Thursday, February 24, 2005

Anna Karenina and Ms Hathaway

I finished "Anna Karenina" somewhere on I-87 headed back to the city from upstate. The bus was so frakking hot and I was down to my T-shirt, pants, and socks, and sneakers. Kept nodding off from the heat. Or was it 287 before Paramus, NJ?

I'm pleased that I got to see what "Anna" is all about. It was a bit of a struggle as it is a very Russian novel and I was distracted with other books. First of all, I'm not familiar with Tsarist period (19th century) before the Bolshevik revolution (early 2oth century). There were a LOT of references to the issues at the time: serfdom had been abolished, reforms, philosophical writings.. so though it was interesting but kinda a drag at times. Some parts were entertaining while others were suffocating or in between. I tend to avoid Russian novels because they're so.. Russian. They do not seek to escape reality as we Americans are prone to. The writers like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky ---- saturate their novels with foreboding feelings of insecurity, moodiness, conflicts, do psychoanalysis of their own flaws and comparing themselves to others. There's no happily ever after, fluffy bunnies, chirping birds and such. I had to take a break at one point cos the story had snuck into my sub consciousness - had a rotten dream about one of my loves, so I woke up feeling very.. Russian.

I could go on more about the book but it'd be a spoiler or just rambling. For my English class in a mainstreamed high school, we read two articles by different writers. I don't recall their obscure names, but they wrote their reasons for reading the world's greatest literatures. One writer said he had, like, a top 100 list of must-read literature that includes Greek tragedy, Mark Twain, Joyce, the classics. He read them just so he could say he did read them. The other writer contrasted the first writer's approach, arguing whether people do really get it or appreciate the essence of the material/story. Point: I tried reading Moby Dick and Catch 22.

For Moby, I couldn't get past few pages. Why is Ahmed so bent on Jonah the Whale? Even Star Trek's "First Contact" made a referral to the book about revenge. In 1997, when I was still literally immature I gave up half way through Catch 22. I appreciate deadpan but that is deadpan infinity plus one. Now that I've successfully finished Anna and generally grasped its various messages, Catch 22 should be a walk in the park.

I've just begun Great Expectations mainly because Ms Hathaway was so hilarious in Thursday Next's Lost in a Good Book so I got to see what's she all about.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Desperate Measures

I lost my tweezers while on vacation and for the past 3 weeks or so, I was unable to groom my eyebrows. Meanwhile, I was able to get away with little sprouts easily concealed by makeup. Eventually the concealer met its limits as the stray hair sprouts on the brow grew and grew. I wore my eyeglasses as the next desperate measure.

Last night - I looked closely in the mirror and realized that I could pass as a relative of Groucho Marx. I hadn't replaced my lost tweezer and felt squeamish at the thought of borrowing a tweezer from a roommate.

Nail clippers. I'd used it before on my leg if I spotted a stray hair that escaped the razor. I should be an expert by now by merely plucking it as opposed to snipping. With the hand mirror close to my face and a steady hand.. I did better than I thought I would and suffered no clipped skin or cuts to my eyebrows. I look less Groucho and more of a Garbo. Yay! Also I've been tweezing my eyebrows since senior year in high school. Don't do this at home if you've never experienced tweezing at all!

Did this ever happen to you? The need to groom but you don't have the appropriate tool on hand?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Christo's _The Gates_

hello, read me, Houston?

Hopefully this orange font will be readable. I m picking this orange colored font in honor of Christo. Well, the official color is 'saffron' and I'm not enough of an artist to discern from the color palette on this screen.

I'm still inept with technology with digital camera and blogger. Need to make more time. I'm sure you've seen pictures of the Gates on the news, internet, bloggers, etc.

