Friday, December 31, 2004

So here we are at the end of another year. 2004 is in the bucket.

I have never been into New Year's. I just don't believe in arbitrarily creating a beginning and end to something. Why stop on this particular day to think about all the crap (and the occasional good thing) that has happened in the past year? It is also a day in which you are supposed to outline your shortcomings and make an effort to change them starting tomorrow. I really don't need to mutilate my self-esteem in that way.

That said, let me wish you all a good new year. May tomorrow arbitrarily mark the beginning of better things and dreams coming true (as if I would not wish that on you any other day).

---------

In other news, Sara leaves for Chile tomorrow. :-(

I am really excited for her, although I wish I could go with her. I am going to miss her terribly.

I get to hang around in here in Boston for a couple of days before heading out to San Diego on Monday. I was looking forward to getting some sun and not wearing a coat, but it seems like all it seems to be doing down there right now is rain. It is one of THOSE years.

Be good!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

If you celebrate it, let me wish you a Merry Christmas, Joyful Kwanza, Solemn Solstice.

Sara and I are not much into the holidays. We get each other some random gifts, but mostly we try to avoid the crowds and find something to do on the days when everything is closed.

When we lived in Providence, we used to go to an Indian restaraunt that is somewhat innovative. I always would get duck with tamarind, figs, and hazelnuts. Yum. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

We debated driving down to Providence today to keep up our "tradition", but we have been down in Providence twice over the past week and we just don't feel like driving down again. We looked around for a new place to go to around here, but really did not find anything. So we are going to cook here.

I have been remembering nostalgically some of the traditional things I used to have during the Christmas season in Mexico: tamales, atole, cafe de olla, and pozole. So we decided to make enchiladas today - New Mexico style (where Sara is from). The best enchiladas are not rolled, but served flat and stacked and topped with a fried egg. In New Mexico, the ongoing debate is whether enchiladas should be topped with Green or Red chile sauce. The compromise is to have them 'Christmas" style: with both chiles, half and half. It seems appropriate to have them that way today.

We are also going to see the Motorcyle Diaries. Also appropriate because Sara is going to Chile in a week.

I hope Santa (or Madman Winter as I call him) brought you all everything you wanted.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Posting is sparse because I have better things to do...

Being in Boston has been wonderful despite the bitter cold weather, bad drivers, horrible traffic, and short hours of sunlight. Can you guess why?

I had a phone interview last week. Yay. I think it went as well as could be expected given that I was talking to eight people at once through a speaker phone. Talk about awkward and confusing...

We are looking to get a new car - the old-defunct-brand car is just too much of hassle. If all works out, Sara will be driving a hybrid soon. Yes, it is cool and environmentally friendly too.

I think I can see a ghost hanging out by the house across the street.

We have attended too many Christmas - er, Holiday Parties.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The troubles of modern day technology.

I was going to post about my drive to San Diego when I got to my mother's house, but I could not remember my Blogger username. You see, on my computer at home I have it set up so it automatically logs me in. I tried every username I have been known to use without success. I then tried to have it sent to me, but I could not remember which email address I used either.

It dawned upon me that I have too many damn usernames and email addresses.

After fussing with it for much too long, I gave up and walked away. No posting about the drive.

Now I am in Boston. I fussed with it some more, then I remembered that I have yet a different email address and low and behold, it worked! So here I am back in cyberworld again and back in New England.

And damn, is it cold here! Yesterday I did not even go outside. Today I will venture out...well bundled.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The semester is over! I collected the papers based on projects the students have been working on. Grades are not due until the 23rd so I can take my time grading them. I got some good feedback about the course, so I feel fulfilled. Now I can really start thinking about next semester's course.

I am not sure if my relationship with contacts is working out or not. I have not worn them all that much. The air has been very dry here, so it makes wearing them all the more uncomfortable. I did wear them to yoga yesterday with mixed reviews. I loved not having clunky glasses flipping around on my face as I moved from one pose to another. However, my contact for the eye that has the flat cornea is weighted so that it moves into a specific alignment. This meant that when I was in a pose where my head was inverted, the contact would start to rotate in my eye. Then it would rotate back as I brought my head upright. Maybe I will get used to having something in my eye moving around, but I am definitely not there yet.

I wore them today to the barber. I am so used to not paying attention when I am getting my haircut, it was somewhat startling to look up and see what was going on. I guess that was pretty cool. Oh, another cool episode involving contacts. I was waiting for a prescription to be filled today. As I sat looking around I completely overlooked the large rotating rack of sunglasses. Then it suddenly dawned on me that I could actually try them on (and see what I looked like). I am definitely going to get some sunglasses soon.

Ok, that's it for the contact lenses stories.

I am avoiding packing...actually, I am also waiting on some laundry. The dog is freaking out about me packing, although I think the stress has finally gotten to him as he is passed out on the floor next to me. It has not hit him that this time he gets to come too. Oh, if I could only speak dog.

Well, boys and girls, this is going to be it for a while. I might post some from Boston, but for the next couple of days I will not be connected, so you are on your own. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves in the comments section below. Have a great weekend and stay out of trouble!

Take the internet away from an academic for a day and her/his world is rendered meaningless.

Yesterday the college's network went down. They had a blackout that broke a router...or something technical like that. In any case, we did not have internet access on campus for a whole day!

My office is in the social science building, so I can only attest to the impact it had there. Perhaps things were worse in the science building. Perhaps no one noticed in the humanities building. These things I do not know.

Personally, it was irritating and annoying not to be able to access information with a click of the mouse. I was working on some job applications and I wanted to look up information about the particular schools I was applying to. No dice. That had to wait. I had a long list of emails I needed to reply to. No dice there either. I did have a few students come in to talk about their term papers, so the day was not totally wasted. Oh yeah, I had to be in my office because I had office hours.

So after working on some cover letters and helping some students, I took to wandering the halls and observing the behavior of the other faculty. It was so amusing. They were wandering the halls not knowing what to do with themselves. A few gloated that they had already collected their term papers and they could spend the down time grading. Believe me, I will never gloat about being able to grade.

We are seriously addicted to the internet. We use it for work and we use it to procrastinate when we are at work.

Is it like that elsewhere? Of course, look who I am asking...no offense.

Today the system was up and running again - with some quirks, of course. They tell us what to do in case of a fire, earthquake, etc. But I think they need to come up with a plan for us for the next time the internet goes down on campus.

==========

In other news, I have two phone interviews for jobs. That's the good part. The bad part is that neither is in/near Boston. One is at Miami University (which is in Ohio - it is the name of the Native American tribe that lived in the area in case you were wondering if just some Floridian's got lost). That interview will probably take place in January. The other one is at the University of Redlands. They wanted to interview me on Monday, but I will be driving to San Diego that day. Ironically, I will actually be driving right past Redlands on Monday. Fortunately, they were able to do it on Wednesday, so I will do it from Boston.

So yeah, I am busting out of here on Saturday. The plans is to drive down to San Diego (which I will do in 3 days because it will just be me and the dog driving) and then on Tuesday I board a plane bound for Boston. This time I get to stay there for three weeks! I know, Boston in December is nothing to write home about, but it is not about the place rather it is about the company.

I am pretty eager to get out of here and see Sara. I hate packing, though, and I really have not started. That is tomorrow's project, along with laundry, haircut, and giving the dog a bath (he needs to smell good if he is going to sit in the car with me for three days!).

I should quit my online babbling and go do something productive.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

It is that time of year...the one where you try to take the easy way out and you still end up spending more time on something than if you just did the "not easy way out thing".

That probably makes no sense. I'll try to explain. Because I am wading through grading and other end of semester chaos, I am feeling particularly burnt out and lethargic. Instead of writing something, I thought I would just point out the fact that my stat counter has gone past the 10k mark. I think I said something like, "Wow! That's a lot of visits, thank you everyone for stopping by (and leaving a comment every now and then)." Then I would do something that I have never done here before - write down a poem, which I did. But then blogger ate up my post and swallowed it down to that place where many cleaver and intelligent posts end up when Blogger decides to sabbotage them.

I know, I know, I should have saved it. I even thought of it. But I didn't. So sue me...

Before I get any crankier, I will go to the efforts of writing the poem again.
The Mexican Sangwitch

Is it a tortilla with peanut butter and jelly,
or jalapeños piled on Wonder Bread?
Is it a coney made with tortillas,
or a Kaiser roll smothered
with salchichas y salsa mayonesa?
Is it chorizo con huevo on whole wheat,
or refried beans on white bread?
Is it the patron saint of botanas,
or a Mexican who can only speak English?
Is the same as an American Taco?
Is it a Mexican playing tic-tac-toe?
Is it carne asada on rye,
or guacamole on toast?
Do you really want to know why?
Is it me inside of you,
or you wrapped around me?
Is it a güera dancing with two Mexicans,
or two gringos putting the moves on my sister?
Is it a super sandwich, with the official
ingredients labeled: HECHO EN MEXICO!
Is it a plain sandwich
made by authentic Mexican hands?
Is it true Juan de la Raza invented it?
Is it a moot question?
Are you a lawyer or a poet?
Does the judge really care?

