Saturday, July 30, 2005

Day Fifty-Eight

Kind of an unremarkable past two days. I'm contemplating leaving by the end of this week now, although I have a funny feeling that Barbara will still be using my car and will still need to use it. Additionally, I'm feeling a little guilty just taking off, but I feel even more frustrated not being able to do anything here.

More later...

And it's later. Went up to the City to have dinner with Brad. We met in our usual spot, the area just across the street from the Ferry Building, and did our usual thing -- walk down Market and snake around that corner of the City until we find some place to eat. Most of the smaller places near Washington were closed quite early for a Saturday night; we thought that quirky. We ended up somewhere in the tail end of Chinatown and had some very, very good chinese food at Kay Cheung (?). Afterwards, we headed into North Beach and sat down for a bit in a cafe, consuming gelato and hot chocolate before trekking back to the Embarcadero BART station.

There're a few people in the world that you'll never tire of seeing, and Brad is certainly one of them. It's refreshing to talk to people my own age once in awhile; you try spending 24 hours, 7 days a week with a 14-year old and an 8-year old and tell me why you haven't yet gone crazy. As always, there's something new Brad's reading or there's a new story about common friends and definitely there's always witty banter. Good to see Brad again, that's for sure.

I had to talk to someone about my intentions to leave the Bay Area early, and Brad was empathetic. In retrospect, I've certainly been thinking too hastily about my departure, and after thinking it through, it might actually be more frustrating in the short and medium run to go back as early as next Friday. So, I think I'll go back to returning on the 15th -- still 10 days earlier than expected -- and just give up on the guilt for the summer. I think what I'll do when I get back is to do all the footwork for my TAship, so by the time classes start, I'll be prepared and confident that I've got my act together.

In the meantime, I'll sneak some reading in here and there, although whenever I read anything at home, I get easily distracted by either my brothers or the family's eating rhythms. Now that Dr. Akizuki cleared me to cross-train, I'm going to try to get back to going to the gym daily and the pool at least three times a week. Admittedly, that might sound ambitious, but it might be the only goal I really'll work to accomplish this summer.

I have to admit as well that some of the reasons I've decided to stay until the 15th have been positive comments about me from friends. I guess I was too wrapped up in my own self-pity and overcompensated with thoughts of bolting from here ASAP and working feverishly to rescue my summer. If anything, some great words from friends have kept me here. Kaye sent me a couple IM lines Yuko had written about me, and Elli wrote a wonderful, spectacular blurb on my facebook wall (check it out on my facebook profile, link to the right). Arguably, neither of their comments had anything to do with me being at home over the summer and not producing anything, but I think it was a good reaffirmation of my self-worth, and how that self-worth isn't entirely determined through my professional production. Thanks ladies! You're wonderful and a blessing.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Day Fifty-Six

Dr. Akizuki is perhaps the most dude-like of all doctors ever. I walked down the hall to the examination room and he greets me with a "sup dude?" and a slap on the back. Remember, this is the guy who greeted me in the surgical waiting room with a "wasuuuuup!?"

The checkup went well: I'm very strong for two months, and the graft is still there (not that anyone was worried), hella solid. All the residual pain and knee locking I'm feeling is apparently from weak quads -- without strong quads, my hamstring overcompensates, gets sore, gets tired, and pulls my knee to a locked position where it's more stable. So, I need to work on quad strength and leg stability, which means working on the ankle and the hip as well. Dr. Akizuki also cleared me to cross train -- swim, bike, AAAAAAAANNNNNDDDDD... jog. Slowly. For form. Not run. Jog. On a treadmill.

I'm scared as heck to tear the thing again, especially as I'm closing in on what is generally known as the weakest month for the graft. I remember twisting my knee getting out of my car before surgery, and so I'm hesitant to exit the driver's side with one leg, and do a whole bunch of shit. I hope, for once, I think too much and stay extra-cautious.

I also asked about flying back early and blood clots. He said that with all surgeries there's the risk of blood clots, but I'm far enough along that the risk is minimal. He suggested I take an aspirin before the flight, to walk around in the plane, and to do ankle pumps. So, after a short discussion with my mother today, I'm changing my return flight to August 15th -- 10 days before my original return date.

I went to the pool after the appointment to test out my aqua jogging belt. I did ten laps at some indeterminate cadence, just trying to poop myself out. And I did. And it felt good. I'm going to try to swing getting in there at least three times a week.

Where the fuck is my digital camera?

