Sunday, March 30, 2008


Like any space, every room begins as a wilderness-- and if the right kind of person has lived in it for a year or two, it becomes even moreso. Take for example my room: a special preserve, I call it, and I like to keep it that way, it's a matter of psychoecology, which is very important to me.

All my life I've done the best I could in that regard, working hard to preserve at least one remnant of wilderness in my daily life despite mothers, aunts, teachers and latterly, master sergeants and wives. As a result of those early and ongoing struggles I more than ever consider it my primal duty, on behalf of humankind, to foster the natural state of things. I therefore try to keep my room as close to that condition (natural plus ultra) as possible so I don't lapse into the illusory danger of thinking that I have my room under control and that even more could be under my control (today my room; tomorrow etc.). Hitler and Mussolini, a couple of obsessively punctilious guys, were like that: they had very neat rooms that led inevitably to spiffy uniforms and the illusion of neat countries, neat neighboring countries, neat populations etc.

The neat room is a dangerous illusion, as history is de facto continuously pointing out to society at large via various financial, political, religious and activist groups of righteous room cleaners and organizers of the human race in general, but we in the developed world never seem to learn, because we insist on trying to get all our kids to clean all their rooms, thereby instilling in them the erroneous belief (as with most beliefs) not only that it should be done, but that it can be done. "A place for everything and everything in its place" is the most inimical and least natural thing I've ever heard, it is the seed of tyranny. Il Duce had that embroidered on his underwear. This is where it gets insidious, or is it invidious... My dictionary is around here somewhere... In this corner I think, at the bottom of that stack under the lantern... Used to be with my thesaurus, which because of this pile of hats I just moved to-- hey this is interesting, I don't think I've ever read this, didn't know I had it, it's in the neopile-- discovery is a wonderful thing.

Shelves, for example, and drawers and their desks or whatever, impart the chronic and tragic misapprehension that our own thoughts, hence our creativity, are organized in such a way, when creativity clearly indicates otherwise (as evidenced by its loss through pigeonhole education). This has led for example to all the terrible poetry etc. we've had to endure down the ages, in amounts far exceeding the sublime bits that survive less and less each year, that came straight out of one wild room or another, created by the diminishing defenders of domestic wilderness.

Neatness interferes, whereas wilderness prevents senility, ever honing the mind to new sharpness. You think Einstein had a neat mind? DaVinci's was a mess; Beethoven, forget it. Creativity is anarchic, unpredictable and cannot be summoned, as can the devil of neatness. No discovery in the room, no discovery in the resident. That's a paraphrase of a Frost quote I've got in a book right about there, under the beeswax candles in one of those boxes in the corner, under the sweaters. Being one with the wilderness, like Tarzan or Geronimo, I know where all the vines, hideouts and escape routes are (there's a river in that direction, there's a butte over there, a canyon beyond etc.), which is quite enough to be getting on with. One only needs so much knowledge of where key things are; the rest is clutter.

My room has been purposely kept wild because at least some places on earth should be kept free of human interference, maintained as reverential venues where the primordial can still be experienced (such places are disappearing by the day). What greater insight can be gained in this modern world than by daily reminders of our primal origins, leading to fundamental understanding of what is truly possible? A room in its essence is our one clear chance at letting the world run free, insofar as this can be done in an enclosed space for which you're paying rent, mortgage, maintenance, depreciation or whatever, paid for via time spent in a painfully neat office, so why waste what may be one's only opportunity to experience the primordial on a regular basis?

In any case, its folly to argue with entropy; look at what it does to dictators.

You'll find none of that in my room.

Friday, March 28, 2008


"The large-scale culling, which is expected to continue through April, has outraged groups working to preserve the park's bison herds, considered by scientists to be the largest genetically pure population in the country. It has also led to an angry exchange between Montana state officials and the federal government over a stalled agreement to create a haven for the bison that has not received the needed federal financing.

