Status report (early July)

The life in the time of the coronavirus continues… 

This is my fifth status report since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (the other four were in March, mid-April, the end of April, and in mid-May). It has now been fifteen weeks (or one-hundred and seven days) since it has all begun. It has been forty days since the beginning of the slow re-opening and my return to work (thirteen days since we’ve restart taking the public in the library for a limited offer of service). 

On the domestic side of life, I can say that I feel I have not been doing much in the last month and half… I didn’t do much around the house (it was either too hot or raining). As usual, I probably watch too much television: like rewatching the Ghost in the Shell: Arise series and several movies (also, to fill the time, I started watching again the 2004 series of Battlestar Galactica). However, I have been reading enough to catch up on my tsundoku… (hurray!) and write a little about my readings (dBD #141, La sphère d’Or, Unbeaten tracks in Japan, I’ll never tell, De Gir à Moebius, and several other French comics that I covered in the article “Sherlock Holmes en bande dessinée (2)”).

Weather — The temperature was unusually warm lately (above average) and often quite dry. So much so that the vegetation in the parc often took a yellowish colour. Thankfully, it rained periodically enough to keep everything alive. In the last week or so it has been quite hot and humid. Enough to discourage any sustained outside activities, although we still take our daily walk.

Health — With the confinement (probably because of slightly bigger meal and less activity) I have gained weight. My blood pressure and glucose are also higher (maybe because of an increased stress?). I have also experienced digestive problems, my usual recurring pain at the end of the digestive track as well as some chest and shoulder pain (probably muscular). Overall, I feel in good shape but it could be better. Unfortunately, I know that with age nothing gets better…

Work — All is fine at work. My usual library being still closed for renovation I was assignment to another one. This new place is at a nice location (at walk/bike distance from home) and has a nice team (although, since the people of my library working there are in extra, we perform mostly boring jobs). However, there was one painful incident: a customer refused the answer the covid “questions” and to sanitize his hands upon entrance. As I was insisting (to follow protocol), he became increasingly disagreeable, up to implying that I was doing so because of my ego or because I was racist. I was just trying to do my job. I was putting my health at risk (and the health of my family) in order to give him access to the library and he has shown absolutely no appreciation or gratitude for it. All I ask is some respect. If I was hurt by being called a racist (and I will come back on this subject) what really pissed me off was that my colleagues didn’t show much support when I tried to explain that he refused to follow protocol and insulted me. I don’t know, maybe they just didn’t understand me well: it is hard to express yourself calmly when it’s hot and your are talking through a mask and a face-shield. What happened to “we must absolutely ask ALL the covid questions and not let anyone in that doesn’t answer properly”? And then they told me “you know, we get insulted all the time. You have to get used to it” implying that I was weak to let it get to me. We are supposed to have a policy of not tolerating any disrespect and bullying (no respect, no service) and, yet in the end, that man received the service he came for. If you are tolerating such disrespect OF COURSE people will feel empowered and continue with the same behaviour. It is the wrong attitude. Anyway, that incident bothered me for weeks as I kept thinking about it…

One thing that I spent a lot of time on lately, was shopping for a nice electric bike or scooter. In this epidemic, I want to avoid public transportation (bus & subway) and if my work place for now is at a walking or biking distance, it is quite tiring in the summer heat (and I am closer to sixty than fifty years-old after all). I rented one for a week and I liked it a lot, but when I wanted to purchase one not a single store in the metropolitan area had any in stock. I guess everybody had the same idea at the same time and I was too late. An electric BIKE looks cool (particularly the Banana Boss, the Rad Runner 1, the Maxie Large, or the Paris) but it is quite expensive and a standard bicycle seat is really hard on my backside. Strangely, a scooter is less expensive, as well as being much more confortable and versatile. I’ve been checking several nice models (Écolo, Tao Aquarius, Vienna, Gio Italia, Mignon, UQi Pro, etc.) but now I found a good store and I am just waiting for them to receive some stock later this month…

Many important events happened in the second quarter of 2020 ( the end of May, June and the beginning of July) but I don’t want to spend much time on those current events. However, the world stage was dominated by the three great plagues of the era. First, the coronavirus. So far, the world has suffered over 10 million cases of infection resulting in over half a million deaths! We dealt relatively well with it in Canada, but the U.S. in on the verge of total catastrophe as it reopened too soon and they are now seeing an horrible surge in infection (over fifty-thousand new cases each day!). 

