May. 25th, 2010


May. 25th, 2010 12:14 am
skyring: (Default)
Belgium, and lunch wasn't quite as easy as we thought. None of us had much in the way of Euro left after Germany, and we either needed some place that would take cards, or an autoteller so that we could draw out further supplies.

We stopped to fill up at an odd service station. It was a servo at the front and a tavern at the back, but it wasn't the sort of place that seemed to cater for a few quick sandwiches and soft drinks.

So we went off down the road, looking for something better. Which was sort of a Belgian Subway or Quiznos, once we found a park, marvelled at the roadside shrine, and looked inside. Two problems: first, the ordering process seemed overly complex. Doubtless it was just a matter of selecting bread, filling, sauces and salads, but I probably had the best French of us all, and my few phrases weren't going to be up to the task. Falling back on "point and grunt" might work, but would likely earn us no points with the long queue of hungry Belgians. Second problem was that there were no signs indicating acceptance of any cards we had. We could be seriously embarrassed. And hungry.

So we piled back into the car, hunted around for fatter pickings. No autotellers operational, no diners taking cards.

Eventually I took the wheel, found an autoteller in a neighbouring town - along with parking - and discovered that the brand of autoteller only served Belgian Post Office accounts.

Finally found one that worked for us, got some money, and looked for a food outlet. Seemed to be market day, and a cluster of stalls in the town square was doing fine business. We looked, and one stallholder was slicing meat patties in half - two semicircles - which he crammed into a half-baguette with salad and sauce. Consensus was that these looked quick and tasty, but what were they called so we could order them? A young woman received hers and began moving away.

"Go, on!" I was urged. "Ask her!"

"Um," I said in my best French. I pointed at her snack, "Qu'est-ce que c'est?"

She looked at me, startled. "C'est un 'amburger!"
skyring: (Default)
This just in. Reproduced as is, complete with spaces, misgrammars etc. I've slightly modified the link just in case anybody fees the insane urge to click on it.

Hello, Pay`Pal |nc, Member, May 2010.

It has come to our attention that your Online account information needs to be updated.
If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and update your personal records,
To continue please click the link below: Click Here Link,

Thank you for using Service Online

Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response.
For assistance,log in to your Online Account and click thec Help link located in the top right corner
Accounts Management As outlined in our User Agreement, Service Credit Union will periodically send you information about site changes and enhancements.

Copyright © 2008 Service , Click on the following link to review or obtain a copy of our
Privacy Policy Statement

If you fail to provide the required information your account will be automatically
deleted from the , Database

Note: We will be upgrading our yearly SSL EncryptedServer to prevent fraudulent
Reference ID:

What half-ass numbskull is going to fall for this? PayPal is a reasonably professional entity and this email is so far away from the sort of communications I expect from them that it is an obvious fake from the first few words.

The wildly different treatment of commas makes it partly funny, but what really got me rolling my eyes was the utter lack of any attempt to disguise the goto link. It's SUPPOSED to be from PayPal, not some off-the-cuff domain!

Maybe these things are so wildly woeful because the scamsters don't want people with actual brains clicking on their links and maybe sicking the cyberfuzz onto them. They only want doofusses.

But for me, and I regard myself as someone with half a brain, it's just an annoyance.
skyring: (Default)
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Book Bay at Fort Mason is one of my favourite bookshops. Along with Shakespeare and Co., the Evil BookShop in Sydney, Larry McMurtry's Booked Up in Archer City, and a whole bunch of others.

I had an hour to spend there, and not a lot of room (or weight) let in my luggage for the long flight home the next day. I coulda spent a day and a fortune. These books were good and cheap!

I try to ignore fiction. Novels are piling up on Mount Toberead, and I could easily spend my life in fiction fantasyland. So many good writers out there!

I plumped for facts, browsing my way through the categories and wishing for more time. So many books!

But I glanced quickly through the fiction. Can't leave San Francisco without checking on Armistead Maupin and sure enough, there were a dozen of the Tales of the City series.

But I've got them all. A few other favourite authors sprang to mind and I checked Barbara Kingsolver. I love her books, ever since being delighted by the rich tapestry of Prodigal Summer.

Her books are interwoven narratives, where the natural or spiritual environment is a big player. The reader is enmeshed in Kingsolver's world. People, places, plants, sky, animals and communities are linked, living and thriving.

The books were mostly those I'd read before, but The Bean Trees was a new one for me. Taylor and Turtle were familiar from another book, a sequel to this one, and here was the story of their meeting and first months together. How could I resist?

Set in the South and Southwest, the story follows Marietta Greer as she leaves her childhood home in Kentucky, seeking fresh worlds in a battered VW Bug. Changing her name in Taylorville, she encounters Turtle, an Indian infant, in a tavern carpark.

Turtle, who herself changes her name, is one of literature's great child characters. She doesn't say much that isn't horticultural in nature, but she engages the reader from the first page. This book is really Turtle's tale.

Of course, this being a Kingsolver book, there are a host of other characters and plotlines. Another baby, a distant country, the Cherokee Nation, career choices, whitewall tyres, government officials, Hope and sorrow all enter the story.

Perhaps my favourite of the minor characters is Lou Ann, a fellow Kentuckian transplanted over state lines with a child of her own. She has a box full of phobias and a wonderful, rustic, way with words. Every time she appears on the page I'm holding my breath to see what she'll say next.

The loose strands of intricate plots are woven together and tied up neatly, which makes the sequel, Pigs in Heaven, a pleasant surprise, taking the story further.

I loved this book. But then I never expected different. So many novels nowadays are like frozen TV dinners. They tick all the boxes, but they are bland and poor. The Bean Trees is rich and meaty. You know you are getting good value with this one. It's food for the soul.


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