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:: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 ::

Hmm. Being home in Vicksburg is interesting - this week there is actually news of international interest happening here, although it's only going to affect the region dramatically. Pfizer corporation, the big drug manufacturer, bought Pharmacia corporation about one year ago (I assume it was a buyout, becuase they dumped the Pharmacia name). Several years before that, Pharmacia bought a company called Upjohn, which in and of itself was a sizeable drug maker. Upjohn was based here (in Portage, Michigan) and was responsible for seemingly half the jobs in the county. Now, today, at 4:30pm, Pfizer will be announcing (officially) how much of the Portage operations will be closing, moving, consolidated, or otherwise not employing people in the area. Rumour at this time has most of the upper level jobs moving out, but (thankfully, in some respects) most of the blue collar jobs seem to be staying in the area.

Kalamazoo is really trying to expand its influence in the high tech - especially biomedical - arena. They have advertisements with the motto 'stick around' (which actually sounds more desperate than hopeful). This might or might not affect those plans, as apparently Western Michigan University has apparently become a research 1 institution. I don't really think very much of those institutions, but it's a direction to go, anyway. As near as I can tell, a research one institute is one which does a lot of research. And, although it isn't part of the official labeling, the teaching then gets passed on, because it isn't as important as publishing. I think the quality of learning goes down. But not everyone agrees with that opinion.
:: David 3:19 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, April 28, 2003 ::
Well, two out of three ain't bad. I've discovered why you let other people do your taxes - they get you more money back. Mike Johnston opened a tax service this year, and I dropped in to say hello and have him look things over/print things out, and lo! I got more money back!

Then it was time for lunch with my friend Tammy. Unfortunately, our communication wasn't up to snuff, and she took the day off and headed home before I could get in touch with her. So that didn't happen.

I did, however, manage to take four (!) of my sister's five children (I didn't take the diaper wearing one) to a nice little park in Kalamazoo. I survived, the girls had fun, the boys less so. C'est la vie.

I then took my oldest nephew out for the evening, mostly to chat and see where he's at. Seems like an OK place, so we'll let it ride and see what happens. Weird seeing someone I remember as so young being so old.
:: David 11:49 PM [+] ::

Big plans for today - do taxes, lunch with old friend, and then take the kids to the park. How many kids, one might ask, can David take to the park before he explodes? We shall see....
:: David 2:11 AM [+] ::
The danger of home is the food - my parents eat steak and not much else. I eat veggies and not much else. This is a problem, which often leads to me realizing at about one a.m. that I'm starving. I've become quite spoiled with regard to food, and scavenging through cupboards at my parent's house just isn't the same at all as scavenging my cupboards. I'm always cautious to double-check that the food item I've grabbed isn't something left over from 1975. Yikes!
:: David 2:08 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, April 27, 2003 ::
Talking to Ryan last night, he pointed out that Neil Gaiman has a weblog. Fun! So I added a link - there's something dramatically fun to be said for someone who writes as well as he, dumping his brain to screen.

You may notice he has replaced 'Where is Raed' the purported Iraqi blog. It stopped being posted, which isn't surprising either way. If it was fake, perhaps they felt their purpose had been served. If it was real, who knows how long it'll take before they can get internet again....
:: David 12:35 PM [+] ::

Managed to make it home for the weekend. Lots of tech support for the family. Also managed to track down Ryan Lewis from the hiding place he's been in. We went to a coffee house here in Kalamazoo and shot the stuff for several hours, until the smoke level overcame. Then we headed back to his (not actually all that humble - I miss having a real apartment!) abode and drank port and blathered until ungodly hours. I came home and collapsed on the couch until about 8am, when I was told to go to bed (my parents wake up at unreasonably early hours, like before noon). I got up, as you may have guessed, around noon.

Home is such a wacky place, but after exams it's darned relaxing!
:: David 12:23 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, April 25, 2003 ::
I think I have discovered that cable exists for the same reason the internet does. Or more appropriately, cable TV makes money the same way most of the internet does. I've spent the evening flipping channels, and with the exclusion of TLC (which is not showing trading spaces, for a change), they are all showing scantily clad women. Or maybe they have, and I just haven't noticed....
:: David 12:30 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 24, 2003 ::
I'm so bloody excited my website is back online that I check it about four times a day just to verify it's really still up (and frankly, I'm paranoid it'll go down again).

Just about finished with the semester. Got a test this evening (one and a half tests, actually. Or two if you want to be precise. Maybe a test and a quiz? Anyway...) and then I'm home free until the 5th of May.

