Opening Statement



Friday, 27 December 2019

Teacher Free Speech Winter 2020 News y Views!

HEY HO kEEP ChECKing BAcK! LaTeR AdDITIoNs WiLL bE AddED In LaRgE TYpe SeT! mY Acronym Guide IS @ hErE! MuCh, mUch morE to coMe ..... REadeRs gUiDe 2 TeaCHer fREE sPEech NeWs Y vIeWs @ HERE!  LiVe tWEEts @ davidchiarelli 




EDUCATION BEAT

Ontario Teacher Strikes: Ontario's AEFO, ETFO, OECTA and OSSTF public elementary, secondary and Catholic teachers have overwhelmingly voted in support of work to rule and job strike actions. Here's a parents' guide with the relevent union, trustee, and government on line links, so you can reach out, get involved and stay informed, during the difficult political winter ahead @ Chat

Harris Redux? Premier Doug Ford fancies himself a modern day Robin Hood, much like former Conservative Premier Mike Harris during the 1990's. Pretending that he's the good guy in Ontario politics, taking money and resources from the big, bad teacher unions to pay off the province's public education bills. However, in gutting our world class education system, it's quite clear that Doug The Thug is just providing fat, tax cuts for his rich friends. The highly unpopular Ford Conservative government has so far only succeeded in hitting rock bottom in the polls @ Star

Here's How Ford's Education Cuts Hurt Kids: @ Star


Labour Unites: 11 other Ontario public sector unions are joining the teachers in a Charter Right Challenge to Ford's Bill 124 1% wage cap on the public sector @ IP and @ Star 

Bill 124: A teacher wage increase isn't the sticking issue in contract talks. Far from it, even though, over time, 1% represents a significant pay cut, considering the inflation rate. Rather, Bill 124 is being challenged as unconstitutional in court, because it unfairly interferes in the collective bargaining process @ Star  

Defying the Law: Ford's Bill 124, like Bill 115 before it, might eventually, very well, be overturned. However, the damage will already have been done! 

Without doubt, a legal challenge takes many years to go through the courts. Probably result in another two bit pay out. With the teacher unions again caving in to more concession bargaining, like they did in 2012 and 2016. 

Or will Ontario's teacher unions finally risk a little, much needed civil disobedience? Stop the Ford government dead in it's tracks? Like they did Premier Davis during the 1970's, when they weren't afraid to really put their ass on the line? In the truest of democratic traditions? Rather than just huff and puff and engage in a whole lot more useless posturing again? More @ MFB



2 Years Probation: That's what 3 students from the prestigious St Mike's football team got for a vicious sex assault with a broom handle on another student. It seems unfathomable. The victim was so distraught, that he couldn't provide a victim impact statement to the court. The judge stomped off without providing much if any insight into his decision. I'll provide a link to the complete text of the verdict, when it becomes available. More @ CBC 

Focus On School Culture: At St. Mikes, like at many private, supposedly religious schools, the real school culture is often one of bullying and hazing. The St. Mike's sexual assault provides a very clear example, that can't be hidden or denied @ TStar

Code of Silence: The TCDSB's Mike Del Grande strikes again! This time our Grande Meister bullied a young, Catholic school board student trustee. Made it a group effort. Because she thought "Unplanned", a Pro-Life classroom movie, was too propagandistic. Also dared question whether the board should exclude gender identity and LGBTQ references from it's Code of Contact, even though it's required by law. 

An oh-so-secret investigation has been called. A closed meeting too. But nothing done. Watch for a big denominational verses human rights case in the making, sooner or later, at the TCDSB. With lots of probing questions over whether discriminatory policies, and a whole, heaping pile of old, Catholic bullying and hazing school board shit, should be funded on the public dime. More @ TStar @ Star

Catholic Right: Board lobbyist's Campaign Life Coalition award Del Grande it's top award for "defending kids" from the "LGBTQ agenda" in the "Catholic schools" @ CLC More LSN Shocked?!? Consider their "Talking Points for Parental Consultation" on "gender identity" as a "mental disorder" too CLC  @ LSN

Meanwhile ... An embattled TCDSB scurries to reaffirm it's commitment to "inclusion". The OSTA: Ontario Student Trustee Association speaks out. Also worth noting, on a much more progressive note, the Toronto OECTA Catholic Elementary TECT and Secondary TSU teachers have strongly voiced their concern over Mike Del Grande's Great Debate of sorts @ CP24 @ Star Liz Stuart 


