Thursday, December 29, 2005

[Humor] If Life Gives You Lemons...

If life hands you lemons, sell them at the market
and buy a big handgun with the profits, then go
track down that sucker and teach him what it
means to mess with a guy with a big handgun.
(Steven D'Aprano)

If life gives you lemons, grind them into a
fine juice and drink it. If life gives you
pesky little neighbor children... well, you know.
(Phil Peters)

If life gives you a yeast infection, make bread.
And if you know someone whom life has given
lemons, you could have a picnic or something.
(Michael McCuiston)

If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade.
However, if life gives you a pickle you might
as well give up, because pickle-ade is disgusting.
(Clifton J. Gray)

[Sig] Jesus was my co-pilot

Jesus was my co-pilot. But we crashed into the Andes and I had to eat him.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

[Holiday] Winter-een-mas

It's right around the corner!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

[Image] Comics

From a nice (old) Slashdot article on Creative Commons and Webcomics.

Here's an example of how well things can work:

Queen of Wands ended...

Something Positive references it...

Checkerboard Nightmare wraps it up.

[Question] The New Age

So, many moon ago I was flipping around the TV and happened to catch part of a monologue about a guy who ate through his ass, and his ass decided it didn't need the mouth anymore, and the mouth grew closed.

Or something like that. It was a bizarre thing.

My question is: what movie was that? Was it "The New Age"? Unfortunately, there's no such quote on iMDB, and this movie has a title that is .... hard to search for without getting numerous false positives.

I didn't see the whole movie. So, basically, all I have is the feeling that it was Peter Weller who gave the speech. Anyone know what movie I'm talking about? It's driving me crazy.

[iPod] Video

K and I went iPod window shopping this past weekend. At the store, the video iPods had a DVD rip of Final Fantasy VII. What a highlight of cultural differences. ^_^

America: Copy a DVD (that you own) onto a video player (that you own) for your own personal use? That's a DMCA violation! (Don't get me started on "fair use")
Japan: Download a DVD rip off the Internet and push it onto the display models of the iPods? Sure! We won't even bother taking the release group's credit out of the filename!

Japan is awesome.

Speaking of iPod, this engraving idea was my favorite.

The only thing keeping us from buying it immediately is the certainty that as soon as we do, a newer better cheaper iPod will come out. :-/

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

[Godstuff] A Blow Against Pastafarianism

Pirates everywhere, weep. His Noodly Appendage is persona non grata in Dover.

Good commentary on this tragedy over at, and some insightful observations on this topic from last month can be found at the DilbertBlog.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

[Link] Cute Overload

Warning: The Ultimate Cuteness found on this link may give you diabetes.

(Strangely, there is no link to the Archives page, and even more strangely, the archive links only go back to September. Here's the link to July, navigate at the top. NONE SHALL DENY ME THE CUTENESS!)

[Japan] A Really Big Snow

"The local weather observatory said about 62 cm of snow had fallen in the city of Fukui by 8 a.m."

Good pics on Dan's blog and my fellow Asahian Lewis' blog. I was going to take pictures myself yesterday, but decided to spend the day digging a path for my car to get out for work today.

For the record, I hate the snow. I hate driving in it, I hate walking in it, and especially, I hate shoveling it.


[Shiny] Gatestown

He arguably robbed from the rich and gave to the poor...
Stood up to the Man
and gave him what for!
The Man of the Year
that all Slashdot hates,
The hero of Redmond
the man they call Gates!

(from Slashdot)

[iPod] Gift

I'm thinking about giving my girlfriend an iPod for her birthday. Does anyone have any suggestions on which one I should get?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

[Link] Students for an Orwellian Society

Yet =another= link that makes me weep for the current state of affairs in my once-free homeland.

[Zug] The Turnpike Prank

Executive summary: Mariah Carey is rich, the Turnpike Authority is poor, and Zug is funny.

[Grief] John Spencer

John Spencer passed away on Friday, four days before his 59th birthday. That makes me a sad Phoenix.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

[Nerd] Either You Get It or You Don't

u = 6.0f; if( isnan(i) ) i = free(man);

I really need to start a "Best Sigs" page...

Monday, December 12, 2005

[Me] Damn Your Black Heart, Thomas!

