Saturday, December 18, 2004

Falling Stars

Enjoyed the Geminid Meteor Shower Monday evening by standing out in the cold for about 30 minutes. I saw three falling stars. Several years ago during my first year in Japan, Mr. & Mrs. Mukoyama--the gaijin* wranglers--knew I was quite the amateur astronomer and decided to gather me and the other American professors late one night to search for the optimal site for viewing the 1998 Geminids--supposedly one of the best meteor showers of all times. We drove for hours in the rain and cold, huddled together in the back seat of their tiny Japanese sedan. Finally we parked somewhere along the side of the road and set up telescopes. Why? I don't know, because the cloud covering was so thick you couldn't see a damn thing! We spent hours politely looking through the telescopes, drinking strong coffee, and basically freezing our asses off in the wintry rain. When we finally got in the car to return, things went awry: Mr. Mukoyama, who had seen better days probably several decades earlier, got lost in the fog and winding backstreets of rural Japan. The trip back to our apartments lasted more than three hours. I'm sure I had to get up the next day to teach my classes. Monday's meteor shower was much better.

Tonight I'm looking forward to walking down to Nikola's apartment to celebrate his 30th birthday with the great unwashed Serbian diaspora. (They really are quite clean; I just enjoy using the word "unwashed.")

* The term gaijin (外人) is incredibly offensive to me and other boy-intellectual types; it literally means "outsider." A more appropriate and acceptable term is gaikokujin (外国人)--a person from another country. I always use the 2nd option when speaking to Japanese about non-Japanese. Among other non-Japanese, I typically use gaijin much like African Americans use the term "nigger" among themselves.

1 comment:

  1. The meteor shower in 1998 was truly one of the best I ever saw. We were lucky that night in North Texas with crisp clear skies. The meteors streaking across the sky in multiple colors and with long tails were amazing. It was one of those moments when one must reflect with awe on the universe. I'm sorry you didn't get to experience it from Japan. If it matters, I didn't even see the three you saw this year.