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Good grief, the same damn Tigers game is on not one, not two, but three channels tonight. I only get 13 channels in the first place, and one is QVC!

I'm still bone tired, even after taking a nap around 7 pm for nearly an hour. I feel like I never got properly rested up this weekend, and am dreading the idea of going to work tomorrow, sigh. I went with Hayato, Saeko, and Kuni to Kobe today to visit Mandy for her birthday, and once again spent most of the day on my feet, which probably didn't help anything. Around 5, they were all planning on going to karaoke... I was tired and cranky, and couldn't think of anything less fun to do with people than that, so I excused myself and came home. Party pooper me.

The Vietnamese place we went for lunch was delicious, though, and having Saeko randomly remember that my birthday is coming up as well and bring me a little present along with Mandy's was a treat; I found a couple cute shirts at the used clothing store we stumbled into, so I really shouldn't complain too much. But I do think that the few hours I've spent at home tonight reading and listening to music were good for me... If only I had another day to lightly while away like that, sigh.

I really wish tonight that I didn't already have some things out from WP; I could probably rent another movie anyway, but for some reason the idea of overlapping things bothers me, as well as the idea of returning things unwatched. I've still got the last volume of Quiz to watch or I'd just take everything back tonight and get the movie that I'm randomly really craving to watch: Stargate. Perhaps not that randomly, given that I'm watching a program on Egypt at the moment.

Far too belatedly, I discover that there's a music video show on at 9:30 on Sunday nights? I just kind of assumed that to see music videos over here you had to subscribe to some crazy satellite channel or something. Not that Japanese music videos are all that worth watching; they tend towards the uninteresting and bubblegum, but that's really not unexpected given the state of popular Japanese music. I'm pretty certain that the show is truncating the last few seconds of each song, which is annoying. You can tell that the video isn't actually over, but they start fading it out anyway. It reminds me of my major beef with the Japanese radio stations I can pick up with my CD player: the DJs have a habit of talking over the last 30 seconds of the song. I'm like, wtf are they doing? I was listening to that! I don't give a shit about the stupid fucking DJ and their stupid fucking pandering for whichever advertiser is running a promotional event in the next two days. The most cynical-laugh-inspiring one, though, is the evening rush hour program where the girl is always telling the audience that she can't wait to play their requests. At the rate of about two or three an hour, with her talking over the introductory 10 seconds and final 30 seconds of each one. And all the time in between. Grumble. But at your most cranky, what can't make you smile like a band name like "Bump of Chicken?"

Well. I'm a lot hotter and sweatier than I was about 40 minutes ago. Good for me and all that. I ran for about the amount that I expected, which is to say a little less than half the course, but for longer stretches at a time than I expected that I would or could, so that made me happy. I've got my stupid rash on (for someone who hasn't been reading this for more than a year or so, one of the reasons I've not run in forever is that I get anaphylaxis... in a way, I'm allergic to exercise), and my left foot is cramping up weirdly, but all in a good cause, right? I couldn't believe how bright Mars was.

I've figured it out. The tiredness, the crabbiness, the cravings for nachos and American movies... I've finally gotten properly homesick. I've been lonely, for sure, the past (good grief almost three) months, but loneliness is a different and much less all-encompassing beast than homesickness. Bother. I was hoping I'd escape this time around.


I bought several things today, including some presents for people, but by far my favorite is something I bought for myself: a long sleeved t-shirt (that I probably won't wear for a couple months until it gets cooler) that reads, from top to bottom...

Dear Joker
SINCE 1968
Antique style

It's all written in Old-West-y style lettering, and decorated to match. And did I mention that the "Dear Joker" part has sequins on it? I actually went into the store looking for the black slinky t-shirts they'd had a week or two ago, with Hello Kitty or the Playboy bunny sequined on, but I'll take the one I found instead. When clothing is bad in Japan, it's really bad.... When it's money, it's mad cash, baby. And quite often it's both at the same time, heh.

I was on my feet for six straight hours today, wandering around Den-Den Town and associated areas with Hayato and his friend Kuni. I wasn't sure if I liked Kuni or not when I met him a week or two ago, and the feeling persisted for the first hour or so today, when he and Hayato were making me feel very much the third wheel. But once I got to actually talking to him, he grew on me; it's hard to dislike someone who's that easy-going. Not a lot going on upstairs, methinks, but then, Hayato's the same; nice kids both, good to hang around town and go shopping with, but every minute that I spend with them jars me a bit.

I was jonesing for Indian food tonight, so I headed to the place near my dorm again, and was pleased that the hostess changed from a simple "welcome" to "nice to have you, as always!" I've felt so adrift the last couple months; having people start recognizing me around Toyonaka helps me feel more tethered to life. Who knows why I'm the sort of person who needs that rootedness? But it does matter to me... it matters to, for example, find a coffeeshop that I like and then keep going to it, until I feel comfortable chatting with the baristas and they know what I usually order. People that I will likely never have more than a very superficial relationship with, but whose connectedness matters to me.

How confusing, that different cans of chuu-hai, even those put out by the same company, have different alcohol contents. I didn't realize this until Fujisawa-san called Ookubo-san a pansy for opting for chuu-hai at the game the other week, and I looked at the cans that Kumamoto-san had brought: 2.5% (I distinctly remember that at least one of the cans I had at the first baseball game was 7%, I'm not sure about the other). When I came home, I scanned my fridge, and found that all were 7%, except for a single can at 5%. I've never ordered one at a restaurant or bar, but this makes me wonder about what strength they mix them. Or how about when you get them out of vending machines? Hrm.

I laugh every time I see people with the attachments for their bike handlebars that hold an umbrella, but when I see crazy people like the boy I passed today, who was holding an umbrella with one hand while he rested his other arm on the handlebars and fiddled with his keitai, I think perhaps it's not such a bad idea. Although definitely the women who use it for sun parasols... that's still funny.

Other bike-related randomness: one aspect of The Japanese Experience that I've never tried and have a random but ever-present desire to do so is the whole riding on the back of a bike thing. You can sit on the package rack, or stand on the extra long thingamajiggies sticking out from the center of the back wheel.... I'm sure it's not comfortable, but I still want to try. Failing that, I'd like to own one of the gyroscope package scooters. Because they're just damn cool.

I just finished something that was enough similar to nachos that I'm more or less pleased. I wasn't able to find cheddar cheese that wasn't prohibitively expensive and packaged as a gourmet product (rolling eyes). What was I saying earlier about dairy products? Anyway. When I went down to experiment with the toaster oven (and my new plate, which is exactly the size to fit inside), Arimori, Tomoko, Kimura and crew were down hanging out on the couches and drinking... Some would say that it should be my responsibility to be sociable and go over to join them; some would say that it should be their responsibility to be sociable and invite me over. Neither one happened, although my side is explainable by the fact that I had nachos to eat and The Royal Tenenbaums to watch. Hah. The one nice thing about having a lot of time to myself, particularly now that I've got a DVD player, is catching up on movies that I've intended to watch for a long long time but never got around to for whatever reason.

I wonder sometimes if I like Luke Wilson in spite of or because of the fact that the first time I ever saw him was in that silly vampire episode of the X-Files that I like so much. Although really, the whole liking an actor thing is so ridiculously stupid. What is the point of appreciating someone on screen who you will never ever meet, and whose behavior is both entirely unrealistic and entirely unlike whoever they "really" are?

I can't decide if I'm angry or not about the people downstairs not inviting me over earlier. I think I'm not; I wasn't making a point to go over and talk to them while I was waiting for my (not cheddar) cheese to melt, and I was obviously "doing something else." Anyway, point being that while from my point of view they were being rude for not being inclusive, I strongly doubt that that interpretation is correct.


Tired. Very very very tired. Several days in a row of not enough sleep, and then I got the sort of frustrated at work that kept me banging my head hopelessly against a problem until 7:15. And I would have stayed later, except that I'd rather ride most of the way home with Jon than by myself later. (rubbing at forehead fretfully) I should probably just go to bed, really, and I'm tired enough to. I just don't feel like it for some reason, blah.

I really wish that Jim were around to bounce work ideas off of. I have a feeling that the answers to what I'm trying to do are right around the corner of my mind, and rambling with him as a sounding board would probably tease things out. It's not really a process that can go the right way in a foreign language, and Jon wasn't in the mood to chat about work on our way home (plus the train isn't the most conducive place to have that sort of conversation). But above and beyond that, I just wish I had Jim's particular mind at my disposal.

I explored another grocery store today, in search of sour cream (which I did find, in a very very very very small container for a very very very very high price). I saw the most beautiful pint of raspberries I'd ever seen, and snatched it up, cooing. And then started crying, because it was 980 yen. $8.30 for a pint of raspberries? Kill me now and return my body to the land where fruit prices are reasonable.

I was totally planning on making myself some nachos in the toaster oven tonight, but it suddenly occurred to me that the single plate in my possession is likely too large to fit in it. Hrm. I want to do some other shopping before I meet Hayato tomorrow to abuse my passport in Den-Den Town tomorrow, so I may be buying another plate; time to go down and see if I can unobtrusively check out the toaster oven's dimensions... Foiled! By the fact that Arimori and several other guys were drinking down there and I didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to myself by sticking my face into the toaster oven, heh. I quietly filled my water bottle and hightailed it; perhaps I'll check after my silly eikaiwa program (complete with a new ridiculous hat just for today) is over.

Bizarre. I am learning from Pub Starting Over that there are English language comedy clubs in Tokyo, complete with stand-up. Huh. And it's not touring stand-up that they were showing... it was resident foreigners joking about Japan. I rather wonder if places like that exist around here, but then I remember that I'm not super anxious to suddenly be around a lot of weird foriegners. Hehe.

The woman who's on TV all the time with the really deep voice and mannish haircut confuses me. I was convinced for a while that she was a transvestite or a transsexual, but I'm pretty sure that in the concert they're televising of her right now, it was pictures of her as a young girl that they were displaying on the screen behind her. It is possible that she's simply the deepest voiced woman on the planet, I suppose.

I wanted to stay in the bath longer, but my spidey-senses warned me that I was fast approaching extreme blood pressure wonkiness. And as much fun as trying to stand up, passing out, and drowning in extremely hot water would be, I opted to just get out of the bath then.

Chips and salsa and sour cream... Not quite nachos, but I'll take it as a snack on a slow Friday night. The sour cream is... odd. It's super super thick, and while the taste of sour cream is there, it's not quite the same. Who knew that I was so accustomed to the particular processing we use on our dairy products at home?


Gawddamnit. I don't know what the hell is up with me lately. This morning, it was mixing up the order between deciding to get up and turning off my alarm, and deciding to sleep a little longer and hitting the snooze button (for those in doubt, the latter should definitely occur before the former). I bolted out of the dorm within six minutes of waking up, trying to catch the 7:10 express and missing it by just seconds, grumble; I did catch the 7:17, so I'll have a little more time to collect myself before work than if I'd gotten the 7:33. The tradeoff being not taking a shower... I feel absolutely disgusting. At least I luckily crammed on the train in just the right position in line to be standing right under the air conditioner.

I spent the last two and a half hours at work today devising new and interesting ways to get shitty results. Sigh. I was furthering my knowledge about what the hell I'm doing, certainly... running down the alternate possiblities and stamping them out, but I think there could have been less depressing ways to do it. I was annoyed that I couldn't think of a properly sardonic way to complain about the situation in Japanese. The "new and interesting" phrase I used above is amusing in English, I think, because we've got a shared experience of the cliche... I turned over the idea of translating it directly into Japanese, and it just wasn't funny. Bah humbug.

GOOD CHRIST was the JR crowded today. Now I've got no problem with the crowded trains in Japan, normally; it's nicer, of course, when I can sit down, but standing elbow to elbow with other people usually only bothers me when I feel guilty that my water bottle is getting someone's arm damp. But today... I can't think of a way to explain it because I swear there is no place or situation you will find at home in the US that is comparable. I started getting worried when the guy next to me was pushed so close that he inadvertently punched the "next track" button on my CD player's remote, but that was before things got really bad. The closest thing I can imagine is if you think of people being loaded horizontally under the force of gravity. I was right next to a group of tourists with four kids, which was bad; the kids were short enough so that people getting on the train couldn't see them, and so pushed us all further in thinking there was space. Three highschool boys had bags on the floor, which was also bad (there wasn't anywhere better they could have been, though, unless they'd held them over their heads); as more people pressed on, those of us already on ceased to have anywhere for our feet to go even though our top halves were being pressed farther over, and given that there wasn't free space enough to shift footing, my feet ended up trapped in a weird T position that mostly fucked my ability to use my leg muscles. The kids scattered in the middle of the train were too short to act as supports, so several of us were stuck by the unknowing bastards behind us at totally untenable angles; l was able to maintain balance for one stop using abdominal muscles I didn't know I had, but then two more people decided it was possible to squeeze in, and I couldn't keep it up. Apologizing to the guy behind me, I reached back (think like the motion when you're heading into the backstroke) and grabbed on to the same handhold that he was using. I ended up being stable, albeit stable in a very very uncomfortable way. I've never been so glad to get off a train in my life.

Wow. So I met the new German guy. Whereas Stefan is a small, pasty, shy German, Markus is an eight million feet tall, ripped, tanned, blond, outgoing warrior of DOOM German. He actually really reminds me of Roland, suddenly; their accents are very similiar. He asked me about the nightlife in Osaka and when I said I hadn't had the chance to sample because I didn't want to go by myself, he said he thought that was a damn shame. Jeff, I may have found my partner in clubbing crime, we'll see... assuming that I can convince him that I'm "cool enough" to go with, and get over my own insecurities about not knowing him well, hah. All I know is I feel very inspired to go out and buy some decent clothes (laughing).

On Erin's suggestion, I plotted out a course along Senrigawa (the tiny river that flows somewhat near my dorm) tonight. I didn't originally intend to actually do any running tonight, so although I wore my sneakers I didn't change out of my cords; but there was no one around on most of the roads I was on, so I figured what the hell, I'd jog a little bit anyway, as long as I was out. I managed to find a route that I should be able to find again, that only has a few places where it's uphill and is (with the exception of one small stretch) along roads without much car traffic. Mostly walking briskly with a little jogging, it took me about 40 minutes tonight, which is about what I was shooting for. Overall, I'm pleased with myself. If I can get myself to go out four nights a week, I'll be extremely pleased with myself. I don't require that I run the whole time, although that is the eventual goal... for now I'll settle for just making sure that I get out in the first place.

I am sad to report that OLN doesn't have a monopoly on the wretched idea of televised fishing.

Awww, I'd heard that one of the other women was getting married and moving out soon, and I'd just sort of assumed it was that weird lady I almost never saw (figuring so because I guessed she was always at her fiance's place), but it turns out it's cool Hokkaido girl! She's moving all of her stuff out tonight, sadness. Not that I really saw her all that much more often than weird lady, but at least she'd talk to me when we were around each other.

Those previously unknown muscles I mentioned before? They're seriously cramping up now. I'm tempted to forego doing exercises, but hey, it's not like I can't do them really really slowly and carefully. No one's timing me or anything. Note that I write that mostly to make myself do them, heh.


One of the things that really upsets me about not having internet access at home is reading a quote like the following and not being immediately to research what it's referencing (Al Franken, being interviewed in Salon).

Joe Wilson, the former Gabon ambassador, was sent to Niger by the CIA and came back and said the uranium claims weren't true. And when the controversy started broiling again about the 16 words in the State of the Union address and Wilson wrote the piece in New York Times, senior administration officials blew the cover on his wife, who was a covert [CIA] operative.

I mean, wtf. And given that this is the sort of news I'm reading a lot of lately, does anyone not understand why I'm raging mad at the Bush administration at the moment?

But back to the lack of internet thing. I've been without steady internet access for periods of time before, and complained and bitched tons about it from a short term perspective. I've now been without it for over two months, and it's REALLY getting to me. I've gotten too accustomed, the past several years, to information-at-my-fingertips, to the ability to immediately or nearly immediately learn about anything I want to; too accustomed, apparently, to give it up. I kept on assuming that it'd stop bothering me, but just about every day I chafe at it (some days more than others, like today). I've become a canned news junkie, living on the snippets that CNN and the NY Times pass to PDA readers, wishing every day that I could go back to my cornucopia. Not that I don't have access at all, of course; I get up 30 minutes earlier than I have to so that I can go into work early and check the Internet before the clock starts, and generally spend my lunch wandering online. But I miss it at night... at night, my brain works in overdrive, and I've been running out of things to fuel it with. I generally exhaust my store of AvantGo'd news on the way home (hour+ long commute, you see), and even if I don't, I try to save a story or two to read on my morning commute, and e-books aren't quite the same thing. I'm not sure why they don't seem to count. Perhaps it's because nearly all the ones I have are so old?


I cracked my wrist unintentionally today. I don't really like doing it (I can ignore the voice screaming "ARTHRITIS" when I do my fingers, but not my wrists), so I was just trying to rotate the joint to ease some of the tension in it... and suddenly there's this horrendous cascade of pops and cracks, so loud that Nakaya-san, six feet and a desk away, looked up and asked me if I'd dropped something.