In more missing things news, Natalie Holloway has been missing four days longer than I've been post-op. Bwahahahhah! NEWS FLASH, FOX NEWS: YOU ARE THE ONLY CHANNEL TO PERPETUATE THIS SAD BUT TOTALLY UN-NEWSWORTHY CIRCUMSTANCE.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Day Fifty-Five

Quick post today -- spent most of the day playing Aerobiz again. My middle bro is on the verge of winning and it's been a fun time. Saw March of the Penguins and The Debut today. Will review tomorrow. 8 week checkup tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Day Fifty-Four

So for the past two days, my bros and I have been playing Aerobiz Supersonic on my computer. I'm happy that we've struck a compromise over turn-based strategy games -- I absolutely detest the rolling and the stacking of pieces in Axis and Allies (their favorite game), and they'd rather not watch me race to level 32 with the Gilded Democrat on City of Heroes. In today's game (which looks like it'll carry over till tomorrow), my New York-based DynaAir holds a steady, but declining lead over Alaric's G East out of Tokyo, while Raphael's Le Jet holds sway over the European market. Our computer opponent, Moscow-based Cossack has been running in the red the past few fiscal years, but has managed to extend its flights to North America.

Saw Bend it Like Beckham today w/ the bros. I totally got the wrong message from that movie -- girls undressing or in various states of undress are still spectacular to look at. My little bro did, however, make an interesting comment: "what's with their eyebrows?" And indeed, what is up with their eyebrows? I guess all the cool kids had thick, blocky eyebrows, even the oddly-effeminate Joe. Must be a British thing, even if Joe was Irish.

PT went smoothly enough today. Jeff made measurements at the end of the session: I'm 5/5 in strength and am hitting 142 degrees of flexion, which ain't too bad. I bought an aqua jogging belt today, and hopefully I can make it to the pool tomorrow to test it out.

Went to Rainbow Grocery today w/ Mom and the bros. Neato place, really. Bought a backup birthday gift for Julia in case the book I ordered on Amazon doesn't get here soon.

Tomorrow: try to get to the pool, watch March of the Penguins.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Day Fifty-Three

A little poli sci...
Yesterday, President Arroyo urged lawmakers to seriously consider the parliamentary system for the Philippines in her State of the Nation address:
I recognize that our form of government will be the decision of the body
constituted to undertake Charter change. But we should consider that legislation
could be quickened and laws made more responsive to the people under a
parliamentary system, similar to that of our progressive neighbors in the
region

This isn't a new idea in Philippine politics. In fact, Marcos had suggested a move to parliamentary government as he was finishing his term as President in the 60s, ostensibly to remove the vestiges of American colonial influence from the political system, but probably more to extend his time as chief of state.

The intent now is to prevent social upheavals below the level of deliberative government. As the AP story puts it:
A parliamentary system — where lawmakers can vote out a sitting government —
would ease the upheaval that accompanies ousting a leader who has lost the
ability to govern. But if the changes are approved by a referendum, the next
step would likely be fresh elections which could cut Arroyo's term short

This is an interesting suggestion, given that a parliamentary system may not necessarily remove government instability, especially where there are undisciplined and non-programatic parties like in the Philippines. Our friends Linz and Valenzuela wrote on the presidential vs. parliamentary debate in the context of Latin America -- for them, it's a question of governability, since the additional veto points in presidential forms of government create inherent impasses between presidents and legislatures. However, in the Philippines where there are no parties, no programs, and hardly any electoral reform, the parliamentary form might even be more unstable. In the worst-case scenario, the Philippine parliament would be a revolving door with governments changing constantly behind the flavor-of-the-month prime minister.

Would it relieve social instability? I doubt it. Again, these parties have no linkage to the populace, other than vote-buying and pandering. In addition, the reform at the top does nothing to relieve what apparently is a lack of integration of civil society into the proceedings of government. The Philippines will probably continue along this path of ungovernability unless people are really given a binding means of having their voices heard. A constituent assembly is a first step, but there needs to be institutionalized forms of civil society engagement -- that would probably be the best way to diffuse what would be a civil society uprising.

Then again, I'm not one to believe that political solutions will work. The post-Marxist in me says that if the wheels are already in motion, the momentum may simply continue to build. Oddly though, there's nothing you could call a real civil society opposition forming -- the church is washing its hands, the middle class is sporadically calling for removal, and the Left and the populist demagogues all claim to have the masses behind them. Momentum seems pretty weak, but may build if the reforms 1) don't go through and/or 2) don't address fundamental issues of the weakness of the entirety of the political class.

Day Fifty-Two

Nothing big today, just church, staying at home. Mom saw The Princess Bride for the first time today. I had a very suburban thought of reading the actual book to my kids, which would probably be more taxing on my children than watching the movie. Not to say the movie is taxing, in any way.

Tomorrow Bank of America claims that their computer systems will finally be fully merged with that of Fleet, which would technically allow me to deposit checks through the ATM while I'm here. We shall see...

Otherwise, I'm still planning on going back early, depending on the two-month diagnosis from Dr. Akizuki.

By the way, the knee felt good today through all the exercises; the pain was significantly less annoying.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Day Fifty-One

So, it was hot today in Pacifica. Typical Saturday, except that my parents actually went to a party -- a birthday party, to be exact. Instead of being trapped at home with the bros, I took them to dinner at Fresh Choice and we saw War of the Worlds. I can't find the review I read of it a few weeks ago that referred to Dakota Fanning as a 10-year old with a stripper name and felt the same way about the movie, but I quite enjoyed it. I'm sort of sick of seeing sci-fi lately that's too bogged down in backstory instead of drama (Stargate?), so War of the Worlds was quite welcome.

