Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pesky Exes

LT: "You should check Dave's latest posts to the photojournal. He finally got to the holiday party, and there's a decent couple shot of us. If you're still collecting those."

Me: "Wow, these are good. It's always weird seeing what my life was like nine months ago, though. According to Dave, we won't be broken up until April 2009."

(Our friend Dave, while a great photographer, is a slacker. Oh, and he went to Italy and is having a baby, or something else non-important.)

LT: "HAH! Talk about a crimp on BOTH our love lives!" "No really, sweetie," he said, addressing some future girlfriend, "we’re NOT seeing each other anymore! I swear!"

Me: "Yes. I was trying to find a specific picture from three years ago last night, with an audience. He watched me click through pages and pages of pictures of you and I and finally said, 'Really, you can find it some other time.'"

LT: "Whoops."

Me: "Yes."

Oh well, at least we can laugh about it.

How Do You Like THEM Apples?

Or, I Tried to Chop My Finger Off Again, and Then I Got Mad.

There I am, chopping an apple, minding my own business, and somehow my Wusthof paring knife slips through the core like it's nothing and catches itself in my thumb. AGAIN. Last time it was a peeler, this time it was a knife, but it was an apple both times. An apple a day fulfills your suicidal tendencies, as they say.

Oh, they don't say that?

After all the fuss I put in on the previous apple crop--the hours spent picking the apples with my family, the tree climbing, the buying of the peeler, the sacrificed finger tip--I was beyond irritated to learn that the crop was the wormiest crop I'd ever seen. The universal sadness of the failed farmer rose up and whomped me in the face. I'm a city girl 99.9% of the time, but my family has been growing apples--and a few other assorted crops--for a long time. I care about my food and I care about the time I put into it--or rather, the time that nature puts into it, because rain and sunshine do most of the work, you just have to wait it out. And when you've waited for months and planned out your pies, you're pretty devastated to see your plans dissolve. Each apple I cut in half to see worm tracks made me madder and madder, until I began to see the point behind DDT. Goddamn the birds, full speed ahead! Bleeding heart liberals who decry the fact that people could ever shoot Bambi should be lucky enough to put in months and months and months of sweat, blood, tears, and money into a vegetable crop, only to see a crop of angry deer trample your babies--I mean, vegetables. Your hopes, dreams, and tomato sauce for the next year, gone.

Of course, the situation today isn't that dire. It's America. My family has never been too poor to eat. The water is clean and food is artificially cheap. (And artificial, but that's another post.) There are always more apples. We aren't selling our apples for our livelihood, and even if the slugs get my mother's tomatoes, we can buy more. We aren't starving--in fact, that's the opposite of my problem!--but good Lord does it make me MAD, knowing how much time and effort went into that head of spinach, only to see it eaten by overfed snails.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Made it to Thursday!

I got over my cold, Titan's ear is healing, and the conference happened successfully. Hooray. And all that. My thoughts go to Quatoes, though, who had a worse week even than I did. :(

Also, the economy is tanking. But never mind that! Let's talk about fancy cars!

Calsee and I saw one of these the other day, on our girl's afternoon out--we also got super-high-quality sandwiches and went to SAM--in dark blue. And it's so goddamned impressive, I can't even convey it properly.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Packed Four Days

Hello! It is Friday. I am stressed. I am coordinating a conference, I got sick--but am getting over it--and my dog got half his ear torn off. All since Monday. How has your past four days been?

After some frantic bandaging and frantic cleaning--because Titan shook his head over and over before I realized what was going on, and the blood spatter damage to my entrance hall and apartment cannot be described without dipping into terms like "serial killer" and "Jason" and "Friday the 13th"--I had a date, took Titan to the vet, etc, etc. The conference is still happening. I am getting over my cold. Titan's ear will live, Titan will live, I am going to the Raconteurs' concert. Hooray!

Monday, September 15, 2008

It Was Better Said by Antoine de Saint Exupery

It was then that the fox appeared.

"Good morning," said the fox.

"Good morning," the little prince responded politely, although when he turned around he saw nothing.

"I am right here," the voice said, "under the apple tree."

"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."

"I am a fox," the fox said.

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."

"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.

But, after some thought, he added:

"What does that mean--'tame'?"

"You do not live here," said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"

"I am looking for men," said the little prince. "What does that mean--'tame'?"

"Men," said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"

"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean--'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties."

"'To establish ties'?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower . . . I think that she has tamed me . . ."

"It is possible," said the fox. "On the Earth one sees all sorts of things."

"Oh, but this is not on the Earth!" said the little prince.

The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.

"On another planet?"


"Are there hunters on that planet?"


"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"


"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox.

But he came back to his idea.

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ."

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

"Please--tame me!" he said.

"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . ."

"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.

"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . ."

The next day the little prince came back.

"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . ."

"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.

"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near--

"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."

"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . ."

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"Then it has done you no good at all!"

"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields." And then he added:

"Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret."

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."

And the roses were very much embarassed.

"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose."

And he went back to meet the fox.

"Goodbye," he said.

"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."

"It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . ."

"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

* * *

Oh, oh, oh. It is so sad. "I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow."..."And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dante Does Relationships

Saturday night, 9:45 p.m.

LT: "What are you doing, this late at night, in your apartment, on a SATURDAY? Shouldn't you be out?

Me: "Oh, I told some fool I'd keep Saturday night open for him, and now of course I'm regretting it, as he has apparently stood me up."

LT: "The girl I was waiting on to call me never called me either."

Me: "Dammit, sorry."

LT: "Screw all that, let's play beer pong!"

Me: "That is a terrible and awesome idea. I'll ping some people and we can get this party started."

About 11 p.m. it becomes clear that either no one is as lame as we are, or everyone who's decided to stay in tonight is already in bed, but we still decide to play beer pong.

And let me just say right now, to everyone reading this post and thinking, in their heads, "NO! Don't do it! That will turn out poorly!" that it actually turned out fine, as beer pong is a little too boring to play much with just two people. We played one game and then just sat and talked, which we desperately needed to do, and it was pretty great.

We both talked about the experiences we've had since breaking up, which was interesting. He's dating a girl that has him tied up in knots, and I dated a guy who put my heart in a blender, although of course I willingly handed over my heart to him to do so. And then built my own blender. But knowing that you walked right into it willingly doesn't help at all when you're actually in the blender and thinking, "I'm in the ninth circle of Hell, how do I get out??"

...huh. I started this post to write about something LT suggested I write about, and now I'm having a hard time getting into it.

Speaking of circles of hell: of course, you don't actually have to be in a budding relationship to willingly enter hell. You can be dating someone for two years and start the downward slope into hell without even realizing it, until you're in about the second circle and you're thinking, how did I get here and where is the exit? Dating the LT, I started my own personal slide about when he got out of the Navy, which could have been more than coincidental (but also may not have been, and FTN in any case) and I didn't realize it until about May, and then it took me an additional two months to climb back out, and I didn't really think about the entire process it until I had to: i.e., until I ruined his car seat.

The LT and I are still carpooling, and last week I rode in the back of his car and ate a piece of cheese with a wax rind, which I then left in the car over the course of the hot day, which melted into the car seat, which I then tried to iron out, which then caused a polyester cloth to melt ALL over his back seat and ruin it. It was a terrible afternoon, made more awful by the fact that I knew that the whole reason--at least, one of the big reasons--that I broke up with the LT was that my self-esteem was slowly shredding away, and here I was, having broken up with him to get away from this, bowing and scraping and grovelling for him to forgive me, over a CAR SEAT. I couldn't stand--absolutely could not stand--the thought that he might think less of me as a person, that I might be less than perfect for him. It's a terrible cycle: I'm a people pleaser, and he's demanding, and so the harder I tried to please him in our relationship, the more annoyed he got. It was awful, having your self-esteem so wrapped up in one person, and of course--like all personal hells--it's not as if he asked me for it or wanted it. I willingly gave him my self-esteem to do with as he liked. I walked right into it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

But Onto the DANCING!

A few of my friends from college--especially the dancing segment--have been asking me why I'm so into salsa dancing these days and have apparently completely left my first love, swing dancing.

It's true that swing is my first love, and what I did throughout college--or at least the first year, before I discovered Greek Life. But swing out here on the West Coast is...weird. Different. Slower, somehow. I'm not talking about the differences between West Coast Swing, Swing, and Lindy-Hop--those are all different dances and I know the differences. I just mean that Swing Nights out here seem slower and less fun. I don't know why.

This is the kind of swing I want to do:

I mean, this is a parody, but it's still amazing.

