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Esther in different languages

I could just knock up a quick script that will automatically put in some apology for not posting for so long because I have been busy. Alternatively, I could just post more often. Sadly, whenever I have been at a computer recently (Shabbat aside), I have been working. And, of course, when I'm not at a computer, I'm not really going to write an entry, am I?

It's been a shame, too, because there has been a UK budget I haven't even had time to sink my teeth into, and I'm going to miss the Australian one, too. Oh well. I doubt things will get better, so I will have to just accept it and see being time poor as good preparation.

I have now finished my lecturing commitments, although I still have some tutorials to mark (next week), and I will have panicking students to help as the exam draws nearer.

I am gradually getting on top of the papers which are due in mid-April. I should have it all done and ready in time, and I should be able to clear the decks of all the things I want to have done before my little boy arrives.

On the house front, our bedroom is getting closer - all we need to do is decorate the walls and ceiling and get the floors sanded and polished. It is actually looking possible and feasible. We are getting the bathroom done up from Monday week. (The bathroom guy asked the job in the queue before ours whether he would mind swapping, but the guy said no. I can understand that - the difficulty we generally have getting tradesmen here.) If the baby can just not come early, we might be fully moved in before he arrives! We have also had the house damp-proofed. We're getting there.

It will still be another couple of weeks before we get planning permission for the deck and extension, but that will get its own post.

Since I last posted, Bec and I celebrated our leather anniversary. As such, the budget cap has been lifted to £3. I got her a pretty Egyptian papyrus-y thing. No, I confess, I don't understand pretty, but Bec seemed to like it. I also cheated and got her a Russian-doll-style set of Mummies. Because I can. She got me a collection of odds and ends I wanted and/or needed. With money left over for some lollies. We went out for a nice meal.

We put on a kiddush the Saturday after our anniversary at the synagogue. A kiddush is a "small" amount of food put on after the service (plus wine). Being my parents' son, I don't really have much of a concept of "small amount of food", and we had overcatered somewhat. Most of the things we had hand-made disappeared though. And quickly. Most of the things we had purchased were barely touched. I suppose it is the sort of thing where, because it isn't a meal, people only eat the things they think will be particularly nice.

Afterwards, we visited one of Rebecca's friends from work (and left her with various leftovers), before going pram hunting. Amazingly, given the impending Wales-France rugby match where Wales won the 6-nations grand-slam, the stores were empty!

We got home, listened to the end of the game and I went back to working on the bedrooms. Another week spent working at home, working at work and doing normal stuff.

Last night was a little break though. It was Purim. Purim is one of those festivals with, in general, quite nice, community-friendly, practices. Many of the observances do increase social capital, and it is a fun festival both for children (who get to do things like share sweets, dress up and make noise) and for adults (who get to do things like share sweets and savoury pastries, dress up, make noise and drink alcohol). The story, however, is a little, shall we say, problematic. But that is a matter for another year.

Traditionally, The scroll of Esther is read on Purim. Congregation-traditionally, the scroll of Esther is read by different people reading in different languages. The last chapter was unaccounted for, so I offered to read it. I was told that I could read it in any language other than English. I told them that it wasn't a problem, but I'd need to translate it on the fly. I speak a couple of languages other than English, so I felt confident I could do it.

The president got up, wearing a Brazillian soccer top, and announced that he was reading his bit in Portuguese, the language of the best football team in the world (he'd prepared). There was French and Spanish and Turkish and Hebrew. Several people (particularly those with kids) did theirs in English. Some readers in various languages related their language to the prowess of related sports teams. Two kids did it in Pig Latin, which was hilarious and very well done. And then it was my turn.

In English the last chapter goes as follows:

And the King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the mainland and the islands. All his mighty and powerful acts, and a full account of the greatness to which the King advanced Mordecai, are recorded in the Annals of the Kings of Media and Persia. For Mordecai the Jew ranked next to King Ahasuerus and was highly regarded by the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brethren; he sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all his kindred.

In other words, Mordecai was the National Party Leader in coalition with the Libs, and is the ministed responsible for, ummm, pork-barrelling in a heavily tax-and-spend Government.

Anyway, I got up and announced, "G'day all, I'm gonna say the last bit in the language of the best cricket team in the world."

"So," I began. "The top bloke Aha...Ahasu...Bruce stuck a tax on the land, the islands, the billabongs and..."

"All the really great things he done, and how really bonza he'd been to Mordecai, are written in his propaganda book for Media and Persia." Ok - you try coming up with something better as you are going, while trying to keep the strong accent going, and the voice loud and projected. "'Cos Mordecai the Jew was the top bloke Bruce's cobber. All his mates - all the Jews - thought he was also a top bloke, and he gave them a hand whenever he could."

Yes, that's right, I did it in a good Strine. More importantly, I have introduced words like "bonza" and "cobber" - y'know - words we use all the time - to a religious service in Wales. Yet another box I can tick... Oh well, you can take the boy out of Australia...but he'll still take the piss out of whatever he can.

Another even over the last couple of weeks was the annual Quiz night at the synagogue. Bec and I had set a standard for ourselves last year, but it is always harder the second time, isn't it?

Again, we found ourselves on a good table where each person complemented the rest on the table and we won convincingly. Along with everyone else on the table, Bec and I contributed a fair bit to the win. I liked the tasting round, where we had to distinguish between different types of cheeses and chutneys. We were fine with the chutneys and the red leicster was fairly obvious. The Wensleydale and Caerphilly made us think. And then we had 4 cheddars to taste the difference between: English cheddar, Welsh cheddar, Irish cheddar and seriously strong Cheddar. We got the Welsh cheddar and the strong cheddar back to front. It was a good night and we had a good time.

This week, we also had a combined scout and guide first aid night. We did it back in Australia, and it worked well. It was a good night, although not as good as back home - probably because of differences in numbers and because neither the scouts nor the guides were as good at first aid as our groups back home had been. I know we haven't done first aid with them for a while, and Bec said the same thing about her guides.

One last work-related thing. Every two weeks, we have a lunch-time journal club in the department, where two speakers are given a fairly open selection of what they can talk about for fifteen minutes, but it is typically a journal paper of one variety or another. The Tuesday before last, it was my turn. I thought I might do something interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't have any of my own work ready to show, and I didn't feel like digging out an old talk.

Instead, what I did was get a journal paper looking at the relationship between different work facets and mental health. The major outcome of this paper was that an imbalance between effort and rewards is harmful, although there were some other things on social interactions that put numbers to risks. I used these to justify several things that most people in the department know should happen, most people in the department are saying privately should happen, but not everyone knows that most other people think that other people also think it, if that isn't too Rumsfeldian. Hopefully something positive will come out of it. At least it was something just a little bit different for me, anyway.


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