Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rain, Blame it on the

It's been raining a lot here, not exactly non-stop, but not like we have much chance to breathe. This, of course, coming a week after it was 27 degrees centigrade outside and sunny (well for a bit, anyway). Now, for my middle-class moment: my $5 Eddie Bauer rain slick I bought at the outlet store does not actually stop rain -- I came back pretty damn wet a few days ago. On the other hand, the unfortunately more expensive North Face jacket IS waterproof.

Thankfully, also is this house. Well, sort of: a few days ago when the rains were coming down pretty hard, I turned my head for a second away from the computer and upon turning back I noticed two drops of water on the screen. The first thing that came to my mind was that I might have had loose spit on my mouth and I turned so fast that it flew off me and hit my computer. Then I thought more logically: it's raining... and then I looked up to find that one of the ceiling panels was falling off, inching ever so close to my head, with water dripping. I ran into my bedroom with my computer and waited it out a bit. Luckily, while the ceiling panel is still sort of poorly-placed, let's say, it hasn't been dripping water on me or my comp.

Still, it's almost to the point where you don't want to go outside for fear of just getting stuck in the rain somewhere. When I was in Valparaiso in July of 2002, Chile had some nasty weather -- apparently in a span of a day, the country had received as much rain as it had ever received in a year. The city was, well, a lake.

It's not so lakey here though, but in other parts of Ecuador, there's been some serious flooding. Apparently, according to my host sister-in-law, this happens every year, "this" being people's houses getting swept away, to which she suggested, "why can't they just build away from the river for once?"

In other news, rent negotiations for my old place in Providence went downhill for me as I was hit with the least favorable combination of a rent increase and me having to move back into my old room. Three years ago when I moved in (and away from the room I had on Governor Street), I was playing $550 in rent, plus $100 to another landlord for parking. The next Fall, the rent went up to $600, but as my Taurus died and we got a little stipend raise, I could handle it and then some. Now, with rent going up to $655, I guess I'm back to where I was before. This is where I pray to God that I'll get the ACLS grant which is $5000 more than I'd get TAing at Brown (and I wouldn't have to TA). Granted though, much of that $5000 will go to keeping myself alive in Venezuela during the summer, since the Diss Fellowship dies out at the end of May.

But as I said to my roommates, I'm not moving into a room, but in with them. In the larger scheme of things, there are worse places I could be and luckily because we pay no utilities and groceries are split three ways, it's a pretty convenient economy-of-scale that I wouldn't be able to take advantage of otherwise.

Consider that an apartment in Providence near Brown, on the cheap side, is about $600 (very cheap) to $1100 (high-end). That's probably not including utilities, which, even if I don't bathe and handwrite my dissertation, wearing layers of garbage bags, will still be in the tens of dollars, and then having to buy groceries, which, no matter how hard I tried, still cost about $200 a month. Assuming I lived like a human being, and assuming I found a well-insulated apartment for $800, I'd probably be paying something like $1100 monthly on room and board. That, of course, is not counting the fact that I have no car, which is easily overcome but quite annoying.

So, let's hope for a little less rain and a little more money. I sound like an old lady.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Woe to My Internet

I went to the gym around lunchtime today and when I got back, my internet at home wasn´t working. I came to FLACSO to pick up some photocopies and then print something out -- turns out that the printer here´s not working, either.

Oh well. It suggests to me that I should go to be earlier, perhaps, and then trek (and I do mean "trek") to the gym early enough in the morning to have a full day. Let´s hope the internet comes back to me, like a sad puppy.

In other news, I found an opinion piece entitled "!Hay Clase Media!"

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Likeuador

Today we were a bit surprised to see a blue municipal bus come to Guapulo instead of the old red-and-white "Especial de Quito" buses that usually pass by (irregularly, I might add). I think everyone at the stop nearly started clapping and one old lady said, "oh they finally sent us a blue one!" -- either because the bus was late or this sort of event is as exciting as it gets in Guapulo.

It was a really great morning, felt like summer with temperatures at 26c (26x9/5+32=.... ah crud) and people dressed slightly less stuffily that usual, being it was Friday probably and because of the weather. I ended up missing my Ecovia stop, but made a detour to finally get myself a gym membership (I'm a goin' tomorrow!). But as Lisa and I were heading to lunch, I noticed on the municipal temperature/time thingies that it had dropped to 21c, and then during lunch, the wind started picking up and it got chilly. Still, at least it didn't start raining.

