Monthly Archives: October 2007


Yesterday while walking down the sidewalk on my way to work I happened to pass by a guy who was carrying a large plastic shopping bag full of figs. Immediately the thought came to mind to buy some, so I walked over to the market located about 100 feet away from where I was situated and searched for figs. For some reason there weren’t any to be sold in the more obvious places so I had to go off the beaten track to find some toward the rear of the market. I found I guy selling them for about 90 cents a kilo. They were smaller than your standard-sized fig but they looked edible enough and were not splitting open with gooey seed mass oozing everywhere and flies circling above the feast. I like the slime to squirt in my mouth when biting into one, not for it leak all over my hand. He tossed in both black and not-so-ripe green ones as well. Seems they couldn’t wait for all of them to ripen on the tree so they picked them all, ripe or not. I took them to work and washed them, then started digging in. Only a few of black ones were very nice, with the seeds bursting with nutty flavor in contrast with the honey-like sweetness of the fruit. The green ones were not so palatable but I ate them anyway. Their firm, frightening alien centers are light pink and there is not much flavor to most of them. There were a few that had some kind of strange flavor you cannot describe but you know that they had gone bad anyway. Before long while chatting with a friend and munching I realized that I polished off just under a kilo. There were only about 10 left out of the 40 or so that were in the bag.

The troubling thing about figs is their laxative properties. During an 18-hour timeframe I went to the toilet on five occasions. The odor after each experience on the grand throne of relief was intense, with hints of rancid beef and decomposing tomatoes. It’s safe to assume that my intestines were well scrubbed by the delightful figginess of the feeding frenzy. The first bowel movement started about two hours after I had my fill. It had the typical milk chocolate chowder-like consistency that you would expect after a fig binge. There was plenty of gas expelled in those five wondrous dumps, suitably accompanied by the cacophonous gurgles and squeaks. I find that when handy lighting matches is the best way to dispel the gastric gases and stink, a trick I learned in the days when the bouquets of my soils from sustenance began to mature. Those were good times….


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Some Additional Background on Tings

According to, a trusted source of valuable information:

A thing or ting (Old Norse, Old English and Icelandic: þing; other modern Scandinavian languages: ting, in Finland: käräjät) was the governing assembly in Germanic societies, made up of the free people of the community and presided by lawspeakers. Today the term lives on in the official names of national legislatures and political and judicial institutions in the North-Germanic countries.


The ting was the assembly of the free people of a country, province or a hundred (hundare/härad/herred). There were consequently hierarchies of tings, so that the local tings were represented at the higher-level ting, for a province or land. At the ting, disputes were solved and political decisions were made. The place for the ting was often also the place for public religious rites and for commerce.

The ting met at regular intervals, legislated, elected chieftains and kings, and judged according to the law, which was memorized and recited by the “law speaker” (the judge). The ting’s negotiations were presided over by the law speaker and the chieftain or the king. In reality the ting was of course dominated by the most influential members of the community, the heads of clans and wealthy families, but in theory one-man one-vote was the rule. A famous incident took place when Þorgnýr the Lawspeaker told the Swedish king Olof Skötkonung that it was the people that held power in Sweden and not the king. The king realized that he was powerless against the ting and gave in. Main things in Sweden were the Thing of all Swedes, the Thing of all Geats and the Lionga thing.


The assembly of the ting was typically held at a specially designated place, often a field or common, like þingvellir, the old location of the Icelandic Ting. The parliament of the Isle of Man is still named after the meeting place of the ting, Tynwald, which etymologically is the same word as “þingvellir”. Other equivalent placenames can be found across northern Europe; in Scotland, there is Dingwall in the Highlands and Tingwall, occurring both in Orkney and Shetland. In Sweden, there are several places named Tingvalla, which is the modern Swedish form of “þingvellir”, and the Norwegian equivalent is found in the placename Tingvoll.


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Random Thoughts

It’ s Sunday morning again, a rainy one, although now it seems the clouds are separating. The weather is still gorgeous for mid-October, no drop in temperature yet, although the nights are cooler than they were a month ago. I’m sure in another few weeks or so we will all be freezing our asses off, as my mother says in the coming of winter.

I am listening to the only “jazz” radio station in Yerevan. But it is not straight-ahead jazz all the time, they mix in blues and soul music, sometimes 1970s disco instrumentals, and even ska. For some reason every time they play something by John Coltrane the cut the tune short three or four minutes into it, although they let long songs by other artists play through the end. As a matter of facto only just now did “Blue Train” start streaming through the airwaves. Let’s see if they play all 10 minutes of it. I don’t understand why they have to undermine Trane’s music in that way, but at least they are playing it. A few weeks ago jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola played in Yerevan’s Republic Square. I would guess 90 percent of the crowd had no idea who he was, but at least they walked away with something they would not ordinarily be exposed to. It’s great to see diversity here in all forms–music, food, and art especially. Now many progressive, non-conformist Iranians are living here, especially students. Indians as well. Unfortunately Armenians feel that opening up European boutiques everywhere is the proper way to demonstrate a comprehension, however slight, of worldliness.

A friend of mine wanted to travel up north asking me to drive him there. He wanted to photograph some Yezidi villages. I wonder why he hasn’t called yet…

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Bangs and Dings

Wherever I go now I am interrupted by noises caused by construction. All the main access roads in the city are being torn up; tunnels and bridges are being senselessly constructed everywhere. At my workplace the noise emitted from interior demolition is deafening, so I have to listen to music at full blast through ear phones, but it does not always block the sounds of drilling and pounding coming from above and below our office. When at home during the weekends the situation is the same–pounding combined with dust flying everywhere, which manages to seep in through the minute crevices in walls and window frames. The work does not relent on the street or inside the apartment building during the day and sometimes well into the evening. The neighbors are doing “capital remonde” which means they are gutting out their entire apartment to renovate it. The same situation was occurring in the apartment building I left over six months ago. There the people on the fifth floor decided to build a penthouse and their own private elevator, the shaft of which partially blocks the building’s entrance. There was a quaint hamlet located just behind the building which developers tore out–they want to erect a 17-story apartment building there. I am glad I left that dump.

At night some dimwits can always be found hanging on the corner just below the balcony. Last night they were heckling and howling about something I didn’t get, but they were annoying. These loud-mouth guys are everywhere, terrorizing the city with their cackling and yelling. Then there are the car horns blaring. The noise in this city is unbearable and unstoppable, there’s no escaping it. It was never this bad before. Until only a couple of years ago it was somewhat tolerable, but not anymore.

I am getting pains again in my lower back, probably stress related although I don’t feel stressed out. They flare up without warning, apparently they are spasms from what I was able to gather on the Internet. Tylenol or any other pain reliever does not help the situation, so I have to ice the back or else apply heat with hot water bottles. I find that they both have the same effectiveness more or less. Stretching helps too a bit. I hope the pain won’t last too long.

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