Friday, July 23, 2004

¿Ya termino?

I finished my Spanish class today.  It was very short, just a week of classes in the morning.  One friend commented to me that what I really need to do is spend two or three months living in a Spanish speaking country.  The questions remains as to how I could best do that.  Today has been characterized by lots of errors though. This morning I failed to remember to address La Señora next door in the respectful tone and accidently said to my teacher when we were saying goodbye, -thanks for nothing.

Clearly I need a few months here.  Or something.  So hopefully this afternoon, El Prado and tomorrow, either Avila or museums in Madrid.  It is supposed to be pretty miserable tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

¿George Bush es un malvado, no?

It´s been a quiet week at newyourquina because I am now in Spain on vacation. I´ve been pleased to find my first week was wonderful. My spanish has served without fail in almost every instance. I started out in Madrid, which is lovely, big modern city that is emminently walkable and full of detailed accessible maps. Also, socializing happens around lots of different visits to restaurants and bars in which you eat tapas, which apparently is my preferred mode of eating. Also, as in Italy, you can step into any bar at any time of day and order espresso, usually for a euro. Unexpected difficulties have so far been limited to finding shaving cream for women, apparently Spanish women depilate almost exclusively.

Other highlights have included:

Visiting the gay district, Chueca, and perusing the queer spanish fiction. I ended up buying a book by Alaska. Also, I found great shoe stores, which budget and time prevented me from taking full advantage of.

Croquettes. These are potato with pieces of ham mixed up in them, and we were taken to one restaurant which had the best croquettes in Madrid apparently.

Sidre from Asturias. In my mind I have dubbed the Irish part of Spain, although I´m sure that is not particularly accurate, but they have cider and bagpipes, I´m told

Travelling with a partner. This is the first vacation I have ever taken with anyone I am dating, and I have to say that it beats hiking around Guatemala by myself hands down. I have had way less time to sit and write in my journal, which I think is probably a good thing

So that is where I am. I´ll post more updates soon, but you get the idea.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Heaven's Blessings Attend Her

A nice article on my home state of North Carolina and how its politics and economy will play into the election. Via Unfogged.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Boring Facts That Don't Support Launching Bitchin' Invasions

Visit this draft registration form. Via my friend Erik, who correctly points out the questions at the bottom are the best part.


The moving is done. I have finished. There are huge spots of grit and grime that I fear may have adhered to the not too dry polyurethane on my brand new floor from the trolleys that movers used, and I have about eight bottles of vinegar and syrup etc that don't fit into any of my cabinets. There is approximately four inches between the end of bed and the bookshelf I was hoping to keep in my bedroom, but it is done, anyhow. My back held out although I had warning twinges all day and now I am trying to be careful, which is difficult when you have big boxes of books in all parts of the apartment that don't have a home.

It's very exciting, and even in the chaos, the furniture and plants appear to work in the living room, it seems like it is going to be really nice. The first night in the apartment was definitely a little strange. I never fully fell asleep and I had those half dreams about applying layers of polyurethane, and angle at which I was holding the brush as I was putting it on. This morning though I was gratified to take out at least fifteen empty boxes to the trash, which means I have unpacked a substantial amount of them. Although there is lots more to do. I could definitely be a guinea pig on one of those learning channel shows about organizing and renovation.

Monday, July 12, 2004


By virtue of my work, I am on a couple random, but interesting listserves to which I am quite sure I never subscribed. One is "Peace for the Basque Country." Another is the "Mental Disability Action Center", based in Budapest. This morning the following email was in my in box

"Press Relase

Historic cage bed ban in Hungary

12 July 2004, Budapest. The Hungarian Mental Health Interest Forum (PÉF) and the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) welcome a ministerial decree banning the use of cage beds within psychiatric and social care facilities in Hungary.

