On the farm where we stayed in Italy, our jobs every day were determined by the man I have previously described as

the Romanian farm hand, Adrian, who speaks paragraph after paragraph of rapid Italian to whomever his helpers are for thd day, regardless of thier ability to understand. He can get really frustrated and intimidating when he thinks people are being lazy, but he also has moments of pure enthusiasm. For example, when he saw the finished wind-blocking wall of an animal shelter we’d bult out of wood pallet-plastic tarping-wood pallet sandwiches, he started skipping and singing with excitement, and then pretended to be filming a documentary of it. (…we think. again, he was speaking very fast italian/romanian as he did this.)


Sight of the day: the Romanian farm hand, drinking coffee with one hand, cigarette hanging from his mouth, the other hand holding a blow torch, using it on the goose he’d just butchered. All this while sporting impressive facial hair and wearing a bandana. After a night out that lasted until 6.30 am. He out-macho-ed Chuck Norris.

Here is this epic man’s photo:

Photo by Jess

Did I mention he regularly downs a glass of wine like a shot during his morning work break, is fairly sketchy/inappropriate when it comes to female volunteers, and lifts barrels by himself?

Photo by Jess

Or that his favorite person/thing in the world is the farm pig, named Johnny, whom he claims he has taught to speak Romanian? He calls the pig “John” sometimes, with great seriousness.

Photo by Jess

He makes various noises while he works from “ep! ep!” to a whistle to singing songs that he may or may not being making up.

Photo by Jess

This is the prototypical moment of attempting to communicate with Adriano, who speaks very Romanian, very fast, very slang-y Italian. And expects everyone else, including people who he knows only speak English, to understand his paragraphs of rapid fire Romanitalian. and in those paragraphs, he likes to include tangentially-related stories, which are really inessential to the key point. so even if you catch a few words, they might have VERY LITTLE to do with the point at hand.


And that’s the guy. Our time in Italy would have been so much less entertaining and challenging and story-worthy without him.



Some observations from the first few days on the olive/cows/sheep/other produce farm:

-at a certain point of cleaning a dirt floor, you’re just digging a whole. 

-useful Italian words:

capisco, or more commonly, non capisco- I understand, or I don’t understand
“basta”-enough=work’s done, or stop whatever you’re doing because you’ve done enough/too much of it
“gratzi” thanks, “prego” you’re welcome. or a pasta sauce brand.
“bancaria” pallet (like a wooden pallet. sometime soon you’ll get picturse of the sweet wall we made for a cow pen, made out of pallet-tarp-pallet sandwiches. get excited!)
“piano”-slowly, used by the handyman, to tell us to work more slowly, as he works super quickly around us.

-fog settling in the valleys between Italian farming hillsides, with the setting us turning the hilltops to gold is one of the most beautiful things you can see.

-Italian is absurdly similar to Spanish. BUt somehow still difficult to sort out as it’s being spoken at you with loud volume and much emotion (which is the only way Italians speak, I’ve learned)

-Sheep are dumb, cows are curious and a bit creepy as they just stare at you, and cats are ridiculously nosy. They jumped in the bags we were folding as we were folding them, tried to attack the tarps we were dragging, and took residence on the wall we were building as we built it. and rats….rats are huge and terrifying, and I will never pick up a board in a shed without checking first that it does not have a nest of 4 or 5 huge rats underneath it.

Kant, you obnoxious, jerkface, incomprehesible…

Well, Friday looks to be the day that I walk into tutorial armed with an essay that demonstrates a level of understanding of the topic that is approximately equal to that of a…turtle. or a 3rd grader. But not a turtle that is in the third grade. That would be a really smart turtle and would understand this better than I do.


In my defense, however this is what some of the smartest people in the world and best Kant scholars out there have written about the passages that I am slogging through, understanding approximately 60% of the words and 10% of the meaning:

“There may well be room to deplore the extreme difficulty occasioned for us by Kant’s circular presentation of an argument that is already difficult enought to follow.”

“a single paragraph of perhaps unparalleled density…”

and, in a fun, textbook example of extreme understatement, “Kant’s position can now seem very puzzling.”

work in progress

This is the outline I came up with from my scraps of paper that I’ve written so far:

1.the least it could mean

2. what it normally means

-how supported accordng to Gardner

-Strawson hates everything

3. the totally weird thing it could mean (but it’s not useful enough to justify)

4. does geometry kill it? (no…but there are a lot of things that Kant’s arguments could lead to, other meanings of innate.

and I wrote a joke for myself in my ‘draft’:

There are some interesting things to say about the relation of space and time, but I’m guessing I’ll have neither the space nor the time to discuss those. hilarious!

and now you see why I put ‘draft’ in quotation marks. this is a rough rough draft.


Okay, guys, you might think that Oxford is just unequivocally beautiful in all areas, because….I mean, it kind of is, and because that’s all anyone takes pictures of. But that’s not entirely true. And so in the post, in order to give you more of a balanced perspective, I will talk about some things that aren’t so attractive about England:


1. Sagging skinny jeans on boys.  Really, guys? It makes you look sloppy and ridiculous.


2. Buildings made in the ’70s. If only there had been someone in the ’70s with the foresight to say, “Guys, I know we think this looks rad, but…I have this sneaking suspicion that we’re going to regret these buildings. Let’s just give it a year or 10.” Would have saved otherwise-beautiful places some unfortunate buildings, like this one at Balliol, which is otherwise gorgeous.

I mean, it’s…okay….but the rest of the college is filled with some of the most beautiful spaces I’ve ever seen in one place. And then the ’70s or maybe ’80s had to come in and ruin things…