Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Chrismas!

Isn't it? Wouldn't know over here, it's just business as usual. Turned on the TV and didn't see a single Santa, snow flake, chrismas tree or anything to indicate it was actually christmas. Stopped in at the supermarket on the way home to pick up a few things. They have a huge tree out the front, and they've been playing christmas carols for a while now, but otherwise nothing especially christmasy, no "meli kulisumasu" katakana-english equivalent of Merry Christmas from the checkout girls or anything. Not that I feel the need to have a winge about it or anything, I don't really care, but I've been asked what christmas is like in Japan, so here's something similar to what might be an average Japanese take on christmas:

Santa-san lives in Scandanavia, or somewhere in Northern Europe.
On Christmas eve he sneaks into your bedroom while you're sleeping and leaves a present on your pillow for you.
On christmas day you can look forward to a romantic dinner with your partner, after work.
No, it's not a public holiday.
Yes, shops and businesses are open as usual.
No, they're not particularly crowded, and nor were they on Christmas eve.

I have my own Santa costume which I will don this evening to impersonate the fat happy chappy himself and try to give Tyler a little bit of fanatasy to enjoy while he's young enough to believe it. So however you spend you're day, have a nice time, and have a "beli meli kulisumasu!"

Saturday, December 20, 2003

snow!

It's amazing, the weather doesn't make gradual transitions here, one day it's kinda cold, the next day it's dumping with snow, right here in sanda! Woke up this morning because I was too cold, despite the mountain of fleecy blankets and doonas I was sleeping under, and after fighting the reality of the fact that I'm not going to be able to get back to sleep I thrust open the curtains to reveal a scene that confirmed my suspicians - a white christmas wonderland! The thing I love most about Japan is the increadably accurate weather forecasts. Still dumping down out there, it's great. Took some pics, but I can just never be bothered uploading any to my geocities page, and blogger doesn't host images for you, I don't think.

Holidays! It's good, good, oh yes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

streaming tunes

Found a cool site full of streaming music - Digitally Imported. Get winamp if you haven't allready got it, or the X Multimedia System XMMS if you're using a real OS and enjoy!

miserable failure

he he he... this is too funny, or just plain stupid - at the time of this posting the first result from google when searching for "miserable failure" is a very prominant and interesting person, who would have us believe that he's anything but a failure. check it out The most hilarious thing about it is that the page itself is a .gov! It's official then.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Anpan Man pachinko game

Although Tyler's bday was actually last monday, we got all the family together for a celebration on the weekend. It was actually a weekend event - arrived sat arvo, stayed until late sat night while most of the relos stayed at Misaki's parents' house and waited for us to return the next day for lunch. Tyler got a horde of presents, nearly all with a Thomas the Tank Engine theme except for the Anpan Man pachinko machine someone gave him. (seriously! it's very realistic...) I've never played the real thing, but from the kids version it seems that Pachinko is nothing more than a vertical pinball machine with a few minor differences. Firstly the objective is actually to sink the balls into different sections of the board, and secondly, instead of only having one ball in play at a time, they're launched in a constant stream with a dial on the front which allows you to vary the velocity of the balls and thusly aim them towards the different goals. It's actually quite entrancing, but it must take a special kind of person to spend a day in a Pachinko parlour immersed in a white wall of cacophanous sound, flashing lights and a think plume of cigarette smoke. Not behaviour I'd encourage in Tyler. Anyway, it's cold and we're running late today, so gotta go do the salary man thing...

Monday, December 08, 2003

Shirahama

We spent the weekend at Shirahama, a healthy 2 1/2 hours away by train. It was great. Saturday we began our adventures by taking a tour in a glass bottomed boat. Shirahama is a really nice ocean town, and the scenery is beautiful. We then went to some amazing cliffs and got very close and personal with some huge waves surging into an ancient cave which looked to have been inhabited by a community of boat building samurai sea farers, although it was difficult to get any conclusive information. Next we took a plunge below the waves in a funky observation tower which lets you walk around on the sea floor and observe the local marine inhabitants. Saw a few fish and stuff. Tyler went crazy and just started running around the bottom of the tower in circles. After checking into our hotel it was time for the main attraction - a traditional japanese hot spring. We booked a family onsen, so we wouldn't have to be seperated as is the custom with the public baths. It was really nice - outdoors, night time, natural surroundings, and the bath itself was chiselled out of a sandstone boulder. I really enjoyed my first onsen experience with Misaki and Tyler.
We arose on Sunday and began with a huge buffet breakfast before heading out to Adventure World - a big safari park kind of thing. We spent the day getting friendly with all kinds of animals and creatures and all had a great time. Tyler really loved it. Misaki and I enjoyed spoiling ourselves with catered meals and no cooking or cleaning. It was a really nice weekend.
Today is Tyler's 2nd birthday. Thanks to everyone who sent messages and presents. He doesn't actually know it's his birthday as such because we didn't have time to do the presents thing this morning. After such a fun filled weekend it was kinda hard to arise to a freezing cold monday morning. I'm guessing he's going to have a mini party tonight. This weekend is his official party with all the family and stuff.

Friday, December 05, 2003

cold!

The season's seem to change really suddenly here. Up until a few days ago it was still quite comfortable weather, but now it's freezing! I can't feel my toes. It's moments like this that I'm reminded of my designs to build a steel capped pinky toe protector. Really missing my knee length ugg boots at the moment.
We're off to an onsen tomorrow for a weekend trip. Onsens are natural hot springs, heated by the abundance of volcanic activity under the precarious collection of islands that Japan is comprised of. At least they're supposed to be natural - I wonder about that when I see them located in the middle of a city. That's probably something different, somthing which could be described as a public bath kind of thing, and I don't think they make any false claims about their source of heat. (man my toes are cold!) So we're getting up early and training it out into the country side somewhere for my first onsen experience on the morrow.

