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There is a dream of a tomorrow that will never come. Air cars are long past due.
There is a vision of a woman who is nothing but a fiction. She only exists in my mind, perhaps another universe entirely, but I can feel her heart beating.
There is a story that is unwritten. The author died centuries ago and no one knows his name.
There is a world that is worth saving. If you look long enough towards the heavens, you might see it, but it's not there anymore and the light of its sun is just now getting to us, and its sun went supernova a few million years ago.
There is a breath of fresh air which your lungs cannot draw. It is lost in the pollution.
There is a love we all feel. It is unknowable and has no name.
There is a fire that cools. Frostbite is just another type of freezer burn.
There is a time when people are happy. It happened a moment ago and no one remembers it because it lasted for .0000002 seconds, an eon to a computer, but less than a heartbeat to us.
There is a plate of food which is perfect in its arrangement. It is plastic and cannot be eaten.
Life is a contradictory mystery. The purpose of our existence is to learn, but we will never know what it is we're supposed to learn, exactly.

Waiting is.

Back to: Fun at the ball game

Forward to: The city that never sleeps, part 1

After Richmond we were in Philadelphia for three days. In this time we managed to see a decent amount although it was all about those horrible traitors who started to revolutionary war.

The hostel in Phily, Bank St Hostel, was cool although I didn't really like the huge dorms. It had a free pool table and good kitchen so it was perfectly bearable for four nights.

We went to see the Philadelphia Museum of Art which has an amazing collection of art including around 20 Monets. It didn't have a great deal of the more modern stuff like Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Chuck Close and Piet Mondrian. Most annoying though was its layout. It was done in such a way that it was necessary to continually back track and change direction if you wanted to maintain any sort of chronological order to your viewing. Also artists seemed to have their paintings sprayed over a series of different locations, it seemed as if they had said to themselves, "that'll fit there, shove it up".

After Phily came Virginia Beach. It was hot, it sunny and the water was so damn nice. The beach is amazing and we ended up getting a great deal on our room. The only thing that detracts from the resort is the noise of the low flying military aircraft wizzing by overhead. We swum in the sea 20 feet away from a pod of dolphins, we tanned on the beach and we played mini golf, indeed it was paradise. However it had to end and we have moved from the heat of the beach to the heat of New York City. We're here till Wednesday so it would be great to meet up with people. On Saturday night we're going to see Rich and Happy and Stoned: Noders Take The Stage! and on Tuesday evening I'm taking my girl out for her birthday. Other than that we are young, free and a couple and looking for some fun.

On Wednesday we head up to Buffalo for two days just to see Niagra Falls then from there we head to Boston arriving on Saturday August 10 and leaving on the evening of Wednesday August 14.

Oh yeah, beware the jellyfish at the beach.

Why do I love my man?
I love him because he is a geek.
I love him because he is honest and forthright.
I love him because his face looks different from every angle and in every mood.
I love him despite the fact that his hair is attempting to take over my house.
I love the fact that he cares enough about my kids to discipline them.
I love his laugh, even in the movie theater.
I love how excited he gets about movies and books, just like me.
I love the fact that we can disagree without fighting.
I love him because he tells me when I’m being a dumbass.
I love him because I can tell him when he’s being a dumbass and he doesn’t get mad.
I love him because I know how to get his goat, and he knows how to get mine, and neither of us means it.
I love him because he is honest about even the things that are hard to talk about.
I love him because he is courageous enough to tell me how he feels.
I love him because he makes me talk about the things I don’t want to talk about and he won’t let me wimp out.
I love him because he is jealous of my old boyfriends (and incidentally, I’m jealous of HIS past history too).
I love him because he tries to cheer me up when I don’t want to be cheered up.
I love him because he can hold me and just be there for me when there is nothing else that will help.
I love that he wants me as much as I want him.
I love the fact that he didn’t take the easy way out and tell me he loved me before it was true, and the fact that we could talk about it and agree on it.
I love that he likes my cooking.
I love him because he goes out with me and the kids and does dull family stuff and seems to enjoy it.
I love him because he thinks about me when we’re not together.
I love the fact that we get each other’s jokes and groan at each other’s horrible puns.
I love the fact that we each have favorite books and movies we HAVE to show the other.
I love the fact that we like each other’s friends.
I love him because he makes me smile whenever I think about him.
I love that we can lie around reading and consider it quality time.
I love that he likes the garb I make for him.
I love him because he makes me feel safe.
I love him because he worries about me.
I love that he says I’m good for his ego in bed.
I love him despite the fact that he is totally merciless in bed.
I love that I can at least wrestle him to a standstill, and that I know where all his ticklish spots are.
I love that we can’t kiss without getting all hot and bothered.
I love him because he is himself, without compromise.