I went to FLACSO to wait for Carlos after finding out that the Produbanco at the Mall Jardin decided to change the time up to which one could change a travellers check. I discovered I finally had a computer at my desk to compliment the monitor and keyboard, but after replugging all that hardware I found out I needed a password. So, I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to "break in" -- and a couple times I thought got it (with "adminis," "ecuador," and "ecuaflacs") but it was just the computer farting. So, I fell asleep at my desk while reading a book.

I came to just as Carlos had finished an interview and he called me in to talk. He handed me three books and four cassette tapes, all stuff relevant for my dissertation. The cassettes were of interviews he conducted during the time of the 2005 protests and he said I could just go and have them transcribed for my files. We sat and talked for a few minutes, and I have to say, this all continues to make doing work in Ecuador about six to seven billion times easier and more rewarding than in the Philippines. I got a bunch of names, a great set of leads (again!), and I left pretty damn confident.

So I had kind of an Ice Cube good day, and I didn't even have to use my A-K.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Best Compliment Ever Given

I decided to walk home today from FLACSO because (1) I arrived outside the Ecovia station as soon as the bus arrived, (1b) it was full, and (2) I felt like I needed the exercise. I had it in my mind that the walk home'd be my warm-up of sorts for a 20-minute run, but as I was making my way back, thunder started to crack and I figured today's exercise will have to be just me rushing home.

Today's presentation went really well, though part of me expected total boredom. But as I mentioned awhile back, the people here at FLACSO are incredibly (really, I am incredulous, but now beginning to believe) sympathetic to my theoretical perspective and to my project in general. We had a really great discussion today in class that I'll chalk up as "fieldwork," but the best best part had to have been when someone asked me about my, for lack of a better word, methodology:

"What calls my attention is that you're like Barrington Moore, studying identity and discourse..."

I nearly (nearly) asked her to marry me. But she's married and has two kids. Oh well.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quickie Post

It's pretty late and I've got to go to FLACSO tomorrow and present my dissertation proposal. I spent the day writing very slowly (but surely) in Spanish and now I have a "presentation" of sorts. Watch tomorrow as I hem and haw in a language in which I have an "advanced high," not fluent, command. After lunch, I've got an interview. So I best sleep or else I'm going to be thinking in the wrong language.

In other news, I'm exploding-tastically happy with [the] Vox [Cameli] for getting their first album done, and really proud of Fred for getting all that shit together. I insist that you buy it when it comes out and listen to Brett sing "Valentine" and "Hey Jealousy". As for me, I told myself that I'd only write as long as it took for "Valentine" to play and now that "Maneater" is on, I must to go.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Exploding Fly and the Exploding Oslec

Last night as I was writing, I noticed a mayfly flitting around in my "office." Since they're completely harmless and, at that stage of their lives, about to die, I left it alone. This morning when I went to turn my computer on, I thought I noticed pubic hair on my desk. Well, they weren't mine, nor were they hairs: the mayfly had either crash-landed hard or exploded and its legs were all spread out on one part of my desk, the body lying nearby. My forensic skills indicate that exploded (of course). Or maybe some parasite had burst through it and then scurried away in the middle of the night. Either answer is entirely, entirely plausible.

In contrast, I ate a whole crapload of chicken breast today. Small comparison to the life of a fly, but nonetheless if my arms and legs are spread out all over my desk (disconnected from me, of course), then you know what happened.

In other news, I had to venture into the outside world and engage in capitalist exchange today -- money for a toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, and then a down vest ('cuz it's much colder than I thought). Also, said vest was expensive, but I just got paid, so that's my excuse.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

*worm, Blisters, and Destiny!

God has mysterious ways. Last night, I went out with the Fulbrighters again and we had dessert at The Magic Bean. I ordered an Oreo Delight milkshake and decided that it was too well-blended and that all the crunchy stuff (what was left of it) was floating at the top. So, I stirred it with my straw with all my stirs and knock it over. It spilled on the floor, my pants, and Martin's pants.

While I did enjoy the one inch of overblended Oreo Delight milkshake I had left, I felt that this was some way of telling me that I didn't need those calories. So, this morning I decided that I was going to run for the first time in two weeks and that said run was going to be long.

