My usual Monday daylog. Not sure why I always get the urge to daylog on Mondays, it's not like my weekend is ever that interesting to anybody but me, but ah well. That's what it's here for, I guess.

I stayed at Anna's on Friday night, we watched some rather bad but kind of entertaining films (Highlander: Endgame and XChange; remind me not to watch anything with Stephen Baldwin in it with Anna again, it makes me way too jealous *grin*). Didn't have band practise again on Saturday, as Michael was up at Philip Island or something, so I got to spend the morning with Anna, until she had to go to work.

My Dad and I went on a rather impulsive (and expensive) spending trip to JB Hifi when I got home on Saturday; he decided he wanted to be able to use my DVD player, and offered to buy my TV from me. I hadn't been happy with my TV (which itself was a bit of an impulse buy), so I agreed, and I proceeded to spend $1550 on a big-ass flat screen TV, plus subwoofer, speakers and stand. I'm happy with this one, hehe, although I won't be able to spend any money for a while to make up for it.

It's very loud though.

We watched Memento on Saturday night, damn that's a great movie, definitely a buyer once the non-rental DVD comes out. It's also good for picking out some of the subtle details whilst watching it a second time.

Anna came over Sunday afternoon, we hired a few more videos (can you guess what we spend most of our time doing?) and made good use of the new TV. And, of course, other fun things. (Can you guess what we spend the rest of the time doing?) :oP

Today has gone fast, which is good, as it's been a very boring day of work, and very annoying, dealing with extremely stupid and frustrating people. I can't wait till we finally get all their problems fixed, so I never have to deal with them again.

Hehe, and the building's security has been tightened as of today, so the electronic locks on every floor have been turned on; I've spent the day listening to people running into the door as they try to push it open, not realising they have to swipe their card to get in. *grin*

Back to November 7, 2001 | on to November 15, 2001
Today is the first day of our loft conversion. This daylog will be updated to track progress as and when I have time/am online. We're expecting the job to take six weeks. The working pattern is 10 days on, 4 days off. Not sure of the hours, yet.

Today is scaffolding day. This work is subcontracted.

6am
The alarm clock shatters our slumber. I get up and make tea, wondering why we need to be awake.
7am
Well, it's still dark. A second cup of tea didn't sort that out. We're not expecting the excitement to begin for another hour, yet. I've no idea where the scaffolders will park...
10am
They arrived at about 8.15am and - following a cup of tea - have been erecting scaffold for about one and a half hours. Their lorry is blocking our road. No worries there, then! It's not too much of a problem - there are local alternatives (i.e. a few yards more). They did have to move once to let a resident get their car out, though.

A house a few doors away had scaffolding being put up last week. Their team were really noisy, with the lead scaffolder 'singing' instructions to his team. Our lot just seem to get on with it.

Now it's gone very quiet. We reckon they've gone to Burger King for breakfast.

1pm
The came back after an hour, about 10.45am, and worked through till 12.15pm. One of them got hit in the eye by a scaffold pole so they had a cup of tea. They've completed the back (a small platform) and side (narrow) and are working on the front. This appears to be more substantial!
2pm
They're still at it. Everything echoes. The side of our house is like the skin of a drum and the scaffold poles are being weilded by Keith Moon! Their breakfast obviously was more of a brunch.
15.30pm
They've finished. They took 15 minutes to clear the road.
Well, that's it for today. Tomorrow starts around 8-9am.

While they were erecting the scaffolding, my wife commented that it felt like being cocooned. It's strangely appropriate - the house feels wrapped in steel. From the outside, it looks perfectly normal - so many houses have scaffolding up, I guess -- so many people speculating to accumulate...

2:10am From Merrick To Hauppage
115mph..6700 rpm..4th gear and screaming for the sweet release of the finality of fifth

denied

Mirthless stars cast shadows in my wake

If I could only fuck a girl like this..

ease into fifth..finally..tach drops to an easy 4000 rpm..

I could ride her

all

night

long

like this.

only if..

there is no woman like my car.

some pretend

leaving unsatisfied.

ease into parking space..

turn the key

cold bed-finds me home.
My body is simply worse for wear. Work was absolutely fatiguing, filled with many types of physical exertions. But at least it was busy. It is disturbing to me how some people didn't really pay much attention to the Remembrance Day moment of silence. People just kept on walking, talking and just going about. I was simply thinking about how appalled I felt. What is one minute to the rest of your life? Criticisms aside, I simply believed that it was a matter of respect for the fallen. Disturbing nonetheless, I said nothing and kept about my daily routine.

