Desierto norte de Chile

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Strike? What do you do?

When you are a student, and your fellow students vote to hold a strike, what do you do? Do you go to class anyway? Work on homework? Just stay home and use the day to sleep in? Here are some sights and images from today at the engineering campus - Beauchef - of the University of Chile.



This one's tough (it's all slang). "STOP LOOKING AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR, CHILD... SELF-MANAGE THE WORK, RECOVER OUR LIFE" (if you speak spanish and have any suggestions for a better translation, let me know!)

Playing football.

Having an asado (a cook-out, or bar-b-que).

Lounging in the grass.

Talking with friends.

Crime is down ... locals rejoice!

Today's headline in El Mercurio (the leading daily newspaper here in Santiago):
"Víctimas de delitos bajaron en 2007, pero aumentó la percepción de inseguridad"

"(The number of) Victims of crimes fell in 2007, but the perception of insecurity increased"
The article went on to say that only 34.8% of households had suffered a crime last year, down from 38.4% in 2006. Are you kidding me?! Only one of three Santiagans were victims of a crime last year. I guess I will be included in the 2008 statistics released next year.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008



Tonight I received this email from the Student Union. Tomorrow the students are going on strike to protest poor treatment of themselves and the LGE (I don't know what LGE is).

Here's the text of the email, followed by the Google Translation (with a few words corrected by me to help it make better sense).

Alumnos, Académicos y Funcionarios:


Mañana jueves 24 de Abril los estudiantes de la Facultad de Ingeniería han decidido ir a un Paro Informativo por los problemas de la LGE y de morosidad de estudiantes de la U. de Chile.

Durante la jornada de mañana se realizarán distintas actividades, principalmente de discusión entre integrantes de los distintos departamentos.

El CEGEOF invita a alumnos, académicos y funcionarios a un desayuno (café y galletas) mañana jueves a las 9:30 en la sala de seminario, 2do piso, para poder compartir e informarnos de los temas que llevan a los alumnos a efectuar este paro.

El orden de actividades para los alumnos del DGF es:

- 9:00 - 9:30 Inicio del Paro en el Hall Sur de la Escuela.
- 9:30 - 10:00 Desayuno del Dpto. en la sala seminario 2do piso.
- 10:15 en adelante Discusión de los temas con otros centros de
estudiantes (Física o Geología). Se seguirá la propuesta se trabajo creada
por el CEI y adjuntada acá.

Esperamos que los estudiantes no vayan a clases y asistan a las discusiones para que pronuncien sus posturas.

Y esperamos compartir un ameno cafecito con los integrantes del dgf para seguir así manteniendo la comunicación entre entidades e informarnos sobre las problemáticas internas y universitarias en general. Las discusiones que se realizarán entre dptos. son abiertas, asi que profesores o funcionarios que deseen asistir serán bienvenidos.

Se adjuntan además del cronograma documentos que pueden servir a la discusión de mañana y la votación final de adhesión al paro.

Centro de Estudiantes de Geofísica

Departamento de Geofísica
Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas
Universidad de Chile


Students, scholars and officials:

Engineering Campus is on Strike!

Tomorrow, Thursday April 24 students of the Faculty of Engineering have decided to go to on strike to protest the problems of LGE and poor conditions of students from the U. of Chile.

During the day tomorrow will be conducted various activities, mainly discussion between members of different departments.

The CEGEOF invites students, academics and officials at a breakfast (coffee
and cookies) on Thursday at 9:30 in the seminar room, 2nd floor, to share and inform us of issues that led to this strike.

The order of activities for DGF (Department of Geophysics) students is:

-- 9:00 to 9:30 Beginning of strike in the South Hall School.
-- 9:30 to 10:00 breakfast at each department in the seminar room 2nd floor.
-- 10:15 onwards Discussion of the issues with other centres
students (or Physical Geology). The proposal is subject to change and will be posted here by the CIS (Center for Student Information).

We hope that students will not attend their classes and instead attend the discussions to decide their positions.

And we hope to share a pleasant coffee and cookie time with members of the DGF for to maintain communication between entities and information on internal problems and university in general. Discussions to be carried out between departments are open, so that teachers or officials wishing to attend would be greatly appreciated.

Attached in addition to the schedule are documents that will help the discussion tomorrow and the final vote on accession to unemployment.

Students of Geophysics Center

Department of Geophysics
Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences
University of Chile

Most likely this just means that the students are tired of exams / etc., and want a day off. How convenient, just call a strike! :) My colleagues told me that occasionally there are strikes and the students stop coming to class, but that strikes and protests and such were much more common in the other campuses (the arts, humanities, etc.), not the engineering campus. More to come tomorrow as events unfold. I just might take my camera to work :)

Land of the "free"

A study by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College, London, reveals that the US incarcerates far more people than any other country in the world. Our prison population is approaching 2.5 million people, or about 750 per 100,000. By comparison, Canada incarcerates 108 people per 100,000; England 151; France 91; Russia 627; Cuba 531; Chile 279; Australia 130; Japan 63; and Barbados 379.

The authors gave several speculative reasons for the very high incarceration rate, including cultural independence / attitude of personal responsibility, heavy influence of Calvinist religious doctrine, politically elected judges, and strict and lengthy sentencing - particularly for drug crimes. They also note that crime rates are tied to the prison population (more prisoners = less crime), but that the ratios were not equal (they give the example of Canada, with 1/7th the imprisonment rate but nowhere near 7x more crime).

