Chronicles of a writer abroad


Spam-filter poetry: My magnificent goods

I’ve said before that I like to find writerly inspiration outside of books: in things like rap music and spoken word poetry and radio programs. I like words (like this guy!) and I love when they’re used in playful and unusual ways.

There are a lot of words on the internet, but it’s not often that I surf into ones that really surprise and delight. But as it turns out, I’ve been sitting on a goldmine: my spam filter. Behold, a verse-comment recently nearly thwarted out of existence:

Magnificent goods from you, man. I have to take into account your stuff previous and you’re just too great. I actually like what you have obtained right here, really like what you’re stating and the best way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you continue to take care to say it sensible. I cant wait to read far more from you.

I don’t know what combination of computer-generation or botched language learning leads to this comment, but gosh, it’s good. Can you imagine a story-length version of this guy? I can, but unfortunately I’m not good enough to write it. And to think he squanders this talent, spending his days promoting his Viagra-site or some such.

Any good catch in your filters, fellow bloggers?


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I’m your classic chart-making, joghurt-eating nerd

The other day, I was reviewing some of my older blog entries, and reflecting on how much I’ve enjoyed keeping this log of my experiences during the past 3 months. I was also struck, at this moment, with an idea for a new page on the blog. Since a lot of what I blog about falls into the category of “things I miss from Canada” or “things I find new and enjoyable in Switzerland,” I thought that I should be keeping a list. Or perhaps a chart. I do love me a good chart. This one will enumerate, in one column, things that I love about Canada and am unlikely to find in Switzerland, and in another, things I love about Switzerland and am unlikely to find in Canada. The list items will link to the blog entries that I’ve written about the items; indeed, items will not be allowed to go on the list until I’ve blogged about them.

So look for this new page to go up within a few days. I should note that the intent of it will not be to have a competition between the two countries, or to declare one “better” down the road (this would be patently impossible), but instead just to celebrate the things that I love about the two countries where I’ve lived and not just visited. It will be (I hope) a useful index for myself and other people who are kind enough to read this blog, and a record of the little joys in life, at home and abroad (just don’t ask me which is which anymore!).

Today, I want to discuss something that will end up on the “Switzerland” side of the list: joghurt. Finally, a German word that we have no trouble pronouncing (although we spell it differently in Canada). The joghurt here is very good — not surprising given that the milk, cheese, and other dairy products in Switzerland are all delicious. But it’s not only the quality that makes Swiss yogurt so appealing: I am also genuinely impressed by the array of flavours on offer. Some of the joghurt flavours that I have spied in stores here include:

  • Banana
  • Blood orange
  • Raspberry peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Belle Helene (pear and chocolate)
  • Caramel
  • Maple syrup (!)
  • Plain chocolate
  • Chocolate coconut
  • Hazelnut

These are in addition to the flavours that I am used to seeing: strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, peach. I have not yet tried many of the above, but am eager to — never mind that a single-serve container of some of them packs as many calories as your standard chocolate bar. My favourite so far, which also has reasonably good nutrition info, is rhubarb-vanilla. I don’t have much to say about it, except that it is genius. I love the tangyness of rhubarb when it is paired with something sweet, like vanilla joghurt. I don’t know why this hasn’t caught on in Canada (and if it does exist there, someone please enlighten me!).

I’m just about to call it a night — tomorrow is a big day involving German conversation class and an exploding snowman! I hope that all of you had (and in many cases, are still having) a very pleasant weekend.