Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Day Twenty-Three

NOT BAD
If I were a TA for a class called "How to Spend One's Day," this particular day would receive a B-. As I said I would, I roused myself at 5:30, but spent 15 minutes listening to NPR before leaving for the gym. I managed to tucker myself out, but I still got out of there at 8:50, giving 10 minutes to get to my optometrist appointment. I worked in the office from about 9:40 to 3pm today and wrote about 3 and a half pages of decent text (not including e-mails), then headed home to go grocery shopping. Having only spent about $11 on fast food today put me slightly under budget, but I still unfortunately managed to buy $70 of groceries (I'm hoping the next trip will cost less, so as to balance it all out).

I attempted to make olive oil and herb roasted salmon, but ran into a little problem -- the tin roasting pan had a hole in the bottom of it, which caused the heated olive oil to seep through and burn on the bottom of the oven. I set up the room fan to blow the smoke out the window, and, after calming down for a bit, made baked salmon instead. I then took a nap and woke up at 7:30 at which time I ate some ravioli and learned through the Daily Show that President Bush had recently read The Stranger and had discussed with Tony Snow the origins of existentialism.

So here I am now. I feel like a metaphor that was used to describe a fictional character's fictional medical condition: I feel like Mr. Burns, who upon learning that so many infections were attempting to enter his body that they were all jammed in "the door" so to speak, declared "I am immortal." Indeed.

In all honesty though, I did feel like I made some headway in my dissertation/funding proposal/prelim paper because I decided to be "honest" -- I let my two main cases describe for themselves what they were, as opposed to making artificial case selection criteria from an imaginary regression line or "set of" countries. Yeah, it's still academic, but fuck, it's better AND it came out of my head.

In other news, however, I discovered I no longer have graduate school summer funding, which means that I need to get this SSRC proposal approved. The worst-case scenario is that I have to take on a couple jobs if I want to stay in Providence and keep my apartment. Otherwise, I have to end my lease in June and go home or to the Philippines to avoid hemmoraging cash. I think ideally I'd have that SSRC money and go to the Philippines anyway, essentially making some money in the process, since I'd be taken care of when I get there. In any case, I have to get off my duff and put this shit out.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day Twenty-Two

DOING A LOT OF THINGS, GETTING A LOT DONE?
Today I typed an equivalent of one page of text. This was made up of 3/4 of a page of actual dissertation proposal/prelim paper stuff and a few important e-mails. In the great scheme of things, one page a day is a decent pace: a distance runner's pace. As a sprinter, however, a page a day seems unnecessarily slow. This page of text came from six hours in the office, 10am to 4:30pm, with half an hour devoted to me eating the leftovers from orientation (a hummus, tomato, and alfalfa sprout pita).

Despite the little I did, I felt like I accomplished a lot, or at least, felt important in doing nothing. This is in contrast to doing nothing at home, which makes me feel less important (except when I do mine and other people's dishes).

Tomorrow, I will try the following: I am going to get up at 5:30 am, so I can make poo and eat a little before getting to the gym at 6, hopefully being done by 8:30. I then get a cinnamon crisp bagel and a large yogurt from Au Bon Pain and go to my optometrist appointment at 9. Afterwards, I go to the department and stare at the computer until 4, at which point I return home and go grocery shopping. I then blog about my day and sleep at or before 10pm.

The downside of that day is that I'll shell out about $14 to $20 buying meals, making it harder to meet my now-revised budget projections before the 15th (which time I should be at $1106.25 to my name). I'll have to spend Thursday and Friday at home to balance the projections.

Other quality-of-life issues: I have to find a more digestible (and cheaper) protein bar. Currently, I spend around $60 for 24 bars at 400 calories each and 40g of protein. These things taste o.k., but they're hell to digest quickly. I may simply go with a 240 calorie bar with 20g, and make up the difference with peanut butter and fruit. I'll have to run the calculations later.

