dorchadas: (Blue Rose)
Yesterday on Twitter, the Japanese Consulate in Chicago retweeted this link to a translation contest run by the Japanese Literature Publishing Project, and now I am troubled. It took me a long time to figure out, but translation is really what I want to do. Conveying knowledge between one language and another is like solving a puzzle where the reward is understanding. Some of my favorite times in Japan were when friends would visit and I'd interpret for them, and yeah, my Japanese is passable at best, but it's good enough that I can convey meaning. Just recently I was reading 電撃ピカチュウ to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd as she lay on the couch with her head on my lap and realized that this is my best life.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif

But I don't know if entering the contest is a good idea right now. The deadline is July 31, with 36 pages to translate. That's not an insurmountable barrier--right now I'm reading 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ and I could easily do 36 pages of that in eight weeks--but reading that also gives me a good example of where my translation abilities are right now, which is "good but not great." I don't often make a mistake that inverts the meaning of what I'm reading, but it does happen. Entering this contest would take a lot of effort I think would best be saved for other things, like studying for the JLPT. That, I think I have a better chance with.

I'll remember this for next year, though. This is the third contest, and though the first was in 2012, the second was last year. Maybe they're on track.

My sister has a job interview in Chicago today so we put her up last night. She's an incredibly considerate houseguest--worked around my usual morning schedule and accepted the food we had on hand--and I don't get to see her very often, so it was pretty nice. She's looking for a job in academy after veterinary private practice turned out not to her liking. I advised her to take the job in Iowa and use it to save a ton of money, but she pointed out that it would require living in Iowa. Fair.  photo _s_by_stevanov.gif

My parents are coming into town tonight, but not until late, so after work [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, my sister, and I will probably play Mario Kart. Couch gaming isn't something I get to do much lately, especially not with more people. It'll be great.
dorchadas: (Equal time for Slime)
Well, no more Shabbat dinner! [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's strep caused two people coming to cancel, since they just spent a while passing strep between them and their son and don't want to risk another round. Then another person pulled out because their partner's grandmother died unexpectedly, and with half the attendees unable to come, we thought it was better to postpone the dinner.

My parents invited us out to dinner for Mother's Day, but we also had to turn that down. I mean, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd does have strep throat and still needs to recover, and while I think I'm safe, I won't really be sure until Monday.  photo _s_by_stevanov.gif So better to stay home and rest.

I won't lie, though. I got a little happy rush when I didn't have to agree to plans that would disrupt my whole weekend at the last minute. Now I know it's coming and I'll be happy to go.

I might go get a manicure this weekend with my free time. My nails now are long enough that I'm having trouble typing this post and haven't broken, so it's probably worth it getting them shaped so they won't interfere with my typing but I don't have to cut them all off before ACEN next weekend. I already typed my entire Majora's Mask review with them and that wasn't fun either.
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
Yesterday, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went with my parents to the orchid show at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The weather wasn't great for garden-viewing, but fortunately this was an orchid show, so all the flowers were indoors. When I was a child, I hated looking at flowers, hated being dragged along with my parents to flower shows, and didn't understand why they cared. There are a lot of things parents tell children that they'll understand when they're older only because they don't want to actually answer them, but sometimes, it is true.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
I've loved marzipan basically as long as I can remember. My father always used to get boxes of See's candies for any holiday or birthday available, and eventually I developed a taste for them too. I presume that my father picked up his love of marizpan from his time living in Germany, and that's also why he pronounces it without the R (which is much more subtle in the German pronunciation). As I mentioned in Week 33, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I go to Christkindlmarket every year and get food, and there's a giant marzipan display in one of the buildings set up by a candy-maker. So of course, I had to get some marzipan bars to write about.
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dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
My paternal grandfather joined the Army Air Force during World War II. He flew bombing missions in Europe, mostly focused on infrastructure--destroying roads, bridges, railway lines, and other things the nazis needed to conduct their war effort. When the war was over and he came back home and married my grandmother, he used the G.I. Bill to go to university and study engineering. He worked for Eastman Oil Well Survey Company, then retired on a generous union pension. Generous enough that for a short time, he had a summer house in Oregon and a winter house in California.

My parents have a display in their house dedicated to him:


He died nearly ten years ago, but I'm almost glad that he didn't live to see what's happened since then. The death of unions, already pretty far advanced by the time he died. Wholesale abandonment of the notion of expertise. Electing a fascist to the presidency. Literal nazis marching in support of the president.

Happy Thanksgiving.
dorchadas: (Chicago)
Not at the same time, obviously.

Yesterday, my parents came into town and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went down to meet them at the Shedd Aquarium. They're members and go a few times a year. They're much better about it than we are--while we were members of the Field Museum for the last year, I'm not sure we went once--and often we only end up going when they come in to visit. This time, it was pretty fortunate that we were meeting them. The line was out the door, down the stairs, and stretching out into the park in front of the aquarium when we arrived, but we were able to skip all that and just walk in the member's entrance.

Maybe everyone was trying to forget the election. There was a large protest downtown yesterday which my parents walked by. My father mentioned that he wasn't sure what good it would do, since Trump was a terrible person but he had won the election, so I pointed out that it's more to demonstrate that Trump doesn't have a mandate despite any claims to the contrary. Though I admit, in some ways I share his cynicism. I remember the Iraq War protests and how much effect those had.

We had tickets for the cetacean show at 5 p.m. so we didn't have a lot of time to look around, but we did hit some highlights. The otters for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, the special frog exhibit for me--that's a special exhibit of frogs, not an exhibit of special frogs Emoji Kawaii frog photo croaking_frog_emoji_by_kaidahthedragon-dabw3kq.gif--and the penguins for my mother:


"I solemnly swear..."

The cetacean show was a lot more focused than I remember it being. I think the last time I saw it was twenty years ago, and then it was much more about simple entertainment. This time there was a conservation message heavily woven through the show, including a rescue dog that the aquarium keeps. There were no dolphins somersaulting through hoops, but I think I appreciated the show more.

