Well, as most of you know, I’m back. Trip was extended a bit, but not horribly long compared to some trips I’ve been on. I didn’t take as many pictures there as I have before, but it’s kind of a ‘been there, done that’ attitude. That was my fourth trip to Japan, and I’ve spent almost two months there altogether. I’ll put the pictures up eventually (hopefully near future, but we’ll see about that).
I got Mei a Catbus thing, and KrisDi got a table curling set (which I’m making her share — so far I’ve used it a lot more than she has, but she’s still better than me — it’s awesome), I got Mom a “Night Ocarina” or something like that. I couldn’t find a Hello Kitty laptop bag for Dakashy, unfortunately, although I did get to drag my co-worker through some Hello Kitty sections against his will. I got Jon a traditional music CD (I finally got the explanation for that — he decided he wants to get a CD at every country he visits, and since he hadn’t gotten one when he went to Japan last year, I got to play catch-up for him), and he spent the morning listening to it at work. I have change for GirlAndi, which I’ll send with my Tesla book soon. I got myself, SkaYoYo, and Oleo little wooden mind-bender puzzle things.
SkaYoYo came to visit. Well, he actually came into town for work, and caught up with me when I got back from Japan. I’m sure I bored him terribly (we didn’t really do anything but drink, talk, and table curl). I had a great time, though.
I read a lot, unsurprisingly. I finished Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney before I even landed in Narita. It wasn’t as technical as I had hoped, but it was interesting. Tesla was a big proponent of alternating current (AC), and was the first person to design and build an AC motor, which is superior to DC motors for a number of reasons. Edison, at the time, was the leading edge in electricity, and he was a dogged direct current (DC) supporter, since that’s what his entire business was based on. Eventually, it turned into a war between AC and DC to see what the US’s power grids would be. Edison and company went so far as to capture and publicly electrocute cats and dogs with AC as proof that it was dangerous (although it’s actually less dangerous than DC), and the first “electric chair” execution failed because all of these experiments had been performed on creatures smaller than humans! All in all, very interesting. Some of the stuff was unbelievable, some of the stuff seemed like supposition, and the writer was obviously very pro-Tesla.
I was about halfway through Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick by the time we got to the hotel. Of course, I finished that before I came home. I enjoyed it, but I’m not exactly sure what he was trying to say with it. It’s an ‘alternate history’ type of book based on Germany and Japan winning World War II. The Grasshopper Lies Heavy (book within a book, based on the ‘alternate history’ of America winning World War II) was a major theme. Not my favorite book, but pretty good. It would probably be more meaningful if I knew more about Japanese, German, and WWII history.
The next book was The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov. The title comes from a Friedrich Schiller quote, “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain,” which is unsurprisingly the major theme of the book. It’s based on infinite alternate universes which can be taken advantage of with some interesting effects, and has a sizeable section written from the point of view of Asimov’s ‘para-men’, beings from one of the alternate universes. I really liked this book, and was surprised at how well he handled the foreign culture and physiology of the ‘para-men,’ (not having read much Asimov, I’m not completely aware of how good a writer he might or might not have been).
Last night we watched Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. It’s a horrible movie, it’s the same movie as everything else Will Ferrell has starred in, but it was hilarious. A lot of fun. Pokes wonderful fun at the world of white trash. If you want to turn your brain off for a little while, go for it.
Now, for completely unrelated pictures. We went to the Shedd Aquarium and to Hopleaf when we were in Chicago for vacation in August, and took these pictures. The night after, we went out to some other bars with KrisDi’s friends, and these two pictures were taken. KrisDi got me a new camera, which I took to work on softball day. I took some pictures of mine and KrisDi’s cubes, and some pictures at softball. Here they are.