This morning, after my morning class and before dropping my girlfriend off at her work, we went to pay the phone bill at Telmex (who according to Om Malik has tried blocking Skype). This is still a process that amazes me. It shouldn’t. I should be used to it. But the idea of actually going to a building and waiting in line for half an hour to go up to a desk and pay a miserable woman in cash for the phone calls you made the last month still strikes me as extraordinary. We also go to Intercable to pay her work ISP in person. Trips to the bank(s) are at least daily. The amount of gas and paper used is mind-boggling for someone who has spent the past 6 years paying just about everything with a small piece of plastic and a few clicks of the mouse.

There is this thing that has been going on down here for the past couple months called Miss Bloguita 2005. From what I understand it’s open to any female in Latin America, but it seems like all the contestants are from here in Mexico. When I first read about it, I wasn’t entirely sure of the purpose, but now it seems as obvious as it should have from the very beginning – getting cute bloggers to take their shirts off. I say all this as an introduction to the sentence which matters:

Yo voto por mi amiga Chica Regia como mejor de las mejores de Miss Bloguita 2005. No se si tengo que votar por alguien en cada categoría, pero bueno, en caso que sí, ella recibe todos mis votos.

Yesterday I went to the History of Mexico Museum here in Monterrey while waiting, yet again, for my paycheck. (it’s ok, I’ll come back tomorrow, but it’s really going to be ready this time right?) I lucked out because I only had 20 pesos left and was completely dependent on my paycheck, but it turned out that Tuesday was free entrance day so I was able to buy a bottle of water and not pass out in the 5000 degree heat.

It’s a pretty impressive museum. Downstairs was a cheesy 3D exhibit on Teotihuacan. (I learned that the Aztec center rose to prominence because of its monopoly on the obsidian trade (even though the obsidian was cultivated and produced in other regions) which parallels Katmandu’s prominence as a trade center along the Indian – Chinese trade route and even Monterrey’s prominence today as a trade center between American innovation and Mexican manufacturing. Just goes to show that it is the gatekeepers who make the money, not the producers.

Upstairs is the permanent exhibition which – like all history museums I’ve been to in Mexico – takes you along a route first concentrating on Mesoamerica, than Aztec consolidation, than the Spanish Conquest, net the Porfiriato (the 30 year dicatorship of industrial progress under Porfirio Diaz at the turn of the century), then the Mexican Revolution and finally 20th century nationalistic propoganda.

Still, I learned some new things and it seems like every time I go to a museum of history, I’m able to tie something new together with something else I’ve recently read, heard, or seen. I finally learned who Jose Vasconcelos (whose last name could translate into – “go with jealousy) was and I also learned for the first time that second to the bible, Don Quijote has been published more than any other book in the world. Even more than the Koran. I have never read Don Quijote.

And you wanna know something else? In spanish, boobies is spelt bubis, which phonetically in English would rhyme with pubis. How great is that?

After shuffling around the first and second floor, still waiting for my paycheck, and still frightened of the heat outside, I ducked into the museum library and sat down with some anthropology books. A sudden realization came over me … I no longer struggle while reading in Spanish. A lot of what I was reading were anthropological interviews with campesinos, which probably made it easier, but still, reading in Spanish used to be a big pain in the ass for me. It was a comforting discovery. If anyone would like to search the catalog of the library – I can’t imagine you would – here it is.

So like I’ve said, I’m reading The Brothers Karamazov right now. It’s gonna take me a long long time to get through this one because 1.) it’s 1000 pages long 2.) I know nothing about Russian history and 3.) I know nothing about Orthodox Christianity. Dostoyevsky has a lot of allusions to other writers, politicians, and historical figures so I’ve been making a lot of notes in my moleskin and then wikipediaing.

‘I’m afraid you have understood in in quite the wrong order!’ Father Paisy said sternly. ‘It is not the Church that is to turn itself into a State, be clear about that. That is Rome and her dream. That is the third temptation of Satan. No, on the contrary – the State is to turn itself into a Church, ascend to the condition of a Church and become a Church over all the earth, something that is the complete opposite of Ultramontanism, and Rome, and your intepretation, and is simply the great predestination of Orthodoxy upon earth.

The distinction is, I guess, subtle, but I think this is really how the religious right (in all countries) looks at things. They’re not arguing for the subjugation of government to their religious leadership, but rather that the social morality and civic life become “enhanced” to a level of religious idealism. Essentially, I think they’re looking for common values and a sense of community, which is the same thing most of us our looking for. Especially supporters of transnational organizations like the UN. In fact, Dostoyevsky mentions Ultramontanism and you could make a pretty good argument that the United Nations and Ultramontanism are/were essentially trying to accheive the same ends – good will, peace, and community. (it’s interesting that the Vatican (or Holy See) is the only independent state which is not a member of the United Nations)

Another quote I like:

Also shun fear, although fear is only the consequence of any kind of lying

Yesterday was free entrance day to the Museum of History and today it’s the Museum of Contemporary Art so my lady and I are about to set off for a lunch date.

It was just after dark when the truck started down
the hill that leads into Scranton Pennsylvania.
Carrying thirty thousand pounds of bananas.
Carrying thirty thousand pounds (hit it Big John) of bananas.