OH CANADA




Scheer Madness: CPC Andrew Scheer steps down as CPC party leader. It's been a long descent since he fumbled the Conservative tackle of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in this fall's federal election. Seems it truly was his to lose. A time line @ CTV 

Sticking Points: Will the CPC choose another social conservative to replace Andrew Scheer at their next leadership convention? With two thirds of the Canadian electorate voting for the centre or centre left Liberals and NDP respectively, in the fall federal election? Let's face it! Andrew was a nasty piece of work. Right wing kooky. Geeky. But easy to kick around within the Canuck political milieu. And ha! ha! -it was lots of fun too! Still, one wonders if we might not miss him in retrospect, should the Cons shift back to the Canadian political centre. For now at least, it's far from a done deal! More @ CTV TSun

Private School Scandal: Alas! Seems our Andy was finally given the boot over a scandal. One we didn't hear about during the election. Yup. He was sending his own kids to a private school in Ontario, on the party dime. While buddy Dougie was ever so busy destroying our Ontario public school system! Damn! Now how are the boys going to learn how to bully and haze folks just like daddy, eh?!? @ Globe 

Neo Conned: What do Stephen Harper and Andrew Scheer have in common? Besides the CPC? Der Trumps buddies in the GOP? And Boris Johnson in the UK? For starters, they all belong to the right wing Global Intel Democratic Union! Where they attended the same sorta election seminars; on how to stalk the electorate, high tech style ... The plot thickens @ Tyee

IN THE NEWS




Impeached: It's official! The US House of Reps has voted to impeach President [... we use the term lightly ... ] Donald Trump on two grounds; for high crimes and misdemeanours and the obstruction of congress. Read the annotated articles of impeachment @ CNN 

Dept Of Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: Der Donald responds with a most unbecoming letter, ostensibly for posterity's sake, to set the record straight. Blah. Blah. Blah. Rips Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi NBC Read the fact checkWP Then really out does himself impeachment night at a Michigan rally, mocking recently widowed, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingle. Suggesting her dead husband is in hell. And on and on and on it goes @ WP

Trump Freak Out: Pelosi is slow walking the articles of impeachment over to the Senate during the Christmas break. Demanding to know from Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, what sort of trial the Senate has in mind! Will it be a fair, impartial one? Based upon facts? Witnesses? And evidence? 

An unnerved Trump goes berserk again on Twitter. Demanding "due process". Gee, does he even know what that means?!? And could he actually weather a Senate trial, without becoming totally unhinged; his own worse enemy??? More @ Pol @ WP @ MSNBC



Blemished: Trump's only the third US Present to be impeached. It's a permanent blemish on his record. Will always be on his historical record, even centuries from now. Maybe all anybody will eventually remember about the pathetic fuck ST

Two Tribes: A Democrat majority voted to impeach Trump, in the divided House of Reps. Next a divided GOP controlled Senate will decide his punishment, if any. The mighty US government is badly divided. Turning inward on itself. Doing itself in much quicker and more effectively than anybody else could. While it's enemies laugh so hard they'll piss his pants! @ NT  @ USAT 



White Tribalism: Here's another variation on the tribal theme. Has more of a focus on Trump's white trash electorate and their own special brand of identity politics. Plus the need to hold onto power and privilege at all costs, damn the Republic SD @ 

Foxy: Fox News stokes hysteria throughout Trumpland with an alt fact version of the Trump Impeachment. The  coverage is rife with wild conspiracy theories. It's a false narrative supported by totally off the wall talking points. Frighteningly resembling an authoritarian cult

Think of Fox as a toxic poison within the body politic. Sadly, one that also has become for many Americans, their main source of "news". No? Check it out @ Fox and @ Wired

KULTURE KULT INK

Survival Mode: How is this season of the TV show "Survivor" like the Trump impeachment? Winning bigly becomes all that matters @ Wired

Much, much more to come ....

COMMENTS

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Oh Cannabis Winter 2020 News y Views!

Inhale! Hold! Exhale! Smile! ChEcK oUt My "Readers Guide 2 Oh Cannabis News Y View" @ Directory! UpDAtEs AddED iN LaRgE TyPe! LiVe TwEeTs @ davidchiarelli 



OH CANNABIS

More Ontario Cannabis Dispensaries: Premier Doug Ford is ending his Conservative government's highly controversial cannabis licensing lottery. His goal? To create a thriving "open market" for pot shops, in Canada's largest province. Shouldn't be hard! But with Ontario's Doug The Thug, who knows?!? We've been conned before! 

