Wednesday, May 31, 2006


This may creep some of you out, but there is something that I find fascinating. I may have this strange interest perhaps because I am an anthropologist (or maybe I am an anthropologist because things like this interest me). The reason I write about it is because I thought about it today as I walked the dogs through the warm but cooling summer evening.

As the dogs and I made our way through our quiet neighborhood, lights flickered and shone through the windows of the homes and apartments we passed. Voices, music, baseball announcers, the barking and yapping of dogs, and children's laughs all escaped out of the recently opened windows that only recently were sealed tight to keep the winter's chill out. It was all very soothing and pleasant.

My confession is that I enjoy the glimpses, sounds, and aromas I catch through the openings of people's homes - especially those that eminate in the evenings, summer evenings. Not that I am looking for anything in particular. I am drawn to the moment that my eyes catch; it is an instance that is mundane, but unique. A snapshot of life, someone's life that has a past, present, and future for them. For me, however, that is all that will exist. That particular moment, that particular event. I take it in. Sometimes I construct my imaginary context. I create the past that led up to that point and I extrapolate the future - all fictitious of course. Other times I just let the glimpse float away as quickly as it came to me. I admire the architecture or the decor. I take in the plant life or animals that happen to show up at the window at that moment. I occasionally think back to other windows that have shared their worlds with me. I recall the wonderful frescos on ceilings in Italy or the wooden beams in the rooms in Sweden. The scent of spices and fragant cooking in Mexico and Thailand come back to me.

It is amazing how many unique little worlds there are.

Yes, this is one of my guilty pleasures. I admit it.

Now you know, if this bothers you and you know I am in town - close your blinds.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006



Orchid Tree - San Diego Posted by Picasa

We are still walking around somewhat stunned here. Sara is distracting herself by spinning and dying yarn. She just started recently and she is already making some beautiful yarn.

I am not sure what I should be doing. My class was cancelled and I certainly could use this time to get some of my own writing done. Given everything that is going on, though, it is hard to focus. I am worried about Sara's dad and I am worried about Sara. Everything else seems trivial. But there is little I can do other than try to be helpful and supportive.

Maybe I will post on Mexico or something else soon.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


We are somewhat in a state of shock here.

You go along with your life with all its worries and challenges and then you get blindsided by something you never expect.

The uncertainty and the inability to do anything is the most difficult part, at least for the time being.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Summer is here.

I don't care what the calendar says, today we had our first day of summer. The air was warm and thick; you could actually see the humidity. Rain cooled the air this evening, but it is still very moist. Temparatures are supposed to go up and up next week. It may be time to put the a/c into the windows.

Haitian food is good.

Sara and I went to a place that billed itself as Caribbean food. I was expecting Jamaican, but the menu in French and the music suggested otherwise. I assumed it was Haitian, but I asked to make sure - there are other Francophone islands in the Caribbean. I think it was the first time I had Haitian food. Sara got fish creole and she got a whole fish! I always find it strange to have food that seems to be watching you eat it. I felt compelled to thank it for allowing us to consume it. It was very good, very nicely spiced. I got some chicken which was also very tasty. No head on the chicken, though. It's probably for the best.

Writing syllabi is time consuming.

I had to write a syllabus for an Introduction to International Studies course for a job I applied for in New York. In a previous life, I got an MA in International Relations, so it was not something way out in left field for me. I did have to dust the ol' archives in my head, though. It took me a good part of yesterday and today to put it together, but I think it is done. Wish me luck.

Oso keeps hinting.

I have never explained why I go by the name Xolo(itzquintle) and use the name for this space and Oso is dying to know. I have promised to explain several times since I first started writing here almost three (!) years ago, but I have never followed through. Sorry, Oso, it is not going to happen today. It may soon. Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just for Fun

x o L O one letter i T sign z Q U neon sign i nes-n T L E

Thanks to Heliosphan for the link.

Get your own here.

Cave Canem

Cave Canem

Posted by Picasa

Back on the east coast and back to reality.

Reality is a dog one needs to beware of. At least I have a sweetie and two great pups to soften the blow.

