September 9th, 2006

krazy koati

The handbags and the gladrags

I thought it a good idea to visit Suntec City and see their preparations World Trade Organization/International Monetary Fund meeting. They're expecting to get in maybe ten thousand people doing whatever it is bank-related people do. But there's not much for me as a non-bank person to see. There's some renovations in the open area, including a huge plastic cylinder with lights inside and water streaming on the outside, for that modern art/science fiction engine room effect. The biggest change visible without going past taped-off areas was one of the corridors from the convention half back to the mall was walled off. This displaced the Duck Tours station. Duck Tours are pretty much what they sound like, wandering around Singapore in an amphibious bus-based vehicle. By the walled-off area is a sign the Duck Tours have moved 63 meters down, and the inability of that number to be rounded off to 60 or 65 amused my twisted mind.

Somewhere in the convention center are a lot of temporary offices. The evening news said they were done ten days ahead of schedule, with two levels of office for one level of center. They looked like a temp agency I once worked for, but that's fine for something needed for just a few weeks, and if the news is to be believed it's Singapore's largest conference facilities on record. They even set up lifts which I'm sure will be appreciated by whoever has to deliver the printer paper, and restrooms, some with shower stalls.

To help out these bank people they've hired something like 800 people to be liaison officers, to meet planes of world bank-tied people, help them through customs, collect their bags, and get in a taxi to an airport, which they hope to have done in on the order of fifteen minutes. (For comparison, when I arrive -- at, admittedly, 11:30 pm or 11:55 pm, depending on the exact flight I took -- I usually need around 20 to 30 minutes to be on my way, but I take a break for a bathroom trip and a lot of stretching, not to mention having odd incidents with the customs officers.) I'm impressed by all this work going in; it's like they're preparing for the Olympics of banking.

Trivia: In 1652 Massachusetts began minting coins. Colonists could bring in silver, have it assayed, and if there were enough, have it pressed into a ``pine tree shilling''. Source: An Empire of Wealth, John Steele Gordon.

Currently Reading: The Johnstown Flood, David G McCullough. I realize after a natural disaster people will start accusing the minority ethnic groups of looting and rioting and taking more than their fair share of relief supplies, and what the minority group is varies quickly with time and position, but ... The Hungarian Menace? It sounds like a joke I'd make up about Victorian-era Anglo-Saxon culture.