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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Audience Stats

Blogspot keeps track of how many views I get for particular posts (not sure exactly how--why some get hundreds of hits and others less than a dozen does not seem to follow any predictable pattern), and the country from which the readers originate.  The majority, as expected, come from the United States, with a smattering from Europe--a few months ago, my Ukrainian readership started to pick up, and remains respectable.  I seldom see any hits from Central or South America, almost never from Africa (though I do know several folks living there), and only periodically from Central or Southeast Asia.  Lately, though, someone in Saudi Arabia has been visiting, and twice recently another person from South Korea.  Since the statistics don't show which visitors read which posts, I am left permanently curious as to what brought them to my page.  The South Korean connection I can explain, but the Saudi one I cannot.

The statistics do include what keywords people who visited were looking for, and what sites they'd been on immediately beforehand.  Thus, I know there's at least one pornography addict who's looking (in vain) for further illicit indulgence who occasionally comes by (that would explain the popularity of the post "Cumberbatch & Nudity; Koreans & Wonder Woman" which--I'm sure this disappoints him or her--contains no racy pictures of the actor, the people, or the fictional character), and many others looking for information on random topics of a more G-rated nature. There are obvious spam comments (most of which Blogger automatically deletes) from people trying to drum up business or traffic for their own sites; some are coherent and some computer-generated gibberish.

It's fun, looking at the countries where folks allegedly read Rummynation, to guess whom I know there who it might be!  If it's Canada, I wonder if the CSCM has ever dropped in, if it's the UK, perhaps my cousins are catching up.  If Russia, it could be Ira, if Germany, my mute LDC.  Ukraine--maybe one of several couples I'm acquainted with in Kiev and Odessa. China--a friend teaching English.  India--did some of my old high school friends find me?  I've added the Google Translate button to the top of the blog to help some non-native English speakers who might find me cope a bit better, but I know from my own use of that software that though it will usually help a reader get the general sense of a passage, it is not to be trusted for comprehensive and detailed understanding.

At any rate, thanks to all who visit to read.  Except the porn addict (GO AWAY--there is nothing for you here!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Turned Down (But Graciously)

Casemate Publishers was a dream shot--I would have loved to have had the TMTF book issued by them, but they sent me a rejection email today.  It was very pleasantly worded, though, and even complimentary (they noted that though it was not in their subject area, by which I think they meant strictly military history, they "were immensely impressed with the writing"), and left me feeling that the whole interaction had been thoroughly satisfactory, despite its negative outcome, publication-wise.  For one thing, as I think I mentioned in a previous post, they immediately acknowledged the receipt of the submission, and their turn-around time for deciding yea or nay was remarkably quick.  Would that the many places I've applied to for employment had such a record!

I am sick again--the belly pain has returned, and kept me from sleeping much at all last night, and from attending the second practice session of the new Gospel choir at church.  The director is the pastor of a small African-American congregation in a neighboring town, and is one of those frightening people who plays more than a dozen instruments well and sings beautifully.  Thinking he was a new member of the choir and not the director (I thought another fellow was in charge), I basically put my foot in it up to the kneecap last week when I introduced myself.  I hope he doesn't think I'm playing hooky because I'm still embarrassed.  I am still a bit humiliated, but I am also not up to singing lustily from the gut when my gut is in such a state of disrepair. I had hoped to finish my TESOL course yesterday, but a bellyache doesn't encourage concentration on the subject of creative lesson planning.  Of course, my mother concerned: "What if this happens while you are overseas teaching?"  I'm going to make an appointment with an internist tomorrow, and see if she won't give me a referral to a gastric specialist.  It would be wonderful if there were a comprehensive fix--being exhausted and shaky is wretched.  It doesn't do much to bolster my already middling morale, either.

