“There are terrorists planning to assasinate...

All the energy you need, 24 hours a day

“There are terrorists planning to assasinate a presidential candidate. My wife and daughter are in danger and the people that I work with may be involved in both. I’m Federal agent Jack Bauer and this is the longest day of my life…”

…so I need a quick, great-tasting supplement to help me fight bad guys all day long– something like Calorie Mate.

Entertaining miscellany for the locksmith and horticulturist...

Entertaining miscellany for the locksmith and horticulturist

I have to do tackle some PR stuff before bed, but I’ve been putting off a “Hey, look at my kids!” kind of entry for a while, so here’s a quick update on my lovely children.

This year, in addition to the mustard greens and mint that survived the winter, I’ve planted mini-carrots and edamame, which essentially are a kind of soybean commonly eaten steaming hot on a the summer afternoon with really cold draft beer. I can’t explain how wonderful this is. Below you can see both making their way through the soil last week, provided you have really good eyes. I would have put up bigger pictures but I figured it wasn’t worth blowing the bandwidth on hi-res baby pictures of green follicles.

From the wider shots you can my three boxes laid out of my lovely southern-facing window, with the obligatory marigolds to supposedly ward off hungry neighborhood insects. Next to the yellow marigolds is what I call “mystery plant A”, since I didn’t conscientiously install this but it’s doing fantastic on its own. The current theory is that this is the result of a really hardcore seed that I planted last year that never amounted to anything. So something could have germinated, sprouted, died, laid low, and now has decided to come back in full force. I was going to tear it up and use the real estate for some other vegetable, but it’s gotten so big in the last two weeks I think it’s past the point where I can do such a thing in clear conscience. Personally, I find this a wonderful new perspective for my views about abortion. In any case, if you asked me what I thought it is, I’d say either pansies or oregano, but probably the latter since it hasn’t blossomed yet.

In the third box from the left (which receives the most sun), we have a wonderful return of my spearmint from last season, facilitated mostly by some prudent pruning a couple weekends ago. I got rid of all the dead stuff and cauterized ends from prior clippings, and then cleaned out all the dried-up leaves and cherry blossoms. It’s now doing fantastic and already harvestable. Judging from how things went last year, I’m sure I’ll have more than I know what to do with before too long. As you can see it’s grown from the far right, where I sowed the seeds initially, all the way to the other end of the box, essentially making a carpet of mint beneath the mustard green-canopied forest.

Speaking of the mustard greens, you can see how ridiculous this situation has become. Until the end of March, the two stalks I had coming out were still the same peak height they reached last season, about eight to ten inches. However, since we got that warm snap right around the beginning of April, they poured the juice they’d saved all winter into vertical growth (much like everything else in Tokyo for lack of horizontal space), and now are at an astonishing four feet tall. I cannot explain how weird this is. They grew not only up beyond the top of the window and to the roof’s overhang, but AROUND it, reaching past the rain gutter and sprouting yellow flowers unto the loving sun. As amazing and proud a parent I am, I’m almost certain that it’ll end up choking itself to death in the tiny pot. I’m sure the soil beneath it is a solid block of roots as it is. If only I had some organic-based, first floor real estate and Noah Wyle to assist in a transplant (sic).

On the west side of the house we see “mystery plant B” which is making an equally endearing rush for life in a pot formerly dedicated to my ill-fated keitou. Though this pot is really meant for something taller and more grand, again, I can’t bring myself to taking life vainly in the name of more attractive blossoms. A garnish of some sort, dark green grass seems to be growing alongside this leafy upstart. You may also notice my Christmas tree, Koji II, still appearing happy to be outdoors and have the sun. Pictures of the spider plant twins will come later, they were just moved into new homes yesterday.

