Recovery Week

Hey y’all, welcome back!  First and foremost, let me say that this week’s post is a little lacking in compared to previous ones, reason being that, frankly, last week’s post took a ton out of me.  For to edit, sort through pictures, and write for upwards of 10 hours sapped a lot of literary energy out of me.  While it did not kill my motivation to keep up the blog, it was just a monumental effort.  If I am being honest, it will probably be the longest post I ever will write, even as I continue to travel.  This is reliant upon the reality that I probably won’t bring my computer with me while I am traveling about.  Transcribing notes works, but it is incredibly time consuming, and writing on a tablet board is literal hell.  So, in the future, when I travel I probably won’t be as detailed in my writing.  This may be complete b.s. though if I feel motivated enough, so keep your fingers crossed.  In any event, this week wasn’t filled with the glitz and glamour of other weeks, but I did what I could to make it sound fun and entertaining.  It was, and is, for all intents and purposes, a recovery week.  For writing and traveling alike I feel just a bit burnt out, so I didn’t want to push myself to far this week.  There aren’t many pictures this week either, but I do post just about daily on Instagram if you want a daily dose of Cam.  There is a section to the right dedicated to my page, or you can click here to check out my page.  But, enough about my stamina, let’s get to it!

Class Update

Classes are a bit uneventful since coming back from break.  This is mainly because I am in a grey area waiting for some of my grades back and prepping for the rest of the essays that I have to write.  Still, there are some things worth noting.

Gaelic – Oh how the week off hurt my Gaelic skills.  I’ll pick it back up soon enough, but my primary focus is with the essay for the course, due March 13th.  It’s on the historical part of the course, which I guess I’m ok with since it means I won’t actually have to write in the language.  That being said the amount of time devoted to this part of the course doesn’t really warrant an essay simply because it’s too broad and presented in too little of a time.  In essence this course is made up of two different courses themselves, which, frankly, is aggravating because it feels like much more work than it actually is.  I also got a 79.3% on my first in class test, worth 12.5% of my final grade.  Aggravation is the least aggressive way to describe how I feel about that grade.  In short, I’m pissed at myself because I know than I’m better than a damn 80.  The professor actually congratulated me on that score.  Nah, I don’t accept that.  I can be better, and so I will try.

IPDA – Honestly no update here.  Same stuff, different day.  My main concern is getting my thoughts together for the research paper, but since it isn’t due until the end of classes I am devoting all of my concentration towards my Gaelic essay for the time being.  Time management folks.  While T-tests and ANOVA are important, they are not the be all end all of this course.

Poli Thinkers – I submitted my Locke essay before break and I am officially in coast mode until the final few weeks.  Not that I’m not going to lectures or tutorials, I just have more important things to focus on.  The final is two essay questions, and I can pick them based upon which thinkers I wish (as far as my understanding goes).  That being said, I will probably focus on Gandhi, Martin Luther King J., and Malcolm X.  However, they are not presented until later in the course, so I don’t really feel guilty about laying off the gas for a bit.

Beautiful, but Stupid

Sometimes the most unexpected things can become a great event all on their own.  Enter last Friday.  I had just posted the blog for the week and was packing my bag for Rome when I realized that there was an API event that evening.  We were to see Craig Hill, a renowned Scottish comedian.  Having nothing more to pack and nothing better to do I rendezvoused with Lawson, Bridie, Sarah, Allison, and Emily and we made our way to Waverley Station to meet up with Tara.

It was upon arrival to the station that we realized the show was not in Edinburgh.  No, we were to take a bus to the University of Stirling to see the performance.  Not that any of us particularly cared, but the majority of our squad was bound for Italy the following day.  Sarah and Allison had to be up at 4 a.m. for their flight, so I think it was fair of them to comment how “This better damn well make me laugh harder than I ever have before since it is taking away my time to sleep.”  I wasn’t about to argue with them on that one.  Also, as it so happened we were the only API members to actually show up for the event.  This was mainly due to the fact that the majority of our kin had already left the country and were in Prague at the moment.  But, while the group was small it was a damn good one nonetheless.  And so, we headed out to Stirling not quite knowing what to expect but up for just about anything.