Impure thought of the day: What if Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning had children? Would Haley then lose a lightsaber battle with Macaulay Culkin and become Darth Actor?

On the knee front, I'm seriously entertaining the idea of aqua jogging. Yeah, I know as much about it as the name belies and a google search for it has come up a little short on technique and quite thick on products. I'm going to hang until Friday when I see Dr. Akizuki to see what I can add to my protocol.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Day Fifty

Fifty days sounds like it'd be a big deal, and as I'm usually pretty unsure of myself, I could write about how these past fifty days of recovery have been pooptacular or how they've been joytastic. To tell the truth, while my knee rehabilitation has been going fine in the opinion of my PT and my OS, I'm languishing here. I can't come and go as I please since I have to borrow cars and I certainly can't walk to the department or go to Thayer for a quick snack or to people watch. I let Mom know today that I'm thinking about leaving two weeks early, putting me back in Providence on August 11th. This might allow me to attend ASA this year in Philly, although I'd appear there shamed for not being a presenter nor having done anything worthwhile since I finished that paper for Hilary in May, plus I'll have to fork out $100 for an onsite registration fee!

I wasn't planning on heading back until August 25th primarily to avoid any complications with my recovery and air travel. I was certainly not going to risk a possible blood clot for it. As it seems I'm recovering fine, I want to see if the OS will have a problem with me being on the plane sitting down for so long.

I have many reasons for going back early, and among them are getting back into the swing of things academically, preparing for my TAship with Hilary, and forcing myself to do some work by going to the department daily. Mostly though I want to go back so I can enjoy more flexibility in my day. And I guess to see people who are roughly my age on a regular basis. I want to get back to my life already.

Day fifty. The day I realized I was bored.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Day Forty-Nine

Ah the wonders of my nerdom. I'm posting this here only so I can link to it on the City of Heroes message boards as my avatar. If I am not mistaken, this is the henshin (transformation) sequence for the Change Dragon from Changeman. Yeah...


Day two of trying to get up earlier. Got in bed at 11, probably didn't sleep until 11:30, woke up at around 6 to pee, then the alarm went off at 7, to which I responded by hitting the snooze button three times over the next half hour. I'm getting there. Ultimately, I'd like to get back to my old 6am-10pm schedule until I get back to school where it'd be a miracle (or maybe even a curse) to run that kind of day.

Gotta get my ass moving to send Julia her birthday present. My poor opinion of Latin American postal services suggests I should send her present by the first week of August or earlier in order for it to arrive by the 24th.

I'm boredtacular.

--

Still boredtacular. How am I going to sweat? I asked myself this a few weeks ago and still have not found a fulfilling enough answer. Arm exerciser machine? Don't got one. Air punches with weights? Flapping my arms like a bird? It's continuing to drive me nuts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Day Forty-Eight

Scotty is dead... James Doohan, who played Montgomery Scott on Star Trek, died today from pnumonia and alzheimers. A sad day for someone who'll always be the greatest engineer on any starship ever. Obit here.

On the knee front, things are progressing at a good pace. PT yesterday went well, despite me showing up ten minutes late because I thought I left the garage door open and had to drive back past the house to check. I'm moving on to single-leg exercises with no pain and the minor discomfort of my kneecap and scar tissue doing a clicky dance ever so often. I had Lori yesterday, so I got a little more attention that usual. She sort of cleared me to do shorter, faster steps on the stairmaster so I could get my heartrate up. I'm debating whether or not I want to get to the gym in the mornings again, since they have an arm exerciser that I could use for cardio. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Day Forty-Seven

Costco! I knew something was up when I was checking out buyblue.org's donation profile for Costco after the election. So they donate to Dems and pay $16/hr to their employees -- sounds great. Saw this on fark from the Houston Chronicle. Apparently some Wall Street analysts are complaining that Costco is being too generous to its employees, which in their estimation, reduces profits for shareholders. In addition, they claim that Costco could and should increase its price markups to above their cap of about 15% to significantly higher levels, especially for the quality goods they provide.

And, Costco pays too much for employee benefits:

Emme Kozloff, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., faulted Sinegal
as being too generous to employees, noting that when analysts complained that
Costco's workers were paying just 4 percent toward their health costs, he raised
that percentage only to 8 percent, when the retail average is 25 percent.

"He has been too benevolent," she said. "He's right that a happy
employee is a productive long-term employee, but he could force employees to
pick up a little more of the burden."


Mmmm. Costco. My free sample heaven. You have somehow avoided the get-rich-quick-while-screwing-the-employees mentality and have done just as well. Do I fault you for being a font of our ultraconsumer culture? Yes. Does my mother come back from you carrying six cartons of milk, three crates of fruit, and two bags of sirloin hamburgers which we will all eat within two weeks? Yes. But you are nice.