Anyway, on January 6th, the AGCOAlcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario begins accepting operator licensing applications. Store applications follow on March 2nd. Authorization begins in April; with plans to roll out 20 new shops a month to meet the demand. More details @ ON.CA

Default: Ontario only opened a mere 24 legal dispensaries, during the first year of legalization. But those shops sold the most cannabis in Canada; $217 million worth, or 24% of the legal market. That was by sheer default. After all, we are the most populous province. Long and short of it? Ontario tokers are still scoring their weed in mass via the unregulated marketplace! You'll find a quick cross country check of the fledging, Canuck legalization scene @ FP

Bled 2 Death: Ford's open market arrives too late for many of Ontario's original  unregulated cannabis dispensaries, who led the fight for legalization in our province. Sadly, many went broke under Fords dubious lottery licensing system. After agreeing to temporarily close shop, to help facilitate an ... ahem ... orderly "legalization process". 

Ford's lottery did award licences, supposedly at random ... but to a rash on inexperienced winners. Not surprisingly, the corporate big boy$ quickly moved in. Snapped them up quick. 

Our original pot shop, activist-entrepreneurs were left high and dry, following Ford's instructions. Waited and waited and waited and ...  More on how Thug Ford stuck it to everybody who really mattered, including NORML.ca/ Hotbox's Abi RoachFP

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas: Canada legalized infused edibles and drinks this fall. But they aren't available in time for Christmas season in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Why the delay? Each province is insisting on a tightly government controlled distribution system. Won't allow producers to ship directly to the stores. Bah humbug @ CBC



Fantino's Corporate Weed Agenda: Aleafia CEO Julian Fantino is well known, that's for sure. The former Police Chief and Conservative politico was a die hard, local reefer madman. Busy busting potheads and fighting our legalization movement right until the bitter end. Now, our Julian has linked up in a surprise joint venture, with the Serruya family of Second Cup fame. To open One Plant a giant cannabis superstore in downtown Kensington Market. Ironically, the marketplace, was a hotbed for legalization, rife with activist-entrepreneurs, such as the Hotbox's Abi Roach. So how did One Plant score the first legal dispensary licence in Kensington? When nobody else can?!? More than a year after cannabis was legalized in Canada?!? Get this -From a lottery winner. One who works at Postmedia; the right wing media conglomerate! The corporate plot thickens @ BlogTo @ GO Fantino @ CBC

Friends of Kensington Market: Join the fight to stop Aleafia's Julian Fantino and One Plant Kensington Market @ Facebook Find plenty of updates on Twitter @ Abi Roach

Also see "High Times" below ...

IN THE NEWS

US 2020 Election Pot Prospectus: What do presidential hopefuls Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump have in common? They aren't very supportive of the legalization movement @ MF

More US Chances: Here's three possible legislative scenarios, for legalizing cannabis by 2021, under the federal MORE act @ MF

Much more to come ....

GREEN MARKETING




Corporate Field Of Dreams: Think of overpriced, B grade, ditch weed! A bad business and marketing disconnect! Add dorky, out of it, straights in suits, with a huge oversupply problem! And pit them against a large, knowledgable, counterculture, consumer base, whom aren't buying into their BS! Simply put, corporate cannabis can't even begin to compete with the huge, thriving, unregulated cannabis market across Canada and the US @ Grizzle

DOA -Canopy Growth: A year after legalization, Canada's pot stocks face a huge bloodbath. Blame a piss poor roll out model. Corporate culture. Sheer greed. The list of problems goes on and on. Indeed, Canopy Growth provides a case in point @ Forbes

Green Rush Crushed: Sigh! Alas! Is there a business upside to all this? Perhaps, if the corporate sector stops pillaging the budding cannabiz market, in hopes of a quick profit. But does that sound likely?!? @ CIJ

USMCA + The Cannabis Trade: Cannabis isn't mentioned in the new US, Mexico and Canada free trade agreement. But the new terms could still mean that we're open for business as legalization takes hold @ CLB



The ME Community Exchange: Meanwhile Prince of Pot Marc Emery introduces his new Toronto, online, dispensary service. Featuring plenty of quality sativa. Indica. Medicals. Extracts and edibles. And absolutely no corporate cannabis! It's ethically sourced. Organic. BC bud. For a $10 donation per gram, on a $125 order. The volunteer drivers provide free shipping too. 

