tsubame: (sleepy)
Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 12:57 am

Fresco map of Italy, from the map rooms in the Vatican

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8月21日 )

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bir var mis, bir yok mis )

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Thursday, January 20th, 2011 12:54 am

Last spring I was able to go to a huge roller coaster park in Japan with some of my friends. Among the ten coasters in the park they also happen to have the world's largest wooden one; this is a view of it from the nearby Ferris wheel. I rode it once, but found that it gave me a pounding headache. Looks like I've gotten too old for wooden roller coasters. I did fine on the modern ones, though.

I might also have been more prone to headaches at the time, seeing as my parents were visiting. When my parents visited me in Japan I was usually in a state of high stress and constant sleep deprivation/exhaustion.

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Wednesdays are going to be my busy days; biweekly that means class from 9 AM to 9:30 PM, with an hour's break for lunch and dinner/transport each. And then walking 40 minutes home. Today was the first of them, and actually I found myself enjoying it. I like being busy; it makes me feel useful. Which explains why I so mercilessly over-scheduled myself while I lived in Japan; I did in fact enjoy it.

I've actually been rather lazy since coming to Scotland. I think I need to take further steps to remedy this.

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Over the vacation I had a chance for some long talks with my various family members, some of which were quite interesting.

Regarding a conversation with my little brother with attendant thoughts which cover socialism in Sweden, the causes of the American Civil War, rappers, and lottery tickets. )

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I had half an hour during my busiest busy day in which to procure dinner. I wanted to go to the Black Medicine coffee house, because its name is so cool, but I ended up wandering the wrong way. I was thinking thoughts of going into the KFC-- I was running out of time-- it would be easy to order there-- but at the last second I gave in to the terrible yellow plastic beacon of a down-at-the-heels middle eastern place with cheap battered tables and faded posters of deserts on the walls.

And glad I was to have done so. Their baba ganoush was LOVELY. And I found out that the "sh" sound at the end has a bit of a hard "g" sound in it. I am enlightened!

. . . okay, nowhere near. But I get a little closer every day!

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I found some fun and interesting things on the internet recently. Let me share them with you!

A friend who is obsessed with a cartoon show called Phineas and Ferb linked me to this episode which makes reference to Carmell Dansen. At which point I told her that about two years ago Japan discovered this song in its original Swedish. And before long ALL OF JAPAN WAS INFECTED. It caught on so hugely that every anime currently on the air (and many who just have extremely obsessive fans) was making their own version of it (Jack Sparrow's at 2.16, fyi).

The same friend taught me a new French phrase!

déjà moo - the distinct feeling that you've heard this bull before

My stock of French phrases is growing once again! I can now add this gem of wisdom to my recently-acquired "tes moeurs crapuleuses" ("your sordid morals") and "tu cherches à corrompre mon paresseux" ("you are trying to corrupt my sloth"). Thankee, Patrick O'Brian!

This picture is my current desktop walllpaper. About which I said . . . )

To which my adorable sister replied... )

She's so cute! <3

This comic is quite adorable.

Reading through Pandora Hearts led to this string of (mostly) non-spoiler comments on Facebook:

Comments Ahoy! )
Saturday, August 7th, 2010 07:45 am
Megaupload link to Within Temptation's "a Final Dream," as quoted in the previous post.

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Even Through the Summer Storm, by Carol Clark Williams

wild geese imagine the moon and
row toward it, writing
lines of poetry.

Against the gothic clouds they sketch
sestinas, every stanza
beginning with the letter "v".

They search the lightning-punctuated sky
for words that rhyme with
"flight" and "night".

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. . . yeah, I wrote more Kingdom Hearts fic. Even more plotless and pointless this time! I blame [livejournal.com profile] majochan, because I think the initial prom-shenanagins idea was hers. She's the one with the truly brilliant ideas about it, too. Had me in stitches.


