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Atop Mountains

Setting Up Camp

The photos above and below are from Washington.

Above: We arrived to our camp near the foot of Silver Leap mountain in the Pasayten Wilderness just as the sun was setting.

Below: Brian, the instructor, looks out over the Pasayten Wilderness from the top of Desolation Peak - made famous by Jack Kerouac who spent 63 days at the top during the summer of 1956 as a fire lookout. The lookout building is a 14' x 14' one-room building surrounded by windows built in 1933. When we were there Ranger Marie was on lookout. She had been up there alone for several months each year for the past seven (or was it more?) years. The view from her toilet (an outhouse with no walls) resembles what Brian is looking at in this photo, but I think the best part about living up there would be when a lightning storm comes.

Maybe someday I will get around to making a more detailed write-up of the entire course. Or, maybe I will spend the time that doing a detailed writeup would take to do more hiking with Tomoe instead.

The photo at the end of the post is from two weekends ago near the top of Shirouma Mountain in Hakuba. I was using a ten-year-old disposable camera that Tomoe found in her desk drawer. All the photos are... well, they have "character".

My own camera is back from the Nikon service cernter, however, just like new. If only it wasn't so dang heavy I wouldn't be so tempted to leave it home this weekend when Tomoe and I will go for another hike to points yet undecided.

Brian at top of Desolation Peak
* * *

In other "news"...

In the seven years I have lived in Tokyo, I have learned some valuable computer languages, as well as "konsarutanto-go" (the language of meaningless catchphrases that consultants use to satisfy their clients' need to satisfy their boss, justifying their budget). I have, however, lapsed on my Nihon-go (Japanese) studies.

While I Was once fluent (and literate) enough to attend university classes (with a slight difficulty, mind you), I have since simply stopped seriously studying. Aside from business related Japanese documents, Japanese manuals for cameras and other high-tech gizmagetry, translation work, and the occasional Japanese newspaper (very occasional), I seem to have lost interest.

Partly this is because I have grown much more mellow in my response to people who (attempt to) speak English to me at first meeting. While, as I student many years ago, I saw this as an insult - assuming that they were assuming that I was a dumb foreigner who couldn't speak Japanese - I now assume that they are simply taking the relatively rare opportunity to use the English training they probably paid good money for. I now often find myself spending my time struggling through an English conversation without letting on that I speak Japanese.

Partly it is because Tomoe has been working at a much more "American" company than I, where they use English in the office and, with her English being better than my Japanese, I see no need to use Japanese at home - after all, the goal is to communicate with her - not to learn Japanese. (My politicallyincorrect fantasy is that the entire world could understand English and thus understand my humor as a native Enlglish speaker does).

A few months ago I started looking into Japanese schools with the hopes to "catch back up". Seeing the costs, I suggested that Tomoe and I start speaking Japanese at least sometimes (when I first met her we spoke 50/50 if not more Japanese). Somehow, however, the idea of speaking in Japanese with her has become extremely iya (uncomfortable). Maybe because the majority of our relationship has developed while communicating in English, and partly because we both find the Japanese language less... free and personal.

For example, something I *thought I noticed* about the last company I had been working for, but was not sure until Tomoe came to work there too and confirmed my impression, was that the Japanese language really got in the way of the free exchange of ideas. Now, I'm sure this is not true as a generalization about *all* Japanese companies and organizations, and I was unsure about my own assessment in this case because I seemed to be the only one having a problem. But when Tomoe joined the company after having spent so much time in an American/English speaking office, she confirmed that having to use polite language (as when speaking Japanese to non-buddies) really undermines the "free" mood in the office. It's the difference between saying "Excuse my intrusion Mr. Cameron, however I believe I may have a humble idea - it is really nothing more than a thought however." instead of just "Hey! Kevin! I got a great idea! Lets try..."

I hated it, and I was relieved that she hated it too.

Its funny how, even though we felt for years that we were married, the actual act of signing our names to a piece of paper suddenly creates pressure to learn Japanese again - this time "for real". Of course, my work and current dream-project also require it, but having finally tied the knot brings home the idea that I may actually be here for a while, so dedicating a year or so to down and dirty study might be a *very* worth while investment of time ...and money.

But then again... all the Japanese I have learned until now has been through self-study. I used to spend hours studying kanji for fun. My roommates would ask me to come to a party but I would decline because I was studying vocab. Could I not pick up where I left off and re-learn Japanese on my own without spending thousands of dollars to a second-rate Japanese school? This is nothing against Japanese schools here, but I have only ever found one three-credit Japanese class, for one semester at University of Michigan (Prof. Johnson's Japanese Linguistics class), to be what I would consider "first rate" - i.e., I learned more by attending class than I lost to spending my time in class as opposed to self-study.

So, time to stop blogging, stop scanning negatives from my trip to Washington, stop watching Northern Exposure with Tomoe, and time to break out the old tattered dictionaries again...

Tomoe Atop Northern Alps


I finally gave up on reading all the back posts which is actually liberating in that it lets me read the new ones more. Anyway, maybe I missed the announcement because t got casual mention here, but it sound sliek you and Tomoe made it official too? Congratulations.

Hey Kevin, just wanted to say congratulations on your marriage to Tomoe!

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