Detroit 7/1990


I wish I could claim the credit for such brilliance, but the honor goes to Trinidad Sánchez, Jr.

Let's see if this works on this second try. I am saving it this time, though!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

After some wonderful time with Sara and a quick and hectic visit by my family, I had to return to my duties at the college. Things had piled up and we are now into the busiest time of the semester. Now you understand why I have been scarce around these parts.

There is a lot going through this feeble head of mine that I would love to get down here, but I just haven't found the time nor the energy to do it. I do want to mention the fascinating discussion over at The Daily Texican recently on the term Naco that is used in Mexico. Apparently it is also used in the US by Chicana/os and Mexican-Americans, but I have never heard it used here. I have toyed with the idea of doing research on the term and its use in Mexico City. Perhaps later I will develop my thoughts in this forum and elicit some responses.

This week I also took my class to the Washington State Penitentiary on a fieldtrip. I have a lot of thoughts on the visit that I would like to explore here.

For now I must return to my grading and preparations for my upcoming drive to San Diego and subsequent flight to Boston.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sara left to go back to Boston this morning and I already miss her very much.

I am sad and I don't feel like writing much.

The carpet here keeps taking a beating thanks to the dog(s), but more on that later.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it.

Two more weeks and I am back to Boston to be with my sweetie! Yay!

Monday, November 22, 2004

I am back, but Sara is here. So my time is devoted to her [she is napping right now, so I am doing some computer/email sorting].

The trip? Fantastic. More about it later.

Short story:
We took the dog for a walk today on a trail where people also ride horses. When we were not looking, the dog started eating some horse poop. I know, yuck! It's the first time he has done this - and he has been exposed to horse poop on many occasions.

When we got home, I gave him a greenie bone (a bone that brushes his teeth and freshens his breath). I was making some tea when I heard that horrible sound no dog owner ever wants to hear: blurp, blurp, blurp...hack. Yeah, the dog puked the greenie bone, some of his breakfast, and the nasty horse poop he had eaten all over the living room.

Fortunately I had just bought some carpet cleaner. It works fairly well. Although I am going to have to rent a carpet steam-cleaner and shampoo the carpets sometime.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'm leaving on a jet plane ... (actually, it is a prop plane - the only kind that flies here).

I can't believe I am traveling again today. While I am not looking forward to the air travel, the destination should be lovely.

I was supposed to go to a conference in San Francisco today, but the organizers moved it to Atlanta in December because of a labor dispute at the conference hotel. I was able to get refunds on my registration fee and my hotel deposit, but the airfare was non-refundable and the change fees were almost as much as the plane ticket itself. So I am flying to San Francisco.

Tonight I will visit with my sister who lives there. I finally get to meet her boyfriend of I don't know how many years. Then Sara arrives tomorrow. I am borrowing my sister's car and we will drive down the California coast. I will tell you more about it when I get back. Now I need to finish packing and head off to the airport.

Have a great weekend everyone (aren't you envious that mine starts today?)!

Addendum: I found out that the college will pay for my plane ticket since I was supposed to go to the conference and they were going to pay for that. YAY!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Rich and Powerful People

You would think that certain people who have loads of power and money could afford some basic products to help their public image. For example, why doesn't...
  • Condoleeza Rice get braces?
  • Dick Cheney get some laxitives?
  • Bill Gates get a better barber?
  • Donald Trump get a better hairpiece or some hair transplants?
  • George Bush get a speech therapist? Same goes for Ahnold...
  • The Red Sox get a shaman? Oh wait...they broke the curse this year. They must of secretly gotten a shaman. The Cubs should get one too.

Can you think of any others?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Adventures with Contact Lenses - Part I

I got my contacts on Friday.
Saturday, I managed to get them in my eyes in about 20 minutes.
Sunday, I cut the time to about ten minutes.

This morning I was going to get a haircut. I thought, Great! With my contacts I can now see how the haircut is going. I don't have to wait until the end when I get my glasses back to see the new hairstyle surprise. I gave myself half an hour to get my contacts in. The right side went in pretty easily. The fun began with the left side. I could not get the darned thing in. I pulled my top eyelid back, pushed the bottom eyelid down, wedged my eye open with my fingers. Nothing worked!! Meanwhile I was shedding eyelashes like a mangy dog and dropping the contact like it was a hot potato.

Finally, I got it in. Or did I? I closed my right eye to discover that I could not see through my left. The stupid contact was not in. Damn it! Where did it go? I searched all over the bathroom counter. No, it wasn't there. I looked on the floor without success. The trash where I threw the tissue I used to wipe my tears? I emptied out the small basket with an old toothpaste box, some tissues, and old razor blades. Not there. I looked at my eye, was it stuck under my eyelid? I could not see it.

Time was getting away from me and I had to get to my haircut appointment. So I took the right lense out of my eye and put it back in the case. As I did I thought I fel something in my left eye. I decided to probe way back under my top left eyelid, and low and behold, there was the missing contact. No time to fuss with it then, so back in the case it went and off I went (slowly - read the previous post) with bloodshot and teary eyes to get my haircut (which despite my near blindness during the process turned out ok).

Epilogue: After my haircut, I came back and gave the contacts another try. The right one went in easily again, and after a brutal struggle with the left one, I finally got that one in too. I am not sure if I will be able to deal with this everyday, though.
Misc.
  • Got a speeding ticket yesterday. I was going fast, I admit it. The reason? The highway was going from 4 lanes to 2 and I was trying to get by some slow traffic before then. I am sure a lot of people do that and that is why the cop sits where he was. It's the speed-limit from here on out, baby. So if I am late, you know why.
  • Before my ticket, I went shopping for films. I bought the aforementioned Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I also purchased Coffee and Cigarettes, which Sara and I watched together a when I was in Boston. It will be useful for some of the classes I teach. I don't know if I recommend it. I liked it, but it is very strange. And I acquired A Day without a Mexican. I heard about this film a few months ago and I have been eager to see it since then. I will post a review later on.
  • It's been too damn foggy around here. On Saturday I went up into the mountains to look for some sun. I found a few peeks. There was also some snow.
  • I definitely need to move closer to the Equator. Darkness by 4:30 is no good.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

After I watched Before Sunrise, it quickly became one of my favorite films. I saw it when it first came out in 1995 and I have not seen it again since then. The film is about two strangers, a French woman and an American man, who meet on a train. They both get off in Vienna and they share thoughts, affections, and past experiences during one 14-hour tryst. The film ends when the French woman boards a train. They agree to meet back in Vienna in six months without exchanging addresses, phone numbers, or anything.

The film touched the romantic side of me and it was an experience I could relate to. Having traveled alone through Europe while studying there both as an undergraduate and graduate student, I met many people. On occasion I met fascinating women with whom there was a romantic spark (this was before I met Sara, of course), but nothing ever came of these enounters. At most there were some nice dinners and interesting conversation. After these experiences, I would think to myself, "Wouldn't it be cool/romantic if...?" The film was the response to my musing...

Last night I watched the sequel, Before Sunset. The film jumps back into the lives of the two characters nine years later. It answers the question whether these two people met up again in Vienna and it explores what they have done with their lives. I loved this film too. It mutes the naive romanticism of the first film with the cynicism of the realities life throws at you. Yet it also rekindles the romance that lies in the souls of people.

While I don't relate to the direct experiences of the two characters anymore, I do share some of the realizations they discovered as they grew older.

The fact that I thoroughly enjoyed these two movies reveals the consistent struggle within me between the romantic, the pragmatist, and the cynic. I do not know if this makes me a balanced person or one that should be medicated...

Friday, November 12, 2004

After 17 years of wearing glasses, today on a whim while I was at the opthomologist I decided to get contact lenses.

I am not wearing them right now because I am too squeemish to stick them in my eyes. Just kidding. I am not wearing them because my eyes have been poked at enough today.

The process of getting them was not as routine as it usually is. It turns out that my right cornea is flat (I wonder if that would get you out of the draft just like flat feet). Yep, I have defective eyes...they were made in Mexico.

