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Podcast 49a Transcript
A transcript for Episode 49a: "Better Know a Moderator: vacapinta" (2010-02-15).
jingle: (theme music)
mathowie: Let's do a proper introduction. This is episode 49, and our special guest is - I was going to ask if it was pronounced correctly - vacapinta. I'm slightly overpronouncing it, like a newscaster.
vacapinta: No, you should do the Ricardo Montalban kind of pronunciation.
cortex and jessamyn: (laugh)
vacapinta: Can you just say, 'Ricardo Vacapinta' [ˌriˈkɐrˌdo ˌvɐkɐˈpintɐ].
mathowie: I can't roll my 'r's.
mathowie: I was born without a rolling 'r'.
jessamyn: You just have to say it like a 'd', and you'll be closer than a rolled 'r'.
cortex: Just shout "Khan!" then.
vacapinta: And I know I can't see you, but it helps to hold your arm in front of your chest and kind of roll it forward as you say it right then.
jessamyn: Like a matador?
vacapinta: Yeah, the Ricardo Montalban, kind of like pushing your whole body forward as you do that.
cortex: What kind of chair are you sitting in? Is it rich Corinthian leather? Is it...?
jessamyn: Because we're all sitting in Herman Miller orange Embody chairs.
vacapinta: I'm actually sitting in a, funny you should ask. I'm sitting in a chapel chair. It's from a church, and it has a little box in the back where the person behind you can put their little Bible or little hymns and whatnot.
cortex: Oh, yeah. Is it...?
mathowie: Wow, Europe's cool. (chuckles)
vacapinta: So yeah, it's kind of funky cool or whatever. They're actually kind of neat, and they're very sturdy,
- because they were built many years ago--
jessamyn: In 1412.
vacapinta: Many years ago, when things were sturdier, right, as opposed to--
vacapinta: In the pre-IKEA age.
cortex: See, I associate that with long pews from growing up in Catholic churches around here.
jessamyn: Right, in New England, too.
cortex: But just a standalone chair rather than a long-ass bench?
vacapinta: It's a standalone chair, yeah.
vacapinta: It's just individual little chairs for whatnot.
mathowie: So, do we have any plans for an interview? I mean, I just want to know--
vacapinta: (chuckles) Does this have a format, or... (chuckles)?
mathowie: No, not really. What's London like, and do people, I don't know, think you're American, I guess, immediately, from the accent?
vacapinta: Well, before they talk to me, people think I'm Indian, because they, I guess, darker people such as myself tend to come from India rather than Mexico where a lot of my background is.
jessamyn: They just use a skin-matching kind of thing and say, 'Oh, Indian!'
vacapinta: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's kind of weird, because Mexicans here are very exotic, but no one knows very much about them, like, no one's actually met a Mexican in their life, so it's...
jessamyn: Oh, no.
vacapinta: So it's this really strange, they have these really strange stereotypes. It's like the stereotypes that you have in the U.S. times a hundred, it's like, Mexicans are always walking around with serapes and guns in their hands and big mustaches and that kind of thing. But they really think people are like that. It's very strange.
mathowie: I guess you have to think of, what do Americans think of Mongolians? You know, something that we've never run across.
vacapinta: Yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah.
mathowie: We'd think, 'Oh, they're all Huns!' and (laughing) they all cruise around.
jessamyn: And they eat a lot of yak, and...
cortex: They conquer...
jessamyn: They live in yurts...
cortex: You know, in the U.K.'s defense, though, that description of Mexicans seems pretty much about on par with what I saw in New England when we tried to eat Mexican food there when I was hanging out with Jessamyn last fall, so.
jessamyn: I ate Mexican food in New England last night, and the waitress had to keep ducking underneath the sombrero that was the lamp holder over the table.
jessamyn: And I was just like, oh my god, New England. Yes. Same problem.
cortex: Hey, oh, New England, there we go. In New England. In... yeah. See how I put that together. That was...
mathowie: (chuckles softly)
cortex: Yeah. Anyway.
jessamyn: Well, so actually, vacapinta, now that I have you here, I wanted to ask you what you were doing in the empty museum, because I saw your picture of the Rosetta Stone on Flickr.
jessamyn: And there weren't a whole bunch of people around. And if this is secret, like, if we start talking about something and you're like, 'Oh god, don't put that on the podcast,' that's totally fine.
jessamyn: Matt's not mean.
vacapinta: No, no, no, yeah. That's actually not that hard to do, because, well, I guess I should mention I live nearby the British Museum here in London, and they, there's hordes of tourists there all day, I mean, just like crowded and whatnot. But everyone goes in the afternoon, and no one really goes in the evening. I don't know why.
