Thursday, 30 December 2010

I climbed a mountain!

Well, first because we only had about an hour and a half of daylight left, I took a rope way up a mountain then hiked down (and barely made it before dark...).  Then the next morning I climbed up the mountain, then back down.  There are three main paths up Miyajima, and I climbed on all of them, and ne'er a monkey to be seen. :(  At the top of the rope way there were free lockers to put your bags and signs everywhere warning about the monkeys, but on day one it was rainy and cold, and on day two.. well, I guess they just don't like coming out during the winter.  I don't blame them, but I'm pretty bummed I couldn't see at least one.  Had binoculars this time too, but no luck.  I think they hate me.  Third time's the charm?

Anyway, here are some pictures!  Sorry, they're huge.  I took 194 after deleting some of the blurry ones or doubles. o.O  This camera is awesome.

 This is the atomic bomb dome, 原爆ドーム(genbaku dohmu).  I didn't stick around long, since we were on our way to the ferry to get to the island at the time and I was far more interested in seeing the monkeys, but it looks like it was a municipal building or something.  It's part of the Peace Park.  It was interesting to see how the city dealt with the bombing.  If you're confused, Miyajima is just off the coast from the main island of Japan at Hiroshima.  The first ferry we took, we got about a half hour in (as I sank further and further flat against the table) before the captain finally decided continuing out into the bay (we just barely made it off the river) was too dangerous.  The river was all white-caps, and the waves as we neared the bay had to have been at least five feet.  The bottom of the ferry was flat, and the nose was definitely not shaped to cut through waves.  That was disconcerting.  I'm glad we turned around, even though we lost well over two hours because of it.

 We finally got to 宮島口 (Miyajima guchi) where the JR ferry set off.  It's only about five minutes from the JR port to the island, but it took a long time to get to the station on the train.  The water was still really rough, but it was one of those ferries that transports cars so we didn't even feel it on the top.  This picture was while we were in line.  Right before I snapped this it was really bright, but it had faded by the time the guy in front of my would let me move the foot I needed to get the pillar out of the way of my camera.
 厳島神社の大鳥居 - This is the front of Ituskushima shrine.  The gate is held into the water by its own weight rather than set into the sand.  It's huge!  This is just after high tide.
 Deer.  They were everywhere.  They fear nothing, cars, people, squealing children.  They're sacred though.  Actually the whole island is, but deer are considered sacred in Japan.  It's the same in Nara, though there were more deer on Miyajima than I saw in Nara.  Apparently there are usually way more in Nara, and they're bullies, but I think animals in Japan just hate me and want to prove all of the tourist information wrong.  Anyway, they cut off the antlers on the male deer in both places so dumb tourists don't get gored when they try to pet them.
 I just liked this bridge.  This was on the way up to the rope way.  We went up to the peak, checked out the eternal fire temple on the peak next to it, then after a caution from one of the workers letting us know we had forty minutes of daylight left we booked it down the nearest trail.  It was all stairs, and very uneven stairs.  My knees stopped hurting today a little, but yeah, that hurt.  Beautiful though.
 Lindsey liked this tree.  Apparently it was huggable, and I have nutty friends. :P
 Starfish!  This was at the JR ferry landing again the next morning.  We were originally planning on going to Kyoto yesterday, but as we were making our way up the mountain on Tuesday we decided that we wanted to spend more time on the island. I'm glad we decided that before realizing there were no monkeys at the peak, or I may have started crying.
 Two bucks attempting to fight... or their clipped antlers were itchy....
 Mommy and baby.
 The torii gate at low tide.  This was maybe thirty minutes after the low tide mark.  There have been a ton of landslides on that island, which makes me wonder if that's not why the change in tides are so dramatic here.  It also makes me wonder how tall the mountain was originally, however many thousands of years ago.  You can see so many places where it just fell away.  On the trail we came down yesterday it looked like part had just crumbled and tossed giant mansion-sized boulders down the side.
 Another up-close picture.  I'm glad I wore my boots.  I would have had cold, wet feet otherwise, cause I don't usually realize I'm walking through water until I'm not wearing boots and my feet get soaked...
 A view on the way up.
Tanuki (racoon-dog) paw print in the concrete
 She was cute.  This is on the way to Misen peak.  There's a really narrow stair between a bunch of boulders (in front of the pictures below) that you have to climb to get up there.  A couple of Japanese women went down before me, and the deer was on her way up, so I stopped at the top of the stairs to let her pass and said basically "After you," but it came out in Japanese.  The women in front of me looked rather startled and laughed and commented on my Japanese as they continued down.  It made me giggle.
Lindsey scared about four people coming off that staircase despite the fact that I was standing on a boulder aiming a camera at her.  It was entertaining.
So of course I had to crawl in too. XD
 A view from near the top.
 This is one of the males smart enough to avoid the tourist areas during antler chopping season.  A little later from the top of the look-out, Lindsey and I watched a group walk up, two Americans and two Japanese guys.  The mis-communication between them was funny enough, but then one of the Japanese guys was dumb and tried to pet this guy.  Of course he lowered his head and got ready to charge, and one of the Americans made the comment "He's gonna get gored."  Lindsey and I burst out laughing, which seemed to stop the Japanese guy from trying to pet him (idiot..), so I guess that worked out.  We then had to look up how to say "to gore" in Japanese because it seemed like a useful word to know... it was a rather anticlimactic answer. 空く or 空き通す "to open."  Japanese has some really fun words and some really boring ones... I call this one boring.
One of the shrines on the path.  One of the deer found my camera lens cover interesting around here and looked like she wanted to eat it for a minute.
 Getting down to the bottom was so painful.  Had it not been for the stairs it probably would have taken longer, but both of us were in so much pain from our knees.  I ended up finding paths through the woods near the trail to avoid the stairs as much as I could.  On the other paths it would have been impossible.  They were paved with stones fairly solid the whole way, and to the sides there were quite often really deep gouges in the mountain side from a landslide in 平成17 which is.... 2005?  I think... I'm bad at converting that.  This year is 平成22, and I went to school in Osaka in 18, so I'm pretty sure that equals 2005.  Anyway, the landslide took out large chunks of the other two paths.  It looked like there had been a few because of the different construction methods we could see on different parts.  The trail we took down was built in 昭和4 or 6... I forgot already... I was born in 昭和60 or 61, so that would put it sometime in the 20s or early 30s.  There was another huge landslide in 1945 (if I remember the date correctly) that dumped 20,000 cubic meters of earth on the area in this picture, Itsukushima shrine.  There were dams holding back the mountain all the way up both of those trails.  Interestingly enough, the top ones were completely filled.  Typhoons and earthquakes must just rip that mountain apart.  Anyway, the trail down that we took looked like it had been damaged more by a rock fall, or maybe they built it around the rock fall... or maybe there were multiples.  There were some huge boulders, and some with trees growing through them or between them, but the parts of the path that were there were all one construction.  It made me want to study geology so I could figure out what was going on with all of that.
Leaving the island at sunset.  It was beautiful.  It really reminded me that it's Japanese cities that I hate, not Japan itself.  The people in the cities (which cover most of the islands) are obnoxious, rude, and self-centered.  I imagine it's a symptom of over-crowding and being over-worked.  There's a lot about Japan though that is beautiful and fascinating.  Historic Kyoto, if you can ignore the people who generally have the above qualities, is amazing.  Nara is huge.  Kawagoe is fascinating.  Miyajima.. I could spend a week on that island and be perfectly content.  It was nice to get away.  I couldn't breathe in the city (used my rescue inhaler just about once an hour...), and coming back to Tokyo was a rude awakening (and I can't even get a hold of my landlord to yell at them, again >_<), but I had a really nice two days.  I really want to print out the pictures I've taken on the trips I've been on here and make some albums.  I have a ton of pictures, but they're all the good points about the last three years that I want to remember.

Lindsey's coming back to Tokyo tonight, and tomorrow we're meeting Jen in Shibuya to spend New Year's Eve out on the town.  It was a blast last year, and I'm sure it will be again this year.  Next week is Disney and a Dir en Grey concert, hopefully some sit-and-do-nothing time in between, then Lindsey has to go back to Canada and I have to go back to my evil job.  I'm turning in my resignation right away though, then I'll figure out when I'm leaving and start packing.  I have a class starting on the 10th that I'm excited about, and one of my applications for the Sleeping Bear Dunes passed part one of the review... so YAY!!!!  Prayers wanted for that!! I really want that job.  It's just for four months, but I'm really praying that I get that job.  Something will work out for the fall, I really want to spend the summer working outside away from cities.

