Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Of Dogs and Ducks
Last night my wife, a friend, and I were sitting in our living room conversing while our dog sat next to me. Our friend who just celebrated her birthday was recounting the meal she had at a Persian restaurant in Boston. She described how she had had duck with dates and nuts. This reminded me of a dish I had at an Indian restaurant here in Providence: duck in tamarind sauce with figs and hazelnuts. We also remembered a tamarind duck dish we have had several times at a Thai restaurant also here in Providence. It was nearing dinner time and naturally our conversation started making our stomach grumble.

My wife exclaimed, "Now I want duck!"

While we started discussing where we should go to dinner, our dog nonchalantly got up, went over to a basket where we keep all his toys and began rummaging through them. When he found the one he wanted, he took it out of the basket and he bounced back into the living room ethusiastically. He ran up to my wife and we then realized that they toy he had in his mouth was a plush duck that quacks when you squeeze it!

What an amazing dog, my wife had demanded duck and he answered the call!

We do call the toy his duck, so he may have recognized the word and thus went to get it, or it might have just been a coincidence. Whatever it was, it was sure funny!
Dumbing Down and Down and Down...
S at PsychoSoph recently posted about how some stupid French people turned a stupid American idea into an even more stupid idea.

But just when you thought things could not get more stupid, an ad for this appears above my blog.

Good God, please save me from this world of utter banality!!!

Monday, September 29, 2003

Domestic Day
My family in Mexico would laugh at me ("Men should not be doing that!"), my Italian friend's mothers would ask "What's wrong with his mother that she is not doing his cleaning?", but today was dedicated to domestic chores. There was laundry to do (again), floors had to be swept and mopped, rugs had to be vacuumed, and the bathroom needed a good cleaning.

I love having a dog, but it means having hair everywhere all the time. I swear there was enough lying around today that I could of almost made a whole new dog. And he has short hair. I can't imagine what it would be like with a long haired fluffy dog!

Got everything done, though. Now if I could only organize my office a little better. This place is a mess. I need to finish this chapter first.

This afternoon I am attending the first meeting of a teaching skills seminar at the university's teaching center. It meets once a month throughout the academic year. This is the advanced level so I know what to expect. It is very touchy-feely, but sometimes they have good suggestions. Since I am hoping to get a job at a university or college where the emphasis is on teaching, attending this seminar cannot hurt.

But I went off on a tagent here that had nothing to do with domestic day. Sorry.
Trivia Question:

Who sings the title song to the television show Friends?

[Again, no Googling allowed - this one is pretty easy]
Procrastination Method # 1847:

Old arcade video games online - really only works for those who can remember the 1980s.

[Unfortunately some of the games don't work on Windows XP - something to do with a court case and the java script, suprise, surprise. The games also work better on IE than on Mozilla]

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Chemistry 101 [link via Kristiv]

The Potion Maker
Xoloitzquintlesium is a cloudy, porous orange solid culled from the pollen of the mountain iris.
Mix with Xoloitzquintle! Username:
Yet another fun meme brought to you by rfreebern

Most Hated Sports People
On the subject of sports we don’t like, more that hating a particular sport, I hate a particular type of person: the over-zealous sport parent.

Almost everyday I take our dog to a grassy field that sits adjacent to our university’s stadium. It is nice because it is big, it is fenced, and on one side it is lined with trees. Here the dog can run, sniff in the trees, and play ball should he desire.

When we arrived today, there was a father with his son, who must have been about ten, doing soccer drills. The father wanted his son to do sprints, dribbling, and shooting drills. As our dog went to sniff for squirrels among the trees, I observed these two. Having both played soccer and coached a youth team, I am familiar with the sport and the drills one must do. I could tell the father was an amateur.

But he was an amateur who thought he was a professional, a mean one at that. He was yelling at the kid the whole time we were there, telling his son how he was doing everything wrong. It was clear to me that the father did not know what he was doing. First, the drills did not follow any kind of logical order. Second, when the kid did something wrong, the father would show him what he should have done by means of example. However, the father would also do the drill or move wrong. He was a horrible soccer player. Last, and most important, he was demeaning the kid. A good coach never does that.

The worst part of it all was that I could tell the kid was not having fun. How could he? Sports should be fun for children. Unfortunately in schools and among youth sports organizations in this country the emphasis is on winning.

Growing up in Mexico I played soccer everyday, wherever I could. All you needed was a ball, or even some kind of round object, and something to mark the goals. Sometimes we did not even need that. We were content to just kick the ball around on the street. I also played for my school, but we really did not care whether we won or lost. The point was that it was fun.

When I moved to this country, I wanted to play soccer, but pickup games were unheard of. The school team was extremely competitive. After a few weeks on the team, I got frustrated with the coach yelling at everyone. I quit. It was not fun.

While I was unhappy with the coach, I think the pressure comes from parents like the one who I saw today. Coaches need to win or else they are fired or in some cases assaulted by parents. It is good for parents to spend time with the children, helping them play better. They should do this so that it is fun, so that a bond can be created. Parents should not vicariously seek sports glory through their children, abusing them in the process.

I felt bad for the kid today. He will probably never come to love soccer the way I do, but there was little I could do. After our dog got his exercise, we went home. At least WE had fun.
The Story of My Atari
In a recent post, Lux mentioned that she has an Atari. This started a fascinating thread about how she got it and the different games she has. It definitely sent me on a trip down memory lane. I loved my Atari, which has its own story.

When I was a child, you could not bring electronics from abroad into Mexico. I am not sure why, but it was a stupid law. Nonetheless my parents bought me an Atari during a trip to the US, but they got stopped by customs at the airport when they returned to Mexico and the thing got confiscated. You could reclaim confiscated items from a warehouse at the airport if you were leaving the country. So my Dad on his next business trip to the US, claimed it and then mailed it to some friends who worked at the US embassy. Since mail to the embassy goes in the diplomatic pouch, which is not examined by Mexico, the Atari made it safely. And of course, there are no custom officials checking you as you leave the embassy. So I finally got my Atari, but it had a long number written with permanent marker on the front fake wood panel. This was its storage number from the confiscated items warehouse at the airport.

From that point on, many electronics we bought in the US (our gargantuan Betamax VCR, a little tape recorder, etc.) got mailed to our friends who worked at the embassy. That is how I got my first stereo system when I was 12. That thing was awesome: it had a phonograph, cassette player, and 8-track, as well as an AM/FM stereo receiver. But that is a story for a different time.

Addendum: For more info on the wonderful world of Atari [I tripped over this link at Kim's page just after I wrote this - weird, huh?]

Saturday, September 27, 2003


1. Dogfighting
2. Pro Wrestling
3. Bullfighting
4. Pro Boxing
5. PGA Tour
6. PGA Seniors
7. LPGA Tour
9. Major League Soccer
10. ATP Men's Tennis

Source: The Associated Press

Which do you hate the most (doesn't need to be on the list)?
Happy New Year!

I can't believe its already 5764! How time flies!

Dipping apples in honey is a good and traditional way to celebrate. It signifies the wish for a sweet new year.

[For more info about this day click here or here]
More California Recall Banter (last for a while, I promise):
(a new visitor - welcome Kim, I hope you visit again) commented on yesterday's post regarding the California recall. Let me quote her directly:

I'm in Canada but watched the debate the other night. It was both comical and interesting to say the least. I honestly can't understand why Arnie is so high in the polls, I don't get it. I was very impressed with the Lt Governor (do I have that right?) Of course I know nothing of your politicians so I can't say who is good and who isn't but my first impression was he was intelligent, gentlemanly, kept his composure and seemed sincere.

Kim's comment brough several things to mind:

1. They are broadcasting the California debates in Canada? They are probably better informed about it than most Americans (at least Kim is, even though she humbly denies it). My wife's theory is that they are doing it so they can laugh at us. She is probably right.

2. Her question is a good one. Why is Arnold so high in the polls? Are people really that shallow?

3. Although I have not been able to watch any of the dabates, I have been following the campaign closely and I agree with her assessment of Cruz Bustamante.