- All the tour groups decide they're going to take everybody out to dinner or whatever. So if you go in the evening, and they usually close at 5 on most days, so there isn't much of an evening, but on Thursdays and Fridays they're open until 8, and very few people know this. Sometimes 8:30. And if you go there at 8, there's nobody there. I mean, you can just walk through the whole British Museum and hang out with all the mummies by yourself and see everything by yourself.
vacapinta: And not have to compete with any tourists. So it's just one of those things where if you just, I guess if you
- did a little research before coming to visit the British Museum, you'd realize that there are times when it's completely empty. So I just walked--
jessamyn: Or listen to the podcast!
vacapinta: Yeah, so I just walked over there with my camera and just took a few pictures. And there's a couple of pictures where it's just, I have to wait for a guard to kind of walk by, and then as soon as they leave, as soon as they get out of the frame I take the picture or whatnot. Because there still are guards crawling around, but it's not that hard to do, yeah.
mathowie: This is like an excellent answer to an Ask Metafilter tourist question.
mathowie: Of what to do in London at night, loaded into the chamber, you're ready to go with this. 'Go to the museum alone.' That's awesome.
vacapinta: Yeah, yeah, it's really cool, because during the day you're probably crawling over other tourists and whatnot. They get a glimpse of something from far away, and here you kinda have it all to yourself.
mathowie: Yeah, I've only been there once for like an hour at 1 p.m. and it was a madhouse.
jessamyn: And you assume that there's never any empty time. Like, there's some museums where it's like, they're just busy from the time they open to the time they close, and there's no time
- you can go where it's less empty. And I guess other places aren't like that!
- It's true.
mathowie and vacapinta: (laugh)
jessamyn: And then, of course, I was also interested in your mysterious grandfather after your trip to Mexico, I guess it was? You spent some time with your family members in Mexico?
mathowie: Oh, yeah!
jessamyn: And it turned out you had some interesting grandfather that you found out some stuff about. And shared photos about him on Flickr!
vacapinta: Yeah. It's, I don't know.
mathowie: I heard this story!
vacapinta: It's kind of interesting, because it turns out that, I guess it's every little kid's little fantasy or something, but it turns out that we're discovering more and more that my grandfather may have been a spy or a secret agent or whatever. I'm completely serious. We're just digging through all these documents, and going to talk to these government organizations to try to figure out what this guy did.
- Because even my own mother, who was his daughter, didn't really know what he did for a living, right? She's, 'Oh, he did some stuff for the government,' and I don't know. He's just gone sometimes, and anyway, whatever. I had no idea. But apparently, this was back in the day in Mexico in the 1920s and '30s, and the only story she had told me about him was that he was, you know, all this freaky stuff, when they were at home hed always give very specific instructions such as, 'If someone shows up at the door and
- you don't know who they are, never tell them I'm home.' Right. 'Always say that I'm out.' Okay, Dad. You know, no problem.
vacapinta: And he refused to walk by open windows... all this paranoia stuff. I just thought he was kinda crazy.
mathowie and cortex: (chuckle)
vacapinta: But now we're finding all these documents where he had received these directions from the government to go investigate this assassination, or go do that, and he would disappear for long periods of time,
- and there were all these letters to him from random people all over Mexico. It's really kind of one of those things where you didn't really question, you don't really question much. Oh, it's Grandpa, you know. And he died a while back, in the '70s, and you don't really question much about your grandparents' history. But then when you decide--and it was really my wife who said, 'Let's go through these archives that your uncle has,' and at her instigation or whatever, we kind of went through them and it's,
- wow, this is really fascinating stuff!
jessamyn and vacapinta: (chuckle)
jessamyn: Well, and from her perspective, you get the sort of outside view on what that looks like, as opposed to the family, who's just like, 'Oh, yeah, it's Grandpa, whatever.'
vacapinta: Yeah. 'It's just Grandpa's old documents, who wants to go through those?', kind of.
vacapinta: Which I think is common in families, right, everyone's just like, oh, it's just Grandpa's stuff, who cares, [??]. (chuckles)
cortex: Well, it's that thing where yeah, you sort of... academically you know that your grandparents lived entire lives, not necessarily dissimilar in
- dramatic arc to your own. But at the same time, they're your grandparents, you know, they're these older folks who've always just been sort of around as, you know, in a lot of cases just sort of relatively steady, friendly, comforting figures, and that's about as far as it necessarily goes until you really decide to think about them in different terms.