A different video of the same routine, maybe with the same guys:

This is a NON-parody and it's pretty good:

By the way, I look nothing like this while swing dancing. Or salsa dancing, for that matter.

Oh, boo, these videos make me miss swing dancing.

Never mind. Salsa has taken over, and by Blog, is it addictive or what? I even bought salsa shoes. Not that I need a good reason to buy shoes.

No real point to this post. Just dancing.

Ad Nauseum

I’ll never forget how angry I was, last election.

It was 2004. T-Town Girl and I were watching the election results in a bar, a dive bar about half a block from our apartment. At first, the night looked promising—like Kerry MIGHT squeeze out a victory—and then it became clear that Bush was going to win, and we started doing shots of tequila.


The real emotion I remember feeling—-besides anger—-was a complete sense of helplessness, disillusionment, disorientation. I so strongly believed one thing—and it turned out that most of the US, or at least 54% of it, believed something else. I’ll never forget my friend Maria’s quote from her own blog at this time. “I thought, terrible budget deficit, terrible job market, thousands dying in Iraq over a government COVER-UP about WMD that was NEVER THERE, I thought, of course, we’ll THROW Bush out in 2004! Right? Guys? Hello? This thing on?”

That was how liberals felt, at the time. “Is the rest of the country even LISTENING to what I’m listening to?” we thought.

And of course, they weren’t. They weren’t reading the Washington Post. They weren’t listening to their gay friends fight battle after battle with the healthcare system because their partner had died and said gay friend, partner to the deceased for FIFTEEN YEARS, longer than MOST STRAIGHT MARRIAGES, had no legal standing whatsoever and couldn’t even attend the funeral. They weren’t attending Hempfest. They were sitting at home, worrying about how to put food on the table, worrying about how they were going to afford college, worrying about their mortgage rate that had suddenly jumped to 28% and how is that even possible, hello? Is this mike on? Is anyone listening to me?

And even I can see at a glance that the liberal concerns are rather high end. Death comes to us all, and it sucks terribly, but fighting for gay rights and attending Hempfest is way, WAY, less important than making sure your town has a store that sells stuff that you need (i.e., Walmart) and making sure the government cares enough about your family to evacuate you in case of a hurricane.

The liberals saw it this way: “Say what you want about social values. Forget those. Bush has dragged our country down into a cesspool of debt and despair, and at least Kerry will be different! Also, his social values happen to be way better than yours and you should really see the light.

The conservatives, I assume, saw it this way: “We can’t change leaders mid-course. We have an effort in Iraq that we have to finish, the only thing that’s going to help our budgets now is the tax cuts that Bush is promising, and for God’s sake, I can’t squeeze out any more money, we have to cut taxes, and what the hell are you doing fighting for gay rights when my family can't EAT? Also liberal social values are basically hedonism and Bush happens to support mine.

(Conservatives, did I mis-state? Please, send me a paragraph of how you felt in 2004, it would be awesome to read and post.)

And so we're stuck, in this mish-mash of refusals to compromise, hate, and fear. And how in the WORLD can I blame conservative voters for voting their social values when that's all that I am doing? I mean, as a bleeding heart liberal, its never before occurred to me to do otherwise--reproductive rights and gay rights are WAY MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOD, THANK YOU. But in all seriousness, as I get older—-and meet more men and women who serve in the military—-it occurs to me that the President is the Commander in Chief, before all else. And in this part of his or her office, McCain’s experience and chops really appeal to me. But on the other hand, part of being a good president is judgment, and I have to say I trust Obama’s judgment far more because I agree with his social values, and so I assume that any decision he makes on the world stage would be a decision that I would make. But is that necessarily a good thing? I mean, I don’t have any experience in world politics whatsoever.

Still, so far, I’m convinced I can’t vote for McCain. A man who doesn’t know his own views on contraception and can’t check his email gets no love from me. Although I admit this just shows how skewed my own priorities are. A better excuse, and the one I will trot out publicly, is that I can’t trust the presidency to PALIN, of all people, in case McCain dies.

I Can't Leave It Alone

I'm sorry, reproductive rights are a really, really big deal to me.

From The Stranger:

"As the adoptive parent of a child born to a pair of unwed teenagers, I'm certainly not in favor of abortion in all circumstances. But I believe that it's a choice teenagers should be able to make for themselves—with input from their families whenever possible—and, so it seems, does the GOP's VP nominee. Sarah Palin is pleased that her daughter made the decision—on her own—to keep the baby.

