Atlantic City

January 31st, 2008
Luc had a plan about how to become rich at the roulette. So we went to Atlantic City in order to test his plan with Adrien, Mika and Morgane. We drove exactly 100 miles to the shore to finally arrive at this strange city that looks like it’s under constant construction. There is nothing but casinos along the beach and factory outlets, and the general atmosphere is rather disturbing. It is as if there is nothing there but luxurious gambling places, and all the rest is left behind because no one cares about it.

We parked the car and went to the most famous casino of the city: The Taj-Mahal. People could enter and exit as they pleased, and unlike European casinos, no one gives a damn about any dress code. You only needed to be over 21 in order to play, and even that could easily be bypassed with a simple fake ID. No photos were allowed inside the game rooms, but we took a few in the entrance. The hall was amazingly huge, and I’ve never seen so many slot machines at once.

The thing that struck me the most was the amount of old people sitting in front of their slot machine, playing without thinking, hoping that they might actually become rich one day. It reminded me very much of the movie “Requiem for a Dream”, where the thin reed of hope kept the old woman playing every day. Most of the old players had their member card attached to them, and in a appalling way, they looked like mindless robots.

So we tried those slot machines, but the odds to win anything worth mentioning are too low. So we moved towards the roulette and poker tables, where the richer people were spending thousands of dollars per game. Luc first lost $40, but then tried again on another table. He won back his money, but then lost $180 in a row in a run of bad luck. He was playing black, but 5 red came out in a row. Unwilling to lose any more money, he abandoned.

We visited two more casinos, in order to find a roulette table where the minimum bet was cheaper than $10, but we couldn’t find any. In Las Vegas, they should have some of these. We watched several roulette games, and some people definitively have too much money to spend. So I lost $10 at the slot machines, and later with Adrien we almost won $30. In the end, we lost everything we won, and then we stopped playing because we had to go back to Princeton.

So after all, it was a good experience and I can totally understand that one could easily become addicted to gambling, and if I have had more money, I would probably have played more. I’ll have to try this at least one more time some day, Luc already invited us to his favorite casino in Switzerland. I’ll be there, Luc ! :D

In the evening, Flo’s farewell party would take place at Washington road… The funny thing about this party is that it was a Pajama Party ! :D I’ll write about it tomorrow. So long …

NJ Devils vs Montreal Canadiens

January 30th, 2008
So on Thursday we went to Newark to see an Ice Hockey game: The NJ Devils vs Montreal Canadiens. The seats were OK, just like the NBA Game we were up on one of the last balconies, but for $20 what could you expect ? Sometimes it was hard to keep track of the puck :D So how was it ? Great ! In my opinion, it’s so much better than Basket ball. The players are fast, and the suspense lasts until the end.

The NJ Devils scored 2 goals in the first third-time, but then the Canadiens took back the lead and finally won. It’s impressive how fast the players are, and how quickly the situation can change within only seconds ! I’d really love to try it some day, but I’ve never been ice skating … it’s about time. I think we might go some time soon, I’ll keep you informed. More pictures are in the gallery. I’ll maybe add a video later :) On the way back home, Luc, Adrien and Mika were hungry and decided to stop at the next burger king … and for the first time in my life, I had to order a salad if I wanted to win my bet :-/

Paintball !

January 26th, 2008
Raphaël, whom I know from my last internship within Siemens Business Services, is currently performing an internship at Siemens Medical Solutions in Malvern, PA. We recently met in Princeton, and somehow we ended up talking about paintball. He found a nice paintball field in the vicinity of Philladelphia, and they had a special anniversary promotion for january 19th: Half Price on everything and $1 hot dogs !

He told me about it and he gathered 7 other interested interns from Malvern, he registered a team named “Intern Intruders” ( :D ) and then asked me if I wanted to come, and if I could bring other interns from Princeton. After a few persuasive emails and a laudatory speech about how amazing paintball is, I managed to convince 13 (!) interns to sign up for the team: Ulrich, Fabio, David, Ivan, Maté, Olaf, Samuele, Daniel, Robert, Mirja, Marian, Matthias and Christian. Jep, a lot of “Intruders”.

Poco Loco Paintball is located in Pottstown, 75 miles from Princeton. We subscribed for the 9:45am show-up time, therefore we had to leave pretty early in the morning if we wanted to be on time. We met at 7:30am at Siemens, and we left at 7:45am with 4 cars. My precious GPS made the ride very comfortable and after an hour and a half, we finally got there. The paintball field is located in the midst of a forest, partially covered in snow. This special day had attracted crowds of visitors, the parking lot was already quite full.

After a quick bag inspection and a security briefing about what to do and what is forbidden, our group could start checking in and preparing for the battle. The whole process took longer that expected, but at 11:45 am we were already marching towards what appeared to be a certain death: The Castle map ! An assault and defend scenario map, with a central flag in a tower. This map was amazing, and definitely the best one in my opinion. With no real teamwork, we first defended and then attacked the castle. Paint balls are flying everywhere, and you begin to feel lonely when 3 of your teammates get shot just next to you. You know that you are next on the list, but you don’t want to. It’s in those situations you realize you don’t want to be in a real war, where bullets leave more than paint stain and small bruises !

We fought on several maps, and we had a lot of fun. For a small extra fee, we could rent camo suits, knee pads and other accessories. For $16, almost everyone bought a bag of 500 additional paint balls. The $1 hot dogs were OK, we did not expect that much for that price. I wish we had taken more pictures, but no one wanted to take his camera on the battlefield. The pictures we have were taken by our referee, who was nice enough to do it. Unfortunately, I left my camera in the car. Next time, I’ll make an in-game movie :D I hope the camera won’t get shot ^^

One thing that bothered me in the late afternoon was the fog appearing in the goggles after a few minutes of playing (even though I chose the anti-fog goggles)… so after a while I was basically shooting at random directions, hoping an enemy would be around :D So I’ll be prepared for the next time, we’ll get our own field (which is possible if you bring more than 20 people), and we will already know the maps and the different scenarii, so we’ll be prepared. Let’s see if there is any possibility to get Siemens to pay for our next battle :)

Make sure to check the pictures, some of them are actually really cool, and most of them were taken while playing !

Cocktail Party

January 22nd, 2008
To start the new year with joy, what else could be better as a cocktail party ? Twice a year, this event takes place at the washington road party house, and every time it was a great success. It was also Didi’s birthday party, so another reason to party ! Over 60 people were invited, and I have never seen the house that full. Fabio and Andreas did a great job mixing cocktails, and we even saw a new faces that evening. Everyone brought liquor, you could actually count several gallons of vodka ! The police did not show up, and no major catastrophy happened. It was very fancy as the girls wore their cocktail dress, and the guys wore tuxes. Everyone had fun, and the party went on until 6am !

More pictures are available in the gallery, I’ll probably get more soon….
PS: Jep, I did not have my tux, I know :D

Fiber Optic Broadband !

January 16th, 2008

Good news today, my landlord switched ISP … to Verizon Fiber Optic Broadband ! That means that my frequent upload issues are hopefully over (those I skype with know what I am talking about), and check this out:

Pretty neat, isn’t it ?