Surfing the jobsites when I have the chance. Lots of good stuff. I haven't decided yet whether to go for an IT job of some sort (lord knows I have the experience!) or try to expand my career options by going for a management or sales job. Lots more of those available in Paris, it seems. And it really would be the best thing for me. The question is, can I handle it in a second language that I'm still learning. And should I even try. I suppose if they hire me it's their own damned fault.
:: David 1:57 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 ::
It looks as though blogger.com keeps a backup of everything you ever write, so I can republish everything. We'll see if the new web page can handle it. Thank goodness for backups!
:: David 12:29 PM [+] ::
Finished one of my three (and a half) finals last night. Also finished editing my paper on cork in Portugal, which is a real piece of... it isn't that good. But it's finished, I'll turn it in today and call myself done with that horrible facet of my life, more or less. Tonight, second exam, and tomorrow, third (and the half exam, which is a quiz more than anything). This weekend I'll head home to chill, and next week, holiday! Celebrate! Woo hoo!
:: David 11:51 AM [+] ::
So recently there's been a lot of talk of 'google hacks' - using tools google provides free of charge to enhance your website. Well, I found another useful trick - google caches pages on a regular basis, so if your (for example) blog is destroyed by evil computers that crash and computer people who don't ever make backups, you can use google to recover at least some of the lost data. Crazy!
:: David 11:46 AM [+] ::
Testing - are we back yet?!
:: David 11:26 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 ::
Yesterday I saw an old man using one of the self-serve lanes at the supermarket. He was visibly in pain. And I was reminded of one of the things we discuss all the time in economics - if overall everyone is made better off by something, but one group is hit inordinately hard, the population at large should give back some of the gains (the idea is that the gains more than make up for the change - otherwise why would you do it?) to take care of people who are negatively affected. Clearly not happening here. Isn't theory so much nicer than reality?
:: David 9:50 PM [+] ::
Is it possible? My website may finally go back up. For reasons so far beyond me I can't even begin to describe, they changed the nameservers - the machines that tell the rest of the internet how to find my web page. But now that's coming closer to resolution. Yay!
:: David 9:46 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, April 21, 2003 ::
*sigh* Still waiting for the website to go back up. I've started looking at other service providers, despite the fact that I should have another 8 months on this contract. I guess you get what you pay for.
:: David 9:27 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 ::
Spoke to the website man today - he said we should have been up yesterday, but he'd take a look. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Interesting thing happened today - walking by the little newspaper box downstairs and saw the headline of the Eastern Echo (the school paper) was all about Jessica Lynch being offered a full-ride scholarship to Eastern.

Now, I'm sure she's a nice girl, and the whole POW thing is a little crazy. But I'm still conflicted about the use of public dollars in this manner. I suppose I interpret it as a vindication of the war. I recognize the fact that soldiers by and large do not choose the orders they recieve. Nevertheless I'm troubled that the criteria involved have more to do with politics than need (which is not to say, one way or the other, whether she might need or deserve a scholarship).
:: David 12:50 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 ::
Argh! No website again! Waiting and waiting...

ready to finish my exams and take a much needed break before starting the 'Spring of madness' - 7 weeks, 9 credit hours, no waiting. Ack! Hopefully I'll be able to speak French by the time this is all done.

Apparently today is tax day - I feel as though I should do my taxes, but only Michigan will have the chance to charge me anything. Hopefully I'm overpaid on them, too. I can't wait 'till I'm out of the country and don't have to deal with this stuff. Other stuff, equally annoying, but not this stuff,
:: David 4:17 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, April 13, 2003 ::
Still no website. But the blog lives on! (mostly in my mind...).

We went to see "Bend it Like Beckham" this evening. I don't care what the review on IMDB says - this was a great great movie! Lots of fun. The only real downside was the ending - it suffered from the same problem as "Minority Report" in that the movie goes on after it should have ended.
:: David 1:26 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, April 11, 2003 ::
Well, several days in and still no davidbarber.org. Irritating. But honestly, I'll live (although now all the search engines will have to re-find me).

Watched another crazy old movie today - "It Should Happen to You" with Judy Holliday and Peter Lawford and a very young (so young he gets the 'and introducing' tag) Jack Lemmon. It's all about a girl who wants to be famous, so she rents a billboard. Chaos ensues. The interesting thing about Judy Holliday is that she is clearly a Marilyn Monroe stand-in. Unlike Monroe, however, she is likeable - you get the feeling that despite the airhead exterior there is something deeper inside. It's a fun, fun movie.