After a dinner at Chicago Curry House, where even my spice-averse parents found something they could eat--though since they have the appetites of birds, they were pretty much full after the samosas we ordered as appetizers--we said goodbye since we had to make our performance:


Link smilie photo lhappy.gif

We first went to Symphony of the Goddesses in 2013 and this is the third time we've been. It's slightly different each time--the first time we went was the "Second Quest" arrangement that featured a medley of the music from Ocarina of Time, and the second time we went was the "Master Quest" and had a feature of music from Link's Awakening. This time was more similar to the first concert, though with the addition of some music from Triforce Heroes and A Link Between Worlds, both of which came out since the last time we went to Symphony of the Goddesses. There was also a piece I remembered from Phantom Hourglass, though I say "remembered" in the loosest terms since I can barely remember anything about that game. That didn't stop it from being a great performance!

I think the loudest crowd cheer was when the conductor reached into her coat, pulled out a perfect replica of the Wind Waker baton, and then started conducting the theme from Outset Island.

There was a little girl, maybe four or five, cosplaying Princess Zelda sitting in the seat in front of us. She fell asleep during the intermission and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd exploded from cute overload.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif
dorchadas: (Default)
Nearly every year since we moved back from Japan, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I have made time to go out to visit my parents in October because in addition to seeing them and getting to eat my mother's delicious food, St. Charles's Scarecrow Festival is held that month. We last went two years ago, noting that the scarecrows were better than when we went three years ago, and last year we didn't go because I kickstarted tickets for the H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast live show and it turned out that was the same weekend. But this time we didn't have to worry about that and so after work on Friday, we took the train out to the suburbs.

We originally thought about going out to Kuiper Farms to go pick apples, where we went with [livejournal.com profile] uriany two years ago, but my mother mentioned that my father couldn't come because he was playing in the community band at Batavia Octoberfest. I asked her what else was going on there and she said that she had no idea, because it was the festival's first year, so we decided to go there instead. After walking from my parents' house to downtown and being disappointed that the leaves were mostly still green, lunch at East China Inn, the Chinese food that I grew up eating which I'm pretty sure hasn't updated the prices since I was a child either, we walked over to River Street just in time to see the band performance.

When we got there, I was in for a surprise:


That's Mr. Heath on the right, directing the community band. He was the band director at Batavia High School when I was a student there and played euphonium in the band, like my father before me. And speaking of that, my father is in the band, though out of the shot to the left, sitting next to my middle school band director Mr. Stiers who is playing the tuba.

They played several songs, most of which I didn't know because they were by a local composer, and then struck the set to clear it for the next performance. While they were cleaning, my father pointed me out to Mr. Heath, so I got to talk with him for a bit, introduce [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, tell me about how we lived in Chicago and had taught English in Japan. And then on the way out, we had almost the same conversation with Mr. Stiers, who looks like he hasn't aged in the last twenty years, though my father later mentioned that he's had some health troubles. I only got to stay about twenty minutes at the Oktoberfest, but it was a great twenty minutes.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif

After a stop into a tea shop that had just opened called The Tea Tree where we bought some banana tea (which was delicious), we all piled into the car and drove to St. Charles to see the Scarecrow Festival. Unlike previous years, and unlike the weather forecast had suggested, it was cloudless and sunny, with little wind, so the relative temperature was probably around 25°C and it was much more crowded than I've ever seen it in the past.

There were some good scarecrows, though:


That was one of three Pokemon-themed scarecrows. My parents are of the opinion that the scarecrows' quality has been progressively going down over time, and while I sort of agree, I thought this year was pretty good. In addition to that one, there was a giant headless horseman, and a Calvin and Hobbes on a sled, and, in a major surprise to me, a R.O.B. scarecrow, which is a real deep nerd dive. I think I liked this year's scarecrows just because of that one, though the various Pokemon scarecrows showed me that pokemon translate very well to painted spherical objects.

Then we bought some fudge at the craft fair and before returning, we took a detour out to Gould Cider and Apple Pressing to get some apple cider.  photo heart_emoji_by_kawaiiprincess2-d51re77.gif I've been drinking it for years, ever since my parents found out about it sometime when when I was in university, but this is the first time I've ever been to the actual location. I'm still a bit amazed how abruptly rural the countryside gets just by crossing Randall Road. Only a couple mintues of driving and it was farmhouses with barns and fields of corn, and then the cider farm with a goat wandering around outside. Inside was the operating cider press, a wooden frame with wooden boxes covered with cheesecloth and filled with apples being pressed. It probably violates any number of FDA regulations, but damn if it doesn't churn out some delicious cider.  photo latest.gif

Then we went back to my parents' house, ate their barbecue, and then took the train home to avoid the Chicago Marathon crowds.
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
I don't really like being the center of attention at an event. I don't even like being the soft center, which is why I haven't had a party for myself in years--not since high school, I think. I thought about having a birthday party this year, but eventually decided against it. Maybe next year when I turn 35, since that's more of a milestone.

Which isn't to say that I'm one of those people who hates birthdays. I celebrate every year, just quietly, and this year was no different on that score. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd met me on Friday after work and we walked the two blocks from my office to Benny's Chop House for the first of two birthday dinners. It wasn't my birthday, but August 19th (until sundown) was Tu b'Av, an ancient festival that died with the Second Temple and was forgotten until the Israelis revived it as a kind of Jewish Valentine's Day. I only know about it because of the Jewish holidays calendar addon I have in my phone calendar, but it's as good a reason for a fancy dinner as any, even if half of Benny's menu is an abomination before Hashem.

The parts that are good are really good, though:


Filet mignon with a red wine reduction and black truffle on top.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd told me that my whole face changed when I took a bite. It was probably the best steak I've ever had in my life.

The next day, I woke up to a thunderstorm just like I had on Friday, which is probably the best weather I could have wanted on my birthday. My parents came into down and met my sister, who was already here meeting up with high school friends before her flight to Costa Rica today, and we went out to breakfast at a French-Vietnamese restaurant nearby. I got duck curry, because curry for breakfast sounds amazing to me at all times, and then we went back to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my apartment until they all left to avoid the traffic. Then we mostly stayed at home until dinner time, when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd made me even more duck:


Crispy duck with mango-cilantro salsa, roasted cauliflower, and asparagus.