There was a good event this morning that helped offset the discomfort of the afternoon!  I was in a doctor's office this morning (he's almost 90, and our annual interactions fundamentally consist of his being encouraging and my shouting about the last year's significant events while he congenially cups his ear and asks me to repeat myself), sitting on the swaybacked couch in the drab waiting area that hasn't been updated since the 1970s (except for the addition of new magazines--there are teetering piles of them on every flat surface), and I happened to look up at the framed picture on the wall across from me.  "Wait a second..." My art-radar started sounding, and I got up for a closer inspection.  It wasn't a reprint, but an original 1834 Audubon print by Havell, hand-colored, in its original dimensions.  Sellers on Ebay want more than $2500 for individual pictures in this series.  I told the good doctor (he bought it decades ago, because there is a scene of downtown Charleston in the background) about its value, and that if he should ever give it away, it ought to be to someone he really likes!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Deactivation

This afternoon, while I was still at the gym, I deactivated the profile Rachel generously helped me make almost a year ago on the site I'll facetiously call "Midwestern State Matchmaking".  Other than my LDC, who has since disappeared from my email inbox, I hadn't seen anyone there in whom I was vaguely interested, though I continued to receive "hey, little lady, you're cute" messages from fat old men every week or so.  Ick.  I know we all age, and that many of us have girth bigger than ideal, but if anybody's the older, fatter person in a relationship, it ought to be ME! :-)

It's devilishly hard to burn paper, or leastways to set alight a stack of financial reports (from back when I had finances) when one's trusty shredder is kaput.  I'm a paper-keeper by nature, but I am tired of holding on to irrelevant computer-generated material, so I pulled the monthly investment statements from my file boxes that dated back to the last century (!) and resolved to destroy them.  The shredder did good service for several hundred pages,  (recyclable giblets) and then went into permanent red light status that no amount of coaxing would change.  So I decided to spend Memorial Day barbecuing the rest.  Oil didn't catch fire, matches wouldn't light, and a handful of charcoal briquettes just lay there inert.  I finally poured rubbing alcohol over everything and set in ablaze with a lighter, but it took a full six hours for everything to cook into indecipherable grey ash curls.  Happily, I made it through the process with only one scorched finger, and provided the present strong thunderstorm doesn't fry me whole in the shower, I am going to scoot upstairs to get properly cleaned up before bed.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dubious Friends

Having built my network (250+ folks thus far, of greater and lesser familiarity) on Facebook, I sent off the TMTF manuscript to Ambassador, a high-quality Christian publisher based in Greenville, SC.  The challenge to publishing the book is that it may seem too academic for popular audiences, too popular for academic audiences, too Christian for secular audiences, and too secular for Christian audiences. That said, it is a fascinating peep behind the Iron Curtain of yesteryear, a record of thoughtful romance, considerable economic and social challenge, and long-term courage that is remarkably contemporary.  I would not have spent all my spare minutes for seven years working on the translation, creating substantial explanatory endnotes, and reading and re-reading the manuscript for clarity, accuracy and lyrical beauty if I didn't believe whole-heartedly that the story was one English-speaking audiences would be profited by knowing.  Russia needn't be the "dark continent" of the 21st century, and good books like this can contribute immeasurably to better understanding of their past and present.

My laptop is giving me fits--I had to buy a new battery a month or so ago, and it's had problems overheating ever since.  I have an external hard drive to back up the data, so if the machine goes up in a puff of smoke one of these days, I should be fine as far as preserving essential information, but how on earth am I going to afford a new computer?

One of the downsides of Facebook is that there's a subconscious desire to represent one's life as lovely, complete and enviable in pictures and updates, and though I am extremely grateful for the blessings I have (room and board-wise, no unemployed person ever had it so good!), it is a little galling to see the lovely wedding and baby photos of so many, many people--some of whom I used to babysit when they were little!  Not that I don't love seeing others happy--it's just that my life doesn't seem to follow many of the conventional patterns, from matrimony to employment, and it's almost like there's an asterisk needed next to my name, to explain my peculiar circumstances without work, kids, pets, a spouse or a noble spiritual calling.  That said, I may have a lead on an English teaching job in Russia for this coming year--of course, I'm still going to look into jobs in South Korea and that area--if it works out, I would have an opportunity to better my own foreign language skills (become really fluent in Russian, instead of "passable") as well as help others with theirs.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Biting The Bullet

