Monday, February 28, 2011

Ridiculousness by the numbers ...

The hot water has been broken in our house for the last two weeks or so, and I have been pretty apt to complain about it. But then I started to think that maybe it's a little ridiculous to be complaining. After all, a lot of people have it much worse. 

That's kind of trite and vague advice. So I decided to look at how just how much. The average American makes about fifty grand a year (this site says $46,326 and this one says $52,049). The average Nepali makes about six hundred dollars a year (that's 0.6 grand). The figures here also vary: this site says it's $2,072 (for a man) and this one says it's $125, but about $600 if you only count city-dwellers. That's about 80 times as much!

So even you make (*ahem*) significantly less than $50,000 per year, try this. Take your yearly income, square it (that is, multiply it by itself) and then divide by 600 (or if you're feeling brave, 125). Now think of the habitat and money related things that a person who makes that much is likely to complain about. Even for me, a mere grad student, that person is likely to be complaining about how the BMW dealership didn't have the color they liked in stock or how now that expensive Apple product N is out, they just can't stand having expensive Apple product N-1. Ridiculous stuff, right? But now realize that is exactly how ridiculous your habitat and money related problems sound to the average Nepali. 

Okay it's true that all kinds of things might mess that up: cost of living is different in Nepal or maybe ridiculousness is not linear (this is normally the type of thing I ask Alex about ...) but it's still a helpful way to get some perspective when you feel like complaining about some thing ... 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Haribo macht mir froh ...

Today I went to a different supermarket and bought some Haribo Gold Bears. They are delicious as ever. They have the ones from Germany here, which have a few extra flavors (usually I only get those from my friend Julia when she goes home to Germany and comes back to Providence!). They had others that were extra soft, but I didn't try those ... maybe next time ... 

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Alex has a new category on her blog for doodles that she does during philosophy talks / classes. I've seen a lot of them and they're pretty darn neat so have a look!

Here's a page of a legal pad that I've been doodling on for the past week. I'm working on some real comics but they won't be online for a long long time since I have no scanner here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sadly, no Batcave ...

I forgot to post pictures of the coolest part of the house I'm living in ...

Oh, what a nice shelf for knick-knacks ... 

POW! Secret bathroom ... 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Current reading: Useful Work Versus Uesless Toil

What is the nature of the hope which, when it is present in work, makes it worth doing?

It is threefold, I think - hope of rest, hope of product, hope of pleasure in the work itself; and hope of these also in some abundance and of good quality; rest enough and good enough to be worth having; product worth having by one who is neither a fool nor an ascetic; pleasure enough for all for us to be conscious of it while we are at work; not a mere habit, the loss of which we shall feel as a fidgety man feels the loss of the bit of string he fidgets with.

                                  -- William Morris, Useful Work vs. Useless Toil

"Visiting Cards"

Today I got my "visiting cards" (aka business cards) from the Fulbright office. They're on Nepali paper with blue ink. I previously had ones with Brown University on it made (against the wishes of the philosophy department for some reason ...) but these are better because they have my cell phone number and "Brown University" means absolutely nothing to most everyone here, while "Fulbright" actually means something to some people (at least that's my experience). Anyway here they are (and the neat box they came in:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some photos

I went on a long walk yesterday and saw a Tibetan monastery and a Hindu shrine. Here are some pictures:

At the Tibetan monastery

This is a huge tree / shrine thing at the Hindu temple. 

One of many stupas at the Tibetan monastery

Monday, February 7, 2011

Current reading: Old Man and the Sea

Luck is a thing that comes in many forms and who can recognize her?

-- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Birthday / Chinese New Year

Today is both Chinese New Year and my birthday. It's the year of the rabbit and I'm 28. I decided to celebrate with a haircut and a shave. It was pretty nice and pretty thorough: two passes with the razor, slathering by head and face with several creams and liquids, and a shoulder / head /face massage. Getting a shave in Indian and Nepal always reminds me of the Bug Bunny cartoon Rabbit of Seville. The guy seemed reluctant to shave off my mustache; he saved it for last and asked me three times if I was sure. He also made sure my hair looked just the way it did for my high school homecoming dance. Here's a before and after:


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Load Shedding

Since Nepal can't make as much electricity as it consumes they do "load shedding" which is really just a euphemism for power cut. They at least tell you when they're cutting the power so you can plan around it (if you're really curious you can see the schedule here; I live in Group one). 

It's a fair amount of time some days but I'm getting used to doing things by candlelight (not as romantic when you're alone and doing it every day ...). I figured out that my cell phone has an FM radio so I can listen to the BBC world service. I hear the load shedding is primarily a winter thing (low water in the reservoirs that have the dams that make the electricity) but word on the street is that things will get worse before they get better.