I was planning on doing some writing today, but I'm thinking the time would be better spent cleaning.  This place is cramped with two people in it, and the utter chaos created by the last four months of me attempting to hold on to a cliff-face by my fingernails is really not helping.  I'm glad I have my kitties though, even if they contribute a large portion of hair to the mess that is my apartment.  They're such good company.  I love coming home to them.

Oh!! That reminds me! Christmas pictures!

 Ophelia really likes toys she can chase.  If she catches a toy, she has no idea what to do with it.  Sometimes she'll toss it and chase it on her own... most of the time she looks up at me and meows at me or looks forlornly at the toy and pokes at it.  They both love this guy, and he's surprisingly sturdy!
 Soushi got a chicken with tail feathers filled with catnip.  He likes to kill things.  He thoroughly killed the chicken the minute I got it out of its package, but also surprisingly, no tail feathers have pulled out yet!  A couple days ago he got it stuck between the wall and my wardrobe and fell onto my computer trying to reach it from the top of the wardrobe, then looked ready to scale the curtains to reach it from the desk, which he knows he's not allowed to be on.  It was amusing, but further rationale for his nickname of Dr. Destructo.  He couldn't decide which toy he wanted to play with more after I got done tormenting him with the elf costume.
 Ophelia was the easiest to put this on.  She just stopped moving and looked disgruntled.
 Soushi, on the other hand, kept trying to run off or rub the ears off.  Haha, I'm a crazy cat lady, I know, but it was a very well spent $5, and they will suffer through wearing it every year because I think it's hilarious!

Ok, I'm really done with this post now.  Happy New Year everyone!!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Not a mouse...

So uh, there was a noise in the kitchen.  I've been hearing it quite often lately at night, dishes bumping together, and I thought maybe it was the dishes on the rack, or something shifting because the building shakes occasionally.  The kitchen lights were on and I was at my desk, so I looked over... yup, big grey rat climbing out of the sink.

Glad it's not a roach, because then I'd actually be scared.  Right now I'm just thoroughly grossed out and ticked off that I'm paying $600 a month and not only have rodents in my walls and cupboards but now in my sink as well!


Four more sleeps 'till Christmas

I'm bummed.  Last year on Christmas Eve I went to the Dacco Christmas Live.  It was a ton of fun and just a nice way to spend Christmas Eve seeing as I was all alone in Tokyo last year.  Well, I was planning on going when they first announced their Christmas Live this year, then I hemmed and hawed about the money, and finally today I decided "screw the money, I'm going."  Well, it's on Christmas day this year. >.>  Thankfully I'm not alone in Tokyo this year, and I have plans to have roasted chicken, apple tart, cheese, crackers, and wine with Jen on Christmas day.  Still bummed about the show though.  I looked for anything else, but nobody I like is playing on Christmas eve.  One band is playing the day before, but that doesn't exactly help.  So I guess it's me and the cats that night.  Ritchie (long story summed up in two words - selfish jackass...pardon the French) has a show that night, and he invited me, after snubbing me at his last show and making me cry... again... but yeah, so not going to that one.  Even if he wasn't such a jerk, I wouldn't want to spend my Christmas eve with the type of fans his band has.  Thanks, pass.  There's one where I say I'm sure they're nice people, but they creep me out.  I'm used to being around the geeky boys who need reminders to bathe and eat something other than Mountain Dew and they creep me out.  That's saying something.

I got my kitties Christmas presents today.  I wasn't going to, but I went to Tokyu Hands to look for a hole punch, which, of course, they had for 3,000 yen, ahah, right, no.  I wandered up to the pet store just to look around.  I still want to buy them Japanese engraved tags, but then I'd have to put my name and phone number on something else... They're really pretty tags though...  Anyway, I didn't get those, but I intend to take pictures Christmas morning, so I'll be sure to post them.  I'm sure to have an unhappy Soushi (because I guarantee Ophelia won't let me get her) for all of about 30 seconds.  Maybe I should just take a video, haha.

