Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 17:05 - GeneralThe past few weeks have seen Alex and I miss a few paper deadlines. In reality, only one of the conferences really would have fit us well, and that was the one with the first deadline, so once that was gone morale fell a bit. It's not such a big deal though. We're going to try and finish up a paper before I head to Israel and submit it this summer.
On Monday March 29 I went to Galia's friend Gal's apartment in the upper west side to attend the Passover seder she was holding there with her husband Dan, her mom who was visiting from Israel, and another friend. It was my first, and I took the ritual of drinking entire glasses of wine a bit too seriously I think as I ended up rather intoxicated and sort of making a fool out of myself. Gal was really nice and made vegetarian food for Galia and me and I got myself an English version of the haggadah to read.
That Wednesday Arthur and I went to this show which had 2 local bands I like, Yukon and STATS, playing in this party house basement in Bushwick. I'd emailed the drummer for STATS who's a friend of Matt's and asked whether they'd be into playing a show with us soon, and at first it seemed like it was gonna work out that we'd be playing something at that same place mid-April but it fell through. In any case, it was nice to meet some musicians and the show was good and Matt and his girlfriend Amy came too and I hadn't seen him in quite a while. We recorded 2 songs called F Space F and Everbrown, the latter of which is 14 minutes long so we split it into 2 tracks, and have Everbrown up on a myspace page now if you're interested in hearing it. We'll put F Space F up tomorrow probably as we're finishing the final mix down. The link is http://www.myspace.com/zvoovband.
Sunday April 4 Galia and I took the Metro North up the Hudson to Hudson Highlands State Park to go hiking and take advantage of the unseasonably warm and sunny weather. It was interesting to be sweaty in a forest with no leaves yet on the trees. The area was gorgeous and we had a great time and took lots of cool pictures that are up on the website.
Last Wednesday a Dutch friend of Galia's from Amsterdam, Judith, and her boyfriend Otto got to New York and crashed with us in the loft for a couple days. We ended up taking them to the Lucky Dog two nights in a row, which has now opened is nice big backyard. Otto is a singer-songwriter who played at SXSW for the second time, and he and Judith had been traveling around the south for like a month before their week in NYC. It turns out that I've actually met him and seen him perform before at this Tuesday open mic at a club called Sappho in Amsterdam to which Masha brought me a few times.
Last Thursday we had dinner at this medium-expensive fancy Korean vegetarian restaurant in Midtown with Petter's dad Sverre, Sverre's wife and their 10 year old daughter. It was very nice to see them and the dinner was also fantastic and fun. I'm really glad we got together.
Friday Judith, Otto, Arthur, Galia, and I went to see El Ten Eleven at Pianos after having dinner at Earthmatters. I really don't understand the booking there - in fact, the venue is generally sort of horrible, with this frat boy crowd that yells stuff about farts and Freebird to the bands that are playing. Don't get me wrong though, I'd love to play there. This time the opening band was, well, both really not any of our cup of tea nor did it fit at all with El Ten Eleven's. The show was, as usual, awesome, and everyone seemed to have a good time.
Saturday Galia and I rented Sophie's Choice from this cool video store near McCarren and the practice space called Film Noir. I'd always thought it looked cool from the outside but had never been in, and it turned out really cool. The guy who runs it seems about 45 and is really into krautrock and Shellac and other great music, and we got to talking about that stuff and I agreed to show him some Salvatore which I'm always trying to spread around. When we got back home I realized that Sal had taken his DVD player back though, and I couldn't remember the password on my old laptop and the Macbook Air doesn't have a drive so we had to settle for Trailer Park Boys on the bigscreen. I have her hooked and we're already into the fifth season.