I have gone over to the Dark Side!  (At least they are alleged to have cookies, per an internet meme). After years of valiantly resisting the call of Facebook, I signed over my soul this morning.  The tipping point?  The facts that I am still jobless despite exploring all other avenues short of taking out a full-page newspaper ad (does anyone under 60 still read them?), and that at least one potential publisher for the book manuscript requires submitters to have a significant online footprint (electronic publicity being a necessity even for print media these days), and I knew that having 8-12 regular blog readers just didn't cut it.  I sent off "friend" invites to everyone in my email contact list (more than 600 people--I hope there's no one I really want to avoid!), and FB started harassing me about "friending" too many people too quickly.  Drat them.  I have to have built a network by Monday, when I plan to submit the translation proposal.

And, no, I don't plan to post very much at all on Facebook--my writing outlet, with updates and details on the events in my life, will continue to be this humble blog.  However, it is possible that through FB it might gain some more regular readers!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Addiction Returns

I fell off the wagon this evening...into a vat of butter.  Mums and John went to the mountains for the weekend, leaving me to see to the leftovers in their fridge.  Among these was a partial gallon of WHOLE MILK.  It'd been almost a week since I ran out of skim (procrastination on grocery shopping and the digestive illness kept the cupboard bare), and I was desperate.  I ended up drinking 48 oz. in two hours.  That's like, what, 900 calories?  It was soooo good, though.  Sigh.  It's too late to go to Publix for my own fat-free jugfuls, so I am at the gym, guiltily jiggling on the elliptical trainer while watching a real estate show on HGTV.

I sent off sample chapters of the manuscript formerly known as Two Motherlands, Two Fatherlands, plus query letters and copies of Ira's CV and my own, to three publishers today.  Some require submission via email, others only accept them via snailmail, so two were electronic and one was by post: Casemate, University Press of Kansas, and University of South Carolina Press.  It took UPK all of about six hours to get back to me with a rejection, but they were nice about it, and it was also to their credit in my book (no pun intended) that they actually responded at all!  (Compare this with hearing neither evil nor good results from my many job applications).  A lady at Casemate acknowledged the submission personally, and said she was sending it to the acquisitions folks for inspection.  USCP will take a day or two to get the packet I dispatched.  My dream, of course, is not only that a good publisher will accept the manuscript, but also that it will become wildly popular, and somehow pave the way for me to find further and lucrative employment in the literary world...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Reconstruction Projects

First, congratulations (and thanks--she suggested some OTC remedies that actually worked better than the prescription I was given!) to my sister, S Dawg, who just finished earning her Masters in Nursing this past week! I am sure she (and her husband and children) will be happy to be *merely* working full time, rather than working full time and going to school full time simultaneously!  I don't know how she did it.  She's way more efficient than I am.

Second, in addition to re-doing my old coffee table (the Russian motif one), I am tinkering with a giant Maitland-Smith armoire with a mirrored door which will eventually be the main piece of clothes-holding furniture in my downstairs bedroom (once I am done with the modifications, I intend to move all my apparel from the upstairs room I initially thought would be mine--before the memory-foam mattress fiasco--and it will become a guest bedroom).  As I paid very little (and it had several obvious superficial issues that I knew were fixable), I knew it was a project piece when I bought it (Maitland-Smith is a high-end North Carolina furniture maker, and this item originally retailed for several thousand dollars).  One outstanding flaw, at least in my mind, was the stupid little fence of bamboo it had stuck along the top edge--neither in architecture nor in furniture design have I ever liked purely decorative railings.  I knew I was going to pull that sucker off the minute I saw it.

As frequently happens when one buys a pig in a poke, even at a bargain, there were a couple of condition problems that the eBay seller didn't mention that were obvious when the thing arrived on my doorstep.  Oddly, at least two of these were not the result of any abuse on the part of the previous owner, but were issues that could be placed squarely at the feet of the M-S designers: the use of tiny wood screws to hold on the back panel of the drawer-chest (it had popped off in transit, but will be easily re-attachable with longer screws), and, damningly, the fact that the mirrored door wouldn't close properly, because the dinky little hinges on the top and bottom were warped.  I took the hinges off and weighed the door on my postal scale: 32 lbs.  That's a whopper of a door (very well-made and solid), and it defies the laws of physics and all common sense to think that two wee little brass bits no more than 2mm thick would be able to sustain it in place, much less allow it to swing freely.

