Thursday, March 31, 2005


Anyone who visits PLM regularly, or even irregularly, for that matter - even just a couple times a year would do - will likely be aware of my bitterly earned expertise in bedevilment by monkeys, who, if proof be needed, recently visited my garden while I was out and chewed all my shiitake buds off the oak logs, actually BIT OFF CHUNKS OF THE BARK, leaving my formerly pristine logs all imprinted with monkey teethmarks ideal for monkey criminal forensic experts, were there any, and while I'm on the subject a simian prosecutor would be nice too, but to get to the point here, some scientists spent several years on a tropical island (ah, the experimental ardor!) studying the monkeys that lived there to learn, basically, whether monkeys are sly creatures or what. (Those scientists certainly are sly creatures, aren’t they?)

Anyway, after several years of day-in, day-out slaving over hot monkeys, the nicely tanned scientists’ conclusion is twofold: Rhesus Monkeys Make Clever Thieves, and Monkeys Steal When No One's Looking! (Well bite my stem and take my pumpkin!) I could have saved those poor overworked beach-burdened scientists several years of tropical island living, if they had just visited my house for a couple of weeks, or even simpler, read my little simian diatribe It Ain't No Picnic, in which I said, and I quote, just to save you a trip: "Still, his [the alpha male] wanting me to think he wasn’t watching my every move told me he knew he was in the wrong - but only as long as I was there. When I went into the house, i. e., disappeared from his reality, he’d be back in the right again, quicker than you can say Garden of Eden. Thus operates the simian conscience, which still has its ancient echoes in our own..." or my various earlier monkey rants in which I specifically state that monkeys check their watches while waiting around for me to leave before plundering my estate.

"Until now, we didn't know that rhesus monkeys could do these things, and in fact there are many scientists who said they couldn't," said one doctoral candidate. I suggest they come and monitor my garden while I'm away.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


As to The Baron tangoing on my radishes, which chagrinifying event I posted about earlier, and re the numerous suggestions on how to put an end to it without access to lion toilets, I finally resorted to my old rule of trying the least expensive approach first, which in this case involved hooping local bamboo I get free from the mountain (the two ends are stuck into the ground about a meter apart) along the raised beds, making a low but sturdy and visually confusing fence. So far it seems to work, although the Baron himself may be distracted at the moment, as it appears he has a new va-va-va-voom ladyfriend, who was seen recently nibbling daintily in the finest local dining spots other than my garden...


For local residents or travelers who love fireworks and are interested in seeing the world's best fireworkers show off their state of the art on the night's fine canvas, the International Symposium on Fireworks Society will be holding the 8th International Symposium on Fireworks at the Biwako Hotel during the day, from April 18 to 22 (Mon-Fri), then each night in a different location along the Lake various of the Symposium participants (Italy, England, Spain, Japan, China et al.) will show off 3000 of their latest firework designs - should be some very impressive fiery chops up there in the night sky and in some select locations. (The previous Symposium was held in Valencia, Spain, in 2003.) Unfortunately the above link is available only in Japanese, though the dates etc. can be extracted by all. [Contact me if I can be of help.] There's a link there to the Biwako Visitors' site, which has an English version, though - also oddly - no mention thus far of the Symposium. These folks should get on the ball, if they really want to merit their "international" claim.

For an intro to Lake Biwa in English, take A Journey to Lake Biwa.

Monday, March 28, 2005


On Saturday we went north a bit to see the Hira Hakko, a local festival we hadn't yet made it to that's been happening every Spring around this time for 1500 years or so, held for the safety of all who live and work on Lake Biwa and its shores. Priests from a distant affiliated downlake temple, a dozen yamabushi, a squad of shakuhachi players and several beautiful young women in kimono come sailing to Omimaiko, along the way throwing paper prayers on the wind and ritually pouring other blessed waters into the Lake. After they land at Omimaiko they walk the long road, stopping to pray at a local statue of Kannon.

From there they and the whole mob of us that had gathered by then, everyone Lake-related and their families and friends, relatives, tourists, mobs of photographers, walked out into the pine groves that cover the central axis of the small and anciently famous peninsula, toward loudening multidrum music pounding like the theme drums from The Seven Samurai.

Along the way the crowd discovered a group of young female art college students all dressed up in fantastic costumes who were quietly and privately (or so they had expected) making some kind of strange art/music video on the beach when suddenly this mob came along and they were at once the center of attention from a growing throng, being asked what they were up to by everyone, who thought they were some new strange and unsettling part of the ancient ceremony - which the poor girls repeatedly and heatedly denied - they were so embarrassed at being seen dressed so strangely out here and doing these odd things, they had utterly not anticipated any vast swarm of observers to descend on them, it put a major cramp in their artistic intentions.

They finally tried to hide under a tarp from the photographers and crowds streaming steadily toward the beach out on the point where, in a big square made sacred by bamboo poles strung with rice straw rope stood a large pile of green cedar boughs that, after extended ceremonial praying and mythodramatizing, the yamabushi set afire; the singing and music went on, wafting across the Lake with the prayers, like the smoke...

There was a generous variety of weather to go along with the intensity of it all, which is as it should be, the weather being a big factor in comprehensive Lake safety: rain was there in bursts, and wind was steady, there was lakespray and sun and scuds of mist, some wannabe snowflakes showed up and anything else that can be called weather was likely around there somewhere.