We arrived in Stirling long past when the sun had set.  The campus itself was much more traditional and compact than that of Edinburgh, and for a moment I reminisced on many of the colleges I toured and applied to back home; along with the fact that I almost applied to Stirling instead of Edinburgh.  While the place was scenic and did have a nice feel to it I do not regret my decision to study in the city.  Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  Once we departed the bus we met up with the other API students from Stirling.  We were on their turf now, and their level of easiness around us seemed to reflect that fact.  Actually they probably were wondering where the hell the rest of us were, for as I mentioned there was only about a third of us present.  We all grabbed a snack at the bar before the show, which was held at the University performance center.  While we were not allowed to get a drink since it was an API event it was nonetheless humorous to see near everyone else in the theater double-fist pints of various brews.  Now that I think about it, it was Friday night after all.

Before long the lights dimmed, the music played, and Craig Hill came to the stage.  I had no idea what to expect from this guy, as I had not looked him up beforehand.  None of us had, at that.  Much to our surprise was it then to see such a flamboyantly gay Scotsman in a firetruck red kilt dance out onto the stage.  We were all taken aback.  Not that any of us even remotely had an issue with this man, but when we heard that we were going to see a Scottish comedian, well, it just wasn’t what first popped into mind.

Hill immediately went into his style (from what I could gather) of just brutalizing audience members.  I don’t think he really planned much of the bits with specifics beforehand, and I give credit to the man for thinking on his feet and making joke after joke to the pour souls in the front.  Just about every quip was laced with a joke referring to his sexuality, but that may or may not be true as I had a fair deal of trouble understanding his accent.  The only way I can describe it is thus: think of a gay Groundskeeper Willie, and then up the pitch and rate of speech and boom, you have Craig Hill.  Though, for what I did understand I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off.  Even though I didn’t get much of the landmarks or British references I could still appreciate how the audience found everything hilarious (they were drinking too, maybe that helped).  Still, for the jokes that did hit universally the entire API crew were able to laugh riotously and enjoy the show.  Quickly, we started to relax and ease our minds regarding our travel plans for the next day.  Hill even picked us out of the crowd since we were the only Americans, which he effortlessly led into the expected bashing of Trump.  It was a little disconcerting when he said how “allright everyone, let’s pretend we like the Americans and don’t wish they would fuck off.”  Even though it was a joke, the rest of the place cheered right along.  I am quickly learning that by and large the rest of the world despises the U.S., and I don’t really think I can blame them.  The only reason that they put up with our B.S. is because our economy is the backbone of the world economy.  That and we have our fingers in everyone else’s affairs as it is.  It was a sobering realization in an otherwise happy time.  Regardless, I continued to laugh on until the intermission.

Before I continue, what hour-long comedy act has ever had an intermission?  The only justification I can think of was that Hill used the time to change from one kilt to another … oh he did?  From bright red to bright blue?  Whoulda thunk it.  I jest, but I really don’t understand why there needed to be a hiatus.  I did see plenty of people get two more pints of beer, so perhaps it was just a consideratory pee-break.  Regardless, the second half of the show had begun in earnest.  This is where the title of this story comes into play, as my patriotism got the better of me and I happened to join in on all the fun.

Knowing that there was  a section of Americans in the theater Hill called back out to us.  To the best of my recollection the following is more or less what was said:

Hill: “Where are my Americans at?!”

API Crew: “Woooooo!”

Cam: “WOOOOOOOO ‘MURICA!”

H: “Ohhhhhhh we got a lad in the group to eh? [He had picked on a girl from API Stirling before.]  Is the lass your girlfriend lad?”

C: “Eh, no.”

H: “Oh, you said that like you want to right shag her!” Laughter “So you’re single then?”

C: “Yeah.”

H: “Oooooo well from here I can tell you look like an attractive young man … I’ve always wanted to fuck an American.  What’s your name?”

C: “Cameron.”

H: “Aye, Cameron!  A right Scottish name!  Tell me, Cameron, what do you study?”

C: “Politics!”

H: Uses mic to mimic a softening erection “Oh laddie ya disappoint me, at least your friend was a biologist.  Laughter  Well now we know who to fuckin’ blame for Trump don’t we? Boos commence, I shrink into my seat  I jest Cameron, but tell me, are you Scottish?

C: Panicked “Well, I, uh, kinda.  My family emigrated to the states back in the day, but we were originally fro-”

H: “Shut the fuck up lad, you’re actin’ reaaaal fuckin’ dumb! Immense laughter It was a YES or a NO question:  Is your family from Scotland?”