Day Twenty-One, Supplemental

I'M ARMED
The following list comes from a homeschooled kid's blog. Specifically, he's Catholic, and he's homeschooled.

The Top Ten List - Catholic Pick Up Lines
Envoy Magazine
Pat's Top Ten: Orthodox Catholic Pickup Lines
By Patrick Madrid Copyright

10. May I offer you a light for that votive candle?

9. Hi there. My buddy and I were wondering if you would settle a dispute we're having. Do you think the word should be pronounced HOMEschooling, or homeSCHOOLing?

8. Sorry, but I couldn't help but noticing how cute you look in that ankle-length, shapeless, plaid jumper.

7. What's a nice girl like you doing at a First Saturday Rosary Cenacle like this?

6. You don't like the culture of death either? Wow! We have so much in common!

5. Let's get out of here. I know a much cozier little Catholic bookstore downtown.

4. I bet I can guess your confirmation name.

3. You've got stunning scapular-brown eyes.

2. Did you feel what I felt when we reached into the holy water font at the same time?

1. Confess here often?

My opinion: (3) and (8) make me wonder if the guy was making fun of Catholic homeschoolers or if I'm really missing the boat on my religion. I will, however, start refering to things as "scapular-brown." (What's a scapular?)

(6) reminds me of the time I couldn't shake these Jehovah's Witnesses with "I'm already a Catholic," to which they replied "that means you believe in God too!" I say "witnesses" because there were two adults and like four kids on my front steps. That's a lot of witnessing.

(9) is actually something I think my middle brother would say.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Day Twenty-One

LET IT GO, LET IT OUT
I think part of growing up is assessing what it is you're like, what you could become, and then doing something about it. I grew up passive-aggressive, I think in part because I thought that confrontation was too hard to deal with. I think in part too that I could not (did not) want to assert how I felt, that if I lasted long enough, I could outlive whatever it was that bothered me.

Sorry to be so vague, but a lot of it dealt with family when I was growing up, and I'd rather not blab about that shit online, but needless to say, I think other kids had this passive-aggressive vs. aggressive debate with themselves early on. Of course, with me, I hit it in my mid-20s.

Like a few months ago, I had a cab drive me from my friend's Ryan's house in Allston to Logan. The cab's credit card machine didn't work, so I was forced to run inside and get cash, then listen to him complain. At that moment, I sort of sucked it up and left. But part of me thought, you know, it's well within your rights to mention that if his credit card machine is shitty, it ain't my fucking fault.

I dunno, I guess my complex is that I don't think I stand up for myself enough. Then again, it's the parallel pressure that real men "suck it up." I dunno. I'm coming to the conclusion that "adults" not "men" say what's unfair to them, they make their Habermasian speech claims, and they see what happens. Habermas, of course, leaves it vague as to what claims end up "winning" (the "better argument" is his logic, but what determines that?), but without the communication, we just sit around being passive-aggressive.

I think this bothers me because I spend way too much time plotting revenge. As if revenge can be carried out so cleanly and so well that I'll get satisfaction from it, and as if I could actually get many of the opportunities I want to exploit -- it's unfeasible and Hollywood. But, I still, from time to time, ponder the old breakup ameliorative "living well is the best revenge." I don't think I could actually live well with revenge on the mind, and in fact, I think that's why I'm having this conversation with you (me). Living well seems to be finding that existential moment where you've put the meaning into what you do and accept that choice: Sysyphus being fucking happy he's rolling that fucking boulder up the fucking hill.

And so, where are we with our growing-up party? We are still debating shit like this. I wonder, though, if I do figure this out, if such a reified person comes out of this, will I have become someone good, someone bad, or just a caracature? Too many questions, but I hope I have it down before I have kids. Actually, I hope I have it down so I can have some peace of mind.

