Today begins my semester-long European adventure!

Besides the almost-nightmare that was United Airlines check-in at SFO Christmas morning and tedious delay in Chicago, traveling went essentially without a hitch.

I should tell you that in drafting this post, I included many details about what I've begun to hate (and sort of find endearing) about United, including a staff of four to work over 25 check-in desks with some very long lines. But in the end I decided to omit them, both for your sake and my own: Reliving the blur was too annoying and I just want to move on.

And I did.

I made it to Paris to meet up with Ana, my dear friend/host/translator/guide, and today we trekked all over and did very French things. I have since made it my life goal to become rich enough to afford a certain level of Parisian fashion in my daywear. Not sure what my picture has to do with French fashion, but it amused me.


Remind me of this post when I register for classes

It is Dec. 22 and I am still not done with my finals. I leave the United States in three days. This sucks.

I have been "in finals" since Dec. 6 when my first was due, the rest due every few days since then. With grades already back on two classes, I still have one more final remaining due in less than twelve hours.

And Friday was the last business day before I leave the country, so in addition to moving out and attending holiday party-hopping to say goodbye, I came home not to unpack/repack or leisurely read my Dutch dictionary while petting the cats, but to write about Heidegger, about whom at this stage of the semester I could really care less.

I loved the class, no matter how hard it kicked my butt, but I am feeling exhausted and dejected and jealous of all of my friends whose finals have been done for two weeks.

Yet another reason not to take 19 units, ever again. Ever.


Like me? Prove it!

I'm currently ranked 25/260. w00t. I can always use a vote (or many) for Christmas.

The Germans

My classmate, Sarah's, brilliant diagram of some theorists I have to know by 5PM and don't:

On trucks in Berkeley (while I procrastinate writing and studying and banging my head against a wall)

I've borrowed my parents' truck for the week so I can use it to move out of Berkeley this weekend, which means that I either need to move the truck every two hours between 8AM and 7PM or suck it up and buy some temporary parking permits.

I am lazy and opted for the latter.

But moving the vehicle less frequently doesn't mean it isn't grabbing attention. I left this evening to return videos at Reel on my way to a study group, only to discover that the small American pickup truck had been wedged between two compact, hybrid vehicles. We're talking inches from each bumper.

I recognize these cars from the street for the last year and a half, so I know their owners live in the neighborhood. They have always parked as one should in a high demand/low supply parallel parking situation: all the way to the red zone at the end of a curb or before driveways, so the people in the middle can get in and out and there's room for more than two cars on any given section of street.

Now, I understand that Walnut Creek shoppers visiting our neighboring shopping district have no spatial awareness for such matters. They need and can afford three parking spaces for their hybrid Hummer and Whole Foods ego. Not to mention, who lives in Walnut Creek, anyway?

But these are my neighbors, who have empirically shown the utmost of courtesy to their fellow car parkers.

I strongly suspect, though I have absolutely no evidence to corroborate this, that they were pissed that--gasp--someone brought a TRUCK onto the street, and it stayed more than two hours!

Luckily, I was able to make a twelve hundred-point turn to get out of the space and bite my thumb at the conspiratorial first-generation Priuses, during the middle of which a passer-by pointed to the bed of the truck and said "you're leaking!" before he realized it was raining.


Dragging my feet

It would all be so much easier if I would just buckle down and do it.

The final projects, papers, studying... I just feel like I've done so much work already, and my mind is already in Europe, fantasizing about bourgeoisie art museums and Nutella. And not working.

I've even had a roommate change the password to my Facebook account, and yet I'm finding all sorts of new Web sites to explore. Very thoroughly.

I wonder when I will get the pants-kicking I really need to push through to the end. I want to work, I really do. I put so much emotional investment into my finals and the professors who actually seem to care about my work, in theory to make me more guilty motivated, and yet all I can seem to muster is the Internet.


Associated Press Headline Roundup

* Crack may be whack, but that doesn't mean you'll do (that much) hard time. At least not as much as some rich cokehead.

* There's something so chilling about the headline "Ice Storm Causes Blackouts, Deaths." Either that or "Ice Storm" could just as easily be replaced with "Crack" (see above) or, say, "Alcohol."

* And I may have dissed on fasting for a cause last week, but fasting for your heart ain't such a bad idea. Nevermind that those participating in the study, Mormons, are also known for their restrictive diets and spending at least two years of their lives walking around all over the world on a mission (or chasing all twelve of their children, for the womenfolk).

* And speaking of Mormon habits, what about playing nice? Mitt Romney announced to the AP today that he plans to run a TV ad against Mike Huckabee, the conservative candidate who just yesterday "stood by" his 1992 statements that AIDS patients should be isolated from society. I'd say shame on Romney for giving in to the negative campaign trap, but I find myself strangely rooting him on.

* Global warming is coming! But I've just gotta take a commercial break to accept this Nobel peace prize. Remember folks, if Kissinger can get one, so can Gore.


But I thought the Internet was supposed to move quickly...

I've been noticing some suspect fees on my credit card's online banking activity, so I decided to e-mail them about why I'm being charged. Had it been a flat fee, I would have owed it to some Existence Fee that I forgot about or missed in the fine print, but I thought I'd bug the customer service people about it anyway just to see whether there was a way I could avoid it.

I composed a quaint message describing the fee that I was issued twice but that I was confused because it was a different amount each time and could someone please explain what this means. The fee's description in my account, of course, reads "Other."

The response was equally quaint but basically said I am an idiot because it's a finance charge for not paying my bill in full each month. But I've been under the impression that I have, in fact, been paying my bill in full each month, so I was rather surprised to learn that such a fee was being charged.

In general I haven't been too happy with how slowly their online banking system posts transactions or statements (namely, processing bill payments or even processing a regular charge), but didn't realize until now that I was being charged for essentially relying on their pedestrian services to tell me what I owe each month.

So I sent them this message in response:
Thank you for clarifying. Do you think it would be possible for your online banking services to accurately calculate my balance due on at least a weekly basis, that I may have the opportunity to pay my balance in full?

All this time I've been under the impression online banking was more convenient than keeping a paper record of every transaction completed, but it turns out that with a several-day turnaround on posting transactions, I'd be better off writing checks.

Maybe I've just been in a bad mood lately, or maybe I dumbly expect huge corporations to have greater means with which to provide customer service, but I don't know that my message was quite terse enough to gain a sufficient response. We'll see how it goes.