South Dakota

May 31, 2008

So two couchsurfers from South Dakota should be showing up sometime soon. Chick F is on her way over and I think all of us with new roommate Eva are going down to the punk bar for dinner. I could cook but I think that that it’s too late (ironically we will end up eating later because we’ll have to order the food but).

I went to an English Department student body party last night with two other teachers from the university. There were also some students with us and we made a nice little party. I then went to an old roommate’s birthday party on my way home and finally got home around 1.15am.

Tomorrow at 10am I have an artist meeting with other artists from iran, japan, germany and america for an international exhibition, should be interesting. Will go to the gym with Fox after that and then have the afternoon to chill and grade some homework.

I also put together my Romania photo album, it’s not perfect but it’s tangible and people can see it now if they like.

I’ll fill ya in on more as details come… 🙂


The first 9 hours of today

May 28, 2008
I woke up at 7am, my alarm going off. I normally wake up before it goes off but it was a tough way to start the day. Showered quickly after reading main news sites briefly (lakers win!) and then have some bread with butter and liverwurst, probably the first time in my life that i had that for breakfast (knowingly) and I almost never eat breakfast.

I left at 7.42, giving Chick F a kiss on her cheek as she slept on, took my bike to work. I missed my turn to the “bike highway” by the river and realized my mistake, turned back 10 meters and changed my mind again, taking a different route to work. I saw one of the students smoking a cigarette outside the building, something I’ve never seen at that job, and went upstairs and taught 4 people ranging in age from 35 to 65 about irregular past tense verbs and a little survey “what makes a good friend” where they have to rank different statements like “someone who listens to my problems” and “someone who has the same interests as you”. That job went from 8am to 9.15am and then I went downstairs, rode my bike 30 meters to the corner and parked my bike. I’m wearing a golf t-shirt, army shorts and flipflops and walk into the most expensive law office in town.

I had a “full house” today from 9.30-10.30am, 5 lawyers, 2 of them partners and 3 associates and we read an article about an Italian guy who was detained upon arrival in America for 10 days for no known reason and would not be released even after pleas from one of Virginia’s senators. Then we started going through different “values” like “power corrupts” and “everyone should receive free medical care when ill” and they have to agree or disagree with those statements. It was fascinating to see how they were able to parse these short statements. I had 5 lawyers breaking down 2-word sentences into 5 minutes of discussions of the implications of how the sentence was worded. We then spoke about the previous night’s Germany-Belarus friendly soccer match, then about South Africa’s chances of pulling it together enough for the World Cup in 2010.

I left at 10.30am and rode my bike in the “wrong” direction for 2-3 minutes to put some air in my tyres (haha, just kidding, tires. been teaching too much British English of late) but the combo bike/book store was gone. Some other foreigner working on taking the shit out of their said in bad German, “everything gone”. No air for the tires.

I went to the English department to make copies. It took me about 20 minutes to get 260 copies made because the the machine was acting up. I saw a co-worker who was sporting a small shiner. Apparently he took a dive on his bike in front of the cops in the center of town at midnight on a Friday night and had to endure the ambulance coming and another cop car coming to make him do the breathalizer.

I then decided to spend more on coffee because I wanted to sit in one of the beach chairs a cafe had. There is 1euro coffee at one place in the old town but this other place it ended up costing 2euros. But the chair was great, I I read the paper for a bit, some of my new Mark Twain autobiography. I saw an old student riding by and he stopped for a coffee, we talked of ex-girlfriends and new girlfriends. He went to class.

Another class of mine came to meet for lunch. We couldn’t eat where we wanted and had to go to the next restaurant where the service was horrific, the timing of the dishes could not have been worse with one guy finishing his lunch before anyone else got theirs, and then bade them farewell and rode my bike 10 minutes to the gym where I met a fellow english teacher. He hit it hard for an hour, talking about how drunk we were at my birthday party, vacation plans (he’s doing Tuscany and back home for Thanksgiving) and sports.

I rode my bike home, went down to the cellar to try and throw some stuff away but couldn’t bring myself to do it and ended up bringing a couple of things up.

That was more or less the first 9 hours of my day. I spent 37.50euros (including that month’s gym membership) and earned 116 euros, fyi.
I’m leaving you with one of my favorite squares in Freiburg…


May 28, 2008

It’s finally hit home to me. The former press sectary to Bush, Scott McClellan, has come out with a book chiding the media for being “too deferential” to the Bush Administration. How can it be called a liberal media when the Republican President’s own ex-press secretary accuses the press of not being hard enough on the president? He went so far as to say that Bush propagandized the war and that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby at best “misled” him as to their involvement in former CIA agent Valerie Plame’s outing in 2003.

And here’s the point. I would guess that my parents and many people back home in Orange County would think that in some ways, the president hasn’t been doing a good job or they “don’t approve of the job he’s doing.” That doesn’t make them liberal for feeling that way but that’s how the debate has been framed. Many people are going to vote for John McCain who are absolutely disgusted by Bush’s presidency. That doesn’t make them liberals. Hell, you wouldn’t know by watching the “liberal media”, but McCain is attempting to become even more conservative (or at least in the lowest forms just pandering to various factions until after the election) than Bush ever was. But somehow speaking out against the president makes you a “liberal” and the way the word is said by some “conservatives” makes you think their mouthes had to take the trash out.