I'm going to miss you, baby, but it won't be for long - you're the best thing that's happened to me in a long time. I love you.
August 9, 2002

I hate fuckers who can't drive. I wanna fucken kill 'em and leave a note why their life had to come to a sudden halt. Why you ask am I suddenly all bent on killing every muthafucka who steps on the accelarator instead of the brake? Well, it all happened like this.

About a month or two ago, a duck with nine kids came to the back of our house, probably looking for some food to fill up her kids. Fast forward about a week or two, and I notice that the count of the kids are down to about seven or so. I'm like, How did they suddenly disappear? Could it be some fuckers driving o'er them, or could it be some other fuckin bastards duck-napping them? I let it pass, and continued to feed the remaining ducks. Fast forward another week or two. We're now down to five ducks. What the fuck?!

Enter today. Early in the morning there were still five little ducks. I fed them. A few hours later they came back, but this time with only four little kids (well, their not really that little anymore). Well, this has happened a few times before, so it wasn't too unusual. I mean, usually the fifth duck is out chillin somewhere. So I didn't take it all to serious. I gave the ducks some food, thinking the fifth kid would come back. Still no answer. So I checked around my the outside of my house, and couldn't find it. I'm like That's odd. At this age, ducks are usually a bit more careful.

So I'm like whatever. I go outside to put the license plate on my new car (we bought it a month ago, and got the tag a few days ago, so I was putting it on). After I was done and everything, my eyes just happened to wander off to the road....

There the little duck was. The head was missing. At that point it became pretty fucking obvious. Too many fuckers are blind. And blind fuckers can't drive. Damn, I was pissed. For all I know, the first four missing ducks could still be alive living as some duck-nappers hostage. But this last duck, I saw it with my own three (uhh..I mean two) eyes. I just wish people could be more careful.

What an interesting week it has been. A lot of things have happened and my emotions have gone from bored to excited to frustrated and right back to bored. I can't quite explain why or what made this week different, but its been one of those weeks.

I have tried to move away from daylogs, but I seem to feel better after I write something down. Maybe its good we have places like this for journal writing, not journalism. I don't know anyone in real life that visits or reads my nodes and I like it that way (At least I don't know anyone that is here on E2, but I could be wrong). I'm different then most noders here it seems, I'm not big into all of these noder gatherings but thats okay.

I have had two interviews this week, in the never ending search, or at least it seems that way, for the full-time job that would make things a lot easier for me. The first was at a school doing tech support for the whole district. The only problem with that is 90% of the computers are Macintosh based and thats not what I know. The other job is the dream-job. Working for a local growing company that needs someone to do all the computer and network admin they need. Its wierd, right now the vice-president of operations is the only person that does the computer stuff for the whole company and he needs someone to take over. So I hope I get it.

I have already heard back from the first interview and I wasn't asked back for a second one. Oh well.... I didn't really want that job anyways. Still waiting for the second one, I should hear back Monday or Tuesday. So I get to wait.

One thing I'm learning throughout this whole deal/process is patience. The more I have to wait, the easier it gets. My interview skills are improving as well, I guess it is true what they say. "Pratice makes perfect....

Oh well back to working at my part-time job, full time hours....

Hi, I just wanted to write up a few things while I was at it…. In response to my day log a few days ago. I wanted everyone to know that my cousin is finally out of the hospital, it was a blood infection. They don’t know where she got it from, and we think it might be her boyfriend…Eww, I donno. Well, she is home, and on bed rest; she isn't allowed to go outside for a week until she goes to the doctor's for a check up.

In the spirit of good news, I made level 2 today. *cheers* I feel happy, one of my many goals has been accomplished. But, in the name of progress, I have to go, I have a busy night.

My dad ran over our cat Smitty today; the car's wheel broke her back and she was dead in minutes.

It was an accident, of course, and everyone's been pretty sad about it all day today. My dad buried her in the shade of an old oak tree in the side yard where several other departed pets also lie: our cat Fuzzy, my turtle Pat, and our little dog Scruffy.

"We can't ever sell this house," my mom once told me. "There's too much family buried here."