IMPRESSIONS
Tomorrow starts a few school-related things that will ease me into the next academic year. For those of you who "facebook" me once in a while, you know that I have a few simple goals for this year, namely

(1) No dating undergrads
(2) Go to the office early and dressed professionally
(3) Stand up for yourself, you wuss
(4) Budget your time so you can think, TA, work out, play video games, and sleep at age-appropriate times and durations
(5) Relax your shoulders

(1) I can do without even trying (though in my defense, THEY hit on ME), and (3) we've already discussed. (5) might require a sign up in my office (next to my "It Will Not Determine Your Self-Worth" sign).

Now, (2) and (4) look daunting. If I go to the office early, dressed professionally, I make a good impression... on no one. Literally, on no one. But, you spend the day in a shirt with buttons that go all the way down and you're slightly more "serious" than the sweatshirt guy (but not the spiky hair guy, he's not trying, and so thus is much cooler). I show up to section dressed up, I'm not some "dude" (intro, second semester) teaching a section, but a "TA" (theory, first semester). I guess this is one of those ways I could "adultinize" my life, batted back and forth in my mind in my mid-20s that I should have dealt with in my late teens.

Well, I mean, I guess there's a lot I convey with just my personality, but really, how many friends has that made me? Lots.*


-------------------------------------------
* Has it gotten me laid? I'm really doubting it. Well, back to doing crunches.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day Sixteen, Supplemental


BAD REPORTER
I'm trying to find Don Asmussen's personal site or a site dedicated to Bad Reporter. Until then, I'll post the comic. Here's this week's.

Day Sixteen

THE MUNDANE
Andrew came back for a second today before heading up to Boston for schmackapella recording. Until he gets back, his mom (our landlady) will be staying in the apartment. We spent most of the early evening replacing light bulbs and fire alarm batteries, and she's currently adding a coat of primer to our shower, making it unusable for a couple days.

Good thing I've been working out 'cause I'm gonna have to shower with friends. Or, just at their houses. And why would it matter if I had been working out? Loser.

Today I spent staring at the two, single-spaced, size-11 font pages of what will become my SSRC and dissertation proposal. I'm hung up on the first sentence; according to the guide, the first sentence should be (1) an aphorism ("Workers do not organize unions; unions organize workers"), (2) a statement of your research question, or (3) a statement of your main findings. In my honest opinion, those are the three worst ways to start a paper because there's no compusion to read the piece other than the weight of the contention. I think without appropriate framing, there's no "drama" in your work, no layers to be peeled or stacked, and really, nothing anyone outside of the field would even consider reading.

Still, I feel like I have to cave a little. I think I'll just write a short introductory paragraph and end with the research question. Then I can do all that summarizing and aphorism-making in a second, thesis paragraph.

Oh, and today's grand total of sentences written: four.

FACEBOOK "NOTES"
Facebook has added an odd feature called "Notes" in which people can have bloggish things on their profiles. Facebook also allows people with blogs to synchronize updates. So, because I love all things new, I linked this blog to my facebook profile.

But, of course, I have some reservations. I assume of course that this being a public blog, anyone besides the four people who read it could search for it and see my dusky (but not darkest) secrets. In some ways, though, I sort of want this thing to fly under the radar -- I do a fair amount of kvetching about my life, which is to say, about other people and such, so it's in a sense a public diary of sorts. Then again, by the time you guys read this, I've already sorted out the really bad shit from the meatier shit nuggets, so it's slightly more articulate.

This really is a non-issue like most of the stuff I talk about. I figure if anything I'll pick up a reader who's a close friend and they'll just view this with the same "Oh that's Oslec for ya" attitude that I assume the rest of you take when you read this. And, I hasten to add, I appreciate your reading this.

QUIRKY? OR JUST AWESOME?
As dudes do after they play sports, I chatted with my basketball buds the other night about women. Resolved: women are nuts (don't get me wrong, I'm not Forbes). But, so am I: according to the last two women I've dated, I'm "weird," "quirky," "odd," etc. I won't deny that my humor is obscure (in fact, I marked that checkbox down on my Yahoo! Personals ad), but what does that really mean?

