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31 August, 2005

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The view from the deck as we continue to plod eastward.


We're somewhere between China and Japan and it all pretty much looks like this.


Some of the communications devices on top of the ship.


And the rotating TV antenna which brought wavy reception to everyone on the boat.


As the day wore on, we started to see some mountainous Japanese islands.


Throughout the trip we passed many boats. This is apparently a very popular passage.


While our boat flew a Chinese flag, it had Japanese outlets. The food had a similar identity crisis.


I really hope my freighter across the Pacific is a little bigger than this one.


The sun sets over Japan as we inch closer to Osaka.


One of the cities we passed on the way.

31 August, 2005

Day 46. Oh my God, I cannot begin to describe how tortuous this trip has been. I was awoken at about 6:30 by a pack of screaming toddlers in my room who would not shut up. This is like some kind of horror film. They're everywhere! The only part of this boat I can go to which isn't infested with them is on the top deck which is very small, windy, and unpleasant. But at least I can't hear the constant screaming and running around.

I don't think this kind of thing would go over well at all in America. I suppose my reaction is proof of that. The people here have a completely different way of dealing with children. It's great for the kids. The adults, on the other hand, must learn to adapt.

I wouldn't mind so much if there were more places of refuge. I can't go in my room because they're always in there. (How I wish I had been given the option of booking a single room.) Forget about the two very small lounges. That's where most of the chasing and screaming goes on. And the only other place to go is the reading room which is supposed to be for reading but which always has the TV on with more kids running around in there.

It took me quite a while to fall asleep last night because of the heavy pitching of the boat. I heard today that a number of people were sick. I'm glad I didn't know that last night or I would have felt obligated to join them. Hopefully I can get it out of my head tonight but it shouldn't be as bad since we'll actually be in Japanese waters by that point.

I guess a situation like this can really build up your tolerance for unpleasant circumstances. I learned a lot about resolving conflicts by living in a group house for ten years. I'm not sure what I can get out of being stuck on a boat with screaming monsters for 48 hours but hopefully a bit more than rising blood pressure. I'm struck by the fact that no parent has publicly expressed any anger towards any of the children and I still haven't seen a single kid crying, not even for an instant. So maybe there's something to all of this. If only they weren't in my goddamn room.

Through intense concentration and decent headphones, I've been able to get a lot of work done at least. Lord knows there wasn't anything else I could do. They're showing really lousy movies on the boat channel and everything else is either horrible reception or unintelligible to me because of the language. I did see video of what looked like real devastation in the States as a result of Hurricane Katrina. I guess I'll find out just how bad it was when I get to Osaka. I'm real glad it didn't hit New York. I would so hate to miss a good storm.

During the first part of the day we were still in open water. Nonetheless there were plenty of boats and even pieces of trash that hadn't come from us. As the day wore on we saw mountains on some Japanese islands. And as the sun was setting we actually started to pass a Japanese city. We're in Japan but we won't dock in Osaka until tomorrow morning, right after the "Off The Hook" broadcast. At least I know I'll be awoken by all the screaming. Hopefully the satellite reception will hold out. I've already tested both my GSM and CDMA phones with no luck. I wasn't really expecting any.