jessamyn: Or when somebody else points out something that's unusual. Or when something weird happens when everything else has been kind of normal.
jessamyn: The example from my family is when my father went in to go get, I think it was
- detached retina surgery or something like that? One of those things where you have to lie on your back in the hospital for a week and it just kind of sucks and people come in and read you books, and my... his girlfriend at the time was in there reading him books and we'd show up and say hi. And he got this huge bouquet of flowers from the FBI?
jessamyn: And it's possible he just had a friend that worked there? We don't know. But my sister and I were both like, 'Dad, why is the FBI sending you flowers?' Like, for those of you who don't know, my father works in computers.
- He's not a government agent, he's not... and he's like, 'Ruhruhruh, I don't know.'
jessamyn: And it just wasn't very convincing.
jessamyn: But he won't talk about it, and so we're just going to have to kind of wait and then dig through his box of documents at some later time to be like, 'Hey, wait a second!'
mathowie: Huh. My grandfather, my dad's father, was in the Middle East as an oil man, I think, in the '30s, '40s, '50s?
mathowie: But to the day he died, he slept with a gun under his pillow, like, even if he stayed at our house--
jessamyn and vacapinta: (laugh)
mathowie: And I remember being warned when I was 7 or 8, you know, if you gotta get up and go to the bathroom, go easy when you walk [??] my grandpa asleep, you do not want to set him off.
mathowie: And I just would not go to the bathroom at night. I was terrified. But yeah, I don't even know what the fuck why.
jessamyn: See? From the outside, that's totally crazy. You should give me his name and I'll go look him up in, you know.
jessamyn: Was he a Haughey, too? I mean, was he your dad's dad?
mathowie: Yeah, yeah.
vacapinta: A Haughey.
jessamyn: (rapidly, birdlike) A Haughey? A Haughey?
jessamyn: Then he's probably look-up-able, as opposed to Smith or whatever, which is a much more difficult name to find anything about.
mathowie: Had vacapinta--Ricardo--had your parents ever been to Europe before?
vacapinta: No. Their first time was when they came to visit me and we took them on a trip to London and Paris. So that was kind of nice.
mathowie: What did they think of it?
vacapinta: They really liked it. They liked London a lot more than Paris. They thought Paris was really dirty.
- And London was very clean and nice and all the people were polite and proper and whatnot, so. Yeah, that was their overall impression. I think they want to come back now. I think they're kind of hooked, having never actually left the American continent before.
mathowie: Are they kind of bummed you took off? Was that hard to tell them, 'I'm gone'?
jessamyn: Getting married and leaving town?
vacapinta: Not really, actually. No, I actually see them more now than I did when I lived in San Francisco, which is kind of strange, because they live in San Diego.
- And so I used to say, oh, I can go down there any weekend, and so I just kind of put it off and put it off. And now you have to kind of plan in advance to go do this stuff, so you plan to see them two or three times a year. Which is actually more than I would go down there when I lived in San Francisco. So they're seeing more of me, actually!
mathowie: Huh, cool.
vacapinta: I actually thought you guys were going to ask about MiguelCardoso.
mathowie and cortex: (laugh)
jessamyn: We can! We can!
mathowie: I still hear from him every six months or so. Like, he'll just randomly e-mail me.
jessamyn: He occasionally shows up on the site.
mathowie: That's true.
jessamyn: And, you know, asks a question about his grandchildren or whatever and then vanishes again.
vacapinta: Well, my wife is Portuguese, in case, for people who didn't know that, and she grew up in Lisbon. And so it was after--and, you know, I met her and then we got married and whatnot, and she said, 'Wow, Miguel Cardoso, he hangs out
- on Metafilter?'
vacapinta: And I'm like, 'I'm totally serious! Let me show you!'
vacapinta: You know, it's, 'Wow? You must be joking!'
vacapinta: Because through her I kind of got a real sense of who he was, or who he is, in Portugal, which is actually, he's a pretty well-known figure. He's not that well-known outside of Portugal, I guess. But in Portugal, everybody, any semi-literate person knows who he is, and he's been involved in politics, he's written a lot of bestselling books, he's always, he's a journalist,
- he writes for magazines, he hangs out with all these famous people, so everybody knows who he is, and so to say this little site on the Internet, yeah, he's there all the time, dumping on about his life and his problems and whatnot, and so she found that really amusing.