[When I was little there was state run propaganda in Mexico to generate confidence in people to buy Mexican products - which were inferior and rather shoddy thanks to protectionism. The slogan of the campaign was:

Lo que está hecho en México está bien hecho
.
I was hecho en México hence the abnormal cornea.]
.
In any case, the first pair of contacts they put on me did not fit correctly. I had to get a special pair to accommodate my flat cornea. This meant a lot of extra poking in my eyes.
.
It was almost miraculous, however, to be able to see clearly without the borders of my frames (and in my peripheral vision). It was also strange having two pieces of film in my eye. One eye adjusted well (the well-adjusted one?), but the other one complained the whole time (the rebelious one?).
.
I like my glasses, though. I don't think I will stop wearing them altogether. However, I need to get new ones as my eyesight has deteriorated even more sine the time I got this pair - oh, about five years ago.
.
I also found out that I have rather large pupils (it makes sense since I am a rather large guy). This meant that the doctor did not have to dilate my eyes during the exam. A good thing, I suppose. Also the pressure in my eyes (measured during my glaucoma test) is normal in the right eye (of course) and excellent in my left eye.
.
At some point I want to get the contacts that change your eye color. I think that would really throw people off. First, however, I am going to have to get over the squeemishness of sticking foreign bodies into my eyes.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

So after telling us that we need to supplement our diet with vitamin E to live healthy, now they are telling us that it will kill you sooner. In that spirit, let me tell you about a few things that are bad for your health:
  • Writing a dissertation.
  • Being very far away from your sweetie.
  • American politics.
  • Food.
  • Work.
  • Driving in Boston (and Rhode Island).
  • Following any advice that starts with "A new study suggests..."
  • Rugby.
  • Medical school (law school and grad school are also bad).
  • Unemployment.
  • Underemployment.

That's enough for today. Be healthy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Random Thoughts

I have too much to do!!!

That means I have less time to goof-off. Rats! That is what I do best.

And this jet-lag/time changes is killing me. I am in perpetual space-out mode.

[YAWN!]

It has gotten cold and foggy around here. I don't care for the damp, moist cold. It chills you to the bones. Brrrr...

Today I fought it off with some home-made vegetable soup (healthy too!) and a nice warm fire in the fireplace.

Ok, I am off to curl up under the covers. Maybe the dog will be let up onto the bed tonight...it's just much warmer that way!

Monday, November 08, 2004

I am back from Boston. But I am beri beri tiard...so I won't write much.

Had a lovely weekend with Sara.

Now I have to come back to reality...sorta.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Post-election therapies:
  • An hour and a half discussion with my students in class about the outcome, their fears, and their plans. The #1 concern? A return of the draft.
  • Satirical jokes: they are floating around the blogsphere - maps, magazine covers, etc.
  • Yoga...ahhhhh.
  • Brownies and Ben & Jerry's.
  • News avoidance. Although I had a peek today: some bits of good news. Specter is ready to use his position in the Judiciary committee to defend Roe v. Wade and Ashcroft is leaving.
  • Trip to Boston...where the Red Sox still are the winners of the World Series and my sweetie will confort me (truth be told we will comfort each other).

Back on Monday. Have a good weekend (put this past week out of your mind).

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Post election poll...

<---- Check it out.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Fuck...

There is so much to say about the election and the state of the nation, but I am still too pissed off/depressed/upset/stressed to deal.

Fuck, indeed.

It's over.

The Bush machine won again.

This country is so screwed. Unless you are an evangelical (hypocritical) Christian.

I am depressed.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

AAaarrrghhhh!!!!
I hate this! I was on an optimistic kick earlier, but now I am very pessimistic.
That map is just too damn red.
There are fishy things going on in Florida (again!) and in Ohio. Is the election being stolen again?
I finally broke out the cerveza. I wish I had tequila though.
It is going to be a long night.
Wha...?

Why are you here?

Go VOTE!!!!

If you already voted, go make sure all the people you know vote. And then make sure all the people they know vote.

Then come back tomorrow so we can all celebrate or cry together (if it is not decided that will be a different reason to cry).

Come on Everyone

Make sure you vote tomorrow! Even if you are in a strongly red or blue state.

And make sure that everyone you know votes. Remind them (as if they would forget). Pester them. Make them pester other people.

Let show everyone that the polls were very wrong.

Then it will be time to heal. Although if the red guy wins, we all know that won't happen. We have had four years to heal and a major event that brought us all together, but look at where we are today.

So go vote (for Kerry, of course - actually vote your conscience, even if it means voting for Bush, just make sure you vote).

Monday, November 01, 2004

New Poll

Check out the new poll. It will only be up today and tomorrow.

By the way, Autumn was by far the most popular season.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

FYI

If you don't know where to go to vote, look it up here.

Now you have one less excuse not to vote!

[link courtesy of Elenamary]

Friday, October 29, 2004

It is Friday night and here I am working away on job and grant applications.

The fun life of an untenured anthropologist.

I am bummed that we switch the time on Sunday. It is already getting dark at 6:00 pm, next week it will be 5:00. I need to move closer to the equator. I need my daily dose of sunlight, ten hours at the very least.

I also started using the fireplace in the living room. It is cool having a fireplace that works. The dog likes it too. Curling up in front of it is his favorite evening activity.

My brain is done for the day. I have been looking at my CV too long, writing too many cover letters, fussing excessively over research proposals. I will probably go let my brain decompose in front of the television for a while before I finally let it fade into sleep.



Oh, I forgot to say:

GO SOX!!!
.
.
That was pretty cool, although pretty anti-climactic after the series with New York. Boston had waited long enough, I am happy they get a chance to party now.
Now if only the Cubs could win one.

It's official - the Anthro meetings will be in December in Atlanta. And they will be without me.

And for your information, the hotel in question was the Hilton. I for one will not stay at a Hilton again. I already had problems with knowing that my money (or the college's, since they are usually who pay for these conferences) was going to support the lavish lifestyles of two spoiled girls.

I also have problems with the leadership of our professional association. They really did not respond to the situation correctly. Unfortunately, at this stage of my career I need to remain a member, but I have thought of giving that up as well.

Sara and I now have two tickets for San Francisco that are not refundable (and will cost an arm and a leg to change). So we will just take a romantic vacation to someplace nearby: Napa, Mendocino, Santa Cruz? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ok, I am back.

I have been out of town for a conference and then I have been playing catch-up with all the issues that piled up on my desk while I was gone. I still should be doing other things rather than writing here.

The conference went well and the weather in upstate New York was cooperative. It was nice to see the autumn colors and even nicer to spend time with Sara. Getting there and back was a long journey, though. Now I am tired and jet-lagged.

There is a big crisis in the field of American Anthropology. We were to have our meetings in San Francisco next month. Unfortunately there has been an ongoing labor dispute at the hotel we were the meetings were to be held. First the workers had a strike and now they are locked out. Anthropologists, being the progressive bunch that we are, were not about to cross the picket line. Moving the meetings is a complicated matter because we are talking about 5000 people here. The pressures were that the association has a contract with the hotel for a butt-load of money; the union, however, were inflexible in their demand that the meetings be cancelled. The association sent out an email survey to figure out what to do: keep the meetings, cancel the meetings, or try to move the meetings to San Jose. The decision? Move the meetings to Atlanta in December. Huh? That was not one of the options on the survey.

This new option is problematic on many fronts including: 1. The week proposed is finals week for most of us. 2. Most of us have already made our travel plans, including non-refundable airline tickets.

The mayor of SF stepped in to ask for a cooling-off period by both sides. So there was hope that we might be back in SF. The union agreed, the hotel didn't. So we are back to square one.

What makes this more stressful is that Sara and I made visiting plans around this stupid meeting.

Ok. Venting over.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I am finally starting to feel better. Just in time for another trip.

This time I am heading to Clinton, NY for a conference. I will also get to see Sara because she is meeting me there. Yay. For her troubles, she gets a spa day while I attend the conference. I wonder if she will trade...probably not.

I have not gotten around to write about the fieldtrip I took my class on last Friday. The way things are going, I probably won't do it at all. So I will let you have a look on your own. I took them on the Pendleton Underground Tour. We are addressing issues of place, space, and culture, and how these are often politicized. It was good way to make these issues real and tangible. It was fun, even though I was not feeling well.

In other news, there are two more job applications thrown out into the wind.

Tonight I am roasting a chicken I picked up at a butcher that has free-range poultry and pasture fed meats. I brined it overnight and I stuffed it with lemon, garlic, and rosemary. We'll see how it turns out.

After that I have a fun-filled night of grading waiting for me. Woohoo!

As you may have noticed, I have not said much about the election. At this point I have nothing more to add. Saying anything here would just be preaching to the choir. I don't think I have any undecided or Bush-supporter readers. Unless there is a particular reason to warrant it, I will remain mum on the issue for here on out.

I am off to baste my bird!


Monday, October 18, 2004

My health has followed a path similar to the Red Sox. There was some hope, but I ended up getting pounded.

Stupid cold.

I am in the congested with copious amounts of mucus stage. Lovely, isn't it? I am just being forthright - it isn't a pretty picture here.

And I think this is only the preview. I think we are going to have a nasty flu going around this winter. Woohoo, I just can't wait...

There is much to tell, but I am just not in the mood. Plus there is a ton of work that is awaiting me. It has been neglected for quite a while now.