I want to formally apologize to everyone that I was a pain in the ass to back when I didn't drink and you did. I have a lot of respect for people who don't drink and are cool about people that do; I, on the other hand, was often more than a little self-righteous. It's kind of a shame that it took me starting up drinking to get over my hangups about other people doing it, but despite my much vaunted empathy, I just wasn't able to see the other side of this particular issue, and I'm sorry for being such a twit about it. I'm particularly thinking of Lon (who will likely never read this) and Brian (who might if he's bored at work), but there's been many more acquaintances of mine I've been obnoxious to about the subject, so to all of you, I was an idiot. I admit it.

I am currently not engaged in my promised A) and B) of last night. But given that I swear to god today that I noticed my work uniform's slacks being tighter today despite the scale denying that anything's different, don't worry, I'm heading out in about 10 minutes. To have a curry doughnut (laughing). But not coffee with shitloads of sugar, as normal, I promise, and on my way home, the nearby schools will be much explored. Tomoko warned me last night that she ran into a super creepy dude the other night and that I should be careful on my way home nights, which probably means that planning to start up running around 10 or 11 pm is not the smartest of ideas in the objective sense, but fuck if I'm getting up at 4 am to do it, and I'm a little too worn down right when I get home. I don't really have good shorts for it, but if I put off starting until I get around to going shopping, I'll never start. At least the one pair of non-jean shorts I brought with me (the baggy blue athletic ones I used to sleep in in the dorms and keep with me when I'm not at home in case there's a fire in the middle of the night, heh) has pockets, so I can toss in my cardkey and not have to carry things in my hands.

Things are shaping up for Dad's visit. Hotels are arranged, and itineraries are being settled on... I'm a terrible trip planner, so things will probably go terribly awry, but ah well. Current idea is to head over to Hiroshima early one morning and maybe hit the castle at Himeji on the way back that afternoon, go to Kyoto and sightsee the other weekend day, and on Monday I'll show him around Osaka and work and take him to a matsuri. Somewhere in there, I'll get some sleep, but I'm thinking it's not going to be a very restful weekend. Crazy to think it's almost my birthday. And Brandon's. And Kate's. And Jess's. January? Good month.

Skimming through some emails I printed out to study last week, I just noticed that I responded to an email on Monday on a matter that had been cancelled on last Thursday. Whoops. But Oomura-san already thought I was an idiot, so no real damage done I guess (rolling eyes).

Sigh, the kid working the refill coffee rounds tonight at Mr. D is that most feared of types: incompetent AND terrified of the Scary American Girl. Either one is annoying enough (as much as everyone loves it when he comes around with the dregs of a hour-old pot instead of a new one and spills as much as he gets into our cups, and as much as I adore being served by a person who acts like he thinks an alien is about to burst out of my skull and eat him), the combination is killing me.

I'm experimenting with having Mr. D coffee with only cream tonight, which is part of why Incompetent Xenophobe is driving me so nuts; normally I could cover up his rank-ass offerings with sugar. And they didn't have curry doughnuts in tonight! The ''old-fashioned" unglazed one I opted for is probably (slightly... very slightly) better for me, but it's just not the same.

Chorus goes along the lines of All amounts to nothing..../I worry my life away; remember to look for it sometime (Mr. D's been playing it like mad). I think it's called "Remedy" or something?

Nuts. Both the nearby schools see the need to padlock and barbwire their athletic fields. I swear I walked through a good sized park somewhere near here a week or two ago, but I couldn't find it tonight. I'll try again tomorrow, but failing that, I guess I get to work out some sort of ridiculously long course meandering through the neighborhood. So why am I so wanting to find a track to run on, people might wonder? Why not just run on the streets? Two reasons... 1) Running on a track, you can loop (and therefore not have to range as far) without running past the same houses several times and having people stare at you, heh. 2) Japanese streets are unaware of this thing you call "straight lines," and when I say "meander," I mean meander; I'm quite worried that I'd get totally lost and not be able to find my way home, seriously.


Sigh. It's 6:35 am and it's still pouring out. At least there's a bit of thundering going on to make up for things. I think I shall brave the blister-inducing shoes again... (eep)

But Narahara-san called me just as I was leaving the dorm, and said he'd give me a ride today, hooray! And during the ride, I laughed. A lot. Why? This snippet of conversation:

"Yuuichiro ha sa, Jen ha sekuhara ha okkei da tte!" Loosely: "Yuuichiro told me that 'Jen says sexual harassment is OK!'" (laughing still)

(laughing some more) And I just went in to add a couple names to that group picture down there, and noticed that Nishihara-san IS in it. I was just on crack that day....

(stretching) Quite unexpectedly, I went out tonight with Takahashi-san and crew for dinner and much drinking (not nearly as much as I did at the game last week, though). I was a little nervous at first at the idea of heading out with Takahashi-san and a bunch of his friends that I didn't know, but Tomoko (my next door neighbor) ended up being one of the invitees, so I wasn't all that uncomfortable. Particularly once I started talking to some of the other people along; even with alcohol to smooth out awkwardness, I have such a fear of new people it's ridiculous. It took a bit to overcome it, heh. I do wonder why I have such a hangup about being my normal rather gregarious self when I'm around more than one person that I've not met before (two is apparently the magic number, for some reason). I mean really, what will it cost me in the long run if my first impression comes off weird to Person X? A rhetorical question, unless they're a cute guy, in which case the answer is important, heh... But there weren't any cute guys along tonight other than Takahashi-san, and I've already made my first impressions for better or for worse with him, hah. Who knows if he invited me along just because he's sorry for me or what, but I appreciated that he followed up on our drunken conversation of last Thursday anyway.

Anyway. What else is there to talk about, other than a long discussion of how much Japanese I did or did not understand tonight? There's work, I suppose... I spent almost all of today over on the CoP (with a notable hour break), either using it or bugging Jon while he used it. He did come up with a couple ideas of things for me to try in my work, which seemed to not be all that useful when I tried them, but I've been stuck at the same spot for several days now, so I was grateful for another direction to head in. Actually, it was just really nice to sit on the floor and bitch about my job in general to him for a while. Much complaining was done along the lines of "I understand the software better than anyone else here, and I have no clue what the fuck I'm doing." Not like I haven't had similar complaints here for weeks, but it was nice to have an honest to god face to complain to for once.

I have a terrible habit of not doing exercises on nights that I drink. It's really a silly thing, considering that on those nights, of all nights, I should try to expend as many calories as possible, but try to argue that point with my tipsy self and you won't exactly lose, but you'll not win either. I swear up and down A) that I will study Japanese tomorrow after work and B) I will look for a place to start running tomorrow night. In exchange, I shall go to bed without doing jack. Heh.

I got home today to find not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR pieces of mail in my box. Two of them were probably there yesterday and I just didn't look; my mom and Grandma Vera kick butt. Grandma sent me a postcard and a birthday card (not for a couple weeks yet, but she wanted to make sure it got here on time), and Mom sent me two postcards... Nothing makes me happy like mail. Except free ice cream. And dramas and/or other good TV. And being flirted with by cute guys. Okay, shut up, I'm relatively easy to please within the constraints of my world view. Regardless, mail makes me happy.


There are pictures, but I mostly recommend this one because it's funny.

Inteeeeerrrrresting. There was a new tag on the board at the dorm when I got home today; it attracted my attention in the first place because the name was covered by a post-it note scrap (I figure the person hasn't moved in yet, perhaps?), but once I looked closer, my curiousity was tripped even more: the name on the tag? "Jachmann." Another foreign devil on his way in? Hrmmmmm. The questions are raised: will he speak Japanese? Is he German like Stefan? Will he work at Kasugade with me, or up in Takarakazuka? And of course, the giveaway: will he be cute? Hah.

I got so little done at work today it was insane. I spent the first hour of work writing Jeff's email (it probably wouldn't have taken so long if I hadn't been getting simultaneously mailed by several other people, and getting mobbed by morning conversation at work, heh), to have it get gobbled up by a rarity - my Dante connection dropped, and Pine didn't automatically postpone the message like normal. Grumble. So I then spent about another hour re-writing everything I'd lost (for the second goddamn time) and finishing the letter up... And suddenly it was 11:45. I'm really not sure where the extra almost hour went. Whoops. I was talking to people at work, some even about work-related stuff... It was a very strange morning. I swear to god time got speeded up.

So I came back from lunch fully intending on being uber productive to make up for things, only to have Jon swing by to see if I was going to this month's gijutsu touronkai. Between actual work and sitting on my ass for nearly three hours listening to presentations in Japanese (it's practice, really) and joking around with Jon? Hrm. What a choice. I figured I'd already screwed my day, might as well continue in the theme. Bonus being that on the way over to the other building, he asked if I'd be willing to give him some help learning HTML and Web design. Mmmm... Tutoring... (hehe).

I'm starting to think that I should just plan on eating out on Mondays, given that the offerings for food are so often sadness inducing on this particular day. Not like I can't just check the menu each week and make my decision then; it simply amuses me to make grand sweeping statements. Anyway, the other food related thing I was going to say concerns my (not whole whoohooohoohooo) milk. I'm confused at the labeling - I'm pretty sure that it says either that it's 1/3 percent milkfat or 2/3 percent; either one seems weird to me, having been brought up in the land of whole, 1/2, and 1/4 percent milk. Anyway, it doesn't taste like I'm drinking cream anymore, so I'm happy. I can actually drink more than a sip or two at a time.

I wonder why giving myself a neck or shoulder rub works better than giving myself a leg or foot rub (not that it has anything on getting given one in the first place, grumble). My current theory is one of angles.

There's a transvestite wearing a plastic sparkly bellbottomed pantsuit singing on TV. Moments like this make Mondays worthwhile. That and the fact that the emotionally constipated pair on Boku Dake no Madonna FINALLY got somewhere, slightly, today. I was going to scream if it was another full hour of melodramatic misunderstandings. You have to mix up the misunderstandings with some hint that the story is advancing, you see, or your audience just gets frustrated. Although if the audience is emotionally where I have been the last couple days, it's just as bad in a different way to have the episode end with the soulful-eyed kid professing his love in most unrealistically romantic way possible. Funny that if you translate the dialogue at the end there literally, it sounds dipshit as all hell, heh. It comes off as a lot more romantic in the original.

I was going to and investigate the neighborhood for a good running route... Until I opened up my window and saw that it was pouring out. Stupid Japanese summers. I'll go take a bath instead, so there. Or perhaps I'll wait 10-15 minutes. I don't quite fancy another extended naked conversation with Grandmotherly One in the bath tonight.


I'm still super fucking pissed about my shoes. I don't really care how they disappeared... Why the fuck would someone steal them, or why the hell would I have done something to them on Thursday night? It makes no goddamn sense. If someone stole them, was it a girl here (there's only 9 other women here) that's keeping them in her room, planning on wearing them? Was it a girl or a guy, who went and sold them for some random cash? If I did something with them (which I really doubt that I did), what the hell was my motive?

Is it just me, or has Sasaki just not been right since he came off the DL? Maybe it's just the games that I've been watching, but he's been throwing wild and walking fools like crazy. I wonder when this game actually took place; it's 9 pm in Boston at the moment, but the game's going on under the bright blue sky of a morning or afternoon. Bah, we lost. That's four in a row now.

How odd. There's some sort of error in the e-book I've been reading (written in 1922 about the history of alchemy, alchemical mysticism, and the development of chemisty, really fascinating stuff, particularly from a early 20th century perspective... for example, they still hadn't come up, apparently, with the idea of protons, nor had they yet come to grips with the idea that space is a vacuum) that causes Sayuri to crash if I try to access pages 437-458. I think those were probably the printed plates in the middle of the book, but it's annoying because I'm losing the tail page or two of the preceeding chapter and all of another.

Just coming back from a foray to Den-Den Town with Hayato. I finally got my DVD player... kind of amusing that we wandered from shop to shady shop, Hayato haggling while I did my best cute act, and in the end, the best price by far that we found was the last place on the strip that we checked: an official Sony outlet that happened to be having a one-day only clearance sale, heh. I got a couple pictures taken, but many of the stores had 50 trillion employees around, all frowning at me something awful when I snagged my camera out. Unsurprisingly, I was also unable to convince any of the street vendors selling pirate software not to get pissed at me for trying to take their picture, heh. I did find the Linux store again and get a picture of it, at least. No luck on the USB teacup.

(laughing) Well, I'm no longer pissed about my shoes. When I got home tonight, Masuda-san waved me over and apologized dreadful. Apparently, there is a tiny sign that I never noticed that says that we're only allowed to keep two pairs of shoes (plus slippers) in the boxes downstairs. The cleaning lady finally noticed that I had three pairs, and on Friday midmorning, she pulled one and put them behind the dorm desk. Because I didn't get home until late on Friday night, Masuda-san forgot to tell me that she had them... until she got home in the afternoon on Saturday to find the note I left for her saying "uhhh... One of my pairs of shoes is gone. What's up?"

I ate way too much at dinner; I was starving when I got home because I didn't eat much lunch and spent about 4 hours walking around with Hayato, so I played the greedy girl when I was dishing out the rice for my curry... now my tummy almost hurts, I'm so full.

It's a shame I didn't have the presence of mind to rent DVDs instead of tapes when I went to WP last night... I finally found Battle Royale in, which is good, but now I wish I could watch it on DVD instead, hah. But SUPER BONUS of the DVD player is that I no longer have to use my headphones to listen to my CDs in my room. The only thing I wish it had were an LCD display of the track number on a CD or time elapsed in a DVD. The two other small brands (Pioneer and Victor) had them, but I like the styling of the Sony better, it does have an onscreen display for CDs, and anyway, with the price slash I got at the Sony shop, it was quite cheaper. And w00t getting the DVD's remote to be able to turn on/off my TV and manipulate the volume was easy as cheese... I don't have to leave my TV on on nights I stay up too late watching something to want to get up and turn it off anymore!

I'm hoping that watching Battle Royale by myself is not going to be too disturbing, hah. (Over an hour later) I mostly think I understand what's going on... but I think I'll have to do some reading on the plot tomorrow. The main thing that I'm super confused about is why the three-years-previous winner is helping the protaganist and his girlie. My theory is that he felt sorry for them, but if he's verbalized the reason, I didn't pick it up (I did at least figure out why he was back in the game for another year... Why the other dude, presumably another previous year's winner, is there, I'm not sure.... I think they said something about him just being there to enjoy it, maybe). (Towards the end) It is, as I anticipated, just gory and not freaky, therefore I was not disturbed. Heh. I am, predictably, very much rooting for the hacker kid despite his entirely likely imminent death (there he goes). Aw, crap, the single person that I really really really didn't want to die just did. Bah humbug.

And oh god, I turned BR off to find the eruption scene in Dante's Peak on. A bunch of kids killing each other, I got no problem with, but volcanoes going off... volcanoes are freaky shit.

Ahhh no wonder I had Hero mixed up with a Japanese samurai flick - there's one coming out in another month or two and the commercials are similar enough so that I was confused.

I rather want to buy a jumprope. I wonder where on earth l could find one around here. It's way too ridiculously hot, even at night, for me to pick up my running again yet.


Foiled in my plans to take a shower; someone was down there cleaning at 11:45, bah humbug. They're not supposed to start cleaning until after noon, so how am I supposed to maximize sleep and still get a shower if I can't wander out of bed around 11:30 and take a shower right then? Grumble.

Having not heard from Narahara-san yet, I'm off to see the Wizard. Or at least to check my email, read the I Saw U's in The Stranger (they don't download to Sayuri), and see Pirates of the Caribbean. I think all in all it will be a successful Saturday. I shall come home, find somewhere to eat dinner, watch the episodes of Quiz that I need to get watched by tonight, return the tapes... That's the plan, at least.

But motherfuck is it hot.

Okay, now I'm pissed. My new black shoes, that I bought just before I came, are suddenly missing from my shoebox at the dorm. There's a slight possibility, I suppose, that when I came home so drunk on Thursday, I did something with them inexplicably. I checked my room and hunted through everyone else's shoes, and they're nowhere to be found. The most likely thing is that someone stole them, in which case, I'm fucking PISSED.

I have learned today that I shouldn't read articles about the apalling behavior of the upper ups in Bush's corner of the Republican party, or about the mindless bashing of Democrats perpetuated by ultraconservatives who are inexplicably listened to by a vast portion of my country, when I'm already angry about something. I was angry earlier, but now I'm fairly livid. It's probably a good thing that l'm not seeing anyone I know today; I'd likely lash out at anyone who struck me wrong in even the slightest way right now. Although I'd give anything to have Jim (as a sane Republican that I respect) here to talk to about it.

Plans have been slightly altered as a result of standing in line for 5-10 minutes to find that the 2:30 and 5:30 shows of Pirates were both sold out. I went ahead and decided to get a ticket for 8:20 (l forgot that Japanese theaters, by the way, are all weird and have assigned seats), and didn't really know what to do in the meantime. I wandered around downtown for a while, taking some pictures and buying a shirt (I think I'll give it to Bryce; it's amusing but I still think I can find better for Jeff and Seth), but finally decided to just camp in X-Time for a couple hours. Brian was around to play crib and chat with, and I got some email written, but I was very pissed about attempting to postpone the mail to Jeff I'd been working on and having it get eaten by some stupid Webpine bug (so Jeffie, if you're reading but still lacking a letter, I'm probably working on it at work on my Monday morning. Be patient). I understand in principle why they've disabled being able to run programs, but what I wouldn't give to be able to use Putty.