mathowie: (chuckles) I'm trying to think of an American equivalent. What would he be like? Like, who's a pretty good author,
- sometimes shows up in political discussions...
vacapinta: But you wouldn't know them outside the U.S., yeah.
mathowie: I don't know. A newscaster? No? I don't even know who's... Tom Clancy? (chuckles) I don't know.
jessamyn: William Vollmann?
vacapinta: So I've tried to meet up with them a couple times when I've been there, and he's always kind of flaked out on me, right, Miguel?
vacapinta: In case you're listening to this.
mathowie: We've tried to get him on the podcast.
vacapinta: And we came really close one time, where he actually set a date and time,
- and then I got an SMS from him basically a few hours before we were supposed to meet up saying, 'Oh, my editor has sent me to...'
vacapinta: 'Needs me to go out of town, I gotta go catch a flight, sorry about that, I'll make it up to you, blahblah, so.' It's all still kind of mysterious.
mathowie: We tried about four times to get him to do this for a podcast, and every time something came up the day of. And it was always an author deadline. (chuckles)
- But one time I've video iChatted with him, so I know he exists.
mathowie: And you know it's really him, because you've matched him up with...
vacapinta: Yeah, I was going to say, maybe the famous Miguel Cardoso of Portugal is a different...
jessamyn: Well, that's what we thought for the longest time!
vacapinta: It's just an impersonator on Metafilter, right?
mathowie: Yeah. (chuckles) That's what I... yeah, I worried about it, but then I checked the IPs, everything was always coming from a real Portuguese IP address, and he has a British accent, which is a little weird, and I think that's
mathowie: --a thing that's normal, so.
vacapinta: So I've learned Portuguese, and the pronunciation of his name is [in a Portuguese accent] 'Miguel Esteves Cardoso'. If you were curious.
jessamyn: What? What was that part in the middle?
cortex: I want that on my outgoing answering machine message.
mathowie: It's, Steve is in the middle, but, like, (chuckles).
jessamyn: Oh, oh, oh. I was like, 'There's a whole extra word in Portuguese?'
vacapinta: It's [repeats in Portuguese accent] 'Miguel Esteves Cardoso'.
jessamyn: [imitating him] 'Esteves Cardoso'.
vacapinta: Yeah. 'Cardoso' [with a final 'u' sound], I guess, is closer than 'Cardoso' [Americanized pronunciation].
jessamyn: [imitates final 'u'] 'Cardoso'.
vacapinta: Which in Spanish you would tend to say 'Cardoso' [soft 's', final 'o']
mathowie: That makes sense.
cortex: His middle name is actually an homage to the cinema actor Emilio Esteves.
vacapinta: Yeah, yeah, correct.
cortex: His parents were very prescient.
jessamyn: Unhh! Unhh!
cortex: They could see it coming.
mathowie: Oh, what else...?
jessamyn: So vacapinta, the other thing we wanted to just have you talk about is because, this comes up in MetaTalk all the time, but
- you're the midnight mod.
jessamyn: Which is sort of almost an honorary--
mathowie: Janitor. (chuckles)
jessamyn: (chuckling) --an honorary position.
vacapinta: Yes, I could be a British knight or something like that, just get anointed.
jessamyn: Exactly. Yeah. Maybe in your own words--
vacapinta: If I get anointed by Matt on the head, and... (chuckles)
jessamyn: (chuckles) Maybe in your own words you can talk about what you actually do, because I think people sometimes feel bad that we don't have you chime in on more MetaTalk threads or that kind of thing, even though of course you're asleep at the time.
vacapinta: I'm completely happy, I'm completely happy not to chime in on more MetaTalk threads.
jessamyn and cortex: (chuckle)
mathowie: I know. Every time you--
vacapinta: I'd be happy never to check MetaTalk again.
mathowie and cortex: (laugh)
jessamyn: We can--
mathowie: Every time I see you leave a comment, it's like, 'I swear, this is just me talking as me!' (chuckles) 'Here's what I think!'
