C'est un blague.

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  • Monday, August 29, 2005

    I'm back...

    and have a lot to say.

    First day of classes for me -- very strange not knowing anyone around here!
    Last semester for me...!
    Travel to countries 41 (Chile) and 42 (Argentina).
    Voice mail message and telephone tag with the hiring partner from my summer firm -- ack!

    and the list goes on.

    Right now, my schedule is dominated by the crazy excitement of the first week of school. I will have more time to do fun things this semester, however, as soon as I take care of all the post-vacation stuff which piles up (such as laundry, bills, administrative crap).

    More soon...

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    bueno Buenos Aires

    Buenos Aires. Argentina... country #42 for me.

    Buenos Aires is a really lovely, very European-feeling city. We arrived at night and went straight to the hotel and to bed (that is, after indulging in some English language television). The first day we were there involved sheets of cold rain. However, since we were on a package tour, we had a half-day bus tour of the city -- which worked out well because of the awful weather. We toured around the major attractions of the downtown area (not including the outer metropolitan area), which included uber-expensive, Park Avenue-esque designer showrooms as well as the more traditional parts of the city; La Recoleta (where Eva Peron is buried in the cemetary); the waterfront; the municipal buildings including the "Pink House" (the color of which symbolizes the compromise between the white party and the red party) and the very poor but exceedingly colorful La Boca. One surprise for me is that Buenos Aires has a landmark monument that is considered a symbol of the city... an obelisk that looks just like a smaller version of the Washington monument. Ahh, no wonder I felt so at ease in Buenos Aires!

    We only had two days in BA, and because of the rain, the first day was limited in range and scope. Yup, we spent the rest of the day shopping for a leather jacket for A. Argentina is known for a few things, including the gauchos on the pampas. Where there are cows, there is beef and leather. I didn't have a steak, but A definitely didn't want to leave the city without one. The leather was really cheap, too. She ended up buying a gorgeous aqua blue leather jacket made for her for a mere $80 cash. Cashmere is also quite a bargain in Argentina, and frankly, with the exchange rate, most everything was. For example, in Easter Island, a typical (read: not great, but not awful) meal in a reasonable restaurant was at minimum $10-$15 per person, not including drinks. On the mainland of Chile, things were a bit cheaper, but you can find deals for the "menu of the day" for lunch for about $6 to $9. In Buenos Aires, A had a steak dinner with half a bottle of wine and water for $12. I had lasagna and a diet coke for $5. Lunch for both of us typically ran $7 total. Definitely cheaper living! And definitely cheaper shopping.

    The second day was no rain, but boy was it cold. Not like a DC winter, but definitely chilly. In the morning, A ran some of her own errands while I met up with a guy I knew from the Shiga International House in Otsu, Shiga. Yup, someone I knew from 14 years ago. When we arrived in the city, I realized that I "knew" one person in Buenos Aires, a guy named O who had participated in an exchange to Shiga way back when I was on the JET Program. I looked him up in the phone book and decided to give it a shot. Imagine how awkward that phone call was... when I asked if he was the guy who lived in Shiga, Japan in the early 1990s, he was very gracious and said that he did in fact remember me. We decided to meet for lunch, and when I met him, he looked exactly like I remembered. We had a nice "catching up" lunch, and he told me that he did really remember me and wasn't just being polite. He even offered that if I decide to go back to Argentina (when I travel after I take the bar exam in February), he has a timeshare apartment that I was welcome to stay at. Yay! What a generous offer. I am VERY seriously considering making South America my post-bar adventure. It would be summer down there, so things might work out quite well...

    After lunch, A and I visited La Boca where we bought some artwork and handicrafts. The area is so colorful, both literally and figuratively. The buildings are painted bright primary colors, and there are Kodak moments at every angle: people tangoing on the street (for the benefit of the tourists -- and tips -- of course); cafes; painters selling their art; etc. A Korean tourist asked to take a picture with me. It was very weird, and just like being back in Japan when perfect strangers would ask to take a photo with me, as if I were some kind of movie star. Bizarre!!