Not visible there is the flourless chocolate cake she also made, this time with real vanilla extract. It's in the recipe, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd usually left it out because we don't use vanilla for that much and it would just sit around otherwise. But my parents gave me a bottle of it for my birthday along with a few other spices, so why not use it? And I think I could taste the difference, too.  photo getin.001.gif

I was feeling a bit off for most of my birthday, and I think it's because while I wanted to have a quiet weekend I still ended up with a lot of stuff to do--yesterday I woke up at 8:30 and it still seemed like it was dinnertime before I had even blinked. Today has gone a bit slower, though I still haven't gotten as much time as I'd liked. But we never have enough, do we?  photo darksouls.001.gif

I got to read more The Lord of the Rings to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd today and have a quiet breakfast inside with her, and even though it's taking place today instead of yesterday, it's one of the best birthday presents I could have asked for. I don't mind getting older as long as those are the opportunities that it will bring.
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Thursday we had [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture over to watch Revolutionary Girl Utena, and then after she left I got a bit overwhelmed by my upcoming schedule and the fact that the pants I ordered arrived and didn't fit, and I ended up lying down in a dark room for fifteen minutes while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd did some work in the kitchen.  photo emot-glomp.gif

The next day I sent back the pants and the replacements are in the mail, and then I got home from work, devoured dinner, and immediately turned around and headed out to Call of Cthulhu, which you can read about here. Then we came back home and went to bed.

Saturday was LARP and shopping day, taking up a large portion of the afternoon and all of the evening, but also the day where I received an email from my father with the subject "$" and then checked my bank and noticed a pending transaction for a substantial sum of money. Enough to pay for our upcoming trip to Japan multiple times over. When we called my mother for Mother's Day the next day and asked about it, their reasoning was basically that they're not getting any younger and who knows what might happen. So if you wonder why I'm all #doom all the time, well...

Sunday was the aforementioned phone call and the Beach Party of Hope, scheduled in February. Fortunately the weather cooperated, but those again took up a big chunk of the day. We also wrote a letter to Kaminaka-san, one of our old students from Chiyoda, since we're planning to visit Chiyoda on our upcoming trip to Japan and wanted to let him know! That took a bit of time mostly because I had to hand-write Japanese, which I'm not very good at and which always makes me nervous.

Monday was session six of Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, which i haven't written about yet because over half of it was Small-time Peddlers of the Mushroom Kingdom, so I'll do a combined six + seven post next week and edit in a link here when it's written.

Tuesday was Japanese class again, which actually went pretty well. 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ is getting better now that they're getting into more characterization, and at least with the most recent chapter, I went into class thinking I had a lot of trouble with the reading and it turned out that I actually understood almost all of it. Aya-sensei mentioned that it's easy to get caught up in a couple small things you don't understand and assume it means that you don't understand the larger picture and that's simply not the case, and that's definitely true. I think at this point I'd keep reading the book even if I didn't have class anymore.

Tonight, I have nothing scheduled and I'm going to play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and watch Aria with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, and the only thing I have scheduled that is of any importance is that we're going to write another card to one of our students in Japan. And this Friday we're going out to eat at Travelle and then I don't have anything scheduled for the rest of the weekend.  photo emot-effort.gif Other than beating Symphony of the Night and finishing up my Ender-kun costume for ACEN. Just need to do the grass block!
dorchadas: (In America)
...and as of about ten minutes ago, my results came in!

Here they are:



Uh, that's, well.


I knew my family was of primarily British descent, but I didn't realize it was quite that high. Ninety percent? I guess that guy in high school who told me that I looked English was more right than he knew.

Though it could be Welsh. "Evans" is a Welsh name, after all.

This mostly fits the geneological work my father has done and what I know of our family history, with maybe a bit more British and a bit less Irish and Western European than I would have thought--there are branches of the Evans extended family from Germany and Ireland, though I think the Irish branch were Hiberno-Normans (surname Butler) so that explains that, and I have one direct ancestor from Germany that I know of.

The Caucasus and South Asian bits are the only ones I have no explanation for. They may come from my mother's side, about which we know much less. We've traced my father's side of the family back thirteen generations to John Alden, the first man off the Mayflower and the only non-Puritan on board. My mother's family, I think we only have information back three or four generations. I wonder about those ancestors--who were they? How did they meet my other ancestors? What stories would they have told about their journeys?

I'll never know.

Edit: Apparently the Asia South part could be Roma ancestry, since they were originally from the subcontinent. It could also be noise. At 2%, there's not much way for me to tell.
dorchadas: (Chicago)
A few things.

Dreihaus Museum
A month ago, my parents suggested going to see the Downton Abbey clothing exhibit at the Dreihaus Museum, a 19th century house downtown now converted into, well, a museum. I haven't seen a single episode of Downtown Abbey and know almost nothing about the show--they I have read To Marry an English Lord, one of the books that inspired the show--so I didn’t really care about the clothes, but I loved the rest of the house. Big portions of it were done up in dark wood with wainscotting as high as my waist, tiles or dark wallpaper, extremely high ceilings, and lavish carvings. It’s exactly the kind of decorating I would do if I had infinite money.


I would gladly put everything in this picture in our apartment.

Though there’s a bit too much light in that picture for me. Draw all the curtains, put a fire in the fireplace so there are shadows dancing around the room, and I’d be happier. Sure, I’m a stereotype, but it’s comfortable here.

I was a bit disappointed in the audio tour. There was the occasional cue on the various plaques throughout the house, but 80% of them related to the Downton Abbey exhibit. I was hoping there would be a bit more context for the original inhabitants of the house, but I suppose that’s not the draw. You can tell that because my parents originally wanted to get tickets for over a month ago but they were sold out until this weekend. They added another month to the exhibition and now that’s sold out too. The only tickets available are a few daily walk-in tickets.

Boots
This took place before the museum but wasn’t as important. My parents thought that we could get in to see the non-exhibit part of the house first and then go see the exhibit when our ticket time came up, but it turned out that the exhibit was spread out throughout the whole museum and so we couldn’t get in at all. So we went shopping for new boots, since my current boots are literally falling apart on my feet and if there were a particularly rainy day my feet would get absolutely soaked. We looked around a bit, and then we walked into Macy’s, I went over the sale rack, and I found these:


Black. Pre-distressed. Narrow. Suitable for scavenging through the fallen ruins of our once-glorious civilization. And they were up for 80% off so I got them for $27. When the salesman rang them up, he said apologetically that he couldn’t provide any further discount on top of that. You know, I’m okay with that.

