Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I've been in Jerusalem for two and half days now. Met up with my 80 person group at the Tel Aviv airport then we went to Jerusalem and checked in to our hotel. Monday morning we met with some Israeli venture capitalists. They talked about start-up companies in Israel and how successful israeli high tech companies have been...it was pretty interesting, but not so fun for 8 in the morning while still jet lagged. Then we took a bus tour around Jerusalem and a walking tour around the old city. I took a bunch of pictures which I'll try to upload later. We had an hour of free time for lunch so I grabbed my first falafel of the trip and walked through the arab market to check things out. It was almost completely empty. Every other time I've been there the market was packed with shoppers. The old city overall was much less crowded than the other times I've been there, but there were a lot of french tour groups, probably because of all the anti-semitism there they want to get the hell out of france. Overall, it is pretty noticable how much less tourism there is here.

Aside from the trip to the old city, this program is all meetings, lectures, and discussions from 7 in the morning until 8 at night every day. There is very little free time, and they don't let us leave the hotels at night. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow our trip, along with 1200 other students from around the world are in this student leadership summit where we have all these boring lectures (which i'm skipping right now because I can't take it anymore). It's all pro-israel speakers and people asking us to move to israel after college. It's funny though, with all these jews and everyone being involved with jewish stuff for years literally every person I meet I know at least 1 or two people they know. Except for the non-US people, I'm within 1 or 2 degrees of every person on this trip. It's a fun game for the first few people, but it gets old fast when you're doing it 50 times a day. There should be a new year's party for us tomorrow night, and on the 1st we're going to a kibbutz up north. Hopefully the rest of the trip will be better than this summit.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

All packed up, about to head out the door. I'll land in Israel at 4pm Israeli time tomorrow. Amazingly I fit everything into my backpack...I have a new found respect for Jansport's quality craftmanship and design acumen. Hopefully I'll be saying the same thing after living out of the bag for a month. Anyway, if I didn't personally say goodbye to you, sorry, but here it is, Goodbye!

Friday, December 26, 2003

I think this is one of the best editorials Paul Krugman has ever written. It's insightful, honest, and exactly what needs to be done. Every journalist in America should put that editorial above his/her desk and look at it before submitting any articles about next year's election. Also, I was just reading the latest issue of Newsweek, which I try not to do, but it had Jon Stewart on the cover. He had a great quote in there, which i'm too lazy to look up the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of when reporters follow Bush around it is like a bunch of 8yr olds playing soccer...they just bunch around the ball and eventually it pops out and someone yells "Ball!" and they all run after it. I think that's right on, but probably not specific to Bush, more like the media in general. The article also said that The Daily Show will be airing live from the floor of the Democratic Convention, which should be a lot of fun to watch.

Today I Googled my name "Josh Cohen" just to keep tabs on things and see what the other Josh Cohens of the world are up to. I went through the top 50 links, and joshcohen.com did not appear at all. So now, I am linking my name, Josh Cohen, a bunch of times to my web site in a feeble attempt to get this site into the top 50 Josh Cohen results. Yes, this is shameless, and self-promoting, and probably won't work, but I think I deserve to be in the top 50. As a side-note there are some amazingly accomplished and talented Josh Cohens out there. From photographers to tennis all-stars, to ex-hard-rockers, to bloggers, and everything in between, we're everywhere and I definitely think we should start some kind of Stonecutter-like secret fraternity of josh cohens...we have the numbers.

Today I also e-mailed someone about my internship in China, which I've been putting off for about a month now. I really hate writing e-mails, especially important ones. Well I don't hate it, I actually like it most of the time, but I always agonize over wording. Even ones to friends and family I read over like 3 times and make sure the wording is right. I tend to think this isn't normal, but maybe other people do it too. This e-mail tonight, I read about 15 times though it was only about 2 paragraphs long. And I never know how to end an e-mail. It's not quite a letter, where you can just say "Thank you for your help" then put "Sincerely," over your name. To just end it with "Thank you for your help" seems cold and unfriendly. I chose to end it with "Regards," even though it seems cheesy (what the hell does "regards" mean anyway? what are regards?) it seems to work in an e-mail setting. Another thing with these business e-mails, I find myself writing "please let me know" for a lot of things. Maybe it's not a big deal to write that a lot, but I just feel weird when I reuse words and phrases over and over again. Is there a different way to say "please let me know" that is equally polite? Please let me know if one exists.