    From there, we hopped a bus that we hoped would head back downtown, but instead we had a tour of other sections of the city. It worked out well, though, because we saw places where the real people live and shop and work. We then meandered back to the hotel after unsuccessfully trying to get into the cemetary at La Recoleta (it was closed) and taking night shots of the Argentinian Washington monument. The next morning, we went to the cemetary, which contains huge and very ornate mausoleums -- really fabulous. Also, about 200 cats live in the cemetary, so that made for a more lively visit. Quite ironic to see all those cats when we kept seeing the stray dogs outside (as well as a number of dog walkers with a dozen dogs on leash -- and I thought that was a strictly New York city kinda thing!). Another funny thing was that when we found Evita's grave, they were working on the mausoleum itself, so we got to see inside. It was filled with tools and other implements of repair -- and basically looked like the inside of tool shed with everything piled up. If I had been an Evita devotee, I might have been horrified, but instead I found it very amusing.

    Then back to the hotel to pack and get ready to leave for the airport. Nothing too exciting.

    All in all, I just loved Buenos Aires and definitely want to go back. It is very easy to get around despite the dire safety warnings by locals. Most people speak some English -- and many speak very good English. I found the Argentinian Spanish (or as Latin America calls the language, "Castillano") much easier to understand than the Chilean accent. Things are much cheaper in Argentina, but the standard of living seems to be fairly good (that is, unless the government devalues the currency). We always found people to be tolerant of our lack of awareness of how things worked and usually helpful. Overall, an exceedingly positive visit.

    Next chapter... my last few days in South America and some final observations...

    Now where was I?

    Well, I was in Easter Island. Now I'm in DC. Needless to say, a few things have transpired in the last week...

    First of all and most recently, I arrived fine back in DC via Miami despite Hurricane Katrina. In fact, I didn't know that weather was at all a concern or possible impediment to my return until I arrived in Santiago and people were talking about it. The flight was packed with extra airline crew because they needed to move people to Miami to get the flights going out of the city. Upon arrival in Miami airport, I could definitely see vestigages of Ms. Katrina's fury -- there were ceiling tiles down inside the airport and visible water damage. But it didn't affect me at all. Thank goodness!

    But, I don't want to get too ahead of myself. First, the rest of my South American adventures! After Easter Island, we flew through Santiago to Buenos Aires. We didn't think to try and check our bags all the way through, even though we were flying on the same airline (but had booked our tickets at different times). So, even though we had a "legal" connection (which is two hours for an international flight), we were sweating it to get off the plane. We left a bit late and were seated in the middle of the plane, so everyone who took their time pulling down all their carryons was the cause of some anxiety for us -- especially since A really, REALLY had to go to the bathroom. We got out, and she ran to be the first to the bathroom (good thing, cuz there ended up being quite a substantial line) and then were directed to immigration.


    Easter Island is part of Chile, so what was the deal with immigration? We couldn't figure it out. And of course, there was a massive line... and we had to go through to catch our flight. Well, it turned out that yes, we did have to go through immigration, but no, we didn't need to stand in the line. The Easter Island domestic passengers were just waved through (while those on the flight who originated in Peepete, Tahiti had to go through immigration). None of this was marked anywhere or directly explained to us, but we figured it out and off again we dashed to get our bags to recheck them for our truly international flight to Buenos Aires. I am certain that people thought we were insane the was we were running around...

    But in the end, no problem. We checked in to our next flight fairly easily. In fact, the Santiago airport is generally quite efficient. It only took us 15 minutes from offloading the plane to checking in again for our next flight. Nothing!

    The ride to BA was really bumpy however, because of bad weather and general air currents over the Andes. Between us, both A and I were suffering all the ills of such turbulence. She was nervous, and I started feeling air sick. Great combination! But at least we weren't both suffering the same malaise, or else we would have been feeding each other's anxiety.

    Arrival in BA was unremarkable. We had arranged a package tour, so we had a driver waiting to pick us up. How nice was that! There was a guy with a sign [my last name] on it, so the joke became that A was Mr. [my last name]... Our ride into the city was shared with a Chilean guy who quickly took a shine to A, and they chatted the whole ride back. He was in BA on business; he imports American goods into Chile. We found out that his company imports some American faves -- Pringles chips, Pop Secret popcorn, among other snack foods. He gave A his card and suggested dinner if our schedules allowed... (which it didn't).

    The hotel was very European -- small, small, small but sufficient for our needs. More about BA and the rest of my trip in a later email. Gotta run now.

