Egyptian mummies: Exploring ancient lives

IMG_7086“Egyptian mummies: Exploring ancient lives” is the North American premiere of an exhibition created by the British Museum. Using digital image projections, explanatory videos and over two-hundred objects from ancient Egypt, it “reconstructs the lives of six people who lived along the Nile”. It tells the story of each of those individuals, their beliefs and the diseases they suffered from.

The original British Museum exposition (opened to the public from May to November 2014) was showcasing eight mummies, one-tenth of their Egyptian mummies’ collection. However, for its international tour the exhibition was limited to six mummies. It first opened at the The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia (from December 2016 to Avril 2017) before moving to Hong Kong in 2017, then Taipei, Taiwan (from November 2017 to February 2018) and it is now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal from September 2019 to March 2020. The next stop will be in Toronto at the Royal Ontario Museum from May to September 2020.

In the early days of Egyptology, the only way to learn about mummies was to unwrap them. 19th century European collectors were even turning this into a social event with lavish “unwrapping parties.” However, the British Museum, with its strong ethics about artifact preservation, always refused to perform any invasive intervention on its mummies and its collection is therefore in excellent condition. Since the 1970s the development of cutting-edge technology, like combining x-ray devices with high-resolution three-dimensional computerized imaging (computerized tomography (CT) scanning) in order to create detailed 3D visualizations of the internal structures, has revealed much more informations that a simple unwrapping would have provided — while still preserving the mummies’ integrity. Combining the resources provided by medical science with those learned from anthropology and archaeology, has allowed the egyptologists to learn a tremendous amount of information about the life and death of ancient Egyptians: not only their culture and way of life, but also their biology, genetics, diet, diseases, burial practices and embalming techniques. This exhibition is illustrating all this through the exemples of six in dividuals (and their mummies) who lived in the Nile valley between 900 BCE and 180 CE.

Apparently the only official catalogue of the exhibition’s international tour was produced by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and is now sold out. However, the catalogue from the original British Museum exhibition is still available.

You can visit (and visit again) “Egyptian mummies: Exploring ancient lives” at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1380 Sherbrooke Street West) from September 14, 2019 to March 29, 2020.

It is a superb and fascinating exhibition, rich in informations and artifacts. I enjoyed it greatly and everyone must absolutely see it. When I visited, in early January, the museum was packed (so, PLEASE don’t bring your five or six year-old Kids, as they might not be old enough to understand the complexity of such subject, and don’t bring your crying baby in its giant stroller !!!). stars-4-0

Here’s a teaser of the exhibition (available on Youtube):

More information and pictures after the jump >>

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Pictorial chronicle [002.020.017]

Un parc en hiver (janvier 2020)

Cet après-midi, comme d’habitude, j’ai pris ma marche de santé en passant par le parc Frédéric-Back par un croustillant -16 ℃ (-26 ℃ avec le facteur de refroidissement éolien)! C’était très beau et je dois féliciter le service des Grands Parcs de la Ville de Montréal car le parc a été jusqu’à maintenant assez bien nettoyé et demeure très praticable pour les randonneurs pédestres. Même l’entrée Émile-Journault avait été déblayée (contrairement à l’an dernier). On note qu’une partie du sentier est réservé aux skieurs de fonds et a été traité à cet effet…

[ iPhone 11 Pro, Parc Frédéric-Back, 2020/01/17, vers 14h ]

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Évidemment, quand il y a du verglas, comme ce 29 décembre (un peu passé 16h), on retrouve le même problème que l’an dernier pour les randonneurs: un épandage d’abrasifs tardif et trop parcimonieux… Il vaut mieux alors éviter le sentier, qui devient une véritable patinoire, et procéder sur la plate-bande de neige ou de gazon. Sinon c’est trop périlleux!

