In a continuing effort to “streamline and...

A little light cooking

In a continuing effort to “streamline and purify” my life I am attempting to raise nutritional content while lowering the overhead financial cost incurred per meal. I produced massive amounts of my “Crazy Brown Chahan” last week, with mixed results [Note to self: don’t try to manipulate two frying pans of the same dish at the same time, unless you plan on cooking them in EXACTLY the same fashion]. Not to be dismayed by a 50% success rate, I made a trip to the ever-sketchy Venga Venga last night and prepared myself for a deluge of culinary wizardry (more at: mimicry).

Last night I tried my hand at Mom’s classic spaghetti sauce but of course I remain cursed to never have ALL of the prescribed ingredients at the same time. So while I could get a pound of pure beef (at nine dollars mind you), poor Venga Venga had been ransacked of all celery by 7:00, so I used asparagus instead. Additionally, I had to substitute black olive paste for tomato paste. But hey, they’re both fruit and they’re both in paste form, so what’s the difference? End result: good, but not mom’s (of course). Oh well. At least I have enough hearty sauce for a couple days.

I also got up this morning in time to run, do the laundry, and make a half-and-half (half-Japanese, half-American) breakfast of soybean paste soup, soy milk and banana smoothies, and two fried brown eggs. I’m seriously contemplating niku jaga (meat potato) tonight, something I was fortunate enough to savor at The S last weekend.

Here we see what is becoming an increasingly common weekday event: a home-cooked meal, a Kanji study book, and a copy of “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II“. Today’s menu includes home-brewed green tea, spaghetti, brown rice bread, and fresh spinach (Toot! Toot!).

It should also be noted that I’ve started anticipating never leaving work at any reasonable hour, so I always park my bike near the back (late night) entrance of the garage, and bring more of whatever I’m eating for lunch, in the case it needs to become dinner for two (me and the 19” Mitsubishi).

PS – I’m not sure if one is supposed to eat the stalks of spinach. Well, Japanese spinach (hourensou) is a little different from the US variety, but it comes with sizable stalks. I ate them steamed last night, but heck if I didn’t have a hard time keeping them down fresh at lunch today. It must be that 90% cellulose, 10% edible stuff ratio. After nearly losing my lunch I was reminded of the base elements Japanese were instructed to eat towards the end of the war, as at that time the country was so poor, food and resource shortages were rampant over most of the land. The government even generated educational materials teaching how used tea leaves could be eaten to fight scurvy, and dried cow and pig blood could be ground into a paste for protein. After this I felt incredibly lucky to have spinach stalks, and the gagging subsided.

Pan( vDelta );

It’s eleven o’clock. I’ve been...

Fan/groupie/friend/loser

It’s eleven o’clock. I’ve been home for forty-five minutes. This is early. Ya know, I kind of know what I want, but I’m so screwed up right now in the head it’s like I took a two-by-four to the right side of my face and one eye is swollen shut. People keep telling me it’s ok, but I don’t even know “what” is ok.

In the ignorance of youth, I used to indulge when I was depressed. Then I did that enough to realize that the indulgence really didn’t make anything better past an hour or two, and after I got off the support of my parents I couldn’t afford it anymore. So now I not only miss out on the indulgence, but I get to be cynical about it its ineffectuality.

I’m really disappointed with the lack of self-control I carry. I can’t keep an honest heart about anything, I think WAY TOO MUCH about everything, and my resources are so divided and my situation so seemingly desperate, all it takes is a puff of wind blowing from the other way to knock me flat and wreck my sense of direction. I thought experience was supposed to make you wise, but I only seem to be devoting an increasingly large amount of energy towards not being jaded.

Why do I have to be terminally broken?

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He�fs ordinary

先週末Brandonと僕は「一期一会」について話した。確かに英語では色々な意味が有るけど、一つが一番好き。「...