Folks from way young to max elderly in all states of health huddled around, kids running free and taking part in the drumming, folks in wheelchairs there to get some of the sacred smoke unto themselves to cure their ills. And it seems to work, for since then I've been feeling better in all respects.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


The 2005 World Exposition opened yesterday in Aichi. "Nature's Wisdom" is the theme. You know, Nature. The stuff that used to be where Expo is now?

Friday, March 25, 2005


Wooster Collective : A Celebration of Street Art
Banksy Hits New York's Most Famous Museums

Thursday, March 24, 2005


After a long Winter of carefully pondering the matter, during the beautiful days of last weekend I fashioned two large raised beds in the garden, carefully added compost, minerals and a bit of needed sand, leveled the beds off smooth as the finish on a loam Ferrari and planted some vegetables monkeys don't like (radishes and lettuce), watered them and stood back to enjoy my handiwork as I began the wait for some good Spring eating.

You can therefore imagine the huff of my flustery bluster when early yesterday morning I walked out of the house into the garden to dump some wood ash from the stove onto my next raised bed and there across the surface of the two new beds trailed the raking tracks of the cloven-hoofed Baron, who it appeared had been silently practicing the cervine tango till the wee hours.

I had thought that as the weather warmed, by now he'd have drifted to greener dance floors further upmountain; I hope this doesn't mean he's going to hang around here all year long.

Does anybody know how (without building a tall fence) to keep deer from dancing all over vegetables monkeys don't like?


Those kind and discerning visitors who may remember my earlier brief take herein on the profound and highly cultured lack of noseblowing in Japan may also remember in that post this deathless quote: "...if the Japanese have a runny nose they wear a gauze mask. That's right, they let their noses run free."

Well that is true (we post no lies), but it's not the entire truth (in some cases half-truths are preferable), as was brought sonorously home to me on the train this morning, in fact on many occasions that never really registered other than as part of the myraid minor annoyances of daily life we simply filter out with that delicate screen of tranquility we seek to build about our lives, but there are times when those little annoyances rip right into that flimsy jerry-built contrivance like a giant nose into a tiny Kleenex.

The fact is that there's another school of mucus management practiced by the younger set in Japan, and I don’t mean the sniffles of a two-year-old, I’m talking professional level here, 15 ~ 25 years old, predominantly the high school years, when who really cares anyway since it’s all temporary (the donning of a formal salariman suit seems to make the wearers dry out a bit).

Today’s mucosal management alternative was brought upon me, so to speak, in a manner that evoked the impending destruction of the Seven Gorges Dam (when completed, of course): it was a high schooler standing right next to where I was seated, his nose right above my head, which nose would, about every 15 seconds, with surprising regularity - determined I suppose by the volume and nature of the material being kept in check; one ponders such things when seated beneath the Nose of Damocles – give a great snort and so retain the entire mass, at least for another 15 seconds. This went on for 30 minutes or so, which, as in the case of the renowned Chinese Water Torture, is equivalent to about a year in real time.

When he finally took his nose off the train and a more tolerable regularity returned to life as I know it, I felt once again the joy that surpasseth understanding like a pair of empty nostrils.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


via edgeways at Metafilter

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


I used to read the newspapers at the office when I went there, scarf them from the company mailbox before the admin folks upstairs got their hands on them, but those sly folks have circumvented that. As a result I haven’t read a newspaper for some time now, and I don’t miss the experience at all. And believe me, this is not sour print.

When I was reading newspapers each morning, I’d find myself looking for a link to more detail, or feeling the urge to enter the phrase in the search box, or wanting to ‘save’ an article or email it to someone I know would like to read it, but the dead tree just lay inert in my hands, spread out all over the desk, sections falling to the floor, the corners getting into my coffee.

Also I’d see items in the paper that were ‘new’ news I’d posted about or read about multiply and in great depth a day or two ago on the net. My news was newer. And a lot more fleshed out, with way more illustration and diversity of local and global varicultural opinion. Now I’m beginning to see stuff I posted or read about days ago on the net showing up as the latest news on tv. Is the tube next?

Monday, March 21, 2005


So this is the first day of Spring. Perfect day for it. All the vegetation seems to be aware of the fact. I was out working in the garden yesterday when Mr. O., one of my up-mountain neighbors, a Kyoto weaver who is presently handpainting silk scarves, stopped by for a visit before going off to look for tsukushi (field horsetail, uisetum arvense), out of which he makes a delicious traditional candy, and mentioned he was planting indigo (my favorite traditional dye) this year for use in dyeing, he’d gotten some seeds from a friend, and I am interested. Turns out there’s also a professional indigo dyer down in the village, right on the other side of the highway, whom I now plan to visit.

Mr. O. later said he couldn’t find any tsukushi, it was a bit early yet he thought, so this morning on our walk we kept an eye out and found several little hidden groves of tsukushi in various stages of early development. Country folks here also enjoy tsukushi as a wild vegetable, and make a healthy tea of the fully grown plant, a concoction of which is also used to condition the hair. Makes a good natural scrub brush, too.

But an indigo dyer in the village. That’s good news. Very like Spring.