The cynic in me says it's a backhanded compliment used to suggest that while I find your quirks annoying/why didn't I notice this before?, you're good in bed/nice to look at. This one is at once plausible (I'm annoying AND good in bed) and implausible (I'm not THAT annoying). Sadly, I think I may not be the prince to the princess or the Latin lover to the cold British lady (thank John Tian for that one folks) -- I defy expectations.

In short, I think I've decided that God has obviously chosen to surprise me.

GIANTS?
As of now, the Giants are four games out of the NL Wild Card, and starting a 4-game series with the wild card-leading Reds. If the Giants manage to pull a playoff berth out of this season, I'll literally crap my pants.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Day Fourteen, Supplemental

AH YES
So online dating isn't really working for me. I think I may be too honest in my profile --I assume, of course, that some woman with the same sense of humor as I will read it and enjoy it. So far, I've tried match.com (nopes), okcupid (one date, multiple internet friends), browndate.com (one date, site is defunct -- run by Brown students for Brown students), theonion personals (nopes), and now I'm on Yahoo! Personals (so far, no bites).

Of course, I could go the specialty dating site route; you know, the sites oriented to a particular demographic. I believe I'd be eligible for catholicsingles.com, filipinofriendfinder.com (not to be confused with filipinaheart.com, a mail-order bride deal), and I think that's it (there's not sociologist dating site, though perfectmatch.com's matching algorhythm was developed by a sociologist).

You won't find me on eurodatelink.net -- a site ostensibly to match people of "European descent." Of course, the reason why this site is needed at all is that

We found that while there were many dating sites for Jewish people, Blacks,
Asians and others, there were literally no dating sites for our people. This
site is not intended to promote or advocate racial hatred or bigotry in any
form. We only wish to give our people a venue to share common heritage,
interests, ideals and hopefully feelings for each other.


Of course, the site is sponsored by aryanwear.com.

The problem must be that with all these Jewish people, Blacks, Asians and others finding people of their own kind online, their respective populations may increase. It's no wonder we need eurodatelink.net 'cause there ain't enough white people having sex (on TV, on the internet, on Howard Stern, at college).

In times like these I refer to Patrick's definition of affirmative action: being able to get any color ass you want.

Day Fourteen

TWO WEEKS
So far, eh. I hit my August 23rd projected funds total early by five days. With a dwinding supply of groceries, I had to call Mom for money. I NEVER ask my parents for money. In fact, I believe I might have asked them for money a total of four other occasions throughout my entire life (this, of course, is not counting the times I've asked them to purchase things for me). For me, asking someone to loan your money is like beholding yourself to them. Perhaps that's my backwards Filipino/catholicness, which would technically make me bad for democracy.

In any case, I asked for just enough money to meet my budget projections, but Mom was generous and gave me more. Now, the task is to not spend the surplus so I can be under-budget by the 31st.

BAD HAIRCUT
One of the things I was holding back on in my budget crunch was a haircut. My last haircut was sometime in July when I was at home in California. I think it might have been five or so weeks, and I was willing to go until October without one to meet budget projections. But, with my Mother's generosity, I was able to manage the $20 for a chop job.

When I say "chop job," I do mean chop job -- after misunderstanding me, and with me attempting to clarify, the stylist managed to send my head back in time ten years to 1996. In other words, I look like a bad, bad Backstreet Boy: closely cropped sides, poofy mushroomy top, and severe bangs. Never have I look so much like my passport picture either -- a passport that was issued in 1999.

So what am I complaining about? I'm complaining about my lack of balls for one, for not being able to stand up for myself. Secondly, I'm complaining because I think my haircut is funny enough for me to get some good self-depricating humor milage out of it.

In the end, I've decided to experiment with the hair I have left. First, I may consider wearing a sports headband. I have one -- small, black, and thick enough to add the missing thickness from the sides of my head. Second, I am considering the fauxhawk, which would be antithetical to my "No More Gel" declaration from three years ago. At this point, if I have to wait four weeks before I have any hair on the side of my head again, I'll hold that rule in abeyyance.