So, Thomas infected me with an Internet meme. Because he's a bad person.
Here are the directions: Write 5 random facts about yourself, and then list the names of 5 people who you in turn infect.
  1. I've been homeless three times. Since then, I've gone to college and traveled half-way around the globe. Being homeless is a choice, and I chose to move on. This is why I won't give beggars my spare change anymore. Well, also because I'm just a bad person.
  2. A friend of my mother offered to buy me from her, when I was a baby. If you can understand that she was wealthy enough to afford to buy a baby, you might understand why I have never forgiven my mother for not selling me.
  3. I'm red-green colorblind, but my brain fills in whichever color it thinks something is. One time, I was walking around downtown Spokane with a friend, who pointed out a cherry red pickup truck, and commented on what an unusual color it was. Now, I've seen dozens of cherry red pickup trucks, so I thought it was unusual that he thought it was unusual, until he said that the truck was green. I looked again, and IT WAS GREEN. I expected red, so my brain made it red, until I was told otherwise. This is why, if you ask me what color grass is, I'm going to give you that condescending look. I'm color-blind, not retarded. Grass is blue, everyone knows that.
  4. I love to read, but I am, in fact, quite a slow reader. I have never been able to get over the habit of reading the words in an internal voice, so I can only read as fast as I speak. On the other hand, I have nearly perfect retention (at least, for things I have read), so I often only have to read something once. ^_^
  5. I suffer from high self esteem. I have a serious superiority complex. It's a problem.
Now, it would have been more fun if the meme were Write 5 random secrets about yourself. Who wants to go first? ^_^

As for this meme, the infection stops here. I'm not going to infect five other people, because I'm a killjoy wet-blanket who ruins the fun for everyone else. Basically, I'm just a bad person.

[Work] Season's Greetings

I'm preparing for my next class, where my students will write their own Christmas Cards (in English). I was searching for other phrases that can be used, such as "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas", and I discovered that there is this really big argument right now over the use of Merry Christmas.

Some people don't like it, some people =insist= upon it. I just have to ask...

WTF is wrong with you people? Seriously?!

I need my iProd.

Two more weeks until Winter Break, and I'll be able to breathe again! No more three-hours-of-sleep for THIS guy! ^_^ Two more weeks...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

[Link] Serenity

The Hand Puppet Movie Theatre Presents "Serenity" (*SPOILERS*)

[Slashdot] WWJD? JWRTFM!

It's spreading. Google has 373 hits for JWRTFM

Thursday, December 01, 2005

[Me] Jesus

(This started as a comment on Emily's blog, but it got too long so I moved it here)

Don't get me started on the whole "I like Jesus just fine" thing. Sure you can say that, you never had to share a place with him.

Frankly, the man is a pig. I don't think I ever saw him do laundry. And the mess! It was like living with a dozen hippies. I'm not downing on hippies, but you don't want to bring a fine lady home to a hippy nest. It's just not cricket.

And when it came to cooking, forget about it. Though, I may be a bit of a nitpicker on this topic; I can make a three-course meal with one side of a butter knife, and serve it with the other. But J-man, I don't know what he was thinking.

"What did you do in here?" "I made a sandwich." "HOW MANY LOAVES OF BREAD DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE ONE SANDWICH?!"

He was always doing stuff like that. Go in to the kitchen to fix a snack, and when I come in five minutes later, there's food EVERYWHERE. Unbelievable.

It wasn't Jesus that was the problem, though. It was all his crazy friends. The J-Man can throw a killer party, but man, the nuts come out of the woodwork. And they ALWAYS got in fights with each other, over really trivial stupid stuff. Like, one time J-dude said "Don't eat the bacon", right? And some of his friends were like, "No prob, dude" and others were all "No, man, he was saying Don't eat bacon, like don't eat pigs at all, which is cool, 'cause pigs are dirty" and even others go "No, he meant don't eat meat. We should all be vegetarians!" Gah, why not just =ASK= him what he meant?!

I did ask him, and you know what it was? He said "I meant, 'don't eat the bacon in the fridge because I'm saving it for breakfast'. Man, I love bacon." Me too, man, me too.

If I could hang out with just him and not his other friends, it would probably still be cool, except that J-man can't handle money either. It was like, every week he would ask me for more money.

I'd be like, "Man, I just gave you $20 last week!" "Dude, I spent it all." "What'd you spend it on? More wine?"

