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Yes, many responded with degrees of inebriation, possibly even unto excess. We made it through the denial stage, and of course, “How I spent my summer vacation” was the most common story. After hearing of other’s travel trials and tribulations, I felt my 16-hour, Danger Zone/Axis of Evil flight did not even rate an honorable mention in the air travel competition, what with no lost luggage, broken planes, or anxiety attacks. Our train trip, yet to be recounted here, did well in the surface travel category.

Sunset was about 7:00 pm. The script is from Jacqueline Svaren’s excellent book “Written Letters.” The script is based on Ernst Schneidler’s typeface “Legend.” The pen was a Pilot Parallel Pen with a 3.8 mm and their ink.

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A most remarkable revelation occurred many weeks yet few posts ago: I cleaned my iPad lens. I had been having more and more difficulty with getting ToonCamera to focus and give me images with “snap,” “pop,” and “bokeh.” I thought maybe ToonCamera was wearing out. I recalled reading about the many smart device users whose solutions to problems with apps is to buy a new device. That is something the manufacturers could surreptitiously encourage. I am interested in an imini-pad or whatever they are called, but it would seem a heavy-handed approach. Then, I happened to look at the little lens. It was filthy! A few minutes later, and everything was peachy keen again, so now I have many images doing justice to ToonCamera again. Unfortunately, the trip to Japan was compromised. I will have to visit again.

The title is that of a science-fiction novella by John Varley. It won Hugo and Nebulla awards in 1979, about when would have been when I read it.

The flowers are lavenders in Beit Meri from the bee’s eye’s view.

 

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Thanksgiving has given me an excuse to have a little fun with my new Pilot Parallel Pens. Uncials seemed better than Gothic for this. I decided against outlining the vermillion letters with black, but ToonCamera did it for me.

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I foresee a market for non-conductive selfie sticks. Normally when I see warnings, I imagine they were inspired by actual dire consequences. Surely the warnings on the London Tube to “Mind the Gap,” respond (correspond?) to many real incidents. In this case, the Japanese organizational aptitude combined with frighteningly oblivious foreign (Chinese) tourists could have inspired these warnings without actual fatal incidents.

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When I saw corndogs at the local convenience store, I had to try one. The Japanese often elevate dishes from other countries to high art. Indeed it was refined, but it lacked  strong and distinct corn and frankfurter flavors. Another sign informed 283 kilocalories. I had to ask how they are called in Japanese. They are “American Dogs,” so I will remember it is not an insult.

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Although appearing surprisingly young for fire fighters, their expressions of alarm and determination represent their profession well. They are too small to be manholes (more likely access to spigots or valves), I do not know a better term. This was somewhere in Shinbashi. The middle character means “fire,” and the lower rayed and dotted circle is the symbol for Tokyo.

For anyone with interest in Japanese manhole covers, Wikipedia mentions a photography book “Drainspotting,” by Remo Camerota.

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My daughter is reading Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” which she finds has many unusual words. She asked me what “formication” might mean. I could not help but recall the scene in the movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “Maltilda” when Maltilda’s father reacts with outrage hearing she is reading a book with the obscene title “Moby Dick.”  I suggested, “Perhaps ants being romantic?”

A few days later, I saw ants formicating on the remains of a small reptile. Those tiny limbs and short conical tail suggest a skink, and I have seen what I suspect to be Ablepharus kitaibelii (European snake-eyed skink) in that area near the sea. I did not want to disturb the ants at work, so I did not flip it over for diagnostic markings.

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We did not see it, but this couple claims Charmander was right there at Ocean Beach in Golden Gate park. They had some sort of app called Pokemon Go to see spiritual entities invisible to us, and they were very excited.

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After passing over Red China and within spitting distance of North Korea on the way back from Tokyo last week, passing over Syria and Iran completed our axis-of-evil set. Added bonuses may be claimed for Iraq, the former Soviet Union, and the North Pole. The Lebanese national carrier, Middle East Airlines, still flies over Syria and Iraq: most airlines use the southern route over Jordan and Egypt that adds an hour.

Of course, “Danger Zone,” 1986, came into my head, though back then, the closest US airstrikes were against the late Qaddafi in Operation El Dorado Canyon. Remember the “Line of Death” across the Gulf of Sidra? Unfortunately, the tune is an earworm, and I have no antidote that itself would not perpetuate suffering. “California Dreamin” might work.

The 16-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to San Francisco had us a bit worried: Etihad is comfortable and has good food, but there are limits. Consider 200 economy passengers, 2 lavatories, and 16 hours. We thought of comfort and cost when choosing the flight without noticing the duration. During the layover, we realized that the Persian Gulf was unlikely to supply many travelers to California. Australians would go east, Europeans go west, and the only part of the world with any population who would travel north over the pole would be South Asia. Then, it twigged: Silicon Valley. We decided to expect Indian programmers and hope for Indian food, and indeed, more than nine in ten were from the sub-continent, and the food was dhal, paneer, biriani, and very good. Even better and completely unexpected was clearing US Immigration and customs in Abu Dhabi, thus replacing a crowded stress and frustration after more than 24 hours of travel with a mild, line-free activity during the layover. Axis of evil or Silk Road.

 

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There may be a competition for attractive manhole covers between Japanese districts.