So, after a little over six years, I find myself back in Japan. I doubt (seriously) I could ever live in Japan long-term; I’m just too much of a red-state American for that. But there’s a lot about Japan that I really enjoy – the food, the heavy reliance on good manners and courtesy that allows 100 million people to live in a country the size of California, and not least, the lovely Japanese females.
But as much as I want to get back into the swing of things blogging-wise, I’m still recovering from jet-lag and am also still dealing with the startup of a (short-term but intense) consulting gig. So instead, have first some photos from the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo:
And a few photos of the town I’m staying in the next few weeks, Utsunomiya:
New contract! This coming Thursday I’m off to the Land of the Rising Sun, to spend a month in Tochigi Prefecture doing an intensive compliance audit.
I’ve lived and worked in Japan before, and I love the place. Last time I was down in Kansai, the southern portion of the main island; this time I’ll be up about an hour’s shinkansen ride north of Tokyo. Different place, different foods, different customs, but still Japan.
Watch these virtual pages for photos and travelogues. There’s a lot I love about Japan.
My current project ends today, after sixteen months of intense work that had me covering a dozen or so sites in Canada, The U.S. and Mexico. A successful end to a successful piece of consulting work, which will be suitably celebrated with a bit of fine Scotch, a good cigar, and much of next week at the gun club.
I have a bid out on a short-termer- four weeks doing a gap assessment. Guess where.
So, something a little different today. Last weekend I had a Saturday and Sunday to kill in Massachusetts, and so I decided to explore. It was a bright, sunny weekend. I spent much of Saturday mooching around Cape Anne, mostly in Gloucester (which, for unknown reasons, is pronounced “Gloster”) and swung by the Lexington/Concord battle road in the afternoon. Sunday I wandered down to Cape Cod, walked a ways down a south-facing beach, then wandered up to Plymouth where I saw, among other things, a famous rock. Photos follow.
Lexington/Concord (hallowed ground, this):
And, finally, Cape Cod and Plymouth. I’m wondering if that’s actually really the rock – who knows? But it’s in the right place.
Moving right along: The Traveling Life has some drawbacks. Among those are days like yesterday, when I traveled from Knoxville, TN to Boston, MA, via Washington-Dulles. Traveling this time of year is always problematic where weather is concerned, and yesterday was no exception; weather delayed my first flight’s landing by a half-hour. That, combined with the necessity of schlepping all the way across the airport, conspired to make me miss my Boston flight by mere moments; fortunately United Airlines, in a display of efficiency, automatically rebooked me.
On a 10:00PM flight, arriving in Boston near midnight. Combine that with finding my checked bag, hailing an Uber ride to Waltham, and I did not lay my head on a hotel pillow until close to 1AM this morning.
So, True Believers, I will ask your forgiveness for the lack of deep thoughts and news of the day today. As a palliative, please enjoy this sample of toothsome totty from the archives.
This week’s work-related travel finds me in the burgeoning metropolis of McAllen, Texas, preparing to head south of the Rio Grande to Reynosa, Mexico, to deliver three day’s worth of training. Yr, obdt. as well as my two colleagues will be staying here in McAllen, as Reynosa is… somewhat unsettled.
Last time we were here there was a carjacking in front of the plant. When asked if I felt safe in Reynosa, my reply was “sure, I haven’t felt this safe anywhere since Iraq.” This is what the War on Drugs has given us.
After the esteemed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died in February 2014, press coverage of the “heroin epidemic” exploded. Mentions of that phrase in the newspaper and wire service articles cataloged by Nexis rose from 681 in 2013 to 3,222 in 2014, an increase of almost 400 percent. Yet Hoffman—who by his own account used heroin in his early 20s, then abstained for more than two decades before taking up the habit again in 2013—was hardly representative of the upward trend in heroin use that began around 2008, which consisted mainly of people trying the drug for the first time.
Hoffman was typical in at least one respect, however. He died not from a “heroin overdose,” as widely reported, but from “mixed drug intoxication” involving cocaine, amphetamine, and benzodiazepines as well as heroin. The combination of heroin and benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that includes Valium and Xanax, presumably was what killed him, since both depress respiration. The dangerous combination of depressants is a very common theme in so-called heroin overdoses, a fact that may help explain why such deaths have climbed dramatically in recent years—more dramatically than you would expect based on the increase in heroin consumption.
Note that it was the combination of drugs, not the heroin itself, that killed Hoffman. Think about that for a moment. Is it possible – just possible – that legal, regulated sales of heroin would be quality controlled and dosed to prevent these kinds of events?
It may be so. But the current War on Drugs has certainly not done anything to reduce the incidents of addiction and overdoses, while it has been damaging to the civil liberties of addicts and non-addicts alike. We learned a lesson from Prohibition where alcohol was concerned.
Maybe it’s time we learned a similar lesson on drugs.
An American Airlines flight attendant faces federal charges after she began attacking fellow crew members and U.S. marshals on both legs of an international flight from Charlotte.
Joanne Snow is charged with interference with flight crew members and attendants, and assault on an officer or employee of the United States, according to court documents related to the case.
Snow’s erratic behavior disrupted both legs of American flight 704 from Charlotte to Frankfurt, Germany, on Nov. 23 and 24, according to a federal affidavit.
According to the affidavit by federal Air Marshal Joseph D. Fialka, who was assigned to the round trip, Snow slapped other flight attendants and shoved, punched or kicked at marshals. Fialka says that other flight attendants told him before takeoff from Charlotte that they had tried to have Snow removed from duty but that American did not replace her.
What’s interesting about this is that American apparently let Ms. Snow on a second flight after disrupting the first. A passenger would have been booted and probably placed immediately under arrest, not to mention likely ending up on a no-fly list.
Now, spending a lot of time in air travel can be stressful. Really stressful. But flight crew should be professionals, and accustomed to the vagaries of airline excursions. Ms. Snow should find herself seeking a new line of work after this outburst – one that doesn’t require travel.
This bright Monday morning finds yr. obdt. in Guadalajara!
It’s always interesting – and a neat perquisite of The Traveling Life – to see places like this. I went from 26 degrees in Denver this morning to 80 degrees and some impressive humidity here in Jalisco State this afternoon. Being the curious sort who likes to get out and about, I went on a brief (two cigar) walkabout this afternoon, and had a mushroom/sausage pizza and a couple of cervezas at a local place, both of which were pretty tasty.
Since yesterday was a long and tiring day and today is shaping up to be another long and tiring day, I’ll let some pictures do the talking of a few thousand words.
Yesterday’s totty was, as mentioned, due to a short-notice trip from Salt Lake City to Boston, in Sunday evening, back Tuesday morning. Too quick to see anything in Beantown; there’s a lot of history in the area that would be interesting to view. Breed’s Hill, the old Boston Common, the Old North Church, and so on. I can’t abide the predominant politics of the Boston area, but there’s still a lot of American history in the area and one day I hope to have a better look around.
Not this time. But the current project should have me back in Boston a few more times before we’re done. (Also such places as Montreal, Guadalajara, Toledo, Los Angeles, Reynosa and Dallas.)
Moving on: I think I need one of these. A real, effective live bird simulator that tosses clay birds on unpredictable paths could be a lot of fun. Much as I love a few good rounds of 16 yard trap or a spot of sporting clays, the birds in both games fly in known arcs. A more unpredictable clay-tosser may be more realistic practice for live birds.
Of course, good shooting technique is good shooting technique – and no matter how unpredictable the thrower, it can’t completely simulate the powered flight of a live bird.