Long ago...

Today I took a stroll down a route I hadn't taken since mid 2002, some five years ago. Those who know the place (Oh, so many of you...), come, take my tour.

Our trip goes under the scorching early afternoon sun, but the path of my memories runs through chilly bleak dark mornings.

Early morning, soles meet concrete flooring outside. It's chilly. It's a bleak morning. The sun isn't so high yet. Onwards...

Along the concrete we go, and out of the familiar hiding of the tall building blocks and out into the sloping street. A little climb to wake up. Good for your legs. A little work out. Up to the corner and across the street, and up some more to the parking lot in front of the old Hospital, now darkened and abandones, a shadowy repository of unwanted beds and stretchers, with those cold stony archways and religious statues high atop the roof. On clear winter mornings, about January or February, often the low sun would shine brightly on aluminium window frames just beyond the hill, a little spark in the glummy morning. Across the tarmac and down the small sloped street between the old diner and the tiny mall that never really lived up to its expectations, and out into the rather broad and busy street. The first real whif of activity. Time to pick up our pace.

Again, across the street and up to the corner. Time there was when just nearby the old, perhaps the oldest supermarket in town overlooked that intersection, but not anymore. The old landmark-ish supermarket has been remodeled so far it's no longer where it once was anymore, and a mere shadow of itself, fond memories along with it. Then around the corner and down to another intersection. Here the traffic lights, quite haywire in nature, make for a prickly spot for drivers, and it's been so since 2001, but pedestrians can usually go by just fine. I remember when the road lanes weren't quite so wide. I remember they becoming this wide. In the end, it doesn't really matter.

Just a few more steps along the bushy fence around the park and across the street to our destination, good old High School. The sight brings back memories. The two wings, which, on the fascist days, served boys and girls separately, show only two thirds of the whole building, for, you see, the terrain slopes towards the back, so the ground floor would look like a basement from the front, but easily accessible from the back. But we get ahead of ourselves.
Alves Martins was a most revered bishop from Viseu.
Notice the outer wall, the fence and the gate, how the wall curves inwards around the gate. Just right of the gates, by the fire hydrant, that's where the mates and I would meet before class, before we'd break up into cliques and such. There we'd just talk. We'd always have something to talk about, for we knew, should we run out of talk, we'd have to go inside for class. We didn't dread class, at least I didn't, but never were we in any hurry. So we talked. About classes, and GPAs, and "what did you get for number three of math homework", and the likes. And then, by first bell, we'd go inside.

You know, those chilly dark bleak morings... I miss them.

Pax vobiscum atque vale

ArabianShark cherishes dearly the memoirs of three years in High School. Would that those days would ever come back some time.

It's been a while

So, yet another bullet point oriented long(ish) post, comming right up. Brace yourselves.

Stage one of exam season is now over (at it has been for a few days...). This year was the first and only to have a very silly system wherein we pick which exam to attend (only too) early in the semester, often only to find we've mqade rather poor choices. Next year, however, only one exam will be available, no re-taking and no early choosing. On the (other) upside, last chance season will follow both semesters, rahter than a last chance season held after the second semester serving both semesters. And for this year only, a special exam season will be held in September. I'm not so sure how useful that is going to be, but I'm glad nonetheless.

Summer's up, and we all know what that usually means, with warm sunny weather and all. This year I'll be trying to add something new: contacts! Yep, this year I've decided that I've had it with my severe myopia preventing me from ever wearing curvy, mirrored shades. This year I might even see clearly unnder water, in the unlikely event that I go swimming. That should prevent another embarassing event, such as the one which happened circa July 1998...
Cue special effects...
Dissolve to white, cut to flashback.

It was Summer in the late nineties. Some unduly assinged duty (like that, unduly assinged duty? Me, I love it) held me in the very bleak capital and away from the Summer activities I did enjoy back in the day, which, believe it or not, invloved beaches and outdoor pools. So, to lightnen up my frstration, I had (limited) access to a work only PC (remember when that phrase used to make some sense?), where I had just managed to run the luscious, although highly pixelated figure of Ms. Lara Croft (way before Angelina Jolie and the very shoddy Tomb Raider pictures corrupted her image and her memory) in 640 x 480 with no 3D acceleration and absolutely no sound but the humming of a 2GB hard drive and a very meek PC fan, fit for a Pentium 166... MMX! Where were we? Ah, yes, my comodities. They also included a very poor community pool, i.e., tiny, crowded and no comodities beyond water closets, which didn't get much use anyway. Crowded, however, is quite the keyword. So picture this: I'm just splashing around in a very clumsy dog stroke (ten years ago, fellows, I wasn't much of a swimmer... I'm still not, but I've come a long way since... which only says how poor a swimmer I was then), and there was a diving board there, so a good quarter of the pool was basically a no-swim area, because you could just as easily be struck with a diver, so both halves adjacent to it were pretty crowded... even more so. So I'm doing laps, and I'm trying hard to shimmy sideways so I don't catch a diver to the head, and other swimmers are going alongside me, others comming the other way and evenothers going across... daredevils that they were. So between the sea of flesh and chlorinated bubbles, I misjudged how close some of the other swimmers were. Next thing I know, my stroke just struck (wow, another play on words... I'm on fire... sarcastic fire) something... something soft. So I try to withraw my hand, but it's tangled on some very thin wires. And some sheet of elastic fabric is preventing my full freedom, so I pop my head out to see where in blazes have I just plunged my hand... and it's some quite buxom swimmer's suit.