4. I should move to Canada. Actually, Kim's comment had nothing to do with that. It is more that Canada seems to be more in touch with social realities.

I think I will save my ballot from the election. It might be worth something someday. Maybe something good might come out of this after all.

Friday, September 26, 2003

California Election Clarification:
Lux was confused about the way the California Recall Election works. Instead of answering in the comments, I decided to make it a separate post. Here is her question:

So let me get this straight... you can vote yes or no on the recall, and even if you vote "no", you can still vote for a candidate? Is the current governor on the ballot?

I'm confused. What if the recall gets voted down - then it doesn't matter who got the most votes?

You got it Lux.

First vote yes or no on recall.

Then vote for who you want if the recall passes, even if you voted no on the recall.

If the recall fails, then the second part is moot. If it passes, then person with most votes wins. So you could have someone with 10% of the vote , but if that is the highest, she or he wins (something that could happen with more than 180 people running).

Yes, it is the most idiotic election ever.

And no, the current governor is not on the replacement list (although people debated whether he could get on it or not - I am glad he did not try, it would have made the matter just all the more ridiculous).

With the hoopla surrounding the recall, there has been little talk about a proposition that also appears on the ballot.

[Aside - California has a system where you can put legislation on ballots for the electorate to vote on. While from a populist perspective this may seem like a good idea, the whole process has been ursurped by special interests. So what you get is radical agendas cloaked in what appears to be common sense laws.]

Anyway, the Proposition (it is known by its number - 54) is a constitutional ammendment for the state that would end Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color, or National Origin. After reading the arguments pro and con, I voted against it.

Truth be told, I was going to vote against it anyway because:

1. I usually vote against propositions. The electorate never reads the fineprint in the legislation (yes it gets printed up and mailed out to every registered voter), so the don't know what they are voting for.
2. I am a staunch supporter of Affirmative Action - yes there are things that need to be fixed, but it is still needed.

There was also some other proposition that I did not even look into. I voted against that one as well (see above).

Now you all know more than you ever wanted to know about the California election. There will be a quiz tomorrow.
Trivia Question

What is the only African country to have Spanish as an official language?

[No Googling allowed. Ahem, Bil!]
First Day on the Job
Just got a sandwich for lunch at the Deli around the corner. It can get crazy in there and today was one of those days. It was made worse by the fact that someone had not shown up for work. The girl who took my order seemed a little befuddled and ever-so stressed. She apologized for being so slow. She confided that it was her first day and she that was still learning. I replied that it was ok. I also told her that I had been there and to hang in there. She smiled back and looked relieved.

Sometimes a little empathy and understanding can go a long way to making someone's day a little better.

Do you remember your first day on the job? I have had some horrid experiences...
Death is in the Neighborhood
I am shocked by the number of deaths of famous people over recent days.

Just yesterday and today:

Edward Said - Palestinian theorist who advanced the concept of Orientalism.
Franco Modigliani - A Jewish Italian Nobel Laurate who escaped Italy following the Racial Laws and developed a model for how people save for old age.
Robert Palmer - Singer of great favorites such as "Addicted to Love" and "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" (what was up with those goofy girls in his videos, though?).

I know I may come across as geeky by knowing these names, but the world has lost some great minds.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

My vote is in...
I got my absentee ballot in the mail today for California's wonderful and special recall election. I was going to allow people to make arguments for which way I should vote. But I decided against it...

I voted NO on the recall. What a waste!

And I voted for Cruz Bustamante (who looks like he could be Danny DeVito's cousin, and although that might be a good enough reason as any to vote for him over all the other clowns in the race, it isn't). He is the Lieutenant Governor, so it just makes sense that he should replace the current governor should he not be able to fulfill his term. I would have voted for him even if he were a Republican (unless he was one of those ultra-radical, scary Republicans, but I also would not have voted for him if he were some wacko Democrat either).

I am not sure where this is going to go. I sure hope the recall fails because if it succeeds, it will only open up a whole new can of worms in American politics.

For those of you who are reading from beyond the borders of this country, I apologize. There are other issues worth discussing, I will try to get to those soon.
Do-Not-Call Registry Squabble
The registry that was supposed to have stopped telemarketers from calling you has sparked a huge brouhaha over the past few days. The most recent challenge is by a judge who ruled that it infringes on First Amendment Rights. This position is utterly ridiculous. I cannot get a bull-horn and yell "Fire!" into that judge's home. Likewise, no one should be able to enter my home by any means and disturb me.

Up until this latest challenge, the main argument against the registry was based on the potential loss of jobs this might create. In a dreamlike funk this evening, I came up with a perfectly workable solution.

First, let the registry go into effect.
Then, when telemarketers start losing their jobs, hire them to answer the phones for businesses and companies. That way we won't have to spend hours meandering our way through idiotic phone menus, pressing buttons, entering codes, and sitting on hold for hours on end listening to Michael Bolton, Richard Marx, and Kenny G.

Everybody wins. The workers still get to employ their phone skills and they don't lose their jobs. Companies will be more successful, because happy customers are repeat customers. And we get some peace and quiet at home.

Maybe I will go into politics. Guess it is too late to run for governor of California...
More Evidence that Squirrels are Evil...
...and that people have too much time on their hands. Who knew that squirrels were into disco? [Thanks to Scott for pointing out the thread at Metafilter]

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

So you may be wondering...
After the last post, you may be wondering if anything bad happened today. Smivey suggested that it may be that the link I put up did not work. That really did not bother me and it was easy to come up with a solution.

Something bad did happen. When my mom called and left her birthday wishes on our answering machine, she also informed me that my uncle was in an intensive care unit. I am not going to go into a long story about my uncle or the accident he had tonight because I don't have the energy (maybe I will do it some other time). Suffice it to say that I never have been close to him. He is your stereotypical redneck who has been in and out of prison for different reasons. So while I feel for him, what really bothers me is that both my mother and grandfather, who are having their own shares of difficulties, have yet another big problem with which to deal.

That said, I can also say that I had a nice day. My wife, dog, and I went for a long walk during what turned out to be a glorious day. We had some errands to do on campus and after we were done we sat on the green for a while basking in the warm and comforting sunshine. Our dog even got to chase a couple of squirrels, coming mighty close to catching one of them. In the evening we went out for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. We sat in the tatami room where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor. While this is fun, by the end of the evening your legs start falling asleep and in trying to move them you end up kicking the other person.

I must say, that even though bad things do happen on my birthday, dealing with them has become much easier ever since I met my wife. She helps me bring things into perspective and I realize that I don't have to face the difficulties alone. And so no matter what happens, she will always be there for me. I'll end by saying that today I got the best birthday present ever: my wife's love.
This Day in History –
On this day 33 years ago, at 7:10 am, in a hospital in Mexico City, a 24 inch-long baby boy, the longest ever born in that hospital, came into this world. Yes, today is my birthday, but it is not a day for celebrating. It is a day I approach with much trepidation, not because I am afraid of growing older, rather because bad things tend to happen on or around my birthday. It all started when I was four. It may have started earlier, but I can’t remember my birthdays before that one. My parents organized a party at a fun-themed restaurant. The clownish staff thought it would be hilarious to smash a big piece of cake in the birthday boy’s face. I did not find it funny, nor would I expect most four year-olds. I remember crawling under the table to cry.

Following birthdays have included piñatas falling on my head, injuries, illnesses, mishaps, misunderstandings, and even deaths. Yes, both my grandmothers died right around my birthday.

At first people think this is all a crock or just self-fulfilling prophecies. My wife was a skeptic at first, but she has grown to be a believer, more or less.

So for my birthday I avoid big plans, try to lay low, and hope for the best. I have gotten by with some uneventful birthdays, so it can be done. Let’s hope that this one is one of those quiet ones.

And if you are curious, other more interesting things have happened on this day as well.

