Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Little More Procrastination

Earlier this semester, I was convinced that if I were to write in the blog, that I'd really be procrastinating. Of course, I just decided to play on the good ol' emulators instead ("FFV on SNES or GBA? So many choices!"), so it was discipline with an undisciplined result, or rather, misplaced or displaced discipline.

I made lots of progress on my dissertation proposal, but it's still not done. I have some packing left to do, and a few tasks to carry out tomorrow. Suffice it to say, I think I'm going to go down to the wire as usual.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

"The Trip" Primer

A sort of lazy Saturday morning and it's high time I started becoming a regular here once again. I want to use the blog as a way to communicate with people back home (the States) as I head off on my 16-month living-out-of-two suitcases adventure across hemispheres (two of 'em!). For those of you who don't know, I'm leaving for the Philippines in a couple weeks for fieldwork, returning to the U.S. on October 31st -- around five months. I come back here to the States, splitting time in Pacifica and Providence (I think), and then I'm planning to head to Chile for a month for some light research and heavy relearning of Spanish before I spend the next four months in Ecuador and then the subsequent four months in Venezuela.

Earlier this week I was scared out of my pants about the haystack in front of me. Even armed with a research proposal, I was asking myself to comb through a hundred or so years of periodicals, legislative reports, and personal accounts which only recently stopped sounding like a good, comprehensive plan and started sounding like me getting stuck in the corner of some archive trying to get my camera to take a damn picture. In addition, having to move out of my current apartment of nearly two years was emotionally draining -- I'm going to be rootless for the next sixteen months and I haven't a place to call my own.

But I spoke with Rich Snyder on my committee the other day and he convinced me that I'll probably be having fun and to enjoy the freedom. Realistically, I won't be spending every day of the next 16 months blowing dust off books, though I'll probably be spending every minute of the next 16 months thinking about my work. I'll probably spend a lot of time in the Philippines being a Villegas, with its attendant Sunday dinners at my aunt's cafe, random late-night activities, and lots of nephews (and a niece) and my sister; it'll be the longest time I've spent in the Philippines since I left in 1982. In Ecuador, I'll probably be smacked in the face, then kicked in the gut from altitude sickness for a good bit, and in Venezuela, what's more fun than avoiding street crime?

Of course, there's the added fun of being in politically-unstable environments and studying responses to political instability. While I never really intended this blog to turn into some exercise or display of my journalism (if it wasn't clear already, this blog exists to inflate my self-worth), I'll definitely try to give you a sense of what's going on, and, once I get to Ecuador and Venezuela, a comparative sense of what's going on. Don't expect the New York Times here; think the Burlingame Bee without the unintentional racism.

If it sounds like I'm being too cynical about this trip, I probably am. I think I operate by making myself believe the worst and then letting nearly everything surprise me. There's absolutely nothing less immature than misinformed cynicism followed by naivete. Oh, wait, that was me being cynical again. Once I get out there, I'm sure that I'll start wishing I could do this for the rest of my life.

In any event, there's a lot to be done, both fun and slightly less fun. And, I'll be trying to update you all through the blog and on flickr.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.