Sunday Galia revealed to me her birthday present for me - a new set of rollerblades. She wanted to give it to me a day ahead of time so that I could take advantage of the nice weather and day off on Sunday. We went over to Oslo, her walking alongside me, and I tried to reteach myself how to do it. I'd always relied on my brake before but these don't have one, so I was trying to learn on the New York streets which is perhaps not the best idea in the world. We then watched Sophie's Choice on Arthur's old laptop. It was quite good albeit long, and we realized that it was fitting to watch it on Holocaust Remembrance Day which we at first had forgotten about. The movie was so long that I was almost late for band practice so I suited up the rollerblades and flew out the door. I had a bit of a scare coming down 4th St. onto Kent cuz I got a lot of speed and couldn't really stop so I just zipped around the corner and was happy that no cars were coming. Practice was cool. We're trying to finally finish our fourth and fifth songs so that we'll have a full set, and Arthur and I recorded the parts we have the other day so that we can work on them individually. The whole recording setup is great and Arthur has like 10 mics now so it's sort of flick on and go.
Monday was my birthday and I got lots of congrats. Galia and I stopped by a vet clinic to try and talk to them about what a vet tech's job is like cuz she decided she wants to apply to a 2-year degree for that in Long Island City starting in the fall. They were too busy though, so we came back this morning and the woman talked to us for a while and suggested she volunteer at a shelter at first. There's one in the neighborhood that needs people to walk dogs and hang with the cats so we're gonna start doing that soon. I then went to the dentist and she removed my other fake tooth to take an impression for my retainer which has to false teeth and which I'll wear for the next 6+ months while I heal from the surgery I'll have next week to implant the sockets in my jaw. I thus spent 2 days with 2 holes in my mouth and looked quite rabbitlike - don't worry, pics were taken, and the retainer is removeable anyway. We had lunch at the Willburg Cafe to which I'd not yet taken her, and then went back home for a while before picking Judith and Otto up at LA Burrito. They'd been crashing with someone in Queens but Monday and Tuesday nights were to stay with us again. They got me a Bukowski book of poems. We all went out to Spuyten Duyvil and got the big table in the back and everyone ate Galia's delicious homemade chocolate cake and I got quite tipsy. Lots of people came and it was quite fun.
Yesterday I was hurting quite hard from the revelry and didn't get into the office until like 2:30 and didn't get much work done. Eventually Galia and I went to Curly's Vegetarian Diner for some much-needed grease and I ate pizza fries and a veggie bacon cheeseburger which were delicious. We then wandered around the East Village, hitting this bookstore I really like near Tompkins Square Park and then tried to find a cafe in which to read our new books but 9th Street closed early (as I thought it did). We walked past the Mercury Lounge, where we were going to see Red Sparowes with Arthur that night, and ran into Judith, Otto, and Arthur, all in the same place in the street but the Dutchies not noticing Arthur at first and neither he them. We weren't planning on meeting any of them there so it felt pretty strange. The Dutchies went off on their own to meet another Dutchie, but Galia and Arthur and I went to this cool dive cafe called Sugar Cafe on Allen which has a huge row of tables next to a wall made of glass so you can watch the street. We hung there for an hour and then went to the venue, but the opening band was way too metal for us so we hung in the bar until they stopped and then camped out up front. I was a little wary about the show cuz I wasn't ever all that into them and I wanted to keep Galia's trust in my concert taste, but the show was actually fantastic. Really interesting, really great musicians, and I now have a much better appreciation for them.
Today I got my retainer and also got to keep the clay impression of my teeth which I'll use to scare small children some day. Tomorrow night is Kaki King at Music Hall, Friday I might see Unwed Sailor at Pianos, and Saturday we have tix to see Trans Am at Santos. I love spring. I'll be in Minnesota April 21-28 if you happen to be there. I'm gonna have oral surgery and some other doc stuff done, and also apply for my marriage license...
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 14:37 - GeneralLast weekend Galia and I flew to Chicago to visit Liz and see one of my, and recently her, favorite bands - Steve Albini's Shellac. We'd been sort of hoping to set this up as a fly to Minnesota for my oral surgery then hit Chicago either on the way there or back kind of thing, but that didn't work out and then we couldn't peel ourselves away from the idea of going. Very bouge I know, but hey you only live once.
