Monthly Archives: June 2016

Lost in Translation: Camel Balls Gum

Today’s product is sold in the UK, among other places (e.g. Amazon).  In and of itself, it may not be lost in translation so much as a marketing gimmick, but I came across an article of the UK’s Mirror titled, “Bubblegum called Camel Balls sold to girl, 7, gives mum the hump”.  Their choice of that last word in this particular context is unfortunate, given its connotations in some English dialects…


LIT - Camel Balls Gum



Filed under Humor, Images, Mistranslations

Postcard from Lugano III

2016-06-15 06.59.28 smallYou know how, when you send a postcard from holidays, you’re usually back before the recipient receives it?  Well, same here… I’m back from holidays, and so this postcard has just arrived.  We were away just a week (could always be a bit longer, right?), and enjoyed beautiful weather, storms, rain, sunshine, and time.  Time away from internet connections (there is no wi-fi in the flat there, so the temptation is eliminated!), time to read, to write, to be, to watch football matches of the European Football Championships (that’s soccer to Americans), and to cook good Italian food.

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We were in Lugano, Switzerland, otherwise known as the Riviera, or the Monte Carlo, of Switzerland; it’s in the Italian-speaking area, and is nestled along the shores of Lake Lugano.  The top image is the view from our (glass) balcony, unbroken from Castagnola to just beyond Caprino (check it out on Google Earth!), and the lower image is of a side street by the Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli, along the shoreline of Lugano.  Our family holiday flat is in Castagnola, along the flank of Monte Bre, and is our go-to place for a short get-away.

Whenever we’re down there, I switch from whatever manuscript I’m working on to a novel I’m writing that’s based on a house which our flat overlooks, and one that has captured our curiosity for decades:  Villa Helios sat vacant and decaying for over 30 years, and a few years ago began to be renovated.  This year was the first time we’ve seen life in the place.  From what I can tell, it has become either flats to rent, or buy.  There were only one or two flats occupied, as the rest of the windows were still either boarded over or shuttered; at night those windows were lit by small corner-lights to make it look occupied, but it was clear that they were vacant.  It was nice to get away for some quiet time together with my husband, but time there goes by very lazily, so even at a leisurely pace, I still managed over 10K on the novel!  It was especially relaxing to write on it because, just before going on holiday, I finished the manuscript for my 5th novel (the third book in the Northing Trilogy), and was able to send it off to my beta readers before leaving; I could work on the other novel with a “free conscience”.

Now back in the real world, I’m giving myself a short break from writing on my novels so that I can tackle the graphics of the cover, as well as all the bits and bobs that go along with marketing; once I get the beta feedback, it will be time to go through the manuscript again and make any changes necessary.

Here’s hoping you have a great week, and find inspiration for your own writing!

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Lugano by night.  Foreground:  The dome of Villa Helios


Filed under Articles, Images, Musings, Writing Exercise

Odd Jobs #4: Chicken Sexers to Cup Keepers

Civil War Re-Enactors - Newsobserver-com

Photo credit:

The jobs in this week’s list range wide in their requirements; while some require only natural skills, such as the organisational skills needed to be a closet organiser, or the brawn needed to muss up someone trying to steal your client’s car in Brazil (or South Africa – check out the comments on last week’s post), others require proof of one’s trustworthiness, such as the Crown Jeweller or the Cup Keeper, and some require specific training such as the re-enactor (besides being knowledgeable about the era they portray and its clothing, etc., they need to be physically fit to wield a sword for hours on end – even minutes on end!).  To be a crime scene cleaner, at least for violent crimes, I think one would need nerves of steel and a good therapist…

Of all the jobs on this list, I think the only one I’d really like is being a closet organiser; I actually did that once:  A family hired me to help sort out their cupboards; they literally could not find anything, and no wonder… dishes were stuffed in with board games and bedding, towels were on the out-of-reach top shelf of a hall closet far from the bathrooms while the other shelves were stuffed with candles, plant pots and other bedding, and their bedroom closets held more dishes, crafts supplies, books and even clothing.  I’d never seen such chaos, and it was a good project to sink my organisational “teeth” into!

  • Chicken Sexer: Determines the sex of a chick, relying heavily on intuition. Usually hired by commercial hatcheries, these professionals (who are more common in the UK and Japan) make up to $60,000 a year.
  • Chief Listening Officer: Monitors a brand’s presence across social media platforms.
  • Civil War Battlefield Re-enactor : This category could be expanded to any kind of re-enactor – Viking, British, Renaissance, Medieval, etc.
  • Closet Organizer
  • Colour Expert / Wardrobe Stylist
  • Crack Filler: Using a silicone sealant, they repair the wear and tear inflicted on monumental structures, like Mount Rushmore. The job description also includes repairs to blacktop, asphalt driveways and sidewalks, etc.
  • Crime Scene Cleaner
  • Crown Jeweller
  • Cruise Ship Entertainer
  • Cuidacarros (Brazil): Hire these guys to watch your car when you’re gone and beat up anybody trying to steal it.
  • Cup Keeper: Paid to babysit expensive trophy cups, such as the Stanley Cup, as they travel.


Filed under Articles, Lists, Musings, Research

Odd Jobs #3: Bereavement Coordinator to Car Plate Blockers


Body Painter.  Photo credit: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

For most of the odd jobs in this week’s lineup, I was able to find a link with a description of some kind; but, not surprisingly, “one of these is not like the others” (a Sesame Street throwback…) – the only illegal job of them all; it seems to have found a niche market in a black market sense of the word.  In a weird way, it reminds me of “lines of desire” – where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I find it interesting to include “Blacksmith” in this list; what was once a trade found in any town worth its salt, and testified to by the number of people with the surname Smith, is now a rarity.

By the way, I’m running a similar series on my history blog under the heading “Odd Jobs of Bygone Days” in case you’re interested.


Filed under Articles, Images, Lists, Research