You'll have to pretend that I have a picture of my head up.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Day Twelve

TEE HEE
Don Asmussen's Bad Reporter attempts to poke fun at the headlines by combining them in particularly absurd ways. Here's this week's cartoon:

Friday, August 18, 2006

Day Eleven

THE EXISTENTIAL DATER
Even that is a misnomer: I haven't been on a date since February. But, it's my own damn fault -- such is my existential angst. While I'm not Mersault accepting his fate at the day of his execution (nothing I do is metaphorically equal to that), I do sort of see my wonderful fuck-ups I've chosen to do as, well, fucking myself over.

So in I guess what is a combination of my middle-class anxiety, my failure at "putting myself out there," and bad copy editing, I sent a message to someone on Yahoo! personals. Problem was I just joined Yahoo! personals and my profile hadn't been approved. As such, my e-mail suggesting that "we have a lot in common; it's uncanny" cannot be corroborated. In addition I said this:

"So if you're not annoyed with other sociology grad students (at least not ones from your department)..."

when it should have been

"So if you're not annoyed with other sociology grad students (at least ONES NOT FROM your department)..."

Oh well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Day Eight

MONEY
So, I saved all my receipts from Montreal. If things work out right, I should be (nearly, mostly) reimbursed for all expenses, especially registration and the train tickets. Tomorrow I'm going to ask Joan, our office manager, to walk me through this process. That should bring back around $400 into my coffers.

Today I used a gift card my aunts in New York gave me. I bought $307 worth of merchandise at Express, paying only $7. That was money saved right there.

I did, however, pay about $18 for various things at CVS. I think that's all right, considering that I don't think I'll have to go grocery shopping this week at all. That should save me $50-60.

So far, so good.

MY PANTS SIZE
Hmm apparently I've gone down a pants size -- from 31 to 30. This is weird. It's like a Subway commercial, but for someone who's waist never really registered on the waist-o-meter as it was. Very, very weird. Though admittedly, it doens't make a huge difference.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Day One, Supplemental

AREA MAN GOES TO GRAD SCHOOL...

to...

How true. I just got Onion'ed.

Day One

A NEW TASK HAS BEEN CHOSEN
After a night of ulcer-inducing worry, I've decided to watch very, very carefully my money until September 15th. After making travel plans to Montreal this weekend for ASA, I realized how little I was worth. In fact, it was during making plans that I realized this: I bought my train ticket on credit because I simply could not afford to drop below my psychic income threshold.

Part of the blame (perhaps all) is that I'm living a bourgeois lifestyle -- I've taken to shopping at Whole Foods for fresh vegetables and tofu, I buy clothes for their sartorial effects, and I am willing to pay $25 for a haircut. This, sadly, is not the price-watching lifestyle of an immigrant child. And, as much as I excoriate my mother for spending willy-nilly and in a sense rejecting the "save-first" ethic we brought with us, I'm guilty of spending nearly beyond my means.

I think though that my immigrant ethic is what's making me hunker down. With about $600 to my name, and $600 in rent coming up in two weeks, with a couple weeks of groceries and a $414 paycheck coming, I'll be very close to driving myself crazy.

So the plan is thus: last on minimal purchases until September 15th, when I receive my first academic year paycheck of about $850. That gives me about five or so weeks to subsist on already-bought protein bars and yogurt. My conservative estimates show me surviving, albeit with a close call coming the second week of September, right before my paycheck arrives (I'll be pushing about $200 in total funds around that week).

So here's what I'm planning to do:
- Not leave the house. Otherwise I'll be tempted to eat out.
- Set my grocery cap at $50/wk, which is doable. That's about $250 in groceries in for the next month and a quarter.
- Limit my spending in Montreal to $40 a day. I'm already coming back early to avoid having to spend money on food. So instead of being up there for five days (the duration of ASA this year), I'll only be there for two.
- Limit my spending on the train/train food to $20/day. That's two trips of 10 hours each to and from Montreal from New York. More protein bars and soymilk for me!
- No frivolous purchases. Simple enough.

