Aug 27, 2004

Kimoi Center Guys get the Mambas

"Japan was so uptight before."

Aug 25, 2004

August rice

This isn't one of the inlaws' paddies, but similar. That is their house, though.

Aug 19, 2004

Doubts of an existential tourist

It happened again, for maybe the second or third time in as many years. And, like before, about as much warning as a sucker punch.

The dog and I had just stepped outside for a walk, and as we left our apartment building and ventured onto the street, the unnerving questions:

What am I doing here?
Who are these people?

Aug 18, 2004

Meanwhile, at

A feelgood story I'd actually much rather read than tales of prison killings. And equally newsworthy?

A black bear was found passed out at a campground in Washington state recently after guzzling down three dozen cans of a local beer, a campground worker said on Wednesday.
. . .
The hard-drinking bear, estimated to be about two years old, broke into campers' coolers and, using his claws and teeth to open the cans, swilled down the suds.
. . .
It turns out the bear was a bit of a beer sophisticate. He tried a mass-market Busch beer, but switched to Rainier Beer, a local ale, and stuck with it for his drinking binge.
(full story here)

When the bear returned the next day, wildlife agents managed to capture him in a trap using donuts, honey, and... more Rainier Beer as bait. He was subsequently to be "relocated," which I presume means a job at Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter.

Two-for-one at A.G.

Two Iraqi prisoners have been killed by US troops during a disturbance at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, the US military says.

The trouble began when guards saw a large group of detainees attacking a fellow inmate, a statement said.
. . .
The US military said guards had issued verbal warnings to stop the riot in which detainees were using stones and tent poles against the fellow inmate.

However, the situation continued to escalate and the number of detainees involved swelled to over 200 "resulting in the use of non-lethal rounds to disperse the group".

"When this failed to quell the situation and it was determined that a detainee's life was still at risk, lethal force was authorised, and the situation was brought under control." (BBC

So, do they store the stones and tent poles in the prison library?

Dorp Dorp

Dorp Dorp Dorp Dorp Dorp Dorp

Aug 17, 2004

O-bon in Iiyama

We just arrived back in Tokyo yesterday after spending five days with Rie's folks in Nagano. Visiting Iiyama typically means:

  • clean tap water that comes out mountain stream cool

  • falling asleep to the sounds of silence, or a few chirping frogs in the rice paddy just outside the window

  • the dog refuses to take long walks at night, as beyond the reach of the porchlight lies pitch black

  • an everpresent odor of mosquito coils in the summer, and kotatsu charcoal in the winter

  • eating and drinking way more than my fair share, and

  • not much to do, except possibly some farm work

This time was a little different. Since we were back during the O-bon holiday, we joined the family in visiting their ancestors' graves. I was surprised at how little ceremony was involved. A short walk to the graveyard for their mountainside hamlet, a little water splashed to clean the stones, some incense lit and hands folded in prayer, and we were finished. No dancing, no special clothing, and no torches outside the home. But I learned a little about the connection between the family grave and Japan's rigid koseki, or family registry, system.

Due to weather considerations, our work in the fields over the weekend amounted to only one afternoon of potato pulling. Not enough to earn our keep perhaps, but now her folks have a year's supply of taters warehoused.

Otherwise, our time was spent making preparations for our non-wedding reception in November, when we'll be formally introduced as a married couple to all her relatives who haven't met this wierd gaijin yet. Mom-in-law took us to the spot she picked out in Nagano city, where we had a look at the room, food, etc. And since we'll be dressing in traditional Japanese wedding garb (somewhat like the two on this page), we ended our day by trying on costumes. Well, I'm looking forward to the souvenir photo at least.

Aug 10, 2004

Tangles and webs

One provides structure for an organism's life, one conveys chaos on a daily basis, and one is stronger than steel.

Aug 7, 2004

Historical Nuclear Weapons Test Films

Edited, declassified films available here at the DOE Nevada website.

"These were fabricated releases of power... of energy locked up within the atom from the beginning of time." - Operation Sandstone, 1948

Aug 6, 2004

Hiroshima, 59 years on

Yesterday, August 6, marked the 59th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Demonstrations and other events were held around the country as a reminder of this world's first.

Demonstrators in the streets of Hiroshima (photo from MDN)

Aug 5, 2004


Looking for something other than the usual depressing news about war and terror and such, I ran across this list of "possible follow-up songs for one-hit wonders" at McSweeney's. [via Bifurcated Rivets]

Other low-stress entertainments linked from BR include Bembo's Zoo and Life. Both worth a peek.

Aug 1, 2004


View across Shinobazu pond in Ueno Park. Over to the right, the Bentendo Temple is visible above the lotuses.