in the year 2011...

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 01:09 am
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...when the Bible, King James style, was celebrating its 400th birthday, and there was a lamentation because people had forgotten their biblical knowledge...

...there happened, in Egypt and Tunisia, revolutions against dicators that were compared to Sauron, Lord Voldemort and just about anyone evil, really...

...and in Libya, a rebel alliance rose in the desert, taking down an army much more well-equipped than themselves...

...Benjamin Barber compared his friend Saif Qaddafi to Michael Corleone.

(apologies for not making the entire screen scrolling over the screen into the distance)

(anyway, the whole point of this is that if some common cultural reference points disappear, others will ooze into the vacuum pretty soon.)
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Some years ago, my husband was invited to hold a guest lecture at a university in Tunisia. I urged him to accept it, and borrowed a course in Arabic from the library. I was quite keen to accompany him!

Then the invitation was withdrawn. It seems some American academic had held a lecture in Tunisia where he called for human rights and democarcy. As a precaution against further such offences against the regime, invitations to foreign speakers were withdrawn. We didn’t go to Tunisia, and I stopped doing the course after “merhaba”.

A few years down the line, a young man set fire to himself in that same country, and people took to the streets, got beaten, gassed, shot, and still took to the street. And soon, I hope, anyone will be able to speak about human rights, democracy, whatever they want in Tunisia.

I didn’t really catch on to the unrest in Tunisia, but did when it reached Egypt. Feverishly following tweets on the protests from a number of people in and out of Egypt, I felt a part of the protests, even though of course nothing much was at stake for me. Still, I felt that if I were there to witness things, I could help move things along. If I updated my timeline one more time, Mubarak would surely go!

I remember feeling like this when Israelis and Palestinians finally signed a deal back in the nineties. That, of course, turned into a terrible disappointment. But what the recent events in the Arab world has given me are some beautiful pictures:

- Muslims and Christians protecting one another and praying together, being “one hand”, “all Egyptians”
- People stoically praying against the force of a water cannon
- The entirety of Tahrir Square (usually a trafficated roundabout) filled by people praying, singing or cheering
- Protesters deciding they'd clean up the square, including rocks that had been thrown at them

The last few months have given me a newfound respect for the unsinkable North Africans, made me a friend of Islam more than any number of "look at their former greatness" exposes could have done, and taught me a fine new collections of Arabic words:

Hob (here)
Shabab (people)
Tahrir (liberation)

stuck without snow

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 06:42 pm
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i find it supremely ironic that while all of Britain is frozen under a layer of snow, i'm completely snowless (and quite warm) in its northerly neighbour, Norway. i'm here to visit my parents, although "bring their granddaughter to them" might be more apt. so far, it's had its ups and downs. we flew out after the first snow but before the really heavy snow, so our plane was only two hours late. the snow seems to have scrambled all information equipment, however, because no one got any information about the delay. not even my parents, who were waiting at the airport for us to arrive at the moment the plane was finally taking off.

the daughter took the journey well, with the help of some muffins. i, on the other hand, developed a headache. so the next day i lay low with that, while she played with her grandparents and their stash of toys. unfortunately my parents weren't able to appreciate her fully, as they were both ill with a rather nasty cold.

the next day everyone was fit enough to go shopping. yay! warm norwegian clothing! and shoes! and 11 pairs of socks! guess she won't be getting that for christmas, then. however, at the end of the shopping round, the daughter seemed quite weary, and kicked up a fuss about wearing her seat belt, or about me saying things like "there" or "oops". i should have known by then that the crankiness signalled illness.

daughter fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon, then woke up late at night, wanting to play. fine, i let her play. then we played children's songs (which thankfully are nice, non-annoying recordings) until she fell asleep. during the night, she became hotter and hotter, like an anti-snowman.

today, she's been doing little other than sleeping. my parents have been looking in on her and saying "poor thing". in the evening, grandfather made cake for her like he'd promised to do. he even managed to scrounge up some fresh strawberries! happily, she ate half a piece. it may not be the best sick-food in the world, but if it's eaten, it's good.

so i'm spending most of my time in a bedroom or within hearing distance of soft whispers. hopefully, it'll be better tomorrow... and that goes for Britain, too.
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Moishe's Bagel is a band i stumbled upon while searching for bagel recipes. they play a "triple-distilled brew of Eastern European dance music, Middle Eastern rhythms", and they stream! do check it out. my bagels turned out well, too, on the second attempt.

secondly, as i was down with a migraine from hell today, i managed to catch up on a good many podcasts. there's always a silver lining! i learned all about the american composer Amy Beach, who was acclaimed in her day but unknown to me. later on, i was delighted to find out that her name is actually spelled "Beach", as i'd hoped, not "Beech" as i assumed.

frog and elephants

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 10:08 pm
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well, here i am, hopefully jumping into posting waters again.

