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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Normally the smog in Beijing is a thick grey haze that makes the city look out of focus, like the problem is perhaps caused by your eyes and not by the thousands of coal-fired power plants that ring the city. This morning, though, the sunrise light is catching the pollution in just the right way, and it's making the entire view out my bedroom window glow red, like an orange filter has been placed over the sun. It can't be healthy. It's kind of oddly nice, though.

Posted by Dakota on 5:39 PM link |

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I'm packing to leave China. That is, I'm doing the pre-pack sweep to begin finally ridding myself of some of the years of crap accumulated through an unrelenting packratism. The fact that the US Government will happily cart around some 7,000 pounds of stuff on my behalf provides no incentive to throw things out, and I'm ankle deep in crap that I barely recognize.

I just found a cache of notebooks, an item I'm particularly horrified at throwing away. One of them was scrawled with grammatical notes on Swedish; a few pages in it switches to Hungarian. I had to read a different notebook almost in its entirety before I figured out what language the 20-some pages were referring to. Animate feminine nouns are derived from animate masculine nouns through an internal vowel shift, routinely a or u to i, with the final vowel (either a or i) unpredictable. Are you kidding me? No chance. Ignore this rule. Turns out it was Sinhala, one of the Sri Lankan languages.

I've got notebooks -- multiple -- full of a nearly verbatim transcript from A-100, our Intro To Bureaucracy training class. I can't bear to re-read them (yawn), but can't throw them away.

There are a fistful of other notebooks with scrawlings from college, not of class notes, but of fragments of conversations I wanted to remember. Some of them are from traveling and seem priceless, even though I've long since written about the trips themselves. Once contained only the sentence, Brussels is eerily quiet.. Others have just a few sentences out of context. For example:

-- 15 March 2003: Anti-War Protests on the Mall. "What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? NOW!" "Hey idiots: we're AT peace. You want peace LATER."

-- He just thinks he's Kermitt the Frog. He's not weird.

-- Not since the third grade have I had a teacher refer to the numerator as "upstairs."

-- He had a heart attack? I didn't know he had a heart.

-- Do you ever get the feeling that the person giving the eulogy would rather be in the box?

-- The world bank protests have been CANCELLED?! But, what are we going to do about all this asymmetrical discretionary fiscal spending? It hurts us ALL!

Posted by Dakota on 1:20 AM 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).

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