Mysterious Orientations Commentary

October 26, 2011

At the end of each of my blog posts is a small bit of hypertext that readers can click on to leave a comment. As site administrator, I have the final approval over which comments make the cut, and then may be read by anyone who stops by. Needless to say, there is a bunch of spam (about three examples of which show up for every one legitimate comment), stuff I don’t really want to include in the serious commentary files, but which I feel honor bound to share nonetheless, for its quirky humor value if for no other reason. (Note: all typos are as found; I simply cut and pasted, so don’t blame me!) So, here goes…

“Relogio Mesa” had this to stay about a post on New Brunswick singing duo The Sons of Maxwell, skirting specific issues while remaining undeniably upbeat throughout: “Thank you so much with regard to giving everyone an update on this matter on your website. Please be aware that if a completely new post appears or if any changes occur on the current publication, I would consider reading more and knowing how to make good using of those approaches you talk about. Thanks for your efforts and consideration of other individuals by making this site available.”

Correspondents “Elizabeth” and “Angel” had remarkably similar observations about a column I did entitled “Japanese Women on Walkabout”: “Such a great text! I have no clue how you were able to write this’d take me weeks. Well worth it though, I’d suspect. Have you considered selling advertising space on your website?” (that was from Elizabeth); “What superb article! No idea how you were able to say this’d take me long hours. Well worth it though, I’d suspect. Have you considered selling banners on your website?” (that was from Angel)

“Kladionice” was clearly coming from an English-as-a-second-language perspective, with this somewhat inscrutable offering, sure to make it onto a Japanese T-shirt in the near future: “I beloved up to you’ll receive performed proper here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nevertheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you would like be turning in the following. in poor health for sure come further until now once more since precisely the similar just about a lot frequently within case you shield this increase.”

This one, from a long-lost and hitherto unknown family member, “best selling ebooks”, leaves me eagerly awaiting my next discovery of a distant cousin: “Hi my family member! I want to say that this post is awesome, nice written and include almost all significant infos. I?d like to look extra posts like this .”

“Garfield Wick” sent along this helpful hint on a little-known facet of digital camera usage, after perusing some of my travel photos of Bali: “Thanks for this glorious article. Also a thing is that nearly all digital cameras come equipped with any zoom lens that allows more or less of your scene to become included by ‘zooming’ in and out. All these changes in the aim length are reflected inside the viewfinder and on substantial display screen at the back of this camera.” Who knew?

“Josh Rogowicz” used the comment form to alert me to a valuable investment opportunity: “Any time you’re buying rare metal coinage, the swiss 20 franc stands out as a reliable asset.” This didn’t relate in any discernable manner to my blog post, but hey, an insider tip is always welcome.

Someone identified only with Chinese kanji characters (which I cannot read) offered this piece of helpful advice on matters of the heart: “His “affair”is a pain in your heart foreverAffair eventsAlthough the pieces of your heart,Although you love him, he does not value you,Although you pay so much, but did not return,” It appears even “much money” was not enough to keep him, whoever he may have been; I guess I will have to muddle through somehow.

And last but not least, “Gale Sandel” paid me a heartfelt compliment, I think: “This internet site is my breathing in…”


October 26, 2011

Folks who know me well regard me as something of a technophobe. I still have my stereo speakers from the 1970s (good ones, but seriously antique; I have eschewed digital quad setups, as I have only two analog ears), my regular car has a manual transmission (albeit with exactly twice as many gears as my first car), incandescent light bulbs still illuminate significant portions of my home (lending my evening visitors robust pink skin tones rather than the sickly bluish shade created by fluorescent tubes). My cell phone, I am told, can be used to watch network TV (complete with subtitles, where applicable), take clandestine high-resolution photos, locate my precise position on the surface of the planet, and place a last-second bid on eBay. I use it for two things only: to place and receive phone calls. I don’t always answer it when it rings, in fact, thanks to one bit of technology I have embraced, caller ID. When I do get a call from a number I don’t recognize, it is usually a wrong number, typically someone looking for “Kaneko-san”, who hasn’t had this number for at least six years that I can personally vouch for. My guess is that the people looking for Kaneko-san haven’t talked with him/her in some time. Perhaps they are debt collectors tracking down cold files. There sure are a bunch of them, though; I get calls for Kaneko-san at least once a week.

