Harry Potter in Russian

This copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Russian (ISBN 9785389077881) was a gift from Ilya Sergey (a colleague of my husband who does theoretical computery things) and his wife Lilia Anisimova (an illustrator who does computery things of an entirely different kind).

It is the latest addition to my collection of translations of Harry Potter books, which consists mostly of translations of book 3, but also includes some translations of book 1.

The title page of the Russian translation looks like this:

The text inside looks like this:

It’s incomprehensible and unpronounceable yet blessedly phonetic!

The book features a beautiful new cover illustration by Kazu Kibuishi. The spines of the books in the seven-book set form an image of Hogwarts, like so:

New versions in many languages now feature Kibuishi’s illustrations; only buy the Russian edition if you’re a crazy collector like me—or if you can actually read Russian.

2017 embroidered patches

I buy embroidered patches for places I visit. Here are the patches I bought this year (starting top left, going clockwise):

Bills and coins from New Zealand

I collected the current coins, the current bills, a slightly older set of bills, a couple of older coins, a special $10 note, and a squashed penny from The Interislander ferry.

Below is a chart showing when changes were made to New Zealand’s bills and coins. (The change from a yellow line to a green one indicates the switch to decimal currency.)

It seems like every government bank, bureau of printing and engraving, or monetary authority likes to taunt visitors with displays of cancelled bills no longer able to be used as money. Here’s the display at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand:

Rocks from New Zealand

The iridescent marbles at the top left are magnetic hematite from Hettie’s Rock and Crystal Shop in Queenstown.

The polished green thing that looks like a miniature bookend is a piece of New Zealand greenstone (jade) that I bought at ReflectioNZ, a shop and cafe in Fox Glacier.

The ten rocks in between are rocks I picked up on the Fox Glacier trail we went on.

The rest are from the wharf area in Queenstown.

Tiny rubber kiwi

You won’t see a live kiwi in New Zealand unless you’re a dedicated birdwatcher or you go to a zoo. Unlike kea parrots, seagulls, and ibises, kiwis don’t hang out around humans and swoop down from the air to snatch crumbs from your lunch. They’re nocturnal. Moreover, they can’t swoop.

Nevertheless, tourist shops are overrun with kiwi bird keychains, t-shirts, mugs, shot glasses, paperweights, coasters, playing cards, baseball caps, fridge magnets, and figurines made from plastic, wood, glass, and metal.

Although I like animal figurines, and the kiwi is obviously the iconic New Zealand animal, I refrained from buying a kiwi figurine until I saw this inexpensive, tiny, rubber, made-in-China creature. Perfect.

Brass bird sculpture from Waiheke Island

This bird sculpture was made by Paora Toi-Te-Rangiuaia, a Maori artist whose shop I wandered into on Waiheke Island. He is a jeweler and self-trained sculptor who uses traditional Maori symbols and subjects, and is fascinated with bird and feather forms, which he has reproduced in stone, wood, and various metals. I’m proud to have been able to bring this little bird home with me.

Here’s a photo of a real wax-eye or silver-eye bird, the kind the sculpture was modeled on, taken by someone good at bird photos:

Calvin and Hobbes in Translation

This collection of translations of Bill Watterson’s The Revenge of the Baby- Sat probably got started when I went to Italy in 2002 and chanced upon a copy of the Italian translation.

Undoubtedly I bought the Portuguese one in Portugal in 2004 and the German one in Germany in 2008. My husband fetched me the French one from France at some point or other, having somehow determined that the contents were the same even though the cover was different. A neighbor kindly brought back the Chinese version for me when she went to visit family in Beijing recently.

Seeing Calvin’s words in other languages that use the Roman alphabet is one thing; seeing them in Chinese characters is quite strange.

Below are images of the six different book covers: French, Italian, Portuguese, German, English, and Chinese.

There are translations available in other languages, including Spanish (ISBN 9786075271170), Dutch (ISBN 97890542562), and Czech (ISBN 9788074490798), as well…

Continue reading Calvin and Hobbes in Translation

Old Singapore coin: It’s a lucky day when you find one of these!

Singapore has only been a country since 1965. It has only had its own coins since 1967. This ten-cent coin is from 1968, and belongs to the first series of Singapore, which coins featured sea animals.

The second series (introduced in 1985) featured flowers. There were two versions of the coat of arms, one with the banner bowed upwards and one with the banner hanging down. Supposedly the coat of arms was changed for better feng shui, because when the banner is hanging down, it looks like a smile rather than a frown. The octagon inscribed in the circular one-dollar coin is thought to be lucky.

The third series of coins (introduced in 2013, after I came to Singapore) involved changes in the metal composition and size of the coins as well as the designs, which are now more architectural.

The new coins have mostly displaced both second series designs, though I still get some mixed in with my change. It is quite rare to see a first series coin in circulation now.

Learn more about Singapore’s coins: