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

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!

...and the drinking games begin, yay!

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

drinking game 01
(from matt's perspective)

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

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...

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


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


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


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:


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.


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

Thursday, August 14, 2003


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


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


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.


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