After working over a hundred hours last week, I...

More medical science

After working over a hundred hours last week, I have developed a rather nasty cold that has made me quite weak. You probably know that on any given weekend I’ll make a list of roughly three dozen things I feel I need to do, and run about like crazy trying to get satisfaction for a “good, productive day off”. However, to add credence to how sick I am, I’ll say that on Sunday I did nothing but sleep on the sofa, by choice, merely turning over and dozing off again after half-awakening from every two hour period of napping in the sweltering new summer heat.

So I’m more or less past the runny nose part of it, and now as I described to the doctor this morning, I “feel like a rock.” I can’t stop coughing either. So I got a twenty dollar bill for the visit and the meds (national healthcare system), and now I’m back at work drinking POM and wishing I was really back in bed, preferably with a lazy cat. I’ve taken the subway both days this week since standing up hurts, and started reading Warriors of Japan As Portrayed in the War Tales by Paul Varley, since I finished Big Sur last week. It’s a very, very dry read and only my passion for the subject matter can keep me into it. It’s a book by a historian, presumedly for other historians, and that’s what it reads like:
ingredients on a cereal box or a George Plimpton PBS transcript.

I’m still wary of always taking Japanese people at the literal meaning of my translations; I find it much safer to err on the side of believing that I very well could be wrong . I’ve had a lot of people (physicians and patients alike) tell me that Japanese people’s constitution is weaker than that of westerners. This
still doesn’t completely make sense to me, but as a result Japanese medicine is generally weaker than its western counterparts, as its application may be too harsh on native digestive systems. On the other side of the coin, however, there is a wealth of eastern (mostly Chinese-derived) natural remedies largely consisting of ground herbs and flowers. I really don’t care what I’m given as long as it’s something. However, receiving care here remains strange and a little scary as the treatments are so different for familiar maladies. Today since I have an irritated throat I was told to breathe into what looked like an old-fashioned oxygen mask, which was hooked to a compressor and saturated my air passages with salty, condensed water vapor. I have, however, been extremely well taken care of diet-wise, and much to my chagrin been eating all the best in Japanese healing foods, namely goya, fish, spinach, tofu, and eel (which is famed for having a similar effect on the male sex drive as oysters).

The incredible, shrinking internet, and a brief...

The incredible, shrinking internet, and a brief summary of first love (part 1)

I’m going to tell you a story. It’s not very short, or very interesting, but it’s a rather personal and self-serving soliloquy, so knowing this you can decide whether to read on or wait until I make another post about bad Japanese English and talking cats.

Ok, fair warning.

When I was in high school, I was probably like most people. I felt extremely confident on a rare occasion, and for the most part worried about what other people thought of me. I took a big swipe out of my nerd factor by ditching my replica Steve Urkel glasses at the end of junior high, scoring both contacts and a night-only retainer. I tried dating because it was something uncharted and interesting, and there were a number of girls on my level with similar feelings. The hormones might of had something to with it too.

So like all nascent attempts at relationships, I went through all the bad kissers and hand-holders before I got to my first love. Now love at seventeen is quite a different thing from love at twenty-five (especially if there is a lot of other failed love in between), but don’t tell that to anyone seventeen or they’ll just tune you out and go back to listening to “The Joshua Tree”. It just so happened that right before my seventeenth birthday the girl down the street that I had adored forever broke up with me because she couldn’t return the intensity and passion I was bubbling over with. It crushed me and it was everything I could do to not to ruin my long list of extra curricular activities from the sorrow. Among other things, I was in charge of writing and directing a skit for the homecoming pep rally as it was, and I had a contingent of very dutiful freshmen girls playing the roles of spirited TJ cheerleaders A, B, and C. As it was C had other obligations (so she said) and feeling especially sorry for my plight, introduced me to a replacement, who was equally supportive of my emotional malaise (and even cuter).

And that’s how I met Mari, with whom I had the most sorted, passionate, and crazy relationship ever. I’m sure that being seventeen and in love for the first time was a big part of it, but to her credit I’d still say that she is the most spirited and loving person I’ve ever met.