One major problem with technology is that it seems there is always somebody willing to pervert it to a use that the inventors did not intend (the atomic bomb jumps to mind). This no doubt explains why there is a warning label on electric paint strippers, which use super-heated air to melt old paint, “do not use this as a hair dryer.” As admonitions go, this one seems about as obvious as “do not use this toaster in the bathtub”, but probably there is someone out there who would do that as well, if not warned off by an non-removable “skull and crossbones” label. (Note: those labels are made from the strongest material known to man; try removing one sometime if you don’t believe me.)

The digital age has brought forth all sorts of new innovations just waiting to be corrupted, often by your friendly government agents. In Great Britain, digital cameras, which started out as a wonderful boon to photographers everywhere, record your every move—well, not yours particularly—but those of everyone in a given area of the city. It is said that GB has more of these silent monitors than all the rest of Europe put together, which is a good reason not to visit the Mother Country, in my estimation. It is not that I plan to do anything unlawful, but if I am picking my nose or scratching my bottom surreptitiously while walking down a seemingly deserted London street, I would prefer that it didn’t cause undue merriment at the local police station or, worse yet, show up on YouTube after I am famous.

The Spud Network

October 2, 2011

There is a weird phenomenon that occurs typically in remote villages, rural enclaves and tiny islands, a kind of information sharing system that transcends all documented forms of communication. It is known in the tropics as the “Coconut Telegraph”, in the Sahara as “Le Vent de Desert”, and in Prince Edward Island as “The Spud Network”. It works something like this:

I was driving to PEI one spring not long ago. I had not told anyone I was coming, and I was at the helm of an anonymous car (my grey Honda Civic sedan, of which there are thousands just like it in both shape and color, plying the roads of eastern Canada). Before I get to my place, I have to pass right by the house of my cousin Florene. As it happened, she was gardening in the front yard that morning, so I thought I’d pull in her driveway and surprise her. After all, I hadn’t seen her in close to a year. She glanced up at me, registering not one iota of astonishment, and said “Hi Bruce, I heard you were here.” How the hell did she know that, I wondered. So I asked her. She shrugged, pulled a perplexed face and said “I guess Vel told me.” Except I hadn’t told Vel I was coming either. Hmm. Florene and I went inside for a cup of coffee, and I asked if I could use her phone, to call Vel, naturally. I identified myself, and Vel said “Oh hi Bruce, I heard you were here.” Who could have told her? “Must have been Florene,” Vel offered. Nobody ever ‘fessed up to being the source of the rumor, and there I let it lie, writing it off as another example of The Spud Network.

Fast forward a couple of years to this past weekend. I am on my way back from a short trip to Montreal, scheduled to arrive home around 3pm on Saturday. This will give me time to give the guest room an unhurried once over, as I have company arriving on Sunday. On the home stretch I see a handmade road sign I look forward to every autumn, a sign that wasn’t there when I left for Montreal: MacPhee’s U-Pick Apple Orchard is once again open for business. A small (4km) detour is in order, because Rick MacPhee, orchardeer extraordinaire, offers apples truly worthy of Snow White, starting in late September and finishing up six delicious weeks or so later. I can just about smell a home-baked apfelstrudel in my immediate future. I wave as I pull up, and Rick greets me with a grin and “Hi Bruce, when did you get back?” (How does he even know I was gone?) He follows up with “Did you find your friend?” Okay, now I am thoroughly puzzled. “What friend?” I ask. “George Campbell came by here yesterday afternoon looking for you,” Rick replies. Oh dear, I wasn’t expecting him until the following day. And why would he be looking for me at MacPhee’s orchard? “I brought him over to the house to see if we could track you down,” Rick continues, and offered him supper and a place to stay for the night, but he didn’t want to impose. He asked me if there were any B&Bs close by.” Okey-dokey, I’d better get home and hit the phone, and see if I can figure out where George might have gotten off to.

Not far, as it turns out; he is stretched out in his car in my driveway, seat comfortably reclined, catching some late afternoon rays through the sunroof as I pull up. “Hi George, I heard you were here,” I say nonchalantly, realizing that with those seven simple words I have just inadvertently become one small new synapse in the Spud Network.