Saturday, January 31, 2004

Icelandic Phrase of the Day

Heimabakaða sjúkkulaðiköku.

A very important one at that. At least for me.

Friday, January 30, 2004


I am truly exhausted and burnt out. Three chapters (90 pages) in three weeks. And I am still working on the final chapter and I am not sure how I am going to do it. My hands hurt, my back hurts, my brain hurts.

On top of this, yesterday I had to return to the world of the living. I am a teaching assistant this semester so as to get money to pay my share of the rent and food. This means I need to break away from my hermit's life of writing (well, hermits were never married nor had a dog, so I guess it really is technically not a hermit's life) and be social once again. My sections do not start until two weeks from now, but I do have to attend the lectures. The first one was yesterday and we had a lunch meeting with the professor after class. So much social contact in such a short period of time had me in a daze. I guess I am still recovering.

This weekend is going to be spent writing and writing. Sara wants to go to a particular store, so I might take a break for that. I also would like to see the Super Bowl because the local team, the New England Patriots, are playing. Even Sara might watch it, or at least part of it.

I might post here if I need a short break or have something I need to get off my chest. But if you don't see me until next week sometime, you now know why.

For your reading pleasure, should you wish to be entertained (then again, I am not sure it is entertaining)...whatever. Here is a little story I am using to start this last chapter I am working on:

Catch 33?

Among the many items my wife and I needed for our residency permits, or permessi di soggiorno, was a lease to prove to the officers at the Questura, or police station, that we had a place to reside. We had done this before, so we thought we knew what to expect. The rental agency through which we had found our apartment was only a broker between the landlord and us. Initially, rental agent and the landlord expected to rent the apartment without a lease, since that way it would be off the books and thus they would not have to declare the income. We then pointed out to them that we needed the lease to get our residency permit.

“Then we need to get it notarized and you will have to pay for it,” the rental agent told us.

“Fine,” I replied.

“I will need your fiscal code (codice fiscale, something akin to a social security number).”

“I don’t have one.”

“I cannot notarize the lease without it. And I cannot give you the lease without notarizing it. You need to get one.”

After researching how to get a fiscal code, I went to the appropriate government building, found the line I needed to stand in, and waited several hours to talk to the appropriate person. When I finally got to the front of the line, the functionary told me, “You need your residency permit to get a fiscal code.”

I asked whether I needed the full residency permit, which takes up to three months to receive, or if the receipt you get when you file the application was good enough.

“I need to see the residency permit, not the receipt. Come back when you have it.”

I explained my situation and why I needed the fiscal code in order to get the very residency permit he was asking for.
“I do not know what to tell you. I only know the rules here. You need the residency permit. Good bye.”

I was stuck. To get a residency permit, I needed a lease; to get a lease, I needed a fiscal code; and to get the fiscal code I needed a residency permit. And round and round I went, trying to convince someone to cave in so I could break the cycle so that my wife and I could be legal residents in Italy.

Such are the workings of Italian bureaucracy and the obstacles immigrants in Bergamo face everyday.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Geography and Maps

Here is a map. It shows the states where there has been a significant Mexican presence.

Is Mexico slowly invading the US with its illegal immigrants. Nah, they are just the states I have been to.

The funny thing is that I have a map just like this above my desk on my peg-board. Sara gave it to me since she has one from when she was little and she has been filling in her states since then (she has three left - wow). The paper one has the states I have been in colored in different colors, so it looks nicer.

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

And since you are dying to know. These are the countries I have been to.

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

I have so many more to go to. I better pack my bags!

[Links pilfered from Sherri]

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Political Military Offensive

The Pentagon is planning a spring offensive in Afghanistan.

Who wants to bet that they find a certain Osama right before the Presidential election?

Then its four more years of this bozo and his cronies...

Life Update

Another day, another chapter written.

If it were only that easy. I did finish chapter 6 today and gave it to my advisor.

One more to go, plus and introduction and a conclusion. Then I am done.

Got chapters 4 and 5 back from my advisor too. They need some minor revision and some points worked on, but all in all he was happy with them. That's good.

I am amazed how many people weighed in on the teeth nightmare. I have several interpretations of my own (Freud would be proud):
1. Finishing this dissertation has been like pulling teeth.
2. I have read that teeth in dreams signify protection and losing them means you feel vulnerable and defenseless. Perhaps I feel uncertain about the future.
3. I was a hockey player in a previous life.
4. I really NEED to go to the dentist.