Day Forty-Six

You may all remember this political quiz -- it's been around the internet in various forms since Al Gore invented the medium. It doesn't take deep reading to understand that all the questions are leading; they list the eight Libertarian hot-button issues of the day, with each affirmative answer bringing you closer to identifying you as a Libertarian. Separated into two groups -- "Personal Issues" and "Economic Issues" -- the questions tend to "All-American" herrings to get you to clap Libertarian and the total lack of context. I scored "Liberal" on the thing, and it provides a graph that visualizes your political orientation:



I'm nearly a centrist! See? I'm almost in the center!

I mean I could go on and on about how this isn't an unbiased quiz: the graph tilted so that there isn't an x or a y axis, putting Libertarians on "top", the excessive use of sarcastic quotation marks in the descriptions of the other political philosophies, etc...

But damn, I have a lingering distaste for Libertarianism as a political philosophy and as a policy framework. First of all, my reading of history suggests that the civil and political rights within the public sphere of the early American Republic were a bourgeois luxury in a time when the frontier loomed large, the conflicts between North and South had not yet come to a head, and where concepts of a masculinity permeated public discussion of a virgin democracy. To top that off, the expansion of the state was entirely neccesary to extend those rights -- even to the extent of a Civil War to essentially reaffirm the State over the states.

As for policy and philosophy, I'll go to bat for the Liberals and the Conservatives on this one: where the fuck is culture? Do we have a morality other than what the objectivism of the market or pure freedom might provide? At its extreme, Libertarianism turns into petulant anarchism without consciously addressing the role of culture. And don't give me this "culture of freedom crap". Seriously. I think it's important for us to discuss why we should or shouldn't respect our parents, why we should or shouldn't greet people politely, and why we should or shouldn't care about our ties to one and other that cannot be eliminated by philosophical emancipation -- somehow, the social snaps us back. Liberalism in its Smithian form attempted to understand this phenomenon, but missed it.

This is a nice site offering answers to when a Libertarian might knock on your door. Should have had this in high school: http://world.std.com/~mhuben/faq.html

I thought this was interesting: http://world.std.com/~mhuben/faq.html#marrou. Mother, Father, Child. What is it about genderizing politics? Libertarianism is petulant (mmmm ad-hominem attack...), Republicanism in its current form is very masculine and it draws a lot of strength on its feminization of Democrats.

Here's another quiz, but this time biased towards idiots (from USAToday): http://franz.org/quiz.htm.
To Conservatives: http://www.studentcenter.org/tests/politicaltest.php.
And one that's much more fun http://www.okcupid.com/politics.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Day Forty-Five

After a big spat between my stepdad and my little bro earlier in the day, we had the neighbors from two doors down over for dinner. They've lived in the court since the sixties when the houses were built, coming from Minnesota. They're getting on in age now, and are moving to the City to live closer to their church, the hospital, etc. They've been a fixture in the neighborhood -- partly because they've been here so long, but also because people turn to them when they needed help. Mom was pumping them for gossip and it really drew into contrast how we never really reached out to our neighbors over the years (and it would seem, even before Mom and I lived here).

Knee... almost slipped today as I was helping my bros wash the rabbit cage. No biggie though, at all. Mom threw out the card that had my PT times for this week. Gotta call tomorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Day Forty-Four

Ok, wtf? And on ESPN? They do less work at their actual job than I do!

And, the world is a fucked-up place.

---

So far so good without the leg brace. I really feel like I'm getting my full ability back, minus kneeling, jumping, and walking down the stairs. Gotta call people or else I'm gonna be mad bored tonight.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Day Forty-Three

PT went great today. After having been woken up at 7am instead of 8 by my brothers, I got to PT early and did some work on the treadmill (haven't been on one of those for months). No running yet, just walking, but it's a start. Jeff is impressed by my progress, and I guess I am too. I should add that this was my first PT session without my knee brace, which Dr. Akizuki said I could ditch starting today -- which means that my meniscus tears are nearly healed, leaving me five and a half more months of ACL rehab until I can be cleared for sports again.

Only in the Bay Area will a news story like this get second billing on sfgate: Victor Edward Willis, the original policeman in the Village People, was pulled over in Daly City with crack and guns in his car. Ironic? The AP story tried to really make Willis sound like a has-been degenerate, noting at the end of the article that "Police found traces of cocaine and other drug paraphernalia when they searched his home at the Franciscan Mobile Home Park in Daly City, where two American pit bull terriers were locked in the former star's bedroom". Drugs and deadly dogs in former Village Person's trailer home! I mean, aren't there better non-stories people could be writing about?

In the Philippines, the new twist in the Gloriagate scandal is the revelation of more wiretaps, but this time, of former president Erap Estrada apparently ordering Gloria and Fidel Ramos' assasination! Chavit Singson, a Gloria supporter and governor of Illocos Sur, was apparently provided these tapes by "pirates" and presented them in a news conference yesterday.

Problem is, those tapes are probably doctored. PCIJ took a closer look at them, asking sound experts to qualify the veracity of the recordings and said: "The alleged phone call, all of 41 seconds where Estrada supposedly plots the assassination of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is 'such an amateur job that the pirates are considering suing them,' quips Gerry Kaimo, an audiophile and independent record producer".