I hope you are all are healthier than me.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The gargled-razorblade throat is slowly fading away, but the illness is migrating up into my nose and sinuses. I am fighting it all the way. The outcome seems to be as close as the upcoming election.

I have been gulping down tea, juice, water, and any other liquid that happens to cross my path. I also have been ingesting massive doses of vitamin C and a steady stream of zinc. Yesterday I chomped on a Thai chile with the hope that it would scare away the germs. That sucker was deceptive: the bottom half was very mild and the top half was firey hot! It was a good way to clear out my sinuses. Maybe I will eat another one with lunch today.

I have so much to do, yet I seem to be in a fog. Today I am taking my class on another fieldtrip. More on that later.

I think I am going to try a power nap.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I am back from Boston.

And I am sick. My throat feels like I gargled with some razor blades.

At least I had a nice time with Sara.

More later.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I am slowly catching up with films I have wanted to see. I guess the recent kick I have been on has been films that address gender issues. Two in particular have stood out:

Both were fantastic. They are definitely going on my wishlist. The first one really brought back memories of my childhood in Mexico. Little rhymes such as "Sana, sana, colita de rana" and torturing saint figurines when things are not going your way (a little more incentive for the saint to help you out).

I think I can use these two films in classes I teach, although now I think it would be interesting to put together a course based on films. Not necessarily a film class, but where films are the means for illustrating ideas and fostering discussion.

I just need to get a job - a permanent one. I sent out four applications today. Several more are in the works. I hate writing cover letters and printing them out is a pain. I don't have a printer in my office, so I need to use the collective one for the floor. The problem is that it is on the other side of the building. The cover letters need to go on letterhead, so I need to walk all the way over to the printer, put the letterhead in, run back to my office to send the document, all the while hoping no one else on the floor sends a print job, and then go back to pick up the printed letter. Try that a couple of times in addition to walking over to pick up writing samples, CVs, and other documents and you would be kvetching too. Especially if you still had two huge blisters on your heels from your strenous hike the previous weekend. I ended up taking my shoes off and running back and forth in my socks. I am sure I will now be known as that weird prof that runs around the department in his socks. At least the socks I was wearing today did not have holes in them.

One last comment before I head off. In an email today, I offered to help a student brainstorm for ideas for a fundraiser he is organizing. In his reply he wrote:

"I defiantly want to brainstorm ideas with you..."

I am alamred on how rebelious the youth of today is. Ha ha!

Ok, so it is not that funny. Give me a break...I had a long day. And tomorrow is going to be longer...but then I get to run away to Boston. [SMILES]

Veep Debate

It was ugly. It did not make me want to vote (although I still will).

The moderator, Gwen Ifill, was horrible and her questions were poor.

The best and most insightful analysis came from Jessi Klein on cnn.com:

Garfield anyone?
Posted 9:00 p.m. ET
Even though they haven't spoken, just looking at them, I have finally realized who they are...Garfield and Nermal. Cheney is Garfield, the grumpy old fat cat who hates Mondays, and Edwards is the lesser known "Nermal," the obnoxiously too-cute, little kitten with long eyelashes that Garfield hates.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

This quiz was pretty funny...and right on [thanks Kristin].

fish tacos
You are Fish 'Tacos.' You might think you're
exotic and worldly-wise, but in reality you're
just a bunch of crap on toast. Repeat after
me: 'just because you put something in
quotation marks doesn't make it so.' And
'taco' isn't Spanish for 'toast.'


What Weight Watchers recipe card from 1974 are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


The result probably has something to do with my mixed cultural background.

Hmmm...I could go for some real fish tacos.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Escape II

Yesterday the dog and I went for a rather intense hike. We hiked from 2300 feet upt to 5800, in a fairly short distance. That is quite a steep grade. The weather was great - maybe a little too hazy for the views from the top.

After the hike we drove around some dirt roads in the mountains and kind of got lost. It was fun except for when we stopped for a bathroom brake (behind a tree, of course) and we were both startled by gunshots (luckily we just had emptied our bladders - so no mishaps). Yep, it is hunting season. I just don't get it. Let's go commune with nature by killing some wildlife. Needless to say, we were quickly back in the car and we got the heck out of there.

Today we are dealing with the fallout: the dog is pretty tired and I have two blisters, one on each heel. Can anyone tell me why blisters hurt so darn much?

Tonight I will have to limp over to campus for a lecture. One not to be missed: Yolanda King, daughter of MLK. I wonder if the power of oratory is genetic. I hope so.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Are you online this Friday evening because you have nothing better to do?

If you want something to truly engage your mind and imagination, grab a a good beer or glass of wine, head over to Oso's and read his belated September 11 post. I suggest putting on some good ambient music - I had on my just-purchased California Guitar Trio album, which was the perfect accompaniment. The post is less about the WTC tragedy and more about the web of human interaction that we are all part of. It is an introspection on how events and people can concurrently be ever so close and so distant. It is long, but indulgingly fascinating.

Of course, you can ignore my suggestion and continue to roam around cyberspace aimlessly...but I still recommend the beer/wine (unless you are a recovering alcoholic or need to drive somewhere in which case drink some lemonade or coffee)...

Juvenile Detention Center

What do those words bring to your mind? Troubled and trouble-making youth probably. Today I took my class on a tour of the local JJC (Juvenile Justice Center) as they call it here. It is a small place, but striking nonetheless. It is a place where every little action and activity is controlled and monitored. It is a place where there is a a constant paranoia of the adolescents committing suicide (and it is not a misplaced one). It is a place that simultaneously dishes out discipline and safety. It is a sad place. It is one of the two worlds these children live in. The other world, the world out here is one that has no structure and no rules...or at least not rules that they understand. The world out here is one of drug-addict parents, missing parents, abusive parents, and alcoholic parents. It is a world that would rather forget these children.

So back and forth they swing from this world to the one in there...until they grow old enough to be put away somewhere else, somewhere more permanent.

Some of these children spoke to us. One fourteen year-old, who has been a meth addict and in and out of this institution told us, "I hate this place, but it is a safe place. I don't like being in here, but things are okay when I am here." I asked her if she would like to have the safety she feels in there on the outside. "That would be ideal," she replied. "But there isn't." Why? Because when she gets out, she does not receive the support she needs to keep her clean, to keep her out of trouble, to heal the mental illness she undoubtedly has; she does not get it from her parents, from her family, from the community, nor from society. Why? She should not be our responsibility. She should take responsibility for her own actions. A fourteen year-old going on thirty five.

Another girl was only twelve...twelve! And she already has been in and out a few times. She was first put in for threatening her teacher. "I did not know I could be put in here for that. But they did!" The children are in upto 30 days. When they get out, they are on probation. Any violation and back in they go. So once they get put in, their lives more often than not become a revolving door. As once girl put it, "Once you're in the hole, you might as well keep digging."

I must say, the staff were all great. They provide discipline, but also encouragement. There is a school teacher who engages the students without alienating them by pushing them to the point of frustration. Reading is encouraged and it is pursued as it is one of the few activities and vehichles of escape. The staff also recognize the artificiality of creating an evironment that is totally controlled. It is necessary, unfortunately.

The solution? As the staff told us, by the children make it there, the damage has been done. They are a bandaid on the bigger problem. More action needs to start at earlier ages. More Head Start, more early Head Start, more parent education and counseling. This is not happening, and in fact the way the political pendulum is moving right now, these things are getting cut.

Poor children - victims and criminals, all wrapped into one.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Debates

The first presidential debate is tonight. To be honest, I don't want to watch. I am afraid. I don't want to know what we are in store for over the next four years.

I will watch, though. I just wish I could detach myself and not think of the implications.

I remember past elections:

Bush vs. Dukakis - Bad vs. Silly

Bush vs. Clinton vs. Perot - Bad vs. Icky vs. Nutcase

Clinton vs. Dole vs. Perot- Ho-hum vs. snore vs. again?

Gore vs. Bush II (vs. Nader) - Snooze vs. Joke (vs. megalomaniac) ...and the joke won? Well, not really, but...

This campaign is characterized by the politics of fear. It is true, there is fear all around. The Republicans are playing upon people's fears, while I fear what four more years of this administration will mean for this country.

Off to my day of teaching about race (a tough task - how do you engage a class that is all liberal, wealthy, and white about race and get them beyond the "There is racism in this country and in the world and that sucks" mentality?).

Ah, I also have yoga today, so at least I will be relaxed for the debate. Perfect timing!


Monday, September 27, 2004

Escapes


I think my transition time is over. I can no longer put all the pressures of life on the backburner and just say to myself, "I need time to adjust to my new environment, to my new situation."

Deadlines are looming once again. With these deadlines I feel the pressure of having to be more productive with my research, with my publishing goals, with my life.