It probably is none of these.

In other news - it is still cold and we got more snow, although not as much as they hyped. I more or less expected it to be nothing. Going outside and shoveling actually felt good. I must be going crazy. And since it is in the mid 20s (about -3 C), it actually felt nice, that is compared to the single digit and negative temperatures we have been having.

Ah, yeah, I have been getting rejections recently. Two conferences I applied to participate in turned me down, and I got a letter for a job I applied for at UC Santa Barbara. I can't let these things get me down. There is too much to do and I am sure there will be more of those arriving in the coming months. I just need one to be successful. Wait and see.

I am off to rest my weary mind.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Spooky Dream

Last night I had a disturbing dream.

In it I had something stuck between my teeth, so I went to the bathroom to get it out. In the mirror I saw that my front tooth was chipped and about a third of it was missing. Then with my tongue I could feel it in between my gums and cheek. I tried to grab it and pull it out. When I did, a whole section of my gums and roof of my mouth came out. There was blood everywhere. Needless to say it was an unpleasant dream.

I kept waking up and checking to see if my teeth were still there.

I guess this means I am under a lot of stress.

Oh, and I should probably also schedule a dentist appointment soon.
Cool Link

When I was a boy, I was fascinated by tall buildings. I always wanted to go up the tallest one around. It was probably linked to my dream of being able to fly.

I did make it up the Twin Towers when I was fourteen. I have also been up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Now there are so many in East Asia that are competing to be the tallest. Spires and antenas don't count in my book, though. The highest occupied floor is the critical criterion. You need to be able to go up and look out a window. So the proposed tower for the new World Trade Center in New York won't count.

In one of my bouts of procrastination, I found this site about skyscrapers.

There are many ways you can look at buildings. In the groupings by cities, you can look up your city and see the buildings there. If you live in a smaller city, you may have to look in your country first before finding your city. One feature I really like is if you are looking at a particular building there is a link that says View [City Name] digram. It then displays all the buldings in that city by size. For example, there is one for New York.

Unfortunately the site is a little slow. But well worth the wait for you patient people.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Politics Again

It's starting.

Remember how the country was evenly split between the blue states and the red states at the end of the last election?

Bush came in saying he wanted to unite the country. He has done little to ameliorate the situation. In fact, I think we are as divided as ever.

The upcoming campaign is going to be nasty, dirty, and divisive. I am sure the Democrats are preparing some nasty tricks, but the Republicans are getting a head start. They have the cash and the ground is laid out for them. They are going to work the party machine and all their connections, wrap themselves in the flag, and start the unpatriotic (and un-Christian) finger pointing.

Exhibit number one:

CBS is refusing to air an ad by MoveOn, a liberal (or should I say progressive instead of that nasty L word) political organization during the Super Bowl because it is "too controversial" (they are also refusing to air one by PETA, which I know little of). You can take a look at the commercial here. They are, however, allowing the Bush campaign to air their own commercial.

While some MoveOn commercials in the past have been questionable, I see absolutely no problem with this ad other than it is true.

CBS is the same network that gave into Republican pressures not to air a crappy movie about Ronald Reagan.

Government (political) control of the media. Is this yet another slippery slope we are starting to slide down?

Now I am probably preaching to the choir here, but what can we do? Talk about it, vote and make sure other people know about it and vote as well. There is a petition you can sign, but I doubt that will do much good.

For those of you outside the US, just be sure to know that there is a lot of dissent from within this country. The US is not one giant arrogant blob, even if at times it may seem that way.

[Thanks to Kat for the links]
Internet Convenience

Wow, you can now donate money to a presidential campaign on

You can see how many contributions and how much money has been raised by Amazon for the candidates that have agreed to allow Amazon to collect donations.

I personally like Al Hamburg, a cranky old man who is self-educated by reading and divorced with nine children. As you can gather from his picture, he is not bothered by the fashion critiques that some of the other candidates have had to endure. He has yet to allow Amazon to collect funds though, thus he has not raised any money yet.

Is there anything you can't get on Amazon?