Title: Dance Lessons
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

What are we gonna do at prom? )

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I wanna be a member of the Grown-Up Party! With maybe a little humor thrown in, since I don't want to be a part of an organization that lacks a sense of humor.

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The problem with many computers has its roots in a problem with humans-- we don't like to think. We're lazy, and if we can help it we'll take the easy way out. This is why Apple and Windows are more successful then, say, Linux-- they make things easier for people. If something seems to hard, we give up on it fairly easily.

So computers do things for us so that we won't hit that threshold. Which works . . . up to a point. Problems arise when the computer assumes it knows what you're trying to do and starts doing it for you-- but gets it wrong. The subtleties of human purpose in using programs are often lost on the programs themselves, which in trying to help too much end up hindering or even preventing. Ironically, for most of these programs there's no easy way to tell them to stop doing it. No easy way to reassure them that you know what you're doing, however strange that might seem, and you don't need the computer's help to do it.

Which of course leads to the comical situation of me shaking my fist at the computer screen and yelling, "stop assuming you're smarter than me!" I bought my camera for the express reason that, while I can definitely use the help in setting up my shots most of the time, not to mention the convenience of having the balance adjusted for me, I want to be able to tell it to stop and leave me alone, that I can take shots that its tiny computer brain can't conceive the purpose or propriety of.

I just wish I could do that with Word 2007. Maybe if the damn thing was in English rather than Japanese I might have a chance of figuring it out . . .

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There was a full glass coffee pot mostly submerged in a sink-full of water at work today. A moment's thought gave me the answer to why it was there. Still, I spent a minute smiling at the serene ridiculousness of the image, and thought to myself happily, "the world is stranger and more wonderful than I was previously aware."

I love those moments, I really do.

Recently my father sent me a postcard from where he was attending a seminar on radio telescopes in North Carolina. The card read, "I thought you would find this particular postcard funny."

The postcard is a before-and-after sort. The top shows the radio telescope standing proud and lovely, a lacework flower-cup of whitewashed girders. The second picture is from the next day, and shows a pile of white wreckage where once the telescope stood.

It did, indeed, make me laugh. One day-- beautiful functioning high-tech scientific instrument! The next day-- pile of twisted rubble! Aaaah, I can't believe it just collapsed like that-- like a fflan in a cupboard, to quote Eddie Izzard. Just imagine, some poor dude left work, locked the door behind him, everything was fine. He drives up the next morning, and wham! I bet he totally BSODed. Or maybe just sighed and drove off to find the nearest bar.

I'm still laughing about it, yeah. Apparently my father knows me quite well, including my odd sense of humor.

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I don't know what it says about me, but pictures like this one, of the First Family visiting a National Park, make me really really happy. That strange feeling of pride and hope-- I don't know where it comes from, but it's all the more welcome given my generally somewhat depressing news-reading hobby.

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An article written by a hibakusha on her experience in Hiroshima. I am adamantly anti-nuclear weapons, under any and all circumstances. I further believe that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were absolutely wrong and should be a source of national shame to the U.S.A., instead of an oft-ignored, bare paragraph in history textbooks. Considering that WWII is America's last "just" war (or possibly our only one, though I'm reluctant to even go that far), my opinions on the matter are hardly what one would call widespread.
Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 01:05 am
Siblings are over, so while events are many updates are few and far between. When did my brother get so freaking handsome? When did my sister get so freaking beautiful? They astound me. The things you miss when you move out . . . of course they were handsome/beautiful when I was home for Christmas, but now it's x10. Crazy.

I have an alarming tendancy to make inadvertant and horrible puns. I never actually realize until after I've said them, and I feel deep remorse akin to agony upon realization, but they are just horrible enough to deserve recounting.

One of my worst, to my recollection, occurred earlier this spring. Japan can get quite hazy around then, and I remarked on it to one of my teachers.

"Oh, yes," he said. "That's because the wind picks up sand from the Gobi Desert in China during this time, and carries it through the air and drops it on Japan."