I am still looking for something to bring in some money once we move to New York. Moreover, I returned to find out that one of the summer courses I was supposed to teach has been cancelled because of low enrollment. The other course is still on track as far as I know. The problem is that it is the last week in June and the first two in July, which makes trying to make alternate plans more difficult. The silver lining is that the one I still have is the one that pays more.

It is discouraging, though. I have spent the past seven months or so waiting for some good news. I had one brief moment of hope - one interview. The hope was short-lived, though. And the waiting continues. The meter on the left continues to go up and up with no more good news. Soon it will reach its max. As will the disappointment. It is hard not to belittle yourself, your skills, your work. I have avoided that for the most part. I do feel like I have been extremely unlucky or unfortunate. Not that I believe in cosmic forces that bring you good fortune or curse you. Well, maybe I do, but if they exist, I don't believe that they are the ones that people try to influence through various mechanisms.

So what to do? I am not sure. I am aware of the danger of falling down the spiral of self-doubt, frustration, and resignation. I definitely need to keep myself out of that.

I am anxious of all that is coming up.

By the way that vicious dog in the picture is one of my mother's dogs - not the funny looking one, the other one. The mosaic tiles were done by step-father who is a big fan of Roman mosaics and frescos. The original is from Pompeii and now is in a museum in Naples.

More about California a bit later...

Friday, May 19, 2006


Here I am in San Diego. Getting here was rather uneventful, which in this day is a very fortunate thing. The biggest inconvenience was my sinuses and ears complaining about the cabin pressure in the airplane towards the end of the trip. Of course there were three guys about four rows ahead of me who were getting pretty wasted. I think they were one drink away from creating some real trouble. Stupid frat boys.

Actually the trip itself was very productive: I finished all my grading and read a bunch of things I needed to get through. I purposefully did not buy any magazines or newspapers so that I would not procrastinate, but then I found myself sitting in the plane with nothing to do.

It has been nice seeing my mom and catching up. I also got to meet her "new" (she got him last summer) dog. He is a silly looking thing: he has a huge head and huge paws, but in between he has these stumpy little legs. Despite his looks, he is a nice and very friendly dog. I think I posted a picture of him way back when...

Observations over the past two days:
  • The roads are so much nicer and wider than in Massachusetts.
  • Drivers are better and more courteous.
  • People are in a better mood here than back east. I don't want to say that they are friendlier, because people in Boston are friendly, but in a different way.
  • Even though there is a governor's race in Massachusetts this year, the governor's race and politics in general here are much more visible. Not that it is a good thing. I have seen more nasty ads on television the two days I have been here than I have all year in Boston.
  • Holy cow, gas is really expensive here! But I guess it is cleaner.
  • I have a hard time adjusting to the three hour time difference. I keep waking up at 5 am.
  • Days are very long when you start them at 5 am.
  • I learned how to play Mexican Train Dominos. Silly game.
  • I wished I had packed the dogs and Sara into my suitcase.

Tomorrow evening I am meeting up with Oso to go to Nate's house for dinner. I met Oso last year and enjoyed our conversation, food, and beers (although he complained about the pedos afterward - and I am not sure whether he was talking about gas or our conversation or both).

Tonight I am off to dinner with my bestfriend from high school - the one whose step-daughter passed away last September from cancer. I am looking forward to seeing him.

Pictures to come later - probably when I get back to Boston.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Flying out West

Going to visit mom in California tomorrow.

I wish I could bring Sara and the dogs with me. Unfortunately, they always complain when I try to pack them in my suitcase. So to avoid any whining and complaining on their part, they will have to stay in Boston.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I have not been washed away - yet.

As you may have heard, we have had a little bit of rain here in New England. Given all the flooding and swollen rivers, you may have taken my recent silence as a sign that I was carried down the river somewhere.

Probably not.

I have had a bit of luck to match our weather:
  • The cold got worse - throbbing sinuses anyone?
  • I am way behind in my grading.
  • Today I got a flat tire - in the rain.
  • Sat in stopped traffic for a long time because of an accident (at least I wasn't part of the accident!)
  • Many of the errands I had to do were put off.
The dogs are restless. They don't much care for the rain, though. After a brief walk through the showers, they both glare at me as though I was responsible for the foul weather.

Ok, maybe I should have just kept my silence going rather than bemoan everything here.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Is there a Good Virus? And other things....

