Fulbright Perks

Just a short one. I have to get my arse in gear and finish these bloody encyclopedia entries.

So I just got back from a seminar on the EU and NATO that was held in Belgium and Luxembourg. It was another fine example of Fulbright blowing some mighty bank on me, for which I am very much grateful. I had a blast, meet some cool people, drank more than I have in the last three years (which isn’t saying much since I don’t normally drink–all those jumping to conclusions can jump in a lake instead), and had several ideas hit me for post-dissertation projects, one of which might be a collaboration with my good friend Matt McCabe. All in all, an excellent eight days or so. I’ll blog a bit more specifically about the details, my impressions, and maybe even the other participants when I have more time.

You see, ITunes has finally gone live for those living in Ireland, and I’m going insane with choice. I just downloaded music by Tom Jones, for fuck’s sake! Help me!! I’m sick!

Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy…

On my To Buy List, for when I get back to the States:


What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany, an Oral History by Dr. Eric A. Johnson, a professor of mine at Central Michigan University, and his German colleague Karl-Heinz Reuband. His last book, Nazi Terror, which you can buy here, was a pretty good read, and I expect this to be excellent as well. You can buy the damn thing at Amazon here.

Nice to see it finally got done, Eric, after the last few years. Congratulations.

It’s all about the process

Archival Tidbit for Today:

My dissertation has multiple — and I mean MULTIPLE — primary sources from which I am drawing, which on a practical level means I have lots and lots of shit to look at spread all over the damn place. It’s not all centralized. It’s not all sitting there with big blue flags on it that say “Andrew, read me!” when I walk in the door. I have to find it. And then I have to read it. This is both fun and a pain (lately more of a pain).

But sometimes, you find something buried in a stack of files that just makes your day — because some intrepid, but probably bored, staffer in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs did your research for you, except they did it in the late1960s!

Today, I ordered a file from the DFA files at the National Archives of Ireland that the finding aid simply called ‘Press clippings on EEC 1967-70′. When I got the huge file (the biggest at least that I had worked with so far), I was happy to note that they had all these articles clipped from Irish (mainly Dublin) newspapers about the EEC debate in Ireland, including letters to the editor and articles describing local meetings and debates in the Dublin area on the issue.

Suddenly, with a couple more afternoons of work, I don’t need to peruse so many bloody newspaper microfilm rolls as thoroughly as I would have had to before. And now I have some direct leads on local societies that engaged the EEC debate. And there are other files of press clippings for different periods as well!

Thanks anonymous Irish DFA staffer! I’ll be sure to thank you in my book.

Am I the only one…?

Okay,

How’s this for inane? Since the new University Sports Club facility has opened up here at Dublin City University, my wife Andrea has been denied the use of the place because the costs for a general public membership are extremely prohibitive on our minimalist budget. So, being a logical creature some of the time, she would periodically go over there and ask about other options (pay per use primarily, which a flyer Gary Murphy sent me says they do). The people behind the main desk invariably have no idea what she’s talking about and boldly contradict information given to us through other channels. Remember: the flyer in question CAME FROM THEM!!

Anyway, Andrea last night ran into her old aerobics instructor, the one whose classes Andrea always went to. She asked about not seeing Andrea lately and wondering why. Once Andrea explained the situation, she was told that’s nonsense and that they should have something, a student family rate or whatever, to let us get the access we need. Barring that, the girl then said to let Andrea know when she wanted to come to class and the girl would meet her downstairs, i.e. sneak her in.

So, I went over this morning, putting on my best “I’m not really going to kill you, honest” face and put the question to them. I was told that there is a 1-year student family membership in the amount of 390 Euros, but that they have no facilities to give a 6 month membership, which is all we need. When I asked why they couldn’t simply pro-rate the damn thing for 6 months (which would be 195 Euros), the people behind the main desk looked at me funny and asked what pro-rated meant. Seriously. I was then given an e-mail address for the Marketing Manager, who I might add they had called right in front of me initially to ask about it, and said I could ask her. What this means of course is that I could beg and she could blow me off. Such is the state of customer service in Ireland.

But, they don’t understand whom they’re dealing with here. Moo hoo ha ha…you see, I’m a Fulbright scholar, damnit! And I know people; I know people on staff who can make pointed comments to those higher than mere Marketing Managers about the “ludicrous nature of this.” I do this with some regularity, since it’s so bloody necessary. There’s something to be said for your adviser complaining to the student Registry office about the delay in my getting my student ID by stating I’m nearly penniless unless I get my ID so I can get my bank account. Hell, RTE, mega television and radio behemoth funded by the public tax/license fee, has recently annoyed me, and I’m sic’ing my agents on them as well. And they will break I tell you.

Words of wisdom: Don’t fuck with me. I know people.

I guess, we’ll see how this saga turns out. Stay tuned.

I’ve been called out…

Leave it to my wife to once again mock my lack of blogginess. If she only understood the power of the Internet, she would not mock my pain, oh no…

I discovered today an amusing little news piece in the Irish Times, circa 1967 (sorry, no link), while I was looking for comment on European integration (which is basically all I do). It was talking about some theories being proposed by Soviet scientists regarding the moon. It seems they thought the damn thing was alive!! Based on readings a few of their unmanned probes took on the place, the Soviets began to suspect it was a living organism. I kid you not.