Smitty was absolutely ancient. She came to our house as a stray some 14 years ago; we already had several cats then, and she just sort of showed up and inserted herself into the household. I believe she thought, "There's so many cats here, they'll never notice me". She was old even then, and had arthritis so bad she couldn't get into the litterbox. The arthritis largely cleared up after a few months; evidently, it was diet-related and whoever had her before hadn't been feeding her properly.

So, I'm guessing she was something over 20 years old. She'd been failing recently; she was an outdoors cat because she liked to pee on the carpet, and the Texas summer wasn't kind to her this year. If you saw her sleeping in the shade in the carport, the phrase "bag of bones" would immediately come to mind.

The accident happened because of a game she liked to play. She'd sleep under the car, directly behind the back left wheel. If you started the car, she'd move, but she liked to wait 'til the last possible minute. She'd been playing this game for years; she always moved out of the way.

But today, she stayed where she was.

My mom thinks she might have been getting deaf over the past couple of weeks and just didn't realize my dad had gotten in the car and turned on the engine.

I suspect maybe she knew, and stayed put on purpose. I think she'd decided it was time for her to go. Smitty was the most quietly willful, persistent creature I've ever known. Anytime she put her little mind to something, she got what she wanted, eventually.

I'm sad to see the old girl go, even if it is probably for the best. I was sorry I hadn't been out there much to give her petting the past couple of days.

In better news, I heard back from my friend in Columbus: it's not a brain tumor. Yay! What he has is a bubble of fluid at the base of his skull that's been creating pressure that has in turn been causing his seizures and numbness. He says the doctor thinks that they can siphon the thing out relatively easily.

I'm so glad it's not cancer. He had a brain tumor in the same location when he was a teenager, and because it was right at the nexus where the spinal cord grows into the base of the brain, a tricky spot that controls basic body functions, the doctors couldn't do surgery to take it out. He had to have a chemotherapy agent injected directly into his brain. The doctors said if it ever grew back, he'd only have a 20% chance of beating it a second time.


¡Viva la Fiesta!

Yes, it's Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara again, as it is every August; the time when people here pretend to know or care about our Spanish heritage. And for the first time in my twelve years living here, I had fun!

As usual, my employer was a sponsor of Fiesta, and the company got off at noon today to join in the revelry -- ostensibly starting off by shouting a big group Viva as the carriage bearing our CEO passed by in the Fiesta parade. Greg came by around 12:00, seeing Edward and me still at our desks, and exhorted us to "Come on, we've gotta go get beer and tacos!". We joined his little band, bringing the complement to six, and walked down to State Street. He wanted to proceed directly to De la Guerra Plaza, where all the comida y cerveza stands were, but first he was convinced to snag a just-off-the-sidewalk table at Zelo's (why it was vacant is a mystery), and at least make a token effort to watch for our parade representation. (It turns out it went by while we were there, but we all missed it.)

We all ordered a bit to eat, and our first drinks of the day (a not-too-great blended margarita for me). The subject of "doing shots" came up, and a debate ensued on the virtues of various brands of tequila. Being with Edward, I felt like being a fun un-Clarence-ish kind of guy, so I told the waiter I'd have a shot of Patron Silver (Edward's nominee for best tequila). I was a bit surprised when the waiter brought out six of them; I had missed the part where Edward had bought a round for the table. It did taste rather elegant, not what I was expecting at all. The Indian (dots, not feathers) lady sitting next to me does not drink, so I had hers, too.

Now, the most drinking I've ever done amounts to two whiskey sours or two or three glasses of wine, over the course of an evening, with no more effect than a warm tingling for the most part. I was surprised how quickly I felt more than that after the two shots. I decided to calibrate the effects as I took an experimental walk to the restroom: yep, more effect than I'd felt before.

At some point, it came out that Janet (a fifties-ish cigar-smoking lady with great joie de vivre) might not have a date for the Horseman's Rendezvous later, having "pissed off two" of her five (or six, it wasn't clear) boyfriends the night before. I said I'd go with her if she wanted an escort. Earlier in the day, Jennifer had come around with two extra tickets. (The Rendezvous is a sort-of-not-quite-semi-exclusive barbecue after the Fiesta parade.) I had gone last year because the CEO pressed a ticket on me, but hadn't enjoyed it and stayed no more than ten minutes. Based on that, I declined Jen's offer. Edward demurred also, and it seemed almost that he didn't want to go without me. More about this later....

After the drinks and settling the bill, Greg herded us on to De la Guerra plaza (two of our party going off on their own as they had other plans), where he got some tacos, and we watched some of the Spanish/Mexican bailar exhibitions. He wanted to go into the beer garden section, but nobody else did, and after a bit we returned to the office.