I have still yet to find a dissertation I can buy. It is not for a lack of trying, though.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Unhealthy Higher Education

Writing a dissertation is not very healthy:

Too much take out + too much coffee = Stomach ache

Hours sitting = Stiff joints + achy knees

Pages and pages of reading = Bad eyes

Pages and pages of typing = carpet tunnel syndrome (I remember reading that somehwere and thought it was funny + I don't feel like looking up the right way to spell it)

Day and days inside = Growing waistline + vanishing sanity

Impending deadlines = High stress + tense back

Too much thinking, analyzing, and composing = Brain death

The surgeon general needs to put out a warning about this. Something needs to change around here once this draft is complete.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Of Dogs and Breeds

If the are intentionally cross-breeding specific breeds to get "designer mutts," are they really mutts?

Not in my book.

Why can't we all just get along?

Warning: Disturbing images in link.

Oh the hypocrisy at Cafe Press!!!

Stuff like that just makes me sick.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

No Comment on the State of the Union

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all (actually I watched about 10 minutes and then shut it off - I read about it today).

It may be worth to see the rest of the story. [link plundered from greengrl]

I did watch the Democratic response in Spanish by Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico. I think he did a very good job, much better than Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Daschle did in English.

[Speaking of politics and the Bush administration - there have been recent actions that are on par with those of fascist regimes.

First from the story:
The Office of Management and Budget wants to have the final say on releasing emergency declarations to the public.
By Andrew Schneider
Of the Post-Dispatch [copyright]2004, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

When the government starts deciding what we need to know and don't need to know, we are starting down a slippery slope.

Second example:
President Bush has announced his plan to select Dr. W. David Hager to head up the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. The committee has not met for more than two years, during which time its charter lapsed. As a result, the Bush Administration is tasked with filling all eleven positions with new members.

Here is a little about this gentleman:

Dr. Hager is a practicing OB/GYN who describes himself as "pro-life" and refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women. Hager is the author of "As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring omen Then and Now." The book blends biblical accounts of Christ healing women with case studies from Hager's practice. In the book Dr. Hager wrote with his wife, entitled "Stress and the Woman's Body," he suggests that women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome should seek help from reading the bible and praying.

Hager's track record of using religious beliefs to guide his medical decision-making makes him a dangerous and inappropriate candidate to serve as chair of this committee. Critical drug public policy and research must not be held hostage by antiabortion politics. Members of this important panel should be appointed on the basis of science and medicine, rather than politics and religion. American women deserve no less.

Ok, enough for today.

Miseducational Television

I watched a show on the Dicovery Channel tonight called Unsolved History. I was eager to see it because the topic was about the major Aztec Temple (Templo Mayor).

Unfortunately, the show was a bust. Many of the facts they stated were just plain wrong. The perspective was decidedly Eurocentric (Aztecs were not Indians, the savagery of the Aztecs - but no word about the Inquisition, and so on). And rather than educational, it was sensationalistic.

There are some programs I like on the Discovery Channel, but I think I will stick to PBS for true educational programming. That's too bad.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Random Thoughts

Seen driving yesterday – a license plate from Maine: REHABMD

Also seen – a street sign: Slocum Avenue. (I pointed it out to Sara, whose reply was, “That’s unfortunate.”)

The results of the Iowa Presidential Caucuses surprised me.

I am still undecided about who I like. There are few I do not like. It is easier to cross candidates off my list, than picking one. Top criteria in my book? Beat Bush.

I have written about sixty pages in the last week or so. Whew!

They aren’t very good, but at least they are written.

The steady decline of the value of the dollar is not good. Two years ago 1 euro was worth $0.87. Now it's worth $1.28. That means things that are imported are 50% more expensive. And we import a lot. Some say it will help with the trade deficit because we will chose things that are made in the US. The truth is that we are dependent on things made abroad. If anything, producers will cut costs abroad in order to be able to keep the price the same. This means lower wages for foreign workers, more child labor, worse working and evironmental protections, and ultimately, shoddier products. There are so many reasons why this is happening, but I will keep them to myself. Nobody really cares, but it is yet another example of how the Bush administration is screwing things up. Ok, time to put my internal economist back to bed.

Enough random thoughts.

Coffee Notes

Starbucks is now giving out instruction booklets on how to order coffee. I will study up, so I will be well prepared the next time I venture into your establishements.

While we are at it, though, here are some instructions for Starbucks:
-Espresso should be drunk from a real cup, not a paper cup.
-So should cappuccino and café late.
-They should only be one size. You want more? Get another one.
-If you really need sizes, just give them normal names (ie. Small, medium, large, bucket, barrel, etc.).
-Fire anyone working there who says “Ex-presso.”
-Try to make all the coffee you sell fair-trade. Your clients, including myself, can afford to pay the extra fifty cents.

