Friday, November 14, 2008

Bad news

Dear readers, I love you all but one but I must disappoint you. I have a stalker (the reader I love not) and I'm going into hiding. I'll start another blog and I'll let you whom I know by word of mouth so that you can pass the word to your friends
I'll disable comments here so yours will disappear. Do not link this or my future blog from your websites - at least for some time.
I intended to start a political blog anyway so it will be more political than this one but there will be enough sarcasm, crazy cat lady and travel stuff, don't worry.
I admit, I may be a paranoiac but I've already had one stalker experience and it was awful so I decided to rather err on the safe side. I apologize for any inconveniences I've caused.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Information jnkie

I decided that it was the high time to actually do something.
Yesterday I talked to my paleography professor and promised her the darn ms. IV.H.10 NKP (1). Well, manuscript. It's digitalized but the free version just shows that the scanned pages are. Since profesoressa apparently never heard about, I guessed that no institution in this goddamn town offers the paid access.
I thus mailed to the guy who stands behind the digitalization thing in the National Library (I know many people, you know) and I got an automatic response that he's elsewhere until November 11. Fine, I thought, he'll read it when he's back, I'll be in Prague the 20-ish, the bills have to be done before the 30th, time enough, no need to bother the manuscriptorium guy.
I came back today, for a lunch or something, to find a mail from the grant office that everything that has an evidence number has to be in evidence before November 15 with all the due paperwork. I uttered something inpublicable a and mailed the manuscriptorium guy to pretty please manage somehow, mailed the grant guy asking what is the due paperwork and how to manage it logistically from abroad, then mailed the director of the university library and discovered that it's Friday lunchtime, everybody is thinking of their weekend but for me who goes to school on Sundays.

Speaking of libraries, the Central National Library of Florence gives me creeps. It's not a library, it's a Shrine of Knowledge. I read somewhere that it was one of the first buildings in modern architecture history that was actually built as a public library. So, there are columns, various statues - I'll check for Muses and other paraphernalia when I feel like it (2). The online catalog is however awful and I disliked it ever since.
I went there to get some stuff. Found that the National has common catalog with Marucelliana, Riccardiana and probably something else and that my books are in a great part in the other libraries. Been to Riccardiana with the abovementioned professor DeRobertis for an excursion years ago, been to Laurenziana in the same way. To see manuscripts, not to function normally. Eeeeek. (3)
Wanted to get my books present in the building. Found out that the library card is not enough, that I have to have an ID which I do not carry around, the hell, because in any library I've been to the library card is good enough since it's issued based on an ID.
Went home to get some lunch, my passport and my paleography notes (have a class later).
Checked mail and started panicking due to the digital copy deadline.
On the bus, I knitted. I took my grey sweater with me, the lecture on Neoplatonism demonstrated in ...........................and now what's the name of the guy we've been discussing since the beginning of October? The burial chapel of cardinal Prince of Portugal, the hell. Why the name of Baccio Bandinelli appears in my head when it's someone who lived later and elsewhere? Bernardo Rosellino, heureca. Well, the lectures are tough and complicated and knitting keeps me awake. And, I need my 5mm needles to start the sweater for Susan i want to get done before I leave. so, I knitted and found out why la Nazionale irks me so much. They use OPAC as their cataloging software. I hate it. All normal libraries elsewhere use Aleph. I'll ask some librarian to explain the difference since I get only the irk factor of it.

Off to my pea soup, post office, paleography, library, early death of exhaustion and some food shopping.
(1) ms. means manuscript. NKP stands for National Library in Prague. The rest is the shelf mark. Nerdy thing, no need to worry.
(2) When I'm not pissed at them.
(3) Social phobia, remember?

Just so - belated post.

Written some three days ago. Not published for unknown reason.

I've been somewhat lazy lately. Not actually lazy in the full sense of the word, rather unproductive. I followed too much of the U. S. presidential elections, browsed too much of eBay, read too much on the internetz or elsewhere. The results: no work done, too much money spent.

Speaking of eBay, some dearie seems to have sent my yarn to my other address (although I specifically ask them to disregard the PayPal address and mail the stuff to Italy all the time) so my mom freaked out that I'm getting mail from the U.S. and it may be something important, who the hell mails you from the U.S. and it must be important when they didn't just toss it in the mailbox and I have to go to the post office. I lied that it may be an early Christmas gift from a friend. Lying online is much easier than lying face to face although I've mastered even that due to some pecularities in my parents' personalities.

Speaking of eBay, I got two pairs of jeans that should be theoretically my size but are somewhat smaller. Damn. Just after I ran out of my hunger-surpressing pills.

*wanders off to put the cookie bag in the pantry*

Olga will resell them in case things don't change until I see her to retrieve the hidden yarn Jean sent me to her place (after my mom's great tantrum of September), I'm going to see her, get drunk and bring her the stuff of hers, such as the sweater from the previous post. I have not finished it yet, sleeves are almost redne but meantime I ripped the other sweater and I'm knitting from the yarn heaps on the floor which may not be moved and the Olga's sweater is just under them.

