Images du mer-fleuri [002.022.131]

Éclosions 2

[ iPhone 13 Pro, VSP, 2022/05/09-16 ]

La semaine prochaine je commence à vous présenter les tulipes du Festival de tulipes d’Ottawa…

Next week I’ll start showing you the tulipes from the Ottawa Tulip Festival…

Mésaventures de monture

Ma monture, c’est un vélo électrique Écolo de Green Power HQ. Il a une allure de scooter mais c’est bel et bien un vélo (pour plus de détails voir mon entrée “Écolo Lithium” ou le tag “eBike”). Je l’adore mais je dois avouer qu’il m’est arrivé plusieurs mésaventures durant la dernière année qui me font me questionner sur sa fiabilité. D’abord la saison dernière a débuté — et s’est terminé — avec de la malchance. 

IMG_9066-20220420En avril 2021, sur la 2e avenue près du Cirque du Soleil, j’ai roulé sur un nid de poule particulièrement profond que je n’ai pas pu éviter. Je ne m’en suis pas rendu compte tout d’ensuite mais un peu plus tard dans la journée j’ai remarqué que la jante de mon pneu arrière était légèrement déformée. Comme cela ne semblait pas affecter le roulement de la roue, j’ai décidé de la faire réparer plus tard. Mon mécano m’a assuré que c’était pas une grosse réparation et que ça coûterait environ $30 à $50.

IMG_1678-20220414

Pédalier cassé

L’été s’est bien déroulé et j’utilisais mon vélo électrique surtout pour me rendre au travail. C’est plus rapide que le métro et l’autobus, cela m’évite de côtoyer les gens qui ne veulent pas porter le masque (ou ne savent pas bien le porter) dans le transport en commun et je trouve cela agréable de me promener en vélo (sauf quand il pleut, évidemment). J’ai donc utilisé le vélo aussi longtemps que j’ai pu et cela même si cela commençait à être froid (le matin en novembre la température peut facilement descendre près du point de congélation et même sous zéro). J’ai toujours été craintif de conduire sur la neige car j’ai l’impression que les pneus manquent de traction dans ces conditions. Toutefois, vers la fin novembre, nous avons eut une petite neige durant la nuit, cela semblait vouloir fondre rapidement et les rues passantes étaient déjà dégagées. J’ai décidé de me risquer à prendre le vélo malgré tout. Malheureusement, les abords de mon lieu de travail était encore un peu enneigées et quand j’ai tourné pour entrer dans la stationnement j’ai dérapé! Le vélo est tombé sur le côté droit et a glissé. J’ai légèrement déchiré mon pantalon de neige et mon genou avait une bonne ecchymose mais j’était heureusement indemne. Toutefois ce n’était pas le cas du vélo: le pédalier était cassé. On m’a expliquer que la pièce qui attache la tige (l’arbre?) du pédalier au vélo est en fibre de verre et conçue pour se rompre afin d’empêcher le pédalier de tordre sous le choc. Le vélo roule très bien même sans le pédalier alors j’ai pu revenir à la maison sans trop de difficultés. J’ai tout de même décidé de ranger le vélo pour l’hiver et de le faire réparer au printemps.

Dès la fin février j’ai commencé à planifier la réparation du vélo (la jante de la roue arrière et le pédalier) ainsi qu’une révision annuelle. Petit problème: la boutique qui m’a vendu le vélo et qui s’occupe des réparations a déménagé. Elle était assez proche, dans Hochelaga, et maintenant elle est rendue dans RDP/PAT! C’est près de vingt kilomètres et une heure de route pour m’y rendre (et une autre heure pour en revenir)! Je commence donc par regarder si il n’y a pas une boutique plus proche qui pourrait faire cet entretien. Malheureusement, la plupart des boutiques préfèrent généralement s’en tenir à travailler sur les marques de vélos qu’ils vendent et servir leur propre clientèle… Mes tentatives de ce côté ont donc été infructueuses… Début mars, j’ai donc amené mon vélo à la boutique un samedi et je suis repasser le prendre la semaine suivante. Le mécano n’a pas réussi à complètement décrocher la jante mais tout de même suffisamment pour que la déformation paraisse moins. La révision a fait une différence car le vélo roulait comme neuf! Et ça m’a coûté moins cher que je pensais ($35 pour la pièce du pédalier, plus une heure de main d’oeuvre à $65, plus les taxes: $115). J’étais très satisfait.