I recounted what he said to a friend of mine who was also curious about the reason, but she seemed somewhat dubious about his story. "I mean, sand from the Gobi Desert? Do you really think that's true?" she asked me.

"Dunno," I said. "It seems a little far-fetched to me . . ."


All of this comes up, of course, because I made another one tonight. My mother recently came back from Venice. While she was there, she visited Verona and saw this medeival statue of Cangrande della Scala. He's an interesting man with an interesting history. She told me a possibly apocryphal tale of how he got his name: christened Francesco, he was so impressed by Marco Polo's tales of Ghengis Khan that he decided to take the Khan's name as his own. However, he misinterpretted it as meaning "cane," "dog" in Italian. And so he was called the Big Dog of the della Scala family, and took the dog as his personal symbol.

Wikipedia disagrees on the origin of the name, but I like the story.

His family name, della Scala, translates to "of the stairs" or "of the ladder," because his family originally made their fortune by building ladders. She then told me that they rose from that position, acquiring wealth and power, until through military might Cangrande came to rule all of Verona.

"Wow," I said. "They went from making ladders to ruling Verona? That's a bit of a step up . . ."


I promised my mother I would commit seppuku immediately, but as I didn't have a sword handy, my vow was broken not long after it was made.
Sunday, July 30th, 2006 06:11 pm
I've gotten fairly good at dealing with livejournal info pages in different languages . . .

And I keep forgetting that I have icons now, and then I have to go back and add them. Because if you have them, you might as well use them.

On Emei Shan, because apparently that's the name of the whole mountain, not just the place I'm in. In Baguo village, just down the street from the lovely, rambling Baguo Monastary, where I'll be staying tonight. Tomorrow a swim, a stop at the supermarket, and then the overnight train to Xi'an.

I do love the internet, by the way. There's nothing like sitting in a room full of Chinese teenagers/young adults all playing online games. Now I know why I never see them kicking around on the streets. And internet cafes are gloriously, gloriously cheap. 2 yuan for an hour? I'd spend all my time in internet cafes, too.

In a strange humour today, though I'm not quite sure why. There are several possibilities, though. For one thing, time seems to have stopped for me. I can't seem to keep track of the day or the date, and continuously have to ask people whenever I want to write a journal entry. Barely a few days into my trip, my watch stopped for no good reason. No problem, thought I, I shall use my cel phone. Except apparently my cel phone is a big Japanese snob, because it refuses to accept Chinese electricity despite my fancy converter. I borrowed the tour leader's watch, because she's just been using her cel phone, and that one stopped this afternoon. I bought myself a wind-up alarm clock, but it has a tendancy to run out of winding at the most hugely inconvenient times.

Travel by it's very nature encompasses a certain sense of displacement, but this just seems a little extreme to me.

Randomly, and fascinatingly, our guide for the last two days was in his youth a Red Gaurd. He was 18 or 19 at the time, he told us today. Listening to his story was tremendously interesting. I had a thousand questions I wanted to ask, but that's a delicate thing to be asking questions about, and so I decided to hold off and eavesdrop on other people's questions instead. If I want to ask mine, I have his email. And I should review a bit of my recent Chinese history to make sure my questions aren't stupid ones. I did ask him when he learned English-- in school before the Cultural Revolution, he said, but at the time he was no good at speaking. Only in the past few years has he been studying spoken English. His speech is certainly understandable, but very fast, which seems to be characteristic of our guides so far. Listening to them switch to Chinese quickly shows you why, because it goes even faster.

I've learned to count to 99, to say hello, good bye, and ask how are you, to say I do and don't want something, and to say please and thank you and you're welcome and I'm sorry. The idea of ever being fast enough in Chinese to actually keep up with what people are saying, though, boggles my mind.

I should go find something to eat, but I don't really want anything to eat. It's too hot, and I'm too tired, and all by myself . . . maybe I'll just head back to the monastary and wander about with my camera, and write, and spend a lot of time sitting still. Sitting still is nice. And I'll take a shower, and I'll go to bed early, that would be nice, too.