The second plague is Trump. I would think that we would get used to it by now but his mishandling of the coronavirus response (no national coordination, not enough test and PPE, not urging confinement, distanciation, and wearing masks, etc.), his constant lying, and his rhetoric encouraging hate-speech and inciting to violence kept making everything worse. Sometimes, I think he just doing it on purpose. If he is not a Putin agent, he is certainly an agent of chaos. He loves it. I can’t wait until November… 

The final plague is racism. Following the death by police abuse of George Floyd and many other subsequent similar baffling incidents, the American urban areas erupted in spontaneous protests against this pervasive institutional racism that literally plagues the U.S. How did we moved from a pandemic to riots in the streets? (Without much social distancing hence the cases surge) We all hoped that it was getting better but I guess we got negligent — the coronavirus confinement and Trump inducement somehow seem to have put salt on the wound — as it now seems worse than ever. It must be dealt with once and for all. With police reform certainly (defunding, demilitarizing, new structure, call it what you want — I always thought we should have several level of policing: the unarmed street or biking cop, the patrol police answering to theft and hold-up, the inspector, the riot police and now we should have a force of psycho-social worker for domestic violence, teenage trouble, neighbour disputes, etc.), but the disease goes further than that. Social reform and massive investments to reduce inequality (in education, in job opening, in housing, etc.) are necessary. With the recent movements like Me-Too and Black Lifes Matter, I feel that the world is effervescent and on the verge of great changes, just like in ’68. However, we will have to be patient. Real change takes time. But now the seed of change, the idea that it is possible, has been planted in people’s minds. It only remains to take care of it and watch it germinate… But the first step toward that change is for American to go vote in November.

Racism has always bothered me. All my life I tried to treat everybody equally, not letting their opinion, behaviour, the size of their nose, the colour of their eyes, hair or skin (pink, brown, “black”, “red” or “yellow”) distract me from the fact that we were all the same. Human beings. I always tried to be tolerant (sometime failing: for a while I became quite intolerant toward religion, but now the only thing I can’t tolerate is intolerance — and stupidity). When I was a teenager I thought that the best way to solve racism was to intermarry and eventually we would all become of the same skin colour (that’s what I did, unfortunately I never had kids — too much trouble!). However, skin colour is just an excuse for racists: in fact they are just afraid of the difference (people thinking, dressing, talking, etc., differently than they are). There are many culture on this world and, if we just learn about them, we see there is no reason to be afraid. We discover that this difference is beautiful, that it is a wealth. Those people usually are against (or ignorant of) science. Science is telling us that, genetically, we are all the same and that there is only one race: the human race. I always wanted to write about this complex and touchy subject (and someday I will). Unfortunately, whatever you say or write will always receive criticism: you didn’t say this, the way you say that is discriminatory, it is not enough, it is too much, etc., so I am waiting to have the right words. However, if you stay silent,  it is worse because they say that you are complicit, that you are encouraging racism by saying nothing. I prefer to show support by my actions: I won’t protest in the street but I’ll always try to be equitable, unbiased, and just. If I see someone being discriminated (racially or otherwise) I will try to defend them. And I’ll stay silent. If I scold you for doing something wrong (like misbehaving in the library or trying to cut the waiting line to enter the bus) and you answer be accusing me of being racist, I’ll stay silent. But just know that calling me a racist is the worst insult that you could give me…

I feel the end of this year will really be difficult… Take care of yourselves and stay safe !

Also, I found time to stay a little acquainted with the affairs of the world and gathered a few notable news & links — which I now share with you (in both french or english, slightly categorized, but in no particular order — note that, to save on coding time, the links will NOT open in a new window), after the jump.

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Status report (mid-May)

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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:

Take care of yourselves and stay safe !

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Indexes Update (Feb. 2019 – Apr. 2020)

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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De l’écriture (4)

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…

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Status report (End of April)

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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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Status report (March)

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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:

Please, stay put and safe — and keep reading.

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Blogging at the time of Corona

 

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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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Ratings

J’ai déjà traité de ce sujet dans mon article “L’Art subtil du commentaire-critique” (ou sa version antérieure, en anglais, “The controversial art of reviewing”) mais comme on me demande de temps temps la signification de chaque valeur de mon système de pointage je le répète ici en rappel.

