The Night Camera

Deer kissI come from a hunting family, but I somehow did not inherit the gene or personality trait required to have the desire to kill.  I didn’t suffer too much for this deficiency in my family because I did and still do love animals and nature, and love being in the woods.  In any case, my oldest brother has a night camera in my family’s woods.  Over the years, he and my father have become somewhat inclined to shoot photographs instead of bullets, which I think is pretty damned cool.  When I was in Japan and missing the woods I’d grown up playing in, my mom and dad sent me pictures from the night camera of various creatures coming along its path in our woods.  This may sound odd to some people, but they were some of the best things sent to me to remind me of home.  Today I came across one of my oldest brother’s recent pictures from the night camera, and found one that I can’t resist posting.  How can you hunt after you see something as adorable as these creatures?  Well, I suppose you can if you have that inclination.  But, really, soooo cute!  Me?  Unable.  🙂

Comfort food

I’ve been not feeling so good the past couple of days, which finally emerged as the sore throat that conquered the world.  It hurt to even swallow last night, so I made myself comfort food my adopted mom in Japan had sent me, and took the day off from school, and slept in, and am finally beginning to feel a little better.  The Japanese food was a comfort.  When I get sick now, I always want miso soup and rice.  It warms me up without feeling so heavy.  In any case, my adopted Japanese mom is always putting up pictures of recipes she’s made on her webpage, so I’ve decided to keep that tradition, especially since most of the stuff I made was stuff she’d sent me.  🙂

Behold the beauty of Miso soup with wakame (seaweed) and tofu.

Miso soup

Marvel at Japanese rice generously arranged with furikake (vegetable sprinkles)

Rice and furikake

Feast your eyes on the miracle of oden, a Japanese winter dish of daikon radish, potato, konnyaku (a gelitinous creation made from dragon root), fish cakes and boiled egg.


And now onto trying to get some work done.  Have a good weekend.

In order of importance

If as many people are actually upset and disturbed by the completely unsurprising death of Anna Nicole Smith as the media would have us believe, I can only refer back to my previous entry on despair and add this to my list of despair-worthy items:

1. War in the Middle East

2. Environmental catastrophe

3. People actually upset and shocked by Anna Nicole Smith’s completely unsurprising death

Inconvenient things

If Al Gore would decide to run for president again, I think my vote would be decided easily.  According to this Times article, he says has no intention to run, despite a group of his former supporters campaigning to bring him out.  Gore lost his first campaign for president for lots of reasons (even before it was stolen from him), some of them being the way he wasn’t as jovial and charming to people on camera, the way he couldn’t talk animatedly, and how everytime he tried to make a joke it never really came off. 

This happens to lots of candidates.  The media has already started making fun of them.  Some of them deserve it because they say ridiculous things.  But I always get offended by the jabs directed at people not due to the content of their words but because of an awkward delivery.  So Al Gore couldn’t play the saxophone like Clinton.  So he’s no cowboy from down home on the ranch.  But he’s serious and sober and considers the world’s problems with his heart and his mind and with not just his own interests or his nation’s interests in mind, but the world’s.  If you watch his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, you’ll see how remarkably charismatic he can be.

One of the problems, I’ve always thought, with the first Gore campaign was that his speech writers and “gesture directors” (you realize they have these) all were trying to keep him in pitch with Clinton, the great seducer (and what a seducer he was, ahh, brings back memories).  If they’d been smart, they would have allowed Gore to be himself more, rather than trying to suit him up in the fun party guy’s self-presentation.  But probably even then he wouldn’t have got popular, because Americans weren’t ready to hear what needs to be done if we want this world to survive.  It would get in the way of every way we live right now.

The title of Gore’s documentary couldn’t be more apt.  It is an inconvenient truth we’re faced with in the world right now.  Pretty much all of the ways we live will have to be changed if we want a healthy world to live in.  And no one, really, admit it, likes to change.  Especially when it costs money.  But I can’t imagine not doing so, considering the other option: continuing ruining the earth’s atmosphere and resources until it’s an unlivable place for anything.  They say we have time, though; if we started soon, we could turn back the processes of pollution.  I think that would be something the whole world could get behind, though I assume there would be someone trying to make a shady buck off of that, too.  Even so, if it would lead to a livable world, it’d be worth it. 

Despair is natural, isn’t it?

