Tuesday, February 27, 2007

They're called 'ticks'

Today I found a rather ugly looking grayish-brown thing on Caesar's skin. I had no idea what it was, but it looked somewhat like an enormous mole. Because Caesar's fur is so thick, it was hard to separate it and see what the thing actually was.

I showed it to my landlady, and she said that it was a 'blah-blah' (this is my version of what she said in Spanish). Clearly, I don't know the Spanish word for such things, but she did say it was a parasite that was sucking my baby's blood. Gross.

Hence, the Google search, when after typing in parasite cat removal, I finally found what I was looking for, after wading through a couple pages on the various other ailments cats can get if they go outside often (which Caesar now does).

It's called a tick. And it's really, really ugly. Thankfully, they're pretty much harmless in this part of the world, although apparently Australian ticks cause paralysis. Remind me not to go to Australia. Seems like all the worst nasty disease carrying creatures live there. Anyway, now I have to start doing regular tick checks on Caesar, and removing them if necessary. The process is kind of gross too, have to grab the tick by its head with a pair of tweezers and pull gently so you get rid of the whole tick. Now, little bits of these two ticks are still in my poor baby's skin, but apparently cats can usually handle that just fine.

Nasty little bugs. I hate bugs.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Obama! No, Clinton! No, McCain! No, that guy nobody knows over there!

The fact that the US 2008 Presidential election race is already "heating up" according to msnbc.com is slightly ridiculous. We don't vote for a year and half! Can you imagine how many dumb/vicious/stupid campaign commericals will be aired during the meantime?

Some figures: Clinton and McCain are expected to be able to raise $80-100 million this year alone, to gear up for the nomination gridlock. I guess McCain learned his lesson from 2000 - you have the integrity not to play like the big boys, and George Bush becomes president. So, let's see how much else he "lets go of" during the race, hmm? The others are pretty close behind, with Romney, Giuliani, Obama and Edwards posting excellent campaign contribution totals as well.

Some fun totals from Yahoo! news:

  • Giuliani brought in $1.4 million in the first few weeks of his campaign and has $2 million left from an aborted Senate bid in 2000.
  • Clinton hopes to raise at least $75 million this year. She has asked contributors to give the maximum amount for both the primary and general election since she plans to bypass the public financing system entirely.
  • Obama isn't accepting donations from political action committees and lobbyists. Following Clinton's lead, he also doesn't plan to accept public campaign financing for either the primaries or the general election.
  • Edwards is building on the remnants of a fundraising network from his unsuccessful 2004 presidential run. Like Obama, he isn't accepting donations from political action committees and lobbyists. And like Clinton and Obama, he plans to reject public financing altogether. So far, ACTBlue.com says he has raised more than $700,000 online.
  • McCain has added high-profile people to his fundraising network in place from his failed 2000 presidential bid. His team includes Lewis M. Eisenberg, a Bush backer in 2004 and former partner at Goldman Sachs who founded the Granite Capital International Group.
  • Romney brought 400 volunteers to Boston to dial for dollars using a custom-made software program dubbed the ComMITT system that allows volunteers to set goals and gather pledges and actual donations online. The take was $6.5 million in a single day.

It's a brave new world - how many of these impressive candidates are online? That would be all of them. Not only can you watch speeches they have posted online, but online donations have become easy and in Romney's case, have helped him raise millions already.

According to CBS news, Romney's campaign fundraising strategy works thusly: "When they log onto QuickComMITT, fundraising volunteers will use a password from the campaign. They will enter information about each person they call, down to whether they couldn't reach them or left a message. The system supersedes spreadsheets of past campaign and the tracking numbers that the Bush-Cheney campaign used to credit supporters for money they had raised. If the prospective donor wants to make a contribution, the credit card information is processed from the same screen, making the job of raising money for Romney as easy "as buying something from eBay or booking an airline ticket online," according to the instructions for users."

Just like eBay, folks! Get in line to support your favorite candidate and send a little cash their way. The article goes on to say, "President Bush has raised more money than any politician in history. So his system has been deconstructed by fundraisers on both sides, and several of the campaigns are blatantly copying some of his strategies. As first reported in the New York Daily News by Ben Smith, now with The Politico, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has created a Bush-Ranger knockoff using a baseball motif, with a descending structure of Team Captains, MVPs, All Stars and Sluggers."

You know, this is almost as annoying as seeing how much money professional athletes are paid. I'm sure this is helping the economy somehow, since it's generally rich folks who are donating cash (which I'm sure is tax deductible), and the workers bees are getting paid somehow, but still.... it's really sad. It's not as though any individual really has the power to make his/her voice heard anyway. I'll vote, because it's something I'm supposed to do, but it's so frustrating knowing that even if someone like Obama is nominated, he won't actually be able to change things much, and the rest of them are machine policiticians.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pictures update!!

New pictures on flickr! Will have the rest of them uploaded over the course of the next two weeks (hey, a dozen and a half rolls of film to scan...that will take a while). Here's my favorite from the roll I scanned today.

