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2003-09-09 9:58 p.m.

honjitsu no jikken... shippai

Well. I'm frustrated. I've been trying to use my computer transfer VHS tapes to DVD. And for a variety of reasons, I have so far ended in absolute failure. (But I was close... so tantalizingly close...) I'm planning another test run for tomorrow... I'll let you know how it goes.

Actually, you probably don't care.

And let's be honest. Given my track record, what are the chances that I'll actually update tomorrow or the day after?

Anyway, following is some crap I wrote to a friend about my England trip, since I know the teeming millions reading this are lusting for knowledge of my British escapades.

The primary reason for my going to England was for a week long karate course. The question of why I would go to England to study karate seems to come up a lot, and the answer is this- We feel that Japanese karate has, for the most part, deteriorated quite a bit over the last fifty years or so. The founder of our style is Japanese, and studied with the founder of Japanese karate (or more accurately, the man who first brought karate from Okinawa to mainland Japan). He moved to Britain about 40 years ago and has been teaching and living there ever since. Thus the headquarters and main concentration of students in our style is in Britain. There are only two clubs practicing this style in the United States.

The founder of our style, by the way, is in his late 70s but is still perfectly capable of steamrolling everyone else in our style. It is astounding the things he can do. But we can get into all that later.

The course itself was in Canterbury, and I spent about a week there. I took one day to go into town and look around. Canterbury is quite a charming town. Much of the original city wall, built during Roman times, is still standing. The traditional format and architecture of the city has been perserved in many places. And the Canterbury Cathedral (more recently known as Hogwart's School of Wizardry and Witchcraft) is one of the most astounding buildings I have ever seen. It's always wonderful to be in a place that just has so much history soaked into everything. Sometimes I would stop and wonder at how great it must be to have been raised so close to all these amazing old buildings, with so much easy access to so much history. But then I would realize that had I been raised around it I probably wouldn't appreciate it properly. Perhaps I don't appreciate the value of living in an area where there is still so much unspoiled open space left, relatively untainted by human infestation.

Besides Canterbury, I spent 3 or 4 days in London. I spent a great deal of time at the Tower of London, the Tate Modern, and the British Museum, as well as stopping by the Southwark Cathedral, St. Paul's Cathedral, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and Piccadilly Circus. The Tower of London was wonderful. The Tate Modern was... interesting. Some of those works of art seemed to be trying to steal my soul the longer I looked at them, as if they wanted to leave my body an empty shell just staring blankly at a painting forever. Some of the things I saw in there I found very disturbing, as well. I can appreciate disturbing if it says something important, but some of these things I could find no message in, just a feeling of a revulsion. Perhaps that's all the artist wanted to achieve. I'm sure many of the artists featured there would be quite happy to know that I was deeply disturbed by their work. It's the old question of whether to judge art by what it makes you feel or how strongly it makes you feel it, I suppose.

The British Museum is the museum to end all museums. It's been in existence since the 1700s, and its holding are massive. It would take several days to really experience the place. The Rosetta Stone is kept there. There are also some disturbing indications of Western attitudes towards other cultures, as well. There are many friezes and things taken from various ancient Greek temples and such- besides the question of whether it's our right to dismantle ancient structures and put the pieces on display thousands of miles from their origin, it also turns out that many of the heads and such are missing from the statuary. It seems that back in the day, the Europeans who "discovered" these ruins would just knock the head off of any statue they took a liking to and take it back home as a souvenir. That disgusts me. Many of the friezes and statues have notes indicating where the head from this particular piece of statuary is housed.

as beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of an umbrella and a sewing machine,