So far, I've visited _The Gates_ twice over the weekend. I saw the unfurling which is the best part. Debra and I arrived at the Columbus Circle entrance of the CP just before the unfurling. It was astounding. 23 miles of arches around the park, covering nearly every path. The arches matched the width of the path - there were wide arches and narrow ones. Very meticulous work! The Unfurling took just over 2 hours to complete with different teams unfurling each and every arch in the 23 miles of paths and some streets. According to AM New York, there are 7,500 16 foot high arch/frames on 23 mile long paths. Each worker/volunteer/vip was accompanied by a team of gawpers, photographers, tv cameras and the masses inched along the path. Each time the unfurl occurred, there was a movement that Deb and I dubbed 'the gates dance' because there was wrapping around each orange material that would unfurl and a long cylinder made of cardboard that fell out as the material unfurled. Once the wrapping and the cardboard dropped to the ground, the unlucky vip/volunteer/worker would skip, jump back or move once the items crashed to the ground. Sometimes a wind would change direction of the drop. After the first drop, the crowd wisely backed away to give room.

Deb and I met with two other people, and we walked around the southern portion of the park looking at unfurled arches or arches that hadn't unfurled. Took some good pictures, even caught some of unfurling in action. We reached a fork in the path and noticed one woman had just unfurled the arch at the fork. We made a bet over a pretzel in which path the worker would proceed. I chose the left one and the two others chose the right path. The worker proceeded to the left (to my delight) but one friend intervened, asking it would be better to take the one on the right. The worker hesitated. I was signing furiously that the bet is forfeit. Then the genius friend who initiated the bet, intervened also. I was standing uphill above her and gave her a small nudge on her backside with my foot. The worker then decided to proceed with the original destination she had in mind - the left path (my path!). The genius bought me a pretzel :).

We got the swatches which was great - a vinyl like material. Debra and I wandered around and went to a visitor center where we bought poster of the sketches Christo and Jeanne-Claude made.

The next day (Sunday), I went to the MET with two other friends to have a look from the rooftop. It wasn't as impressive as we thought it would be as the rooftop isn't high enough to see the whole park. We walked through the park and eventually found a friend of ours who was on shift to monitor the orange drapes on the arches. He had a retractable pole with a tennis ball on top. Some nasty wind would twist the drape around the frame and the friend would retract the pole to the proper height and using the tennis ball (soft enough to not to scrape the material) and unwound the drape. Two most common questions he got from people: "Do you have the swatches?" Or, "What is the tennis ball for?" Being a nice guy, he was very patient with the repeated questions.

I'm not sure if I ll return to the park often.. the unfurling was the show. The saffron colored drape contrasted brightly against the winter dead lawns, plants, and trees. It really uplifted our depressed (or repressed?) winter mood. Sunday was more crowded with people as opposed to Saturday. The weather was warmer and there was constant sunshine. We'd bump into, trip over, or walk through attempted picture taking.

It's not often we have opportunities to see Christo's work in action. Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude had been asking NYC since 1979 to do the project. They were rejected each year out of concern for safety,etc etc until Bloomberg gave them the green (or saffron?) light in 2002 or 2003. It's estimated that NYC tourism would rack in $8 million in 2 weeks - hotels, starbucks, pretzel vendors, and so on would benefit. The art duo through their numerous signs and attachments to merchandise insisted that they will NOT get the proceeds. The proceeds would go to the NYC parks and arts. $21 million came out of their pockets (and a mother in law) without corporate sponsorship.

If you're in NYC area from today to the 27th, for the love of Christo, GO!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Man in the Subway

I took a downtown train yesterday and I was in the mood to let my mind wander and observe the riders. One particular rider attracted my attention because of his clothing and abundant moustache. He was reading a magazine with very scrutinized expression on his face that he did not notice that I was observing him. His appearance was very intriguing and I was trying to place his origin. He wore dark blue denim jeans, shoes (with seam going around one long loop - I canna remember the particular brand) , a thick blazer over a dark blue or back shirt - fine sweater or sweat shirt. I could see that he had on a red and white striped buttondown shirt from his cuffs and collar that peeked out of the black scarf. He had stuffed his scarf inside his sweater and wore a black knit hat. His mustache was groomed in a style that probably went out in the 60's. Or the Wild West even. Light brown, blondish over his mouth and the both ends curled outwards in the old fashion. He wore octagonal shaped spectacles.