So, I have been learning a lot about hinges (my brother Nate told me I need to get "offset knife hinges" to replace the bad originals and I watched a how-to video on YouTube to assure myself that I would be able to install them once I procured the right ones--they aren't available locally, but thank God for the internet!  I plan to get ones that can handle up to 200 lbs.) and other things. For example, I did not know that 3/8" hardwood wasn't to be had at Lowes--they have that thickness in soft pine, but not in something more robust, which is what I need to fill a notch in the side of one of the drawers.  It turns out, that size of wood is mostly "to the trade" of cabinetmakers, so I sent off an email to the fellow who re-did my mother's kitchen, asking him if he had any scraps (it's not like I need a lot).  Worse comes to worst, I'll use a piece of 1/2" red oak and sand the dickens out of it before I cut it to fit.  I also need to install some shelves--the pins are there to hold them, but the shelves themselves are AWOL.  I may just end up using something cheap for these for the short-term.  I can beg wood scraps, I'm going to hunt for the hinges online, and I have already successfully removed the bamboo fence railing, but I'm not putting more money into this until I have income.  That said, it's turning out really beautifully on the outside, and it's solid, so other than the aforementioned quirks, I'm pleased.

I have a local jewelry event tentatively planned for the end of June--it's at a children's fashion show (not "Toddlers & Tiaras", just pretty girls' dresses!).  I'm scraping along meantime, trying to turn time (of which I have an abundance) into money (of which I have none).

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ergh, Bleh!

I inherited a chronic digestive issue from my sweet Grandmommy, and though she has found successful ways to cope with it, lately mine were apparently not as efficacious, because I've been really ill the last two weeks, sending me at last to the urgent care center on Friday. "Yep, you have a serious problem," was the basic diagnosis, and they prescribed some of the vilest-tasting medication I've ever had to swallow.  It wasn't supposed to induce vomiting, but I couldn't help but barf a couple of times.  And the stuff didn't do a dime's worth of good.  After checking with my stepdad (always good to get a physician's approval!), I went back to self-medicating, and though I feel a little better this afternoon, I am reluctant to declare a complete (albeit temporary) cure quite yet.

I have been so grateful not to have a job the last couple of days!  I've been curled up in bed, in a fetal position, trying to rest, and had I an employer at the moment, I would have used up a good many, if not all, of my annual sick days.  I am also very grateful for my mother, John, and my friend June, who have all regularly checked on me and brought me food and such.  Except for slowly walking around the back yard and the aforementioned trip to the doctor, I haven't been outside since Tuesday, which is kind of bad, because the weather has been much cooler after Wednesday's rainstorms, and had I been feeling perkier, another series of bike rides would have been nice.  Well, there it is.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Russian Koreans

I am awake in the wee hours again because of ongoing belly pain.  I know it's not appendicitis because "been there, done that" and I have a three-inch scar on my right side as a memento.  Sigh.

In the meantime, I've foregone my usual obsession with YouTube cat videos to watch ones about Korea, and I discovered a really interesting series in Russian called "I am a citizen of the Russian Federation" (Я-гражданин Российской Федерации) with an episode about Russian Koreans.  Most Americans don't realize how multiethnic Russia has been for centuries, even hundreds of years prior to the advent of the Soviet state.  And yes, many people came to Russia from other countries in search of a better life (the reason for most voluntary migration, truthfully).  Beginning in the  nineteenth century, Korean peasants, mostly from what is now North Korea, immigrated to Siberia when famine and unemployment plagued their homeland.  The TV program quoted a South Korean official saying that there were about 200,000 ethnic Korean Russians (the US has about five times that number).