Yesterday I escaped. I went up into the mountains and I hiked around with the dog all afternoon. We tracked some animals (I saw the pawprints and the dog caught the scent), including racoons, deer, and maybe a bear (I would like to think so, although if it was a bear, I am happy we did not see it). We came upon a huge ravine/canyon which almost appeared as if out of nowhere. We hiked up to a peak above the ravine where we stopped for a snack and water. Then it was back to the car, which we used to do a little more exploring. From the top of the ridge we saw the even higher mountains, which were calling us to come explore. But by then the day was done and we headed back to the lowlands.

I hope the weather holds up so that I can escape a few more times before the season changes. Although up there the trees and shrubs have begun to transform their colors, so the transition is on its way.

Winter won't be bad. I am planning on getting a season pass for a nearby ski resort and get reacquainted with the sport. I definitely need to get back into shape before then or my legs might just walk out on me in protest. I also plan on trying some snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. My new roommate is an expert on the latter, so maybe I can get some pointers.

Yes, I will need many escapes. The uncertain future, the huge distance between me and the one I love, the pressures of balancing what I have on my plate now and making the opportunity I have at the moment count, they are all weighing down on me. Escapes will keep me sane. Escapes will give me clarity.

What if I escape and never come back, though? What if...?

For now, I need to get back to my CV, to my lesson plans, to my articles, to my presentation proposals, to the books and articles that await reading, to my grant applications.

But, in less than two weeks I will be in Boston for the best escape of all...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Unpleasant Surprise?

Have you ever tried eating in the dark?

Would you be willing to try the mystery menu?

I will have to try it next time I am in Paris.

Unpleasant Surprises - Part II

Thank you all for the birthday wishes.

I spent most of my birthday engaged in a battle to fend off a cold that all my students seem to be getting. This meant a lot of vitamin C, fluids, and even some yoga breathing exercises. It seems to have worked because I am feeling better now.

However, all Friday I was somewhat out of it. I had to go to a lecture on campus in the evening. As I was making my way across the dark campus, I noticed a strange bush by the side of the walkway. In my feeble-minded state, I thought to myself: "I have never noticed that bush there before even though this is the way I walk to my office everyday."

As I walked by it, the bush suddenly sprung up and turned sticking its quills up in the air. "Crap! That's not a bush, it is a procupine!" it quickly dawned upon me as I ran away from it.

I have only seen a porcupine in the wild once before, and it was at a distance. They are very shy animals, so I am quite surprised that one was rumaging around on a college campus in a small city. Moreover, this particular one was rather large. The others I have seen in captivity have been much smaller.

Yet another danger of living in a small place: rampant, rumaging wildlife.


Friday, September 24, 2004

Unpleasant Surprise

I was sitting here at my computer, kinda working, kinda goofing off when it suddenly dawned upon me...rather it kinda hit me like a ton of bricks...

...today happens to be my birthday. I guess I am in denial. Crap. Another year. I am definitely a thirtysomthing now. Bleh. How did this happen?

I am off to try to forget. I guess in a few years I won't even need to try.

Random Thoughts of a Tired Mind

This has been a busy week.

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and I am pleased to announce that all seems well inside the ol' Xolo body.

And in the benefits of living in a small town department - I can go to my general practicioner here for what I thought I had to go to a specialist.

I also found a good place to get my hair cut. And it is also a good place to develop a research network. This woman knows everything about everyone here.

I got invited to go on a canoeing/camping trip on the upper Snake River this weekend. I would have like to have gone, but I needed to get a canoe partner, someone to dog-sit, and figure out how to do all the work I am planning on doing this weekend at some other time. So as much as I would have liked to have gone on the small adventure, the obstacles were too great. Nonetheless, there is a potluck dinner among some of the new faculty here where there will be curry and samosas - a special treat given that there are no Indian restaurants here. I also picked up some maps of the nearby National Forest, so I might go up and do some hiking in the mountains.

In other news, during our walk at a nearby lake and nature park, our dog tracked some pheasants that were hiding in a bush, chased them, and got them to fly straight up into the air. Of course, I did not hold up my end of the deal and I did not shoot them like I was supposed to. I am not sure how our dog got stuck with such a lame and ineffective hunter. Poor pooch!

By the way, the Presidential campaign is starting to depress me. Canada is starting to look more and more attractive - and it isn't too far from here.

I learned a new word today as I was walking across campus: fershur.

A: "Are you goin' to the party fershur?"
B: "Fershur I am going fershur. Are you, fershur?"
A: "Fershur, maybe..."

Now if I could only figure out what it means.



Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I am still recovering from the wild happenin's down in Oregon.

I forgot to mention that on the drive back I saw something new. As we were headed back on the dark highway, we were passed by an abulance. A few miles ahead we came up to the lights of the said abulance and a cop car. The road was littered with debris. An accident, I thought. As we drove past, I saw a large SUV with the front smashed in. But where was the other vehicle? There could not be any way that the other vehicle could have driven away. As we drove further, there it was...not a vehicle but a large black bull/cow, dead in our lane of traffic.

I can't imagine what kind of damage such an accident would cause with a smaller automobile. I will need to be more careful and alert when driving around these country roads at night.

-------------

The roommate situation has started off well. She's mellow, nice, friendly. I probably won't see her too much. She is the cross-country ski coach at the college, so she is off early in the morning and back late in the evening. The students need to practice and work out before and after classes.

--------------

Disadvantages of living in a small place: I need to see a specialized doctor but there are none in this town. I am also having a hard time finding one in the next closest urban area. Hmmmfff...


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Yesterday I had a surreal day.

I went with the Anthropology Department to Pendleton, OR where they are currently having the Pendleton Roundup, one of the area's largest rodeos. Specifically we went to see the Happy Canyon Pageant, which they claim is "The World's Most Unique Indian Pageant."

Now I have no way of knowing if this claim is true, for I have no clue as to what an indian pageant is and how others may compare to this one. I can be certain, however, that I have never really seen anything like this before.

On our way to Pendleton, we stopped at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, which is the interpretive center for the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla Tribes. It is a lovely place. I particularly like how the exhibits were juxtaposed by large windows that revealed the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The exhibit illustrates the way these people lived prior to contact with the settlers that came from the east. It continues to show how this contact changed their way of life, gradually at first and how with time these changes became more and more violent. It ends with a more optimistic perspective that in the future they will be able to maintain their heritage despite the difficulties they have had and continue to have.

The pageant began with the Native Americans illustrating the way they lived before the arrival of Lewis and Clark. Apparently this is a new addition and it echoed much of what was displayed at the cultural insitute. As the "white people" arrived, there were some violent clashes and then the "indians" suddenly disappeared. The rest of the show was a slapstick vision of the "Wild West", with a lot of songs (such as "Oh Susana" and "She'll be Coming around the Mountain"). It ended with a really bad teenaged singer singing "Happy Trails," "God Bless America," and the national anthem.

Prior to this I had seen many caricatures of "country folk" from the "wild west," but in the audience here and on the streets of Pendleton I was seeing them all around me. People were actually yelling "Yeehaw" and it was not in jest. People really got into the Oh Susana song by clapping and stomping their feet. On the streets there were vendors in trailers selling big hats, big belt buckles, cowboy boots, saddles, and God-knows what else.

It was certainly a cultural experience...definitely foreign.

It is bizarre because in the town here I have never seen anyone with a big hat or cowboy boots. And it is only an hour away. There are farmers here, many of them, but they are so different. They are soft-spoken and very inconspicuous.

I am still processing this experience in my head.

Of course it was made all the more strange by the fact that when we got back my frat-house neighbors were having a "foam party" and the streets near my house were covered with soap suds.

-------------------

In other news, I am getting a housemate. At least for a couple of months.

I have mixed feelings about this.

It makes sense because I have this huge house with a room that I never use. Moreover, even though the rent is not that much, some extra dollars saved will be put to good use paying down some of that student debt that I have acculmulated over the past several decades.

However, I has been a while since I lived with anyone other than Sara. I am quite fond of my privacy and my space. Having someone in it will be strange and maybe a little uncomfortable. Hmm...we'll see how it goes.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Dia de la Independencia - Hoy no trabajo.

Tampoco mañana - hago puente. :-D

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

¡Viva México!

There was a call for all Mexicans to sing the national anthem at noon today. I didn't.

However, this evening I will watch El Grito.

I went to the Zocalo once to watch/hear it. It was unforgettable. Which is good because I will never go again!



Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Future of America - a Prediction

Six-legged over at Culture Zap has made a bold prediction as to the future of the political geography of the US. He sees a fragmentation of the the country. While I agree with him on some of the new socio-political units, I am allowing myself to offer my own predictions:

The New Confederate States of America-
The same states that attempted secession in the 19th century will do so again, with the exception of Texas and Southern Florida. Indiana and Southern Ohio will also join the confederacy.

Caribenation -
With its capital in Miami, this will include Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and if Castro ever dies, the annexation of Cuba.