'When they leave the park they have nowhere to go,' said Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, a Democrat. 'This agreement would have given them a place to go.'"

The American Bison-- imagine that: a splendid native creature of America, leaving the park, with no place to go.

Kafka, Orwell... take your pick.

" And what a splendid contemplation too, when one (who has travelled these realms, and can duly appreciate them) imagines them as they might in future be seen, (by some great protecting policy of government) preserved in their pristine beauty and wildness, in a magnificent park, where the world could see for ages to come, the native Indian in his classic attire, galloping his wild horse, with sinewy bow, and shield and lance, amid the fleeting herds of elks and buffaloes. What a beautiful and thrilling specimen for America to preserve and hold up to the view of her refined citizens and the world, in future ages. A nation's Park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature's beauty!"
George Catlin
Oh, the irony...

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Long-time readers of this aging blog have perhaps begun to wonder where the hell all the monkeys have gone that this guy used to be ranting about all the time in re his vain attempts at growing onions and pumpkins and his annual shiitake harvest competition versus the quick-fingered simians etc., but whether said readers are wondering or not, I’m responding.

The fact of the matter is that I haven’t seen even one red-faced marauder around here for several months now, let alone a tribe; no ready stomping of a few dozen unshod feet in full ownership across my roof, no screechingly dull conversations from the trees before settling in around the house of a summer night, no hordes of the creatures huddling past on the winter road like refugees in fur coats. I admit to feeling some nanoanguish at their absence, though my full grasp of a delightful reality soon returns. As to the why of it, asking why there are no monkeys is like asking why I'm not sitting on a tack. One does not ponder the absence of a pain in the ass.

I have recently heard, however (I wasn’t asking), through the human grapevine, of a program being carried out by Shiga Prefecture, likely in response to loudening complaints from local pumpkin and onion raisers, to say nothing of the owners of those large tracts of shiitake logs just lying there unattended in the forest hereabouts in such fungal lasciviousness as to tempt even me, though I am not a full-time simian and I have a conscience, which works now and then, often at the wrong time.

Shiga Prefecture, as I was saying before thoughts of simian brigandage interrupted like a raid on my garden, has been carrying out some sort of Macaque control program - if it was sterilization I’d still see some monkeys around, though there wouldn’t be as much flirting in the trees (open-air simian love hotels). Or maybe the authorities read my blog and have developed a desimianization program involving work visas and commuter passes to remote fruit-picking jobs, although the monkeys around here have always raucously mocked the idea of national citizenship, let alone permanent residency. Commuting and full-time jobs forget it. Monkeys know nothing of permission.

I don’t know what Shiga Prefecture is doing with the monkeys exactly, but whatever they’re doing, it’s been effective. I’m already having thoughts about onion sets and pumpkin seeds, even grapes - and plums from my tree! - amid the broad spectrum of pleasant meditations that characterize monkeylessness.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008


A superb (and funny) short lecture
on creativity and education
by Sir Ken Robinson.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Seems like the winds of March have all been compressed into the past three days, both in power and constancy. Worse than the mistral. You haven’t heard mountain wind till you hear it hissing its towering cargo of energy through the big field of winterdry mountain bamboo out front, whose leaves and stems have evolved to dissipate the effect of all that passing power not only by bending as much as necessary, but by bunching those dry-tipped papery leaves together in a million white-noise rattles. Powerful stuff.

For its part, the wind is powerful enough to blow local trains off local tracks, which receive the down mountain brunt of those big shoulders, so you’d think I’d know better by now, but noooo… This morning I headed off to work as usual, the wind so strong I couldn’t even freewheel down the mountain, the wind halting me like a big airy marshmallow, even trying to push me back up the mountain (it was trying to tell me something, I should have listened) till in my eggheadedness I finally powered my way down to the station and there beheld a growing crowd of fellow commuters just standing around in the lobby, the stationmaster hissing through his teeth at queries regarding the next departure.

