A little ditty about the binary nature of current American politics and policy.
The studio version is better, but it's good stuff all the same.
This week is final back at IUPUI. Some friends have graduated, and I congratulate them: Mohammad, Jon, Stefan, and Adam. Another has finished his masters courses: Nathan. Another has wrapped up yet another term for his masters: Kevin.
I wish them all the best!
Today I received my Purdue BS EE diploma in the mail, which was very nice. That degree took some real effort, and I am proud of having done so well academically and met so many interesting and inspiring people.
I also received an email informing me that my senior design team had won the Spring 2016 Dunipace Senior Design Award, which I understand to be the Engineering and Technology Department's Bepko Award for Spring 2016, which meant we each received an award applied to our Fall 2016 tuitions. As I no longer live in Indiana, I will regrettably be unable to attend the award ceremony on April 7th in Indianapolis.
This morning, while traveling north toward the airport on Old Nogales Highway, I saw a young man in a light colored shirt waving his arms rather frantically on the east shoulder of the road. Uncertain what he was going to do, I began slowing down from 55 mph when he suddenly dashed across the road, a car or two in front of me.
Just then another guy came out of the scrub to the same point. He was also waving his arms to get people to slow down. Barefoot, he dashed across both lanes two or three cars behind me.
Next was a policeman hopping into a sheriff's SUV facing south on the east shoulder. When he flipped his lights on, I jammed on my brakes, allowing him tear into the southbound lane, surely in pursuit of the two jaywalkers, or jayrunners.
What was going on?
I had never heard of Aggretsuko before, but then I have been away from Japan for some years now.
I am impressed.
On Christmas Day, I flew out of O'Hare to reach Recife, Brazil, the following day. My friend Eduardo and his family were waiting for me. I spent three very pleasant weeks with them until flying out of Recife on January 14th for a grueling return trip of 28 hours total plus another 11 hours of waiting combined with a swell Amtrak ride from Chicago to Indianapolis.
My arrival in São Paulo, at Guarulhos International Airport, was uneventful. The immigration official, a coy young woman, asked me no questions. I got my bags and changed $100 at the exchange near the baggage carousel, which was a bad idea: The fees were high—R$60 conversion fee, I think—and the rate was around $1=R$2.5 instead of the current R$3.3. However, I finally had some Brazilian cash, which I had not been able to arrange beforehand in the US. I cleared customs without a problem then walked through the doors into São Paulo. There were people milling about, a large exit where buses and taxis were coming and going, and a couple small stands selling food.
Not sure where to go to put my luggage for it to continue its domestic journey, I wandered about, gawking at everything. Eventually I happened across an information booth, where a young woman amused by my feeble Portuguese told me in English she where to check my bags. After doing so, I queued for the domestic flights. After feeding my ticket through a wicket, I passed the airport employee and moved down a glass hallway for the passenger inspection, essentially the same as what the TSA does. The signs were fairly clear, so I walked to my gate through an airport that felt more like a bus station because of the somewhat monotonous grey concrete, all very public and functional in feel. There were nice eateries and stores along the way.
At my gate, there were very few people, so I connected to the airport's free WiFi to use Skype to call my friend in João Pessoa. He said his family would meet me at Recife's airport then we hung up. For the next couple of hours, I walked about my gate, watching and listening to passengers, watching the TV screens with their alternating headline news and ads, and occasionally reading my Portuguese materials.
For breakfast, I bought dark coffee, unsweetened juice, and warm soft bread from the Casa do Pão de Queijo chain, which started in São Paulo, near my gate. The prices were high, what I expect in every international airport. The girl waiting on my was very charming, but she asked for meal options that I could not understand. Eventually a young man came up and translated. He was originally from Brazil but living in the US doing HVAC work in Connecticut. What a coincidence!
My flight to Recife was uneventful, but clouds obscured much of the Brazil passing beneath me. About 30 minutes from Recife, the clouds vanished and the Northeast spread inland. It looked rather hilly, largely brownish with yellow roads, not the red dirt roads of the tropics that I had expected. Then Recife began to appear, large areas of favelas one or two stories high. The city's core high rises gleamed white with the blue ocean beyond them.
Recife's airport had clearly been recently renovated. It was shiny and clean, plenty of glass and natural light. Everything moved well, and it took little time for my baggage to appear. While waiting for it, a young man approached me to ask about why I had arrived in Recife: He was doing research for the state tourism board. Then I gathered my stuff, walked through the opaque doors, and immediately found my friend's family waiting for me—superb! We were quickly out of the airport, in tropical sounds and smells, and on our way.
I gave them an OK sign, but it wasn't until some days later that Eduardo told me that the US gesture for OK is a rude gesture in Brazil. We shared a laugh about it.
Recently I happened across the website Conjuguemos, which offers a variety of graded quizzes and drills in multiple languages: French, German, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish. Some languages have far more learning materials than others, but I find the Portuguese ones rather handy. Since a few of the Portuguese words are still written with ü, I assume the focus is not on Brazilian Portuguese. Since my ability is quite low, I am satisfied with any version of Portuguese.
For graded activities, you must register with the site. Give it a try!
While looking at the TaxProfBlog, I found that 55 GOP members of Congress wrote the President to ask for Koskinen of the IRS to be fired. Koskinen seems unperturbed that the IRS has systematically abused conservative political groups, for which Lois Lerner's name might ring a bell. As this Forbes articles notes, Koskinen has stonewalled Congressional inquiry while dubious events have continued, perhaps worsened, at the IRS.
It was extremely disappointing yet unsurprising to see my representative, Susan Brooks (R), did not sign the letter requesting Koskinen's firing. She is apparently fine with Koskinen and using the IRS to conduct partisan political warfare.
Indeed, only one of Indiana's nine Congressional Representatives, Jim Banks (IN-03), signed the letter. How pathetic.