There are very many conservatives things about me. I think we should conserve our national parks. I think we should conserve our natural resources. I think we should conserve by avoiding a never-ending (or -winning) war that is bleeding the treasury dry through various shell companies but many of it ending up in wealthy suburbs of DC and LA and Riyadh and London and Tel Aviv. I think we should conserve government’s influence on our day-to-day lives, weather it be regulating language on television/radio, decriminalizing marijuana, thereby allowing many DEA agents to work on more important people, like people flying planes of cocaine into America.

I think we should conserve ourselves. I am more or less a “free spender”, a pretty good customer of spending money but I do not lose any of my money monthly to “interest” owed to various credit card companies, etc. I conserve my money in other ways.

Anyway, just because you disagree with what the president is doing, if you think he should be impeached, if you think he should be put on trial for possible war crimes, these things do not necessarily make you a liberal. I have become a “librul” not because I live in Europe. It’s not because of the War (at least it wasn’t). It was because I lived in Europe, and because of the War and most importantly, I started seeking out more information. This started big after I got back from South America 20 months ago, I started to want to know more what was happening in the world. The search for knowledge became a never-ending wormhole where at any minute you expect to see a small guy in the center of the earth pulling a bunch of levers. It’s funny because while we’ll “never know” “everything”, that little guy pulling the levers probably won’t be as far from the truth as we think…


May 27, 2008

I would love to go to Israel. Maybe next year, who knows? I have relatives in Israel. I believe Israel has the right to exist. That said…

I just read a disturbing blog post about a guy named Finkelstein having been denied from entering Israel (for what would have been the 16th time) because of his anti-Israeli rhetoric. He wanted to visit some friends in the Occupied Territories.

People in America are detained from entering on the flimsiest of reasons. Professors who are invited from Switzerland to teach a semester at Notre Dame are denied from entry. A professor from Yale was denied tenure because of his occasional anti-Israeli rhetoric. We call it anti-Israeli rhetoric even when you advocate the forming of a Palestinian State. People in America are often more conservative in their views of Israel than the very people who live in Israel. The majority of people who live in Israel are for talking to Hamas. Even if they are a “terrorist organization”, they are an elected governing body in “fair elections”, the very thing that America demands of countries around the world even though the world has become demonstrably worse with our last major election (2000) when the Supreme Court and not the people who voted decided who would win. Imagine if Pakistan or Indonesia or Venezuela or Turkey had elections that were determined by those countries’ Supreme Courts. We would have denounced them as unfair and undemocratic.

What’s my point? Arguably the largest reason for terrorist activity in the world is because of the disputed Territories around Israel. I don’t think Israel should negotiate with anyone from Palestine who doesn’t first and foremost say that Israel have a right to exist. Of course they shouldn’t. But at what point is Israel being unreasonable. It is surrounded by countries that hate them. That’s okay, they still have the right to exist and flourish as they have for the past 60 years (congratulations by the way) but don’t they want peace? Aren’t they willing to give up some of their settlements for peace? I know, they have to negotiate with people who hate them, who despise them, even just as a matter of historical perspective, but when isn’t negotiating or even “talks” not the wisest decision?

It’s a frustrating venture and it is something most people in the world have an opinion about. By lopping off the most extreme opinions from both sides of the equation, I think you would find enough in the rich, green middle to encourage discussion. Israel has more to lose so they have to be careful. Palestine has nothing to lose and so they can afford to be reckless. What about the rest of us?

is the link to the article I read that made me think about this…

Antigua, baby!

May 26, 2008

Yesterday I booked a timeshare for Chick F and I in Guatemala. It will be the last 5 days of our trip in Central America. I’m hoping it will be convenient to the old town of Antigua where the timeshare is located. We also plan to spend the first couple of nights in a nice hotel in Costa Rica. Assiyeah and I did the same in Lima, Peru two years ago and ending in a nice hotel was definitely the way for us to go. After some rough travelling and adventurous couchsurfing, having a resort to finish off the long journey sounds fantastic.

Today is my first 5 day work week in a long time. I’m sure you feel bad for me… Granted, I only have a 90-minute private lesson on Friday but still, after having barely worked for 2+ weeks, a full week is gonna kill me! hahhahaha

But it’s all worth it because two months from today I will have my first full day of a two-month holiday and I can’t wait. A week in SoCal and then 6 weeks in Central America and then another 2 weeks in California including a Black Crowes concert and San Francisco. It’s going to be an epic summer.

My new roommate should move in tonight. I’ve already had one new roommate the past couple of months and she and I get along well and so I’m hoping this third one will add even more synergy to the group. I knew she would be the new roommate when she told me that she was originally from Bratislava, not a week after Chick F and I had returned from there. She even has family in the same neighborhood (Dubravka) of Bratislava where we stayed a couple of nights! I guess it was meant to be.

Lakers are up 2-1 in the series. A political pundit on Fox News jokingly referred to the assasination of Barack Obama. More than 8 billion dollars in contracts in Iraq cannot be accounted for. Sounds like same ol same ol to me…


May 24, 2008

how did i spend my 34th birthday? Well, I was up and at the punk bar until 3am and woke up around 11.30am with a nice little hangover. Chick F and I spent most of the day in bed watching Friends and Two and a Half Men, ordered in Chinese, had some chocolate chip ice cream. I did more or less nothing and it was great.

Going to see the new Indiana Jones Sunday at 3pm.

I bought 4 tix to see the Black Crowes on September 17th in LA, got Row D which I’m stoked about.

I have three weeks in a row with a lot of work. It’s going to kick my ass but it’ll be good for me somehow…


May 22, 2008

This website is the 29,748,971 most popular website on earth! According to Cool, right?