Wither lies the road? No road! Into the unknown . . . - Nietzsche

I’m going to start walking today, and stop in 7 days. I’m going to pick up my pack that has my world on it, and leave my home, my surrogate city, my temporary state, my civilization to enter the jungle of the real. I’m going backpacking.

It’s a 45 mile round trip hike through the Wind Rivers, and at the end of the hike we take a route through the Cirque of the Towers, and from what I hear it’s damn impressive. 8/10 of the largest glaciers in the lower 48 are in the Wind Rivers area of western Wyoming, although they aren’t right where we are hiking.

One of the problems we had in planning this trip was the sleeping arrangements. There are four of us, and we own a 2-man and a 3-man tent. Do we take both of them and suffer the extra weight? Or do we cram all four of us into the 3-man tent for our feet’s sake? I voted for both tents, but it hasn’t been decided. Last summer we had the same problem except it was solved readily by the addition of a fifth member: my friend Justin.

Justin and Ryan are both coming out to Salt Lake City this winter to partake in some skiing related goodness. The addition of a noder and someone with a E2 name to my house has made me wonder aloud if I should make a gathering at my house. It would be a Ski Area outing, and I have enough beds to handle a couple of noders. My qualm is that I have never been to a gathering, and other than noding I really don’t spend that much socializing with noders. But, I don’t really care, so I’m sure at some point in next couple of months a node entitled Cool as Ice: An E2 gathering on the slopes in Salt Lake City.

As a side note, I’m under 21, and from all the gatherings I’ve read about, that seems to be the prevalent theme involved. Sigh, I'm looking forward to getting back to college.

It's a special day, as my youngest daughter Caitlin turns eleven! If she were on the list, she'd be going to Hogwarts. That or all those owls that are pooping on my roof just like the goats.

I'm very proud of her, as she has been working hard at being responsible and completing her chores. She has also been working on her karate, and is now an Orange Belt.

And yes, her nickname in real life happens to be Pickles.

Send her a /msg via Rancid_Pickle and I'll make sure she gets it.

Iains summer break from university has been mildly boring, he blaims himself for that. Today, however, was a notable exception, as he actually got off his lazy arse and did something. For some reason, Cat decided to plan this day weeks in advance, the reason for this was to ensure that all participants (all 3 of them, as it turned out) were available.

There was a bundle of potential for this to be a very awkward situation as Cat had recently broken up with who Iain considers to be his best friend, who is currently suffering from a bout of chicken pox. In addition, Iain had recently slept with the other participant, Hannah, after getting unwisely drunk in the same bar as the one they were meeting in a few weeks earlier. Thankfully the afternoon/evening wasn’t at all discomfiting and an interesting and entertaining time was had by all.

Iain arrived at the meeting point ten minutes before the others, and because of his own insecurities decided not to enter the establishment on his own. So instead, Iain decided to intercept the others on their route from the train station to the said establishment. Unfortunately, there are a number of routes from the station to the bar, so Iain had to scout an approximately five-hundred metres range in order to find them. Iain counsiously assigned a high probably to the route that he knew they had taken before, but that was based on them visiting a certain fast food emporium which introduced an element of risk. They took that route and he spotted them, instead of going to greet them Iain decided to follow them to the bar leaving at least a distance of 100 metres between them. Shortly after Cat and Hannah arrived at the bar, Iain arrived and greeted them to a reception of being accused of waiting outside for them to arrive. Iain, truthfully, denied this accusation and stated that he was practising his stalking skills.

Drinks were drunk, conversation was spoken, everything was good. There is no sudden twist in the tale. Cash Machine was visited, and so too was Nandos. Iain consumed chicken breast in pitta bread with a coleslaw side order. Cat had half a chicken with chips and coleslaw, and Hannah, who prefers red meat to white, had a green salad (which contained strips of chicken breast). It was quite a nice meal. Cat's opinion is that there is lots of heat in meals produced by Nandos, but no spice.

A progression of physical location was made from Nandos to the local Warner Village cinema, a distance of less than one-hundred metres. The decision was made to see Men in Black II for which the waiting time was approximately thirty minutes so they meandered to Bar Med, which was charging an entrance fee. They were so disappointed, so they went back to the cinema and ordered food where the girls insisted on hassling Andrew, the poor guy behind the counter. Iain informed the girls that they were both acting like a pair of drunk people, which Hannah actually was.

As it turns out, Hannah isn’t the best person to go see a film with, and she took a few minutes to calm down upon entering the screening room, the alcohol aided her sleepiness. Hannah and Iain played mildly in the cinema, nothing sexual, just hands playing, Cat noticed. Men In Black 2 was a predictable piece of Hollywood entertaining crap. Iain doesn't want more films like this to be made, but yet Iain choose to give his money to the cinema in order to see it. If Iain wasn’t such a law-abiding citizen, or if he had the bandwidth, he would have downloaded it instead.