vacapinta: Yeah, I don't feel like I do that much, which is basically just check the site, check the flag queue while you guys are asleep and make sure
- nothing is completely blowing up. So I basically do two things. First of all, I make sure nothing's blowing up, and if something is blowing up maybe try to quash it or bring it under control. And that's usually some crazy, the few times where someone has decided, 'Okay, it's the middle of the night, I'm going to post something completely crazy on the front page of Metafilter--'
vacapinta: '--because everyone's asleep, and so we can all just kind of party.' And so I guess I'm kind of the wet blanket
- in this--
vacapinta: --because I'm awake, and there will be no party while I'm around.
jessamyn: That's the title of the podcast right there. "There Will Be No Party While Vacapinta's Around."
vacapinta and mathowie: (chuckle)
vacapinta: So that's the main thing. There's less of that now, right, I guess, because they're mostly a well-behaved crowd. But the other part is simply just, since I'm up, I'll just kind of little snippet-prune here and there,
- you know, sometimes someone will 'Help me, because I broke this HTML here', or 'I posted my comment twice accidentally' or that kind of thing. That's kind of, I'm around, so I'll just kind of help out with minor things like that. And that's really about it.
mathowie: So is it like, look at it at 10 a.m. your time, look at it at 4 p.m. your time, no big deal? Or is it...?
vacapinta: Yeah, no, just, usually when I wake up I check it in the morning and then I'm doing other things, maybe check it an hour later, or half an hour later, depending on how busy I am with other things, and just see that everything's going well. It doesn't take a lot of my time. Sometimes I'll only check it once or twice in the entire morning, and so something will get out of control, I guess. In an hour, things can go completely crazy, and then get on there and kind of quash that.
vacapinta: But I guess, for people listening, I'm just doing it so that you guys don't wake up with this massive headache in the morning of something that's now been, it's kind of like bacteria, right? Something that's been growing now for six hours, and it's just completely--
cortex and jessamyn: (laugh)
vacapinta: Completely taken over your room and whatnot.
jessamyn: It's exactly like bacteria.
mathowie: And people tend to drink into the night, you know, at 3 a.m....
mathowie: While we're asleep, so yeah.
cortex: Yeah, no, it's nice, because yeah, the way things can sort of explode just inside of an hour, but the difference between having something killed after even an hour of that instead of literally six hours and then waking up to a 500-comment thread or something is, yeah, it's kind of... because we even have stuff during the day where we'll end up, timing-wise we'll all be at lunch at the same time and come back and it's been an hour and there's 37 flags on some ridiculous thing. But yeah, compared to the...
jessamyn: That just happened this week! I saw that. (laughs)
cortex: Yeah. But the long-haul stuff overnight, it's so nice not waking up to even a fraction of what that used to be. Not that we had that happening all the time, but still it seemed like a week wouldn't go by where there wouldn't be some stupid thing in the middle of the night, so.
jessamyn: It felt like it was happening all the time.
jessamyn: And unfortunately, West Coast and East Coast people, we actually keep about the same schedule.
jessamyn: Even though we're in a totally different time zone. So Josh and I get up at roughly the same time, which means
- means there's no savings by having two coasts' worth of people, so that that sleepytime is the same for both of us. And now that Matt's daughter sleeps through the night, he's not awake all the time either.
cortex: But that works okay, because Matt probably... I think, Matt, you've always stayed up later than I usually did, so that sort of helps.
mathowie: Yeah, probably midnight to 7 a.m. I'm out, but yeah. There's no functional advantage to Jessamyn and me, because--
cortex and jessamyn: (laugh)
jessamyn: No, we should switch coasts. You guys should be over here, and then we'd have more of the country covered.
cortex: Ricardo, have you felt like, granting that it's a relatively limited amount, so it's probably not a huge effect, but have you've felt like it's had any sort of effect on your outlook on the site and your participation with weirder stuff, that you're also sort of fulfilling that ancillary role of moderation?
vacapinta: Not really. Well, actually--
vacapinta: You know, it was kind of a bummer, because when you have a... I'm not really, I guess we're trying to make this distinction, but I'm not really a policy mod, I don't go in and--
cortex: Right, yeah, you shouldn't have to deal with that stuff.
vacapinta: Tell people to behave and whatnot. But just because I play a mod-like role, it's kind of like suddenly being given a slight parental role.
vacapinta: And what that means is that when you're in threads, now you feel like you actually have to behave, like you have to--
vacapinta: --set a good [??] tone. And just like any other user, sometimes you get the impulse and go, you know, I just want to say something crazy and get a reaction from people.
vacapinta: But then you go, no, wait, I can't do that. I just can't do that.
cortex: Yeah, no, definitely.
vacapinta: So it's taken a bit of the fun out of...
vacapinta: Out of (chuckles) being a Metafilter member.
mathowie and jessamyn: (laugh)
jessamyn: This is a terrible story. (chuckles)
cortex: I was asking because I totally identify with that.
cortex: As much as anything, I'm glad it sounds like it's not having as much of an effect. But, yeah, no, it's definitely one of the weird things that comes with the whole process, so yes.
vacapinta: Yeah, no, I mean, it's a good effect, because if someone, and I guess maybe Josh, you went through something similar, but it's like, someone, you're in a Metafilter thread making some comment, and someone tries to pick a fight with you, right?