But Sarah Palin doesn't believe that other girls should be able to make their own decisions. Sarah Palin believes abortion should be illegal in almost every instance—including rape and incest. So Bristol Palin is being celebrated for making a choice that Sarah Palin would like to take away from all other American women. Apparently, today's GOP believes that choice is a special right reserved for the wayward daughters of Republican elected officials.

Oh, and Sarah Palin also believes that birth control shouldn't be made available to teenagers...and she backs abstinence-until- marriage sex "education."


The GOP has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into abstinence "education" programs during the Bush years. I believe this enormous investment of public funds begs the obvious question: Is our children abstaining? Sarah Palin's aren't. Despite this massive outlay on the part of the American taxpayer and the example set by her Christian parents, Bristol Palin became sexually active while still in high school. Excuse me, but if abstinence education can't keep the daughter of the evangelical governor of Alaska off the cock, what hope is there for the daughters—and some of the sons—of average Americans?

I'm a cad for writing this, of course, because shortly before Bristol and Levi were paraded before cheering throngs at the Republican National Convention, the Palins asked the media to respect their daughter's privacy.

Another special right: When it comes to respecting your family's privacy, Palin and the GOP see no need. They want to micromanage the most intimate aspects of your private life. And if their own kids fail to live up to the standards that Palin and the GOP seek to impose on your family, well, that's a private matter between the Palins, their daughter, their God, and the thousands of screaming imbeciles in elephant hats waving McCain/Palin signs on the floor of the Republican National Convention."

Monday, September 08, 2008

More Snippets

I went skydiving this weekend, and it was very awesome, but instead of talking about that I want to taking a chunk out of my finger with my brand-new apple peeler, which I totally did.

And the apples are kind of wormy anyway.

But anyhow, I posted to my Facebook page that I had taken a chunk out of my finger, and I get this in response:

Tristan: "So jumping out of airplanes can't do you in, but having a few apples around the house is your kryptonite?"

Evan: "The girl can survive skydiving, but not apple peeling. Nice."

Me: "Boys, I think I love you. That is the best summary of my character ever. Now you see why I might as well jump out of planes and completely avoid cooking, right?"

And then, much later, an IM conversation between me and Tristan:

Me: "Anyway, I have to get cracking on dinner, bedtime, more apples, etc, so see you later."

Tristan: "Try not to die."

Friday, September 05, 2008

Japan, the Third Day

Toshi, his wife Hiroko, and daughter Erika came all the way into Tokyo to pick me up at the ryokan and took me to Kamakura, the third capital city of Japan. (Japan History, completely worth reading.) (Kamakura period.)

One of the AMAZING things about Japan is that their written history goes back...oh...say, 16-17 CENTURIES. Japan is eight or nine times as old as we are. To stand near the huge wooden shrines is to feel the age rolling off them. To understand Japanese history at all, it's important to get a sense of just how long 1900 years really IS.

Kamakura was the capital of Japan from 1185-1333, about 150 years, and it's the kind of place I never would have visited had I been on my own. There is so much to see in Japan--1900 years leaves a lot of history--that it would have simply fallen off my list, in spite of its mention in several guidebooks, and I would have never seen a Shinto wedding, the second-largest Buddha in the world, or a bamboo forest.

From my travel journal:

"Kamakura is small and pretty traditional, a city of old-fashioned streets and temples. Comparable to Toledo, in Spain, although of course a world removed. Very narrow streets, even for Japan, and driving is very difficult, but everyone does it. Have seen Hokokuji, the Bamboo Temple--a whole forest of bamboo, incredible--we drank green tea looking out at the swaying, creaking green towers, so tall. An amazing noise.

Japanese gardens, I have noticed, are absolutely filled with stone sculptures, all looking like variations on theme on the ones I saw in the Kyu-Shiba-rikyu Gardens. I mentioned this to the Moris, asking them what they were and why they were, and they tried to explain to me--some normal kind of Japanese garden decoration, nothing special. "Like garden gnomes," I said, making a joke, and both the older Moris tried very politely to understand what I meant. Erika, the 11-year-old, got it right away--she was born in New York and raised in Germany, and she gets my cultural references, which is very...welcoming. Hiroko, Toshi's wife, is perfectly stunning, and I am not surprised when she tells me she was a flight attendant for Japan Air. We laughed together about planes and airlines, once I told her I worked for Boeing. She keeps saying her English was bad, but if it was, I couldn't see how. Toshi, of course, is gracious, giving, generous, sociable, funny, and very patient with my blunderings around Japanese culture." (End Journal Entry.)