One last note about Starbucks. There has been much hoopla about the opening of Starbucks in Paris. I can guarantee you that it will be a cold day in hell when they open one in Italy. Why? Not because of national pride or gastronomic chauvinism. We have seen that did not stop the French. In fact, the Italians would be prime candidates to sit around in their Levi’s, drinking their Venti Carmel Frapuccinos, smoking their Marlboro’s, and complain about globalization. No, the reason they would not go to Starbucks is that they would refuse to pay $1.50 (1.92 euro) for an espresso or $3.00 (3.84 euro) for a cappuccino. Just look at the fuss they made when cafés began to round up prices after the switch from the lira to the euro (from 77 to 80 cents).

Then again, if the Starbucks is the place to be seen to make a bella figura, all bets are off.

[Note: I have been drinking a lot of coffee lately. My limit? About five large cups. I discovered that the other day, the hard way.]

Monday, January 19, 2004

Keep Dreaming and We Shall Soon Get There

In memory of the life and work of the honorable Reverend and Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. I wish you all peace and harmony.

May we all make this world a better place to live.
Buggy World

If you like insects, you should take a look here. There are some fantastic pictures.

[Link picked from Anne's site]

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Productive Day

Today was a good day. Got quite a few pages out. Got a walk in with the dog (we broke freezing today - YAY!). And I still have my sanity - I think. Wait, now where did I leave it?

We went downtown for our usual weekend stroll up the Providence River to Waterplace Park. The river was frozen over. It must be my upbringing in Mexico where the only ice we saw was golfball-sized hail, but frozen bodies of water fascinate me. The Providence River is especially interesting because it is an estuary, so it goes up and down with the tides. This has led to the formation of many interesting ice formations as the ice has risen and fallen with the tides.

The bad news is that my right knee has been hurting. I think it is all the sitting and lack of exercise. It is ironic, though, that my body does something that will prevent me from exercising to complain that I haven't been exercising.

The other good finds yesterday: Best of Bowie and the new Enigma (both also for $9.99). I never realized how many Bowie songs I actually like. And I would generally not listen to Enigma just for the sake of listening to it, but I find it excellent music to write to. It is not distracting. The 80's songs are. I will stop writing to sing along (much to Sara's dismay - no wonder she closes her office door and puts on headphones). These songs, however, energize me and help me keep going.

That's it for now. Ciao...

Friday, January 16, 2004


I am not sure what will drive you more quickly into insanity, being stuck indoors for days on end or writing a dissertation.

Needless to say, we have all been going a little stir-crazy around here. The dog has not had a good outing for several days. Today I decided I would take him in the car and drive him around a little; maybe making several brief stops. We went to a patch of woods near the Blackstone River where he got to run a little. He definitely had excess energy. Unfortunately it was brutally cold, especially because of the wind. The river is completely frozen over, which is interesting to see. We also went to Slater's Mill in Pawtucket - birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. I wanted to see the falls they have next to the mill. I was hoping they might be frozen. There were not, but there were some funky ice formations nonetheless. We were there only for a few minutes before the poor dog started limping. The ground was too cold for his paws. Back into the car and back home. Not a great outing, but better than nothing.

I got back to work on the ol' diss'. After a few hours, Sara poked her head into my office. She was a little stir-crazy and needed an outing as well. I should have kept on working, but I jumped at the opportunity to go out again. We did a little shopping. My big find was a funky two CD compilation of '80s music called "80's New Wave" (only $9.98). It has many songs I really like, including one I have had in my head recently: "Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo (can you say one-hit-wonder?).

Armed with new tunes, I was able to get a few more pages out before my brain decided to quit on me. Time for a beer and an episode of Coupling. Bed bekons soon. Tomorrow needs to be a productive day. Although it is supposed to be warmer, so I believe a walk with the dog (and maybe Sara, if I can convince her to join us) is in order.

And as to my initial query, I think being stuck in doors will bring about insanity quicker, the dissertation is a slow and painful process, although with more certain results.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Ironic Symbolism

An entertaining visual follow-up to the globalization topic.

This is a picture of a McDonald's in Bergamo, Italy.

Can you see the Ronald McDonald on the balcony?

His wave has an uncanny resemblance to a salute an infamous Italian used to make from a balcony sometime in the last century.

Any guesses as to whom I am refering?

