Sorry everyone for the recent disappearance of my comments writing field. I haven’t a clue what has caused this and I’ve been going through all my plugins and administrative hoochie-koochie trying to figure it out. A real waste of a perfectly good weekend.
To top it off I seem to have attracted the unrelenting attention of some hideous trackback spammer who has every day been sending hundreds of spam to my site. I’ve tried everything to stop the bastard, including turning on being logged in to comment, but I can’t shake him. And last night, by chance, I discovered that the bathybius has seen fit a few weeks ago to hack into my account and create an unauthorized folder with spam links there. Aaaaarrrrggghhhh! I’d like to….!
Give me a few days to figure this out. I’ve been sitting here half the day and I really need to get outside for some fresh air.
Phew! Got the comments worked out. Seemed like I installed a certain plugin a little while ago that set my front page to a static page. That’s part of what I want to develop in the site, but not with the set up I have now. It should be working now.
At the other end of the year right about now the sultry Japanese summer heat invades homes like a giant, lazy, fat cat, nudging its way through the doors and windows and prostrating itself on the straw mats (tatami ) and linoleum floors with the sole purpose of draining everyone of life. That is what, traditionally, Japanese houses are designed for, to induce as much breathing throughout the house as might entice the cat to dissipate, a passive effort to encourage Cheshire-ism.
It doesn’t always work… my first floor apartment, not at all traditional except for the tatami in the living and bed rooms, acts like an isolation tank (in more ways than one!); you open the front door and an invisible wall of lugubriousness, sort of like that watery interface you see in the jump gates of the television show “Star Gate”, greets you… but the idea is sound: leave a space under the ground floor where the sun doesn’t hit and create a katabatic air space, keep the floor over this space perforated enough for the free passage of air, and create a heat sink space in the attic of the building, to which warm air is sucked. The idea is to draw the cool air out of the space beneath the house up into the attic, where it is supposed to dissipate. And it works very well in traditional, thatched roof farm houses.
The trouble arises in mid-January, when the deep freeze sets in and that cold air space beneath the house continues to crank away nice, juicy drafts through the floor and tatami, especially when my (noisy and much-disliked… I have yet to discover exactly why it is necessary to move the furniture around at 3:00 in the morning every day) upstairs neighbor cranks up his heater (which creates a racket outside my living room window with the squeaky and misaligned fan drumming away) and does a fine job of heaving all my precious warm air up into his place, and replacing it with the cold air from under the house. I didn’t realize until last week that the cold air actually streams through the tatami like spring water welling up from a sandy creek bed; I could feel the cold air pooling around my outstretched hand.
We only have one tiny electric, infrared heater to heat the spaces. Our Dutch oil heater started smoking last year when I turned it on, and we haven’t been able to afford to replace it. Normally this little heater is enough to warm up the small room it is placed in, as long as the door is kept shut. If it gets a little colder we use the spare sleeping bag and our fleece jackets. We’ve also covered the living room floor with a closed cell foam sheet and two layers of fluffy carpets. And normally that works… for when we are awake and spending time in the same room. It saves on electricity.
But when I am working in my study, the cold works its way through the floor boards and sends me running for my big, midwinter down jacket. When I breathe out white breath billows across the computer screen. Sometimes my fingers are so cold that I can barely type on the keyboard. And since infrared filament heaters are dangerous to keep on at night, the preparations for sleeping at night resemble pitching camp: dress up in fleece layers, don my fleece cap, fluff up two layers of down pillows, prop up the closed cell foam ground mat against the three layers of curtains to stop the draft, slip under a thick fleece blanket and lie on top of three layers of fleece sheets underneath, and finally pull the huge down quilt over us. If someone would walk in on us at night while we slept they would come across a huge lump on top of the bed, with no evidence whatsoever of inhabitants. Even our breathing is absorbed by the profoundness of the layers.
Waking up provides a wonderful exercise in will power. You open your eyes and wonder if it is light or dark outside because the curtains are so thick that no light passes through. You tentatively reach your hand into the world outside your cocoon of warmth, instantly recognizing this environment is hostile, not unlike that of Mars. You pat around until you locate the bed light, switch it on, and let out an experimental breath: snowfall… ice storm … whiteout … You imagine having slept all night on a block of dry ice. And that is precisely what your foot tells you when you poke it out and set it down on the floor. The temptation is to pull it right back in, like a snail’s eye stalk, but it’s time to get ready for work and you want to beat the crush of the Tokyo rush hour trains and you’d also like to get in a mug of tea and check the e-mail… so out you jump, dancing about the tatami like an Irish dancer, rush to the toilet, let out a yelp as you bare your bottom, dance back out to the shower, turn on the gushing, smoking river of heat, dash to the kitchen to set the kettle to boil, pop two slices of bread into the microwave-oven, and scamper back to the shower for a few minutes of revitalization. You turn up the water heat high enough to turn your skin blooming red before breaking the bathroom door open just long and wide enough to snatch the towel and slipping it into the sauna of the shower stall. Dried off you can safely negotiate the sub-arctic temperatures and dismiss the imaginary penguins tottering about the hallway, to do your shaving and prepare the tea.