Update - Since the above link requires you to actually enter the date - I could not get it to work directly - I went through the list of interesting events and birthdays. Actually, nothing really interesting happened on this day. There seem to have been a lot of nuclear tests on this date. I guess the first Supreme Court was convened and the Mormons officially ended their practive of polygamy. Interesting birthdays are Jim Henson (the Muppet man) and F. Scott Fitzgerald. For those of you who are interested following is the list:

On September 24 in history ..
· 0312 - Start of Imperial Indication
· 0366 - Liberius ends his reign as Catholic Pope
· 0673 - Synod of Hertford opens; canons made for English Church
· 0787 - 2nd Council of Nicaea (7th ecumenical council) opens in Asia Minor
· 1493 - Columbus' 2nd expedition to New World
· 1537 - Uprising in Lübeck fails
· 1625 - Dutch attack San Juan, Puerto Rico
· 1629 - Jacques Specx appointed governor-general of Dutch-Indies
· 1657 - 1st autopsy & coroner's jury verdict is recorded in state of Maryland
· 1664 - Dutch Fort Orange (Albany NY) surrenders to English
· 1683 - King Louis XIV expels all Jews from French possessions in America
· 1688 - France declares war on German
· 1732 - 21 homosexuals burned in South Horn
· 1742 - Faneuil Hall opens to public
· 1789 - Congress creates Post Office
· 1789 - Federal Judiciary Act is passed & creates a six-person Supreme Court
· 1789 - US Attorney General Office is created
· 1829 - Russia & Ottoman Empire sign Peace Treaty of Adrianople
· 1838 - Anti-Corn-Law League forms to repeal English Corn Law
· 1841 - Britain obtains Sarawak from Brunei (James Brooke appointed Rajah)
· 1845 - 1st baseball team is organized
· 1850 - Papal Bull issued, establishes Roman Catholic hierarchy in England
· 1852 - Henri Giffard, a French engineer, makes 1st dirigible flight
· 1853 - 1st round-the-world trip by yacht (Cornelius Vanderbilt)
· 1853 - France annexes Caledonia
· 1862 - Confederate Congress adopts confederacy seal
· 1865 - James Cooke walks tightrope from Cliff House to Seal Rocks, SF
· 1869 - Black Friday; Wall St panic after Gould & Fisk attempt to corner gold
· 1881 - Henry Morton Stanley signs contract with Congo monarch
· 1883 - National black convention meets in Louisville, Kentucky
· 1890 - Pres of Mormon Church in Salt Lake City issues a manifesto advising members that teaching & practice of polygamy should be abandoned
· 1895 - 1st round-the-world trip by a woman on a bicycle (took 15 months)
· 1919 - Babe Ruth sets season homer mark at 28 off of Yankee Bob Shawkey
· 1923 - Premiere of 1st celluloid film "Das Leben auf dem Dorfe" (Berlin)
· 1924 - Boston, Massachusetts opens its airport
· 1927 - NHL's Toronto St Patricks become Maple Leafs
· 1927 - Yanks set record of 106 victories
· 1929 - Lt James H Doolittle guides a Consolidated N-Y-2 Biplane over Mitchell Field in NY in 1st all-instrument flight
· 1930 - Portsmouth beats Brooklyn in 1st NFL game played under floodlights
· 1934 - 2500 fans see Babe Ruth's farewell Yankee appearance at Yankee Stadium
· 1938 - Don Budge becomes 1st tennis player to grand slam
· 1940 - Luftwaffe bombs Spitfire-factory in Southampton
· 1941 - 9 Allied governments pledged adherence to Atlantic Charter
· 1941 - Bomb explosion in German headquarter in Hotel Continental in Kiev
· 1943 - Soviet forces re-conquer Smolensk
· 1950 - "Operation Magic Carpet"-All Jews from Yemen move to Israel
· 1951 - Industrial estate at Harlow New Town UK opens
· 1951 - USSR performs nuclear test
· 1952 - Dutch minister Dark sentences war criminal W Lages to death
· 1952 - Underwater volcano explodes under research vessel Kaiyo-maru-5
· 1954 - Tonight Show premieres on NBC (Johnny takes over 8 years later)
· 1955 - Pres Eisenhower suffers a heart attack on vacation in Denver
· 1956 - 1st trans atlantic telephone cable in use (Newfoundland-Scotland)
· 1957 - Eisenhower orders US troops to desegregate Little Rock schools
· 1958 - 1st welded aluminum girder highway bridge completed, Urbandale, LA
· 1960 - 1st nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, launches (USS Enterprise)
· 1960 - International Development Association (UN agency) comes into existence
· 1960 - USS Enterprise, 1st nuclear power aircraft carrier, launches
· 1962 - KWSU TV channel 10 in Pullman, WA (PBS) begins broadcasting
· 1962 - US Circuit Court of Appeals orders Meredith admitted to University of Mississippi
· 1963 - Senate ratifies treaty with Britain & USSR limit nuclear testing
· 1964 - "Munsters" premieres on TV
· 1964 - 1st Minuteman II ICBM was tested
· 1964 - Willi Stoph succeeds Otto Great as premier of German Democratic Republic
· 1965 - Belgium Victor Leemans elected chairman of European Parliament
· 1965 - Saudi-Arabian & Egyptian accord about Yemen
· 1965 - Stefan Stefanopoulos forms Greek government
· 1966 - -30] Hurricane Inez, kills 293 in Caribbean, Florida & Mexico
· 1966 - France performs nuclear test at Fangataufa Island
· 1968 - "60 Minutes" premieres on CBS-TV
· 1968 - US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
· 1969 - 1st Elvis convention, 2500 fans attend in Cincinnati
· 1969 - Ton Duc Thang elected president of North Vietnam
· 1969 - Trial of "Chicago 8" (protesters at Dem Natl Conv) begins
· 1970 - 1st Automated return of lunar sample by Luna 16
· 1970 - Soviet Luna 16 lands on earth after 1st unmanned round trip to moon
· 1971 - 90 Russian diplomats expelled from Britain for spying
· 1971 - Eyskens-Cools disbands Belgium parliament
· 1972 - Antique F86 Sabrejet fails to takeoff at air show, kills 22
· 1973 - Guinea-Bissau declares independence
· 1976 - Newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst sentenced to 7 years for her part in a 1974 bank robbery. Released after 22 months by Pres Carter
· 1977 - 1st broadcast of "Love Boat" on ABC-TV
· 1978 - USSR performs underground nuclear test
· 1979 - CompuServe began operation as 1st computer information service
· 1979 - Ghana adopts constitution
· 1979 - Russian ice skaters Protopopov & Beloussova ask for asylum in Switzerland
· 1979 - USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya USSR
· 1980 - Iraqi troops cross Iran's border, encircling Abadan
· 1981 - US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
· 1982 - Tennis great Bj”rn B”rg retires at 26
· 1982 - US, Italian & French peacekeeping troops begin arriving in Lebanon
· 1983 - USSR performs underground nuclear test
· 1984 - Paul McCartney release "No More Lonely Nights"
· 1985 - Apollo Computer Inc lays off 300 employees
· 1985 - Fastest English Channel crossing by a relay team set (15h 30m)
· 1987 - US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
· 1988 - Barbara C Harris of Mass, elected 1st woman Episcopal bishop
· 1988 - Canada's Ben Johnson runs drug-assisted 100 m in 9.79 sec
· 1990 - East Germany leaves Warsaw Pact
· 1990 - Supreme Soviet gives approval to switch to free market
· 1990 - West German Pres Richard von Weizsaecker signs reunification treaty
· 1991 - Doogie Howser loses his virginity
· 1993 - 1st Israeli killed by Islamics after PLO signs peace accord
· 1993 - Norodom Sihanouk again installed as king of Cambodia
· 1994 - Parliamentary election in Ukraine
· 1995 - Mt Ruapehu Volcano (North Island, NZ) erupts
· 1997 - Drug kingpin Ramon Arellano Felix placed on FBI's 10 most-wanted

Famous birthdays on September 24 ..