After an hour of standing around checking the rural graffiti and the state of the neighboring rice paddies I gave up and wove my way back upmountain through the braids of wind to home, whence I called the office to say that unfortunately due to the powerful country winds there were no trains to the big city so I’d have to work at home today, and how it broke my heart and all. At noon the wind is even fiercer than it was this morning, and there are still no trains passing by down there, as I can see from the warm calm behind the big glass doors facing the lake over the rocking bamboo, with a good fire crackling in the stove and a nice cup of coffee in my hand, as I suffer the typical anguish of abrupt officelessness.

Oh well, I can always look forward to heading in on Tuesday, if I should come to be completely out of my mind.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


The traditionally Jurassic government of Japan today took a babystep closer to reality by appointing a famous cartoon character Anime Ambassador to the world. At last: an actually qualified, purposefully comic character from after the ice age.

It's such an oddly good move for the Pleistocene group, that it arouses my suspicion (the playful side of the LDP??).

Doraemon has absolutely no nationalistic agenda (and if asked, would no doubt come out against the killing of whales and reparations for Comfort Women, for example), so I doubt if he'll be allowed an uncontrolled press conference any time soon.

He stands smilingly bold and blue, this rotund time traveler with his pocketful of save-the-day gadgets (they could use a few), and at great distance - in terms of credibility and rationality - from such primeval party voices as those of Taro Aso, Ishihara Shintaro and so many others of the tarpit faction.

But at the very least, manga/anime star and dorayaki lover Doraemon may get some ambassadorial results, and possibly offset some of the usual embarrassment, even make the LDP seem cute for a short time, like a baby brontosaurus.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


And this is just the first of hundreds - thousands - of moneyshifts, most of which the paying public will never even hear about until their shares in the US (i.e. the dollar) are worth pennies, before the freeprinting currency reaches its intrinsic value and surviving US banks are nationalized.

There is blood in the water, as the sharks begin to eat their own...

The transaction is all the more odd in that Bear Stearns' purchaser J.P. Morgan is the world's largest holder of derivatives!

Foreign investors are withdrawing their support of the currency...

For a view of where all this may be headed, see the Weimar experience...

BTW, the current derivative nominative total is over 500 TRILLION dollars...

And The Street on Welfare...


Monday, March 17, 2008


This afternoon, after spending the morning trying to buy just the handle for the faucet that controls the water line to our house because the water cooperative upgraded the system recently and suddenly our water pressure was too high, came out of the faucet like a fire hose, which can be disconcerting at 5 am when you’re just bending over in quotidian innocence to freshen your face and you’re met by Niagara Falls so I went out this morning to the little stone grotto and uncovered the faucet to turn it down and the ancient thing just crumbled in my hand like this was subterranean Rome or something so there I was out in a morning that had been rich in other plans trying to find a faucet handle store and being guided from mystified shops to ever smaller, nonplussed shops, at last to a tucked-away plumbing supply house I’d driven by a thousand times but never noticed because I’d always been rich in faucet handles, and there I showed the guy in the parking lot the tissue-wrapped powdery relic and asked if he had any faucet handles this size, at which he raised an eyebrow or two, then did that Japanese tooth-hissing sound that means anything from we’re out of beer to you have a week to live, it’s a dreaded sound in every instance and this was one, at last he said that they don’t sell handles separately from the faucet unit itself and the yen signs began to climb in my head because no way was I myself going to replace the entire underground faucet mechanism I'd have to hire a plumber, which anyway was insane when all I needed was a handle but we now live in a world we have never lived in before, ruled to a new extent by plumbers, and in the way of things it appeared there was no way out, faucetwise, plus the fact of that ominous hiss, followed by a pause, and he began walking meditatively toward the warehouse, I following, sad relic in hand, where from a big binful of entire faucets he took out a tauntingly brand new faucet, odd how faucets can suddenly taunt, it had a bright red, uncomfortably appealing handle on it of exactly the size and type I needed but did not even remotely wish to use in toto, and he said well I’ll just sell you the handle then. We went out to his truck and he got a tool to remove the luscious ruby handle, I confirmed the size, still in disbelief and asked how much, when he did the hiss again, a quick one, said we never sell this separately, so I don’t know… 200 yen I guess (2 dollars). Bless him and all his family for as long as there are faucets.