Monday, December 01, 2003

good weekend

not bad at all really. Bit cloudy and rainy, so we watched a bunch of videos and did some shopping and stuff. Bought a little pine tree to be our christmas tree. We watched The Ice Age with Tyler to see if he'd be interested in seeing Nemo at the cinema. They're both graphics animations. He was actually quite interesting in Ice Age, especially because he loves elephants I guess. He lost interest in it at one stage and tried to start playing with other stuff, but he eventually settled down and watched most of it with us. I'm guessing he'd probably stay with us right through nemo because it's a lot more colourfull and the screen's a lot bigger and everything. I stilll haven't seen revolutions yet, but anyway.

Friday, November 28, 2003

thinking and wondering

"so won't you take me for a ride
and let me know I'm still alive
somtimes I wish I didn't have an answer or a clue to anything
all this wondering, and this thinking, and wondering what I'm gonna do"

- King's X

Thursday, November 27, 2003

cheesy toast

managed to begin the day by sleeping in and making misaki run late. i'm determined to have a good day anyway. cheesy toast is good. um, that's about it really.

wednesday

worked. did stuff. and stuff like that.
felt pretty good, especially after listening to sean lennon and ben harper on the way to work.
managed to end the day by upsetting misaki with my lame japanese comprehension. it started well..

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

fixed!

Got the car back yesterday, and it's good as new! And for much less than Toyota quoted us originally to replace nearly everything in the vicinity of the impact. Very glad to have that over with. We're planning to go for a drive to an onsen for a weekend soon to relax and put it out of our minds for good. Feeling good now.

Monday, November 24, 2003

happy birthday Dad!

Today's my dad's birthday.
Sorry I didn't call this morning, and I guess it'll be a bit late by the time I get home tonight, but I hope you have a really nice day. Happy birthday dad.

car

Today's a national holiday, which means that Misaki's at home with Tyler, but I'm on my yway to work anyway. At least we got to sleep in today. And the car's in being fixed. Yay! I think it might be finished today, or tomorrow or something. Finally an end to the whole saga. We're going to drive to an onsen for a weekend after we get it back.
Hungry. Time for breakfast.

sunday

Went to a mates house to meet his 2 month old daughter with some people. Very cute. Had a few beers, a bit of a chat, some delicious sushi and a really time all said and done. Caught up with Masako too. She was toting some really nice pics from Aus and England. Really nice. It's cool to see pics like that and think 'hmmm.. that'd be a really nice place to live - hang on a sec'. One day.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

washing

it's the weekend. It's cold. We're going to have trouble drying all our washing so Misaki's just gone up to the coin laundry. Why do we have so much washing to dry? Tyler had a bit of a yak last night, maybe from coughing too much, or maybe from eating something bad, but he's fine, no probs. Thing is, after expelling half his dinner in the bed, we changed the sheets and gave him a shower, and then he brought up the other half. (this is really lovely reading isn't it?) So we're on a washing mission. For a little guy he eats a lot. Here's something you don't need to know - if you think nato smells bad while your eating it, you don't want to know how it smells after you've started digesting it!
cold

Friday, November 21, 2003

er...

Had bacon and eggs for breakfast. Quite enjoying my morning so far. I'm going to get some time to work on my projects today, so maybe that's why I'm actually quite relaxed. Nothing's getting to me at all today, it's great. Pot of coffee for company. Groove salad providing musical accompanyment. A nice weekend planned - taking the car in to be fixed on Sunday and heading over to a friends house to hang out.

thursday

Had an open house at the school. Quite good really - met lots of people. Then had to grab a few quick beers afterwards with the lads. Another diligent day, all said and done. Fell asleep listening to Spiderbait on the way home and had to walk back in the rain from the next station. Didn't mind really.

wednesday

Had to leave early for a special meeting about an open house the school was planning for the next day. Then had to head over to the other campus to teach there until late. Then had to grab a few quick beers afterwards with the lads. A very diligent day all in all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

umami

Read this: umami. A point is made about language governing your perceptions and interpretations. I've often thought the same. It's late, better crash. bye

diligence

Decided today that I should make an effort to write something here every day, reguardless of how mundane or uninteresting it might be, for example: "woke up. picked nose. worked. came home. ate. picked nose. went back to sleep."
Somedays interesting things happen, so just to be prepared for that eventuality I'm training myself into good habbits.

Here's todays thought of the day:
My spelling is noticably deteriorating after only a few years in a non-english speaking country.

And another thought for free:
Japan isn't such a great place to study japanese - no time. Or no energy, hard to tell the difference really.

Most interesting recent activity:
Made tacos for dinner last night. (you know things are getting bad when you have to start talking about what you eat)

One more bonus thought:
I noticed an ad in the train tonight for one of the biggest name brand english schools in Japan - Nova. Couldn't read all the details, but the price looked like 200,000 yen. That's the best part of 3000 bucks, I guess for a year's lessons. That's pretty serious about studying english, even if most people do get the money from loan agencies.

Ed on the Farm 2003

Decided it's about time I got a link to Ed's hilariousness on the farm up finally. Here it is:

Ed on the Farm 2003

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Saturday, November 15, 2003

that's much more betterer

Took the car somewhere else for another quote today. Less than a thousand bucks! So they don't feel that the support bar is bent enough to replace, and it's a little worrying how they can do they whole job for less than toyota quoted us just to paint the bonnet, but it's so cheap that I'm not asking any questions. It's not damaged structurally and the air conditioner and radiator are fine too, so as long as it looks ok when we get it back I'll be well chuffed.