Entering our office, I gave Edward a hug, and found out he likes to hug as much as I do (even despite the two shot glasses I had hanging from a lanyard around my neck), then reluctantly turned to the phone system logs that someone had complained had an anomaly in them. In getting me to join the outing, Greg had "guaranteed" that the data would make more sense to me after I'd had a margarita. It took a while, but on the strength of the margarita and two tequilas, I found the problem and dispatched it. Around three o'clock, Greg and Janet started making noises about leaving for the party. Janet had her extra ticket for me, but now I didn't want to go without Edward. We all looked around the office, figuring Jennifer might have left those extras somewhere; no joy there. Then I remembered that my boss had left his Gold Sponsor ribbon on his desk. We figured that would get us some pull, so we pinned that on Edward and off we went.

Janet bought a bunch of drink tickets and distributed them to one and all. I didn't think the margaritas would be very good (which Edward confirmed) so I just hung around with the group. Eventually we decided we needed to go find Tony (the CEO) and pay our respects, so to speak. We found him at a table full of NetLojix folks, and joined them. After a bit, he said to Edward and me, "Come on, I want to buy you a drink". It was going to be a beer or a margarita, but I guess someone mentioned the earlier shots, and he went over to the full bar. Behind the bar stood a man of at least fifty years, and little sense. If there's such a thing as a bartender's license, his needs to be revoked. Tony bellied up to the bar and asked for three tequilas, neat. The barman asked what neat meant, and Tony managed to inform him, without laughing, that it meant with no ice or water. The man set up three beer cups, and filled them to the brim with Jose Cuervo Especiál. Flabbergasted, we returned to the table where everybody had a laugh at the story. I had found out on the way back to the table that there's a world of difference between Cuervo and Patron. Edward poured a bit of his into a margarita that was handy and advised me to do the same. I, however, bereft of other drink, continued to consume mine neat.

Edward at one point said he was going to join the food line, so I went with him. He was quite cheerful by this point. People had been mentioning that he was smashed, and he'd concurred. I wouldn't have said so, as I think of smashed as being the loud, obnoxious, rude drunks that I've seen occasionally in my life, and Edward was not at all any of those. Returning to our table, we found that the chair that had been between us had now been vacated, and he ordered me to move over next to him. There was about two fingers left of my glass of tequila, but he decided that we'd had enough and moved our glasses into the center of the table. He said they were no longer "ours", but were now "anonymous". But when he later went off to the bathroom, I finished the one that had been mine :)

While he was gone, Tony was going off to make the rounds again, and I playfully asked him to bring me a bottle of water (inside joke). By the time Edward returned, I had my water, and he had brought me a Diet Coke. That was very sweet of him, because he hates the fact that I drink diet drinks, but he wanted to get something besides tequila in me. I intended to drink plenty of water anyway, having read various tracts on how to avoid a hangover. By the end of the evening, I'd drunk probably at least five times as much water as I had alcohol. (The next day I felt no aftereffects at all; if it's that easy to avoid a hangover, why don't people do it?)

As we started walking back to the office, I said to him "You make me so happy!"; he gave me one of his trademark smiles (seeing him smile is an incredible perk of being his friend) and said "That's what it's all about!". And after we got there, he captured me in a wonderful hug that lasted about a minute. Then he decided he needed to be sitting/lying down for a while and pulled me down next to him. I fed him water occasionally. Later he sat on my lap at my computer and played with the windows I had open, reading some of my E2 writeups. After an hour at the office, another friend showed up to take him to a LAN party that I'd reminded him he'd been planning on attending (and had missed the beginning of).

I went home and replayed the day in my mind, smiling the whole time. Happy, happy, happy!

After reading this log, Edward said to me "What a happy story!" What a beautiful person he is :)

Welcome to another issue of Life in the Swedish Army, the weekly dump of entries from my diary, being written as I go through national service in the armed forces of Sweden. See my wu in this node if this is the first of the LitSA write-ups you've seen. It contains some background info which will be expanded later when I get to writing a proper LitSA metanode.

This week came with a full package of pain and suffering, for this was the week when I and my fellow soldiers embarked on what would be the end of our period of basic training - the first two out of ten months have passed, and we will now be moving from the basics to slightly more advanced things, such as learning how to drive large armoured vehicles. First, however, a few weeks will be spent on what is known as "högvakt", or "high guard" - a better translation would probably be royal guard, because that's what it's all about - we will be standing guard outside the royal castles in Stockholm and Drottningholm. More about that in future LitSA nodes, however.