- You're like, okay, in pre-mod days, you might be like, am I going to take this guy on, or am I going to back down, or what, you know.
cortex: Yeah. Well, you know--
vacapinta: And if you're a mod, you're going to be, let me try to say something political and neutral and...
vacapinta: Let me try to be diplomatic here, as opposed to just tell this guy he's an asshole, right? So it's... (chuckles)
cortex: Yeah. And it's definitely, yeah, like you say, it is a good change. It's definitely been excellent for me for growing up a little bit more over the last few years in that capacity. But at the same time, yeah, there is that occasional sense of,
- ah, fuck, I gotta be the adult.
jessamyn: See, I find that that really, those restrictions actually make me more creative, that you have to learn how to tell somebody off in sort of coded language.
jessamyn: Where other people can sort of see what you're doing, but you're not abusing your mod authority? Although occasionally I just get really pissed off and write a really angry comment, take a screenshot, and then delete it.
jessamyn: You don't ever do that? You never do that.
vacapinta: I do except for the screenshot part.
cortex: Yeah. I mean, I--
jessamyn: Well, how would anybody know? And then I mail the screenshot to my friends. No?
cortex: I just chat with people in a different venue. You know, I have places where I vent. So I do the same thing, I just don't literally use that specific process. But yeah, no, definitely the ability to have some way that you can say the regrettable thing that you do not want to actually say and be able to deal with that in--
jessamyn: In public, right.
cortex: Yeah, some private sphere where you can just sort of vent is really definitely useful.
jessamyn: Oh, you know, that's another interesting question. So cortex, I sort of know where you hang out that isn't Metafilter, and you guys sort of know where I hang out that isn't Metafilter, but Ricardo, do you have any... I mean, I know you're heavily into Flickr and sort of a heavy Flickr user and stuff like that, but do you have other either Metafilter spinoffs or other communities that you spend lots of time with in online? You're the more mystery person to me, because I spend so much time with Matt and Josh.
vacapinta: Yeah. Not really, actually. I've kind of pulled back. I actually used to be online more in different, I guess in different communities, maybe in the early 2000s. And I think I've just pulled back a bit. And a lot of that is just life changes and where now, I've been married for two years, and there's a whole set of other what you might call offline things that I've gotten involved in.
- And so now I just, I think I focus more on being involved with Metafilter than I used to be. In fact, doing the midnight mod thing means that I'm actually paying more attention to it, when actually Metafilter was, at the time when Matt and I talked about this, I was kind of drifting away from Metafilter, and this kind of pulled me back in.
vacapinta: So other than this... (chuckles) Other than this and Flickr, as you say, and I'm a bit active on Facebook, but that's just more communication than
- what you might call a broader community. I've kind of become more... I guess I've pared down the number of people I communicate with, where a lot of the people, I've pulled in people that I used to, that I met or knew from other communities early on, and now have a smaller sphere of people? And I don't know if that makes sense, but I was also looking at your,
- I think something you just posted, Jessamyn, which was also this little questionnaire saying, how do you communicate with your friends?
jessamyn: Oh, yeah, those crazy MIT weirdos!
vacapinta: Yeah, yeah. And one of the checkbox--all the standard checkboxes were there for online stuff, like Twitter and Facebook and Flickr and 'other', right? And I think you checked the box 'other' and said something like, 'I like to talk to people face-to-face,' right? That's an 'other,' I guess.
jessamyn: Yeah! I've got friends in my neighborhood. And we hang out, you know, IRL!
vacapinta: IRL, yeah.
vacapinta: So I guess for me, I'm more the 'other' these days, in terms of trying to make more of an effort. And I think it's also moving to Europe, I just make more of an effort now to keep those personal communication lines open with friends that I left behind in the U.S. and whatnot, because if I don't do that, then I feel I'm just going to become
- far away from everybody over here.