Erin would be pleased to know I'm writing this while I wait for my dinner at Baba-Reeba. The guy was completely surprised to learn that I'm not an English teacher, heh. But I guess this place is surrounded by eikaiwa schools, so it wasn't an unwarranted assumption. I'm just happy that they're playing some kickass classic rock and that the pasta they're cooking up for me smells nummy. (smacking lips) I knew I couldn't go wrong with pasta with a garlic and butter sauce. Although whoever is next to me at the movie theater will likely regret my decision, hehe.

OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE!! Just before boarding the train back downtown to catch the movie, I snagged out my ticket to doublecheck my seat. And stared, in utter disbelief, at the showing time written on it. 17:25. The 5:25 showing. The one that was listed as sold out on the board. I swear, after everything that's happened today, I'm just about ready to cry. I know (mostly) exactly how it happened; given that the 20:20 show was the only one listed as still having tickets, I just asked for a ticket to "the evening show" (I've had for years now an inexplicable problem with saying numbers in Japanese, and often screw them up embarrassingly, so I avoid them whenever possible). Who knows why the cashier didn't verbally confirm the time? Perhaps she just assumed that I wanted the next available showing, and perhaps the sold out mark was there because there was only one seat left and people don't see movies by themselves in Japan, and no doubt she assumed that I would check the time on the ticket anyway, and why would she have any idea that things had gone awry? In my own sad defense, I can say the same thing - fully believing that everything was exactly as I thought, I stuck the ticket in my wallet without any more than the most cursory glance. I had no reason to think that anything was weird, so it didn't even occur to me to doublecheck things at that point. You can say that I should have checked, or that she should have said the time out loud, all you want... The end result is that I'm out 1500 yen (almost 13 dollars, and that was with my college student discount), and way too upset about the whole thing to have the energy to go down and try to get my money back or anything. I haven't felt this demoralized in weeks.

Even the fact that there's an American movie on with Alan Rickman, the girl who played Maid Marian in Price of Thieves, Harvey Keitel, Susan Sarandon, and Kevin Kline in it isn't cheering me up. God, I could use a hug right now. I've said and thought many times that I wanted a hug in the past two months, but it was generally just out of normal loneliness... but a day like today...

Bizarrely, the only thing that's come close to making me feel better in the last hour is that I opened up the milk that I bought the other day and confirmed that it wasn't whole, as I was hoping. American movies didn't help, Pringles didn't help, chocolate didn't help, but milk of all things did. Only a little, but I'll take a little at this point. Perhaps it's because after a day of failures, I didn't turn out to have made another mistake?

It surprises me not at all that today would be the day that I find that I've got a tiny wart developing on the side of my left big toe. I've worried about getting another one since one developed directly under the joint on my right big toe... I've done my best to keep the damn thing from spreading, but the other one probably got started growing long before I even noticed the first one. Sigh.

For some reason, I really wish Mark were here tonight. Well, I said "for some reason," but I know very well why. I've thought of him often the last year or so; daydreamed him coming back, and me running into him on campus... they often involved me dropping my coffee and staring at him, which is rather funny in a sad sense. It betrays what I've absorbed from the absurdity that is popular media... but also the dreamy quality of my memories of him. I'm off, at 11:44 pm, to return my videos... And perhaps I shall daydream. And probably cry. Hah.

Mark has been the only person in my life to glimpse a certain part of me, and respond in the way I want. Other people, perhaps two that I can think of, have seen it, but didn't fit correctly. Perhaps only two other people that I can think of that I know at the moment would possibly even understand. He matched me; some people, many people, would disapprove... say, perhaps, that the way in which we fit together was not the way that I needed, that he and I together perpetuated things that shouldn't be. But wants are very powerful things, and Mark gave me what I wanted. And that's why I long for him so tonight, when I wish that someone would step in to make the world go away in that particular way of his... To take care of me. I've never been cared in that way before or since, which isn't a slight towards the many people who have cared for me and will feel aggrieved for reading that, but a simple statement of fact. He's in his thirties now; I wonder if he ended up marrying the girl he began dating in Boston.

Lately, I've been trying to explain depression. A few things that I like about being depressed: I'm more motivated to eat less and exercise more out of a complete hatred of myself. I write better, although I think I'll likely never match 1999... I was a poet for a few months and never have been again. I feel more weirdly justified in my horrible behavior because it matches my mood.


I didn't write anything after I got home tonight. I'm relatively confident in blaming this on having six beers at the game (I definitely remember those), and at least two at the bar I went to with Takahashi-san and other people afterwards (those got blurry). We lost, but I still had a good time, hah.

I'd sell my soul to be able to go to Mr. Bill's RIGHT NOW. I'm always ravenous the day after drinking, and I overslept again (I think there's something wrong with my alarm, because I checked and it was set correctly... today I could try to blame it on last night, but how did I oversleep it yesterday? Anyway.), so I didn't get even the smidgen of breakfast that I normally do here. The 40 minutes left until lunch are gonna kill me. Mr. Bill's being Jim's and my day-after restaurant of choice for the past couple years, I'm craving it and bad; how the hell am I supposed to concentrate on work when visions of a chili-stuffed omelet are dancing in my head? The Scarlet Tree is running a close second. Eggs Monteray.... mmmmm.... with lots of sour cream and salsa.... (tummy rumble)

My current favorite query that got someone to my site (and it's not even crude) : "I need movie quotes. Do you have them?"

I came home intending to watch the movies I rented last weekend, but Grave of Firefllies is on. I wasn't going to watch it, considering it's the like most depressing anime ever made, but I kind of got caught.

I've been a little off all day; I didn't really get anything done at work today, and I couldn't even properly enjoy hanging out with Hayato tonight. I haven't really slept well all week, which I think is to blame... I've felt every single day to be a slog uphill. Hayato and I headed into Den-Den Town, but it hadn't occurred to us that everything might shut down by 7. Bah. We'll go again on Sunday afternoon, so I'll try to snag some pictures then.

For now, though, I think I'm just going to pop a tape in the VCR and lie down. I can't decide if I hope Narahara-san calls me tomorrow morning or not; on one hand, I'd really like to be able to really sleep in, but on the other, if he doesn't tomorrow he probably will on Sunday and I'll have to plead out because I'm meeting with Hayato. Piss.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: romantic movies should include a self-destruct instruction that would get tripped when I tried to watch them.


I was late today. Piss0r. If I'd just been able to get to the station about 1 minute earlier, I would have been able to catch the express and my oversleeping would have gone unnoticed. Sigh.

Awww, I figured out whose ticket it was that Nishihara-san gave me, and it's his (heh). That's the problem with the lack of proper pronouns in Japanese - you can lose track of who's being talked about. But many of my other favorite people are going, so it's not a total loss.


I really hate it when my keitai gets spammed at 4 am. Particularly because at that time the only person who would reasonably be calling is my dad, so I wake up in an adrenaline rush thinking that my brother's died in a car accident or something. And I was having such a good dream about Andrew Benton being all nicely dressed up in a suit and then sitting in a pizza. Heh.

I have come into possession of a few (RIDICULOUSLY HUGE) pictures of everyone in the Seigi Center group (that would be the group that I'm working in here at Sumitomo), taken a month or two before I came. I figured I'd post them so that people who are interested can put some faces to names that I've been dropping like hats, as well as getting something of a look at the world directly outside my building. Just be warned that they're about 1.5 meg files; the only photo application I have at my fingertips is Microsoft Photo Editor, and my attempt at scaling with that piece of trash was, shall we say, less than successful. Look for the ones marked sumitomo-seigi_center_peeps_*. I'm working (surreptitiously, considering theoretically I should be doing REAL work right now) on assembling a who's who list for one of the pictures, so if for some reason you're reading this RIGHT NOW... uh... wait a bit. Sometime in the next couple hours before I leave work, there will be a list. I've learned, by the way, that SSH Secure Shell refuses to upload pictures from a directory that's got Japanese characters in the name. How sweet is that?

Okay, in sumitomo-seigi_center_peeps_standing.jpg (which I chose mostly because it has a lack of people with their eyes closed and because Kitamura-san looks funny), here's how things run, right to left as is normal in all normal countries, and for the four people standing at the far right who are kind of between lines, I said they're in the third row.

(Sorry for all the Whazhisnames... I've never had to talk to them, so I don't be with the knowing them)
Front row:
Kitamura-san, Hara-san, Tanaka-san, Whazhisname2, Tera-chan, Yamamoto-san, Ishimaru-shochou, Kumamoto-san, Shimo-chan, Ashida-san, Whazhisname3, Satou-san, Narahara-san
Second row:
Araki-san, Whazhisname4, Yahiro-san, Nishihara-san, Tokunaga-san, Ueda-GM, Yanno-san (right behind Ueda-GM), Takahashi-san, Jon, Ookubo-san, Whazhername who quit, Nakadate-san.

Third row:
Nakaya-san, Whazhisname6, Fujisawa-san, Moritou-san, Iwahara-san, Whazhisname7, Whazhisname8, Whazhisname9, Kotera-san, Shudo-san (the only one in this picture with his eyes closed, if you've gotten lost), Whazhisname10, Kodanaka-san, Jibu-san, Oomura-san, Shiojiri-san, Whazhisname12

So who have I mentioned? Lessee... Kitamura The Male is the boss who told me to go home in that funny way a couple weeks ago. Tera-chan is the head technician in my team who also happens to be a complete computer geek. Yamamoto-san is the one who always tries to speak to me in English but fails utterly. Ishimaru-shochou is the boss of bosses' boss - he runs the four research groups that are in my office (he's like, important and stuff). Kumamoto-san is the girl on my team that invited me to the baseball game (Shimoda-san is in my team and has utterly failed to make an impression of any sort). Satou-san is, as I have said often enough, scary as all hell (although surprisingly attractive compared to the average guy in my group). Narahara-san... do I have to remind people of Narahara-san? I talk about him enough, heh.

Ueda-GM is my super nice boss of bosses who made it so that I don't have to wear the yellow things. Takahashi-san is Narahara-san's friend who gave me his Hanshin bats. Jon is the whitey, need there be more explanation? Ookubo-san took me to Rokko last Friday. Nakadate-san is the perpetually mumbling somewhat computer geek on my team, the one with a belt holster for his cigarettes.

Fujisawa-san got me my TV. Moritou-san rides the train with me almost every morning. Iwahara-san is usually much cuter and much less skeletal. Shudo-san is the sweetie who invited me out for yakiniku a couple weeks back. Whazhisname11 is starred because even though I don't know his name (update in November, it's Kodanaka-san), he's been mentioned - he's the wiry little guy whose dialect I can't understand to save my life. Jibu-san is the completely typical socially challenged computer geek who hooked the network printer up to his computer yesterday. Shiojiri-san sits next to me and talks... a lot... really fast.

Kitamura-san The Female, Yamaguchi-san, Kojio-san, Yoshiyuki, Nishihara-san, Shimura-san, and Ishibashi-san mysteriously (Ishibashi-san not so mysteriously, considering he was taking the picture) do not show up in this particular picture. Nishihara-san is in the one from last week (and he just came by my desk to give me an extra ticket to go to a baseball game tomorrow.... SWWWWWEEEEEEEEET! I love me my Nishihara-san something lots), so I'm not too annoyed about him... Lemme check the other pictures for missing people. _slanted has several missing Whaztheirnames in it, so that's not much help (it does have Nishihara-san, but I'm not concerned with him). _crouching has a couple more Whaztheirnames, and is probably a better picture overall, but I've already put all the work into the above, so no more. There is one named addition in that one, though : Shimura-san, who invited me to hang out and watch them play free tennis on my second or third day, is the guy standing in between Shiojiri-san and Ookubo-san in the backrow, 12 or so heads from the left. Nishihara-san is also in that one.

Okay, I'm going home now. Heh.

Jon finally related the location of one of the two stores near the Hankyuu station that have foreigner eats (and the approximate location of the one that he says has better selection), and it turned out to be a store I've walked past a million times, right inside the station. I blame the fact that they don't have windows, and it's just slightly out of my peripheral vision anyway. I snagged some more salsa, along with some sour cream and onion dip that may or may not be good, we'll find out. But not tonight... I got home, and my mother apparently thought I was in dire need of comforting after the (only mildly, I swear) somewhat depressing letter I sent her last week, because she had a ridiculously huge amount of Chukar Cherries shipped over here. The package weighed more than John's, and I thought that was heavy. I'll never be able to eat everything she sent by myself, so I gave a bunch to Masuda-san (who went into raptures at the prospect of cherries, even weird American dried ones), and I'll take a lot with me tomorrow. I figure I can foist some off on people at the game, maybe?

(dancing) I'm so happy that I'm getting another chance to go to a baseball game! I'm not sure who wasn't able to go this time, whether it was one of our co-workers or another one of Nishihara-san's friends (or girlfriend, who knows if he's got one or not), and I feel sorry for them missing out... Not sorry enough to regret getting the ticket, particularly because Nishihara-san insisted that I not give up any money towards the cause, that it was a present... I win more! Anyway, I never dreamed I'd get the chance to go the first time, and to have lightning strike twice is uberlucky. I know Iwahara-san is going tomorrow, Nishihara-san, Fujisawa-san, and probably Kumamoto-san too; it reads like a laundry list of all my favorite people at work. Tomorrow will be hard to sit through, waiting for work to be over.

Today was a good day, again with the exception of being exhausted. The whole being woken up by spam didn't help any the fact that I went to bed far too late, sigh. Anyway, I was saying: good day. I was working on getting all the data I scribbled down yesterday entered into Excel, so I was hanging out at my own computer with my email open all day. Heh. I went to an extremely interesting lecture by Shiojiri-san on the usage of the neural network software I'm using (he's used it a tiny bit, and went to a lecture a while back about it... I'm really not sure why he was giving this lecture randomly today, but hey). I confirmed that I understand how to use the software more than people who have written papers on the subject, even if I don't have as good a handle on the engineering aspects of things, and got to chime in a couple times in a mix of English and Japanese (the English was restating something I'd butchered in Japanese) with some stuff that everyone found totally fascinating. Which was kinda sweet... I got to be back on my normal power trip again, hehe.

BTW people that call me... If I don't pick up, wait until the weird lady stops jabbering Japanese and you leave a message. Although I think it was Dad calling this particular time.

I totally had something else to say. Brain fart; that does it, I'm going to bed early today, with only this comment... Why on earth is there a curry brand called Curry Marche, that they advertise with distinctly "French" imagery? What did someone imagine curry had to do with France? Every time you start thinking that perhaps the ads over here aren't so nutty after all...


(giggling) So I was just bored and picking through my refer log (because damn if referer logs aren't incredibly hilarious on occasion in the search terms they show being used to get here), and I saw a very rare thing... it looked like it was a link from someone's personal home page to mine that was NOT a link for the L5R reference. And so what did I? Of course I checked what it was. And I find my page listed as a "Geek Reference," with the following annotation : "A college male gamers wet dream, a chick totally into role playing and computers." (giggle)

Well, the big news today is quite out of the ordinary, so it rather demands to be talked about first. So I'm twiddling on my happy way towards mild productivity today at around 10 am, writing an email to Jeff, when I hear a loud USO!! (loosely, "NO WAY!!") off to my side. I turn to see Fujisawa-san slam down his phone, point his finger wildly at us all, and yell for us to unplug our network cables because some idiot got the blaster worm inside the company firewall. I got detailed to alert the labs upstairs, and there was a big ol' disconnection party, heh. I'm still wanting to know who it was that called him; the official announcement didn't come over the PA for another ten or fifteen minutes and at that point was obviously a surprise to the other groups in our office. Apparently we forgot to let anyone else in on our hot tip, whoops. So I had to be productive allllllll day today instead of goofing off on the internet as I am somewhat wont to do. The horror, heh. But only two of our group's computers got hosed (one was thought to be turned off, so someone didn't unplug it, and no one has any idea how Shiojiri-san got it, considering that I unplugged him right after my own... Baddddd luck), so other than everyone whining about no email, things were just fine in our corner. It was pretty funny watching people running around trying to find floppies so that they could print from Jibu-san's computer (he hooked one of network printers directly to his), and watching the people with huge files have complete hissy fits, hehe. I heard from Kimura at dinner that basically all the computers at Takarakazuka (the northern plant location that most of my dormmates work at) got totally hosed... he said that it hit there around 11:30 or 12, leading me to strongly believe that they got it from us. Whoops.

I skimmed Slashdot this morning for the first time in over a month, and quite ironically, read the bit about the white-hat anti-blaster worm. I told Jon about it at lunch, and Yoshiyuki overheard and spread the word around... Every time I thought I'd finished explaining what it was, another person would come up and be like "hey, what's this thing I'm hearing about?" I was the most popular person at work today.