The other day somewhere on the worldwide web we've made of all our many lives I surfed across someone reminiscing about the musical oldies “back in the nineties” and realized I'd arrived at that psychoscenic spot in life that no one can ever accurately imagine getting to, or knows anything about ever getting to really, because each of us is the first ever to arrive at where we personally age to, in my case especially the earlier me, who figured that because of my variously intense and intensive lifestyle I'd never make it past 40 and lived accordingly but here I am nonetheless - well actually quite a bit the less, age will do that - which goes to show how much I know, though unlike the guy who remains anonymous to me at the moment who said “If I'd known I was gonna live this long I'd have taken better care of myself,” I did take better care of myself, concurrently and commensurately with my utterly wild lifestyle, which I figured might be a smart thing to do under the circumstances, so I became a vegetarian and took vitamin and mineral supplements while living the wild jobless traveler's high life, and have made it all the way to here, what a Death Valley-Everest Coney Island Ride it has been... why, way back in the 50s, when genuine music broke into the mainstream...

Sunday, March 20, 2005


"Strange to say, since the end of the Cold War in 1991 and particularly under the administration of George W Bush, the United States has been doing everything in its power to encourage and even accelerate Japanese rearmament."

Very interesting and very expert take on the increasing possibility of a new Sino-Japanese war.

The real 'China threat'
By Chalmers Johnson

Saturday, March 19, 2005


the name of this new Japanese gum that's a big hit, so I don’t buy it by mistake when it hits the convenience stores. Studies in Thailand indicate that it can increase breast size by about 80% (sounds fatal), and I like my breasts just the way they are, a male's naturally developed pectorals. They work, and that's enough for me. This gum may turn out to be another health gimmick, like titanium and germanium (what's next, plutonium?), but I’m not taking any chances. Sounds like it could make me an alto and get rid of my whiskers too...

Friday, March 18, 2005


When I first came to Japan, and for a long time thereafter, I never saw anybody eat in public; even the yatai had little curtains on them. Eating, like all public behavior, was a matter of discretion. But the longer you are in a culture, the more tacitly and secretly it grows on you. So after I’d been here a while not eating in public, one morning I saw a neoforeign woman walking down the street like an R. Crumb drawing, just nakedly stuffing the wide-open mouth of her unconcealed face with a humungous pastry right out there in the open as though it belonged to her, as if it all were her delight.

As a newly reticent resident of Japan I was righteously shocked and repelled, and surprised at being so. Because what, I had to ask myself in my native language, is so shocking and repelling about seeing somebody eat on the street? I’ve done it all my life, but then I realized no I hadn’t! I’d stopped eating on the street for the past certain length of time without even being aware of it, because I knew without knowing that in Japan you do not eat on the street: to do so is considered rude!

Thus can a new culture creep up on you, like freckles. One day you look in the mirror and it’s Our Gang city. Freckles on oneself as well are frowned on (with?) in Japan and must be gotten rid of posthaste, particularly when they're on a woman's face, I suppose as possible evidence of time spent laboring in sunlight as though a member of the lower classes, making freckles a manifestation abhorred by females of all recently decolonized Asian cultures, even though Japan has never been colonized, which evidences not only that colonization is not prerequisite to freckle aversion, but also the comprehensive power of freckles in Asia.

I myself am a former freckle bearer (of uncertain pride in the matter), but I no longer have freckles, they disappeared on their own long before I got here. In anticipation, I guess. I am, though, starting to eat in public again, though somewhat discreetly. One must preserve at least a remnant of one's roots.

Westernizing young Japanese, in contrast, are starting to throw cultural restraint to the winds and eat whatever whenever they're hungry, even if it's on the street, the train, wherever. I guess one must also discard some roots, to make room for the future.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


"Livedoor, the Japanese Internet company at the center of a media takeover battle, has bought more than 50 percent of a radio broadcaster that also is being sought by a major TV network, Japanese media reported Wednesday.

The struggle is widely viewed in Japan as pitting an Internet upstart - led by brash, youthful entrepreneur Takafumi Horie - against the aging, conservative establishment that controls the media industry.

Hostile takeovers are rare in Japan, and the unfolding fight has several politicians worried about Japanese companies being snapped up by foreign investors, although Horie is Japanese.

Last month, Livedoor announced it had amassed a 35 percent stake in Nippon Broadcasting, stunning the nation - and management at a major TV network in which Nippon Broadcasting is the top shareholder.

Controlling Nippon Broadcasting is expected to give Livedoor influence over Fuji Television Network Inc., which is part of a media conglomerate that includes a film studio, record company, daily newspaper and other interests."

In the same vein...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Past couple days, were you to drive by my house up here on this mountainside in central Japan you might see a very focused foreigner, kneeling in his driveway with a small bamboo rake in his hand, nose close to the ground, peering intently at the soil. That would be me.

I’m kneeling not out of reverence of any standard kind, though reverence should never be very far away no matter what you’re doing, even writing about love hotels, as I was doing before I came out here to kneel in the driveway. No, I’m kneeling in the driveway because we have a new roof. Lately I try to spend a couple hours a day out here, when I can. Because if you’ve recently had a roof put on you can’t really spend too much time kneeling in the driveway.