I miss talking to people I know, rather. Here I exist as a singular entity, and the people I'm with have no call or need to care about me, beyond the fact that we're on this trip together. Not to say that they're bad people-- actually, I rather like them. Not a one of them is an unpleasant companion on this strange road we're wandering. They're just not mine, and I am not theirs. Sometimes I feel like a burden to the group, and there are few things that I dislike more.

My imagination is working overtime to fill in the gap in companionship and duty. I'm thankful, because it's good to have a distraction when you've spent the past four hours looking just in front of your feet for the next step, and the next step, and the next step, as sweat slides down your face like tears. I never fully understood descriptions of sweat "stinging in his/her eyes" until this trip.

I should head back to the monastary. It closes its gates quite early, and if you arrive late, you're pretty much out of luck.
Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 02:17 pm
One does find interesting things when one randomly browses one's friends' friends pages:

A brief history of a would-be Chinese assassin.
Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 04:50 pm
From the Wikipedia entry on Toyotomi Hideyoshi:

Japanese grammar schools even today impart to children an intriguing story intended to offer an insight into the different characters of these three great historical contemporaries: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. First a brief background:

Nobunaga wanted to unify the many mini-kingdoms of Japan and become sole ruler. An aggressive and brilliant military tactician and commander, he was a very impetuous man and not surprisingly, rather callous and coarse even toward trusted subordinates. He came very close to attaining his goal of a unified nation, but in the end his recklessness and closely associated lack of any real understanding of the men serving him eventually led to his assassination. Hideyoshi, on the other hand, as well as being a fine military commander, had long held a reputation for being a brilliant manipulator as well - an excellent reader of people: the very skill in which his boss, Nobunaga, was most sorely lacking. Hideyoshi's subtle methods in the long run thus proved far more successful than Nobunaga's brash methods and he succeeded where Nobunaga had failed, unifying the many separate domains into one country and becoming the first military ruler of a unified land. Tokugawa meanwhile, had long coveted the same position, but did not have the power base or support equal to Nobunaga or Hideyoshi, and thus could not compete with either; he had to settle for demonstrating his skill in the art of being patient - but in his case, the "all good things come to him who waits" folk saying could not have been more true: in the end, Tokugawa came to power after Hideyoshi, and his clan proceeded to rule the country for the next 200 years. Under the Tokugawas, the Samurai caste was eventually put out of work since regulations were issued which greatly curbed the use and even carrying of swords (this as a means of reducing potential rebellion - which was not always successful).

The story told in Japanese grammar schools today regards these three famous men, and their individual approach to a problem, as being faced with a songbird (known as a "Hototogisu") which will not sing. When asked what he would do in this situation:

* Nobunaga replies: "Kill it."

* Hideyoshi replies: "Make it want to sing", while

* Tokugawa replies: "Wait."
Thursday, March 16th, 2006 09:18 am
This is the kind of thing that I ponder during my waking hours:

One of the characteristics of Thai, Korean, Indian, and a few other Asian cuisines is the extreme heat of some dishes. This heat is largely due to the addition of chilli peppers to these dishes. Now, chilli peppers, like corn, are a New World crop-- they didn't exist in Asia or Europe before Columbus visited the Caribbean in 1492. They were introduced to Spain in 1494, and from there spread to the Phillipines and other Asian countries. So what did these various cuisines taste like before the addition of this spice as an ingredient? Did they use other spices to create heat, or were they just a whole lot milder?
Monday, February 6th, 2006 04:08 pm
February for me is like a month of Arthur Dent's Thursdays.

Anyway, this story is from the English Festival that was held on Saturday. I really liked it, so I decided to put it up here. The Festival went decently smoothly. Some of the acts were really good, although two of the presentations by the older kids were on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Which for the two Americans sitting in the room was a little like being kicked twice in the stomach, and knowing that in a way we deserved to be kicked twice in the stomach because the U.S. still has nuclear weapons.

