For those who know Janna

From Brandeis, I ran into her today at the Folsom St. Fair, which is essentially a bunch of leather boys and girls getting trashed in the middle of the street and whipping each other, with some food booths and safe-sex kiosks thrown in for good measure. Katie and I caught the last few songs of a cool Celtic rock band, Tempest, who had nothing really to do with the fetishists playing around nearby (although their bassist was running around in what looked to be rubber underwear.) But they played good music, and you can't go wrong with a hot chick on an electric violin. Not literally on it, wiseguy. Sheesh.

Hair today

Gone tomorrow. If anyone really wants to see what I look like without long hair, let me know and I'll put up a photo.

Everything old is new again

This past month has been, in many ways, a ride in a rickety rickshaw down memory lane. Seen some old friends, revisited some old haunts and hang-outs, and rediscovered the exquisite pleasure that is moving back in with your parents. Mind you, I'm damn appreciative of the opportunity to see them again for such a duration - before the plans to move to Japan, Boston made regular family events as irregular as an octagenarian's bowel movements - but thank god it's only for a month.

Back to the old friends bit. Spent a couple days in Yosemite this week, hiking Half Dome and generally frolicking in the forest as any good Northern Californian. New photos are up in the gallery for your perusal, of course.

Heading back to a place where I spent three summers brought back good memories. Hiking, camping, enjoying the fresh air and the lack of people was an internal recharge that I had long been needing.

The hike to the top of Half Dome, at 8,842 ft., was just as strenuous and challenging as I remembered it; maybe even a bit moreso because of the 50-plus pound pack I was lugging around. The only downside to the trip was a slight case of dehydration I got after we ran out of water on the way down from the top, and the excursion-ending blisters that Katie developed on her toes.

The thrill of hiking to the top of Half Dome is that unlike other hikes in Yosemite that are steep, narrow or somehow treacherous, Half Dome forces you to ditch your framepack, put on a pair of gloves for protection against the steel cables, and hold on for dear life.

(The top of Half Dome is 4,800 ft. above the Yosemite Valley Floor, for those who care.)

Whereas most hiking is about endurance and preparation, and the eight-mile shlep up to the top is largely about that, Half Dome is also nothing but you and the rock. When it comes down to it, there's nothing more beautiful than that.

Home sweet Saitama

I have an address in Japan: I'll be living in Ageo, a Tokyo suburb in the Saitama prefecture. Neat.

home again, home again

Back from a truncated, yet exciting and well worthwhile, excursion to Yosemite, with photos and more details to come later today. Busy trying to tie up loose ends before I leave for Japan, which is being complicated by a persistent desire on the part of those ends to remain frayed. Bothersome little fuckers, aren't they?

Say it again, Sam

Okay, so I'm repeating a misquote of a very famous line in the header above. Sue me. Anyway, a while back I heard on the radio somebody quoting V.S. Naipaul, who said, approximately, that you shouldn't say anything about India unless it's something new. Now, he was talking about the contrast of immense potential and devastating poverty in that country, but I've been toying with that concept for quite a while. I think all people who write face that struggle: what is the point of writing anything, if it's already been written? The only answer I've been able to come up with is that whether the story being told is new or not misses the point. The point is to write. Whether I'm the next Shakespeare (a dubious notion) or a dime-novel hack (far more likely) is a decision out of my hands, once I'm committed to pen or keyboard. Hardly the last thing I have to say about this, but it'll do for now.

spawn upstream, please

Katie found it first. She's good at finding little odd tidbits on the Internet. (So am I, but credit given where credit due, and all that.) She put a link to it in her Journals section of her blog. I noticed it, read it, laughed myself to tears, and mentioned it to several other people.

Now she's mentioned it in her blog proper, and here it is in mine.

It's called The Story About the Baby, which is most likely a take-off of Edward Albee's "The Play About the Baby."

It's damn funny. So funny, in fact, I tear up nearly every time I read it. But don't take my word for it: listen to Katie. Go read it.

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