Posted by Picasa Image of a rhinovirus (One of the common cold viruses)

A question to those out there advocating intelligent design: why would any intelligent being create a virus? As far as I can tell there are no good viruses (unlike bacteria and molds).

Are viruses a production design flaw? Hmmmm....

Can you tell I am cranky?

Something I recently found out that I feel I should have known:
  • The name for avocado comes from the Nahuatl name ahuacatl meaning "testicle". It makes sense. Both are squishy and have a pit in the middle. But I am sure testicles aren't as good with salt in a tortilla!
By the way, I have tried peppers, airborne, vitamins, juices, teas, chicken soup, limes...nothing is shaking this damn cold.

I am off to entertain my delirium elsewhere...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


So yeah, I am sick. I lost the battle...


I was supposed to grade papers today, but I decided that my mind cannot focus and my mood is too cranky to give them the due attention and a fair grade. Could this be psycho-somatic procrastination? I have already mentioned that I don't like grading. But I don't think I dislike it to the point of having my mind make me sick (or lowering my immune system so as to letting me get sick). If it is psycho-somatic - I curse my psyche for making me feel like this.


Random though - there is a slight possibility, just a tiny one, that we may get our first woman President in the US. And no, I am not talking about Hillary. Say, for argument's sake, that Congress goes back to being Democratic in November and that the Democratic leadership in the house does not change. Then assume that Bush's shennanigans are investigated and it is revealed that he really did break laws. There might be a move to impeach, not only Bush, but his vice-buddy as well (as he is probably knee deep in it as well). Impeachment goes through, Senate convicts both. Now what? Who is next in line? Speaker of the House. Who would that be? Nancy Pelosi (current minority leader who would become Speaker when the House turned Democratic).

I don't particularly like Nancy Pelosi - she engages too much in politico-doublespeak for my tastes. But it would be cool to see that play out. I think it is time we get past the political glass ceiling that exists in this country. While I think it is still an uphill battle for it to happen at the polls, if it happened through procedure maybe people would realize that a woman President is just as bad as a male one. That would open doors for all other women.

It's not going to happen, but it was just something I was thinking about.



Oh, I have not mentioned that I am heading out to California next week. I'll be in San Diego from the 17th through the 23rd. Then it is back to teaching summer school on the 24th. It will be nice to see my mom - I haven't seen her in over a year. And even then it was a quick-passing-through visit.

Gotta love frequent-flyer miles. It will probably cost me more to get to the airport on public transportation here than it will to fly across the country.

I know, I know...I actually paid for that trip when I bought my other tickets. Nothing is really free. Not even our minds...

Whoa, where did that come from. Stupid cold-megavitamin overload-excess tea-ultra hydration-haze! It keeps me in a fog all day and has my mind spout out banal philosophical statements.

I am going to quit my rambling because probably no one is paying attention at this point - not even me.

[Sneeze] Good thing I bought more tissues today...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006



The signs are there. The foreboding symptoms of the impending stuggle.

The tiredness.
The scratchy throat.
The irritated sinuses.
The spacy-ness.

Yes, it looks like my body is trying to fight off a cold. And it seems to be losing the battle.

I have built my arsenal of vitamins, minerals, teas, juices, saline solutions, and tissues.

I must warn you, there may be much whining ahead.

Monday, May 08, 2006

New York in Spring

New York in Spring

Sara and I popped down to NYC to check out some potential neighborhoods for our future residence.

The city is simultaneously dynamic and overwhelming.

We also met probably the friendliest person in the world (someone who works where Sara will be working).

I am sure I will write more about the trip and my feelings about moving later. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo - Not Mexican Independence Day!

Contrary to popular belief, today is not a day to overindulge in Margaritas.

Or gorge oneself with nachos.

Any day of the year is good for that.

It is also not Mexican Independence Day (which is September 16).

And it is certainly not a celebration of Mayonaise!

The day actually commemorates a battle in the state of Puebla (just east of Mexico City), where the Mexicanos kicked some imperialist French butt.

It really isn't a big deal in Mexico except for the fact that it pairs up nicely with May 1 (Dia del Trabajo) which is also a holiday. So this year people in Mexico only had a three day work week!