In perhaps my most horrifyingly embarrassing 25 minutes at work so far, I had my first monthly progress report meeting today. It was supposed to be 10 minutes, but nooooooo. Not to mention that Ueda-GM decided to join in; as if Yamaguchi-san doesn't make me nervous enough, my boss of bosses had to come and listen to me butcher an attempt at communication (if it had just been Narahara-san and Yoshiyuki, it would have been much easier). I felt so bad about it afterwards that I went up to his desk and apologized. A lot. He seemed really surprised and told me that he thought I'd done just fine; he told Yoshiyuki, who couldn't believe that I'd done it. Not that it was wrong for me to apologize or anything, but apparently they really all did think I did fine. According to Yoshiyuki, I only made one error, and they were all able to understand what I was trying to express just fine. He thinks that American education is the root of it; he claims that no Japanese student would ever stress so much about a presentation, or worry if they did well enough. Not because they'd do better, but because they're all slackers, according to him, heh. But I happen to know that while sure, I didn't make many mistakes grammatically, I left very much unsaid because I couldn't think of how to express it. In my opinion, I completely failed at communicating my point; there was so much that I left my listeners in the dark in... argh. I really wanted to pull Jon aside today and complain about it to the only person around who'd really understand, but he was super busy all day... Bah.

It's really frustrating for me to not be on top of my game here. There's plenty that I don't know at work at home, but what I don't know, it's not my job to know. I've made it my passion to be damn knowledgeable and capable at work for the last four years, and to be suddenly thrown into a situation where I can't be that way. I told Jon at lunch today how spoiled I've gotten by using Microsoft and open source software and/or languages. Complain all you want about Microsoft - their documentation is impressive. You have a question, you can find the answer easily in Help; if you can't, enough people have asked the question online that you can find the answers. The latter applies as well, obviously, to things like PHP or Linux. And sometimes the former. Sometimes, heh. Anyway, suddenly being thrown at a completely ridiculous multi-thousand dollar corporate software package, with terrible and vague documentation, that no one else at work understands, where the company charges so much money for support that mine isn't willing to shell for it... well, it sucks. I've got no problem with USING the thing; years of practice have done nothing if not taught me to pick up how to use software quickly. But for example, there's three places where you can obtain correlation coefficients, and no explanation in any of the documentation of how they're calculated. So how the hell are you supposed to figure out which one to pay attention to? I complain overly much for a day that wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday, but it's something that's been gnawing at me for weeks now.


So yeah, sorry about forgetting to warn that I wasn't going to post anything until now. Oops? There are a bare few and uninteresting pictures this week, but at least the dates should be fixed again.

Blah. My personal angel designed Monday night TV to make up for how often my Mondays just suck. Basically everything that could have sucked at work, did, made worse by the fact that I was horribly tired all day. The final proof to me was when my batteries ran dead in my CD player not halfway home, in the middle of my favorite song, just as I had pessimistically predicted that it would. At that very moment, I just knew that dinner would be not tasty, as that would perfectly cap off the day.

So in ward against it, I stopped at a few stores on my way home. I actually found chocolate milk (I'm relatively sure that's what it is, I haven't tried it yet, but all signs point to it), and snagged some sour cream and onion Pringles. And stopped at the dango shop to get some mochi nummies. Good thing I did, too - although I've now figured out that the eggplant-tofu dish they serve is much tastier earlier in the evening than later (the tofu is still warm then), dinner was overall made up of all my least favorite dishes they serve here. I cringe when I see the particular soup they served tonight; it'd be mostly tasty except they put a weird leaf in it that makes everything have a really strange soapy type flavor (I think it's bergamot, but I'm not certain).

Having everyone back at work was nice in some ways (I wanted to hug Moritou-san on the train this morning, I'd missed him so), but on a day when I so didn't want to be at work I would have rather had no one around observing me. Jon made it home from India safely (his "body's not handling the digestion as well as it should, if [I] take [his] meaning, though," heh), so I was able to chat with him over lunch, which was nice.

I've got a huge desire to go watch Quidam (Cirque de Soleil) while it's in town. It falls under another one of those things I really don't want to do by myself, though. I wonder if Jon and his girlfriend would have any desire to go, hrm. I was thinking to myself today that my violent aversion to going to places like movie theaters, restaurants, or theater shows by myself might not have something to do with my lack of actualization as a separate human being. It amuses me to write it in that fashion, but really, why do I feel it necessary to do things in the company of other people rather that it sufficing to be by myself?

Grumble. Somehow I'm not surprised at all that having attempted to comfort myself with junk, I've given myself a junk headache. It's just been that sort of day.

The eyedrop commercial where the girl drips stuff into her eye, then squinches both her eyes shut, clenches her fists, and makes this anguished squeal sort of sound really doesn't make me want to try her product. It looks like the stuff is burning her eyes out. The mecha moisutuaaaaa eyedrop commercial bothers me almost as much. It's bad enough that I'm having to hear the word "moist" (well, "moisture" anyway) uttered aloud while in Japan of all places, but does she have to say it so often and drag the damn word out so long? Bah.


I've become a snooze button fiend this weekend. I meant to get up around 8:30 or 9 this morning to not have to hurry at cleaning before I leave, but I was having horrible nightmares this morning and I finally hoisted myself up at a bit after 10. Now, most people would welcome the chance to wake up from nightmares, perhaps; I, on the other hand, always have this irrational desire to see the dream through to the end, so that it's settled. This always makes perfect sense to me when I'm groggily halfway between the dream and the alarm clock.

Mandy invited me to go along to the Osaka Human Rights Museum today. I accepted more because it'll be nice to see her and Saeko than because I'm actually interested in the museum, I'll admit, but the exhibits on the Burakumin should be decently interesting, I'm betting.

Ick, my last few loads of laundry have left my clothes with that coated in soap feeling that you usually only get if you use too much detergent... except that I haven't changed the amount I'm using. Maybe the washers are screwed up... (grimacing) it makes me want to touch myself a lot less. (blink) I can't believe that sentence just came out without me noticing what it said until the end. And then I laughed, and mightily.

Oooh... Dangerous, dangerous to subsume myself in Metallica for two days on end. For just as music can be places or experiences, it can also be people... Jimi Hendrix is my mother, Pearl Jam is Amelia, No Doubt is Kurtis, Type O Negative is Warren, Enya is Ethan, Creedence Clearwater Revival is Kent, Sarah McLoughlan is Lon, Intermix is Gabe, Our Lady Peace is Mr. Dammen, B'z is Brian, Peter Gabriel is Mark, Ryuichi Sakamoto is Peter, Bjork is Brandon, and Metallica is Jim so very very completely.

I was accosted by two very drunk girls with a video camera on my way home tonight. They were extremely curious, in that specially drunken way, about me and had great fun videotaping the whole thing, heh. They invited me along with their friends to shoot off fireworks, and oh, I so wanted to go. But I ran into them around 11:30 and I've got work tomorrow monring... Out of ALL the days this five-day weekend that I got to run into a bunch of partying college students with fireworks and beer in hand, why did it have to be SUNDAY? Bah! I didn't want to tell them that the reason I was ditching them was for work's sake (who knows why it mattered to me to not be "cool" in their eyes, I certainly don't), so I told them I'd forgotten my key to the dorm and that they were locking the doors soon. And I've beat myself up over it for the past 20 minutes (not over the lie, I just find that part puzzling). Wahhhhh I wanted to go.

Today was fun; Hayato unexpectedly came along, so four were the adventurers out to the museum. It was about as interesting as I'd figured it'd be, no more and no less, and it was indeed quite fun to hang out with them all for the day. I did have a little mental skip when I made a joke involving a Tivo and they were all like "what?" Sigh. It'll be so nice to come home to my proper geek friends. I'd give anything for one of Ryan's Red Dwarf references or Jim's Microsoft ones or Seth's gaming ones. And for them to pick up on mine, heh.

I had marked off that I wasn't going to eat dinner at the dorm tonight with full intent to go to Baba-Reeba since I changed my mind to Indian food not 30 feet from its door last night. Of course, then I didn't get back to Toyonaka until after 10 pm, when it had already closed. I didn't want to go trekking afar for food and didn't have any of Erin's other mentioned restaurants in my mind anyway, so I opted for the healthy choice and had a curry doughnut and a hotdog croissant at Mr. Donut (hehe). The hotdog croissant was surprisingly good, although I'd been hoping that they'd have the ham and cheese ones in instead. Hey, at least I didn't get the tuna salad danish. And I made up for it by staying and studying for a good hour and a half. Because studying really does make up for bad eating habits, in the moral sense at least.

I have now twice performed the miracle of causing the standing shower to have hot water. Between that and the fact that the ofuro was once again piping hot hot hot, my inexplicably aching shoulder muscles are much happier than they were. I'm now not getting to bed before 1, though. I'm hoping that happy muscles now are worth extra groggy me in the morning.


Bah! I swear up and down that there was going to be a Mariners game on this morning, but I laze my way out of bed at 11 to find a Yankees broadcast!? Grumble. They're in the 8th so maybe after the game's up... All I'm saying is that if I get downstairs to take a shower and the water's all cold, I'm going to be giving this morning a serious thumbs down.

Yankees game is still on and the water was cold when I went down to take a shower. But! But! In the process of fiddling around with the settings on the wall panel, I stumbled across the settings that gave me hot water through the standing shower. I think. If I can reproduce things on Monday morning, I will do a little happy dance. The shower head on the standing shower is much worse than the others, but not having to, in Brandon K's words, stand on my head to wash my hair was heaven.

Waiting pays off in the form of the 3rd inning of the Mariners game bringing me a Boone home run. Of course, it comes on just as I decide to head out for a curry doughnut. Ah well, it'll still be on when I get back.

Verdict on the fried deviled egg... they mixed the yolk in with some cheese and some ham and some mostly unidentifiable vegetable bits including red pepper and onion... DELICIOUS. GENIUS. Not so delicious was the katsu sandwich I picked up at the same shop, but I'll forgive them. And stick to the fried deviled eggs from now on.

I almost, ALMOST am feeling sorry for the Red Sox. Not that we're beating their asses or anything (we're tied), but there's been three plays in a row this inning where they either fucked up or got fucked (for example, I'm really not convinced that McLemore made it to second safely like the umpire maintained). And they missed getting Ichiro out on a easy popped foul to watch him get his second Grand Slam on the very next pitch... poor guys. We're no longer tied, by the way. Hehe.

It rather weirds me out how much Hasegawa looks like a Japanese version of my grandfather.

I missed the start of Pirates of the Caribbean by 10 minutes today. Grumble. Not wanting to wait around 3 hours until the next showing, I gave up until next week. After I did such a good job of finally nerving myself up to go watch a movie by myself, too.

It being too late, by the time I missed the movie starting, for me to really want to go down to Den Den Town, I ended up spending some time wandering around the Hep buildings downtown. I found a couple stores that I might eventually brave entering to look for t-shirts for some of my friends... eventually. It takes a lot to get me into Japanese clothing stores; the excessive attention paid to me by the store attendants unnerves me terribly. Part of it is just the atmosphere in Japanese stores in general. Culturally, if the store employees don't pay a lot of verbal attention to you (regardless of actual attention), it reflects badly on the store. So you combine that with my great sense of out of placeness in Japanese stores and you get one uncomfortable Jen. Maybe I'll drag Hayato along with me sometime; I don't feel as funny if I'm not by myself.

Other stores of note included the outlandish Western gear place called Funny, the school girl fetish store East Boy (hehe, I just typed Easy Boy by accident, which really, would be much funnier), and the toy store that was selling Playboy bunny goods right next to Hello Kitty stuff.

Oh hooray, a break in my TV watching of late... A movie on with a favored cutie-pie actor (the one who plays the sidekick in Boku Dake no Madonna... I knew he was lead material, hehe).

One of the things that continues to boggle me is that other people live in this dorm. It shouldn't, really; I'm well aware, intellectually, of the price of housing in Japan. But even so, I find myself unable to really wrap my mind around the fact that people past college choose to live in a single, small room with a shared bathroom and no kitchen of their own, in a place where their comings and goings are announced to all other residents and they're expected to fill out forms if they'll be out overnight, in a place where they aren't allowed to have their significant others spend the night and even having a friend up to their room for a visit is a matter of special permission. That so many people in Japan accept living like this with, so far as I can tell, a distinct lack of chafing, that some of them continue living in a place like this into their 30s and beyond, is one of the things that reminds me "CULTURAL DIFFERENCES" in neon letters.


(happy wriggle) I don't know what it is that thrills me so about listening to loud, obnoxious rock music as I walk down Japanese streets... Today it was Rammstein (on the Matrix soundtrack, I'm not nearly to R yet), and I swear I felt positively giddy. That it was a German band just amused me all the more. Speaking of the "not nearly to R yet" item... it's rather ridiculous that I've been listening to my CDs alphabetically straight through, at a rate of approximately 2 a day, for two months now, and I just entered the Ms last night.

I decided to stick my head in at a different grocery store today (largely because I didn't feel like sitting down at the particular song I was on when I got down to the station this morning), one that's out of my way as opposed to directly on my way like the one I've been going to, but one that's quite a bit bigger. My exploring paid off... fruit was the same price as at the other store I've been going to, but nearly everything else was cheaper (not a lot, but enough), and the selection was much better. They had Doritos! Sweet! No salsa, though. Anyway, I think I'll go there from now on.

I exhausted my store of news quickly this holiday, so I've finally got around to reading some of the stored e-books I brought with me. They're all public domain free ones, so no recent things, but I figured, when I put the collection together in the last week or so before I left, that it was high time that I read more classics. I've never read Through the Looking Glass, for example, and although I adore Mark Twain, I've been restricted thus far in my reading mostly to his full length books. I've gotten trapped in a collection of his short stories that are largely incredibly depressing. I keep on thinking that I'll just quit reading them, change to something else, and along will come a story that's so incredibly hilarious that I can't help but read on. I highly recommend Italian with Grammar to Ty and Ryan.

I got home in the 4th inning of the Mariners game... It was 0-1, Toronto, when I came in... It's still the fourth and it's 0-4 now. We beat their asses and good yesterday, so I would appreciate it if we would do the same today, thank you very much. It's not that often that I get to sit and watch a good portion of a game, so could we win please? Thanks.

Today is my CONFIDENTIAL trip to Mt. Rokko with Ookubo-san. It's not raining, I've had coffee and a curry doughnut, I'm getting to watch a Mariners game... Today is shaping up to be quite good. Even if we lose. It's beautiful enough to be able to see the sunset just coming in at 8:30 pm in Seattle.

I say this, but I'm still going to be pissed if we lose. Heh.

I like that they don't really play commercials in the Japanese broadcasts of Mariners games (maybe once an hour). In the space where they're showing commercials in the US, the Japanese commentators come in and talk over whatever's going on in between innings. I really like getting to watch the random stuff in between innings... it gives you more of a feeling of being at the park than an American broadcast does, when you're restricted to just watching the pitches. Sure, it's not exciting stuff, but it's the small things that help.

Holy shit, they've got coverage of the power outage in the northeast... I can't really conceive of that many states being without power all at the same time. The Japanese news commentator didn't say what caused it (well, she probably did, in the minute before I started paying attention), so I'm sitting here hoping that the American baseball commentators do more than express sympathy for "the millions of people" without power. Damn you, baseball commentators, damn you! I can't hate them too much, though; I love them for being in Seattle and assuming that I am, too.

Bah, we lost.

I change the channel and it's high school baseball on nearly every channel (well, 3 out of 15, which is more than enough). The high school baseball thing just confuses me. People are rabid about it here just as they are with college football in the US. I don't know, I guess once the players pass 18, there's a little bit more legitimacy in it for me. The idea of obsessing about 15 year old players just seems... well... odd. I can't think of a single high school sport that's widely followed in the US; the only one I can even think of being televised is cheerleading competitions, and that just doesn't really count.

I totally forgot to ask Ookubo-san why we were making a CONFIDENTIAL trip to Mt. Rokko, doh. But I had a great time... it wasn't clear out, but it didn't really rain at all, and it was so very nice to be out of the concrete of Osaka and into the mountains above Kobe. I even saw a slope full of pine trees... combined with the grey skies above and the view of Seattleish Kobe below, it was a very Western Washington themed trip. My hard-learned lessons of Hakodate Yama served me well, and I was very glad that I wore jeans and brought a long-sleeved shirt, heh. For the first time since I came to Japan this time, I was actually COLD outside. We didn't see the Cheese Museum that Erin claims is there, but we did randomly across a museum dedicated to, of all things, music boxes. It was crazy... I couldn't decide if I thought the KC Special One-Box Band or the automatic banjo was cooler. Although the winner, on merits of sheer size, may just be the monstrous 5-meters-tall-and-8-meters-wide beast. The music was horrible, but the construction was certainly impressive. I was totally surprised to find that they still make huge-ass music boxes (the most amusing of the newer ones being the one constructed in 1991 specially for the museum... it plays the Hanshin Tigers song). But I guess every obscure art still has its devotees.

I was extremely pleased with the place we went to dinner; I hadn't had non-Japanese pasta in forever, and we had a quite passable pizza type thing as an appetizer. Ignore the fact that it came with something like lima beans on it, it was tasty anyway. I took a picture of it just to show those doubters of my friends that they really do put silly stuff on pizza over here; I haven't been making it up, I swear. Some day I'll have to take a picture of a REALLY weird pizza. And then you will all understand the horror that eating in Japan can occasionally devolve into.

I got a decent picture of the Kobe port from above while my batteries lasted, but taking a picture of my dinner appeared to do the stupid things in, because I couldn't get the flash to go when we came back out. With nothing to rest my arms on, I couldn't get a good picture of the gorgeous night view from the mountain, nor even one of the nicely blurred ones that I'm so bizarrely fond of, piss. Ookubo-san said he'd send me one of the ones he was able to get, but it still annoyed me. Maybe I'll just start carrying extra batteries around with me... This camera dying right when I actually want to take a picture thing is getting to me.

