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Which bank issued your MasterCard? Does it really matter?

Here’s a general mindset of Indonesians, in action. The individual rather than the group, the specific issuer rather than the brand.

Conversation I had in a retail store yesterday, trying to purchase a steering wheel lock for my wife:

Me: (hands over item)

Clerk: That’ll be Rp. 155.000,00

Me: (hands over MasterCard)

Clerk: (ponders over the card for awhile)

Clerk: Where is this from?

Me: What is where from?

Clerk: This card, which bank?

Me: Canadian bank

Clerk: Oh, foreign huh? (Note: Is there a territory named Canada in Indonesia I wonder???)

Me: Yeah

Clerk: Have any other card?

Me: No, what is the matter?

Clerk: I’m afraid this might not get processed

Me: (It’s a MasterCard for crying out loud, it should be accepted anywhere a MasterCard logo is displayed!!!)

Me: Of course it’ll go through, it’s a MasterCard, doesn’t matter who or what issued it!

Clerk: (Runs the transaction through and what do you know, it works) (duh!).

This is quite mind boggling for me. Somehow the clerk’s concept of a credit card is still wrapped around the fact that it’s issued by a specific bank instead of a bank using the MasterCard brand, as if a MasterCard issued by a foreign bank would be rejected just because the transaction is in Indonesia. Such a narrow mindset makes me wonder just how ready Indonesia is for globalization.

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Sweeth tooth

Man, for some reason I walked into a convenience store just after lunch and had this craving for all sweet things (weird, considering I like everything salty).

So what did I do? I ended up buying a pack of Kopiko’s (coffee candy for those of you Indonesian-culture challenged :)), a small Kit-Kat White and Chupa-Chups.

The Kit Kat was the first to go, and one of the Chupa-Chups is melting slowly in my mouth right now. Talk about sugar craving.

NBA Fantasy Season 07-08

I’m back in the annual NBA Fantasy League with a group of friends after finishing 3rd last year due to injuries to key players in the semi final round. Trying to hopefully gain a high pick after being ranked 12th and 11th in the previous Yahoo drafts, Yahoo indeed screws me up again by giving me the 10th pick this year!!! Well, maybe in 9 years I’ll end up with 1st pick somehow :).

Here’s this year’s picks for me:

  1. Chris Paul – I chose Paul over Kidd just because of his younger age.
  2. Rashard Lewis – Amare and Yao both gone back-to-back at that tail end of the first round, 3rd year in a row I have Rashard. Hope he’s as good as last year.
  3. Carlos Boozer – 20-10 guy in an out.
  4. Mike Bibby – Yeah, I know he was injured on the 26th of October. I last read the news before he was injured and didn’t bother checking during draft time on the 27th.
  5. Raymond Felton – Hoping for a big year from Felton.
  6. Tyson Chandler – Looking quite healthy and always a rebounding champ threat when on the court.
  7. Samuel Dalembert – Bibby and Dalembert played all 82 games last year. The moment I pick them, one is out 2 months and this guy has a stress fracture on his foot that has not healed properly.
  8. Boris Diaw – This is the only player I know of who ever got G,F,C eligibility on Yahoo 2 years back. Impressive stats if Amare even misses a few games.
  9. Larry Hughes – Trying to gamble that Hughes still has a resemblance of his old-Washington-Wizards skill left at 9th pick.
  10. Marvin Williams – Looked good in pre-season stats.
  11. Jamaal Magloire – Maybe a chance to shine in front-court challenged New Jersey?
  12. Desmond Mason – Back in starting role in Milwaukee.
  13. Steve Francis – Think that Stevie Franchise in the 13th round was possible 2 years ago?
  14. Shavlik Randolph – I thought he was ok last year when Webber went out for awhile.
  15. Louis Williams – Heard he was tearing up summer league.

Since that fateful draft day, I have traded Bibby and Dalembert for Okafor, dropped Randolph, Willams and Magloire to pick up Derek Fisher, Martell Webster and Rashad McCants.

I don’t think this lineup is as strong as mine last year considering last year I picked Rashard in the 4th, Butler in the 6th, Deron in 8th and Mo Williams at 9th (this year all those players were gone way before 5th round); I’m just hoping this team has some surprises in it to make a splash this year.

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Jakarta’s Traffic Solution is…

… to make me governor :). Just kidding, I know it’s nearly impossible to fix this situation without probably blowing up the whole city and doing proper urban planning. But here’s some ideas I think would reduce traffic congestion by a huge amount (just don’t know why nobody’s doing these since they’re pretty common sense if you think about it).

So here goes my Jakarta Traffic Solution Guide:

  • The Busway is a good idea, but the implementation in Jakarta is as bad as you can get. It’s supposed to have its own lane created from scratch, not taking an existing lane and converting it. If you really want to do this, then accordingly, take out all the other public transportation on the regular roads to reduce congestion. Without doing this, it’s basically, “oh, let’s cramp these already packed 3 lanes into 2 and see how people like being squished together in cars”.
  • Everyone in Jakarta knows that most of the old public transportation like the “MetroMini”, “Kopaja”, “Kopami”, “Mikrolet”, “KWK” and the rest of them drive like maniacs and have no regard for everybody else on the road, plus they stop wherever they want whenever they want, thus causing havoc on the roads. Get rid of these and leave maybe 1/4 of the ones that drive properly.
  • As an added bonus of doing the previous step, we’d probably cut Jakarta’s pollution by a huge amount.
  • Double or even triple the amount of current Busway armada. Right now, there are roads all across Jakarta for the buses, but hardly enough buses as evidenced by the sardine-like packed terminals at Harmoni during peak hours. With enough buses to ensure comfortability, more people will be enticed to use it.
  • Make the Busway stations and buses comfortable for people to use. Right now people are sweating it out in the stations because there’re no air conditioners. Now imagine this at 5 PM with Jakarta’s striking heat and a whole place full of irate, annoyed people who just want to go home.
  • Provide parking lots near end points of the Busway routes. There are stations right now, but where do you expect people who drive cars to park them? In the middle of the road?

Ending thoughts: As I said at the beginning, the Busway is a fine concept with bad implementation. The government says they’re trying to get people out of their cars on to the buses; but who in their right mind would do such a thing if it meant suffering through heat, long wait times and crowded transportation? Without improving the conditions of the terminals and buses, I hardly see anybody in their cars wanting to leap for joy and join the Busway crowd.

So, anybody care to make me governor someday? :)

 

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Return of me

Wow, it’s been almost 7 months since my last post. Quite a few things have happened since then. Here’s a minor update on that:

  • The kids seem to have adjusted fine to Indonesia, except that sometimes they get sick from the pollution and food. Although recently, their immune system seems to have kicked in and so don’t get sick as often.
  • I’m helping out a friend of mine with his IT projects. A couple of them are on the go with a few more on the horizon, so got some income right now. We’ll see what happens next year. I’m not really interested in finding a job in Indonesia because I wanted to do something on my own and due to this next reason:
  • Traffic jams !!!. Everybody already knows how bad Jakarta’s traffic is, but you really have to experience it yourself to appreciate the madness of it all. Imagine traffic at 9 PM on a Sunday; and that’s just the mild case. Try going out anywhere between working hours until 9 PM on a work day, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a 2 hour trip to and 2 hour back from anywhere.
  • I actually lost weight here :). Been working out and running the treadmill every other day for the last few months and dropped like 8 kg’s. The last 2 weeks have been no workout week because of the projects that I’m working on. But I’m trying to continue this pattern for the near future.

Will try posting more regularly from now on. Don’t know if anybody’s still reading, but oh well, just a place to pour my thoughts.