· 1501 - Girolamo Cardano, Italy, mathematician/astrologer (Ars Magna-1545)
· 1583 - Albrecht Eusebius Wenzel von Wallenstein, German general
· 1625 - Johan de Witt, statesman/advisor of Holland
· 1717 - Horace Walpole, England, British horror writer (Cattle of Ontario)
· 1739 - Grigorij A Potemkin, Monarch of Tauris/friend of Catherine II
· 1755 - John Marshall, Va, 4th Supreme Court Chief Justice (1801-35)
· 1762 - William Lisle Bowles, English poet (14 Sonnets)
· 1817 - Ramón de Campoamor Campoosorio, Spanish poet (Doloras)
· 1821 - Cyprian K Norwid, Polish painter/poet/playwright (Wanda)
· 1825 - Frances E W Harper, famous African
· 1848 - Pieter Louis Tak, literary (The Chronicle)
· 1859 - Julius Klengel, cellist/composer
· 1860 - Samuel Rutherford Crockett, novelist
· 1870 - Georges Claude, inventor (neon light)
· 1885 - Herman Bouber, Dutch actor/playwright (Sailor's Wives)
· 1890 - Alan Herbert, England, journalist/writer (Punch, Helen)
· 1892 - Sam[uel] de Vries, actor (Wandering Jew)
· 1895 - Andr‚ Cournand, physician
· 1896 - F Scott Fitzgerald, St Paul Minn, author (Great Gatsby)
· 1898 - Charlotte D baroness of Pallandt, Dutch sculptress
· 1898 - Howard W Florey, Aust, pathologist; purified penicillin (Nobel '45)
· 1899 - Eduardo Hernandez Moncada, composer
· 1904 - Owen Saunders, mechanical engineer
· 1910 - Leonarda da Vinci MacLaren, founder (LSE)
· 1911 - Konstantin Chernenko, USSR leader
· 1921 - Jim McKay, Phila Pa, sportscaster (ABC's Wide World of Sports)
· 1921 - Leonardo Lopez Salzedo, composer
· 1922 - David Lane, CEO (Commission for Racial Equality)
· 1923 - Ladislav Fuks, writer
· 1924 - Sheila MacRae, London England, actress (Jackie Gleason Show)
· 1924 - Simpson Guillen, cricketer (wicket-keeper for West Indies & NZ)
· 1924 - Walter Fufido, Bronx NY, Iwo Jima casualty (WW II)
· 1927 - Richard Swift, composer
· 1930 - John Watts Young, SF Calif, astronaut (Gem 3 10, Apol 10 16, STS 1 9)
· 1932 - Svetlana Beriozova, ballerina
· 1934 - Bernard Nevill, textile designer
· 1934 - Manfred Wärner, German general/sect-gen (NATO, 1988-94)
· 1934 - Robert Lang, actor (Night Watch)/director
· 1936 - Jim Henson, Greenville Miss, muppeteer (Sesame Street, Muppet Show)
· 1941 - Linda Eastman McCartney, NYC, Mrs Paul McCartney, rocker (Wings-Ram)
· 1946 - "Mean" Joe Greene, NFL tackle (Pitts Steelers), Coke spokesman
· 1946 - Carson Van Osten, rocker
· 1946 - Marc Edward Neikrug, composer
· 1946 - Pat Pocock, cricketer (intermittent England off-spinner 1968-85)
· 1948 - Phil Hartman, Brantford Ontario, actor (SNL, Peewee's Playhouse)
· 1950 - Mohinder Amarnath, cricketer (son of Lala Indian batsman of 70's/80's)
· 1952 - Joseph P Kennedy II, (Rep-D-Massachusetts)
· 1954 - Stephen Jones, art historian
· 1956 - Ilona Briesenick-Slupianek, German DR, shot-putter (Olympic-gold-1980)
· 1964 - Rafael Palmeiro, Havana Cuba, 1st baseman (Baltimore Orioles)
· 1967 - Chris Swan, rower (Olympics-1996)
· 1967 - Roland Jansen, soccer player (Willem II)
· 1969 - Gene Hunt, R&B musician (Acid Man)
· 1969 - Lisa Matthews, Peoria Ill, playmate (Apr, 1990)

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Campaign 2004
I am starting to narrow down my choices.

[Link stolen from Patrick - guest Blogger at greengrl's site].
Yes, I call it autumn instead of fall - probably because of my British schooling. Whatever you call it, it is a season that brings mixed emotions for me. I love it because the weather is just right, at least most of the time in New England (today, of course it is gray and rainy - just to prove me wrong). Warm sunny and breezy days, crisp cool nights. The colors are fabulous (I sound too much like those queer guys on Bravo). The negative is that you know winter is coming and the days are starting to get shorter. The increased darkness does funky things to me. So I hate the feeling of impending winter doom.

It is definitely a CARPE DIEM season.

Monday, September 22, 2003

New Experience
Today I experienced something new. I got chided online. Thanks Lux for getting me back on track! You just earned yourself a mention in my acknowledgements. Maybe with your help I will get this dissertation finished.
Stood up?
I was supposed to meet my mentee today at a dinner on campus. He did not show up :-( . Does this count as getting stood up? I have his email address...he better have a good excuse! And I had so many lovely activities planned...

I did meet some other students that didn't have mentors who were pretty nice. There are plenty of fish in the sea...
Anxiety Attacks and Dog Mysteries:
Last night as I settled in to sleep, I got slammed with a period of anxiety. You know, one of those moments when all the crisises and issues and problems and stresses and crap that complicate your life all come to a head and fall on you like a boulder. Yeah, I had one of those.

So to soothe my troubled mind I swore that today would be an exceedingly productive day. I need to keep my promise. Or else I might have another one of those moments tonight...and they are not pleasant.

Before I go, however, I want to thank you for your comments on the template. I quite like the translucent nature of the text box, so I might keep it. I will try to change the color on the links (eventually, see above) so that they are easier to read.

I also would like to thank you all for your hypotheses on why our dog is so enthralled with Oman. To review, this what people have said:

Radmilla: Maybe he's got family there? [I doubt it. We adpoted him from an obscure corner of Rhode Island where the mentality is such that if it is more than a five minute drive it is REALLY far away. He is, however, some convoluted mix of breeds - we never have really figured them out - so it is quite possible that he might have some Omani Retriever in him - whatever that is].

Lux: Maybe that's his real name, and you have been calling him by the wrong name all this time [We had not though of this before. So we tried calling him that. He would get excited, but did not respond the same way as he does to his name. Just to note, when we got him, he already had his name and knew it - it is that of a Greek Diety. Although we probably would not have named him that, the name does seem to suit him and his personality well].

Smivey: [Wait, he just wrote to tell me that it seemed to him like my site was written on invisible ink. Nothing to do with the dog and Oman.]

Kat: Perhaps he's a big Linda Blair fan and thought you said "Omen". Imagine his disappoint. [While this seem to be an excellent and entertaining explanation, when we called out "Omen", the reaction was not the same. He definitely reacts to Oman. By the way, Kat has a cool new template as well, go check it out].

So the mystery remains. Academics shall continue to puzzle over this for years to come...

Happy Monday!!! Yeah, right....

Saturday, September 20, 2003

New Template:
I had been considering getting a new template and Sara over at Corn Smut (who has been very artistic in designing her new snazy template) suggested I download a template from some crafty Dutch people. I had a difficult decision between this one and a cool Easter Island motif. I want to thank her for her help in getting it all set up, she has been a godsend.

Hopefully this will end all the scrolling problems people have been having.

So what do you think?

Yeah, yeah, I know, I should have been working on my dissertation instead. Procrastination is a virulent disease...
Could it be that I have been productive?Finally got back to working on the dissertation this afternoon. I have been typing notes from some interview transcriptions. It is a bit tedious but there is some good material for my chapter. I can sense a little excitement beneath the thick layers of apathy...can a I conjure out this enthusiasm for my research topic? Hmmm....

Hey, I have noticed that I have been getting some new visitors. I would like to request that you sign the guest map (this also goes for those of you who have been coming around for a while, but haven't gotten a chance to sign it). I would like to see where you are visiting from. No pressure, though...It's just for fun...
It's one of those warm moist days...a hold over from summer. Dog is passed out in the hallway, I guess that is the coolest spot around. Wife is still not feeling too well. Laundry continues to go (did not get all done yesterday - see below). The dissertation awaits...