When it's all fixed up we're going to clean it up a bit (it's festy as inside - full of Tyler's toys and stuff) and go for a weekend trip somewhere.

Monday, November 10, 2003

prang!

I've done it again - I went and drove our beautiful car into some nob who decided he had the sacred right to force his way through the traffic in front of us. Naturally, becuase the front of our car connected with the back of his, the insurance companies will probably find us at fault. Maybe we could have avoided it if instead of giving him the horn in anticipation of him perpetuating his nobishness, we had just stopped abruptly. But stopping suddenly is exactly what he did before even completing his turn through the traffic because as could be expected, he didn't actually check to see if the road he was turning into was clear. It wasn't, he had no where to go, and he expected me to hold back and allow his royal self to wave the rules of right-of-way. Well, we were only traveling at a brisk walking speed, so his car isn't really damaged. The front of ours has definitely looked better though. Took it in for a quote yesterday, and it was highway robbery! I guess he based it on the assumption that the insurance would be covering it, so he estimated a price which would cover replacing pretty much the entire front half of the car, for about $AU4K. The bonnet's bent, the front grill's pushed in a bit, and the support bar across the front's sitting at a bit of an angle, but the radiator fortunately wasn't damaged, and nor was it's mount. There's a small dent in the top of it's outer casing though, so he suggested replacing the entire thing. Also the compressor for the air-conditioner is conveniently located between the radiator and the front grill, but fortunately it also appears to me not to have been damaged. He feels that an alluminium pipe connected to it is bent, and so, guess what? Yep, better replace half the air-conditioning system too. Having the replacement bonnet painted to match the car is also quite expensive, but I'm ok with that. What I can't abide is the fact that almost half the total cost of the quote was labour! It's all neatly itemised on a nice printout, like 'removing front grill - $50, looking at car and scratching chin - 1 left testicle'.
Well, live and learn. People driving like that has been one of my pet hates for a long time now, but I've allowed myself to become a victim of it. Should have just stopped as soon as I saw him start trying to push through, but it happens so often here that you never expect any grief from it. At least we're fairly well cashed up at the moment, so it's not going to be a problem for us, but it just had to happen right at the same time as I was thinking of finally upgrading our poor old pc. Bugger.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

thankyou sony

Just invested no small amount of money in a pair of sony headphones. They are good. They're a closed back design, which does mean that the people around me can travel in blissfull ignorance of the free-sprited chaotic tones causing the bones of my skull to resonate at low frequencies (I think my sinuses cleared up significantly the first time I used them), but the up side is that it also blocks out ouside noise so effectively I can immerse myself in my own private world of musical appreciation and forget all else around me. Definitely money well spent. A lot of money well spent.

Friday, October 31, 2003

farewell yoga

Yesteray rocekd, but when I arose this morning I discovered to my horror that my trusty Yoga brand headphones have had one of the speakers detached from the headband! My trusty tools of anarchy are no more. I'll have to begin an immediate search for a new assistant in anarchistic activity, preferably with a retractable cord.
What else can I say. I'm at quite a loss. Salary men in Osaka will be able to commute in their preferable morbid silence once again, but not for long, not for long...

Thursday, October 30, 2003

good day

Yesterday was good. We played with the other baby who lives in our building for about an hour, went out for some lunch, and on the way back Tyler fell asleep. We both had a nap for about 2 hours when we got back. In a classic case of bad timing Misaki had to stay back a little bit, even though we'd planned to go out for dinner, so I gave Tyler his dinner at home and then we waited for her to get back. Did manage to go out for dinner in the end. Tyler was having a great time, bouncing off the walls basically, lots of fun.
Back to work today, but not to teach, I'll be programming all day which I'm quite looking forward to, I'd have to admit. We're finishing early and then heading out for an un-official farewell for one of our comrades who's returning to France after 6 years or so here. So today should be another good day. Tomorrow's basically the same, except in the evening we're having a halloween party. Then Sat night's the officially sanctioned school organised farewell. All in all, I'm not doing any actual work as such until next week. I might even allow myself to relax enough to have some fun. All good and true, but I think I've been a bit tired an grumpy at home recently, so I'll have to be carefull not to let Misaki feel left out. This Australian is doing his best, but as they say, you can take the tiger out the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the tiger. I wear a suit and tie, stand in silence on crowded trains, come home late and look very much like any other salry man, but...
Actually no suit today, bit of a mufty day for me. Tomorrow too, which means I don't have to strap the bloody thing back on until next week. It's such a relief, I hate and despise it. Just to spite the uniformality of it all I occasionally wear a massive pair of studio style headphones on the train and broadcast RATM from them as loud as my eardrums can endure in order to corrupt peoples minds with my western individuality and contempt for conformity. It's also a good way to keep the space around you free of salary men. hmmm... today might be a good day to do just that.
mmmuuuha-ha-haaa (evil laugh of conspiratorial anticipation)

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

day off!

