長崎

9th of August, 1945.

It didn't occur to me to click on the ideographs hereinabove, so I /msged the author and said "what is that?". Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The end of the war in the Pacific at the time it did meant my dad got to go home without having to endure another bombing. A selfish point for mass destruction if ever there was one; but it did make me think about my dad. And my uncle, who traveled every year to Pearl Harbor to remember his Navy buddies who lost their lives there.

Both of these men are gone now. We live in a different time. Far fewer civilians are involved in the obscenity we call war than in any time in history.

However much I hate the fact that one civilian; child, woman, man — old or young — had to be lost in the name of Hirohito's desire to save face, that's the way it was.

It took not one but two of the most horrific events in history to get the Japanese to raise their white flags.

It's hackneyed to raise my old "coulda, woulda, shoulda" argument, but perhaps had those two horrible explosions not occurred, the future would have been changed dramatically at the hand of one who had not hesitated merely because of the memory of the incredible loss of life, destruction, and atomic fallout. Yes, I'm saying that those civilians, perhaps, did not die in vain. That perhaps other nuclear "close calls" have been merely that and not disasters of far greater magnitude than what happened so many years ago in Japan have been averted because the world saw what happened. And nobody wanted it to happen again.

Coda: Doyle reminded me that Hirohito himself indeed got to save face. He also much more simply put my final thought; we used the bomb to show Russia what we had (his words). The thing was gonna be used, in my opinion, and best that it was used in its infancy than later on, when proliferation certainly got out of hand.

I'm in Nagasaki today.

They burn their trash here.

My neighbor is the first to explain this to me, and in Japanese he says, "combustibles go here," pointing to an obnoxious bright red trash bin. It just pops out: "Everything's combustible at a hot enough temperature," I tell him, and he shakes his head. He doesn't understand English.

So, they burn the trash. The smoke rises in thick columns and hangs in the air like jazz notes, dissipating in the early evening and leaving in its wake an acrid smell of melting plastic and burning paper. I suspect that if you live here long enough, if you're accustomed to this phenomenon, it becomes as inevitable as train whistles and earthquakes: something you simply stop noticing. Anything to have it gone, I suppose. Torch it and move on.

Today is August 9th, and it's the first time in my life that I'm acutely aware of the fact that this is the anniversary of Nagasaki's atomic bombing. I'm not proud of this, but I readily admit it. I have never cared as much as I should. This is true in regards to this and much more.

As has been pointed out before, Robert Lewis co-piloted the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped Little Boy on Hiroshima, and as he stared from the cockpit at the blooming mushroom cloud that signaled that city's destruction, he claimed to have tasted atomic fission. It tasted like lead, he later said, and he immediately inscribed the following words in his diary: My God, what have we done?

Humanity, I am sad to report, is not quick in learning the consequences of its actions; three days' time was hardly enough for us to reflect on the pure scale of the violence we had unleashed with the dropping of a single bomb. Nagasaki was incinerated in turn.

The problem is that nothing ever truly burns, of course. Einstein knew this. Energy is conserved. This rather basic principle, so grand in its simplicity, is a large part of the reason the bomb actually worked, after all.

On my way home from the grocery store today, I could almost taste it myself. I almost convinced myself I could hear the humming of B-52 engines in the sound of waves crashing against rocks. The water is higher today than it was yesterday, and yesterday was higher than the day before. I swear to God, one day it's going to overtake this town. We keep it up, and it's going to tear this place apart.

I find it strange to consider the amount of people, the vast megaloads of users who've read my last daylog. Everything2 is a constant source of pleasure and disappointment to me; pleasure in that I read so much bravery, so much decency into all these many nodes, fighting to battle out a little corner of nodegel that's absolutely, undeniably order. Disappointment that I'll never read it all; it takes too much to make our dreams 100 percent of reality.

One. Five. Seven. Nine. Numbers in a red notebook.

I was trying to get started on To The Lighthouse the other day. It's by Virginia Woolf, whom I've often heard mentioned but never had occasion to read. The cover's pleasant enough - a rather old-fashioned looking woman on the beach, hat in hand. A detail from Evening On The Beach by Dame Laura Knight. It's beautiful. Inside is a further delight; the text spacing and size is such that this inch thick book is going to be about half an inch's worth of reading. Short books are a blessing, particularly after all that Harlan Ellison with his 10 point Times filling every inch of the page. I'm still convinced you could cut out a lot from his stories, sacrilegious though it is.

Elizabeth's friend came into the store the other day. I was working second shift with her - Elizabeth, I mean - and her friend just came in and she was all jolly, and she just says 'Guess what I have in my purse?' to Elizabeth. Elizabeth looked in and giggled, kind of putting her hand over her mouth. I could see this from the back of the store and she was saying something about me, because Elizabeth's friend turned round to look at me. I fiddled with the lottery machine until I knew she wasn't looking. They both went into the back, then, and it was so obvious what they were doing because there was this sweet smell, kind of like hickory chips on the grill, and they both came out from the back laughing together.

I told Elizabeth later that she shouldn't take people in the back. She told me to go forth etc. And then she laughed, so I guess we're okay. I don't know what I'll do if it happens again, though.

I was in my work van, parked in the garage underneath a state government office building, ready to lug my tools upstairs to repair some government employee's PC, when I heard the news on the local classic rock station. "Jerry Garcia was found dead this morning..." -- I listened to the details, but it didn't matter much.

My pager went off as took some parts off the van shelves and loaded them on my rickety dolly. It was Lovey. The IBM brick I carried started beeping. More friends touching base. I fixed the computer and took another couple of calls that day.

I went home and got a hug before she dashed off to work. "I'm so sorry," she said. She kissed me and hugged me again, tighter. Then she left, and it was just me and SweetFacedBoy, all of eight months old.

"Well," I said as I picked him up, walked over to the stereo and tuned it to the local NPR station doing a rememberance of Jerry on Talk of the Nation. "I always figured that Jerry would be the first to go. You know, the massive weight, that trouble with cocaine and heroin. Oh, and that diabetic coma he was in. Yep, that's no good."

"Bbblpppfffttttt."

It's just that I thought he had another good decade or so in him. I thought he was cleaning up pretty well, the SCUBA diving and such.

We listened to the radio for a while, then I put the little guy down for a short nap while I prepared dinner. After a while, I found myself sitting in front of the stereo, listening to tapes, tears welling.

Anyhow, as I sit here 12 years later listening to MSG 1991-09-16, the night before that amazing night, I'm a little sad and a little glad. A part of me gently boxed away, visited often, but knowing those times will never return. I've gone to the Dead shows. Close, but no cigar.

But, man oh man! Those shows and the journeys to and from them! Pretty much who I am today was shaped by being a Deadhead, and they wouldn't have happened without Jerry.

So I'm going to drive home from work today and slip in a show from Alpine Valley (they're always smoking there), turn it up loud, and be grateful.

Thanks, old man.

Wildflower seed in the sand and wind
May the four winds blow you home again

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