Would you believe this doesn't seem out of the ordinary for the Philippines?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Day Forty-Two

More dreams about going to Chile in December: El Mercurio covered the results of an opinion survey today that shows Concertacion candidate Michele Bachelet the more favorable presidential candidate, with the other three trailing far behind:

....ante la consulta cara a cara de "¿Quién le gustaría a usted que fuera
la o el próximo Presidente de Chile?", los encuestados otorgan un mayor margen
de victoria a Bachelet, al concederle el 47% de las preferencias, seguido de
Lavín con un 21%; Sebastián Piñera, con 14%, y Tomás Hirsch, con un 2%. El 13%
no sabe o no contesta dicha pregunta.

(... faced with the question "Who would you like to be the the next
President of Chile?", the respondents gave the largest margin of victory to
Bachelete, giving her 47% of the preferences, followed by [Joaquin] Lavin with
21%, Sebastian Pinera with 14%, and Tomas Hirsch with 2%. 13% didn't know or
didn't answer this question)


Bachelet also smokes the other candidates on other qualities polled. There's no info on the sample size or the sample area, so it could very well be a biased survey. However, for a survey so biased to the left to appear as a headline on El Mercurio seems to suggest they at least agree with the validity of the survey.

Interesting too are the responses left on the online forums (all in spanish, sadly). I learned that among her detractors, Bachelet is known as a "nice little fat lady", a "mother" (in the maternal sense, as in, "we don't want Mom to be president), and a "smiling fat lady". A lot of negative posts asserted that the Chilean people "deserve" whomever they're going to vote for, that is, for a corrupt government to stay in power -- an interesting variation on the populist anti-government discourse in other Latin American countries.

--

No excitement on the knee front today: tomorrow I'll be officially off restrictions and it is my intention to drive tomorrow. Anywhere. And wear pants.

My digital camera has gone missing. I think it's in the van. As if I'd been responsible enough to take pictures every day.

Existential crisis: What the hell am I doing with my time? Reading criticisms of Habermas have made me self-reflective on my role in the academe. First of all, my research this summer has really been nothing more than looking up political analyses of the situation in the Philippines and attempting to develop and empirically-based theory on the creation and extension of civil spheres in the postcolonial Spanish colonies. Of course, what the fuck have I produced in the past couple years? Four incredibly long and rambling historical analyses, none of the publishable or even presentable. And then, what do I think my findings will mean to the world? Nothing. Just that if you're already fucked, you're fucked pretty bad. God damn.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Day Forty-One

Remember the Philippines? Well today a rally in Makati, featuring the wife of Gloria's presidential election opponent, garnered about 30,000 people (considered well short of a "people power" mass), and about a billion movie stars calling for Gloria's resignation. Absent from the rally, however, were Corazon Aquino and the Catholic bishops, both of whom were instrumental in rallying support for the ouster of Estrada in 2001.

A closer listen to the "Hello, Garci" tapes reveals Gloria's use of the word "dagdag" (padding) in reference to votes. Every time news comes out, it just continues to say "you're busted."

In an interesting double standard, the Vatican seems to have a problem with bishops interfering in politics. Maybe they should tell ours to fuck off with the refusing communion to electoral candidates.

---

More other news: I want to go to Chile in December. Fucking presidential elections! Sadly though, the actual voting is on December 11th, which probably means I'll be in the middle listening to snot-nosed brats complaining about their semester grades and kissing up before the final. But anyway, this looks like an interesting race thus far as the Right is fielding two candidates (for now), Sebastian Pinera of the center-right Renovacion Nacional and Joaquin Lavin, mayor of Santiago. I can't tell if Lavin is still representing his party, the far-right Union Democratica Independiente, since he's been attempting to temper his rightist image with a populist one by distancing himself from them. For the center-left Concertacion (primarily the centrist Christian Democrats, the Socialists, and the socialist outgrowth PPD), Michele Bachelet, former defense minister, is carrying the standard. And then there's lost cause candidate, Humanist Tomas Hirsch.

In the last elections, Lagos barely beat Lavin back after a tight initial vote and a runoff election. And, as much as the Right prays for the demise of the Concertacion, it still fielded a single candidate.

--

Gonna try to practice walking without my brace today. I'm pretty unconfident without it, so I think I'll limit my braceless walking to the hallway.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Day Forty

Yuko's get well gift got here today. Dang, mail takes forever to travel from Japan -- the package was postmarked on June 25th. Anyway, I am now the proud owner of the 3-CD compliation, Eternal 5 Colored Spirits, which contains the theme songs to 26 super sentai shows, from Goranger to Hurricanger. There's nothing like the Dynaman theme song in it's entire 2:47 minute glory.