Like many other transplanted ethnicities , Koreans in Russia tended to marry within their group, to maintain some separate aspects of their traditional culture.  This has led to some peculiarities in the 21st century, as when a Scandinavian official visiting the American upper Midwest observed that there were native songs and dances preserved among the US descendants of emigrants from his country that had long been forgotten back home.  So also there is a "time capsule" of older Korean vocabulary and behavior among Russian Koreans, who can find it shocking to visit South Korea, where the technological revolution of the last fifty years has wrought considerable social and linguistic change.  And, of course, no matter how distinct a minority population attempts to keep itself from a mainstream culture, there are always subtle influences--the  TV show was, of course, designed to show how this particular community was in fact, Russian (not русский, but российской)  in citizenship and identity, and the lovely standard Russian that the local Paks, Lees and Kims were speaking in the interviews testified to this.  Many families had historically become Orthodox Christians, thus further distancing themselves today from South Koreans, where those not adhering to Buddhism or Confucian philosophy tend to espouse Roman Catholicism or  Calvinist Protestantism.  They still eat rice daily, though, not the bread that Russians favor.

What was neat to me was that the TV program focused first on the Koreans' general character as "hard and honest workers", a role and depiction similar to that of the Volga Germans of the imperial era, thrifty and diligent farmers invited to settle by Catherine the Great while preserving their own traditions (150 years later, their descendants were considered suspect when the Nazis invaded the USSR--not unlike the Japanese Americans who were interned during WWII.  Like there not being a single case of American Japanese collaboration with Hirohito's empire, I would be surprised to learn if there were in fact Russian Germans who favored the Nazis, but then Stalin was paranoid about everyone, and given his equal opportunity victimization of people of all races, he had reason to be).  Stalin had many Russian Koreans deported to Central Asia during the 1930s in the unfounded fear that were the USSR and the Japanese empire to go to war, the Koreans would favor the Japanese.  Not bloody likely.

The Korean immigrants built traditional tiled-roof houses in Siberia, complete with ingenious floor-heating systems that made most furniture superfluous, the narrator intoned--I'd never considered that perspective.  I sit on the floor most of the time, but I'm always on rugs and so am insulated from what might be a chilly surface. Plus, being from the South, I've never really had to think of furniture as protection from the elements.

After a period under the Soviets wherein Korean language schools and publications were outlawed, even ethnic Russians in the far east are enrolling their children in Korean-teaching schools, since they have such a "logical, planned" alphabet, rather than the "hieroglyphs" favored by other Asian nations.

With the collapse of the Soviet state, descendants of deported Russian Koreans found themselves in the newly-independent "stans" of South East Asia, caught in conflicts between the Russians left there and the resurgent local ethnicities (Uzbeks, Kazakhs, etc.).   One physician they interviewed had eventually relocated from Tashkent to Moscow.  Thousands of others found themselves displaced again, without work, shelter and money, like many others.  This, the TV program interprets as a point where Russia also was recognized as family, as home and origin.  The episode ends with two adorable little Korean kids singing the RF national anthem, and various avowals by adults that though they are of a minority ethnicity, first and foremost they are Russian citizens, dedicated to the strength of that "best country in the world" from whom they "have received everything", not foreigners simply sojourning there.  Very patriotic, the sort of conclusion that makes everyone feel like waving flags and smiling.

Another idea that is often hard for Americans to grasp is that other countries' citizens may be as "proud to be ___" as we are to be "born in the USA".  And positive propaganda of this day and age is relatively the same: We work hard, this land has given us so much opportunity, we are excited to call it home. That's the publicized ideal, but how this notion of superethnic inclusivity manifests in everyday life is the question.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cycling

Mums and I have gone cycling two days in a row. Both times, we've emerged sweaty but relatively unscathed (Mums bloodied her arm and her right shin yesterday, and today I ended up with a sunburnt patch around my watchband and a couple of bruises on my left calf), feeling as if we'd spent hours in a live-action Impressionist landscape.

