Back from Denver and Prepping for Japan


Hedgehog and me, hanging out.

Back from my Colo trip. Had lunch with Hedgehog, during which we discussed Russian history and literature from a mushroom and other perspectives, and also the differences between SCA and LARPing. And traded pics of our cherished furkids, of course!

Next week we’re (my partner and I, not Hedgehog and I, although that would be fun, too) are going to Japan to tourist along with my stepson, who is ending a three-year gig as an assistant English teacher with the JET program. JET is a great program that pays decent (for entry level), is well run and mentored, and gives you great international experience in a truly fascinating place. So if you know a soon-to-be or recent grad with a yen for foreign experience, they might want to check it out. I believe the JET people give preference to those who major in something related to Japan or Japanese, but that’s not essential. (Howard had zero Japanese but lots of sports and other leadership experience.) They’re big on “character,” and of course they’re looking for people who will do well in an unfamiliar environment surrounded by new people.

This is a great option for recent grads, especially in a down economy. I believe they aim for geographic and experiential diversity, so those from the flyover states may actually have an advantage over coastal / Ivy types. (Howard’s cohort also included people from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa; and people from outside the U.S. may also have an advantage.) You can stipulate where you would like to be placed—I’m guessing many candidates say Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka—and your preferences will be taken into account, but you must be willing to go where placed.

And recent horrifying tragedies aside, Japan is probably the safest country to visit, so any helicopter parent types reading this can relax. (Unlike my mom who, when I called her up from Italy during my first Euro trek, thirty years ago, asked me if there was anything to eat. “Yeah, Mom, it’s Italy. They have food.”)

Anyhow, last year when we visited, we saw Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. (A highlight was the Ghibli Museum, dedicated to the works of anime superstar Hayao Miyazaki.) This year, we’ll be driving a rental car around the mountainous Tohoku region north of Tokyo, which also happens to offer some of the best onsen in Japan. (Onsen, a.k.a., Japanese baths, are the best thing in the world, assuming you don’t mind scrubbing your privates amidst a roomful of strangers doing the same.)

Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Good for Sen. Sanders

Of course, he had some serious backup…

Apart from another long evening watching the convention, what’s on the agenda?

Added bonus, tonight:

Friday Morning Open Thread

President Obama began his scheduled meeting with the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission — running some fifteen minutes late, at about 5:15am EDT — with a quick update on what little is known at the moment about the snipers at the peaceful protest in Dallas. Summary as I understand it: Right now all we know for certain is that five police officers have been killed, three suspects are in custody and a fourth one dead. Gonna be a busy, horrible day in another week whose chieftest virtue is that it’s almost over.

Apart from trying to ride the chaos rather than letting it ride us, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Mary G. Update

Spoke with the dispatched in California and help is on the way. Someone else had already called right before me.

You all are good people.

BTW- I called my own 911 first thinking they might have a faster way to get in touch, like a 911 network or something. The conversation went like this:

Dispatcher: 911, what’s your emergency?

Me: I don’t have an emergency personally, but a friend fell in California and I need to call 911 in San Clemente for her. Do you know the number for 911 there?

Dispatcher: Umm. 911.

Me: That’s not helpful.

Dispatcher: Yeah, you’re going to have to look it up.

So much fail.

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Misty Water-Colored Mem’ries

I’m almost that old; my first political memory is the muted glee & mild wonderment as I was allowed to fall asleep on the couch, because my parents were too busy watching the 1960 election-night coverage on the tiny new black & white TV they’d bought for just that reason. That was a week before my fifth birthday — #Dem4Life!

The Spousal Unit is on vacation this week, and while he hasn’t been able to revert entirely to his natural nightowl biorhythms, he’s claiming my attention during those late-evening hours that I usually spend with you guys. And then also: Trump.

hillary missed by falling gotchas handelsman

(Walt Handelsman via

July 3rd Tune Inn DC Meet-up

We’ll be meeting at the Tune Inn at 331 Pennslvania Ave SE for drinks and munchies this coming Sunday, July 3rd starting around 8:00 PM

Hopefully it will be quiet enough for good conversation.

Google Maps directions here.

Late Night Open Thread: President Obama on Populists (& Nativists)

Via persistent commentor JPL. It seems to have gone over well with the audience…