Lastly, I’ve provided a little look at my poor 2003 Enjoy, which in recent days, in addition to a rusting out basket has recently suffered another blow to its ego in the form of a broken wheel lock. This was done by my own hand; as you may remember I lost the key the week before while on a drunken tour of misdemeanors. I thought it would be a lot harder to break the lock, and almost carried it a shop to pay fifteen bucks for a new one, but disturbingly enough all it took was about half a dozen wacks with my dollar-hammer to make the hasp catch and the lock spring open. No wonder so many bikes are stolen. This procedure wasn’t completely without misfortune though as I was performing the operation at about half past eight and apparently woke up my neighbor who sleeps right behind the wall where I tether my steed. Although it was pretty rude on my part, I did have a hard time not laughing when he threw open the window and said in the best groggy-old-guy-anime’-voice ever, “Douyattennoooo?!?” (Whatthehellaaredoing?!)

Watch me crawl into my shell and only very rarely...

Like a fiddler crab

Watch me crawl into my shell and only very rarely pop out a claw and take a playful swipe.

The thing about being poor and working all the time is that it’s a great deterrent for getting drop-dead drunk and making a classical ass of oneself. One of my very good friends turning 29 pushed me over the line though last night, and any number of minor laws involving revelry and debasement were fractured. The highlight, for me, was stumbling around the capitol with a bagful of Draft Ones jumping up and down emphatically and incoherently screaming Blue Hearts songs at the top of my lungs. [Where the hell were the police?] The low point had to have been carrying my damn bike and fifteen other things the mile and a half home from our last bar since I lost the key.

It’s been a long time, and judging by the headache I have now, it will be a long time before this happens again. But such is life.

PS – I’m starting to get good at making random girls on the train smile.

Go ahead you laugh all you want
I got my philosophy
(It keeps my feet on the ground)
And I trust it like the ground
That’s why my philosophy
Keeps me walking when I’m falling down

I got kind of excited about halfway through and...

I was going somewhere with this I swear

I got kind of excited about halfway through and was hoping to match up the feeling in my mind with the shot, but it fell apart as I got tired, and I’m so cranky now I don’t want to screw with it anymore.

So here is just a little example of something that died on the operating room table. For every shot that I end up remotely satisfied with and put in a collection, twenty are trashed like this, and about three hundred never even have a chance to be born.

This probably has nothing at all to do with the...

Just a coincidence

This probably has nothing at all to do with the fact I work in a real office now, with a real kitchen and real fluorescent lights, partitions, etc., but today I found myself somewhat instinctively actually making a pot of coffee. Yes, I put in the filter, added the grounds, poured some water in the back thingy and watched the machine steam while wondering if I was about to set the building on fire.

But nothing exploded. There were no disastrous spills or ecumenical repercussions. And the really scary thing is, it even tasted normal. I have no idea how many scoops of brown stuff go with how much water, but it wasn’t half bad.

However, since I have made a habit of seldom-spoken, mild disappointment in all the “caffeine junkies” that share my supposed demographic, I’m sure this will be short-lived. Tomorrow I’ll be back to strictly eastern tea and water, resuming my healthy eccentric superiority. Probably.


Rain and streets and moving and the quiet April...

Rain and streets and moving and the quiet April you forget

My company moved last week. Which is to say, we moved it. Friday and Saturday were spent hauling boxes and quadruple-checking tattered Excel printouts itemizing “chair 19” and “hardware debugger 6”. We now have a place about two or three times the size of the last, a real “office” this time with the name on the door and everything, network cables snaking under a removable floor like so many lost subway tunnels full of rats or slime or Carpathian overlords. I have more room, and now no neighbor except for the scanner PC, which is hardly ever used and so my obese, cotton cat drapes itself morbidly across the carcinogenic pallor of early 90s beige PC mold.

But we have a men’s room, and a river view, and a subway ride full of suits in the morning. I’m just beginning to enjoy my right-of-passage run through the true nexus of a juggernaut economy and a four-million standing army of attache’ carrying wingtips.

Go back to childhood, just eat apples and read your Cathechism– sit on curbstones, the hell with the hot lights of Hollywood.