And what in the world is the connection between those disparately eclectic events, I can hear folks asking from many and varied locations. The connection, if you must know - and if you are planning a new roof it could certainly be to your hoove to know – two flat tires so far: One. Two. Snow tires, too. Actually the same tire. The one that enters the driveway first.

It all began a month or so ago [cue music segue, softly blurred visuals] when we had our first flat tire in 15 years. Took it to the tire shop to have it repaired and the guy said the cause of the severe flatness was a nail: a short nail with a large head. Well, a bit of bad luck, we thought, running over that nail on the road by sheer chance, fell off a carpenter's truck or something.

Then a week later, the same tire went flat overnight. Lousy repair job, we thought. Another guy at the tire shop said no, it was a new leak, caused by a nail: a small nail, with a big head. That was when the 5- yen coin dropped (idioms don't travel well). Roofing nail. ROOF. From when the guys tore off our old shingles and all the tarpaper. A few nails had escaped into the wild, just as tacks often do, there to lie pointedly in wait for soft prey...

So the next day that had any decent sunlight I was out there kneeling where we used to park the van, bamboo rake in hand, going over the ground inch by inch (a square inch can hold about nine roofing nails, points up). After the first ten minutes I was appalled by what I’d found, and amazed that we hadn’t had a flat a minute for the past month. Kind of a miracle, actually. Though the gods aren’t exactly smiling on us, they’re definitely not frowning. More like a smirk. Make that two smirks.

Which is why you see me kneeling in the driveway, honoring the gods.


The first butterburs (fuki, said to be good also for hay fever and migraines) are out, found them on our walk this morning - just the early few - we'll tempura those for dinner tonight. We hope to get enough on Saturday to mash up in a mortar with a bit of brown sugar, then add soft miso and mix it all together into fukimiso for lathering on yaki-onigiri or sweet potato, whatever comes to hand that will go well...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


If you want to live longer and lower the risk of heart disease, a move to the mountains may help.

Mountain life is good for you

Monday, March 14, 2005


Himalaya glaciers receding fast due to warming-WWF

Himalayan glaciers are receding at among the fastest rates in the world due to global warming, threatening water shortages for millions of people in China, India and Nepal, a leading conservation group said on Monday.


As the Japanese increasingly turn away from rice, the longtime staple of their diet, baker Koichi Fukumori believes he has found a solution to boost the heavily subsidised crop: turn it into bread.

"This is the only way to survive for rice farmers," Fukumori said.

"I grew up seeing farmers growing rice," he said. "I thought making bread out of rice would help them out."

"Bread is convenient," she said. "You can step into a bakery and choose whatever you want from a wide variety while rice is always the same white thing."


No mention of brown rice at all...

Yet another sign of the ending world...

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Columbus was sure the world was round. And I was sure there was a pond. Those who were so kind as to visit these humble precincts a couple of weeks ago might have seen the post "The Curious Incident of the Pond in the Daytime," in which Echo and I set out to find the famous unfindable pond in the falling cornsnow and were accordingly unable to find it, which the maps indicated was like being unable to find the backs of our hands.

You can imagine how that strikes two intrepid travelers such as ourselves, and in our own backyard, so to speak - they don't have backyards as such in Japan, so the metaphor doesn't actually work here, but I like to use the old idioms whenever I can, which isn't often, sort of keep them in working order for when I go back to the States, where it wouldn't do at all to say things like “right in my own zen garden” or such like – where was I – oh yes:

So this afternoon we again set out in quest of the unfindable and when we got to where the pond was said to be, again the corn snow was blizzarding everything into invisibility. So it was no wonder we'd driven - and again drove - right past where it said “Otomegaike pond” on a roadside minisign, about the size of a beer can - apparently intended to ward off visitors - but Echo spotted it with her eagle eye and I turned around and we drove into the small parking place in front of an old shrine, whence we set off on foot into the howling whiteness.

The path was a narrow red road, apparently used for bicycling in earlier climes, that led past some houses and things (eyes fill quickly with corn snow) and maybe a shrine and then a detour across some paddy edges toward what looked like it might be a pond if you could look at it long enough without your eyes brimming with cold whiteness. By the time we arrived on the banks of the pond after a ten-minute walk into the teeth of the corn snow blizzard we were two snow people, but I could make out a distant bridge: it was THE pond. I took a quick photo before the lens filled with snow. Then we went home so as to survive.

In retrospect I realize that if you looked at the pond from a helicopter on a cornsnowless day (if there are any in those parts) you'd see that in fact the pond nearly borders the road we drove there on, but between the pond and the road are shoulder-to-shoulder houses in the Japanese village style, rendering the pond invisible, just as I'd thought.

Though that was our first (and last ) view of the bridge on this occasion. We'll be back, next time with our bikes, when the sun returns to cornsnow country. Looked like a great hike and bike path on a sunny day... of which it seems there are few around Otomegaike pond...


I am not so poor -
I can smell
the ripening apples

--- H. D. Thoreau

[*Rearranged from prose]

Saturday, March 12, 2005


"Truly, memories of the tragic Battle of Iwo Jima have faded away through generations," Kiyoshi Endo, 82, chairman of the Iwo Jima Veterans Association, said at the joint U.S.-Japanese ceremony.

"Our responsibilities and duties are to dedicate the rest of our lives to passing our memories on to our next generations, so that a tragic battle of this kind will never be repeated," added Endo, the only Japanese veteran able to attend.

