Temp Life

by bicyclemark 1 Comment

Sure enough as I’m having a drink with a good friend last night, during stop one of thursday involuntary pub crawl night, she utters the words “What’s a blog?” And boom – as always – I spouted out 10 to 20 minutes of technical definitions as well as anecdotes from my so-called blog-life. Eventually I think ladies will start throwing drinks in my face like I’m Jack on Three’s Company. But astonishingly, she stayed and dare I say it – was intruiged by this blogosphere I speak of.

Speaking of which, welcome to all those visitors from Turkey! Yes.. lots of new visitors from Constantinople this week for which I’m very thankful. I also noticed frequent visitor from C?te D’Ivoire which, as I learned during the Olympics, has legally changed its ENGLISH name from Ivory Coast to C?te D’Ivoire. That should tongue-tie the non-francofones. Mais Oui!

a sky I saw this weekOn the agenda today – Temporary work and Temp culture. I recently signed a contract to work at the U of Amsterdam for another 9 months or so, but I signed this sheet of paper at a TEMP AGENCY. I’m not a real University employee, I’m a big ol TEMP. They can fire me without fear of contract stipulations, my measly wage comes from the agency, they don’t pay taxes or extra costs that would come with having me as an employee. In the end… it’s all cheap and commitment free for them and for me its… well.. a temp job. I know some will remind me its not shameful to be a temp and its a necessary “economic” strategy for businesses or in this case universities (though there’s less and less of a difference), but as I sat in this temp agencies I saw adults (IE-older than me),people with degrees on top of degrees, loads of experience… yet they were at the mercy of the Temp Agency. I asked myself, as Freddy Mercury sang: “Is this world we created?” I mean.. what happens when we’re all temps? Will temp agencies go to other temp agencies to temp-out their staff and workload? And what the hell are businesses doing with all the cash they’re saving?

What I’ve learned in the last three years in the Netherlands and Portugal is that it is NOT, by any means, an American phenomenon. I actually once thought it was. ManPower may be the largest employer in the US, but them and “their brethren” have been immensely successful in Europe too! I sat with the Dean for a bit yesterday and shot the breeze, as we sometimes do, he reminded me that this has been going on since the 70’s in the NL. Hence the famously flexible and successful Dutch economy, as compared to Germany where they have resisted this phenomenon until now. He also expressed a bit of disgust that Temp culture has invaded University culture. I’m really wondering what price our culture pays for all this.

This must be annual report season, UNFPA (Population Fund) released the cold hard population facts. My synopsis:

– 3 condoms per year for every one man in sub-saharan Africa is a global shame.

– Western Europe ain’t that fertile. (gulp)

– Rich-Poor gap is horrendous, and my finger is pointing right at those at the top and those in charge who allow this to continue. Two fingers I guess. Pointing in similar directions.

Just got distracted by an article. I love lock-pickers, especially the NYC kind. You ever tried to pick a lock? That shit is hard. Now a nose.. that’s less complicated.

Today’s Music: The Used – Something to Burn

I want your Sussex

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

Finally caught up with Blonde But Busy yesterday for lunch. I showed her latai, and she treated, as part my two-lunch tour of Amsterdamage. Everything in that place is for sale including the table you’re eating off. What isn’t for sale is the excellent hand-made atmosphere and perfectly lovely waitress who respects the fact that you can speak Dutch with her and English with your lunch partner.

BBB is heading to Sussex, UK for the internety scholars conference thingy. Mathemagenic is going too and I’m sure as I run through my blogroll, so are alot of other blogscholars. Times like this I wish I was a PHD-er… so I could take the harrier jump-jet over the channel and make outlandish claims about blogs and the internet, get my ears boxed by intelligent people, and come home in defeat. That and I’d get to say “I was in Sussex,” which just sounds naughty. (I wonder if that word earns me more blog visitors)

They call it an Obelisk, but I think they're insecure about somethingOn to something else that’s eating at my brain: “We will make shoes of their skins,” this was something like the quote from Mussolini before sending his army to attack Ethiopia. Then the Pope…. Pius, or John.. or Paul… or Ringo.. he comes out and blesses all the tanks before they head to war. Reason #345 why I can’t forgive christianity. I mention all this to set the stage… September 2004, Ethiopia and Eritrea… not talking to each other much these days… can’t seem to agree on anything. That includes getting their giant penis… errr.. obelisk back from Italy, because Mussolini, like many male politicians and their “missiles”,had a phallic fixation, and stole the giant pole for Italy. So they want it back but they don’t want to cooperate to ship it back. I can’t help but think of Yemane, my good friend and teacher, who used to say how ridiculous this conflict is, and how similar the two nations are.

My advice to their government is to leave the phallus where it is as a reminder of the horrors and mistakes of history. Maybe it will help to remind them not to make war so that more of this type of theft and destruction doesn’t take place. My advice to their people: fire your leaders. They created and have been perpetuating this conflict for too long, because they benefit politically from it.

See… you even hear about East Africa on the Communiqu?!

I musn’t forget to mention a recent post from Chris Missick in Iraq. It’s the details that I really enjoyed. And the whole financial situation of soldiers that I’ve been thinking alot about. Man they have to spend a good chunk of change on the day-to-day things like phone, internet, keeping-cool-gear, etc.

