Thursday October 20, 2005
Top Secret Plans
For months now, Chiara has been dropping hints about Top Secret Plans over at Ampersand (where it's all her, all the time). A few days ago, she surprised us all with the Big Reveal: she wants to relocate to London, to work there and to use it as a base for travel around Europe. However, as always with such things, it's complicated. Citizenship, passports, professional societies, and other bureaucratic obstacles have loomed, inconveniently, so she needs advice about the mechanics of living and working in another country. Well, I know for a fact that some of you are expats and exchange students—why not head on over to her journal, read about her situation, and then offer her the benefit of your expertise? You know you want to...
Thursday September 15, 2005
The Paradox of Japan
Perhaps the most hackneyed cliché in travel writing is to describe a foreign country as "a land of contrasts". But Japan, more than anywhere else in the world, really is such a place. Everywhere you turn you find a startling mix of the old and the new, the traditional and the novel, the past and the future. These contrasts are rooted in the tumultuous history of Japan in the 20th century.
From the beginning of the century through the Second World War, Japan's course was not without precedent. Its industrialization and colonial adventures were, quite consciously, a compressed recapitulation of the recent histories of the European powers. But everything changed in those two cataclysmic flashes of terrible light in the skies over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Occupation followed, and then reconstruction, although the latter term hardly seems strong enough to capture the thoroughness of the changes to Japanese society at all levels. As the nation emerged from occupation in the 1950's with its new and unique constitution, in which it forsook the practice of war for all time, it seemed poised to chart a course different from that of any other nation. Just how different was more surprising than anyone expected.
Monday September 5, 2005
In a conversation with my advisor a few days ago, I mentioned that we were planning to go to this year's World Expo during our trip to Japan. When I mentioned the Japanese word 万博 /banpaku/ 'World's Fair; World Expo', she asked me if the second kanji was the same as the first kanji in another compound, 発表 /happyou/ 'announcement'. The same thought had occurred to me and I didn't know the answer, so I looked it up.
So, before we went to Portugal, we had to figure out how we were going to deal with the language barrier. In addition to a couple of quarters of French The Wife and I took together a few years ago, she studied Spanish in high school and I studied Latin, so we though we sort of had Portuguese surrounded. As you might expect, that hardly prepared us to speak the langauge.
Sunday September 4, 2005
Three More Pictures
I promised more posts about our trip to Lisbon, but we got wrapped up in finishing our usual "he said, she said" trip report for friends and family. Before I actually post more about the trip, though, I wanted to give you three more funny pictures from Portugal.
Sunday August 21, 2005
Photos of Lisbon
I've been taking a lot of pictures over the last couple of days. These new, tiny, high-resolution cameras really are amazing—it's almost impossible to take a bad shot when there's sufficient lighting, and if you're really worried about it, take a second one to be safe. Rather than bore you with my generic tourist pictures (statue, museum, church, monument, statue, church...), I've included some of the quirkier pics after the jump.
Wednesday February 2, 2005
What Happened in Vegas...
Last weekend, Terminal Student and I went to Las Vegas for the wedding of some friends. It was a whirlwind of activity: in addition to the wedding and reception, which included a really interesting mix of Americans and Iranians, we saw my brother, who was in town for the bachelor party of my sister's fiancé (note: one e, because he's masculine), and also several of my fencing buddies at the Duel in the Desert.