The possibilities for social commentary and symbolic analysis are endless...

[Note 1: Sara insisted on stopping the car so she could take the picture. She found this extremely amusing.]

[Note 2: I did go into this McDonald's on several occasions. Once to use the bathroom. Another to wait for a bus when it was raining. And a couple of other times for research purposes - really. One research project had to do where immigrants eat and another one had to do with Food and Identity in Italy - matters for a separate post on a different day. I'll admit that I did get some fries while observing people.]
Brrr - Part III

Temperature outside right now: -4 (-20 Celsius)
Wind Chill: -25 (-32 Celsius)

The houses here were not built to withstand these temperatures. You can feel the cold if you walk close to the walls. Our landlord advised us to leave our faucets dripping and our cupbords open to avoid frozen pipes.

For once, it was too cold outside for our dog. I even put a sweater on him (which he doesn't like, but he needed today). The problem was his feet. A few blocks into our walk today, he started doing the ground is too cold to stand on dance (the one where he picks up his feet at different intervals so as to avoid contact with the ground). We quickly made our way back home.

Tonight is supposed to be the worst night, then we are supposed to "warm up". We still will be below freezing, which is colder than usual, but I will take it.
Historical Lunacy

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

A minister's son from Simljan in Austria-Hungary, you were precocious from an early age. At three you could multiply three-digit numbers in your head and calculate how many seconds visitors to your home had lived. In awe of your older brother Dane, you shot a pea-shooter at his horse, causing it to throw him and inflict injuries from which he later died. This tragedy haunted you ever after. You frequently suffered bouts of illness with hallucinations throughout your life.

You developed an aversion to human contact, particularly involving hair, and a fear of pearls; when one would-be lover kissed you, you ran away in agony. Later, you insisted that any repeated actions in your day-to-day life had to be divisible by three, or, better yet, twenty-seven. You refused to eat anything until you had calculated its exact volume. In the midst of important work, you forgot trivial details such as eating, sleeping or, on one memorable occasion, who you were.

Prompted by dreams of attaining the then-ridiculed goal of achieving an alternating-current motor, you went to America in the hope of teaming up with Thomas Edison. Edison snubbed you, but promised fifty thousand dollars if you could improve his own direct-current motor by 20% efficiency. You succeeded. Edison did not pay up. It was not long until you created an AC motor by yourself.

Now successful, you set up a small laboratory, with a few assistants and almost no written records whatsoever. Despite it being destroyed by fire, you invented the Tesla Coil, impressing even the least astute observer with man-made lightning and lights lit seemingly by magic.

You died aged 87 in New York, sharing an apartment with the flock of pigeons who were by then your only friends.

Ridiculed throughout your life (Superman fought the evil Dr. Tesla in 1940s comics), you were posthumously declared the father of the fluorescent bulb, the vacuum tube amplifier and the X-ray machine, and the Supreme Court named you as the legal inventor of the radio in place of Marconi.

Global Cultures?

Sherri recently posted a comment on the opening of a Starbucks in Paris. I started these thoughts in her comment box and then decided that they would clutter it up, so I transferred them here into my own post.

After reading her post, I felt the need to state that the idea that cultures are unique and have been kept pristine until the ravaging effects of globalism and capitalism is just a myth.

Think about Swiss chocolate. We now consider it a sound cultural tradition, right? Chocolate came from the Americas and the use of sugar was made possible through the rise of commodity trade. Tomato sauce on Italian food? Tomatoes are also from the Americas and they would not have made their way to Italy if it weren't for the "globalization" of the 15th century. A more recent example? The "traditional" pasta carbonara in Italy originates from GIs during the Second World War who added their freeze-dried eggs and bacon rations to the local dry pasta. Traditions and culture are constantly evolving. The reason McDonalds is so successful around the world? It adapts its offerings to local culture. Some things are lost and new things are created, either invented or through the fusion of existing practices.

Just because there are Starbucks around the world doesn't mean there is a world culture. Going to Starbucks in Paris is not the same thing as going to Starbucks in Omaha. There are complicated symbolic issues of class, taste, and identity involved.

If you think Europeans have the wrong image of the US because of American fast food chains, think about the way it is the other way around. To many Americans Italian food is Olive Garden, France means French Vanilla Coffee, and Europe is a place of elegance and sophistication. Some people like to hold those images as true (on both sides of the pond) because it fits into their world outlook and ideology. Others prefer to explore and move beyond the "image" of the country and explore the complexities of different cultures, including witnessing how they are constantly changing.