We had all the trappings of a textbook high school love story, with some extra drama thrown in for good measure. Up until this point I’d always been a straight-A shooter and had no reason to even need time-based restrictions. But now I had my Charger, and everyday I wanted to be with Mari more than anything else. So either she and I were hanging out at my house and perpetually ten minutes late for her curfew, or I was wrapped up with her on the sofa at her house and two hours late for mine (much to the consternation of my father). He may or may not have disliked her, but it probably was mostly that he didn’t like the things I did because of her. It was always third gear and swinging around the curves north of town, godammit how could we be late again?! Her mother and father separated shortly after we started seeing each other, so I didn’t have to worry too much about all those half-jokes about him having a gun. But her mother was pretty good at getting angry, and that was never helpful for fitting in with the family.

Though we took her little brother and sister trick-or-treating around her house, our first real date was to go see Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in Romeo and Juliet. I was late picking her up in a really bad green and white Structure cotton sweater, having gotten thoroughly lost driving my calculus tutor home, with whom I didn’t really even study calculus (I just talked about Mari). [His name was Geoff, but he made the big mistake of telling us that some people called him “Ug”, due to his stunning full beard and stout, caveman-like posture. He grew incredibly bitter after we tried so hard (good-naturedly) to set him up with a date for prom, because he thought we were making fun of him. He went to Carnegie Mellon and left the year before I got there. I think he was in the robotics club.] Mari was understandably upset, but I think she got over it quickly enough because I really don’t remember seeing the second half of the movie.

The first time we kissed actually was at my seventeenth birthday party, the first of four great celebrations I would throw my senior year of high school. She unabashedly adored me with all her heart, and I think I was just incredibly dense because it didn’t sink in at all until we were outside and pressed against the brick wall of my house with sparks flying. She gave me a black leather belt (as I only had one that was brown), which I had to get my dad to drill holes in for me because I was (am) so thin.

Those first couple of weeks seemed like quite a long period, probably because it was the most I was ever with one person on an daily basis. Homecoming was in November, and she looked more beautiful than any high school girl show ever be allowed to. We weren’t a bad couple actually, because at that time I still got sleep and a regular diet and it showed in my grooming. I bought her a yellow corsage for her emerald green dress, and I received a white carnation on my father’s navy blazer. We danced to a terrible DJ, but Oasis’ “Wonderwall” made the night and I can’t remember being happier than driving home with her hand on top of mine on top of that worn, vinyl gearshift.

sleep( 500 );

Indiscretions, privacy, and things not to Google...

Indiscretions, privacy, and things not to Google for at work

Since my old cellphone is just about to be taken off of life support, I’ve given up hope of retrieving my precious data from its oxidized circuitry. The number of people I can’t get information via second or third degree numbers is quite few, so to make the best of it I decided to request a call log for the last month. If I remember correctly, this sort of information comes standard with monthly telephone bills in the US. However, here you have to pay a dollar and jump through some hoops, and it was a pain until I understood why.

There was a story, not urban myth, fact about a man who received a speeding ticket on the highway via one of the government’s placed monitoring cameras. Cameras such as these would photograph cars that moved between points A and B under a within a certain time period deemed speeding, such that their license plates could be used as proof in court to uphold the accusation. However, this particular man happened to be in a convertible with a female “friend” who was not his wife, and the photograph was mailed to his home along with the ticket, evidence towards the inevitability that he needed to cough up the cash. Of course the wife opened the mail and saw the photograph, so the man got into trouble worth considerably much more than a few hundred dollars. Ergo for the invasion of his “privacy”, the man sued the government, got the ticket overturned and may or may not have exacted an additional settlement (possibly equivalent to a set of monthly alimony payments).

So this set a precedent, and henceforth all those fancy highway cameras made specifically for catching speeders were obviated and inadmissible. To put it succinctly, Japan is a country that (like the France) greatly respects a person’s personal privacy. This is nice if you’re the man in the convertible, but it’s a pain in the ass if you’re taking photographs of buildings at a university (as I am wont to do), and there’s the chance people could end up in them. Privacy is an incredibly big deal here when it comes to personally identifying information, and so this week’s gauntlet to obtain my own data involves a mailed consent form with my custom sigil, and copy of my ID, just so I can get the number of a friend I called last Tuesday. Privacy legislation: good for affairs, bad for artists.

I’m not sure why, I can’t even remember where it’s from, but the phrase “cock gobblers” jumped into my mind yesterday. I think I was playing the Oracle of Bacon in the IMDb with Seann William Scott. Anyway, I got halfway to opening a new tab in Firefox at which point I realized the rain of pop-unders, etc. I’d bring down on myself in the already uncomfortable atmosphere of work, and thought better of it.