Note: I understand some of you have been having problems scrolling (sometimes). Cheap fix: Hit reload, then quickly stop. As for the invisible ink issue, I am not quite sure what is up with that. Things may be changing around here, so perhaps that will fix the problems.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Roller-coaster Day [Warning: rambling and verbose post]
I am completely drained. Today was one of those days full of ups and downs. For once I got up this morning feeling good and full of energy. I was determined that I was going to get a lot done. There was laundry to do, some ironing, and the usual dog-walking duties. I also had promised my wife that I would go with her to the mall. She has been a bit under the weather recently and this outing was supposed to cheer her up. We had planned to get lunch at the Nordstrom Café that overlooks downtown Providence. While we were there I also wanted to pop into a bookstore to buy a guidebook for Puerto Rico. I was then planning to come home and get some work done on my dissertation.

The day started off well, got the laundry going, ironed some clothes that had been begging for a pressing, and took the dog out for his daily run. My wife slept in, so we decided to have lunch at home and head to the mall later. No problem. As we were heading to the mall, the *Check Engine* light came on in our car. I asked my wife what she thought we should do. We agreed that we should head back home. I looked at the engine, but as far as I could tell everything seemed to be in order. I was going to need help with this one. When we walked in to our apartment, our wonderful dog found his way up on to a counter and got a paper bag full of used tissues. He rearranged them quite wonderfully on our living room floor. My wife with a exasperated and sad face turned to me and said, “I’ll clean this up, you look into the car.”

The car issue is more complex than most car issues. In our wisdom, we bought a Daewoo a few years back. It is a nice car and it has been very good to us. The problem is that Daewoo went bankrupt in the US last year. The other problem is that here in Rhode Island there is only one dealer (a Nissan place that used to also sell Daewoos) that has parts for it and it is about twenty miles from Providence. I called them up to see if they could take a look at it today. No such luck, I would have to wait until Thursday. Not good, especially since we really need to use our car next week.

Plan B: take it to some local mechanics to see if they can at least tell me what is wrong.
Mechanic #1: Can’t look at it until Friday.
Mechanic #2: Can’t look at it until Thursday.
What is it that has mechanics so backed up?

Note: all this time the car seems to be running fine.

I decide to head home when I remember that there is a Pep Boys with a service department nearby. Ok, last try. There they tell me that I would have to leave it there and they can take a look at it tomorrow morning. Fine. Perfect. When they find out it is a Daewoo, this brings on looks of concern. Mechanic conference call. While I stand there nervously awaiting the verdict, all I can hear is mumble, mumble, mumble. The guy I had talked to comes over and says that they don’t know whether their computer can communicate with the car’s computer. They can try, but even if they find out what is wrong, they might not be able to fix it because Daewoo parts are hard to find. So we work out the deal: I leave the car and they do the diagnostic, which costs $80. If they can’t find out what is wrong, they won’t charge me. I agree and leave the car. As I am leaving they tell me they might be able to look at it this evening, but I am pessimistic.

Now I have to get home, which is about four miles away. The weather is tropical and stormy. Not good walking weather. The bus depot is nearby, though, I know there are taxis there. The walk there is unpleasant because it is a desolate part of town and the weather was so muggy. I get there fine and make my way home. Barely. On the ride home the taxi driver decides to have an argument with his cell phone, and while messing with the buttons almost slams into a turning school bus.

Once at home, my wife and sat in our sultry living room fretting over the recent events. My wife is disappointed that her day of escape and retail therapy came to an end even before it began. I sit wondering how much this is going to cost us and how we are going to get through the next week without a car. We will have to rent one. But what can I do to cheer my wife up? I suggest taking a taxi to the mall, but the inclement weather and wife’s poor health lead us to decide against this.

The energy that I was exuding in the morning is long gone. I am drained, yet terribly anxious. I mope, my wife mopes, even the dog, who is still recovering from the stern “what did you do?” reprimands from earlier and probably sensing our current feelings, mopes.

In the midst of our self-wallowing the phone rings. It is Pep Boys. They ran the diagnostic and it said something like the alternate manifold vent exhaust something blah, blah, blah. Huh? What does that mean? Nothing serious. They can’t do anything, but it should not pose a problem. I arrange a ride from our neighbor back to Pet Boys to pick up the car. Once there the guy explains that sometimes certain emission cause the computer in the car to freak. The mechanic cleared the computer and the light did not go back on. Their computer also did not register any problem. So it was probably nothing. I was expecting to pay $80 for this, and while it is a lot of money, I would have been happy to pay it given the good news and the fact they looked at my car within a couple of hours. The guy said, sign here and there is no charge. What? No charge? Why, thank you.

PLUG FOR PEP BOYS. I will be returning there whenever I need car parts.

Ok, this post has gone on for way too long, so I will be brief. So I get home, convince my wife that we can still go to the mall. We go there and get all the things we wanted to get, including a skirt my wife saw in a magazine over a month ago, but the store that was supposed to sell it did not offer it online. My wife has been dying to get that skirt. The day ended well.

We did decide to get take-out because we were too exhausted to cook, and we did need a few margaritas this evening to put the remaining bits of adrenaline to bed.

If you’ve read all of this venting, I thank you for your attention and I wish you a great weekend. I will be busy doing the work on my dissertation that did not get done today.

Cheers. {Clinking margarita glass}

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Don’t tell the Department of Homeland Security…
…but our dog has a strange fascination with Oman. A while ago I think we were watching the opening of the Olympic games where the athletes march into the stadium according to their nationalities, holding the flag of their respective countries. Being the weirdo that I am, I was reading out the countries’ names as they marched in. When I called out “Oman!” the dog, who up until then had been sleeping, jumped up with a burst of unbridled enthusiasm as though I had said one of his most favorite words: walk, beach, or treat. Since then if we say the word, he still gets excited and does his puppy dance. I am not quite sure why he wants to go there…
Squirrel Update
The landlord finally got around to plugging the hole in our attic yesterday (after two postponements). He said he filled the hole with cement and covered the area with a steel plate. That should keep those buggers out.

It did make for an exciting day today. At 6:00 this morning, from somewhere in the depths of my slumber, I hear a plucking noise. I wake up to see a squirrel lying on the skylight window we have. I get up and chase it away. I tried going back to bed, only to be awoken by the pitter-patter of squirrel feet on our gutters. All day today they have been running around the gutters, along the roof, and on the skylight. Needless to say, this drove our dog nuts as he ran from staring up at the skylight to the window on the other side of our apartment.

I figure all the commotion was because they sensed the storm coming (we will only get hit marginally by Isabel, but the wind has picked up) and they were freaking out because the door to their home was sealed shut.


I know that is mean, but they should go live in a tree; there are plenty of them around.
Technical Difficulties Update...

The scrolling problem seems to lie in the links in my sidebar, but I am not quite sure what it is. Take the links out, problems is gone. But I need my links...

The scrolling problems seems to be an issue only for a few people. So if you are one of the few and you want to scroll and can't, the only thing I can say is try the home-made solution for now: Hit reload and once the center text has loaded, hit stop. That will have to do until I can get Lux to tell me where you can get the pills that will solve the problem.

I will continue to look into it, but I won't be losing any sleep over it.
We are having technical difficulties, please excuse the inconvenience...
Someone pointed out that they cannot scroll down on this screen. I wasn't having any trouble with Mozilla, but when I tried it with IE, I couldn't scroll down either. I have tried taking things out of the side bar and at the end of the blog to see if that would fix the problem, but it hasn't.

Are any of you having troubles scrolling down? If so, what browser are you using?

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this?

A quick solution for those of you dying to scroll down is to hit reload and quickly afterward hit stop. The sidebar won't load but you can scroll down.

I'll keep working on this.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Funny Dog

Ok, now for something light-hearted since my previous two posts were rather depressing.