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À ma grande surprise, lors d’une de mes promenades (le 30 décembre, vers 13h), j’ai découvert une chose que je n’avais jamais vue dans le parc: ce qui semble être des traces de lièvres. Cela ne ressemble ni à des traces d’écureuil, ni à des traces de chats… cela ne peut être qu’un lièvre (cf. La Presse+, FCF, Nature-Action, ANF). Je n’aurai jamais cru qu’il y en avait dans le parc Frédéric-Back. Ils doivent avoir leur terriers dans les collines de la périphérie boisée…

D’ailleurs, l’autre jour, un randonneur que je croisais, m’a affirmé avoir aperçu un gros chat dans le parc. J’imagine qu’il s’agissait plutôt d’un gros chat domestique errant car je crois peu probable que cela ait été un chat sauvage, comme le lynx. Surtout en plein jour. On peut facilement y rencontrer des marmottes, des ratons laveurs, des mouffettes, des souris et des rats, même des coyotes. J’en ai vu. Mais des lynx? J’en serais très surpris. Quoi que tout est possible (c’est d’ailleurs un grand prédateur du lièvre)…

IMG_7098J’ai tendance à prendre mes marches de santé en milieu d’après-midi mais, avec le raccourcissement du jour en cette saison, il m’arrive souvent de me retrouver à traverser le sentier de contournement des travaux à la tombée de la nuit, ce qui est plutôt désagréable étant donné l’absence de lampadaires. Il m’est arrivé de traverser cette section du parc dans l’obscurité presque totale! Heureusement, parfois la lune éclaire le chemin — comme dans cette photo prise le 6 janvier, un peu avant 17h. Vivement la fin des travaux (novembre 2020?) et la réouverture du sentier officiel, qui sera alors doté de lampadaires!

IMG_7115J’ai également remarqué que, cette année, les gestionnaires du parc accordaient une plus grande attention à l’entretien des pistes de ski de fonds. Il semble qu’un véhicule spécialisée les prépare et les tamise pour qu’elles soient plus praticable. Évidemment il est préférable que les randonneurs pédestres évitent de circuler sur les pistes de ski pour ne pas les endommager. D’où l’apparition de cette signalisation (“Interdiction de marcher sur les pistes”) que j’ai remarqué la semaine dernière (mais qui avait mystérieusement disparue cette semaine). Toutefois, cette signalisation est un peu confuse (d’où peut être sa disparition?) car elle ne précise pas de quelle piste il s’agit. Ma première réaction lorsque je l’ai aperçu (le 8 janvier, vers 14h) a été de me demander “mais, coup donc, ils veulent qu’on marche où?” Je dois avouer qu’il est impossible de ne pas circuler sur les pistes de ski à l’occasion, car pour accéder à certaines parties du parc dont les pistes ne sont pas déneigées en hiver, l’option la plus praticable (et sécuritaire) reste parfois de circuler sur les sites de ski fonds. Mea culpa.

Par une belle journée ensoleillée (mais froide) comme aujourd’hui, il faut avouer que c’est beau un parc en hiver…

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How to keep customers (un)happy

Some companies (like Amazon) know how to keep their customers happy. If you order an item online, they tell you it will be delivered on Monday while you actually (sometimes) receive it on Friday. You are agreeably surprised and happy. Most of the time you get the item on time and you are still happy.

Meanwhile, other companies (like those shipping with Canada Post) don’t get it. When the item is shipped, the Canada Post tracking website tells you that it will be delivered Friday. But you don’t receive it and at night the website is updated and it tells you that it will be delivered Monday instead. That would already be bad because it is the reverse of the situation described above and you end up frustrated and unhappy.

However, on Monday you still don’t get the delivery and, at night, the website is updated, telling you that it will be delivered Tuesday instead. Of course, you still don’t received the parcel and at night the website is updated with new information telling you that it is out for delivery and that you will get it (really) Wednesday by the end of day…

I just wonder how long they can keep this up…

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Update (2020/01/08): This time it was indeed delivered — on Wednesday, January 8th, at 17h19. The mailman didn’t ring the door bell and just put the parcel in the mailbox. Although, he looked at it a few seconds and then took it out of the mailbox to put it in a frozen flower pot, on the ground, underneath the mailbox. I have no idea why. Go figure… But the fact that it was delivered late and just left on the ground made me mad as hell !

However, just to make my point (again), the same mailman came back eight minutes later and put another parcel in the mailbox. It contained two used comics (bande-dessinées) that I had ordered ten days ago through amazon.fr and that I was told would be delivered between January 10th and January 31st! Understandably, I was agreeably surprised and quite happy…

Happy Solstice to all !