We are now a mere thirty days away from the public announcement (assumedly via Famitsu) of our grand, belabored epic, and to celebrate we had canned chu-hi and Square Enix wine last night. This bottle was given to us by the producer of Vagrant Story (Yasumi Matsuno), who is in turn managing the slowly rising behemoth, Final Fantasy XII. I half expected to open the bottle and have the cap trip over a pin-prick music box rendition of some Uematsu standard. Instead, we were greeted with something that smelled much like several unsavoury summonable gods and unfortunately did not age as well as the title whose name it bore. Nonetheless I knocked Dixie cups with my boss and our president chorused a request for my support on the inevitable American version.

Why can’t I be only mildly enthusiastic about games so leaving them is that much easier?

mmPlIdx.AddKey( nTime, -1 );

The paradox of existence and contradiction of the...

The paradox of existence and contradiction of the self

I have just returned from lunch and a short spell of contemplation. The very fact that I am writing this now is a contradiction of what I just considered, but I have decided to indulge myself for a few minutes.

This town, which I will soon leave, is like everything else and undergoing change. The last year and a half have seen some considerable construction and rezoning near the tracks just west of the station, and a small bridge which I used to stand on an look into the sunset is no longer there. Dirt paths have been replaced with asphalt roads and new housing. As I sat on the soon-to-be-opened tarmac, my face again looking west, I received the glistening sun and a small amount of edification.

For the most part I focused on breathing, and afterwards considering the paths to taming my unrest and opening the way forward. However, it was after coming to some given conclusions that I discovered the deeper meaning. My thoughts went something like this,

I wish I had my Palm and a keyboard to write down my thoughts, these are really good.
Because I would like to put them in my blog.
Why would you put them in your blog?
Because that way people who know me will know what I’m thinking, what my life is like… to express myself.
Why do you have to express yourself?
Because it validates my existence and makes me feel fulfilled and secure.
Your existence is not validated if it occurs without expression? Are you not still here whether you write this down to show someone or not?
Well, I would exist, and my life would go on regardless. I suppose these things happen whether I record them or not.
But it helps me remember where I’ve been, if I record these things.
You may forget the individual words, but you will still be changed by the events and the contemplation. You cannot alter how repetition and experience will affect your growth. Just being here makes the most difference.
I suppose that’s right.
So needing to express yourself to feel secure and validated really is quite a trivial thing, yes?
And if it brings further strain and urgency into your life by doing it at a place when you have no time for it; it is even more unnecessary.
. .. …
…Wait, but me agreeing that expressing myself is trivial and largely unnecessary is a pretty bold statement to make considering how much of my energy and pleasure is derived from photography, which is built more on expression than anything else.

It was more satisfying and eloquent than that, but of course I’ve already forgotten most of the words. Still, you get the idea. And although it would seem I haven’t taken this to heart by nature of my current exposition, I would maintain that I have. _Valuable_ change comes gradually.

From the second chapter…

It is said that much sake, self-pride and luxury are to be avoided by a samurai. There is no cause for anxiety when you are unhappy, but when you become a little elated, these three things become dangerous. Look at the human condition. It is unseemly for a person to become prideful and extravagant when things are going well. Therefore, it is better to have some unhappiness while one is still young, for if a person does not experience some bitterness, his disposition will not settle down. A person who becomes fatigued when unhappy is useless.

Ok, I feel a little better about my mood last night. I understand the motivation, and while the feelings are valid to some extent, I derive nothing from reiterating something that you (and I) already know all too well. As the commander says to Vader at the beginning of Return of the Jedi, “We shall redouble our efforts.

if ( !m_bOldStyle )

Yes, when I think in this manner I do indeed refer to myself as “you”. [Wow.]

Hold on just one damn minute! It was just ten clicks...

Yes. No. Yes.

What happened to then?
We passed it.
Just now.

Hold on just one damn minute! It was just ten clicks ago and I was adding the “mar” link into the blog template and now I have to frickin’ do it again, to “apr”?! This is ridiculous. If ever a month was lost on seemingly nothing, kiss goodbye the third lunar cycle of 2005. The previous five weeks are just a gaping void of reason for me to get uncharacteristically indignant and pissed off.

