Archive for the ‘Afterword’ Category

Home again

and mostly recovered from my 36 hour trip. Here is the email I just sent to United Airlines, detailing some of the agony.

I have begun to go through my pictures and hope to post more in this blog, but for the most part I’ll be back at Studio Ruthe.

Dear United Airlines,

You have just gone from being my favorite airline to being the airline I hate the most, all in 36 hours. Part of the reason is that 36 hours later I am sitting in Dulles Airport still waiting for my flight to Pittsburgh. Let me tell you about this fiasco.

I went to China and Japan on one of your frequent flier tickets. I made my reservation well ahead of time, and after only three tries, we got it right. When I got to Japan I realized I had made a mistake and decided to change my return flight. I understood there would be a $100 (plus) charge. When I finally completed this transaction it cost me $150 (plus) for a total of $225. I think that transaction was highly profitable for you. That was OK. The problem was I was flying from Osaka (Kansai) to San Francisco to Washington (Dulles) to Pittsburgh. This did not make me happy, but I wanted to go home. I was also unhappy because I did not have a seat on any of those flights.

I got to Kansai early in hopes of getting a decent seat, but wound up against a bulkhead in a seat that wouldn’t go back more than 2 inches. Almost ten hours with the seat in front of me in my face did not make me happy. I was even more unhappy when my luggage didn’t show up. In fact I was looking for a non-existent United rep to make a lost luggage report when it finally appeared on an entirely different carousal. It took so long to get it I would not have made it to the next flight, but I didn’t have to worry: it was delayed an hour and a half. That connection did not allow enough time in between flights, not unless you figure out a method for prompt luggage delivery to connecting passengers instead of the current system of early in, last out.

I did not know, while I was on flight 886, that it was continuing on to Chicago. If the person who made the changes in my itinerary had given me the option of going to Chicago, even if it required an overnight stay, I would have been happy to do so. I had already figured the odds on my making it to Pittsburgh that night and was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen. I am always happy to stay overnight in Chicago, but that offer was never put on the table.

At Kansai, when I was finally given seats on all three flights I was told only middle seats were available from San Francisco, but somehow, magically in San Francisco, I found I could change to an aisle seat. What kind of profit can you possibly make by playing games with seating?

Because you claim a weather problem delayed my flight from San Francisco, I had to pay for my hotel room. I think you should pay, because I never would have selected that itinerary if I had been given a choice.

All of that leaves you at the bottom of my list of airlines, right along with US Air. I thought frequent flier programs were supposed to generate good will for the airline. You have succeeded in alienating this customer to the point where I don’t care to be part of your program.


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About the tree

This amazing tree lives in the Hama Rikyu Detached Garden in Tokyo. It is awesome not only because of its age, but its ability to survive within the urban jungle that is Tokyo.

View from the garden

It thrives, tended by gardeners who never saw its beginning and will never see its ending, but continue to prune and create a structure for it that is unbelievable.

detail of pine tree

I could not photograph the entire tree in one picture and have it look like anything.

detail 2

This tree was not allowed to grow upward. All of its growth was directed sideways. This is the structure holding it in place.

tree support

Some branches get wrapped with bamboo fibers to protect them.

gift wrapped tree

Here is a close-up of some of that structure.

more structure

I made a collage in Photoshop. Let’s see if I can get it in here.

Pine tree collage

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I planned to have one last post that would summarize what I had not accomplished and what I ought to do on the next trip. I’m still working on it and reviewing the trip as I arrange all these posts on paper.

I found a charming blog, Kyoto Daily Photo, where Macky posts a new photo and explanation each day. I am inspired to post some of my photos with explanations about how they were taken, or what moved me to take the picture. I’ve been overwhelmed by their numbers. Uploading them to my Flickr site helped me organize them, but I’m still overwhelmed. My plan is now to select small numbers of the photos I like best and write about them in detail.

I took these photos in Kyoto as I was walking from the Toji Temple antique market. Even though all this stuff was outside, the shop really didn’t look open. Except for the obvious prices, it almost looked more like a work of art that a commercial enterprise.

Flea Market

Flea Market 2

closeup Tomita

window Side view

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I have finished adding all of my photos to my Flickr account.

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After the Post-Gazette article appeared I received a very moving email from Masashi Narita, a medical trainee here in Pittsburgh:

On Dec.7th 2006, I was asked the same interesting question from different persons ” Do you know what is the day today?” I can recall immediately that the day is unforgettable memorial day for Americans, especially veterans at VA hospital. I talked this episode to my fellows and friends of Americans and Japanese. Some of Americans understand that Pearl Harbor attack is the same memorial event as 9/11. Some of Japanese did not know the date of Pearl Harbor attack. From this experience, I understand that the importance to keep remember what has happened in our country’s history regardless of glorious or shame for us, as well as to think about the loser’s view point.

I had expected that someone may ask me the same question on August 6th or 9th this year. Nobody did it.

I can understand your emotional issues at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. I also visited there after 9/11 attack. I could not make any difference between the tragedies, the terror and the war.

Masashi put into words what I was feeling: there is no difference between these tragedies.

When I wrote my original post about visiting the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima I certainly had in mind the controversy over whether we should have dropped the bomb. I knew too many veterans of WWII who were certain they would have died in the Pacific, had the war continued. Regardless of how we might feel about the issue there is no going back. The important thing is to learn the lessons of the past and there are many of them here. Over the years I have gone from feeling, as a child, that we Americans were on the side of the angels, to knowing that we are capable of the same horrifying deeds our enemies have visited upon us. There are no angels on earth, at least not in any government.

Stacie, an artist who blogs at Nomadic Creations, wrote a profound piece about a conversation with the Rwandan owner of a nearby gallery.

It was a unique opportunity to really see the world through someone else’s eyes, and to understand how so much alike we all are, and not always in such a good way. Like many people, I have filters on my senses. Something like the Rwandan Genocide couldn’t possibly happen here, or our country would never get into another civil war. It can happen though. When an economic divide becomes so great…terrible things can happen.

Yozefu said he had been back to Africa two years ago, and that the thing that most impressed him was the capacity for forgiveness that many villagers have embraced as the survivors have returned home. It is unimaginable for me to think about that level of forgiveness.

Read the entire post here, and learn about the Rwandan genocide, here. Honor all of the victims of these atrocities with understanding, forgiveness and remembrance.

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I started uploading pictures to a Flickr account. My first group are from the tori no ichi celebration I went to in Tokyo. You can see it here. The celebration is held to insure prosperity for businesses on rooster days in November. Vendors at the temple sell bamboo rakes to help rake in the money. When they make a substantial sale they clap and chant.

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Since my intention is to turn this blog into an artist’s book I would like it to be a fairly inclusive document. I’ve gone back and added links to information about things I’ve mentioned and more pictures. Click here to see what I’ve done. I’ve been going through my pictures, deleting the worst ones and posting some of them in place. I have only done a couple of posts but will continue working. I also intend to create some slide shows and videos. I haven’t decided how I will handle those for the book.

Here is a slide show of pictures from two markets at Toji Temple in Kyoto.

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