I've got the day off!!! So here I am at home with Tyler. Misaki's pesimistic about my chances of having a good day looking after him, but we're doing ok so far. We've had breakfast, played with trains, I've just hung out the washing and now he's occupying himself with a Thomas the tank engine video. He just pulled the tape out of one them so we had a bit of an episode while I tried to explain to him that you can't watch videos with the tape haning out of them, but he got it in the end. It allways ends in tears. No, I'm looking forward to the day together. I am a little worried becuase last night I was a bit too tired, managed to tick Misaki off some how and still haven't managed to get myself back into the good books completely, so I'll have to be carefull to take it easy today. Tyler usually takes a nap in the morning and in the afternoon, so I'll get a chance to put my feet up and forget it all later. Yeah, tired, maybe becuase of teaching for 4 hours straight last night. It's not good. I'm trying to sleep on the trains these days, instead of reading or doing a bit of programming as I had been doing before being hit with a nasty cold recently. Right then. Better head out and let Tyler burn off some energy. Luckily there's a Toys'R'Us just across the road from our place which is allways convenient, and our favourite park isn't too far away either. I'll take my camera with us just in case. I was looking at my geocities website yesterday thinking about what to do with it. If Tyler takes a long enough nap today I'll try to get something up. Laters

Thursday, October 23, 2003

getting better

Finally my temperature has returned to normal. At least it was just after I woke up this morning. Haven't checked since, but I think I'm on the mend. My sinuses also seem to be recovering. They're no longer manufacturing a constant stream of horrible green festyness. I can actually breathe quite comfortably now. My only persisting symptoms are a mild case of the sniffles and a wierd headache behind my eyes when I move them around. Again, I think all would be solved by a good day in bed, which I'm just trying to hold out for until the weekend. I'm going to make it.
Healthyness.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

sick

Sick. Got a fever which hit 38.8, my sinuses have been killing me for the last week, and this morning I transformed into a horrible, grumpy, mean, irritable, snappy, nasty monster and scared Misaki and Tyler. I thought I just had a cold, but actually I'm really sick and I'm not very good at it because it doesn't happen to me. I don't get sick. I'm very healthy. There's nothing wrong with me, I'm fine, I... I think I'm dying! Help! By the time I realised what was going on Misaki had allready had enough. We had to cancel our plans to visit my friend and meet his new baby daughter, and we decided I should stay home and recuperate while Misaki and Tyler go to her family's house tonight for a sports festival tomorrow, which was our plan originally. I've eaten, taken some medicine, showered and am feeling better than this morning. My theory is that while I was never sick at home, I'm often sick here because I'm probably being exposed to viruses that I've never come into contact with before so they effect me really badly and it takes me a long time to get over them. ooh, hungry - think I should eat some toast? Better, I guess. Right, so, I'm fine, or soon will be, and as I head off towards the toaster remember, being healthy is easy to take for granted until your head becomes a congested green slime factory.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

still alive

Still alive. working. eating. sleeping. stuff. We've been doing stuff this month - went out on the weekend with some people who had a 5 year old daughter. She and Tyler got along really well. It was nice to watch them playing together. Otherwise we spend as much as time possible on our days off relaxing and doing nothing, hanging out in shopping malls, eating out as much as possible. yeah

Monday, September 29, 2003

hello

Well, we just had a really nice weekend. Saturday was Tyler's Undoukai, or sports festival. It's an anual event for Kindergartens in Japan, and a really big thing for a lot of parents. Every family was represented by at least one video and one still camera, many accompanied by a variety of accessories like tripods, lenses etc. Lots of fun.

Saturday night we went to a special function we were invited to by our family doctor. Turns out he's the president of the Sanda Rugby League Football Club and is in some way affilliated with the Wahroonga Tigers. Saturday night was a special welcoming ceremony for the Tigers under 13's who had just arrived in Japan for a 10 day stay, right here in Sanda. So we went along, met a few people, had some food and drinks and heard the Australian national anthem and Waltzing Matilda being sung in Sanda for the first time. Very cool.

Since the Autumn equinox the weather's cooled down and dried out a lot. It's very pleasant now, about 25 and low humidity. We spent yesterday in the park enjoying a bento lunch and letting Tyler run around. He's able to recognise colours now, and can repeat anything we say, in a fashion, once at least. But I sense the terrible two's coming. He's very determined and persistant and doesn't take well to being made to do something he doesn't particularly feel like at the time. He's usually very good, and not a problem at all, but sometimes he might decide he wants a couple of toys he's picked up in a shop, one in each hand, and will protest bitterly if we suggest he parts with even just one of them. But he's a lot of fun to play with now - he loves hide and seek and chasing each other around the house. He's learnt the names of a lot of the Thomas the Tank Engine characters too.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

email probs

On firday night my company's email server started returning 5.7.1 relaying denied error messages whenever I tried to send mails to foreign domains. Possibly they've set up some anti spam filtering or something in light of the recent virus activity Microsoft has blessed us with. Anyway, I've hijacked misaki's mail server temporarily to stay in touch.

Friday, September 19, 2003

29...

Hi! I'm 29! As of today actually. Misaki made a nice cake for me last night, and at work they brought out a cake and stuff and gave me a really nice card. I missed a call from Dad this morning, Nan sometime later, but managed to catch up with Phil and Masako when I got home from work. Nice to talk to you guys. Misaki's crashed, and here I am, one year away from 30, celebrating with my tall can of Kirin Ichiban. I'm a bit shocked actually - it's all happened so fast, but It's all good.
At least I'm not a 9-5er, technically speaking anyway. It's not much compensation for the wierd schedule I have, but it's all better than normality. I guess. If I didn't have to wear a suit everyday I'd have no complaints. So that's another year in the life of Mark Beattie...

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

been a while...

about a week actually. Well, since last week the most interesting thing we did was go out last saturday night to an all-you-can-eat/all-you-can-drink beer garden with misaki's work friends. Fun. Sunday, Misaki took Tyler to meet some of her friends and their daughters, who loved Tyler to pieces. I was left at home to my own devices and so was forced to spend money on the car stereo. Just an adaptor so I can use my MD walkman. The desktop pc died, bringing an end to my efforts to burn cd's to listen to. It's funny, Misaki complains about not being able to check her emails, but then hassles me when I mention upgrading it. The thing wont event POST anymore! It's so old and smelly that to justify spending any money on it at all I'd have to completely replace most of the core components. Fine with me, but Misaki's smart enough to know that once the upgrade process begins it's a never ending vicious cycle. Again, fine with me, but she's the one thinking about where the money comes from.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

music

Beet likes to listen to Groove Salad while blogging. He also enjoys Flaresound Jazzybeats. You can listen to them too!
Groove Salad - Soma FM
Jazzmusique - Netmusique

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

coffee coloured

I dug up my style sheets from the international coffee club (ICC) and replaced the site's green-pea colour scheme with my coffee colour scheme.
It's good.
Enjoy it.