Oh yeah, about the afternoon... I’ll get to that maybe tomorrow after I wash my face in tranquility.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Ah, ah, the first clear and temperate sunset in many months. I am out here near sunset admiring the finesse of the sky with that fine rare blue it can achieve at such times, like the robins use for their eggs, the crafty avians. And just that tinge of rose, that drives painters wild trying to replicate with brushes and pigments on canvas, with a only hint of that same rose, cast like a sheer veil of light over the dark rocky shoulders of the foothills in their ancient compromise with the pale blue lake...

The simple offhand mastery of it is astounding at every glance, on every side... The dark green spikes of trees, the rose tint-- how it roils at the edges of the mountains even where they turn to rosy snow...

And the islands out there, with their pale golden stripes of residence along the lower edges... No boats today though, for, splendid as it might be for sailing in the moment, the weather at this time of year can turn on the dime of the mood of those now pink clouds...

The tension is delight to the soul.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I don’t know about you, but I for one am not planning to spend eternity in a stone box, I’d rather be a tree or something. Let alone a stone box with some 2D barcode on the front that cell-phone-using grave visitors can scan for photos of the deceased plus life history or whatever, is nothing sacred, but it does make it convenient for such folks who might otherwise have to keep coming to the cemetery for grave visits to subsequently do so via cell phone.

Yes, a Japanese tombstone company has recently started just such a product line, called - to not much surprise - the Voice of Stone, which enables all this ethereal convenience while recording grave visits too, presumably the called-in kind as well, to be shared into the future by family and friends, the cell-phoneless deceased likely remaining out of the loop.

Asiajin has a more detailed explanation of this must-have, and a link to the Japanese cell phone website that first posted the story.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Went out this morning for my usual prebreakfast temperature check, ready for a chill, and instead got slammed with the tender warmth of early spring, sensual breezes laden with the spicy scent of germination, in the ground all around and in the swelling buds of red and jade on the trees, all preparation for the major performances in the big days coming, under the grand marquee.

We get to see the whole show two times where we live: once when everything finally blooms down on the flatlands, then for the next couple of weeks we savor the privilege of watching the extravaganza slowly grow up the mountainside until it reaches our house and the jinchoge goes POW and the plum blossoms go BAM, then the cherry blossoms go WHAM and then come rising the vast armies of rainbow and green, taking over every niche of landscape, and I surrender for the summer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


What do you think was the best-selling nature book of 1855: Walden? (Published 1854.) And the best selling novel: Moby Dick? (Published 1851.) Best-selling book of poetry: Leaves of Grass? (Published 1855.) Fact is, apart from a bit of negative notoriety, those three classics bombed at home for half a century after they were first published. It took that long, and a lot of murky water under the bridge, for the general perspective to come round to these visionary ways of looking at the world.

Few people in the present day see the world the way top-ranked authoress Lavinia Braithwaite did, in her runaway best-selling nature book of 1855, The Truth in God’s Word as Manifested in the Geometric Flower Garden for all Mankind, Who Should Dress in Black.

Nor can much of today be found in the best-selling novel of 1855, Black Hats, Black Suits and the Wrath of Paradise, a gripping saga of irrepressible redemption, wherein author Livingston Hornthorn explored the salvational possibilities to be found in dark garments, tight collars, cold water and daily prayer at home with mother and father.

And there’s less now than ever in the best-selling poetry tome of 1855, Three Posies and a Nosegay in Black Crepe, a leatherbound heartstopper by author Pangborne Thorogood, who epically visualized for all of his contemporaries a world of funereally pale virgins dressed in black holding a lock of hair of the deceased and some violets, loitering among the lilies in a graveyard, a veritable heaven on earth.

