06 June 2009


J'ai pris le francais de le septieme a l'onzieme, mais pas avec quand je suis allee au Paris le printemps passe, je n'utilise pas le francais maintenant. J'ai peur que je vais l'oublier si je n'utilise pas, ainsi j'espere a ecrire un "post" chaque semaine en francais. Je ne veux pas les "posts" etre seulement de le francais. Je voudrais ecrire un "post" de quelque chose que j'ecrirais en anglais. Personne ne lit pas ma "blog" maintenant mais si les personnes commencent a la lire, donc je vais ecrire les "posts" du francais en anglais aussi, mais pour maintenant ils sont etre seul en francais (un chaque semaine).

05 June 2009

Review: The Way We Get By

Today L and I went to the Newport film festival. We decided to see the movie The Way We Get By. Besides Garden State I've never really seen an independent film before, so I didn't know what to expect. Due to work schedules L and I only really had two movies from which to choose. I had kind of wanted to see the French film 35 Shots of Rum, but L didn't want to see a movie with subtitles. Despite my reservations about The Way We Get By, I actually really liked it.

The movie was a documentary about three people who live in Bangor, Maine. Bangor is often the last place where U.S. troops are on American soil before they are deployed to Iraq, and it is often where they return to the States. The three people that the movie follows are part of the "Troop Greeters" in Bangor. The movie focuses on how important this task is to their lives, as well as the other hardships that they are facing.

As someone who does not frequently shed tears, especially during movies, I was surprised to find myself tearing up frequently during the film. The people in the film were very emotional, and know that it was real people and that a happy ending was not guaranteed made the movie somewhat depressing.

I think that the director did a great job of showing this aspect of the war without making an overt political statement, and I appreciated that. As someone who is somewhat supportive of the war, I was not looking forward to an hour and a half of anti-war messages, but that's not what this film was about. This film was about the meaning that supporting these troops gives to the lives of those who do it. One man even stated that at this point in his life he is no longer living for himself but to help them.

Overall, I am glad that I went to the Newport Film Festival, and I plan to attend again next year. On the way out they have you vote on the movie. I rated it 4 out of 5.

My Vote>One (a.k.a. an Explanation of my Title)

"One Person, One Vote"

It's an important concept for democracy. A lot of times people think that the mere ability to vote constitutes democracy, but this just isn't the case. Would it really be fair if every woman's vote counted for 2 and every male's for 1? Or if my vote counted for 300 million while everyone else's counted for one? Or if the votes of people in smaller states counted for more than those in larger states? Wait a second.. that last one's actually true.

I had never realized that this inequity existed in the American voting system until I read Larry J. Sabato's A More Perfect Constitution. As a resident of one of the nation's very small states, my vote, especially in the presidential election in terms of the electoral college, is worth more than the votes of those living in a state such as New York or California. Some would be surprised that despite my residence I really don't support the way this voting system makes the nation's voting less democratic.

I picked this as the title of my blog for two reasons. First, politically it is an issue that I strongly advocate and want people to be more aware of as an important aspect of democracy. Second, I thought it perfectly described my one person blog that displays my votes of everything.

04 June 2009


So J made two lists, the places she really wants to visit while we're in Prague and the places she REALLY REALLY wants to visit. I've decided to call them the long and short lists. I don't know why; that's just what I think of them as. She made hers a while ago, so I don't really remember what's on them; therefore, I can make mine without the influence of hers and see what overlaps!

**With the program I'm already going to Krakow, Poland and Moravia, CZ.

Okay, so my short list: (the places I REALLY want to go)
1. Moscow
2. Vienna
3. Kiev
4. Paris
5. Budapest
6. Munich (Oktoberfest)

My long list: (the places I want to go if I have time)
1. Stockholm
2. Zurich
3. Copenhagen
4. Barcelona or Madrid
5. Florence or Rome
6. Dublin
7. London

Even though I've been to London and Paris, they're still on the list. I just really like them, I guess.

Anyway, here are J's lists that I saved:

Short List:
1. Munich
2. Paris
3. Barcelona
4. Morocco
5. Moscow
6. Vienna

Long List:
1. London
2. Dublin
3. Warsaw
4. Rome
5. Copenhagen

If anyone has any suggestions or input on what should be tops on our list or on what's missing, let me know!