I can't believe how often I snag out my camera. Since I don't have to pay for film to be developed, I've got no sense of restraint. I comfort myself by knowing that even though I take many a excessive picture, they're all things that my mother will love for me to explain to her when I get back. She complained very heavily my last trip to Japan that she had no way to put a visual finger on anything. So you see, it's all for her benefit.

(hehe) Boogie Woogie is doing a disco version of one of this year's super serious ballad-type pop songs. This show is so ridiculous, made even more so by the appearance, this week, of uber-gay Yamasaki Tooru (laughing). I can't stand him being on screen, I just devolve into fits of giggling. Not that I don't laugh every time I watch this show, with Mr. Jafro Papaiya-chan or whatever his name is doing his disco best.

Bah, I want to take a bath, but I went down and checked, and it's tepid again. I'm feeling snacky for something savory, but I've got nothing to satisfy the craving. I feel like watching some American TV, but there's not a single offering on. Is it any wonder that I just spent 15 minutes or so stealing around the men's section of the dorm? Boredom reaps its rewards! There's only about five people home in the whole dorm, and as long as I didn't make too much noise in the hallways, I figured I wouldn't get caught (of course, when I went down to fill my water 20 minutes or so later, I discovered that about 10 people had come home in the hour or so since I'd gotten back; good luck for me that none of them are on the hallways I was roaming). I found the rooms reserved for guest use; I'm mightily tempted to steal one of the chairs in there, heh. They'd probably not notice for quite a while... Anyway, I'd give anything right now for even that silly show with the super gay American interior designers to amuse me. I'm just not in the mood for Japanese TV at the moment.

Eep... Stupid American kid has dyed his hair green. As if he weren't already silly looking enough (this week's hat is also particularly ridiculous). Strangely, this week he's featuring Japanese pronunciation in his English. The perils of over-enunciation? Nay, the perils of Jen spending more than two days in a row mostly by herself. Spending today with Ookubo-san was apparently not enough to ward off the obsessive rambling at myself on Sayuri that appears to exhibit itself on these occasions. Which results in me complaining excessively about Green-Haired California Boy, the "interesting sports" show that featured crazy Swedish not-quite-baseball, and the Bee-Gees documentary that is randomly on. And the fact that Yamasaki Tooru is mysteriously on YET ANOTHER channel tonight. More falsetto than ever to boot. Would it kill the programming gods to offer me a rerun of ER? I'd even take a Friends episode at this point.

In a turn that would do Ty proud if it does any of my friends (sorry, man, I wrote it and I'm not willing to erase it), I'm alleviating my boredom with the decision to determine if I have a preference between Kirin and Takara brand lemon chuu-hai. The problem is, of course, that I carelessly had one can before the other, rendering my opinion on the second slightly suspect. Preliminary reports point to no strong preference either way, meaning that Takara's cheaper price and commercial featuring an irresistable jingle and excessively cute girl may win out in the end...

But I'm still left with the Bee-Gees documentary and Pub Starting Over (the English conversation short program that comes on after California Boy's 10 minute English show) being the most entertaining things on. I don't know why I find the English conversation shows so amusing... officially, I explain it to myself and others that I find that the explanations of English grammar in Japanese give me some useful insights into Japanese, but I'm not sure that really covers it. Morbid fascination perhaps? I will henceforth cover it by pointing out that they just had a very interesting discussion with a professional translator on Pub Starting Over about the difficulties of translating Japanese body language in novels into English. Surely that was "officially" interesting to me. Although why I feel the need to have an official reason for watching these shows somewhat escapes me...

And the question is... Just how long CAN this entry get? Quite long, I bet you, quite long. I should just go to bed, if for no other reason than to prevent this entry from becoming more obscene. Problem being that I'm not sleepy in the slightest. Lacking a third brand of chuu-hai, I've determined that I much prefer lemon of either brand to lime Kirin. What I REALLY want to know is why Kore ha Hen na Nihonjin da yo (I think that's what its name was... perhaps it was hen na gaijin, but no matter) is no longer on TV. Watching a bunch of foreigners speak perfect Japanese and interact with completely assbananas Japanese people would surely satisfy my TV watching desires at the moment as the Bee-Gees documentary completely doesn't and the the documentary on using motion-capture in anime only barely does. Zach would be interested to know that the animator playing the expert guest on the anime documentary is an American guy about our age speaking surprisingly perfect Japanese and that they're interviewing him at depth concerning the differences in the creation of American as opposed to Japanese animation.

Hah ha, here it comes, 30 minutes later than expected, as it always does. Whee. It registers as incredibly amusing, in general, at the moment that there is something imprinted in Braille on the top of the can. If it matches what is imprinted in Japanese (osake desu), I find it even more amusing.

Augh, what I would give for an American news broadcast at the moment! The random Japanese interview of the man living in New York surmising that the power outage is the result of a terrorist act is not nearly enough. I can't believe the fucking power has been out in the greater amount of NE states for twelve hours now?!? Jesus. Ah, Bush is now telling me that they are sure that the outage is not the result of a terrorist act... while I am loath to believe that it is, I think there are fewer people who I am less inclined to believe on the matter than our "esteemed" President.

I had a big heart-to-heart with Ookubo-san in the car today about why I get so angry at the state of politics today (the discussion stemming from me referring in passing to the President in an extremely derogatory way in Japanese). The truth is that I carry a very personal sense of responsibility, having not voted in the 2000 election, about the current state of affairs. Every time something in the news enrages me, I think "there was such a close margin in that election... if only I had just got my shit together and VOTED, this might not have come to pass."

Oh good lord, the news program I just flipped to was interviewing someone, with the camera focused away from her face... focused instead directly on her shirt, which read CUM in huge letters, with a trailing letter fading around her body. Was it a puncuation mark? Was it another letter? Would either one cause me to laugh less? I mean, really. It does make you wonder what sort of things make the Japanese snort helplessly when they watch other countries' television. And WHAT IS UP, seriously, with the current fad of Japanese guys wearing tiny cowboy hats?!? I repeat... "I mean, really." C'mon now.

Here's hoping that 12:30 magically ushers in something that Jen really feels like watching. As much fun as flipping channels for about an hour straight is. Doomo-kun worships the mighty TV... Should I as well? And the verdict is... 12:30 is just as boring as 12:00 and 11:30 were. Bah. When the most interesting thing on is a show purporting to explain the scientific benefits of a slimming cream... you know things are scarce in entertainment. Don't even mention the in-English war documentaries being shown on BS7. The first few nights I had a VCR to show me BS channels, I was excited to see the war documentaries. "Surely," I thought, "this will be something akin to watching the History Channel!" But lo, I was incredibly incorrect. For the war documentaries shown on BS7 in the middle of the night are more the sort to be shown on USA or TNN than the History Channel, geared towards the lowest English-speaking denominator, as opposed to the second-lowest. The second-lowest I can stand... the lowest is just too much. I failed the moment they began a voiced-over reading of a soldier's letter. I strongly suspect they hired ADV's dubbing rejects.

Arraaaaaaa how dare they show commercials for curry at the moment?!? (tummy rumble)

"Fun! Car! Go!'' And I leave you with that advertising slogan to ponder for the night. Doubted you that the Japanese were assbananas? Doubt you not! Fun! Car! Go!

At 1:30 am, there is still nothing good on TV, but I break my self-imposed silence in memory that a complaint about Ookubo-san's driving must not go unvoiced! Either Japanese Civics handle INCREDIBLY bad or he's a TERRIBLE driver. At least by US standards... alas, he's only marginally bad by Japanese standards, likely. Either way, I really wished that I was at the wheel instead of him as we wended our way down the mountain tonight.

Having spoiled my earlier non-sequiter ending, I offer you this band name instead (no spelling errors, I checked) : Thee MicheleGun Experiment.


I set my alarm for 9:15, knowing that I wouldn't get up that early, but I didn't really expect myself to hit the snooze button for over an hour.

Augh! The curse of turning on the TV at 11:30 am. I should just learn that if I'm trying to get going out, turning on the TV at that time is a kiss of death: Mariners games are being broadcast then. Yosh... I'll hurry into Umeda and check my email, but not run my other errands and maybe I'll be back before the game's up.

On the one day that I had determined to absolutely buy a fried deviled egg... That would be the day that the shop isn't open. Bah humbug. Fried deviled egg you ask? Exactly what I said. It looks exactly like a normal deviled egg (well, who knows what weird stuff they've mixed in with the yolk... this is Japan after all), except that the convex part is breaded. It looks like they took a normal hardboiled egg, breaded and deep fried it, and then sliced it apart to make a deviled egg. It begs to be tried, in all its deep fat fried glory.

I made it back just in time to see Sasaki's triumphant first inning back after being on the disableds for two months. It would have been nicer to get a strikeout or two, but I can't complain with three up and three down.

All of my salsa is gone (sniffle). Being able to snack on it the last couple weeks has been so very nice... I shall have to force Jon to show me the shop near the JR station in Osaka where he says that I can buy some more. It's ridiculously expensive over here, but I think being able to have it helps keep me much more sane than I would be otherwise. I was most disappointed last weekend to find that the restaurant I'd supposed was Mexican was in fact Italian... more searching will have to be done.

(scrubbing at face) Taking naps seems like such a good idea on the napping end, but I always feel so groggy on the waking up end that I'm not sure it's worth it sometimes. I am relatively certain that when I went downstairs to fill my water bottle, Masuda-san said "taberu toki yonde ii?" (is it okay to call you when it's time to eat?), but it occurred to me as I walked up the stairs that I may have been totally mistaken, in my half-asleepedness, about that. Bleh. Hopefully I wasn't, and she'll let me know in some fashion or another in the next hour when to come down, instead of sitting down there wondering where the hell I am.

Huh. According to the news, we've gotten more rain today than we've gotten on 8/14 in 44 years. I missed what the previous record is, but considering it's only 5:30 and it's still pouring, I can't help but think we might end up with a record. Joy. I just hope it gets it out of its system and doesn't rain tomorrow.

Ahhhh am I full. I've had so much yakisoba, okonomiyaki, and onigiri stuffed down me that I could barely move for a while... Then we all played ping pong for a long time and I had to move, but I wasn't very happy about it, heh. All in all there were seven of us; the Masudas, three former residents, me, and a guy who I formerly knew as "the dude with the really pansy voice" but now think is Takahashi-san (he still has a really pansy voice, no matter his name). It was fun to hang out with them all... my ability to understand Japanese was in fine form. Speaking was a bit off... I'm still convinced that I have two modes (speaking or understanding) and they don't mix all that often. I do however, suck as much as I supposed I did at ping pong.

Ewwwww they're showing a program making uni donburi. Donburi is tasty. Uni is sea urchin, and is completely disgusting. I tried some to be a good sport two years ago, and regretted it utterly. It tasted like gummy, gritty salt (shuddering). I had to change the channel, I couldn't stand to even look at it on TV. Ewwwww. Anyway, I want to know why every time I actually have time to watch TV for long hours (that's not Monday), there's nothing on but uni donburi, while every time that I have to run out the door or go to bed there's some really cool anime or a variety show with cute guys or an American drama that I like on. Bah humbug.

Ick, I went down to take a bath and there was barely any hot water through the showers and the ofuro was positively tepid. I guess they forgot to turn on the boilers or something... probably because it's one of the cooks who does it and they're on vacation? I dunno. But I was still quite disappointed.

I should make a master list of what music reminds me of what so that I'd stop being tempted to write about it here. Plus it'd give me something to do in my spare time during this listen-to-all-my-CDs phase. Peter's remix of Malcolm McLaren's Somethingest Little Moviehouse in Paris is, without a doubt, the first summer I was dating Jim, when he and Ian were staying at Cindy's on 16th and the light would come dappled in the windows through the trees outside, when I was taking Chem 321 and spending 8 hours a week in lab, when Richard and I taught Jeff how to ride a bike and we'd sometimes ride in to school together. It was a very good summer... quite possibly the fondest in my memory out of the past several years. I'd give a lot to go back to it. There were of course many bad aspects to it, as the Jeff who came to my room as I sobbed inconsolably one night could attest... But the comparative ratio of good to suck holds up.


Heh. I woke up around 9:30, perectly awake, but didn't really feel like getting up. I read for a couple hours, but when it got to be around 11:30 or so, I realized that I really just didn't feel like actually being awake yet. So I laid down Sayuri, closed my eyes... and well, it's past 2 pm now. I guess as long as I've got a holiday, I should take advantage of it, but it still feels a little strange.

My candy box is now simply obscene. Jim went COSTCO size on everything he sent me (except the Spam, for which I am thankful), so between him and John and all the little things I got from people when I was sick, I am rolling in the sweetness. I'm a one woman Halloween (complete with candy corn, hehehehe). Thankfully Jim put in some lemon drops, so I've got some sour to balance things out. I think my candy box and my penchant for curry doughnuts explains the fact that I'm not losing weight over here; if I ate this much crap at home, I'd balloon like crazy, but apparently it's exactly offsetting the change to a Japanese diet and getting more exercise. I'm content with this... It's actually really nice for once to not freak out about eating junk.

It was really bizarre to talk to Mehder about my weight yesterday and for once be pretty content about what I'm eating. Made more bizarre because the man is anorexic. I thought he was just naturally gaunt, but at one point when I asked him whether he wanted the last piece of beef, he told me that I could have it because he controls his diet very strictly to control his weight... from what I saw last night, controlling his diet means that he eats about 200 calories at dinner. He was bemoaning about how three small glasses of beer would have to be made up for with intensive working out over the next day or two... It was really weird to have me be the one with the most sanguine attitude about my weight in the room for once.

I've finally figured out that the caretakers of my dorm are named Masuda, not Matsuda; took me long enough, heh. I just didn't want to ask them, particularly the longer I was here, and I couldn't find it written down anywhere for the longest time, but I finally found it today. I'm glad to have that finally settled, considering I'll be introducing my dad to them next month... I'd been having these horrible nickel... necktie... nikthumus type daydreams lately.

I ran into Masuda-san on her bike when I went out this afternoon, and she invited me to come eat with them tomorrow night since the kitchen's out of commission for the holiday. They're having a couple other of their friends over, so I felt bad about the idea of intruding, but she insisted, and hey, it doesn't take all THAT much to convince me to come for free food. She asked me at dinner what time was good and I told her whenever... she kind of nodded, mumbled some things about 5 and 6 and wandered off, heh, so I guess maybe she'll just come get me, because she certainly didn't tell me when to come down. She also asked if I'd help her make things, which I agreed readily too... I've got a vague idea of how to make okonomiyaki from helping Yumi once, but I'd be very happy to participate in making it again. Someday I will be fully confident in making it at home, and I will be a happy girl.

I was going to go down to Mr. Donut and study tonight, but there's a baseball game on and I don't feel like it. So perhaps I will study here... perhaps. Not really related to the rest of this paragraph, but related to baseball... The Japanese call an RBI a "timely hit," which makes sense, really; it is in fact a hit made at exactly the right time. But it still makes me smile a little bit every time I hear "TAIMURIIIIII!!!!" or "TAIMURI HITTO!!!!" screamed by an announcer.

I promise to never ever be late on returning rentals to WP again. The late fee was 500 yen, just 100 yen less than it cost me to rent them for a week in the first place. One freaking day late! My own fault for completely spacing about taking them back yesterday, but still.

Days where you're only awake for 10 or 12 hours in two batches are just bizarre. Particularly when you try to convince yourself to stay up and your body is just too tired to... I mean, wtf. It's not like I ran a marathon today or something, why the hell am I so tired? Stupid physiology.


Whoops; I forgot to post something explicitly saying I wouldn't be posting anything more until Monday (my time) due to my five-day weekend. People who care are going to be all "what the fuck?"

I got home today to a lovely lovely surprise, a package from Jim. As soon as I saw it I remembered that he'd said he was sending one, but I'd totally forgotten until then. Everything was sealed up so carefully in little bags; the boy's always been such a stickler for packaging. Very happy me: he sent me some butter mints (swoon). One of those things that you don't remember how much you love until you open up a little red bag and find a COSTCO-sized ziplock bag full of them. I'm completely confused by the can of Spam, though (perhaps he was inspired by the inscription underneath the slicing instructions? "So. Now you know another of the many secrets of SPAM. This knowledge carries much responsibility. It gives you the power to feed yourself and others. You wield a delicious skill that has far-reaching consequences. Please do not use it for evil.").

Today has been flat out great. I totally fucked around for three hours at work this morning with the full consent of my boss, and got some more than decent results out of my work this afternoon. To get both things out of the same day of work is a rarity. There were only 10 of us there today, so I even had Trillian up for most of the day (oooh, the rebellion) and got a chance to talk to Seth and Ryan and Jason... so very nice.

I met up with Mehder after work and we went to a Kirin bar type place and spent about three hours talking and eating and drinking (I had a small cut of some super rare super tender beef... It was heaven. Simply heaven), which was really fun. I finally learned the secret of why he's in Japan; I'd assumed that he'd gotten married to a Japanese woman (Stefan claimed he'd seen Mehder with a Japanese baby, but I think he was mistaken that that particular foriegner was the one I was talking about), but the truth is much more complex and made for a good long story, which I will tell in much shortened and less eloquent form.

