back on the bike

This week I decided to try cycling to work again. I hadn’t cycled to work (or anywhere) in a really long time — maybe the start of the year, or toward the end of last year — and I thought it was about time I tried again.

Of course, that’s not to say I cycled every day this week. I only cycled on Wednesday, when I thought the workload would be manageable enough that I wouldn’t be left too exhausted to cycle home. Fortunately, the weather was also quite mild that day, so it seemed like the best opportunity.

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the start of my Russian journey

Before I started learning Russian, I had some confidence that if I could pick up Farsi/Persian, then Russian, surely, could not be much harder. Ever since reading Anna Karenina a few years ago, I wanted to learn Russian. Since (obviously) I read an English translation of the novel, and I’ve had very little exposure to the Russian language before, my desire to learn the language was based almost solely on how lovely all the Russian names sounded.

When I actually started learning Russian (about a month ago now), I was quickly dismayed by how hard it was to learn the alphabet. Of course, I knew their alphabet was different, but I thought it would be reasonably easy to pick up since they look similar to English characters. And, yes, several of the letters do look very much like English letters, but a lot of these also have completely different pronunciations.

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relatively mild

There was a report on the news this morning about some study on climate change. A woman was saying that people probably think this last decade was exceptionally hot, but with climate change, the next decade will be much hotter such that our current temperatures will seem relatively mild.

When I heard this, my first thought was, “why is this still being reported like it’s some surprising news that no one considered before?” But I was in the middle of doing other things, so I continued on with my morning without thinking much more of it.

That is, until just a moment ago when I was reminiscing about how relatively carefree life used to be, and lamenting how troublesome life seems to be right now. Pandemic aside, I feel like this year has brought a lot more “responsible adult” tasks for me.

(Is there a point in adulthood when there is no more to learn about being an adult, and you can just get on with life i.e. relaxing, doing nothing, etc? Probably not?)

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under the weather

Looks like we’re in for a bit of a rough summer. We’ve already had some really hot days followed by fierce storms, and some hail too. And it’s only the start of November!

There’s also been a lot of dust and pollen in the air recently, and my workplace has just gotten something done to the aircon, so the air’s been quite cold and dry too. As a result, my sinuses have been suffering, and they’ve made sure I’m well aware of it.

Having come through winter relatively unscathed, I suppose this is just a small inconvenience, but it’s inconvenient all the same.

Still, one ought to be grateful that one has a home, and a sofa on which good books can be read and enjoyed. I think that will be my week-end taken care of.

a nose by any other name

A few weeks ago, I started reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I have been making slow progress (due in part to a lack of time and wakefulness, and in part due to my slow grasp of who everyone is (the first several chapters are at a soiree, and there are so many characters introduced)), and there is a long way to go, but I’m quite excited to be finally reading it.

Being such an epic novel — both in actual length and in literary importance — I knew at the outset that I would occasionally need other reading material as a break from War and Peace. It just so happened that today my partner showed me a video of a scene from Dmitri Shostakovich’s first opera, The Nose. In this particular scene, there are a number of people (maybe ten or so) dressed as large noses, and they tap dance around the stage.

We were both very baffled by what was going on, and wondered what sort of opera could feature such a strange act. In the interests of edification, as my partner moved on to other things (i.e. work), I Googled it myself, and found that it’s actually based on a novella of the same name. As it so happened, it was written by Nikolai Gogol, one of the other greats of Russian literature.

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the recycling illusion

When I was in Grade 6, my teacher taught us about climate change and global warming. I’m not sure if it was part of the official curriculum, or she was just passionate about it, but it felt like we spent a lot of time learning about greenhouse gases and the ozone layer (or lack thereof). Ever since then, I’ve been concerned about the impact of my actions on the environment.

To be fair, my concern has varied over time, but there’s usually a baseline whisper from my conscience: Do I really need to buy this [item packaged in plastic]? Can I reuse or repurpose this instead of throwing it in the bin? Do I really need to drive, or can I take public transport? Am I using too much water?

Some time ago, I learnt that Australia was exporting plastic recyclables to China for processing, and then China decided it didn’t want our plastic waste anymore. Since there were insufficient local recycling plants to divert this to, all of our plastic recyclables started going straight to landfill. I even remember watching some kind of news story about a Victorian woman who was stockpiling recyclables along the side of her house until the government put a solution in place. (I hope she’s not drowning under piles of used plastics by now.)

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