Only about 1,000 Japanese survived the fighting. Of those just a handful are still alive.



Back in my long-ago days when I lived in the long-ago States I used to spend a lot of time camping and traveling, and one of the reasons I used to do that - in a seasonal manner - was to get the old-fashioned roadside-marketed goods that were on offer. Prominent among those were the local cheeses - I can still taste that home-made Vermont cheddar...

It was in that expat-nostalgia frame of mind that I posted my U.S. NATIONAL DAIRY COUNCIL HAS A HISSY FIT mini-diatribe below. In response to my lament-comment [Some good old-time cheddar cheese...], Don Weiss advised me to check out the Bandon Cheese Factory in Oregon, which I did.

The following is what I found...

Bandon Cheese Factory closes

Tillamook County Creamery Association is abandoning Bandon Cheese Factory



As has been widely circulated over the last few weeks, Tillamook Cheese has been making certain claims regarding their ownership of the word "Bandon,"...


-- Bandon
Our famous Bandon Cheese Factory is a favorite place for all visitors to stop by and see. Noted for our ever popular cheese curds and huge ice cream cones, we also have one of the finest assortments of home made cheeses anywhere in the country. The unique flavor and the recognized quality of our products is why we are still in business today.


The Bandon Cheese Factory [Not Found The requested URL /cheesefactory/ was not found on this server.


The End of an Era

Today we finally opened our last block of Bandon Hazelnut Cheddar Cheese


Something's Rotten in Tillamook

"Oregon Coast Cheese" is actually made in Wisconsin.

"I think it's terrible that they're acting like it's still made in Oregon," Janice says. "I'm sure it's all about making more money. It's false advertising."


The Oregon Cheese Wars Continue

As I blogged a few weeks ago, the folks in Bandon are not at all happy with the Tillamook County Creamery Association, the cooperative that makes Tillamook Cheese.


Council tells creamery to stop using 'Bandon'

BANDON - The Bandon City Council sent a clear message to the Tillamook County Creamery Association on Monday night:

Stop using our name.

The loss goes on

Friday, March 11, 2005


Down by the Lake this morning, wrapped in the early Spring mists, the pheasant king - just a dark speck from where I stood - strode to the top of the little hill overlooking the expanse of land that is his kingdom, and his alone. He surveyed his realm and crowed his approval. All is yet well in that one last patch of wildness.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


"The pupils of the Tendai school used to study meditation before Zen entered Japan. Four of them who were intimate friends promised one another to observe seven days of silence.

On the first day all were silent. Their meditation had begun auspiciously, but when night came and the oil lamps were growing dim one of the pupils could not help exclaiming to a servant: 'Fix those lamps.'

The second pupil was surprised to hear the first one talk. 'We are not supposed to say a word,' he remarked.

'You two are stupid. Why did you talk?' asked the third.

'I am the only one who has not talked,' concluded the fourth pupil."

101 Zen Stories
Taken from Paul Rep's Zen Flesh, Zen Bones


Excellent reportage on what’s really going on, that reaches all the way back to before the War…

UPDATE (3/11):

Surprising development on this: Japan court backs controversial Internet firm over takeover bid


Inspired with the first whiff of Spring I was out working yesterday in the Winter shambles of the garden, at last raking out the cedar twigs, digging in the compost, throwing on some dolomite, trying to get anything - anything at all - out of the tool shed (when it’s cold I tend to just toss tools, twine, buckets, snow shovels etc. in there quickly and head indoors, so over the Winter months the overall mass gradually becomes the gardener’s equivalent of the Gordian knot).

About evening the manic warbler joined me in the early spring endeavor thing, apparently having forgotten his songbook from last year, so singing perforce from memory, without apologies he just broke into a kind of disjointed medley of old favorites from back around the time of Charlie Parker and riffed that over and over and over and over until it sounded like he fell off the branch, he was so happy with the breath of Spring.

The first whiff will do that. We’ll get everything straightened out, just like Spring will.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


"At a previous but undetermined timeframe, a single-family domestic domicile was inhabited by a young girl, known as Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH), and her Maternal Parent (MP). The Maternal Parent (MP) had once provided for the fabrication of an article of clothing, a cloak in nature (including a "hood" or protective covering for the head of the wearer), that was RGB code [255,0,0] in hue (aka, "red"). As a result of this action, and the resultant repeated usage of the "hood", the young girl was always known as LRRH in substitution for the name identified on her birth certificate and other identifying documentation.

During one 24-hour interval, a request was issued by the MP for LRRH to deliver a package to the MP's Maternal Parent (MPMP) (genealogically identified as the Grandmaternal Unit (GU) with respects to LRRH). This package was to include:

* cheesecakes
* fresh butter
* one dozen (12) strawberries

Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH) optioned to accept the Task Order (TO)..."

continued at:
The Tech Writer's Style Guide
(and remember, it's not 'writing' : it's 'tech writing.')

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Hissy excerpt: "When it comes to nutrition, people should listen to health and nutrition experts, not animal rights activists."

Full statement [Warning: as biased as the National Dairy Council]

Perhaps not so oddly, the NDC statement failed to mention the many drugs dairy cows (and their milk drinkers) receive, such as Chloramphenicol, Clorsulon, Ivermectin and Thiabendazole, Penicillin, Erythromycin, Streptomycin, Tetracycline, a class of sulfa drugs called sulfonamides, to name a few, not to mention growth hormones like rBGH...