03 June 2009

Praha Preparations

More from Douglas (http://www.arellanes.com/wordpress/):

If you have teenagers coming, it might be good to show them that the club in the movie “xXx” isn’t a club at all, but the ancient Gothic Tyn Cathedral. If you’re interested in clubs, you might want to check out the Roxy, on Dlouha trida near Revolucni, and the Central Lounge on Soukenicka also near Revolucni. Both clubs are within staggering distance of each other.

Other good clubs to check out would be Radost FX, near I.P. Pavlova metro. Radost has a vegetarian restaurant, which is still a bit of a rarity out here. Just remember that your pork levels have to be high enough in order to be allowed to exit the country ;-) .

A bit further afield, (but depending on whether your tastes go to electronica or not it may be worth the trip) would be the Akropolis in Zizkov (disclosure: I’m a resident DJ there). It’s very close to the TV tower. Near there, at namesti Jiriho z Podebrad (the green line metro stops there), my good friend David Holeček has just opened his excellent bar, Černa kočka bilý kocour (Black Cat White Cat). Best mojitos in town, IMHO.

I will definitely keep all of those places in mind in trying to complete my bucket list!

Something that I have been wondering about and am glad to have a decent answer to is money. As Douglas states:

Nowadays there are literally thousands of Prague merchants who accept credit cards, and the big benefit of using a card (aside from not having to carry cash) is that you’re not charged for the currency transaction. Every gas station, department store, supermarket and hotel takes plastic, and most touristy stores take ‘em too. It’s about 50-50 downtown with restaurants, so it’s better to have cash available there just in case.

There are certain transactions that require cash (both licit and illicit), however, and if you insist on having cash, I’d recommend using an ATM (or bankomat as the Czechs refer to ‘em). Just about every Metro station has at least one ATM (many have one at or close to each exit), and there are at least ten I can think within 1km of the Old Town Square. Usually, the fee your bank charges for using a non-friendly ATM is going to be lower than what you’d pay to the change booths or to the banks.

One other ATM tip (aside from not pulling out more than you really need in a day) is that if you’re not careful, you’ll get 2000 crown notes. These are generally unloved in most stores and restaurants (at least the four-fingered-one-eyed putyky I frequent). So try pulling out 1600 CZK or some other variation.

I hope I can remember these things by September, like the 2000 note part. I think as of right now my plan will just be to use my credit card to buy things and then pay the bill directly from my bank account online.

The Praha Bucket List

1. Do something that is illegal in the United States.

2. See this:

Photo: http://www.ceskapolitika.cz/fotogalerie/obr6/17Listopad.jpg

3. Spend an entire day exploring the city by myself.

4. Have a spot that's "mine."

5. Sleep outside.

6. PDA in another country (since I REFUSE here)?

7. Absinthe.

I'll add more as they come to me!

Preparing for Praha

Every time I type "Praha," I want to add an extra "haha" to the end. My fingers just do it. All those years of AIM did have negative consequences. (I can just hear my mother saying "I told you so...")

Anyway, I know that my semester in Prague is three months away, but as I am waiting for my summer job to start I've been trying to do some research ahead of time. I think that I will compile some tips and tidbits that I am picking up from friends, books, and blogs that I stumble upon.

Today most of the tips are going to come from a blog I just discovered and really enjoy. Written by Douglas, an expatriate in Prague, http://www.arellanes.com/wordpress/ has a great deal of tips that I want to display here so that they are easily accessible to me.

I'll start with transportation. Living in a quiet suburb my first experience with public transportation did not come until my freshman year of college. (I know, pathetic, especially for someone who claims to be environmentally conscious.) Anyway, I am happy to know that besides the language barrier (and the pickpockets), the public transportation system will be relatively easy. Unlike my friends I had no problem with the public transportation in London or Paris, so I'm not really worried.

According to Douglas:

A ticket on public transport costs 12 CZK (something around 40 cents US), and is good for 60 minutes with unlimited transfers in that time. So you can go from tram to bus to metro to bus if you need to, as long as your time doesn’t run out. You can also buy day passes or longer-term passes if you need them. Monthly, quarterly and yearly passes require you to stand in line and speak a bit of Czech, but mean that you don’t have to worry about one of the two drawbacks to Prague public transport. (The first is pickpockets, but they’re in every city.)