I began the preparations: I got up. Then I decided to worry about my job prospects (again) and then imagine what'd be like if I got the ACLS grant (so much sushi...). Finally though I dressed up and left the house at about 3pm and headed up the hill, quickly at first, then just briskly walking, just so I could survive the ascent.

I decided that I'd run all the way to Parque La Carolina and do the entire loop around the park, which I'm not sure how far that is. It took me about 25 minutes to get there from Guapulo, run/walking, and then I ran for another fifteen minutes until I had to stop every few minutes to do a blister check. Eventually I decided that if I was going to keep checking my feet every three minutes, I should just stop running. Of course, I might have been playing right into the hands of this, which I wouldn't have looked up if those crazy Fulbrighters hadn't talk about a similar intestinal parasite, but which comes out of your mouth...

So, walking on the outside of my feet, I made my way around the outside of the park. I stopped for a bit on the Amazonas side to watch a well-attended "volleyball" game. And when I say "volleyball" entre comillas, I mean "EcuaVolley" for lack of a better term. As I've noticed thus far, the bump-set-spike pattern of official volleyball gets turned into "set-by-basically-cradling-the-ball", "set-by-holding-the-ball-and-then-pushing-it-up" and then an acceptable pass over the net with the fingertips. Aside from that, I was pretty interested in why there were so many people watching. It looked like it was the Ecuadorian lawyers' association, or Ecualey, playing on special courts just for them. And, I think that was probably true since the players were all middle-aged dudes, sort of laboring to get around the court and whose skill at those adapted volleyball rules meant that they hardly had to do any running.

Speaking of which, I fast walked all the way back to Eloy Alfaro and decided to stop by Tita Nieves' deli. Daniel, her son, was there, and we talked for an hour or so until it started to cloud over a bit and I high-tailed it to the Ecovia. My watch said it was 6pm already, so I got off at La Paz and walked back up the hill to Gonzales Suarez and then back down to Guapulo.

My feet were pretty much worth discarding at that point, but I made it back to the house, took a shower, and found out that I had not one, not two, but three blisters and luckily no worms eating through my skin to force me to stick my foot in water where they'd secrete their eggs.

So at the end of all this, was I supposed to have asked for another milkshake? Either way, I think that any sort of running would have caused these blisters, though maybe I'd have been happier knowing I had downed a huge glass of overly-blended ice cream and Oreos. As they say, it's no use crying over spilled milkshakes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Slow Flies

Just like the flies here in Guapulo, I've been slow to move. Partly because I have the internets now, partly because there's nothing pressing, except for the psychic weight of failure. But unlike the flies here in Guapulo, I can't get swatted out of the air with an old calendar or a DVD case. Yes, it's like playing slow-pitch softball, er rather, reliving my middle school P.E. softball memories, but only this time, I actually hit the ball.

Maybe flies are my opposite: they're filled with poop (popular knowledge), and I'm not. With more poop, you're slower. If you're slower, you can get smacked upside the thorax with a calendar. And I have to say, instead of smashing flies against hard surfaces, there's less hassle in the clean-up.

Now that we've established I'm a sadist, let's ask, "am I a masochist?" The answer is open. Last night, I worked on my CV because I'm continually concerned about my job prospects come this Fall. Of course, instead of writing a paper, I'm just working on self-promotion, the internet child that I am. So after stressing for 30 minutes about how to format the damn thing, I just looked at my advisors' CVs and did some tweaking. What it made clear is that (1) I need more publications and (2) I'm going to present a whole shitload of papers this year.

So I best get crackin'. I'm sure that when the time comes, I'll have figured something out.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Good Luck, Dennis Richmond

Dennis Richmond, longtime anchor of the KTVU 10 O'Clock News, is retiring. My whole childhood is punctuated by Dennis Richmond and Elaine Corral; that's because I spent most of my childhood in front of the TV.

But I'll miss him. He was the most masculine person on TV before Will Riker. And Will Riker didn't even come close.

Finally... Photos

Originally uploaded by TheBosslec.
So, I did some internet errands today, lots of photo uploading, paper submitting, stuff like that. As for photo uploading, feel free to take at look at my "Ecuador!" album, especially those of you to whom I promised to show those political effigies. You'll have to excuse the fact that these web text entry boxes don't let you put an "n with tilde" and I'm waaaay too lazy to type stuff out in Word and cut and paste.

