Tag Archives: Japan

undefined symbol

It’s strange the sort of things you end up talking about when standing in the queue for the “Back to the Future” ride. Andrew, for reasons we cannot remember, started complaining that Christmas trees were really Asherah poles, or at least general fertility symbols. We all then got involved in a meta-symbolic argument: does a particular meaning for a symbol become invalid when the symbol becomes used to represent something else?

The swastika is a better example: in the West it symbolises racial hatred to a lot of people after being used as a symbol Aryan supremacy by the Nazi party, but in the East it retains its original meaning as a blessing or good luck charm.

line too long

The queues for the attractions at Universal Studios were even longer than those at Disney Sea: waiting times averaged 110 minutes! At 11:30 we managed to get Express Tickets for Jurassic Park with an entry time between 18:10 and 19:10. Express Tickets for all the attractions were all gone before noon.


A lot of preparation was required before they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. First, to make sure their sample wasn’t contaminated, they had to prevent conventional bombing in the area. Then they had to delay the Japanese surrender that almost stopped their experiment altogether. And just before they started, they dropped some recording devices to measure the effects of their new toy. They had to make sure the Soviets knew who was in charge after the war.

Would the real Stage Seven please stand up

Only a fool has never climbed Fuji; only a fool climbs it twice!

Yes, I have to admit that this was my second ascent of Fuji, although I climbed a different, and more difficult, route this time.

Like most people, we started at the 5th stage. There are 10 stages in total so the 5th stage is about half way up. When reading about Fuji and studying the illustrated route maps you are led to believe that stages are well defined goals that you can use to measure your progress up the mountain. This would be encouraging, but it is not the reality. It seems that the illustrated stages are useful in the same way as Bohr’s model of electron shells is useful in explaining atomic spectra.

Unfortunatly the stages, like electrons, actually occur in density clouds. We reached the first hut claiming to be stage 7, happy with our simple Bohr model of Fuji. We continued our climb for many minutes to be greeted by another hut claiming to be stage 7, but we ignored this as a simple experimental error. After repeating this experience three more time, I was crying for Heisenberg and Schrodinger. Since the stage position uncertainty was so large, I was imagining beyond hope that Planck’s constant was larger on Fuji than elsewhere in the universe, and we might tunnel to the top at any moment.

At one of the many 8th stages we encountered we stopped to watch the sunrise. Then the weather turned bad, but we had to press on as we didn’t want to descend on our current path. When we eventually reached the top, the crater was covered with cloud and filled with a small but powerful storm. Margaret was displaying all the signs of hypothermia. We decided to make a hasty descent, influenced slightly by the nice man who announced that anyone still in the crater at 07:30 would have to stay for the day because of the worsening weather.

The storm had one final statement to make: it didn’t like my cheap raincoat, so it whipped up some small volcanic pebbles and totally shredded my coat around me, leaving me surprised but completly unscathed.

Things continued to go wrong, but we all arrived safely, 6 hours late, back at the Ryokan.


Over the last few years Tokyo DisneyLand has been transforming into Tokyo Disney Resort. In May last year they had build a new hotel and some shops, and were working on another hotel, the monorail, more shops, and Disney Sea. So today we went to see how it all looked now that they’re finished.

I’ve been trying to work out why they named the new park “Disney Sea”. It does have a watery theme throughout, although you still mostly walk between the attractions. I think that the name was thought of before the park was designed, and it was named because they build the park on reclaimed land where the sea used to be.

I have seen two of the attractions (Indiana Jones and 20000 Leagues under the sea) in other Disney parks, but everything else seems to be unique to this park. This is also the most beautiful of all the Disney parks throughout the world, but I assume that is because it is the newest: Disney just seem to be getting better at making their parks.

The queues were quite long; some attractions had 2 hour waiting times. We got some FastPasses for “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, and then went to find some of the less popular things.

Mass storage camera

My new camera has a USB port, and it uses the USB mass storage protocol to allow the computer to access the files. Protocol standards are great: it’s a pity all developers don’t read them, especially when they are developing a product that implements the protocol.

I connected my FinePix to my ThinkPad, they said hello, then Linux got confused. I asked what the problem was, and Linux told me that FinePix was answering all the questions strangely: there was extra bit where there should not have been extra bits.

I asked the Google-monster if he’d heard about any similar problems and it told me about Linux and a Sony Clie who seemed to be having the same conversation. The solution that worked there was to ask Linux to just ignore the extra bits and hope they didn’t matter. I tried this, and FinePix and Linux have been best of friends ever since.

I don’t know for sure who caused the proble. Being a Linux fan(atic) I tend to believe that the Linux hackers got the protocol right, and my other USB mass storage devices seem to agree with me. But that isn’t really the point: if I hadn’t been using a Free OS, I couldn’t have fixed the problem in 20 minutes, and my new camera would soon be full of images that I couldn’t access.