Actually, it probably wasn't wine. In fact, I can't recall him EVER making a liquor store run. Come to think of it, where did he get all that wine from?

Anyway. He makes a good friend but a lousy housemate.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

[Me] DDD

So, I'm having trouble with DeepDiscountDVD as of late. They have a fairly good service, and their prices are low.

But, man, try and get customer support from them..... forget about it.

So, I'm looking to change suppliers.

Coincidentally, I saw a post or an article somewhere where someone was talking about their two big DVD suppliers. One was DDD and one was something else, and they said that they used that other one more. (Or something like that. The grammar for that sentence was confusing, which is why it stands out in my mind)

So, it's probably better than DDD in some way, right? I'll check it out.

Except... I can't remember where I saw that. Or even if it was a blog post or a Slashdot post, or ...what. Understand, I saw it within the past three days, but if you're an INFORMATION CONSUMING MACHINE like I am, that doesn't help much.

[Work] Contracts

So, pretty much all the other teachers have gone home now.

The tests are over, the students are gone, and with them, the instructors.

Except for me.

Because my contract says my daily end-time is 4:15PM.

It is so incredibly stupid here right now.

Mood: Bitter.

[Work] Oolala (long)

I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.

Specifically, when I was a few hours younger.

Today is a final test day at work. Which means that I have no classes to teach, and could have used a vacation day and stayed home.

Which I totally would have done, seeing as how I'm totally completely exhausted.

My sleep schedule is totally completely thoroughly messed up.

It started after the mid-year conference, which was last week. I was so tired on the final day that I went home and was asleep in bed by around 8:30PM. You have to understand, I'm a night owl, so that's early. In fact, sometimes I'm still at work at 8:30PM. Anyway.

I was also a bit sick. I won't go into overshare details, which basically means that I can't tell you anything about the level of sickness I was experiencing. I can say that it involved frequent (sometimes nearly constant) trips to the restroom.

So, that was the weekend following the conference. Why is this important?

Because, it's the end of the month.

I have some bills that need to be paid back home in America, that can't be paid online. So ever month I have to call international long distance and pay them.

Which means I have to either stay up crazy late or get up crazy early, because of the time difference.

Well, I'm a night owl, so I stay up crazy late. Usually, I do this on a Friday or Saturday night, so I can sleep in the next day, and it won't affect my work. But last week was the MYC, so Friday night I was in bed at 8:30PM and Saturday night I was sick. So, it didn't get done.

But it HAS TO get done, so I did it Tuesday night. I stayed up until 1:00AM, and made the calls.

I had PLANNED for this to take no longer than an hour, AT MOST. Usually, it's just a bunch of short calls. The guy in the financial department at my university (his name is Stuart) who takes my calls has sometimes recognized me. Those are usually REALLY SHORT calls.
Me: Hi, I want to pay my bill.
Stuart: Is this Phoenix?
Me: Yup.
Stuart: OK, what's your card number?
That's pretty much the entire conversation.

But sometimes...

During the course of Tuesday night's (technically, Wednesday morning's) business, I ended up making a couple customer service calls. These calls, like most customer service calls in America, were re-routed to India. Well, apparently not all businesses can afford to outsource their customer service to Indian companies that can afford to hire English speaking representatives.

They couldn't understand me, I sometimes couldn't understand them, it was a hassle.

Long story short (too late), I was up until around 5:30AM.

I normally get up for work at 7:00AM. I reset my alarms for 7:30AM, to get that precious extra 30 minutes of slumber, but the situation couldn't really be ameliorated.

The damage was done, and with but two hours of sleep, I went to work the next day.

Somehow, I'm not sure how, exactly, I managed to get through the day. I can't remember much beyond that.

My dilemma hit when I went home. Should I go straight to bed? Try to stay up and get my sleeping schedule back on track?

I tried to get my cycle under control by staying up a bit, even though I was VERY tired.

I remember it being 7:00PM at one point, although I'm not sure if I managed to stay up even later.

What I =DO= remember is waking up at 11:00PM. At some point, I had decided to lay down on my covers with my shirt half-off, drooling on myself. At least, that's what I can assume I decided, given how I found myself when I awoke.

I tried to go back to sleep, but now my cycle was totally completely thoroughly utterly destroyed.

I'm not sure how many hours I lay awake last night, staring darkly at the ceiling. Many.