So last week I was able to finish up Life in a Medieval Castle.  I only had one chapter left, so that doesn't count as a whole book.  Actually I'm not sure I'm counting anything until the first of the year, but we'll see.  It was good though.  I found out that the whole egg on Easter thing dates back at least to 1300.  Peasants used to give their lords eggs for...whatever reason.  The twelve days of Christmas, unless I read something completely wrong, started with Christmas and went into the new year and were days the peasants didn't have to work their lords' fields.  And I finally learned what Michaelmas was.  That kept coming up in medieval stories and I had never even heard of it before last spring.  Anyway, it was some festival that I don't know all the details of, but they killed a bunch of the livestock and had feasts so they wouldn't starve over the winter.  Fascinating book anyway.

I also read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  It was meh.  I think I've liked some of the movie versions better, which surprised me.  The writing was also not up to what I'd expected.  I think I have high expectations for Dickens considering the first (and possibly only other, but I can't remember) thing I read by him was A Tale of Two Cities.  It was certainly a quick easy read though, and maybe if you like getting into the holiday spirit you might enjoy it more.  I tried.  I'm not glaring at Christmas decorations or wanting to break speakers that are playing holiday music though, so that's an improvement for me. XD  Guess we can't expect too much.

Finally read through Shakespeare's Henry V.  I'd apparently read bits of it because I clearly recall being thoroughly annoyed at the scene with the princess and some woman that was entirely in French.  I need to learn French... it's ticking me off.  I keep coming across it, and this time I got just enough to know that I was missing the comedy parts of the play but not nearly enough to know what the heck was really going on. Grrrr.  I want subtitles!  Actually, I'm horrible about reading subtitles.  If it's just a little bit I'll read them, but if an entire movie or show is in a language I don't know I just end up getting annoyed that I don't understand it and forget to pay attention to the subtitles most of the time.  I found that out when I saw a few episodes of "The Four Gods" in Japanese after I'd watched it, oh, three times? in Korean.  Yeah, missed a lot of that in the Korean version, haha.  Anyway, good play. I'd like to see it one day.  I'd like to see a lot of his plays, actually.  The movie versions are entertaining, and I do enjoy the heck out of them, but I'd like to see them as plays at some point.  Anywho, very accessible history.  Maybe it's because I've been studying more on medieval history so I get more of it.... I really didn't like King Lear.  It was boring.  Henry V was amusing though, and of course, good speeches.

One I use every time I have to go into a class I hate:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
(...)For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start.  The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'
That one was from King Henry during the first siege in France at a city I can't remember, but they end up winning!  I actually only ever use the first line, though I think it would certainly be epic to memorize that whole thing and use it someday... or maybe I'm just a dork who needs to find something else to amuse herself. :P

I rather enjoyed this one to, when King Henry was talking to a group of common soldiers in disguise:

He hath not told his thought to the king?

No; nor is it not meet he should.  For, though I speak it to you, I think the king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the element shows to him as it doth to me; all his sense have but human conditions: his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing.  Therefore when he sees reason of fears, as we do, he fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as ours are: yet, in reason, no man should possess him with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it, should dishearten his army.

This one's probably the most famous from the play, and I love it... not really sure why.  Maybe I've just heard it enough to be fond of it.  I had most of it memorized at one point.  I'm also not sure why I went about doing that.. OH! I had that Shakespeare quotes book... that would be why... Anywho, this was right before the battle of Agincourt, a while after Henry returns to his nobles.  The English were tired, sick, and outnumbered 5 to 1.  One of the nobles commented that he wished they had more English soldiers to fight with.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honor
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have.  O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on this vigil feast his neighbors,
And say 'Tomorrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
Be he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words, -
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, -
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd; -
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Anyway, it was nice to finally read the whole thing.  I started Ceremony on the train because I couldn't make up my mind.  I don't know that I'll finish during break... I may since Lindsey and I will be riding the train a bunch on our trip, but we'll see.  If I'm going from last week, so... December 12th?ish, that makes two down out of fifty, so 48 left.  Otherwise they don't count at all and I'll start on the new year.  I don't know! We'll see!! :D

And with that reminder to myself, I need to book the hostel!  Six days till Lindsey, seven until MONKEYS!!!!!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Grad school

Yeah, I know, I should be writing my report.

One of the things I talked to mom about was grad school.  Realistically, I need a master's degree and experience to be a professor.  I think that's what I want to do with my life, at least as a base of operations type deal (see a few posts ago for amusement span - I'll be doing peripheral things to keep me entertained, but I think I'd like to be a professor).  So... I like history and literature.  Either one would be the same difficulty of getting into, both would be just as likely to get me a job afterward.  So which do I start with?  I want to study medieval history and Latin.  I want to study Native American history and Ojibwe. I want to study literature and write a thesis on Le Morte D'Arthur.  I said it as a joke, but as we were talking, I feel less joking about it, but I'm tempted to apply for all three and see which I get.  I wonder if that would backfire with me getting all three....