Mes déboires n’étaient cependant pas terminé. À ce temps-ci de l’année les routes sont encore très sales, pleines de gravier et de déchets, que le passage des véhicules repoussent vers la bordure du chemin… où roulent les vélos. Alors sur le chemin de retour de la boutique j’ai fait une crevaison! Enfin, une crevaison lente. J’ai dû rouler sur du verre brisé (il y en a plein partout!) et le lendemain lorsque j’ai voulu prendre le vélo pour aller faire des commissions, le pneu arrière était complètement à plat et l’embout de la chambre à air était renfoncé vers l’intérieur. Je l’ai regonflé pour aller à la pharmacie mais quelques heures plus tard il était de nouveau à plat. Je ne pouvais pas risquer de faire une longue route sur un pneu qui se dégonfle et ne pouvait donc pas me rendre à la boutique en vélo… Heureusement, la boutique offre un service de remorquage pas trop cher. Ils sont donc venu chercher le vélo pour réparer la crevaison (et remplacer un boulon manquant sur le support du garde-boue arrière, qui semblait avoir échappé à leur vigilance lors de la revision) et, comme j’étais très occupé le weed-end suivant et qu’on annonçait de la pluie, je leur ai demandé de venir me le reporter. Comme preuve on m’a redonné la vieille chambre à air (en prenant soin d’indiquer où se situait la crevaison) et même inclus dans une enveloppe le morceau de verre coupable du délit (d’environ 3 x 5 mm). Ça c’est du service! Cette fois-ci la facture était un peu plus salée ($18 pour le tube, quarante-cinq minutes de main d’oeuvre à $50, et, évidemment, $100 pour le remorquage aller-retour, plus taxes, totalisant un peu moins de deux-cent dollars!!!). En deux ans (et un peu plus de deux mille huit cent kilomètres!) je n’ai jamais fait de crevaison. Il fallait bien que cela arrive un jour… Je me demande toutefois si la prochaine fois je n’essaierai pas de réparer ce genre de petit problèmes mécaniques par moi-même…

Mon vélo étant de retour de son dernier voyage (j’espère) chez le mécano je peut enfin recommencer à me rendre au travail sans avoir à utiliser les transports en commun. Première journée: Durant mon trajet de retour je perds ma pédale de gauche en plein milieu de la rue. Je la récupère à grand risque. Heureusement c’est une tâche relativement simple de la reviser en place. Je serre la vis le plus solidement que je peux. Je commence à être légèrement agacé par cette succession de problèmes. Il semble que cette révision mécanique était une vrai farce! Deuxième journée: pas de problème. Troisième journée: alors que je pédale sur un démarrage (sur les arrêts et les lumières de circulation l’accélération est lente et pédaler aide un peu à repartir plus rapidement) le pédalier fait un étrange “crunch” et cesse de fonctionner. Il tourne (“dans le beurre” comme on dit) mais n’a aucune action sur la traction. Ce n’est pas un problème trop grave puisque j’utilise très peu le pédalier (ce type de vélo n’a pas d’assistance au pédalier [“pedal-assist”] mais utilise quasi uniquement la puissance du moteur actionné en tournant la poignée [“twist grip throttle”]). Je peux donc revenir chez moi sans difficulté (mais un peu frustré). Je décide de réfléchir un peu au problème avant d’entreprendre la moindre action. Le lendemain je me rends quand même au travail en vélo. Quatrième journée: sur le chemin du retour je perd encore une fois la pédale de gauche! Mais c’est quoi cette histoire! Vais-je réussir à faire du vélo sans problème cette année?!

Comme je n’ai plus très confiance dans le mécano de la boutique et que c’est le week-end, je décide de régler ces problèmes par moi-même. Je ne suis malheureusement pas bien équipé pour ce genre de projet mécanique mais on se débrouille! J’ai d’abord enlevé la protection en plastique qui recouvre le système d’entraînement du pédalier. C’est simple il n’y a que cinq écrous à enlever. Je découvre rapidement la nature du problème: la vis qui attache l’engrenage d’entraînement à l’arbre du pédalier a perdu son boulon et est tombée. C’est simple à solutionner sauf que le boulon est resté quelques part sur la route… La vis, plus grosse, est restée prisonnière dans le boitier de plastique. J’enligne les ouvertures de l’engrenage et de l’arbre, y replace la vis et je cherche dans ma collection de quincaillerie diverse un boulon d’un quart. Je n’en trouve pas… Je fais donc une courte visite au Canadian Tires local pour m’en procurer un et je le vise en place. Il ne reste plus qu’à replacer la couverture protectrice et reboulonner en place la pédale de gauche, cette fois plus fermement (il me faudra vérifier ce boulon de temps en temps pour faire sûr qu’il tient en place). Je replace le sac de rangement que j’avais enlevé pour les travaux et, voilà!, c’était pas trop compliqué puis j’ai épargné au moins une centaine de dollars de frais de réparation! C’est l’avantage de ce genre de vélo: il n’y a rien de trop compliqué là-dedans.