So to the Parisians who want to partake of Starbucks I wish them bon apetit, and to those who prefer to stick with their everyday brasseries, I say the coffee is probably better there and have a pain au chocolat for me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


I finished the first chapter of the three.

I also realized that two postdoctoral applications were DUE IN on the 15th (as opposed to having a postmark deadline) yesterday. So after a panic and stress session (thank you for your patience and understanding, Sara), I completed them quickly last night and overnight mailed them today (a very pricey oversight).

No rest for the wicked, though. I need to proofread the completed chapter and get started on the second of the three chapters this afternoon.

Oh, did I mention that we are back into the deep freeze. It is not as windy, though. It does make a lot of difference. I am sure you really don't care.
Bad Drivers

I think the very cold weather we are having has frozen the brains of the drivers around here who are worse than usual. I went out today for a couple of errands and in the hour or so I was out I saw:

- 3 accidents on city streets.

- A woman in a new bright red Landrover run straight through a stop sign and come within a few feet of hitting me.

- A young guy in a new black Audi run a red light and almost hit the car in front of me.

- A man in a big new Mercedes overtake another car that was going the speed limit on a two lane residential street and while passing almost hit an elderly woman who was crossing the street.

I did not notice the make of the cars involved in the accidents, but all the one's involved in traffic violations were new and relatively expensive cars. So I would like to make this public service announcement:

Just because you have more money than the rest of us or because you are willing to go into debt to have an expensive car does not mean that the rules of the road do not apply to you. Just because you are in a hurry, doesn't mean you have the right to put other people in harm's way. Your time is not more valuable than the life or well-being of a pedestrian.

And just in case you need a primer:

- The big red octagon (that is a shape with eight sides) sign that has the word STOP in it means that you should stop (not slow down or keep on driving) at all times.

- The big rectangular sign that says speed limit and has a number in it means that you should not drive faster than the number on the sign. Even if you don't see that sign, you should not drive faster than 25 mph in a residential zone. That kid that runs out into the street might be yours.

- A green light means you go, a red light means you stop. There are countless debates as to what the yellow light means, but it is best to stop and wait until the light turns green. Taking a few more minutes to get somewhere will not kill you.

- Pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right of way.

- It's a good idea to use your turn signals to alert other drivers as to your intent. Put them on BEFORE you turn or change lanes, not DURING your move. Moreover, make sure they indicate the direction you are turning in and not the opposite direction.

- Don't tailgate. It is not polite and it is not going to make me go faster. And I don't want you hitting me when I do stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk.

- When there are other people driving around you at night, don't use your brights.

- When driving in the city at night, it is not acceptable to only use your parking lights. They are called parking lights because you use them when you are PARKED, that is not moving. I don't care if it looks cool and you can see thanks to the street light.

- When the weather is bad, slow down. Just because you have an SUV doesn't mean that you can drive as fast as you can in any weather. There are other drivers that will be going slow and will be in your way. You don't have the right to hit them. No matter how much money you have.

I could go on and on. Those who need to read this probably won't and those of you who are reading probably are good and considerate drivers already. So there is little point to all of this other than it has allowed me to vent and it has allowed me to procrastinate for a few minutes.

Sorry to have taken your time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


I realized that the chapter I am working on was going to run long - very long. I decided to split it into two chapters, the problem was that there was no good middle point where I could cut it into two. Being the glutton for punishment and noticing that there were good dividing lines about a third way into the chapter and at the two thirds point, I have taken one chapter and made it into three. Yes they will be short chapters, but they are three chapters nonetheless. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I am almost finished with the first one of the three.

The other bad news is that there are two other ones left to write.

More bad news is that there is yet another chapter after that.

And the worse news is that I have two weeks left.

YIKES! Back to work.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Places I don't want to live

1. Tacoma
2. Miami
3. New Orleans
4. Las Vegas
5. New York
6. Portland
7. Mobile, Alabama
8. Stockton-Lodi, California
9. Detroit
10. Dallas

Source: The Associated Press

I already have enough stress as it is, thank you very much.

Time for Politics

So Paul O'Neil is breaking the code. No omerta' for him. I hope this makes people wake up. It really should.

Will it? I doubt it.

Is his timing politically driven? Of course it is. It should not take away from all he is revealing, though.

What has he said?

