Thursday, August 07, 2008

European Vacation Recap

Quick summaries of what I did and where I went to across the Pond:

London (7/14): Went to Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Globe. Saw the changing of the guard. Went to the Imperial War Museum and the British Museum. got picked off the street to dance in a British Christian punk rock music video. You heard me. British Christian punk.

Cambridge (7/15) Went to 10 out of 31 colleges at Cambridge and went punting (propelling a boat with a pole) down the river Cam. Almost drowned and hit every boat and wall along the river Cam.

Vienna (7/16) Took a RyanAir (Irish version of Southwest, except you have to buy the drinks and complementary peanuts, and they sell lotto tickets) to Austria. Saw a bunch of former imperial palances belonging to the emperor Franz Josef, and sat through an actual concert of Mozart's "Requiem" at Karlskirche, a 18th century Baroque church, instead of bad university student dressed in funny wigs playing bad Mozart music.

Salzburg (7/18) Was not impressed with everything built on a cliff or nuns spinning around singing.

Munich (7/19) Apparently, when we got there, it was the festival of Munich's patron saint, which meant random people dressed in traditional Bavarian costumes and beer being sold by the liter on the street for about $4 (€2.75). So I threw back a couple of liters of beer, because you know those Germans; if you don't join the party, they come get you.

Rome (7/21) After sleeping in a six-bed room for twelve hours on a train, finally got to Rome, only to discover the city is like living in a distillery: hot, smoky, and smelling of cheap alcohol. Sights here included the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and waking up at 6am to stand in line another two hours to get into the Vatican, where I met two Filipino nuns who went to school with my mom. And an interesting conversation at a laundry mat where my friend Tristen spoke Korean to this one Korean guy who spoke Italian to the laundress to get out clothes cleaned on time.

Florence (7/23) Took a nap at the Florence hostel and had a dream that a hot, lost Italian girl woke me up and asked me for coffee. Instead, I was woken up by Peter, my friend from Boston who is not a hot, lost Italian girl. Thoroughly disappointed. And the Renaissance art wasn't that impressive. Botticelli's Birth of Venus or Michaelangelo's David were ok, somewhat disappointing in how imperfect they look in real life.

Nice (7/25) Spent the day on the beaches. Most of the women were topless, unfortunately most of them were also thrice my age. Did see a quartet of Chinese girls sunbathing, but, alas, I didn't know how to speak Mandarin or French.

Barcelona (7/27) Drinking beer I bought of the street at 2am. Going back to the hostel at 2pm for R&R. I think I went to the Olympic Park and the unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Família, but the rest is a blurry, drunken haze.

Madrid (7/29) More a haze too. I was impressed by the Prado and immense detail of Picasso's Guernica. Spent the last night drinking out of bottle of wine on a tour bus given to us by Filipinos.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If It´s Tuesday, This Must Be Barcelona

Actually it´s Thursday, and I´m in the airport in Madrid. Horribly bad about keeping up with the blog this summer, but will have a lot to say about the entire Euro trip. Just wanted to make one entry en España.

Friday, June 13, 2008

There Goes the Neighborhood

I promised I wouldn't get very political in my blog entries, but this time, the Republicans made it personal....

Apparently, pundits who are being paid to charge Barack Obama with being too liberal and too elite are skipping the fact he went to Harvard Law School and lived in Cambridge and instead are attacking where he lived and taught constitutional law: the University of Chicago and Hyde Park. One of the first articles was a Washington Post last Friday which said "Republicans plan to describe Obama as an elitist from the Hyde Park section of Chicago, where liberal professors mingle in an academic world that is alien to most working-class voters." The Weekly Standard featured an article, "Mr. Obama's Neighborhood," which described Hyde Park as "Berkeley with snow" and rampant with "the same alarmingly high number of men wandering about looking like NPR announcers — the wispy beards and wire rims, the pressed jeans and unscuffed sneakers, the backpacks and the bikes" as Berkeley. It ends, "[t]his is the perfect place for a man without an identity to make one of his own choosing."

Former and current Hyde Parkers were quick to defend their alma mater and its world. Thomas Frank in the Wall Street Journal pointed out the fallacy in the Republicans associating the UofC academia with liberalism, especially in a school home to Milton Friedman, Anthony Scalia, Allan Bloom, and a bunch of economists that helped a Chilean dictator. The Asian Times and Inside Higher Education are lamenting how one of the last bastions of academia is being defamed.