What is rBGH, you ask?

"Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone is a genetically engineered copy of a naturally occurring hormone produced by cows. Manufactured by Monsanto Company, the drug is sold to dairy farmers under the name POSILAC, though you'll also find it called BGH, rBGH, BST and rBST. When rBGH gets injected into dairy cows, milk production increases by as much as 10-15%. The use of rBGH on dairy cows was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 1993 and has been in use since 1994. " From Shirley's Wellness Cafe

Early puberty, anyone?

One also gets the feeling that maybe the NDC hasn't read Milk:The Deadly Poison

"Once upon a time, milk was teeming with life forces. Today, supermarket milk is a brew of hormones, chemicals, DDT, fungicides, defoliants and radioactive fallout, produced by artificially inseminated creatures forced to stand around in muddy feed lots all day long."

Or visited tuberose:

"Milk fat contains high concentrations of toxins, which accumulate from the pesticides, chemical fertilizers and antibiotics, tranquilizers and other drugs that are applied to the bushels of grains that the cattle are fed, and that are injected into them... The Wall Street Journal published a front-page story detailing the results of two independent milk surveys. One survey sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), found drug residues in 38% of milk samples. The other survey, sponsored by the journal itself, found drug residues in 38% of milk samples purchased in 10 major cities.

A 1988 staff memorandum from the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine listed 30 unapproved drugs believed to be used by milk producers. Sixteen of those drugs are being used extensively in dairy cows, on an extra-label basis.

Milk is a causative factor in most health problems plaguing Americans consuming the Basic American Diet. The drinking of cow milk has been linked to iron-deficiency anemia in infants and children; it has been named as the cause of multiple forms of allergies and plays a central role in the origins of atherosclerosis and heart attacks. Cow milk is linked with recurrent ear infections and bronchitis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and simple dental decay. Milk is a carrier of radioactive substances. Dairy products are major contributors of saturated fat and cholesterol to the diet. According to cardiologist Dean Ornish, M.D., 'Milk rates second only to beef as the largest source of saturated fat in the American diet.' The greatest instigator of calcium loss, it turns out, is a high-protein diet."


You and I have known for some years now that laughter is very good for you, but scientists, being very serious persons, have only recently found this out to their satisfaction, as detailed with no sense of humor:

"The endothelium has endorphin receptors so what may be happening after a good laugh is these endorphins are released and activate the receptors, causing an interaction or perhaps just an independent dilation of the endothelium. This increases blood flow, which is good for overall cardiovascular health. It's also possible that mental stress may lead to the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, which may then reduce the release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells. This, in turn, could result in constriction of the vessel and the endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, so, given the results of our study, it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,…"

Doesn’t make me laugh. Not a chuckle, even in the footnotes.

For laughs, I’d rent one of these. (Do you believe no After Hours??)

Monday, March 07, 2005


Early yesterday evening, just as the sun was setting behind the mountain, I was upstairs at the computer doing much the same as I am doing right at this very moment when I heard a sound outside that resembled the bamboo-whanging of a spirited kendo match, which I knew right away was ridiculous, for there haven't been any kendo matches up in this part of the forest since the beginning of time, according to my records. Accompanying that noise was a sound like those party favors that emit an extended disharmonious tweet. Very strange sound combo for a mountain forest.

I went to the upstairs window and looked out into the dimming light, and there across the road, in the Golden Palace of the Baron, were two stags fighting. One was The Baron, the other was an upstart looking to make his way in the world. They charged and Whang! A dozen kendo shinai met. Then again they charged, both stags emitting that nasal party-favor sound. Majestic stance, noble profile, powerful tines, nasal 'fweeeeep...' After a few of hornlocks the newcomer with the smaller white tail gave it up and trotted off, The Baron following close behind, powered to a great extent by my spinach.

I thought that was the end of it, but this morning as E and I were walking toward the north in the big open space of the terraced paddies, in the distance we saw one stag chasing another down the slope and across the terraces (in broad daylight no less!) the one being chased now and then turning to attack, then giving up and running off again. It was the Baron and the interloper locking horns once more, only this time The Baron was really and righteously driving the Big Stag wannabe away.

I was afraid they might come galloping toward us with all those antlers, but by the time we got to the spot, the two were long gone. I still don't understand that wimpy 'fweep' as a powerful masculine sound threat, though; I should think they would have developed a rich whinny or a suitable bellow by now, like I have...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

All the anxieties fade up here, all the contiguity-fueled city ones — here the problems are maybe mice, maybe monkeys, maybe a surfeit of beauty—


This morning as we were returning from our walk, me last as usual, as I ambled from the road into our drive I heard the unmistakable screech of a monkey fight in the forest not far up mountain. I figured I'd better go out back and check on the shiitake logs, make my presence known, assert my alpha-maleness as it were, which I did forthwith.

But when I got there all puffed up with alpha characteristics, I saw a small male already there, down by the lower gate, watching from a respectable distance the actions of his boss, clearly the simian alpha male of the troupe, who was already examining the logs the way pawnbrokers used to examine my watches, until he saw me and loped insouciantly off to the adjoining property, clearly having some knowledge of property law. The young male followed.