Dorénavant (du moins en attendant de trouver un autre mécano fiable et plus proche) je vais essayer de faire la maintenance et les réparations moi-même. Il suffira de s’équiper un peu mieux… Pour l’instant j’espère juste que cette série de malheurs est terminé et que je vais pouvoir enfin faire des promenade de vélo sans expérimenter d’autres problèmes mécaniques…

[ Translate ] [eBike tag]

 

IMG_1831Update (2022/04/28): Comble de malchance, la pédale de gauche est tombée pour une troisième fois. Malheureusement, cette fois-ci j’ai perdu la vis (et le couvercle protecteur) quelque part sur la route… J’ignore pourquoi cette pédale n’arrête pas de se dévisser et de tomber. C’est probablement due aux vibrations causées par nos routes cahoteuses ou à la rotation du pédalier… Peut-être que ce n’était pas la bonne vis (j’ai remarqué que le diamètre de la tête de la vis de l’autre pédale était différent)? Peu importe… Quoi qu’il en soit, comme j’ignore les spécifications de la vis (diamètre et longueur, est-ce une vis en standard US/Impérial ou métrique? Tout ce que je sais c’est qu’elle a une tête hexagonale, est un peu plus large que 1/4, peut être 3/8?, ou 6 à 8 mm, et 10 à 20 mm de long) ce qui fait qu’il me serait difficile de trouver un remplacement dans une quincaillerie. 

IMG_1830Je contacte donc la boutique où j’ai acheté mon Écolo. Ne voulant pas me rendre à vélo jusque là ou faire se déplacer le mécano pour si peu je lui propose de simplement me vendre une ou deux vis que je passerais chercher en voiture. Il m’offre plutôt de passer chez moi le soir même pour faire la réparation (sans frais!!). Comme il n’est pas sûr lui-même des specs de la vis, il en apporte plusieurs modèles. Il m’explique que le secret est d’appliquer un adhésif sur la vis (Loctite rouge 262 “Threadlocker”) — j’avais pensé sceller la vis avec du verni à ongle mais cela semble beaucoup plus efficace. Il en applique aussi sur la vis de l’autre pédale (et me laisse une vis d’extra, au cas ou…). Avec cela, me dit-il, la pédale ne devrait plus jamais se défaire. Ça c’est du service! J’ai eu tort de douter de lui. J’ai probablement juste été très malchanceux… Maintenant il ne me reste plus qu’à espérer ne plus avoir de problème avec ce vélo!

Status report (end of September)

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. 

csm_20-210-261W_courbe-detaillee-cas-covid_800x450_9463bc0a8c

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).

Écolo Lithium (Green Power HQ)

Une nouvelle monture

Après le début du déconfinement, lorsque j’ai été rappelé au travail, je n’étais pas très à l’aise avec l’idée de devoir prendre l’autobus et le métro. Heureusement mon travail se trouvait à distance de marche ou de vélo. Toutefois je me suis vite rendu compte qu’à mon âge, en pleine canicule, le vélo (et parfois même la marche) c’est plutôt épuisant. C’est alors que je me suis rappelé avoir déjà voulu acquérir un vélo ou une mobylette électrique juste pour le plaisir. Mais c’est tout de même dispendieux et le plaisir seul n’en justifiait pas la dépense. Par contre, dans les circonstances, c’était devenu presqu’une nécessité.

IMG_7767

Le DS1 de Dyad

J’ai donc loué une mobylette électrique pour une semaine (chez Dyad) pour voir si cela en valait la peine, si c’était difficile à conduire et, surtout, si j’aimais ça. J’ai adoré! Après avoir soigneusement étudié les modèles disponibles j’avais choisi de louer un DS1 de Dyad car ils offraient de déduire le coût de location de celui de l’achat si j’étais satisfait et désirais acheter la mobylette chez eux. Le problème c’est qu’après ma semaine de location il ne leur restait plus aucun modèle pour la vente et ils ne prévoyaient pas en recommander cette année! J’ai donc commencé à magasiner ailleurs et à considérer tout les modèles possibles: des modèles similaires au DS1 de Dyad (l’Écolo, le Passeport), des vélos électriques (comme le Banana Boss, le Rad Runner 1, le Maxie Large, ou même le Paris), de plus grosses mobylettes style Vespa (Tao Aquarius, Vienna, Gio Italia, Mignon, UQi Pro, etc.), mais plus personnes n’avait quoique ce soit en stock ! Il faut croire que tout le monde avait eut la même idée que moi en même temps!