Regardless of the reasons, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the USA is not unequivocally the "land of the free," but more like the land of many laws and not so much grace.

What are your thoughts?

Clinton and Dr. Seuss

In today's NY Times, Maureen Dowd, a nominal Clinton supporter, encouraged Hillary to take her victory from yesterday's Pennsylvania primary election and quit the race. Borrowing from Dr. Seuss and along the lines of Art Buchwald, Maureen says:
“The time has come. The time has come. The time is now. Just go. ... I don’t care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow. Hillary R. Clinton, will you please go now! You can go on skates. You can go on skis. ... You can go in an old blue shoe. Just go, go, GO!”
We'll see if she takes the advice.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tax refund, finances, and more

So today I received my 2007 federal income tax refund in the mail. It wasn't very much, only about $200, but I hear a small refund is better because it means I didn't loan the government much of my money during the year. I expect to get about the same back from Oklahoma, although they are usually slower in processing their refunds.

The past week I also got to deal with customer service from American Express and the OU Federal Credit Union after I mistakenly selected OUFCU as the source for my $1200 payment to Amex (instead of another bank which actually had the funds). If you use electronic payments, beware that they have implemented some tricky methods to make sure they get their money! The first Amex payment returned unpaid, like it should have, on Apr. 9. But Amex continued "trying" to get the money, eventually resulting in multiple non-sufficient fund fees on both my OUFCU account and the credit card. I didn't know Amex would continue trying to post the payment, so I scheduled a different method of payment (this one through OUFCU's billpay service), and arranged for the $1200 to be transfered into OUFCU before the billpay was scheduled. Of course, Amex happened to "hit" my account exactly one day before the billpay service was scheduled, so they did finally get their payment, but of course, this resulted in yet another round of non-sufficient fund charges to my checking account as the OUFCU billpay tried to pay the same charge the next day. Ugh, all this because I selected OUFCU instead of another bank to pay my credit card bill!! I guess the more frustrating thing is that I didn't have any idea American Express would continue trying to collect their payment, even a full week after it was returned unpaid to them. Of course, my account online never originally showed that anything was amiss ("You have no payment due on this credit card" was all I got from them, until a few days ago when $38.00 returned payment fee popped up). OUFCU also charged me a total of $80 in NSF fees for the returned Amex payment and the two times their billpay tried to execute the payment. (By checking my OUFCU account regularly, I realized something might be up, so I ended up transferring $3000 over to OUFCU to "be safe". Turns out I now have a $1200 credit balance at Amex as I ended up paying the bill twice). So, after a total of $118.00 fees for one "goof" on my part, I called both OUFCU and AMEX and explained my situation, my mistake, and what I think is their mistake, and I managed to get $93 of those fees returned. I still have to pay the original $25 fee from April 9th, which I guess is okay, but I would have preferred to not have anything go wrong in the first place. And to top it all off, the only reason I had the $1200 charge on my Amex card to begin with was because I had to buy a new laptop to replace the one which was stolen from me last month. Ugh!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A few things (unas pocas cosas)

1. I am still alive even if I haven't posted very often in the past 3 weeks. I guess when the blog morphs into "Brad's travel journeys", and I don't travel, the frequency of posting goes way down.

2. Life in Santiago continues. A few highlights: on Saturday, I joined the jovenes (youth) group from church for a bible study / one-day retreat in Peñaflor, 30 minutes outside Santiago. We enjoyed worship, teaching, a fantastic spaghetti meal that cost CLP$500 (US$1.25), and planned for the upcoming youth-led retreat at the end of this month. I was on the worship committee, and suggested we have a tambourine. Reminds me of Barbados, when all we had were voices and a tambourine. And it was beautiful! On Sunday, Julie and David came over to my apt after church and we made hamburgers and played cards. I still have the ice cream (butterscotch flavor, mmmm) left over and will put it to good use this week!

3. UNC really stunk it up in the NCAA final four on Saturday. I was very excited to have the chance to watch them live, and even though the picture was current, the action on their part was as if they were dead. Oh well, the season was really great, and I hope they are very proud of themselves!

4. I'm still going through phases of loneliness here, and that's hard, but the odd thing is that this Saturday, I have more invitations to do things than I have time! (Where were you people in February, when several days would pass without me even talking to anyone??!) In the morning, I've been invited to help a friend move apartments (I guess this involves carrying her stuff downstairs to a truck), then to the youth house-church, then to have dinner with the movers & their friends. Plus I normally go jogging, clean my apartment, and rest after a hard week.

5. I've started finding some chilean friends on facebook, which makes me very happy!

6. My cousin Rebecca (dad's side of the fam) got engaged this past weekend! Congrats, RRB and Matt! Guess I'll have to pull together some more freq flier miles to head back to Augusta (or Athens, or Atlanta, or Columbus?) for their wedding.

7. I received my absentee ballot in the mail today from Pitt County Board of Elections. I have to fill it out pronto and mail it back, as post from Stgo. often takes 3-4 weeks to arrive stateside (and my ballot has to be there by May 5 at 5:00 pm).

Ok, well, that's a brief update on life. Again if you're reading this and have a blog of your own, please remind me what your website is because all my bookmarks were lost in the burglery a few weeks ago. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Funny advertising

So Facebook, and many other websites, use your IP address to determine where you login from and tailor their advertisements to you. Here's an ad that I received about 10 mins ago. In case you're curious, the caption is best translated as "Are you hungry?" I assume they mean to connect your hunger to that kitty?? Seems a bit odd to me, too!

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