Playing Catch-up

I haven’t been blogging for quite a while, as you can see. I’m going to start to post historic entries…sometime before Christmas.

Bacterial Colitis

I hadn’t been feeling well for the last few days, so I decided that a visit to the doctor would be a good idea. Conveniently there is a clinic just 2 minutes walk from the ryokan, so I called in and registered. I wasn’t sure if my Japanese language ability would be sufficient for the task, but 90% of the conversation was simple enough as it concerned:

Doctors will continue to poke your tummy harder until it hurts. I suspect that they are trying to check both that light pressure doesn’t hurt, and that intense presure does actually produce the correct feeling of pain.
Dark brown poo is good, especially if it floats. Other colours of poo are bad.
The doctor laughed loudly when I mentioned I had eaten an ekiben (a lunchbox sold in trains). This seemed to be the most important factor in my diagnosis.

The final 10% of the conversation contained an explanation of the 3 different drugs that he was prescribing.

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Dear Nara

We went to see Todaiji temple. They (the people who run the temple) claim that it is the largest wooden building in the world, and I believe them. The big buddha inside is not small.

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undefined symbol

It’s strange the sort of things you end up talking about when standing in the queue for the “Back to the Future” ride. Andrew, for reasons we cannot remember, started complaining that Christmas trees were really Asherah poles, or at least general fertility symbols. We all then got involved in a meta-symbolic argument: does a particular meaning for a symbol become invalid when the symbol becomes used to represent something else?

The swastika is a better example: in the West it symbolises racial hatred to a lot of people after being used as a symbol Aryan supremacy by the Nazi party, but in the East it retains its original meaning as a blessing or good luck charm.

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line too long

The queues for the attractions at Universal Studios were even longer than those at Disney Sea: waiting times averaged 110 minutes! At 11:30 we managed to get Express Tickets for Jurassic Park with an entry time between 18:10 and 19:10. Express Tickets for all the attractions were all gone before noon.

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A lot of preparation was required before they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. First, to make sure their sample wasn’t contaminated, they had to prevent conventional bombing in the area. Then they had to delay the Japanese surrender that almost stopped their experiment altogether. And just before they started, they dropped some recording devices to measure the effects of their new toy. They had to make sure the Soviets knew who was in charge after the war.

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Would the real Stage Seven please stand up

Only a fool has never climbed Fuji; only a fool climbs it twice!

Yes, I have to admit that this was my second ascent of Fuji, although I climbed a different, and more difficult, route this time.

Like most people, we started at the 5th stage. There are 10 stages in total so the 5th stage is about half way up. When reading about Fuji and studying the illustrated route maps you are led to believe that stages are well defined goals that you can use to measure your progress up the mountain. This would be encouraging, but it is not the reality. It seems that the illustrated stages are useful in the same way as Bohr’s model of electron shells is useful in explaining atomic spectra.

Unfortunatly the stages, like electrons, actually occur in density clouds. We reached the first hut claiming to be stage 7, happy with our simple Bohr model of Fuji. We continued our climb for many minutes to be greeted by another hut claiming to be stage 7, but we ignored this as a simple experimental error. After repeating this experience three more time, I was crying for Heisenberg and Schrodinger. Since the stage position uncertainty was so large, I was imagining beyond hope that Planck’s constant was larger on Fuji than elsewhere in the universe, and we might tunnel to the top at any moment.

At one of the many 8th stages we encountered we stopped to watch the sunrise. Then the weather turned bad, but we had to press on as we didn’t want to descend on our current path. When we eventually reached the top, the crater was covered with cloud and filled with a small but powerful storm. Margaret was displaying all the signs of hypothermia. We decided to make a hasty descent, influenced slightly by the nice man who announced that anyone still in the crater at 07:30 would have to stay for the day because of the worsening weather.

The storm had one final statement to make: it didn’t like my cheap raincoat, so it whipped up some small volcanic pebbles and totally shredded my coat around me, leaving me surprised but completly unscathed.

Things continued to go wrong, but we all arrived safely, 6 hours late, back at the Ryokan.

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