So I'm less than 48hours away from leaving and I'll be spending tomorrow with mom getting everything ready to go, then drinking heavily on my last night in the US. Should be a good time...I'll try to take some pictures if I remember to bring my camera.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

It was a welcome site today when my China visa came. Everything seems to be correct...looked at it about 10x to make sure. So now I feel a little more prepared...the next step is to figure out what clothes I'm bringing, which will be hard. It's going to be cold in Israel, warm in thailand and vietnam, then cold in China...and I only have a backpack to fit everything in. One of the most difficult questions is how many pairs of these new socks to bring. Because, one thing i've learned in my short life is that foot care is of utmost importance. With the dangers of athletes foot and toejam lurking around every corner, I wouldn't want to be caught in the jungles of Nam without a clean and comfortable pair of socks to wear...I might as well cut my toes off and call it a day.

Speaking of Vietnam, I recently found out that this small, but populous country is one of the world's largest exporters of fish/seafood. My uncle wants me to check out the fish industry there and make some contacts...I wonder if there is a Fish King of Vietnam, much like Abe Froeman is the Sausage King of Chicago. Tonight I'm going for some sushi...will the fish be from vietnam? I guess there's no way to find out. It should be interesting to see what the crowd is like at a sushi restaurant on Christmas Eve. And if anyone reading this is celebrating that rightfully commercialized and wholly Amercan holiday, Merry Christmas!

Wow, this is really weird, but as far as I know I only have one christmas song on my computer: "Jingle Bells" played by Dave Brubeck. And right as I typed "Merry Christmas!" in the last sentence that song came on...it is set on random, so there is a 1 in 3700 chance that this song, or any song christmas song, would play...fucking weird.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Haven't posted anything in almost a week, probably because my life at home has been almost the same every day. Wake up in the afternoon, eat snacks, watch TV, and go on the internet for most of the day. And at night I hang out with friends. The routine is always good for about a week, but now I'm starting to get bored in between the waking up and hanging out part. I think the main reason is that since i'm leaving in 4 days, I feel like I should be spending all of my time at home doing things worthwhile, as in not watching Analyze That on TV (which is a terrible terrible contrivance of a movie), or checking the price of my ebay auctions and whether my grades have been posted every 30 minutes. Also I've been buying more things for the trip, though none of them are particularly snazzy. My mom felt the need to buy me 18 pairs of socks, which altogether almost fill the main compartment of my backpack. But, they are some excellent socks...my feet have never been so warm, comfortable, and subtly stylish.

People keep asking me if I'm nervous for the trip, and I'm not nervous yet at all. How different my life is going to be hasn't really hit me yet. Maybe it will hit on the plane, or when I land in Israel...but so far I'm not really nervous. Or maybe there's just something wrong with me because most of the time I don't get very nervous about things in the future. My passport is another story, I'm a little nervous about that right now. I sent my passport out to get my China visa last week, and it was supposed to come back today, but it didn't come. Now there are only 2 more business days before I leave for it to come. If it doesn't come by Saturday, I could have some serious problems. Maybe even more problems than this miserable unelectable failure.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I saw the new Lord of the Rings last night and it was as great as I had hoped. Definitely the best of the three movies, except for the extremely sappy and quasi-homosexual ending. The ending wouldn't have been so bad if it didn't happen about 6 times. Seriously, there was about six times when I thought the movie was over and I was about to get out of my seat. I started laughing because it was so overly drawn-out that it was funny. How many times can they show supposedly brave and courageous characters look longingly into each other's eyes and say goodbye? Even the cool characters like Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli turned soft. I thought the hobbits were going to start making out with each other at least 3 different times. The movie changed from awesome action-adventure for 2.5 hours, to a Lifetime afternoon special with midgets and swords (By the way, I just looked at Lifetime's website and their slogan is "Where Women Click," for some reason that is just really funny). Peter Jackson and everyone involved in the making of this movie should have read this essay before filming. Otherwise, the movie was great...but I reccomend leaving at the 2hour 45 minute point and you will be completely satisfied.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Well, I didn't want a new asshole, but my finals definitely decided to tear one off for me. Just glad it's all over now. I could write a lot about the trials and tribulations of my week of finals, but that is uninteresting. I'm sick of listening to people complain about finals, and i'm sick of complaining about finals.