Nothing new, but it confirms many suspicions about the Bush White House, such as:

-Bush is just a figure-head for neo-con manipulators (Cheney, Rove, Pearle, Rumsfeld, and co.).

-The Iraq war had nothing to do with Sept. 11.

Brrr - Part II

It is still cold. Very cold. It is hard for me to believe that there is a 70 degree temperature differential between the air temperature inside the apartment and the outside. The glaciers that have developed on our windows over the past days are a constant reminder, though. I cannot look outside through the opaque ice-sheets. It also makes me think that it cannot be healthy going through such extreme temperature change. There should be something like decompression chambers but for temperatures so that your body is not shocked. Our dog does not understand this and he still wants to/needs to go outside. And so do I. I can only spend so much time stuck inside. Cabin-fever - I get it real bad.

Sara teases me. She says, "I thought you prefer the cold to heat. So there, it's cold." I do prefer the cold, but this is actually quite painful. I still will take this over the sticky, muggy days that make you wilt.

I know it can be worse. I have hears stories from people who have lived in Alaska, Northern Canada, Russia, and other such places. I even knew someone in college who worked at a scientific station in Antarctica. I think the funniest story was from someone who lived in Alaska who told me about having to clean up his dog's pee in the yard. Not the poop, the pee. You see, the dog pees and it freezes immediately. So soon there is a yellow conical pyramid in the yard. I am sure that it wasn't too far from the door to the house. I am sure there was also a human pee pyramid too since the house had an outhouse, rather than an internal toilet. I don't think I could live there.

The writing is progressing slowly, but at least it is progressing. My focus on those matters is why my postings have been rather lame as of late. They will probably continue to be so. Either that or they will become rather bizarre. Perhaps even fascinating, if witnessing someone moving into the realm of insanity is something that could tickle your fancy.

Speaking of crazy, I cannot believe that they are going to play a football game in this weather. Even crazier - there are people who are going to sit in the stadium and watch it.

Hmmm...the dog probably needs his walk soon. I better go and start the lengthy process of layering clothes for warmth. I should be ready in couple of hours.

Friday, January 09, 2004


I am thankful that I have a roof over my head and that the heat works today. It is COLD outside. It is 3 degrees, with a windchill of about -15 (that's -15 and -24 degrees Centigrade for you metric folk). Brrrr....

Good day to stay inside and write. And write I will...

May you all be warm.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Strange Sighting for the Day

Seen: A man, probably in his sixties, wearing an ankle-length salt-and-pepper fur coat that matched is thick and hideous toupee.

Where: The Nordstrom Cafe, Providence.

I guess some people never realize how ridiculous they look. Although this person was definitely interested in showing off his opulence. Sara hypothesized that the coat and the rug on his head were made from the same dead rats. She may be on to something...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Since I know you all love quizes...Here's a Pop Quiz

How well do you know Xoloitzquintle?

Go ahead, take it. It's not that hard.

[quiz site via Greengrl]

Useful Technology

Fax machines need some kind of device to recognize when there is not a fax at the other end of the line. Even better, they should have a device that will shock any idiot who tries to continue to send a fax to a number that does not have a fax.

Yes, you guessed it, we have been plagued by incessant calls by a rogue fax machine this morning.

No, there is no fax machine here. ZAP!!! 8P

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Confusing Logic

Let me get this straight.

Marriage between to people in a committed loving relationship is an affront to the institution of marriage if the two people are of the same sex, but having children running off to Vegas getting married, and then having it annulled fifty-five hours later is not as long as they are of the opposite sex?

Rather than having a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, we should have one outlawing stupidity and hypocrisy.

Monday, January 05, 2004

A Dog, a Rainy Day and a Couple of Hours to Kill

Sara had a phone interview today - yay, Sara, but that is something for her to write about. She asked for some peace and quiet and no distractions for a while before the interview and then during the interview. This meant that the dog and I needed to be somewhere else. Not so much because of me (I can keep myself busy and quiet working or avoiding work), but rather because the dog starts making his presence known once it starts nearing dinner time.

So what do you do with your dog for the two hours between four and six in the afternoon when the sun sets at about 4:30 and it is cold and raining? That was what I had to figure out.

I ran a few errands and took the dog for a short, cold, and wet walk. That killed about half an hour. I thought about driving somewhere, but it was rush hour in the rain, so the thought of that was not appealing. Moreover, while I like driving around to enjoy the scenery, there is little to look at once it gets dark.

