Inktober begins


Inktober is a month (October) long nominally inked drawing challenge that's been going for like 14 years. The process is

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).
2) Post it
3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2023
4) Repeat to the end of the month.

My plan is to complete the challenge with watercolors, and to have the whole process mountain themed. I plan not to buy any more watercolor supplies, and paint small: 2.5" x 3.75" paper.

Let's see how I do.

Context with al-Zahrawi


This is a rant.

But first, context.

Jonathan and I play Redactle on a regular basis. There's a play together option, where multiple players can play on the same board, guessing independently of each other, in an attempt to guess the Wikipedia article. I enjoy this game a lot. I enjoy reading the Wikipedia articles after we guess the article title. The game is an opportunity to learn something new, often many something news. There's a daily game, with a "new random game" option. We will often play 3-4 games in a social setting. It's fun.

One of today's redactles was al-Zahrawi, a physician, surgeon and chemist from al-Andalus, considered one of the greatest surgeons of the Middle Ages (and, let's be real, all time). His pioneering contributions to the field of surgical procedures are still applied today. Like, the man was amazing.

Here comes the rant.

The article reads:

While al-Zahrawi never performed the surgical procedure of tracheotomy, he did treat a slave girl who had cut her own throat in a suicide attempt. Al-Zahrawi sewed up the wound and the girl recovered, thereby proving that an incision in the larynx could heal. In describing this important case-history he wrote:

A slave-girl seized a knife and buried it in her throat and cut part of the trachea; and I was called to attend her. I found her bellowing like a sacrifice that has had its throat cut. So I laid the wound bare and found that only a little haemorrhage had come from it; and I assured myself that neither an artery nor jugular vein had been cut, but air passed out through the wound. So I hurriedly sutured the wound and treated it until healed. No harm was done to the slave-girl except for a hoarseness in the voice, which was not extreme, and after some days she was restored to the best of health. Hence we may say that laryngotomy is not dangerous.

Okay, a slave girl tries to commit suicide, and fails. There is a reason she tried to commit suicide, and let's be real, it wasn't from boredom or a feeling of ennui. A slave girl in the middle ages is nothing more than chattel. She was likey abused, probably raped or otherwise tortured daily, by who knows by how many people. Her "bellowing like a sacrifice that has had its throat cut" was probably not from pain but from the realization that she was unable to escape the unbearable torment that drove her to choose death over the life she had in the first place. No, more harm than "a hoarseness in the voice" was happening, and she was not "restored to the best of health" after healing from an attempted suicide. I would even venture to guess she was sent back to where she tried to escape from and likely had a worse life as a result. She wasn't saved and paraded around as a success story, she likely continued the hell that was her life.

Context matters so much, and sending someone back to hell because, hey, you managed a successful tracheotomy is f'ing horrible. Again, context matters, and her life wasn't worth much during his life time. And that sucks so much. F that.

Easing into Tokyo like Saturday Morning


Slow, lovely day today. After a very early wake up (hello, 2 am, I'm here again!), followed by some drifting, I gave up and went for a walk around 6:30 this morning. First morning here in Tokyo, and I have to say, wandering the streets with no one else around, on a hot, muggy morning is totally a great way to start a day. I walked over to the nearest (and flagship!) Muji, and then back to the hotel. The temperatures were still in the mid 20s (26˚, oof), so I was hot and sweating. I totally understand the light, flowy style of clothing here now.

I managed to cool off a bit in the 19˚ room, which I was unable to lower, as the thermostat is lower bounded to 19. B woke up surprisingly early, letting me know that he didn't really wake this early, and yes, we could head off to breakfast.

After breakfast, we both showered and dressed. I let B know that no, I wasn't in any hurry, I was happy to have this as a lazy day, so we didn't rush. Once we were both appropriately clean, we went outside, and were then not so clean, with the humidity and the heat. Such is the day, quite possibly the trip, and I am here for it.