And as for paper submitting, ASA extended their submission deadline to today at 3pm. Had I not visited the ASA website yesterday, I wouldn't have known I had time to work on something. But since I promised to send stuff to Jim and Rich for them to comment on, it gave me some motivation to finish up a methods paper I'd been working on. It's nothing spectacular, but even unspectacular stuff gets accepted (and sometimes published, I hope).

Otherwise, I gotta get on the interview tip or I'm gonna fall behind. I need to really scour the newspapers too. Also, I need to do some sightseeing.And get a job. And have kids. Christ.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

!Me Entienden!

So I finally have an internet connection at home, meaning that I'll get less work done and stay up later "pendejando" as they say here. But it means that I'll be in better contact with you all at home (hooray?) and I'll try to do some quick posts here as regularly as possible, now that I don't have to pay money to sit and think at an internet cafe. As if that stopped me before.

Anyway, we had the second session of the research design seminar I'm participating in at FLACSO. Last week, we moved the time to 8am to accommodate people's schedules. So of course, I spend all last night working on a paper and sleep at 3:30. I got up that fear you get when you're afraid you're going to oversleep and made it to class early. As it turned out, nearly everyone was still asleep and we only took an hour to finish up what was supposed to be a 3-hour seminar (Carlos said it was probably the topic).

I intended to go straight home and nap, but I ended up talking to the other students in the cafeteria afterwards. They're all really intelligent, very nice to me (and my broken Spanish), and, in comparison with the Philippines -- and even with home -- they comprehended my dissertation topic AND were interested in it.

Finally. Geez.

It's not that I'm looking for affirmation, but I've been struggling to get people to comprehend my ontological perspective (by not using the word "ontology", for starters), that I'm studying middle-class stereotypes, discourses about the middle class, etc. While it's like pulling teeth with some people at home to have them be patient enough to wait until I describe my work before they opine, and in the Philippines where people have this fairly fixed notion about what the middle class is (moreso than here, maybe), so far explaining my topic to academics and academics-in-training has been smooth sailing. We were even talking about urban development in Quito and Guayaquil and someone made a point about the middle class shrinking and then immediately said, "well, clearly I'm falling into middle-class discourse here, but..." (holy crap!).

Now I wonder if what I've written in English is (1) just that confusing or (2) people here so far have just "gotten it." I wonder too if that has anything to do with how people think about the middle class. Hmmms all around.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fulbright Parasite

Last night, I went out for the first time to a wine and tapas place in the "new town" or La Mariscal with nearly all of the U.S. Fulbright contingent here in Ecuador. I was one of two non-Fulbrighters there -- the other dude was an ethnomusicologist working in the north of Ecuador in Chota. I had a really great time and the collective conclusion that they reached was that Ecuadorian men are all "hijos de puta" (the Fulbrighters are mostly all women). Actually, that conversation began with a question to me -- "are you Ecuadorian?" -- and then it all came out. My favorite part: I was told that I have to "prove them wrong" (okaaay...) and that Filipinos make attractive Asians (okay!)

Anyway, the Fulbrighters are an eclectic bunch, working on lots of different topics (waterborne disease, community food baskets, etc.) and all of them seemed to be really enjoying their time in Ecuador, minus Ecuadorian men, cell phone problems, and water delivery. There are a couple from Oregon, two from Long Island, California, one from Connecticut, one from New York, Ohio... I think that´s all of them. I got invited to a group dinner tomorrow afternoon and Lisa from Cornell/FLACSO said I could join the Fulbright Ecuador facebook group ("Ecuabright", I think it was).

Anyway, the Asians-I´ve-Seen count has gone up to 13 after I saw two at the bank, one more outside FLACSO, and two last night in La Mariscal. I still haven´t overheard anyone speaking Tagalog. That´s a big item on my social scavenger hunt.

Friday, January 11, 2008

2nd Time´s the Charm?

When I planned out my fieldwork, I purposely chose to do the Philippines first since I figured (and correctly so) that I could get used to the learning curve for fieldwork with family around, English as the primary language, and a place to test a few hunches to see if they´d work out in a more "relaxed" setting. As it turned out, I did end up working a lot -- a lot more than I thought I did when I ended.