    Classes start tomorrow, so I have to get my brain in the right place to prepare. Wish me luck!

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    Last day on la Isla de Pascua

    Hola! Just a quickie from Rapa Nui on our last full day here. We´ve enjoyed two full days of tours with excellent weather. Today it rained in the morning, but since we´re just puttering around, it didn´t affect our plans. Many people here are Catholic, so most of the shops are closed while they´re at church in the morning and then only open for a few hours in the afternoon. Seems that most of the men are participating in soccer games today -- or else watching them drinking beer.

    We were able to enjoy the various sites of the island, including crawling through some of the caves formed by the volcanic activity and climbing craters. The sea is a spectacular blue, and it was amazing to see the 200+ degree view (not quite 360 because we were not quite high enough) of the ocean horizon. Wow. The earth does look like it just drops off beyond the horizon of the ocean when you look at it from that perspective.

    We learned that Easter Island is considered a suburb of Valpo, so calls there are local, even though it´s several thousand miles. The politics surrounding the island, how it was treated by the mainland, etc. are really interesting. The Chileans treated the island pretty crappy for a long time, until as recent as the 1960s, but a documentary film exposed the conditions and embarassed the Chilean government into putting more resources into the island. Most folks here are Rapa Nui (polynesian) and speak Rapa (which is quite similar to Tahitian or Hawai´ian), Spanish and often some English. We were told that it is largely a matriarchal society with large, large families. Lots of cars and motorcross bikes; even more horses. Horses are everywhere and are a common form of transportation. Not too many paved roads; one "highway" (= passable paved road, one lane each way) and a few in town, and that´s it. I would completely recommend anyone who comes to Chile to make the effort to come here to Easter Island, especially if it´s winter. It´s cheaper here then and definitely less crowded (although it is not cheap here by South American standards; our room is very basic with a private bath and not much else, and we are paying $20 each a night). I cannot imagine what it´s like in the height of the summer.

    Anyway, I guess I could ramble on more and more about Easter Island, but I need to get off-line in a minute. Tomorrow, we depart for a hop, skip and a jump back to Santiago and on to Buenos Aires. A few more hops, skips and jumps, and I am back in Washington on Saturday just in time to start school on Monday!!! Hard to believe it has gone so quickly, but I am quite glad that I got a real vacation this summer. And I even got a tan.

    Hope all is well at home.

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    One of the most remote places in the world...

    Howdy from one of the most remote places in the world, where I can still get online at an internet cafe... La Isla de Pascua, a.k.a. Rapa Nui, a.k.a. Easter Island. It´s one of the most isolated parts of the world because there is only one way to get here, via a LAN Chile flight either from Santiago or from Tahiti. No options otherwise. The fare is usually at least $650 US from Santiago, but we got a sale for $425. I figured I am not likely to be anywhere near here again, so I may as well go. By all accounts, no one who makes this journey westward (from Santiago) regrets it, and I am sure I won´t either. A and I flew in last night and will be here until Monday, when we fly back to Santiago to catch another flight to Buenos Aires. You thought I was going to Chile? So did I, but I´m jetting around quite a bit...

    We spent the long weekend in Viña del Mar and Valparaíso where A lives and works respectively. Both are charming. Viña is a resortish-kinda city and Valpo (as it is known as here) is an old port city which doesn´t get much shipping anymore. It´s known for its colorful hillside houses (which are purple and yellow and blue and red and just about any color you can imagine)... just gorgeous to look at, but when you get up close, they are all painted corregated tin (well, most of them are anyway). In Valpo, we took the funicular (cable car) up the hills and walked around. It was so quaint and colorful and nice to explore. The hillsides have a very different feel than that downtown (downhill) area, which is quite urban and has seen better days, definitely past its prime. Fun to explore the nooks and crannys with vivid colors around every corner and where least expected. Unfortunately, the weather didn´t completely cooperate, and it rained off and on. Nice to keep the crowds away, but a bit of a damper on the sightseeing for us too. Still, I managed to take a ton of photos somehow. Shocking, eh?

    And while trying to figure out how else to spend the rest of the time I have here, we realized that it would cost us just as much to go somewhere else in Chile as it would to get a package tour for three days in Buenos Aires, so we chose the latter. That´s next in our whirlwind tour. Buenos Aires, Argentina. Country #42 for me.