The Thursday before we left, I went to the practice space with Arthur and Sal at 5 (we'd skipped practice the day before so I could work on research - we have some deadlines looming for publications) so we could set up mics and record drum tracks for 2 of our songs. We want to get a demo together so we can try and get a show or two before I leave for Amsterdam and Israel on May 11. Barring a few hitches (one of the overheads produced no sound e.g.) we got the drum tracks recorded at around 12:30. Arthur's recording some bass tracks, and I'll be recording guitar tracks this week. The idea isn't to have something super polished, but just to get something that sounds good enough and showcases over 15 minutes of our material for promoters to have a listen.
Friday morning I woke up at 7 to pack and catch the flight and was quite tired, as I'd not gotten much sleep the previous night either cuz we went out to the Lucky Dog again.
Random interjection: if you ever record an album, don't have a background sample of thunder, especially if you're a slow instrumental band. It's so cliche it's painful.
We packed and took a cab to La Guardia (so close) and landed early in Chicago around 11:30. We met Liz outside the building downtown where she works and dropped off our bags, had $35 worth of salad at Au Bon Pain, and then wandered around trying to make the most of what we knew would be the last bit of really nice weather (we'd be missing two days of 22C in New York to be in 4C + snow in Chicago). We walked over to Millennium Park and saw the jelly bean and some tight rope walkers who had me help them tie up their rope between a couple trees. Then lied down a bit, checked out the lake, wandered inside some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, over to the Sears Tower (I mean Willis Tower), then back to Liz's building and via the bus to her apartment in Lake View. We drank some and then went out to Vision at like 11 cuz ladies got in for free til 11:30. Vision is this big dance club downtown which used to have like 3 levels but the basement is now closed. The crowd was mostly black people, and while I didn't notice that until Galia pointed it out, she really liked it cuz there aren't many black people in Israel and so it felt exotic. (Forgive me if that isn't the state-of-the-art PC term.) We got our drink on, and then got our booty shakin' on. An African-American man of about 30 came up to me at some point and told me the following: "hey man, I been dancin' for a long time now, and I ain't never seen a white boy with rhythm like you got". I was very pleased and honored - until like a year ago me dancing on a dance floor would have been unthinkable.
We stayed only for like a couple hours before we all got tired and called it an evening. It was quite fun though. The following day we woke up to snow as expected, and waited til 11 for La Creperie to open and then had breakfast there which was great. We then wandered around Boys Town, stopped back at home after a coffee at Intelligentsia, and then took a cab over to Wicker Park to check out the "hipsterville" of Chicago. It didn't seem nearly as concentratedly hipster as Williamsburg, but we did stop in a couple stores including American Apparel. I model 3 hipster-style tight-legged $250 Swedish-made jeans at the first store for Liz and Galia which was pretty hilarious. I had to pretend with the salesman that I was actually interested, and he went on some absurd spiel about how the company that makes them "is interested in the uplifting of humanity and stuff like that". At American Apparel I tried on some tight pink pants. From there we walked north, stopped at a bar to recharge and grab a drink, and then we bought a 750ml bottle of Kettle One and some chips and hit a tiny house party at some friends of Liz's. They had a cute dog named Otis, and we got pretty tipsy before we had to rush out the door looking for a cab to go to the Shellac concert. Apparently they started right at 10pm and we barely made it to the front of the stage right in front of Albini when they started to play. The venue had a waitress taking drink orders from the crowd which was pretty cool so I bought myself a beer. Shellac was amazing and played the three songs we really wanted to hear. From there we walked to Liz's apartment and were there by 12 cuz we weren't interested in The Ex, the other band playing. The key Liz had given us didn't actually work so we were stranded outside, but luckily she'd decided to come home early too so we didn't have to wait long. They started watching An American Tail on demand but I fell asleep after like 3 minutes.
