me go when really he just means I can go home early that day. I just assumed he was making the same joke again. He talked on for a little bit, explaining that they don't want me back on Monday and I will get two weeks' severance pay and have a nice life. He gave me a letter, which I assumed explained why they were letting me go, so I didn't ask him anything. I stuck around for another half an hour getting all my files off the computer (I forgot to kill all of the web cookies, dammit), and my boss went back to being his chatty self. I was too upset to respond, all I could think was you've just fired me and now you're telling me about your plans for the weekend? When I was done at the computer I handed over all my keys and walked out as he said "good luck..." behind me. Yeah, whatever.

I didn't look at the letter until I was sitting on the Metro. To my dismay, it was just a termination agreement with the usual 'you will not sue us, you will not disclose our confidential information' crap. I will at least be able to secure unemployment with that thing. I fought to keep from crying on the way home, and plowed through the last few pages of The Nanny Diaries. When I got off the bus, A was waiting as usual, but I could tell she already knew. It turned out our friend C in New York had left a message on the machine explaining what happened (I'd told him online because I needed to vent quickly), and when she got out of the car to hug me I said "let'sjustgohomeplease" and I immediately dragged her upstairs and onto the bed so I could bury my face in her shoulder and wail.

We talked it over and reviewed the letter and all of that, and I calmed down a little. I was still pretty upset, though, so I had my girlfriend call my mom and they talked for a bit. After I had quieted down more, I talked to my mom too. Once we were done, we headed out to Baskin-Robbins for frozen yogurt. I know it was an unnecessary expense and unnecessary use of Weight Watchers points, but cost less than $5 for both of us, and I wanted frozen yogurt, dammit. After we got back the phone rang constantly and we both spent a lot of time talking on the phone with various people.

I have mostly calmed down by now, though I'm still pretty upset. I was already hivey because my immune system was busy killing the cold, and the stress made it a lot worse. It was a bad night to challenge the Advil (crying had given me an awful headache), because now we can't tell if all these hives were partly caused by the Advil (we're hoping to rule this out eventually) or if it's just illness and major serious stress. I didn't go to the Deaf Professional Happy Hour tonight, of course, but we are still going to the cat show tomorrow morning and I'll go to the ASL dinner tomorrow night too. I'll see my friend R there, which is good...we won't be able to have lunch together several times a week anymore, and since his class is Tuesday/Thursday I won't see him very much at all. I'm also cutting down my Netflix queue and will be canceling that soon, so the MTNetflixQueue plugin will no longer be of any use to me. I'm trying to look at the bright side. I never did like that place. I can find a better job. I can get all that writing done. I will get another job.

(Okay, I guess there was a lot to tell.)

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