These guys make money for themselves and for the Transport Authority by checking people’s tickets at random and in plainclothes. Since most locals know to buy their tickets, he usually harasses tourists who don’t know how to buy tickets and get on anyway - “riding black” in local parlance. If you don’t have a ticket, you have to pay a fine of 400 CZK (about $14).

So the best thing to do is buy a handful of tickets all at once and use them as needed. Another important point to remember is that you have to stamp your ticket. It’s not enough to carry around an unstamped ticket.

One of the great quality-of-life things about Prague is that the transport system goes 24 hours. So you can catch special night trams that run every 40 minutes. In winter months, though, 40 minutes is an eternity.

That’s why the newish Transport Authority webpage is a godsend. Not only can you see when the next tram is coming, but it will also make recommendations on the transfers you need to make (if necessary.)

I like the price! Compared to the $2ish you pay per ride for Boston's T, it sounds like I won't be draining my bank account on transportation in Prague!

Since I am paranoid about my surroundings and suspicious of everybody, I don't think that pickpockets/scam artists will be much of a problem for me. And since a few drinks makes me just obnoxiously suspicious, I don't think late-night will be a problem either!


So my roommates and I bought the giant Notebook poster for our apt this year and hung it over our TV. One day while watching the movie we decided to pause it at that exact scene. (I know, I know, there are about a million better things I could have been doing with my time). Anyway, here's what we found:

The Poster:

Photo: http://mymoviebanners.com/pics/notebook/the-notebook-1.jpg

The Actual Scene:

Photo: http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/060804/13296__notebook_l.jpg

***Notice the lack of beard in the poster!

I don't know about you, but I find this kind of disappointing! The iconic image that people associate with the movie doesn't even happy in the movie. Typical.


Photo: http://www.bellasugar.com/538193

I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.

I never realized until lately that women were supposed to be the inferior sex.

If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.

We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers - but never blame yourself. It's never your fault. But it's always your fault, because if you wanted to change you're the one who has got to change.

Photo: http://z.about.com/d/americanhistory/1/0/4/A/40_reagan.jpg

Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.

How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

Man is not free unless government is limited.

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

Trust, but verify.

Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the democrats believe every day is April 15.

Jumping on the Bandwagon a Few Years Late

Blogs are my new hobby. A little late in the game, I know. I like their randomness and their ability to teach me about random facts, products, and websites that I might not otherwise be exposed to. I'm not so sure how I feel about the diary-type blog. Sometimes I find them amusing, but sometimes other people's lives are just as boring as mine.

My favorite blogs are definitely the quirky ones, especially with great photos. I've really started to appreciate the art of photography and I admire a lot of photo blogs. I also like blogs that are based upon a certain topic such as political or cooking ones. Depending on what I'm in the mood for there are plenty of blogs to check out.

This blog is going to be unlike any of the ones I previously described. I am not going to describe the innate details of my day to day life. I mean if something mildly entertaining occurs I will share it, but I will not give an hour by hour account of the nothingness. I plan to just write about whatever interests me at the moment. Whether it be a news story, serious topic, or review of something new I've tried, this will just be a blog with my opinion about absolutely everything.

I'm Going to Talk about Religion. Run.

I have decided to tackle one of the big issues tonight. I have a feeling I will only touch the surface of a very complicated topic.

Religion. I think it would be nearly impossible for me to think of another topic that has had more impact on the world. It influences people on every level, societies and individuals, externally and internally. That is why I think that it is important to address the topic in my own life.

To say that I was raised Catholic would be incorrect. From about kindergarten to third grade my family went to Church every Sunday, and I attended CCD from first grade until I made my Confirmation in tenth. However, somewhere in there my family's Church attendance dwindled not to "only the holidays" like many Christmas-Easter Christians, but even worse in that we attended for funerals or Easters in which we were staying at my grandparents'. Even when we did attend Church, we didn't (and still don't) discuss our actual faith. I honestly couldn't tell you if my parents believe in God or if they agree with the Church on many social issues. We simply don't broach the topic. Despite this I managed to learn a great deal about the Roman Catholic Church. The avid student in me allowed me to absorb much of what I heard in Church and in CCD classes.

When I reached the seventh grade my parents deiceded to pull me out of public school and send me to a local Catholic Junior Senior High School. They did so for academic, not religious, reasons, but at this new school I was exposed to much more external religion. Required to take a religion class each year, I spent six years learning about many aspects of the Church, from its history to Christology to the liturgy to social justice. By the time I was in high school I considered myself a devout Catholic.

