Where I've Been

I thought these maps were pretty cool. These are the states i've visited. Or at least the ones I remember. I guess I lived in Denver when I was one and I probably drived there, which means I've been to Colorado and Nebraska too.

create your own visited states map

And these are the countries (if you mix J and I together) after this summer.

create your own visited countries map


My New Toy

Strasbourg, France
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I bought myself a cheap scanner so that I could archive all of our old photos. So far I uploaded a bunch of pictures from a day trip to Strasbourg, France and some pictures from Berlin, including my old apartment building and the capybara! from the Berlin Zoo. J also uploaded some pics from HCMC that are pretty cool. Take a look.

I talked to J this morning. She's have a great time. And she's been riding motorbikes everywhere and loves it, so I think I finally got her onboard for me getting a vespa. Yeah!



Half-Conversation of the Day

Dalat, Vietnam
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
OK. So this time I was standing in line to go through security at the airport. And the lady in front of my has her phone ring. She's about to go through so she picks it up and says, "I can't talk right now. I'll call you back in a few minutes." There is a brief pause and then she says, "Honey, do you really think I would have answered if I were having sex?"

On another note... Jessica posted some great pictures from Dalat. Click the picture and it will take you to the set. She's been blogging a bunch too if you haven't been reading them.

On another another note... I've been watching the DVD's of the show NewsRadio. That show was fricken' hilarious.



They talk the talk...

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
The T announced that they are going to be raising fares to $1.55 in 2007 (it's $1.25) now. I'm not one who minds paying for things that I use, and the T is still a bargain at that price, but I'm generally annoyed at the lack of good policy on transportation. Especially when we are so "addicted to oil." For all of the talk on both sides of the aisle, no one really seems to be doing much of anything to help americans kick the addiction.

There was a recent study done in Boston. On average, it costs drivers $6000 per year for them to keep a car (gas, registration, parking, ect). I spend $528 on T passes per year. Even if you through in what I pay zipcar and all of the airplanes and trains I use in a year, I'm sure it doesn't hit $6000. But here's where the problem is. When you take public transit in Boston, you are paying 80% of what it actually costs for you to take that ride. When you drive in Boston, you are only paying for 20% of the costs (subsidies for car makers, oil companies, traffic police, road building, millitary escorts for oil tankers, free parking, ect). There is a major problem with that.

Let's start seeing some policies that actually help america, huh? A few less auto subsidies and a little more transit improvement.



conversation of the day

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
(the scene: me at Store 24 buying a phone card from the North African clerk)

me: I need a phone card for Asia.
him: You calling Japan?
me: Vietnam.
him: Girlfriend?
me: Yeah. Well, wife actually.
him: Oh, no, you don't want to marry Vietnamese women.
me: Uh, ok. She's an American.
him: Oh, good.



New Camera

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
J took our digital camera with her to Viet Nam, so I've been looking on Craig's List to find a cheap one so that I can still take pictures while she's gone. On my days off I like to go for walks and take pictures. It's my stress relief.

Anyway, I finally found one and got it today. It's a Kodak EasyShare C340. It's actually a pretty nice one, both the megapixels and zoom are slightly better then the one we already had. I don't like the controls very much at all though. The flash is really hard to work. We'll see though, maybe it'll get easier to use.

The best part is that it came with a 1GB memory card. So basically I got a $200 camera and about a $70 memory card for $125.

I took a few pictures while on my way to the grocery store. I think they turned out all right.



New Phone Number

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
Hey, All,

J got a new cell phone and I thought I'd pass the number along. From the States (or Canada or Germany for that matter) dial 011 +84 (905) 04 3617. She's 12 hours ahead of Eastern Time and 13 hours ahead of Central. So if you're in Central Time and you call her at 9 at night you'll be talking to her at 10 am tomorrow. This is particularly useful if you want to bet on sporting events, as they will have already occured once you cross the international date line. or something like that.

You should be able to get a calling card that will give you something around 30 minutes for $5. I'd suggest going to an immigrant neighborhood and asking at a corner shop. They should be able to help you.

Also, if you didn't notice, J (nguoi My) also blogged once.



Is this something I should be concerned about?

San Diego, California
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
The MBTA has been installing these things at all of the above ground stations that give off a sound that only birds can hear to get rid of pigeons on the platforms. I first came across them a few months ago at the Beachmont station on the blue line. Here's the thing: I can hear them... and it hurts. Jessica thought I was crazy, but it started before I even knew they were there. I just hear a high pitched noise and feel a bunch of pressure in the back of my head. Now they are putting them all over the place. I really don't like the implication: that i must be somehow pigeon like, but I don't see an alternative explanation.

6 Days down. 96 Days to go.



Tijuana Photo Set

Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
Has anyone ever noticed that if you go to the West Coast and then leave the US, you'll end up in BC no matter which way you go? Weird, huh?

I finished uploading all of my pictures from Tijuana. I'll try to finish up my pictures of LA over the weekend.

I had a test in Public Policy today. I think it went ok. I didn't study as much over the weekend as I would have liked to, but at some point you start to know material well enough that you can get by no matter what. I think it has more to do with tailoring your work to the professor you're with. In this case, she's pretty conservative compared to my own positions.