The goal? To help us avoid the chronic distribution issues and supply shortages so common today. While safely sharing his fine selection of high quality, medicinal products! I've placed my first order to try some RSO, Pine Tar Kush and Purple God buds. Expect a full Oh Cannabis review, after the busy Christmas season. In the meantime, you'll find more info on Marc's latest effort @ ME

HIGHER LEARNING



Lift & Co.'s Guide 2 Cannabis Videos: Lotsa fun! Didn't know whether to include this here or under "High Times". No matter! Our Sarah Hanlon demonstrates the basics of grinding, rolling, smoking and vaping yer weed @ Lift

High Anxiety: Some cannabis strains might make you anxious. Others can help you relax when you're feeling anxious. Confusing, eh! Ummm ... Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Learn more @ HT

Everything Every Canadian Needs To Know About Cannabis Edibles [But Was Afraid To Ask]! Yup! At last! With Legalization 2.0, edibles are now commercially available in Canada! What to expect, if you haven't nibbled on them before?!? The inside dope @ Leafly


Reefer Vaping Madness: Here's how the mainstream media misrepresents the danger posed by cheap, counterfeit pens. The goal? To make us think that it's actually the THC that's bad for you @ Leafly

Is Vaping Safe? In truth, only once it's legalized and regulated, can the real health concerns about vaping cannabis be properly addressed. Here's a more realistic assessment of the relative dangers of vaping and toking weed @ Leafly

What's The Shelf Life on Cannabis Edibles? Basically, they'll go stale first before the THC expires. So it might help, as with any other food or beverage, to keep them in the fridge. Learn more @ CN

HIGH TIMES



Sarah H -Busy! Busy! Busy! Where 2 Relax?!? 

Cannabis Lounging: More than a year after legalization, Canadians lack comfy, indoor public spaces where we can safely smoke our weed. How unlike so many other places around the world! Moreover, as Big Sister Canada's [so to speak ...] Sarah Hanlon explains, the few that do still exist, are in danger of going under @ GH

Buying Pot From Aleafia's Julian Fantino is Like Buying A Skin Coat From Pamela Anderson22 Minutes

Toronto Brands: The Friendly Stranger. The Hot Box Cafe. Plus 7 more locals that are ready to launch, big time, in 2020! By doing it their way! Ours too @ SD

MLB Plays Ball: It's official  Major League Baseball will no longer be testing players for weed @ Fox



Be Here Now: Timothy Leary's good bud, and spiritual teacher/ psychedelic advocate Baba Ram Dass has died. But cry not! Ram Dass fully treasured each moment of his 88 years with us, in the here and now. Believing that life is just a state of mind. And that only the ego is mortal. His soul lives on HT @ GQ



COMMENTS

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Japan A Go Go!

Still Editing A Bit ...



Janet and I experienced autumn twice this year. We enjoyed the crimson splash of colour as the leaves changed colour at our country place in Land o’ Lakes, Ontario, Canada. Then flew half way across the world to watch them explode again in gorgeous splendour in Japan. 

It was a real high! Beyond compare! A fitting celebration. It's official. Janet is retired now too! Japan was on both our bucket lists. So, away we go:

The 12+ hour direct flight from Toronto to Tokyo was totally discombobulating. We sat through 3 meals, a couple of movies, endless chatter, a snooze, with still a few hours to spare. The 14 hour time difference was manageable upon arrival. It was evening, so we went to bed early for a good nights sleep. But it was murder coming back. 

Still well worth it. Our most fantastic trip yet!

We spent 12 nights in Japan. From Tokyo, we travelled to Nikko, Mount Fuji, Hakone, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Osaka. We booked our trip through Jade Tours at New Wave Travel, here in Toronto. Most of our excursions were with Sunrise Tours. By bus, train, boat and on foot. 



Quite frankly, Japan is very cultured, sophisticated and efficient. Moreso than most places we’ve travelled, even among the G20 countries. The cellphones, tablets, computers and apps are more advanced. The transportation technology is amazing. The trains are always on time. Even the public toilets onboard the super fast, bullet train have heated seats. They lean back. Play music. And deodorize any smells.  