I won't get diverted into rambling about the importance of nuclear disarmament, though. The story! Not one of the Hiroshima ones! )
Sunday, October 30th, 2005 09:14 pm
The world changes in infintismally small ways. There are small actions that can echo into avalanche, a tremor in the earth starts as a ripple and becomes a tidal wave. Slowly, slowly, as the echoes build, as the waters shift and grow, this earth can be made anew.


I have to believe that, and likewise have to believe that the world I live in is one that was beyond dreaming a mere ten decades ago. They could not have seen it, the wonders and terrors to come, could not have imagined the shape of the world as it is now.

When I die, I will die in a different world than the one I was born to. Will I be one of those tremors, one of those echoes, one small rock dropped into still waters? I doubt it, but this is not a thing for me to decide. It is not in our stars, nor is it in our selves, but the inscrutable weavings of circumstance, of motivation and counter-motivation, in action and reaction, in the swing of the pendulum and the beat of a butterfly's wings.

Is there a hand that weaves, a will that patterns? It is not for me to know or to say, not in this life. But change is everywhere, all will change whether we will it or not. To throw ourselves against the wave or behind it, and then to build again in its wake, that is what is left to us.
Wednesday, April 27th, 2005 05:32 pm
Desparate for something else to do while ideas for this essay rearrange themselves in my head.

So, here's a brief history of all my email addresses and internet aliases. Because of course they all have stories. Come on, be enthusiastic! This is your chance to delve into the complicated workings of my mind, the morass of interconnected references and the mire of meaning.

I can see you're excited now. Why don't we start with the livejournal . . .

Livejournal Username: grey_damaskena

Why? Well, the first part, grey, is for numerous reasons. First, I really like grey as a color. I prefer "grey" to the alternative, which is "gray." The former implies a certain amount of softness in my head, a warmth that the harder, sharper "gray" lacks. It's the difference between a soft mist and the harsh, cheap smear of newsprint in my mind. The other reason for using "grey" is because I wrote a short story back when I was in high school that had Death as a main character (not Neil Gaiman's, no, though there were certain similarities. All art is derivative), and said character had grey eyes, which became a theme for the story. I thought it was really good at the time (it was the best I'd ever written, at the time. Hopefully this is no longer the case), and was quite proud of it.

The second part, damaskena, is the last name of my favorite character from Judith Tarr's the Hound and the Falcon trilogy. It's a truly amazing series of books, and I highly recomend them though they're a bit hard to find. They are, in order, called the Isle of Glass, the Golden Horn, and the Hounds of God. Historical fantasy. Amazing.

Livejournal Name: upside down

"Upside Down" is the title of my very favorite Tori Amos song. It's quite rare as Tori songs go . . . originally it was released on the Winter single, and has subsequently been included in a few other singles. Great song. When I hear her play it live, I will be able to die with my life completed.

Livejournal Friends page: blankets

Another reference to a Tori song (yeah, who's a geek?). The song is called Bells for Her, and it's from the Under the Pink album. The interesting thing about that particular song is that in an earlier verse, the word is spelled "blankets" and, later on, is spelled "blank ettes." I think the song is about the breakdown of a friendship; when the singer and the woman she refers to are friends, they are "blankets;" when they're arguing and the frienship is broken, they're "blank ettes." Thus it's a good name for the friend's page.

Internet Nomiker: Althea SaDiablo

The first name, Althea, is the first name of the character from whom I also lifted "damaskena." Yes, her full name is Althea Damaskena, or Thea for short. She's Greek, she's a shapeshifting elf, and she kicks everyone's ass (in my humble opinion). She has numerous good qualities which I would be wise to emulate, though I could never be quite as cool as her.