A little about what we actually did this week (I didn't cover it very well in my diary): The exercise spanned three days, during which we had to survive on a minimum of food and sleep (the only real meal we got was one can of white beans in tomato sauce, which we had to eat on the first day), while travelling a distance of approximately 45 kilometers. On foot. In full combat gear, carrying everything we needed in (or strapped to the outside of) our backpacks. To top it off, the weather was gorgeous all three days, with air temperatures well in excess of 25 degrees C and the sun constantly shining. Just the kind of weather you'd like to go to the beach in. NOT the kind of weather you want to go on a three-day march in.

Here follows the diary entries for this week, covering days 43-49, or June 29 - August 4th.

29th of July, 2002 - 08:37
Something is starting to feel very wrong about this. After hurrying through the standard morning routine, we were told to prepare all of our equipment for the march ahead, with no further instructions on when or how we were going to leave. For more than an hour, we have been sitting here doing NOTHING. Our CO's are nowhere to be found. I wonder if they have some devilish plan in store for us...

29th of July, 2002 - 10:30
Urgh. Yep, still sitting here doing nothing in particular.

30th of July, 2002 - 06:14
After the somewhat slow morning we finally started our march of death, bringing us at least 24 kilometers in 10 hours' time. The second day has just begun, and the march is set to continue. Not good. One of us has already been forced to break off the exercise and I am guessing that more will follow him. Personally, I feel like I would have given up long ago, given an appropriate opportunity to do so. I take some comfort in the fact that we'll probably go home tomorrow ...

Note: I did not actually know at this point that we were indeed going to go home on the 31st. It was just my hunch.

31st of July, 2002 - 07:35
As through some heavenly miracle I am finding the strength to write today as well, day three of what has to be the worst exercise we've done so far. Urgh. We have finally come back to S1, but so far we're not "home". Instead, some practice at the shooting range awaits, and fuck knows what will come after that. I'm really tired, really hungry, I have blisters on my feet and a toothache. Not pleasant at all. However, I am reasonably sure they won't keep this madness up for much longer.

1st of August, 2002 - 06:40
It is yet again morning. The exercise, which I hoped would end yesterday afternoon, did indeed end, and so all that's left is recovering from the experience. For me this means having to deal with all the mosquito bites I've accumulated. I've also still got the remains of a huge blister on my right foot, causing me to limp like some 80-year old. Apart from this however, there isn't much wrong with me. Today it's thursday and I'm hoping for a relatively calm day.

2nd of August, 2002 - 15:52
On my way home. The week ended, as I had hoped, without any further events of substance. Now the GSU (Basic soldier training) is over, and we move on to slightly more interesting matters. Next week we will start preparing for standing guard at the royal castle in Stockholm, though right now, I'm looking forward to the weekend most of all.

<-- day 36-42 | day 50-56 -->

frenetic friday

weill in japan: day 31

I've been pushed around in trains, burned by the sun, and propped up on stilts. It's been a good Friday.

The day after our dreaded midterm had the class head off to Harajuku for what I thought was a 9:00 AM start. After getting washed and dressed a half-hour later than normal, I headed out at 8:05 AM for the train station to catch the train into the bustling hub of Shinjuku.

There, I experienced the morning rush as I never could have imagined.

The train arrived at Ogikubo, opened its doors, and a few people got out. From there on out, it was an everyday matter to squash ten people into a space barely big enough for five. I was among the first in, and made my way to the center of the car. The last people in actually walked in backwards to fully press their weight against the mass of people in the car. At this density level, people more or less act as one mass: grabbing onto handles is completely redundant. Pressed against people on all sides -- including a young child right in front of me -- we headed out. Three more stations before Shinjuku provided even more people, and those who expected to get out before the major hub had to literally shove their way out of the car to blaze a path for themselves. I went from having zero personal space to having negative personal space: for the latter half of this first leg, people were pushing against my chest non-stop. After transferring to the equally busy Yamanote Line to arrive at Harajuku, I was relieved to be out of the train and trying not to think about the many sources of the sweat on my shirt.

