I just watched an interesting documentary on NHK World-Japan about a young boy, Asuka Umeda, who spent seven years writing in notebooks about events and subjects he was reading about in newspapers, commenting them and researching them further in what was for him a self-learning adventures. I first thought that he was an Hikikomori (ひきこもり) or suffering from a slight form of autism, but no, he was a normal boy, going to school and was just particularly shy and socially awkward — like many otakus (just a look at his bedroom and you instantly know that he’s a great anime & manga fan, doing lots of gunpla [ガンプラ]). He was certainly not shy about talking about his notebooks to teachers and museum directors, and won many awards for his writings and essays. One of those essays is about his self-learning experience and this documentary is illustrating it with cute animations and interviews.
Apparently, this type of self-learning (独学 / dokugaku / autodidacticism) is common in Japan. Elementary students are writing essays and compiling scrapbooks as homework assignments and some push it further as they make it an extracurricular activity. Asuka just pushed it even further, becoming obsessed with it to the point where he didn’t participated to any after-school club activities and stopped seeing friends to dedicate his time to writing in is notebooks. He is pursuing this interest even in high-school. He will probably become a good writer and journalist.
It made me realized that I was exactly like that as a child: curious but shy and socially awkward, spending lots of time reading, making scrapbooks and writing in my notebooks (thirty-seven so far) about ideas, places, books and movies that I have seen. Life has always been about the pursuit of knowledge for me. And I continue to do so, I just call it blogging now!
I recommend you see this documentary, My Notebooks: Seven Years of Tiny Great Adventures, which will remain available for streaming on NHK World website until the end of May. At he same time, you could have a look on another documentary about the animation studio Production I.G., which has created many of my favourite anime (like Ghost in the shell or Blood: The Last Vampire) — available for streaming until November 13, 2022.[ Traduire ]
The life in the time of coronavirus continues…
It has been a while since I wrote one of those… In the beginning of July, actually. This is my sixth status report and it has been twenty-seven weeks (or one-hundred-and-ninety-two days) since the beginning of the confinement. It has also been seventeen weeks since we started re-opening at the end of May and fifteen weeks since I restarted to work in a library in June. Time flies. Everything before that feels like an other life… Did we reopen too soon, too hard ? Or is it that (stupid) people are so quick to forget the danger of being in the middle of a pandemic ? As predicted, we are now starting the second wave. Lets hope it won’t be a tsunami… Last week, as the COVID-19 cases kept increasing, Montreal passed into yellow zone and today it switched into the red zone, the highest level of alert. To try to break the wave we really need to lock ourselves up again for the next month, avoid all gathering and social activities. Winter is coming and I am worried about what the fall will be bringing (I mean autumn, not “the” fall of civilisation — although that could still be a possibility; or at least the fall of democracy, the fall of decency, in our southern neighbour.
Now, I must apologize to my readers. In the last month or so, I have been feeling lousy and I didn’t write anything of significance on the blog. I posted only pictures — mostly from my daily walks in the park, of cats and flowers. Although I still read a few comics & manga or watched movies and tv series (e.g. I finally finished (re)watching Battlestar Galactica — I’ll write about it later if I can), but just didn’t feel like writing about it. I was (physically and mentally) exhausted. As often, work and life (chasing clinical appointments, shopping for an electric bike or a new mattress) were taking all my energy. However, I still think that posting those pictures are important to me. Each time I talk about natural history, or show the picture of an animal or a plant, or an ancient coin, I think it is an opportunity (first for me) to acquire new knowledge and then to share it with others. After all, this is one of the main reasons why I am writing this blog: Sharing my enthusiasm for knowledge (that and spilling my brain out into words in order to stay sane !).
The reasons why I am feeling so lousy are complex. First, frankly right now, the world is depressing. If you are watching the news (which I very often do, mostly from our southerly neighbour), all you can hear is scandal this, corruption that, election this, election that, COVID this, COVID that, COVID all over (one million deaths around the world so far), and, in every cases, associated with the name Trump! It is tiring.
