Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ようこそ (Welcome!)

Tai-chan, helping me write this blog
 I  'm not quite sure I like this layout, but let's go with it for a while. Generally reading reversed-out type (white on a dark background) can get pretty old after a while, but if it's done tastefully it can look okay.

I'm not sure about WordPress, but I've used Blogger since day one -- now about eight years ago -- and I'm pretty happy about how fast you can set up a new blog and customize it to where it looks halfway decent -- in this case, it took about three hours.

The photo at the top is one taken by me in around 2006 or so. It's in the Nara area of Japan, where my son makes his home -- or rather, where he is imprisoned by his Japanese side of the family. None of them seems to care particularly whether I exist or not; in fact, I'm sure they'd all be more than delighted if I were hit by a truck and disappeared from their lives altogether, and that includes my son's mother, whom you can find as an entry in any dictionary under the heading "ingrate."

If you don't know my particular history very well, it goes vaguely like this:

I lived and worked in Japan during the "Bubble" period that roughly spanned the years 1980 to around 1988. There seems to be a YouTube documentary about this here, but I haven't watched it so cannot vouch for its provenance or accuracy.

I met my then future ex-wife in around 1990 and basically married her because it was the only logical for us to return to the West -- I had had quite enough of Japan after five years and I wanted out, big time. We had two choices at the time: live in Northern California, from whence I had initially departed five years previously, or move to Montreal. My father had retired from his job at the UN, and he had been based here in Montreal since 1976. My parents had purchased the apartment in which I now live in around 1979 but moved to Northern California (Piedmont) after his retirement because that is where both my elder brother and younger sister made their home. They kept this apartment because at the time (around 1989) Montreal was in dire straits economically -- Quebec was a hair's breadth away from declaring itself an independent country and divorcing Canada, so aircraft-carrier-sized loads of people were fleeing the city in terror. Bad for them, good for us: my parents decided it was a very bad time to sell the apartment and thus just kept it as a "second home" to which they would take two-week vacations every autumn or so. They didn't bother renting it out, so it was basically ours for the taking. Needless to say we took it. One blessed relief was the fact that I didn't have to drive; I hate driving anyway but you just don't need a car in Montreal. In many ways it's a lot like Japan in that respect.

In 2001 my son was born at the Jewish General hospital, a 20-minute walk from here, and only about one month later Osama bin Done Kilt attacked New York and thereby relieved me of my cushy job designing for Air Canada, as literally overnight all the airlines in the world were in absolute peril and they didn't need hangers-on like me freelancing off them when they could do it in house, and I found myself jobless after five long, fruitful years.

That was around when my ex had the overwhelming urge to return to Japan, and she did it in a most underhanded fashion, by meeting some dude over the Internet and running off with him, taking Taishi with her. Luckily, we maintained an uneasy truce in which I had Taishi for three months and she had him for three months. I would be the one doing all the flying, and even then it was ridiculously expensive to keep going to pick him up, bring him back ad nauseam, but I had no choice if I wanted to see him.

About three years ago she decided to get really nasty and stopped allowing me to take him out of Japan, simply by not renewing his passport. I'll have to say that a box of hair is like, about ten times smarter than the old ex -- I'l keep her name out of this because I myself hate having to say it, let alone look at it.

So now I am reduced to going to Japan once a year for about two weeks, staying in a hotel near where he lives (don't even know exactly where that is!) somewhere around the city of Nara, which is the ancient capital of Japan, and occupies the position of roughly being one corner of a huge rhomboid whose other corners are Ōsaka, (where I used to live back in my day) Kōbe and Kyōto.

It takes about an hour by bus to get from Kansai International Airport (Kankū, as it is known by the locals) to my hotel in downtown Nara, and I've been doing this every year since 2012. You can see my adventures of the last two years here and here.

Thus, this is Year Three and this is the blog I will use to document the trip. I'm leaving on Friday, July 25, and thankfully bypassing the US completely by going Montreal - Toronto - Tōkyō/Haneda - Ōsaka via my old employer, Air Canada. I will get to fly on the new 787 (better known as the exploding-battery plane) for the very first time. I'll bring a spare battery for my iPad Mini -- they might be able to use it if we have to land on Midway or something equally drastic.

Let's hope it does not come to that!

So my next post will probably be my preflight briefing next Friday! Wish me luck!


  1. That's definitely a more detailed tale that I wasn't aware of.
    This blog has an air of a more constructive narration about the trip.
    And thank god for the bygone compulsory landings and plane switching in USA. I remember it was a harrassment last time, senseï.

    Can't wait to see new videos and pictures of Tai-chan :D. Tell him hi for me will you, senseÏ?

  2. Last year no one was around to follow my adventures except perhaps Briigitte. But this year, I want everyone -- especially my students -- to experience Japan as I experience it. I'm bringing several cameras and have this laptop, upon which I can also make instant movies -- and on top of all that, most of my destinations promise to have Internet access, meaning that I will be able to blog at an airport restaurant in Haneda (it'll be my first time there!) and generally just blog from my first cup of coffee in the morning (I'm bringing my own rig) to my last din din moments with my genki little son.

    Stay right there, I'll be right back!