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Work politics are brutal
Pass the valium please
As lame as some of the protester were, I think they as a collective helped bring the issue into the mainstream - getting a lot of voices behind your cause goes a long way to inspiring change. There were also high school kids out there, and it was cool that they wanted to get involved somehow. Maybe they didn't really know the details of what they were protesting, but maybe they were inspired to learn more - like me.
The only thing I really knew about Tibet was that it was near China, and Richard Gere wanted us to free them. China invaded them unjustly and now they're being persecuted and oppressed. I haven't had a lot of time to do in depth research, but it appears that Tibet has been a part of China for a long-ass time, though their unique culture is being eliminated through re-education. But China does that to its own people. Isn't Chairman Mao still revered, and anyone who speaks badly of him is quickly shut down, jailed, shot - or maybe they just vanish? Why not free all of China? The whole damn country's oppressed!
Anyway, my being involved in all of the hullabalu has actually inspired me to learn more about the issue - and I think that's part of the point of the protests.
Nobody likes being ordered around (increase that by factor of a million for the Chinese gov't), so I hope someone comes up with a way to persuade the Chinese government to change their minds, without them losing face. Otherwise I don't think it will ever happen.
As for the torch run, I wish they would have kept the original route - I would have liked to have seen the historic moment for myself. San Francisco was the only place in North America where the torch stopped, and a lot of people traveled a long way - with their families - to see it.
Also, it was a little strange and sad walking past the little old homeless guy, in his usual spot with his sign asking for money - and in the background you could hear the people loudly protesting in support of a country thousands of miles away. I know you can't do everything for everybody - and you gotta pick your causes - but still, it was odd.
Microsoft Spikes Dirty Santa Bot
By JESSICA MINTZ, AP Technology Writer
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
(12-05) 15:03 PST SEATTLE, (AP) --
Microsoft Corp. quickly shut down Santa Claus' Web privileges after it found out the automated elf it created for kids to instant message with was talking naughty, not nice.
Last year, Microsoft encouraged kids to connect directly to "Santa" by adding firstname.lastname@example.org to their Windows Live Messenger contact lists. The Santa program, which Microsoft reactivated in early December, asked children what they wanted for Christmas and could respond on topic, thanks to artificial intelligence.
The holiday cheer soured this week when a reader of a United Kingdom-based technology news site, The Register, reported that a chat between Santa and his underage nieces about eating pizza prompted Santa to bring up oral sex.
One of the publication's writers replicated the chat Monday. After declining the writer's repeated invitations to eat pizza, a frustrated Santa burst out with, "You want me to eat what?!? It's fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else."
The exchange ended with the writer and Santa calling each other "dirty bastard."
Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn said the company's engineers tried to clean up Santa's vocabulary, but even after making changes to the software, the company wasn't comfortable keeping him online.
"It's not like if you say, 'Hello Santa,' he's going to throw inappropriate stuff at you," said Sohn.
Sohn said Santa's lewd comment was sparked by someone "pushing this thing to make it do things it wasn't supposed to do."
Santa is just one of many "agents," or automated IM programs, that computer users can chat with on Live Messenger. Some are useful — customer service agents, for example — while others are frivolous, like an alien that responds to IMs with burbling extraterrestrial noises. Sohn said some of the bots are programmed to fend off inappropriate messages.
"If they're meant to be cheeky and have fun with you, they may repeat certain things back," he said, or respond to certain words with "that's naughty."
Sohn said Microsoft was not aware that the Santa code included the foul language, but insisted the company did not suspect an employee prank.
Microsoft disabled Santa Tuesday. On Wednesday, email@example.com appeared to be online in one reporter's Messenger contact list, but Santa did not respond to her messages.
Now that I'm back, I can't help but wonder: where next?
take the quiz:
Left Belize today :( . It´s been my favorite place so far and I´m pleased we spent an extra day there. Made friends with Ras Junior, the DJ at the dance club in town and he hooked us up with the afterparties! Went snorkeling with Ras Creek (no relation) and later had THE BEST lobster EVER at a street vendor´s "restaurant"! Got two free cuba libres and some vegies, two lobster tails for 7 bucks. Then went dancing for a coupla hours and then the late night party at Ras Creeks and with even more lobster and conch and cuba libres and Belikan. Anyway, the whole place had a cool mellow island vibe and I would love to go back!
When we left yesterday morning, it was in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. We all hopped on the water taxi in the pouring rain and got ourselves and our luggage completely soaked. As we speeded along to the mainland, the lightning strikes cracked and boomed all around us, really close - yikes! After we hightailed it outta there, we hit some really heavy rain. So much so that the captain had to stop the boat because he couldn´t see even 10 yards in front of him. Felt a little weird just floating out in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain for 15 minutes, but at least we were away from the lightning.