In the morning we woke up and after lazing for a while went over to The Bagel, this Jewish diner which gives you unlimited free pickles, and had an awesome giant breakfast. We then finished the Disney movie before heading downtown and going to the top of the John Hancock as is my tradition since it's nice and free. It was pretty cloudy but spotty, and it made for cool effects as the clouds raced over the buildings. We then wandered all around the Drake Hotel, photographing various ballrooms and hallways which was really cool and random. We ended the weekend by watching this movie Liz likes called Flatliners which was nice but I wouldn't really recommend it - I mean, it has Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, a Baldwin, and Julia Roberts. The journey back home was pretty uneventful, and we were back a little before 1am.
The last couple days had Alex and I realize that we weren't going to hit the PACT deadline this Saturday, so we're thinking about maybe submitting to Supercomputing on April 5.
I was in Pittsburgh the previous weekend with Galia and Alex so that Alex and I could hit the day-long GPGPU workshop which took place as part of ASPLOS. The conference was pretty useful, and Pittsburgh was really cool for its size. Lots of stuff to do, cool neighborhoods and music and bars, and very beautiful geography.
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Friday, February 19, 2010, 23:44 - GeneralSo I've taken to headbutting people lightly, especially when donning my replacement blue hat which Galia bought for me. One example of this was while waiting in line for my popcorn at IFC last week (where I told the guy I wanted popcorn with a disgusting amount of butter on it, and he told me he'd give me so much that he'd have to charge me for a drink). A girl commented that I had great form.
Another was today when Arthur and I were walking home from band practice we stopped into El Beit so he could get a coffee and I some grounds for the mornings. I headbutted him while we were waiting for his coffee, then again after he'd gotten it but I was still waiting for the grounds. I think I must have hit a nerve in his upper arm or something, as he dropped the coffee and it exploded everywhere. I offered to buy a replacement, and Arthur offered to clean up, but the friendly barista made him another on the house and told us not to worry about it.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 16:39 - GeneralIt's been 2 months now since I wrote. I guess I'll do a synopsis of far-way stuff the details of which I don't really remember, and then post again about more recent stuff.
I went with Galia, her parents, brother Tomer, and brother's girlfriend to the far northwest corner of Italy for 5 days at the end of December. Galia and I had our own hotel room in this quite nice hotel and we went snowboarding together twice (my first times ever and I hardly fell - it was really fun). I was a bit baffled by the apparent need for snow chains on the tires of the rental cars when there was hardly any snow on the roads at all, but whatever, I guess non-Americans are just wussy. We also celebrated Tomer's birthday while we were there one of the nights, and Galia's parents got me this little keychain for Christmas with my name engraved in both Roman and Hebrew alphabets which was cute.
I stayed in Israel until the morning of January 25. Galia and I hung out almost 24/7, with only brief times apart when I was at this research seminar led by Prof. Shavit that I was attending at Tel Aviv University or when she had dance class. It was great. We bought ourselves a desk and a couple chairs so we could study in her room together, worked a lot on her PhD applications for the fall, she took the GRE, I gave a guest lecture at the seminar. The time went by too quickly of course.
My last week there she and I, after having joked about the subject off and on since the summer, decided that we want to get married. It was just between us for like 2 days until we told her family at Friday dinner and they were all shocked. Luckily her little brother Noam chimed in that "this is good, this is good" and helped her parents to process the news. After that, it had an existence of its own, and we've been planning it ever since. She'll arrive in New York on Monday evening, then we'll stay here together until May 11, spend 5 days in Amsterdam, and then we'll go on to Israel for the summer together. We're going to have a wedding ceremony there that her parents are more or less in charge of (neither of us wants a traditional large wedding, but they insist on it, so we just have to roll with it) but it won't be the legal thing. That will be in either August or September in my parents' backyard in Minnesota. Then we'll move in together in New York and live there at least until I graduate. I'm really excited, very in love, and very lucky.
Since I got back to New York I've been working really hard. Every day I study some Hebrew, play drums in our practice space for an hour, and spend around 10-12 hours in my office on research. We also have band practice 4 times a week these days and we're getting all the songs I've written down - about 50 or so minutes of material all told, though only 6 songs. It's instrumental math rock with some sludgy metally stuff and more complicated bass lines than I think are usually present (Arthur and I both have big egos) and I'm really proud of it. Arthur bought an 8-channel firewire breakout box and Sal has a bunch of microphones, so we're going to try and record a nice demo and get some gigs before I leave in May.