And now, I'm off to see Jason's pictures from his visit to Giza!
:: David 11:35 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, April 08, 2003 ::
Well - that was exciting! Seems the old box davidbarber.org lived on died a horrible death, so if you've been wondering where we went, to computer heaven would be the best answer (don't worry - I'm hosted - it wasn't my machine!

Not sure if everything is up and where it's supposed to be - guess this will give me the opportunity to make all those changes I've been meaning to!
:: David 10:29 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, April 07, 2003 ::
Woo hoo! Hail to express delivery! Sasha's birthday present made it here on time! Now we can waste all our spare time with SimCity 4!!! Somebody stop me!
:: David 3:15 PM [+] ::
I started a wine list today, for keeping track of all the tasty wines Sasha and I drink once and then promptly forget the name of. It's a work in progress, obviously, but since we decided to start trying French wines (since at some point we'll have to drink them, I suspect) it seemed a good time to start taking notes.
:: David 3:10 PM [+] ::
So, after writing the blog yesterday regarding health care, I thought I would send it to my senators (because that's what we do in a democracy, right?) Well, much to my dismay neither of the Senators from Michigan could handle my email (despite both having email addresses). One sent me a blank response, the other a random response about calling them for help. Utter crap.
:: David 1:42 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, April 06, 2003 ::
I had a most interesting conversation with my mother yesterday. It seems that my aunt, who was injured in an ATV accident six months or so ago, has been dropped by her insurance company. Considering less than a week ago she had a follow-on operation to remove a piece of her skull, this is somewhat troubling news. In addition, in the same conversation she informed me that some family friends, Bobby and Wanda, had dropped their health insurance because it was too expensive (more than $300 per month). Add to this the fact that I have no health insurance despite being highly educated and eminently employable, and you see a system which is not at all working. I suspect I might email my lawmakers, but frankly I doubt it will ever do any good. Another reason to move abroad.
:: David 3:13 PM [+] ::
Weekend! I had to 'spring forward' and now my internal clock is all messed up. Yes, Daylight Savings Time has returned to make our life confused as the parts of the country that don't celebrate this auspicious event struggle to figure out what the hell time it is in Michigan.

Outside of that, I've been a busy beaver this weekend, writing the first few pages of my paper on cork. The trouble with truly good papers is that they are short. But that makes me feel like my paper is too short. I think it's good, anyway.

In addition, the paper on Venezuela is finally finished. Or close enough. I'm going to do some last minute editing (or rather, read it through and check for spelling) and then I am done done done!

I managed to negotiate with Finian to take his bike off his hands - hopefully I'll be able to start riding once the weather warms up.

Which it has not done - nothing but ice and sleet this weekend. Yuck! But maybe happy warm days are coming.

The bad weather reportedly made Hash Bash (the Ann Arbor celebration of marijuana) a washout. I'm sure all the police were still there, but the myriad potheads reportedly stayed home, quietly getting high in the comfort of their warm living rooms.
:: David 1:59 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, April 02, 2003 ::
Interesting web site today - Anita Roddick is the founder of The Body Shop, and a confirmed (perhaps even card-carrying) activist. I ran across her site while researching the anti-globalisation movement (upon which I will be working this Spring).
:: David 2:36 PM [+] ::
I wonder if someday I'll actually start using web design tools. I think I may have worked with text editors for too long now - even though I know HTML can be more easily constructed using something like Adobe GoLive, I still like notepad (or vi on the Mac) for my web creations.
:: David 10:17 AM [+] ::
Doing a little testing, a little updating, a little bit of this 'n' that. Hoping to meet with the department head today about changes to my paper class - something to make the whole process a little smoother.

Buffy and Frosted Flakes for breakfast. What could be more fun? And Angel in the evening! I'm a TV addict.
:: David 10:13 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 ::
I called Jason in Egypt today. He's doing well, although a little culture shocked, I think. It was good to talk to him (and I like to think the feeling was mutual :-)

There are some true advantages to being an ex-expat. Like knowing that there's always a cheaper way. I can't believe how difficult it is the first time around. I should ask Maria (the woman in my class who publishes "La Voz Latina" - the Washtenaw county Latino paper) if she knows anything I could do to help out this summer. That'd be fun.
:: David 11:09 PM [+] ::

Whew! Crazy weekend! Sasha's family was, as always, a laugh riot, and the inauguration was a neat chance to see what her dad does when not goofing off, although it was something of a cross between a celebration and a goof-off as well - the article from the Danville Bee & Register shows that.

But it was fun. Now I have returned to the fray, as it were, trying to polish off some of the projects left until late, like my project for my paper-writing class, which, due to mechinations by the students, may actually become a paper-writing class. Light at the end of the tunnel.
:: David 10:58 PM [+] ::

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