retail is like a thousand deaths.

After three projectile vomiting incidents last week, I think i'm ready to move on from the retail world. I don't want to get stuck doing this the rest of my life. I've been throwing out resumes for a few months now, but with few bites. Massachusetts is a tough place to get a job. There are so many laws here to protect workers rights that empoyers have to be really careful who they hire since there is almost no way to fire anybody ever.

I interviewed with an airline named jetBlue yesterday. Would have been great, but they were only willing to start people at part-time. If it weren't for school I probably would have taken it as a second job until they could give me full time, but I just can't work 60 hours a week and go to school. grrrr.




Wow, I've been unmotivated to write lately. Sorry about that.

Without going to much into we did this, we did that, let me just say that Dublin was great. It's a fantastic little city, which an energy that far outways it's population. I've always thought that there are two kinds of cities, there are cities that are either "nice places to live" or museam peices (Munich, Brussels, Prague, Minneapolis, Washington) and then there are cities that exude life and energy (London, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York.) Dublin is definatly the latter, which is incredable considering it's small size. It just goes to show that urbanity isn't a product of just population, but of the uses that the population puts into the city (LA shows the same thing in the opposite way.)

To Digress, I wanted to comment a bit on Luas, the new lightrail system that was just introduced to Dublin (roughly at the same time as Minneapolis.) It seemed to be a pretty good system. Ridership was high and the trains were nice. Actually, I think they were the same as the Minneapolis trains, Ryan do you know? But there were a couple of things that troubled me about the planning:

1. They use a honor system for tickets, which is great, however, you have to tell the machine exactly what station you are going to and you pay more for distance. I've never like systems where you have to pay based on distance traveled (copenhagen and amsterdam are also this way), I think it is too confusing, expecially for visiters. The exception to this is DC, where they scan a stored value card when you enter and exit, although this hardly helps keep the passengers flowing on and off.

2. The two lines never crossed. There was about a 1/2 mile walk between the two of them. I really don't understand why they did this. Hopefully they are planning another line. The second line (the one that starts at St. Stephens Green) not only didn't connect to the first, it also never connected to the DART (regional train system.) The first line however crossed the DART twice. Weird.

3. The first line is the only one I actually rode on, but it seemed to me that they routed it through some really depressed areas. People seemed to only get on and off at major stops (o'connell st, the museam area, the train stations, the hospital.) Minneapolis is kind of the same way. In that case I understand it because they were using rail lines that were already built to keep costs down, but in Dublin they were laying new tracks on city streets (much like in Downtown Minneapolis.) Why didn't they connect areas that were being used by the public instead of the run down ghettos on the north side? It seems like there is a fundimental difference between the planning of these systems in the 1990's and the way that systems were planned when the first subway systems went in in the late 1800's.



Ferrets On Public Transportation

On the green line a couple days ago I bumped into this really fuzzy guy. I turned around and looked and it was a ferret on a leach riding in a guys hood. Haven't been so freaked out since the cow attacked me at the Minnesota State Fair.


L'Europe Qui Gagne

The Economist just put out their Standard of Living Index for this year. I was kind of surprised by some of the results. Best country to live in? Ireland. How amazing is that? They went from the third poorest nation in the European Union to best country to live in in the world in 15 or so years. Switzerland got #2. US was at lucky #13, Canada #14. Germany was way down at 25, which I'm guessing is due largely to unemployment numbers. Of course, show me a country that swallowed a Communist country of 30 million in the last 20 years that is doing better. I found the following list on the website for a human resources company. It's the worlds top fifty cities for Quality of Life:

1. Zurich, Switzerland
1. Geneva, Switzerland
3. Vancouver, Canada
3. Vienna, Austria
5. Auckland, NZ
5. Bern, Switzerland
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
5. Frankfurt, Germany
5. Sydney, Australia
10. Amsterdam, Netherlands
10. Munich, Germany
12. Brussels, Belgium
12. Dusseldorf, Germany
12. Melbourne, Australia
15. Berlin, Germany
15. Luxembourg, Luxembourg
15. Stockholm, Sweden
15. Toronto, Canada
15. Wellington, NZ
20. Nurnberg, Germany
20. Ottawa, Canada
20. Perth, Australia
23. Dublin, Ireland
24. Adelaide, Australia
24. Brisbane, Australia
24. Calgary, Canada
24. Hamburg, Germany
24. Helsinki, Finland
24. Honolulu, USA
24. Montreal, Canada
24. San Francisco, USA
31. Oslo, Norway
31. Paris, France
33. Singapore
33. Tokyo, Japan
35. London, UK
35. Lyon, France
35. Yokohama, Japan
38. Kobe, Japan
38. Madrid, Spain
38. New York, USA
41. Boston, USA
41. Portland (OR), USA
43. Winston-Salem, USA
44. Barcelona, Spain
44. Lexington, USA
44. Osaka, Japan
44. Pittsburgh, USA
44. Seattle, USA
49. Chicago, USA
49. Milan, Italy

Not a super surprising list, I guess. Really, most of the cities in the world that I see myself living in are on it (Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Geneva, Montreal.) The only real surprises for me are the industrial cities like Dusseldorf and Pittsburgh, but I guess the post-industral revolution is having a real effect on Quality of Life.

I'm reading a book right now called The United States of Europe by T.R. Reid. It makes me more hopeful for the future then I've been in the last few weeks. He talks about how Europe is attaining a superpower status without the US even noticing because the US is so centered on Military power as an indicator of state power, while the Europeans are more focused on economic and cultural power. If the Euro is any indicator, he's certanly got a point. €250 cost me $350 when I exchanged them yesterday for my trip to Ireland next week. I remember it being €.92 to $1.00 when we switched from the Deutschmark two years ago.




Places I should live (in order) according to them:

Worchester, Mass
Hartford, Conn
Providence, RI
New Haven, Conn
Portland, OR
Washington, DC
Little Rock, AK (what the hell is this?)
Medford, OR
Danbury, Conn
Salem, OR
Oakland (again, what the hell?)
San Fransisco
Eugene, OR
Cambridge, Mass
San Jose, CA
Corvallis, OR
Sacramento, CA
Stamford-Norwalk, CONN
Bend, OR
Cape Cod, Mass

Places I would live (in the US) according to me:

Boston, Mass
New York, NY
Chicago, IL
Washington, DC (only for work)
San Fransisco, CA
Philadelphia, PA (only for school)
and maybe Portland or Seattle

On another note, I was walking around downtown crossing and I guy came up to me with a survey. As I normally do, I tossed him an, "Ich kann kein' Englisch." He just looked at me, and with all seriousness says, "God Bless America."



The Plan

Hillary Clinton is giving a lecture at Tufts on Wednesday. I'm going to try and get in. It should be interesting to hear her opinions on the direction of the Democrats now that we've established that the majority of Americans really are rednecks (and I mean that lovingly.) I'd like to see how she thinks the Democrats are going to convince people to vote for them in our newly moralist/neo-paganism-under-the-guise-of-Christian-patriotismistic society.

I started looking over grad schools overseas. I had an epihany (not about spelling evidently). What is to stop someone from living in Montreal and working 35 minutes away in upstate New York ? In fact, one could live like a king making American Dollars. I checked on apartments and I could get a three bedroom in a nice neighborhood for the cost of my one bedroom in the ghetto here. So, here is the new plan:


Zakcq - bachelor of Science in Urban Affairs - Boston University with a semester abroad in Geneva, Switzerland in 2006

Jessica - bachelor of Arts in International Affairs - Northeastern University with a semester abroad in Leuven, Belgium in 2006


Zakcq - Master of City Planning - McGill University, Montreal, Quebec


Jessica - Master of European Integration - Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

Anyways, on the bright side fall has finally come to New England. I've got to say it's not living up to the hype. The Northwoods have better colouring. Admittedly, Vermont and Maine are supposed to be better. But lately I've been walking home from work (as far as I can, anyways.) I only live like two miles from work, but the harbor is in between, so I have have to take the blue line at least one stop. I love all of Boston's faces. Everywhere you walk you turn a corner and there is some cool square or building you've never seen before. That is the benefit of not planning on a grid.

Our landlords turned on the heat last week. We've got this terrible Gas Stove thing in our living room. It's got an open flame all of the time and our whole place smells a little like natural gas. I'm hoping we don't have to use it often. I'm signing up for renters insurance as soon as I can.



A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Well, that's unfortunate.