My research is coming along pretty well. Our compiler as of today finally can launch JITed code onto the GPU. Now starts the phase of adding optimizations to make it actually perform well, but the basic grunt framework is in place which is really satisfying. I have a publication deadline for PACT in late March, and I'm supposedly trying to also finish my Swiss work by March 25 for OOPSLA but we'll see how that goes.
So yeah, life is good, though somewhat monotonous. I can't wait for Galia to get here.
Lewis, Brandy, and I went and saw a performance of the first three Bach Cello Suites on the 9th and then we walked over to IFC after a quick bite at Sacred Chow and saw this amazing movie. It's truly absurd - surreal Japanese horror from the 70s with lots of scantily clad young girls. Tonight Lewis and I are going to see Four Tet which should be fun. I'm trying to start a solo electronic music/live electric guitar project sort of like Ratatat but maybe more up-tempo, but I don't have a keyboard and I'm all of a sudden feeling broke with 2 weddings coming up. I'm thus trying to sell my Orange which is sad but hey I never use it anymore with the 2 Super Reverbs anyway. Also, if anyone knows of someone looking to take over my room in my flat (really an amazing apartment) for $1000/mo in Williamsburg, lemme know.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009, 14:45 - GeneralIt appears I'm losing interest in updating my blog as religiously as I'd been for the past 4 or so years. I'm not giving up entirely, but I don't anticipate that fact changing any time soon. Life is great and I have no shortage of what I find interesting and fun stories to record and report, but I'm also quite busy. With that said, I'll do some catching up now.
As I write this I'm sitting on Galia's "poof" on her balcony while she's at ballet class. It's been just over a year now since we re-met-up in Israel. Time sure flies - it's almost unimaginable being without her. I've been in Israel since Dec 11, us having arrive within a couple hours of each other due to having taken different flights here. But I'll back up...
When we left off it was mid-November and I was still battling jetlag (ya'effet in Hebrew as I've recently learned) after coming back to New York. That week on Friday Arthur and I, along with Nguyen and Xu Wei, went to Pianos (my first time there) to see El Ten Eleven. Their shows are always great and this was no exception, and I totally converted Nguyen to trusting my concert judgment after that one. The footwork is truly an art in itself. That Sunday Arthur, I, Nguyen, and another friend of Nguyen's went to the Mercury Lounge to see Cougar, the post-rock band featuring a guy I loosely know from undergrad named Todd on bass. The band was actually really cool, especially the drummer, and Todd was really nice and hung out with us some. This show just further cemented Nguyen's trust in my taste as well. Arthur and I noted that one of the 3 guitarists was using both a Pitch Factor and a Time Factor, the new $500 pedals from Evantide which he and I played around with at Main Drag. The Pitch Factor in particular is really tempting and I may get one.
The following Thursday I went up via Metro North to New Haven, CT, to have Thanksgiving with Liz's family and their family friends. It was really nice to see her and meet her parents, about whom I've heard so much over the years. I'd also never been to New Haven and it was pretty ok - reminded me of a much richer-centered Madison. The dinner was also pretty interesting, being at another family's house with 4 generations of that family represented. I was told repeatedly by an 80-ish year old woman that I saw the word "like" too much, and played with a 3- and 4-year old girl for a while and then went out with Liz to a couple bars. Some guy yelled "who you lookin' at" when I stared at him absently while walking out of the bar which was amusing - my blood boiled from the yelling, and then I felt rather embarrassed that I instinctively responded to such nonsense. I spent the night at Liz's parents' place (which is huge but I saw half the size of their old place) and then took the train back to NYC. Grand Central was pretty damn hectic on Thursday - apparently it's the busiest day for the station all year.