Monday, February 12, 2007

"One must imagine Sisyphus happy"

I am personally ambivalent about the story of Sisyphus. Quick summary: Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to roll a heavy stone up a hill, then let it fall back to the plain and begin all over again, the idea being that there is nothing worse than laboring for eternity at an entirely meaningless task.

There is the sense of tragedy, in a Greek compulsion sense of tragedy, about the story because Sisyphus is compelled to raise the stone and let it fall for all eternity. But, there is another element of tragedy, which is sometimes referred to as the Christian tragedy of choice, but I think it also applies here, wherein Sisyphus's choices in life forced him into compulsory futility in death.
At least Sisyphus has a purpose. He has a place in the world. It is a purposeless purpose, though, and therein lies the irony. If the purpose for which we live is in actuality meaningless, what then is our true purpose? Sisyphus knew that he had always to return and push the rock back up after letting it fall. Isn't it more tragic not to know that your life has no purpose?

Thanks to quixote for this awesome short story about Sisyphus - definitely worthwhile. I love this quote: "Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent." Camus argued that if the myth is tragic, it was in knowing one's fate - the consciousness of futility. But he concluded that in actuality, Sisyphus was happy. I believe this is because he sees Sisyphus's fate not as something pre-ordained by fate, but as something he chose, absurd though it may have been.

Camus writes, "There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night." - showing that Sisyphus had to push up the stone and watch it roll back down - the hope of finally succeeding is like believing that humans can conquer death. In this, I'm not sure if he's seeing the myth the way the Greeks perhaps would have - I don't know enough about it to make a judgment. But it's certainly a take on the myth that I hadn't thought of before.

Edit: I do NOT study modern history, and avoided any good modern Western civilizations courses (through no fault of my own) and didn't realize this was such a seminal work. Oh well.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Want clear skin?

Eat organic and use moisturizer. My rules: I NEVER, EVER use soap. NEVER use astringent. Nothing that will dry my skin goes on my face. Sorry about the overkill with the me pictures, but I just found out how much weight I lost, and I'm just so darn excited!! Since I appear to be doing something right for once, I may be able to continue to lose. After I lose ten more lbs, I will be at the weight I was in junior high. I have NEVER been this weight as an adult, and I just had to crow for a little bit. Plus, I've never had this clear of skin before either. Anyone who knew me in high school can attest to this - I was a breakout queen. Now, clear skin, well on my way to a healthy body. This is definitely something I'm proud of. My whole life philosophy thingamajig must be working. :)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Friendly Fire Incident

The friendly fire incident four years ago in which two U.S. A-10 fighter pilots fired on a British tank group and killed one man has been a fascinating exercise in the difference in spin between my only two international news channels that are in English.

On CNN Intl, the pilots are described as distraught and obviously upset when they realized what they had done. The "experts" interviewed by the anchorman and anchorwoman pointed out the difficulties the pilots faced, from faulty information to simply the uncertainty of the situation, the 'fog of war.'

On BBC, the incident was reported as the U.S. not being able to keep its communications together (remember, this was four years ago during the initial invasion - I'm sure we've gotten better since then). My favorite difference was when the widow released a statement saying how upset she was at the casual language the pilots used after they realized that they had fired on friendly troops. She said this just proved how completely callous they were.

On CNN Intl, pilots swearing equals distraught (American males express distress by swearing, they also express happiness, excitement, anger, envy, and other emotions in a similar fashion); on the BBC to the widow, it apparently means callous and stupid.

Perhaps this is a cultural difference. Or perhaps CNN and BBC are much more loyal than they would like to say they are.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

back to the drawing board

so, I'm back where I was in October. I really don't know what's wrong with me sometimes - I always have these great ideas and then realize that that's really not where I want to go anyway.

So the drawing board - I said once that I wouldn't go back to grad school unless it was something I really felt passionate about because otherwise, the work would be complete drudgery instead of just partial drudgery. Well, I've found a grad school program that I think would only be partial drudgery. The workload has me choking slightly, but it's all really amazing stuff worth reading. So yes, I have applied to a program in Development and International Relations at Aalborg University in Denmark. We shall see how this new idea holds up.

One of the requirements for the degree program is a 3-5 month long internship with an international organization that fulfills the requirements for the coursework. I was looking at the Carter Center and the UN thinking that it would be really interesting to work on projects that would have real world importance, then I remembered the William J. Clinton Foundation and checked out their website. I was impressed with the number of offers for interns and ability to get hands on experience, then I realized that many, many jokes would be made at my expense if I were to intern there. So sad....

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl

Okay, so I have to write something since my cousins are obsessed with the Superbowl. It starts in twenty minutes, and I won't be watching. Hopefully, I will be asleep. I finally figured out last night that the Colts are from Indianapolis. This is how much I care.

But, large ad companies will make LOTS of money off of this spectacle. Blech. I'd much rather watch an inspirational football movie like 'Remember the Titans' than watch real football. Much more interesting.

May the best team win!