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euskara {basque}
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other links : i ii iii

Can you translate the next 300 words into Hindi, or Korean?; if so, please contact me and there will be rejoicing.

2002 Q1 & Q2
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September 30th; Return to city in afternoon. It's chilly.

September 29th; Small hours watching television.
September 28th; After-dark mission on Izh with sidecar in which Vicky the dog, and Bela the three-year-old, sit on my lap as we experience engine trouble in rain. At the Karavan bar we find Sanyi of The Stranded Truck, who gets it going in no time.

September 27th; In small hours successful work on Robin's website.
September 26th; Edina and Geza come over to Robin's and I supplement some glasses of Tokaj with the cherry wine they bring, until I am burbling like a fool out in the dark, candlelit garden while we all shiver in blankets. Must read some Pilinszky.

September 25th; My train is delayed an hour by some self-centred, self-pitying suicide on the track, yet it mysteriously reaches Kecskemet well within time. Then train from K is a half-hour late anyway. In the afternoon, on Andrassy ut, I ran into two more pretty girls from The Family, the same cult - sorry, denomination - as Gabriella and Paula.
September 24th; More good news about mother's continuing recovery from the operation.

September 23rd; Get back and meet Esther, who has temporarily moved in with me.
September 22nd; Robin and I find out from a disgruntled farmboy on a motorbike that the thing looking like a Bronze Age barrow was an outdoor small-arms firing range back in, oooh 1989. Down at the Tisza, I slither across a mudbank into the boat Jeremy and Robin built together about two weeks ago from some old planks and a pot of tar. About 12' long, it looks reassuringly boat-like, though the 3" of water swilling around inside is a bit disquieting. I set to work bailing water out while Robin paddles it into the middle of the river. Water enters at about the speed I bail it out, but we don't sink. His dog swims out to us to join in the fun. Beautiful dusk.
Finished Robin's copy of Alain Hus's 'The Etruscans', an old paperback full of black and white illustrations, about the northern Italian people whose alphabet always gets cited in alphabet books to explain how Greek letters turned into Latin letters. Popularisers such as D.H. Lawrence get a ticking off for being overexcited by the mystique of a people largely mysterious, says Hus, because only about 100 words and a few lines of Etruscan language survive. More in the way of maps of Etruria would have been nice. A little frustratingly, the pictures that are used as little 1"-high vignettes for the chapter headings are much more beautiful and intriguing (gorgeously expressive bronze statuettes, mostly) than the often rather raw-looking sculptures given entire pages for their pictures. Perhaps less really is more, after all. Or just 1950s artbook taste?

September 21st; Indoor work on website. I get square eyes. Finish Robin's book 'The Pyramids' by Davidovits and Morris, a well-argued book suggesting that the amazing engineering feats of the earlier ancient Egyptians (The Old Kingdom between 3000BC and 2000BC roughly) were not about stone-hefting, but were and still are built out of very high-class concrete. Davidovits builds a simple and compelling case that this is their "lost science" and that the later Middle and New Kingdoms ran out of the raw materials that had made their concrete so good. The concrete-making of the Romans was even more degraded in comparison, and the mediaevals forgot how to make concrete altogether of course, before its modern rediscovery. Convincingly, this dissolves the problems of shifting 50-ton blocks into position, the solid burial chambers apparently carved out a "single" piece of rock, the intricate carvings on quartz-hard stone before even bronze tools were good, replaced by carvings in soft sandstone by the later Egyptians centuries later with better metal tools once the ingredients for the concrete were running low. Clear calculations given, and since the author claims to hold several 1970s patents for newer types of concrete, a pretty persuasive package. Lots of things his critics could check up on, such as his attempts to translate some heiroglyphs, some Greek and some of Pliny's Latin in his search for texts that could be about cement-making in Egypt.
September 20th; Sunny drive on old roads with Robin out of Budapest. I imagine trees with foliage pierced with solid pentagonal or hexagonal rods of empty air. A sort of bonsai process on fully-grown trees. The empty, tube-like slots could be tilted and aimed at certain star systems for certain seasons, so you could line yourself up and look up through the hexagonal hole in the bushiness of the mature tree at night. Like natural telescopes without lenses.