Now that I´m in full swing here in Ecuador, I see a whole bunch of the things I know I can improve on for this case and it´s actually making my Philippine research seem really inadequate. Most of the realizations I had for the Philippines came real late (the importance of nationalist discourses, the middle-class transformation of revolutionary discourse from below, especially) and now that I can focus on that stuff here in earnest, I just feel bad for my Philippines portion. I guess, hopefully, if I get a grant for next year, I can maybe disappear for a couple months back to the Philippines and try to clean up my mess. And shit, for all I know, I could just fuck up royally here in Ecuador.

I´m at the internet café near the bus stop here in Guápulo and a funeral procession just walked by, definitely heading up to the church. It was just a few people first, dressed unevenly in black, then a Volvo station wagon (the hearse) surrounded by people, and being "pushed" by a bunch of little kids. Then a whole mass of mourners, quietly filing by, and a large truck with more people, but those you could hear whimper and sniff. Now, there´s the equivalent of a traffic jam here in Guápulo, cars inching towards the bus stop and the intersection leading up to the church. A little later, the church bells will ring in honor of the deceased and we´ll all think it was some "viejo" who, in the last few minutes of his "life" above ground, stopped traffic, with the help of everyone who loved him (or her).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

FLACSO Morning

Today I attended the first session of a research design seminar for doctoral students here at FLACSO. It started at 10am and one of the first things we discussed was moving the time to 8am. Ouch. With that, I´m going to look for a taxi driver to contract to take me from Guápulo to FLACSO on Wednesday mornings. As they say here, "oof."

In other news, I made some friends over the past couple days. First, the people in the office, including my supervisor, Carlos de la Torre, and then the people in the class. There are a couple other foreign PhD students doing the fieldwork here who are in the class with me. I had lunch today with one lady from Cornell who´s working on urban planning issues in the Centro Historico. She has friends who actually do things on the weekends, so I might raise my friend total to over 3.

In other, other news, I was finally able to bring my stool sample to the clinic. If you recall from my previous post, not only do you have take your sample to a clinic yourself, you have to actually "take" the sample with a kit you buy yourself (my tita happened to have an extra one). And, with these new medicines I´m on, I´ve been constipated. Anyway, it also turns out that you have to pick up the results yourself and then deliver them back to the doctor. Funny that in the Philippines there are a billion couriers and here it seems like you can´t get even one.

Anyhoo, I talked to my mom last night about how it doesn´t rain here, and now it´s lightly pouring, with a couple flashes of lightning. This, of course, will make it great fun in going back to the clinic, the doctor´s office, and back home. Well, what can you do?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Anti-Poop

I went to a gastroenterologist yesterday evening. After not having enough cash to pay for the appointment and running across a busy street to borrow some money, I came away with a couple of prescriptions and the ability (which I had, I guess), to eat anything save stuff with milk, except yogurt, provided I take one of the medicines either 30 minutes before or after (more or less, he said). The diagnosis: possibly stress, but he ordered a stool sample just in case.

Speaking of stress, I guess that does make sense, though it would suggest that my body got stressed out a little less than a week after arriving, versus getting stressed out right away. I still think it giardia, but maybe I stressed myself out from having one wet poop that now it's a vicious cycle.

The funny thing is, of course, now I can't poop -- now that I'm under pressure, I can't perform. Clearly, this invalidates the stress argument, though since I forgot to ask what these medicines did, they could just be making me constipated. Ah, the life of a graduate student in a third-world city.

Anyway, I'm currently at FLACSO at "my" desk, which, I was informed today, I'll have to share after 4pm. Still, wireless internet works out, though it means I'll have to slog with my comp here to use it. Oh, I'll be staying in Guapulo, so that means my hosts will try to get an internet connection installed in my room.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Can this Poop Be Defeated?

Two things. First, this. Then, I forgot to mention in my last post that I saw Asians at the mall. Like seven of them. They were speaking spanish, and drove away in a car with Ecuador license plates, so they didn´t drive down from, oh, British Columbia (I saw a car with BC plates the other day. The owner kept the engine running while they were parked outside a chicken joint. I guess if you drive that far, gas is not an issue).

Anyhoo, we called up a doctor friend of my tita´s yesterday and he prescribed an OCT drug called Sertal, or Propinox Chlorohydrate. He said that usually after the second dose of this stuff (you put 20 drops of it into less than a finger segment´s worth of water), you´re feeling better. He suggested taking it as symptoms persist, up to 4 times. Well, I took one, didn´t poop all day, and then pooped this morning with no significant change, other than the fact that since I didn´t eat anything (I can only eat white rice now), well, you can imagine.