I'm really digging the first CD, the themes from 1975-1986. There's something very "contemporary" about each of these songs, as if they really sort of channelled the extant pop theme song styles for their eras. The Denjiman theme song (1980) sounds like the Village People paid a visit to Japan to cameo on a television show featuring a giant transforming jet. The Bioman theme song (1984) sounds like a combination between the MacGuyver theme and the Full House theme. My personal favorites from this period are the themes from Battle Fever J (sort of 70s disco funk from the later days of the disco craze) and the Dynaman theme (strings! makes you feel heroic!) I think those are my two favorite theme songs of all time. Ever. Of all theme songs. Even better than the Ducktales theme song.

Once you hit the mid-1980s, the songs start to suck a little. Lots of synth drums that make the songs sound like karaoke renditions of pop songs or, for the Asians out there, the muzak you hear in Asian supermarkets (you know what I'm talking about). The major offenders would probably have to be the Changeman (1985) and Turboranger (1989) theme songs (remember the music in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game? yup).

Overall, I'd say the Kakuranger (1994) theme (sounds like Madonna and ninjas had a love child), the Megaranger (1997) theme (cheesy dance pop), and the Gingaman (1998) theme (strings again! it's a retro piece).

I guess as an added bonus, this CD has four of the songs translated and sung in English. Let it be known from the heights of heaven that the Gingaman theme song in English is nowhere as heroic as it sounds in Japanese, nor do I think "overtop" is a word in English.

Thanks Yuko!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Day Thirty-Nine

Well,
Another day. My knee stung this morning, on the medial side, and it's still a little tender. On top of that, my brace keeps slipping and I have to keep adjusting the thing in public (which requires me to reach down my pants to fix it. Mother finds that embarassing). Hopefully by the end of the week, all these tiny things will go away and I'll only have to deal with the big frustration of taking it easy until December.

I've gone on quite awhile with not seriously reading anything. I can't come home anymore unless it's for a vacation. Seriously. I was able to write fifteen or so pages last Winter by shunning everyone.

Been thinking about Julia lately. Hope she's all right. I bet she is.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Day Thirty-Eight

So,
I should have kept track of the sunny days since I've been back in Pacifica; today's got to be number six in the past month and a half. It's gorgeous outside -- warm, one or two clouds, gentle breeze, all that shit. I'm gonna follow Mom around today as she does errands. Plus I'm planning on getting my hair trimmed a bit.

I'm a little anxious since by the end of this week, I'm supposed to be free from restrictions, which I guess means I'm ditching the brace. I'd like it to mean more specifically that I can drive, which in turn means I can go and see my friends and actually do some shit. Let me tell you, it's hard to not see anyone your age for a majority of the day. It's sort of ironic since I found it such an adventure to get off campus at Conn to go to Crystal Mall since I'd actually see old people and kids.

After walking around all day yesterday and not icing, my knee's a little more sore than usual. I've also self-diagnosed my knee with crepitus, that is, a grating sound made by joints as their constituent bone ends brush past each other with little or no cartilage in between. Here's what WebMD says about it:

Eventually, as the cartilage is worn away more until bone crunches on bone, a
grating feeling or sound can be felt or heard when the joint is moved. This is
called crepitus. You may experience limitation of joint motion and pain upon
motion. There will also be localized tenderness where the joint is touched. At
this point there may be enough injury to the joint and the cartilage that
secondary synovitis ensues, causing a disconcerting warmth and swelling to the
joint, known as erosive inflammatory osteoarthritis.


Well, that's in advanced cases of osteoarthritis in which crepitus is associated with painful motion. With me, it's a little more comical than painful -- when I bend my knee with a little weight bearing or if I'm bending it as it's raised up, it feels and sounds like someone dragging their face across clean glass. I'd do it all the time if I weren't worried that it might get worse or aggravate something else.

I realize that my summer's been sort of lost in a way. I think back on my housemate from a couple years back during my first summer in Providence. He was reading up for his prelims in AmCiv and spent a whole bunch of the day reading and typing up notes. I, sadly, have made it through a good portion of Polanyi (mostly the parts that no one reads), and a few articles on methods and democracy in the Philippines, with only notes in the margins of The Great Transformation. Sometimes I wonder how I fool so many people with the illusion that I'm a graduate student and it makes me feel guilty. However, actually taking notes on the computer doesn't make me feel any better either.

-----

Victory is mine! Or rather, fate has dealt me a nice hand. My landlady's friend is also dealing with a broken-down car, and so she offered to pay for the repair to Tauro the Taurus in exchange for driving it until I get back! Holy crap! That's $300 and not from switching to Geico!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Day Thirty-Seven

Hi,
I don't feel so pretentious this morning. Just thought I'd share. In other news, my middle brother is off at counselor training for camp and the rest of my family took off before 9 today for Tai Chi and other stuff, so I got to sleep until 9:40 today, minus waking up at 7 temporarily b/c of my little bro's alarm.

So I feel quite rested. My knee feels great, isn't creaking. At the end of next week, I'll be free from restrictions, so I can finally ditch the brace.

Saw this in a piece on sfgate this morning: http://www.thefatmanwalking.com/. A 39-year old, 400-lb man decided that if he didn't lose weight, he'd die before 50. So he's embarked on a walking trip from Oceanside, CA to New York. So far, it hasn't been easy for him, but I hope he makes it without any more serious problems.