I guess my biggest problem with these articles is that they (purposefully) screwed up describing Hyde Park as another Berkeley or Cambridge. Well, its not; it has people who aren't just white and rich (just joking). There is nothing elite or extremely gentrified about it. There's a Starbucks next to Jimmy's. That's about it. There's no Apple stores or Abercrombie-malls anywhere and you're more likely to find Chardonnay drinking yuppies in Lincold Park than at the Med. Yeah, the UofC still is an ivory tower. But most of all, those articles miss how diverse the neighborhood is. Hyde Park does not have a classifiable identity because it doesn't adhere mindlessly to one doctrine or one party platform. Of all the neighborhoods of Chicago, it's the most diverse and most defiant. It also shows the limits of academic paternalism. co-existing with the UofC has its advantages (urban renewal, the UofC police, high incomes and property values) and its drawbacks (the UofC's intentions, the exclusion of lower-income minorities, the overpriced Co-op that's been replaced by a Treasure Island. But where else can a guy interview top Venezuelan businessmen at the GSB and then grab 40s of Steel Reserve with his SOUL friends? (that happened in one day).

So John McCain and his campaign is free to attack Obama; I mean it is an election. But mess with the UofC, caricature Hyde Park as some liberal elitist haven, there are a lot of UofC alum in high places who'd make you their bitch.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Still Getting Calls from the DNCC

I've stayed away from a political entry mainly because the primary season has been so long and volatile that there have been children conceived and born before it ended, including my newborn niece Kaitlyn, and really, I've been too damn busy with work and med school. Still, I've never shied away from debating my political views, whether or not it's my family, my peers, the New York City Police Department, or the Department of Defense. And everyone in my lab still wonders why I have a degree in Political Science and didn't think about the high-paying world of political operative (truth being, I'm too blunt and honest to spin. Bite me, Bill O'Reilly.)

So today I was listening to the radio to hear a woman talk about how she knew Senator Barack Obama follows closely Senator Clinton on most of the issues pertaining to women's rights, but she didn't care. She would vote for Senator John McCain in the fall and hope he screws up the next four years so badly that Hilary can run again in 2012. This wasn't NPR. This was Kiss 108. And her sentiments have been bounced all over message boards this past week.

Without interjecting my own political views, let's take this from a logical step. Now let's say that you are trying to nail something together to build an object. And your choices were a hammer... or a jigsaw. Let's say the choices for the hammer are a claw hammer or a framing hammer. And when you go get the hammer, you find your choice (claw, whatever) is gone. Would you really use a jigsaw to drive one nail because you don't prefer the framing hammer?

Now this was a really dumb-down, and blatant metaphor, but I think it works (maybe?) Hilary's was a flawed campaign. Obama's was not perfect. But if Clinton supporters believe that the change promised by her campaign are needed to fix this country, then they really should reconsider their threat to abstain from voting or voting for Senator McCain. Because when all the filters are applied, and all the sand is sifted, the two candidates for the Democratic nomination are incredibly close on the major, vital issues that make up governance of a nation. McCain is not close to Hillary's positions by a long shot.

Now whether or not you should support either platforms is a different issue.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Going to California

I am. From July 2 to July 10. Mostly in the Bay Area. But I haven't been to California (LA) for years, at least not since the Reagan years, so suggestions about what to do there other than engage the Filipino community would be appreciated.

The West Coast has that image of being super-health conscious, so I doubt there would be as many barbecues there as there were here during Memorial Day. Except in New England, they don't call them barbecue, they're called "cook-outs." Unless it's a "Southern-style BBQ," which is entirely the same as a cookout except they think "Southerners" (which is everybody else in the country) layer their meat with four pounds of sauce. And then they barbecue everything in New England, from burgers, ribs, bacon? and kielbasa to swordfish, lobster and clams. And every dish has this complementary side of beans that's supposed to be the vegetarian option, if it didn't have a piece of pork floating in it. Yeah, so much beef.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Scav Hunt 2008.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Evidence the Blogger is Alive

I have been MIA from Joel Sequitur for a while, but the reality is that out of this blog's six readers, I've personally seen four of you guys in the past month. And the two who I haven't seen, get your butts out to the East Coast once in a while.

The month has been exciting as A) I have achieved the Masters in Science by finishing the Master's thesis of minor doom, B) said thesis then became the thesis of major inconvenience as I had to revise it because my graphs printed outside the margins which wasn't evident on Word, C) I'm working on a poster and several papers with my Parkinson's disease research for the Society for Neuroscience, D) I went to Portsmouth, Virginia to tour naval hospitals, E) had several "hilarious" encounters with miscellaneous women and F) did Scav Hunt. Barnraisings and pie-fights galore.

With the Parkinson's stuff, I'll actually be busy finishing that up to get authorship on the papers and planning trips to California and Europe, so the next entry might take a while. With that in mind, I like to take this time to congratulate Nick P., who is walking this Sunday at Boston University's campus wide commencement. I could have walked too, but I'm too lazy.