For those that want to know every detail of my life, here’s the last eight hundred and forty hours, in no significant order.

work *
have someone visit me I hardly noticed was here (this may be a conspiracy) *
through some hole in the fabric of time, start dating again, barely *

I’m not joking, that’s it. And the only reason I mention the last two at all is because if I didn’t, I’d probably offend someone. It’s really just this one-dimensional (shakes piece of cardboard and recalls the “gateway to hell” explanation from Event Horizon).

I’m a little too burned out and overwhelmed...

Uninteresting status updates

I’m a little too burned out and overwhelmed to write anything other than a laundry list of assorted details in my life, though it may not make a difference as my web hosting supposedly expires tomorrow and I’m waiting on credit card verification so I can migrate all of this lovely mess to a server which I have no idea as to its actual physical location. If you can’t get to the site for a couple days, don’t run away screaming or think I’ve died or something. It’s just migration (which is popular in many forms this time of year).

My company is changing offices this week, so I lose another weekend, but instead of bug fixes I’ll be ripping and folding cardboard boxes. We have some sort of blessing by a priest on Wednesday at the new place, if it’s not too indecent I might take some pictures. In any case starting next week I’ll be physically closer to my home, but the commute will actually be a lot more of a pain. I may just end up riding my bicycle half the time.

Speaking of my poor bicycle (which is the subject of a top secret project I’ve been cooking up, only secret because I have no time to work on it), I was pulled over for the first time EVER in Japan on Friday night. The problem apparently was that I didn’t have my light turned on, and this is unsafe, or illegal in some very minor way. So I had a nice conversation with my neighborhood patrolman (I’m not being sarcastic, law enforcement officers here are friendly, jovial, and half the time a little portly). But it was a quaint little chat. Turns out the cop was the same age as me (something I still can’t rationalize in my mind as I honest to God still instinctively see myself as a juvenile), and we traded the traditional foreigner topics of conversation, do I like Japan, can I eat raw fish, etc. I had my information taken down (for community safety reasons supposedly); I’m sure some crazy nuts would love to start screaming about authoritarian governments and the human right to anonymity etc., etc., but it’s not like the government doesn’t know I exist anyway. And if it helps me get ID’d faster when I fall off my roof hanging carp-shaped windsocks, great.

I went to the first hanami (cherry blossom viewing party) of the season on Saturday, which was actually a matchmaking event for unmarried singles (average age about thirty-nine). It was nice, and I got to relax a little with my friend Yamamoto-san, who’s been doing his best to support my professional endeavours lately.

There was something else I was going to say, but I’m pretty damn tired and have to once again make a pitiful attempt at cleaning my poor house (either after midnight or before seven a.m.) tomorrow, in addition to preparing my window box gardens for the spring season. I have unofficial goals of a 100% increase in production of tasty, organic vegetables this year so I best be planting.

Oh, I started reading Big Sur for about the fourth time, splicing it together with my samurai proverbs, mainly because the degenerative slide experienced by Kerouac is not so different from my life right now. (Constant drinking: check. Swelling general distrust of people: check. Lack of foreseeable success: check.)

Ah, yes! The chuckle of the day is that the new business card proofs just came in and now I carry a “Senior Class” moniker under my title of Software Engineer, which seems to mean that I’ve survived for two years, so I carry some enhanced level of dignity/responsibility/authority perhaps? I bet your business card doesn’t say that. [Actually it probably says “executive” or “manager” or something to that effect by now.]

You know, I’m well-acquainted with all the ridiculous ego-pushing politics that come with job titles, and I’ve overheard enough obnoxious, phony conversations at trade conferences to absolutely loathe and revile business cards. What I’ll do is, if you don’t scare the living daylights out of me, is just take your picture with my cell phone so I can remember your name later until we actually become friends. All that industrial self-worth nonsense is just that– one more thing for people to push on folks they meet to feel important. What do I do? I make video games (and very little else). How exactly am I doing that? I make the screen light up. That’s all there really is to say. [Don’t be surprised, I told you I was reading Kerouac again.]