They waited there sort of checking their watches till I went into the house, but I didn’t go in. Instead I went to my arsenal and got out some of my AMBMs (stones), which I lined up prominently on the deck railing; I then just stood there waiting authoritatively.

While the furry underlings began to forage for rotten fallen acorns, withered grass roots and the like (it was breakfast time), the alpha just squatted there and gnawed some gravel while watching me in the covert fashion of monkeys, which is pretty overt in human terms. Still, his wanting me to think he wasn’t watching my every move told me he knew he was in the wrong - but only as long as I was there. When I went into the house, i. e., disappeared from his reality, he’d be back in the right again, quicker than you can say Garden of Eden. Thus operates the simian conscience, which still has its ancient echoes in our own, that now and then harks back, especially in kids, to the simian level.

So there we were, two consciences, cautiously watching each other, aware of our territorial rights, one with a college degree, one with a forest degree, one gnawing gravel, one hefting gravel, until at last when his dozen or so kids began to complain about the food he blinked and battle was averted. He turned and led the troupe up into the forest, screeching the simian equivalent of “Let’s go somewhere that isn’t so crowded.” Then I too headed for breakfast, pondering the roots of conscience…

Saturday, March 05, 2005


So there I was, minding my own business out in the garden, wheelbarrowing last weekend's split oak to the new firewood pile for next year (amazing how fast a face cord shrinks, yet how slowly it grows again), when just as I finished placing the last eighth of oak on the pile and stood up, Dr. Crow landed in the wannabe flower bed two meters away from me and began to rummage in the mulch, so I froze. He eyed me carefully... there's something abut that shape that seems vaguely familiar... but I'd stopped breathing through my mouth so there was no steam on the air, which made me just a vague and harmless anomaly in his landscape.

He nibbled at some just-emerging mitsuba leaves he'd uncovered and was edging toward the banquet of our compost pile, when suddenly the ancient crow in me ventriloquated a loud and authoritative caw. The dark professor practically jumped out of his feathers. He flew instantly to a low branch of the chestnut tree just above my head and searched frantically for sight of the intruder, briefly piercing me with the dark gimlet of his eye, but dismissing me as just another stump. I was not offended.

Then I cawed again as though from elsewhere and he bounced all over that chestnut tree, looking as everywhere as he could, trying to figure out who would DARE trespass on his turf, and so closely as this! The nerve! He boinged up and down with the utter brass of it. He flew to his cherry tree. He flew to his plum tree. He flew to his deck railing. He tore up some mulch and threw it away. He went high up in his cedar tree and peered from between the branches. Then to the top of his telephone pole, where he hangs out and can see for kilometers in any direction.

Nope. There was no other crow to be seen. He gave a couple of loud challenging caws. No response. He WAS king, after all. I covered up the firewood then, went inside and let him have the place. He knows where everything is anyway.

For supper soup I went out later and got some of the new mitsuba he'd shown me.

Friday, March 04, 2005


Last weekend, along our serendipitous wanderings (serendipity in fact being the main point of such excursions) in search - as herein chronicled earlier - of the renowned pond that as near as we could tell is nowhere near its location, we stopped at a local sake brewery up the road a ways in “Irish village,” as it is called - for its puzzling rural Japanese village love of Ireland and the presence of a delightful “Gulliver’s Village” up there in the low hills.

One day I will get to the bottom of why it is called Irish Village - I have to find the pond first - so many things on that loooong list - but to my present point: as we meandered down the narrow village road I saw a sugidama (sugi: cedar; dama: ball) hung outside the door of a local sake brewery I hadn't noticed before.

When sake is first set to brew, in accordance with the traditional manner a ball made of freshly cut green cedar branches is hung outside the door to signal to the community that the new batch of sake is now under way (traditionally, very important local news). As time passes and the cedar in the ball dries out and turns more and more brown, the further along the sake is toward completion, until at last the fully brown ball tells all the village and all passing along the road that the sake made and sold here is ready and available. Slow advertising.

Imagine that: months of fragrantly tantalizing tenterhook advertising, all without using even one picovolt of electricity. So natural. So elegant. So knowing - and of so many things - a tacit knowing in which all share. Without neon. Who now knows how soon cedar branches turn brown, and that that duration matches the time it takes for sake to become sake? Some elderly folks still know these things, in the small, emptying country towns…

This sugidama is still pretty green so I have to wait a while yet, but the flavor of new country sake will be worth it. Slo-o-o-o-o-w-w-w...

Excellent sake site


A great issue.

Contents and full cover

Thursday, March 03, 2005


4 ounces sweet almond oil
1 ounce Organic Beeswax
2 ounces water
10 drops Vitamin E oil
10 drops essential oil

Melt the oil and the wax in a double boiler. Remove from heat, add water, and stir thoroughly. Stir continuously until cool. Stir in Vitamin E and essential oil. Pour into jars. Refrigerate for maximum freshness.

Where to get organic beeswax? From The Wild Bee, source of certified organic honey and related products. (And the above recipe - plus others.)

If you live in Japan, here's a source of pure foods by mail:
Warabe Mura - PDF catalog.

