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2006-01-17 8:29 p.m.

a short description of this entry for the "older links" page

Hey party people!

Yeah, yesterday I seem to have encountered one of my periodic existential crises. Theyíre rarer than they were half a decade ago, rare enough that sometimes I think Iím done with them. But where would humanity be without pointless angsty bullshit, I ask you? Huh?

Sometimes I just find the linear nature of time to be almost unbearable, thatís all. No big whoop. I mean, everybodyís been there, right? Iíd write it off to the fact that, at the time of writing, I hadnít spent more than one of the preceding eighty hours outside that room. I think they call it ďcabin fever.Ē Me, I call itÖ


(Note to self: Why do I consistently fool myself into thinking that watching Ren and Stimpy while eating is a good idea?)

The traveling was a joy, though I think it was my most expensive trip yet. I ate raw horsemeat in Kumamoto and then took a boat to Osaka. Hitchhiking from there to Tokyo was a complete and utter failure, and we ended up taking an overnight bus from Kyoto. We got in the Imperial Palace and saw the Emperor on the second. That was fun. We did other touristy things, and then we took a boat to Hokkaido. Hokkaido was buried in snow, and I absolutely loved it. Iíd forgotten how much I enjoy snow, how much winter isnít winter without it, and how -10 Celsius with snow feels warmer than +10 Celsius without.

Back in Osaka, we went to an exhibition of over 200 pieces by Alphonse Mucha, a guy my sister originally turned me on to. Especially after this, Iím tempted to say heís my number two favorite artist, after Monet. (My favorite art and classical music seems to be that which walks right up to Modern edge but doesnít quite tumble over it. I love a sense of a fraying order, but I donít particularly care for complete chaos.) Looking at all that stuff gave me a strong desire to do more to make my living environment aesthetically pleasing. (Progress on that goal thus far: zero.) I was so mesmerized that I lost all track of time and missed my boat back. I had to take a shinkansen the next day. (Yeah, I missed the boat. Thatís it. Thatís the ticket. (This might be a good time to introduce my theory that a catch-phrase may become so clichť that it is no longer clichť, but retro and ironic and therefore cool. Whaddya think? No? Alright...))

It was a good time.

WTF is now a totally different person from the one I first met. The first one rarely ever spoke; this one never shuts up. The first one was a sullen girl; this one is a little sunbeam. Sheís been gradually transitioning from the one to the other as long as Iíve known her, but I think the metamorphosis is now more or less complete. Sheís curious, energetic, warm, affectionate, and surprisingly devoted to me.

It's interesting how some people need to be tamed before they'll allow you to see them for what they are. I seem to be like that, myself.

I didnít broach the subject of The Future on the trip, though I had planned to. Things were just going so well by the end; I didnít want to add more permanent overtones to our parting.

Iím consuming a Cherry Blossom Kit Kat as I type this. I can feel your jealousy reverberating through the ether. It tastes like the color pink. Heaven knows what they put in it to get it to taste like this, but I hope it doesnít make my colon explode. I NEED my colon.

As for Mr. Head TeacherÖ I realized on the trip that, hey- I donít give a flying fuck about the damn stamp. (Besides the fact that questions concerning it are inextricably linked with how much I can sleep in in the mornings, but weíll overlook that for the moment.) But itís obviously of utmost importance to him, so I guess Iíll do it. Iím just annoyed that I let him get me so worked up over something so stupid. (And when I say stupid, I say it like Ren HoŽk would say it, like STEW-pid.) When I got back to the Rock he gave me a ride back to the teacherís housing, and we played nice. I hope I can get him to ignore me for the rest of the time Iím here.

The first day of classes he announced a new rule. The rule will have little effect on me, but it creates a whole lot of completely unnecessary paperwork for many of the other teachers. Ha. At least this time Iím not the one getting poked in the eye by the stick up his ass.

Though, in his defense, itís sometimes hard to tell how much of this is his own doing and how much of it is under orders from the principal. The principal doesnít say much in public, but does seem to give hand signals (often to blow off the question of whether I should be treated as an equal with the ďrealĒ teachers) and sage nods to direct the Head Teacher. I might describe the relationship as ďThere is no God but the Principal, and the Head Teacher is His Prophet.Ē

They are an interesting duo. All the other teachers refer to me (and each other) with the honorable suffix -sensei, meaning ďteacher,Ē but both these guys make a point of calling me -san, because Iím not a Japan licensed teacher. Today I listened in bemused silence as they argued at great length over just what my job title is, consulting manuals and the internet, without ever bothering to, say, ask me. (That's the problem with us Americans- always trying to cut corners.)

I spent a surprisingly large portion of the last week in an email ďdiscussionĒ with a Jehovahís Witness resulting from our difference of opinion concerning the recent Dover, Pennsylvania ruling on Intelligent Design. Iíve saved it in a Word file. Itís quite long, but if you want to read a comprehensive statement of my views on the case, on Intelligent Design, on evolution and natural selection, on the definition of science, and on the relationship between science and religion, then just let me know. Iím thinking of foisting it on some of my family members, in fact.

Finally, a few links:

LSD, huh?

Though I have a degree in biochemistry, and I love that stuff, Iíve never been too keen on taking medicine, especially antidepressants, and thereís no way in hell Iíd ever work for a big pharmaceutical company. This article on the placebo effect and how pharmaceutical companies exploit it is a case in point.

Iím sure youíve heard about this renditions bullshit, not to mention the wiretapping. This is exactly the kind of stuff that convinces people that the American government is a force for evil in the world. Word out on the street seems to be that while messing around with your intern is an impeachable offense, a longstanding policy of kidnapping and torturing innocent people and breaking federal law is not. I guess Bush is good to go. Or stay, as the case may be.

Incidentally, have you heard of the Information Awareness Office and Combat Zones That See? Freaky stuff, man.

as uncertain as the weather report,