I had him pegged as some bohemian from Central Europe. Or he could be a history interpreter at one of those live/outdoor museums. I've been in subway car filled with an array of people of different appearances, nationals, tourists and the like. But this one stuck out in recent memory.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Old Times and Bust of Eardrum.

I imagine that I may have lost a little more hearing but haven't really noticed the difference (no worries, Ma!). With the nasty congestion and mucus that wouldn't seem to go away, I was at a risk for something to happen to my ears during the transatlantic flight back to New York. Shortly after the plane took off, my ears began to hurt and all the sudden there was an intense pain in my right ear. My eyes watered and I tried to stifle a moan (no attention please!). After few moments, the pain began to subside but the pain was bit dull. In a short while I felt my ear moisten and stuck my finger in my ear. (vampiric accent) Bvod! I'd never experienced this before so I flagged down a flight attendant and wrote a note explaining what happened and what should I do? The flight attendant seemed uncertain and told me she'd be back. An older flight attendant came back in the younger's place and assured me that it is normal and I needn't worry. Upon landing in New York (it had bled on and off) I paged mom informing her that I'd landed safely and that my ear had bled, that I'm fine and was given assurance that it is normal. She told me that I should inform my sister ( I didn't - did not to want to concern her with a spotty bleeding of the ear). Later my sister emailed me saying that mom had reported it to her. Sis says I have a burst eardrum it'd take few weeks to heal and NOT to submerge my head under water (shower OK). After the eardrum burst, I did feel an odd sensation of air in my ear. Coooooool. My sister got pissed at me cos I tried to use an Q-tip (gingerly) to swipe out the blood. She said that I have no eardrum and I shouldnt be inserting anything even a hearing aid mold until it heals or regrows. or whatever. I may appear intelligent but I can be pretty stupid in self administering care do and don'ts. ha.

On a happier note, upon my last night in Dublin I got to see some of the old gang from Limerick. Out of 6 of us, Carrie-Ann could not make it and Eamonn lived on the other side of the island. Niamh had arranged for us to have dinner with Caroline, and drinks with Fergal and his girlfriend. It was so good seeing Car, caught up with her and our usual rapport: she showed me a picture of her current crush in her phone camera. I noted his bare shoulders and asked "does he have his clothes on?" and that got a great laugh out of her. After dinner, we went to a bar in the Temple Bar area (very cool place in Dublin sorta like west village meets soho) and waited for Fergal to show. He and his girlfriend had gone to see "King Lear" at (loosely quoting Car) "some former rock concert stage that closed down and changed its image as a respectable theatre which is lame". Ferg didn't march with us at graduation so I hadn't seen him since the end of the school year. We compared our experiences with King Lear - I'd seen the one with a pre WW2/fascist setting with Monique Holt as Cordelia. The one Ferg saw had a Soviet revolution setting. Shakespeare. Timeless.

Caught up a little on gossip on other classmates. Eamonn is happy (finally! he was our resident James Dean) and living well. Gerry (the oddball) has been missing for over a year now so wherever he is, I hope he's okay.

It was like the old times - us sitting in the bar, talking and exchanging written conversations. The only difference was that none of us were smoking. No ashes on the writing pad. During the night, one of us would go outside and smoke, and come back in again. I swear I only smoked one cigarette! I cant stand the taste anymore.. Smoking is now banned in Ireland so it took me quite getting used to seeing bars/pubs bereft of smoke and floor clean. No squashed cigs (or fags) littering the floor. Ferg still smokes Drum tobacco - rolled up fags. At Limerick we once had a lecturer with Drum stains on his white beard (his tobacco pouch would sit prominently on his desk as he lectured during class). After each lecture break, I could smell his cloud a mile away as he returned to class. His class was very popular as he taught the South related issues with resources and development, patronizing, about the evils of multinational corporations like Starbucks.(South is a PC term for third world as the richer countries are called the North or West). Be still our beating Irish-marxist hearts.. End of my vacation. Return to mudane issues. ta.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Niamh, Yeat's Wife with Spectacles, and Caravaggio

I was looking forward to seeing Niamh who was a classmate of mine back at Limerick. A very good person and very patient in communicating with me (i.e. writing). When she was in NYC by chance in spring 2004, we briefly met for first time since 2002. After we corresponded a bit, we were saying how it was so good seeing you. She wrote that seeing my handwriting, after 2 years of weekly emails and occasional pictures, she is really seeing me through my handwriting as opposed to my physical appearance.

