Before this post truly begins, a short note. The last few days have been filled with both extraordinary fun and hair-pulling frustrations. I will describe the happy moments in full detail, but first, a short rant (chee chee to follow).
Another short note: I feel asleep writing this (which speaks volumes about how fascinating it must be, of course), and I finished it in the morning. So when I say “today” and “yesterday,” I really mean Tuesday and Monday. Please correct mentally accordingly. -Ed
WordPress ate another one of my posts that I had intended to publish just before leaving for the weekend, and rewriting is one of the things I can’t stand in this world. It’s hard to place exactly why. Sure, it’s confusing for me, remembering what I wrote and didn’t write, having pull change those “did” and “didn’t” boxes in my head to convince myself that I need to write it again. But there’s also the terrible job of trying to remember the specific words and turns of phrase from the first version, particularly if the first version was one that you liked. It won’t be the same, and it just feels more stale than the fresh, first draft that you shot off before.
The other side for me is that I hate to waste time, or do things that resemble wasting time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I procrastinate as much (if not more) than the next guy, and I make time everyday to do nothing productive. I just have a desire to do as many things at once, even (and especially) if they’re not productive. This also takes the form of my inability to read books twice, even short, beloved ones, and my lack of desire to watch any movie more than once that isn’t SWAT.
That said: rewriting, and the requisite saving to a third-party app, will commence (with additional content)… now.
Secondly, ranty-wise, today was my first day of “class” for La Chile. Now, “class” is an interesting concept here, because we have until about a week into August to pick our classes before we need to settle down, and many Chileans will tell you “don’t even bother going the first week.” Now, this seems a bit strange to me, and most of my friends, so naturally we show up with bells on, trying not to seem too much like the dumb foreigner who doesn’t speak the language and dumbs down the class because everything has to go at a snail’s pace to accommodate said stupid foreigner. SO, today was a bit stressful.
Waking up for an 8:30 class, I jetted out of the apartment and, not knowing exactly where the campus was in relation to local public transit, I decide that I’ll splurge for a cab on the way there and learn the public transit route on the way back.
The cabby turns out to be very nice, and when I tell him where we’re going, he nods and heads off. I ask him how to get to this campus by public transit, for future reference, and he thinks long and hard about it, trying to help me out.
Here’s the thing, when it comes to speaking in Spanish, there’s always that element of doubt. I’ve had conversations where I’m incredibly confident both in what I’m saying and that I’m correctly interpreting the other person, and… turns out something was miscommunicated. It’s like the newspapers. I know that there’s certainly a language barrier, but sometimes an article is just badly written.
So anyway, we arrive at the Ñuñoa campus for La Católica, and… wait. I don’t go to La Católica, I go to La Chile. Wrong place. At this point I was frustrated, late, hungry, tired and not eager to be in this cab, and acutely aware that I was going to be charged more for this guy’s mistake, so I threw Spanish to the wind and showed him the map that I had somewhere in my book. We pulled up at the correct campus a minute later and, throwing $12 at the driver, I jumped out and raced into the heart of the building, not having the slightest idea where the class was being held, hoping that I would find something like… dozens of students waiting in the hallway for the class to start.
So there I was, standing in the hallway with dozens of students, waiting for the class to start, and I become acutely aware that there is an abundance of gringos around me, even a few that I recognize. In fact, not only is this class, the Contemporary History of Chile in the 20th Century, apparently very popular with the foreign crowd, but we’re the only ones stupid enough to show up the first day. Our professor, it seemed, was not going to come.
So at this point, I decided to head out to another nearby campus with a few of my friends for another class, something along the lines of the Social History of Latin America. Showing up at the listed time, at the listed room, it was… empty. It seems the professor decided to start the class on Thursday, rather than Tuesday, and we didn’t get the memo.
At this point I was pretty frustrated, having traveled far and accomplished nothing, so I headed home to drop some stuff off before my 2:30 class. I had already called and begged out of work at the Santiago Times for the day, being too busy chasing wild geese, so I had some time to kill.
I picked up what has got to be the world’s most delicious Subway sandwich, at least in the contemporary history of Chile in the 21st Century and, swinging by the apartment, I grabbed some paperwork that I’d need to pick up my carnet, or Chilean ID card. I was eager to pick this up, as it would allow me to have a form of state ID that isn’t my passport, as it’s always a bit unnerving when I have to carry around my passport for some function later in the day.
I headed over to the economics campus, right across the street from my apartment, and after wandering lost for a while, I finally found what I was looking for. In order to sign up for any classes at the economics school at La Chile, one must talk with an advisor. This also means that though I knew what classes I wanted to take there, based on interesting descriptions, I had no idea the time or place of any of them.
