Music Cassettes

I’m listening to online radio* in the background while working on an assignment and every so often I flick to the browser to check some detail of the current song (year published, album cover…) and I saw REM’s Monster staring back at me. Followed an impulse; recalling when someone had lent me this very cassette, and searched for “REM Monster cassette” in google images.
And got struck by a small bout of nostalgia of those internetless times where getting your hands on music meant talking to people – maybe someone in another class, exchanging cassettes. Many a friendship were forged atop lending/borrowing a Metallica/Nirvana/REM album, discussing related stuff. Exchanging copies of Metal Hammer and KERRANG! Waiting for the new Sepultura CD to arrive on our shores, feeling the disappointment after finally getting my hands on the new Metallica album, Load. Incredulous when I entered the classroom to be greeted by “Max Cavalera has quit Sepultura,” (“It’s not possible! He founded the damn band!”). Super-happy upon getting my first walkman; (years) later getting on the cutting edge with a portable CD player (oh how those buggers ate through batteries).
I could taint this post by going on to point out differences with current music consumption, but I won’t. Instead I’m gonna keep the happy jumbled memories of listening to beloved music on tape, savour that first time I put Chaos A.D. in the CD player, recall how when I first heard “Get In The Ring” it stopped me in my tracks and those albums became the quasi-soundtrack of my life for a few months. Long hair, black T-shirts, I-can’t-believe-Cobain-killed-himself, oh when will the new album come to the local record shop…fond memories…

REM Monster.JPG

The Nostalgia Generator

*AccuRadio – “Sir Tetley’s Tunes” channel, in case anyone’s interested

A Mini-Camino

CaminoDeSantiago - ArrowI started last week happily walking towards Santiago. We* embarked on a mini-camino, the last 5 etapas on the Camino del Norte. Since we were only doing 5 days’ worth of walking, our bags were agreeably lightweight. But light is never light enough, and to be fair, our bags’ lightness was due more to the fact that we only had 5 days than to any great planning and equipment on our part. After all, how heavy can you go with just 5 t-shirts, 5 pairs of underwear and a sleeping bag?

If a longer camino is undertaken however, such things matter a great deal. One pilgrim we came across had started walking from somewhere south of Paris: a total of 2000+ kilometres to Santiago and he’d been at it for 11 weeks. If you’re away for such a long time some clothes-washing must creep into your itinerary, or you’ll end up getting the stinky pilgrim award.

Given my infatuation with travelling light, I started drawing up a list for walking the camino with a 30 litre backpack or smaller. Here’s my list (with notes at the bottom):

2 quick-dry t-shirts
2 trekking trousers (1)
4 pairs of socks
3 pieces of underwear (boxers/panties)
rain jacket/anorak
sleeping bag (2)
sleeping bag liner (3)
a pair of trousers (4)

trekking boots/shoes
a pair of flip-flops (5)

towel + towelette (6)

a pair of light shoes (7)
a long-sleeved t-shirt (8)

A first-aid kit that includes:
a few Compeed packs
a Compeed anti-blister stick (9)
needle and thread (for blisters) (10)
sun cream
Swiss army knife tool
some light rope and pegs

The premise is that every day upon getting at the hostel/pension/stop for the night, you wash your clothes; and in the north of Spain it will rain in summer too. Hence the need for quick-drying stuff. Oh, and the list evidently includes the stuff you’d be wearing. Feel free to add your take on this one!


  1. Kind of like these. I favour the kind that are quick-drying, have pockets on the side like combat pants, and have a zipper halfway down to convert into shorts in case the weather gets too hot.
  2. Depending on the time of the year, you might go extremely lightweight – I prize a 600-gram Gelert sleeping bag which packs into the size of two fists.
  3. This can serve as a stand-alone sheet if the dorm is nice n’ warm. Put inside a sleeping bag, it further insulates.
  4. To sleep in and wander around in the evening.
  5. For the shower.
  6. Small towels dry quicker.
  7. Unless you travel in summer, in the evenings it might get cold to wander around in flip-flops. And you might want to let the trekking boots air a little!
  8. In case it gets cold.
  9. This is the stuff of miracles. The probability of getting blisters goes down so much, you shouldn’t even think of passing on this one.
  10. A super-effective way of dealing with blisters: puncture them from one side to another with a needle, passing the thread right through the blister. The liquid comes out and the thread keeps the blister from re-forming. Some people argue it’s unhygienic, but you can always clean the thread with alcohol before passing it through your skin.

* Sandra, her sister and I

Wordplay and Spoonerism

I’m a sucker for wordplay. My mind constantly thinks of spoonerisms¹ (though most of the time they sound really stupid, there is the odd funny one), and I’m fascinated by the evolution of language and words.

It’s therefore natural that I gravitate towards books having with some form of wit. Every so often I’ll be sharing some of my favourites here (as well as those that I come along and strike me as singular). Like this one, they’ll be in the “Wordplay” category.

Among the masters of word-mind games, at least in English, one can find Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams occupying places of honour. The way they play with common phrases is ingenious. Let me share two here:

“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.”

(from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams)

“Ankh-Morpork! Pearl of cities! This is not a completely accurate description, of course — it was not round and shiny — but even its worst enemies would agree that if you had to liken Ankh-Morpork to anything, then it might as well be a piece of rubbish covered with the diseased secretions of a dying mollusc.”

(from “The Light Fantastic” – Terry Pratchett)

More quotes by these authors can be found here and here.

¹ Spoonerism, the practice of interchanging a syllable/letter between words, for example:
“Is the bean dizzy?” instead of “Is the dean busy?” by the original Spooner himself (ref the Wikipedia article).

More on spoonerism here.

Hello world!

Hi there,

I’m migrating my blog here, so this is my new “home”. First question was, should I leave the “hello world” as the first title. And heck yeah, let’s let it start with a cliché. :)

For what it’s worth, here’s what’s going on here. I used to have a personal blog at, which then moved to and which now is here. When I moved from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress, I migrated all the blog content-. This time round, however, it’s a fresh new start. II’ll be writing out some thoughts and some ideas/ramblings on language and at times I will be revisiting some old memories, re-writing a post from the old blog. But for the most part it’s a fresh start, rather than a whole make-over of an old blog.