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Thursday, August 25, 2016

DMZ, Not DMV

"Why do you want to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles?" One of my friends asked me, puzzled, when I mentioned the first place I plan to visit in South Korea. My Southern accent hadn't  distinguished well enough between a V and a Z. "Zee, Zed," I clarified. "DMZ--the demilitarized zone." "What's that?" She wanted to know. I explained that it was the border between North and South Korea, and that in typical military doublespeak fashion, it was in fact one of the more heavily armed areas in the world. Neither of my two girlfriends there in SK want to go--one said that one way she'd assuaged her parents' fears of her being halfway around the world, next door to a rogue state, was that she promised to stay as far away from said rogue state as possible. I've gone ahead and paid for a ticket for a tour the day after I arrive, which is the only day that one or both of my friends isn't free to do something with me. I think it will be interesting, if just a wee bit freaky. The young and fleshy Mr. Kim of the North seems peculiarly determined to demonstrate his country's ICBM capability of late.

I'm working on an entry about another contemporary Chinese writer, but this one is safely deceased as of 2014,  so any information online about him should remain where it is.

I just finished editing an essay about John Meade Falkner, an English clergyman's son who besides being an antiquarian enthusiast and writer of several popular mystery/adventure/suspense novels, worked as a bigwig at one of the world's largest arms manufacturers before and during World War I. Rather an odd duck, with a seemingly bifurcated personality.

I read some G.K. Chesterton yesterday and today, particularly his proposal to his wife. Brilliant man, brilliant writer, lighthearted and profound at once, like a small bell caroling happily atop a deep crystal spring.

There were several break-ins in my neighborhood two nights ago--car windows smashed and items stolen. Thank God my car was spared--if the thieves looked inside, they probably realized that amongst all the paraphernalia cluttering the back and passenger seats, there wasn't anything worth taking. I'm thinking about installing some security cameras--while they might not be a deterrent, they could record evidence if (God forbid!) this sort of thing happens again. My small neighborhood has never had issues before, though my mother's neighborhood (just 10 minutes away) has been undergoing a rash, averaging one break-in a day. One of the ladies that I walk with lunchtimes at work told me that a German friend of hers had done a teaching exchange at an inner-city Detroit school for a year. She was warned NOT to lock her car--this prevented the windows being broken when the inevitable thievery occurred. It's weird--in a completely unsafe area people don't lock car doors, and in a completely safe area people don't lock car doors--in a middling area, we think that our goods may be at risk, but that a thin piece of safety glass between them and the outside will be sufficient to prevent problems.

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