The States and Commonwealths of New New England and the mid-Atlantic (SCNNEMA)-
This will include MD, PA, NJ, NY, CT, VT, NH, MA, and Maine. In the future the Atlantic Provinces of Canada may join as well along with Bermuda.

The Unwanted City State of Columbia -
DC, which of course nobody will want, will become an unruly city state.

The Great Nation of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations -
A small country that will model itself after Luxembourg. It's desire to annex Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's vineyard will cause great tensions with SCNNEMA.

The Federal Republic of the Great Lakes -
Known as FRRGL (pronounced froogal) will consist of northern Ohio, MI, MN, WI, IA, MO, and IL.

The Conservative Christian States of America (CCSA) -
This will include ND, SD, NE, KS, MT, ID, WY, eastern WA and eastern OR. No one is allowed to visit.

The Enlightened Kingdom of Mormonism -
Also known as Utah. It will become a theocracy (is it not already) governed by the council of elders of the CJCLDS.

Ecotopia -
Western WA, Western OR, and Northern CA will unite to create an environmentally friendly and socially responsible community.

The God-fearing and Mighty Republic of Texas -
The Lone-Star State will go solo once again. They will acknowledge that the border with Mexico should have been the Rio Nueces instead of the Rio Grande. All people's of Mexican descent will be repatriated either to the new territories of Mexico or to Aztlan. In compensation for its lost territory, Texas will annex OK and eastern NM.

Aztlan -
Western NM, CO, AZ, NV, and CA. La Raza will reclaim what was once theirs! There will be pockets of resistance such as in the area around Colorado Springs and by the AARP resistance fighters in the Phoenix area, but they will be contained.

The Free Association of Pacific Islands -
Hawai'i, Guam, Samoa, and all the other US colonies in the Pacific will band together.

I am just not sure what will happen to Alaska. Any thoughts?

Monday, September 13, 2004

I want to wish my mother a very happy birthday!!!

Although she does not read this.

Nor does she know that I write here.

And she happens to be in Buenos Aires at the moment.

Nonetheless, I am sure she is having fun. Good for her!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

For a good laugh go read Bush2004 (read carefully, mind you).

Some people have WAY too much time on their hands.



Go see the cool video made by some people I know (it is about women and voting).


Friday, September 10, 2004

I don't know how common it is to be on email lists outside of academia. For those of you who don't know about them, usually they are email groups related to one theme or another. The messages are usually announcements or discussions on particular themes.

On occasion a personal email gets sent out to the whole email list (which can number from a dozen people to a few thousand depending on the list). Usually it is silly reading the message, but a few times in can be downright entertaining (for everyone) and terribly embarassing (for the sender).

For example, I got this email from a list I am on:

[The first part lists some concerns about the scheduling of an upcoming conference - then it continues]
"This is just my personal opinion, after 5 days of eating my way through London. I smuggled back some Absinthe (illegal in the USA), and M. and I are planning a 19th-century Oscar Wilde (small) party if you are interested. Gotta try everything once, including the Green Fairy. K.M. (the lazy-as-all-get-out room scheduling person) has had more than enough time to sit down at her desk and open up the room schedule, which takes all of a minute."

So about 1000 people or so got this message that was obviously intended for one person. Now these people know that this person smuggles illegal liquor into the country, pigs out when traveling abroad, holds small intoxicating parties, does not have a high opinion of K.M. (I have removed the name), and has tried the Green Fairy at least once.

Keep in mind that this is a professor at a well-known university. Hee hee.

Lesson of the day: don't email out anything you might not want thousand of eyes reading.



Thursday, September 09, 2004

I wonder how many people in Florida are starting to believe the warnings about global warming.

I wonder how many of them will still vote for Bush.

I wonder how many people know that the assault weapon ban is about to expire.

I wonder how many people will be killed by assault weapons that will now be easier to get.

I wonder why people in this community feel it is fine to target a teacher just because she holds liberal views.

I wonder why we live in a country that forces people to beg for money for worthy causes, rather than allocating public money to those causes.

I wonder if in this country being healthy will ever be a right and not a privilege.

I wonder if the Red Sox will finally win this year. Or at least do better than the Yankees.

I wonder if the Democrats in California who want to make "girlie men" Arnold dolls realize that they are being as stupid as Arnold was when he made the reference.

I wonder how many people realize that Arnold was full of it when he talked about seeing Soviet tanks in Austria.

I wonder how many American recognize the widespread subtle and subversive racism that still exists in this country.

I wonder if there is any chocolate left in the cupboard....hmmm....

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Separate School for Immigrants?

I can understand the need, but this seems to ride along the slippery slope to segregation. Tough issue...

Why can't those immigrants just stay home? It would just make matters easier for everyone...!

Monday, September 06, 2004

I seem to have 7 gmail invites. Although from what I have noticed, so does everyone else. Is gmail such a hot commodity? Who knew?

I took the dog to a lake I had heard about. Originally I intended it to be a short walk, a break from planning my lesson for tomorrow. It turns out that the lake was quite a ways from where the parking lot was. So it turned out to be a 3.5 mile hike. I need the exercise and I definitely did not hear the dog complaining. We saw some hares, quail, other dogs, and a few horses.

In fact, I came across the strangest thing I have seen in a while. Some of the people who had been riding horses decided to take a swim in the lake. Instead of tying up the horses, they took off the saddles and took them in the lake with them. So there were two human heads bobbing in the water and close to them were two horses who looked very confused.

The walk in sunshine that happened to be stronger and warmer than I had planned for, however, left me pretty tired. Moreover, the glass of wine I had with dinner did nothing to replenish my reserves.

I did manage to finish my lesson plan for tomorrow. I will probably take a look at it tomorrow morning and see if there is anything that needs fixing, tweaking, or filling in. The topic is actually fairly timely: the role of morality in American politics and how morality is used to create us/them divisions. Should you be interested, take a look at this book. We are reading parts of it for the lecture tomorrow. It is an interesting read.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

We live in an angry country where hatefulness and spite wins.

Otherwise how could one explain this?

The RNC was not kind and yet people are drawn to that position.

The prevalence of the "Christian" ethos of love thy neighbor (unless he/she is a sinner) seems to have taken over this country. And just who is a sinner? Anyone who does not think like them.

"You are either with us or you are against us."

Things will be dire if Bush wins, mainly because the Supreme Court composition will change. We will have a state religion and major infrigements on our civil rights. The Republican Party is a political machine that is getting entrenched, setting up the rules so as to maintain and even advance its position in power.

It is very unsettling.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The bad dreams continue, but today was a better day.

My class was better, although it was tough. I had to explain what anthropology is to first year students without boring them or the senior anthro majors that are also in the class. The next classes should be easier in the sense that we are moving on to material that will be new to everyone.

I like the students here. They are good and hardworking students (so far), yet they are very unpretentious. Conversely, they are a little shy and soft-spoken so I will need to get them out of their shell.

I also got underway with my new research by searching some databases to see what similar research has been done. The answer: very little. Cutting-edge anthropologist, that's me. I need to do more exploring and refine my topic, but there seem to be many opportunities here.

I met with the sociologist whose research does not overlap with mine as much as I thought (I was misinformed by others). He is a nice guy and a fellow Mexican-American. We met a wine bar and I got to taste another local wine (more on that later), which was very good. It was strange...while we were there we interacted more like academics. As we were leaving, I said that I was probably going to stop somewhere to get a bite to eat and asked him if he wanted to join me.

We went to a local taqueria and had some very good Mexican food.

[Aside: the taqueria was in an old Taco-Bell establishment (a taco-bell shell? Sorry). This is something I noticed during the drive here - from about Nebraska on, there were old Taco-Bell restaurants that had been abandoned (probably following the merging of Taco-Bell with Pizza-Hut and KFC) and occupied by startup Mexican restauranteurs. These were given names like El Rancho, La villa, etc. It just another example of how us Mexicans are taking over this country.]

Once we got to the Taco-Bell shell (once again I apologize, but I just can't resist), the nature of our interaction changed dramatically. We went from being two scholars to being two Mexicanos reminicing about our gastronomic heritage.

Ah the transformative power of tacos!

------------

Speaking of Mexico. I am proud that of Mexico's four medals at the Olympics, three were won by women. And none of these medals were for speed-walking, usually the only sport in which Mexicans tend to do well.

They should have a chile eating event at the Olympics...hey, that would be as much of a sport as some of the silly events they had in Athens. The trouble is that instead of just making it the number of chiles people eat, they would try to come up with some stupid way of judging it:

"The initial point total for this chile is 9.4. It's a serrano, higher than the Jalapeno, but lower than the Habanero. She takes the first bite...oh, Pat, I see some tears, that is an automatic two-tenths deduction. But look at her finish...Amazing!"