That whole time I was preparing for my DQE, the depth qualifying exam which is an oral exam consisting of two parts: presentation of background research which sets the stage for my own work; and my own work itself. I was stressing about it a bit before I gave a practice run the night before to Alex, Nguyen, Arthur, and Ya'ir, but that went so well that I just drank some whiskey that evening and went to bed late. I passed on Dec 1 and will be awarded a Master's by NYU for my efforts. Now I'm back on track re: the standard timeline for PhD students here which is cool. I have to give another such oral presentation on my Thesis Proposal in the spring but that should be fine.
After the exam I left and headed straight to Williamsburg to meet Arthur and Sal so we could move into our new music practice space on N. 14th. It's something I've dreamed about having for years and now I finally do: 9'x11' space (about 2.75m x 3.35m for my non-imperial friends) with 24-hour access in a factory which has been converted into around 40 such spaces. Sal and Arthur put in a ton of effort and now it's carpeted, somewhat soundproofed, and decked out with shelves running around the perimeter. We got to jam in there just once before I left the country, but I can't wait to come back. I have such a great setup and such great bandmates - we just need to practice.
That evening Arthur and I went to see Russian Circles at Bowery. We were up front on the right (stage-left) so we could see the guitarist's fingerwork, but this time that meant that his amps were right in our faces and all we could really hear was the guitar. He also had some problems with his pedalboard during the first song which lasted around 10 minutes and sent him running to the van for a replacement Memory Man. Embarrassing, but the show was still great of course.
The next day, the 2nd, Galia arrived and I picked her up at JFK. She had trouble with customs cuz she'd taken advantage of a buy four get one free sale on cartons of cigarettes in Tel Aviv but that was apparently too much to be bringing into the U.S. but it turned out OK for her. This combined with a delay with her flight meant I missed the entire DB class that day but Dennis was OK with it. I sent her off to Think while I held office hours and had students sign up with me for their final project demos. While she was in New York (Dec 2-10), I spent at least a couple full days dealing with the demos and the requisite grading but we found time to go out enough. We also took Bolt Bus down to Philly Friday evening and back Saturday evening so that we could catch yet another Russian Circles show as she wanted to see them too. We stayed with my old Hot Topic friend Sean whom I hadn't seen since I moved away from Madison and who's finishing up his Master's at Drexel in Psych. He was very hospitable and came with us to the show and entertained us the following day while it was snowing and cold outside. When he took us by the Comcast building to see the wall of HD screens after eating brunch at a vegan restaurant which was delicious, we randomly caught a holiday special showing of this 3D video on the wall of screens and got to watch it with free 3D goggles in a sea of kids and grandparents. It was really cool - I enjoy such "very American" things way more now that I can share them with someone for whom they're not just banal.
Since I've been in Israel I've mostly just been working and helping Galia study for the GRE as she's applying to grad programs in New York for the fall. I attended a couple Shabat dinners at her parents' and uncles' as part of Chanukkah, we went out a couple times to the Silon, we've been spending days at The Streets - typical Tel Aviv fare. I must say I sure love sufgeniot, the traditional jelly donuts eaten during Chanukkah. I started attending this weekly seminar at Tel Aviv University on Thursdays at the invitation of Prof. Nir Shavit which is pretty nice. I'm looking into summer internship opportunities for me here. Tomorrow we fly to Northwest Italy - Valley D'Aosta, where Galia and I spent most of our Italy trip this summer - with her parents and her brother Tomer and his Aussie girlfriend Lisa where we'll stay until Dec 28. I'm here until late Jan and working on two paper submissions for January (though one is likely not to make it on time). Life is good. I sure wish I had time to work on my Hebrew though.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009, 11:28 - GeneralI met Lewis at Earthmatters on Sunday evening on the 1st where I had maybe the most delicious veggie burger I've ever had in my life. We then walked over to Bowery, which was farther than we'd thought (we'd decided to leave our bikes behind) and got there just before Bellini was to start. We first positioned ourselves up front so I could see the guitarist, and were blown away by how damn loud it was. I'd never seen the amp or speaker brands the guitarist was using and still don't know what they were. After a few songs we moved to the back, and when they were starting their second to last song Nguyen arrived. I really enjoyed the show, but as Arthur pointed out such shows where you're there to see someone other than the headliner are often disappointing as you pay for a short set. We went downstairs and hung on the couches for a while as neither Lewis or Nguyen had been to Bowery before and then Lewis and I biked home together with Nguyen staying to check the other band out.