The second name, SaDiablo, is lifted out of another most excellent trilogy of books, Anne Bishop's the Black Jewels Trilogy. Another series that I really, really like. Titles are as follows: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, and Queen of the Darkness. There is now another book in the same world, "the Invisible Ring," which I didn't like as much but still isn't bad, and a book of four short stories, "Dreams Made Flesh," which I quite like but haven't had time to finish (I'm on the story that has Saetan-angst, and watching him suffer makes me sad). Anyway, my favorite character in said books is Saetan SaDiablo (thus the earlier comment), and I would adore being a part of his family, so I cheerfully adopted myself into it by borrowing the last name.

AIM: Scryer1

This one's been with me for a very, very long time. I went through a bunch of possibilities before I finally found a SN; Scryer was not my first choice, but I appreciate the irony. Because sitting at a computer serves much the same function as scrying does: you can see far-off places and events or find out information by use of a flat, inanimate surface. Not all that different from looking into a bowl of still water or a mirror. But think of the Technomages from Babylon 5: they achieve what appears to be magic through the use of incredibly advanced science.

Email address: chibi_l_sama

I aquired this one while I was in college. The first anime I was ever into, and my number one favorite anime of all time, is of course Slayers. The top dog in the Slayers pantheon is L-sama, the Lord of Nightmares. Since I am a force for chaos and evil (at least some of the time), it seemed appropriate to my friends. But since I'm a student, I'm still in training and don't yet have full smiting powers. Hence the nickname Chibi-sama. Mess with me and I flatten you with a shovel, it's that simple.

Email address: ddraig_goch

Now defunct. The translation from Welsh is "red dragon." The red dragon is on the Welsh flag and is also famously referred to in Arthurian myth: as a boy Merlin has a vision of a white dragon and a red dragon fighting for dominion. I can claim about as many Welsh ancestors as any other nationality my ancestors may originate from, and Wales itself is of great interest to me.

Email address and forum name: WhettedKnife

I do martial arts, and have spent quite a bit of time training in knife fighting. The phrase itself is from a poem, "Sea Fever" by John Masefield. The text for said poem was initally sent to me by [livejournal.com profile] greensilkchai, and I really like it. I also have more than a passing interest in ships and sailing, not that I know much about either.

Forum name: CrownedinWood

A reference to another favorite character of mine, the Fool from Robin Hobb's Assasin, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies (I'm not going to list them all, it's too much effort. Suffice to say that they're very good). Not a name I've used often, but I think it sounds very neat.

Title: Pirate Queen, formerly of Brighton

I first buckled swash back in freshman year when I played in my first game of Seventh Sea. See, I was on the pirate bandwagon before Pirates of the Caribbean (incidentally, #2 has finished filming . . .). When I was abroad, I felt it necessary to take a title appropriate for my traveling status. And since I was in a port town, a seafaring name was best. As I traveled, the title became more elaborate. I am now the Pirate Queen of the Something Something Yakuza, scourge of the Irish Sea and Ravager of the Northern Coast, currently landlubbing in Pennsylvania.

Right, that's all of them that I can think of right now. I have a bunch of other titles, most of them self-proclaimed, but I can't be bothered with them at the moment. That isn't really the issue at this point, though. No, the issue is, why the heck are you still reading this?
Saturday, October 16th, 2004 04:19 pm
I just finished watching an absolutely fascinating video on North Korea as part of my research for my presentation on Monday. Said documentary, called North Korea: beyond the DMZ, can be found at the following website: Third World Newsreel: North Korea. Please make certain you read the FAQ, which is gives the current North Korean situation in brief. THIS IS IMPORTANT, dammit.

Anyway, back to the documentary: it did its best to be impartial, showing the reasoning and philosophies of both sides on the Korean conflict, but where it really shone was in speaking to ordinary North Koreans. Hearing their version of events and occurances, so different from what is taught here . . . well.

It's one of those issues where no one is entirely wrong. And while I would not like to live in North Korea, not before I watched the video and not now that I feel I have a much better idea of what life is like there, I am struck by the urgency of establishing better relations with North Korea and the necessity of nuclear disarmament on a worldwide scale.