今夜

ネットで「1月24日は今年の最悪の日」と書いた。英国に博士は紛らわしい「最悪の日」公式を作った。でも、今日は普通だったと思う。[しかし、昼時に納豆を食べたよ。]じゃあ、科学がいらないね。^^;;

先週末Brandonと僕は「一期一会」について話した。確かに英語では色々な意味が有るけど、一つが一番好き。「Treat each encounter with a person as if it is the only one you’ll ever have.」適当けど十分です。ちょっと仏原理を似てる。「いつも頑張って」の近く。今日早くに起きた。明日も同じしたい。今夜一杯料理を作ったので、キッチンはまだまずい。

実は少し悲嘆にくれる。それので、忙しくなりたい。何も考えたくない。では、早寝早起き。

人はなぜどうして 本当の気持ちに気付かないの
好きなことや好きな人 ただそれだけのことなのに
ごまかしても 見ないふりしても 何も変わらないから
まっすぐに生きて行こう その目 遠く 前を 見ているね

On the eve of a new phase in my life, I’m...

An evening in, alone

On the eve of a new phase in my life, I’m getting back to basics. The laundry is put away, the dishes are done, and I’m emulating a typical evening circa first year of grad-school: wholesome grocery store food, sofa computing, and a good movie.

Since I have the PC with me on the coffee table, I have a region-1 DVD in the PlayStation (Raiders of the Lost Ark). This nice little Lucasfilm gem was a thoughtful Christmas present last year from Big Dog, the most ardent supporter of my Harrison Ford mania. One thing that’s caught my eye right off the bat is that Alfred Molina plays the greedy Hispanic servant in the first ten minutes of the movie. The moment of realization was coupled with an MST3K Joel-esque query “Doctor Octopus?”

Last night I got together with one of my buddies from Sega. We struck, two adventurers on the town in search of excitement and whiskey (as we are both minor connoisseurs). Initially, I was presented a choice for dinner: 1) a cook-it-yourself (something actually quite common in Japan) frying joint, or 2) someplace “hen” (strange). It goes without saying that I picked the later.

So we had dinner at Shibuya’s Alcatraz E.R., the “ultimate theme restaurant”. Essentially the place is done up as a grimy prison for the insane, complete with corpses in the floor and blood transfusion IVs hanging from the ceiling. After opening the door by choosing my bloodtype, I was handcuffed and administered a “shot” from an oversized syringe by a girl in a nurse outfit. We were then led to our table in a loft surrounded by iron bars and instructed to summon our waitress via dragging an iron rod across the cell walls. The food was ok, but it could have been better than it seemed as it all had creepy names and dressings, and I’ve been playing a lot of Resident Evil: Code Veronica lately.

After dinner we went by The S, one of my favorite watering holes, a dark and quiet whiskey joint north of Dogenzaka. This place is famous for its receptionist, a two year old malamute belonging to the owner. We had some good drinks and a nice talk with the bartender [Something seemed wrong about having a bartender younger than me.]. So for an eighty-eight dollar tab we got some good Maker’s Mark, Bushmills, and camaraderie.

We’re heading into Cairo now and things are really going to start picking up soon (“bad dates”), so I’m going to call it a blogging day.

Things take a stroke and I stand on my head, a drink...

Bladerunner Blues

Things take a stroke and I stand on my head, a drink and a girl and sitting on concrete steps for five minutes and an eternity. Hair grows past my eyes so troubled down around heavy shoulders, with a sigh and a pitch and something in my stomach linoleum floors plastered in a factory soft quiet moments bereaved by plastic ducks. Joints click past a clock with a second hand I love this tune in a metallic blue 1996 Oldsmobile Achieva swung around the wheel over the mountains through a guard rail off of I-90 heading east. Into the east.

Languid polystyrene cups sighing paper backed best sellers lost on the way to building a better tomorrow with liquor from distilled tomatoes rolling around short dense industrial carpet I slept on afraid but so wanting to touch her. Wooden floors plastic surfboards one and a half inches long punched out from milk cartons by the Weis where my mother never shopped again after the gas leak wasn’t it dangerous the bears all loved their brothers and he woke up wanting to see his rabbit one last time.

