Thursday, March 29, 2007

Man I Wish I'd Gone To Deep Springs

Here's what part of me is thinking right now: "Why am I going through the torture of getting my PhD in economics from UC Berkeley? So that no one will ever again ask me where I did my undergrad. Saying "in Utah" doesn't throw people off the scent for very long." Why am I so particularly wishful that I'd accepted the offer from Pomona or UCLA right now, more so than usual? Dick Cheney's speaking at commencement this year. Search for "Dick Cheney" on The Daily Universe's website for stories and reactions, and sign the utterly useless and lame online petition here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chuck Klosterman

I just finished reading Chuck Klosterman's Chuck Klosterman IV. Some of you may not care for intelligent analysis of everything in pop culture from the Madonna/whore paradox of Britney Spears to the important question of whether Bono is full of crap, but you're missing out. Who else could shed so much light on the similarities between the current pirate revival to the great ninja revival of the 80's? Who else would have such interesting things to say about leather pants?

Think of your closest male friend. Now, imagine if he wore leather pants. Can you foresee any scenario where you wouldn't mock him until he cried? As a friend, that is pretty much your singular vocation. If there was going to be a nuclear war and the missiles of obliteration were swooping down from the pre-apocalyptic sky, and (for some reason) I had only ten minutes to see my best friend for the final time, and my friend (for some reason) showed up to Armageddon wearing leather pants, those pants are the only thing I would talk about.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Idi Amin and Mr. Magoo

So am I going hiking? It would seem so. On Tuesday I went to a slide show at a nearby REI by this potential CDT yo-yo guy Mr. Magoo (real name Francis Tapon, hikeyourownhike.com.) He turned out pretty cool and we ended up shooting trail-bull in the Krispy Kreme parking lot til around midnight. Saturday I went to a development economics conference at UC Davis that made me think economics is OK, but then I watched Jeremiah Johnson on TV so I wanted to live in the mountains and get chased by grizzlies and hatchet-wielding foes for a living. So at the moment I could be said to be excited about both hiking and school. (Although tomorrow I could easily resume my rotation amongst the four possibilities: +/+, +/-, -/-, and -/+.) Hiking just northbound and coming back to school in time for fall semester (August 27) is a possibility, but seems less awesome than a yo-yo.

I also saw The Last King of Scotland and finished reading Ryszard Kapuscinski's The Shadow of the Sun: My African Life. I didn't enjoy Scotland nearly as much as I'd hoped; I thought it was patronizing and manipulative towards Africans, but maybe that's just because I had that idea in my head when I went to see it because a friend had just told me that's what he thought. Shadow was good, not great.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Final Thoughts, Initial Complaints

I've been home for two weeks now, and I said I would post some final thoughts on my time in Kenya. Claiming to have any grand thoughts on Africa, poverty, development, or the state of the world after spending a mere six months in East Africa and then summing it up in a paragraph or two would be stupid, so let me just say that 1) living and working in Kenya was soooooo much more fun than grad school, and 2) living and working in Kenya was soooooo much more fun than grad school.

I say that because usually it takes grad school a few week to make me hate the universe, but this time it only took a few days. I re-read the rules on the department website which state that students will be subject to dismissal if they do not pass both field exams by the summer after their third year. If the clock is ticking while you are not enrolled in school, then that would mean August 2007 for me, so I'd have to sit in on a class that's already started, spend the summer locked in a room without internet access reading journal articles, and take the exam this August. I resigned myself to this fate, despite hearing from hiking friends that someone by the trail-name Mr. Magoo is going to attempt to be the first to ever yo-yo the CDT (meaning he'd hike the 3100 miles north from Mexico to Canada, then turn around and walk back in the same year, the exact thing I'd attempt to do.) Then I talked to the department's grad chair and grad advisor, and they didn't really seem to think I was under any deadline, so I could go hiking if I want, but they all seem to think it's pretty stupid to take more time off. So I have no idea what to do.

They've added a new course on exactly the part of economics I don't like (structural models) to the labor exam, so I don't really want to retake that field exam and I've been looking into other possibilities. I talked to the guys that run the law and economics field, and that seems interesting, but it seems more reasonable to do a field the normal way, by taking a full year's worth of courses first. So in summary, I have no idea what to do. I should probably try and view this in a "half glass full" way, and focus on the fact that I am beholden to no one and can do absolutely whatever I want.

Yeh.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Smoochy Smooch

kissing the giraffe

hugging the giraffe

I realize this picture isn't that good since the sprinbok (?) is far away and that Nairobi National Park isn't that cool a safari park, but it's kind of cool to be able to see the animals in the wild with skyscrapers in the background.
the grill at Carnivore, where I ate crocodile and ostrich, neither of which taste any good