Now I’ll just have to make sure to break them in before my old boots lose what little structural integrity they have left.

あん
After that, we met [livejournal.com profile] drydem and his wife [twitter.com profile] ameliaaldred for dinner at Sable Kitchen and then headed down to the Gene Siskel Film Center to watch a movie they had suggested. It was called Sweet Bean on the advertisements, but the original title is あん.

It was Japanese in a way I’d have a bit of a hard time describing to someone who didn’t already know what I meant. If the movie had been American, there would have been a whole section dedicated to the evils of stereotyping and fighting to make sure that Tokue was able to keep working at the dorayaki stand, or maybe the schoolgirls would unite with the dorayaki baker to stage a protest against the owner’s plans to remodel the place where they stop in for a treat every morning before school. But, well, しょうがないな. Some things you just have to accept. It’s how you react to them that matters. I tend to take that approach to life too, which is why I think I liked the ending so much even though a lot of reviews I saw said it was overly sentimental.

I don’t know that much about cinematography, but I found the shot composition interesting. Almost all the shots were close-ups on one character at a time, occasionally with other characters blurry on the edge of the framing. A lot of the other shots were shots of nature: cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, that sort of thing. And other than maybe a few minutes here and there, there was no music whatsoever. I don’t watch enough movies to really give a good opinion of how ordinary this is, but I thought it was a neat stylistic choice.

I’m glad I could understand the Japanese, too. There were a few bits here and there with subtleties that I would have translated differently than the subtitled did, and an untranslated bit at the end just as the credits begin to roll where some children run up and order dorayaki, and when he asks how many they want, one shouts out, “Ten!” It was a lovely ending.

Also, I would kill a man for some taiyaki right about now.

WWII Dream

Jan. 14th, 2016 09:46 am
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
I dreamed that my wife and I were in the Allied army during the invasion of Germany during World War II. It was a dream WWII, with pristine fields and a lot of people wearing civilian clothes everywhere, but in that dream way I knew where it was and what was going on.

Everyone was wearing civilian clothes and I don't think anyone had any weaponry, but we were advancing through the bocage in groups. My platoon was lead by...my parents, again in civilian clothes, just strolling around. [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou was with me too, plus a bunch of dream people whose faces didn't stick with me.

About the only indication that it was wartime was when we were securing an abandoned farm and we found a pile of dead animals behind the barn. A few farm animals, but mostly pets, like all the pets in the town had been taken to one place. Just flies buzzing around and the smell of decay in the air, but I haven't actually seen a pile of dead animals so it was more like a video game-style textured static object. It was just a bit unreal.

I kept expecting zombies or something to attack, because me dreaming about zombies is definitely a recurring theme, but no enemies of any kind, Wehrmacht or otherwise, ever showed up. It was just my parents leading the platoon through sunny fields and cutting through hedges while seeing no one and hearing no sounds of battle anywhere. Eventually, we found a farm that was occupied, and it's a good thing my father knew German (he spent his senior year of high school in Germany), because the farmer and his wife invited us in for breakfast. They were cooking eggs and frying up bacon in a surprisingly modern-looking kitchen when my alarm went off and I woke up. I'm positive the bacon was being cooked in a panini-style grill, which I'd bet money that few Germany families used during WWII.

I remember being worried what the family would think when I turned down the bacon, but I woke up before the dream got to that point.

I suspect this was all spurred by finally downloading episodes of the History of World War II podcast to listen to. I've had that on my queue for two years now, but I haven't gotten around to it until now, so maybe my brain thought it was momentous enough for it to show up in my dreams.
dorchadas: (In America)
I tend to write pretty detailed posts about my vacations because even though they're mostly only of interest to me, I like to have a record for when I go back and reread old posts. But this time I was gone for two weeks and, taking into account how verbose my blog posts tend to be, a detailed account of everything I did would run for 10,000 words and be exhausting to write, so I'm going to do what I did when we first moved to Japan and didn't have any internet and write a series of smaller segments and put them all in one post.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
I just finished reading and reviewing Spock's World, which I've wanted to reread for a long while but which got pushed to the front of my queue by Leonard Nimoy's death. It made me remember the influence the book had on my as a child, and I figured I'd write about it. I'd love to make this a nice, pat causal relationship, but while it's that way in my memory, memory is so unreliable that I can't honestly say there's a direct connection. But in my mind, there is.

I first listened to Spock's World instead of reading it. I don't remember if I picked it out or if my father did, but it was the CD edition read by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei. I still remember the way some of the quotes sounded, and when I read the passages in the book I could hear, clear as day, George Takei saying:
"We give her remains to the night from which we arose," Sarek said, opening the porcelain container to the light wind that had sprung up. "Surely we know that this is not she; she and the Other know it well. And we wish her well in whatever may befall, til the Moon is no longer, and the Stars are no more."

The wind carried the dust away into the silence. T’Khut slipped upward in silence flooding the ocean of sand with light.

"Light with her always," he said, "and with us."
It was amazing.

I was not the most popular child. It probably comes as no surprise, and I was lucky in that by high school everything was fine and I had a great last four years of secondary education, but I had few friends before that. I also tended to feel things very strongly, such that I would occasionally overreact to attempts at camaraderie and treat them as insults (which I received a fair number of, to be fair). I sometimes think that strength of feeling is why I don't like watching movies at all anymore, and why even when I would go to the theatre I hated horror movies or any movies based on embarrassment comedy. But it meant that I spent a lot of time on the computer and most of middle school hating the time I spent there.

I never watched Star Trek, but I found the Vulcans fascinating, and especially their portrayal in Spock's World. A species that has incredibly strong emotions but developed a discipline in order to control their effects? That honestly sounded like something I needed, and so with all the unreasonably strong conviction a pre-teen can muster, I set out to burn all emotion out of my heart.