I have already dealt with this subject in my article (in French) “L’Art subtil du commentaire-critique” (or in its previous version, in English, “The controversial art of reviewing”) but from time to time I am asked the meaning of each value of my point system so I repeat it here as a reminder.

stars-0-0 0 / .5

Nul / Pathetic

Un navet (Indice à n’utiliser que très rarement) / Don’t even think about this title (You should use this rating quite rarely)
stars-1-0

 1 / 1.5

Pauvre / Poor

Ne mérite pas d’attention (Indice à utiliser rarement) / It’s not worth wasting your time and money on this title (Use this rating rarely)
stars-2-0

2

Passable / Fair

Décevant, comporte de l’intérêt surtout pour les mordus ou les curieux / Disappointing, but if you’re curious you can always check it out or flip through it at the library
stars-2-5

2.5

Moyen / Average

Ordinaire, à voir mais sans plus / it’s a title worth watching or reading, but maybe you should just rent it or borrow it—from a friend or the public library
stars-3-0

3

Bon / Good

Intéressant / An interesting title that I recommend purchasing
stars-3-5

3.5

Très bon / Very Good

Très Recommandé / A great title that is definitely recommended
stars-4-0

4 / 4.5

Excellent / Excellent

À voir/lire absolument ! (soyons aussi parcimonieux avec ce genre d’indice) / An absolute must-see or read title (use this rating rarely)
stars-5-0

5

ExceptionnelOutstanding

Chef d’œuvre !! (ce genre d’indice devrait être très rare) / It’s a masterpiece or instant classic worth collecting (such titles are exceptional and therefore this rating should be used parsimoniously)

J’évite de donné des évaluations en dessous de 2.5 ou au-dessus de 4. Quand je transfert un commentaire vers un site qui n’utilise pas de demi-point (comme Goodreads) j’arrondi généralement vers le BAS (donc un 3.5 deviendra un 3).

I avoid giving ratings below 2.5 or above 4. When I transfer a comment to a site that does not use half points (like Goodreads) I generally round it down (so a 3.5 rating will become a 3).

Warning ! Alerte ! 警告 !

In this blog I often comment on books I’ve read or movies that I have seen and, in order to do so, it is sometimes necessary to talk about the story and possibly divulge plot elements. Lots of people don’t like that; therefore it is necessary to warn them beforehand. Unfortunately, putting a warning at the beginning of every comment can be annoyingly repetitive or sometime I simply forget about it. So, here it is: Consider yourself warned!

⚠️ WARNING: The following comment MAY contain traces of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing or reading the story themselves are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should continue reading cautiously! ⚠️

   

Dans ce blog, je commente souvent des livres que j’ai lus ou des films que j’ai vus et, pour ce faire, il est parfois nécessaire de parler de l’histoire et éventuellement de divulguer des éléments de l’intrigue. Beaucoup de gens n’aiment pas ça; il est donc nécessaire de les prévenir au préalable. Malheureusement, mettre un avertissement au début de chaque commentaire peut être ennuyeux et répétitif ou parfois, je l’oublie tout simplement. Donc, le voici: Considérez-vous prévenu !

⚠️ ATTENTION: Ce commentaire pourrait contenir des traces de “divulgâcheur” [a.k.a. spoilers] ! Les personnes allergiques à toutes discussions d’une intrigue avant d’en avoir elles-même prise connaissance sont vivement conseillées de prendre les précautions nécessaires pour leur sécurité et devraient continuer de lire avec prudence ! ⚠️

Playlist revisited

I have updated this blog post (Memorable music) with the complete playlist of my top 50ish anime & J-pop soundtracks, with lots of informative links including to a full version of each titles on Youtube (save for two that I couldn’t find)! It’s a basket of nostalgia for the fans and a good introduction to this great musical genre for the novices. I think this post is worth being revisited (or checking if you haven’t read it yet). Music lovers, what do you think? (let me know which are your favourite anime soundtracks). Follow the links and enjoy!

J’ai mis à jour ce billet de mon blog (Memorable music) avec la liste de lecture complète de mes 50 (ish) meilleures bandes sonores d’anime et de J-pop, avec de nombreux liens informatifs, y compris une version complète de chaque titre sur Youtube (sauf pour deux que je n’ai pu trouver)! C’est plein de nostalgie pour les fans et une bonne introduction à ce grand genre musical pour les novices. Je crois que ce billet mérite donc d’être revisité (ou ça vaut un coup d’oeil si vous ne l’avez pas encore lu). Amoureux de la musique, qu’en pensez-vous? (laissez-moi savoir quelles sont vos bandes son préférées d’anime). Suivez les liens et amusez-vous!