Now that's a reason to celebrate!

Lesson for today is over. Go ahead, have your margaritas (I like mine shaken with ice or on the rocks - and with GOOD tequila please!) and nachos - I know you are going to do it anyway!
Letter to the Boston Globe:
In response to those who are outraged by the "blatant disregard for the law" by undocumented immigrants, I would like to pose a hypothetical situation. Imagine you had a sick family member and you had to drive them to the hospital in the middle of the night. You find yourself on an empty street. Do you drive the speed limit? You then come to a stop light which is red. Do you stop? If you do and then it does not change to green. Do you go through it anyway when you see there are no other cars?

How would you feel if once you got to the hospital your family member is refused treatment because of your "blatant disregard for the law" or because it would be unfair to those who obeyed the traffic laws?

Individuals violate laws everyday when their family's well-being is at stake. A little more compassion and understanding in the world would not be a bad thing.

It probably won't get published, but I just had to get that off my mind.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Slow Moving

I need to review two books by tomorrow.

I have read one and most of the second. I am in the process of writing the review for the first one, but I just can't get my momentum going. It is like trying to run in thick, swampy mud.

I hate when that happens.

Now that I think about it, I don't think I have really ever tried to run in thick and swampy mud. Well, maybe back in my soccer/rugby playing days, but I am sure it wasn't thick and swampy, rather slippery and messy. There are times I feel like my writing is like that, but not today.

Today it is molasses. Yes, thick and syrrupy and really, really sticky.

I don't know what I am saying. Ignore this...I need to get back to my review.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A day without immigants?

1 de mayo - Un día sin algunos inmigrantes?

The day of the big mobilization came and went. As I mentioned earlier I was somewhat disappointed with the events in Boston.

First, it did not seem like many immigrants answered the call to abstain from work and consumption. I can understand the work aspect, as that is a difficult choice and sometimes necessity and commitments trump solidarity.

I at least hoped that the rally at the Boston Common would change my disappointment. I was encouraged by the memories of the previous rally on April 5, when I took my immigration class. That rally and march was so well attended, diverse, dynamic, and upbeat (it also helped that is was a glorious sunny day).

Posted by Picasa

Unfortunately, the rally on Monday was not as well attended. What bothered me more was the fact the speakers created a more adversarial and hostile atmosphere. I think it was because it was taken over by more "radical" groups (International Socialists, Anti-global youth, etc.) who were more interested in the "fight" than dialogue. The tone was matched by the gray skies and cold wind. The calls for social revolution and the complete dismantling of the borders is not only unrealistic, it will alienate those who are sympathetic to the struggles immigrants face everyday. Moreover, the "mainstream" press hones in on these positions, which plays into the image their "expert [unbiased] commentators" (Pat Buchanan et al.) want to promote.

I was encouraged that the marches out West were more successful and retained the tone of the original march: a celebration of immigrants and their social, cultural, and economic contributions to this country.

Posted by Picasa

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If I don't find any "real" work in NY, I might go into some political activism. I really think we need to move from the civic engagement we have seen over the past month to political action and participation. Unless these people marching vote, the outcome might be more detrimental to the cause. There is a backlash to the voice immigrants have found and if those people who are hostile to this activism are the only ones who vote, it will set the whole movement back.

In addition to engaging immigrants politically, there needs to be an active outreach people to dispell myths regarding immigration.

Widespread Myths about Immigration
  • Immigrants are the poorest and least educated people from their country.
  • Most immigrants are illegal.
  • Most of these illegal immigrants sneak across the Mexican border.
  • Border control is/can be effective.
  • Illegal immigrants don't pay taxes.
  • Illegal immigrants come to freeload of the welfare system.
  • The arrival of immigrants leads to an increase in crime.
I can discuss the falicy of these in more detail if anyone is interested.

To end on a positive note, this was my favorite part of the day.

Posted by Picasa

The "crazy" guy in support of immigrants. He was friendly and he had a nice dog!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I will have something to say about the May 1 events in Boston, immigrant activism, and the social representation of these events later.

But I do want to say that that the Boston rally at the Commons was somewhat disappointing.

I am encouraged that things went better elsewhere. There is a long tough road ahead if we expect this movement to yield any productive changes.