Our main missiion for the day was to exchange our vouchers for rail passes. Our options were back to the airport or to the train station. Given the train station was about a 20 minute walk away, if we knew where we were going, which we did not, the train station won for destination. Along the way, we planned to see if a couple stores were open. Apple Maps said no, Google Maps said yes, let's see what reality said.

G.Itoya is indeed open on Saturdays. Score one for Google Maps.

We didn't take the most direct route to the train station, and went in the wrong gate for maximum efficiency for our rail passes, but were fine otherwise. We found the desk to exchange our vouchers, told each other stories about our recent weeks, became mildly annoyed at the people crowding us in line (especially the couple behind me who were so close they were touching me for a good 10 minutes while waiting in line, back the F up), sweated up a storm in the cramped room where only we and the staff were masked, and managed the exchange. We did walk back the most efficient route, however, to G.Itoya.

Along the way, so my delight, we realized that the city had closed the large street we were walking along to cars. We were able to stand in the middle of the street and take pictures. B was quite uncomfortable with this plan, and I was all over it. I mean, how often is one allowed to stand in the middle of a busy intersection and just be? Not often.

The stationery store ended up being mildly disappointing. Except for the most incredible selection of pens, including a $4000 USD pen, the store was full of things i had seen before, notebooks that I don't need more of (dotted notebooks to boot), supplies I don't want. They also stocked every color of colored pencil of the main brand they carried, which was amazing. I don't know if I just wasn't in the shopping mood, or just not needing retail therapy to self-soothe. My leaving a paper store without buying anything is nearly unheard of on my trips.

We were both hungry as we left the stationery store, and started walking back to the hotel. E had mentioned a ramen place close to the hotel, and I was interested in checking it out. Along the way, we passed a Starbucks Reserve. Mom had been asking to visit one, but she and B had been unable to find one. They aren't marked in any of the maps apps we have. B and I stepped into the Reserve, and he was enchanted. He was willing to try a ramen place I wanted to try, so we left.

About three minutes later, we realized the ramen place wasn't air-conditioned, and had a temperature close to 28˚ inside. Ramen in a hot muggy restaurant? No thanks.

We wandered back to Starbucks and to our surprise and delight had a most delicious lunch. The chicken and salad I had was wonderfully prepared. B's pizza was impressively delicious. We let Mom and E know where we were, and waited for them, but eventually missed them. We initially planned to go to a temple, but changed our minds and went back to the hotel for a rest. B has been go go going for weeks now, and could use the rest. I'm not not jet-lagged, and wanted to putter on my computer for a bit. I needed to focus on work for a bit, solve a problem or three, so as to short-circuit the circling thoughts that needed disrupting in a productive way.

So, we spent a couple hours in the afternoon in the hotel room, luxuriating in the AC. B slept for a while. When he woke, I commented that I was feeling a little guilty for wanting to hang out in the hotel room, and he laughed. He, too, was feeling guilty about wanting to hang out in the hotel room, have a down day. Recognzing we were both just fine hanging out this afternoon, we did just that. I made tea. I looked at a couple APIs. I read email. I finished reading a book. I started writing here again. I caught up on some journalling. I wrote a comment on a post, deleted it as I didn't need to say it, the words had already been said enough times. And, I picked up my travelling ukulele.

A month or so ago, Mom asked me to play Somewhere over the Rainbow, Iz style, for her on the uke for her, so that she could sing along. I looked up the tabs, and I have to say, the chords are not intimidating, I know them all. However, breaking the Island Strum (D.DU.UDU where . = skip that stroke on the up or down, keep the hand moving) in half and switching chords half way through the full pattern hurts my brain a little bit. Which is great! New brain pathways, engage! Play slowly, then build up.

Looks like sushi is the plan for dinner tonight. Here's hoping I can stay awake until 10pm tonight!

Update: I stayed awake.

Radically Imperfect


We should stop expecting people to be anything other than very flawed. Whoever we get to know will be radically imperfect in many ways. There can only ever e 'good enough' relationships with others.

Daring Mighty Things


Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

We shall sub-title this, "AMS is a bitch of a bitch."

I go.