So, I´m seeing a gastrointerologist today. My self-diagnosis is giardia, but my host family joked I could have cholera or even dengue. Let me jus say, that my mental list of foods that I plan to eat after this affliction is growing by leaps and bounds. Among the new entries: artificially-flavored sour cream and onion potato chips. I will vanquish my foes then eat Pringles. Which, of course, will work their way through my clean intestinal tract.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Ramen, Poop, and the Greenbelt of Ecuador

Last night I realized that basically I can only eat food that´s partially, if not fully, fake. So, instead of the usual tablet of celery boullion I´ve been eating, I had some "mushroom" flavored ramen. And, it tasted like ramen. The big test though came this morning when something that looked like poop rather than colored water came out.

Around lunchtime, I started my adventure today -- to the Centro Histórico and then to the other side of town to see the people´s mall, Quicentro Shopping. I took the bus from Guápulo to Supermaxi, as per usual. Then I took the Ecovia from Manuela Cañizares to Simón Bolívar. "Simón Bolívar" refers to a park/statue, both of which were being cleaned when I got there -- people planting flowers, fixing up the other statues, and pressure-water washing Simón himself. After avoiding getting hit by the backspray, I walked down Av. Guayaquíl where I saw the world´s ugliest building. If you remember the arcologies from SimCity 2000, it looked almost like this one, but smaller, uglier, and even worse.

Anyway, I made it to the Plaza de Armas and it seemed a lot more alive than the Plaza de Armas in Santiago -- lots of people sitting around, with a few little "shows" going one. One was just a poster with notable politicians´faces photoshopped over animals and a louspeaker playing music, but it got lots of people to stop and look.

In one corner of the plaza was the Centro Cultural Metropólitano and I went in for a bit. I saw a photo exhibition by Jorge Anhalzer who took aerial digital photos of some of Ecuador´s most notable peaks and other thingies that belong in coffee table books. Some of the photos suffered from being digital printouts, so the weaker details looked like sprites and some of the the colors were weird towards the edges, but he had two pictures that were really great: one of volcán zumaco that looked almost 3D and one of a place called Guamote that looked like a quilt made up of different shades of green. After, I wandered around the building a bit and found out that it had lots of reading rooms, full of students and others who checked out books to have pages photocopied. The building itself was really gorgeous, too.

I walked over to the Plaza de San Francisco and the eponymous church. As the guidebook said, it was sorta so-so, esp. if you´ve seen other early Spanish colonial basilicas, but there were a couple small statues of the Virgin with real human hair. Kinda creepy. But the church was also full of study-abroaders, clearly distinguished by their backpackery clothes and nalgenes. I also ran into a pack of evangelical missionaries, whose guide said something to the effect of "the little devils couldn´t finish the church" in a southern accent.

I have to head back to the Centro again, since it seems like there´s a lot you can´t do in one day (or a couple hours). Having seen so far Intramuros and old Santiago, I think this one has the better of the three in terms of main plazas. If anyone´s looking for shoes, there´s a billion shoe stores there; it´s up to you to decide about their quality, though.

Anyway, it sorta started to rain, so I ran back to the Ecovia station to head to Quicentro. I wanted to go out of curiosity to see what the "pinnacle" of consumer culture was here, since, of course, that´s one of the key factors that helps define a middle class. I walked around the whole thing and it reminded me of a smaller Greenbelt, even with the illogical stairs (you have to go up a small set of stairs to use a down escalator). At this point, I was mad hungry and my homemade gatorate wasn´t doing it for me. I debated and debated whether or not I should eat something and I finally decided to get an ice cream cone. For $1.35 (a little less than an entire lunch here), I got a cone with raspberry and lemon sorbet and it was the best thing I had eaten this week, after of course the meal I ate when I assumed I was o.k.

Anyway, I took the bus back to the La Paz stop and walked back home from there. Not a bad day, but we´ll see how that ice cream reacts with whatever bacteria I´m culturing inside me tomorrow.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Poo Once, Shame on Me. Poo Twice... You´ve just Pooed Again

One day, someone (probably a student of mine or an employer) will read this post and think "this man has such a warped sense of humor, I will only awkwardly chat with him from now on." To that I say, everbody poops.

