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09 May 2018 @ 11:05 am
Always Busy  
I have political rants to inflict on people, but let me first speak of what I have been up to.

Celebrity Death Watch: Sachio Kinugasa was a Japanese baseball player who played in 2215 consecutive games. Alice Provensen illustrated (and later wrote) children’s books. Larry Harvey founded Burning Man. Judith Leiber designed handbags (and died the same day as her husband, Gerson, a painter.) Abi Ofarim was an Israeli musician and dancer, best known for "Cinderella Rockeflla" with his wife Esther. Rabbi Aaron Panken was the President of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Charles Steger was a former president of Virginia Tech. Paolo Ferrari played Archie Goodwin in the Italian television adaptation of the Nero Wolfe books. George Deukmejian was the governor of California through much of the 1980’s.

Conference Going: I spent three days last week at a work-related forum that may or may not prove useful in the future. Parts of it were like having somebody read a dictionary to me, parts had me metaphorically throwing up my hands in despair on how little progress we’ve made in too many years, and only a couple of speakers seemed to have anything concrete to say. I suspect it is just that I am old and have been through a few too many fads on how to engineer systems better. Also, I am tired of people who are speaking at space-related events starting out by admitting they don’t know anything about space systems. Or I could just have been cranky because I had to drive and, while Route 28 is almost tolerable in the morning, it is inevitably a slow-moving hellstream in the afternoon.

Canadian Embassy: On Wednesday evening, I went to an MIT Club event at the Embassy of Canada. The talk was on renewable energy (hydropower on the part of the Canadians; wind and solar on the part of the Americans) and how our grids play together. The interesting part was the relative dearth of east-west transmission lines in both countries, while there is good north-south connectivity. Admittedly, it’s not like anybody actually lives in the Dakotas or Saskatchewan … (Er, yes, I am joking. Sort of.) The reception was pretty much the wine and cheese and crackers sort (plus charcuterie and excellent dried fruit and mixed nuts). One of the embassy people was from Saskatchewan and I extracted some tourist tips from her, e.g. the existence of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Museum. (I have been trying to find a reason to go to that province, without much success. This sounds like a plausible weekend trip.) Aside from that, I talked with fellow alumni.

Around the World Embassy Tour: I did more embassy going on Saturday, which featured the annual Around the World Embassy Open House. (There is a separate event for EU embassies, which is this coming weekend, but I have prior commitments.) We started at the Embassy of Nepal, which had some photos, a short film, and food that it was too early in the day for. The Embassy of Guinea was just steps away, so we walked through, looked at the building and some photos, and listened to some music. Then we cabbed over to the Embassy of Angola, which was high on my list, largely because Paul Theroux hated it so much that it piqued my interest in going there. They had excellent snacks – some sort of peanut brittle like thing, chocolate cake, coconut rolls, what looked and tasted like malasadas (though I don’t know the Angolan name for them). There was also good coffee and some weird but not unpleasant drink made from corn. They also had a fair amount of swag, including paperweights and brochures and an issue of National Geographic.

We took the bus down 16th Street to the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center (roughly affiliated with the Embassy of Oman) where we dressed up in Omani clothing for selfies, drank coffee heavily scented with cardamom and rosewater, and ate dates. Then we cabbed over to the Embassy of Qatar, where we had more selfies in costume, more coffee, more dates, and some fairly substantial food (they had meat pies, chicken sandwiches, and cheese pies). They had advertised falconry but were unable to get permission for it.

That was as far as we had planned, so we looked at the map and settled on going to the northwest end of Embassy Row and the Embassy of South Africa. There was a long line, with free bottles of Nando’s lemon-herb sauce at the end of it, along with biltong samples. There was also a marketplace, mostly selling jewelry. (They had a food court, with food for sale, outside.) The Embassy of Bolivia was just across the street, so we went there and got some sort of alcoholic drinks. Inside, there was an art exhibit and a look at a fancy dining room. Back outside, there were costumed dancers. I was fading quickly and decided that I was better off going home at that point, but my friend wanted to stay to the bitter end. I abandoned her in line for the Embassy of Brazil (where, coincidentally, she was standing just a couple of people in front of a woman from my book club). I walked down to Dupont Circle and metroed home for a nap.

Paperwork: Our "improved" foreign travel reporting system at work (and, yes, that applies to embassy visits, unless you go to the embassy to get a visa for a real trip) is annoying. This is no surprise. I am especially peeved that they ignored all of my comments in the pre-rollout test session we had. Peeved but not, alas, surprised.

Team Israel: On Sunday, I satisfied my obsession with Jewish baseball players by seeing the documentary Heading Home: The Story of Team Israel as part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival. It was worth the schlep to Bethesda.

Crumbs and Whiskers: A few weeks ago, a friend had been talking about her struggles with depression and I asked what I could do to help. One of my suggestions was a visit to a cat café. (I have learned over the years that it is best to offer a few suggestions, because depressed people tend to be unable to think of what might help. And what helps me may not be right for you.) So we made that excursion Monday evening. Petting cats is good therapy and they’ve adopted out hundreds of cats, who get to live better in the café than they did in cages in shelters.

I mentioned that my mother sucked at naming cats. She had one named Mamacat and had named one of the ferals who hung out on her lawn Rita. So I was challenged on what makes a good name for a cat. I believe that the name of a god or goddess (ideally Egyptian, but others will do) is a good starting point. Beyond that, one should consider the cat’s physical characteristics. I’d love to have a pair of Siamese cats named Mocha and Java, for example. But avoid trite names like Tiger. Names of authors can work well. Royalty is always good. (My brother and his ex-wife had a cat named Empress Josefina, for example.) My former boss always named his cats after serial killers. Note: no matter how much I think you have misnamed your cat, I will never tell you this, because I am not a monster.

Other good therapy is walking and the weather was lovely for a stroll back to Foggy Bottom. M Street still annoys me, with large herds of slow-moving tourists, but the weather mostly made up for it.

This entry was originally posted at https://fauxklore.dreamwidth.org/412694.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
spikesgirl58spikesgirl58 on May 9th, 2018 04:11 pm (UTC)
My husband had a cat called No Name.(He also had, Freddy Flyball, Little Bear, Trampus and Hooker Jack). usually if you just listen to the cat, it will tell you its name.
fauxklorefauxklore on May 9th, 2018 04:45 pm (UTC)
My mother was not, alas, great at listening, in general. Not to me. Probably not to cats.
spikesgirl58: one cat shortspikesgirl58 on May 9th, 2018 05:19 pm (UTC)
Probably not. That's a little sad, but they speak in very soft voices.
Julie: Original ★ force of natureragnarok_08 on May 9th, 2018 05:48 pm (UTC)
Mocha and Java sound like cute names for cats :3
fauxklorefauxklore on May 9th, 2018 06:04 pm (UTC)
Coffee is very important to my life.