Went to Vacaville today with the fam and bought some clothes, including a pair of jeans that are my prize for ditching the brace next week (they're too close-fitting to wear over my brace). The fun part was that my little bro came along with me and it was great bonding time with him. He didn't even annoy me at all.

Day Thirty-Six

So,
Living at home is beginning to really resemble high school, even to the extent of what I complain about. Mom had a hair appointment this morning and my stepdad didn't know he was tapped to drive me to PT. Gosh darnit, I want to drive again!

In other news, I pestered my therapist to let me sweat today at PT and he gave me a circuit that included a stairmaster and actually biking, although I was still going too fast, apparently. I sweat a little and I guess in a month or so, I can sweat a lot again.

Funny thing today with the PT was that in doing the leg press, my left knee started creaking like a rusty door. I kid you not: an audible creaking sound came out of my knee, thankfully with no pain. The therapist suggested I might be breaking up some adhesions in there, which would be good, but he hesitated in giving an exact diagnosis. I'm gonna have a creaky knee! Neat.

Did some thinking today about how we could classify recent "democracies in crisis". We've had some significant changes in government in the past five or six years in many countries, but not all of them suggest a systemic failure or a severe conflict that would deserve the label "crisis". What if we limited the set I'm interested in to "democracies with a non-electoral change in ruling government"? That'd exclude places like Georgia, and still capture a lot of the variation. But, what if we limited the set to "democracies with a non-constitutional change in ruling government"? I want to capture the set of democracies where rulers have either been forced out of office and/or have fled, instead of stepping down and handing power over formally. Would that count as a "non-constitutional" change?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A new cell!

this is an audio post - click to play

Day Thirty-Five

So,
Got up this morning with a pretty sore tendon underneath and on the right side of my knee. I'm figuring it's from doing all those active extension stretches and exercises yesterday. I'm icing it right now and hopefully I can get back to working on my hyperextention later today.

I posted on Bob's WWW Knee Board last night about sweating. Well, the fact that I haven't been. I really sort of miss getting on the bike and doing some cardio work, let alone running. I thought initially that my PT would be sweat-inducing from the get-go, but I have to admit, I find it ridiculously easy, which I guess isn't so bad since I've got someone else's ACL in my knee. I've been doing some core stabilization exercises and some dumbell work to pass the time, but I really want to get runner's high again.

In the Philippines as of late, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared she will not resign from the presidency, and instead ask for the resignations of her cabinet! About a week back, twelve of her cabinet members asked her to speak publicly on the issue of her alleged election fraud. PCIJ suggests that this will buy her some time, but that "But the attacks will not cease. The credibility of her presidency is shattered and many already think her days are numbered" and that "If she hangs on, then extraconstitutional options will come to the fore".

INQ7 posted a video of Fidel Ramos' analysis and proposals for the current government. The ex-president stated that the Arroyo government should be viewed as a "caretaker government" until a constitutent assembly can be called and the form of government changed to parliamentary. The presidential-parliamentary debate in the Philippines has been one that's gone on for quite some time, and tinged with both good and bad intention (Marcos had plotted to spearhead a switch from presidential to parliamentary to remain in power after his constitutional term as president ran out).

It's now come to the attention of the legislators in the Philippine Kongreso to subpoena Virgillio Garcilliano, the election commissioner with whom Gloria had been allegedly speaking to on the "Gloriagate" tapes. Now why no one thought of this earlier is a mystery to me. Perhaps all their attention was focused on attacking a president to gain favor with the masses instead of discovering more of the truth, whether it be good or bad. In any case, it seems as if Garcilliano is missing! (About halfway down). Great. No need to continue to hang yourself on the gallows of public opinion by doing stupid stuff like this, especially in the Philippines, since public outcry could get governments deposed. But I'm sure that's the least of Garci's problems. One could think of many reasons why he's on the run, but why exactly is still a mystery.

Day Thirty-Four

Our good friend Augusto Pinochet Ugarte has been stripped of immunity for a fifth time, this time for his involvement in "Operacion Colombo" -- an attempt by the then-military government to hide the deaths of 119 dissidents by forging evidence of a bloody conflict with armed Argentine rivals. El Mercurio reminds that the vote in the Court of Appeals was very tight ("una estrecha votacion"), a 11-10 count in favor of stripping immunity. Pinochet's lawyer defended him thusly:

"No puede contestar preguntas, no puede construir su defensa, no puede
participar dando los antecedentes que serían necesarios para poder defenderlo de
las acusacioens que se le imputan. Por lo tanto, resulta absurdo que se pueda
desaforar a una persona que no ha tenido participación ni conocimiento de todos
los hechos y no está en condiciones tampoco de poder ser objeto de un proceso
penal", recalcó.

(He can't answer questions, he can't construct his own defense, he can't
participate in giving details that would be neccesary in order to be able to
defend himself from the accusations lodged against him. Therefore, it is absurd
that they're challenging a person that has not had any participation or
understanding of all the facts and isn't even in the condition to be the object of a penal process.)