I decided to get Sara some flowers because she was pretty stressed. While driving to get them, I was cruising along a poorly lit road. Suddenly I notice two guys walking in the road. I came pretty close to hitting them. Who walks IN the road when it is dark and raining? How stupid is that? Those two deserve to get hit, I am just glad it was not me doing the hitting.

Now I am back home, warm and comfy. However, I am dreading having to go back to work. But it must be done...
Random Thoughts

Doing research on issues of racism can be depressing.

The next three weeks are going to be tough. I wish I could get by with less sleep.

It is going to get cold tomorrow. Oh no.

Walking around my neighborhood and seeing all the discarded Christmas trees saddens me. Poor trees. We should be planting more trees, not chopping them down.

Why is everyone is such a hurry?

They Might Be Giants is one silly and entertaining band.

Today is my sister's and my step-father's birthday. I need to remember to call them this evening. Remember to call, remember to call. Maybe that will do it...

Ok, brain is empty...time to go.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

The March Continues

Today another job application goes in the mail. Another one is almost complete. I want to sit on this one a little and go over it a few more times because I would really like that position. It needs to be in by the 12th, so there is a little time.

I am almost ready to start writing the next chapter. I have been going through a ton of material. There is some good stuff. The challenge is figuring out how to string it together.

Last night we had a welcome break. We got a surprise call from Sara's best friend from high school who lives in Colorado. She was in New York with her husband visiting her sister. They all decided to come up to Providence and they wanted to know if we could meet them for dinner. We went to a restaurant on Federal Hill (the Italian neighborhood) that both Sara and I like a lot.

It was nice to see them, although after staring at a computer screen full of ethnographic data all day I was quite out of it. I probably came off as strange and anti-social. Sara's friend and husband both have Ph.D.s, though, so they probably know what it is like to be in the midst of a dissertation. The visit definitely lifted Sara's spirits, which makes me happy.

Well, then, it is almost time for lunch. Leftovers from last night are on the menu. Quick and easy. Then a trip to the post office and finally back to work. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Friday, January 02, 2004

Children's Voices

For part of my research in Italy, I collected essays from children in elementary and middle school. I have been reading over some of these as I work through my data outlining the current chapter. Children's minds never cease to amaze me. The beauty of these essays is that the children really express what they think. Some of the ideas they express are brilliant, while some others are downright frightening. We should listen to children more often, there is so much wisdom and truth in what they say.

Just thought I would share...back to work.
Music Recommendation

Looking for something different to listen to? Something upbeat to get you through the dark and cold winter? I recently picked up The Truth About Charlie - Music from the motion picture. It is a compilation of world music with songs in English, Spanish, and French. It has helped me on this dissertation march I am on.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

College Football

New Year's Day is a day when there are many big football games for college teams. It seems like watching them is the pastime for many people around the country. As I watched a bit of the Rose Bowl (one of the games), I wondered to myself how many of those players are bonafide students as well. I really believe that most collegiate football players in the big name universities are not and believing that they are is just a form of self-deception.

Football programs help maintain alumni ties to the universities and encourage donations to the school. The same goes for basketball and a few other sports. It is sad that people are more willing to donate money because of a sport than to maintain academic standards and facilities. That is the reality of the culture we live in, though. Given this fact, it is highly unlikely that football will be divorced from universities. However, I do believe that the myth behind the scholar athlete at these schools needs to be addressed. Football programs need to be divorced from academics. Let the athletic programs be associated with the university, but don't call the players students. Allow the players to pursue an education following their participation in the sports program should they fail to make a career in a professional league afterward. Or even allow them to enroll after their professional careers. That way they can focus on the sport (as they already do), and they are not left high and dry should their sports careers not work out.

The way things are now, the players are not really being educated and there is a facade that real students and professors need to maintain that they really are. I have heard of countless accounts of professors being pressured into passing students and of players having other people write their term papers. In the end, this system hurts the players and is detrimental to the educational mission of universities.
Look Who's Back!

I finally got the internet connection issue resolved and then Blogger refuses to work. Yikes.

Everything seems to be up and running now. Everything except my brain. I need to get the old noggin into gear because there is going to be a lot of writing goin' on around here over the next couple of weeks.

From the results of the poll, it looks like most of you had a 2003 that you would rather forget, so I hope 2004 is so fabulous for you that it will do just that (make you forget 2003)!