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The world loses a master

I don't remember the first time I saw "The Seventh Seal", but I do remember that the first time I saw it, I was completely blown away! The film felt more like a series of paintings juxtaposed to tell a particular story about life and death, and the unknowns of our humanity. Over the years, I think I might have seen this film over time times, and every time I see it, I notice something new, and gain a renewed appreciation of it. At the time when I first saw the film, I was also studying existentialism and phenomenology as an undergrad, and remember thinking that the film was made for the likes of me who were interested in the (lack of) meaning of life and existence.

Of course, right after I saw this film, I saw "Love and Death," which was Woody Allen's homage to Ingmar Bergman. In fact, I gained an appreciation for Woody Allen through Ingmar Bergman.

Today, Ingmar Bergman has died at age 89. He surely lived a full life, and has left his mark on the world of cinema and art for years to come. I agree with Allen when he describes Bergman as one of the greatest directors of all times. The BBC is running a good overview of his life.

I am sad today the same way I was sad when I found out that Salvador Dali died. But, while I think that Dali might have died laughing at death, I envision Bergman finally joining death in a final dance just as he envisioned it in "The Seventh Seal".

Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007)


Applying for citizenship

I'm sending out my application for citizenship today. Hopefully, it will be a smooth process, and within six to eight months, I will be a citizen.

Here goes!

New Model Army

I was introduced to New Model Army by my first boyfriend in the US. At the time that I was introduced to them, I remember liking them not only because of the singing and the music, but because it was so angry. This was probably one of my first punk bands that I really liked. Before then, when I was still living in Lebanon, I was more into New Wave, and the boppy gay euro-techno like Pet Shop Boys, New Order, etc. So, when NMA came on the scene, I was open to liking them. When KB gave me The Ghost of Cain tape, I just played it over and over and over again.

Here's what's strange. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a terrible memory. Due to the ant-attention span that I have, I typically tune out after the first six words. For that reason, I only know the first few lines of almost all the songs that I know. And the rest, it's "watermelon, watermelon, watermelon." I listened to Ghost of Cain so much, that almost twenty years later, I can remember almost all the lyrics to all the songs. Every once in a while, they pop up into my head for no apparent reason, and usually I can sing a song, and let it go at that.

A few years ago, I tried to track them down to see if they have any tours in the US. At the time, for some reason, they were denied Visas, so they couldn't perform here, and they had written off ever playing here.

Two days ago, they popped up in my head again, and this time I went to look for them only to find out that they not only have a new album out, but, that they're touring the US! So far, it doesn't look like they're playing Boston. Even if they are, I'm not sure if I would go or not. But, I did download their album, Carnival. I actually like it. There are a couple of songs that I don't particularly care for, but the rest is fantastic. The lead, however, doesn't sound the same for some reason. He still sounds excellent, but his accent is not as pronounced.

Youtube has a bunch of their videos from concerts out. What would we do without Youtube?

A very strange weirdness

I left my computer on last night to go watch TV after I had been searching for an airbed. I left three tabs open that had three different models I was interested in.

When I returned, a completely unrelated page was open in my browser:

"So long, and thanks for the Ph.D.!"


"Everything I wanted to know about C.S. graduate school
at the beginning but didn't learn until later."

The 4th guide in the Hitchhiker's guide trilogy
(and if that doesn't make sense, you obviously have not read Douglas Adams)

by Ronald T. Azuma

v. 1.08

Original version 1997, last revised January 2003

B says that he didn't do it. errr... how did it get there? It's not even in my bookmarks section! It came at a good time considering my latest feelings on the whole thing. I'll have to read it.


This is painful

Turner's Slave Ship

Last night, Simon Schama's Power of Art JMW Turner, whose painting The Slave Ship, brought me to tears when I first saw it in a picture. The original is in Boston, and hopefully, I'll get to see it very soon.