C: “Yes.”  Cheers galore

H:  “AYE A PROUD SON OF SCOTLAND!  Cameron, I’ll be honest: I’ve only but talked to you for a minute here, but I can tell two things.  You’re beautiful, but you’re really fuckin’ stupid.  I’d still shag ya though!”  All the API students and the crowd commence in riotous laughter at my expense

I have to admit, I deserved that.  Never be the loud guy at a comedy show; unless you want to get shit on of course.  Furthermore, always give to-the-point answers, otherwise you get made to look like a daft fool in front of hundreds of people.  While I got a kick out of it, getting brutalized in front of all of my friends was not what I had anticipated out of the evening.

The show continued on, though other than for laughter I kept my mouth shut for the remainder.  I was not ready to get shredded again.  Once the set had concluded, we piled back onto the bus and made our way back to Edinburgh.  We were all exhausted from one reason or another, and as I mentioned a few of us had flights the next day, so for most I the ride we simply just tried to nod off.  Thankfully the driver pulled right into Hermit’s Croft to drop us off, for we all were able to get a few extra minute’s rest because of it.

While it wasn’t particularly what any of us had anticipated, Craig Hill made us laugh and feel content with the world the night before one of the most exciting days that we would have during our time here.  For that I thank him, though I will respectfully have to further decline his offer of wanting to shag me.  At the end of the day it was a fun trip with some good friends which provided a good story to boot, albeit at my expense.

If any of you are interested the video below is just a bit of Hill’s comedy.  Enjoy!

Hive Mind

What does one do on a Friday night with no plans and just about all of their friends are still in another country?  Simple: drink with the friends you have and make some new experiences at new places.

After a long day of editing/posting the blog, watching movies, and getting a workout in I decided to hit up Bridie to see if her and Chris wanted to hang out.  While we may be good friends, they were also the only ones that were A) in Edinburgh and B) maybe wanted to go out.  Luckily they both had friends over from back home, Sher and Ansley, so they were indeed planning to go out and show them a good time.  Since I’m just the life of the party   [ 😉 ] they decided to let me tag along as well.

Upon arrival to their place in the next building over I discovered that their method of pre-gaming for the evening was to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Not the worst way to work up a buzz I suppose.  Following introductions we hung out for a bit so we could finish our drinks.  At this point I was four Corona in and feeling quite splendid if I do say so myself.  Eventually we decided that our lot was sufficiently buzzed enough to hit the town, so we headed to the tried and true Three Sisters.

Even for a Friday night, TS was PACKED.  Just wading through the outside section into the main bar was a major struggle, and once there Chris and I found ourselves separated from the girls.  Shit.  Having no better ideas, we decided to head upstairs to the club section to grab a drink, which was only about 102 degrees.  After standing in line for a solid fifteen minutes we took full advantage of our time at the bar, ordering double-pints for simplicity’s sake.  For £4 it was an awesome deal!  We ended up running into the girls too, who got drinks downstairs.  Drinks in hand, we began to dance, and did so until roughly 1 o’clock, until a more festive calling drew us back out into the street.

three-sisters
I have absolutely no idea who the three girls on the left are.  Yet, as you can probably tell Ansley, Chris, Sher, Bridie and I were all having a great time!

It was at this point that Bridie and Chris concurred that we were going to go to the Hive, one of, if not the most notorious club in the whole of Edinburgh.  For Uni students it is legendary for being “the place you never want to go but always end up at.”  In short, it is a true college bar/club.  The drinks are cheap, and everything is sticky.  Having not been there yet, I was eager to see if the stories were true.

Located essentially underground, the Hive is divided up into three dance floors, each with different music.  Moreover, each one has its own bar, each serving different drinks.  They also had a cloakroom, which was a nice touch.  Honestly, I didn’t really see anything wrong with the place.  It was open, the music was good, and the drinks were CHEAP.  Like, £1.50 for a shot cheap.  Yes, everything was sticky, but to be truthfully if it wasn’t I don’t think I would have gotten the full experience.