Cage beds – hospital beds with a metal or netted cage placed on top of them to enclose a person within their confines – currently exist throughout the Hungarian psychiatric system. The Hungarian government has been under pressure for a number of years to end the use of this medieval practice. On 6th July 2004 The Hungarian Minister for Health, Social and Family Affairs, Mr Mihaly Kökény, issued a legally-binding ministerial decree making the use of cage beds unlawful, something which was promised to happen by the end of 2003."

Very disturbing. One is reminded of how much worse it could be.

How Many Points In House Painting?

One of the features of the Weight Watchers program is exercise points. If you do exercise, you "earn" a certain number of points to add to your daily allotment. This has kept me from being in violation of Weight Watchers points limits countless times. In fact, its the only way I can successfully come out with the number right at the end of the day most of the time.

Anyhow, getting my apartment ready for moving in, painting, packing, and searching fruitlessly for the correct location of a certain non-profit which accepts women's clothes for a job readiness program, (with three bags of clothes slung around my shoulders in rush hour foot traffic in midtown on Friday, but I'm not bitter) has pre-empted much intentional excercise. Not having plates and pots and pans readily available has led me to eat lots of frozen food, a thing I haven't done since I worked two jobs right after college. So I think the weightloss thing might be a bust for now. However, last week I did make note of my activity in the Online Points Tracker. When you do an exercise, you can look it up in their database and enter it as an activity that you have completed and it will automatically add the correct amount of points to your daily allotment. Packing, painting, and carrying shopping bags full of old clothes do not appear in the database however. Window washing does, oddly enough. Last weekend, figuring that painting was at least as strenuous as window washing, I logged three hours of window washing into my Weight Watchers record, which yielded me seven points. So we'll see.

Tonight, are the final touch ups in painting, mostly to cover for the times in which I got sloppy or tired, and trying to clean the apartment, which although much prettier since the floors are done, still looks a bit like a work site.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Stress Eating

I've finally scheduled the moving day, for next Tuesday. Renovation events have conspired to put off the time I was going to be able to move-in until dangerously close to the time I a) have a public speaking engagement and b) am leaving for Spain on vacation. So in the course of the same week, I am (hopefully) moving into the apartment, speaking in a panel presentation with three other people that are imminently more impressive than I, and leaving on an international trip. Any one these activities however exciting they might be, could easily reduce me to a bundle of nerves on its own.

So, I regret to admit, that with echoes of news reports about the stress alleviating properties of carbohydrates and chocolate ringing in my ears, I walked across the street and bought a gigantic Starbuck's dessert (the peanut butter chocolate bar) and a latte (skim). I think that counts as my points for dinner and breakfast tomorrow, but there you are, I did it anyway.

The thing is that I do feel better.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


The thirteen week plan to stay active was eclipsed by the ten-day plan to move into my apartment. I didn't do any exercise, but I was busy and moving all weekend so I hope that counts for something. Saturday I bought paint, did some spackling, and removed ugly shelves from the new apartment. Sunday I (and a friend) painted, and painted and painted. I still have to do the trim and the base boards, but Monday, over the holiday, I couldn't motivate myself to do it. So that is still to come. I did a respectable amount of packing on Saturday and Sunday, but I just think to myself, how did I accumulate all this STUFF? And where am I going to put it all?

Last night, I finally did motivate myself to get out and go for a bike ride, which was good.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The Round Up on Michael Moore

I ran right out to see Fahrenheit 9/11, last weekend, with all the hordes of other New Yorkers. I lucked into a 3:40 show at the Lincoln Plaza, when every show before and after was entirely sold out. In the massive Cineplex on 42nd Street the next day, three theatres worth were also entirely sold out. It was, in fact, the top grossing film in the nation last weekend with ticket sales of $23.9 million. In small towns all over the United States, many of them conservative, people are going to see the movie. The Odessa American in Odessa, Texas reported that the movie was top-grossing film at the Century 12 Theatres there, despite petitions from the Concerned Citizens of Odessa that threatened “Showing this movie could have a detrimental effect on your profits."

