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We're going on a pilgrimage. We just realized that our train passes are valid starting today, so we need to take a long trip to start it off.
Fourteen hours to the island prefecture of Shikoku sounds about right. In Shikoku there is a traditional 88 temple pilgrimage through the countryside and woods that covers 993 miles. Most people do it in 40-60 days on foot, although others wimp out and take the bus.
We don't have time for that, unfortunately, but we're going to head out tonight and walk for a day or two.
We finally bit the bullet and bought bikes. Not just any bikes, though, hilarious foldable ones.
They fold up pretty small and are light enough to carry around.
There's a term here, "gaijin smash", which is when a foreigner does something uncustomary or illegal but no one stops them because they're all too polite here.
I'm on day four of this magical adventure and I'm slowly becoming more capable.
I'm averaging around thirty words per minute now in the little typing program, but probably a bit less in real life. At least I don't want to kill myself when I type anymore. It's the little things in life, you know?
It has been really fascinating to learn a new skill, start from scratch, and watch my progress daily. One really interesting thing I've noticed is that my words per minute don't really go up during the day, even though it feels easier as I practice more throughout the day. However, when I wake up the next morning I am much faster.
I'm a fast typist. Ninety words per minute. Take it.
That last line, however, took three minutes to type. It's excruciating. Why?
I'm switching to the Dvorak keyboard layout. For those who don't know, typewriters started out with their keys arranged in an "ABCD" configuration this caused the hammers to bind, so the standard "QWERTY" keyboard was invented.
We were only able to book our last house for three weeks, figuring that we'd find something else once we got here.
As our week at the first place ended we scrambled to find somewhere new. It was going to have to be a compromise. In fact, with only a few days left in the house we hadn't come up with anything workable.
Then we got an e-mail:
Hanami means "flower viewing" in Japanese. It gets its own special word because the blooming of the cherry blossoms here is a huge deal. Meteorologists visit the trees every day trying to predict when they'll bloom, signs go up around the city that say Sakura (cherry blossom in japanese) on them, and restaurants even have special Sakura cookies for sale.
People get into it.
The cherry blossoms don't last long, though. After a week they fall to the ground, which means that there is one big weekend for cherry blossom viewing.
I woke up this morning at 4:46am. I went to sleep at 11:30pm, so that's approaching reasonable. As soon as I woke up I began thinking of how great some things are, so I got my laptop and now I'm in the dark writing about them. That's inspirado.
1. Blankets. How cool is it that blankets don't use any electricity? If I was a supreme deity of the earth and one of my minions said, "Look at those humans. They're making big cotton pancakes and sleeping underneath them because they think that will keep them warm," I would seriously question why I built humans in the first place.
It's just so cool that we generate enough body heat to keep ourselves warm like that. I would expect that it would help maybe, but that we'd still need external heat.
One of the more helpful habits I've developed is taking responsibility for everything in my life. This is a strong contrast to the average victim / "things happen to me" mentality that a lot of people have.
Basically I assume that anything "bad" that happens in my life is a direct result of actions I took. If I lose money in the stock market I don't think, "Oh man... I'm so unlucky... the stocks went down."
Instead I think, "I bought those stocks and I lost money because of a decision I made."
I was going through some old files the other day and I came across a bunch from Project Hollywood. Ahh, the nostalgia. Here they are:
Me and some girl at the Standard. We switched jackets.
Mystery's winnings in a game of quarters. We put a glass ice bucket on one side of the room and took turns throwing our own quarters at it. The first person to get a quarter in got to keep all of the quarters that had missed. Some pots were $40+. Then Style's girlfriends would come, get cajoled into playing, and beat us every time.
I didn't have much faith that we were going to have a good place here. We found it very difficult to find a place to stay that was central, had two beds, and wasn't $4000 per month. At the last minute Todd booked us a room in a great area that was relatively inexpensive. I figured quality would suffer.
I'm thrilled to say that I was wrong.
We met Blair, our landlord who is 42 but looks (possibly significantly) under 30, and he walked us to the apartment. As promised, it's really just a few minutes from the train station.