Today my wife and I were sitting in my office discussing film characters that have mental illnesses. During this conversation our dog was laying on the floor next to us, seemingly sleeping. I mentioned that I thought most of these characters seemed to be men. My wife replied that there have been many instances where there have been females. I asked her to give some examples. In her list, she mentioned “The woman who boiled the rabbit.” As soon as those words left her mouth our dog’s tail started wagging vigorously, although he nonchalantly remained stretched out on the floor. Yes, it was almost dinnertime and while bunny soup seemed to be an appetizing menu choice for him, it was important for him to continue to look cool and not jump around like an uncontrollable puppy.

Alas he got Science Diet kibble like every other evening.

Poor dog.

We got a laugh from it though. It reminds me of that Far-Side cartoon: “Why dogs can’t play poker.”
What kind of world do we live in?
For this academic year I volunteered to be a mentor for an incoming first year student. We had our orientation meeting today where the program organizers explained how the program works and what is expected from us the mentors. The meeting ended with a list of things we are not to do. Among these:

Do not provide the student alcohol.
Do not supply drugs to the student.
Do not request money from the student.
Do not have sexual relations or activities with the student.

One of the mentors asked what kind of liability we have should a student hurt himself or herself when we are doing something with them. The organizers said that the students were signing release forms, but in reality these have very little validity and if the parents wanted to they could sue us.

This is the reality we live in: a world that is dictated by abuse and litigation, even when you try to help someone out.
Mail from California
Even though I am in school here in Rhode Island, I am still registered to vote in California. I also have a California driver’s license [the reason behind this should be separate post, but I can summarize it in two words DMV nightmare - ok, I am not sure if DMV counts as one word, but I don't care].

Today I got mail from California.

Envelope number one was my driver’s license renewal. As I pulled out my spiffy new license, the first thing my wife said, “Now everyone will think you are an illegal alien!” Oh no!

Envolope number two was my application for an absentee ballot for the recall election. It includes a sample ballot with the ludicrous list of all 180 something candidates. While I was looking it over, reading names such as Robert C. Newman II (Psychologist/Farmer), Mary “Mary Carey” Cook (Adult Film Actress), William “Bill” S. Chambers (Railroad Switchman/Brakeman), David Laughing Horse Robinson (Tribal Chairman), Kurt E. “Tachikaze” Rightmyer (Middleweight Sumo Wrestler), Daniel Watts (College Student), and Angelyne (Entertainer), I became rather upset. Many have claimed that this is an example of democracy in action, but I think this is a slap in the face of democracy and the governing institutions. It is an abuse of a system that was supposed to guarantee the rights of voters in the face of criminal action by a leader. While Gray Davis might be unpopular, he has done nothing wrong or criminal. I am also appalled at all the people with “celebrity” names (or those that have names that resemble those of politicians or celebrities) who got on the ballot. These include Jack Grisham, S. Issa (similar to Daryl Issa – the original recall organizer), D.E. Kessinger, Edward Kennedy, Robert “Butch” Dole, Dan Feinstein (similar to Dianne Feinstein), Michael Jackson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh no, that last one is not a clown trying to cash in on his name resembling a celebrity, it's just a clown trying to cash in on his being a celebrity.

Please excuse this tirade, it just angers and upsets me that at a time when funding for schools, for health care (especially mental health), for elderly care, for the environment, and for many other things is being cut, the citizens of California have to pay for this carnival of fools.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Fortune Cookie Wisdom [Courtesy Gourmet House, Providence]:

"Don't expect romantic attachments to be strictly logical or rational!"

[Kinda knew that already - I *am* married after all. However, that's what makes it all so fun!].
Fodder for a Hypocondriac:
How's this for bad timing? I wrote earlier that I have not been feeling well and I just got this email:

To All Faculty, Staff and Graduate Students:

On Monday, September 15, a university student was diagnosed with bacterial
meningitis. Although we do not yet have results of further tests, it is
possible this could be a case of meningococcal meningitis, a serious
bacterial infection. The student is in the hospital and doing well. As
a precaution, Health Services is individually notifying all close
contacts and roommates of this student and providing preventative
treatment. We are providing preventative treatment to a wider circle of
contacts than recommended by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

While I doubt I have menigitis or any of the stupid mosquito-borne illnesses (the symptoms aren't right), news such as this does not make me feel better. Especially when I am not sure what is wrong with me.

Haloscan is out...you get what you pay for.
Bad Blah Bug...
Been feeling icky. My wife and I were at Staples the other day looking at desk chairs for her. I was sitting in one, trying it out. When I got up, I suddenly felt dizzy, as you do sometimes when you get up to fast. But this did not go away. After a day or so the dizziness waned and was replaced by a headache. Now the headache is gone but the dizziness is back. I can't figure out what it is. Maybe an allergy? Hard to be productive under these circumstances...

Monday, September 15, 2003

It is a matter of class…

My wife and I don’t have much money, but we do have a lot of class. We might not be able to afford the highest and latest fashion, but we know how to look good with what we can afford. We also know how to behave in distinguished establishments. I was rather appalled the other night during our romantic dinner with the behavior of some of the people around me in what is a fine restaurant in Providence. One woman, probably in her fifties, sitting behind my wife, turned to her husband and yelled to him quite loudly, “Do you have a vagina? Do you have estrogen?” It was quite obvious that she had had a few too many drinks. With them was a young couple, one of the two probably being the older couple’s child. At one point, the young couple got up and left the restaurant only to come back with iced coffee and some donut holes from the Dunkin Donuts down the street. It was obvious from the clothes they were wearing, the expensive bottle of wine they ordered, and the SUV they drove off in that they had a lot of money. Too bad they lacked the class to go along with it.
What is it with the British and Squirrel Videos?

In honor of Sara's squirrel video and Scott getting stuck in his car and having to climb out his window I present you with The Duel [it starts slow, but it gets better, I promise].

*Correction* - Scott has contacted me and pointed out that he only thought about climbing out his window while he was stuck in his car. I sincerely apologize for this misrepresentation and I hope that Scott was not too terribly inconvenienced by it.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Nothing in this world…

Our date last night was magically romantic.

There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing my wife emerge from our bedroom dressed up and looking as beautiful as ever for our special night out.

There is nothing more enchanting that gazing deeply into my wife’s eyes across the dinner table, only to have her blink, grin, and shyly look away.

There is nothing more lovely than feeling her hand gently take mine as we wait in the warm and moist evening drizzle for the valet to bring our car.

There is nothing more sensuous than kissing the delicate L between her neck and her shoulder.

There is nothing more reassuring than feeling her close to me as we snuggle together.

There is nothing in this world that I love more than my wife.

We have something incredibly special and it is important to reaffirm it by spending time together to highlight the reasons we fell in love in the first place.

I think I will ask her out again.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Wonderful evening, even more wonderful wife....
Date tonight...

We are going here. More later...

Friday, September 12, 2003

Ok, I analyzed my dog's name and got a fairly accurate analysis as well:

Brief Analysis [with Xolo's commentary]:
Your name causes you to place considerable importance upon the material aspect of life. You have an eye for quality, desiring always the very best that money can buy, and you are not content with anything that is second best [but treats will do fine]. You are quick to size up others, and this appraisal is based upon their physical appearance, their clothes, and whether they have achieved material success and the standards of quality that you have set in your own mind. You have a keen business sense, knowing a lucrative proposition when it is presented [like a walk or a ride in the car], and it is likely others would come to you for business counsel. You are a capable leader and organizer who should never be in a subordinate position [he definitely does not like to be subordinate, and he hates getting humped - he is the Alpha Dog!]. You have the ability to organize and see the whole picture where any prospective business venture is concerned. It is a name, however, which almost destroys the finer, sensitive qualities that should be expressed. It makes spontaneous, natural expression difficult. Any physical weaknesses relative to this name would show in the generative organs [yep, the poor guy got neutered].
QOTD [courtesy of my Honest Tea bottle cap]:

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. - W. Churchill
From kabalarians:

This is scarily acurate [using my real name, unfortunately they did not have Xoloitzquintle in their database]...