It's a great response to Disney's refusal to distribute it, because on some level there has got to be a certain amount of regret that they missed the opportunity to get their hands on all that money.

I liked the film immensely after I saw it, especially the discussion of the Carlyle group, and its interests in the war in Iraq. I was one of about 70 people who were arrested without good reason across the street from their offices in April, 2003. Upon reflection I had moments of doubt, though. Moore makes a lot of assertions that he doesn't fully substantiate and one could argue that the facts as they exist on the surface are bad enough without digging for conspiracy theories. One of his critiques, that the evacuation of the Bin Laden family on September 13, 2001 indicates a cozy relationship between the Bushes and the Bin Laden's has been explained away by Richard Clarke, who said it was he and he alone that authorized the flights.

But he sets forth important footage that hasn't gotten any airtime elsewhere, including a keynote at a convention of corporations with potential economic interests in post-war Iraq in which the speaker says something along the lines of "just wait until all of that money gets flowing..." (I'll have to check on this exact quote) and interviews with blue haired ladies who might well be sitting at a church potluck who are just disgusted by the war and its consequences. Another really powerful bit was the footage of marine recruiters hanging out in the parking lot of a mall in poor neighborhoods and aggressively up chatting young men and women up for enlistment.

Clearly the high number of tickets sales is something of a phenomenon. Even the finest documentaries with great commercial appeal and relevance to diverse audiences didn't cultivate this type of response (think Hoop Dreams) The film taps into something that documentaries generally do not. When do people go out in droves on Saturday night to consider the consequences of American foreign policy? In Odessa, Texas, the audience, apparently a majority of them senior citizen, applauded the film at the end.

There's lots of interesting reviews popping up in the media and on the web. Christopher Hitchens pans the film, saying that "Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness." Matt Taibi rebuts very eloquently on behalf of Moore, saying:

"Michael Moore may be an ass, and impossible to like as a public figure, and a little loose with the facts, and greedy, and a shameless panderer. But he wouldn't be necessary if even one percent of the rest of us had any balls at all.

If even one reporter had stood up during a pre-Iraq Bush press conference last year and shouted, "Bullshit!" it might have made a difference." (Via Unfogged)

Paul Krugman, makes a similar point in today's New York Times, albeit more gently, saying, "Mr. Moore's greatest strength is a real empathy with working-class Americans that most journalists lack. Having stripped away Mr. Bush's common-man mask, he uses his film to make the case, in a way statistics never could, that Mr. Bush's policies favor a narrow elite at the expense of less fortunate Americans — sometimes, indeed, at the cost of their lives."

My fascination is in the coverage of the films in local papers in small towns all over the United States. Stay tunes for updates.


Yesterday was the first day in the the thirteen week plan that I had excercise scheduled and I failed to go. I decided it would be appropriate to forego it in order to make a trip to goodwill, but was waylaid by colleagues going for drinks at the 79th street boat basin. The weekend should yield some time to get back on track.

Thursday, July 01, 2004


It's incredibly quiet in my office, half of my program's staff is out on vacation. It inspires a general listlessness and torpor in me. I'm fighting it vigilantely, making lists of summer projects, trying to enthusiastically plunge into each task with renewed vigor. I'm actually trying to avoid reading any blogs, because I find myself taken away by that for periods of time that are entirely too long.

So, back to the task at hand.

Oh, but before I go, an update on the housing front. I have occupied the apartment and gotten a full sense of just how much work has to be done on it. I have noted, as I failed to in three successive previous viewings, that there is no bathroom door, only a failing accordion-folding plastic barrier. This is something that I can deal with later though, unlike the floors. I have made tentative arrangement to get the floors sanded and have discovered that management companies are generally highway robbers and scoundrels. If you blow your nose and ask for a tissue they want to charge a processing fee. It's quite audacious. The sad thing is that I am going to end up paying it, like all New Yorkers I am a slave to the real estate rat race.