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Sunday, April 29, 2007

OMG This Photo Rocks

Mi Mama sent me this sweet picture from outside the new hacienda in Mexico. I think maybe Pops is becoming a Quaker or something... I'm fuzzy on the details.

Lost your fine motor skills?
Try whittlin' with a machete!


Friday, April 27, 2007

House Guests

Olaiya and I had our first weekend houseguest. Her college amigo Hung flew up from San Francisco for a three-day vacation. While crashing here, he actually had his choice of two different beds to sleep in. It feels wickedly decadent to have this much space!

I had never seen Olaiya laugh quite so hard, or crack with such wisdom. It was good preparation for our upcoming trip to Belgium, where I'll be meeting all sorts of old cronies and subject to their inside jokes.

Riding the Asian Art Museum Camels


Color Photos This Time

Spaghetti Monster


Witches' Hats

Pink Propeller



Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rotary Foreign Exchange Program - Part 3

My own experience with hallucination came with a Malaria-induced fever. My temperature rose to 105 degrees. I lay freezing and shaking in a sweat-soaked bed, with my host family out of town. I was given some pills by a visiting doctor, and a recommendation to take them along with water. I couldn't get up to get the water though, or remember what the pills were for or where I left them or what time to take them. A fellow exchange student stayed with me and kept me on track. I remember laughing at the thought that I might die in India of malaria... and I was the only one of the exchange students who bothered trying to avoid it. We all got pills back in the US... Big ones... They made you sick for an entire day, and you were supposed to take them weekly. I kept at it for three or four months. No one else could stand them. I came down with the crazy chills and fevered hallucinations about a month after stopping.

Perhaps I had displeased the mosquito gods. I thought about my copy of Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, and how I had used it to kill hundreds of the pests inside the mosquito netting of my last bedroom. After securing myself inside, I opened the book to a random page and slammed it shut on each one until I could sleep in peace. After two months, the book, a meditation on universal oneness, was gorged with blood splats and parasite carcasses.

Nayda, my friend from British Columbia, contracted typhoid fever at one point. She made it to an actual hospital where conditions seemed at least sanitary. Her hair fell out in clumps and doctors fretted over her prognosis, but she made it through without having to be sent back to the States. Visiting her at the relatively posh medical facility, I thought about the queues at the Mumbai street clinics, where people waited for days to be seen by a nurse. I wondered how many poor souls died while waiting in line, and if the clinic had a method for disposing of their bodies. And did their method resemble my mosquito technique?


Honoring the gods was part of everyday life for Indians. Statues of Ganesha adorned every store and the entry of each house. A culture of constant tribute pervades. Small dishes of food, grains, spices, burning sticks of incense and coins are all left before the elephant-headed god... prayers that his wisdom will grant them blessings. This was impossibly different for an American like me, someone who had never even seen the inside of a church!

The religiously observant did embrace me on one point: vegetarianism. A practice considered pious, and usually only honored by women and the elderly, vegetarianism is a central tenet to Hinduism. Even though I came at it from a different angle, grandmothers always smiled at me when they heard I abstained from eating meat... as if I was helping keep their tradition alive in the face of Western dominance. I was nothing like the non-violent Jains of their world though... if they would have seen my copy of Siddhartha, I think their smiles would have vanished as swiftly as they were given.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

I once heard Vonnegut eulogize the recently deceased president of the Secular Humanism Society. He somberly climbed up to the podium, lifted his eyes toward the heavens, and intoned, "Well, he's in a better place now." Everybody roared with laughter.

So God bless you Mr. Vonnegut, for tackling all the serious questions with heart and humor. Your last book sucked, but you gave me so much to chew on over the years... I can't thank you enough.


Friday, April 13, 2007


Thank G-d for Jewish holidays. Passover passed over and I scored four days off over the last two weeks. The upshot was that I was able to finish building us a homemade bed. Our Ikea one just plain sucked. It was structurally unsound. Our new bed seems pretty solid, doesn't squeak or wobble a bit, and might even look nice if I finish sanding and staining it. It does weigh about 200 lbs though. The hardest part was doing all this without a woodshop, or even a garage. I had to use the dining room as a staging area, the table for a sawhorse, and get by using just a handsaw and a cordless drill. Big thanks to Doug for the hardwood flooring scraps, and for precutting them to 60" long! Cutting through that hard-as-nails Brazilian Cherry would have worn out my pull saw.

This view of the foot of the bed shows the basic layer design: 2x12's propping up 2x4's propping up hardwood flooring scraps propping up the mattress.

In this side view, you can see how two storage containers fit below.

Lupe seemed to approve, though I have nightmares of the bed collapsing while she's sneaking around underneath it.

Throw a blanket over it and it looks just like a real bed!



Much delayed in the posting, but here are a couple of photos from the second day of moving. Much thanks again to all the wonderful people who came out to help. Here we are gathered together to enjoy a Mexican buffet prepared Olaiya, Brandon and Molly.

Front row: Cher, Carole, Olaiya, Molly, Eric
Back row: Silvio, Steve, Diane, Brandon

The slow-roasted pork, by all accounts the star of the show, was camera shy
and stayed under foil.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Oh, what a crappy fan am I

Not only have I not been posting much, I haven't been reading/watching stuff either. I just went to Ze Frank's site today thinking I'd check back in on his video blog... maybe watch the last week's worth of episodes.

I was shocked to discover that the project has been terminated. He finished his one year vlogging project on St. Patrick's Day. So I watched the last 6 installments that he did and cried a little at the awesomeness. I cannot even fathom galvanizing a community the way that he did. I'll miss having The Show, even if I sometimes went a month between check-ins. Sigh.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Comcast Bombast Cockmask

Cableman come, internets werk good.
Cableman leave, internets not werk so good no more.

Apartment man call cable company and complain.
Cable company give area around bush good beating but no solve problem.

Three tries later, cable man come again and fix internets.
Also give man free extra channels again.
Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart make apartment man happy.
Now that internets werk again,
fewer excuses for neglecting apartment man's blog.