Some years ago I had a course on the early twentieth century British novel.  For the class I was introduced for the first time to Virginia Woolf’s work.  We read To the Lighthouse, which I loved so much I began taking her other books out of the library and reading them despite having to go on reading the other assigned books for the class as well.  We talked a lot in the class about the First and Second World Wars, and how they affected the writers of that period.  I can still recall my professor saying how, these days, Virginia Woolf’s suicide is ascribed solely to her madness, the posthumously diagnosed bipolar disorder she suffered from.  I agree from having read a good amount of her diaries that she did have unstable emotional states, but that professor went on to say something that also struck me as correct then, and which I am reminded of in these days we’re living out now.  He said that yes, she had an emotional instability, but that she was also severely distressed about the First World War as it occurred, was deeply despairing over the destruction of so many people’s lives, that it took her some time to recover from the First World War and that when the Second World War came around, she was even more unstable than usual and she did not see an end in sight for humanity’s inability to stop killing one another for power and resources, and that this is something she wrote about as an influence in her emotional well-being that is not often talked about any longer as the popularity of reducing her to an emotionally disordered writer grows in the critical community.

I don’t think it’s madness at all to be emotionally disturbed by war.  I know that every day this war my country’s government officials got us into and refuses to bring to an end makes my heart a little heavier.  Some days I’ll wake up and already be down before I even have the chance to look out the window.  And much of it is to do with the state of the world, the crises with the environment, the war, people’s refusal to accept difference in others, the not so subtle shift from democracy to a government whose contanst mantra is, “Yes, yes, we hear you people, but we’re don’t going to do what you want anyway.  You’re the people.  We’re the government.” How is feeling disturbed by all that madness?

But I think a lot of people don’t feel the heaviness of the situation–or I should say, they feel it but many don’t even understand the source of their troubled hearts and minds.  We call so many things that display emotion outside the socialized rule of happiness madness, I think.  But if feeling that way about war contributed to Virginia Woolf’s despair, then I suppose I must be mad too.

Monkey Majik

I ran across this song of the day at NPR’s website today.  It’s a song by a band in Sendai, Japan called “Monkey Majik”, two white brothers from Canada who went to Japan to teach English and stayed, and two Japanese members.  They’re apparently getting pretty popular in Japan.  It’s a blend of pop and hip hop, this particularly song.  But I’ve downloaded another one that feels just pop.  I like both, but the pop/hip hop blend feels fresher.  I love that the brothers write and sing in Japanese.  Have a listen at NPR.

Potential blurbs?? (Updated)

I happened to stumble into myspace’s professor grading system and was laughing at some of the report cards student have given some of my old professor’s until I realized I could possibly be on this site too.  Suddenly panicked, I searched for my name, and sure enough it was listed.  I have no worries, though.  The first student’s comment had me rolling.

 Mr. Barzak’s Report Card

P.S. For my Japanese friends:  In this case “the shit” is a good thing.  It’s slang for “最高”。 (Or “saikou” if your computer doesn’t read Japanese characters.)

P.P.S.  Don’t ask me why.

The Astronaut’s Rival

astronautOh. my. god.  I cannot believe how ridiculously absurd this story is.  I mean, I know it’s serious and all, someone apparently driving 1000 miles in diapers so she wouldn’t have to stop and go to the bathroom in order to get to her victim’s house on time, but the steel mallet?  the buck knife? the BB gun?  The fact that the would-be murderer was an Astronaut?!?  And there’s even more far out weird details I haven’t mentioned!

Don’t anyone ever tell me life is boring. 

Stupid dies as stupid does

No matter what rights there may be to do something like this, I can’t help but intuitively feel it’s criminal, what the AEI (American Enterprise Institute) has done:  offered money to scientists to undermine the U.N.’s assessment that global climate change is in a radical, dangerous state, mostly due to the human activity called industry, at which point we must have the common sense as a species to begin changing our behavior and actions in the world if we’re to save the habitat we live in–essentially, the world.  We need real superheroes right now, but unfortunately the evil-doers have woven themselves so far into the fabric of society as “normal” and “good” that many ordinary people who might be superheroes and don’t realize it can’t even recognize who the bad guys are. 

The AEI is a think tank with more than extremely close ties to the Bush Administration and powered by funds from Exxon-Mobil, which–oh my! look!–had a record-breaking year for profits this year.  Must be from all those tax breaks with which the Bush way of running government has provided them.

We need a government that will fund a campaign to save our environment, not war.