died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I'm at the age now where I'm starting to have nostalgia for things that aren't around anymore.

Memories are a safe haven from current reality. It's nice to wrap myself up in memories of the past. Some of the vivid memories from my childhood include, trains waking me up on our boat at lake pepin. The long fall shadows driving around lake pepin, picking up our fall pickings of apples and cheese along the way. Driving through the illinois tolls as we got closer to my grandmothers apartment in the chicago area.

I always loved breakfast at the kildahl's. I normally hate breakfast, and breakfast at the kildahl's wasn't particularly special. Orange juice, cereal of some kind. But it was more than the food obviously. The clock in the living room where my brother and I would sleep would start tolling the bells of westminster every fifteen minutes at about the time my grandmother would go into the kitchen in her robe and slippers. They would all start talking and I would eventually wake up, and my grandfather and I would go to get the chicago tribune that was placed in the elevator every morning. We would then distribute the papers to all the subscribers on the floor and then go back to the apartment. The building always had a smell of hardwoods for some reason, and I always loved being there.

It's easy to want to try and revisit those memories. Go to those places and see them again and want to reexperience them. I've learned to not try and do that.

Most of the time those memories are from that time, and seeing them in a different light will change the memory perhaps in a negative way, and it's not usually as fulfulling as you hoped it would be.

I remember my host family's house. Even though it was in the somewhat lower class Katsushika-ku, I always loved going home. I would walk from the station, unlock the door, and my host mother would greet me. My room was somewhat large for a japanese room. It had tatami with carpeting over it, with a bed, a drawer for clothes and a desk. The closet fusuma had a famous ink painting on it by sesshu, which I became aware of from studying it in my japanese art history class.

I had such good memories from that house (although some readers might be aware of some negative ones too. Such is the power of nostalgia). It even had the bells of westminster-tolling clock that my grandparents had. When I came back to japan my second time, I made an effort to go visit the house I once lived in. My mind still had the fairly complicated route to where the house from the station was memorized even several years later.

I arrived, and the house was gone. The family had moved and I don't know where to.

But that's for the best I believe. Those memories are from that time, and to try and live them again in the present is ineveitably an unfulfilling act. In fact, without a reality to drag down the memories I have from that time, it's much easier to float in the clouds of nostalgia.

The park near that house that I used to visit quite frequently is still there. I used to love visiting that park. It seemed so amazing and filled with so many great things at the time.

But I have experienced many other things and places in Japan, and while the park is still amazing, it's a different experience. It's actually quite far from the tokyo city center, etc. Yet the way I felt about that park still burns in my mind with such positivity.

It's nothing to lement. Loss is never loss if you've gained an experience from it. My mind, actually, is probably the only place that those places are great.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

fast food

Burgerville, a pacific northwest fast food joint, is apparently switching to wind power for 100% of their energy needs. It's been pointed out that they're not buying direct from a wind farm. They're buying tokens from a big utility (still owned by some vestige of Enron) who is buying tokens from the power producer. The claim is that more tokens (basically a higher charge per unit) mean more of the total power will be generated the good ways. Even if all that is true, I still commend them. I realize that making this kind of commitment from a national resturant chaing wouldn't be feasable, but you rarely hear of even local chains even trying to make a commitement like this, so I commend them. Plus they have spicy black bean garden burgers (my favorite) as a part of their regular menu.

There's also a place in Brooklyn, NY called Habana Outpost which is not only the first resturant in the city run entirely on solar, but well, all kinds of other stuff. I seem to remember an ice cream place in Mineapolis, like Sebastian Joe's doing something like this too, but I don't remember exactly.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

hotaka dake

My company gave us obon vacation at the end of last week and the beginning of this week. So I decided to go to the expo in Nagoya, and hotaka dake, the 3rd tallest mountain in Japan.

The expo was good. An eco epcot center feeling to it all. An in-company magazine which I am counsel to had been writing an article about the expo, and in addition to the fact that the Mitsubishi group had an exhibition at the expo, all made me want to go and see what it was all about.