Yeah, that would just ruin it. Forget it.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Life as a Faculty Member

The transition is ongoing. I am now a faculty member. I went to the first college-wide faculty meeting today. I am dealing with the library not having the reserve reading I requested and the students emailing me complaining about this. I am feeling the pressures of having to start my own research and begin to be productive.

Yes, that is what university faculty have to do. Oh, and I need to find a job in Boston for next year. Yeah, that too.

I have been working on my lecture for tomorrow and reworking the course schedule to include a guest speaker who is going to talk about race, gender, and hip-hop music.

I know I am more stressed than I realize because I had an awful stress dream last night. I also have been getting some nasty headaches. I need to find an outlet. Maybe pick up the tennis raquet I brought over here. The same one I have not used in a couple of years. Maybe I should visit the pool. There is a yoga studio in town...perhaps a visit is in order.

I have been walking the dog, but these excursions have been brief. Perhaps I should schedule a more extensive trek in the mountains. My landlord offered to let me wander about the 40 acres of land he owns in the mountains. That may be fun.

Once the snow starts to fall, there will be skiing in the area. Or maybe snoeshoeing - something I have never tried before.

But will there be time? I am already feeling the pressures of time. Balance. Yeah, that's the ticket. Balance.

Tomorrow is another long day. More preparations for the class, some errands and a meeting with a sociologist whose research overlaps with what I want to start up here. Better get some rest and hope my dreams are more peaceful this evening.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

First Day of School

Today I had my first class. It did not go too well. It was not an utter disaster, but I felt like things just did not work. I guess I had high expectations and I just did not prepare well enough.

Bugger!

I just need to prepare better for next time...which is Thursday.


Monday, August 30, 2004

I like having a small glass of juice in the morning.

Recently I bought a bottle of what I thought was a mix of kiwi, apple, and melon juice.

When I poured a glass this morning, it was much thicker than I expected. It definitely did not look that appetizing: truth be told it looked like the water from a very murky pond. I drank it anyway - I am not one to dismiss food based on the looks. It tasted good, but I knew there was more in there than just the aforementioned fruits. So I looked at the ingredients and lo and behold there were a few surprises in there:

Ingredients by categories:

Boring: Pineapple juice, apple juice, mango puree, banana puree, kiwi juice.
Interesting: Spirulina, tamarind puree, lime juice, broccoli, ceremonial green tea, spinach, barley grass, wheat grass.
Fascinating: open cell chlorella, blue green algae, echinacea purpurea, odorless garlic, Nova Scotia dulce, Jerusalem artichoke.

I am not sure what some of those things are, but I rather have those in my body than some of the chemicals in many of the other foods I eat.

Lesson for today: There is usually more in the food that we than what is pictured on the package or container.

Bonus lesson: who knew that mucky pond water tasted so good.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

It's been a long and busy week. I got myself officially oriented. All I ever wanted to know about:

-Payroll
-Benefits
-Academic Policy
-Safety
-Retirement
-Sexual Harassment
-The campus
-The library
-Tech services

Whew!

Today I got some flowers for my front yard. The big dirt patch was just not that nice. Now it has some fall colored mums and two of those decorative cabbage things. As you can tell I am not a big garden person - that is Sara's domain.

I also got my internet cable connection and very basic cable for the TV. Nothing came in clearly here off a regular antena. So now I can watch the basic networks and a few bonus channels - the best being Comedy Central. I am happy that I am off of dial-up. That is just not nice.

I also tried to start the car cleaning process. Those impacted bugs from the trip were such a pain. I still did not get them all off. Even worse, as I was getting frustrated trying to get the blemishes off while the sun began to dip down below the horizon, the hunger pangs in my stomach were teased by the smell of food cooking on the neighbor's grill. Needless to say, there is still much left to be done on the car cleaning endeavour. It will probably have to wait until Sunday.

Tomorrow I get to partake as my first official duty as a faculty member: I am marching in Convocation. I will have to borrow a robe for the event since I still cannot afford my own.

It has been nice meeting the other new faculty members in orientation. There are some interesting people doing interesting research. It seems that there is a strong sense of camaraderie among the different cohorts of entering faculty. That will be nice as we begin the challenges of teaching our courses and trying to make time for our own research.

The potential for my future research here in the area looks promising as there are many Mexicanos here. They are all very segregated though. You only see them in comunal places such as the supermarket or the taco stand. I have not actually eaten at a taco stand here, but I hear they are very good. They must be if there are both Mexicanos and Gringos eating there. I will have to try them soon. As soon as I cleanse my system following all the junk I ate on that cross-country trip.

Things are settling nicely here although I do feel very lonely. I miss Sara.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Why are orientations always so disorienting?

Here's a question for you all:

I am teaching a course on Politics, Culture, and Identity this fall. I am going to be away at a conference for one class and I am thinking of showing a film. I am looking for suggestions.

Some I have thought of:

-Lamerica (Italian)
-Mi Familia/My Family
-In America
-East is East
-Big Night

I should be able to think of more, but it is late and I am very tired. Hopefully some of you might be able to come up with something good!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Election Prediction:
Based on the distribution of bumper stickers seen during my cross country drive, Kerry will defeat Bush in November.

I am not sure what the conversion rate from bumper stickers to electoral college votes is, though. So Bush still might be president despite the defeat.

--------------

Speaking of cross country drives, I still have not cleaned and washed the car following the trek. I really need to do something about the insect cemetery that is on the front of my car. Or perhaps I should call it a cannibalistic insect smorgasboard because at one rest stop the yellowjackets were feasting on the buffet of splatters on my hood.

The inside needs a good cleaning as well. There are dirt and pebble samples from numerous states and enough dog hair to reconstruct another dog - a small one.

I knew I wanted to wait to clean the car following the trip to the mountains today. I knew I would be hitting many bugs. It was a good call because I also ended up on several gravel roads that left a lovely layer of dust.

The plan was to do a major clean, wash, and wax tomorrow morning, but I just found out that it will probably be raining. That will take care the dust, but those dead insects (sounds like a good name for a band, huh) are stuck on there pretty good. Oh well.

-------------

The farmers' market was much smaller than I expected. The produce was very nice. I also got some bread and some local honey. I also fired up the grill and put the veggies on there. It all turned out very well except I was missing one thing: Sara. Good food is just not that good when you can't share it with the person you love. :(

The mountains were fabulous. It was much cooler there than it is here. The dog and I took a short but fairly intense hike. The brevity was due to the fact that I was wearing my sneakers instead of my hiking shoes, I left the water for the both of us in the car, and I was not sure where the trail we were on was taking us. I need to search for some maps of the area. There is a ranger station in town, they may be able to help me. I am looking forward to exploring the mountains some more as is the dog. I also want to do some skiing once the snow is on the ground.

--------------

Yay for Puerto Rico and Lithuania, both of whom beat the US basketball team. Everyone needs some humility.

Yay for the Iraqi soccer team who made it to the semifinals. Boo to Bush who is trying to exploit their success for his campaign. Just let them play. Go back to letting your attack dogs smear Kerry (he still has more bumper stickers on cars driving on I-80).

--------------

I bought some sandalwood incense at Target that is very nice. I love sandalwood.

--------------

Rip Curl Ale by Full Sail Brewing Co. in Oregon is VERY good. A nice discovery.

I am tired. Time for bed.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I need to wait another week for my cable internet connection to be installed and my lack of patience has gotten the better of me. So what have I done? I signed up for one of those free internet trials. This has not satiated my lack of patience, however, because the darned thing is SO SLOW!

I can go to my office on campus and get online there. Although I don't know whether I can get in or not over the weekend. They failed to give me a key to the department office and I still have not gotten my ID which I need to swipe to get in when the building is locked. I need to look into those things Monday morning. Monday afternoon the orientation for new faculty begins. I am not sure whether I am ready for this. YIKES!

I drove down to the Tri-Cities in South-Central Washington today. It is about an hour from here. It is not a pretty place, although the Columbia River (and the Snake River) are pretty impressive. The draw of the area are all the stores that cannot be found here in Walla Walla. I stocked up on pet supplies and some necessary household items. I also hear that it is the place to go should you get a craving for Indian or Japanese food as those cuisines are not available here. I have not been here long enough to suffer from any withdrawal symptoms yet, but I know these are iminent. The saving grace is that they have some great Mexican food here.

I also bought a Weber grill today (don't tell Sara - she did not want me getting more stuff). It was on super markdown because it is the end of the summer ($19 for a big one). I love grilling. My plan is to grill over the weekend and have food for the following week. I am planning to visit the local farmer's market tomorrow that I hear is great. It should be with all the agriculture going on around here. Unfortunately I cannot partake of one of the local specialties: the Walla Walla sweet onions. Oh well. There should be some great squashes, peppers, corn, tomatoes...can I find some eggplant? We'll see. Can you tell that food/cooking/eating is my hobby. I also need to pick up some more of the local wine (more on that later).