While I'll probably get reimbursed for most of the money I spend in Montreal from the school (a total of $700, which I'll probably not even hit), I'm not sure when I'll receive those funds, so I'll assume they're an expense until they cancel themselves.

SOME THINGS ARE STILL FREE, LIKE IDEAS
Jessica Simpson's new song "A Public Affair" is kinda catchy, but I think this is because it sounds like Madonna's "Holiday" and "Dress You Up." In fact, it sounds like a good formulaic song with its roots in Madonna, Janet Jackson (Velvet Rope Janet), and probably a host of other adult contemporary-friendly divas. Why is this at all relevant? Because she's attractive.

In fact, a ex-girlfriend was analyzing why I'm attracted to "curvy" women and used Jessica Simpson as an example. I remember her tracing her finger along a picture of Jessica's in a magazine, pointing out the curve in her stomach. I personally couldn't see a fucking thing, but I guess that's why I'll always be an elusive, yet attractive, mystery to all women.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What Day?

DRAGONBALL OR DRAGONPEARLS?
There's always something wrong with live-action versions of anime. Of course, there's next to nothing better than watching bad live-action anime, dubbed in Spanish on network television. Telemundo is showing Dragonball today. It took me a second to figure out that it was some take off of the original Dragonball, and apparently the English dub is pretty bad as well (read the user comments). Here's to Saturday afternoons in the world of the academe.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Day-O, Day-ay-ay-O

I HATE NERDS! FUCK NERDS!
Channel 101's August shows are up, and I'm particularly disappointed that "Future Book" didn't make the cut. You can view the failed pilot here, and damn, it's hilarious.

"I'm just punchin' some nerds 'cause I hate them so much. It's kinda what defines me."

I don't think any line in this pilot was wasted. Well-edited too.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Day Something

NEW YORK HAPPENINGS
New York was great, as it has seemingly been the past four times I've been this year. I saw many aunts and scored a friend trifecta -- I saw a college friend, a friend I studied abroad with, and a high school friend. Again, I go through the constant debate over whether or not I should just move to New York so I can have a social life. This isn't a new idea for those of you who read this blog with some regularity, but I have to say, being out at about 9pm you get to see a whole mess of attractive young ladies walking their dogs. You see, that's entirely missing in Providence.

Another thing missing in Providence (at least in my condo) is air conditioning. I slept very, very well on two couches this weekend, I think because the ambient temperature was kept at a reasonable cool. I have my ceiling fan going full blast right now: "full blast" meaning spinning just a little faster than I could fan myself with a piece of paper. In addition, I have a room fan on low. Those two fans in concert do some mitigation of the heat, but it's still humid and it's still uncomfortable. Luckily for the ladies, I am shirtless.

For the sake of partial disclosure, let me say that old crushes die hard, but that I think I'm too old to have crushes. Hey, that's like almost an aphorism. I'm so awesome.

TWEED?
This article from the Chronicle of Higher Ed talks about the sartorial eccentricities of professors. Despite the degrees to which professors can be identified by their clothing, the author seems to indicate in passing that the tweed jacket is versatile enough to indicate erudition with jeans or with other pants. Now, that's my only justification for wanting to have a somewhat metrosexual outfit as outlined by Esquire that features a grey, windowpane, checkered, wool tweed jacket. I partially want to rock the tweed to start my eccentric professor shtick on my students this year, and partially because I think I could pull off the tweed. In fact, I believe I could totally pull that shit off.

So as I try to force myself to sleep, I've been searching for a tweed jacket of similar design that won't set me back $2,025, or, how much I'll be worth by December of this year. The closest I've found in texture and pattern is this one, which sadly, will set me back $365. To be sure, $365 is doable, but not currently -- I'll have to wait for a couple regular-year paychecks to have enough saved up for it.