After downing a round of tequila shots, our group hit the main dance floor.  We ended up being right in front of the speakers, but we had enough room to comfortably move around in, which was nice.  The amount of bass pumping into my body made my chest cavity vibrate.  It probably took a few days off my life expectancy, but I think it was worth it.  For we had an absolute blast jamming out and dancing along to some great club music.  On the other floor we were treated to a selection of rock: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Nirvana, Foo Fighters … it was epic.  Of course we had to sing along to every song, and with our inhibitions gone it was not hard to pretend like we knew what the heck we were trying to sing.

hive
Straight from the Hive Facebook.  What. A. Squad.

After dancing, singing, and drinking our woes away for a few hours, we departed a little before three and headed back to Chris’ and Bridie’s place.  We hung out and shot the shit for a while, but eventually exhaustion caught up to us and we decided to call it a night.  At 4:47 a.m. I finally got back to my room.  Definitely a new personal record.

The next night was just as fun, though we did not get as rowdy.  No, instead we started the night at The Dog House, right around the corner from HC.  Hero, the resident bulldog, was not in attendance, but the barkeeps were more than pleasant and we were able to find a table to chat for a bit.  I had their “Butterbeer”, which was Foster’s with butterscotch flavoring and another ingredient which I can’t place my finger on.  In any event, it was proper tasty, as was the Caramel Jack, which, as the name suggests, is just Jack Daniels and caramel flavoring.  Damn good brew, that.  From there we made our way to the world renowned Frankenstein.  I had never been, but this place carries a reputation of being a hell of a good time, especially during Rocky Horror night.  Walking inside, it was not hard to see why the place was popular.  Set in an old church, complete with a pulpit and gothic architecture, the bar was done up like the inside of Frankenstein’s lab.  It was dim, and the lighting gave off a unique greenish-yellow glow.  That, and massive amounts of laboratory-esque props lined the two tiered room.  For the visuals alone this bar amazed me.  I would definitely rate it as a “must-see” if any of you ever decide to visit Edinburgh, you will be shocked.  Maybe literally!  It is Frankenstein’s after all.

Leaving Frankie’s a little early we took a detour to Greyfriar’s Kirk to try and find some more ghosts.  We told Ansley of the poltergeist activity that we had.  Sadly, we could not get any more spirits riled up that night, and before long we headed home, still worn out from the previous nights adventures.  This night, I went to bed at only 2:36.

I’m coming to the realization that I quite enjoy clubbing.  I think it has to do with who my company for the night is, but on the whole I haven’t had a bad experience at a club yet (knock on wood).  Dancing is fun.  So is socializing.  And drinking.  All of them together in one place?  Yeah, I like clubbing.  Thankfully, there are plenty more clubs that I have not visited yet in Edinburgh.  I look forward to doing so in the near future.  Of course, I’ll have my friends in tow too.

Mardi Gras

Having missed national margarita day back home, it was only proper that my friends and I sought out some on Tuesday, the beginning of Mardi Gras/Carnival.  So, with Allison, Bridie, Lawson, Emily, Sarah, and Nick in my company I headed to Boteco to try and get my hands on a good drink.

Boteco was not hopping like I normally have experienced it.  It was a Tuesday after all. Nine p.m. at that.  Thus, my comrades and I had the bar all to ourselves, and each of us decided to grab a Margarita, and then Mojitos, and then Piña Coladas.  All except Bridie, who was adamant about only getting “one drink!”  Now that I write that, I realize that trying to describe inside jokes is not something that can be easily done online, if at all.  Take my word for it though, trying to convince your friends that “one drink!” isn’t socially acceptable is a hell of a lot of fun!  Hmmm.  I might be a bad influence.  Ah well, all’s well that ends well I suppose.  In any event, the drinks were mighty tasty.  They were also extremely strong.  I think my margarita alone had about 2-2.5 shots worth of liquor in it.  It was delightful!  The mojitos that the others got would make Thad Castle proud, and my pina colada, while not as slooshie as I would like, really hit the spot.

Wasting away in Margaritaville

If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain

For a Tuesday night it was a great way to just chill out and have some good times and good drinks with good friends.  In fact, I think that we are going to try and find a new place every week and try margaritas all over the city.  Talk about productive drinking!  At the very least, I know where to get some good Latin drinks, which is a reward all in itself.