    Now we´re in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), which reminds me so much of Hawai´i. The Polynesian culture, the people, the landscape, the poverty -- just like Hawai´i. It´s almost strange to hear people speaking Spanish because this is the South Pacific, and the inhabitants of Easter Island are clearly polynesian. Could be Hawai´i except for the large stone statutes scattered around... ya´ know, those things we all saw in our fifth grade social science books or on a PBS documentary? They are indeed impressive and imposing, quite the feat of engineering, too.

    Today we just walked around the town to check out the options. It´s fairly small as is the island. We decided to take a tour of the South side of the island tomorrow (which will take pretty much all day) and will probably do another tour of the West side on Saturday. Things here aren´t cheap, though. The tours are a non-negotiable $55 each ... EACH and that´s without a meal or anything. Ah well. The tour guide is an Australian guy married to a local Rapa Nui woman. He gave us an overview of what we´ll see, and it sounds fantastic. So much so that we will probably park another $55 for the other tour. That´s a hefty sum for our budgets, but I think it will be worth it. Our accommodations are sparse, but clean. We have a double bed and private bath with hot water for a mere $20 each per night. It ain´t cheap. Anything more upscale would have a correspondingly upscale price tag attached. We decided that we would rather spend the extra cash on tours and souvenirs than a room. We´ve got pretty much the cheapest you can get. But it´s clean, the owner is really friendly and breakfast (bread, instant coffee and cheese) is included. Plus, we have access to a kitchen, so we can make meals. Eating out is just as expensive with a good but not extravagent lunch costing about $20 (no booze included). It adds up and is a bit of sticker shock generally because I am used to getting away with a cheap, cheap per diem. Unfortunately, not here.

    Sunday, dunno what we´ll be doing. The town is small and quaint and cute, but in the winter there isn´t much to do other than ride horses or surf or walk around. I suppose we could rent a car, but I didn´t bring my driver´s license, and A doesn´t drive stick, so... we´ll probably have a relaxing, quiet day before we fly back to and through Santiago for Argentina.

    Hmm, what else? Travelling has been very easy. Chile is the land of the bus. Bus service everywhere. Gas is so expensive that there is no point in renting a car. I can get cash pretty much anywhere with my ATM card, even here. To use credit cards, we are sometimes asked to show our passports (and the Chileans seem to be required to show their national identity cards to use theirs). Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner´s Club all widely accepted, although many might charge a service fee to use it. One woman explained to us that the fee is because of the fee they are charged. They have to send the transaction back to Santiago and wait and wait and wait for them to send payment back. So, not only is there a service fee imposed on the transaction, but there is a significant time lag (something like a month) before they get their payment back -- the service fee mitigates for that loss. And I imagine that the vendors don´t have such a tremendous mark-up on their goods to just swallow that fee or carry the month waiting to be paid....

    There´s a gecko scrambling around on the wall above me as I type this. "Toto, I don´t think we´re in Kansas anymore!"

    The Spanish here is very difficult for me to understand. The accent is tough, plus they speak very quickly and drop some of the endings of the words. English is used pretty widely though, and since many Spanish words are similar to English, it´s pretty easy to figure things out.

    BTW, in Chile, if you are a MoviStar, you are a cell phone provider. O´Higgins is a national hero, the guy known for liberating Chile. Bernardo O´Higgins? Yup. You see his name on signs and streets everywhere. Chile is a nation of immigrants, too, but that´s so easy to forget -- and it was very odd the first time I saw it. Thomas Cochrane is another national hero. He founded the Chilean Navy. So basically, a whole bunch of the national heroes were either born elsewhere (Cochrane) or the illegimate child of a foreigner (O´Higgins). Okay, I´m over-generalizing, but you get the point.

    Hmmm, what else? September 11th (1973) is the day that the presidential palace was bombed, so that´s a significant day here (good or bad, depending on your politics). There is a huge tax imposed on flights, especially international ones -- something like $30 exit fee plus another $20 surcharge. Ouch! This internet is costing me $2000 (that´s 2000 pesos) for an hour, something like $4. Elsewhere it´s about half that. And my hour is almost up, so I gotta go.

    I don´t know where I´ll next be writing, probably Buenos Aires... Wish me buen viajes!

    I am well, and I hope all is well at home!