They do not make this process easy.
So finally leaving there a while later with a full class list, complete with days and times, I was dismayed to find out that the interesting econ classes were at the same time, and the opposite sides of town, as my interesting history classes, which means I’ll have to make a decision soon.
At that point I headed out to find my carnet, and, long story short, I wandered for a while to finally find the office just half an hour after they close (2:30 pm, they close at 2). Grrrr.
But then I started writing about wine, and everything got better.
Frustrated from the carnet time-waster, a bad way to end an unproductive day, I called over to the Santiago Times to ask if they needed me to come in for anything, as I’d called the campus for my 2:30 class ahead of time, finding out that again, the class would be cancelled and delayed until Thursday. Yes, said my editor, they had a story for me. I can work on it tomorrow, or just come in. Needing to actually accomplish something on the day, I raced over, stopping only to much on a delicious completo.
Wine makes everything better, and it appears I’ve becomes something of the Santiago Times wine dude, as I know a bit about the subject. This was my second article in two days about the wine industry, and I honestly loved writing and researching both of them. Today was also my first successful interview for the ST (in Spanish) from an enology professor at La Chile. He was very nice, and helpful, and very understanding when I asked him to speak more slowly. I always feel a little uncomfortable translating quotes, but I’m happy with how this one went, and I hope he is too. Here was yesterday’s article, and today’s.
In other news, I went on Monday night to the broadcasting of What’s Up Chile?, an English-language news talk show done by the Santiago Times interns, part of the all-English-language online radio station Santiago Radio, available at santiagoradio.cl. The taping was a lot of fun, with each of us talking a bit about stories we’d been working on and debating about the week’s news. I talked about a recent wine-tasting that Chile had dominated, and we went on a long debate about wines, vine grafting and everything. The Santiago Radio group seems really nice, and the manager talked about people having shows, which sounds like it would be a lot of fun. Internet radio is really a lot looser and less controlled, compared to the American airwaves and the FCC always breathing down necks.
He even mentioned the possibility of a Giants, or baseball in general, themed show, which sounds like it would be great fun. I always enjoyed radio when I did it, though of course I ended up getting more wrapped up in the print journalism world, but I’ve been wanting to go back and try out radio for real. Time isn’t exactly growing on trees these days, but I hope I can find enough time to do some things with this group.
I finally gave in and upped my Internet access plan, as I’m just way too impatient to put up with this snail’s pace for another 5 months. It’s also something like $19/month to triple my plan’s bandwidth capacity, which seems pretty worth it, as I’ve hit a wall with the plan I’m on, which is a confusing “1GB, unlimited.” To me, those two things seem to contradict each other pretty well, but then again, what do I know? I’m not a scientist. Plus, this slow connection makes it really hard to do things like add photos and audio to my posts, so really, I’m doing this for you. You’re welcome.
On that note, as streaming web entertainment has basically become impossible for me, I’ve turned more inward on my machine, finding songs I didn’t know I had or hadn’t heard in a long time.
The following are the five songs that my choir sang for a competition in New York City in (I fell asleep right here) junior year of high school. I think we sound pretty good, and we got something like 13th in the nation-wide competition, so I’m happy with that. The Riverside Church’s acoustics made us sound about ten times bigger than we were, though we were performing for an audience of just the judges (including one who decided to cough during the quiet parts) and a few other choirs that wandered in, so the applause is a bit sparse. Still, enjoy.
I miss choir. Rock on, Advanced Chorale 2004, wherever you are. You’re awesome.
For you econ/tech nerds, (so the other 99.45% of you can ignore this), I’ve been listening to Chris Anderson’s new book, FREE, on audiobook (which he naturally gave out for free). It’s a fairly controversial book, with very mixed reviews and more than one verified case of plagiarism (from Wikipedia, of all places), but it’s really interesting, gives lots of good background, and might be worth a listen if you’re looking for 7 hours of audio to fill a gap in your life.
It has, ironically, made me really want to buy a different book, Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, a study of irrational behavior and humanity’s inability to avoid it, even when we know it’s coming. Ariely’s a brilliant MIT behavioral economist, which I’m really interested in, and I think it could be a good read. If you’re wondering what behavioral economics are, or just trust me not to rickroll you, I highly recommend you check this out. If you don’t know what rickrolling is, click here.
So it looks like California finally has a budget. Congrats y’all, but you might want to get started on next year’s; the deadline is in only 312 days, so no time to waste.