This dumb book just came out about the 101 "most dangerous" professors in the country. I actually know a couple of the people who made it in (one is in J's department at NEU and one of others was a thesis advisor for a lecturer I've had a class with). The whole thing is about as stupid as it can get. Almost everybody was either in International Affairs, PoliSci or Social Science. The author was basically saying that anybody who disagrees with Bush foreign policy (or is a Muslim) is a dangerous person corrupting the youth of America. One poor social scientist from the Midwest got a write up because she has been studying the effects of welfare reform. oohhh, scary.

Personally, I think that a professor's beliefs and research have a place in the classroom (unless they are issuing bad grades for well argued opposition). To me that is one of the main reasons that we don't have the same teacher for every class. The point of college isn't to memorize government approved textbooks (that's how they do it in Moldova and it's not working well for them). It's to learn to think, research and argue your beliefs, no matter what side you are on.

Anyways, I got a call from J this morning. She made it to Viet Nam finally. They had an unscheduled stop in Korea and then made it to Hong Kong to late to make the connection to Saigon, so she ended up having to wait 15 hours or so. She said that her group was going to go to Dalat, which is in the mountains north of Saigon for the next couple days for orientation, so she probably won't have internet, but hopefully we'll hear her initial impressions of Viet Nam after that.

G'night, all.



SoCal in 20 Minutes or Less

Los Angeles, California
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
So blogging from the hostel didn't really happen. The wireless was really crappy (and non-existant for about 2 days). Long Beach airport rocks though. Go JetBlue!

J did manage to blog quickly before she left from LAX last night. I guess there were strong headwinds over the pacific, so the plane was going to have to make an unscheduled stop in Korea to refuel, which I think means she's still in the air somewhere. Her flight was supposed to be Hong Kong and then on to Saigon.

We stayed three days in LA with a day trip to San Diego and Tijauna. Out of the three cities, I probably liked SD the best, then Tijuana and then LA. I was realizing that both SD and LA reminded me of Minneapolis, but in very different ways. It was like SD is the best of Mpls and LA is the worst.

SD had great transit, really viberant downtown neighborhoods and tons of great non-corporate resturants and bars. LA has endless fields of single family housing, parking lots and blocks that go on for miles with twelve lane residential streets between them.

I did have fun sightseeing in LA though, in fact, there are still some museums that we didn't get to that I'd come back for. Next time though I think I'd stay in San Diego and day trip to LA.

Here's my LA top 3:
1. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Angles: This is the newest catholic cathedral in the country and it is absolutly beautiful. The grounds are amazing, building is beautiful and the art is fantastic.

2. Barrio de Los Angeles (Oliveria Street): the only nice place to walk (that I found anyways) in the city.

3. Union Station: Beautiful grand train station. It's got a mix of Spanish Mission and Art Deco architecture and decor. It was the last of the big American train stations built (along with Penn Station in New York and Union Station in DC).

My flight is boarding now, so I must go. I'll finish uploading pictures and maybe write some more later.



I'm on the top of the Hub!!!!!

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
Jessica's boss took her to the Top of the Hub Resturant at Prudential Center for her last day yesterday and she took some really cool high up pictures.

Adding to my last post, I saw on the news today that George Bush said that there was a terrorist plot to blow up a building in LA... and everyone cheered.



My Random Thoughts on LA... Pre-trip Edition

Little Wooden City
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I'm not an LA fan. When I hear LA I think of sprawl, racism and traffic. It has never ranked high on my list of places to visit, but since I have to go, I'm going to try and have fun.

As is my routine, I read a couple of books about LA over the last month or so. My favorites were a couple of books by an urban sociologist named Mike Davis called City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear. He uses an interesting method where he tries to make sociological generalizations based on depicting of a city in literature and film. It would seem that LA is the most likely city to be destroyed in our pop culture. Of course, this is probably mostly due to the fact that it is also most likely to be destroyed in real life (I mean come on, right now they've got out of control wild fires and terrible prison riots, and this is a quite week.) What's interesting is that in most of these depictions the destruction is celebrated, which contrasts to the destruction of London (the most destroyed city in the time preceding LA) which was heralded as the end of civilization.

In it's favor, LA is such a young city that I think that it will urbanize in terms of density and transit a lot in the next 30 years or so. It seems like that is already beginning. So who knows, maybe I'll like it. My hostel has wireless internet, so I'll be writing some from there. At very worst, the temperature will be in the 80's, so at least its got that going for it.



An EaBo Moment...

Boston, Massachusetts
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
We were walking to the T station yesterday and saw a 50's-something bourgeois couple walking out of an ATM vestibule. They seemed a bit out of place in dear old eastie. Then we heard the women say, "let's find our way back to our condo from maverick square!"

I realized that we're probably not helping with the whole gentrification thing, but we were here first, so there.



2005's Best Books on Urban Issues

Istanbul, Turkey
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I know we moved past the whole year end list thing a month ago, but I just stumbled on this.

The web magazine PLANetizen, which I am just beginning to read and enjoy has a yearly list of best books on Urban topics. I've read at least one from each year and can tell you that I've liked them so far. I'm going to work my way through the lists. Here is the list for 2005. The Jane Jacobs is really good.

ps. if you're wondering why I always post photos, it's because a) I like them and b) BU blocked access to blogger but not flickr.



mmmm, hazey

Cairo, Egypt
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
I found that I was able to write a four page paper on the history of urban air quality off of the top of my head today.

The clouds in the picture are from winter time thermal inversions and saharan dust storms. neat huh.

At what point did my head get filled with such frivolity?


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