Thursday, June 4, 2009

A bottle in front of me

Been a busy few weeks. 2 weeks ago, I was hiking the eastern Alps. We hiked the mountain that separates the main part of Graz from the village where our governator was born. As I mentioned, Ahnold was hugely popular in Graz after he became California governor. They renamed the local stadium Scwarzenegger stadium and got a stamp with him on it. Then, he did not commute the death penalty in Cali, so his mug graces so stamps, and the stadium is now called UPC Arena. I mentioned this fact to my buddies in San Diego, and the fact that Grazers seem to think that Californians also care about that. No. Grazers can rest assured that their homeboy is unpopular among my homies, with approval ratings in the 30s. But it's primarily because of the budget. "All politics is local."

While seeing my friends in SD was exciting, the most suspenseful part was opening my suitcase to see how many bottles made it. All of them! So pumpkinseed oil, schnapps, and other bottled goods made it in to the gift baskets that I gave David and Adrienne at their wedding, which was a highly successful event.

The only real problem with the wedding is that the ol' gang was only together for a few days. Would have been great to see them more, and we probably won't get together again until the next wedding. As you can see in two of the above photos, we tried to get Eli drunk so maybe he would hit on Carl (this is legal in some states, though not California). Instead, he got all silly with the groom. I shoulda got Carl drunk too, and somehow got them in the same room. Maybe some soft music.

A few days later, I was preparing to fly back to Austria for June. I tried, hard, many times, to get permission to stay in the states between the wedding and my summer class, but no luck. And this is not unreasonable of my bosses; if employed by TU Graz, it's fair enough to expect me to actually be in Graz. I was ready to go back. I had a plane ticket and apartment ready in Graz. Then, unexpectedly, one of my bosses said I could stay in the US. Very nice of her, and will not be forgotten.

And so it is quite a surprise that I am now here in Ouray, Colorado, in the western slope of the Rockies, looking out the window at Twin Peaks, a towering 10,800 foot team that I hiked last time I was here and soon will again, along with other good hiking trails:

I still have a lot of work to do too, but that can be done in evenings. I finished a paper on Monday and am working on a few more, which will keep my busy, but nothing over my head. I also hit the Ouray Hot Springs, which is as relaxing as always, and saw most of the family at Panny's Pizza yesterday. Good trip so far. Next week, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic play with Rusted Root in Telluride, which I will see. I saw Rusted Root in San Diego once; worth it. The Telluride Bluegrass Festival will be the weekend of June 18, which should be fun. Sure was a hoot last time.

Sam the cat seems delighted to have a new human to pet him and periodically give him cream. I still owe Sam for his assist last time he was here, since I think he played a critical role in my adventure hand-feeding a buck, so his last few days have been rich with cream and ground beef and facials. I TA'd a massage class at UCSD for 2 years; cats and dogs like pretty much the same moves. However, Sam is training me a bit too well. I do not mind being outsmarted by pussy, this is de rigeur for the heterosexual male. But Sam has me on such a simple routine: rub against me, meow, and then move expectantly toward the fridge. He fails to grasp a humorous side effect, which is that this operant conditioning has ultimately confused him with a classical conditioning side effect. Now, whenever I open the fridge, he expects cream just like a salivating dog. So when I went there for yogurt, then closed the door, he looked betrayed. I told him that I was not teasing him, but he doesn't speak the same language. I realized a parallel to another situation I am currently in. You would think this could be easily resolved, since we both speak English, but of course this leads to the dangerous illusion that men and women speak the same language. There was thus no way to convey to Sam that he was misinterpreting cues, aside from what psychologists call extinction, meaning if he gets denied long enough, he'll move on. The parallel fails in that Sam has no other source of cream, but he has reasonable alternatives, since he thinks that mice and small birds taste good. This is also different from me, and indeed most non-French humans.

"The British and Americans are a people separated by a common language."
-- paraphrasing GB Shaw, paraphrasing Wilde, who himself was loosely paraphrasing Shakespeare. The quote was used in identical or similar form by Dylan Thomas, Winston Churchill, and George S. Patton

"Men and women are a people separated by a common language."
--Me, paraphrasing the above. (translation for other species and genders not available)

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