Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where or Where Do I Begin?

A few hours ago, we were in Japan. And also, a few hours ago, at the Tokyo Train Station, we unbelievably ran into a relative of ours. Dave's niece's husband from Helena does quite a lot of business in Japan and we know this, but you just do not expect to run into anyone you know in the biggest city and train station in the entire world! Yet we did---right on the platform waiting for the same airport express train. Unfortunately, we had a tight connection and we were in the wrong spot for our assigned seats so all we could do was say hi quickly and marvel at the coincidence.

Dave was invited to attend the Science and Technology Forum in Kyoto, Japan as a representative of the UW. Since I no longer have children at home, I decided to see what Japan is like. We managed to get my ticket with frequent flyer miles and of course, Dave's airfare and the hotel was covered. How could I not go? It would have been insane of me to stay home. I loved almost every minute of the trip except for the very last train connection which we kind of messed up. My children know how I get under these circumstances. It happened on our way home and we made it so it was just a tiny glitch.

The meeting was attended by some extremely important people from around the U.S. and the world. The subject was climate change. I have said this before on this blog and I will repeat: Among reputable scientists world wide, there is no dispute about the fact of human caused global warming. Any effort to discredit the existence of the disastrous climate change that is rapidly occurring is ludicrous. The doubters are in essence telling us the world is flat because they have an economic or political agenda. People, Noah is calling for us to get on the ark. Ignore him at your peril.

Luckily, I was able to come and go freely into the tightly guarded conference center. All meals were provided and I attended a banquet, a lunch and an exquisite dinner at a Buddhist temple. Dave would say to me, "Over there is the president of Harvard and that person is the president of MIT. Oh, and that guy? He has a Nobel Prize in Physics. That woman is the Health Minister of France. And you should have seen the security here when the Prime Minister of Japan spoke!" Always after a statement like that Dave would then say, "I don't know why in the hell I'm here, frankly." I knew why I was there. It was my job to check on whether the Nobel Prize winning physicist could use a pair of chopsticks. I am happy to report that he can but I'm better.

Kyoto is gorgeous and I will have more stories in the days ahead but here is a taste of what is to come.

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Yes! We were actually there in front of one of many Buddhist temples.

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Kyoto---taken by Dave yesterday.

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Bullet Train or Shinkansen Nozami. Picture taken "today."

We flew into Tokyo which was a 10 hour flight going but only 8 hours coming home. At the airport we boarded an express train which took an hour to get to the Tokyo Train Station. At that point we boarded the high speed Nozami which whisked us to Kyoto in 2 1/2 hours. We had no problem when we arrived in Japan managing all of this but for some reason upon the return today, it did not go as smoothly. Oh and yes, we left Tokyo at 3:30 PM, Thursday, October 11 and we arrived in Seattle at 7:30 AM, Thursday, October 11. I must admit, it is a little weird to experience the same day twice in two different countries in the world.