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.)

Summer Travels and Reading

This summer, I’ll be in

Minneapolis (Wed, June 15 only)
Davidson, NC area (for a few days around July 4)
Denver (July 22-24) – I’ll be speaking at VegFest
and Japan (!) early August (Tokyo and Tohoku region)

Area Juicers – email me (see Quick Links menu at right) if you want to get together.

Also, anyone have any reading / listening plans for this summer? I can recommend:

The Long Ships by Frans Bengsston – a rollicking good read about the travels and travails of a Viking. Set in and around the Year 1000.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – great book that I heard HBO is making into a miniseries. In particular, I reocmmend the ensemble audiobook.

As a bonus, both of these books feature road trips (or, in the case of Ships, the watery equivalent), and (for Betty) both put the Thor back in Thursday.

No Thor in this one, but otherwise fine: the audiobook of Goodwin’s Team of Rivals was a superb listening experience.

Anyone else have any summer plans or recommendations to share?



EgyptAir Flight MS804 Update

Despite reports that wreckage from EgyptAir flight MS 804 had been found, the plane is still missing. The airline is reporting that the wreckage that has been recovered is not from their missing aircraft. While it will be impossible to know exactly what happened until wreckage, including the flight recorders, is found, speculation has already begun that it was an act of terrorism. More specifically it has become part of the presidential primary back and forth between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump. What I find interesting about this is that none of the groups that one would expect to have made claims of a successful terrorist attack have done so yet. There is one erroneous report from a news agency I’ve never heard of claiming that an Islamic State’s news agency has claimed responsibility. It sources this to the Islamic State’s news agency, but provides no links to their statement.  The only place that this unsourced report has been referenced is at the notoriously unreliable Gateway Pundit, where its already been updated to indicate that this has not been verified on the Islamic State’s news agency’s twitter feed. The link to that twitter feed goes to an account suspended page.

Whether or not this one seeming erroneous report proves out as true or not, the lack of claims of responsibility are very interesting. There are complete update timelines at both the Guardian and BBC articles I’ve linked to above if you’re looking for updates from responsible news media outlets. The updates provide information on what is known now, such as the behavior of the plane based on its radar returns, prior to the crash. As soon as more detailed information comes out, we’ll update. Please remember that as is the case with every type of incident like this, information is moving quickly between multiple sources involved with the search and investigation, and anything reported within the first 72-96 hours may or may not turn out to be accurate.

Consider the comments an open thread to talk about whatever.

And Now for Something Completely Different: Syrian Refugees Welcomed by Canadian Furries

Yes, you read that headline right. Given all the insanity we’ve been covering this weekend, I thought it would be good to post about something nice for a change. When the Vancouver, BC hotel that was hosting the annual VancouFur convention turned out to also be one of the temporary housing sites for Syrian refugees that have been admitted to Canada something really wonderful happened. The anthropomorphic animal reenactors reached out to the refugee children to welcome them to Canada.


To quote one of the participants:

Mike Schmidt, who attended VancouFur wrote on Vancity Buzz: “One of the many highlights for me was when the new group of Syrian refugee children came in and got to interact with us. To them we were cartoons to come to life, to us [it] was a means to display our acting performance to a very appreciative audience.


Click on over and see the videos and more pictures of the refugee children having a great time interacting with the furries (the first one is autoplay).


* Image found here.

** Image found here.

Moving Day

Tonight at midnight the trooping fairies will move the Seelie and Unseelie Courts to their winter demesne. This also means that tonight is the last night that The Fool is abroad on the wild hunt until next Spring.


So perhaps a little Halloween music is in order. Fairport Convention’s version of Burn’s Lay of Tam Lin, It tells the story of how the Princess Janet saved her true love, Tam Lin, from being sacrificed on Halloween by the Queen of Fairies:

So travel safely tonight, avoid The Fool, and don’t forget to set back your clocks!

* The Wild Hunt by Peter Nicolai Arbo

Home Again (Open Thread)

I made it back home from vacation just in time to lay around and watch college football all day. (Go Gators — the unexpected Beasts of the East!) 

Upon my return, I was reunited with my boxers, who pretended to be lap dogs for awhile. Here’s what that looks like, if it’s your lap:


They can look disturbingly gorilla-like when they’re right up in your grill.

It was a great vacation, but damn, I’m tired. I haven’t slept in a bed worthy of the name in a solid week.

Open thread!

PS: Does anyone know why Mizzou’s Mauk is suspended?

Thursday Morning Open Thread

Hurricane Joaquin is now a Cat 3, track still uncertain. Here’s a spaghetti model from CNN:


This seems like a good time to share favorite weather apps and sites. Yesterday, valued commenter Lee shared a link to the Plymouth State Weather Center site. Of course, the National Hurricane Center site is indispensable for storm watchers — as fine an example of our tax dollars put to good use as you’ll find on the web.

I’m also partial to the Central Florida Hurricane Center site, which not only has maps and data but links to meteorology blogs, where disagreements over forecast models can get every bit as ugly as a firebagger-on-freeper flame-war.

For mobile radar, I can’t praise MyRadar highly enough. It’s available for free in both iOS and Android flavors, and you can choose the layers you want to display. Here’s my iPhone screen with wind direction, clouds and radar:

Oct 1 MyRadar

I picked a great time to drive from Florida to the Carolinas! What are your favorite weather apps and sites? Open thread!

PS: If you missed Cole’s Vegas essay from late last night, do yourself a favor and read it now. It’s so good I’m reluctant to post over it. But time marches on.