A Discourse on Planetary Science

Since I was around for the Festival of Creative Learning I decided to take in a lecture or two that peaked my interest.  One entitled “Manifest Destiny” garnered my curiosity, as it was supposed to be a forum on the challenges of getting to Mars and establishing a colony there.  I’ll go on record now and note that I LOVE all things space.  Truly, looking up to the stars and trying to understand things outside of our own planet is a passion of mine.  In another life, maybe I become an astronomer or astrophysicist.  While I suppose there is still time for me to do that, I am too far down my current path of education to change it.  That isn’t to say I can use my knowledge in politics to be a major player in space programs and research, but I likely won’t be the one doing the hands-on part of the process.  In any case, the lecture seemed interesting, so I bought a ticket and wandered over to see what was up.

The first section of the lecture was indeed rather interesting, as there was a presentation on synthetic biology, which, as far as I could understand, is the creation and alteration of DNA/RNA sequences to alter species to possess different qualities.  With this process it is theoretically possible to alter one’s characteristics, including those of mankind, to survive harsher environments.  Currently the biggest issue facing this field of study is posed by ethicists, as fundamentally altering the human genome makes us, well, not human.  I like this analogy: say you have a new car, and you choose to upgrade some of the parts.  Part by part you swap out the pieces, until the car is almost completely different than its stock counterpart.  It goes faster, runs cleaner, and is less prone to breakdown.  A car is one thing however, so how does this process apply to humans?  It is a question that many are attempting to answer and justify, and thus is a heated debate in this particular field.

The next section was on cyanobacteria.  Basically, cyanobacteria is a super-adaptable bacteria that can survive harsh conditions.  Scientists are excited about this as they believe it can be used to make Martian regalith usable for agriculture.  Considering that we are going to have to feed ourselves on our celestial neighbor, the importance of figuring out how to grow things there is imperative.  The lecturer discussed a few other uses, but I cannot remember them.

At this point in the lecture I was fairly happy.  I was learning about some interesting processes and sciences that before then I have only had limited exposure to.  Then, the presenter decided it was time for a brainstorming session.  He wanted the crowd to list and discuss possible challenges and solutions for going to the Red Planet.  In short order the crowd listed a plethora of issues that needed to be solved, including food, radiation protection, water, and atmosphere.  Okay…. I thought to myself.  This is all well and good but these people don’t realize that the short term solutions to these problems don’t make a lick of difference since Mars CANNOT support an sustainable atmosphere.  Let me explain:

[Note: I do not claim to be an expert on this subject, so take my words with a grain of salt.]

Solar winds are cancer to atmospheres.  The radiation and plasma from coronal ejections is powerful enough to strip away the shells of planets.  It is hypothesized that Mars once did have an atmosphere similar to Earth’s since there is evidence that Mars did once have liquid water on it’s surface.  So what happened?  Well, here’s the thing: Mars is only about 1/3rd the size of Earth, and it’s core does not possess enough iron-nickel alloy to create a strong magnetic field.  Earth does, and is massive enough to allow thermal convection and plate tectonics to occur, whereas Mars is not.  Simply put, Mars does not have a stable magnetic field, nor is it big enough to have tectonic activity, which leads to volcanic activity, which produces gases that contribute to global warming and the makeup of an atmosphere.  So what does this have to do with the Sun?  As I said, early in it’s life Mars likely did have an atmosphere, but solar winds stripped it away, bit by bit, until it constituted what we can see today.  Earth’s magnetic field channels these winds two ways: either away from the planet, or around the field into the magnetic poles.  This is known as the Aurora Borealis, or, in layman’s terms, the Northern Lights.  What’s the point then?  Well, without a stable magnetic field terraforming and settling on Mars long term becomes exponentially more difficult.  For even if we create an atmosphere by artificial greenhouse activity it is likely that the sun would strip it away rather quickly.  This would just be a waste of both Earthly and Martian resources.  Without a sustainable atmosphere the regalith on Mars cannot be converted into cultivatable soil on a mass scale, water cannot exist in a liquid state on the surface, the air is not thick enough to breathe, and we are at the mercy to solar radiation.

How ignorant I thought everyone at the forum was to this.  With every problem/solution someone provided I grew more and more upset.  Yes, it is possible to set up indoor facilities to survive on Mars, but those are the short term solutions.  But, if we truly want to call the planet colonized, I think that it is a necessary qualification to be able to walk outside without an exo-suit to protect us from the environment.  If we can breathe the air and step in the sun without worry, then that is what I think qualifies a planet as “habitable”.  I pointed this observation out to the crowd, along with two solutions to solving the atmosphere problem.