W3C

Sunday, August 31, 2003

more pics!

Well, after about 4 months I've finally gotten around to uploading the next installment in the shananagans series of photos from the great gaijin invasion of Sanda, April 2003. Here's a running commentary, in the order the pics appear here (shananagans, saturday night 20030412)

phil and dave
Chilling out in a Gusto family restaurant the day after Friday night's all nighter. We all agreed to have a quiet one tonight... yeah right

mattD
A quiet one? erg, no thanks, you strange people...

mattD waitress and phil
Several hours later in a local izakaya: Matt tries his hand at ordering some bevies - Phil suggests pointing at items on the menu

mattD phil dave beet beer
Matt - they didn't take much convincing!

phil
...and the drinking games begin, yay!

mattD
right, that's more like it. Gimme that coin...

drinking game 01
(from matt's perspective)

dave
show us how it's done then

drinking game 02
well, you have to bounce the coin off the bottom of the empty cup into the full one like this:

drinking game 03
matt winds one up...

drinking game 04
and shoots!

mattD and key
his penalty for missing was to have a key tag super-glued to his forehead...

mattD drinking
and to catch the coin between his teeth while sculling the beer, else incur a further drinking penalty. Choking to death on the coin also incurs a drinking penalty

phil drinking
phil's funky camera phone enables him to capture himself in the act of paying pennance for his coin tossing inaccuracy...

phil's bum
the extension of phil's penalty was to sing the australian national anthem with bottom-burps

phil drinking
dear oh dear - failing to complete an extended penalty brings on a further drinking penalty; he only made it through the first 2 verses

mattD drinking
failing to refill the glass is also punishable by drinking, reguardless of being incapacitated by histerical laughter at phil's flatulent rendition

mattD waitress and phil
matt - right, better order some more beers. Phil, you speak some japanese, call the waitress over again!
... she had to revert to sign language. Matt looks on in dissapointment as phil tries to comprehend in vain

beer
After an animated exchange a fresh round of tall bottles of Asahi super dry arrive

phil and dave
... bugger this coin tossing business, gimme one of those!

phil and dave
while phil activates his phone's voice recognition AI dictionary, dave contemplates the virtues of ordering another round.
No-one really payed him much attention when he announced his intentions until 8 more bottles appeared on the table...

phil, dave and powershovel
Well, after wandering aimlessly around sanda in an attempt to metabolise 8 bottles of beer while consuming them, we came accross an unmanned powershovel...
Dave - The keys aren't in it are they phil?

phil and powershovel
let me check...

musicians
observing our attempts to borrow the powershovel were 2 musicians. The girl had a really nice voice as I recall
"No, it's not ours. We're sure whoever owns it wouldn't mind you borrowing it." (according to phil's translation)

phil and powershovel
No keys in here, looks like we'll have to walk home afterall.
(good thing too - it's not wise to operate heavy machinery while under the influence)

And so ends this account of the shananagans of the great furio-gaijin invasion of sanda, April 2003. I'd like to thank phil, dave and matt for coming out here, and a special thanks goes out to our sponsor, Asahi breweries.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

fish

After pointing at the fish tank in the entrance to Tyler's kindergarten and saying "fish, fish!" every day for about a year, he's finally started saying it himself! The other day I instead said "what's that Tyler?", he said "fish!". Yay! When Misaki picked him up today, as they walked past the fish tank he said "ish, isshhh!". Close enough. That's one more english word added to his vocabulary, bringing the total up to about 10 - please (chiiii), thank you (tan-chiii), apple (a-pu), he also knows "poo" for poo-bear, 1-2-3, open (o-pu), dada (me) and fish.
I've yet to come across a situation which provides the right context to teach him 'tea' or 'toast'.
He can allready put 2 words together in japanese like "pan ochita" - I dropped my bread, and he adds the past tense suffix "ta" to his own baby language meaning he knows how to use it in context. He often talks to us in baby language and nods, saying "na, na!" meaning "right?" or "isn't it?".

PS - I finished the book and did a bit of googling on it and the author. The general opinion is that the author concieved most of it as fiction without much scientific proof. It turns out that it's the first in a series or 4 or 5 on the same subject and he gets a bit funky in the ideas presented in following works. But it was a good read and I like to keep an open mind.
Now I've finished it I've gotten back to terrorising salary-men on the trains by listening to RATM at full ball through my funky open-backed YOGA brand headphones. Next I'll have to get on to Amazon and order the next 2 books in the Engines of God series by Jack McDevit.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

mu the motherland

Well, after getting through about 2 thirds of the book I've allready concluded that it's mostly a load of shash, but some good points are made and some really interesting things described. Like the buried cities of Niven near Mexico City which are under 30 feet of ground but are found 1000's of feet above sea level, surrounded by moutain ranges thousands of feet higher still. There are 3 ruined cities burried one on top of the other, all many thousands of years old, with many thousands of years between them. That fact itself is pretty interesting, but asserting that they're all colonies of the lost motherland of Mu is a bit much. Maybe they were, or maybe not, really it's impossible to prove conclusively, but the author takes an authoritive position in giving the best sciences of 80 years past in support of his theories, sciences which have since been superceded by modern technology and I can't abide that. The cool thing is they found a life-like statue of an asian man adorned in Chinese style clothes sitting in Japanese cross-legged fashion. That's a funky thing to dig up from 30 feet under the ground in Mexico.