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    All's well in Vina

    It´s been a few days since I have been anywhere near a computer... which means lots of travelling around and an update on my plans.

    We couldn´t make the trip to Buenos Aires because the hotels were sold out. This past weekend was a long one with Monday as a holiday, and it seems that everyone takes the opportunity to exit the country. That means no chance for us to get a cheap flight-hotel package but also fewer crowds at the places we´ve visited. We spent Friday and Saturday in Santiago, which is quite nice for such a large city. Stray dogs everywhere, but not too much trash. And every once in a while, we could get a hit of Starbucks just when we were yearning for home (or caffeine). Starbucks is the new McDonald´s (which are also everywhere, including special McDonald´s booths that sell only ice cream -- desserts are very popular here). When I travel and am craving a bit of home or something familiar, I used to go to McDonald´s. Now it´s Starbucks, even though it is incredibly expensive for here. Otherwise, things aren´t too bad. The subway is very cheap, modern and clean, with beautiful artwork at every station, so we used that a lot. Driving and taxis seem ... um... less tourist-friendly. Some might say downright scary, and definitely an adventure to figure out the routes.

    A´s friend/colleague drove us up to the city overlook, and then we walked back down and around through the markets, past the Santiago home of Pablo Neruda and through the museum part of the city. Yes, I bought stuff. You know me! Prices here aren´t too bad, but neither are they a bargain. Now is the low season though because it´s the end of winter. Good thing for me if I want to buy good, cheap shoes (but I won´t because I don´t need them... as much as I may want them!). The other thing is that no one bargains here. You cannot haggle in the markets or get any kinds of discount for multiple purchases. The price is the price. The positive side of that is that foreigners don´t get charged more. The price is the price.

    On Saturday, we took a bus down to a small pottery village called Pomaire, about an hour South of Santiago. We took the main bus down the highway and then hopped off at the exit to Pomaire where we followed an old man carrying a load of something (we couldn´t figure out what the heck it was). He started walking down the road towards Pomaire when a local bus came along, honked at us, and the three of us ran to catch it into the town. Definitely travelling local style. Pomaire was cute and quaint and full of pottery. Yes, I bought. Ugh, travelling back is going to be interesting with the breakables. Then, to get back to Santiago, we did the bus-hopping in reverse. Local bus to the main highway and then flagged down the main bus. Can you imagine standing on I-95 or some similar main highway and waving a Greyhound bus to stop? That is essentially what we did, and that´s just the way it´s done. There was even a young guy on the side of the road to assist us. I couldn´t tell if that was his job, but it seemed to be because he didn´t get on the bus. It was a fun little trip. Once back in Santiago, we hopped the bus to Viña del Mar, where A lives.

    On Sunday (yesterday), we decided to go to the favorite house of Pablo Neruda in a small seaside town called La Isla Negra, about one 1/2 hours down the coast from Viña. The day started out gorgeous, but by the time we got there, it was freezing, and I didn´t have enough clothes on me for it. Oh well. Lesson #1 about Chile: changeable weather. Ooops. The Neruda house was really, really interesting. I have to admit that I didn´t know a whole lot about him before this trip, so I learned a great deal. Definitely worth the rather substantial entry fee (3100 pesos, about $6 US). For a communist, he certainly collected a whole lotta stuff! Masks, shells, glass, bugs, ship masthead figures... you name it. And a beautiful view of the sea from his bedroom.

    Then we came back to Viña. Today is the holiday (something religious; we don´t know what), so it was a slow day for us. We did laundry, walked around the city, did some errands, etc. Nothing too exciting, but a good overview of her daily life. We saw dinosaurs (sand sculptures along the beach), jugglers at stop lights trying to earn a bit of cash and the ever-present sidewalk peddlers. There are also a number of street people/beggars, but nothing too shocking; nothing like North American cities.

    Tomorrow, A will go to work, and I will spend the day in Valaparaiso. It´s supposed to be a lovely city, so let´s hope the weather cooperates. Wednesday afternoon, we jet off to Easter Island, a five or six hour plane ride into the Pacific. It should be really interesting. We´ll spend five days there, so I don´t know where I´ll next have the chance to give you an update. Easter Island should be fabulous though, so fingers crossed for good weather there too!