To me, this is the most dangerous part of the world at the moment, though there have been no major military operations there since 1954 (that I know of; the video did mention that there have been many small conflicts along the border). But technically, the Korean War is not over. Sure, you can go visit the monument in Washington DC (and I have), but no peace treaty was ever signed.

I felt deeply touched as I watched long-separated families reunite. A man broke into tears and had to stop speaking for many minutes when he told about meeting his sister after being separated for fifty years-- fifty years! Half a century of not knowing, of wondering . . . one son said to his mother, "I tried to see you in my dreams, but even there I could not . . ." I can't imagine. Can not imagine.

I'm reminded of the biggest news story that was running on the TVs while I was in Japan (no, not the water main that broke and sent water cascading over a nearby apartment building, soaking almost everyone inside. That was only big because nothing particularly exciting really happens in Japan other than earthquakes). It was about a Japanese woman who was kidnapped from Japan to North Korea some twenty or thirty years ago who was returning to Japan for the first time with her two daughters and her husband. Her husband happened to be an ex-US army soldier who had ended up in North Korea during the Korean War . . . there was a distinct possibility that he might be extradited to the United States if he came to Japan due to his questiionable status as a possible deserter and certain treaties between the US and Japan (and with the current administration, the possibility of leniency was iffy at best). Needless to say the entire issue caused a great deal of fervor and was taken very seriously, though Erika and I made jokes about it a lot at the time (this was more due to the habit of the Japanese news broadcasts to show the same footage over and over and over again).

I was especially effected by the end of the movie, which covered the diplomatic progress made with North Korea during the Clinton administration, and the backslide under the Bush administration that (I feel) has directly led to North Korea's announcement of its nuclear capability. Watching clips of Bush's famous 'Axis of Evil' speech after having met (via the earlier sections of the tape) actual North Koreans (who of course were not evil at all), I found myself deeply frightened over what might happen in the next four years. The video mentioned the US's inability to let go of the 'Cold War mentality' and cited that as one of the main reasons for the hightening of tensions with North Korea.

I don't know if Kerry would manage to get past that mentality, but at least the idea of working with and through the UN is firmly a part of his policy. Bush, on the other hand . . . having already gotten us into a war that shows distinct possibility of becoming 'another Vietnam,' I find it impossible to believe that he can possibly calm down tensions with North Korea. Especially when there is rising sentiment in South Korea and Japan (also due to the Iraq war) that the US should just bloody well mind their own business and that they themselves would be the best ones to sort it out. Considering how many American troops are stationed in Japan and South Korea, somehow I doubt that's going to happen anytime soon.

My sister was talking about the economy when she was telling me how much she missed Clinton over the past weekend, but I miss him, too, because of his insistance on negotiation. According to my sister, he had nearly badgered Israel and Palestine into agreement and scaled down the conflict there simply by sending diplomat after diplomat and refusing to give up. And although I disapprove of the US actions during the 95-2000 famine in North Korea (US sanctions prevented N. Korea from getting the international loans it needed to bail itself out, and towards the end of the famine the US cut its food aid entirely), I still long for that kind of insistance on diplomacy, and that persistant desire to make things work out no matter how hard it may be, WITHOUT resorting to war.

I don't want to live in the most hated country in the world, dammit. I want to be able to be proud, not of an illustrious past for my country, but of a productive and peaceful present, and a prosperous and inviting future.
Saturday, April 3rd, 2004 06:35 pm
Righto. Am in Warsaw now . . . the old town is nice, but the rest is decidedly questionable. Technically I should have been on a train to Krakow at this point, but they canceled it about 5 minutes before it was supposed to pull up to the track. So we're waiting in the station for the next one, two hours from now . . . and we found an internet cafe.

Great gods, but Poland is cheap. Glorious.