A) Put many, extremely large magnets in Mars’ orbit to shield the planet from solar winds.  This is practical, but would require an extraordinary amount of resources that the Earth may or may not possess.

B) Crash an massive object of iron-nickel makeup into the planet.  WAIT, WHAT?!  Yes.  This is a real possibility.  How do you think planets are made in the first place?  Given enough time (couple million years or so) Mars will settle, and have enough mass to warrant tectonic activity, as well as a core which can produce a natural magnetic field.

For my qualification of habitability established, I would recommend option B.  But here’s the kicker: it is highly likely that humanity will be extinct by the time we can actually make this process happen.  Though our own doing we are killing our planet and ourselves, most notably through the greenhouse effect.  It’s ironic, I think, that the process we need to do to help terraform Mars is what is killing the Earth.  At this rate, we don’t have a few million years left to crash asteroids and other celestial bodies into Mars to test my solution.  This is why the short term solutions are necessary, which is unfortunate because the are indeed only “short-term options”.  As I realized this while at the forum I began to grow very angry.  Angry at the fact that the reality of colonizing Mars permanently is damn near a pipe dream.  Angry at humanity for putting Earth in a shitty situation that will affect my future kids and theirs thereafter.  Angry at the people in the room who can’t see the bigger picture of it all.  I voiced my concerns to the forum, to which they gave a bullshit answer: “Well, we can’t smash a comet into Mars; that would just wreck the planet and probably wouldn’t work anyway.  These short term options can last longer.”  In my mind, I was livid.  Fuck you, man.  Look at the bigger picture and try to understand me.  Short term options are called “SHORT-TERM” for a reason.  Everything that humanity builds will eventually break, which takes more resources to fix.  We need a permanent solution to this problem, which none of you here seem to want to take a chance on.  Yes, my ideas are out there, but you try to come up with a better idea.  

If you can’t already tell, I care deeply about this topic.  I’m not going to say that I am right or wrong about my theories, but I will say this: climate change is a fact.  It is happening quicker than we realize and if we do not combat it we will not even be able to think about getting to Mars.  Moreover, when/if we do venture to the Red Planet we need to be able to create a sustainable place to live that is not just a conglomeration of greenhouses.  There are a lot of ways to get this done, but some are more outlandish than others.  But, just because they are not feasible does not mean that they are not possible.  We may be an irresponsible species but we are damn smart and I firmly believe we can solve any problem that opposes us.  We just need to be willing to make the necessary commitments to see it through, which will never be easy.  It’s o.k. to be hopeful for our species and planet, but it is also important to be realistic and truthful about our place in the universe.  We can’t get to Mars if we kill ourselves here on Earth first, and we can’t truly settle other planets if we can’t adapt to them.  Perhaps synthetic biology will be the answer.  If we can’t adapt Mars to us, maybe it’s easier to adapt ourselves to Mars.  Ethics aside, it could work.  Though, we would become two different species: human and martian.

At the end of the day, I guess the fundamental question is “is it all worth it?”  In my opinion … yes, yes it is.

America, We Need to Talk

On a whim, I watched the Big Short on Netflix the other day.  It is a film starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.  The premise is that these people saw the financial crash of 2008 coming a few years in advance, and were the first (and only) people to bet against the housing market.  Come the crash they made billions when the rest of the world plunged into financial futility.  The film takes a hard tone in making sure that the viewers realize that even though the protagonists accomplish their goal, it was at the expense of the rest of the nation.  This is shown through the characters, particularly Carell and Pitt, who struggle with the ethicality of their actions, as they realize the consequences of them being right about their hypothesis means homelessness and job loss for millions.

While a quality film on its own, the Big Short is also supremely uncomfortable to watch.  It highlights just how fucked the housing market was/is in the States.  It will make you hate the term CDO, and make you lose your faith (if you had any) in the market.  Corruption does exist on a monumental scale, and the sheer number of people out for themselves on Wall Street is shown to be despicable.  Following the film, I became very angry with my home country, which I think has been happening a lot more often than it should as of late.  The more I am abroad and see the States from an outsiders view, the more I realize just how freaking corrupt and loath-able my country can be.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good things, it is just that the things that’re bad are really, really bad.  Considering that I have zero faith in the current administration to fix it, I am scared to say that I think things will get worse before they get better, if at all.

