Friday, August 30, 2002

We don't often see the Northwest Passage make it on the news. I'm glad CNN is so optimistic about it.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Hardly I had to reconfirmar, Ethiopia I am yes sixth of the bottom in the human index of the development of a Rumania is number 63. I will push that in the faces of those naysayers when with himself white Iulia. Stop to complain yer!

Wordplay, the site for words and fun, suggested using Altavista's Translation Service to translate something back and forth. The above passage is an English-to-Spanish-to English translation of the below passage.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

I just had to reconfirm, yes Ethiopia is sixth from the bottom in the UN's Human Development Index. Romania is number 63. I'll shove that in those naysayers' faces when I get to Alba Iulia. Quit yer complaining!

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Just got my medical insurance, my international driver's license, scentless deodorant (dissuades malarial mosquitoes from hovering around my armpits), nearly-scentless shampoo (prevents yellow fevered bugs from patrolling my hair), presents for Ethiopian friends, and malaria pills.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Good news! My passport just arrived with my Ethiopian visa in it. A tad disappointed. It's just a stamp. No fancy graphics. No colourful emblems. Part of it is written in the Ethiopian alphabet, however, so complaints should be kept in check.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Some good news from Japan, at last.

First, victims of stalking can now pre-register with police. Tokyo's Metropolitan police can dispatch the closest patrol car to the victim's aid after making the call.

The second piece of good news is that elementary and junior high schools will finally be getting air-conditioning in the summer. The plan will take ten years to equip some 30,000 schools.

The last piece of news, rather bittersweet, is that the Tokyo District Court has finally recognized that Unit 731 was indeed conducting biological warfare. Unfortunately, the Chinese victims will not receive compensation.

On another note, here is the latest weird Engrish. I wonder where you can buy the "Miss Urine Tester Pageant" t-shirt or the "I hate my life Everyday I polish my revolver and shoot my head like a rock star" t-shirt. Or where is the Pumpkin Poo bakery? I also got my wonderful fax reconfirmation from Addis Ababa's Ibex Hotel: "We shall await your arrival at the Airport Exit gate carrying a plague with your name on it." How nice.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Visited two libraries (Port Moody and the Burnaby Cameron branch) and two bookstores this week. I found Joyce�s Dubliners for 50 cents at the Port Moody Library. Sadly, however, I have issued a moratorium on book-buying after lugging yesterday�s load home. At the Robson Chapters I got cheap deals on two George Eliot biographies (one by Rosemary Ashton and the other by Frederick R. Carl), three of her books (Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, and Felix Holt), an Irish cooking book by Darina Allen, and The Ark and the Covenant, which will be a great companion during my trip to Ethiopia next week.

I also went to the Book Warehouse on Granville again, and saw biographies of Walt Whitman, Edith Wharton and Marcel Proust. The heavy set of George Eliot works and what-not tugged my hand and reminded me that I bought too many books already on this trip. I�m sure Walt Whitman will be around the next time I visit.

When I came home, I weighed my recent purchases: 20 kg exactly. The maximum I can send through Canada Post.

Spent the day reading Tintin comics. Watched the 1983 Jackie Chan movie Project A. Hmm, naked Yuen Biao. Gotta write to the Girl's Guide to Hong Kong movies and tell them that he isn't exactly an "iron virgin."

Back to the Tintin. Only two more books to go.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

This time I am....

I am Esmeralda!
Which Disney Princess are you?

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

You are Kermit!
Though you're technically the star, you're pretty mellow and don't mind letting others share the spotlight. You are also something of a dreamer.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Beth just sent me this about some poor emu that's scaring horses and women in hamburg. "We're still looking for either a naked man with huge eyes or an emu," a Hamburg police spokesman.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Phew! Finished both books!

I only managed to get two other Tintin comics I haven't read. Another girl was curled up beside the Tintin section with a copy, but I peeked at what she was reading. It was the Blue Lotus. Already read it last week. I also made a list of language tapes I wanted to borrow and I found them all, Romanian, German, Italian, French, Ojibwe, Coast Salish, Swedish, Russian and Cantonese, but, just before taking my catch to the check-out counter, I came across a sign saying that there were restrictions on language tapes. So I returned all the treasures back to the shelf. I'll study them next year, I suppose.

Aside from these minor disappointments, I couldn't enjoy my last day at the Central Library because I was in shock from, first, my airfare back to Japan (suddenly very expensive despite its being a low season ticket), and, second, because I had my meningococcal and yellow fever vaccines. The vaccine lady said the yellow fever would sting. Whoa! Did it ever sting!

I asked the vaccine lady, "Why does a live vaccine pinch like that?"

"Because it's a live vaccine," she answered.

"But why do live vaccines sting?"

"Live vaccines sting because they are live."

"But how is it that one stings but the other is painless?"

"Look, I can't tell you the exact scientific reason!"

Was it an unreasonable question? Isn't it as fascinating as I thought it was? The vaccine lady's irritability prevented me from complimenting her painlessly executed injections.