Today I spent the day doing very superficial work, playing SimCity DS (120,000-person growth in three years. And then unemployment...), and then playing with my host family´s little grandson. It appears that, yes, I am good with kids. In fact, I´m so good that I´ve done nothing to warrant this kid´s attention, but now we´re like best friends. On the downside, I think he had more energy than me, which tells me I´ve either got to stop crapping out my nutrients, that I should exercise more, or I better have kids soon or else I´m going to lose to a 3-year old at hide-and-go-seek.

In other news, I made it up the hill in less than 12 minutes today, which is a record and, I guess, shows that I have something left in the tank. I did a little circuit where I went up the hill, walked past the US Embassy, and down Isabela la Católica to the SuperMaxi where I caught the bus back to Guápulo. The things I learned on this trip were that (1) I want to eat a hamburger, and (2) SuperMaxi doesn´t have a large variety of oral health products.

The internet café I´m in... someone´s frying fish. Good lord I want to eat something fried.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Work, and then Poop

I spent most of the evening last night and this morning doing two things. One was writing a pretty neat new few paragraphs for what will become both my theory chapter and a paper for publication, the other was pooping. Yes, I´m still in graduate school and, yes, I still have diarrhea. I did however make two gallons worth of Gatorade which should save me about $8 in trying to keep my body with enough electrolytes to sit around and type all day.

I sort of intended to follow up a lead I got the other day, but I got engrossed in writing (neat!), it started to rain (boo, but it´ll wash off the dog poop from the street), and I was still pooping (certainly a boo). I´m sort of pledging to myself that for tomorrow, I´ll go to the Céntro Cultural Metropólitano and ask about the Forajidos exhibit they had either a year or two years ago. ¨Work¨as the rest of the world knows it, technically should start on Monday when FLACSO gets off vacation.

So far, I´m sorta still kinda looking for a place to stay long-term, but the longer I stay at this place I´m at now, the less I want to up and move. Plus I´ve been here for nearly three weeks and the apartments I´ve seen so far haven´t been so hot. If I do stay, my hosts said they´ll install an internet connection for me, probably dialup, but enough to distract me.

In other news, I watched Taxi Driver for the first time and was surprised at how much like Alicia Silverstone that Cybill Shepard looked. Otherwise, I got the sense that Travis Bickle was Mersault, but couldn´t really get the sense of him declining into madness as he was much supposed to be doing. This morning between poops and before work, I finished up the ¨making of¨special feature on the DVD, which was pretty informative and made me feel bad that the only "art" that I have a grasp of is arranging for collegiate a-cappella and, sadly, does not win me any cultural capital anymore.

Speaking of movies, my hosts have a crapload of DVDs, nearly all pirated, that I can browse through and watch at my own leisure. Lots of good movies, like Taxi Driver, but some of them are really bad ripoffs, as evidenced by the fact that the back of the DVD case for Notes on a Scandal had the movie info for Resident Evil ("based on the Capcom video game" indeed) and the rushed Spanish subtitles, the best of which I cannot recall, but when Judi Dench says to Daniel Craig in Casino Royale "You´ve got a cheek!", the translation says "¿tienes una chica?¨or "do you have a chick?" It´s still not The Backstroke of the West, but it´s close.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy Poo Year!

Hooray! So 2007 is gone just as quickly as it came and now 2008 is all up ons. I took some pictures of the Años Viejos -- little effigies -- that people burn here as a symbol of renewal. But, until I can get my comp to a place with wireless, those pics, along with a very cute pic of a very pregnant guinea pig, will have to sit on my comp along with my three so-called "working papers".

Speaking of which, I spent most of the day yesterday reading the various books I´ve picked up so far here in Ecuador and organizing my computer for the sake of getting ready to really get to work. I worked on the three papers that I have that are somewhat close to publishable quality (read: they have a beginning, a middle, and an end). I realize that I should have brought Marx and Weber with me (Durkheim can stay for now), since you can´t be a good sociologist without saying "according to Weber" and citing the correct page in the 1978 compliation of Economy and Society. Nor can you say, "What has been missing in the study of the middle class and democracy in the developing world is the notion of class consciousness as revolutionary consciousness, a la Marx¨without knowing the correct pages in the 1971 reader.

Anyhoo, I´ve got some more walking to do before I head back to Guápulo. I also have to find a place that sells some Gatorade. Or Pedialyte. Nah, just Gatorade.