Friday, May 28, 2010

Unrelated Segments

I'm "studying" Japanese again. It's a bit like when I "quit" smoking. I feel obliged to have a go at it every once in a while. Aside from general laziness and overall ineptitude at languages other than English (oh, shut up!), it's a mystery to me why Japanese hasn't, after almost 13 years, sort of percolated its way into my brain. Well, it's a bit of an embarrassment really. I meet guys who have been here only a few months who know more Japanese than me. (Although I should point out that knowing Japanese and knowing Japan and the Japanese are not quite the same thing. I've managed well enough.) Really, though, there's no excuse for me to suck so badly at Japanese after all this time. I never planned to stay more than a year or two when I first came. By the time I realized I was here for the long haul I was well into my 40s, married, had a kid, and was working my ass off. The last thing I felt/feel like doing at the end of the day is opening a textbook. (I think I'm a pretty good teacher. I know I'm an awful student.) Anyway, I'm trying a different approach this time. Instead of formalized lessons (with homework, etc.), I'm meeting twice a week with a young Japanese guy in Grad Studies where I work. He's getting his degree to teach Japanese to non-Japanese. We meet twice a week for an hour, and talk for 30 minutes in English and 30 minutes in Japanese (he wants to practice English). We've only met 3 times, but I'm already starting to feel good about improving my Japanese. (As a teacher of English, it's no mystery to me why this might work out. I've been "swimming" in Japanese and Japan for 13 years, but my learning curve seemed to drop off about the time it was absolutely necessary for me to actually speak Japanese--I've basically been coasting since then.)


I suppose I could attempt to explain how innocent was my stumbling across a book titled "Orgasmic Beginner Sex Positions That Are Super Easy," but you probably wouldn't believe me. (I was browsing audio torrents-- what did I just tell you?) It's funny, but I don't remember more than one "beginner sex position." And it wasn't that difficult. How has humanity survived all these millennia?


Two albums you should definitely check out (in no particular order... er...): The Black Keys, Brothers; and The Sadies, Darker Circles. Both are recent, both are damned good.


A documentary: The sad story of Ronald McDonald.


I can always tell when my daughter's been rifling through my stuff (her inability to resist drawing something on any empty space of any piece of paper is somewhat damning). Every kid sucks at this in their own way ("I have no ideeear wheeeere your beeeer is, Daddy-o"!). Note to self: Teach your kid to be a better spy/thief. [I assume that anything not meant to be seen by anyone can't be found by simply opening a drawer. If it can, then I guess you didn't care that much about it. I'm not advocating spying on people, you know. I'm only suggesting that kids are curious--and that's GOOD. Right?]


The Stanley Cup Finals begin sometime Sunday morning here in Japan. If you had to click that link, then you are pitifully unaware that hockey is the coolest game on earth. Canadians generally promote hockey simply by breathing and being alive. Here's a guide for American fans in a more hostile environment: Hockey fans are obligated to do the following during Finals. Watch a hockey game. If you can, go to one. You'll understand...

Two Cones

While Walking

Friday, May 21, 2010

Placebo Effect

So, like, I'm listening to the recently released "re-mastered" version of Exile on Main St. by The Stones. Wow. It was (to my mind) already the best album ever recorded in the history of the world. Listening to this new re-mastered version for the first time reminds me a lot of the first time I heard the old un-re-mastered version. It fucking rocks!

The re-mastering takes nothing away from the original at all!

I love this album...

Thou Shalt Gather No Moss

Not having a Hegelian-like patience and attention for detail, I often think that there are just too many opposing things and thoughts to reconcile. Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis: looks good on paper...

Being + Nothingness = Becoming. It's the real thing.

New Toy

After weeks of whining to my wife about getting a new camera, a golden opportunity presented itself to me yesterday evening while we were out getting new cell phones. I won't bore you with the details of the husband/wife dynamic involved, except to say that I'm pretty sure my wife wasn't fooled at all by my nefarious scheming. (Her own scheming probably had as its end me shutting the fuck up.) I took this pic with my new cell phone:

I was out having a smoke at work and basically just pointed the camera in the general direction of the flower. Auto settings. Features and functions I haven't checked out yet. Eight mega pixels. Etc.

You can't see the big, goofy grin on my face.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Veterans of the Culture Wars

Have you ever seen the title of something and quickly realized that there was no point in looking beyond it, because nothing could possibly top the title--either for sheer awesomeness or sheer stupidity, or sheer awesome stupidity?

I give you Robin Hood and Ayn Rand.

Click the link and read if you like. I didn't bother.

Rainbow in the Dark

I don't listen to this sort of stuff much these days, but this classic tune from Ronnie James Dio still makes me want to bang my head any time I hear it. Possibly the best metal singer ever, Ronnie James Dio has died.