Tengu Natural Foods
Natural House (in Japanese)


I admit it. Back when the dark force was believed to make up more than 70 percent of the mass-energy budget of the universe, I used to blame my own lack of budget on that repulsive, unknown form of energy that also appears to push galaxies outward. Although it was clear that the gravitational pull between any two objects (such as my money and my creditors) becomes less with distance, on earth there is no distance sufficient to eliminate the pull altogether; thus my constant lack of cash.

Now that I’m older, however, and have acquired some familiarity with the basic conjectures of String theory, I understand more clearly why so many times in my life I had to live on so little, and why it is called a shoestring. I did not know back then, for example, that when money leaves my pocket it just leaves the cosmos altogether and heads for another dimension, never to return. String theory has made this all clear.

Physicists have spent entire careers seeking to quantify the various aspects of these schools of thought, when they could just have quantified the dark force in my checkbook and followed the trail of my credit card receipts like bubbles in a cloud chamber. Now some scientists of my generation seem to have done that very thing or its equivalent (of course they don’t say that in so many words), for they have made the connection and have ‘theorized’ that (like cash-in-hand) gravity itself may be leaking away. That does nothing to help my bank account, though. No one yet has been able to reverse gravity.


"Gianni Versace's latest book Men Without Ties is a runaway success. And now, at the most progressive corporations of New York, Paris, and London, it is quite permissible for men to appear dressed for business with no trace of silk, rayon, or polyester about their necks. What has come undone? Why, after an unprecedented two-thousand year reign, has the most useless, and yet the most fussed over, element of male attire gradually begun to whither in importance?"

A Loosening of Ties

By Willy J. Spat

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


(For zone 6, PLM's equivalent)

* Start seeds indoors. Sterilize used containers in a 10% bleach solution. Read packet instructions to determine length of time for germination. Count backwards from the date you plan to transplant to calculate seed starting date.

* Cut back ornamental grasses that were left for winter interest.

* Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees and deciduous shrubs and trees when the temperature rises above 50 degrees F to prevent scale and other problems.

* Check your lawnmower and other power tools to ensure that they are running properly. Repair shops will be very busy in a few weeks.

* Give the compost pile a good turning. I like to use my mini-tiller to mix up the pile thoroughly.

* Apply cottonseed meal, which is a good source of nitrogen, to azaleas and rhododendrons to give these plants a jump-start.

* I like to pot up new bareroot roses into two or three gallon pots to give them an opportunity to develop roots before planting into the garden. Keep the pots in a warm sunny location for 3-4 weeks.

* Cut butterfly bushes (buddleia) back to six to eight inches above the ground.

* Avoid walking on wet lawns or beds to control soil compaction.

From Organic Gardening newsletter


Seeing the sun all dressed in new green on the mountains in the morning and hearing the manically exuberant warbler echoing my own exultings, lifting the morning up out of the dark by sheer strength of song, and the hawks in love in and with the vast blue pearl of the sky, and the crow with his eye on my any-day-now bean shoots, and my finger-rooted arms moving rocks into walls and stringing up cedar fences, and watering, digging, enriching, harvesting - so becoming more and more the place I live - and in the long pauses to drink it all in I imagine sampling the radishes with their satisfying crunch like the very lettuce itself, or the rainbow chard; the texture, the spunk of life on the transition, the change from leaf to man to earth and back again and so on and around into a son and a daughter and another son and the moon in new eyes, and arms and hands digging and planting soon to be tomatoes and herbs and cucumbers born out of the fertile past.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


A new and armied constitution has always been the aim of the LDP [Living Dinosaur Party; world's longest single party rule], it's in their charter; all that's needed now is an economic depression. According to the Japan Times:

A Liberal Democratic Party panel is considering restricting such basic freedoms as that of assembly and expression [i. e., you and me] in its draft proposal for a new Constitution, sources said Monday.

A memo submitted to the subcommittee Thursday, says, "It should be permissible by law to restrict or ban the publication or sale of books that have a detrimental effect on young people's upbringing" -- an apparent reference to obscene books or videos. [They don't seem to know much about young people (or the internet)...]

It also says "there should be restrictions on the forming of associations whose aim is to gravely damage the state or social order." [That should give the LDP sufficient free reign...]

Further, the paper emphasizes the obligations of citizens to defend the country [draft], protect their families [from government?] and the environment [LDP favors nuclear power, dammed rivers, concreted countryside], and respect life, even at the expense of individual freedoms. [And exactly what ominously unspecified freedoms might those be?]

Full story with thanks to Nevin.

Doesn't look like things are going to get any better...

Note to self: start looking for another planet...


"Albacore tuna, according to recent testing by the FDA, contains 3 times as much mercury as does chunk light. You should avoid albacore tuna if you wish to keep your blood mercury level low. There are exceptions, however. Some companies sell albacore that is troll-caught. These fish are younger and therefore contain lower levels of mercury. According to a recent study from Oregon State University, troll-caught albacore mercury levels are similar to chunk light levels (on average 0.14 parts per million as compared with 0.358 parts per million for older longline-caught albacore). Data for troll-caught fish in the mercury calculator is from the OSU study. Cans of chunk light tuna typically contain skipjack tuna which is a smaller species of fish and therefore contains lower mercury levels (on average. 0.123 parts per million). You can compare the mercury levels between the two in the mercury calculator above."

via Calorie Restriction Society newsletter

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