It didn't work. Of course it didn't work, because that's not how humanity works. But it worked well enough, and even my parents noticed the change and commented on how I was less moody and more pleasant to be around, which of course served as encouragement. I can't tell how much my parents themselves influenced me in this, as they're architypal reserved Midwesterners and I could have picked up plenty of my inspiration from them. But the end result is that I went from being sad almost all the time to not crying for close to a decade and generally being a lot calmer.

I later decided that this kind of iron control was unnecessary and it was preventing any kind of deeper connections forming with my friends--I used to take pride in being described as "mysterious"--but it's effected my emotions to this day. I generally don't feel very strongly about much, and one of the reasons [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou likes to listen to me talk about RPGs or old DOS games is that they're two things that I obviously get excited about. Even though I know that logical decision making is actually impossible, I still hold to logic as probably the important motivator in my reasoning. I can't directly attribute that to Spock's World, but I am reasonably sure that it's the source.

So while I didn't grow up watching Star Trek, I can still trace a lot of my personality to its influence.

Mene sakkhet ur-seveh. \\//_

Edit: I found that audiobook! It's up on Youtube:
dorchadas: (In America)
In what's apparently becoming a yearly tradition for us, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went out to the suburbs to visit my parents and go to the Scarecrow Festival. Much (maybe even most) of our visit was taken up by [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I looking around St. Charles and Geneva antique shops for either a coatrack or a kitchen sideboard, and we didn't find either of those, but we find a cute fox mug and had an opportunity to look at the trees in downtown Geneva, which was good because we didn't get to head down to the riverwalk and look at the trees this year.


It's no momiji, but it's pretty nice.

My parents walked near the river on Saturday and said that the trees down there were disappointing, though. It might just be that there aren't the right kind of trees there to get good fall colors.

Anyway, the main neat thing we did this year other than go see the scarecrows was go to Kuiper's Family Farm at [livejournal.com profile] uriany's invitation. I knew there were these kind of farms around, because my parents moved to the western suburbs decades ago so they could be in an undeveloped area and while there's been some infill, it's still not far at all from their house to farms and cornfields, but I've never been to one until yesterday. It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be--there were two sides, one for pumpkins and one for apples, and while we originally thought about picking apples, we realized that we already had too much stuff to haul back to our apartment, between the new foreman grill we had gotten at a thrift shop and all the White Wolf books we were hauling back. So we went to the corn maze instead.


As [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd said and as I told her I would put here, "It was a-maize-ing!"

I told [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd a while ago that I used to play tag in the corn fields out behind my house, and her response was, "That's so midwestern!" It was the only opportunity she's gotten to skewer me for my upbringing, and I was excited to show her this great example of our fine civilization, and it was pretty fun. They had set up three difficulty levels--we picked Medium--and being seasoned gamers, we stuck to following the left-hand wall around, which worked great until we started going in circles. Fortunately, we had picked up a "passport" at the entrance that had questions, and by answering them correctly at certain crossroads, we managed to make our way out after not too long.

I'm glad it was bright daylight, because not being able to see over the stalks and the occasional wind that came through and rustled them was were both pretty creepy. It was a lot like the beginning of Signs when it was more about mood before the faith allegory came to the fore.


The view from a bridge in the middle of the maze.

Other fun highlights include a tire pile that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd climbed and a slide she went down, a crow in a cage that said "Hello!" to us as we passed (the first time I've ever heard a crow say anything intelligible), and a giant store on the apple side where we got bread mix, coffee, an apple-shaped dish that we can put spoons on instead of resting them straight on the oven, and apple cider donughts. The first donughts I've had in probably half a decade, and yeah, they were pretty good.

The actual Scarecrow Festival was better than last year, with the whimsical category still the best. There was another Minecraft scarecrow this year, though just a zombie and the legs were a really odd shape. I was a little tempted to vote for it until we continued on and saw a Slender Man scarecrow, which I gave the vote to on the basis that it was both neat looking and the scarecrow most likely to actually be scary, especially if we had been alone in a cornfield. There were some other great ones, like the giant straw chicken or the explosion of rainbows, but I didn't take any pictures of them this year.

I also poked around my parents' basement while I was there, but maybe I'll make that another post.

Bonus: another leaf picture:
Read more... )
dorchadas: (Green Sky)
I went to visit the doctor today due to my foot injury, and now I have considerably more peace of mind. After the preliminary check-in bits, he felt along the heel and the ball of my foot, poked about the toes, and when none of that drew any pain from me, he took out a tuning fork, asked me to close my eyes, smacked it on the table, and touched it at various places on my foot.

The idea is that if any of the small bones in the foot were broken, the tuning fork's vibrations would causes said bones to vibrate, naturally causing pain and providing an easy way to know if something was broken with pretty high certainty. Since there was no pain at all no matter where he touched the tuning fork, and the only pain anywhere was when he poked the very center of the swelling on my foot, and even that was minimal, his opinion was that there probably wasn't anything broken and it was probably badly bruised. Wrap it in an ace bandage, keep it elevated, apply heat as needed, and come back in a month if any problems remain. I can do that. (^_^)v

I was reading Robert Silverberg's Nightwings a couple days ago (shameless plug: review here) and I was surprised how much nostalgia I got just from the physical existence of the book. Most of the stuff I read nowadays is on kindle or relatively new books from the library, but Nightwings was an old paperback with yellowing pages and that old book smell that all readers love.

It took me back to the days of visiting my grandparents in their retirement community, where one of the first things we would do when my family arrived was go down to the town library and get a giant handfull of books for me to take back and read. I'd always pillage the sci fi and fantasy section, and my grandparents' house is the place where I first read Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Gordon R. Dickson, Diane Duane, Katherine Kurtz, Robert Jordan, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. LeGuin, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, and a bunch of other authors I can't remember.

The books were almost all yellowing paperbacks or those old hardcovers that didn't have plastic jackets, and the smell stuck with me. Smelling it again takes me back to days at the Real Beach (so-called because it was distinct from the beach along the river in their retirement community) building dikes and sandcastles with my grandfather's WWII army entrenching tools, going for picnics and paddleboats at a nearby lake, shopping in Coos Bay, picnics, seal-watching, and clambering over rocks at Cape Arago State Park...

