Saturday, August 18, 2007

3 Day Whirlwind "Natsukashi, ne?" Okinawa Trip.

Considering this week's jaunt to Okinawa resulted in almost 180 pics or so, this blog post will just be a "greatest hits" of sorts. For all the pics, now with my ever-so-witty and delightful captions, go to the Picasa pics at the link below. [That's the smaller pic with Sandy's "happy to be in Okinawa" face.]


Sandy lays flowers at the Himeyuri memorial. Via Wikipedia - "The Himeyuri Students... was a group of coed students formed into a nursing unit for the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of Okinawa. 222 students and 18 teachers of the former Okinawa Daiichi Women's High School and Okinawa Shihan Women's School were mobilized by the Japanese army on March 23, 1945. But, on June 18, suddenly they were dissolved. And in the early morning of June 19, most of them were killed during an attack by US forces on the Ibara third surgery shelter. The survivors threw themselves from the nearby precipitous cliff because of fears of systematic rape by US soldiers - propaganda spread by the military government of Imperial Japan. To mourn for them, the Himeyuri Monument was built on April 7, 1946."

At Okinawa World, for limestone cave hiking and Ryukyan/Okinawan history/culture. [And dress up, apparently.]

But the most important thing we learned? Deeez Nuuuts. Profound.

The Okinawan Prefectural Peace Museum.

Camp Kinzer, Gate 4, Maki Point, near the old Snider stomping grounds.

And then the old Snider compound.

Old style Ryukyan/Okinawan housing at the historical village in Ocean Expo Park.

This next pic of Sandy cracks me up, and I don't know why.

The dolphin show at the Ocean Expo was pretty cool, I must admit.

Sandy defeats the shark with cuteness.

Okinawan Rap, yeah, that's just for you Jr.

Sandy's new favorite tshirt.

Dr Pepper cans are certainly superior in Okinawa.

It really was "All American."

Sandy at Manzamo.

Eating Okinawan Soba [and crossing something else off Sandy's "to do" list.] Tasty.

Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters. Sobering.

At Shurijo Castle Park - via Wikipedia - "Shuri Castle (Okinawan: sui ugusiku, Japanese: 首里城 Shurijō) is a gusuku (Ryūkyūan castle) in Shuri, Okinawa. It was the palace of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. In 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, it was almost completely destroyed, with only a few walls standing as high as a few decimeters. In 1992, it was reconstructed on the original site based on photographs, historical records, and memory."

Blue Seal Ice Cream? Checked off the the "to do" list, in all its icy and creamy goodness

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Adachi Obon.

But most importantly, check out Takeshi's "old man of the mountain" chin hair.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"I'm with stupid."

That's just perfect.

Via For Your Entertainment

One writer's journey through religion.

Just a great article.

Religion beat became a test of faith - Los Angeles Times:
"WHEN Times editors assigned me to the religion beat, I believed God had answered my prayers.

As a serious Christian, I had cringed at some of the coverage in the mainstream media. Faith frequently was treated like a circus, even a freak show.

I wanted to report objectively and respectfully about how belief shapes people's lives. Along the way, I believed, my own faith would grow deeper and sturdier.

But during the eight years I covered religion, something very different happened.

In 1989, a friend took me to Mariners Church, then in Newport Beach, after saying: "You need God. That's what's missing in your life." At the time, I was 28 and my first son was less than a year old. I had managed to nearly ruin my marriage (the second one) and didn't think I'd do much better as a father. I was profoundly lost.

...Some friends in a Bible study class encouraged me to attend a men's religious weekend in the San Bernardino Mountains. The three-day retreats are designed to grind down your defenses and leave you emotionally raw — an easier state in which to connect with God. After 36 hours of prayer, singing, Bible study, intimate sharing and little sleep, I felt filled with the Holy Spirit.

...The pastor asked those who wanted to accept Jesus to raise their hands. My hand pretty much levitated on its own. My new friends in Christ, many of whom I had first met Friday, gave me hugs and slaps on the back.

[That right there... classic brainwashing 101. Isolation, sleep deprivation, emotional stressors, group chanting/singing, implanting new belief structures reinforced by the peer group. Trust me, I was in the military. That is exactly how it's supposed to work. You can implant almost anything if you do it right. - Rob.]

...It took several years and numerous memos and e-mails, but editors finally agreed in 1998 to let me write "Getting Religion," a weekly column about faith in Orange County.

I felt like all the tumblers of my life had clicked. I had a strong marriage, great kids and a new column. I attributed it all to God's grace.

First as a columnist and then as a reporter, I never had a shortage of topics. I wrote about an elderly church organist who became a spiritual mentor to the man who tried to rape, rob and kill her. About the Orthodox Jewish mother who developed a line of modest clothing for Barbie dolls. About the hardy group of Mormons who rode covered wagons 800 miles from Salt Lake City to San Bernardino, replicating their ancestors' journey to Southern California.

...I had been on the religion beat for three years. I couldn't wait to get to work each day or, on Sunday, to church.

IN 2001, about six months before the Catholic clergy sex scandal broke nationwide, the dioceses of Orange and Los Angeles paid a record $5.2 million to a law student who said he had been molested, as a student at Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, by his principal, Msgr. Michael Harris.

...While reporting the Harris story, I learned — from court records and interviews — the lengths to which the church went to protect the priest. When Harris took an abrupt leave of absence as principal at Santa Margarita in January 1994, he issued a statement saying it was because of "stress." He resigned a month later.

His superiors didn't tell parents or students the real reason for his absence: Harris had been accused of molesting a student while he was principal at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana from 1977 to 1979; church officials possessed a note from Harris that appeared to be a confession; and they were sending him to a treatment center.