So there, a somewhat entertaining little tale of how shortsightedness can influence our bland mundane little lives. Next week I'll do an exposé on the other side of the coin, where you'll learn how incapacitating myopia can be, despite the funny accidents it might lead to.

On the other hand, I don't think I really need to. Come to really think of it, it's a pretty silly idea. Scratch that. Let's all go to Spamalot instead.

So We've had a little handful of points... two and a half of them, to be axact... so it's a toddler's handful. Good enough, right? And I suppose this post's ran long enough. I'll wrap up as per my usual fashion with

Pax vobiscum atque vale.

ArabianShark reminesces about the very first Tomb Raider games, when dear Ms. Croft turned teens' and preteens' minds alike with her simple low poligon beauty, Power Ranger syndrome and yet, back in 1996, Shelley Blond's voice made up for most of her aesthetical shortcomings, which, given the panorama at that time, weren't really that many. In fact, the pretty voice complaining about the crates in the main hall was quite the boon for an otherwise near action/platform game which even today evokes dear memories.

What else is new?

It's not like I pay much heed to these quick and dirty personality tests you can get out of some 5 - 10 questions, especially not since I thought of combining the results of several tests, which, some years ago, had me arrive at the conclusion that I would be, simultaneously, Dracula's cousin, Bataman, Gambit(from X-Men. As if! Frog...), Hephesto (yes, the Greek god), a velociraptor and a wooden cube. But this, for a change, actually makes some sense:

You Belong in the UK

A little proper, a little saucy.
You're so witty and charming...
No one notices your curry breath

So there. So long, chaps, I'm off to live my dream, which, appearently, seems to suit reality a lot. Just give me a couple more years.

Pax vobiscum atque vale.

ArabianShark would also remind you that some other test from Blogthings revealed that my "power animal" is the shark. Who would have thought? What, no irony tag either?

It's one of those times of the year again

Yep, Exam Season. This means it is now legal to shoot Exams in the wild. Or does that defenition of season only applies to game season (e.g., rabbit season, duck season, Elmer Fudd season, etc.)? I wonder if we could possibly make an Examiner Season, break out our "elephant guns" and be vewy vewy quiet, we're hunting Examiners. Not all examiners, of course (we need to leave some alive so there'll be more to hunt in January), but I can name a few I'd like to tie to the hood of a pickup I don't plan to own. Can I borrow a pickup truck, anyone?

In other news, I was watching some talk show (don't aske which, I wasn't watching that hard) and someone refered to what American Soldiers are doing in Iraq as "Defending their Country". Against what, I'd like to ask? I'm not saying there isn't actual combat to be had there or that American soldiers don't get injured or killed out there, but what are they defending against? "Loose Change" (look it up, don't expect links to every last word, this isn't Wikipedia) made it quite clear that the matter of 9/11 is quite unclear at best. "Farenheit 911" raised some good questions I'm yet to see answered as well. What I am fairly certain of is that even if the American Armed Forces would fully retreat from the middle east no bombers or the like would cross half a world to deliver their payload onto the Land of the Free and even if they don't retreat, I fail to see how it would prevent events the likes of what is reported of 9/11. So how exactly is it that American soldiers being woulded and killed in Iraq is Defending their Country?

You might wonder why this troubles me. First, let's clarify something: the phrase "Defending my Country" wasn't spoken by some top brass military chief or otherwise some politician who'd quite comfortably sip his liquor and puff oh his fine cigar while the pawns fell half a world away; it had been spoken by a soldier even before she had become a soldier, which means this mediatically powerful position that American soldier serving in Iraq are defending their country is mantained by hte people, who have, the way I see it, little to gain in perpetuating this idea, yet quite a lot to lose. This is symptomatic of a highly powerful propaganda machine, steered by those who do stand to gain from conflict. Who those would be, I'm yet to be sure, but, rest assured, whenever people are dying for no appearent reason, some douchebag is pretty sure he/she's turning a profit.

Besides, when has there been a clear (don't answer this until you've seen at least "Loose Change") attack on American soil? I can't recall a single armed conflict opposing the United States to another country that actually took place in the United States. The closest I can think of is Vietnam, and last I checked (on GoogleEarth, too) it was still pretty far away from America. What concerns me is that if there is such a powerful Propaganda Engine in America, there might be no stopping the driver of this infernal device from turning the American people's efforts against some other nation. While I'm not really afraid that Mr. Bush and his ilk might turn their attention to my little slice of heaven (Oh, right, there is no sarcasm tag in HTML...), there are other nations I care about (you'd never guess, from some of my previous posts, but, really, they're there. Look hard enough).

Then you might think, "But, Sharky, ol' bean, doesn't it bother you that some other country might do the same? Some other country with even more man power? Say, China?" My answer to that is, "Not really". First and foremost, if China was to strike here, where would the Chinese immigrants go? On a serious note, here, have a link, courtesy of an American Army Brat, ergo, presumably someone who has at least a smidgeon of a clue of the matter at hand. And by that I mean "Listen up and listen up good, the lady knows what she's saying".

Pax vobiscum atque vale.

ArabianShark would like to make perfectly clear that despite the quip about Chinese immigrants, he holds no prejudice or otherwise ill will against them. Loveable chaps, every last one of those I've had the pleasure of meeting.