So now, the next day, I'm totally completely thoroughly utterly exhaustively? wholly exhausted again. I'm not excusing this; what I =should= have done was take a nap after work on Tuesday, so that staying up late would be no big deal. But I didn't. Because I'm stupid.

AND, I have no classes to teach. I actually have FREE TIME today, which would be great, if I were awake enough to work on any of the thousands of projects I have open.


[IQ] iProd

One of these days, I'm going to have time to come back and make real posts again. But not, I think, today. In the meantime, here's a post from the Slashdot article Driving Away Teens with High-Frequency Noise:
Yet if someone was to invent the Retard-Prod(tm) that jabs everyone with an IQ less than 60, the inventor would be lynched within a day.
If someone were to invent the Retard-O-Prod that jabs everyone with an IQ of less than X, the inventor would be hailed as a conquering hero.

If you give me a working Retard-O-Prod (with variable IQ tolerance dial; crank that baby UP!), I will give you a cool $1,000,000 cash.

Keep one by the doorway to your house to drive away solicitors! Put one at the entrance to your finer discriminating stores! Sorry, Billy, you must be at least this smart to shop here. I won't even bother getting into the obvious possibilities (putting them in voting booths, the DMV, et cetera).

If you can make a wearable version, that would be even better. That way, I wouldn't constantly feel the need to shout YOU ARE ALL IDIOTS everywhere I go. I'll let the Retard-O-Prod do the shouting for me. ^_^ We can call it the iProd!

Of course, considering the number of annoyingly foolish conversations I've heard among alleged 'geniuses', we'd really need to turn it up to 140 or 150...

If you ask me, there's too much discrimination based on race, gender, religion, age, et cetera, and NOT ENOUGH discrimination against stupidity.

Monday, November 28, 2005

[Link] Movie "Trailers"

So busy
can't watch any of these movies
can only enjoy their trailers...

(Shining is still the champ)

Monday, November 21, 2005

[Work] Last Christmas

I had never heard this song before coming to Japan, and here I hear it ALL THE TIME. This is =THE= English-language Christmas song here.

My contact at the BoE asked for the lyrics, and when I tried to search for them on the intarweb, I found that EVERY version out there had mistakes in it.

Every. Single. One.

So, I transcribed it myself. You have no idea how many times I had to listen to this song, and it isn't even December yet. Of course, some might ask why, if I hate this song so much, I actually have a copy of it on my computer. Well, you can just SHUT your PIE HOLE.

Mood: Ill-tempered.

For the rest of you, I'm sharing my version of the lyrics for Last Christmas. This has no purpose other than, if you happen to need the exact lyrics to this version of Last Christmas, you won't have to transcribe it yourself. My Festivus gift to you. Enjoy.

:: Last Christmas ::
Wham! [extended version]

*Instrumental Intro*

*whispered* (Merry Christmas!)


Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you gave it away.
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special.

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you gave it away. (you gave it away)
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special. (special)

Once bitten and twice shy,
I keep my distance but you still catch my eye.
Tell me baby do you recognize me?
Well it's been a year, it doesn't surprise me.

(Happy Christmas!) I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying "I Love You." I meant it.
Now I know what a fool I've been
But if you kissed me now I know you'd fool me again.

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you gave it away. (you gave it away)
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special. (special)

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you gave it away.
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special. (special)

(Oh whoa baby)

A crowded room, friends with tired eyes.
I'm hiding from you and your soul of ice.
My God, I thought you were someone to rely on.
Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart,
A man undercover but you tore me apart.
(Oooh Oooh)
Now I've found a real love, you'll never fool me again.

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you gave it away. (you gave it away)
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special. (special)

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you gave it away. (you gave me away)
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special. (special)

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
(Gave you my heart)
A man undercover but you tore him apart
(Maybe, next year...)
I'll give it to someone, I'll give it to someone special. (special)
I'll give it to someone, I'll give it to someone special
Who'll give me something in return.
(I'll give it to someone, I'll give it to someone)
Hold my heart and watch it burn.
I'll give it to someone, I'll give it to someone special.
I thought you were here to stay.
How can love be for a day?
I thought you were someone... special.
Gave you my heart...
I'll give it to someone, I'll give it to someone.
Last Christmas I gave you my heart.
You gave it away.
I'll give it to someone, I'll give it to someone...

La la, la la la la la la la....