FYI, he's gotten off four other times already, a few of which were with the same defense -- he's not right in the head. When I was in Chile in 2001, he was in and out of the hospital and the dentist's chair [!] to avoid appearing in court, and finally he was deemed too demented to defend himself. Funny though, in declaring he was unable to appear in court due to dementia, he lost his seat in the Chilean senate as a senator-for-life. One for the other, guesses I.

--
So, I spent the day watching Battlestar Galactica on SciFi. I also watched The Story of Ricky on DVD, which, I have to say, is hilarious and maybe even ingenious. And if by ingenious I mean, has a lot of stupid plot holes, then it's the most ingenious thing ever. It's as if someone put a playground fantasy on paper and then acted everything out, complete with the crushing people's heads and sticking their mouths full of razor blades. And then, if you're the hero, you can tie back the tendons in your arm so you can inflict major intestine-ripping damage on your rival and still heal by the next day when you'll have been shot through the hand with a sewing needle and covered in cement. Mmmmm childhood.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Trapped in the Closet

Well,
I'm watching the R. Kelly operetta "Trapped in the Closet" on BET. I guess I really miss out on pop culture when I don't listen to anything but light rock. The Chicago Sun-Times had this to say about R. Kelly's apparently most risque endeavor, his new album TP.3: It oozes sex from every pore, even more than his previous work, which is interesting since he'll be brought up for trial on July 18th for child pornography.

As for my take on the song, I have to admit, I sort of find it engaging the same way we all seem to enjoy Star Wars dialog. As Harrison Ford told George Lucas, "You can write this crap, but you can't expect anyone to say it." Oh, and if you didn't watch the AFI tribute to George Lucas, both Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher appeared to be hella sloshed, while Mark Hamill was a Boy Scout/British Naval Officer/Southern Belle/Teatotaller.

Especially when you shrug off sex by singing "I gotta cramp" and "My leg is about to crack". By singing it. I mean, I sing about taking a shower and about when my car stereo won't turn on during the Winter, but mostly I sing those things to myself. R. Kelly's obviously dorkier than I.

But really, it's worth listening to. It's paced well and while the subject matter and plot are a little predictable, there's something to the way he doesn't over-dress the dialog with wooden emotion to where its even more of a caracature of itself. If R. Kelly's horny, he's horny, but he doesn't switch the background to a porn groove and start doing a Barry White: he's consistent with the background arrangement. Instead he varies the intensity of the background to support the intensity of his lyrics. There's no shouting, there's no screaming, or even spoken interjections, only singing, and it's pretty neat.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Day Thirty-Three: If Man Could Rot His Brain All Day

Hi,
PT this morning. Learned two new exercises, only one of which I can actually do at home. My PT is impressed at my progress so far, and I guess I am too -- getting my hyperextension back, moving on to much more interesting exercises than those insane leg lifts, it feels good.

Apparently not all is well with the cosmos. Er, well at least according to a Russian astrologer. She's suing NASA for upsetting the cosmic balance when it sent Deep Impact to collide with the comet Tempel 1. If the cosmos had been fundamentally altered, the first thing I'd do is sue someone. Somehow this reminds me of the newspaper error a couple years ago that stated a group of 9/11 families were suing the Saudi government for $100 billion dollars. Lotsa money.

About 8:30pm PST, and let me tell you, I did nothing AGAIN. I read a little bit of Fuzzy-Set Social Science and got a little inspired to do some research. Then I fell asleep. I'm thinking I'll go downstairs and watch TV until bedtime. I'm considering buying a few works of fiction off Amazon, but I guess I should make my way through my Neruda and Rumi I bought earlier this Summer.

Maybe later on I'll feel pretty lazy and just phone my next entry in, since I can.

It's not an answering machine, you doofus!

this is an audio post - click to play

Nothing doing.


A test...

Mmmm... hosting a picture on my blog just to post a profile image. Me and html are like *this*. No we're not.

A Serious Attempt?

Hi folks,
I'm testing the waters here at blogger, because, I'll admit, it seems quite glamorous to be searched for on google. Currently I have a livejournal that mixes a little ranting with a little more ranting, usually on the innanity of my life, but sometimes about much more important and interesting things like the state and quality of democracy and development around the world. As you can probably tell already, I need to have a conversation between my id, ego, and superego.

I'm thinking I might keep the livejournal around, but for deep, dark secrets. I might lock it so that only people listed under my friends page can read it. I dunno, we'll see.

I've got my webshots page that I'm sort of keeping maintained parallel to the livejournal weblog, detailing my recovery from ACL surgery since June 3rd. I'm still going to keep it active, too. Hmmm. Now I see you can post pictures into livejournal just like this thingy. Well, I'll be darned.

Well anyway, this is a test, and really only a test to see if I can handle updating a publicly-accessible blog without embarassing myself. And, ya know, make a contribution to public knowledge, the discourse in civil society, yadda yadda.

So expect some back and forthing for a bit until I decide where to remain permanently.