On Tuesday the 3rd I met Lewis and Brandy over at the new Think Coffee on 4th and 12th and then walked with Lewis over to Curly's Vegetarian Diner. He'd never been, and thoroughly enjoyed the sloppy vegetarian fare (as did I). Brandy joined us after signing up for her pole dancing class, and we had a rather enjoyable meal. We then rode home together and parted ways at the Bedford L - I was to spend the next 12 days in Israel, and the day after I returned he was off to the Midwest for like 2 weeks.
The next day, as most Wednesdays, was packed with stuff to do. I had the research lunch and office hours and class, and got everything together for my trip. The next morning I got up at around 5:15 and took the J to JFK for my 9am flight to Tel Aviv via London. It just so happened to be Guy Fawkes' Day, so when we landed in London at around 20:00 local time I was treated to an overhead view of a city engulfed in flames and fireworks. My plane to Tel Aviv was the last one to leave Heathrow that night, and I landed in Tel Aviv at 5:20am Israeli time. Galia was there sleepily but excitedly waiting to pick me up, and we went through the procedure we've gone through many times before - paying for the parking, driving back to Tel Aviv, climbing into bed to nap away the jetlag. We slept til something like 11:30 which was reasonable, and jetlag didn't bother me too much in the coming days. That evening we went to her parents' place for Shabat dinner which was nice, and then we went just the two of us to the Silon on Ivn Gvirol for a nightcap or two.
My stay in Israel this time was pretty uneventful - we stayed in Tel Aviv / Ramat Aviv / Ramat HaSharon the whole time, except for a very brief little road trip my last day to some rural areas near Herzilliya before stopping at her parents' in Ramat HaSharon, and then going to the son of her parents' cook's wedding in that area as well. We spent quite a few days working together in the libraries of Tel Aviv University, and she finished a big paper on Nietzsche and Spinoza while I got a bunch of research done and worked on preparing for my DQE (after which I'll get a Master's from NYU). I ran into Prof. Nir Shavit one of those days in the humanities building's cafeteria, he being the prof with whom I'd met nearly a year before, and he invited me to attend his research seminar while I'll be there in Dec/Jan which is cool.
Other things I did included: having breakfast with Galia's (and now my) friend Hadar at a hipster cafe; going to another Shabat dinner at Galia's parents' the following Friday as well; spending a lot of time reading Nabokov's Pale Fire to Galia (that book is so amazing); meeting up with Nir, Orit, and Tal at the Armadillo and getting a ride back to Galia's in the Talmobile. The wedding to which I went my last night was quite interesting - very flashy and over the top, but not all that different from American weddings I've attended except for a slight difference in ceremony (the stomping on the glass, e.g. and obviously a Rabbi talking in Hebrew). I danced due to demand (though only after having around 4 drinks), and was told I dance well (I'm still trying to understand how this could be true). On Tuesday morning Galia and I got up at 5:30 so I could catch my 8:15 flight to JFK via Paris. It was quite hard for both of us to say goodbye, even though she'll be here now in less than two weeks. This whole always saying goodbye thing has to stop, but we've got it worked out now so that we'll be together from Dec 2 through late March at least and I'm very much looking forward to it.