[Though not falling on anyone’s Oscar list, I have always found Intersection to be an satisfingly well done film for its cinematography, Mercedes, rainy mountain roads, and Richard Gere. (Who’s a really big deal here.)]

m_NextState = State;

in case I don’t (which isn’t likely,...

My phone knows where I am…

in case I don’t (which isn’t likely, but interesting nonetheless). After years of teenage action movies pushing the geek appeal of basic electrical science via position triangulation, my new phone has done what privacy lobbyists have always decried, and now I know where I was. Actually, if I get really drunk or something and wonder where my cash went, I guess my phone can help out there (assuming I still have it in working condition at that point).

When I went to Enoshima on Sunday, my laziness and occasional violent lack of responsibility erupted with a cell phone immersed quickly in sea water (to clean off sand). Now, I _know_ full well what happens when water and electricity come together, especially with devices running a tiny amount current comparable to that used in high precision transistors. BUT, I was a little tipsy, and like I said, I just didn’t give a damn. It’s really remarkable how lazy and indifferent I can be at times.

In any case, the phone doesn’t turn on anymore, and the best it can manage is a feeble flickering of the yellow (incoming mail) LEDs. But this phone is nearly three years old and was on the way out anyway after being dropped from a speeding vehicle. BUT none of my emails, phone numbers, or (worst of all) pictures were backed up, primarily because the phone was so old it was virtually impossible to do so. Anyway, I went out Monday and got a new phone. I was going to get the free (en vogue six months ago) one, because the design was kinda neat, and it was orange. But, I compared a photograph it took of a plant in the Vodafone store with one from the brand new stuff, and that was a death sentence for my normally frugal and spartan ways. So I plunked down ninety dollars (heavily discounted since I hadn’t changed my phone in so long), and got a brand spanking new lime green Sharp 603 that came out last week.

Out with the old, in with the new.

This phone is of the stuff that fuels the still burning lust of Americans for something other than the chinsy, five-year old, antiquated electronics we all have to put up with. It not only receives television and FM radio, but RECORDS them to an SD memory card. It has a weather indicator, motion sensor (you can play 3D golf by swinging the phone like a club), and (of course) karaoke [version 2!] application which ranks your tone-centric prowess. The graphics via Java are pushing 3D, and to show it off the phone comes with a copy of House of the Dead, which uses the motion sensor for turning and reloading (you physically rotate to turn around in the game, and swing the phone over your shoulder to reload). The main selling point for me though was of course the camera, which is two megapixels and has a 2x optical zoom. This puts it almost on par with my dearly departed first generation Casio Exilim. Though I would appreciate some white balance control, the optical zoom is nice. I’ll take a couple sample shots in the next couple of days and post them for benchmarks.

While making the requisite ATM trip to get a crisp 10,000 yen note for my purchase, I was reminded of a poster in the basement of my (very rich) neighbor’s house back in Frederick which had a set of exotic sports cars lined up in a garage by the ocean, with a tagline that said “Justification for higher education.” All the taillights of the cars had little red LEDs in them so the poster lit up at night. This in turn always reminds me of my grade school friend Jeff’s dad (a very prosperous nuclear power plant manager in the 80s) who had a similar poster of a Countach bearing the well-known adage, “The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” Since I rarely have the opportunity to buy (let alone the time to use) anything more sophisticated than a new phone, I guess this is just further evidence to the fact that I still fall into that latter category. The greater proof is that I actually ponder things like this.

In bed this morning it was hard to wake up. It...

Surf Wax America

In bed this morning it was hard to wake up. It seemed so much that I’d just be staying there all morning, maybe playing Lunar 2 until mid-afternoon. Then lightning struck my brain and I got up. I got up and noticed it was a hot, lovely day. And what do we do when we manage to get up before nine on a hot and lovely day? We go to the beach of course!

The sea is foaming like a bottle of beer
The wave is coming but I ain’t got no fear
I’m waxing down so that I’ll go real fast
I’m waxing down because it’s really a blast
I’m going surfin’ cos I don’t like your face
I’m bailing out because I hate the race
Of rats that run round and round in the maze
I’m going surfing, I’m going surfing!

