Sunday, 12 February, 2006
Random notes at 35,000 feet
It's 3:25 AM in San Francisco. I'm sitting in seat 56K of United Flight 852, scheduled to land at about 8:30. I got a little sleep, but I'm not sure how much more I'll get. Maybe I'll try the trick a friend told me: force myself to stay up all day, go to bed at my usual time, and get up on Monday ready to go. It's worth a shot. The last time I made this trip, I was a complete zombie for about three days and felt the effects of jet lag for almost a week.
A few thoughts, some serious and some not:
- If you intend to learn anything before traveling to Japan, learn Katakana--the alphabet that the Japanese use to write foreign words. Yes, it's nice to learn a little of the language so you can ask simple questions and understand the replies, but if you learn Katakana you'll be able to read menus, many signs, and descriptions of most products that you'll need in the stores. It'll take you a weekend to get the basics down, and a couple of days' practice to get comfortable with it. I recommend the book Easy Katakana, by Tina Wells. Kanji is cool, but you'll get more bang for your buck with Katakana.
- We've all seen the balding men who comb their few remaining long hairs over their bald spots. The Japanese call these people, "bar code heads."
- I wonder if this is some literal translation that lost all meaning.
- This one, too. From the spare tire cover on a small wagon that might have been an SUV.
- Parting is a ritual, and the person who's leaving is responsible for ending the ritual. If you get up to go and then don't leave, the other people will feel obligated to continue telling you how much they enjoyed your company. When you say you're going to leave, do it after saying your brief goodbyes.
With that, I think I'll go juggle in the back of the plane.