Whatever, I'm kinda looking forward to finishing it so I can get back to reading sci-fi.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

racially friendly japan

Even before writing this I've had premonitions of catching negative feedback for putting something like this up, but then I thought that maybe that reaction itself shows that the subject needs something being said about it.

Let me begin by saying that I've had nothing but the finest treatment in all my time in Japan. Most foreign nationals living here have learned to turn a blind eye to the bold title emblazoned across the cards we are legally required to carry with us at all times - Alien Registration Card. Whatever, it's their public image, not mine. But I've recently come into contact with a hidden mindset of racial inequality that's being perpetuated in Japan, and it sickened me so much I have to say something about it, reguardless of whether it happens to be a touchy subject or not.

Recently in a class, one of the students said that they weren't Japanese. They other students asked where that student was from and were answered with "Korea". That one word opens one of the darkest chapters of Japan's continuing history of racial predudice. So the other students then ask when that student came to Japan. "Oh, I was born in Japan, and so were my parents, but my grandparents came from Korea. I'm 3rd generation Korean". How can I put this tactfully... that shit the life out of me. It turns out that this person has to carry the same Alien Registration Card as I do, despite being what most of us would consider to be 2nd generation Japanese-Korean. I felt really terrible to hear this person saying things like that, especially being one the nicest people I've met, so I changed the subject and left it at that.

Or so I thought. Yesterday, the same person commented that they couldn't travel during the summer break because of their mother's illness. From what I could determine, she had to have some kind of tumor removed from inside her throat. In the same pleasant manner that this person explained that they weren't Japanese, they then told of how their mother is very worried because she makes her living by running a small shop, but she can't work there while she's recovering. The main problem is that because she's not considered to be Japanese she receives NO medical assistance from the Japanese government whatsoever. Is there a succinct term that could be used to describe the underlying issue at work here? The most applicable that I can think of is outright racism.

Now, I'm sorry if you don't like reading this, or if you feel that I'm out of place in writing it, but think about how it makes you feel and consider the real reason behind why it makes you feel that way. May I be so bold as to presume that it's because despite being unbelievable, it is sadly vey true. I don't know what can be done about it, but alerting people to the fact that it's happening is better than pretending there's no problem at all. Want something that will really churn you stomach? Do some research into how the first generation of Koreans came to be in Japan. You won't find much being told of that story if you visit the memorials at Hiroshima and Nagasaki declaring Japan's deploration of war and violence. Fair enough, leave the past in the past I say, but Japan is still carrying some of it's darkest secrets around with it today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Mu

I'm reading an old book at the moment called The Lost Continent of Mu. The author attempts to prove that the homeland of the first humans to populate the earth was a large continent located in the Pacific Ocean between Asia, America and Australia. Interesting reading, but because of the age of the writing, the author's not afraid to make fairly bold presumptions from minimal evidence and very little scientific substantiation. None the less, some of his points seem vaild, such as remaining monolithic structures located around the world reminiscant of the same architecture and culture, using the same symbols in their inscriptions paying tribute to their homeland which they place geographically in the correct place.

My interest in ancient cultures is that some of them may have achieved quite advanced technology before falling victim to some kind of cataclysm. It's a kind of romantic fascination I guess, as I prefer to look ahead into the future rather than behind usually, but there must be something to be learned from large, advanced societies which today are all but lost, having left us huge stone monuments and buildings, and some ancient writings as clues to how they lived. It just lead me to thinking that if there was some kind of terrible cataclysm now, what would future civilations find remaining of ours? Nothing we make now is designed to last, it's more intended to be bought, sold and consumed. And while some of our records may survive intact, most of them now require quite advanced devices to read them. A civilisation which has reverted to a lower technology after a world wide cataclysim would have a hard time interfacing with any records they found of our current civilisation, assuming of course that perishable records such as books and paper documents were destroyed and only more durable electronic media survived.

There should be an initiative to construct a non-perishable record of our history, culture, religions, arts, technology, medicine and science which is designed to interact with and instruct future generations in a simple intuative way which would allow them to recover lost knowledge even after many generations, centuries or millenia of reversion to a more basic form of civilisation. Even just spidering the entire internet into a single data bank would be a good start.

It should make a pretty good piece of toast too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

back to work

Well, it's back to the suit, tie and crowded trains again today, but I've had a really nice break and it all seems worth it. Got a programming asignment to work on when I get there anyway, so it's not all that bad. Only 4 months till the next long holiday...

I forgot to mention, that from the night before we left for Dave and Michiko's untill the night before we left to come home it rained constantly. It was a very mild 23 degrees up there compared to 30-35 down here in Osaka. I was actually regretting not having brought any long sleeved shirts or anything. Crazy weather these days, crazy.

hi ho, hi ho...

Monday, August 18, 2003

Barotrauma

Well, after a little googling, I've diagnosed myself as suffering from a fairly severe case of Barotrauma, as I felt intense pain and my balance was effected, previously described as a feeling of general wierdness in my head. Looks like I need to clear my Eustachian tubes. I'm going to try using steam first, and if that doesn't work I'l try carefully pushing the air out. Failing that it's a trip to the doctor for some decongestants.

I really think Barotrauma should be common knowledge. There should be a little info card in the back of the seats on the plane or something. Anyway, here's a link to some info that I found:

Barotrauma

we're home!