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May the turning of the seasons and the renewal of the calendar bring you peace, a long healthy life and prosperity. No matter what you are celebrating at this time of the year (Christmas / Nativity, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Saturnalia / Sol Invictus, etc.) I wish you all merry holidays and happy new year ! 🖖

Joyeux solstice à tous ! Puisse le tournant des saisons et le renouvellement du calendrier vous apporter paix, longévité et prospérité. Peu importe ce que vous célébrez à cette période de l’année (Noël / Nativité, Hanoucca, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Saturnalia / Sol Invictus, etc.), je vous souhaite à tous de joyeuses fêtes ainsi qu’une bonne et heureuse année! 🖖

عطلات سعيدة للجميع
祝大家節日快樂
Feliĉaj Ferioj al ĉiuj
Frohe Feiertage für alle
Ευχάριστες διακοπές σε όλους
Happy Holidays nan tout
חג שמח לכולם
सभी के लिए खुश छुट्टियाँ
Buone Feste a tutti
すべてにハッピーホリデー
Beatus festis in omnes
Счастливые праздники для всех
Felices fiestas a todos
Chúc mừng ngày lễ cho tất cả

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My heart is not a spark plug

My heart is not a spark plug

That I can turn off at will
Your voice is still making me chill
But am I for you just a lost dog?

My heart is not a spark plug

I’m loving you and you don’t care
I’m mad because it’s not fair
Nothing will do and that’s the bug

My heart is not a spark plug

For you I’ll try everything
You are so fascinating
At my heart-string I feel a tug

My heart is not a spark plug

You’re beautiful like a star
Such grace but you’re too far
More than those girls in Vogue

My heart is not a spark plug

I know you will never love me
You know, a friend I cannot be
Don’t give my memory a jog

My heart is not a spark plug

You treat me like a pervert monk
I’m old, stupid and drunk
I’m a short, ugly and fat slug

My heart is not a spark plug

Each time I see you it hurts
Why do you wear that short skirt
I try to forget you in a liquid drug

My heart is not a spark plug

You always make it worse
When you do it in purpose
In my eyes there’s nothing but fog

My heart is not a spark plug

Or you’re naïve and careless
And you made my life a mess
Reducing me to a wandering rogue

My heart is not a spark plug

You play a game, you’re sensual
Tell me why you’re so cruel?
In your machination, am I only a cog?

My heart is not a spark plug

I really don’t want to get lost
But that’s the best for both of us
Please take me out of your log

My heart is not a spark plug

I can’t stop loving you
I tried but no can do
All I wanted was a least a hug

But my heart is not a spark plug.

Morwajal
1990-11-20

Note: A few months later, another infatuation and another heartache… Ah, the beauty of youth! It is signed again Sejanus and, this time, dedicated “To Z.” This poem does’t follow any form, but it rhymes (sometimes in a quite lazy way) and could also probably be the lyrics of some song. There would be no poetry if everyone was happy all the time! It is almost funny… However, even if the memory is hurtful (some great moments, an embarrassing puppy love and some dark times) I like this poem.

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Derelict in a sea of corruption

As you see my soul is rotten
Lost somewhere between hell and heaven
In one of those grey areas of twilight
Between darkness and light

I fear that darkness is more fascinating
As death and corruption fills my writing
Do we find boredom only in yang’s territory?
Or is it because I enjoy being unhappy?

The evil Lord was right:
Darker is the feeling
Stronger it will be

But before my troth to you I plight
Indeed, I beseech you in believing
That there’s still something good in me

Morwajal
1990-09-15

Note: For some reason, in the late eighties, I started writing poetry in English (probably because I was reading a lot in this language and was getting more at ease with it). In this specific case, as it is dedicated “To J.”, it reminds me that at the time I was courting a young woman from Ontario. We met in Montreal, at the university, and kept corresponding for a while (after she started attending the University of Ottawa). Of course, I was writing poetry for her! She was a comic books fan so you’ll notice the Star Wars’ reference…

The poem was signed “Sejanus” (a Latin name which evoke my first name, C.J., and Janus, the roman god of beginnings and endings, therefore of transitions, of past and future). It is a sonnet which, although heterometric, has rhymes (aabb ccdd ecf ecf)…

You can read more of my poetry here

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