But now that we’ve gotten through all that, and are here at last in the comparatively loosened up and more organically responsible future with its burgeoning Henry-Herman-Walt perspective, our attention is being fought over by such bestsellers as Bonecrunch and Bloodbath and Suffer and Die Vicariously, semi-automatic page turners surpassing even the blockbuster Absolute Misery in their ability to kill time with an Uzi, then just toss it in the landfill.

For illumination after a fashion there’s Cellophane Prophecies; for the more hardy there’s Ten Easy Steps to a Lifelong Journey; then there's the presidential biography Appear to Have Scruples, popular diversions from sugarless reality via lo-cal bromides.

Do we moderns deem ourselves deserving of these sentences imposed by our own Lavinias, Pangbornes and Livingstons, when so few have even heard of the elegant and heartfilling Waldens, Mobys and Leaves of our time, that can assist in our creating and reaching a worthy future, even show us around when we get there?

You’ll have to exit the best-selling book hangar and search where few ever go, to find out how tomorrow has been foreseen and forenourished; what’s more, you’ll have to have taste-- so seldom a thing of its time.

[Previously published - in different form - in Kyoto Journal]

Monday, March 10, 2008


I desperately wanted to get up early this morning, I had so many things to do-- make a fire in the stove and have breakfast before hunkering down to a couple of urgent early editing deadlines so I could get a headstart on some long-overdue outdoor work, which would have been great on several levels, but the powerful hands of the heavy spring rain cascading from the top of the sky onto the roof and forest around, and the irresistible veils of mist floating by outside the window pinned me to the bed so strongly that I could barely move my eyelids. Frustrating, to say the least.

I struggled valiantly for nanoseconds, but in vain one opposes the powers of nature; the musical power of the rain was so torrential that I barely managed to turn over - the better to bear the euphonic pressure - briefly rearranging my pillow to optimally cushion my head against the misty forces and tuck the blankets in place around my shoulders so as to at least maintain essential toastiness while suffering forced immobility, so that my frustration would not seem so severe. Sometime soon, god willing, the rains would slow and the mist would clear, then I would be able to get up and at last set out toward fulfilling my numerous responsibilities.

I was so restrained I couldn’t even tap my foot in impatience, so I didn’t bother trying. It took quite a while, big strength of character and a series of excellent dreams before I was able to overcome the multiply faceted insistence of nature, open my eyes to slits and struggle up onto one elbow, from which height I was able to determine that additional winks was the superior choice.

He who would follow the natural course of springtime must be decisive.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

the chestnut tree
in the dark
accepts the snow

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Seems like the snow this year opted to fall in February and March, for some reason eschewing the springlike December and the mild January, reserving itself for heavy snowfalls every few days thereafter, just as we in the igloos were expecting outdoors to drop the icy act and not require so much firewood of us who are already making garden moves and re-stacking shiitake logs in our minds.

But as I’ve mentioned occasionally in these weathered musings, oftentimes it’s blizzarding here and beachweather only a kilometer away, which makes things interesting. Yesterday we drove into Kyoto for some shopping and a stop at the YWCA (where I exchange paperbacks now and then); it was sort of like leaving Kamchatka and a few moments later arriving in Santa Barbara.

This morning down at the train station after another night’s snowfall, as I stood looking around in the early sunlight under a clear cold sky, the lake blue, the mountains crisp white, patterned in geometric patches of lumbered areas, some of them almost vertical - I can’t imagine lumbering an almost vertical landscape - the view went on until blue of water and white of mountains met a sky-high curtain of dark-silver silk, strung across the lake: the shifting border of snow country. Beyond it the snow was falling heavily, obscuring everything; I was right at the edge of the high-pressure area; the border could shift this way any minute, and I’d be in the heart of a blizzard.