Wow, just got back last night from Dave and Michiko's. Amy has grown up so much, and Ace was just the most beautiful baby. Amy and Tyler had a great time playing together, and I think it was really good for him to be with another kid who speaks english because he seemed to pick up a few more words. It was also a learning experience being exposed to the hirachical order of playing with toys with an older kid. Highlights of the trip include an Indian restaurant where we enjoyed some great Indian food for the first time in years, comprised of tandoori chicken, some vegetable curries, samosa, and naan the size of a coffee table - I was in heaven, a visit to an aquarium where I found my new favourite animal - the walrus, man those things are huge! and it was great to sit up until all hours talking about life and catching up. Fun was had by all.

(On a side note - my ears are still messed up from the flight. The flight there was fine, but landing on the way back I though my ears were going to burst, it was excruciating. It's a bit better now, but still feels like my ears are full of water or something, and my whole head feels a bit wierd generally. Anyone know anything that might help?)

I'm off work today, and I'm home with Tyler. It's kinda nice that he's entertaining himself with breakfast and kids vids while I'm writing this. Later I'm going to take him over to Toys R Us to get some more Thomas the Tank Engine stuff. Amy had crates of it and they both had so much fun with it. We have a kit that Dave gave us last time he was over, so I think now is the time to expand it. Besides, I think it's more fun for the Dads that the kids.

Back to work tomorrow, and I've been commisioned to develope a new web app, so I'm half looking forward to it actually. But it does mean I'll be back to more frequent, shorter postings again. Had a great holiday, and it's good to be home.

cheers

ps - cheers for the RATM discs Dave, they're rocking on even as I type.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

obon

Well, Misaki and I are both on holidays and we're off to Dave and Michiko's for a few days! It's going to be nice to see them again and really cool to see Amy, Ace and Tyler together. We're flying up there in a few hours. Beautiful rainy day today too. It's going to be great.

In other, unrelated news, I've started burning songs onto cd's to listen to in the car. I don't know, I just find it really exciting. I can also feel myself inching slowly closer towards upgrading our desktop pc. Can you believe I'm still using a Celeron 400? Should be in a museum. But a higher priority might be to finally mod the xbox and make it useable. Rambling. Must be the sake hangover. That stuff's so evil! We got together at Misaki's parents place last night for an obon meal, and her dad and his brother were busilly getting stuck into it. um...

It was cool the other night catching Phil at Nan's place and setting up a voice chat. Have to do that more often. Should do it with video one day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Typhoons and hiking

My legs and shoulders are still hurting from our hiking expedition on Sunday. We had planned to go camping for the weekend, but a large Typhoon decided to arrive on Friday night, forcing us to cancel that idea. It didn't actually hit our area in full force, but in other parts of Japan it was strong enough to overturn cars. In all the time I've lived here I've only been able to witness the edges of the storm, as the main Typhoon, which usually approaches from the south-west, is usually diverted to the north or south around the kansai-osaka region by one of Japan's southern islands.

We left at 5:30am for the mountains with most of Misaki's family. I carried Tyler around most of the day in a special back-pack thing, and while it wasn't that difficult at the time, I'm suffering for it now. We walked for an hour or two and stopped at this beautiful place on a bend in a mountain stream under a chestnut tree. All the streams and rivers were over-charged with cold, fresh water delivered by the Typhoon, and crossing some of them proved to be difficult. We got a fire going, distributed some drinks and set about barbequeing a wide variety of meats. I thought it would be a carnivors delight until some mushrooms hit the grill, but it was great fun buring bits of chicken and enjoying the smokey taste of the fire.

After lunch we all invaded the stream, which was surprisingly cold. In some places the water rose to waist or chest height and there was a nice pool at the foot of a small waterfall. I was a little dissapointed though at being advised against drinking the water, despite our apparent remoteness. We slept, made coffee, packed up and hiked back down the mountain after we'd eaten, drank, and swam to our heat's content.

The return trip was surprisingly fast and effortless, but we still managed to stop and appreciate some of the amazing undefiled forest and mountain streams. This was really the Japan that lives in the back of my mind, but the dream ends abruptly when the foot of the mountain gives way suddenly to the city of Sanomiya, a bustling metropolis which saw the deaths of more than 6,000 people in the last Kansai earthquake. After being totally immersed in a fantasy world of pristine nature, the site of so many giant buildings and the vast expanse of high-rise developments residing on a massive square of re-claimed land is really quite difficult to digest. Still, I came away with the memory of that mountain stream imprinted on my mind, refreshed and renewed.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Phil's Birthday on the Carpet

It's allways nice to be reminded of what awaits me on my return to Aus. Celebrations for Phil's birthday were photographically recorded with commentary from Ed. I'm all inspired to get the rest of my Japanese shananagans pictures up.

Phil's birthday on the carpet

Thursday, August 07, 2003

only in japan...

So I'm interviewing a new student for his profile today. It turns out that he's been to New York, and he mentions that it was very dangerous. So I ask him if anything happened to him while he was there. He then proceeds to tell me that while he was trying to buy weed from some guy he pulled a gun on him to hold him up, so he ran away. ok... I then made a heroic effort to appear deeply concerned without looking in the slightest bit shocked or amused. I did almost crack up when he said "weed" however - he was a beginner level student. I guess it's amazing how quickly you can pick up slang on the street while travelling abroad.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

3 days and counting...

Yesterday was alright actually. Fairly light schedule and lots of gifts from students. mmm... cookies... Tyler was still up when I got home too, which was nice. Actually he was just fighting against falling asleep, he hates it. Then this morning I couldn't wake him up. Funny guy.
3 more days to the weekend. We're going camping. Don't know where, but it's outside amongst the trees and birds and insects and stuff and it's going to be great.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

that's better

What a nice weekend. We had a nice time celebrating our anniversary on Sunday, and yesterday was a pleasant change. I got to see a movie, do a little work on my projects and have dinner with Misaki and Tyler. That's how life should be. It's back to the grind today, but only for 4 days this time, no more 6 day marathons. This weekend we're going camping with Misaki's family. Then I'm working on the Monday, and then it's summer holidays!!! I can feel it allready.
In other news, Ed put up a great page with some pics from Frank's b'day. Thanks man, it was really nice to see everyone.