The story behind this painting is this: Slave ships during the transatlantic slave trade were insured for their cargo (i.e. slaves). However, the insurance would only pay for lost slaves at sea, and not those who arrived ill. Because the conditions on the ships were so horrific, many of the Africans on it became gravely ill. Rather than them arriving ill and costing the traders money, they ended up getting thrown overboard. The image here is from one particular event, but the occurence of throwing the slaves overboard was certainly not unique for this one particular event.

Here's what Schama says about the painting:

Simon Schama on Turner

"In 1840 in London, an international convention of the Great and Good was planned to express righteous indignation against slavery in the United States. Turner, initiated into the cause many years before by his patron, Walter Fawkes, wanted to have his say in paint. So how does he do it? By being a thorn in the side of self congratulation.

He reaches back 60 years to resurrect one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the British Empire when 132 Africans - men, women and children, their hands and feet fettered - were thrown overboard into the shark infested waters of the Caribbean. And Turner has drowned you in this moment, pulled you into this terrifying chasm in the ocean, drenched you in this bloody light - exactly the hue you sense in your blood filled optic nerves when you close your eyes in blinding sunlight.

Though almost all of his critics believed that the painting represented an all time low in Turner's reckless disregard for the rules of art, it was in fact his greatest triumph in the sculptural carving of space."
Here is the painting:

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On), 1840 (Oil on canvas). © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA/ Henry Lillie Pierce Fund/ The Bridgeman Art Library

Some useful links:
There are so many details worth pointing out, however. Most of the action is in the bottom part of the image, on the left and the right). It depicts people still in chains drowning under the water, and fighting the currents of the angry sea.

On the far bottom right, there's even a sea monster that's come to devour one of the drowning victims.

Schama notes how this painting denotes the anger that Turner felt regarding this great tragedy, and that his depiction of the event takes on an apocalyptic nature. What makes this painting a great work of art is that it is not only incredible due to its brilliant colors and techniques, but it evokes anger and disgust (and even shame) in the viewer.

George Landow from Brown University has a very nice write-up of the painting:

Tycho's bath

Tycho is about to shed, and he's starting to rub his chin on the ground. I just gave him a bath, and after he was done drinking, he tried to jump out, and scratched the heck out of me. After his bath, I usually wrap him in a towel so he warms up a bit before jumping back out. This is a picture of him after his bath wrapped in a towel. He's all clean now, and I just put him back in his cage so he can sleep. He's up way past his bed time right now.

Reducing the clutter

Over the last ten+ years, I have accumulated an incredible amount of clutter. Since I had been so busy with school, I just put everything into piles, until I had a few hours to work on clearing things up. Trying to find pieces of paper was sometimes quite challenging. And, to make it worse, even after I would put everything in order in separate folders, because of a lack of time, I would always end up with piles of papers accumulated in random places, especially various bags, purses, boxes, etc. I have used moving time as an opportunity to get rid of as much clutter as I could. While I started on that before I left Tallahassee, I still managed to have at least six boxes full of papers. I decided this week that the time has come for me to clean things up once and for all. I'm sick of the clutter, and I really want some clean space (which I was really missing because of the accumulated papers).

So, armed with about a hundred manilla folders, I used a severely modified Noguchi Filing System to organize my papers. However, violated one of the key tenets of the system, and that is to actually alphabetize my folders. But, I ended up breaking them up into three categories: personal, financial, and archive. Within each category, I labeled the folders according to what makes most sense to me.

Here's documenting the actual process. I started out with four boxes that were full of papers that have been accumulated for at least ten years. This is the second box that I was working on. It had a combination of personal papers, and academic articles.

This is the second box I cleaned. Luckily, it was mostly academic articles, the majority of which are already in Endnote. All I have to do now is to find them in Endnote, make labels, create folders, and then file them.