September 19th; Out late with Jeremy [he makes a wonderful green soup, unlike anything I've ever had before], Zita, Robin, the once-elusive Reka, and baby-clothes designer Leila from Holland [plus Ben and Jake]. At a party full of miserable, stony-faced pretty girls, Robin and I meet the more cheerfully pretty missionaries Gabriella and Paula from Mexico. Gabriella, pregnant, has me say a little prayer with her as backless dresses and low-cut punkness strut around us on all sides. I also meet the charming Boo Boo and hear about his tyre-recycling plant investment.
September 18th; Robin and Balint go deep into the world of the Lommy [district 6 throws old furniture out and streets are piled with broken chairs and rotting sofas], and discover the usual amazing bargains. Well not really bargains. Free stuff. Istvan darkly mutters of 2nd-hand computers thrown out by nuclear plants still giving off radiation years later.

September 17th; We meet Istvan at a Ludwig art event based around a roomful of screwed-up newspapers.
I finish the copy of 'Princess' by Jean Sasson that Hussam lent me. Tempting to describe it as shopaholic-in-a-gilded-cage but there are some genuinely harrowing bits. The girl sentenced to confinement in a silent, completely black "women's room" for the rest of her life for bringing dishonour on the family trumps the other unfortunate drowned by prearranged appointment on a Friday morning by her family in their swimming pool.
September 16th; Robin and I drive into Budapest. His chum Zeno goes missing. Istvan's mother shares a delightful lasagne with us and Goran enthuses about a Croatian tinned-fish product spokeswalrus.

September 15th; A quiet day struggling with Robin's computer.
September 14th; Annika writes an e-mail about Swedish minister's stabbing. John writes another e-mail, suggesting her death was organised by Brussels to try to hustle Sweden into the euro pack with a sympathy vote.
Robin & I motorbike around a bit in the dark with his dog.

September 13th; Bela and Caspar show me lots of pictures of butterflies and mushrooms.
September 12th; I wake from a vivid dream about restaurants in Tokyo. Later Olga tells me about wallpaper and textile pattern fairs in Brussels and Frankfurt. Later, the train to the plain. Jeremy reveals it's Robin's birthday today. High on coffee on the train, a chattering girl sets me off into fantasies about some cut-paper artwork I'm going to create about how men and women talk differently. I even reach the point where I imagine writing a compelling book about train timetabling, Lord help us all.

September 11th; I cook chicken in sherry again, and Jim, Julia, Martin, Istvan & Goran come round.
September 10th; Finish Buchan's 39 Steps. Quite sweet, all that manly, gruff camaraderie between chaps yearning for a decent bit of adventure. Interesting how much it was about clothing, disguises and relations between different classes. The sense of real danger as the hero alternately closes in on and flees the unspeakably intelligent and coolly evil German spies is sharp enough, and yet not yet hardened by the weariness and nastiness of what we know of the First World War and what came later. Patriotism and danger are still superb fun - a deadly serious yarn on the run, but still the perfect antidote to boredom. The flavour of the narrator's shock early on in the story at finding a stabbed man in his flat [he had seen plenty of killing in Africa and had to do a bit of fighting himself sometimes, but this "indoor" business still shook him up] conjures up bluff bravery crossed with unshakeable innocence. Written around 1914 it already sounds elegaic.

September 9th; Start the 39 Steps. I phone the hospital and hear that mother survived the operation. Huge relief.
September 8th; Wake up among the crowing cockerels at Tim's, only slightly groggy.

September 7th; Whisky and ginger wine at Tim's, while we watch a double Jay Leno.
September 6th; Robin and I visit a gallery in Ujpest, and find it is shut until late this month. Later Brent gives me a razor that works, and Esther and I drink tea in the Voros Oroszlan teahouse.

September 5th; I put on a green polo shirt over my head. Once it is on I find a needle put through several folds of it. Why did I put it there? When? How did I put the shirt on and not jab it into my face?
September 4th; Istvan cooks dinner for Robin & I (yum) after we go to a gallery opening (um).

September 3rd; Normal day at the office.
September 2nd; Empowering coffee with Robin after we visit the excellent Photo-Developer Man that Terri introduced me to last year.

September 1st; This site reappears. My penance is done, citizens. And shoe problem solved.
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Mark Griffith, site administrator / contact@otherlanguages.org

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