We met at the Grafton Street, a shopping district in centre of Dublin and found a sandwich place to eat. I was still ailing from the cold and she had just flown in from a weekend in London. So, no expectations from each other. After we deposited my rucksack at her apartment, we went to the National Gallery of Ireland. It's a nice change of scenery because I'm so used to the MET. We saw some modern paintings by the Irish before moving on to European paintings. One of them, Jack Yeats who I'm assuming is the father of poet Yeats is a versatile painter dabbling in both modern and traditional portraits. A room was dedicated to Jack's paintings of individual members of the Yeats family. A portrait of his wife showed her wearing eyeglasses. I was very happy seeing a female subject wearing glasses. I'm being silly, I know..

We went on to see other paintings by Vermeer, Caravaggio, Mainie Jellet, some Flemish, French and Italian painting to name a few. The museum is free of cost (unlike $1 suggested donations at the MET) and the visit was very worthwhile. Niamh hadn't visited the museum in "ages" and felt it was worth it. The museum has a nice mix of painting genres.

We went to her apartment for a nap and to rest before we met Caroline for dinner. I'd forgotten that Niamh is a fast walker. I had to double my paces to keep up with her and more than once my underwear rode up. She's slightly shorter yet faster than Alexa.

Deaf Irish

Monday night: After taking a nap and eating some dinner, I was finally able to see my actual friends other than Idalle. Chris and Sarah came over to Idalle's place to see moi. I met Chris, Sarah, and Idalle during my student days in Limerick and saw them among few other deafies on a monthly basis. I met the general deaf community through them but I only saw bits and snippets here and there as my graduate studies and frequent visits to the pubs on campus consumed most of my free time.

I attended the WFD conference in Montreal in 2003 and through my connections, I met few more (accomplished) Deaf Irish. Brian Crean is part of a Model School of the Deaf project that has come into fruition only couple years ago. Kevin Stanley, another deaf leader spoke about the Deaf Community in Dublin - about meeting the community needs, I think. One of Idalle's housemates is seeking a masters in deaf education and is now working sub teacher hours to meet the requirements to enroll into a program. The housemate is also a co-coordinator for Deaf Irish Youth Exchange Program. She had just organized a week in Latvia for some deaf Irish. She also does graphic design for a deaf Irish online (Ill have to find the link). Im pleased to find there s people that I missed out when I lived in Limerick. And I know there's plenty more..

Damn and I forgot to request asylum when I was in Dublin...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Guinness Factory/Storehouse

Now I know why Guinness tastes different here as opposed to Ireland and the UK. During the self-guided tour of the factory, we learnt that the brewers added an ingredient (Fsomething. Only if I actually noted it) to the Guinness brew to preserve it on long transatlantic ship journeys. I guess the only feasible option is to fly to Dublin, go to the nearest Off-Licence (liquor) store and buy batches of canned or bottled Guinness in stock. Pack the Guinness into a hard suitcase labelled "FRAGILE" and fly back to the US.

The factory is a pretty cool place with very artsy and and clever slogans. There's old machines from throughout the years that were used to process and brew the "unique dark ruby coloured beer". Barley and hops were on display with magnifying glass attached to the display to get a better look at the wee barley, and round and hairy hops. I found a TV screen that kept count of how many pints of Guinness is being consumed NOW in all countries in both North and South Americas, Africa, Australasia, and Europe. It's something like 6 million and the numbers were spinning so fast that all I got is a blurry picture on my digital. There s a room full of barrels used to store the brew. 1,000 barrels had to be made each week to match the demand so a good number of carpenters worked for the factory.