Apparently, his brother married a Japanese woman in England, and a few years after Mehder moved to Japan to work, his brother and sister-in-law moved here as well. The sister-in-law's father was dreadfully opposed to the marriage, but once Mehder's brother was in Japan and actually around to speak to, the father-in-law grew to love him as his own son: got him a job at the same company, vacationed with them all the time, things were great. When the pair had been married for four years and had a two year old son, Mehder's brother and his father-in-law were on their way back from a business trip when they were in a horrible car accident. The father-in-law was killed instantly, and Mehder's brother was hospitalized with terrible injuries.

Mehder rushed down from Tokyo to Osaka, and was at the hospital with his sister-in-law when his brother died the next night; his brother's last words were to give the care of his two-year old son to Mehder. This presented something of a problem, one that took about a year to get worked out. Mehder said there was never any question about following his brother's wishes, but the details took some thinking. He didn't want to take the child away from his mother, but he wasn't going to marry her or anything... For one, he didn't love her, and for two, it's apparently forbidden by Islamic law to marry your siblings, even if they're only in law. So the decision that was finally arrived at is that Mehder shares a house with his sister-in-law and her mother, and is the boy's legal guardian, but the boy thinks that Mehder is his actual father. It's really rather amazing; Mehder said that he'll tell his son who his father really was when he's older, but for the last nine years Mehder's been for all intents and purposes a dad. Everyone just assumes that he and his sister-in-law are married, and they don't disabuse anyone of the notion. What was really interesting was hearing him speak about all the coincidences in his life that lead him, a man who believed he never wanted to marry or have children, to accept suddenly having a Japanese family and a son. To hear him tell it, it really does seem as if some power were grooming him all along to be in Japan and in the right situation when his brother died... amazing.

I was originally intending to write much more, but I got to talking to Arimori downstairs for a really long time while I was getting water, and all my motivation has fled. Overview: got to get out of exercises this morning, write a lot of email, work on my webpage, talk to my friends, get good results on my modelling, eat some beef, drink some beer, hear some very interesting stories, and open a care package.... Today was a GOOD day.

I laid down intending to read and listen to music, but the first few chords changed my mind. I turned off the lights, settled in with my headphones on, and devoted myself to LISTENING. I so rarely just listen to music; the closest I usually come is when I listen while walking, and even then I'm usually devoting a lot of my attention elsewhere. But Under the Table and Dreaming is just such a good album that it seemed to demand it tonight. On most CDs, there are a few cuts I could do without; occasionally I outright dislike one or two... I love each and every song on this one. The only other one of my albums that I love so completely is Pearl Jam's Ten. Each song on UTD is tied to so much of my ''adult" life that listening is to cascade through the last decade in full.

I hadn't thought for a while about my original UTD CD, but placing the multicolored disk into my player tonight struck memories of my first, black disk. It was in my CD player when my car was stolen my senior year of high school, and remained in there in the evidence bin for all those three months until I got my things back... I don't remember why I bought another copy; perhaps I thought it hadn't been recovered with everything else? Or maybe someone gave it to me... (while I clearly remember buying my first copy, my second simply appears in my memory). The second was from another pressing of the album, the aforementioned multicolored disk, and when my original copy was recovered, my 17 year old self opted to give the ''less pretty" copy to my mother. Perhaps when I get home I will riffle through her CDs and finally retrieve my original... My 23 year old self has apparently developed something of a sense of collector's nostalgia.


There are pictures, but the one that people might be interested in is this one, considering it has people in it. I'm sitting next to Nishihara-san, and the skinny white boy the next one over is Jon. The rest would be Nishihara-san's cousin's family, whose names I have largely forgotten.

I tried to pay attention on my way to the station today, and found one more hair salon on my way (Cristal Salon), but I think a couple other shops might be ones as well, heh.

Sheesh, There's 15 people gone and 15 people here.... and tomorrow there will be even more gone. It's like working at Christmas!

I finally started looking at my logs again. I'm stunned. I got nearly 450 unique IPs hitting me yesterday, of which approximately 449 were people searching Google for Denis Leary's "Asshole Song," which I happen to have the lyrics to. For one thing, who knew that so many people wanted to find that song, much less that my page is the goddamn top link on Google when you search for "Dennis Leary I'm an asshole"? This has brought to light to me that A) I never got around to fixing the typo in his name (it's Denis with one n) like I thought I had a year or so ago, and B) no one else knows how to spell his name either.

For the first time ever in my life, I'm considering intentionally doing something that looks shitty in a particular browser. My rationale is this: REALLY, someone who is using NS 4.7x should upgrade. Really. So if you use NS 4.7x, and text is now too small, I'm sorry, I have sacrificed you to the greater good. Meaning, my rabid desire to have the font appear smaller. Go download Mozilla (or use Lynx, the site looks fine with it!). Although if someone who actually reads this often enough to care is now having a hissy fit about the font being too small, please do let me know (and lemme know what OS/browser you're using, while you're at it). The way things are now, most shiz looks spiff except that NS on any platform renders the text too small, and IE on a Mac is totally ignoring the class specifications on the footer paragraph. Mac IE is D-U-M. I'm fucking with this page first, though, so speak up if something TOTALLY doesn't work.

Damnit, I forgot Sayuri's power cable again.

I love eating dinner with the Matsudas. And not just because Mrs. Matsuda always insists on buying me at least one chuu-hai or beer, heh (well, she always wants to share one with me, but she nearly always ends up sharing two, or someone else comes by and she insists on splitting another one between me and the newcomer). It just has such a family feel to it, with them always asking about my day and what I'm going to do on the weekend. She told me tonight that I make her really happy because I talk to her so much. She's really pleased that a young foriegn girl would come and spend so much time talking to (her words, not mine) a grandmother. It hadn't occurred to me to treat her different because she's older than most of the people around (she's probably not even 60, pish), I just like talking to her.

I goofed off for two full hours after work tonight twiddling with zoggins. I didn't remember until I was on the train home that it was Monday, and I cursed. I missed Hey! Hey! Hey!, sniffles. I gobbled dinner just in time to make the very beginnng of Boku Dake no Madonna, but I couldn't have cut getting my melodrama fix any closer.

I got some great results at work today, which makes me pretty happy, and I managed to fix all of Sayuri's problems... If more people had been around at work to talk to, it would have been nearly a perfect day. But what does such bid for me writing much here tonight? Long time readers, no time callers, you know well what it means. It means that I'm going to watch some TV, brave a hot bath (despite the blisters that will pain me) to relieve my cramping calves (due to the blisters that are paining me), perhaps watch some more TV, and go to bed, no more mind gloop for you!


Nights with intense, storied dreams are extremely difficult to wake up from.

Watching psychological crime thriller drama Quiz is giving me a taste of what it's like to not be me. I've always been the sort who has no problem watching an anime like Lain or Perfect Blue or a movie like Seven or The Cell because the weirdness doesn't faze me. But I find now that a lot of the not fazing me is aided by my understanding the dialogue, whether because things are in English or because there's subtitles. When I don't have a good handle on what people are saying, I find myself a lot more freaked out by crazy imagery, and suddenly I understand a little bit why (and it's terrible to say this) stupid people don't tend to like crazy psychological movies. Interesting. It had never occurred to me that there might be such a direct link between my high grasp of language and my ability to enjoy a complicated story. It makes sense, of course, but when you take for granted that you get what is being passed obviously and implicitly through language, it's not until that skill is taken away from you that you understand what it was adding to your experience.

I've been asked a couple times what the crazy swirly shirt I was wearing in the pictures in Kobe last week says. Here we go: "Lord knows we'd never the dark feel the sunshine on you face it's in a computer now" is the swirly part. "All the time everything is very slowly" is what the non-swirly part says. This shirt is money, baby. And it cost me less than 5$. Sweet.

(covering face with hands and laughing helplessly) Oh for fuck's sake, the crazy way I was walking to avoid hurting the sole of my foot managed to give me another blister on the goddamn side. I should just amputate right now.

An extremely uninteresting day today; I didn't even get dressed until 4 pm. I did go down to Umeda for a bit, but I tired of limping pretty soon and headed home quickly. Dinner was tasty, that's about what I can say about the last several hours.

So let's look in the grab bag of random shit to talk about, shall we, and give a few bullet points of brain dribble.

There are a fucking million hairdressers in Toyonaka. It's like coffeeshops in Seattle; every other block has one, and it's not uncommon to see two facing each other across a street. For example, I pass... Cranberries, Hair Collection Museum, the place with the Amenity & Elegance sign, the place with the blue-eyed redhead on the sign, the place with the super futuristic equipment through the window, and Hair Dressing, which would be six places, on my way to the station, which is about a 13 minute walk. And I'm probably forgetting at least one or two. I don't quite get it. With a consumable product like coffee, it makes a little more sense to me to have a ridiculous number of places vending the product. But is there actually that much demand for constant hair care around here? For a while I thought it was simply an accident of the street that I walk on, but after scouting around the neighborhood some more, I can vouch that anywhere that there is a slightly commercial area, there will be a barbershop or hair salon. Plus many places where there isn't anything around for blocks and suddenly BAM: hairdresser.

I am no longer craving cookie dough the way I was a month ago. Apparently I was actually just craving sweets, because since I've had John's package to dip into, my obsessive desire to go and buy flour, eggs, butter, and sugar (even though I have no access to a kitchen, I was figuring, fuck, I don't usually actually bake cookies when I put dough together anyway, why be different?) has been distinctly muted. Don't get me wrong, there's many sweets to be had around here. But when you're down and just wanting some sugary upping, you really don't want to play the roulette game of "will this candy be nasty?" And beyond that, there's certain moods where nothing but the sweets you grew up with will do. Perhaps in saying so, I reveal the fact that I will never fully assimilate into a foreign country, but really, that should have already been obvious to people who talked to me. And I don't understand what's up with the desire to renounce all of your own culture's trappings just because you're interested in another. Why can't people pick and choose the pieces that they like? Bah humbug.


(scrubbing at face) Oof. I fell asleep last night around 10 pm with the TV on, and finally came back to the world of the living when I woke up at 1 pm. At some point during the night I changed the channel to a blue screen, so I apparently was conscious sometime in there, but I certainly don't remember it. What was I writing last night about weekends and comas?

Sooooo... What to do today? I really don't know, heh. I'm craving Indian food, so I think I'll go down to Umeda for dinner, but other than that... (shrug). I promise to Erin that I will go eat at some more of her recommended restaurants in Toyonaka next week over break.

Doh, I walked enough today to give myself a small blister on the ball of my left foot... My feet really really hate me. I went up to Ishibashi and explored a litle near the station, but didn't really find anything sufficiently interesting to keep me up there. I decided to walk back to Toyonaka instead of taking the train, which took me a little bit (it's two train stops north to Ishibashi from here, about 3 km, I think), but it was nice out and it felt good to be able to just listen to music and enjoy a walk.

I went down to Umeda and spent a bit at X-Time. The place drives me nuts; their computers drop their connections all the time and their keyboards and mice suck donkey balls. But it's the only Internet cafe I've found so far, and it's in such a convenient location; every time something goes wrong these I just remind myself that I have no Internet at home. Beggars can't be choosers and all that... But I still couldn't put up with the outages long enough to actually respond to any mail today. Reminds me that I want to go over to Narahara-san's house and see if Sayuri can use his wireless network or not.

Tasty Indian dinner was had, but I didn't linger downtown after eating. I hopped on the local train home, intending to take a picture of the weird Viking building. I could have sworn it was visible from the station at Sone, two stops south of Toyonaka, but I must have my stations confused. Since l was already off the train by the time I figured this out, though, I decided to walk back to Toyonaka (I dunno why I was in such a walking mood today). There was a really pretty sunset breaking through the clouds, and it was actually relatively cool, so it was really nice until my left foot started hurting. I wandered through a big shopping area at Okamachi, one stop down from Toyonaka, just as everyone was closing up; maybe I'll head back there tomorrow.

Today was Matchbox 20 and two of my five Dave Matthews albums (Everyday and Before These Crowded Streets). I have almost all my DMB on mp3, and I'd totally forgotten which songs are from which of those two albums, heh. I've generally got a much better sense of what's on Under the Table and Dreaming and Crash because I listen to them more often, but I found that there were a couple songs I listened to today that I would have sworn were on Crash. I think it's because I was thinking if I really liked a song it must be on one of the albums I really like. Anyway, listening to them today reminded me that I bought their latest album before I left home, but I totally forgot to ever listen to it in the bustle of leaving, heh. It's become rather unpopular to like DMB among my peers in the last several years, mostly because of the band's popularity on Greek row, I think. The idea of disliking a talented band because you dislike their fans strikes me as really silly, personally.

Funny to think that Dad will be here in just over a month. Time's been passing really quickly.

I just got back from doing a little war-walking in my neighborhood, to no avail. Everytime Sayuri's been able to detect a wireless network in Japan, the signal strength has been so marginal that she can't do anything with it. I couldn't pick up anything at all outside Narahara-san's house; either he shut things down when he left for vacation or there's some weirdness like my parent's network where PDA cards can't even detect the damn thing. Sigh. Ah well, using wireless on Sayuri saps the battery and bad, so it's not like I can camp out on the sidewalk and use the Internet for a long time on her anyway.

I'm watching a movie I only half understand... I picked it up at the video store because it has an actor I like in it, and I can't decide whether I like it or not, It's got the directorial style of a movie like Lock Stock, which makes it even harder for me to follow than it'd be if it were just any movie in Japanese. Anyway, the last scene was in a club, and I watched it thinking how much I'd like to go out drinking and dancing... but that it just doesn't fit. I'm doomed to be boring, I guess; I don't have the sort of friends that enjoy going to clubs, and I can't bear the idea of going by myself. Of course, the underlying reasons for both of these facts? I'm not the sort of person who would have the sort of friends who would go to clubs, and I'm not the sort of person who would find clubs to go to by myself. It thus seems that I shouldn't be the sort of person who wants to go to clubs in the first place, which makes the whole thing something of a puzzle. There's definitely a disconnect between what I would actually like to do and what the social persona that I've built up over the years "should" like to do. Things that I would like to do that I shouldn't, I feel as if I can't. Apparently lacking the internal drive to do things that seem impossible to the me that has been layered up over the years, I'm stuck wishing that I had friends that would help provide external impetus.

Gah, I finish the movie I was watching and come in to the EXACT SAME PART of Good Morning Vietnam that I always do. I've never seen the damn movie all the way through, but I've seen it from 45 minutes in at least four times.

My feet hurrrrrt. I'm thinking that perhaps I should not do a great deal of walking tomorrow unless I like the idea of hobbling everywhere I go. Sigh. How the fuck did I get a blister on the bottom of my goddamn foot? It's just not normal, I tell you. My ankles are paining me as well, but I can get around that by wearing sandals. It's kind of hard to get around bearing weight on my feet.

I miss Jim. And from that single contact point spreads an entire network... I miss visiting his parents. I miss seeing Loren and Kelly. I miss hearing about Tobias. I miss playing with my cats. I miss going out with Rob and Tom and Sheryl and the rest of the extended Outlook crew. I miss joking with Brendan and Dan. I miss watching TV with Ian and Laura. But most of all, I miss him. For all my brave fronts about experience and distance, I miss him so very very badly.


Agony. Wore my new shoes today because it's supposed to rain something awful this afternoon and evening, and my feet are in so much blister pain... But lest I be tempted to just think they're bad shoes, I have the memory of the first few agonziating (I swear I meant to write "agonizing," and that's the word that came out instead) days of wearing my beloved boots. Blisters the size of Texas. Comparatively... if I were the globe, I guess.

I just finished snacking on some ubertasty mochi thingies. I pass a dango shop on my way to and from the station, and I finally decided to stop in and get something. I wasn't really sure what I wanted, so I just asked the woman to recommend something. I'm not sure exactly what variety it is that I got, but they're fucking yummy. They're powdered in a beige, sweet powder that I can't identify and were still a little warm by the time I got home... Heaven. For all my complaining about missing food in America, there's plenty of things that I adore over here that I can't get at home (barring a trip down to Uwajimaya, and even then there's plenty of things they don't have).

Work was so-so today. You see, I finally started getting some decent results yesterday, which is good, but I'm convinced I could model things better. The problem : I'm juggling 12 input variables whose connection to the 2 output variables is nonlinear and not described by current theory. We've got some good guesses about what's going on physically, which allowed me to tune things down to 12 variables from 24 over the past couple days with some reasonable success (and we're not even completely sure that we've got the right experimental data to describe what's going on, sigh), but getting anything better than what I've got now is going to be hard. Figuring out which variables to strip out along with what combination of network parameters is boggling my brain. Not to mention that I'm struggling to define right now what constitutes "better." I've got 6 roughly equivalent networks at the moment, plus an additional 12 for my attempts at determining the outputs separately from each other instead of in tandem. There's 3 or 4 that are obviously worse than the others, but the majority are incredibly close; I've got 10 possible descriptions of "goodness" per output variable, and I've yet to find a network that maximizes all of them (I use the word "maximize" loosely... at this point, I'm thrilled when I get a correlation coefficient above .75).