J’ai agonisé de longues semaines en soupesant toutes les options possibles mais c’était toujours trop gros, trop cher, pas de siège confortable, pas de place pour un second passager, la boutique est située trop loin, etc., et les fournisseurs me disaient tous qu’ils n’aurait du stock que vers la fin juillet au mieux ou encore à l’automne.

IMG_7946

L’Écolo

J’ai finalement trouvé une boutique (Kolo Scooter) localisée à proximité (dans Hochelaga) qui semblait donner un service de qualité (4.9/5 sur Google), offrait un modèle de mobylette qui correspondait à toutes mes attentes et qui devait en recevoir à la fin juillet. Il ne me restait plus qu’à m’armer de patience… J’ai pu enfin prendre possession de mon scooter de marque Green Power HQ, modèle Écolo version lithium, vendredi le trente-et-un juillet. J’en suis bien satisfait. Voici donc ce que j’en pense en détails… (après le saut de page)

Continue reading

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… (Search eBike on the blog)

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.

[ Traduire ]

Continue reading

Image du mer-fleuri [002.020.183]

alius arcanum planta

[ iPhone 8+ / iPhone 11 Pro, Parc Frédéric-Back, 2019/07/12 & 2020/07/01]

Bon, encore une autre de ces plantes mystérieuses que je n’arrive pas à identifier malgré avoir passé tout l’après-midi à feuilleter mes nombreuses références botaniques. S.V.P., quelqu’un a une idée de ce que cela pourrait être ? Merci !

Well, yet another of these mysterious plants that I cannot identify despite having spent the whole afternoon leafing through my many botanical references. Anyone have any idea what it could be? Thanks !

MISE À JOUR (2020/07/02): Après avoir vérifié plusieurs suggestions (Lavande, Lupin et Liatris spicata) qui offraient quelques ressemblance mais ne correspondaient pas vraiment à la plante mystérieuse, j’ai continué mes recherche sur internet (près de cinq heures au total!) et j’ai finalement trouvé! Il s’agit d’une Dalea purpurea (dalée violette / purple prairie clover), une espèce de légumineuse (comme les pois et les fèves) qui appartient au genre Dalea, à la famille des Fabaceae, et à l’ordre des Fabales. (Sources: Google)

UPDATE (2020/07/02): After checking several suggestions (Lavender, Lupine and Liatris spicata) which offered some resemblance but did not really correspond to the mysterious plant, I continued my research on the internet (almost five hours in total!) And I finally found ! It is a Dalea purpurea (dalée violette / purple prairie clover), a species of Leguminosae (the pea or bean family) which belongs to the genus Dalea, to the family of Fabaceae, and to the order of Fabales. (Sources: Google)

Unbeaten tracks in Japan

41u2qa+Cp-L“The firsthand account of a British adventuress as she treks though the Japanese outback in 1878, traveling alone among “degenerate” Japanese and “savage” Aino, and recording it all for posterity in this book, a classic of its kind.” [Promotional text]

“Isabella L. Bird’s voyage to Japan in the 1870s reveals a country steeped in ancient customs and a rugged landscape of beautiful, flowing hills and country pathways.

As of the first Western women to author a book about the Japanese islands, Isabella Bird was keen to relay her observations as accurately as she could manage. The isolationist policy of Japan, which forbade any foreigners from travelling inland, had only recently been lifted. Bird was thus able to witness the urban culture of Tokyo and the rural areas surrounding it, together with the large, northerly island of Hokkaido.

The author offers her observations of the architecture and customs of the native Japanese, and later the Ainu minority ethnic group. Northern Japan’s rural culture is revealed as being enormously different from the modern society the world knows today. Modern residents or aficionados of Japan will however recognize many surviving hallmarks, such as the supreme hospitality and generally well-mannered behavior of the locals.

