wangyang told me this morning that her company is sending her to west chester pennsylvania to expedite the delivery of some key factory components, as their current project is at a standstill until they get the necessary parts. earlier in the week she said she might go to el paso/juarez, so west chester is definitely closer, close enough i may try to visit, but the fact that her company is sending her all the way from shanghai to resolve this issue means it's pretty critical and she won't have much free time. she told me she's leaving this sunday, and will only be in pennsylvania for a week.
karen and company finally showed up around 3:30pm. for some reason i thought karen's canadian friend would be the same age as her, but turns out she was much older, a french-canadian in her mid-50's with pale blonde hair that made her look older. they were chatting animatedly in spanish - karen, her canadian friend, and karen's coworker friend paula. they did transition to english on my behalf, although the canadian said back in montreal she never speaks english, and would still occasional broke into some spanish or french.
after talking with karen's canadian friend a little bit, i think i got a pretty good read. she's a traveler, and all her stories are travel related. i've met people like this, who enjoy showing off how much of the world they've seen. they love talking, as long as it's about their trips. she told me how she backpacked in southeast asia and korea for 8 months in 2002. i told her i've been to southeast asia as well, for 4 months in 2005. i asked if she's ever been to china, she said no, the closest she's ever got was the laotian-chinese border, but would like to go someday. she then showed me photos on her phone of her last trip in 2016 through the yucatan.
karen cooked while we chatted. i kept one careful eye watching to make sure she didn't burn anything. she made some sort of chips and dips concoction, and baked a chicken in the oven. the chicken took a long time to cook, and her canadian friend decided to take a short nap as they would all be going out later. i had a little piece of chicken, a little bland, but cooked okay.
in our conversation, i learned that karen's mother will be visiting montreal in may, so karen will join her there. there was another plan for her mother to come to boston (oh boy) but karen decided it wasn't a good option because of the current political climate (blame trump) which would've been made worse since her mother doesn't speak any english. paula also confided in us that she doesn't have any american friends, especially american female friends. she used to work in an office with a lot of young female twentysomethings and felt their lives seem so superficial. for example, there idea of exotic traveling is spending a week in the caribbean.
around 4:30pm they got ready to leave. i thanklessly did the dishes, the least i could for free food, but simply because i was already at the sink washing my hands. they left sometime after 5pm, took an uber while it was sleeting outside. they were going to another friend's house for cooking, followed by some latina networking meeting at 7pm, then go out dancing sometime after 10pm.
it was nice to have the house to myself again. i plan on spending the rest of the weekend at my parents' place, so i won't be running into karen's canadian friend too much more. i didn't think i was hungry (full disclosure: i was also snacking), but later in the evening i heated up some hot pockets. they tasted sort of gross, i don't plan on eating them again.
i went to bed early, around midnight, but was actually just reading thomas jefferson and tripoli pirates1 followed by watching several episodes of star wars: rebels (i'm already in the 3rd and current season). karen and her canadian friend returned home around 2am.
1 up until now i didn't realize who the authors were: brian kilmeade and don yaeger. it's a pretty quick read, and i'm surprised i'm already 39% of the way through. part of that is because the language is so simple, which made me think it was written for the young adult audience. then there's the whole christian-vs-muslim conflict which isn't overtly mentioned, but it's easy to glean that christians are the good guys (more civilized, obey the rules of laws and treaties) and the muslims are the bad guys (decadent, slavers, greedy). it's an interesting read for anyone not well versed in the barbary wars (i'd only had a very cursory knowledge of it) but definitely not a detailed and nuanced history of the affair.
for one thing, the book makes it sound like only the barbary pirates were engaged in slavery, and made no mention of american's own involvement in the trade. in fact, the "hero" of the book - thomas jefferson - was a slaveowner himself, though that fact is not mentioned (not yet anyway). then i learned that one of the authors - brian kilmeade - is a fox news tv personality, which explains much. had i known earlier, i might not have read the book. i should've gathered from the book jacket design that it was going to be sensationalistic, with the tagline of "the forgotten war that changed american history." the book is also co-authored by don yaeger, a mysterious character who's day job is a super-tanned motivational speaker, and has co-written dozens of books, mostly with athletes, who are not known to be greater writers.
having said all that, thomas jefferson and tripoli pirates is still an interesting read. it's sort of the historical literature equivalent of junk food.