May 2005 Archives

Vienna Keeps it Real

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It's great to be back in Vienna. I hadn't even been in Vienna for 12 hours before I was already on my way to a great night out (photos here). Vienna is just so great... The bars are hassle-free, as are the girls. No one cares about what care you drive, what house you're in (or lack thereof), or what religion you are (or lack thereof).

Not to mention great public transportation, virtually no crime, and really annoying cell phone companies. Yeah, I had to include that last one.

Anyway, I'm about to eat my daily freezer pizza and then head out to Merry Monk, where it's going to be a crazy party.

I enjoyed my last night of living in an ultra-capitalistic society Sunday night, when I went to my local 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter at ten at night to buy cheap stuff. Nothing like buying 250 aspirins for $1.99!

Now that I'm back in Austria, I have to go to a small-ass store that's never open (only open Monday through Friday until 6 p.m. and noon on Saturdays), where I'll get a tiny package after having to ask for it. It'll cost me a good $5 for 20 aspirins.

That's one thing I really enjoy about the United States... Life is so simple! Want clothes at two in the morning? You can buy them. Same goes for groceries, hardware, toys, cleaning supplies, electronics, and just about anything else. In Austria you have to go to the convenience store at one of the few gas (or train) stations that are open, just to buy food on Sunday. You'll often be charged ridiculous prices and have no selection. In the U.S. you can go to the largest store in the county, also usually happens to have the lowest prices. And, you'll even be greeted by a 75 year-old man or woman who is working there because his or her pension sucks.

And as soon as I sleep off some jetlag, I'll write about what makes Austria so great...

Packing Hell

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As expected, moving out of my apartment was hell. I just have way too much junk, it's incredibly ridiculous. It took me two fully-packed rides home to get it all home, and hours upon hours of packing. What makes matters worse is that my "packing" wasn't even real packing, just throwing stuff in boxes.

And what really makes matters worse is that I have a hundred things to do tomorrow, including, yep, packing, as I'm flying to Vienna on Monday. Oh well, in less than 48 hours I will be a very happy man in a coma as I fly thousands of miles to the city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.

Let this three-month party begin!

I drove home today to get some peace and quiet so that I can work on my take-home final for my Introduction to Human Rights class, which is to write a draft about the human rights issue in a country we were assigned, in my case Kazakhstan.

The problem is that I keep getting conflicting information. Even the 2004 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Kazakhstan, by the U.S. Department of the State, in my opinion, conflicts itself several times.

Overall, the State Department report gave the impression that conditions are improving in regards to Human Rights in Kazakhstan, with the major exception being limited abilities for citizens to change their government, as there is lots of foul play regarding elections.

I just read an Associated Press article on David Edwin Marco II's Weblog that generally states everything is going downhill in Kazakhstan in regards to human rights.

Oh well, it's going to be a long night.

These pieces of paper caused a lot of sweat

Thursday I finally got my tickets for my stay in Vienna this summer, thanks to my mom, who managed to get me nonstop transatlantic flights using my frequent flier miles. She called me in the morning saying I'd have to pick up the tickets from the Syracuse airport by 7 p.m. I drove out at around four, right through rush hour traffic, and received an itinerary-looking thing printed on a ticket. I doubled-checked because I thought I actually had to get real tickets, which is where the fun began.

The ticket counter employee called a number, which was picked up by a passenger! She dialed another number, which was picked up by a flight attendant! She finally reached a person that she could ask, who told her what she had given me was fine.

I then drove back, which was hampered by the fact that I had misplaced my parking ticket. The lady at the window let me go for the cheapest fare, however, so I was lucky. I found the ticket several seconds after I left the parking facility.

I left my mom a message on her voice mail, and decided to chill out and watch some TV with my apartment-mates. Around 6:30 my mom called me up and franticly told me that I have to get to the airport by seven, or my reservation would be canceled, as she had double-checked with United Reservations, who had said what I had gotten wasn't good enough.

I ran into my car and drove Ferrari-style to the airport, and was luckily assisted by the fact that most of the traffic was gone by now, and that the highway to the airport has eight lanes. I got to the airport in record time and was at the United ticket counter around 6:48, where, I told my story completely out of breath, as I had run from the parking garage to the counter.

The woman who was working at the counter this time was much better trained, and processed the reservation and printed out the tickets for me. At this time I also found out that, while I was driving Ferarri-style, my mom had gotten United to extend the reservation until May 8. Oh well, I was just glad to have my tickets.

I wish reward travel always used e-tickets. There is an option on United's website to find reward tickets, but that never turns up results.

Oh, and on the way back I almost hit a turkey that was sitting on the I-81 onramp.

Anyway, I'm going to be in Vienna from May 17 until August 2.

Red Ink is Just Ink

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IB English Midterm at AIS Vienna
Evaluation of my 11th Grade English Midterm

Today, American society is going as far as banning teachers from using red ink when correcting their students work, as it is alleged to be hurtful to children's self worth:

"Red writing, they said, was 'stressful.' The principal said teachers were just giving constructive advice and the color of ink used to convey that message should not matter. But some parents could not let it go.