Brief Analysis
Your name makes you dynamic, restless, independent, ready to accept challenges, and outspoken. You enjoy change, travel, and new experiences. Reacting against injustice, you go out of your way to assist in creating fairness. You are very creative and promotional, and work intensely to carry out your plans. Though you have limitless enthusiasm for new ventures, you lose interest quickly once things become routine, as you dislike being forced to attend to detail and do monotonous work. Your lack of patience and consistency in your affairs and your tendency to act impulsively can lead to actions you later regret taking, or to accidents, particularly to the head. You find that you often do the hard, pioneering work in an undertaking, only to see others reap the benefits. While this name makes you very honest and sincere in your personal relationships, your tendency to retaliate with caustic remarks over even slight offenses could spoil many friendships.
Health Weaknesses for your name:
You are prone to suffer moods of depression, and physical and mental tension which could have a serious affect upon the nervous system, causing stomach ulcers. Health weaknesses could also affect the eyes, ears, sinuses, or result in loss of hair.
Hee hee, did you hear what he said?

Brazilian soccer players usually pick a one-word playing pseudonym because their real names are usually long and complex. For example, Edson Arantes do Nascimento is commonly known as Pele and Ronaldo Luiz Nazario De Lima is known as Ronaldo (ok, so he just picked his first name but most make up a name). The new young and emerging star in Brazil is Ricardo Izecson Santos Leite who has picked Kaká as his nickname. I am not quite sure why. It makes for some funny soccer commentary, especially on Spanish language broadcasting (which is already entertaining in itself).

Let me illustrate. A few weeks ago I was watching Brazil play on Univision and the commentator in describing the action exclaimed “Sale Kaká!” which means that Kaká went on the attack with the ball, but literally sounds like Kaká comes out. In a different incident, the Univision news was summarizing the South American qualifying matches. Brazil beat Colombia 2 to 1 with Kaká scoring the second goal. It was described as follows “Con Kaká haciendo el numero dos” (with Kaká doing the number two). It did not seem like they realized that what they were saying sounded pretty silly. Hee-hee...

Or maybe it is that sometimes my sense of humor belongs in an elementary school…whatever, I thought it was funny! :)

Thursday, September 11, 2003


Wednesday, September 10, 2003


The past couple of weeks have been hectic and the pressures of the dissertation, the future, and life continue to mount. My wife and I need a break from this, so I asked her out on a date Saturday evening. She said YES!!! All right!

I am so excited, I can't wait! The plans are in the works.
More Political Ranting:

Arnold QOTD: "I saw this toilet bowl. How many times do you get away with this — to take a woman, grab her upside down, and bury her face in a toilet bowl? I wanted to have something floating there ... The thing is, you can do it, because in the end, I didn't do it to a woman — she's a machine! We could get away with it without being crucified by who-knows-what group." -describing a scene in "Terminator 3"

During the Presidential Election campaign of 2000, Will Ferrell did a parody of what the US would be like in a few years if George W. Bush won the election. It showed Bush giving a television address from the Oval Office. On his desk there was a little hibachi that was smoking. Behind him there was a map of the US that showed the country in disarray, including the Great Lakes that were on fire. Ferrell played Bush as being confused and dimwitted. It was hillarious at the time. Little did I know that, sadly, the parody was actually prophetic. Just think of all the country has gone through in the past three years: attacks, war, increasing pollution, blackouts, recession, the list goes on and on. I miss the days when our biggest concern was who was fooling around with whom in the White House.

In the Alabama, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore commenting on his not removing the Ten Commandment monument in the courthouse stated, "I am accountable to God before I am accountable to the law." How is this guy different from the Taliban in Afghanistan? Hello, first amendment? We live in a democracy, not a theocracy.

Ok, I will stop. Enough aggravation for one day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Starving Graduate Students:
Offer graduate students free food and you will get a crowd. In fact, the welcome back dinner with the deans had a better turn out than the grad student happy hour where there is free alcohol. That is something I find rather surprising. Of course, there weren't many archaeologists at the dinner, they were probably out drinking somewhere. And they did well because the food, if you can call it that, was not good. So tonight there will definitely be some late night snacking in this household.

I did get some good info at the events, so the afternoon and evening was not a complete waste. There will be some interesting former heads of state giving talks on campus this fall. Of course this means more distractions from the dissertation, but, hey, you need to take these opportunities when you have them.
You know it's going to be one of those days...

...when you hear the pitter-patter of squirrel feet in the attic early in the morning when you are trying to enjoy your coffee. This calls for immediate attention because it drives the dog nuts. So up in the attic I go, still not quite awake, with a flashlight to chase them out. Indeed they burrowed a hole right next to the old one that our landlord covered up last spring. Looking around I saw him (her?) sitting in the corner. I found a piece of wood to coax her (him?) out through the opening. I tried sticking the wood in the hole, but I know from experience that will not work for long. I climbed back down from the attic to find the dog making a fuss at the window. Our furry friend was on the gutter just above our window. I grabbed a broom, opened the window, and *suggested* to the bushy rodent to go somewhere else. She (he? it?) is gone for now, but will be back soon. I know. Time to call the landlord again. He needs to cover that hole soon before all the furry friends in the neighborhood crash the party in our attic. Man, I hate those critters!

Now I am trying (unsuccessfully) to get some work done before I have to run off to campus this afternoon for more of those "It's a new school year!" events. The plus side is that there will be more free food, although I am already tiring of campus produced meals. How did I survive in college? Oh yeah, ordering pizza and running off campus with my friends to hole-in-the-wall "ethnic" restaurants.

ok, back to work buddy....

Monday, September 08, 2003

Future Plans:

My mother just sent me a CD-ROM with pictures she took when her and my stepfather traveled through Mediterranean Europe last April and May. Note to self: Need to plan a trip to Spain and Portugal. Wow do those places look amazing! Must visit Granada, Barcelona, and Lisbon. Gibraltar looked pretty cool as well. The architecture seems to be the big draw at most of these places. I have always admired Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona, but my mom's pictures make me want to hop on the next plane to see them. And the moorish architecture in Granada left me in awe.

Of course, who knows when I will get there. And there are so many other places I want to go. Can one be a professional tourist?

I do have some travel plans in the near future, so life is not completely hopeless. Next month is Puerto Rico, and Chicago in November. If anyone has suggestions for things to see, places to eat, etc., please share them.
Political Thoughts:

How informative and reassuring was Bush's speech last night? I don't know both my wife and I fell asleep while he was gushing rhetoric.

Arnold, in reacting to Davis off-hand comment that someone should not be governor of a state whose name he cannot pronounce, replied, "Lost jobs is a word Davis does not like. Another word he does not like is energy crisis." While I think Davis' comment was not appropriate because I don't think we should make fun of people on the way they speak, maybe Arnold should also learn English better, seeing that he is advocating making it the official language. In English we don't compound two nouns into one like in German.

In reading Stanton's book about Buddy - the mayor of Providence, it becomes even more clear to me how screwed up, corrupt, and nepotistic politics are in Rhode Island.

Enough cynicism for one day...

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Department Cookout:
Friday evening's event was actually quite nice. It was nice seeing everyone again and meeting some of the new arrivals. The food was actually quite good, an eclectic mix of Cuban, Indian, and Southeast Asian dishes, mostly vegetarian. It was an appealing change from the usual burger fare found at these events. Unfortunately that was not the only buffet there. All of the people present offered a quite delicious smorgasbord for the ubiquitous mosquitoes. We were bit often and even through our clothing. It has made for an itchy and unpleasant weekend. I will refrain from further mosquito laments at this point.

Mosquitoes are not my only bane. Over the past year we have made battle with squirrels on numerous occasions. They invaded our attic, they taunt our dog through the window, and there used to be a mangy, gimpy, evil one that lived in our garbage can behind our house. We named that one "Pet Cemetery Squirrel." Haven't seen him around lately, though. I used to think they were cute, but now I realize that they are just rats with bushy tails. And I am not the only one who thinks they are evil, nutty, and ratty. We seemed free from them for a while, but I suspect they are making another run at our attic and they are definitely taunting our dog from the tree branches that abut our windows. I am tempted to buy a SuperSoaker™ water gun and blast them off the branches. So much for my peaceful nature. If only our dog could climb trees, they would be in serious trouble.