From there we took a train to matsumoto in Nagano to head to Hotaka Dake mountain. The access point, Kamikouchi, is only accessible by bus (it's a preserved area, and this is supposed to reduce vehicle emissions)

Kamikochi was beautiful. There was a big lodge there, and all of the other infrastructure was top notch (we discovered later that this is somewhat of a tourist destination, but we arrived around 6 am (catching the 4:30 am train/bus) so there weren't very many people when we arrived)

The trail we took to the ascent was simply awesome. It was almost too beautiful. The trail leads along a river without a single speck of human impact. We burned through this section.

The ascent was pretty rough. The first section was fairly easy. It led up to a beautiful alpine river cascading down. We ate a little bit, washed our sweaty shirts in the freezing alpine water. The rest of the ascent was killer. Through my lack of sleep (4:30 train, and no sleep from the night before) sun exposure, and simple lack of physical fitness for the pace we were going at, my body started fighting back.

Before we reached the next hut on the path it started raining, so we hurried to the area. You could either pay to sleep in a communal room, or pitch your tent in the camping area.

The tent area was really cool, all made from a natural stone field. The stones were formed into paths and removed in some sections to fit a tent. It rained the rest of the day and all night so we stayed in the tent.

The rain wasn't forecasted to stop, and I was exhausted, so we decided to head back down. The peak was only about 3 hours away, but I just didn't have the energy to do it as it was all vertical.

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Monday, August 08, 2005


I saw Wang Kar-Wai's film 2046
this weekend. It's just being released in the states, but it's been out since at least last year. It's swept all kinds of film festivals and done very well.

I liked it, so I'll say the negative things first. Kimura Takuya is in it. He's a boy band god here, (as well as being pimped out to be in adverts like any unselfrespecting japanese talent would) and it's hard to take him seriously. He's had so many different styles even in the relatively short time that I've been here. The self he plays in the past, then, is refreshing to my conservative eyes; his hair is greased down in that early 20th century way. Then it's all back to 27th century psycho-post modern in his future self. Imagine trying to take Josh Hartnett or Justin Timberlake serious in an acting role and you might have a good comparison.

Zhang Ziyi, the one who was in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, as well as Hero and Lovers, etc. makes an appearance. She is Kimura Takuya's equivalent on the mainland, and maybe just because she's not associated with the awful japanese mass media, I like her. I'd like to not think so and that it is a smidgen more than that (even it is just because she's beautiful). I don't think her petite cuteness can really handle the role of an experinced hostess, but perhaps that's exactly what the director was looking for.

Wang Kar-Wai's movies are always gorgeous. You experience them, wrap yourself in his cinemetographic world. I do always find myself tapping my foot, though, as 2+ hours of wandering surrealism is a bit too much even for myself.

I can't say that the premise of 2046 was all that engaging. The disconnect (even after it is somewhat explained) between the future world and the present world wasn't all that exciting; it probably would have been shorter and perhaps better, editied out. but I always enjoy the opportunity to be experience Wang Kar-Wai.

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Friday, August 05, 2005

My favorite food blooger and writer of chocolate and zuchini had a segment on NPR which you can listen to on your computer! She has been writing some columns for NPR for some time it seems, and now we get to hear her voice. I love the way she handles Scott Simon's somewhat awkward questions.

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riding solo in the express lane

If Calfornia Lawmakers have passed legislation so that, if you've got one of these (hybrid engines) under your hood, you can drive in those carpool lanes by yourself (and of course wither other people) legally. Virginia enacted a similar law in 2000, and other states such as Arizona and Minnesota (yeay!) are considering it.

A great idea to encourage people to by these kinds of cars. If hybrids become ubiquitous, like I predict that they will be, they'll have to get rid of the law, but at this point in time, I think it's great.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

office observations 8/3

The oldest OL that worked in our department disappeared for 'heart problems', but I have a feeling it's for other reasons. She was very flirtatious with this other guy in the department and I always used to see them in the subway coming to the office together (hmmm)

She either looked drugged or unhappy most of the time, and i think I only saw her smile once or twice. I think she was feeling the OL shelf life. Get married and out by 30, or else you're a loser.

We've got a new young girl who came all the way from Kagoshima, strangely. She doesn't have an accent at all though, which I found strange. Hopefully she'll be less frigid than the older OL's who just say 'I don't know' if I ask them anything and give me this irritated look.

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