Monday, January 18, 2016

Blast from the Past: Post-9/11 Numerology and Paranoia

In late September 2001, a friend forwarded me an item that had freaked her out a little.  I don't remember all the details, but someone had pointed out that "George W. Bush" and "The Pentagon" each had exactly eleven letters, and that the WTC attacks had occurred on the eleventh of September.

I immediately replied with a permutation of her name (first initial plus last name) which had exactly eleven letters.  Then I said:
Coincidence? I don't think so.  I'd better call the FBI "really quick" (another 11 letters) to help them "investigate" (oh no, another 11 letters - they must be in on the plot too!  AAAAAAAAACK!!!!!!!!!!!).
I signed off with a common presentation of my own name that also came to exactly 11 letters, followed by a quick postscript: "And in an odd coincidence, 'coincidence' has 11 letters too."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Blast from the Past - Japan & Taiwan 1988

To justify having kept my travel notes all these many moons, I'll post a few highlights (or lowlights) here.

July 7 - National Science Museum, Ueno Park

National Museum

More Kanji ...

July 14 - tour with volunteer Anglophone student guide, Yoko, an English literature major at a local university.

She told us much about the history of Shintoism and Buddhism, and about the monks and their lives.

Another lovely (and rather reassuring) memory:

July 14 - Buddhist temple; Horyuji
July 15 - Nara National Museum

I was apparently disappointed in the organization of the art in this first section of the museum because it was not at all chronological, making it difficult to trace the development of styles.  (Often, "an 8th century piece is followed by a primitive 2nd century piece.") However, I noted that "Many of these countries had art superior to the medieval European art by the second to sixth centuries AD."

July 20 - Kyoto to Kanagawa
We crisscrossed the station but ultimately managed to board the correct train with five minutes to spare.  Our ride on the Shinkansen was 2.5 hours long and apparently "livened by ... an enormous gilded Buddha visible from the train, and ... three young children and their permissive parents."
Toei Movieland
Highlights included "haunted house, samurai village, trick studio, and funhouse."  My mom and brother both enjoyed lifting up a "stone fountain" (actually made of Styrofoam).
July 21

This yakittori place was certainly "under the radar" for us outsiders -- it could easily have been a private residence, as it offered no glimpse of the interior, and no hint of its purpose.  Tourist-oriented venues typically had an English word (such as "restaurant") on display, or plastic food dishes in the window, or at least images of food.  This was a relatively low-key, high-class establishment. The owner seemed to be pleased we found our way in, and absolutely doted on my brother.  He brought us watermelon for dessert (which we did not order) and gave my brother a wooden sake box to take home. As I recall, there was only one other table occupied; it was a group of Japanese businessmen.  They'd been drinking, and one of them stopped by to say initially something along the lines of it's a shame how that last war turned out; we should do it again and have it come out right this time.  I was rather shocked.  On his way back from the bathroom, he explained that he was joking.  He (and perhaps one or two of his associates) joined us for a while.
Taipei -National Palace Museum

* * *
Sadly, when we returned home, we learned - when going through the stacks of mail - that my grandmother had died.  My grandfather had, in his rationalist manner, decided not to interrupt our vacation, and the cremation had taken place promptly and without ceremony.  There was no memorial service.  He was even angry with her for a while, for not clinging on to life and triumphing over illness through sheer force of will; he claimed that she had gotten everything she wanted from the marriage (two fine sons, grandchildren, a golden wedding anniversary), and then left him.