The past couple days were spent driving. Over the last two days I drove about 14.5 hours and and it really was pretty enjoyable. On Sunday, Seth and I drove from St. Louis to Pittsburgh and we somehow managed to fit all of our stuff in my car. It was the best packing job in the history of packing jobs. It was a marvel of modern packing science. Since we are both going abroad and not storing anything at school, we somehow managed to fit the combined possessions of two people in a volvo sedan. I wish I had a picture or something, but nothing would do it justice. The people who study pack-jobs will be studying this one for years to come. Maybe even decades. We're sure to have a write-up in the Modern Packer's Journal. And I'm surely going insane.

However, I actually really enjoyed driving. Normally the trip is a pain, but if you're in the right mood roadtrips are a lot of fun. I think the mood you have to be in is that you don't really care how long it takes to arrive at the destination. Once you start caring what time it is or whether you are making good time, then it starts getting annoying. I was just happy to be getting away from school, and whether I got home tomorrow or next week didn't really matter. So I just enjoyed the drive like a beatnik in mexico.

So anyway, I'm back in central pennsylvania now...and a little drunk at the moment...gonna end this craziness and finish unpacking.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

One way to go out.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Today I bought this book, which I can't wait to read. It's a collection of interviews with over 100 major figures in politics, literature, entertainment, and various other fields over the last 140yrs, including many presidents, brigham young, Mao, Hitler, Mark Twain, Sammy Davis Jr., etc. I found it looking for info on my new favorite historical figure Joshua Abraham Norton (see the last post if you don't know him...he is an important historical figure who demands your attention). In fact, apparently there was a play about him performed in San Francisco (not sure if it's still running). Today I had the idea of writing a biography of him since I couldn't find a book about him in the campus library (4 million books) or on Amazon (countless millions). So there's pretty good odds that a book doesn't exist. I'm not really sure of the title yet, maybe "America's Other Abraham" or "America's Greatest Emperor"...either way it will surely sell millions. This topic has the potential to revitalize America's loin-shaking desire to learn more about American history.

Right now I'm two pages into a paper that is not due till monday. Something strange has gotten into me with all this non-procrastination. Also, as of today, I'm now fully vaccinated against typhoid, influenza, polio, and hepatitis A.

umm...just had to post this, which is possibly the most disturbing thing I've ever seen on ebay.

Also, I took one of those online personality quizzes today, which are usually really inane and stupid, but this one is one of the best I've seen. It tests which historical lunatic you are. Apparently, I am Joshua Abraham Norton...he was the first and last Emperor of America. Bollocks you say? well, listen to his story:

Born in England sometime in the 1820s, he carved a notable business career, in South Africa and later San Francisco, until an entry into the rice market wiped out his fortune in 1854. After this, he was never quite the same. The first sign of this came on September 17, 1859, when he expressed his dissatisfaction with the political situation in America by declaring himself Norton I, Emperor of the USA. He remained as such, unchallenged, for twenty-one years.

Within a month he had decreed the dissolution of Congress. When this was largely ignored, he summoned all interested parties to discuss the matter in a music hall, and then summoned the army to quell the rebellious leaders in Washington. This did not work. Magnanimously, he decreed (eventually) that Congress could remain for the time being. However, he disbanded both major political parties in 1869, as well as instituting a fine of $25 for using the abominable nickname "Frisco" for his home city.

His days consisted of parading around his domain - the San Francisco streets - in a uniform of royal blue with gold epaulettes. This was set off by a beaver hat and umbrella. He dispensed philosophy and inspected the state of sidewalks and the police with equal aplomb. He was a great ally of the maligned Chinese of the city, and once dispersed a riot by standing between the Chinese and their would-be assailants and reciting the Lord's Prayer quietly, head bowed. Once arrested, he was swiftly pardoned by the Police Chief with all apologies, after which all policemen were ordered to salute him on the street. His renown grew. Proprietors of respectable establishments fixed brass plaques to their walls proclaiming your patronage; musical and theatrical performances invariably reserved seats for him and his two dogs. (As an aside, he were a good friend of Mark Twain, who wrote an epitaph for one of his faithful hounds, Bummer.) The Census of 1870 listed his occupation as "Emperor".

The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, upon noticing the slightly delapidated state of his attire, replaced it at their own expense. He responded graciously by granting a patent of nobility to each member. His death, collapsing on the street on January 8, 1880, made front page news under the headline "Le Roi est Mort". Aside from what he had on his person, his possessions amounted to a single sovereign, a collection of walking sticks, an old sabre, his correspondence with Queen Victoria and 1,098,235 shares of stock in a worthless gold mine. His funeral cortege was of 30,000 people and over two miles long.

The burial was marked by a total eclipse of the sun.

This guy sounds so much like me it's scary. I like that total eclipse of the sun part. Why didn't I learn about him in American History. Mrs. Getty, you have failed me.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Well apparently the time I spent on that icon was almost a complete waste, because it doesn't seem to work on Internet Explorer. Or maybe the big JC is just playing a few tricks on me, but I'm sick of screwing with it. At least I can see it and it can serve as a constant reminder of time spent that I'll never get back. Time that I chose to spend frantically editing, re-editing, uploading, and re-uploading a 16x16 pixel image that 3 people will ever see. Sort of reminds me of this.

As for my finals schedule, just finished the rough draft of a paper due on tuesday, which is the first time in recent memory I've written a paper early. Now all I have is a chinese oral presentation, an 8 page paper, and 3 final exams this week. Fo' shizzle.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

wow, i've spent (wasted) an incredible amount of time putting this site up. It probably took about 2 hours alone just to get this icon working so that it displays in the address bar when people come to this page. It is completely uneccessary, especially since very few people will ever come to this page, but all the cool web sites have it, so I had to make one too...just in case i'm cool one day. I tried to make the icon have some connection to the real JC, but I couldn't get the letters J and C to look like a cross.

I haven't made a web page in almost a year, and I forgot how easily I can spend hours making sure every little bit looks right. But I'm pretty happy with this page now...there shouldn't be any major changes.

Also, this game is a lot of fun...so far I can only make it to the 3rd level though

Saturday, December 06, 2003

So this will be my real first post. I've wanted to start a blog for about 6 months, since I started reading them during my infinite hours of boredom this past summer. I shouldn't say infinite, because they were pretty finite...about 4 hours at the end of the day after spending about 8 hours in chinese class and doing chinese homework. but they seemed inifinite, especially after the 20th straight day of watching a movie. During the 8 week program I probably watched 50 movies on my computer. But I was writing about blogs...a couple blogs that i read are linked on the right side there...most of them are by people living in china, and a couple are political. i'm not really interested in reading about people's daily miseries, which are what so many blogs are about.

a lot of my thoughts lately have been about this trip, probably spending a little too much time looking up travel info, reading guidebooks, and buying things in preparation; such as some snazzy new shoes, a snazzier digital camera, and now i'm looking for the snazziest travel backpack i can find. The goal is for my snazz to be awe-inspiring. I want people to see me and after i walk away say behind my back "that guy really brings the snazz."

My travel plans have changed a bit also. Originally I was supposed to fly from israel to thailand and connect in Uzbekistan with an 18hour layover in Tashkent (it was about $400 cheaper than flying direct). I was really looking forward to spending a frigid night in Tashkent with a bunch of uzbekis and a bottle of cheap russian vodka and committing various other acts of debauchery, but the debauchery will have to wait until thailand because the ticket was cancelled. So now I found an even cheaper ticket through ethiopian airlines with a 10 hour layover in Addis Ababa. This could be awesome...hopefully i'll be able to get out of the airport and see the city for a few hours. I thought about trying to stay there for 4 days (there are only flights from israel to Addis every 4 days), but it would cut my free time in israel too short.

Other things going on in my life: drinking (trying to take every opportunity to celebrate my 21st), and the bane of my scholastic existence, finals.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I'm just starting this up now, but i'm not leaving until december 27th.

Right now my itinerary is this:
Israel: December 27th - January 16th
Thailand: January 16th - February 1st
Vietnam: February 1st - February 12th
China: February 12th - August 20th