I haven't blogged in a month. It seems that I blog the most when there is the least stuff going on. What does that tell you about my priorities? I think the truth is that I just don't want to blog about something until I have a chance to process it myself.
The smallest school in the world
Only two persons in it
One is the teacher
The other is the student
From London I returned to Ipswich, then Eddie and I set off on a road trip to Wales. We had originally planned to take a motorcycle, but a combination of issues including the weather forced us instead to drive a car. Our destination was Snowdonia National Park, where we spent two nights and climbed the 1085 meter Mount Snowdon. Wales proved to be quite beautiful, very green (which of course also meant very wet), and reminiscent of Ireland.
Yesterday I did something that was long overdue since I moved to Arizona; I called my MasterCard issuer and negotiated my interest rate down. Way down...from 18.3% to 0% for six months, and prime plus 2.94% afterwards. I did this once before, back in 2000, right after I read the Motley Fool's book "You have more than you think" and I was trying to get prepared to get out of the Navy. That time, I negotiated a fixed rate, but for some reason, the credit card companies decided that once I moved (or maybe it was got divorced), all bets were off. I was pissed, but stupidly did nothing about it until now. In any case, now that's handled.
I took an overnight train from Rome to Venice, managing a decent night's sleep on the small top bunk, though waking a little at each stop. Early in the morning with a knock on the door the conductor let me know we were arriving in Venice (or so I hoped, with my limited Italian), and I switched to another train headed for Borgo Valsugana. The train followed a beautiful valley through the Alps, to the home of an old friend I'd not seen in 16 years.
Ivan Facchini was a foreign exchange student who lived in Haines for a year, my Junior year in high school. We became very good friends then, though have done poorly staying in touch over the years. He has since gotten married and had two wonderful children, all of whom I met for the first time when visiting his home town of Roncegno. He pointed out that when we first met I was 16, and so now 16 years later another lifetime had passed, and yet it felt like only a few days had gone by as we quickly fell back into our friendship.
I arrived in Rome via train, then wandered the streets near the central station until I found an affordable hotel that had rooms available. I felt a little overwhelmed as I read about all the things to do, but once I got my bearings it proved to be an impressive city. I started in ancient Rome, wandering the Forum, exploring Palatine Hill, and visiting the Colosseum. Another day I walked to the Vatican City and visited their amazing museums. The rest of the time I spent wandering around somewhat randomly, seeing what I could find.
May seems to be a good month to visit Rome, as for the most part the crowds weren't too bad. This wasn't true for the Vatican museums where I was quickly overwhelmed by the seemingly endless masses of people. By the time I'd worked my way through the lengthy halls of paintings and entered the Sistine Chapel, though quite impressed I was equally interested in just getting back outside and away from the crowds.
I was fortunate to make it into Italy, as there was an airport strike causing most flights to be significantly delayed or even canceled. I touched down in Milan, quickly retrieved my bag, and was greeted by my friend Marco Molinari, whom I'd never actually met before. Many years ago I'd gotten to know Marco through email, as we both worked with Drupal, the same open source software I use for KernelTrap. He uses Drupal for his highly successful and humorous Italian website Bastardidentro, "Bastard Inside".
The week in Milan flew by. I used much of the time to catch up on email, though also got out to explore the city. I'd hoped my poor but practical Spanish speaking skills would be translate into poor but practical Italian speaking skills, and while it's true that between Spanish and English I've managed well enough, it seems my Spanish doesn't translate to Italian quite as easily as I'd hoped. So while in Milan hanging out with Marco and his friends, I heavily relied on his translation skills to be a part of the conversations.
I flew into an airport on the outskirts of Stockholm and spent the following week with Staffan, Anna, and their two month old baby, Perols Olof Erik Hillman. A decade and a half ago Staffan lived with my family as a foreign exchange student, and we quickly became best friends sharing amazing times our senior year in high school. He has since managed to visit Alaska a few times, but until now I'd not made good on my frequent promise to visit him in his home country. Very much in agreement with the saying that time flies when you're having fun, the visit was far too brief, though it was still wonderful to catch up, and to meet both Anna and Erik for the first time.
We spent the first few days at their beautiful and peaceful summer house in Öregrund on the edge of the Baltic. It was a very relaxing place, and a nice chance to catch up on both visiting and resting. From there we drove west to visit Anna's family and to see where Staffan and Anna will be building their new house. We then headed to Falun to visit Staffan's parents. And finally we quickly toured Stockholm before I flew out for Italy. The trip was far too quick, but quite wonderful.
While I'm thinking about it; if you're having trouble leaving comments, try taking the blogspot.com out of your profile home page. Jeremy, the fine webmaster of Kerneltrap, manually approves posting from people that list blogspot.com in their home page due to a lot of spam coming from there. Hence, if you have blogspot.com info in your profile when you post, you won't see your comment for a while, until Jeremy approves it.
The introduction of Gesanghua(2007 version)
We are a group who love and cast our attention to the west of china. On our way of traveling to the west, we are not only attracted by the vast and splendid scene of the QingZang altiplano but also stuck by the poverty resident especially the eager eyes of children who can not afford to go to school. In the west, people live in the village without electricity and road to modern world. Their mean earning per person is no more than one thousand Yuan. Most of them are not be able to pay just USD 52(about RMB 400)tuition fee per year and so their children have to lose the chance of being educated. When you are facing them, how can we turn a blind eye to those eager eyes. So please give your hand to them, help them go back to the classroom again!
Gesanghua’s Deuteronomic Letter(2007 version)
There is an old saying: if you offer someone a fish, he will have something to eat for supper; if you teach that person how to catch fish, he will have the skill to survive. Fifty US dollars maybe are just enough to buy us a bottle of wine or a carton of cigarette. Yet the same fifty US dollars could totally change a child’s future. Let’s give them a chance to get education like the rest of us. We can make a difference!
Kari and I went to the cheap theater today and saw "The Astronaut Farmer." I give it two stars.....I didn't want to kill Billy Bob Thornton after I saw it (like, for instance, Pushing Tin), but it was kind of cheesy. Kudos to American cinema though; we'll never give up the happy ending, but at least American directors are finally showing characters screw stuff up a bit. (spoiler here:
e.g. Of course he flys the rocket in the end, but there are a few minutes in the movie where you really think the story will close in failure.)