Fatal love, love penguin chu tasteless clothes, shirts falling and lies with rubber band rounded edges polished by workers from Lithuania slam dunking basketballs with The Grateful Dead.

Pecan summertime industrial bowling ball couple skate friendship ring Bryan Adams VH1 the chicken pox in Nags Head alone for the first time at thirteen without baby-sitters to flirt with how is everyone looking so grown up to you in middle school though only sixteen. Sex butter fingers rub plastic beads hanging cellular phones people talked tin cans and wires sliding down a sand dune inside a water filled cup with molded figurines from shampoo bottles. Beer dishes and falling out of oven before company came Jewish girls crazy and rolling in grass just a fool.

Saxophone Miles blue hedgehog, hair falls uncurled noodle stall zebra Ridley Scott Justin Bailey fragmented ice hard disk sprawling under fluorescent lights cold unbalanced brick attic rooms.

Sweet salt gravel random zoetrope hunter Russian folk tale domovoi ingrained pearl wood left sigh free despondent maul eight bit five colors three palettes and a promise.

You know love is a happy time. All throughout the...

Brak’s Definition of Love

You know love is a happy time. All throughout the universe.
It’s when the male part of the species goes to the female part of the species and says:
“Hey, do you want to go on a date?”
And then she would say: “Why yes, I’d like to go on a date.”
If you’re LUCKY!-
And then you go to a restaurant, and she gets something called
A salad.
And then he gets a big piece of beef, that he eats.
And that to me ladies and gentlemen, is LOVE.
Kinda makes you cry, doesn’t it?

is one of the seven deadly sins. St. Thomas Aquinas...

Sloth

is one of the seven deadly sins. St. Thomas Aquinas [coincidentally patron of the Catholic parish at UVa] calls it “sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good… [it] is evil in its effect, if it so oppresses man as to draw him away entirely from good deeds.”

At the stroke of the new year in Japan, Buddhist temples all over the country will strike a bell 108 times to signal the end to the old and aid in freeing man from the 108 earthly desires (joya no kane). I’m quite sure something to the effect of sloth is included among them.

It is also perhaps the greatest weakness of mine that drives me to depression and self-loathing.

This weekend I may have set a new record in personal lethargy, or at least disgusting ambivalence. In the last three days I have spent nearly as much or possibly more time in bed than I have showing my visiting friend around Tokyo. It is revolting that I have wallowed in half-consciousness for over thirty hours since Friday. Getting out of bed at two or three with the daylight mostly gone drives me mad. I am doing nothing. I have done nothing. Nothing has been done. And before me lays a seemingly endless trail of barely begun ambitions and much talked about changes in my life. The weight of my failures is demoralizing. And so I sit in my room, clothes and dishes strewn about, tottering between mindless sensory indulgence and thoughts of a thousand frayed ends. What have I done these three days to refine my character, or claim accomplishment for? Nothing.

Perhaps taken in a grander view this is not so significant, except that weekends for me are like smoldering sticks of warmth between relentless, waking marches through futile cold and darkness two and a half times long, marches where accomplishing anything other than my service to the company is an unspoken impossibility. Demanding focus generates fatigue. Fatigue requires rest. Rest requires time, little of which is left from demanding focus. So forty-eight hours a week become a few scant drops of water on a shriveled tongue, drops so important that to not extract every atom of utility from each is a damnable waste. This paucity generates more stress, which breeds desperation and flawed efforts. And so time creeps like a landslide, smearing filth and pestilence over every thing I do, so much of my world is viewed through spotted glasses and stained pillowcases.

And so, though happy to spend this weekend with my friend, I am again pulled a little farther down into frustration and feelings of ineffectuality. So many ways to fix my life falling farther and farther out of focus, leaving deliverance an increasingly obscure concept.

