Category Archives: Travel

Comments and observations on the traveling life.

Sunday in New England

Smiling BearI can’t abide the political scene here in Massachusetts, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing what sights are available to be seen.  Yesterday (Saturday) I took the great Uber service into Boston, where I spent the day mooching around the Boston Common, where there was a Gary Johnson rally going on(!)  Following that, I hit the original Cheers and  hoisted a few with some locals.  I walked around Beacon Hill for a while, visited a couple of other Beacon Hill local watering holes before concluding the evening back at Cheers and then another Uber ride to my Braintree hotel.  Today (Sunday) I drove down to Cape Cod and spent an enjoyable hour on a tramp through some pine and oak woods.  Photos follow.

Boston:

Cape Cod:

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Be sure to check out the extensive totty compendium at the link.

With that said:  Being on the road again is not completely without benefit.

This past weekend was sunny and warm here in New England, so I went exploring.  On Saturday I went down to New Bedford and visited the New Bedford Whaling Museum (no whaling goes on there now – I guess people now have something against clean-burning lamp oil.)  Yesterday I wandered seemingly at random until I ended up in the environs of York, Maine.  Photos follow.

New Bedford:

Maine:

Pretty day, pretty places.   That makes for a good weekend.  I should still be around for the fall colors, which are supposed to be pretty striking – right now the sumac, always the first to turn, are just starting to spread traces of crimson across the countryside.  In October things should be brilliant.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

This past weekend was my last in Japan for this project.

To mark that event, since Saturday was a fine, sunny day, Mrs. Animal and I proceeded to the mountain town of Nikko here in Tochigi Prefecture.  Nikko is a popular tourist venue due to the many historic shrines and temples in the area, and as luck would have it, there was some sort of shindig happening in town when we arrive.

Photos follow.  Regular news posts resume tomorrow.  Enjoy.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

2016_04_11_Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday

Week 3 of 4 in Japan begins, weekend 2 of 3 is behind me – my own dear Mrs. Animal arrives in Japan today to spend balance of the deployment here with me, which will make my remaining time here inestimably more enjoyable.

Japan’s an interesting place.  The serious and hurrying salarymen, the porcelain beauty of the young women, the crowded trains that are almost eerily quiet, the admirable, ever-present courtesy of Japanese culture – it’s quite a change of pace.  But in the weekend past I did a lot of walking, and saw a lot of not only some of the famous Japanse sakura – cherry blossoms – but also some other flora and fauna as well.  Photos follow.

Goodbye, Blue (Japanese) Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks to The Daley Gator for the B.S. pingback!

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:

Regular news should resume tomorrow!

On The Road Again

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.

Pink Kimono

Project Ending

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.

Animal’s Travelogue

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.

Cape Anne/Gloucester:

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.

Animal’s Daily News

Sad-BearThanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  Be sure to check out the comprehensive totty compendium at the link.

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.

Good times.

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.

Animal’s Daily News

Don't mess with Texas!
Don’t mess with Texas!

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.

Which makes this an interesting piece of commentary to present today.  Excerpt:

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?

BearIt 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.