    I am finding that my Spanish is holding up okay, especially given that I took one year back in 11th grade. I find the accent really difficult to understand, unfortunately -- and they speak really quickly here. But I´m getting along fine. Between butchering Spanish and English... I´m getting around well enough.

    Hope all is well at home. Miss everyone!

    Thursday, August 11, 2005


    Hi from temperate Santiago, where the season is late winter and the Andes are beautiful. I got in this morning, and A was so great to meet me at the airport. A 7:00 flight, and she met me at the airport. What a doll! She took a 5:00 bus from Valparaiso to the airport, and then we took a taxi downtown. She arranged for a meeting here in Santiago, so our hotel room is covered for tonight. Smart girl. Gave her the reason to be here and the means to pay for it too! We are in this apartment-style place with two bedrooms and a kitchen. Perfect for us, especially since A is Ms. Martha Stewart Canadian (without the fraud conviction). We can cook and lounge in our little livingroom, etc. And free internet access. The keyboard is only a little bit different from an American one, so I can type relatively quickly. Just cannot do the apostrophe -- notice no abbreviations?

    Anyway, I cannot say that I have seen much of the city, other than during our taxi ride across town. It feels very European -- and has, of course, the ubitiquous American fastfood chains. Everyone here is pretty much of European descent, too, so that feels a bit strange. Hardly a blonde to be seen, let alone an Asian or black. Not really any Incan or other indigenous folks either. Hmmm...

    A has huge plans for us, which include Easter Island and a side trip to Buenos Aires. I think I am just along for the ride, to be her sidekick! So far, so good, though. I half emptied my pack with all the stuff I brought for her, so my bag is now manageable. We are going to have fun.

    Otherwise, all is well. Arrived here without incident. Even got three seats across to myself on the plane for a bit of a snooze. The trip is an overnight one from Miami -- about seven hours -- but no change in time zone from the East coast. Weird for me to fly a red-eye within the same time zone... The airport in Santiago was very nice and modern, although they definitely check your background going through immigration. One line took forever, but at least they had all the stations open even though ours was the only flight coming through. The $100 surcharge (they call it "reciprocity" which really means that they are sticking it to the tourists because the US government charges a huge fee on visas for Chileans) to enter hurt, but they take credit cards, and the entry fee is good for the life of the passport -- so anyone who plans to come to Chile, add $100 on to the airfare. If you come overland, however, there is no charge. Go figure.

    Off to take a quick snooze while A is at her meeting. Hope all is well with everyone. More when I next know what we are doing... and don´t be surprised if the next message is from Argentina!

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    Why my pack is heavy

    I'm a good backpacker. I can travel very, very light. I did 5 weeks in the Middle East with a bag the size of a medium carry-on. Of course, it's easier when you're going to hot weather and need less clothes (except in Muslim countries, where women should cover up out of respect). Chile will be cooler, in late winter, so that makes for heavier clothes. Plus, I think I'll need to be a bit more stylish than my usual backpacking gear, which tends to make me look like a kid.

    Anyway, my pack is pretty big right now, partially because it's coming out of winter in Chile and partially because I'm bringing lots of stuff for my friend. I remember what it was like living in Japan and not being able to get familiar foods, spices, books in English, shoes that fit, etc. So, here's what I'm bringing for her.

    She asked for:
    a duvet cover & catalogue from Ikea
    coconut milk
    travel books
    Spanish dictionary/verb book
    Sept. Vogue (not out yet; gonna try to get it at the airport)
    Starbucks coffee
    any extra novels I have laying around

    Gifties from me for her:
    easy Mac & Cheese ('cuz sometimes you just need comfort food)
    more spices
    more books
    + birthday presents for her (she just turned 40)

    It may be heavy, but she's my sista! Besides, that leaves more room for my purchases coming back. I'll do my best to prop up the global economy, even if I am unemployed.


    Running around

    I'm off to Chile this afternoon. Since it's such a long haul North-South but not East-West, it's an overnight flight each way but no time difference. I've been running around these past days getting everything together for the trip and haven't had a chance to post about...

    my last days at work.
    my "lessons learned" from 10 weeks as a summer associate
    what I really think about the whole experience

    I also haven't had time to really mentally process the fact that I'm off to South America today. Usually, I'm a bit of a planner, but this time... nothing. I bought my ticket with only two weeks' advance, so I'm lucky that I'll have clean laundry (which yes, I am doing right now). I have a friend working in Valparaiso, which is supposed to be a really beautiful city, so I've left a lot of the planning to her. All I know is when I get there (tomorrow morning), that she's supposed to be meeting me at the airport (which is so generous and such a treat for me!), that Americans pay $100 to get into the country (ouch!) and that we are going to Easter Island at some point.