So how do I determine which descriptors of goodness to focus on? Hell if I know. Yoshiyuki's got no clue. I think I might (shudder) have to ask Satou-san what criteria they used the last time they were experimenting with neural nets. I don't look forward to that encounter; I get terribly tongue-tied when I try to talk to him, which isn't conducive for passing information around. Anyway, even if I do get things better, I'm getting into territory where I worry that I'll have a model that's too specific to my particular batch of data, which'll be worthless. I'm already seeing a distinct tendency towards predicting high on my test set as opposed to my training set. Sigh.

So yeah, work has been keeping my mind busy and my ass numb (the chair at the Mighty Computer is incredibly uncomfortable and the desk it's on is a full inch shorter than all the others... sigh). It's nice to have work fly by because I'm distracted, at least. I get up about once an hour to go check my email, have an hour lunch break, and allot myself a 10-15 minute break to totally goof off in the mornings and afternoons (I go read news on Sayuri in the bathroom, hehe), but other than that, I'm glued to the MC from around 9 am to 5:30 pm. I actually totally lost track of time this morning and didn't get up from 9:30 until the lunch bell startled me... my knees and ass were extremely displeased with me.

Work next week is going to be weird. I'm taking Wednesday off because NO ONE else will be around on that day, but given what I've been hearing about people's plans, Monday and Tuesday are going to be pretty scarce on the people. If Yoshiyuki wasn't going to be there, I'd probably just fuck around on zoggins all day, heh. As is I'm going to spend a while on Monday trying to fix Sayuri. She mysteriously stopped syncing this morning. She'd had a problem last night, but had synced fine when I came in today, so I'd figured it was just a glitch. But no, she started acting up again. I can transfer data just fine, and Journal Bar updates itself, but she's timing out trying to sync my mail and AvantGo. Sniff. I don't have enough news to read this weekend, because Salon hadn't updated content before Sayuri started being a little ho. I figure I'll start with re-installing the ActiveSync software on my machine at work (it's quite likely that stupid stupid Win98 has munged something), and hopefully I won't have to go for a hard reset. I certainly haven't changed anything on Sayuri in the last week (I updated Journal Bar a week and a half ago, and that's the most major change since I got here), so I'm fairly certain it's not her fault. Fairly. Anyway, it'll be nice if no one's around to watch me working on completely non-work-related Sayuri stuff next week.

Mehder invited me out to get a drink after work on Tuesday, and I'm heading out with Ookubo-san on Friday, so I shouldn't be too lonely even with everyone gone. Narahara-san bid goodbye yesterday by asking me if I'd be okay without him around for over a week, heh. I told him I thought I'd survive.

It just occurred to me that with Narahara-san out of town, I'll be able to sleep in tomorrow. I'll miss seeing his family, but sleeping is also quite the good. Nishihara-san couldn't believe that I survive on as little sleep as I do by going into a coma on weekends. I, for my part, can't believe that he stays at work until 7:30 or 8, gets home around 9, and manages to be asleep by 10:30 or so. I'd go nuts with so little me time. Not to mention that there's no way I could fall asleep quickly enough to pull that off.. I'd have to go lie down at 9:45 or so, heh.

I'm watching a show called ''Dream House." I know I really shouldn't watch shows like this; they set off the nesting instinct something awful. But it is interesting to see what sort of things Japanese people want out of a new house, given the lack of space they have to work with. Not related to space, but by far the most amusing was that they opted for a toilet with an automatically opening cover and seat. I understand that their kids thought it was the coolest thing ever; what makes me giggle is that it was invented in the first place.

I'm now watching a cooking show that's making eggplant, tomato, and bacon curry. It boggles the mind.


(snicker) I simply must include this quote from Galvin Chow's journal today : "But Jesus Christ, people; clearly when they were handing out Common Sense Enemas you were off somewhere sucking pennies up into your butt like a vacuum."

Bleh, am I tired. I woke up this morning in a panic, thinking I'd overslept, and my day hasn't been quite right since. Not getting home until after midnight isn't helping, either.

Nishihara-san invited me and Jon to go to dinner at his cousin's house tonight. I'm not certain what prompted the original invitation; maybe it's a continuation of Nishihara-san trying to make sure I get out to do things with people. His cousin's family lived in England for two years, the older daughter has been living in Cali for 8 years, and another friend along tonight is leaving in a month to start graduate school in New York. It was a very international house that was speaking only Japanese, heh.

I had a really good time; the oldest daughter, in particular, was really nice, although it was really strange to have her rattling along in Japanese, get exasperated at her school in California, and suddenly stamp her foot and go "Japanesejapanesejapanese it sucks japanesejapanesejapanese." She and I spent a lot of time explaining to everyone how we live nowhere near each other even though we're both on the West Coast of the US. We finally had to drag out a map and show them the distance visually. Her mother (whose name I was told, but promptly forgot, sigh) grows her own vegetables and was a damn fine cook, and a firecracker to boot. It was pretty funny when she used Jon to show us some aikido moves. She wants to take me to a monastery in Kyoto to do some Zen meditation once it gets cooler. That'd be pretty interesting, actually, I'm thinking. Nishihara-san said he hasn't been to Kyoto much, so she said she'd drag him along, heh.

Oh yeah, before I forget, food. So I finally ate sashimi for the first time tonight. They were all shocked that I'd never had it, and I think they were half hoping I'd spit it out in an outrageous display of cultural nonacceptance, because they seemed almost a little disappointed when I told them (somewhat to my own surprise) that I thought it was really good. According to them all, the fact that I liked sashimi on first taste means that I can eat anything. I think this is roughly the same line of thought that leads so many Japanese people to be so suprised when they find out I can use chopsticks: the Japanese, in general, have an attitude that their own culture is incredibly inaccessable to outsiders.

Anyway, the sashimi certainly wasn't bad, but I don't know if I'll jump out of my way to order it again. I've discovered I feel about it the way I feel about cooked fish: I won't order it myself, but I won't complain when it's put in front of me. I was much more pleased with the shepherd's pie she made; I hadn't had mashed potatoes in the two months I've been here. That and the fact that we had fresh cherry tomatoes that she grew herself. Tasty goodness, washed down with the perfect amount of beer to not be drunk (an aside... man, does Nishihara-san turn red quickly. Seriously, within three or four sips he's far gone).

I became seriously awed at Jon tonight. I knew that he went swimming pretty often, and that he plays soccer all through our afternoon break, but I found out tonight that he spends an hour and a half at the gym almost every night (this came up during the aikido demonstration, when he was asked what sports he did... it didn't help, by the way, that Nishihara-san felt compelled to chime in about how nice Jon's body is, which he knows because their lockers are near each other, heh). I really envy people like him, or Andrew Mathes, who find it in themselves to dedicate time to not being fatasses like myself. Obviously not enough to do it myself, hah. One of the many things that I notice about myself and really wish that I didn't... would that I happily went on my merry out-of-shape way rather than depressedly going on my glum out-of-shape way. Either way, I'm not getting much exercise in, but in Happy Stupid Jen universe, I wouldn't mind as much.

Work went well today, once I had a mental breakthrough at 4 pm, heh. I'm actually looking forward to going in tomorrow and getting to tweak at the problem more, which is the first time I've felt that way about this job since I got here. But because it went well, I have not much to say about it. And I just noticed that it's 1 am (I have to get up around 6ish, sigh) and that I'm not making as much sense as I would be if I weren't dog tired. So I'm tired. Goodnight.


This morning, I nearly wailed in frustration when I put money into the jidouhanbaiki and it stubbornly refused to yield up the mocha milk I'd so politely requested. I tried shaking the machine to no effect, even enlisting Kojio-san to help (he walked by and asked me what I was doing, so I drafted him). I finally decided to invest another 130 yen, reasoning that if there was a blockage somewhere, trying again might knock things loose. And BAM! suddenly I had not just one bottle knocked loose, nor just the two bottles that I'd paid for, but three bottles all at once. I guess someone in the last day had tried to get one and set up the original blockage, and three bottles was critical mass for the system to collapse. Heh. I gathered up my loot and stuck two in the fridge; assuming no one jacks them, I won't have to foist change into a machine for a couple days. Sweet.

I need three dimensional paper. At least. Four would be better. You see, I think flashcards can be pretty useful for studying, but I can never come up with efficient ways to include all the information I want. For example, a standard flashcard has a vocabulary item on one side and the translation on the other. This works pretty well for languages that use the same character set as English, but for Japanese I want to have not only the phonetic transcription of a word, but the kanji for it as well, and I want these two pieces of information to be separate, but in the same physical location (having multiple sets of cards has been attempted and is not the way to go). I've accomplished this in the past by including two of the set of three (English, phonetic, kanji) on one side of a card, but upside-down from each other. This solution is a hack at best. Throw in the fact that I also would like to have an example sentence included somewhere, and we're talking some seriously extradimensional products here.

People I've discussed this with before invariably suggest that I use my handheld for the purpose, and my response is, exactly how? Trust me that no standard note program will serve the purpose... and the last time I looked for a flashcard program (admittedly a while ago, in my Visor days), I didn't see any that allowed you to set arbitrary dimensions of information. Finding ones that let you input your own info in the first place were scarce enough (this aspect has hopefully changed). Anyway, there's something about writing on paper that aids my memory more... although that sense might be nothing more than a placebo effect.

Barring something strange happening, Ookubo-san and I will go to Mt. Rokko next Friday to sightsee and get dinner. He decided that Kyoto would be too hot to visit, and promised to take me in the fall instead. He's still being super secretive about the whole thing (his email to me about it this morning was titled "CONFIDENTIAL!!", which made me laugh a bit). I'm leaning towards the idea that he's embarrassed to have people find out we're going somewhere together just the two of us, but doesn't particularly want to invite someone else along to "legitimize" things.

Reminds me of something I've been meaning to write about, the thing that informs my opinion above. I figured out a week or two ago part of why the guys at work were treating me with such kid gloves. Apparently, the day before I came, they all had to sit down and watch a video about sexual harrassment in the workplace. They learned that things such as calling a woman -chan can be construed as sekuhara, and asking a woman out to get dinner without it being in a group is probably right out. I liked Narahara-san's description of trying to decide if I'd be bothered by him calling me Jen-chan... He said that he threw it into conversation like a boxer tossing off test jabs, poking here and there to see how I reacted. Given that we had this discussion while drinking, nothing less would do than for him to get up and demonstrate the simile physically, to our great amusement.

He, Shudo-san, and Tera-chan have all told me separately that they were really worried about offending me after watching that video, which I just found baffling. Knowing myself quite well, it's obvious to me that I'd never take offense unless things actually got offensive; I have to remind myself that they had no way of knowing if I'd be easygoing or try to sue them and call the police. I'm curious if they'd have shown the same video if they had a female Japanese engineer join them, or if it was special just for the gaijin, but I don't particularly want to ask Ueda-GM and Ishimaru-shochou, and no one else has been sure either way. Even if so... I dunno, I guess I feel the same way about it as I do about the Ladies Only cars on the train. I don't need videos or separate cars to do my work of protecting myself for me.

I find it rather incredible that they advertise a yeast infection cream on TV here. Furthermore, they do it by depicting a girl agonizing around her apartment, trying everything to take her mind off her itching. The equivalent American commercial would have a group of confident women shot from the shoulders up, telling you that they're not a slave anymore. And you'd be thinking... WTF IS THIS COMMERCIAL ABOUT? For once, Japanese commercials win a contest that is not based on utter insanity.

We played musical chairs today for an hour getting people sorted into their new seats complete with all desk contents. I still firmly believe that changing is silly and really wish I hadn't been moved closer to the main throughfare of the bigass office, but Jon, Narahara-san, and Shudo-san are all a lot closer than they were before, which is bonus (I'm planning on telling Jon tomorrow very seriously that I truly feel I can communicate with him better now that I'm closer... With a grave enough face, that should get a decent laugh out of him). Additionally, I got rid of my hated bookshelf by handing it off to Sakase-san (the other intern) during the move, w00t! I just hope that no one notices that inventory shows us not having enough shelves, heh. I'll be very sad if I come in some day and there's another goddamn bookshelf under my desk. My new right-hand neighbor is Shiojiri-san, which is a mixed blessing. It's a relief to not have Satou-san brooding on my right anymore, but Shiojiri-san is INCREDIBLY difficult for me to understand for some reason, and he likes to talk to me. Good practice, but unsettling.

My ability to understand Japanese was HORRIBLE in general today, though (I'm heading into my monthly slump, I think). Admittedly, I didn't talk to people much, but Moritou-san this morning, everyone at lunch, Shiojiri-san this afternoon, and Shimoda-san and Kitamura-san on the train on the way home... They might as well have been speaking Korean. It was like watching Portuguese television when you understand Spanish; the sound was mostly right, but the meaning wasn't there. I did a lot of nodding, and just wished for my day to be over.

I was a little bit better over dinner, but only a little bit. Vocabulary understanding was wayyyyyyy down; even at dinner, I was having to ask for repeats and explanations at least once a sentence. My brain just didn't seem to be working. Part of the problem was that I would catch lots of words that I've learned lately, get distracted noticing that I'd understood a previously unfamiliar word, and completely lose track of the rest of the sentence. The rest of the problem being that I just sucked at Japanese today.

I cheered a bit when I saw C89.5 mentioned in a Salon article today. There's something so nice about seeing local institutions covered in non-local media; hometown pride and all that, particularly for a tiny high school radio station of awesomeness.

One of the things I love about music is how when certain songs come on, you are suddenly THERE, at that time in your life defined by that riff, by that chorus, by that hook. Ray of Light smells like Haggett, fades the day away into night and back into day again over my shoulder while I while away hours playing Quake and hanging out on IRC, glows the summer sun slowly sinking as Gabe picks me up to go for dinner that first night, tastes of my first full cup of coffee. It's late freshman year, skipping psychology classes, taking the Fourth of July weekend to go to a LAN party in San Francisco, figuring out relationships and what to do with them. It's April to August 1998 in a way that no other song is.


(yawn) I wonder if something happened to my AC last night. I woke up several times this morning totally soaked in sweat, but wasn't alert enough to try to figure out why. It's perfectly cool in here now, but it was still a little odd... I'm going to need to try to figure out how to clean my comforter-style blanket before too long; the sweating is doing it no good.

Ookubo-san has me very curious. He overheard me telling Nakaya-san yesterday at lunch that I want to go to Kyoto, but don't want to go by myself, and came over (super secret-like) to talk to me about it towards the end of lunch today. He said if I wanted to go, he'd think of some way to make it happen, but was really unclear as to why he was talking so hushed and telling me not to tell anyone. He's either really embarrassed at inviting me out, or he's going to fabricate a business trip, heh.

(happy wriggle) Tasty tasty dinner. As tandoori chicken, it was a miserable failure, but as a mildly Indian-spiced roast chicken, I had no complaints. Toss in fried fish with lemon and cream of something soup... (happy wriggle)

I found out from Mehder this morning that there were nearly 500,000 people to see the fireworks on Sunday. I'm not too surprised; when I'd scaled up my impressions of the crowd by what had to be on the other side of the bridge and on the other side of the river, and factored in the population of Osaka as compared to Seattle, I'd guessed a couple hundred thousand at least. It's kind of sobering to think that I was part of a crowd nearly the size of Seattle.

It was another disgustingly hot and muggy day today. Somewhere in the upper 80s or low 90s, with 88% humidity. Die. And die some more. I just want the humidity to go down... I hate walking around feeling like I'm pushing through a damp sponge. Like this weekend in Kobe... 96 degrees, (drawling) but it was a dry heat. Heh.

Work was long and boring to talk about today. Lots of time spent on the CoP, lots of time spent reading about neural networks, lots of time spent having a terrible terrible headache. I didn't really talk to anyone all day, meaning I have no amusements to relate about Narahara-san, or complaints to relate about Yoshiyuki. I could bitch a lot about not knowing if the problems I'm having are my fault or the data's, but I think I'll save that for a full-fledged rant of its own on another day.

Just got home a bit ago from spending two or three hours down at Mr. D, studying. I finally admitted to myself that even without a real computer at hand, I am pretty much unable to study in my own home. I'll do it if there's no other choice, but I'll do it much more badly. If I actually want to get anything done, I have to go somewhere like a coffeeshop and set an arbitrary time that I will stay there (today, it was two CD's worth of time plus the time it took me to finish what I was doing once the second CD was up). During that time, I am extremely productive... I don't know why it is, but many a year of college has taught me that this is the way I study. It's just that until now, I assumed that it was largely due to the presence of my computer; perhaps my TV is standing in stead.

Even if I don't decide to test for the Nouryouku Shiken, I think studying on the ikkyuu (first level) material will be good practice for me. I'm not getting in nearly enough reading in lately, for example. Grammar is hard to pick up from listening alone (although I've picked up or solidified my usage understanding on several function words in the past couple months). So if I keep stuff in my backpack, and commit to studying or reading manga in Mr. D at least an hour or two a day on weekdays, I think that's not too much to ask of myself. For all of my laziness, the idea that my Japanese might in actuality (as opposed to me joking about it) get worse while I'm here is really upsetting.