This is the shelf where I put all the folders. I used to have a bunch of binders and notebooks, but I decided to move those out, and make room for the folders. The binders contain lecture notes, and some lecture articles. I'm still torn as to whether I need to create a separate folder for each lecture, or just keep everything in a binder. I've been experimenting, and so far, I just want to get this organizing over with. I might have to do a second run-through to clean things up a bit. This will have to do for now, especially since I will not be accessing this material for quite a while.

These are the two crates that I moved the binders and notebooks to. It looks a whole lot more organizing than what I started with.

So, that's it for now. I have two more full boxes full of articles, and I'll be done with the first round of cleaning. This phase, I hope, will not take too much longer to complete.

Salem, MA

One nice thing about living in MA is that we're near so much. The other day, B decided that we should go to Salem, MA. Presently, it's an incredibly cheesy place. For someone who is interested in violence, persecution, and human rights issues, it was a little disturbing to me on so many levels, especially when we went into the museums where they did recreations of the witch trials. The disturbing aspects of the town, coupled with how people capitalize on this history, made for a very dissonant experience. Why modern day pagans claim that area to be a headquarters for witches, is beyond me, however. It really makes no sense to me. All the women who were persecuted were found to be innocent. Yet, a few hundred years later, it's a haven for pagans and witches alike. Personally, if I were a witch, Salem would be the last place I would want to be anyways. But.. hey.. I'm neither a witch, nor a pagan, so I guess I'm okay.
It's not a logic that I need to understand.

Anyhow... here are some pictures:

I took this as we were getting ready to head into the actual town. I believe this was right before we went hunting for a parking garage. The picture is of B, whose blog can be found here: For a much better entry with much better pictures than mine, see his entry here:

This is a silly picture. He took a much better one of me, which he has on his blog.

On our way out, we were beckoned to a "haunted house" at the bottomfloor of the parking garage. Not wanting to shell out any more money for cheese, we were satisfied to just snap pictures of this lovely guy.

I really like the way this picture came out. I didn't even want to retouch it.

AHHHHH!!!!! This is sometimes how I feel when I can't write anything.

Back! Tycho is my co-pilot.

I hadn't realized how long it's been since I last updated this blog. I'm now in Worcester, MA, and have been for almost three weeks. The period of adjustment is challenging, as with all adjustment periods. I have been cleaning my office (pictures will be in another post), and wanted to get all the pictures off my phone before I make any new ones.

The quality is not the best, but I really don't have the time to futz around with them.

It took four days to drive from Tallahassee, FL to Worcester, MA. The trip was long, but definitely not too exhausting, except for the day that I passed through DC and CT, and got lost on the way, and ended up spending 11 hours on the road in the car. CT has aweful traffic!

This is the first picture of Tycho helping me read the directions. The cooler is right below him. He's so helpful.

On the way there, I put Tycho with me in the car, since he usually likes riding in the car with us. He's typically very well behaved, which makes him a very good companion. So, after we packed everything up, I put him in a little cooler, and strapped him to the seat next to me. Whenever I got on the highway, I let him out, and he usually just hung out with me.

I think that in a former life, Tycho was a dog. He often does not realize that he's a lizzard, and so his behavior is very strange for who he is. Here's an example of his identity confusion. He liked to literally jump on the window, and hang like this for hours. He loves to look out the window, and watch things as they go by. When he gets bored, he typically will walk around the car, until he finds a good spot where he can look outside.

Here's another one of him hanging out. At one point, he discovered that he can get himself up to the area that's under the back window, and spent about an hour running back and forth from side to side of the window, scratching, and eventually he would just settle down and just hang out. Eventually, he would get himself back to the cooler, and slowly but surely he would fall asleep. But, sometimes the excitement got to be too much for him, and he would literally refuse to sleep. As active as he was, he only bothered me once while I was driving, and I simply moved him away. That was enough for him to learn that he should not be getting too close to me. He just learned how to entertain himself very well.

I actually miss him being in the car with me now when I drive somewhere. He was such a good lizzard the entire way.

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