And, then the sweater for Susan and the mittens and cap for Elisabeth. I guess I need to go and work.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back to normal

To my usual rants, I mean, not that the situation concerning students' protests et al. settled in any way. I'm contemplating about setting up a new blog to deal with politics since it seems to me that it just doesn't fit in here. My Paperback Life was planned to be exactly what the title says – cheap and disposable.* Politics and bitching about politics just doesn't fit in.

So, I did some knitting lately. I promised a sweater to Olga which is nearly finished and it seems that I'll have just enough yarn. It's the same thing as I made for Kristina although the yarn dyed differentlydue to the random factor inherent to the dyeing technology ** but the aurora borealis effect is preserved. The good thing is that this design needs the carryalong which has been sitting in my stash almost ever since and for which I didn't have any use. Both recipients love it so it's a good deal.
I almost finished another sweater – I madly love my blue sweater in linen/whoknowswhat blend. I wanted to make a similar one with slight alterations in the design concerning the drawstring through the sleeves.
I fully finished yet another sweater in yarns so good that one could eat them – silk/angora/wool blend for most of it, wool/angora for the striped bits.


Houston, we have a problem.The white sweater is my well-worn favourite which is not important, the important thing is that it fits well.

For those who are not sure what am I talking about, the tape measure shows the good lenght of the sleeves. It doesn't look that straight but it is, sort of. Yes, the blue one needed some eight rows to be done with and the grey one was entirely finished***. Upon trying them on, I found that (1) blue has sleeves too short (2) grey has sleeves too long, one of which damn-way-too-long. Back to the armpits, then. I am anal about details, I know it. I don't mind ripping and redoing three-quarters of a garment because there's a wrong stitch somewhere there. I do't mind reknittng the whole thing when there's a cable crossed the wrong way on row 6. To be totally frank, I might ignore it at a thing done for someone else who woldn't be able to find the mistake but were the thing intended for my own use, I might not be able to live with it. In neither case, a sleeve 15cm longer would be acceptable.

Someone on Ravelry remarked when I whined about ripping the whole sweater that grew after dipping in the water (redoing that one is the next task after fixing the abovementioned disasters) that I should accept it as a possibility to spend my time working with beautiful yarns.

Speaking of growing sweaters, I'm working on a pattern called Monet's garden. Most of the thing is made of the same yarn as the growing sweater. I'm past the armpits and I'm trying to work the increases into the foliage patterns so there's lots of working with beautiful yarns. The same bits, for that matter, but I like more and more how is it turning out.

And, yes, there' a yellow floor here. It is a bit less ugly than what it looks like on the pictures.


*Just the other day I spotted two volumes of essays on Florentine humanism and neoplatonism, printed on a cheap paper, bound in cheap paper, around 80 euros each. Bear this on mind when dealing with the paperbackiness of this place. Just in case.

**so called Boil the balls alive.

***not the ends. I have more than one thing with hanging threads because the little finishing details just somehow don't get finished. I can wear my precious garment and tuck the loose thread somewhere inside so why bother.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ongoing struggle

I don't keep a detailed record of the protests. There was a demonstration on Tuesday, the classes are taking place outside school pretty often - "lessons for free for all instead of universities for a few" being the message. Our department will be occupying the railway station square on Monday so I'll have pictures.
The protests are widespread and damn many people are taking part. The law that started it impacts schools of all levels and it's not only the kids but also parents and uninvolved bystanders / there were 60 000 people demonstrating in Florence and 30 000 in Pisa on Tuesday.
Berlusconi announced that if the students don't stop that, he'll send out the army. I read that in someone's newspaper on the bus on Wednesday. This article is a summary of events and comments from politicians; the two lines above the title say The prime minister talked about being tough on the protesters and Minister Gelmini [the Minister of Education]: "Terrorist campaign against the reform." Obviously, I got pissed to no end and decided that from now on I'm taking part in everything. I may not be well-versed in the local course of matters but this is just too much. Since when, the fuck, is sitting on in teh square and listening to a rant about Piero della Francesca terrorism? And if so, then it's a high time to tell the guys in Afghanistan to come back immediately to start eavesdropping on the streets in case someone may be committing a terrorist act of disagreeing by the terrorist action of talking about art?
Yes, the people sometimes block the streets. The last time I was here, there were demonstrations of someone else - state employees, bus drivers - I have no idea, I didn't care unless the bus drivers were on the strike and I do not recall anyone screaming Terrorism!* And, since when is disagreeing a crime? This commentary in La Repubblica discusses the notion that Mr. Berlusconi tries to change the issue of protests against a political action into a matter of public order.

I'm angry, I admit it. Maybe I should calm down, be objective, think about the other side of the argument.... Damn, since when is a course of actions leading to destruction or near-destruction of universities not self-explanatory? Back to angry mode.