Now I really want to go visit Oregon again.
dorchadas: (Default)
I haven't been to that many weddings. I might have had an inflated image of how many other people attended when I was younger, but it seemed like I would always hear people talking about going to this or that relative's wedding, but I was the oldest cousin and no one in my parents' generation that we were close to got divorced, so the very first wedding I ever went to was when I was in university and the first wedding of a family member I went to was my own. My cousin's wedding last weekend was the second.

Well, I guess it wasn't technically a wedding. My cousin is Mormon, and the actual ceremony took place in a local temple and wasn't open to most of the guests, so what I went to was the "ring ceremony" and reception afterward. It was pretty short: the bride, groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen walked up, my aunt and uncle gave the invocation, the bishop gave a five-minute speech, the couple exchanged rings, and everone filed out. Cue reception.

Apparently, Mormon receptions are typically potlucks, but my cousin kind of went halfway and had food catered but it was pretty casual. Hummus and small sandwiches, beef and bell peppers, tons of cheese, fruit plates, and so on. Frankly, it was one of the best wedding feasts I've ever had, and I include my wedding in that--I honestly don't even remember what we ate at my wedding, other than having cheesecake instead of traditional wedding cake.

One cute point is that my cousin made up a reception schedule with times listed for the father/daughter dance, the bouquet toss, and so on. She was apparently thinking of people who wanted to stay for the cake and leave after, or who didn't care about the first dances, and so would want to know when things were so they could plan where they would be when they happened. It does make sense, I admit.

In addition to the wedding, I also got to see [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3 and [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b, which was definitely a highlight of the trip. [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went to Pike's Market and Piroshky Piroshky (which sadly didn't agree with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd), the Seattle Aquarium, lunch at a place that [livejournal.com profile] t3chnomag3 knew of, SAM, and then we had to go to the surprise rehearsal dinner that we hadn't known about until the previous evening. We only had time for brunch with [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b because the wedding was the same day, but she drove up from Federal Way--for which I give her props, after seeing all the construction everywhere and how LOVELY Seattle traffic is--and took us to Lot No. 3, which was fantastic. They had candied bacon on the menu, which was nothing like I would have expected it to be, and a pickled pear salad with enough goat cheese to drive a goat into a homicidal rage. [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b had some pulled pork benedict with sauce that was rich enough for Croesus. I know it's not that useful a recommendation for most of the people reading it, but I can recommend it if you're ever in the Bellvue area. Om nom nom.

It rained every day, of course. Including the wedding, but my cousin had planned ahead and set up a tent outside. As we say in Japanese, "さすがシアトル!"
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
Things I'm thankful for: addition errors.

I went down to the bank today to go deposit the remaining savings bonds that I haven't cashed in yet, because I'll need them to pay off the last of [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou's student loans a few days before she graduates in order to laugh in the face of the student loan companies, and it turns out that I was wrong about how much we actually had. $300 wrong, in that they were worth a lot more than I thought they were.

I realize that this is the textbook definition of a first world problem, but it really bothers me how off I was in my calculations. I've been keeping track of my own accounts for almost 15 years at this point, from when I was introduced to money software by my father, through the demise of Microsoft Money and switching to Quicken, through the rise of Mint (which I mostly use so [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou has easy access to a close-enough copy of our budget), I make sure entries are properly categorized and filed literally every day.

So, how did I make such an error? It turns out that the software I use, with the file put together and tracked by my father before being handed over to me, was incomplete. There was a bond included in the bundle he gave me (that he had been keeping in a safe deposit box) that hadn't been entered in, and I never bothered to specifically check the envelope containing the bonds closely enough to find it because I figured that my father, from whom I learned my penny-pinching ways (though by observation, not explicit teaching), wouldn't have made such a mistake.

On the one hand, it's like secret free money. On the other hand, it's not doing much to convince me that I don't need to use such a heavy hand when managing my finances.
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
I suspect that will cause more psychic damage than any lack of celebrating Easter or Christmas, neither of which I've cared about at all for decades at this point. Is WASJ even a category? If it is, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

I wrote about my meeting with the rabbi a month ago, and how it was a bit confusing, and the beit din I went to was kind of the same. I was told to expect it to be half an hour long--not explicitly, but because the people who were going before me were going in at 10, and I was going in at 10:30--but I think it was maybe 10 minutes. And while I knew I wasn't going to be hauled into a bare cement-walled room and interrogated, the questions were even less...pointed, I guess, than I expected. What would I do if the court decided that I wasn't ready or turned me down in any fashion. What was it that originally attracted me to Judaism. How long had I been studying. If I had to give an elevator pitch for what the tenets of Judaism were to someone, what would I say. And, that's about it, though I did spend some time thinking about the answer to the questions. Especially the last one, until they told me that a verbal bullet point list was okay.

Maybe it's because one of the cantors on the panel had a nephew who went to Penn. Nepotism, ho!

After that was the hatafat dam brit, which was exactly as unexciting and clinical as a medical exam, white gloves and all, and I don't really have anything to say about it since it'd be like talking about medical problems. Moving on.

I think I threw the cantor who was observing me in the mikvah for a loop because I had memorized the blessings I was supposed to say. They were on my left as I entered, in Hebrew and transliterated, but I was supposed to face forward because that was the eastern wall. So I suppose it was a good thing that I had them all memorized so I wasn't constantly turning all over the place. Not that anyone else would have seen, because the only person directly looking at me was the cantor who was acting as a witness, and that only during the actual immersions to make sure that I was completely surrounded by water on all sides.

The preparation to get into the mikvah actually took longer than the immersion itself. There was a checklist in the preparation room, and it involved cleaning basically every part of the body (including belly button and ears), brushing and flossing teeth, showering and shampooing the hair, cutting and filing nails, removing all jewelry, brushing out tangles (which probably took as long as everything else combined), and finally putting on disposable slippers and heading out into the hallway.

Being a modern cynical millennial, I didn't expect to feel any different after the ceremony was over, but I was wrong. I did feel different, though I suppose in a kind of unquantifiable way. As I came up from the last time immersing myself and said the shehecheyanu, I hesitated over the last few words. Not because I was afraid of saying them, or because I was nervous, but I guess because it felt...momentous?