Also, my work is rather frustrating. I am not working in my usual library, which is undergoing (since last December!!) some renovations. I’ve been relocated to another library, working with a different team. They are mostly nice people, but, let’s say, we’re not really sharing the same work ethic. Due to various delays (mostly unexpected structural weaknesses and COVID), the construction work has dragged on and the return to our rightful library has been pushed back several time. This situation is the cause of a great stress. (When I get too frustrated with my job, to blow steam, I just apply to another one…)
Finally, my life has become quite painful. On top of my usual ailments (being slightly overweight, back pain [due to an herniated lumbar disc with occasional sciatica], pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, hepatic steatosis, sigmoidal diverticulitis, occasional kidney stones and an unmentionable recurring abscess), earlier this month I started having chronic knee pain on the right side which the doctor diagnosed as probable osteoarthritis (the x-ray didn’t show anything). A little later, I also started having pain in the left hip. I’ve been prescribed some strong NSAID rubbing drops (a 1.5% diclofenac sodium solution) and also tried a similar product in cream, but their list of counter-indications and side-effects is longer and scarier than their benefits! I am quite wary of using them… I am still trying to exercice regularly, but I started to hate stairs (however I am still adamantly avoiding elevators). I just must learn to live with my pain. Pain is my friend. I will face my pain. I must not let pain change the way I do things. I will use my pain to keep a clear mind. And when the pain has gone I will remain active. (That’s my litany against pain). Fortunately, there are some good days… but I’m really starting to feel old…
However, in the last few days I felt a little worse. I was more tired, depressed, having a congestion and a slight cough, a little dizziness occasionally, higher blood sugar (five days in a row over 7 mmol/L), some gastro-intestinal problems and a slight fever. It is probably simply exhaustion due to the stress of work and the change of the season, doubled with the beginning of a cold. Nothing more (hopefully). However, the protocol at work requires me to report it to my superior, call public health authorities and undergo COVID-19 testing. Which I did today. I didn’t go to work, got tested and now I am isolating myself in my man/writing cave, waiting for the result of the test (and my new mattress).
I am planning to take advantage of this short pause to hopefully write a little (about life & do some book/media comments) on this blog (and maybe for the Club des Irrésistible also).
Continues with Notable News (late September)[ Traduire ]
Update (2020/10/01): The test came back negative. I am feeling better now and back to work. Sorry again: I spent too much time writing the status report and notable news that I didn’t write anything else… (The mattress is a little disappointing, offering little improvements on the previous one. Feel a little too soft to my taste but the important point is that I sleep a little better).
Le 20 juin j’ai republié un message d’Animeland qui annonçait la bande-annonce d’un film d’animation adaptant un excellent manga d’un de mes auteurs préférés, Jiro Taniguchi. Le 26 juin j’ai reçu un message de Facebook qui disait “Your post goes against our Community Standards [on SPAM] so only you can see it.” J’ai donc contesté la décision et FB a fermé le dossier mais j’ignore toujours si mon billet original est toujours visible… alors je l’ai re-publié (mais il ne semble toujours pas visible!)…
La bande-annonce en question (sur Vimeo)
Je suis outragé! Facebook trouve correct que Trump mente sur leur page, que Trump fasse de la désinformation et de la propagande haineuse, que Trump incite à la violence [WaPo • NYT] mais je republie simplement un post qui parle d’une animation basé sur un beau manga de mon auteur préféré et c’est du SPAM ???? F**k you FB, je commence sérieusement à penser à te laisser tomber !
Ne vous gênez pas pour commenter et laisser FB savoir quelle petite merde ils sont!
* * *
F**k Facebook !
On June 20 I republished a message from Animeland announcing the trailer for an animated film adapting an excellent manga from one of my favorite authors, Jiro Taniguchi [same news on Anime News Network]. On June 26 I received a message from Facebook saying “Your post goes against our Community Standards [on SPAM] so only you can see it.” So I contested the decision and FB closed the file but I still don’t know if my original post is still visible … So I re-posted it (but I’m still not sure it is visible…) !
I am outraged ! Facebook finds it okay that Trump lies on their page, that Trump does disinformation and propaganda, that Trump uses hate-speech and incites to violence [WaPo • NYT] but when I simply republish a post that talks about an animation based on a beautiful manga by my favorite author it is SPAM ???? F ** k you FB, I’m seriously starting to think about dumping you !
Please feel free to comment and tell FB how shitty they are !
The life in the time of the coronavirus continues…
This is my fourth status report since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (the other three were in March, mid-April and the end of April). We have now been in confinement for eight weeks (or fifty-six days).
I have not read or written much in the last couple of weeks. Maybe because I was getting tired of my routine. Also, since I keep myself busy during the day, I read mostly at night. And for now I am still stuck reading the epistolary travelog of Isabella Bird in Japan which is a little laborious to read (lots of descriptions). As I keep falling asleep, I read barely a dozen pages every night, therefore it is a long enterprise. I want to start reading something else during the day (some manga or comics because it is “May, the comics’ month”) but there’s so much work around the house (gardening, painting, doing laundry, shopping for groceries, etc.) and other distractions (shopping online for a new TV, ordering gardening supplies, watching or reading news) that I never get to it. I also undertook tasks that were rather time consuming: editing a video interview with an author, updating the blog indexes and finally putting together the 2019 “notable news”.
Unfortunately, this joyous preview of retirement is coming to an end and I will soon have much less time to read or write. I have been recalled to work… at the community gardens! I chose to work in a library to stay involved with culture and, obviously, there nothing more cultural than to oversee the operations in one of the borough’s community gardens. Considering that we are in one of the boroughs with the worse coronavirus infection rate, within the worse city and the country’s worse province, I was quite reticent to expose myself to possible contamination by going back to work, particularly for a job that I didn’t choose. However, I didn’t have much choice (apparently they don’t give a damn if I bring the virus home and cause the death of my immunosuppressed sibling). To minimize the risk, I opted to work in the closest community garden, avoiding public transportation. And I’ll be very careful in protecting myself. Working outdoor, at walking distance, cannot be so bad (unless the weather doesn’t cooperate)…
I conclude with a list of posts where you will find links and suggestions to fill your confinement and entertain yourselves:
- List of activities (where to find digital books, movie streaming and virtual museum visits)
- 2019 “Notable news” (news stories that I enjoyed, so you might as well)
- Winter to Spring 2020 “Notable news” (idem)
- Video interview with Yves Meynard (in French)
- A bunch of anime, books and movies reviews
- My contributions to the Club des Irrésistibles (in French)
- COVID-related information
- Keep exploring this blog, there is plenty of interesting stuff to read !
Take care of yourselves and stay safe !
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Spring is not just the time to do some maintenance around the house. It’s a good time to do it for the blog too. I haven’t updated the Bibliography and indexes of Book reviews as well as Movie & TV series reviews in over a year! It’s a lot of work but it helps the readers to find their way around the blog.
It’s also a good time to look back at statistics. In those fifteen months I have posted 417 posts (an average of 27.8 per month) and received 7068 visitors (an average of 471.2 per month). This includes about 90 book reviews and 45 movie & TV series reviews — that’s a good ratio 2/1 of books vs media reviews! Overall, since its beginning in late 2017, this blog has produced 1041 posts and has received 24,110 views, 11,655 visitors and 141 followers. It’s good as the blog is getting better, but those numbers are no where near the stats I was getting with my previous hosting service. I don’t know what WordPress is doing, but it’s doesn’t reach as many people. I guess I’ll have to pay more to get more exposure…
In this list, I have left out the blog entries that were mostly pictures or short reflection — it’s worth mentioning if it’s over fifty words. Check it out after the jump >>
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L’écriture c’est la solitude et le vide. Comment puis-je écrire quand tout bouge autour de moi, avec toutes ces boîtes qui parlent sans cesse et jouent de la musique. Je ne peux plus réfléchir ou me concentrer avec toutes ces voix dans ma tête. Et mes mots sont évanescents. Je tente de m’y accrocher mais ils me délaissent. Pour écrire je dois faire le vide mais il y a de plus en plus de monde autour de moi. Étrange en ce temps de confinement. Mais là est le paradoxe, car c’est de tous ces gens, de toutes ces boîtes, ces livres que j’absorbe les émotions, que je suce la vie, aspire le vécu, arrache la connaissance pour nourrir mes mots et combler l’absence et le vide en moi. C’est une balance, un cycle émotionnellement difficile à atteindre et à maintenir…
[ Translate ]
The life in the time of the coronavirus continues… This is the third status report since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (the other two were in March and mid-April). We’ve now been under confinement for six weeks (forty-two days — a true quarantine) !
Despite the apocalyptic feelings we get from the news, the moral is good. However, I am still slightly apprehensive that this heavenly isolation will ends. It starts to feels like an early retirement. But the world has to follow its course and the show must go on. I could be recalled to work anytime within the next two or four weeks. In order to avoid giving the impression that I had been sitting idle through this paid leave, I’ve sent to the libraries’ blog a few reading comments (manga and comics — since “May is the comics month”) that should be posted in the following weeks… (I’ve already contributed more than a dozen comments in 2017-18 and now more are coming).
Evidently, I kept busy. Beside my weekly postings and writing about the latest Notable news and Earth day, I took a break from reading and commented mainly about movies (The trip to Spain, Steve Jobs, Colette, Book Club) and a superb anime TV series (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045). I wrote less because there was still a lot to do around the house: plumbing projects to finish, tiles to be replaced, a tree stump to be removed (although I’ve quit on this one), gardening, etc.
