1. Two classes down. Like a vampire, the class sucked every drop of blood out of me. Gathering up my
books, my files, my tea, and my card (which must be handed over in exchange for the key to the classroom), we sped down the freeway and I ended up dashing into class in my slippers. Yes, I had everything else, though.Then, after two hours of teaching and prompting correct answers I realized that after four months off I might as well start over at the beginning. I have a feeling of accomplishment but I’m raising the rates next year.
2. I am three-fourths of the way through Dead Souls, undoubtedly one of the best books I have read lately. Gogol is a favorite satiric writer: I love his tales, The Nose and Diary of a Madman. Chichikov, the hero of Dead Souls, whose name sounds like the chirping of birds, as translator Richard Pevear points out, travels through the country to buy dead souls (dead peasants) from landowners. Since the landowners must pay taxes even on the dead, they apprehensively agree to sell to Chichikov, who, for reasons of his own, believes he can make money off the scheme. One landowner becomes his best friend, another wants to make a deal however shady and manages to cheat him by including a woman on his list, and a third complains about him in town and wonders if he plans to swindle her. Rumors spread and pretty soon Chichikov is suspected of planning to abduct the governor’s daughter and being a bandit. It’s hilarious to read about this unethical character’s rise and fall (and I’m not done with it so I can’t tell if he rises again or not).
The translation by Richard Pevear and Lariss Volokhonsky is very readable. It’s nice to support new translations, though sometimes I prefer the old, as in the case of Tolstoy.
3. Cleaned the kitchen. I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time and finally scrubbed everything in sight except the oven. I hate the fumes of oven cleaner. Can somebody tell me a less toxic way of cleaning ovens?
4. Watched another bicycling movie, The Flying Scotsman. You can watch the whole movie at IMBD. Not quite as enjoyable as Breaking Away, but very exciting and touching. Based on the life of Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree, it tells the story of how he won the world record on a bike made of parts of a washing machine and his subsequent troubles with judges who took away his title out of sheer malevolence. He suffers depression, an unusual illness in sports movies, but overcomes his problems. Here’s the trailer:
5. Investigated the bicycle trail completely wiped out by the flood. The asphalt has been wiped off large chunks of a popular trail–miles and miles were wrecked. We simply wheeled our bicycles past the bulldozers and workmen and pretended we didn’t see the closed signs. It’s very sad that this flood should have happened twice in two years and I hope they’ve finally got the money from FEMA. Unfortunately I didn’t take my camera with me but here’s what it looked like two months ago in July; you can see the water is almost up to the top of the trail sign.
THE REST OF THE CHECKLIST ANOTHER TIME!