I put on Weezer’s Blue album and tried to get as much Jimmy Buffet into the Rio as possible. Of course my hasty departure was stymied by technology. No living AA batteries in the house, too many AAA. So I cannibalized the stereo remote and fought through half a dozen laptop shutdowns due to overheating and got out by ten, and so onto the 10:28 Odakyu rapid express for Enoshima. I was debating Kamakura or Edo gawa-ku’s Rinkai Kouen, but Kamakura won as the last time I went to Rinkai the water was unnaturally warm and the industrial haze of Tokyo seemed a little too close. So, I got the Odakyu free pass and headed for Enoshima. The brochure I got at the travel counter says that the beach is only open in the summer, which I think is the lamest thing, because it’s not like I’m going to raise Cain in June. Hopefully I’ll be able to find some oceanfront spot to unwind, since I’m just one guy and the man has better things to do than hassle me reading Kerouac and listening to the waves. My rule of thumb is if it’s hot enough to sweat, it’s hot enough tot go to the beach. Though the water is most probably ice-ass cold. [It actually wasn’t so terrible, which may in itself be a bad sign.] But that’s what us polar bears are good at, right?

One of my favorite summer songs is Hajime Chitose’s “Wadatsumi no Ki“. The first time I heard it Nobue and I were laying on the beach at Shirahama, under a bamboo umbrella talking about our parents, the Beatles, and love. But that’s summer: rock, surf, love, and expectations. Two people (unemployed students) have asked me what I’m doing for the summer. “What I’m doing?”! Working! Still, it would seem that easier days are to come.

The game will be done very soon, and in about four weeks I have short holiday. Hawaii, Hong Kong, Europe… who knows but I’m out of here (though I’ll probably only know where at the last possible minute). Ten consecutive days in July, five in August. October I’m going home for about a week, mostly to be the best man in Brandon‘s wedding.

Yeah, but now I’m gettin’ old, don’t wear underwear
I don’t go to church and I don’t cut my hair
But I can go to movies and see it all there
Just the way that it used to be

If you were ever a teenage boy, you might have a song or two that was played with the expressed purpose of instigating reckless driving. Not that you’re consciously trying to bring harm to damage to anyone, but you know there are times when you’re seventeen and something incredibly tormenting is beating your soul and there’s no better panacea than downshifting into second and hearing the tires scream around a winding mountain curve as the tachometer jumps into the orange. Driving, and I mean really driving, not commuting in a sedan, is like a shooter of physical adulation and speed, all with yourself. The car is a limb, and a muscle, a part of your body you use in concert with the others, straining against limits of sinew and steel, throbbing and throttling for the rush of excessive physical forces. It’s sex like that I’ve been celibate from for five, long, years; since I rolled my Charger over in a ditch on Christmas Eve. Now all I have left are the albums, and my song is “Sleep” by Nada Surf.

I try to open my eyes to the days going by
But the trash in everything it keeps me hypnotized
I’m hypnotized
I got the poison in me but it’s amplified

It’s like Mikiko said about daddies and mommies. They go to the beach and be daddies, no matter what their life is like on Monday, or what kind of beer gut they have. — “Peoples is peoples.” Ever since I saw “The Muppets Take Manhattan“, I’ve always used Pop’s logic to explain even the most uncomfortable of situations.

Big city, hmm? Live. Work, huh? But. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples. Okay?

[This entry took a lot of cleaning up as I got sweet and thoroughly drunk on a “treat bag” of beers and chu-hi, and “dozed off” in the sun a couple times between playing in the water and reading Big Sur.]

As you can see (provided you haven’t given...

And we’re back…

As you can see (provided you haven’t given up on me), I have returned. Well, the site has. I was ousted from my cuddly free hosting, quite abruptly sometime last week, but I finally forked over the hard earned dollars to support my digital presence, and here we are. You probably won’t see any differences for a while, though I’m toying with the idea of making use of all the gizmos and services I have with this new account. So, if I have the time and inclination I could either start having this site pay for itself, presumably via things I make, or I may begin running a community bulletin board for special interests (I’m thinking there’s a lack of English-language matsuri information on the web).

In any case, things should be faster and more reliable now, as they well should for ninety-five bucks.

Unrelated, but it seems that if you’re my friend and not currently married, you probably will be before the year is out. Just noticing a trend. ^^;;

I’m currently enjoying the wonderful American...