Dapples of shade and sunshine through canopies of dancing green leaves covered both the North Augusta Greeneway (named for a Mayor Greene, not an attempt at ye olde tyme spelling as it might first appear) on Tuesday and the Augusta Canal path today.  There even were ponds with water lilies (my most loathed Monet series).  An eighteen-inch black snake rippled across the asphalt ahead of my bike tire, and we saw a bluebird and countless turtles sunning themselves and diving deep into green weedy water.  Though summer is basically upon us (it's been in the upper eighties lately), some flowers still bloomed in springtime profusion.

And it was so pleasantly quiet!  There were spells when the trails ran across or alongside a road, and of course that was noisy and noisome, but there were long stretches where the sounds of the clicking bicycle gears and the scream of a hawk and the trickle of water were the loudest around.

A long-held wish of mine has been to ride in the locomotive of a freight train all around the country, not just because I like trains, but because I'd get to see my homeland from an exceptional perspective--from the backlots of urban areas to the wild countryside.  Biking lends you a little of this feeling, as even when you travel roads that you've walked or driven dozens, even hundreds of times, you are observing the area at a different speed, from a different angle, and so you notice different things.  As I whirled along in the heat this afternoon, I thought of my photography mentor back at the University of South Carolina, who instead of making stiff studio portraits from a standing position would crouch on the floor in front of his subjects' chair and encourage them to talk about their interests--he said that way, he not only was physically approaching his work from an unexpected point of view, he was inviting the person to reveal their personality to the camera.  I like to see my environment's character likewise.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Exhausted, But Sleepless

By 6 PM Saturday, I was so tired I was shaking.  I showered and shook, I lay down in bed and could barely text, my hands were vibrating so severely.  And hours later, I hadn't slept.  Insomnia pummels the brain and the body.  I may have gotten three hours of sleep Friday night--I kept waking up, then barely dozing.  Saturday night, I had hoped I would drop off naturally and stay unconscious until my church alarm, but I finally had to resort to sleep aids and they took a while to kick in.

I did manage to get a good night's sleep, though not a complete one.  Church was awesome, then I came home to collapse again.  After my Sunday afternoon nap, I got only one hour of sleep last night, and so am back to being jittery and too tired to drop off.  Argh.  How people with  infants manage  to survive, I don't know--having only snippets of sleep and yet having to be responsible for a helpless, often hungry little individual is just incredible to me--I'm barely coherent enough to feed myself now, much less take care of anybody else.  Belated happy (and thankful!) Mother's Day to all of you ladies with children out there--you are awesome!

At least today was fairly productive!  I vacuumed, got rid of about 30 boxes and packing paper left over from my move (CraigsList!), made Christmas ornaments while I listened to my favorite musical (Guys & Dolls), painted leaves on my Russian-style coffee table (I am having to re-do it because the clearcoat I used last year started chipping and flaking off), and dug out my brother Bob's medals from his miscellany box in the attic.  I also got through a few sections on lesson planning in my TESOL course.  Now, if I could just enjoy about 36 hours' straight of unconsciousness...,



Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Valedictory Visit

At night when it rains in DC, the roads are like black metal--the obsidian pavement glimmers all over with lights from the buildings and traffic signals and cars, but there are no reflections back from the lane lines, so it's anybody's guess where you are on the lumpy roads.  Add to this the challenge of roundabouts, with their chaotic patterns and spokes running off into the darkness (some might be one-way streets, who knows?), and the fact that at certain hours people are allowed to park in the curbside driving lane, and it's a miracle, even with ten years' experience navigating this labyrinth, that I managed to make it back to my hostess's house in one piece Monday, when it was pouring.

This whole trip north has been a final "goodbye" to the area that I once loved--I have found myself traveling all of the trails that I took regularly at one time or another during my residency here, from Bethesda, MD, to Fairfax, VA, seeing those whose schedules permitted, eating at my favorite Greek restaurant in Alexandria, stopping off at the Arlington Library to confirm that my expiring library card cannot be renewed for out-of-state residents, and so forth.  I've spent time with Rachel and Susan, with DesertRose and Leah, with Amy and the girls from my old trivia team.  I picked up the last available books from my German professor friend (one more time in the ICC at Georgetown!), and dropped off a selection of lamps at the consignment store where I used to work.  I didn't get to see my former estate sale boss (she was not at home when I was in the area), and there are a few others I've missed, but life moves on, and as much as it would have been a pleasure to touch base, I don't feel any sense of incompletion.  

