The Shaft

I hate to do posts like this, especially at so pivotal a time, but due to the pivotal and difficult nature of this epoch I am required to do so.

Winter Conference was cool for the people, but I felt like the planning and session quality left very much to be desired. I hope to be able to provide appropriate perspective for that. However, Southern Comfort Region did emerge closer. The ride home was funny and we ate at the Jefferson’s in Belleville, IL which is also where Uncle Tupelo are from. Some people at the restaurant there had stolen my and Dave’s idea; you can see me referenced at their less-than-awesome website.

The day after I got back I moved into our new place, which is really pretty awesome and well-located. We’ve had two parties here in the week since we’ve been moved in. I also started back at Tech, which is a system shock. I’ve grown rusty on many of the fundamental electrical-engineering concepts but I anticipate I’ll be back in full swing…somehow.

While I was out I also officially transitioned into LCP, which technically occurred as I screamed “Auld Lang Syne” at the conference over a YouTube karaoke video into the house sound for all the AIESECers present. I also had a nice SoCo circle a few hours beforehand to toast the year.

I got food poisoning early the morning of the second day of school, probably from school sushi, and it was so bad that when I stumbled into the health center after somehow surviving my first class that day and skipping the second they immediately stuck an IV in me and emptied it into my veins. For about 36 hours my entire diet consisted of saline, water, and about a third of a bowl of ramen forced down over a period of an hour. I recovered by Friday but I had missed valuable productive time.

Homework will be my bane. I will survive.

The answer to the answer-man

My plans to take on a padawan to become a new nomad have been scuttled – for now. The moriae can keep my sister away from the world outside Alabama, but they can’t keep the world away from my sister. The skills will be passed on when they will.

Today was the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, the great mythology of our time and for our time. I watched The Star Wars Holiday Special, generally considered to be the two worst hours of television ever produced. You both need to watch it and need to avoid it – all great mysteries are painful dichotomies.

I have always been interested in the archetype of the ship upon the sea. It was quite pronounced when I was in Gandia, where the Erasmus students and a small smattering of pensioners were the only inhabitants during an 18-degree January (that’s Celsius, ‘mericans) and the port was right there, beautiful, inviting, and playing the strings of latent mysticism. There’s something fascinating about getting on a ship on the river and/or ocean and having it like being on a road that takes you to anywhere around the world. I think I would have been quite fine as a ship captain back in the auld days of exploration. My current dream – the absolute greatest gift that anyone could ever get me, no exceptions – would be a dirigible, preferably in a configuration kind of like what they used in Final Fantasy VI. Around the concept – I don’t remember if it was Dave or Shaun – was created the phrase “Dirigible Pirates of the Sky.” Talks about creating a concept musical act continue.

I am forging my future for my greatest tasks – the German conference, IC, and research abroad – and it’s a heavy but giddy load. I balance it with going to a bodega with Vidar for some San Miguel Extra “Nostrum.” It was only €1,40 per caña. That’s a good price for a pretty good beer. Others went to bingo tonight, they did not contact me. I’m glad, mostly. More important things, like watching the two worst hours of television ever produced.

I must ask, where the hell is the hope from the pre-9/11 days? I’m talking of course about pre-9/11 music, which is personified (or at least “flagshipped”) by the Verve song “Bittersweet Symphony.” You all remember it, and when you listen to it today, you’ll realize just how much our culture has changed around that date. If you still have wax in your heart and mind and brain, then you might want to run not walk over to this webshite.

If you want hot wings, you go to the Anchor Bar (unless it’s Jefferson’s of course). If you want slow-smoked pork ribs, you go to Dreamland. If it’s horchata you’re after, you go to Daniel in Alboraia – which is where I went today after Pepe, Davinia, and I had szechuan chicken en casa and I remarked on the horchata de mierda in the fridge, when they recommended we hightail it about three kilometers to the north to the mecca of chufas. I had the most delicious horchata that probably exists, a mixta which is kind of ice on the verge of melting like a slush-formation, with fartons made on-site and warm. I’ll definitely return before I exit the Kingdom, but if you find yourself stumbling into the Comunitat, make a stop-off at this Ka’aba of Xufa.

I’m currently on the fence about it, but I’m pretty sure I’ll take the plunge to attend the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona; a quick glance at the lineup will reveal why. Then it’s my only test and the adventure of June.

Lady finger, dipped in moonlight, writing “What for?” across the morning sky,
Sunlight splatters, dawn with answer, darkness shrugs and bids the day goodbye.

Are you feeling better now?


Because, my last-ditch email for course approval yielded all transfers – so now, I have a better situation than I could have imagined.

The intensive language course went through for three hours, which is awesome for two reasons: I only have to take nine equivalent hours at UPV, and that completes a scheme where I now get six free elective hours because I get SPAN1001 and 1002 filled in on virtue of higher-level completion and the classes I took in hike school.

Two of the classes I am taking went through for ECE (my major school) credit, one as three hours of 3xxx credit and the other as a direct transfer class, ECE 4330, Power Electronics. Finally there is Spanish Regional Economy, which I did not go to this morning because I chose to sleep through it, and which will be worth 3 ECON hours. That’s 13 hours when I needed twelve.

Oh, and I only have class between 1700 Monday and 1700 Wednesday. So’s theres gonna be lots of Eurotrips and Hispanotrips.

I am, needless to say, extremely happy about this arrangement. I still don’t believe that everything turns out for the best, but I am quite amazed at how well this has turned out.

Now I just need to plan my trips. My companion for the Paris trip to see the Decemberists backed out… I could do it, but I kinda don’t want to go alone, and Paris isn’t a great town. Whatev. I shelled out what it takes to go see Valencia play Barca this Sunday. Yes, the game is across the street from me.

There is something else that has been on my mind which must be stated.

I don’t really think of anywhere as “home” – I realized this when I was in Tuscaloosa one weekend in 2004, and we were out and it was late, and I said, “let’s go home” – meaning to my friends’ dorm room. I realized, however, that I meant home. It just meant base.

So, I really don’t get homesick or want to be back somewhere, like the South or the US or anything. But there are two things – just two – that I want here, and both of them have to do with food. The first is an establishment open late-night where you can grab some grub on the cheap. Waffle House is the most obvious answer, but I’m looking for anything – a doner, tapas, you name it.

The other thing is Jefferson’s Bar and Grill. The original Jacksonville, Alabama location served as the spiritual equivalent of Tolkein and LewisEagle and Child Pub to the high potential and extremely bored young population of Gadsden, Alabama. Though every one built since the Jacksonville original, including the one in Gadsden, has not so much character (my friend David refers to them as “shitty nice Jefferson’s”), the most important factor remains: they have the best buffalo wings I can possibly imagine. It doesn’t matter when or where I am, I dream of Jefferson’s wings.

If you are reading this from Kansas or St. Louis, you will go to one of the nearby Jefferson’s restaurants.