Good job, buddy.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Unrelated Segments

There was a nice waxing crescent moon tonight, with Venus perched slightly above and to the right. It was very clear, and a pleasure to look at until it ducked behind the police station.

For the past couple of weeks I've been watching 2 or 3 episodes a day of Battlestar Galactica. It's much easier to follow the story this way, compared to catching a few minutes here and there over a period of several years. (Married people with young kids tend, I think, to be a bit busy between 8-10 p.m.) Seeing the canvas spread out before me is much more preferable to the mosaic version I've constructed in my head. Colonel Tigh is becoming my favorite character. I find his negativity refreshing! From what I've read on the web, I'm ready for things to start getting crappy in season 4 (the web couldn't be wrong about this, could it? Naahh.). Until then, I'll just enjoy it. Next up: Lost.

I enjoyed a very tasty hard boiled egg today. It was cooked in a hot spring (see previous post) at the side of the road in Kirishima.

I'm battling a case of mild depression brought on by my favorite hockey team being eliminated from the playoffs. It's not that they lost that's bothering me. No, I've become quite accustomed to that! It's the manner in which they lost, the epic fail of it, the way they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, the way people will be talking about it for fucking centuries to come--that's how epic it was and that's what's bugging me about it. Bleh.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Used to Be Such a Sweet, Sweet Thing

A couple of times this week I've come across articles/posts that have tried to draw an analogy between drug use and the consumption of oil. The idea being put forth is, of course, that so long as there is demand for the "products," any attempt to regulate their consumption is doomed to failure. The last time I checked, though, the drug cartels were not in bed with the people who make cigarette papers, bongs, syringes, coke spoons, and the like. Nor did the drug cartels/dealers actually create the conditions under which we feel we must consume their product if we are to properly provide for our families. Further, if at any time we grow unhappy with some drug "product," there's always a new, alternative source of bliss just around the corner. Say what you want, but the drug lords truly are the last of the real capitalists. Randians should bow down before their latter-day John Galts.


"Oil-producing nation." What the fuck does that mean, anyway? When countries, or corporations, actually start "producing" oil, I'll start listening to their bullshit.


My family has two cars. Yeah, we rape the universe in a city with no public transportation. I'll walk or bike to work when everyone else does. Otherwise, I'll just be late and get my ass fired. We pay very high taxes (on the cars and gas) for the privilege.


There is no arguing with some people. I am not a communist, OK? I'd barely rate as a "socialist" if you were to ask some of my commie friends. But some things just seem as plain to me as the nose on my face (believe me, it's never out of my sight). First: I can't think of a worse, more potentially disastrous idea than to have a health care system based on a business model. Businesses want repeat customers. Duhh... And please, don't give me any shit about bad-faith businesses losing their customers and giving way to good-faith businesses (the whole "self-correcting" mumbo jumbo). This might have worked in the day when Joe gave me good service because he didn't want me bad-mouthing him or punching him out. These days it's nothing more than a religious mantra mouthed by those who see "the market" as some force of nature, like evolution or something. I've got news for you: the "market" was invented by people who wanted to fuck other people out of their money. It's a zero-sum game. It's like sports. Only (very few) winners, and (a boatload of) losers. Of course it's possible you see the world that way and think that it's fit, right, and proper. Fine. I appreciate your honesty. Just stop leaving your religious pamphlets on my doorstep.


I'm almost finished (for tonight). One last thing. I'm a skeptic. I mean in the philosophical sense. That means I don't believe in God(s), ghosts, UFOs, psychic powers, (non-hockey related) mystical stuff, or any other kind of crap that people try to throw at me. (I may not be the brightest guy on the planet, but I've found that my instincts have served me pretty well.) Would I ever question the motives of anyone looking to sell me something, someone looking to relieve me of some of this money I need to support myself and my family? Yeah, I would. Yeah, I do. Every time.

Drill, Baby, Drill!

Can it get any better than this?

Image Source



O Death


And I mean, WOW.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Just Dropped In...

Five minutes of reality. And I don't even like bowling that much.


Monday, May 03, 2010

Headline: Man Teaches Daughter, No Tears Shed

(Miyazaki) In a dazzling display of fatherhood, a local man taught his daughter how to use in-line skates today. No tears were shed by either the young girl or the father.

Bystanders looked on in shocked admiration as the man quickly navigated his daughter through the you're-going-to-fall-on-your-ass-no-matter-what phase of skating.

The girl fell on her ass a couple of times, in fact, but didn't cry, and seemed genuinely interested in continuing.

"Clearly the father is a genius," one witness commented, "but the girl deserves full marks for sticking it out."

The father, originally from Canada, asked that his name be withheld from this report. "We Canadians are a humble race, and we avoid the limelight whenever possible," he said by way of explanation.

The man did say, however, that he was extremely proud of his daughter. He thought he might have a few beers tonight to celebrate.