Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Work? What work?

Ever notice how the practical issues of getting yourself set up in a new home, for howsoever brief a period of time, tends to push your work aside?  I'm trying to do some actual professional work for the first time today in almost a week, and I haven't exactly succeeded yet.  (Commented on a bunch of academic blogs, though.  Do I get partial credit for that?)

What I have been doing is:
  • Shopping.  Since I don't want to eat out every meal, I had to hit the streets and do some housewares shopping, particularly some key kitchen items and some basic groceries.  I may have to do another serious round of housewares shopping, since it's looking increasingly likely that an old friend is about to fly into Research City to visit Yours Truly.  I've rented a furnished apartment, so I didn't need to furnish the place from scratch, but some things could use some updating.  The bedsheets in particular leave something to be desired, and I don't want to show my friend less than fantastic hospitality.
  • More food shopping!  On a tip from a friend who lives here, I stopped in at a cheese shop this morning, and stocked up on some yummy, oozy goodness.  I now have four kinds of cheese in my refrigerator.  Somebody stop me.
  • Registrations.  RC offers limitless opportunities to prove one's identity and declare oneself as Dr. Koshary who lives at such-and-such place and is connected with institutions X, Y, and Z...and so on.  Some of these are inevitable governmental matters, and others are optional, but offer worthwhile benefits.  There's a fairly extensive community of US expatriates based in RC, most notably in the neighborhood in which I now live, and they have a nice community center with a lending library.  Cost me $23 or so to join, but it's worth it: they have scholarly texts!  I mean, they have all manner of trashy novels, too, but they've got some books that I can work into my research!  They have a good selection of literary fiction, too, which will serve well for those evenings when I'm sick of dealing with my somewhat unpredictable internet coverage.
  • Internet!  Oh yes, that's right: didn't take me twenty-four hours in my new place to arrange for internet.  Research Country is, compared to the US, a johnny-come-lately to teh internetz, although they've been working hard to get their telecom network up to speed.  Since I was last here, the latest rage to sweep the world of web junkies has become the USB modem.  It's not quite as fast as a grounded connection, but it's not bad, and frankly, it's not like the ADSL here was ever any great shakes.  (Broadband cable connections are, to my knowledge, unknown here.)  I've been getting to know my new little friend, a USB stick that, rather than hold data, transmits it through the telecom cloud.  Except for the slowness of video streaming, it's performing well.
  • Arguing.  Oh, Research Country, I love you but your stupid governmental regulations can go fuck themselves sideways with a roll of red tape.  You don't want to know the details, and I don't want to write them, but there has been a mild, shall we say, argy-bargy about a particular matter to which fellows holding my postdoc have to conform.  I fear that I won't get it sorted out for another week or two.  Still, it's nothing crucial, as far as I can see, although it's hard to convince professional bureaucrats that every sheet of paper isn't crucial.  My strategy, having been through this particular wringer before, is to take the attitude of "All is well, all shall be well," and patiently go through the motions with a bunch of ninnies who understand nothing but signatures on documents in triplicate.
  • Eating bad food.  I always do this when I'm first setting up a household, so I'm not surprised.  Despite myself, though, I'm still surprised about how terrible the restaurant food in RC is.  WTF is it with these people that they do not understand how to add herbs or spices to meat or vegetables?  Human beings have been messing around with the art of cookery for at least 10,000 years; you'd think someone would have taken the hint here by now.  I made the mistake of grabbing breakfast at a cafĂ© on the way to the cheese shop, and they managed to make a scramble of eggs, onions, peppers, and sausage taste like....nothing.  That shouldn't even be possible!  I ate out way, way too often during my last sojourn in RC, and now I have sworn not to fall into those old, bad ways.  Breakfast today steeled my resolve.  Now that I've burnished my cooking skills during my last few years of grad school, it's time to put them to use!  
  • Applying for jobs.  It's kind of sick that one of the first things I need to do while taking up a research fellowship is to keep on working through the applications pile for this fall's job postings.  There's no help for it, though; a year from now, I'll be back on my butt if I don't land a job during this year's cycle.  Research, irony of ironies, will just have to wait.


  1. Hell, I've lived in this house over a year and I still find myself distracted by the mundane when I'm working from home. I do manage to get everything done by the end of the day, but it's an uphill struggle against "Oooh, I could vacuum!" or "Y'know, I'm running low on clean clothes." I can't imagine what my productivity levels would be like not only in a new place, but in a different country.

  2. Don't remind me about laundry. The hamper I bought is already full, and I have yet to purchase detergent. Urgh.

  3. I had the same experience moving out here!

    Also: mmm, cheese.