Some pictures from the web, since I was still sans camera:

Bamboo Garden, Kamakura Japan

A shot from Flickr.

And finally, me!

From Japan
Having tea in the bamboo forest. You can see it's a little chilly and rainy--much like Seattle in mid-May, in fact. The 80 degrees of yesterday had flown.

Again from my journal:

"At the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine, site of some of Japan's most sordid history, I got the chance to see a Shinto Wedding, which the Moris assured me was very rare. I curse my lack of camera, as the headdress of the bride and costumes of the bride and groom are exquisite, exotic, almost alien. The melancholy music of the Shinto wedding reminds me of bagpipe music that doesn't resolve. I see a stringed instrument like a guitar, a long kind of sitar, a set of gongs and bells, and that's all I can recognize. The Shinto shrines remind me of our Pacific Northwest longhouses, a comparison helped out by the relatively identical scenery--only Japan has fewer evergreens." (End Journal entry.)

History of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine. Watch for this story to appear again when I cover Kabuki Theater.

And finally, one big fella:

From Japan
One of the largest Buddhas in the world. He used to be housed in a temple, but in 1498, the housing was washed away by a tsunami. (Remember? Japan has been burnt, flooded, shaken up, burnt, shaken up again, bombed, etc.) Since then it's said that the Buddha prefers to be outside.

You can go inside him for 20 Yen, but we chose not to.

From Japan
The Buddha's slippers, in case he decides to get up. No one goes barefoot in Japan!

Notes for my Buddhist Readers: This is the Great Buddha, the Daibatsu. I very carefully remembered that all the way across the Pacific, so I damn well hope it means something to you.

Japan: The Next in an Ongoing Series

Welcome to Japan! When we last left our intrepid heroine, she was awake at 3:30 in her ryokan room with a coughing fit, and decided she'd damn well better get up instead of just dying quietly on her own. Also, she was a little concerned that she was going to wake up all the other residents.

I had to sneak out of the ryokan, as--much like hostels--the doors are locked between 11 pm and 6 am, roughly, and the guidebooks said the fish market started at 4:30. (Later, the JJs and I compared guidebooks. Some books said 4:00 am, some said 5:00, some said the whole thing was OVER by 5:00, etc. Some said it wasn't open to the public. We got the impression that the rules changed often and there were terrible translation errors in any case.)

From Tokyo, Second Day

From Tokyo, Second Day

I walked by this gorgeous temple in my wanderings:

From Tokyo, Second Day
Tsukiji Honwanji Temple. Note the Indian styling; this is very unusual in Japan. The headquarters of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhists, and I have to admit I have no idea what this means. The inside of this temple is absolutely stunning, everything covered in gold leaf. This is possible because this structure is relatively new, built in 1932. More about the temple. Note the difference in spelling between my pamphlet spelling and the Wikipedia article. This is very common in translation, and makes getting around all that much more difficult. ("Is this temple and that temple one and the same? ARGH!") Having seen a lot more temples after this, my bet is that the Wikipedia spelling is the newer and more correct version.

After this, I had to wander around for a few hours until the park opened, as I had started out freakishly early due to my disorientation.

From Tokyo, Second Day
A shogun's park, the Hama-rikyu Gardens. Built as a duck-hunting preserve in 1654, now belongs to Tokyo.

From Tokyo, Second Day
It's huge, much bigger than it looks in these few pictures. I have about a hundred of them in today's photo album.

From Tokyo, Second Day
Taking a break.

From Tokyo, Second Day
A new park! This is Kyu-Shiba-rikyu.

From Tokyo, Second Day
A waterless waterfall--built from rocks to suggest the presence of water. SO Japanese. It is called Karetaki.

Japan has this adorable tradition at its national parks: you take a slip of paper, designed for the park specifically, with a big circle in the middle, and you take a big park stamp and stamp your piece of paper. I have a duck one, from the duck park, and one with the statue from the Kyu-Shiba-Rikyu park. I was childishly happy about these stamps.

From Tokyo, Second Day
The Gate of the Zojoji Temple. (I think.) When it was built, all the lands beyond this gate belonged to the temple. A really good website is here.