I cut my hair the other day. Looks like a cross between a chia pet and a flat top. It's still that brownish red tint that most people are complementary about but its so much easier to deal with. On the other hand, since I simply gel it and streak it back, people think that I'm dressing up for Jennifer at the returns counter. Me and my big mouth. That's the last time I'll tell someone at work that I think someone there is cute. I'm starting to think "Damn, my mind is an utter sewer."

I go out after work, to just have some time to myself. With the cell phone forwarded to my voice mail and my cell phone at home, I proceeded to Minoru Park and sat on the bleachers for an hour, just staring at the rain. It came and went, and I simply sat there, thinking. I remember simply laughing for no apparent reason, with a hint of a smile coming through. Am I going insane or is this how I deal with a hard day's work? I get up, only for the rain to stop. I love that smell. I don't know whether its simply the way there is no dust in the air or just my imagination. Either way. It doesn't matter.

I'm so bored lately that I've gone back to listening to English music. Mind you, its English music sung by Korean artists, but English nonetheless. Anyways, I'm under pressure to find a significant other. Jokingly, I ponder whether I ooze desparation or sadness. Maybe I do, or simply I'm naturally melancholy. The idea of a fling has been presented but its not what I want nor need. Something more substantial is what the doctor ordered. Funny in a way. I'm not particularly sure whether people understand. The simplest way to say it is "There is a difference between what I want and what is out there. I don't care if there is something better than what I want. I want what I want." I laugh, thinking about my Microeconomics class and indifference curves. They assume that people want more of something than less of it. I'm starting to think its not always true. Nah. I'm simply a sucker for punishment.

Off to meditation for me. Good night dear world. May I awaken with your presence in my life in the morning.
Got back last night from a weekend long trip of geocaching (for more info visit www.geocaching.com) with my boyfriend Fred. I had SO MUCH FUN! If you like scavenger hunts, you will love geocaching. We saw some really great state parks, saw aligators, lost his wallet, then found his wallet, and so many other things.

I think the best thing about this trip was the bonding experience we had. We are openly saying "I love you" to each other (a BIG step, if you have been following my write ups). The thrill and joy I get from hearing him say those words....to me....it sends tingles through my body. The ultimate high (naturally of course :-)). We talked about everything, from childhood, to fears, to ideas, to just plain being silly.

I think Fred and I compliment each other very well. We are able to work off of each other, like a well oiled comedy team. We often finish each others sentences. He is truly my best friend.

As of right now, I don't believe the plane crash in New York is a terrorist action, though a certain amount of paranoia is understandable. However, as we heard the news at work, we huddled around the one computer we have that is hooked up to the internet, trying to get any information we can.

I have two jobs; one is a part-time job in a bookstore, where I work on the weekends. The second is a graduate assistantship, where I tutor students in the university library for twenty hours a week. We (the tutors) have a small lounge with a computer, where we can access the internet. Unable to get an American station, I turned the RealPlayer to the BBC in order to find out what was happening in Queens. I had this sudden vision of people huddled around their radios in 1940, Londoners during the Blitzkrieg, trying to get any information they could from the BBC.

I wait. I wait, and huddle around the 21st century radio.

I don't daylog, but I'm daylogging.

I was working this morning at the Carnegie Mellon University Information Desk when the plane went down in Queens. I hear about it from my co-workers and a friend who sent me a message via AIM. A lot of CMU students are from New York, and many of those are from the borough of Queens. As news trickles in, we switch into a mode all too familiar from September 11, 2001. A TV is set up in the Kirr Commons for people to huddle around. The large movie screen in the McConomy Auditorium is appropriated. I make up two signs.

University Center Advisory

All New York area airports (LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark) are closed due to the plane crash in Queens, NY.

November 12, 2001

And moments later, after McConomy goes on-line:

University Center Advisory

A live CNN news feed is available in the McConomy Auditorium.

November 12, 2001

"What? What happened?" ask the passersby. Many people on campus are prospective students and their parents, who arrived for a Sleeping Bag Weekend. Many of them are from the New York area. Many of them arrived by plane, and are now stranded for at least a day more. Fortunately, due to the Veterans Day holiday, many are not missing school or work today.

I was not working at the information desk on the morning of September 11, but I watched as people were bombarded with queries. Today, I must have explained the full story at least a dozen times. I wrote an executive summary for desk workers to explain to people with inquiries about the crash.

I try not to speculate when in a position such as the information desk. However, personally, I believe that today's crash is not terrorist-related. It was an international flight to a neutral destination. An engine on fire separated, meaning that mechanical failure is undoubtedly the cause. Sabotage? I don't think so, but it's hard not to ignore the possibility. Classes are not cancelled as they were in September, but many people are undoubtedly concerned. Some will not head home today. Some will never want to fly again.

I do not feel safe.

My cellphone rings, waking me up. I turn it off. My regular phone rings. I decide to pick it up. It's Cal.
"You watching TV?"
"No." I groggily answer.
"Turn on the TV." Uh-oh. Feeling of anxiety and dread washes over. I was woken up by a phone call on 9-11, and woke up many mornings after that filled with anxiety. "Another plane went down." Shit. The image on television is of a huge plume of smoke rising from somewhere in Queens. I can't believe it is happening here in New York again. "Osama Bin Laden said there would be a rain of planes." Cal says. He usually jumps to the worst case scenario conspiracy theory. At this point we have no information, but CNN is saying that a 767 went down. "Ok. Seya Later."
"Thank you." I wake up my girlfriend and we sit groggily, watching the events unfold. Eventually they figure out it was American Airlines Flight 587 bound for the Dominican Republic, and it was an Airbus A300, not a 767. For some reason the plane's takeoff was delayed for a half hour. It went down only a minute after it took off. Eventually, the cameras show up near the site and we begin to see images of homes on fire. Witnesses say the plane was on fire before it fell. At this point, it is too early to tell if there was foul play. Nonetheless, all airports in NY are shut down again. All bridges and tunnels in and out of NY are shut down again. All I can think about is the fact that I am supposed to fly to California in two days, out of the same airport, no less. My girlfriend and I fall back asleep on the couch with the news on.
Today we witness part of the legacy of September 11th. No, I don't refer to another terrorist strike downing another civilian airliner. We don't even know for sure that this had anything to do with the terrorists, my recent node for the Stinger missile notwithstanding; it could simply be poor plane maintenance again. Even the most high profile planes have these problems; look at what happened to the Concorde last year.

No, the legacy to which I refer is our new tendancy to jump to a specific conclusion almost immediately--if a plane goes down, it's probably a terrorist action. That's what we think, or at least what we feel, when that cold, visceral hand squeezes our hearts when first we hear the news. Despite the fact that, prior to 9/11/01, terrorist activity on planes within the contentinal USA was all but unheard of.

This is the terrorists' legacy of fear--and this specific fear is one we're probably going to have to deal with for at least several years.

Oh SHIT. Not again.

Ok, it's an accident, we're told. Fighting the urge to say "that's alright then". Just an accident. Oh man, what has the world come to.

Poor old New York. This is not a good century for them.

Poor everyone on that damn A-300 Airbus. What a shitty way to die, specially when they'd had the balls to get on an airplane in the first place.

Even poor Giuliani, old whoremonger that he is. The stress can't helping his cancer remission any.

Poor us. Not that we're really suffering any, (those of us who haven't lost people yet again). That we have to see these things and think "Oh shit, not again".

To be resigned to this kind of horror is not a good feeling.

Another shitty day in America.

This morning was a wake up 45 minutes late throw on some clothes and go morning. I usually don't like those kinds of mornings, but this one went really well.

I got to school a little after the bell, but the teacher doesn't particularly care when we're a little late, since class usually starts late anyway. Everything was going smoothly. I was able to concentrate on my work rather well, considering I'd only had about three hours of sleep last night. In my second class, however, I was browsing E2 when some activity in the Chatterbox caught my eye.

Another plane crash. Oh boy.

This was at about 9:40, a mere ten minutes after the incident. I was probably the only person in the whole school that knew about it at that time.

I told a few of my friends, who had an attitude of disbelief. Naturally, the second thing they wanted to know, after "are you kidding?" was "is terrorism involved?" A shame that terrorism is the first thing to come to mind every time you see an airliner these days.

I slept through the rest of my classes.

Today at school everyone reminded me why I miss my afro. The general question was why did I cut it. I told them the truth, but none believed me. The guys were saying how phat my 'fro was and how I shouldn't have cut it. The majority of the females made the timely observation of how cute I was with all my hair. One question honey...

WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THIS BEFORE I CUT IT?!?!?!


geez...
But, of course all of the teachers loved my new haircut. One even went far enough to say that now I looked as smart as I really was. What F*** is that supposed to mean? Are people with afros dumb or something? That comment really pissed me off. So overall it was a semi-depressing day. All I have to look forward to is a meeting with my USMC recruiter in about 20 minutes determine my future with the Corps. *sigh*

I just don't know how to care anymore.