The only thing that kept running through my head as I read it was “They think the moon is made of living cheese! A living cheese they must take before the capitalist pig dog Americans expropriate it!” I can see the Politburo discussions now.

Tanned and rested, I’m back…

Okay,

So I can’t get off my ass to update this blog regularly. Sue me. I’ve been busy. But I’m back now, and I hope to update more frequently, particularly with some posts about my work.

Because, really, that’s all that’s supposed to matter now, yeah?

Anyway, here’s something to go read in the meantime: Richard A. Clarke’s retrospective essay on the War on Terror, 2001-2011, entitled “Ten Years Later”. Do it now. I mean it. It’s long, but frankly the scenario sketched out by one of the few terrorism experts not co-opted by the Bush Administration’s rose-tinted glasses and outright dishonesty is…well, chilling would be a good word.

Read it now. Or better yet, go buy the January/February 2005 issue of The Atlantic Monthly and read it there. They deserve the cash, I say…

There’s something wrong with his hair…

Tuesday night, yours truly had an interesting experience, one of many on this Fulbright gravy train. Andrea and I were invited to a reception put on by the US-Irish Fulbright Commission in honour of the US Ambassador to Ireland James Kenny. Unfortunately, my wife couldn’t go. She had motherly duties to consider, so I, with bad back and a crappy cold, made my way across town to the residence of the Deputy Chief of Mission for the US embassy.

First thing of note: the Deputy Chief of Mission has a swank house (I won’t tell you where it is in case terrorists are casing my blog; you never can be too careful in Bush’s America). I mean, columns and curved front stairway and spotlights to illuminate it swank. What in the hell are we paying this man that he can live here? Now I know the US government might own the bloody thing, but for fuck’s sake, when did our diplomats start getting mansions to live in? I’m sure the lowly consular official punching visa apps all day in Morocco isn’t living it up.

Second Thing of Note: I finally got to meet in more detail the other Fulbright students. They seem nice, but all with their own queer personalities. One of them is a playwright with an MFA from U of M. I think Andrea and her will get on very well, if we can ever get them in the same room together. We chowed on appetizers, drank copious amounts of free wine, beer, cola, and water, and even dared to talk US politics in the presence of a hack Bush appointee! Gasp!!

Third Thing of Note: The ambassador’s hair is a bit…I dunno. It was too managed, if that makes any sense. It was like it was scraped flat against his head with a steel-toothed comb and lacquered with decoupage. And I’m not being flippant or rude (well maybe rude); it’s just an observation. I wasn’t even the first one to notice this phenomenon (it was another Fulbright student). I did meet the Ambassador though and got to exchange all of three words to the man before he wandered off to press more flesh and chortle about US politics (i.e make fun of Democrats) with his Republi-cunt friends. Oh yes, and his bodyguard drivers had to wait in the cars. Nice.

All in all, a fun time for all (except Andrea). The most annoying part was waiting for-fucking-ever to catch a bus back to DCU. It took longer to wait for the bus than it did to drive the four miles across town and drop me off. The timeliness of the Number 11 bus is really getting on my nerves.

Tomorrow folks, I’ve got a special treat for you. Andrew talks about his professional development!! Oh rapture!!

Dead Birds, Old Shit, and Bad Backs

Bloody hell, but my back is killing me.

The paucity of posting in the last couple of weeks can be directly blamed on my mother, who, having come to visit us in merry old…er…um, Ireland, spent half the time monopolizing my computer for her games and vacation plotting. But no matter; she’s on her way home, and I am free to…share my computer with my wife, who is writing a book.

Thank god I learned how to share in kindergarten or I’d go nuts. Anyhoo…

How was your Thanksgiving? Was it all families you can only mildly stand for short periods of time, gut-busting food that added two inches to your waist, and the painful horror of Detroit Lions football? I feel really sorry for you, I do.

You see, I don’t really care for Thanksgiving or any holiday for that matter. I can’t really put it in words. It’s mostly the annoying pageantry of it all (which is another reason I won’t be walking in my own graduation — too much bullshit). But this year, Thanksgiving was actually fun for me. I had a blast. Why, you ask? Well, because I’m in Ireland, silly, and they don’t do Thanksgiving here! HA!

Actually, it was because my mom and I went on a bus tour of the Boyne Valley. For any of you historically inclined, the only reason you might be aware of the Boyne Valley is for this pesky little battle fought there in 1690 between William of Orange and the Jacobite army of James II, a little something called that Battle of the Boyne, which sealed the deal as it were for the removal of the Catholic Stuart line from the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. But that’s not why we went to the Boyne. The Boyne Valley also happens to be the site of Newgrange, the best and coolest of the Neolithic passage tombs dotted all over the Boyne Valley. If you’re ever in Ireland (and I know some of you will be), you really should check this tour out. You even get to go in the tomb itself (it’s big enough to hold 25 people at a time). And the final stop of the tour is Tara Hill, which was the seat of power for the ancient Celtic kings of Ireland. Today, it’s a tourist attraction and repository for sheep shit, but don’t let that deter you. Admittedly, the views would have been even more spectacular if it hadn’t been raining and almost dark when we got there. But I did get my picture taken next to the Stone of Destiny, which you should be able to see on The Evanography when I update it in the next couple of days.

I’d tell you about the trip Andrea and I took to Maynooth on Friday for a Fulbright Alumni Association Thanksgiving dinner reception, but I think I’ll let Andrea do that. I’m going to bed.