It probably will shift a couple of times before the day is out, putting us in and out of Siberia by its massive whim; maybe tonight it will swing north for good and we’ll be in Santa Barbara as of tomorrow, instead of Kamchatka.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Until his mid-forties, pants had always played a passive role in his longstanding and uneventful wearer/garment relationships, for example his various pants over the decades slipping on, buttoning, zipping and belting like a breeze though summer air, with a minimum of effort and no concentration, leaving him free to think about what stylish shirt, what fancy tie, with no unsettling stomach muscle contraction, no semipermanent exhalation, no extended dancing on one leg and then the other, no forcing last year's pantslegs up slowly over thighs like filling a sausage skin with another sausage (it wasn't all new muscle) until one day the sausage complex threatened to split in the advent of ubersausage and he had to get new pants.

He was who he'd always been; how could there be this much more of him and who else was he kidding? It was all some kind of temporary quirk; in the cellulite of his mind's eye he kept ordering the same size pants he'd ordered the previous time, but they kept getting smaller and smaller until let's face it he couldn't stay dressed unless he didn't breathe. So he didn't stay dressed. Gave it up. T-shirts. No need to sacrifice himself upon the pyre of fashion, at least in a permanent pants kind of way. He needed another way, a temporary sacrifice, on the prominent altar of himself.

So at last he did what any man in his situation would do: he thought about running. Not away, not from, but toward: toward a future more like his distant past, toward the slim trim him he once was and would be again, the him that awaited still, somewhere inside that belly ahead on the jogging path; no need to buy all new sizes, he was the same dimensions as before underneath there somewhere and that's where he was going: beyond, to within; back into the lightness of being, of being containable by a waistline that wouldn't have to run anymore, he'd think about it after dinner.

This is not autobiographical.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mick just posted
Tall Enough to Tell the Tale
at The Blog Brothers
in answer to my Dartboad question...

Saturday, March 01, 2008


There are folks that say global warming is a hoax, no danger of overfishing, plenty of whales, same for the dodo, passenger pigeon, buffalo, polar bear who really gives a shit, but here you can see just a single day's worth of what is being done to YOUR oceans, to say nothing of the oceans of your children and theirs... and theirs...

These are just the shallow scourings, the ones you can see, the ones visible from space... The sight you have is nowhere near the netting, the trawling, the pollution and other aspects of blindness. Imagine a year's worth of everything invisible that's done to the oceans.

Enjoy that tuna sandwich.

source: Treehugger, via neatorama

"Arguably the single most destructive human action for the world's oceans, bottom trawling, a practice commonly used to dredge up deep water fish, leaves behind a trail of destruction that can clearly be seen from space. The above image of the Gulf of Mexico, captured by the Landsat satellite in late 1999, shows the sediment trails left behind by individual ships (the bright spots) - a testament to the utter devastation the practice exerts on vast seafloor ecosystems.

Les Watling, a zoologist at the University of Hawaii who was interviewed by LiveScience's Andrea Thompson, said that bottom trawling drags the equivalent of an area twice the size of the combined lower 48 states each year. The sediment plumes arise as ships drag their nets across the ocean floor, moving rocks, crushing reefs and stirring up various marine organisms.

Watling described these plumes as just the "tip of the iceberg," explaining that most trawling takes place in waters deep enough to mask the plumes from sight. He presented the results of his work at the AAAS meeting in Boston alongside John Amos of SkyTruth, the West Virginia-based remote sensing and digital mapping non-profit group that tracked the plumes."


Just asked Mick a dartboard question on The Blog Brothers...
Time awaits...


Musicovery... it learns what you like, with welcome surprises.
Join up, move the threads, leave it on in the background while you surf
or live otherwise...


This was an idea I had to really pinpoint some lows of recent video gaming and maybe score wads of gamer hits, but the candidate list was too long and the games were bathodepressing so I just kept the title.

I could tweak the parameters to get a shorter list but I think instead I'll do something different, like take a walk in the actual sunshine.