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We've lived in three countries now, which has given me some perspective on America that I didn't have before. Sure, I'd been to a bunch of countries before (only 15 total!), but things are different when you live there.
You learn how the city and the people in it tick.
When I left I expected that everything I'd find in other countries would make me like the US less. This has been true for some things, but there are also many things that I now really appreciate about the US.
To try to justify the amount of time I spend writing here and to help fund future adventures, I'm going to put some ads up here.
My first preference is to have ads from readers, but I guess I'll get Google ads if I don't get enough interest.
The ads will be 125x125 and will above the "Recent Comments" and "Recent Posts" sections on the right.
In a plane, one of my favorite places to be, I filled in the form on the tray table.
If I designed customs forms, I would make them with a crease in the middle so that they could easily fit into a pocket. As is it's a bit of a predicament. I don't want to just hold on to the thing while I get my bag out of the overhead compartment. I might lose it or crumple it.
I don't want to fold it either. That might be a sign that I'm a drug dealer, or at least someone with some contempt for authority. Those bored people in the little glass booths have a lot of power. Deny my extra-long-and-thin piece of paper, and I'm in trouble.
When you're in a foreign country, you don't question signs as much as you might have if you were at home. You're just so happy to see a sign that makes sense, that you follow it.
I don't know if there was anything that should have made us second guess our course, but if there was it might have been wise for us to pay attention to it.
The path was very easy at first, and visually stunning. The paved pedestrian only road ran along a ridge in a huge cedar forest. The trees bases were far below us but they were so tall that we were still under their shady canopy.
Our dorm building had a square footprint. In the very middle were three elevators serving the dorm rooms which were all positioned along the edges of the building. In between the elevators and the rooms was a square hallway that ran in a loop.
This was to be our arena for Golf Darts, a sport we invented to aid our more scholarly pursuit - procrastination.
On one door we set up a target. The goal was to go around the hallway, arrive back at the target and hit it.
Wow. I don't know what I was expecting, but I got a ton of awesome feedback from you guys. Some people literally wrote a page or two.
So first of all... thanks a ton. I read every single reply (over one hundred total) and got a ton of good info.
I'll share some of the insights provided.
I've always hated anime. I never really gave it much of a chance as it combined two things that I didn't care for: cartoons and words I couldn't understand.
One night I was at my friend Charlie's house, hanging out in the living room. Someone in his family put on Hayao Miyazaki's anime mastepiece, "Spirited Away".
At first I ignored the movie, giving it just a small fraction of my attention. By the time it was over I was totally enthralled. The story was fantastic, the characters were great, but most of all the movie was beautifully drawn.
More than fifty years ago, my mother's father went to a dance. Back then that was how you met people.
The room was divided into two sides. The guys were standing near one wall, and the girls were at the other. In the middle were a few couples dancing, but more prominent was the wide open space that separated the two groups.
No man's land.
It's about that time of the year for me to ask for your feedback to make BTYB even more better than it already is.
What's very curious to me is that my readership grows VERY slowly. Given how awesome these posts are, I would expect it to grow by 100% every hour or so.
Anyway, if you could take a couple minutes and fill out my survey, I'd really appreciate it. Please be totally honest - it's 100% anonymous and I'd much rather have good criticism than an ego boost.
People keep asking for it and I keep meaning to do it, but then we always seem to be in a rush before leaving a country and we don't have time to video me packing my bag.
Japan was a little different, so we finally got it done. Unfortunately Todd's real video camera is broken now and this was taken on his point and shoot, which cuts off at about 10 minutes.
That means that you'll miss the glory of me repacking that one last thing in there. Actually, after packing I realized that I had forgotten my sandals so I repacked the whole thing anyway.