East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Complicated days

Quick note to let you all know that I’m not gone, just stuck in the wilds of the Astigianistan hills.
Lots of work – as usual, to be done for yesterday – lots of hangups, the PC still recovering from the crash, some sad news from a friend, too many projects going, insomnia and lack of sleep, cats fighting in the courtyard, and what not.

Like the guy said, I’ll be back.
Tonight, probably.


For nothing, even a dog won’t wag its tail

The title of this piece is a phrase that my mother used to say quite often, and she meant it most of all in a moral, emotional sense: everybody likes to be told they are doing a good job.
Everybody likes been told they’re good, they are doing fine, what they are doing is important.

Yesterday, out of the blue, I was given the most heartwarming acknowledgement I have received in the last ten years. It was unexpected, instinctive and moving, and it came from an unanticipated direction.
It was, I don’t know, maybe ten words and an exclamation mark, but it came in a very bad moment, and it saved my day.
Quite a few days, actually.

Because we need to feel acknowledged.
Granted, we need to pay the bills and buy food, and we need to be read, and both are immediate, physical needs.
But being told we are respected as human beings is also a life-saving thing – and strangely it does not happen that often, does it?

So if you have the opportunity, go tell somebody you respect their work and their attitude. You don’t need to write a poem about it, but tell them.
It’s free, and they might be at the end of their rope, and badly in need of a breath of fresh air.


Breathing plastic fumes or going on strike

People are striking all over the planet to attract the attention of the governments on the current climate crisis.
In the beautiful hills of Astigianistan Autumn is coming, painting copper and brown the slopes and the valleys, and here I am, lucky bastard that I am, breathing the poisonous fumes escaping from the neighbor’s chimney, because when September comes, they start burning their waste – plastic included – in the home fireplace.

My mother called the environmental service because of this problem, back in, I think, 1989. The guy at the other end of the line asked her if the smoke she was seeing was white or black, because if it was not black they couldn’t do anything.
My mother, a long-time asthmatic, ripped the guy to shreds, along the lines of “what the f*ck do I know about the color, we are chocking here you a-hole!”
Nothing was done about it.
Thirty years on, they are still doing it.
At least it0’s a sign that dioxin won’t kill you that fast.
And then what do I know? I’m a bloody foreigner, I’ve been living in this place only ten years.
My mother was a bloody foreigner too, and a stuck-up meddler – she was told so by the neighbour, who somehow had learned about my mother’s complaint and report.
My mother would never come back to this place in the following years, much to my father’s irritation.

I can’t go on environmental strike here, because basically this is a ghost town peopled of dead people – only some of them have not realized yet.
What could I do, stand alone with a placard in front off the only shop in town?
But if you can, help the kids that are striking.
Because the smell of burned plastic shouldn’t be the smell that reminds you of your mother.


This time I’m gonna strike rich!

I just received a mail that promises to solve all my economic problems, and set my writing career on the right path.
No really!
Judge for yourself…

Dear Friend,
An oil business man made a fixed deposit of $26M in my bank branch where I am a director and he died with his entire family in Syria war leaving behind no next of kin. I Propose to present you as next of kin to claim the funds,if interested contact me with your full name, and telephone number to reach you and most importantly, a confirmation of acceptance from you.
Please reply with this Email: xxxxx
Your Truly ,
Ling Lung

Now I’m here preparing a letter for mister Ling Lung.
I think I’ll mention to him that I still have here his grandfather Kai Lung’s wallet. Maybe he’d like to have it back.


Explore the world and help the others

The title of this post sums up the sort of answer I would have given when I was, say, twelve years old, when somebody asked “what are you going to be when you grow up?” (one of the questions that have plagued kids for generations). I would not have said it in so many words, but that was the idea – I had been raised on documentaries and adventure stories, and I had this sui generis image in my mind of what a scientist would do – go out there, learn the world, help people see those wonders, teach.

I realize now that, had it been considered an option, I would probably have loved to make documentaries, or be a nature photographer.
But those were not “serious jobs”, so I focused on university, and became a paleontologist and a geologist.
I did research and teaching for a while, and then ended up in this dead village in the hills of Astigianistan, saddled with debts other people had made, and too old to do any job because hey, you’re over 45, you should be either rich or dead.

So it’s back to adventure stories – because if I can’t go out there and do it, I can at least try and inspire others to do it.
Or dream about inspiring them – most of my readers are my same age or older, and “adventure” is today something somebody set up, and you can go through it for a price, and everything’s perfectly controlled.
You don’t get to see the world but that small slice they will allow you to see.
Most places are too dangerous, or too weird, or just plain uninteresting.

It gets depressing.
And I, sitting here in this small village lost in a countryside where curiosity and youth are ills that must be cured as soon as possible… today I find some solace learning foreign languages, trying my hand at cooking exotic recipes, and paying a small amount of money to some charity – usually through things like Humbe Bundle or such.

I’m starting to feel old and useless, I need to find something new to explore.
Any ideas?