This is making me hungry even though I just had dinner.

I am also thinking of taking a drive up to the nearby mountains with the dog tomorrow afternoon - that is if the weather holds out. It has been very hot here, but the heat is supposed to break sometime this weekend. This change may bring rain to the mountains.

Amid all this excitement, I also need to start preparing for my course. I am almost done with the syllabus. It is so much work putting one together, although at times it reminds me of my teen years when I used to make mixed-tapes. Just like you need to find the right songs and place them in the proper order, for a syllabus you need to find the right reading that is the right length and put it in the right place in the semester. Ok...I am starting to babble and it is academic babble. That's what happens when you are away from your best friend and the dog is sick of you speaking to him.

I should cut this wimpy dialup connection and go do something productive.

Have a great weekend!



Tuesday, August 17, 2004

No time to post, but I found out something interesting about myself today thanks to Lux:




You're New Mexico!

A fan of spelunking and cliff-dwelling, you're the adventurous,
enchanting type. It seems like you can never avoid the sun, but that's what built your
house in the first place so you'll manage. You probably speak Spanish, and maybe even a
long-lost language in addition. And after much careful consideration, you now sometimes
agree that drive-through liquor stores are not the safest idea. Even though people think
of you as yellow, your favorite question is "red or green?"



Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.



Won't Sara get a kick out of that! HA!

Monday, August 16, 2004

I am in my new office.

I have an office - with a window! It is pretty big and it has a lot of shelf space. If only I had my books here. It will be nice when I have a permanent job with a permanent office. But at least I have a job!

Things have been hectic. I have been trying to set up my home office and settle in to my new place. It seems like everytime Sara calls me I am at K-Mart (the choices here for supplies are K-Mart, Walmart, and Staples - and I refuse to shop at Walmart).

It is so strange not having Sara around. I miss her so much, it is like a part of me is missing. This is going to be a long year. I better be productive professionally to make it worthwhile!

The new house is very nice. There is so much room. We could easily put all our stuff in it, but our stuff is in Boston and it is going to stay there. I did have my first problem though. I tried running the dishwasher (which is probably from the early 70s - yet it almost looks new) and it somehow clogged the drain so the water backed up into the sink. This made the drain pipes from the sink leak. Not a huge disaster, but it really makes it hard to cook/eat at home when you can only wash you dishes in the bathroom sink. After a week road trip, I really was looking forward to making myself some homecooked meals.

I need to go somewhere to pick up the keys to my office. I only have internet access here, so I might not post as much as I would like. I am still waiting for my cable internet connection and my phone to be hooked up. Ah the joys of moving.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

I made it!

It is REALLY hot here (110 degrees), but it is dry. I will take this over the humidity of the east coast any day.

The drive was long. Highlights include:

-Narrowly avoiding a storm with tornadoes.

-Seeing a pickup truck engulfed in flames.

-Getting souveneir mosquito bites in almost every state we went through.

-Adding Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho to the states I have been to.

There is probably many more, but I am too tired to think of them right now. There is so much I need to do. I have rented a huge house with nothing in it. I am off to search for "stuff" - I am suffering from withdrawal.

I should be around more now. Be sure to stop by...

Thursday, August 05, 2004

I can't believe that I start the drive to Washington in two days. I am not ready - on many levels.

Two cable modems later, we got the cable internet connection working. I am typing this on Sara's computer which has an ergonomic keyboard. It is not going too well, especially because i do not type correctly.

This next stage of my life is kind of scary. And I have to do it separated from my best friend and life companion. I don't like that. As I don't like typing on this keyboard.

Have a great week and I will see you all on the other side.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

It's the end of an era.

I no longer reside in Rhode Island (I guess I haven't been residing there for about a week, but I was going back everyday). I guess I am a transient right now. Neither here nor there.

Today I moved the last boxes out of our three bedroom, third floor apartment on the East Side of Providence. I also finished cleaning the place up and left the keys on the counter.

We lived there for three years: one year, followed by a year in Italy, and then two consecutive years. Yes, we did move all our things out only to move right back in. It was a nice apartment. I get very nostalgic when I move out of somewhere. Hmmm.

We did move out just in time. Our landlord told our neighbors that on Monday painters are going to start scraping the old paint off the outside of the house. Knowing the kind of people our landlord hires, this will probably take about two years to complete.

Speaking of the neighbors, they were having a yard sale today. So I put a few of the things that were going into the trash out with their stuff. I got $5 for an old phone and $5 for my desk. The phone was probably worthless and the desk was probably worth at least $20, so I broke about even. Actually, I made $10 because i was just going to leave it with the trash.

I don't think I could ever have a yard sale of my own. I am not sure if I could subject my belongings to that kind of rejection. It was amusing seeing people drive by, stop, peer out at the items on display, perhaps even step out of their car, give us a look of indignation as if to say, "Is this ALL you have to offer?" and then drive off. But that is only because the stuff wasn't mine.

I mean, I am attached to my things. If I were to actually part with them, I would want someone to actually appreciate its value, if only sentimental.

No. It is best that when I need to get rid of something, it either goes to some form of charity or into the trash.

Enough about stuff. This moving experience has reminded me that we have way too much of it. I love that classic standup routine by George Carlin about stuff.

Sara returns from Switzerland tomorrow. I am really looking forward to seeing her. I have actually been talking to the dog and to myself much more than usual. It will be good to have someone around who actually listens (neither I nor the dog pays much attention to what I am saying) and someone who can actually respond (the voices in my head don't actually respond, but rather carry on their own converstation. The dog just stares at me or pokes at me when he wants something).

I am actually on Sara's new computer. It is pretty nice. I don't know if she will let me use it once she is here. So I better enjoy it now. Weeee.....

I am on an archaic dial-up connection. We had internet cable installed, but of course it does not work. The cable tv works, but not the internet. I have been much to busy this week to call and figure out what the heck is going on. Our upstairs neighbor/new landlord was also having trouble. He had the cable guy around, so I asked him if he could check ours. There was an extra filter that was not taken off. That fixed the neighbor's/landlord's problem, but our connection is still not working.

Ok. Off to bed. I installed the a/c unit in the bedroom, so I will finally get some sleep. It has been so hot and humid around here recently and I just cannot sleep in this weather. I also get to sleep in because I don't have to drive to Providence tomorrow. Yay!!!

I do need to get some flowers for Sara, though. I am not sure where to get them around here. Ah...I get to explore. Fun, fun.

No mas ranting!

Friday, July 30, 2004

I am shutting down the Providence office.

The only thing left here is a desk, a chair, this computer, and a printer. 

It is kind of sad.  I wrote a dissertation in here.

Now it's on to bigger and better things, I guess.

Stay tuned....

 

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Ok, the donkey is gone...

As are Sara's smutty corn pics.

This is because it was up on the server of our internet provider in Providence.  And although I asked that the service be ended at the end of the month, our pictures seem to be gone.  They were going to disappear anyway, so what's a few days. 

Some people seem to like the white background better anyway. 

I am not sure whether I will let this blog die out or whether I will pick it up again.

Postings are sparse now and will become non-existent as I drive across this big country of ours.  I won't have a way to post on the road and I am not sure what life will be like once I get to Washington. 

Things to ponder. 

There is still so much left to do before I leave.  It stresses me out sometimes. 

Today I am trying to finish my students' personal evaluations.  Sometimes giving a simple letter grade is so much easier (even though sometimes I think it is stupid). 

DNC is going on in Boston.  It has actually made driving back and forth to Providence easier.  It has scared people off the roads!  I feel cautiously optimistic about the election right now.  I am glad I am going to vote in a "swing-state" this time, where my vote might actually make a difference. 

So much to say, yet I have no time to get it out.  So I guess I will just stop.

Say hi, will ya?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Changes.

Our apartment in Providence is almost empty. 

Except for my office, which is still set up and very, very messy.  There are a few things I need to work on before I can pack it up.  It needs to be packed up and ready to go by the end of this week. 

Our apartment in Boston looks more like a storage unit right now than a home.  Boxes are piled high everywhere.  I am not sure where everything is going to go because it is smaller than the place in Providence. 

So this week I am going to be commuting between Boston (where I will be busy unpacking boxes, assembling furniture, etc.) and Providence (where I will be writing evaluation for my students, organizing files, packing the few things I will take with me to Washington State, packing up what little is left in the apartment, cleaning, etc).  Somewhere in between there is a whole lot of laundry that must be done, a car that needs service and a muffler fixed, and a nervous dog that needs a lot of attention.  So my absence here can now be better understood. 

Need I say it?  I am very tired.

 
Sara made it off to Switzerland a day after she was supposed to leave.  Her flight to DC where she was to connect to Zurich was so late, that she missed her connection.  It all worked out: I was happy to see her for another day and she definitely needed a good night's sleep.