In a society which has historically looked down upon physical contact between strangers, the subway system represents an unusual modern challenge. Thousands upon thousands of commuters go through the same hell every day, crammed into impossibly crowded cars. Conductors exist on station platforms to push people into trains. Even in New York, a city notorious for its hectic pace, people will wait for the next subway train if the current one is full. Both Tokyo and New York run trains every couple of minutes during rush hour, but Tokyo workers absolutely must get on the train at all costs. The nightmare of commuting is a real detriment for outsiders like myself, and represents a key reason why I wouldn't want to live and work in the city full time. (Of course, there are also buses and personal cars, but the roadways are horribly congested as well.)

an early start

I arrived at Harajuku at 8:40 AM, giving me plenty of time to rehydrate and seek out the station exit where I would meet my class. After about ten minutes of walking up and down the block, I thought I had found the right place. No students or professors were waiting for me there. I walked around again, looking for the "South Entrance" as directed on the instruction sheet. Unlike most stations, there was no entrance explicitly named "South Entrance," but the station clerk confirmed that I was at the right location on the map given to us in class yesterday. At 9:05 AM, five minutes after I thought we were supposed to meet, I decided to call my professor's mobile phone to ask where everyone was.

One minute and 210 yen later, I realized that I wasn't five minutes late -- I was 25 minutes early. We were to meet at 9:30 AM. D'oh.

Sure enough, after we all gathered at the correct time, we were off.

Sighting: A member of the Imperial family was driven in a motorcade past the entrance to the Meiji shrine as we walked nearby. The guard on duty saluted the cars. Neat. We didn't enter the shrine, but took plenty of pictures near the giant gates.

Today's event was the annual Greater Tokyo Festival or Oo-Edo Matsuri, which celebrates Tokyo's history. Traditional games, crafts, and some modern foods available at moderate prices. I bought a melon-flavored shaved ice; a bottle of Ramune soda, which comes in an unusual bottle sealed with a marble; and a few sticks of yakitori. Total cost: seven tickets, worth ¥700 ($5.80). All the fun produced tons of photo opportunities for myself and my classmates, and I captured a ton of photos and video clips using my camera.

After a tasty lunch at an Italian buffet restaurant (buffets are called baikingu, literally "Viking," in Japan) we each went our separate ways. After a little shopping in Harajuku's energetic youth-oriented marketplace, we felt the first few raindrops and headed back to the station. Since it was still a bit early, I thought I would play a few games at the arcade near Ogikubo station and head home.

the skies open up


The rains which drenched Tokyo last evening returned today just after I got to Ogikubo station, as the sky turned from blue to gray to black. Pitch black. Black as night. The rain started slowly but quickly accelerated to a torrential downpour. Since I didn't have my backpack, I had no umbrella, and I thought I could wait out the rain in the department store and arcades in the station area.

One hour passed. Two hours passed. Rather than try to wait out the rain, I decided to bite the bullet, buy an umbrella for a surprisingly low price (¥630, or $5.25), and walk home solo. Thankfully, I didn't buy anything that might have been soaked, but the time was wasted anyway. It's okay -- I haven't had this much fun on a class day since I've been here.

Over dinner, my older brother Toshi pointed that my arms looked unusually red. I've been outside long enough in a day to get sunburned. Rock.


The rains that have hit Tokyo for the past two days are projected to hit again on Saturday evening. Hopefully they won't wash out the fireworks festival planned for tomorrow evening, which I hope to visit with a friend of my older brother's.

My rating in Taiko no Tatsujin 3 has risen to "Taiko no Meijin," the second-highest rating behind "Taiko no Tatsujin." My dictionary defines both "Meijin" and "Tatsujin" as "master, expert." It's a shame that the game isn't available in the U.S. and likely won't be imported due to its Japan-centric content.

The fighting games at most arcades in Japan are set up so that the first player and second player sit at opposite machines and do not see each other during play. This means that it's possible to sit at an opposite machine and impatiently wrest control of the game by challenging the current player. There's no way for the two machines to play independently, probably because they use the same central hardware. I was playing along just fine until a guy put his coin in, challenged me, and turned me into carpeting. I'm not bitter. Really.

Some meta-statistics: so far I've taken about 300 digital photos in Japan, and a number of video clips. Including this update, my writings while in Japan have exceeded 32,000 words in length. That's more than 206 kilobytes of text, and some 200 megabytes of photographs. I'll put some photos on the web after I'm back in New York, but they will be scaled down to reduce download times and fit into my disk quota.

Now I know where all the freaks congregate on Sundays in Shibuya. I didn't visit that spot this past Sunday, but I might try to go on August 11. This coming Sunday, I'm heading into downtown Tokyo to see the Godzilla statue. That trip originates in Shibuya, appropriately enough.

It's another early start on Saturday as this crazy weekend continues.

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