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Archive: 17 May 2005

Out of the East

A partial braindump from WWW2005.  I’ll get to the professional stuff in another post.

  • A staggering majority of the personal vehicles on the streets in the Chiba and Tokyo areas are black, white, and varying shades of gray.  Even dark blue is a rare sighting, and forest green seemed to be Right Out.  There were, however, the occasional splashes of color, like red sports cars and yellow Beetles.  Were those the rebels of Japanese society?  I don’t know.  I just know that any time I turned to look at the cars, it was a very monochromatic affair.

  • On a related note, I did see three Hummers—all in very dark colors, by the way—and two of them had those thin tires that the street kids love so much.  Because, after all, nothing screams “please lower my gas mileage” quite so much as a Hummer.

    (I wish I were rich enough to buy a Hummer and have it completely painted with a “My Little Pony” theme, complete with stuffed ponies on the dashboard and an all-pink shaggy carpet interior.  That would be totally bumpin’.)

  • The Japanese are really, really serious about their fresh seafood.

  • Tim Bray says I’ve been one of his heroes for the longest time.  Whoa.  Tim Bray said that.  I mean, Tim’s long been one of my heroes.  Mutual heroism?  Whatever.  I remember hanging around him like a fanboi at WWW7 while he talked to someone else about stuff I’m not smart enough to understand.  When I finally got a chance to introduce myself, he had to leave as he was already running late.  Despite my feeling like a rube for imposing on him when he was clearly intensely busy, I still walked away from it thinking, I got to shake Tim Bray’s hand.

    Before you start to project too much creepiness into this little scenario, be assured that I did not (then or ever) resolve to leave my shaking hand unwashed.

  • I did manage to get into Tokyo on Sunday, tagging along with Rohit Khare and his wife to meet up with their friend John in the Ueno area.  We had lunch at an unagi place, and after they all left I took a river ferry toward the bay.  A thunderstorm rolled through the city as we sailed, shrouding the buildings and the radio tower where Mothra cocooned.  After disembarking at a transfer point, I watched a rainbow form over the river, with the far edge of the Rainbow Bridge as a backdrop.

    Later the same evening, making my way back toward my hotel, I was standing in a JR Shinbashi station looking for the Yamanote line to Nippori, where I would catch the Skyliner to Narita Airport.  Frowning, I peered at various maps as I searched for some sort of indication that I was even in the right station.  As I leaned in close to one, a voice to my right said, “Oh, hey, Eric”.

    My head snapped around and I found that I was standing next to Richard Ishida of the W3C, who I’d met just a few days before, and who was studying the map trying to find the line that would get him to Keio University.  When I told him what I was looking for, he pointed me toward the right line.

    I still believe that the universe is an essentially random place, but it’s days like that when I completely understand why many people believe that there are no coincidences, that everything happens in a time and a place for a reason, when I come closest to knowing why they believe in angels.

  • On the flight back to the United States, there was a dim glow on the horizon that I thought might be the Aurora Borealis.  The last time I saw the lights, I was seven or eight and my parents woke me up at three in the morning so I could see them.  The memory is dim with so many years gone and the sleep that filled my eyes that night, but what I do remember has always stayed with me.

    The glow turned out to be the ‘top’ edge of the terminator, something I have never seen before.  I wonder what of it I will remember, thirty years from now.

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