I've been reading a lot lately of post-modern political theorists debating what will come after democracy and what the political landscape will be in the new century. Many people I have read think that the age of large nation states is coming to an end. More and more people will be bound by culture and tribe.

What struck me about this election was that no states (with the exception of New Hampshire) changed sides from the last election. Also, the regonial contrasts were very interesting.

In the 80's, Joel Garreau wrote a book called "The Nine Nations of North America" he asserted that North America can actually be cut into 9 nations drawn together by common interest and culture. With only one exception the vote last night proved out his thesis. New England, the Industrial North-East and the west coast went Democrat. The South and Mountian Zones (Garreau called it the "Empty Quarter") went republican. Only the Midwest was split between North and South. (the other three nations were Quebec, The Carribean (including Miami, which went Democrat) and "MexAmerica (including LA and San Diego which went Left.)

It seems to me that it is become more evident that one federal government cannot serve the needs of the entire country as is. This is further evidenced in the state and local races in Massachusetts, where the choice between Red and Blue wasn't between left and right but between left and farther left. Perhaps it is time that we begin to move to a more conferdarate model, or perhaps even independant nation-states within an economic community.

Overall, four more years probably won't be the end of America. A draft seems more likely now, and the chances that China or Europe will try to increase to superpower status to challenge the American hegemon also seems more likely. What is truely unfortunate is realization that for four more years the mounting problems of the Developing World are likely to be ignored. Bush's policies in Africa have led to a huge leap in HIV infection rates, and his refusal to fund any aid agencies who teach anything but abstinance are making (Evangelicals pay attention here) Abortion the birth control of choice for more and more of the Developing World. Perhaps Pro-Life only means Pro-American-Life.

Unfortunatly for me, this time I may actually live in the US for the whole 4 years...



Election "Day"

Well, voting in East Boston was a breeze. I suppose it helps that 85% of the neighborhood is from El Salvador and Columbia. No lines or anything. And I don't even have any intimidation to complain about. So Sad.

Our ballot was kind of boring out here. There were only six races and only two of them had more then one candidate running (the democrats were uncontested on almost everything.) The presidential race had Democrats, Republicans, Libratarians and the Green/Rainbow party. The other was a city council race that had a Democrat versus the Socialist Workers Party. It felt nice to be able to vote for the party I really like at least once.

Election day is one of the best days of the year for us PoliSci heads. This must be what the Superbowl feels like for those who care.

Tonight I'm going to the Kerry rally at Copley. Should be a good time, although I really don't feel like we are going to know the results tonight. More on this tomorrow...

Mit Socialistischen Gruess,
Gnoesse Zakcq



it rained on my parade

Woke up at 6 to open the store at 7. The blue line was already packed at maverick (6:40 on a saturday.) I noticed the homeless people weren't sleeping in there normal spots. I hope the police at least gave them a meal instead of just shooing them away. We closed the bathrooms right away. A guy said it was a conspiracy. Yep, a not having to clean nasty bathrooms conspiracy. It started drizzling at about 10. I worked till 3.

Has anyone thought about what Boston is going to do without the curse? Now we're just like the Chicago Cubs...an old team that looses important games a lot.

I saw Birth last night. It goes into the category of really good films that I didn't really like. Nicole Kidman was fantastic (oscar, probably) and the little kid was good, too, but the whole thing was really creapy. If it had been an adult man and a little girl there is no way anyone would have ever made the movie. I guess it was better with a young boy because he seemed more in control of the relationship.

Ever hit the next blog button on the top of the screen? It's pretty interesting, although the second time I tried it I got a Polish guy writing about anal sex. (I know because they were the only two words on the screen with enough vowels.) Takes all types I guess. I wonder how many people we don't know read this? I wonder how many people I do know read this?



Be You

Well, it's official. I'm going to Boston University next semester. I'll be getting a Bacholar of Science in Urban Affairs which should set me up for a long life of creating zoning regulations and planning sewage systems. Actually, I'm excited. I'll be done in two years and then I'm looking at a Master of City Planning from McGill University in Montréal (even though they no longer have a baseball team.)

Speaking of which, the Twins should have retired Walter Johnson's number when they could. If the new Washington team ends up being the Senators, there is no way the Twins will be able to retire it.


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