Before 11 September, I cared. I was involved in the Green Party, I was working with social justice related groups on campus, I cared about all the popular issues. I had been to the protests of the inauguration of President Bush, I was planning to attend the World Bank and International Monetary Fund protests at the end of September, I was going to attend the SOA protest in the middle of November.

I was not just interested for the fun of the protest. I cared about the issues. I talked with people. I gathered petitions, put up flyers, raised awareness - I did what I could without interfering with my schoolwork too much. And it all felt so noble.

Then 11 September came and went. If anything, it made me more focused on the issues. I saw how the world was reacting to the United States' foreign policy, and I knew that something had to change. (1) Working harder on the issues I cared about seemed to be the right thing at the time. At least it was better than sitting around and being depressed.

Since then, it has been harder and harder to get people to care about anything except the killing of the terrorists. At first, I was vocal in my opposition to the war (2) and the killing of civillians in Afghanistan. I questioned why we were only opposed to acts of terrorism commited on American soil, while we trained terrorists from Central and South America. I questioned a lot of the United States policy. I questioned how we were able to support Israel.(3) I questioned the embargo on Iraq. I questioned a lot, in an non-confrontational manner. I asked questions, tried to get people to listen, tried to get them to understand that kiling people is bad, even if they live outside the US, and even if their deaths are but indirect results of the actions of the country.

I just don't know how do deal with it anymore. After being called a traitor so many times, it gets to you. After being told that you deserved to die at the World Trade Center, or in Afghanistan, it starts to get to you. After hearing (and I have heard this more than anything else) that you are as bad as the terrorists because you feel sympathy for the civillians starving in Afghanistan, you start to wonder why you even try. You wonder why you even bother to talk to anyone.

People tell me, if I am so disgusted by these things, that I should leave the country. And I consider that, briefly, and realize the reason why I have not done that yet is because I care so much about this country. I love my country - this is why I care so much, why I put so much energy into doing things that I believe will make this a better place. I believe that so much is possible - with work it is possible.

It seems that questioning anything related to government policy these days is seen by many as unAmerican. I care about so many issues, but what can I do when it seems that calling attention to an issue makes the perception of the issue worse? What can I do when people think less of everything that is not pro-war? What can I do?

Then, this morning, an airplane crashes in New York City. How can anyone deal with things like this anymore? I cry when I am reminded of mass deaths anywhere, as a result of the actions of others or our own government. I just don't know how to deal with it all.

How can we care only about dead Americans? How can we all but ignore crash of a Russian airplane over the Black Sea? How can we ignore the 5000+ civillians dying each month as a result of the embargo on Iraq? Why does it only matter when Americans die?

It is just too much work to be vocal about anything anymore. I feel extreme sympathy for the families of everyone who died this morning, and for the families of everyone who has died everwhere. I just don't have the energy to be vocal about it anymore. The pain of the death of others hurts too much - can't deal with the pain inflicted by others.

People die outside the United States. Perhaps, in the future, Americans will be able to accept and deal with this.

1. I am no longer sure that this is a result of US foreign policy - I am relatively sure that it is motivated by other things. However, I still have major issues with much of our policy.
2. I am a pacifist - my opposition is not specific to this war, but to war in general.
3. To clarify: I do not support Palestine, nor do I support Israel - I belive both "states" are behaving in a disgusting, irresponsible manner, each in it's own ways, and I cannot support either. My problem with Israel, and my reason for mentioning it, is that the United States provides support in it's conflict with Palestine. I would feel the same way if the roles were reversed.

Today I helped my parents move. They have been moving for the last four months, and although my father has vowed to spend Christmas in the new Milano house , I am not sure that it will be complete by then.
The problem, of course, is that they insist on doing it by themselves and by the SUVful. And they have a large amount of furniture. I politely observed that to me it was a completely senseless activity, and that there are professional movers.
Having said this, and since my father is extremely pig-headed and my mother more or less ignores this sort of details, my only possibility as an Italian son is to help them in this strange endavour. So, gentle reader, today I have helped load a station vagon and a SUV with stuff; and I have loaded and tied a solid wood dinner table to the roof rack of the SUV.
Some healthy physical activity, I tell you. In a sense, it seems that in the last five or six years all that I have done is moving, alone or with other people. It is also interesting that my parents insist that I must have my own room in their house, and in fact we always refer to it as "our" house. Remember, in Italy you never really leave home. Maybe this has something to do with my persistent inability to organize a "real" home for myself. And for the people that I have loved. Hmmm... could this be an insight? That more or less every place is alike to me insomuch as every place is not my parents' house? Of course, this means that I am really screwed.
It also means that anyone that might want to live with me, in the future, is also screwed from the very beginning.