I'm not exactly sure how to describe it, since it wasn't really a physical feeling, but it certainly did more to convince me that modern society doesn't place enough stock in transition ceremonies. Liminal states should be marked. Despite that, though, I really wasn't nervous beforehand. I suppose it's my WASP upbringing ramming that necessity to be stoic--or at most, bemused or irritated--under all circumstances into me. Maybe it's because I did a lot of research into what to expect, and when the mikvah attendant and the mohel called beforehand to talk to me, so I already knew everything that was going to happen.

My parents attended on somewhat short notice, though [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had a training session that she couldn't get out of. My parents even dressed up formally because they didn't really know what to expect. I forwarded one of the emails I got to them, but it was a bit light on details, and most of what I knew was from the perspective of the person who was getting in the water. Then there was a lot of waiting around, but it all worked out in the end.

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ יי אֶחָד.

Edit: Oh! I should mention that as part of the process, you have to pick a Hebrew name--not surprising since taking on a new name is another one of those old transitional ceremonial things that seems mostly lost in modern life. I went with בָּרָק (Barak, meaning "lightning"), both because I liked the meaning and because it's very similar to my given name. When I mentioned it to my parents, they pointed out that I could have also gone with Abiathar (אביתר, "Father of plenty," pronounced "Eviatar" in modern Hebrew), since I have an ancestor named Abiathar Evans who fought in the Revolutionary War. I didn't think of that, but I don't really think it's an intrinsically better choice. I like Barak.
dorchadas: (Slime)
Last weekend was the Scarecrow Festival out in St. Charles, and after not having gone since before we moved to Japan,[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I decided to trek out to the suburbs and make a visit. I have to admit, it was pretty neat to see the way that our own subcultures have penetrated into the popular consciousness:
Click for geek )
And this is just fantastic:
Om nom nom )
But overall I wasn't that impressed. They've had some really impressive scarecrows in past years, but other than the ones [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd took pictures of, most of the ones this year were pretty conventional. There were also three or four from Despicable Me, but that would probably have impressed me more if I had actually seen the movie. Even the mechanical scarecrows, typically the best of the bunch, were disappointing. Several of them didn't even work, or at least didn't do anything that I could see. The only one I remember that actually moved was the high school rowing team one that moved the oars back and forth. I'm not sure if the other mechanical scarecrows were broken or what, but... The whole thing just didn't seem as good as it had been when I went a few years ago. Back in my day! etc. etc.

Okay, my parents went on Sunday and agreed with this assessment, so it's not just me getting old.

But, counteracting that counteraction of increasing age, after looking at the scarecrows, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I ducked into a nearby antique shop and poked around a bit. There was the standard collection of kitsch and crap--well, at least I think it's standard, since antique shopping isn't really a typical pastime of mine--but there were some pretty awesome gems, too. A Q-Bert arcade cabinet that might actually have been tempting except we have nowhere to put it. A bunch of WWII propaganda posters that sadly were not for sale, though with a note that they would be up for sale at a later date. I would have loved to get those if they were available. We did manage to find a pair of brass candlesticks to use for lighting Shabbat candles, and they look a lot better than the cheap glass dishes we were using before, and there were some dishes that would have been if we had any need for dishes, but we don't.

To backtrack a bit, on Friday we surprised my parents with our schedule and showed up that night. Without enough time to prepare dinner, they took us out to Open Range American Grill, which is all decorated a lot like the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, though with lighter wood and the views (read:pictures) are of the Grand Tetons. I mention this because it spurred a discussion against about how I want to take [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd on a trip to all the places that I visited on the various trips that my family took to Oregon when I was a child (maybe the subject for another entry?). My parents actually mentioned that next year would be a good time to go, except that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I were planning to take a trip to Germany and France to celebrate her graduating from grad school. It's theoretically possible that we could do both--my benefits are incredibly good--but that is a lot of summer vacationing, and maybe doing it in a following year is better. My sister is in California now, and she could meet us somewhere, or in Oregon when we arrive. It'd be great. Yeah, I think I will write that post.

On Saturday afternoon, we walked down to the Fox River and along the riverwalk looking at the leaves, and...well, it was incredibly disappointing. In Japan, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I would go to Miyajima in the fall and look at the momiji trees as the leaves changed, and eat momiji manjū, and go view the leaves. Here's a momiji tree in the fall:


That kind of bright crimson obviously does occur in America, but it's usually only a few leaves from a few plants, not a large amount. There were some promising trees on the walk down to the river, but once we got down there, everything was still green. I guess the warm temperatures have meant that the leaves haven't turned yet. Maybe I should look on the lakefront trail in a week or so--it's supposed to get down to 10 C or so starting on Friday.
dorchadas: (Arrow to the Knee)

This is dictated on my iPad so we'll see how well it works.

Last weekend, we had to go help my sister move in Madison. That wasn't so bad – after all my parents helped us move several times – but the problem was that my sister had about twice as much stuff as [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and me combined. We took three car trips with my sister's and my father's cars and unloaded half of the U-Haul and still had an entire U-Haul worth of stuff to take back to store in my parents basement. I mean, my parents did store all of our stuff while we were in Japan, but even so, you'd think that a veterinary resident wouldn't need so much stuff because she's not in her apartment all the time anyway. That was actually the reason she had to move – her landlady was hoping for a replacement for the woman who lived near her for 30 years, and apparently didn't realize that a veterinary resident was not the best person to be a friend and to have barbecues with.

Anyway other than the couch, there wasn't actually that much that was heavy to move, so the actual moving wasn't bad. It was just that there was so much stuff.

So that was our Labor Day weekend. We really didn't do anything else after that because we had to spend the rest of it recovering from moving.

Weight- and food-related )

The JLPT registration just started. I'm not sure I'm ready for level III yet, but I'm going to take it anyway. I'll have to study a lot harder in these next four months if I want to pass. Well, translating more blog entries for our Rachel and Brian in Chicago blog should help with that also. I've really been letting those slip lately and I need to get on that.