Frank's Birthday in the Grass!

Sunday, August 03, 2003

weekend!

Finally,after a 6 day marathon I'm on weekend time. Tonight we're going out for our 2nd anniversary, which is tomorrow. I've bought a really nice present for Misaki which I hope she likes.
Tomorrow is my day off and I'm finally planning to see the Matrix reloaded. At last! I missed Twin Towers at the cinemas because I don't often have time to watch movies. Actually, I missed Lord of the Rings too, and was forced to download it. I'll have to get onto the file-sharing network Phil reccomended and aquire a copy of twin towers one day too. The RIAA's recent bout of subpoenas isn't going to scare people away from trading files. If media industries want people to stop sharing their copyrighted material they should adjust their business models to work in an age where technology allows all forms of media to be exchanged quickly, and anominously between people accross international boundries, and stop using brute force to perpetuate out-dated business models based on antiquated media technologies which are sold for unreasonable prices. I can buy a portable MP3 player here in Japan for the price of 2 cd's back at home in Aus. Time to wake up and smell the coffee - while the information age was exploding, the recording industry has made no further advancements than from analogue to digital, but there are signs that the movie industry isn't planning to be left sitting on their hands and doing nothing about it. Machinima is a new medium which actually uses PC's themselves as the platform which renders animated movies:

Games invade Hollywood's turf

Friday, August 01, 2003

boo...

Ok, so it looks like I can't link to pictures on Yahoo. Bugger, that would have been cool. Guess I'll have to buy a domain name afterall. That's cool, never know what might come of it.

feedback

I have some hilarious Tyler pics, but first I need some feedback as to whether the thumbnails are visible. Anyway, I'll put them up on my Yahoo page - the link's up there to the right

Thursday, July 31, 2003

we got images...

Why didn't I think of this before? Lets see if this works then... What can you see? The url contains a session ID, so let me know if you can't see a hand holding large glass of beer with beans floating in itbeer

the joys of parenthood

well, here I am, up at 2 am. Tyler woke up and wanted to watch videos. Misaki came out to see what was going on and then he wanted to follow her back to bed. Too late for me to get back to sleep, so here I am.

I'd like to buy a domain name and turn this into a real web page. I have some other ideas, but I'm never fast enough to act on them. Well, I never have the time to work on them. That reminds me, got to send a mail to Ed.

I read a recent article on Wired News about a blogger, Rafat Ali, who is generating a comfortable income from his work. It was kinda inspiring - here's an extract that struck a chord with me:

WN: Do you work harder as an independent, or is life easier?

Ali: Harder. If anyone told you life as an independent is easy, well, dream on. If you work for yourself, you're working all the time. But it is the good kind of work, the work you want to wake up to every day.

Blogging for bucks

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

another day in the life of...

It's raining.
It is still officially the rainy season I think. Good thing I like rain. Thing is, when the rainy season ends, we have months of heat and humity to endure, but it's all good...

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

another day in the life of...

A very uneventful day of hard toil and labour yesterday. Actually it's not all that bad. I decided to start taking my laptop with me to work so I can use my break time to get warmed up for the summer holidays which I plan to invest in getting a web project started. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 28, 2003

Sanda Matsuri was a really interesting experience! It involved hundreds of people wearing traditional festival costumes forming a massive circle around a central podium and dancing around in unison to enka and drums. Some groups would periodically break away from the main circle and dance up onto a central stage. Tyler entertained himself (and made a mild nuisance of himself) by dancing and running around on the ramp leading up to the stage. He declined from many offers to join merry makers on the stage. I stood by the side of the stage with Misaki keeping an eye on Tyler while enjoying a few festival beers and letting the whole cultural experience wash over me. I've really never seen anything quite like it, it was really nice.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Well, last night we went out to see the summer festival. There was a huge fireworks display just down the road. By the time we got to the food stalls it was all closing down, so we're just about to head out again a bit earlier this time to get some takoyaki or something for dinner.
I seem to have added some information about myself to the page too.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Back. Beered up and whiskeying [ thanks for leaving that bottle of Maker's Mark on top of the fridge Phil ]
Waiting for a call from dave who's been out on the piss.
The devision of posts by the calendar day they're posted on is kinda irrelevant to the day/night cycles most of us live by. Whatever.
Well, better have a look at that template then. Kudos to blogger for generating some nice w3c compliant css code. I was so expecting to see a rats nets of tables.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Off to work again, but it's friday and a lifetime of weekends starting at 5pm friday afternoon has left me anticipating the break allready, despite the fact that I'm not actually going to get back from work for another 12 hours or so.
Tomorrow's Sanda Matsuri - the summer festival of the town I live in. Looking forward to it.
Friday will allways be friday.
Half past midnight and I'm home, fed, and just about to crash.
Tired. Well, I'd like to maybe put something up about who I am and what I do Looks like it's a simple matter to make changes to the provided template.
But for now it's sleepy time.
sleepy...

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Well, that was relatively simple.
Just enough time for an introductory comment before engaging in my usual busy daily business.
So, here I am, a man in Japan.
How did I get here? What am I doing here? All will be revealed.
For me this looks set to be a great opportunity to share with the rest of the world what happens here in the real japan.
Forget samurais, ninjas, kimonos and ikebana. Try beer vending machines, english school advertisments on every flat surface and fashion you'd never see in the west, for good reaon too.