On hold and homesick

I’m currently enjoying the wonderful American phenomenon of being on hold for customer service. If they’re not going to have staff to take calls at 7:30am PST they should say so, but in any case I’m paying for a toll free number (net2phone), and forced to listen to an AM quality stream of mellow US hits, and it’s making me so homesick I could die. I’m also chatting with my friend Sandra, who after a year of school at Syracuse is transferring to UW. The icing on the cake is that she’s planning a drive across America, and the mental images are just about to crush me.

Imagine has just ended and now I get to hear a lo-fi version of With or Without You. I’m not paying for this anymore (though you won’t be reading this until I do because I haven’t gotten web hosting set up thanks to my overly protective credit card supplier).

Ok, after fifteen minutes of being on hold, I got to talk to the guy with the greatest damn attitude in the whole world. I really mean it, the he was a goodamn Robert Urich. Anyway, things should be back up soon.

It felt strange riding in to work today. There...

This morning

It felt strange riding in to work today. There were almost no cars on Yamate dori up until Rt. 246. It was quiet, and I felt disconnected from the ground, like my head was coasting by in jar of cotton. I do things and there are reactions. My hand sweeps through wheat and over the rough brick walls. Every detail is caught and absorbed by my fingers. Everything is moving, like a in a vacuum, and I just slowly pass through it and bend the trajectory of objects drifting past. I think I want to fall down at the ocean.

And the pitch swells through the darkness, running...

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the empty skies, my love,
To the dark and the empty skies.

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
And felt your heart beat close to mine
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love
That was there at my command.

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love
It would last till the end of time my love

The first time ever I saw your face, your face,
your face, your face

And the pitch swells through the darkness, running behind trees always following alongside, whether I’m looking at the ground or the sky, for dead trees or unborn stars. Dancing– jumping– over ferns and through gullies, I surge and race forward, always with an angel of me on my wings that I deny and embrace and hope to someday consume.

In my semi-serious competition with Brandon to attend more professional baseball games this season, I went to another Swallows game this afternoon. Actually, I just like baseball and the park, though I think I’ve decided I like night games a lot more because there’s far less sunburn and far more inclination to enjoy beer. Unfortunately most games are played in the blaring sunshine, and Jingu yakyuu-ba (baseball stadium) has the outfield seats facing south (for whose benefit I’m not quite sure), so we end up getting baked in the open seating section. I did, however, realize today after leaving the game I’ve been paying fifty percent too much for my tickets, since outfield tickets are ten dollars, and I’ve always been paying fifteen for the baseline seats and just never used them. ^^;; Lesson learned; read the signs dufus. We did, however, actually win today (barely) over the inept expansion team Rakuten (an online shopping site) Golden Eagles, whose team batting average seemed to hover around .220. The Swallows have a unique victory ceremony I have yet divine its origin. After scoring a run everyone breaks out miniature green transparent umbrellas for some sort of chant. I liken this to the routine singing of the “Good Ole Song”* after scoring a touchdown at a Virginia football game. Since baseball is to a great degree a family affair here, there is obviously far less insobriety and random body parts popping out of sun dresses. [Sorry, my nose is badly burned and I’m a bit woozy.]

I think I logged some kind of distance record on my bike this week, because not only did I ride to work and back every day (returning in pouring rain twice mind you), I also went out to Kagurazaka and back (in the pouring rain again) yesterday, as well as the baseball game, IN ADDITION to yet another trip out to Sendagaya tonight for dinner. But I’m starting to wonder how valid all those justifying ergonomic seat rumors are for, ah, even distribution of pressure on important muscles requiring good circulation.

I noticed on the way back from the game that parts of the Meiji Outer Garden had streets blocked off for the sole purpose of training children how to ride bicycles safely on the road. A large number of tykes were wheeling around with and without training wheels in a small, penned off area replete with small traffic cones to simulate lanes (or a slalom). It was pretty cool, and a good idea now that I think about it.

While writing this post I have come to realise that I have completely worn through my copy of Ferry Corsten’s original Trance Nation Disc Two, as it is skipping and stuttering uncontrollably. Brandon, if you’re reading this I need a new copy. ^^;;

That good ole’ song of Wahoo-wah,
we’ll sing it o’er and o’er,
it cheers our hearts and warms our blood to hear them shout and roar.
We come from old VIRGINIA,
where all is bright and gay.
Let’s all join hands and give a yell for dear old UVa.
Wahoo-wah, Wahoo-wah, Univ-Virginia
Hoo-rah-ray, Hoo-rah-ray, -ray! -ray! U-V-A!