Edit: I almost forgot! I'm on Goodreads now! If you're on there too and want to read my reviews or suggest books to me, add me! I'm pretty active there but most of the friends I have aren't, so more activity would be neat. (^_^)

If you're using LoseIt, you can add me too, though I'm not sure how to do that. I might as well be social if I'm using social networking...

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
The first weekend in December was the JLPT/日本語能力試験, which was filled with just as much bullshit as I expected it to be. [profile] schoolpsycherd and I took level 4, which we figured that living in Japan for three years would be able to prepare us for. And it...kind of was, in a sense. Our lack of formal schooling (well, mine, [profile] schoolpsycherd did take some classes at university) was a bit obvious. She thinks she passed, I think I failed, mainly because of the listening section. As part of the bullshit I mentioned, the listening section repeated absolutely nothing at all, requiring you to maintain laser-like focus for 35 minutes and preventing you from taking more than a few seconds to think about the answers. There was ample writing space provided, but I quickly learned that it was useless because if you took the time to use it you were already missing the next question (unfortunately, I learned this through experience). The rest of the test was also bullshit, but it's the bullshit inherent to language, like a bunch of words that have slight differences in meaning or all look the same, such as the difference between 料理, 科埋, 料埋, and 科理 (though that would be a better example if those were all real words, which they aren't. At least, not in Japanese. The first one is Japanese, the other three are Chinese).

We plan to take Level 3 next year whether we pass or fail this one. Even if I did fail, I was of an appropriate level where there wouldn't be much point in retaking it. That'll give me a year to study for the new level, too, which should hopefully be enough.

For Thanksgiving, [profile] schoolpsycherd and I took the train down to Kentucky to visit her family. We spent Thanksgiving Day with her father and his girlfriend, and the day after Thanksgiving with her mother and her fiance. Despite our initial misgivings, it actually went really well, and it gave me plenty of time to write (I think I banged out the last 7000 words of my NaNo while we were there). Both dinners were delicious. Dinner at her father's house was a more traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and her mother's fiance cooked a smaller one but made me a very rare filet mignon, which was incredibly tasty. Also, there were no awkward moments, shouting matches, or anything that we were worried about, though a big portion of that can probably trace back to her mother's refusal to enter her father's house, instead waiting for us out in the car. Still, it was what it was, and it worked out okay.

Last weekend, we went to visit [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b in Seattle! I had been to Seattle before, since my aunt and uncle live there, but [profile] schoolpsycherd had never been (except to the airport, which hardly counts), so we spent two days in Seattle, one day at [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b's house planning (and later throwing) a party, and then one day in the rainforest on the Olympian Peninsula. That last bit was probably my favorite, since I've never been to anything like it before. [profile] schoolpsycherd and I went to a tropical rainforest when we were in Singapore, but that's obvious not the same as a temperate one. Anyway, before we went to the rainforest we went to a little town called Poulsbo, which is the kind of place that the word "quaint" was invented to describe. Lots of little shops with tasty treats, including some of the best chocolate I've ever eaten, and some places where we stocked up on food before heading off to the rainforest. There's a ton of rainforest photos up on my Facebook.

In Seattle, we went to a little local bar the first night and did the tourist thing the second night, mostly around Pike's Market. We also went to the Museum of Glass on Saturday afternoon before the party. All in all, it was neat, and I'm looking forward to when [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b gets time off so we can show her around Chicago. (^_^)

And finally, something random, for those who've played Morrowind. The whole thing resolves around the Heart of Lorkhan--the disappearance of the Dwemer, Dagoth Ur's plans with Akulakhan, the Tribunal's power, the final battle takes place in the heart chamber, you spend a huge part of the game looking for the tools the Dwemer used to affect the heart, etc.

Now, listen to the Nerevar Rising, Morrowind's main theme. The theme that accompanies you throughout the entire game. Listen to the drums that kick in in the beginning and continue underneath the melody for the whole song.

What do they sound like?

(I <3 Elder Scrolls so much).
dorchadas: (That is not dead...)
I wrote in Facebook a while back about not necessarily being proud of my family, so it may seem odd that I'm going to write a whole entry about the research my father did into our genealogy. Nonetheless, there's some neat stuff in here.

This may be a bit long... )

Pretty neat. (^_^)v

Edit: Huh, wiki says, "John Alden (1599 – September 12, 1687) is said to be the first person from the Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620." Even cooler.
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
...in his sleep. Medically, anyway. He was long past the point where he forgot who I was.

Howard Pitt enlisted in the Army during World War II and was assigned to the Army Air Corps. After training, he flew missions in Europe near the tail end of the war, mostly assigned to destroying infrastructure--train tracks, munitions depots, etc. When the war was over, he returned home and married the girl he had met while on leave (Kathryn Evans) and took advantage of the G.I. Bill to go to college and study engineering. After graduating, he worked as a surveyor for an oil company, spending some time in Scotland along the way. He and Kathryn had two children, Randall and David. Despite served in Europe, he refused to buy anything made in Japan until the day he died. When he retired, he divided his time between Long Beach, CA, where he had raised his two children, and Florence, OR. His wife preceeded him in death by a year. He died in Seattle, WA, July 28, 2007.

And that's almost all I know. By the time I was old enough to be interested in his stories, he was no longer capable of telling them. I'm sure my father knows more than I do, and some day I'll ask, but hearing them secondhand won't be the same as hearing them from the man who went through it.

Rest in peace, grandfather.

*sigh*

Dec. 22nd, 2006 01:35 am
dorchadas: (Angst)
I saw my grandfather today. He seemed mostly okay--he was always quiet--at least until he opened his mouth. Then it was obvious that he was forgetting things we had just said, or wasn't able to follow the conversation or understand it when it was explained to him.

At least he remembered who we were. My grandmother didn't.

I just finished reading Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson, which I thought was going to be a book about an alternate ecology (in the vein of War Against the Chtorr), but instead turned into some weird sci-fi battle all taking place inside a computer with little to no exploration of the new ecology that replaced Europe. Quite a let down. I've since started reading Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World, though I haven't gotten very far with that yet. It's primarily the reminiscences of an artist about his life after his retirement. It's a nice counterpoint to the fantasy stuff I usually read.

I was really looking for Haruki Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, but the library didn't have it.

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