But it doesn’t last long. Like the shadowy ghouls in the movie “Ghost”, the cold creeps back again and uses the soles of your feet to reacquaint you with the concept of stack ventilation. So back you go to mouse dancing, slapping on layers like a pancake artiste, until all contact with the outside world is reduced to the circle around your face and the inconvenience of your fingers. You stoke your core with piping hot tea and toast spread with a thin film of butter, and then you’re off, into the purveyor of all this defensiveness: the out of doors.
But of course, it is warmer outside than inside. As you march away toward the train station you unbutton your coat and let the morning sunshine take a peek in. You don’t look back; the suction itself might be too much.
I came across this article while browsing for more enlightened content. All I could think of was that my level of tolerance for spammers has reached zero porosity… it seems the laws are working to make life viable for these blood-sucking vermin (all apologies to mosquitoes, tick, leeches, and vampire bats being in order), while all the rest of us must continue to endure them. But really, who truly CARES if spammers’ sites were overwhelmed by traffic or if their sites were shut down? It’s not like their lives were threatened. Anyone who inundates my site with garbage and makes no apologies, while providing me with little means of preventing them from using my bandwidth, ought to have their own sites shut down. Or better yet, their access to the internet denied altogether.
Am I being too harsh here? People aren’t allowed to walk unannounced into my house and using my appliances without my permission… why is it allowed on the internet?
For three days my internet connection was down and it was like a bag had been thrown over my head. I couldn’t do my design work, or communicate with my family and friends far away, or open the browser and lose myself in the blogging for a while. It is somewhat frightening just how dependent upon the computer and the internet I’ve become.
The interesting side effect is that, because of blogging, and some of the recent discussions that have been swirling around me and neighbor blogs, my mind went into “topic overload” as more and more ideas shuttled into the waiting list and ideas began to crowd each other out. It got so that, while browsing an outdoor store this afternoon (in between a morning at the hospital and an afternoon hunting for a bit disk and information on routers at the computer store), I started stopping every other step to scribble down whatever mess of words passed between my ears. This is the state of creative anarchy that I’ve longed to stimulate daily in my drive to become a writer and blogging is the medium that has awakened it.
I came to the conclusion today that blogging is truly something new. It isn’t writing as in a magazine or book, which remain more or less static and set their feet down upon a solid surface, but more a fluid flow of words, one step complemented by the next. It survives and thrives on the interaction between participants; without the interaction a blog goes still and exists only in an imagined reality. The best blogs are ones where the writer and the readership grow together and get to know one another, a state of affairs that writers of books and magazines have until now only dreamed of.
A blog is like a dialog, and come as varied as there are people who write them. Those who have not involved themselves in them much might conclude from the name “weblog” that they are online diaries, and perhaps many new bloggers use them as such, but with more experience and exposure the blogs somehow change, and a community is born for each blog. Just like writers a following develops, too, and people return again and again for the continuation of the story.
Today it became clear just how much stories run through the fabric of our daily trains of thought. We are story animals. And if there is anything truly worthwhile about the internet it is the return of the round-the-fire oral tradition, albeit in written form.
Was supposed to get out of Tokyo and spend two days camping on Kumotori-yama (Mount Cloud Catcher)… actually not really outside Tokyo, since Greater Tokyo’s tentacles’ farthest reach extends to the top of the moutain… but just as I was about to go to bed last night my computer (a Mac, OS X) had a major crash, the first time with OS X. Since I haven’t a clue about how terminal windows and Unix commands work, it took me the entire night to franticaly page through my reference books and online information before I finally figured it out. The final verdict was a tiny little problem with a corrupted graphics file… something I could have fixed in 5 minutes if I had known how.
Strange how the computer has taken over so much of my life. And to think I used to hate computers, for this very reason! I should be out there, walking and pausing, listening to the wind, not the whirr of the cooling fan. Computers seem to have made life much more complicated, with their finicky need for constant attention and upkeep. Weren’t they supposed to free us of all the drudgery?
Anyway, I’ve still got one more day to relax and get outside. Tomorrow I’m heading for Oku-Chichibu, There are clouds, but it’s warm. Spring has come.