Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dreamy Winter so far...

It feels good when December catches you walking down the street in a t-shirt and short pants. I use to like winter but not anymore. First of all, lately, with all the climate change going on, the build-up of green house gases, etc. it seems that nature has gone wild on its own. For the last two years, there have been (here, at least) very mild winters, just a couple of weeks with snow and reasonable temperatures. Here, where snow should be at home, stacked by feet and up until March or even April. But after all, this is not a complaint just an acknowledgement of what is happening. I sure don't mind it (yet) since I am not a big winter (sports) fan. However, one can't stop to wonder...where all the snows from our childhood have gone...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

An interesting Thanksgiving

It was funny because it felt like a celebration all day long which is rarely the case with exclusive American holidays. I spoke with friends from home and Europe for hours (which seldom happens these days due to the inherent work load that I carry), I did some work too [but not exaggerate, just enough to make myself feel good about it:)] and I went for a dinner at a friend's house to eat some traditional thanksgiving cuisine (turkey, mash potato, gravy and cranberries sauce). Here, the crowd was good (met some interesting people from Ethiopia and Sri Lanka among others) while the food (good but too much though), music and atmosphere played along. Overall, very nice; which explains the fact that some of us stayed there until 5am.:)). Just in time for the Black Friday shopping..or the grand scheme of retailing as I like to call it, since I see it only in black and white: either you stay in line throughout the night and get an early bird deal or it is basically useless to search the stores for morning exquisite deals along other thousands of not-so-early birds looking for stuff to spend their bucks on. Therefore, so far, I always chose not to be a shopper that day.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Beauty runs in the neighborhood

Just came across the (old) news that this year's Romanian contestant to Miss World has won 2nd place (1st runner up against the Czech miss) and followed by Australia. Her name is Ioana Valentina Boitor and she's from a neighboring county and city (Satu Mare) of my hometown (Sighetu M, in Maramures); of course she's ridiculously young (17) like all contenders are but however, not your usual type of miss (she does study computer science at a local high school; "successful? - je ne sais pas"; otherwise we can assume both brains and beauty are comprised in the package). With regards to the geographic distribution, Ioana is the second girl from Satu Mare, a town of around 132,000 inhabitants that reaches Miss World competition which shows that indeed beauty runs in the neighborhood.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Borat, the movie

I have just seen Borat (Cultural learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), the latest box office hit or..the closest thing to it. Pretty funny, not that original but overall, welcomed I think.

Besides the publicity around it, acid jokes about Jews, people suing cause of it all over the place and punches with the name of Sacha Cohen on (deh, it comes with the job, pal) the movie is just an absurd type of humor (typically British?) which may get most of you, but again, it may not. A type of Kazachstani Mr. Bean with uncensored lines, Borat has raised enough attention to become a movie that people (me included) just wanted to see "what's all about". In the end, I laughed indeed, but I also expected more from it than what it could possible give. I am curious about a few things though:
1. how many scenes were real footage?
2. what are the people from Kazakhstan think about it?
3. how much of a boost got the Ali G character also? It's a networking world after all..
actually for the second one, here is what is listed on the official site:
"We do not rule out that Mr. Cohen is serving someone's political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way. We reserve the right to any legal action to prevent new pranks of the kind. We view Mr. Cohen's behaviour at the MTV Europe Music Awards as utterly unacceptable, being a concoction of bad taste and ill manners which is completely incompatible with ethics and civilized behaviour."-Yerzhan Ashykbayev, Kazakh Foreign Ministry Spokesman
I guess that the only thing left to add is the famous Cuba Gooding jr.'s line: "Show MEE the MOONEY!!!".
Let's see how "Borat" will handle that one.:)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Pushing the limits of perception

Another Friday night in town with Empac's own events. This time FEED by Kurt Hentschlager (a NY based Austrian artist) was on. Overall, a strange but beautiful and interesting merger of sound and intense images which puts the viewer into an abstract universe where light and sound fuse with his or her senses.
First part contains a 3D projection of human figures syncopating under an ever increasing intensive low frequency sound.
In the second part of the show you find yourself flooded by stroboscopic lights and dense fog while a strange mix of images and sounds monopolize your entire perception. Strong basses and strange noises are fully contributing to this mystic atmosphere.
A bit dizzy but intrigued spectator..