Our hotel rooms were very comfy, with plenty of extras. Arrivals and departures ran smoothly. The transfers were very orderly. Our suitcases were aways picked up and dropped off at our next location, right away, on time, without fail. 

The staff and tour guides? Or the locals in the street? Unfailing helpful, friendly and polite. We were shocked. The young folk automatically step up to help, or offer their elders a seat. 

We like to think that Canadians are polite and considerate, eh? Ha!



Bump into somebody by accident? Commit some other such faux pas? Everyone bows to each other out of respect. To smooth things over. And move on, with a touch of social grace, so sadly lacking back home in the west.

Usually Janet and I only book airfare and our hotel in advance. We decided to try a package tour of Japan. We were worried that the huge crowds, and quite different Japanese language and customs might be very confusing, at least for our first trip. 

But no problem! We've visited the other side of the world. Everything ran smoothly. Like clockwork. We felt safe. Were never afraid. Even though far from home. Our world. The one we know best. It was very easy for us to travel about in Japan, relaxing and enjoying ourselves to the max!

Here’s a few notes, in case you'd like go:

TOKYO



Our first 3 nights were at the Keio Plaza Hotel, while we explored Tokyo and Niko. Our room was comfy, not too small, like we had feared. Had all the modern amenities, and then some. 

The Keio is conveniently located beside the Shinjuku station and shopping complex. We also enjoyed shopping at the nearby Shibuya Crosswalk, a short subway trip awayTower Records has 6 floors of music, mostly on CD's, over a third of them JPop. The local scene is huge. But floor displays also touted the latest reissues by western pop legends the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

I caught a free in store concert with local alt rockers Rourourourous. Met the band. Bought an autographed copy of their new disc. Fun. Very cool! Truly, music is a universal language!



As we stepped back outside Tower Records, I was amazed by all the unique stores. Really, Japan is like one giant shopping mall everywhere you go. Beside clothing, there's lots and lots of book, collectables and music shops. Computer and electronic outlets. Game arcades, clubs, restaurants and theatres too. With a very thriving local J-Scene in fashion, music, literature and the popular arts, to say the least.

True, Japan is pricey. Reminds me of Manhattan. The low Canadian dollar didn’t help. Still, we managed to find more than our fair share of reasonable priced goodies. Mostly clothes, electronics and a few souvenirs. Were pleased we didn’t blow our travel budget -there is just so much, very cool stuff to buy!

We watched the huge flow of people and cars criss crossing the intersection at Shibuya, Tokyo's Times Square; the giant throbbing, heartbeat of Japan and the night. Then retired to the Keio’s Luxe lounge for a nightcap. Snacks. Catching up on our social media while enjoying the tasty musical menu of piped in, post war, American jazz.



Breakfast and lunch were included most days. The Keio, like our other tourist digs, provided a hearty Japanese-American breakfast buffet with our tour package. Otherwise? It'll cost about $25 US. 

The skies the limit for dinner, depending on your budget and tastes. However, western junk food or a bento box were readily available for $15 or less. Chicken, beef and pork, besides the prerequisite seafood and fish, were usually on the restaurant menus. Try a big bowl of Udon soup. It's available at kiosks everywhere for about the same price. Was great when we were hungry and on the run. 

Sandwiches were always in stock at the local convenience stores. Crusts neatly cut off, wrapped in cellophane, they cost a few dollars tops. Ditto the countless Japanese drinks and snacks from the long rows of vending machines lining the streets. We were never hungry. Or couldn't find something good to eat!

As for the big name tourist sites? Be forewarned! Tokyo was fire bombed relentlessly during World War Two. Most of the city, including the historical buildings were destroyed. Little survived intact; the original structures were made from wood! 

Tokyo's been rebuilt. Is very ultra modern. Like most Japanese cities, everything is very nice. Also very new. But most of the famous sites we visited were largely post war reconstructions. Sometimes none the better for wear and tear. 

We checked out the huge stone foundations from the old Imperial Palace. Didn’t get inside, as it was closed for a royal ceremony. But apparently it's been rebuilt a few times over the years too.



Quite frankly, we saw more Shinto Shrines and Buddha Temples than you could shake a stick at. Tosho-gu? Meiji? Asakusa?, Also, largely rebuilt. Ready perhaps for a more updated, virtual, high tech remake? 

Nonetheless, we really enjoyed the amazing scenery and sprawling, well kept grounds at each site. The countless statues. Small ponds. Exquisitely sculptured gardens. Kegon Falls nestled among the exploding autumn colours, was especially picturesque. 