My listen-to-all-my-CDs project has reminded me once again how eclectic (and awesome, natch) my taste in music is. Today was Chris Isaak and Interpol for my commute, and Jamiroquai and Kodo for studying. Only tangentially related, but I just now noticed that I've had Interpol and Chris Isaak filed in incorrect alphabetical order for months now. And that I only have one album by an artist starting with "J," but I don't mind that one as much. Anyway, I think when I get home I will buy a really fricking big harddrive and take on the task of moving my entire collection to digital format. My CDs are too good (well, except the ones that are bad, and even they have their place and time) to let languish unlistened to in the many hours when Chiyo serves as my primary music source. I suppose I could buy a 300 disk changer CD player for a similar result, but that'd be so... 1998.


It is fucking HOT today. BLAH. There are pictures as always, but the only ones people are probably interested in are the ones of Kobe and me and friends in Kobe, heh.

Bah, I'm being forgetful as all hell lately. Last Thursday I forgot to bring Sayuri's power cable to work; today I forgot to bring it home. I can't leave her on with the kb hooked up, or I'll have some very dead batteries in the morning...

This morning I finally got a chance to talk to a man I've been meaning to talk to for a few weeks now. He lives in my neighborhood, quite near to me, and rides the same trains in to town in the morning (I hop off the loop line and he doesn't, but that's a mere 5-10 minutes from the end of my commute). He's shared in some nasty glances towards the loop line witch in the morning, which earned him special notice (no one else bothers to even try to dissuade her). That and the fact that he's not Japanese. That helped, too.

I wasn't quite sure where he was from; he's really light skinned, didn't quite have the air of an American. I was guessing Eastern European, perhaps? This morning,, he came up behind me at Hell Intersection and said "good morning," laying to rest the idea that he might not speak English. His name is Mehder, he's from Iran, went to university and graduate school in England, and he's been working in Japan for SIXTEEN YEARS. A classic case of a person who came for two or three years and will likely never leave, heh. He's going to pass on the wisdom of sixteen years and teach me the secrets of which car to ride from Toyonaka and which path to take between stations to avoid the most people tomorrow or the day after (I'll likely see him tomorrow morning, but you never know).

It's nice to have my curiosity satisfied, but at this rate, I won't have any news reading or music listening time left in the mornings, between chatting with Mehder until Nishikujo and then heading in with Moritou-san (he whose name I only lately learned) from Nishikujo to work. Some mornings, it's really nice to have someone to talk to; other mornings, I kind of hope that Moritou-san will be late or get shunted to a different car so I can just space out and listen to music. I still space out some mornings (we companionably space out together quite often, really), but I feel bad about not taking off my headphones.

I avoided exercises this morning by totally forgetting that Mondays are whole-group meetings. I was wandering up on the 6th floor for a full minute or so, wondering where the hell everyone was, when I suddenly remembered and had to bolt down the stairs to get down to the other building before the meeting started. That was a little... embarrassing. At least I didn't trip as I flew down the stairs.

Totally as a surprise to me (I swear to fucking god that no one talked about it in our team meetings on Thursday and Friday last week), today was the day that the Japanese intern arrived. He's a junior at Todai (Tokyo University) and will be with us until the end of September. With Parita coming in late September, we're going to be dripping to our ears in interns and foreigners before too long. Anyway, Sakase-san... he's... well.... Let's say he fits right into the "complete nerd" electrical engineer stereotype, as opposed to the beer drinking mechanical engineer one. And he showed up today in shorts! Bright red shorts no less! I wouldn't expect him to wear a suit or anything, but perhaps he should at least have opted for long pants. Lord knows I didn't have anything dressy to wear my first day of work, but I at least chose to wear long pants and a blousy shirt. Yoshiyuki told me that Ueda-GM wanted to take a picture and send it to Sakase-san's recommending professor (or maybe he actually did... Yoshiyuki's English was especially unclear today). Poor kid.

Anyway, he's going to be up doing experiments in the lab, so he'll be hanging with the lab techs instead of me, Yoshiyuki, and Satou-san. I don't envy him the lab work, but I'd gladly trade him the company. I was totally shocked that Yoshiyuki had everyone on our team stand up and introduce themselves when we split off for team meetings... I didn't get anything like that! And they wondered why it took me so goddamn long to learn people's names!

Shiojiri-san transferred into our team last week, which means two things. One: we've got nowhere near enough chairs for us all up in the 6th floor office space. Two: apparently, all of us in my row are having to rearrange where we sit. Because Shiojiri-san is going to be attached to some project of ours for the next month or two, it is apparently necessary that he move one row of desks over, and thereby displace five people. I find this quite stupid. Just me. I mean, will moving him 25 feet closer really "promote communication" that much more? I betray my American upbringings, however... It's much more common to have individual offices or cubicles in the US, so as a culture I think we're more used to having to get up and move somewhere to talk to our co-workers in the first place.

In other Japanese customs news, Kojio-san is my hero. I'm not sure exactly where he went on Friday, but he brought back a box of shortbread cookies to the office this morning. I loves me the shortbread cookies (those ones you get in the blue Christmas-y tin at COSTCO are particularly tasty), and it was glorious to come back to my desk after two and a half hours at the Computer of Power to find one waiting for me. I'm totally behind the whole go somewhere and bring back treats for your whole office thing. We get some little cookie or tidbit from someone at least once a week, because when people go on business trips out of town they nearly always bring something back. For our group it's ridiculously often... we're helping to design several different plants, so at least one of our engineers has headed out to check something somewhere on any given day. I'm unclear on how far away people feel they have to go to warrant bringing something back, but for now I will just passively accept the goodness.

I finally got Yoshiyuki to admit out loud that he's losing the fight, bit by bit, to speak only in English to me. Specifically, in the course of a conversation about the topic, where I was making the case for him speaking in Japanese, I said "Watashi no kachi desu yo." (loosely, "I win"), and he hung his head and said "You win, I lost." Heh. He said it's really hard to force himself to speak in English when he knows that I'll understand him pretty well in Japanese. Feel my conversation partner pain! I will feel extremely happy when he gives up on the idea in total... It's pissed me off from the beginning, and really served no purpose other than wasting time.

I wonder if Japanese people think American commercials are as weird as we think Japanese commercials are. I've never thought to ask, really.

I'm doomed to grow too fond of the sidekick character that gets dumped upon in dramas and movies. I get forced to split my affections between him and the lead, and I feel so bad for him when he's used as the butt of another joke. It's just worse when he's super cute to boot; sad but true, it's easier to ignore the poor shmuck getting the short end of the stick when he's not as attractive, particularly on TV.

Smap's Tsuyoshi looks disturbingly like Angelica Huston when he's in drag as Velma Kelly from Chicago. Although the ongoing skit featuring a mother's love affair with the (pink) family dog is more disturbing, I'll admit.


Spending the morning with Tera-chan and Narahara-san today was low-key, fun, and I didn't have to pay for my lunch again. Sweet. I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do with the rest of my day, though; I'll clean for a bit, but other than that I've got nothing to do until tonight. Checked my email at Narahara-san's place, and didn't have enough to warrant tying up their computer for a long time, or going down to Umeda to take care of it... I could watch a shitload of GTO, I guess.

I will go and watch the fireworks in Juuso tonight, but that's not going to start until something like 6:30 or 7... I figure I'll snag dinner right at 6 and then head down. I wish I had someone to go with, but I'll take fireworks with no friends over sitting in my room with no friends.

Something that occured to me while watching commericals... There's a lot of complaining about the deformations of a woman's body that appear in video games, and I won't disagree that it can get pretty bad and that it's extremely widespread. But it's not like the guys that appear in video games tend to be the most natural looking, either. Just something to think over.

I did, in fact, spend all day watching GTO. The drama special, however, is rather disappointing. I haven't watched something so predictable in a long time. Ah well, the series gave me a couple weeks entertainment, so I won't bitch too much. I wonder what I should pick up next... Maybe I'll just randomly pick one, heh. Reminds me that I've decided I will probably go ahead and snag the small DVD player I saw the other day, even if I didn't want it to watch DVDs here. Under 200$, and no bigger than a DVD-ROM drive... I've never gotten around to making my DVD player at home be able to play Japanese region DVDs, so I could chalk it up to the big omiyage to myself.

Bleh, I don't feel like eating, so I think I'll just head down to Juuso now... It's nice out, and I'll either eat late or snag something down in Juuso.

Having gotten down here, I realize my utter folly in thinking I'd be back for dinner. We're talking 4th of July type crowds here. I've actually got a more decent seat than I thought I'd snag (I'm on the wrong side of the bridge from where they're launching, so if they do something low I won't see it well, but I'm up a bit and not crammed in with other people), so I'm unwilling to give it up to go get some food; I guess patronizing food stands after the fireworks might help miss some of the crazy rush when people start leaving.

Man, I wish I was here with someone else (not just because I could have someone to guard my seat). It feels really weird to be at an event like this without family or friends along. Usually I don't notice it so much, but I'm feeling that it's a real shame tonight to not be able to point out some girl's unusually pretty yukata, or some unusually cute guy.

There's plenty of families, couples, and groups of girls in evidence, but no groups of boys (needless to say, I've seen no one else by themselves... Anyone who has been walking alone has invariably been carrying food or drinks for at least two). Not really surprising, given that it doesn't seem as if it would occur to most single guys I can think of to head out to a firework show, but come on, how is my idle dream of a pair of cute boys befriending me for the night to be realized minus cute boys?

I'm torn between my favorites tonight being the kitty-face fireworks or the white tracers that turned multi-colored and snaked around. All were gorgeous, even if the wind was causing smoke to obscure part of the latter half. Home not too late, but I feel as tired as if it were much later... The crowds getting to the station were exactly as crappy as I thought they'd be, but in opting to take the local train home rather than the express, I actually got to sit down. I caved and got some sort of beef thing from a stand in Juuso, and therefore can't bring myself to eat dinner (it was a lot of beef... on a stick... and it was good). I wish I didn't have to notify them 12 hours in advance if I'm going to miss a meal, but considering I've only accidentally missed two in seven weeks (HOLY FUCK I'VE BEEN HERE SEVEN WEEKS), I'm doing decently on figuring out when I'll be eating elsewhere.

(oog) Tummy is less than happy about making dinner out of weird (but tasty) beefy thing and some lemon shaved ice. I was hoping I'd finally feel well enough tonight to move back into doing exercises on weeknights, but maybe not. But, before I crawl into bed, a total change in topic...

I did a weirdly hateful thing today, and I'm not certain why. So I think I'll write about it and see if something comes to light. First, the act: I threw out some paper cranes that Yoshiyuki made for me while I was sick. If just about anyone else had given them to me, I'd probably have stuck them up on ze decoration space, but for some reason, I hated them from the moment he handed them to me on Thursday, and they've been in the trash since I got home that night... I didn't retrieve them when I emptied my trash today. I can't for the life of me decide why they bothered me so much.

I think part of it is the growing annoyance I have with Yoshiyuki overall. It drives me nuts to see him being such a terrible boss to everyone and then turn around and be so nice to me; it makes me feel terribly guilty. I also can't help but compare his kindness to me, which is largely motivated by the company putting him in charge of me and the fact that he thinks it's cool that I'm a foreigner, and Narahara-san, Tera-chan, Jon, Shudo-san, or Nishihara-san's kindness, which is more obviously motivated by liking ME.

It really touched me that Narahara-san came to visit me the first night after I got sick, that he sent his daughter to check on me and bring me food, that he called me every night to make sure I was okay. I can't fault Yoshiyuki for not visiting (he lives really far away and doesn't have a car), and I can't really fault him for opting to just message my phone asking if I felt well enough to come in to work (I happen to know he hates the phone as much as I do)... But I think I'm faulting him anyway, unfair as it is. A few paper cranes handed to me the day I came back to work just seemed such a pitiful effort. I just couldn't make myself feel grateful for them, and so they just made me feel weird and unsettled.

Blah, I just hate feeling so ungrateful. I do it all the time, concerning more subtle things, and it bugs me then... This is damn personally obvious.


Oooooogh. Feet... hurting... I went to Kobe and hung out with Hayato, Mandy, and Hayato's friend Saeko today, and we walked... a lot. Kobe is such a prettier city than Osaka; much more akin to Seattle. Wide streets, lots of plantings and trees, and of course, the waterfront, which looked so much like home I almost couldn't stand it. There was even one of my beloved red shipping cranes. I could have sat there all day, it was so gorgeous. It helped that it was a completely clear, sunny day, the best to show off a pretty pretty city. I could have done without 90+ temperatures on a day I was walking around so much, but I won't quibble too much.

We'd originally thought we'd head to the castle at Himeji, but the hour long train out there from Kobe didn't appeal to Mandy. So we spent the whole day wandering around the port and the downtown shopping area, joking and shopping and eating ice cream instead... Less of a real "sightseeing" trip, perhaps, but all in all, a very successful trip. I bought an extremely cute kitty Engrish shirt (there was actually a blue one that was prettier, with the same angry-looking kitty on it, but the brown one had Engrish I couldn't pass up) and a gift for my mother. Somehow, I managed to spend nearly a hundred bucks between food, train money, and gifts today; it boggles the mind. It was one of those days where if I hadn't had the money, I wouldn't have missed it... With the money, I soon had no money. Heh.

But part of what I spent money on today was WELL WELL WORTH IT. You see, Kobe is another one of those towns with a strong foreign import history that results in foreign products being around that you have a hard time finding elsewhere. And while walking around today, I noticed a store with a full rack of American food. What specificially caught my eye was some Andes mints, which I indeed bought, but as I wandered around the shelving, I saw something far more wonderful... Something far more delicious... Something far more longed-for...


And salsa.


I couldn't fucking believe it. Tostitos "Hint of Lime" tortilla chips and mild, medium, and hot Old El Paso "Thick 'n Chunky" salsa. In retrospect, I should have snagged more than one jar of salsa, but I was in such ecstasy about being able to buy some at all, it didn't occur to me. Regardless, my mouth is so very happy at the moment I can't describe it (literally.... I'm typing about a sentence every five minutes, in between tasty tasty wonderful delicious salsa bites).

But I am forcing myself to stop, at 1/3 of a bottle. Oso hard. Even considering that I normally don't even like Old El Paso all that much.

Bah, I should have turned down Narahara-san's invitation to head back to his friend's office tomorrow morning with him and Tera-chan. I was so looking forward to sleeping in... Why do they have to be heading over at 9:45 on a Sunday morning? But it's so hard to turn down the idea of hanging out with friends. Maybe I'll take a nap tomorrow...

And I will keep this short, in apology for the monstrosities while I was sick.


Somewhere in town tonight, these is a ridiculously huge fireworks show going on. And I am not there. I didn't know about the taikai until my CD player batteries ran down enough so that I had to switch to the radio right outside my dorm. Over a hundred thousand fireworks. And I am not there. I'd wondered where all the girls wearing yukata were going.

So I decided I wanted to try to find the place shit was going down. Or up, to be more correct. Problem: I'd been unable to catch the location on the radio (names are hard!), and no one was around the dorm to ask. My plan was simple: head back to Umeda, find the nearest pack of yukata-clad girls, and follow them. I am still bitterly convinced that this would have been a brilliant strategy had it occured to me at 6:40 in Umeda, rather than at 7:15 in Toyonaka. By the time I made it back, there was scarcely any of my prey to be found. As in none. Sigh.

On a whim I can't really explain, I decided that failing fireworks and having nothing better to do, I'd hop on the loop line and take an hour or so jaunt around town. Maybe I was thinking I'd get lucky and catch sight of some people heading to the taikai, or better yet, the taikai itself. No such luck, and I got bored at looking at the neon after about 20 minutes (this loop-line idea would have been better during the day), which is why I'm scribbling this at the moment.

It has been interesting to watch the people on the train, though. You see, I'm sitting in a "Ladies Only" car (not by intention, it was just the one I was closest to when the train stopped). Except there are not only women in here, and watching the old women slowly pressure guys into different cars is pretty funny. It starts with the nasty looks. And the glances between the man and the "Ladies Only" signs. And then the coughing kicks in, combined with the glares. Until finally the guy clues in and gets an "oh shit" look on his face and bolts before a bunch of old ladies beat him to death with their handbags.

I think the whole concept of the "Ladies Only" cars is kind of funny, though. Japan's had some high profile problems with women getting groped on the trains, and I guess one way to handle the situation is to reserve a place for women to feel protected during the most crowded times. But to me, it just seems like it's kind of a personal cop-out on the behalf of the women who use the cars. I'd feel like I'd been forced out of another location by someone else's bad behavior, which would tick me off. Not to mention that I'd just smack the shit out of someone who groped me in the first place. I'm not thirteen anymore. Anyway, they cars are only restricted during rush hours, so I don't blame some guys for forgetting to double-check what time it is.

Reminds me that I was going to talk about how fucking powerful I feel walking down the streets here sometimes. Certain CDs bring it out, certain moods; but somedays I stride long and hard and think I'm a fucking American woman, and none of you can lay a goddamn candle to me. Heh. I think being so much taller, relatively, has a lot to do with it.

Best shirt on the way home tonight: the words "Barbie is a Slut" in pink curly letters on a (*cough*veryslutty*cough*) girl's shirt.

The Californian kid on the late night English conversation short alternately amuses and completely repulses me. He's kind of funny in a goofy, flowered-hat-wearing, terrible actor sort of way. On the other hand, the smug way he bites off the end of his pronounciation examples, face full of contempt for the ridiculousness of what he's doing, really annoys me. I wonder why the producers get away with him looking like that... maybe they can't find anyone else willing to be on their silly show?