In fact, I am amazed at how relieved I am not to be living here any longer. I have no desire to return. Really, I don't have a yen even to visit anymore.  I miss my friends here, but there is a sensation of shaking the dust from my feet, a "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" attitude that I am surprised has taken hold inside me.  I am ready to do something else, go somewhere else.  I feel no regrets for having spent my thirties in this area--it really was a dream come true--but I feel lighter, and freer, looking to begin my forties elsewhere.  I am leaving tomorrow, a day earlier that I had previously planned.

Several people have asked whether I am still corresponding with the fellow I referred to as my LDC, and the answer is no.  Not because of any ill-will, but because the contact simply lapsed--I got the impression overall that he was writing out of a sense of courteous obligation, rather than any real personal interest, and when I never received a reply to my last note, I did not send another.  It is to be expected when one is studying in a second language and some random person is writing you in a third that one would become fatigued.  I was thus disappointed, but not surprised, at this conclusion. 

On a positive note, I have added another website address to my side-bar: Red Dragon Diaries.  I mentioned in a previous post that I had watched several vlogs on this guy's YouTube channel and liked them (when I found it, he had "only" 8000 subscribers, now he has over 13,000!), but was particularly fascinated lately by his story about an ice cream place that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze its treats on the spot, and another about a bus-stop flea market (he's done a lot on solid, serious topics, but I was entranced by stories of sugar and antiquities, my two major obsessions...). Enjoy!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Tatort

Tatort (taht-ort), or Crime Scene, is roughly the German equivalent of Law & Order.  The series has been running 40 years, and the location moves among major German cities, with the cast in each place being specific and recurring.  Different directors take each episode--the one I watched tonight with two German-professor friends was directed by the brother of one's colleague at Georgetown.  There weren't any subtitles, but I was still able to follow the general plotline--detective shows the world over have certain commonalities, and every so often I would catch a keyword that confirmed a detail I had suspected visually.  Having friends from different cultures stretches you mentally!  I wonder if "ordnung", "in order", that is, "in its place", is at all related to "ort" or "scene"?

I am up in DC for much of the next week.  Although I feel like my center of gravity has shifted south, it is still familiar territory, and I look forward to visiting many friends between now and Friday. Also, Anita and I have been asked to do a jewelry show at the Arlington Drafthouse Theater this Wednesday, so in addition to dropping off eight or more lamps at consignment places, I hope to be able to profitably thin my inventory of personal decorative items.

I am listening to The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, the third and final volume of William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill, a book completed ably by journalist Paul Reid after Manchester's death.  We are barely into the thick of the Battle of Britain, and already several of my long-held presuppositions--about the immediate threat of invasion by the Nazis to the UK, and the perception of French military prowess by the German high command--have been challenged.   It's a fascinating story.  My father had loved the first two parts of the trilogy, and I would have enjoyed discussing this one with him.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Sugar Snobbery

Whenever my mother comes over, she ducks into my pantry to raid my candy stash.  I have several tins of Dove chocolates which I bought after Valentines that I am gradually working through, and after Easter I went to the Walgreens around the corner and bought out their leftover candycorn and M&Ms (the former labeled "bunny corn" and the latter "bunny mixes" painted in pastels, appropriate to the secular season), so I should have enough sugar to last me through to the next major American candy-holiday, Halloween.  Mums, however, noted with some scorn that I had "low-rent" candy.  

I have pretty sophisticated taste when it comes to chocolate as a general rule (my very first paying job was as a Godiva chocolate sales lady), but poverty and desperation have driven me into the arms of the Mars and Hershey companies.  I rationalized getting the bags of M&Ms--2 of milk chocolate, 2 of dark--with the thought I would make cookies with them, rather than consuming them straight from the bag, but I know I am just fooling myself.  I am so ashamed.