From Tokyo, Second Day
I wonder what the old priests would say if they could see all these cars in what used to be temple grounds.

About this time, I had to take a break--and I got a welcome one. I went into a 7-11, successfully negotiated the purchase of a phone card--after I wasted three dollars at a pay phone--and called home. It was close to 80 degrees F in downtown Tokyo, and I had stripped down to my tank top and jeans and sat in that phone booth and called my mother, of course, and then the LT and the JJs. I think I ate something.

From Tokyo, Second Day
A great "typical Tokyo" shot, from the JR train on the way to Ginza.

From Tokyo, Second Day
The Apple Store in Ginza, Tokyo's high-end shopping district. And when I say High-End, I mean it.

From Tokyo, Second Day
A pair of cantaloupes...for $168.

About this time of day, my camera died, and it took me forever to figure out how to work outlet in my room--the switch has to be on, I learned--so I couldn't charge it and I didn't have an extra battery...yet.

Fortunately, I was about to get a boost. A family friend--who I had never met before--had agreed to meet me for dinner, and while I waited for him I took a nap, took a Japanese bath, and wrapped a present for his family. (The Japanese are very, very into gift-giving.) As the ryokan staffperson wouldn't let me go far from the desk with his scissors, I wrapped my present right there on the floor of the ryokan, making conversation with some other checking-in foreigners. (The Kimi Ryokan is FAMOUS overseas.)

Toshi, my family friend, showed up soon, and took me to a yakitori place back in Ginza, the name of which I sadly don't know. It was casual, famous, old, noisy, and packed, and I let Toshi order, obviously. He politely ignored my occasional coughing fits and my ragged, thrown-together outfit, with the wrong shoes, since I had worn my feet out walking in little ballet flats for 14 hours. I also learned that without a network, I couldn't use my cell-phone camera, either, so no pictures of the present or Toshi.

Want more pictures? Of COURSE you do! Let's try a new format:

Hmmm. That's kind of small. Here's the bigger version.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Obama on Palin's Speech

Really worth watching, y'all:


Blogging the Palin Acceptance Speech

On Sarah Palin’s speech:

Three minutes in and no stopping in the cheering. The RNC LOVES her.

“Time to put the country first, not time to campaign”: you mean, time to put OUR COUNTRY’S NEEDS FIRST, instead of CAMPAIGNING IN IRAQ? Where is the talk about health care, about the housing crisis?

Oh God, tugging at the heartstrings. Palin is hammering her family’s involvement in the military—and now she’s minutes...talking about her family. Um. Six minutes. Introduces all her daughters. Fox News swings right past Bristol to focus on the six-year-old, who is freakin’ adorable. Special time spent on her son with Down Syndrome. Palin sympathizes with all the parents of special needs kids, saying that she knows how hard the parents have worked to make this country welcoming for them.

Well, sure. Because your children are gifts from God, whereas gay children are just choosing to be gay to be difficult.

Special time spent on her husband. Mentions his union involvement.

Wow, ten minutes on her FAMILY!

Two minutes on her parents.

She praises the heartland: their people work hard, fight our wars, grow our food. I like that—I have the same respect for the heartland, although I know it doesn’t always show.

Emphasizes her hockey mom background. Doesn’t mention that she was also a BEAUTY QUEEN and is nothing like most of the women of this country.

Good joke delivery.

Starting to talk about her political background: started in PTA and moved up to Governor. With all due respect, that is HARD-CORE.

Mentions Obama’s infamous quote about guns and religion.

More slamming of the Washington elite.

I pledge to America to SERVE THIS COUNTRY. On a platter? With a ticket from the kitchen? How, exactly, will you serve the country? Where is your stance on the ISSUES?

Says how much she “stands up to the establishment”.

Doesn’t mention that she is queen of earmarks, supported the bridge to nowhere, etc.

Jeez, this lady is really good; she is funny! If she really got rid of the jet and the cook, I’m damn impressed.

Oh—NOW she mentions the bridge to nowhere. She mentions how she eventually vetoed it, obviously.

Talks a lot about her reform in very vague terms.

Talks a lot about the natural gas pipeline and how we MUST be energy-independent. Certainly my thoughts as well. But what we need is not more drilling, we need more ALTERNATIVES. Gas will run out. Really, it will.

This is good: she’s very into local production of energy. Me too.