    By the time I get back, here are are few things I should know more about:

    my pre-class reading
    whether or not I'll get an offer from my summer firm
    whether or not I'll be able to find part-time work this fall
    if the men in Chile are as handsome as I expect them to be.

    I did find out that I can defer jury duty or have it changed from grand to petit jury because I'm a student. Thank gawd for that. And thanks for the reader who gave me that tip. I also bought several of my case books for this fall already because DC has a tax amnesty week for "back to school" stuff -- up to $100 per purchase. Well, as you probably know, that doesn't get you very much when it comes to law books. This last purchase was a first for me -- the first time I paid more than $100 for a USED book. Sheesh, that hurts. But, it is the prof's book, so I guess he is working to maximize those royalties... at the expense, literally, of his students.

    So, I hope to post more from Sud America. Fingers crosses for a safe and hassle-free journey!

    Wednesday, August 03, 2005

    Forgot to mention...

    One of the lines which I'm going to steal from last night's play... some consider themselves people of color while others are people of pallor.


    A scrEAM!!!

    I just saw one of the best plays I've seen in ages (which says a lot because I've seen a few good ones lately). It's called Take Me Out -- and while it's probably legend in the LGBT community and has already been extended several times this run at the Studio Theater, I hadn't heard of it until now. I got free tickets, and I am so glad I went.

    But, man oh man (and I mean that literally), it was fabulous! I'll let you read the review about the storyline (which tackled a number of social and personal issues from various angles). The writing was sharp and witty, and I have to say there were only vibrantly strong performances. Delivered with a punch! Even the very minor parts were played brilliantly. The tiny stage was credibly transformed to a ballpark or a locker room, replete with showers.

    Which means yes, yes, yes, ample opportunity to examine the evidence which supports stories about ethnic "diversity". From my front row seat, I got more than an eyeful -- almost up close and personal to the point, I admit, that I didn't know where to look! Actors had dialogue in English, Spanish, Hillbilly and Japanese. The poor guy who had to memorize that Japanese...! He did a decent job, sorta.

    And it didn't hurt that one of the lead characters was a younger, taller, fresher- faced Hugh Grant look-alike.

    What a fun night. Great to see such important issues being addressed in a wonderfully written play and performed by tremendous talent. Okay, I'll say it. Great to see such good looking guys show some skin.

    WOW. I almost feel guilty for getting this as a freebie!

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    Lest I forget...

    Congrats to everyone who survived the bar -- and even bigger kudos to those of you who can still string together a coherent sentence. I'm in awe (and denial).

    Way to go everyone!!!

    Monday, August 01, 2005

    Don't know much about...

    a whole lotta things, but I'm specifically referring here to blog technology -- as is undoubtedly evident from the look of the thing. Hey, it took me forever to figure out how to even add links!

    Anyway, the comment to my freakout earlier made me realize just exactly what a Luddite I am. I don't know how to add counters, track hits (where folks are coming from), upload fun stuff, make this site look different from everyone else who uses the template, include any kind of feed or develop some traffic to qualify as even the smallest of micro-organisms in any ecosystem. Truly the ages are dark around here.

    For example, it took me a month to find that ambivalent imbroglio gave me a mention. I almost feel like a celeb...! (Thanks, btw!) It took me a while to realize that I am Googeable. (To be fair, you gotta be looking for me though.) How long will it take me to break the confines of the blogger template?


    I think I will make it my "before classes begin again challenge" to figure out something to demonstrate that my personality cannot be adequately captured in a template.

    Silly, silly, silly stuff...

    How's this for trivia? Who knows? It may help you out with a drinking game some day...

    Did you know that NBC had two Rachel Greens on air simultaneously? Of course, there was Jennifer Aniston on Friends. Who could miss her? The other was Rachel Greene, daughter of Dr. Mark Greene on ER as played by Hallee Hirsh.

    Not an earthshaking post... but then again, mine don't tend to be, eh?

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