Quick Immigration Updates:
Things do not look good for my Guatemalan and Syrian *friends*. The Syrian gentleman was arrested last week and it looks like he might get deported to Syria (where he faces retribution) soon. The Guatemalan, also imprisoned, might not be able to make his appeal. Again, these are people that helped our communities. May I ask where Kenneth Lay (AKA Mr. Enron) is? Something is wrong here.

Productivity Zero:
Progress on my chapter is stalled. That needs to change today!

Go Andy Rodick! I like the way he plays. I hope he finally wins a big event today.

The Red Sox are making a run at the Yankees. Go Sox! I am not a big baseball fan, but I hate the Yankees!

European Cup qualifiers in soccer are underway. Not that most people in this country care.

After today we will have the Pats to talk about. They play Buffalo today.


My dissertation is calling. So is the dog. I need to be productive today, but the weather is fabulous and a walk with the dog along the Providence River is also in order. Ok now, where are my priorities? Hmmm….

Saturday, September 06, 2003

As all you Blogger users and Blogspot related blog-readers are probably well aware, Blogger has been having difficulties as of late, including its own version of a Blackout.

I had stuff to say earlier but now I have lost my inspiration. Maybe I will garner some up for tomorrow...I guess I am having my own difficulties.

Not to leave you empty-handed, here is yet another episode of

100 Things About Me (Episode 12):

88. I used to stay up all night just to see the sunrise.

89. Now I find it hard to stay awake past 1 am.

90. I want to learn how to scuba dive.

91. I have crossed the Equator on a ship.

92. I am shy.

93. Blue is my favorite color.

Now I am off to see what kind of trouble I can get into...definitely not going to work on my dissertation. Bad me, bad me...

Thursday, September 04, 2003

"Optional" Social Events:

I recently wrote that the semester started this week, but not much changed for me because I still have to write my dissertation. That was not quite right. The beginning of the semester comes with a host of events and activities that *demand* one's attendance. Of course, none of there events are really required, but it behoves one to be present at them and be seen by the powers that be.

Tonight's event was the Minority Graduate Student Association's Welcome Back Dinner. Tomorrow is my department's Welcome Back cookout. Next week there is the International Studies Center's welcome back reception, the Welcome Back dinner with the deans, the Orientation Lunch for the Minority Mentor program, and who knows what else. In addition there are lectures, seminars, film showings, brown-bags, and on and on. Don't get me wrong. A lot of these things are what I love about being in an academic environment. But in addition to this blogging thing, it sucks up the time I should be using to write my dissertation. All the key words and cliches come to mind:

Strike a balance.
Just say no.
Use your time efficiently.

These things are easy to spew, but hard to put into practice. In the end, it will be ok. Really. It just dawned on me that the beginning of the semester does bring change to the way I live and the things that I have to do. In someways there are benefits. For example, I did not have to cook dinner tonight (which is a good thing now that I am on a different grant that has a significantly smaller stipend). It was institutional food, but when you are poor you cannot be too picky.

The cookout tomorrow should be fun. It will be nice to see the people from the department and get caught up. It is also nice meeting the incoming students and hear about their interests. I think it will also be a reminder that my time in grad school needs to come to an end. It is time to move on. But where...? That remains to be seen....

Again, stay tuned....
Ok, I feel like I am spending WAY too much time on this blog and reading other people's (and not on my dissertation). So I took another quiz [via Claudia - yes I have to pass the blame], instead of working on the chapter I am hoping to finish soon...

And the results are in:

6.25 %

My weblog owns 6.25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

And according to this, I am not doing too bad. But I know that I need to spend more time working on my dissertation or there will be big trouble....

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Fall Preview-

Now that the days are getting shorter (and before long we will have to leave the glorious daylight-savings time to return to that wretched standard time - Indiana, Arizona, and Hawaii excepted), the weather is taking a turn for the worse, the long-promised insects are making a full-scale assault, and a general malaise is coming over our collective conscience, I offer you a sneak-peak of upcoming highlights to keep your spirits bright:

1. The final episodes of 100 Things About Me.
2. The revelation of what exactly does the name of this blog mean (which is not too hard to find out - Google it), and why I chose it (which is more of a mystery).
3. An exposé of my dissertation topic.
4. The riveting tale of when my father was kidnapped.
5. And much, much more....

So stay tuned...
Completely Gross yet Disturbingly Satisfying...

The mosquito assault continues. Why is it that these insects waited until now to invade my office?

In any case, I just killed one of them. Let me ask, do you get a sense of vengeful satisfaction when you squash a mosquito and you find a miniscule bloody mess? I know it is gross, but it does feel good because in all likelihood the blood is mine. So I am just taking back what was once mine. Or the blood could be my wife's or even my dog's, so I am finding justice for my family. Or ... there is the chance that it could be some complete stranger's. Yuck! Good thing I washed my hands.

Nevertheless, I still feel disturbingly satisfied. Stupid insect!
100 Things About Me (Episode 11):

85. I practice tai chi and yoga.

86. I once coached a youth soccer team (ages 5-8) where by chance every child had some form of disability. We still made the playoffs.

87. I have tremendous respect and admiration for my mother.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Back to School!

Today is the first day of the fall semester. For me nothing has changed. My dissertation is still waiting to be written. Blah...
Where did Summer Go?

It's cold and rainy today. Fall arrived without any warning.

Can't we have a stretch of time where it is sunny, warm, and dry? Is that too much to ask?

The days are getting shorter too. I don't like that either.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Evil Mosquitos:

Earlier this year I read that this summer was going to be hellish for mosquitos because of the wet spring we had. For someone who is a mosquito magnet, this was not good news. The summer went by without any major trouble, a bite here, a bite there - quite to my surprise. Until tonight...

Those mosquitos are out with a vengence. I have killed several over the course of the evening. Earlier tonight as I was cutting some basil on our porch for dinner, I got three bites on my legs. And just right now one bit me on the forehead. Damn insects! It doesn't help that the news this morning said to not be alarmed if you find dead birds in your yard or street: West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are at their peak right now. Yeah, right...don't be alarmed with all these stupid bites and dead birds! And they itch like the dickens to boot...
100 Things About Me (Episode 10):

79. I would like to learn Romanian, Catalan, and an indigenous language of Mexico such as Nahuatl.

80. I always take my swimsuit when I travel, you never know when you will get the chance to go for a swim.

81. When I was in the third grade, I was the bugle boy at my school.

82. I prefer extreme cold to extreme heat.

83. Playing rugby wrecked my knees, but I had fun.

84. I wear both boxers and briefs (it depends on what I am wearing and the season). When it is really cold, I wear long underwear (even though my wife laughs at me).
Buying Condoms

My wife recently went off her birth control. This meant that I had to go to the drugstore to buy, um, er, ah....condoms (I even have trouble writing it here). I don't know what it is that makes me so uneasy going out to buy these things. Maybe it is my prudish upbringing in Mexico or perhaps it is the result of the Victorianesque British education. I have no problem buying other, how would you say, uncomfortable items. When my wife needs pads or tampons, I have no problem picking some up on my trip to the grocery store. Athlete's foot ointment - no sweat (sorry about the bad pun). But condoms....

It makes me feel like the whole store is staring down on me. The whole world scrutinizing my sex life...

So I went out to buy some the other day. I got to the section where they sell them and I wandered around to make sure no one else is in the aisle before I turned to examine the choices. The variety was limitless: thin, extra-strenth, extra-sensitive, textured, ribbed, studded, feminine pleasure, X-large, snug (euphamism for small), lubricated, spermicide, flavored, and some downright twisted stuff. My wife had been clear that she did not want spermicide, but beyond that there was no guidance....Yikes! I grabbed a box, found something else to buy (mostly to hide the box of condoms under) and ran to the cashier. When I got home my wife pointed out that I had bought the kind with desensitizing luibricant. "You definitely don't want that!" she exclaimed. Now I had to go back. Oh no! Luckily she volunteered to go with me. Although I could not bring myself about to return some condoms, nor go back to the same drugstore. So we went somewhere else and got the right kind.

My wife cannot undertand why I get so flustered. Honestly, I don't either. It's just one of those things...