A little Obama bashing, here.

Obama is about NOT producing energy??


Palin: Trying to sympathize with “small-business owners”. I haven’t seen anyone in the RNC with a suit or haircut under $200. Of course, her rhetoric about factory workers in Minnesota received a great deal of applause from these manicured, pearl-wearing RNC attendees.

I’m a little uncomfortable with her painting John McCain as a Washington Maverick, an unknown, a man who bravely stands alone, a stranger in a strange land: ...seriously?

I like how she says “Chosen the right man” like the Republican party had any choice whatsoever.


Bad hand gestures.

Who is the pearl-wearing blonde they keep showing? Is that Cindy McCain? Oh, no—looks like Giuliani’s wife.



WOW this is really boring.


In all seriousness, McCain really is a war hero, like you all need to be told. He is way, way hardcore. It would be morally wrong to remain unimpressed by him.

Oh My God, I am completely sickened by her trotting out her pregnant daughter and fiancé. If she doesn’t want people to talk about it, quit mentioning it. Are only YOU allowed to talk about it?

Can John McCain not raise his arms above his head? His waves look so stiff.

Wow, Palin’s effect on the audience has been pretty amazing!

MCCAIN even mentions her family. “Wow, aren’t they BEAUTIFUL!”

Their slogan: Country First. Damn. Darn. Whatever. For the first time I am really scared about Obama’s chances of winning this election.

In all honesty, I wasn't offended by her remarks on Obama. If he has a sense of humor he'll find them funny--I thought her remark about after Obama was done "parting the sea and curing the planet" was pretty clever. I fail to see the "bashing". Certainly nothing she said was worse than what Democrats say about McCain and Palin herself.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008



In all honesty, this story has been handled relatively delicately, I think. The words "Bristol Palin clearly had to have UNPROTECTED SEX for this to happen" haven't really been said.

But they sure should be. I'm annoyed at the way the Republican camp is treating this: Miss Palin's pregnancy "happened". It "occured". What is this, the Immaculate Failure of Abstinence-Only Education? Yeah, yeah, I get that there is this hands-off policy when it comes to the children of candidates, but this only serves to give more protection to a candidate's daughter than Mary Sue down-the-street would have. If I had gotten pregnant at seventeen, EVERYONE would have talked about it. Instead, we're not allowed to talk about it because Bristol Palin's mother happens to be the vice-presidential candidate? Really?

And what about her age? The young woman--emphasis on the woman--is seventeen. She's old enough to join the armed services. She's an adult, for all intents and purposes. The age of consent in Alaska is 16, and she is certainly over that. And on a related note, the phrase "teen pregnancy" really bothers me. Although I don't recommend the procedure, plenty of girls get married at 18 and get pregnant. Do their pregnancies count as teen pregnancies? No, of course not, because they're MARRIED.


Even with this hands-off policy in place, we--the public, and the reporters--should certainly be allowed to make Miss Palin's unplanned, out-of-wedlock, teen pregnancy an issue. Much like famously anti-gay-rights Republicans who have been discovered in sleazy hotel rooms with their same-sex hookers and sandy piles of meth, the Republican party's very emphasis on "family values" makes this story actual news and not titillating gossip about teen girls and sex. Miss Palin has decided to carry the baby to term, fine, and she is marrying the father. If she was Mary Sue Down-the-street, she might have decided to have an abortion--she doesn't need her mom's consent in Alaska. But of course, since she is the daughter of a strongly pro-life Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate, she can't possibly get one. Her life has been decided for her. A theme with her, since I'm sure she was given zero options about how to prevent herself from getting pregnant, either, except for abstinence, and between a randy boyfriend and abstinence, guess who won?

More information:

Palin Rebuts Rumors

Palin's Daughter's Pregnancy Stirs Strong Emotions

A Private Matter

A Story Palin Should Tell (I was especially surprised at the ignorance and hatred mentioned in this one.)

A Typical Middle-Class Struggle
(Except that the Palin's aren't so middle-class, certainly not the middle-class that I think of. Not the two-car, small house in a small-town middle class. They have resources. Mary Sue Down-the-street--who is quickly becoming my best friend--wouldn't have near as many resources to raise this extra mouth to feed. It's sure nice of this blogger to graciously include REAL middle-classers in the "struggles" of the Palins, though.)

The Palin Pregnancy and the Party Platform.