I'm not the only pissed person in this area. The local edition of La Repubblica ** has an article on factory workers expressing their support to the students and the readiness to fight. Like in the '68.

I feel the spirit everywhere.Wherever I go, there are banners, posters informing what will be going on in the next days, it's in the news. I'm not sure whether other people have the adrenaline rush, too. It feels like history is happening now and here.

*Admittedly, when my mother saw the demonstrants with red flags and hammers and sickles on the banners, she started cursing "the fucking Communards" and looked for a loose cobblestone while murmuring that someone should send them to Siberia to check the Communism thing in person. She's not in charge of any armed forces nor is she a politician or a public figure. Moreover, there were no loose cobblestones, mainly due to the fact that via Manzoni is paved with stone slabs.

**I promise, I'll check in the newsstand what else is being published here. I never meant to do any political blogging and the circumstances sucked me in unprepared.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Going political

I might have mentioned that when I came to Italy, I happened to land at the beginning of school reform. Or what the hell.
First, the study plans changed. Which is a little bit irritating on one hand, on the other hand, I just have a different list of things to do than what I would have last year.
Second and more important, there's a new law, according to which the government funding for universities should be cut by 1.5 billion euros in the next five years, scholarships were cut by one third this year, universities should transform to institutions with private funding. There are things related to primary and secondary education which are not of my interest but the cuts are on all levels and people are pissed.
Personally, I don't find anything wrong with privately run universities (or any other schools). I suppose that great part of the students wouldn't mind either. The issue is that there are over 80 state universities in Italy, some of them damn big and should all or majority of them become private, it would conclusively mean high school fees, division to education-only institutions and research institutions and I sincerely doubt that many would bother with research. As I know the human nature, it may end all university research because it doesn't earn money and the three persons that would like to be scholars would find their way to some research-friendly land.
Another thing that scares the local folk is that cutting the funds may lead to limiting the access to universities. Now, you bring your secondary school papers, fill in a few forms, cough up some money in fees (for this semester, it's some 350 euros which I wouldn't call a negligible sum) and start going to the lectures. I grew up in a system where entrance exams are normal and where I started studying with other 17 folks picked from the crowd of several hundred so I don't see it as much of a problem but here people see it as an attack to one of the basic human rights.
So, on Thursday (I'm late with blogging, as always), the action of the day was Lessons in the Streets. I must say that I supported the revolutionary effort by spending most of the day sitting on the stairs of the loggia of Brunelleschi's Ospedale dei Innocenti and I have a terrible back ache even today but I did my part.

Professor Tigler (the grey-haired guy) gave a lecture on paleochristian and Romanesque sources of inspiration in Brunelleschi's architecture. Well picked theme, regarding the location.

No to the 133 - the 133/2008 law is the one against which we are protesting. The banners read Art goes to streets and Class for all compared to university for a few. (The huge one in red and white at the background is for the museum in the building.)

I found a bit of the news, too. Yours truly is somewhere far left from the picture, though. I didn't manage to embed the video so check here

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Something touristy

Well, only mildly touristy. I don't really like making touristy pics and for non-touristy pictures, I'd have to get up at six before the buggers get out of hotel beds and plague the streets.
I went up to Fiesole to take a few pics of the gardens in the Franciscan monastery but as i was lazy and the sun got too low, the pics are no big deal. Neither is this pic of Florence itself, it's against the sun and since the morons were burning garden stuff, the whole valley was smoky
A propos of European University: I don't know who is funding them but the suckers have a villa with a park and us poor folks from the state university sit in overcrowded rooms with windows to busy streets. It's not fair. Yeah and that's the gardens.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nothing changed

I went to check the classes in the dance studio where I used to go. Some people that started with me go to the same course, too. The guy who taught me erm, four years ago now teaches intermediate classes so I gave it a try.
On my way back, I got fed up with waiting for the bus and decided to take a walk downtown, my old usual way along Arno to Ponte Sta. Trinita and then along via Tornabuoni to do some windowshopping at Ferragamo or Emilio Pucci, then along the huge rustico of palazzo Strozzi. The honorary consulate of Finland isn't in via Strozzi anymore, Fendi has a collection of colourful rubber boots (can't wait when some moronic fashion stylist starts explaining how rubber boots are en vogue these days since they are a must in Florence's autumn bucket rains), Patrizia Pepe is across the street, moved there from somewhere else and there were musicians at piazza Repubblica as always.
Today I went to Yrja's class. I 've already mentioned elsewhere that my Swedish is of dubious quality so I wanted to do something about it. It was sorta fun, that absurd fun whether I didn't know whether to feel like a total idiot or whether I'm actually doing well. Time will show. My enthusiasm, which had equalled almost zero anyway, to join Finnish classes decreased considerably after I noticed that the same Leena who taught me those five years ago teaches there. Good ole guilt that I haven't worked hard enough.
It's all so strange, to be back here. I feel as if I left for a week, not for three years.

Back to the damn freaking paperwork.