The Oak arrived at the Central Library checkout yesterday and I am the first person to watch it! At the 1994 Vancouver Film Festival, mom and dad and the rest of the adult Romanians dashed off to the movies, leaving poor Maktaaq to answer phones and make the pizzas.

When the adults returned, I asked them if they liked the movie.

"Tremendously!" they said.

"Then I want to see it too," I replied.

"You shouldn't - it's got rough language, much too coarse for your young ears."

Well, I'll be the judge of what's coarse and what's not now.

I found some good books at the Robson Chapters but I will wait until I clear all the other bills before buying those two George Eliot biographies and that third book, whatever it was.

P.S. Here's a good, cheapish book I found on the Chapters website: Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey. Sounds good and cheap!

Thursday, August 22, 2002

There's always too much to read. Sadly I must return Hannah Pakula's Queen of Roumania and The Phantom Church and Other Stories from Romania back to Vancouver's Central Library tomorrow. I read like a demoness today but still not fast enough to meet all my quotas. I am still not finished The Old Man and the Bureaucrats or the travel book. Twenty pages left on the travel book and Eliade's fifty pages I can zip through. The time spent on a good fiction book is half of what you need for a nonfiction book, or one-quarter of a dry nonfiction book. The goal is to finish both by tomorrow night.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Looking over the exploits of my book-buying trip, I must say I am quite pleased with my purchases. The major purchases were at Munro's Books in Victoria, the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, and the Book Warehouse on Granville in Vancouver.

First, Munro's. Not too good this year. I was a bit disappointed because I came away with only a 99 cent copy of Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist; a biography of Anais Nin by Deirdre Bair; Moliere's The School for Husbands & Sganarelle, or the Imaginary Cuckold; the full price Liane de Pougy's My Blue Notebooks: The Intimate Journals of Paris's Most Beautiful and Notorious Courtesan; and the Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. At another Victoria store, I got an Aesop's Fables colouring book made with woodcut illustrations from a 1476 German edition.

At Elliott Bay, I bought Japan at War: An Oral History and faced a big dilemma about A Rage to Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton. I decided to sleep on it and see if I would be any closer to buying it the next day. I had wanted to buy a Burton biography for so long. Twenty nine languages and twelve dialects! How did he do it?

The next day I went back to Elliott Bay, but, before taking Burton to the check-out counter, I thought I would have one last look around the bargain corner. In the end, I walked out with Henry James: A Life in Letters; An American Childhood by Annie Dillard; Ginsberg: A Biography; Was Huck Black?; Inventing Mark Twain: The Lives of Samuel Langhorne Clemens; and A People's History of the American Revolution.

Sending the books home through a book bag was quite straightforward. I must commend the helpful clerks, though they did forget to refund my money for the envelope I didn't buy - the greedy rats! The only snag to sending books through this system is that you need an American return address.

(In between here I got Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Read the bad bits about Nero, Tiberius and Caligula.)

Finally, my complete triumph at the Book Warehouse. I got a few comic books and guidebooks about birds, seashells and mushrooms. I also got Black Boy, Richard Wright's "classic" autobiography; The Virgin Queen by Christopher Hibbert (no endnotes or footnotes!); Faith & Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser; Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard (the turbulent lives of the four
Lennox sisters, 1740-1832, but again no endnotes or footnotes!); Anna Akhmatova by Roberta Reeder; Vera: Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov by Stacy Schiff; and D. H. Lawrence: The Story of a Marriage by Brenda Maddox (she of Nora fame).

My only other two purchases were Tuesday's 50 cent The Good Person of Szechwan (care of the Port Moody Public Library sales table) and the rediscovery of last year's forgotten buy, Tsvetaeva by Viktoria Schweitzer.

Monday, August 12, 2002

I'm always interested what happens to people with odd names - how they inadvertently get into trouble over their unfortunate monikers. Poor Christine. She didn't have such an unusual name but she got married and switched from Whitaker to her husband's surname of O'Kane. Neither of these names are very unusual either. But, by using her first initial and surname, she became C. O'Kane (Cocaine). Not very appropriate for the police force.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Regarding Jack the Ripper: was he really the artist Walter Sickert? What about Otto Dix, was he the German soldier nun-rapist because he painted this scene? Do you remember in Blackadder Goes Forth, when George paints Blackadder standing over the body of a ravished nun? But wait, Dix also painted Sex-Murder in 1922 and presented it to his wife for her birthday. Ah ha! But he was born in 1891 & the Whitechapel Murders were in 1888. Dang! Another cold trail.

Was Georg Grosz Jack the Ripper because he portrayed himself as Jack (click here for a miniscule image of the photo)? After all, he was discharged from the army because he was considered insane. Too bad he was only born in 1893.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Beth got me interested in Jack the Ripper recently. The latest controversy is about the crazy lady/crime novelist who ripped up a painting. Read about it here and here and here.



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