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A piece of Indian Summer

What a joy to see 73 degrees (or about 20 celsius) on a mid-November day. Regardless of the cloudy, gray, dark skies, it is still great to take a walk outside. The mild warmy rain helps along. Only the strong pales of wind seem to mind. Still..a great thermo outlier that is always welcomed in the harsh upstate New York winter (which by the way hasn't started yet).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bigger means better

And who are the best to prove it than the Russians??
Yesterday I saw the Moscow State Symphony at Proctor's in Schenectady and it seemed a huge orchestra indeed with around 90 and something musicians in it. Led by Pavel Kogan they gave a wonderful performance, especially in the second half and the following encores. The program: Smetana - Vlatava (the Moldau) (nice, interesting); Schumann - Concerto for Cello in A minor (slow and boring in many ways) with Alisa Weilerstein at cello; Rachmaninoff - Symphony no.2 (feel the power). Good stuff by all means.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

No more Neo-Counter

I had a Neo-Counter on my blog for some time now; Unfortunately, this week I had to give it up since they went fully commercial, I guess, and my new established trial period expired. It too bad because it was a neet tool; however, the price could be only justified maybe in webpages and professional blogs that really draw on something else and make money on their own. this is just a small personal web based diary that cannot sustain this:)). i will look for something else in this respect too.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cultural Recap

A lot has been going on since I haven't updated the posts on this blog, which is
not that bad after all (around 10 days). So, let's get right in to it:

1. Lee Ranaldo (from Sonic Youth) and Leah Singer - "Drift" live performance

DRIFT is a sonic/visual environment consisting of music sounds and texts by Ranaldo in response to two 16 mm analytical film projectors performed in real time by Singer. Much as a DJ scratches the vinyl records, Singer manipulates her films in a live improvisation with Ronaldo's guitar, poetry and soundscapes (empac@rpi).Well, yeah, interesting enough to go there. However, kind of "veni, vedi, vici" type of feeling; maybe to long, or to improvised and raw, the show wasn't that convincing afterall and the poetry has also a certain limit you can abstract it..just like any form of art.

2. Puccini's "La Boheme" brought to Schenectady's own Proctors Theater by Teatro Lirico D'Europa.
A classical indeed, this tender but still tragic drama appeals to a wide range of people, myself included. The Parisian atmosphere does bring back some vivid and joyful European memories also.

3. Helene Grimaud, piano @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
One of the best pianists that I have seen so far. A convincing performance that made up for those 75 minutes of delay due to a navigational mistake on the North Eastern highway system. It happens, you know..:) In the program, all the "big boys": Bach, Chopin, Brahm and Rachmaninoff. A must see show.

Why I hate mercatilist dentistry

Back again with new forces..

YES, I had a tough week, perhaps the toughest this year. Everything seems to go against my wishes and interest (my life, my research, the news from home etc); and on top of all that I had a really bad experience with A dentist, not MY dentist,since I will probably drop him not fast enough as I should have.

I cannot believe that crap like this happens even here in the States, supposedly first, a top-noch place for medicine (dentistry included) and secondly, the home of the brave and the place for probably most lawsuits in the world from which malpractice has a good chunk. In addition, I HATE all these doctors and dentists that are in this business solely for the purpose of MAKING MONEY. After all, mercantilism is not stipulated in Hippocrate's oath !!! But, many of them, worldwide seem to include it automatically. After all, viva los dineros! The rest is soon to be past history.
My personal experience was a bad one; after a bad one in my home country I was just in need of an advice on it. After rejecting the initial diagnostic (a root canal) which was just exaggerated by the DMD since it is an expensive one and he can easily make 800 bucks in less than an hour, performing it even on a tooth that doesn't need it. The filling, crown and all the goodies afterwards come as freebies for his practice again. Well I opted not to have one but instead I was tricked into replacing some fillings. Naturally, from 4 pieces it has gone easily to 7 with the final goal of reaching the same treshold of $800. Damn my exaggerate politeness!!
Ceteris paribus, this would have been OK with me (insurance got most of it; I only had to pay $ 25, but the problem is that I would have no insurance left). However,the big issue became the fact that he did a VERY POOR JOB on those fillings too and I had problems with them. Again my ugly exaggerate personal politeness kicks (without rights for appeal) in and I just go back to him and have those fixed, instead of taking pure american pleasure in a well deserved malpractice lawsuit against a shark like this.
I love pigs. Dogs are looking up to us, cats are treating us with disdain. Pigs are the only ones treating us as peers (W. Churchill) Do we all have to be pigs then??