It was great being outside. Enjoying the autumn colours. The mild, fall weather. Everything spotless. You won't see garbage lying about. Not even on the city streets. The trash is secured with a mesh cover, so it doesn't blow away. And folks don't dare toss their wrappers and junk on the ground. No way! 

Here's an interesting insight into the Japanese psyche. Our Tokyo tour guide explained that 80% of the Japanese practice both the Shinto and Buddhist faiths. There’s lots of cross over. Only 1% practice Christianity. But Christmas holidays and Christian weddings are very popular. 



Western style baseball is also very popular in Japan. She described it as a game where everybody knows their place. Has a specific role to fill. And must play hard to the best of their ability, for the good of the team! 

We didn't see a game while we were there, or I might’ve watched it in a different light. But there was lots of sumo wrestling and horse racing in the sports section of the Japan Times, and on TV. Hmmm. Dunno what that means. Read into it what you will!

Also interesting: Our tour guide explained why the Japanese wear protective, surgical masks in public. Think pollen. Pollution. Plus it's common courtesy, if you think you've got a cold or flu. Makes sense!

Our tour of Tokyo Bay provided a good view of the city skyline. Tokyo is very high density like most cities in Japan. It's the largest with 9.27 million people. Two thirds of the island is mountainous, so most of the people live along the coastline. In the foothills and valleys. Still, the skyscrapers weren't nearly as tall as I'd expected in Japan. Apparently because of the frequent earthquakes, typhoons and a tsunami or two. 



Driving about Tokyo anytime of the day is challenging at best. With so many people, expect massive gridlock. Even so, few motorists honk their horn! 

Public transit is definitely the best way to go. One lines up at the bus or train station, in a very orderly manner. Your ride pulls up exactly on time, stopping right at the marker on the floor where you stand. Wait patiently in single file. Go with the flow. It'll work perfectly! Don't? Everybody notices! That will not do! Better be ready for some real serious bowing! 

We got by fine, but weren’t quite ready to venture onto the Tokyo subway at rush hour. Maybe next trip!

MT FUJI


Mount Fuji sticks out visibly above the clouds as one flies into Tokyo, the first sight you see. It’s a fairly short day trip from the city, traffic permitting. The wheels of our tour bus, rolling along the corrugated “singing roads”, hum a patriotic folk tune.  We wind our way through Hakone National Park up to 5 Mile Station. Ride the nearby Komogatake Ropeway cablecar to hilltop Owakudani station. Enjoy a very spectacular "420" view. 

Tokers beware! Despite it’s many charms, Japan is not, repeat not, cannabis user friendly. Far from it. Best one pack some discreet, high grade, prescription cannabinoids instead. 




Still, we enjoy a mystical view of Mount Fuji. The exploding fall colours. From up among the clouds. Buzzing along on whatever. In the thin mountain air. 

In short, Mount Fuji is "420" par excellence! Huge. Immovable. Timeless. And serene. Ommm.

JAPANESE ALPS



From Mount Fuji, we take the bullet train to Hakone-Yumoto, famous for it’s mountain hot springs;  it’s “onsen” public baths. The modest 3 star Yumoto Fujiya Hotel, is simple but pleasant and clean. Comfy Jobito gowns are provided in our rooms, acceptable lounge wear at the hotel, or even out and about the town. 

Our English speaking tour group are mostly Australian, Indian or from the US. We go out for dinner, check out the local shops. Janet and the girls score some delightful, traditional silk tops, very reasonably priced. Head off to the hotel hot springs. 

As for the guys, I had to go it alone. An onsen has separate men’s and women’s baths. With small, heated pools. A steam room. Sauna. Open showers and stools. No clothes are allowed! Washcloths only. When not in use, put them on your head. There's more:




It was real laid back and relaxed. Great for sweating out the strain of a few, very busy daze on the road. It's uniquely Japanese. Very polite. Functional. A totally non-sexual and non judgemental experience. Calming. Cleansing. Collectively or solo, a ritual. A respite. The onsen is not to be missed! 

For the next 2 days, Janet and I continue our tour of the Japanese Alps. Visit the mountain towns of Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa. We gaze out the bullet train window, speeding through deep valleys, along the breathtaking ridges and death defying cliffs. Surrounded by the bright orange, red, yellow and dark brown, alps exploding in fall colours. Lost in our reverie. A moment in time. 