[ iPhone 11 Pro, house work, 2020/04/20, 28-29 ]
Although I still have some gardening and painting to do, I am planning to go back to reading and writing about it. I still have a few novels to read (now I am reading the Japan epistolary travelog of Isabella Bird, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan — it’s so long and made mostly of descriptions) but I will concentrate mainly on manga and comics (I still have plenty of those to read!) because “May is the month of the comics” (Mai, le mois de la BD — for lack of activities in the libraries, the NFB is offering us a selection of films made by cartoonists or drawn from comic books).
Indeed, May is at our doors! May, the most beautiful month of the year! The warm side of Spring that brings back the colour green, leaves on the trees, bugs & birds and… flowers! And, of course, the latest Star Wars movie (episode IX), The Rise of Skywalker, will start streaming on Disney+ on May the 4th [be with you]…
Stay safe !
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The life in the time of the coronavirus continues… I’ve now been in self-isolation for over a week (actually for about ten days) and I am doing well. There are no signs of any symptoms so far and I am in good shape (physically and mentally) — although I still suffers from kidney stones from time to time. I try to stay fit by doing at least an hour of walking (if possible reaching ten thousand steps) and thirty minutes of cardio (by shovelling the backyard or sweeping the driveway) every day — while keeping my distance from people which is really not a problem for me. Unfortunately we had a couple of days of rain and I couldn’t reach my goals during that time.
I also stay fit mentally by keeping busy with my blog and doing stuff around the house. First, all this reading is a great help in lowering my tsundoku pile. Second, since I am theoretically still working for the library, I try to do some reference work by writing as much reading suggestions and comments as possible. I have everything I need here to keep busy.
The moral is good — despite spending lots of time watching the news, both local and American. I really don’t mind the isolation. Now-a-day — with tons of books & Dvds, the television and the internet to make the mind travel — can we really be isolated anymore? In a way, the only apprehension is about going back to work and ending this very productive streak. However, the way things are going, I don’t think I have to worry about that for a while…
At first I was hoping to read a book and watch a movie every day, but all the walking and doing chores around the house take some time. I have not written as much as I would have liked. So far, I wrote a list of thing to do to keep busy during the isolation, my usual “Natural Friday” entries (about the dodo and the megaladapis), a comment about the second volume of Histoire en manga, a suggestion list for long series of manga in French, and a series of articles about Ghost in the shell Stand Alone Complex (manga, anime TV series, 2nd Gig, Official Log book 1, and movie) as well as the original manga. More (so much more) is in the works.
In the meantime, things are not doing so well around the world. We seem to cope well here in Quebec, but the situation looks dire in Europe and, particularly, in the U.S.. Here are some links to keep yourself informed:
- COVID-19 coverage (BBC)
- COVID-19 coverage (CNN)
- COVID-19 coverage (Google)
- COVID-19 coverage (The Guardian)
- COVID-19 coverage (Montreal Gazette)
- COVID-19 coverage (NYT)
- COVID-19 : tout sur la pandémie (Radio Canada)
- COVID0-19 coverage (The Washington Post)
- COVID-19 Québec dashboard (Université Laval)
- COVID-19 dashboard (John Hopkins University)
- COVID-19 Tracker (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation Dashboard (WHO)
- Topos COVID-19 Project
- Coronavirus Deaths by U.S. State and Country Over Time: Daily Tracker (NYT)
- Projected hospital resource use in the U.S. (University of Washington)
- The missing six weeks: how Trump failed the biggest test of his life (The Guardian)
- Your guide to COVID-19 and its impact on life in Canada (CBC)
- Montreal’s latest COVID-19 news (Montreal City)
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Québec (Quebec government)
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Canada (Canadian government)
- COVID-19 – Information aux employés (Montreal Intra/extranet)
Please, stay put and safe — and keep reading.
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I am now on indefinite leave
It would feel like staycation —
If it was not for this doomsday vibes
The coronavirus (COVID-19) unleashed itself on an unprepared world. Now, we are all in self-confinement to create the social distancing necessary to slow down the onslaught. Therefore the library is closed. We worked for about a week without the public (it was quite fun), but now they have sent us back home (with pay!). I am glad because I was worried that travelling everyday on the bus and the subway would put my family at risk (one of my siblings is immunosuppressed). The governments (both federal, provincial and municipal) asked us to stay home, so we do. I don’t know how long it will last; it might be anything from two weeks to two months.
I will take advantage of that time to catch up on my reading and movie viewing, do a little clean-up in the house and maybe (if it last for a while) start gardening. I will definitively blog more during this period, mostly to post my reading or viewing comments but also to try to entertain you with bits of knowledge and wisdom. I have already post a list of activities everyone can do during this confinement period.
Hopefully everything will be well. In the meantime, please stay all safe.
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