Face The Sun: Let There Be Light!
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are exclusively those of its author, and are not in any way meant to reflect the opinions or policies of the US Government.

Past Travelogues.

Finland, Estonia, Petersburg

Kirovograd, Ukraine


Tirana, Albania

Macedonia & Romania

Budapest to Bucharest

Balkans and Poland.

Christiania, Copenhagen.

Northern Norway

Northern Finland


Kashgar, briefly

More to come, Inshallah, as I go through old paper travel journals.

The DC experience, archived.

July '05
June '05
December '05
October '04
More to come should interesting things happen to me. Ever.

Blatent Plagiarism

The nation's largest chain bookstore has indicated that, due to lack of consumer interest, it has stopped selling books.
--Frederick Raphael, The Glittering Prizes

I feel this is the equivalent of a surgeon, skipping through a radiology department singing, 'I don't have cancer, I don't have cancer!'
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

Mum is crying with her faced turned away from me, gulping and honking like an injured seal. And I'm rolled up in the back seat wishing the old man would stop the car and make her walk. That or buy her a fish.
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

I love it when well-educated women sweaar -- the words regain their original power and meaning when delivered unexpectedly with so much poise.
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

She lived with her mother, who looked like an old labrador, and an old labrador.
--Will Self, Great Apes

When I was small and would leaf through the Old Testament retold for children and illustrated in engravings by Gustave Dore, I saw the Lord God sitting on a cloud. He was an old man with eyes, nose, and a long beard, and I would say to myself that if He had a mouth, He had to eat. And if He ate, He had intestines. But that thought always gave me a fright, because even though I come from a family that was not particularly religious, I felt the idea of a divine intestine to be sacrilegious.
--Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Quality is merely the distribution aspect of Quantity.
--Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

...In the frank brilliance of the bright sun, which, as we all know, is the friend of heroes.
--Jose Saramago, All the Names

He stuttered so badly that you could go out and buy yourself a chocolate bar while he was wrestling with an initial p or b; he would never try to bypass the obstacle by switching to a synonym, and when the explosion finally did occur, it convulsed his whole frame and sprayed the interlocutor with triumphant saliva.
--Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

To Stand on Jericho's Walls and Face the Sun.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

During my training class on how to process visas, we were shown a video entitled FISH! Set in the Seattle seafood market, the video pointed out that any activity can be made fun, and once you make it fun, you'll sell an awful lot of fish. Now that I've done my tour as a visa officer -- an activity that by its very nature deals in raw human emotion and (since no country that I know of has a 0 percent refusal rate) disappointment -- I'm somewhat unclear on what the relationship between fish and visas was. But at the time I was STOKED to get to post and process some green cards in a manner that would be FUN.

It is unclear if I brought any increased levity to the Immigrant Visa wing of US Embassy Islamabad.

I had completely forgotten about that whole FISH! thing until I showed up in Seattle and started heading that way. And even though the fish mongers weren't quite the happy-go-lucky, over-the-top friendly salmon chuckers depicted in the video (I found them to be a little pushy, and they seemed annoyed at all the tourists), I still found myself overwhelmed with desire to buy some fish. I can't tell if that's because the Chinese fish market leaves something to be desired (Chinese seafood as the target of FDA food safety investigation headlined on the day of my visit to the market), or if it's because I desperately wanted to have them shriek out CATFISH! (and echo back, CATFISH) before hurling my fillets across the market. The video was right: hurling seafood is intrinsically fun.

It also makes me wish that we'd done things a little differently at the embassy, so that when, say, the child of a US citizen came to the window, I would've shrieked out IR-TWO! and had the FSNs echo back IR-TWO!. (Going to Manhattan! Going to Manhattan).

Posted by Dakota on 2:28 PM link |
Three days in Seattle and this much I know is true: it's FANTASTIC here. Looking at real estate fantastic. Except for that whole weather thing (it's the dead of summer and it's freezing), it approaches perfect. Some thoughts:

-- People in Seattle do not jaywalk. If the street is completely empty the light is red, they will not cross against it. In this, they resemble Norway. In this, they're the Anti-China.

-- I knew that Seattle would be an ultra-left paradise, but I didn't realize the implications that would have for people's hair. There seem to be more blonds here than elsewhere, and more of those people are sporting massive heads of curly hair than anywhere I've ever been. I want to refer to this phenomenon as the blondfro, but I'm not sure if that's PC.

-- It seems like there are more crazy people here than elsewhere, but I can't tell if that just a readjustment to America thing. I of course do remember large swaths of the criminally insane in DC, but my neighborhood in Beijing is pretty much 100 percent devoid of crazy people.

-- The sheer number of organic vegetables on sale is a little overwhelming. Everyone all over the city is giving out free samples, and I've eaten my body weight in bing cherries. But I also can't help but convert dollars per pound to kuai per half kilogram, and the prices -- which are literally 20 to 40 times the going rate in China -- are a little stunning.

-- Seattlites seem to have a thing for revolving statues.

-- Japanese restaurants outnumber McDonalds by a ratio of about 5 to 1. People in Seattle apparently love teriyaki.

-- Rain does not phase these people in the slightest. There's no flinching, no hunching of shoulders, no hurrying for cover. It was cloudy all morning, but it started raining at the exact moment the sun came out, which is pretty much in keeping with everything I know about the meteorology of the Pacific Northwest.

Posted by Dakota on 2:27 PM link |
Current Location:
The People's Republic of China.

Stop by any time: everyone's welcome.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem to Be Born

Comments and requests for dates should be directed to email.

And here I am.

And for all you random folks out there whom I don't know, for the love of god, email me. I'm abroad, know no one, and look forward to hearing from you. I'm especially looking at YOU, whomever YOU are who's Facing The Sun all the way from Kenya. And Sweden. And Canada. And whatnot.

Books Tackled, 2006:

1. Jarhead, Anthony Swofford
2. Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia, Dennis Covington
3. A Brief History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
4. A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City, Anonymous
5. Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism, Dawn Prince-Hughes

This year's movies, in chronological order:

1. Kung Fu Hustle
2. A Wrinkle in Time
3. Pi: Faith in Chaos
4. My Big Fat Independent Movie
5. The Winter Guest
6. Voices in Wartime
7. What Dreams May Come
8. Farewell My Concubine
9. The Ring
10. Like Water for Chocolate
11. Sahara

Foreign Service Officers by day, Bloggers by day as well.

The Diplodocus
(Islamabad, Pakistan).

The Permanent Mission of Joshie
(Zagreb; Libyaward).

Prince Roy
(Chennai; Taiwanward).

Sue and not You
(Tbilisi, Georgia).

Life on the Mekong
(Vientiane, Laos).

FSO Globe Trotter
(Lahore, Pakistan).

Vice Consul: Diplomatically Transformed
(New Delhi, India).

Adventures in Good Countries

Our Man in Tirana
(Tirana, Albania).

Anne's Blog
(Kazakhstan; Greeceward).

(Bogota, Colombia).

Furnish Worldwide

Tasman's World
(Dhaka, Bangladesh).

(Lome, Togo).

World Adventurers
(Seoul, Korea).

Aaron Martz

A for Adventure
(Chennai, India).

The Excellent Adventures of Nickie P
(Paris, France).

Permanently Disco
(Dhaka, Bangladesh).

Consul At Arms
(Kingston, Jamaica).

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com
Five Random DC bloggers. Asterix indicates recently updated.