We enjoy more onsen at the Hido Hotel Plaza in Kanazawa. Hold hands shopping the bustling, morning market. Walking the picturesque  Kenrokuen gardens at Kanazawa. Touring a rebuilt, ancient Samuri residence. Exploring the traditional, thatched roof grassho-zukuri huts in Shirakawago. Tucked away in a valley, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. The colourful, hillside autumn leaves forming a glorious patch work quilt. 

We catch the train to Kyoto. Check into the Miyako Hotel. Excited to awake next day, for our excursion to Hiroshima.

HIROSHIMA



Standing wordless at ground zero of the atomic age. Quietly gazing at the ruins of the Atomic Bomb Dome. Surrounded by studious Japanese children furiously taking notes. A slight breeze rustles the leaves. The grass. A hint of winter to the air. I'm at a complete loss for words.

At 8:15 am on August 6th 1945, a US B29 bomber, the Enola Gay, dropped “Little Boy”, an atomic weapon on the unsuspecting city. 140,000 women, children and died in the A-bomb flash. And it's horrific after-effects. It is said that if we put our ear to the ground, one can hear the lost souls crying in horror. 

Truth be told, I doubt I’d be able to get back up off my knees. Not anymore. Not in my autumn years. So as far as an ear to the ground goes, I'll leave that to you.



Instead, we wander the Hiroshima Peace and Memorial Park. Examine the grainy survivor photos, scorched artifacts and remains of that profoundly shocking and disturbing day. A blackened toy doll. A melted eye glass found in a skull. A picture of a woman. The patterned dress seared into her skin from the intense heat of the blast. Innocents for the most part. Heading out in the morning. During rush hour. Like we do, most of our lives. Off to school and work. 

Ka Boom!

Gone.

A Yankee visitor, in red cap, oafishly yammers away about military necessity and the like. Is greeted with stunned silence. It’s 74 years later. The Age of Trump. I shudder. Staring at all the collateral damage. Think state, sponsored terrorism instead.



We visit Miyajima hoping to see it's stately red, floating Torii gate rising above the harbour waters. But it’s covered in scaffolding, getting a face lift. We sample a traditional "Okonomia" pancake, a survivor’s recipe, dating back to the blast. Served straight up with a bottle of US styled Hiroshima Cola. Sigh. Alas.

We catch the bullet train back to Kyoto at Hiroshima station. Like much of Japan, it's ultra modern and new. Hopeful. Built atop the ruins of World War Two. 


I leaf through my newspaper. More stories of North Korean missiles, fired into the Sea of Japan. While the western world looks the other way. A timely reminder that the possibility of nuclear annihilation is never far away. 

KYOTO-OSAKA



What more can I say? We saw lots of traditional castles, residences, temples, and shrines. Mostly reconstructs. In two more lively, post modern Japanese cities, jam packed with people and stores. We visit the Kyoto Handicraft Shop, scoring lots of reasonably priced Japanese JinBei pyjamas. Traditional Yukata dressing gowns. Pants and tops. Colourful. Lose. Flowing. Excellent lounge wear for back home. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas this year?

We toured the picture, perfect Tenryuji Temple pond garden. Enjoyed a morning stroll through the bamboo forest at Today Temple Nara Deer Park. The impossibly thin, tall trees. Ate home made apple pie. Marvelling at everything. Alone in our own world and  deeply in love.



I watch the happy, young, Japanese couples, in eye catching kimonos, being pulled around in rickshaws. Breath in the cool, refreshing mountain air. Enjoying every last minute of our trip. Each, a moment in time.

I close my eyes. Take a snapshot in my mind of the sites, the people, the sounds. A fleeting essence of Japan. Hopefully, to last a lifetime. Or until we return again.

In Kyoto, there’s a tour of  Aerial Garden Observatory. Osaka Castle.  A river boat cruise to see Nakanoshima.



Back in our room, Janet and I pack. Next day, catch a flight back to Tokyo. Transfer to our Air Canada flight. Landing back home in Toronto, many, many hours later. Tired and exhausted. But mesmerized too. In wonder. Agape. 

In heart and soul, we're still in Japan. 

David C



COMMENTS:

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

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A careful analytical study!

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Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

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No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

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OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

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You don't look well.

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No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

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The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

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Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

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Temples + Snakes!

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The Snake!

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It runs the length of the ball field!