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2006-05-31 5:27 p.m.


I have booked a one way ticket from London to Boston at the end of August, and a one way ticket from San Francisco to Osaka at the end of September. (Managed it pretty cheaply, too.) You know what that means? I’m making a round-the-world trip. I’ll start by taking a slow boat to China. Then the Trans-Siberian Railroad, then Eurorail, and on and on until I’m in Japan again. I’ll fly across (most of) the oceans and go overland across the continents. (I’d love to do the whole thing without flying at all, but that’s just not in the cards for a variety of reasons.) The plan is starting to come together! It’ll be cool.

As for travels I’ve made recently, well… South Korea went well. WTF got to see the world outside Japan for the first time (which she handled pretty well), and I got to see the Joint Security Area from the south side. I’ve got pictures of myself on both sides of the line now!

Then there’s… The Ghost Island, alluded to in the last entry (which was how long ago?). It took some doing to get out there, and we were only able to stay for about two hours. It was amazing, though. Like skipping to the end of the world. That trip is chronicled (albeit cryptically, as I am wont to do) in pictures starting here.

One of the guys who went with me to the Ghost Island lives on the neighboring island, and we’ve spent the last two weekends visiting all the little islands in the area, places with populations ranging from 90 to 800 people. Most of them have lost a lot of population over the last thirty years as the young people have moved to the cities, and on some of them the average age of the population is in the 60s and 70s. We’ve visited seven or eight so far, and there’s two or three more we still want to hit up sometime. Each has its own unique geography, history, and personality. I really fell in love with a few of them. One of these days maybe I’ll become a freelance translator and go live on one, working from home. Anyway, I’m thinking of giving these islands their own entry once we’ve visited the rest on our list and I’ve gotten the pictures developed. Actually, you can see some pictures from the first weekend’s worth of islands here (those two sunset shots were taken from the Rock, incidentally). Pictures from this last weekend will be here, though there isn’t much there yet.

Oh, I recorded myself singing and playing guitar. If you’re interested, linkage can be found here.

Autumn and I have stumbled into something resembling a harmonious professional relationship, though I still find myself doing virtually nothing all day at the middle school. I’ve got a lot of projects to be working on right now, though, not least of which is getting this round the world trip arranged and figuring out where I’m going to live in Osaka after I get back. It’s strange, because at the middle school I go to class and I spend 80% of the time staring into space wishing I was back in the staff room so I could continue working on whatever it is I was working on. That doesn’t happen at the elementary school, the preschool, or at my evening conversation class, though. Or at the high school, for that matter, while it was open. I plan and run all the lessons in those cases, and when I’m in class teaching there I think about nothing else but that. It’s nice. It’s extremely rare that that happens at the middle school, though, where I spend most of my time. Bleh.

The student teacher is here now. She is, actually, passably cute and very sweet. She’s also the daughter of the Zen priest on the island, though she’s not interested in Zen herself (her brother, however, being a dude and expected to take over the family business, just got back from his two year training stint at the head Soto Zen monastery). She heard about me from her parents, it seems. Honestly I don’t remember the last time a girl I wasn’t dating wafted pheromones in my direction with this much intensity. Even if I weren’t in a relationship, though, I don’t think that’d be likely to happen…

I was informed that a Filipino woman who recently moved to the island is going to start showing up to my English conversation classes to help out. Apparently she doesn’t speak Japanese, and she’s hoping to use it as a way to get better. (Though I use very little Japanese with those kids anymore.) I don’t mind, because actually I would feel better having another adult around. And I love the Filipino accent. Apparently she moved here because she married some dude on the island. Which… is a little suspicious, cause I can almost guarantee you her husband doesn’t speak English. I wonder if she’s a mail-order bride? I’ve never met one of those before. This should be interesting.

News Nook

Have you done your part to save the internet?

So, the Secretary of Energy actually admitted that fuel prices are going to keep rising for the next three years. Improvement. However he also says that prices will get better after that, and that oil prices don’t really have much effect on the economy. Does he think we’re idiots?

The Department of Justice has dropped investigations into NSA wiretap offenses because the NSA wouldn’t give their lawyers security clearance. Maybe they should have tried saying “please.” And I must say, I do love the innocent Americans have nothing to fear rebuttal. Welcome to the police state, where your guilt or innocence is determined before the investigation even begins!

If you are a racist if black artists don’t make up a certain minimum percentage of your music collection… I’m screwed.

The military’s making an invisibility cloak!

This guy makes some good points. Why the hell aren’t people as pissed off now as they were in the 60s? Why does America as a whole seem so complacent about all this? Actually, I suspect the difference is that communists never knocked down the World Trade Center…

In more bad news, word out on the street is that “In the coming years, we will probably see the curtailment of the civil rights that gay people, women and religious minorities have won in the last few decades. With two Bush appointees on the Supreme Court, abortion rights will be narrowed; if the president gets a third, it could mean the end of Roe v. Wade. Expect increasing drives to ban gay people from being adoptive or foster parents, as well as attempts to fire gay schoolteachers. Evangelical leaders are encouraging their flocks to be alert to signs of homosexuality in their kids, which will lead to a growing number of gay teenagers forced into ‘reparative therapy’ designed to turn them straight. (Focus on the Family urges parents to consider seeking help for boys as young as five if they show a ‘tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.’) Christian nationalist symbolism and ideology will increasingly pervade public life. In addition to the war on evolution, there will be campaigns to teach Christian nationalist history in public schools. An elective course developed by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, a right-wing evangelical group, is already being offered by more than 300 school districts in 36 states. The influence of Christian nationalism in public schools, colleges, courts, social services and doctors' offices will deform American life, rendering it ever more pinched, mean, and divided.” (I really recommend reading that whole article.) Not to mention they’re already evicting families with unmarried parents from their homes, employing terrorism, and making video games where you kill anyone who won’t convert to (Evangelical/Fundamentalist) Christianity. America’s starting to freak me out, man.

On a more positive note, it does make me feel better to know that there are people like Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Manal Hassan in the Middle East. May Allah be with them. And did you see Stephen Colbert’s routine at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, with Bush sitting five feet away from him? That’s cojones, man. Check it out. “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Stephen Colbert, you’re my hero!

And this isn’t exactly news, but did you know that “the male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples”? Valerie Solanas enlightened me! Goddess rest her soul.

Sorry to linkspam you like that, but... If you were wondering what I've been doing the last month, well... I was reading all that shit.

Ugh. Sometimes it seems like the future will go one of two ways: the Singularity (which I’m far from certain would be a pleasant experience) or the Oil Crash (hello, Mad Max). Catastrophic global warming seems dead set on occurring either way. Learn how to enjoy the ride now…

we still don’t like to leave before the end of the movie,