Roughing it

I finally got around to handling some long-term irritants I’ve been battling for quite a while. The first of which is that I bought new glasses, something I’ve been talking about for a year and a half. Retiring this week will be my emerald green Brooks Brothers that I got on my eighteenth birthday freshman year of college. Eight years of use on one pair of frames may not set any records (??), but I think the abuse I’ve subjected these glasses to does.

Currently, the acrylic tips on the sides of the frames are decaying and flaking apart. I attribute some of this to age, and some due to a close encounter with an intense heat source. The lenses in particular are badly damaged, as the antireflection and scratch-resistant coatings have long since worn off. Also at one point I cleaned them with some coarse fiber baby wipe which I mistook for a monitor cleaning cloth. Anyway, if you look at my glasses you probably wonder why I’m not blind. The fact I haven’t updated the prescription in four years is probably not good either.

The upshot is, I dropped about four hundred dollars on two new pair of glasses (one recreational, one professional) to appease both my geek-rock sense and my mother. I capped the lenses on the “professional” pair at one hundred-seventy dollars, which is required mostly because I’m so damn blind that standard lenses would be over half a centimeter thick (this is really quite revolting if you see it), and negate any chic’ I may receive from the lightweight metallic frames. So, an extra one hundred dollars got me from seven millimeters to three, which is a considerable gain, but still a little silly looking on rimless glasses, I think. The frames cost about one hundred-twenty bucks, and are manufactured under the Guess label. I have no doubt these are inferior to the quality of my beloved green specs, but my mother [read: father] was much more well off in 1997 than I am today. So, let’s hope the supplementary cheap ass birth control goggles and my maturing common sense offset the difference.

The root of this post lies in the big announcement (to me) that the PowerShot has gone into the shop (a mere two weeks before warranty expiration) to remove what has been classified as gomi [trash] on the CCD. This apparently is something that happens to digital cameras (disturbingly) quite often, and normally costs eighty dollars to have removed by Canon. The main point of entry for such anomalies appears to be the area around the lens that telescopes for zooming. I suppose I should either get a full hood for the camera or a cheap backup for trips to the beach and areas in high wind. At least it’s nothing terrible I did.

So, for the second January in a row, I am entering into a period of no camera for several weeks, and am already feeling quite handicapped and naked. It was a beautiful blue day, and I missed a couple shots of charming Tokyo architecture and a corpulent tabby. In the meantime I have acquired one of those recyclable idiot cameras. Remember the last time you used one of those? The market saturation of the filmless wonder has beaten the tar out of the once mighty twenty dollar point-and-shoot, and reduced it to a mere $3.98 with a five dollar discount on processing.

I was halfway to taking a picture of it for you until I realized the poignant irony of the situation. In its place I provide you an image from the Fuji Film website.

Smallest ??? in the world.

I take a negligible amount of solace from the candy-like packaging which boasts this is the “smallest in the world*”, though I didn’t bother to look for a note connected to the asterisk, and since there is no direct object associated with the statement I can only speculate as to what, exactly, it is (nonsensical marketing phrase?).

I don’t have time to go into detail at the...

What I did on my winter vacation (continued)

I don’t have time to go into detail at the moment, but true to my youthful impetuousness, here is my “Look Mom, look!” post that really makes no difference whatsoever in the grand scheme of things.

Over the past four days I have:
gone to Akita in the northwestern part of Japan’s main island (Honshu) *
helped make mochi (think of sweet, pounded rice taffy) *
received my third consecutive “Dai Kichi” annual fortune *
eaten many things unmentionable to my mother *
consorted with regional devils *
been nearly blown into the Sea of Japan by gale-force winds *
studied at samurai houses in a castle town *
read halfway through my Japanese history book (to the beginnings of feudalism) *

And now, instead of messing (too much) with the half gig of photographs [260], I will forego the fanboy labor of collecting every possible character and all the ultimate weapons/attacks in Chrono Cross and just beat the damn thing before starting work again.

I’ll put up vacation photographs after a couple minor updates to HTMLGallery this week. In the meantime here are a couple snacks to tide you (me) over.