Jul. 11th, 2007

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When we were with Brother Guy in Italy, he asked one of those joking/teasing questions of me that, for some reason, sticks with you and makes you think about it. Y'know, we were just joking around and stuff, and he said something along the lines of "So, how come you don't have a degree if you actually know all this stuff and like it?" I don't remember exactly his wording, but the point of it was the disconnect between me being a college dropout, and me actually having a decent generalized education, enough to follow along, more-or-less, with Guy's explanations of how the optics worked in the Vatican observatory, the electrical system and the history of what was done to the building at what points based on the leading theories of electricity at the time, the history of astronomical data collection, some of the research he was doing on meteorites and what they could tell us about solar system formation, and so forth. I mean, so long as he talked slowly and used little words, I could do okay.

Now, I don't consider my science education to be particularly good. I consider myself to have the minimum science education which one should have after graduating from high school, combined with a normal level of curiosity. If I hadn't really screwed up eighth grade so badly, I could have had a better science education -- I didn't take high school biology, so I am, to this day, shaky on exactly HOW ATP works, for instance, and, because of time constraints, our physics class only handled mechanics, and never really got into electromagnetism, so that's something ELSE I've had to fill in on my own.

Still, if I'd managed to pick up biology and electromagnetism, I'd have felt that I'd have gotten what I needed out of high school science.
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I want a BLT. It just sounds really good right now.
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Of course, not everything in Europe was wonderful.

London: is there any square inch of London you can be in where you're NOT being taped by a closed-circuit television? MAN, that's creepy. How do y'all get USED to it? I really loved the city, but I couldn't live there, just for that reason alone. WAY too much surveillance. Just. . . creepy, man. Orwell was a Brit, after all. . .

Italy: um. Doors that need a key to unlock from the INSIDE. See, I guess it's just a cultural difference, but, here in the United States, we have this thing called "fire". . . sometimes we accidentally get "fire" on our buildings, and then we need to get out of the buildings. And so, we like to be able to get out of buildings pretty easily. So we do things like have doors that you lock and unlock with a key from the OUTSIDE, but, from the INSIDE, you just use a knob or something, so that you can get out easily.

Freaked me out some, it did.

The other thing that I didn't quite get was the caribinieri. There's something creepy about having your civilian policing done by your military. I just don't like it -- rubs me the wrong way. They seem like perfectly nice, competent people (and the impression I was getting is that they're among the ONLY competent authority figures around -- c.f. my story about the woman fainting on the train to get an idea about the competence of all non-caribinieri first responders in Rome. . . ), but still -- the military is the military and the civilian is the civilian and it seems kind of worrisome to have one group do both.

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