Despite hailing from and exhibiting the values of the condescending culture of Victorian England, Bird manages to relay a good impression of Japan prior to its rapid modernization in the 20th century. Her views reflect their time; although she had a Japanese translator and guide as a companion, she was unable to grasp the social graces of the area, and acutely felt herself an outsider. She does not lapse into despondency however; instead, she by turns indulges in good-natured mockery of Japan’s insular society.”  [Text from the back cover of the Pantianos Classics edition]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

I first learn of Isabella Bird when I started reading the manga series by SASSA Taiga dedicated to her traveling in Japan (see my comments). Isabella Bird was a real British adventuress that traveled around the world to relieve her back pain and melancholy as well as to satisfy her curiosity. She first went to the United States in 1854, then in Australia, Hawaii (called at the time Sandwich Islands), and back to the U.S. in Colorado to see the Rocky Mountains in 1872-73. Five years later she went to Asia, travelling through Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. In 1889, she went to China, Persia, Kurdistan and Turkey. In 1897, she went back to China and Korea to travel up the Yangtze and Han rivers. Her last voyage in 1904, at the age of seventy-two year-old, was to Morocco where she wanted to meet the Berbers. 

It is extraordinary enough for a woman to have been travelling so much almost alone but it is even more interesting that she wrote a lot about it as she published around twenty books describing her journeys. It seems that most of her books are the collection of letters that she wrote to her friends and relatives describing in every details everything she saw during her travelling. 

She went to Japan in 1878 (at the age of forty-seven year-old) with the goal to explore Ezo (Hokkaido) and meet the Ainu — she seems to have an interest in learning about the indigenous people of each country she visited. However, she chose to travel from Tokyo not by the easier sea route but by the more difficult inland road, first to Niigata and then Aomori and Hakodate — hence the title Unbeaten Tracks in Japan. It must have been a very difficult journey. Almost every day she wrote to her sister Henrietta back in England, describing to her the Japanese landscape and its vegetation as well as the culture of its people (their houses, clothings and usages). Her observations are particularly interesting because she describes Japan at a time of change, ten years after the Meiji Restoration, witnessing the last remnants of the samurai culture as well as the beginning of the modernization of Japan. The book collecting all those letters was first published in 1880 and an abridged version was published in 1885.

Now that I have read the original words of Isabella Bird I can better appreciate the manga. We can see that, if the anecdotes and the facts told in the manga seem fairly faithful, the character’s open and understanding attitude toward the Japanese people is not entirely truthful. In the manga, she barely makes any negative comments in her description of the Japanese while in her work, Isabella Bird has the condescending, and even sometimes contemptuous, attitude towards the Japanese that one would expect to find in any British aristocrat of the time. And her translator and guide Ito, which is the key to every scenes in the manga, is hardly mentioned in her book (and when she mentions him it is often to mock him; although, she brings the subject of his previous and unfulfilled contract with the botanist Charles Maries).

She describes the Japanese as busy people, talks about their “miserable physique and the national defects of concave chests and bow legs” (p. 9), or being “so lean, so yellow, yet so pleasant-looking, so wanting in colour and effectiveness” (p. 10). She adds “I never saw people take so much delight in their offspring (p. 56) (…) but it is not good for European children to be much with them, as they corrupt their morals, and teach team to tell lies” (p. 87). However, she finds them polite, civil and honest (p. 75). In the deep country, she finds that people are poor, almost naked and quite dirty. She keeps even harsher words for the Ainu. She calls them “magnificent savages” and “children” (p. 175), “a harmless people without the instinct of progress” (p. 168) characterized by their “apathy and want of intelligence” (p. 173). They are often naked, drink too much sake and the Japanese (including Ito) say that they “are just dogs” (p. 181). She says that “They have no history (…) their houses and persons swarm with vermin, they are sunk in the grossest ignorance, they have no letters or any numbers above a thousand, they are clothed in the bark of trees and the untanned skins of beasts, they worship the bear, the sun, moon, fire, water, and I know not what, they are uncivilisable and altogether irreclaimable savages, yet they are attractive, and in some ways fascinating (…)” (p. 184). So, it is not all bad as she even finds them “charming in many ways” (p. 202) and that they are sometimes “superb-looking men, gentle and extremely courteous” (p. 168).

It is a very interesting book but, unfortunately, the epistolary travelog of Isabella Bird in Japan  is a little laborious to read as it is long and consisting mostly of descriptions. I must admit that I kept falling asleep and could read barely a dozen pages every night. Therefore reading this book was quite an enterprise, but all worth the effort because it offers a unique view on the Meiji’s Japan. It is a good reading but mostly for the Japanese history fanatics as well as for those who read the manga and are curious to learn more about Isabella Bird herself.

Unbeaten tracks in Japan: An account of travels in the interior, including visits to the aborigines of Yezo and the shrines of Nikkô and Isé, by Isabella L. Bird. London: John Murray, 1885. 136 pages. The book is available for free download on Amazon Kindle, Google Books and Gutenberg Project. stars-3-0

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

[ Traduire ]