So the school put red on the blacklist. Blue and other colors are in" (Source: AP).

Come on! I saw nothing but red back in my primary and secondary school days, and I turned out fine. Kids today are not getting used to failure at a reasonable pace! They are pampered throughout their schooling, told that their "special" and "beautiful on the inside" until one day when they encounter the first teacher or professor that doesn't give a damn about them, when they receive a shock for life.

Purple and blue are now used, as they are seen as more soothing. As if "incorrect" sounds soothing in any color. Oh wait, "incorrect" isn't being used anymore either, as it has been deemed as too negative these days, and thus educators are being taught to use "constructive criticism," such as: "Very interesting! But may I suggest the possibility for you to entertain the thought of reading the book next time? This would improve your grade! Good effort!"

Ski lift, meet University Hill!

There is no place in the world that I have lived in that has such an insane amount of ideas for bettering the life of its citizens than Syracuse. At least once a month, a new, big idea comes out, claiming not to be just a vision, but also being feasible.

Most of these ideas over the past few years have been in relation to the DestiNY USA Project, an entertainment, hotel, and research project that has now reached an estimated cost of nearly ten billion dollars. It was first proposed April 30, 2000, but, save for a "groundbreaking," no construction has happened yet. A good point to be made though is that billions of dollars need a lot of raising, which requires a lot of planning, so there is still a good amount of hope in this project.

In fact, DestiNY USA developers The Pyramid Companies keep the public excited by constantly adding features to the project at a periodical rate. Besides the local news stations and the local newspaper no media outlets really care anymore. In fact, the last article many out-of-town papers published was about a quickly-dismissed rumor that the project was dead, which occurred nearly two years ago. They actually published the dead rumor, not its correction around three days later.

But Syracuse remains hopeful that something besides snowfall amounts and a great college basketball program will set it apart from the rest of the country. Help comes from numerous little, often non-descriptive "unveilings of plans," which "keep the dream alive."

Besides entertainment complexes, hotels, and technology parks, there is another favorite topic of dreaming: Transportation

It was a craze started by DestiNY USA's plans, which have included a monorail from the beginning. This monorail would run from Syracuse's Hancock International Airport to Syracuse University, via DestiNY's structures, Alliance Bank Stadium, the bus and train station, and Downtown. Estimated cost: $750 million. Later Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) was also added for parking lot connectivity.

This past Sunday, The Post-Standard featured a plan by millionaire Tom McDonald which appears to much cheaper to build and efficient for Syracuse's size: A gondola line. There's already even a name for it, S.C.A.T, short for Salt City Aerial Transit. Its cost: About $5 million for the first segment, which would run from Syracuse University to Downtown, about a third of its route to the bus and train station. And, like a ski lift, its gondolas would be only a short distance apart, which would mean no more waiting for that infrequent CENTRO bus or OnTrack train. Furthermore, because gondolas cost very little to operate, this system could run all day and night.

This is the most viable idea yet. McDonald says he can raise the $5 million easily, and that only thing he would from the government is permission to put up the system. This bypasses the major blocker to most of the above-mentioned visionary projects: Taxes. DestiNY, for example, wants tax breaks, which has led to long battles between the Onondaga County and city, two government levels which never seem to be able to agree.

Proposed route of the system

A similar system is installed in Morgantown, West Virginia which has a pretty sucessful rail-based PRT system which has small units as well. Morgantown only has 27,000 people and a university with only about 6,000 more students than SU. It was built in the 70s and is pretty expensive to operate because of its heated rail, a problem the gondola system wouldn't have. It has about 15,000 daily riders.

I just hope something new is built around here soon... I'm bored!

Further reading:
Post Standard: Will Gondolas Link SU and Downtown?
Wikipedia: Destiny USA
Wikipedia: CENTRO
Wikipedia: Morgantown PRT
Wikipedia: OnTrack

I was just thinking about how inefficient human beings are today. Especially the whole college system is a mess. This fact dawned on me tonight while back-archiving old weblog entries. During the summer I'll do nothing at all, but right now I have to work my ass off on a daily basis. Tonight I'll be getting four hours of sleep, while starting two weeks from and now I'll never be getting less than eight. What an abusive system. Anyway, I hope that made sense, as it is four in the morning right now.

Sunday night I went to see Snoop Dogg in the Carrier Dome. There was a lot of waiting, but the show was really good. By the time I went to bed that night I had been on my feet for nearly all of the 22 hours I had been up, and I had walked over 9.1 miles (14.6 kilometers), a figure which I pulled off my pedometer.

Snoop at the Dome (Media Credit: Thao Nguyen)

This past day, Monday, I accomplished absolutely nothing. Today, Tuesday, is my last day of classes. Now it's time for some sleep.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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