Anyway, enough ethno-cultural wining! What I wanted to write about was something else.
I am on the train from Milano to Torino. What I have just witnessed:

In Italy, you are supposed to buy your ticket at the ticket office in the station, or at one of the ticket machines, or maybe on the Internet, but anyway; you are supposed to buy it off the train.
If you are on the train without a ticket, you have two possibilites;

  1. you risk it: in this case, if you are caught you face a 30.000 lira fine (15 USD) and you have to pay the ticket.
  2. you play safe: in this case, you have to find the capotreno (the conductor, I guess), and buy a ticket from him. In this case, you pay the ticket plus an additional 10.000 lira (5 USD), which is really not that bad.

Today I was a bit late at the Milano Centrale train station, and I had to rush to catch the train. No possibility to buy a ticket. So I go to the capotreno car (the first one behind the engine), and comply with regulations. After a while, two black girls showed up.
From the way they spoke, it was clear to me that they were from Nigeria. Now, statistically, if you are 20 - 30, you look passably good, you dress in a certain way, you are from Nigeria and you happen to be in Italy on the Milano-Torino line, it means that you are a prostitute. Not that that is a problem to me; I mean no moral observation. It is simply a fact of life. Many young women from Nigeria either see prostitution in Italy as a viable alternative to prostitution in Nigeria, or are induced to come to Italy with the promise of a job; the job does not exist, the winter is cold and Italy is expensive - and you now what the possibilities are.
Strangely enough, in Italy for every emigration country there is a job; Philippines -> housekeeping; Brazil -> transvestite prostitution; Sub-Saharian Africa -> industry work; Romania -> building industry; Albania -> various forms of trafficking; Northern Africa -> restaurants; Senegal -> selling things on the street and in markets; and Eastern Europe and Nigeria -> prostitution.
Again, this is only statistically true... among the approximately 2 million of immigrants that live in Italy there are all sorts of trades and professions.

So, these two Nigerian women wanted to go to Torino, but they only had tickets to Novara, and they wanted to extend their tickets, but they did not have the approximately 20 USD necessary, or maybe they did not want to pay. A semi-heated discussion ensued with the capotreno, who held his cool.
Eventually, when we got to Novara, the railway police got on the train and convinced the two women to get off the train for, as the woman officer put it, "a quiet discussion among us".
There were more passengers in the same compartment, and some of them were very vociferous, and called the Nigerians "bastards", saying that they should not be reasoned with, they should be hit with "nightsticks" and "kicked out of the country, back to Africa".

Two thirty-something young men looked particularly annoyed. They looked like the sort of people that drives around at night looking for prostitutes. I cannot help thinking that, if the irregular passengers had been Swedes the reaction would have been different.

The challenge of immigration in Italy is quite complex. There are not that many immigrants, and most of them are regular. But they are very visible in some areas of Italy. Integration is proceeding slowly, and one hopes for a lack of polarization, ghettos and cultural wars.
On the average, Italy has been rather welcoming. There have been very few episodes of major intolerance in the country (a country that, at this point, needs African iron-workers, Indian cowherds, Polish waiters), and I guess that the beginning is always rough, for an immigrant, almost by definition.
And still, I suppose that we could do more. I have been a foreigner in three country, and even if I was living well (I had not been forced out of my country by hunger, political terror or war), I felt what it means to be in a place where nobody speaks your language.
Italy, being historically a land of emigration (witness all the people of Italian descent in Venezuela, Argentina, USA, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland...) also has a strong moral duty to treat well the people that come to it to work.

A few months ago, I was promoted to manager where I work. This had a few perks, a bump in pay, and a boost to my resume.

Oddly enough, my wife pointed out that I somehow stopped receiving the Dilbert newsletter.

Part of this process is to go to “New Executive Training.” This used to be a big trip to Orlando, Florida, with the training, along with a few fun things thrown in.

But, given current conditions (economic and political), it has been scaled back. Mine was in Columbus, Ohio, and consisted of an all-day meeting that proved to be fairly boring.

On the upside, I know now the secret handshake, and they gave me a bottle of Dom Perignon.

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