I believe that this association with the Church had more to do with external realities than it did with actual faith. My "Catholicity" was somewhat superficial and fake. I believed in the way that the school had made me feel. I cherished the community that the school provided, supposedly based around Catholic values, and I embraced the community service that I was performing. As I became a member of our Campus Ministry Group, I became more enchanted with the Church and felt that it had a lot to offer me. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a Church freak. I wasn't preaching the Gospel or attending Bible Camp. I wasn't even bringing up doctrinal or theological topics with my family. I was enjoying the Campus Ministry group and my immersion in service while remaining a typical kid. My love for the Church was probably unknown to most in my life.

At the time of my graduation from High School, I was Catholic. I saw no threat to this association in my future - I was off to a prominent Catholic college, and I was leaving the rather arelgious home in which I had been raised. I figured that I would be facing fewer challenges to my "faith" than I did already. I turned out to be very wrong.

College didn't destroy my faith in the typical way, and it did not do so immediately. Freshman year I attended Mass regularly for the first time since we had as a family in elementary school. I loved the acoustic music of our late night mass and the large number of students in attendance was comforting. However, sometime between then and now my faith took a different turn.

I think I'll continue with this tomorrow!

Restaurant Review: Vintage

Tonight my family and JB's fam. went out for one of our dinners. I'm not really sure how the tradition started, but I love how whenever we're home we plan it. It's nice to actually go out as adults. I'm just waiting for the day that J and I pick up the check.. I think that will eventually mark our true entrance into adulthood (or at least into financial independence).

Anyway, tonight we decided to stray from one of the usual locations and try a local restaurant that we've never visited. We chose Woonsocket's Vintage. With a diverse menu ranging from sushi to seafood and steak, Vintage was our pick because it had something for everyone. Having looked at the menu online ahead of time, I was impressed by the selection and really looked forward to trying somewhere new.

Vintage offers some great midweek specials (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), which include a drink, salad, meal, and desert for two people for only $25. That is what my parents ordered, with my dad choosing the Shrimp Scampi and my mom the Chicked Alfredo. Mrs. B ordered some sort of interesting sandwhich, and Mr. B opted for the fish and chips. J and I decided to split the Baked Artichoke appetizer and the Shrimp Tempura sushi roll.

For a restaurant with a reputation as upscale and pricey, I thought that due to our selections and the mid-week deal, the dinner was rather reasonable as a whole. Mr. and Mrs. B seemed to enjoy their selections, even if J and I did find Mrs. B's somewhat strange. My parents both expressed satisfaction with their meals. J and I were somewhat harder to please. I very much enjoyed our sushi. I enjoy spicy foods and the sushi was very flavorful. It was plated very nicely as well. The Baked Artichoke appetizer left some to be desired. It wasn't bad but it was nothing special. I probably wouldn't order it again. Also, for as great a job as they did plating the sushi, the presentation of both my parents meals was lacking, as bland looking pasta was put in a rather simple bowl.

The ambiance of the place was good. The decor was very modern-vintage and I thought it suited the location. However, I thought the tables were placed rather close together, which made me glad it was not a busy night that we were there.

The overall consensus from our group was that although we did enjoy our meals and did not have any complaints about our food, we don't think that Vintage is really anything special. I don't think that I would ever pay the higher prices on the weekend. For the money that you could spend for a night out at Vintage on the weekend I think that money would be much better spent at a similary higher priced restaurant in Providence, or even for slightly less across the street at River Falls. Therefore, Vintage was a nice restaurant to try for a change, but it is nothing special and I will not be making it a regular in my dining out options.

Future Discussion

There are several topics that I wish to address in the future. I sometimes feel like there is so much that I am trying to think about at once that I'm afraid that I'm going to forget the topics that I would like to explore.

  • Summer Books
  • GM's bankruptcy
  • Prague
  • Peace Corps
  • Sotomayer
  • Target
  • Providence
  • NS's proposals (Dowling Village, sewer project, etc.)
  • The Catholic Church
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Parenting
  • Marriage
  • Vegetarianism
  • Republicans
  • Affirmative Action
  • the name of the blog

My goal is to post my opinion on something - anything - each day, even if it is something trivial. I doubt it will happen, but I will try my best!