The film was over, the gang retired to the transport for the evening, which by some kind of strange coincidence belonged to and was operated by Iain. Cat was dropped off at her parents house, which made the situation more interesting as it left Hannah and Iain alone. Aside from toilet visits by Cat, the last time this happened was the morning after the night before. Iain learnt a little bit about one-night-stand etiquette that morning.

On the way back to Hannah's house Iain flirted with her like a bitch on acid, but maybe not as severe. The flirting could have been interpreted as being simply friendly. Somehow they managed to be on some very weird detour which lead them to some woods. Leaving the transport behind they proceeded on foot to be given a tour of the woods by Hannah. Walking around woods you don’t know at 1am in pitch black is an activity I would highly recommend. Hannah knew these woods because a time ago she used to take her horse, Noddy, there. A few small kisses were exchanged between the pair, all of them induced by Iain. Hannah didn’t induce any physical contact of any kind.

After the woods were over and done with, Iain and Hannah retired to the car and proceeded to drive for a further hour randomly around. Hannah showed Iain were she used to live with her parents before they moved away, and tried to show him where she went to school, but couldn’t find it. Eventually, Iain took Hannah home and they spoke in Iain’s car for about forty minutes before Hannah went to bed. Iain then went on the thirty-five minute drive home.

Hannah currently has a boyfriend, and someone with whom she is cheating on that boyfriend with. It can be concluded that while she likes the stability of a relationship, she equally likes the excitement from cheating on the relationship, she agrees with that statement. Iain’s opinion is that Hannah, and most girls that may be interested, see him as more long-term relationship material than short-term. Iain is leaving this town in a month to return to university and therefore any relationship with Hannah wouldn’t be possible. He also thinks that any relationship wouldn’t be a real relationship, but more a series of one night stands. Iain would like to be friends, kinda.

"What is success to you?" - Iain
"i knew yesterday that you were becoming fonder of hannah." - Cat

This was written in mild third-person by Iain, who is very bad at interpreting mixed signals and should probably have his blood stream filtered for hormones that make his brain go crazy. There isn't much I don't regret.


The morning was a frenzy of shopping, spending the new money on clothes and stuff. A home PC is on order! I hope it arrives soon.

After a rest, after 4pm I left, heading for the nodermeet in Westminster at pages bar. I emerged from the tube about 10 to 5 and walked south.

Princess LouLou had sent her apologies (get well soon Lou!), and Frankie was overcomitted as usual. So who would be there?

A few minutes later, just after I had passed the houses of parliament, an SMS from Booyaa arrived: ‘Are you coming to the nodermeet?’ Ah, the assembled masses are missing me already! ‘I’ll be there in 5 mins…’ I replied. I got there soon enough, and stopped at the door. A woman in black was demanding 3 pounds, and I could see a large sign ‘Nosferatu’ on the wall! Goth night! Vampires. And me wearing a touristy T-shirt.

Oh well. Well, 3 pounds was less than a round of drinks, so I paid, entered and got Guinness. No-one looks like a noder, and the door people hadn’t heard of them. Darn it, us Capetonians are supposed to be the unpunctual ones! I sent SMSs to booya: ‘They’re all vampires!’ ‘How do I tell the noders from the other weirdoes?’

The theme seemed to be alterna-geek. Black clothes, silver chains, Buffy and comic book print T-shirts seems to be the order of the day. There was even a model of the starship enterprise hanging from the ceiling, and they showed nerd movies ‘The New Guy’ and ‘Jay and Silent bob strike back’. Odd how nerds are the only ones still doing goth. When my crowd, the UCT Role-playing geeks, went all goth in ’88, the ‘cool goths’ wouldn’t give us the time of day.

Eventually I started asking people ‘did a website send you here?’ I got two forms of answer: ‘No’ and ‘wot?’. Disheartening.

Booya arrived before 6pm. So we sat down, drank and talked about stuff. London pride is good beer. No one else showed, but honestly I had a good time. Frankie sent a message ‘hello to all the happy noders’.

I went home after 9pm, to find that the upstairs neighbour’s housewarming was still in progress, so I had some more drinks there and stayed until after midnight. These people have a story … A couple of weeks ago they, new to the block, had locked themselves out of their 2nd story flat when the wind blew the flat door closed.

I pointed out that if they put one of the garbage bins against the wall, it couldn’t be too hard to get in the open window. Ten minutes later I did it for them as she is short and round and he is ‘scared of heights’. They seem to be legal students, and are not ‘together’ are just friends and he’s gay. That explains the reluctance to do manly stuff like climbing walls.