Today’s Music: Jaga Jazzist Horns and Motorpsycho (In the Fish Tank;the label that puts 2 bands together to do albums)

Brick in the Blog Wall

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

Word gets around that I’m a blogger. Either that or I talk too much. Probably both. At a recent birthday festivus for the restofus, a gentleman who shares a first name with me struck up a conversation about blog reading. He started naming his favorites, each time expressing surprise that I as a self-proclaimed blogologist had never read any of his favorites. I was half-surprised as well, but shit – we all know the blog world is like a neverending bookstore, you’ve got all sorts of sections, so maybe lately I haven’t been browsing the Ancient Greece & Cooking section, but I’m definitely wandering around the store. At this same party, I finally met the man behind EggertOnline who also blogs, incidentally. He had some interesting things to tell me about having a comments section using flash. I might consider that, since Haloscan is so temperamental.

I like to keep everyone, including myself abreast (abreast, there’s a word that will increase my site hits) to reports released by UN Agencies. Since last week I’ve been browsing the UN Habitat report about the world’s cities. Here is a listing of the entire report, and here are my personal reflections:

– Guess you already knew, but there it is again: jobs moved from cities like NYC, Chicago, and Detroit moved to Mexico over the past decade. But they’ve now left Mexico as well and headed to China. Basically anyone anywhere who is psyched now about a new factory moving to their city, should enjoy it for the few years it’s there, because if they find cheaper conditions in Antarctica.. they’re off!

– Cities are becoming even more multicultural, with greater possibilities for communities to retain their ethnic/cultural identities, and city spaces that are exclusive to certain cultures. You might call them ghettos, but I see them as exciting places to experience other cultures, eat fun food, and shop at reasonable prices.

– Buenos Aries got screwed by the process known as de-industrialization. Guess everyone’s in the service industry from now on. May I take your order?

– With 60% of the world’s population living in cities by 2030, I guess it will be easier to get “away from it all”, just leave the city you live in and you should be all alone.

– City planners and politicians who allow their urban centers to quickly expand with no regard for infrastructure like sanitation, public transport, and green spaces, should be charged with crimes against humanity. (what.. too preachy?)

– By 2015, Lagos, Nigeria will be the third largest city on earth, with around a cool 24 million people. Note to self: definitely a good place to meet some new people.

– Lets not talk about Mexico City.

In case it’s not clear, I’d like to express my love for cities. If I can, I shall try to visit all the largest ones in the world before I’m through. I just worry about us city folk and our future.

There’s a good diagram of personal knowledge management that Mathemagenic posted, I think it’s nice. I can never make my own diagrams, but this one depicts what my blog life kind of looks like: a series of conversations, relations, and artifacts between me, some old friends, some new friends, and a whole lot of strangers. And lets not forget the occasional heckler to tell me to go fuck myself. Which is free advice, I guess.

My Bedroom/MusicroomWhat I have been able to do recently is throw new and old photos onto my photoblog, for your viewing pleasure today – my bedroom/musicroom.

Today’s Music: G.Love – THE HUSTLE (just arrived in the mail!)

Important for a day

by bicyclemark 1 Comment

Well, I’m scrapping my theme idea, because I have way too much to talk about after yesterday’s activities. Three major events took place in my world yesterday: 1) I attended a speech by Diana Kerry to promote her brother’s candidacy 2) I gave a speech along with two other important types at the opening ceremony of the academic year. 3) I attended a fancy-pants dinner with all the honored guests. Normally I hate name-dropping, cause it’s lame.. but today I must. So now, let me present the highlights in no specific order:

– Diana Kerry asks what state I vote in, and I shout “IF and WHEN I vote, I do so in New Jersey. But I disagree completely that voting in the US is a responsibility, and I’m considering not voting at all.”

– The president of NYU is telling a story about a certain presidential candidate from 96′ who spoke at a graduation. When I ask “who?” He brushes me off and says “You wouldn’t know” So I insisted… “who was it?” And he says… “You wouldn’t know the name.. Lamar Alexander” And I shout… “oh.. the guy from Tennessee or Kentucky who wears flannel all the time!” He was shocked.. and proceeded to fake-bow to my memory.

– I’m having a little laugh with some important lady seated to my right, and a photographer pokes me on the arm and says “YOU KNOW YOU’RE TALKING TO A MINISTER!” And I look at her, and then I look at him… and I say “GREAT! Thanks.”

– A gentleman who was knighted walks over to congratulate me on my speech, and after only two glasses of champaign I reply “Oh thank you. I know you.. you received something special today too!”

– A Dutch guy walks over to me and introduces himself.. saying he noticed my name and thought I had to be either Brazilian or Portuguese. He was the Netherlands correspondent for Expresso.

– At some point I’m talking about how I couldn’t find any ladies to be my date to the dinner, and immediately a group of ladies raise their hands smiling.

– After discussing New York and US politics with a Dutch Brooklynite… I agree to vote in the next election, not for myself, but for him since he’s not allowed. So in the next election, I’m voting for Kerry because my new friend Jiri deserves a vote.

– And finally, someone at my dinnertable says the magic words “What exactly is a weblog?” Bam.. the floodgates open.. I barely stopped for a drink of water.

A most interesting evening where I received a very inside look at the conflicts between government and educational institutions. I was impressed with the way students and University officials were not afraid to look right at the minister of education and say “Your program stinks! We won’t stand for it!” I saw this a few times… very fun.

On a different note, I was totally impressed with my brother’s last blog entry over at Foggy Recollection. Furthermore, he has very much hit his stride as a blogger, as far as I’m concerned. I’m both impressed and proud… hopefully it’s in the genes and my shit hits right sometimes too. The point is, he’s become one of my favorite bloggers and I swear it’s not JUST because he’s my bro.

Slightly more normal blogging will return next time. I still have to tear into Putin and his new-old battle cry of “war on terrorism!”

Today’s Music: Clash – Story of the Clash V.1