I really do love studying history, and I could go on for hours about literature.  They really go hand in hand, in my opinion.  Well, for me they do anyway.  I like knowing about the time when a book was written, like Le Morte D'Arthur or A Tale of Two Cities.  I don't think you can really understand the books without knowing the history around them.  If I study literature, I would apply to MSU.  If I go for Native American studies, the same.  If I go for medieval studies, Western.  I wonder if I shouldn't start thinking about personal statements and thesis ideas for applying to all three and just tossing them out there.  I wonder if that would work.  I wonder if I did get accepted into only one if I'd then pitch a fit because I'd find out then that I really wanted one of the ones I didn't get.  Life seems to work like that.  Hmmm.

I think I'm thinking too much about things other than Rites of Conquest and how it fits into the study of Michigan history...

Adding to my list

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Faith in Paper by Charles E. Cleland
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker
The Family that Couldn't Sleep by D.T. Max
This book looks really interesting too, but it might have to wait.

I'm sure there are others I've been wanting to read... ^__^

I applied to work at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes next summer.  Prayers would be appreciated.  I really want the job.  I get excited just thinking about it, but I'm a little scared I'll get my hopes up for nothing... it would be amazing though.

I talked to mom for two hours tonight.  It was nice to chat and not have me upset about something.  I've usually been lately.  That gets frustrating, but not tonight.  Hehe.  I'm actually in a fairly obnoxiously hyper mood right now, which is moderately counter productive because I really should be writing my book report and I really just want to go run around the neighborhood or go to karaoke or something.

I need to plan my trip to see the monkeys!  That's coming up in like three weeks... not even!  Not today though... I need a draft before I go to bed (which is likely still three or so hours away when I realize the sun is coming up and I have to work on Monday).

I really want grapes.  I'm a little tired of Fuji apples.  They're good, but they're the only apples here that are remotely affordable, and they're still over 100 yen an apple most of the time.  Or mikan... mikan would be good.  Apparently I'm craving fruit at the moment, and I just realized I ate almost five hours ago.... everything makes sense now.

And I really need to write this report.

Monday, 6 December 2010

50 books

I can't say what 2011 will bring, and to be honest, thinking of it scares me more than a little.  Still, I want to make goals that I can work toward, and since I have a very short amusement span (different than attention span - I can pay attention if I choose to, I just usually get bored so I don't), I'm making a few different goals.  So here's the biggest one, I think.  At least, this one is very definitely going to take me the whole year, and since, as stated above, I have a short amusement span, and I also tend to choose long books, I may not get it done, but we'll see.  I'm going to do my best at any rate.

So, fifty books in one year.  Anybody up for joining me?  I haven't compiled a complete list yet, and probably won't, again, see above amusement span, but here's what I have so far.

This month I'm finishing up some books I started.  I'm less than 100 pages from finishing The Lord of the Rings, and I have a bit left on Life in a Medieval Castle.  I want to read Dickens's A Christmas Carol since I never get into the holidays and I'm thinking of giving it a shot, but we'll see.

Books that are top on my reading list are:
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Henry V by William Shakespeare
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
1Q84 by Murakami Haruki
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

Tentative, but I'm going to keep track of what I read here, though I probably won't do thorough reviews on all of them.  I've read a few out of that list before, but it was so long ago that I hardly remember them.  1Q84 has four books out so far.  I have book 1.  I've been told that Murakami Haruki is a really good writer, but I'm still waiting to see how book 1 goes before getting 2-4.... an easier to use dictionary would also be helpful :P haha, but that's unlikely.

Any suggestions on what I should read?  If you don't want to do fifty, but maybe you'd do 20 or 30, let me know!  It's a challenge, no doubt, but I think it'd be fun.

On that note, I have a book report to write for class that I haven't even started. >.< Gah.  Guess I should get on that, eh?  It was a rather good book, actually.  Rites of Conquest by Charles Cleland.  I'll post my review up here once the class is over.  Don't want the prof thinking I copied it off myself.