jessamyn: Well, as near as I can tell from your Twitter and your Flickr and stuff, you appear to be eating non-stop.
mathowie and cortex: (laugh)
jessamyn: I just vicariously live through your food consumption, because everything you eat is delicious and you appear to eat seven to twenty meals a day, and they look delicious.
vacapinta: You know, I don't know if I should publish a diet book or something--
vacapinta: --but I've actually lost about twenty pounds in the past year or two.
vacapinta: Because I eat more here, but I eat better than I used to.
vacapinta: And in San Francisco, I guess as a single guy, I'd always just like, aw, man, I'm really hungry, I haven't eaten today, I'm just going to order a pizza or go grab a burrito or whatnot, and I think I was eating pretty badly. And my wife, who's actually an amateur chef, she's really creative, and she really loves to cook. But the things she puts together, it's all stuff she gets at markets, and she
- uses olive oil to cook, and everything's just very fresh and simply made. And I eat a lot, and I eat more than I'm used to, but at the same time, I guess I'm eating healthier food, or I don't know, because even though I haven't changed my exercise patterns that much, I'm not exercising a lot more than I used to, I've been losing a lot of weight. And I have to try to remind myself to eat a bit--not eat a bit more, but
- sometimes let myself have really sugary stuff just so that I don't lose too much weight, if that makes sense.
mathowie: So you think you walk about the same in London as in San Francisco.
vacapinta: I walk about the same, because in San Francisco I used to walk everywhere. I lived in, I don't know if you're familiar with San Francisco, I lived in the Bernal Heights area.
jessamyn: Oh, yeah!
mathowie: Yeah, yeah.
vacapinta: So I'd just leave the house sometimes and walk all the way downtown, right, just to... which is a bit of a hike, walking-wise.
vacapinta: And here, I guess we do walk a lot, but it's also, in Central London things are easy to walk to once you're in Central London, to get from to the British Museum to Buckingham Palace or whatever, it's probably easier to walk, if you like walking. I think it's about the same. But I guess I have to measure it out to see if I'm not deceiving myself.
mathowie: (chuckles) Your one day's food haul.
jessamyn: What is this?
cortex and jessamyn: (laugh)
mathowie: This is just all the food you photographed in one day. (chuckles)
vacapinta: Well, no, that was... I mean, that was a restaurant.
vacapinta: So that's a little bit of an exception. But that's actually, I highly recommend that place. That's the Sportsman, out in Whitstable, in Kent, in England. There's really, really good food. It's just this totally ratty-looking place in the middle of nowhere, it's hard to get to. It used to be an old, dirty pub, where people
- beat each other up, and this guy just moved in there and started deciding he wanted to really make good food, and the salads are just from stuff in the back garden, the lamb he serves is from a sheep farm across the street, and just kind of simple food, I guess.
mathowie: Wow. Sweet.
- How difficult was it to move it to London, like visa issues or whatever?
- And I guess I never even asked you, what do you do in London? (chuckles)
vacapinta: It was really, really simple to emigrate here, actually. I'm an EU spouse, right? I'm married to an EU citizen. And we actually got married in February, late February, and right after we got married, in March, I sent in paperwork to the British consulate in the U.S.
- By late March, I had a stamp on my passport saying, 'this person can enter and work in the U.K.', and on April 5th, this was two months later, I got off a plane and we started living together here in the U.K.
mathowie: What about medical care?
jessamyn: That's crazy!
mathowie: That's awesome. What about, like, does the medical care kick in?
vacapinta: It's actually the fastest route, I think, to living and working here.
- But, sorry, what, the medical, the NHS?
mathowie: Yeah, like, the national insurance, does that kick in after a certain time, or is that a pain?
vacapinta: No, it's pretty easy. I got it, I was signed up for that as soon as I got here, pretty much.
vacapinta: Right now we have a doctor about a block away, and usually you can just walk in and talk to the doctor. And this is, I guess this is, some people are going to call me out on that, because that's... here, it's what they call the postcode lottery, which is
- that depending on where you live, you'll end up with, you kind of have to go to the services nearest you, and so depending on where you live in the U.K., that'll, I guess some people told me that they have to wait weeks to see a doctor and all that stuff, so I guess I'm, in this case I'm lucky and it's not, I think it's not typical that I can just go walk in and see my doctor, pretty much any day, if I want to make an appointment it's no more than a day in advance.
jessamyn: Alright. So, Ricardo, you were talking about your doctor.
vacapinta: My doctor.
mathowie: Yeah. And we're in the middle of crazy healthcare stuff. I'm wondering, is it just awesome and easy and simple and humane over there?
vacapinta: Yeah, again, for me, yeah, it's been awesome and simple and easy. I've had a great doctor, it's all free, I just kind of walk in, and I actually have a thyroid condition, so I have to take, it's very common, I guess, I have to take a thyroid supplement every day?