At this point in my trip, I've been to Shrewsbury, to Holywell, to Bangor, to Caernafon, to Stratford-upon-Avon, to Birmingham (think I managed to see all there was to see from inside the bus, so it counts), I've hit the entire English countryside and northern Welsh coastline between London and the Isle of Anglesey, been to Ireland (start in Dublin and trace a somewhat circuitous loop around the entire island. I've been to every place your finger touches), to Stockholm, to Copenhagen, to Hamburg for all of 55 minutes, to Berlin for all of 45, and am now in Warsaw.

Warsaw was completely leveled in WWII, but they rebuilt the old sections of it according to a group of paintings, and did quite a good job of it. We toured the Royal Palace and then wandered through the maze of streets, had ice cream and kebabs in that order . . .

Copenhagen. Not so long ago I was in Copenhagen, and I liked it there quite a lot. On our final afternoon we were supposed to visit the Royal Reception Rooms in the Danish Royal Palace, but the guy behind the counter at the geek store we found suggested that we visit an amusement park 20 minutes outside the city, where every ride was 1 kronar (about 16.3 cents for you Americans), and so we did. And it was quite splendid. I haven't been to an amusement park in an age or three, and now that I have no fear of rides I can go on everything.

The world is such a big place. So big . . . it took the entire day to travel from Copenhagen to Warsaw (which is decidedly questionable late at night. Avoid if possible after 11 PM . . .). Lots of German countryside, lots of Polish countryside . . . very few people here speak English, which is quite a contrast from Denmark, where everyone did. We are so spoiled as English speakers, it astounds me. I can't really complain about the dominance of English as a world language, since I benefit rather directly, but it's somewhat frightening.

Can't think of anything terribly useful or interesting to say at the moment, so.
Friday, March 5th, 2004 03:48 pm
Found this on someone else's livejournal: Historical Occurances of Gay Marriage It's quite interesting.

Basic Itinerary for Spring Travel:
Shrewsbury, England
St. Winifred's Well, Wales
Bangor, Wales
Caernafon, Wales
Stratford-Upon-Avon, England
Dublin, Ireland
Cork City, Ireland
Westport, Ireland
Derry, Ireland
Belfast, Ireland
Stockholm, Sweden
Copenhagen, Denmark
Warsaw, Poland
Krakow, Poland
Prague, Czech Republic
Budapest, Hungary
Vienna, Austria

While we're in Krakow we're doing a day trip into the countryside to visit Aushwitz. It will be incredibly depressing- I'm glad Pam is going to be there.

But there is something that needs to be understood about this: even when you're with other people when you do something like this, you are always doing it by yourself. There is no conversation, because there is nothing and everything to say. You're looking into the darkest depths of the human soul, of your soul; you are witness to one of the most terrible events in human history, in your history. What can you say in the face of that?

I remember reading Elie Wiesel's Night in my room during ninth grade . . . late into the winter nights. I remember I would go downstairs afterwards, to look at the peaceful faces of my brother and sister as they slept on the sofa in front of the glowing coals of the fireplace. And then I would go out onto the deck, walk into that freezing cold night, and stare at the blazing glory of the stars as my breath fogged visable in the air. Silence, and the homely smell of woodsmoke in the air, and the aching beauty of the universe spread out below my feet.

When I went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., it was much the same. I went with my 12th grade class, but I didn't speak to any of them. Before I went in I bought a rippled blue teardrop and chained it around my neck with silver, because I needed something to get me through. And I did need it. I didn't say a word from the time I walked into that place until the time I walked out, not a single word. And when I came out I wrote two desperate pages in my notebook, I put the tear in an envelope and sent it to Rose, and I stopped taking communion at church.

That was my way of dealing with that which we cannot deal with.

I'm glad that Pam and I are going. My father made me promise, some years ago, that I would visit a concentration camp at some point during my life, and he was right to do so. And I am glad to go, and glad that I have the opportunity to go, but it will still be hard.

I have to take responsibility. I have to tell a billion billion hungry ghosts that I am alive, and that I will continue to live. I have to take responsibility for my own life.