Film star Helen Twelvetrees on an elephant, Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney, 1936-7 / Sam Hoodi'm a big fan of amphibians, and it saddens my heart that many of them are on the verge of croaking. therefore, it gladdens my heart to read that elephants are doing their utmost to help their bare-skinned brethren through heavy stomping and rampaging.

i may have done the work of an elephant by digging ditches around our little plot of land in front of the house, and by lazily putting long branches i'd cut off the hedge in a heap next to it. plenty of spaces for frogs to hide. and i have, in fact, discovered frogs in those places twice. the first time, i gingerly transported the frog through the house and into the back garden, which leads to the river, which is surely where it wanted to be in the first place.

but the second time i found a frog in front of the house -- under the rubbish bin, no less -- i decided that it probably knew what it was doing, and left it there.
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Whitby is a gull rookery. The people here are just visitors. They climb up and down its slopes while the seabirds command the air. Forget about dawn chorus -- here they form their own shrieking choir at night, forging unknown dynasties from the roofs.
Read more... )
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well, a lovely holiday's over. my husband and i are patting our backs because of the success of travelling 1) not too far and 2) not too long. i'll be posting a little travelogue soon.

i'm not one to go voluntarily on net vacation, but our cottage didn't have net access and taking the laptop to the pub with wifi access seemed to silly. so i bravely went a whole week with only human, dog and seagull communication.

when we got home, my parents, who'd been even longer "off", immediately descended on my computer. i must say i watched them, worriedly, quite a bit. my computer! my hundreds of tabs open which they might accidentally close! my file system which they couldn't find their way around! (my mother almost uploaded the photo viewing programme to google in an attempt to share her holiday snaps).

now, they've gone back home, and it's all mine again. it's good to be back.

treasure!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 05:11 pm
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a treasure trove of roman coins was, surprisingly, declared a treasure. this means that the hoard belongs to the crown, but a biggish reward is given to the chap who found them. the finder, Mr Crisp, will share the reward with the landowner who hosted the hoard.

When asked how a share of the money would change his life, Mr Crisp said he did not know but added: "I'm coming up for retirement... I'll work until I'm 65 then I'll see."

He added it was not the money that mattered.

"This is what matters, I'm the finder of the largest single hoard of Roman coins ever."

thattaboy!

sparkly teeth!

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 12:39 pm
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i've developed a small fear of the dentist recently, funnily enough, since our present dentist is rather good. it was earlier, when all available dentists tended to suck, that i kept pushing for me & my bearded half (a name he protests... but he was, back then) to go and get our teeth checked. well, the good news was that i finally went, and the better news was that although my teeth needed fixin', it wasn't a gaping new cavity of doom, just an old filling that was cracking.

in my life i've had dentistry done in norway, england and india, privately and publicly (erh, not in front of an audience... now that would be true horror). i've had white fillings (the private ones) and a metal one (from british NHS). i've had countless flossing lessons, including watching a film of a chimp flossing (very educational). and in norway, i had a dentist who thought it was a good idea to put one filling into two teeth. time proved him wrong.

so today, with great trepidation, i went to have my teeth restored to their separate identities. they actually feel like teeth again! as a bonus, it wasn't all that horrible. i'd better remember this next time. now for the eye check-up...
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døgn. that's norwegian for "a day and a night", or less poetically, 24 hours. somehow, that seems to better suit the day-and-night (pah) job i've been doing the last three or four of them -- looking after the child, the dog and myself while my bearded half has been meeting with like-minded academic minds. he's been enjoying himself. so have i, but i've also realised how hopeless i'd be at living alone.

one of his jobs is locking the door at night. i remembered about that, and decided to be very careful and not leave the key in the lock, as a would-be burglar might conceivably be able to get hold of it through the letter box, so i took it out.

the next day, doggy was being his usual boisterous self, running about while i was trying to fix food for him and us. suddenly, his energy levels leapt. he'd noticed someone outside the door -- i caught a glimpse of him too, and hurried to intercept barking and howling Sam. i put my hand on the door handle. and it didn't move. and then i remembered about cleverly locking the door at night.

where were those keys? all my foggy brain could remember was turning, then taking them out and leaving them... somewhere. which clearly wasn't the keyholder. i had no idea. so i went for plan b. i stayed very, very quiet, pretending the mad dog was the only one home.

then came the døgn which i spent looking for a library book. it wasn't even a very good one, but it was new, and somebody else wanted it. i discombobulated the bedroom, moved a shelfrack from one room to another, tidied the living room and messed up the bathroom, looking for that there book. in the evening, i decided to call it quits and give the library my profuse apologies and their large fine. let's go for a walk, i told my daughter. we went to her bedroom to get some warmer clothes. and there i happened upon the book, on a chair.

needless to say, the keys showed up too. but i'd hate for all this to happen on a daily basis.
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i caught a starling today. actually, a thread that was for some unknown reason attached to the green wall caught it. i noticed the bird as i walked past, idly wondering why on earth it didn't fly, the fool. then i noticed that it was trying to do exactly that.

luckily, i have watched ANIMAL 24:7 where they tackle swans, squirrels and alligators that need rescuing on a regular basis. this bird was going to be saved! i grabbed the starling so it wouldn't do any more flailing, and thankfully, was able to get the thread off. it then set off on a flight to freedom. i totally blame my cool on the show. who says you can't learn anything from tv?

bye bye

Friday, July 9th, 2010 02:17 pm
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today was the last day of nursery, and the end of our association with the Steiner school. it's a nice, friendly place, but sometimes the niceness becomes a little too extreme to me, possibly a little too fake. what with one thing and another, i find the entire movement a little too cult-like and am glad to be out of it. instead, what i'd never have imagined is going to happen: my daughter is going to start school at four. eeps! well, we're looking forward to it, at least for now.

second

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 11:01 am
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it amuses me no end that the day i read something about only children vs. siblings and learning about sharing, my only child gets a bunch of cherries (which she loves) and insists of splitting them half-and-half with me. especially since i've never really stressed this sharing thing, me being rather selfish and all. i think she must be a freak of nature. a nice freak of nature.

first!

Sunday, July 4th, 2010 10:12 pm
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the only subject i don't have a journal for is serious stuff, so i guess this will be for that. well, partially.

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