- For the rest of my life or whatever.
mathowie: Is it levothyroxine?
vacapinta: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
vacapinta: (chuckles) Well, I came here, and I went to go talk to my doctor, and I said, here's my condition, they said, okay, no problem, and so levothyroxine I guess is considered a class of drugs here which is necessary for my life, it's not a nice-to-have, it's something I kind of need. And so it's free. So it's basically, any life-sustaining drugs like that are
- free of charge or included in your medical, whatever, your NHS.
vacapinta: So, I mean, I just go to the pharmacy and pick up as many as I need, and then I never get charged for them, and I think here, actually, my doctor is always reminding me every six months to get a blood test, which is something my doctor in San Francisco never did. And so they're really responsive, they're always calling me or reminding me I haven't made an appointment in a while,
- and as I said it's really easy to walk in and talk to them. So I don't know. I'm really impressed.
mathowie: Hmm. Sweet. Every time I've heard of an American go to the doctor in the U.K. or France or Australia they're like, so great! And money isn't even an issue at any point in the transaction, and here...
vacapinta: Yeah, it's not...
jessamyn: Well, except that the American's totally bent out of shape, like, 'How much is this going to cost me?!'
mathowie: (chuckles) Yeah, right, right.
jessamyn: And the Australian doctor is like 'Shut. up.'
mathowie and cortex: (chuckle)
vacapinta: Yeah. I am living and working here, so, because you asked earlier, I'm automatically covered under NHS, so automatically you qualify as soon as you move here, basically. As soon as you establish residency here.
mathowie: Oh, cool.
vacapinta: Not only that, but there's a little card I carry. It's the EHIC, the European Health Insurance Card. I don't know if you guys are familiar with it.
vacapinta: Basically, it's a card I was given, and so if I go travel anywhere in Europe, anywhere in the EU, if I show this card, I get healthcare there for free too, so if I go to France and I need to go see a doctor, I don't pay anything over there, because it's all, they reimburse each other, or it works like that?
jessamyn: Like the way the mail works here. You can mail something to another country without having to worry about what that other country charges for mail.
mathowie: Oh, right.
vacapinta: Yeah. So it's pretty cool. I don't know.
mathowie: What do you do as a day job these days?
vacapinta: I work for a large corporation.
vacapinta: Who shall remain unnamed for the moment.
vacapinta: But it's basically a very large corporation that has been only getting larger in the past twenty years since I... it's been that long since I joined them and started working
- there, when they were still kind of a small company.
jessamyn: Why do you think people wonder about your grandfather?
mathowie and vacapinta: (laugh)
jessamyn: You've had a job for 20 years? Nobody your age has had a job for 20 years!
mathowie: Yeah! That's crazy.
jessamyn: You expect me to believe that?
vacapinta: How long, let's see, trying to do the math, trying to do the math here...
mathowie: Were you in sixth grade?
vacapinta: Actually, 18. Well, no, yeah, I joined them 18 years ago, and then I left, and then I rejoined. So it hasn't been a continuous 18 years,
- but it's been 18 years since I first started.
vacapinta: And, so in terms of what I do, it's basically an architecture, software architecture role, and I have an office, but I also work from home most of the time, so yep, that's kind of what I do here in London. It's just work from my laptop, I guess like most of the people.
- Like a lot more people are doing these days.
mathowie: Wow. So you went across the pond, you work at home mostly, pop into in the doctor and eat a lot of food? That sounds pretty awesome. (laughs)
vacapinta: Yeah. That's pretty much it.
cortex and mathowie: (laugh)
vacapinta: And check Metafilter at 9 a.m.
vacapinta: That's pretty much, you've just summarized my entire life, yeah.
jessamyn: And take a bunch of pictures. That sounds nice!
mathowie: Yeah! Sweet. You want to... I guess we should probably wrap it up, it's been like 40 minutes. (chuckles)
vacapinta: Get to know vacapinta time.
- beryllium, 91 segments
- Pronoiac, 1