In September 1994, a second former student stepped forward, this time publicly, and filed a lawsuit. In response, parents and students held a rally for Harris at the school, singing, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." An airplane towed a banner overhead that read "We Love Father Harris."

By this time, church leaders possessed a psychological report in which Catholic psychiatrists diagnosed Harris as having an attraction to adolescents and concluded that he likely had molested multiple boys. (Harris, who has denied the allegations, now stands accused of molesting 12 boys, according to church records.) But they didn't step forward to set the record straight. Instead, a diocesan spokesman called Harris an "icon of the priesthood."

...At the time, I never imagined Catholic leaders would engage in a widespread practice that protected alleged child molesters and belittled the victims. I latched onto the explanation that was least damaging to my belief in the Catholic Church — that this was an isolated case of a morally corrupt administration.

And I was comforted by the advice of a Catholic friend: "Keep your eyes on the person nailed to the cross, not the priests behind the altar."

IN late 2001, I traveled to Salt Lake City to attend a conference of former Mormons. These people lived mostly in the Mormon Jell-O belt — Utah, Idaho, Arizona — so-named because of the plates of Jell-O that inevitably appear at Mormon gatherings.

They found themselves ostracized in their neighborhoods, schools and careers. Often, they were dead to their own families.

...IN early 2002, I was assigned to work on the Catholic sex scandal story as it erupted across the nation. I also continued to attend Sunday Mass and conversion classes on Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights.

...As I began my reporting, I kept that in mind. I also thought that the victims — people usually in their 30s, 40s and up — should have just gotten over what had happened to them decades before. To me, many of them were needlessly stuck in the past.

But then I began going over the documents. And interviewing the victims, scores of them. I discovered that the term "sexual abuse" is a euphemism. Most of these children were raped and sodomized by someone they and their family believed was Christ's representative on Earth. That's not something an 8-year-old's mind can process; it forever warps a person's sexuality and spirituality.

Many of these victims were molested by priests with a history of abusing children. But the bishops routinely sent these clerics to another parish, and bullied or conned the victims and their families into silence. The police were almost never called. In at least a few instances, bishops encouraged molesting priests to flee the country to escape prosecution.

...I sought solace in another belief: that a church's heart is in the pews, not the pulpits. Certainly the people who were reading my stories would recoil and, in the end, recapture God's house. Instead, I saw parishioners reflexively support priests who had molested children by writing glowing letters to bishops and judges, offering them jobs or even raising their bail while cursing the victims, often to their faces.

On a Sunday morning at a parish in Rancho Santa Margarita, I watched congregants lobby to name their new parish hall after their longtime pastor, who had admitted to molesting a boy and who had been barred that day from the ministry. I felt sick to my stomach that the people of God wanted to honor an admitted child molester. Only one person in the crowd, an Orange County sheriff's deputy, spoke out for the victim.

...I understood that I was witnessing the failure of humans, not God. But in a way, that was the point. I didn't see these institutions drenched in God's spirit. Shouldn't religious organizations, if they were God-inspired and -driven, reflect higher standards than government, corporations and other groups in society?"

Much more at the link.

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

There's really nothing better than a group of guys on crucifixes singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

Sweet, sweet blasphemy... I love you so.

One of the most deeply soulful songs EVER.

A Change is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke

Tracy Chapman

Jus' cause.

Fast Car - the ultimate "god I wan't something more" song.

New Beginning. "Whole world's broke... Ain't worth fixin'... We need to make new symbols."


Sandy hates this song. I love it. Such is marriage.

"I'm here to keep the peace."

The illusion that lied [layed?]... no, actually the past tense of "lie" is better... of every fucked up pseudo-relationship I'd ever had till I got married - "...if I told you the right words, at the right time, you'd be mine."

"At this point in my life
I've done so many things wrong I don't know if I can do right
If you put your trust in me I hope I won't let you down
If you give me a chance I'll try

You see it's been a hard road the road I'm traveling on
And if I take your hand I might lead you down the path to ruin
I've had a hard life I'm just saying it so you'll understand
That right now, right now, I'm doing the best I can
At this point in my life

At this point in my life
Although I've mostly walked in the shadows
I'm still searching for the light

...You see I've been climbing stairs but mostly stumbling down
I've been reaching high always losing ground
You see I've conquered hills but I still have mountains to climb
And right now right now I'm doing the best I can
At this point in my life

Before we take a step
Before we walk down that path
Before I make any promises
Before you have regrets
Before we talk commitment
Let me tell you of my past
All I've seen and all I've done
The things I'd like to forget
At this point in my life

At this point in my life
I'd like to live as if only love mattered
As if redemption was in sight
As if the search to live honestly
Is all that anyone needs
No matter if you find it..."

[The only vid of this I can find is, oddly enough, a Xena tribute vid. Still.]

The Federal Budget explained via the power of Oreos.

Never underestimate the power of a chocolatey snack.

Ghosts. Explained by a Star Wars reference.

Gotta love that.

You-Dope-ia: Afternoon Deelite.:
" of the theories behind ghosts. Ghosts are psychic residue imprinted upon the very location of an emotionally powerful, or traumatic event. These residual energies repeat their data, just like R2D2 did with, 'Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.' Ok?"

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bears repeating... it's all made-up.

SuicideGirls > News > Culture > The Sunday Hangover with Warren Ellis:
"...never doubt the power of seeing things that aren't there. Rene Descartes, the father of modern mathematics, had his whole method explicated to him by an angel he saw in a dream. Mathematical logic as we understand it today is a hypnogogic vision."

It's OK to have sex with your doppleganger.

And other wisdom, via BoingBoing.