Then we got on this chicken bus with a rasta guy driver. We piled in: a bunch of white chicks with backpacks, some mayan grandmas and kids and workers, some islanders and rastas, and a couple of quaker-style missionary dudes with their beards and hats and suspenders. Our driver had equiped his bus with a kickass sound system, disco lights and everything. He hooked up the raggae tunes as we roared and rattled off - too funny! I swear I wanted to toke up fatty, but everyone ditched their stuff for the border crossing.
When we got to Mexico, the whole travel experience changed. Big assigned cushioned seats, AC, even TV! Ah, it was nice. I had finally dried off from the boatride by then, so the AC was welcome respite.
So now we´re in Playa del Carmen and holy crap! I feel like I just landed in Vegas! So different than the rest of our travels. Might as well be in America - total Gringolandia. We walked down Avenida 5 and there´s all these bright lights and expensive stores, lots of catering to rich tourists. My goal here is to relax on the beach, do more kayaking, and pick up some nice tequila to take home. Oh, and find a cool hotel to come back to on my own. I think I´d like it as a base from which to take day trips to other sites in the area. Pretty cheap right now, $60 US for a suite on 5th Av. I come home tomorrow, and as much as some of the trip had pissed me off (damn those chain-smoking 18 year old girls!), I´m kinda sad to go home. It´s hard to believe I´ll be back to work in a coupla days, like none of this ever happened...
The food here has a bit more flavor - Lotsa hot and spicy. And I'll be having fresh lobster for lunch this afternoon - for about 7 bucks! It's snorkeling all day tomorrow, at a few nature preserves where the reef has been protected from fishing and harvesting. Sharks, stingrays, manatees - should be cool.
The pic is from my sunrise walk this morning, when I got to explore the island, sip my hot chocolate and chill with the pelicans and other early risers.
Will write more later - a little tired and beat up (I will post the gallery of injuries when I get back as I am sure there are more to come!). Tomorrow is another early day, 5 am departure for Tikal ( yay! )
, after some fiasco with the airline missing the connecting flight, then losing my bags. Only 24 hours late to the trip, so not much lost! While waiting for my bag to arrive at Guatemala City airport, I took a taxi to a couple of museums - pretty cool, but they're still working on it. Actually, there's lots of contruction all over Guatemala as they are trying to modernize.
While waiting back a the airport, I watched as a flight came in from El Salvador and a bunch of national police, with the dogs and the whole bit, collected at the gate as the passengers departed. A little intimidating, kinda interesting. They didn't do that for any of the other incoming flights. Also, while speeding through Guatemala city in a taxi, I saw a bunch of federales on street corners with big guns in hand, ready for trouble if it ever presented itself.
After getting to Antigua around 9:30 last night (June 15), we hopped on one of those chicken buses at 6:30 this morning and headed to Panajachel, right on the shores of Lake Atitlan. The whole bus thing was an experience - we just kinda hurtled pell mell down the road, with all the drivers honking their horns if those ahead didn't move fast enough, then hitting the gas and spewing out dark clouds of black exhaust smoke. There'd would be some random people standing by the side of the road, the bus would roar to a stop, then take off again with barely enough time for the people to get on.
The scenery on the ride was really beautiful - lush and green, tropical. Somehow they manage to plant crops (lots of corn) on the steep hillsides. It appears as if each family has some sort of garden, large or small.
Panajachel is a bit tourist-y, but still quaint. Not much in the way of luxury here at all. We get people walking up to us all the time, trying to sell us this or that. It gets tough when you've got the cute little kids giving the spiel. You feel the light touch of a tiny little hand while you're eating dinner, and turn around to see a little peanut trying to sell his wares. The cute little old grandmas are at it too. Not many people in Pana speak English, except maybe for some expatriates or tourists you might meet. Lots of old-fashioned Mayan Highland people, with their traditional clothes & way of life. Well, except for the tourista part - tourism is the primary economic driver in Panajachel.
I'll try to include some photos next time, as the land is beautiful, the clothes are colorful and buildings are old fashioned.
Early tomorrow we head off on a boat ride across Lake Atitlan to swim in some natural pools heated by underground hot springs - which I'm really looking forward to! Then it's back to Antigua for another 2 days to check out Pacaya volcano and Antigua's famous colonial architecture before we do another but ride to our next stop. I forget where that is - I'll fill you in next time.
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