You're familiar with "Oh My Goodness, My Guinness!" posters you see in pubs and bars. There is a room exhibiting these posters drawn by an artist named Golby (?). I found the museum very entertaining and Idalle and I ended the tour by eating a late lunch. We had received tokens when we paid our fee, for a free pint of Guinness. There's a bar on top of the storehouse with plexiglas as walls so you can see the city of Dublin. Quotations from Yeats, and other known Irish literature dotted the glass. I enjoyed the pint of Guinness, fresh out of the factory. Very smooth and tasty.

Pictures will be featured in Ofoto once I get around to it.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Coronation Street and Gardens

Saturday, 30th January. I had overslept, took a later bus and arrived to Dublin at around 1pm as opposed to the original time of 11:30. Idalle had wanted to meet at the Connelly train station despite my numerous protests that I didn't know where and would prefer to meet at the bus station then go home. I couldn't find Idalle and eventually found the train station which was a block away *grimace*. I had it mixed up with a different train station.

We had previously agreed that if all went wrong after 2pm, I'd go to her home by bus or taxi. I found a proper city bus route and took it to Glasnevin, a suburb of Dublin. I arrived and found her place. Fortunately it wasn't cold and rainy so I was able to wait for Idalle. She arrived under an hour later, she had been using her car waiting for me (no wonder I couldn't see her). She gave me tea and toast and we caught up a bit. Most of the deafies had gone to a wedding in Wexford and would not return until tomorrow. We spent the day relaxing and watching television. Some shows I hadn't seen since I left Limerick: Coronation Street and Eastenders, the soap operas. Nice difference is that the actors are more normal looking, have few extra pounds as opposed to American soaps.

Later in the evening, Idalle's boyfriend Karol came to cook us dinner as he is more adept cook than Idalle. We had stuffed chicken wrapped with rashers (thick bacon) along with vegetables, mashed potatoes and baby potatoes. Afterwards, Idalle informed me that Paul would be coming over. I did not know who he was until she showed me a picture of him. He was vaguely familiar until I realized I met him after I graduated from Limerick. I had celebrated, uh heavily, and barely remembered our conversation. Nice guy but didn't fancy him. Once Paul arrived, Idalle immediately attached herself to Karol for some coddling. Paul and I talked a little but mostly watched tv. I was a little peeved but said nothing.

Her friends paraded through the apartment the very night and following day. I remembered a couple that I had met in Montreal for WFD. I finally got a decent night's sleep, ensuring that I stuffed myself to gills with dinner and bread. Idalle couldn't go with me to National Botanic Gardens on Sunday which is only a short walk distance within the neighbhorhood, so I went alone.

The Botanic Gardens were laid out and built in 1795 five years after the Dail (Irish Parliament) granted funds to the Dublin Society. Exotic plants were brought in from Asia and Africa, orchids were successfully coaxed from seedlings into blooming flowers among other accomplishments in 19th century. There is a centre of study in horticulture.

I do not have much knowledge in plants as the maps named plant names - I know what they look like, not their names. So I wandered around for two hours looking at variety of gardens (not much this time of the year) went to glass (green) houses where there are amazing arrays of orchids, cactuses, ferns, palm trees and so on. I took loads of pictures - Pity I do not have adequate technology to attach pictures to this website. Ofoto will have to do. There were lovely and manicured streams, a herb's walk, some bridges. Lots of families with small children were out and about, groups of people so it was a very lively park. I found a statue of Socrates and someone put a hot pink sweat band with "Princess" emblazoned across the band on top of his head. Nice. Spotted a cemetary (oooo) behind the stone walls but did not make the time to find the seperate enterance.

Returned to Idalle's home. Another friend was there. He had brought pictures of Deaflympics in Austraila. the Deaf Irish brought home 11 gold medals including Idalle's roommate John who won a gold in swimming (I would never meet him during my stay). My friends had arrived but I wouldn't be seeing them til tomorrow which was fine with me because I was definitely coming down with something. *sniffle* the stratchy throat that appeared Saturday morning didn't go away as I had hoped. We relaxed with TV, watched the "Green Mile" and went to bed.