On sunday afternoon I saw the great exhibition of Ansel Adams's photos and sttayed in the gallery as thunder and rain came down. But that's another story.


weill in japan: day 32

Today was the busiest travel day of my three-day weekend, with a stop in Asakusa followed immediately by a trip to a fireworks festival.

the ancient art of tourism

Our first stop was the historic district of Asakusa, with a boat ride up the Sumida River to show us the many bridges and buildings in the area. This is the same river where I saw fireworks last Saturday, but I didn't see much of it during the daylight hours on that day.

One downside of declining camera prices: everyone brought a camera with them on the boat ride, and there were at least four times when one or two poor saps took a group photo with ten cameras. Since most of them were digital cameras, we could have saved a lot of time by using one camera and sending the file around.

Upon arrival in central Asakusa, we headed for the area around the Senso Temple. Due to the large numbers of foreign tourists who visit the historic grounds, an enormous marketplace has sprung up selling clothing, traditional-looking Japanese gifts, and food. Although the number of vendors is pretty impressive, the prices are not. I saw a World Cup t-shirt selling for ¥2900 ($24.20), despite the fact that I bought a sweater for about one-third as much just two days earlier. Toys and games were equally marked-up: a Pikachu plush toy which looks exactly like the one I have at home was selling for ¥7410 ($61.75), triple the U.S. price. Nevertheless, I bought a few gifts, inching closer to finishing my gift shopping.

Sighting: Japanese baseball stuff. After 4 1/2 weeks, I finally found shops selling caps and gifts (but not t-shirts or jerseys) related to Japanese baseball. Apparently only tourists like that stuff, since all the other baseball merchandise I've seen for sale in Japan centers around American Major League Baseball.

Milestone: I have eaten okonomiyaki, sometimes called "Japanese pizza." After an hour in the shopping plaza, the group reconvened at the temple gates and went to a small okonomiyaki place. The food is delicious and inexpensive, but more labor-intensive than just about any other kind of restaurant I've visited here. Patrons order various okonomiyaki, and are given bowls containing all the ingredients. While nearly all of the mixtures include egg, the "pizza" label is misleading: very few contain cheese. After mixing the ingredients thoroughly, the patron pours the ingredients onto a grill on the middle of the table, flipping and seasoning it appropriately. The result is delicious, although the only thing it shares with a pizza is the round shape. Our table of six people cooked four okonomiyaki, and that was more than enough food for me. Total cost per person: ¥370 ($3.10), including all the cold water and tea that you can drink.

After a little Dance Dance Revolution and Taiko no Tatsujin 3 (where I set another high score on "Susume! Dorira!") it was off to my second destination of the day.

another saturday, another matsuri

I was to meet a friend of my older brother's today for a trip to the Todakoen Festival. After leaving enough time for transportation, I made a snap decision that turned out to be horribly wrong. Instead of taking the Chuo rapid line from Kanda to Shinjuku, I took the Yamanote loop at its most distant point. That meant that instead of traveling three stops, I passed through fifteen. Instead of a five-minute travel ride, I was on for 25 minutes. Fortunately, a friend of mine had a mobile phone, so I was able to call ahead and warn that I'd be late. Lesson learned: always check the shortest route.

After getting all excited about spending a Saturday night with a Japanese gal, I met Shell at the station. She was with a group that totaled 11 people in size, including the two of us. Whatever you'd call it, don't call it a first date. The group was largely Korean, and consisted of people whose Japanese was substantially better than mine but not quite fluent. I spoke to a ton of people, shared many experiences, and took in the night's fireworks.

Unlike last week's excursion, I traveled with at least a couple of people who understand the whole matsuri routine. After finding a spot, we laid out sheets and newspaper to minimize the amount of dirt we'd get on our clothes. The seats, which we claimed about 2 1/2 hours prior to sunset, were close to the pedestrian walkway but still allowed for an outstanding view of the fireworks. I took a ton of pictures, including several that included members of the group. I felt kind of guilty: food and beer was provided by other group members, but I didn't pay anything for it.

As I noted last week, prices at festivals tend to be exploitatively high. Today's high price: one of the people in our group bought a six-pack of beer from a street vendor. Total cost for six 12-ounce (350 ml) cans: ¥3000. That's about $25.00, and more than four times the normal price for a six-pack in Japan.

After battling my way through the crowds for an hour, the group decided to go its separate ways. A few folks went out for drinking and karaoke, but I dragged my exhausted body back through the rail system to head home. It was a great day.

Milestone: This was the first day when I completely exhausted 96MB of memory for my camera. Even after dropping the resolution down to 1280x960, I filled up both of my cards. In total, I took some 128 pictures, and about 100 of them were added to my library of more than 400 pictures tipping the scales at 303 MB. My pictures overall are approaching the limits of a standard CD-R disc, when you also include the hundreds of photos I took before this trip.

It was a tiring day, but the weekend's not over yet: tomorrow brings me downtown to see the Godzilla statue in Tokyo. I'll have to do my homework at some point before Monday at 8:30 AM, too.

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