My eyes are starting to see through the veil of b.s. that covers a lot of happenings in the world.  For better or worse, I am starting to see the world as it is.  At least if I am to be the person to make change I happen to be in the right field of study.  Silver linings I guess.

Catching Up over Curry

The last day of February was also the date of a minor API event: curry night.  We all met up at the Mosque Kitchen, one of the most notable restaurants in the city, to sample some quality Indian dishes.  It was also the first time I got to see many of the other API students since we all departed for different parts of the world.  Catching up with them was nice, and hearing about their adventures in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest was a treat to hear.  From ice bars, hookah bars, ice skating, and hostel horror stories I found myself mightily entertained from their adventures.  Their consensus of Prague being the most fun location on their trip was somewhat enlightening, especially from Ian, who was hesitant to talk about the night he was out until 8:30 a.m.  I decided to not prod too far into that story.

Once it was time to eat we all grabbed a plate of curry and some naan bread.  Normally, I’m not too particularly high on spicy foods, but this meal wasn’t too bad.  I know it’s a classic, and it was a nice change of pace from my normal meal of greens, taters, and a meat of some sort.

curry-night
My predominant thought was, Oh what havoc will this bring upon my insides?

There really isn’t much more to this story other than that.  I went to a new place, and tried some new food, all while catching up with some friends.  The Mardi Gras story above immediately followed this event, so there’s not much that hasn’t already been said.  I will say, though, that Indian food is a lot better than I expected it to be.  Having grown up as a picky eater, I think it’s about damn time that I expand my culinary horizons.  While I still have some issues with different textures I am nonetheless more willing than I ever have been to try new things should the opportunity present itself.  So to that I say cheers!

Arabian Revelations

I managed to get quite a bit of reading done on the plane to Rome, uncovering more of Lawrence’s story than I had originally anticipated I would.  As such, it was hard to find just one particular section to write down.  Eventually I settled on this passage; for while it is not rife with politics or wartime affairs it nonetheless gave me a vivid view of the setting which helped engross my mind while I had to sit 30,000 feet up:

“We marched through the palm groves which lay like a girdle about the scattered houses of Rabegh village, and then out under the stars along the Tehama, the sandy and featureless strip of desert bordering the western coast of Arabia between the sea-beach and littoral hills, for hundreds of monotonous miles.  In day-time this low plain was insufferably hot, and its waterless character made it a foreboding road; yet it was inevitable, since the more fruitful hills were too rugged to afford passage north and south for loaded animals.

The cool of the night was pleasant after the day of checks and discussions which had so dragged at Rabegh.  Tafas led on without speaking, and the camels went silently over the soft flat sand.  My thoughts as we went were how this was the pilgrim road, down which, for uncounted generations, the people of the north had come to visit the Holy City, bearing with them gifts of faith for the shrine; and it seemed that the Arab revolt might be in a sense a return pilgrimage, to take back the the north, to Syria, an ideal for an ideal, a belief in liberty for their past belief in a revelation.”      (p. 78)

Parting Thoughts

As I said in the opening, it’s a recovery week.  My body and mind need a bit of T.L.C., which is why I think I might go out and enjoy some good drinks this weekend.  Hopefully that will provide a good story or two for next week as well!  On a personal note, I feel good.  My side is healing up well, I am crushing the gym lately, I am doing ok in my courses, my personal relationships rock, my plans to travel further are becoming a reality, and I have my plans set for the summer (more on that next week!).  Life is good, but it is tiresome.  Regardless, my excitement for every day that I am here just continues to peak, and my adventures are far from over. I’ve also been watching Ben Brown every morning, which not only makes me happy, but inspires me to make the most of every day.  Quickly, the man is not only becoming one of my idols, but someone whom I aspire to be.  Needless to say, I expect big things from the future, and look forward to sharing them with you all! So thank you for stopping by; I appreciate you taking the time to read my words.  It really does mean quite a bit.

T think I’ll take my sign-off from Ben Brown this week.  Hopefully his words will inspire you as they have for me:

“Work hard, be nice to people, and try not to get lost or killed!”

See y’all next week!

One thought on “Recovery Week

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