Today I woke up at 4am and forced myself to lie in bed til 6, at which point I got up and made coffee and talked to Galia for like an hour. Yesterday I went to the practice space and found my '77 super reverb with a blown speaker so I'll have to have that reconed. Probably a good time for that to happen though since I should really be working my ass off in preparation for the DQE. There then was the usual research lunch, catching up on electronic stuff, talking to Galia on Skype, office hours, and class before heading home and curling up with my Nabokov biography and falling asleep at like 10. That guy is my hero.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009, 07:37 - GeneralI arrived in Tel Aviv at 5:30am Friday morning to Galia waiting for me at the airport. I love it here.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009, 20:39 - GeneralFriday night when I got home from the office I was greeted by my neighbors' open door to their Halloween party. My new neighbors are pretty much super lame frat boys who listen to bad music and drink bad beer. I don't really care cuz I don't really know any of my neighbors anyway now that the Swedish girls are gone, other than the music sometimes (though they're on the opposite side of the apartment than my bedroom so it's not so bad usually). The music was pretty loud this time though, so I drowned them out for a couple hours with my guitar but that only served to egg them on. Thus I switched to blasting our stereo, first with Russian Circles, and then to the suggestion of Arthur when he got home, some "really annoying" stuff like Big Black and Ministry. This lasted til past 1 when Can got home and wanted to go to bed, so I ended up staying up til 2 reading this history of Nabokov's Russian life that Lewis bought me and then having my earplugs mostly do the trick. Now, I didn't complain to them or the management cuz I wanna be consistent with respect to the fact that I think the people who live in my building should be able to have loud parties on weekends, but a nasty note left on their door by some other neighbors apparently shows that not everyone feels as I do.
Woke up sort of late Saturday, and luckily my budding sore throat had disappeared. I got an email from Galia about a discussion on free will and God which she'd had with her friend and wrote up a huge response to that and then made plans to discuss it with her when she got back from visiting her grandfather, and thus to kill time til then I biked over to the tin can and practiced drums for like 40 mins and guitar for like 1.5 hours. Then it was back and we talked on Skype for quite a while. It was a good talk, and for those who don't know, I'm tentatively supporting the position that free will is an illusion but one that, in the daily psychological context, we necessarily adopt and believe in order to function. However, underneath it all are just the deterministic laws of physics and thus free will is actually impossible. And yes, I still believe that morality is compatible with this thank you for asking. However, all of these positions are somewhat tentative as I haven't read enough or thought enough in depth about the matter to fully form a view, though I imagine that no matter what view that were it would have to be only tentative due to intellectual honesty.
Anyway, after that I played guitar for another many hours while talking to Can after spending some time working on my Depth Qualifying Exam reading list and presentation. I have to give a big oral exam on Dec 1 which includes a presentation on around 15 papers which form the background context of my own research work, and then also present my own research itself, all of this to a committee consisting of my advisor and 2 other faculty members. I'm really not worried about it, I just have to make sure I'm fully prepared. After I pass this, I'll be awarded a Master's from NYU (which would be my first, as I still never wrote my UvA thesis). Around 9 I decided I needed to get out of the house and hit up this Wooden Shjips show at a new music venue quite near where I lived my first year in New York though a little more removed in the warehouse district (good for noise reasons). It was raining a tiny bit which almost scared me too much to venture out on my bike, but I braved it, and it was great as the rain was very very mild and it was warm. The venue itself was really cool with little rooms with couches in the main hall and a big rooftop for smoking and admiring the Kosciusko Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. I ended up being there alone for like 5 hours or so, seeing Religious Knives, Vivian Girls, and Crystal Stilts in addition to the headliners. The other bands were quite missable, though I sort of like RK and really didn't like the others. I just hate garage and this is a special variety called shitgaze. I consider the name apt. Anyway, I had a few gin and tonics, took a walk around the hood during a break, and was home by the second 1am. I'll definitely be going back there as it rocked. The place was also insanely crowded with people in costumes and some guy during the RK set offered me mushrooms from a baggie out of which he was eating them and then a "hit" from his beer. I declined both offers, but thanked him graciously.
Today I got up before 10 which in the past weeks is early, talked to Galia for an hour, and then rolled into the office. I mostly just worked on my DQE prep. Now I'm about to meet Lewis at Earthmatters for dinner and then he, I, and Nguyen are gonna see Bellini at Bowery.
I fly to Israel on Thursday morning!
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