That was a quiet weekend. The next two days would pick up before I left for the US.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Vikings, the Irish, and Anglo-Normans, Oh My!

and bush. yes, g.w. bush who, as Niamh informed me is descended from Strongbow some 12th century English knightcumlord who gained Irish lands from King of England as a reward for his loyalty to the true king. Loyalty. the apple doesn't fall far from the tree..

After I logged off the blogger, I went to the Waterford Treasures Museum on the Quay of the River Suir. The museum (I got the fee knocked down to 4.50 euro from 7 euro cos the tour is audio only. least there were plenty of legends and readings) boasted a collection of the city's Viking orgin and Anglo-Norman invasions as well as the Irish. There were bits of weapons, jewellry, pottery, shelter that were dug up from evacuations. Learned a bit about the city's history as the competing trading port to Dublin. One of the few cities that saw Catholics and Protestants living together in tolerance.

Returned home and was set for a good night's sleep. Unfortunately after midnight struck my tummy was still on US time, thinking dinner time no matter how many meals I ate. So my rumbling tummy kept me up for most of the night and all places were closed. Oy. I set the alarm for 6 am to catch a 8:30 bus to Dublin from Waterford so I could meet Idalle at the Busaras by noon.

I woke up at 8am. I stuffed everything I owned into my rucksack, made myself somewhat presentable and rushed down to the front desk to check out. As I had paid the deposit months before, the remaining price was 50 euro (I would later check my online account and see that it's $65. Early 2002 when I lived there, the Euro had come into circulation, 87 pc to 1 dollar so 50 euro would be maybe few dollars shy of 50 dollars. that's how weak the dollar is now).

After I checked out and declined breakfast (should've taken it) I took a taxi to Waterford.. killed time by reading the Irish Independent and took the next available bus - 10 am. The Irish and British gov't were pissed at Sinn Fein (political arm of the IRA) for not condemning the IRA's bank heist..The editorial criticized Mary McAleese, the Irish President for not apologizing to the Jewish community on the 60th anniversary of the Auschwitz. She did later. In 1945, the Irish taosieach (prime minister) Eamon de Valera signed the condolences book for Hitler's death. Course, everyone knew that the Germans supported IRA activity while the British were distracted with WW1. De Valera hated the ambassadors from the US and the UK and he did it to spite them. It was personal, not political. Everyone agrees what de Valera did was wrong and it fell on the prez's shoulder to apologize.

I'm rambling. more to come..

Editor's note: I goofed! There was another ruckus that McAleese apologized for, not de Valera. The prez made a comment that Nazi taught children to hate the Jews as the Protestants taught their kids to hate Catholics. She apologized saying that she meant a lesson in history.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


I am sick! I feared this would happen as I usually get sick with a cold within few days that I stepped on the green shores. Basically dragged my butt around since sunday.

Don't have much time to type - but few highlights:

Waterford Treasures Museum: the viking and anglo-norman past of this city. the kings/queens of england granted waterford charters for being loyal to the crown. course, waterford was one of the primary ports in trade. trade knows no time era.

National Botanic Garden: My friend Idalle lives few blocks away and the gardens are amazing.. not much this time of the year but the greenhouses are a wonder.. orchids, palm trees, etc. took loads of pics.

Guinness Factory: need i say more? Idalle took me to the factory that exhibited the production of barley and hops into beer that we know and love. Had a nice pint (very fresh and smooth) in the Gravity Bar that overlooks the entire city. Not for those who are nervous with heights. interesting note: 1 in 30 dubliners were employed (mid 19th century) at Guinness so that's 3,000 people.. Guiness had their own pension system and medical hopsital. nice!

oop - time's out. I'm meeting Niamh my UL classmate in half hour so I better drag my phelgmy ass across town.

Will write more leisurely once I return to the States.