*fade out*

[Link] GVOD

Google Video of the Day is awesome.
"Every day, hundreds of people upload their home-grown videos to Google Video. I sift through the crap to give you at least one video every single day. You never know what you're going to see."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

[Me] JET Fool

So, I decided to pursue the JET comic in my "free time", but I've moved it off to another blog.

I welcome constructive comments. ^_^

Saturday, November 19, 2005

[Me] If You Can Read This... means that there is an unencrypted access point near the Starbucks in Fukui. ^_^

Friday, November 18, 2005

[Video] Gorillaz, Live

"Gorillaz, the world's more popular virtual band, won Best Group at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Lisbon on November 3rd, 2005. Afterwards, they took the stage to play "Feel Good Inc" live."

Try and parse this: Gorillaz, the animated brainchild of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, appeared live onstage. onstage...

The Times of London reports that the illusion was achieved using an old Victorian parlour trick known as "Pepper’s Ghost"

(from here, more info on Gorillaz here)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

[Work] Things Said To Me a female co-worker.
  1. Close the curtain.
  2. Should you take your shirt off?
  3. Climb into the bed while I set up the video camera.
(disclaimer: these sentences may have been taken out of context and/or sequence for exaggeration purposes)

[Link] Programmers, Weep
Curious perversions in information technology.

[Random] Slashdot 20051117

  1. (here) What you do today will cost you a day of your life.

  2. (here) You can not truly appreciate Shakespeare until you've read him in the original COBOL.
    if ( $question = ( 2B || !(2B) ) ) {
    if ($mind[SlingsArrows] > $mind[TakeArms]) {
  3. (here)
    According to Plato (or Socrates rather - who never wrote) writing itself was a threat to wisdom, because it made writers dependent on an external memory and weakened their own memory. So replace centuries with millennia. Heres a bit of Plato's Phaedrus, where Socrates speaks about writing:
    It would take a long time to repeat all that Thamus said to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts [technai]. But when they came to letters [grammata], Theuth said, "This invention, O King, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; I have discovered a remedy [pharmakon: potion, medicine, drug] both for the memory and for wisdom." Thamus replied: "O most ingenious [technikotate] Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a power opposite to that which they in fact possess. For this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it; they will not exercise their memories, but, trusting in external, foreign marks [graphes], they will not bring things to remembrance from within themselves. You have discovered a remedy [pharmakon] not for memory, but for reminding. You offer your students the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom. They will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.
    Quoted from [] where you'll find a nice extract of the parts of Phaedrus that deals with writing.

[Work] Eraserhead

So, my 2nd graders are working on a drama from the textbook (the quite painful "Chris and the Puppets"). One student is supposed to say his lines very genki, like the character. But he doesn't, and his teammates yell at him to do it again. He does it exactly the same (or if possible, even less enthused). I start to boo (because I'm that kind of teacher) and grab a student's eraser from their desk, to make like I'm going to throw it at him.

It turns out, and this is an interesting fact I was not previously aware of, that the casing around those rubber erasers is quite slippery.

So, yes, I threw an eraser at one of my students.

I guess I'm just a bad person.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

[Work] The CHOsen One

Alright, showing follow-thru for possibly the first time in my life, I made a comic out of my recent work adventures. I think I need a better title. I used "The CHOsen One", since I'm a CHO ALT. (JETfuel is a perfect title, but it's being used. ^_^)

Anyway, given the tools at hand (eg, Paint and Word), I think I spent too much time on it (ie, more than 20 minutes, possibly even 30).

You know the drill, clicky for bigger.

(ironically, Blogger's "optimizer" turned my 64kb .GIF into a 137kb .JPG Way to go, Blogger! Double that image size, yeah!)

Monday, November 14, 2005

[Work] Cocoa Redux

(or, What Phoenix Writes About When He Has Had Too Little Sleep And Too Little Coffee And Too Many Classes)

So, I was putting cocoa into my coffee, as I do, and I notice the redesigned bags. The previous bags had what I would call "regular zip-lock tops" on them.

But other companies use that style too, so that's no good. They needed a NEW design. So now they have this extra-wide zip-lock top, or what I like to call "the top that can't stay open".

They made the opening bigger by changing where they put the ends of the zip-lock. Well, now the ends are pinched, and they actually force the top closed. It's OK for me and my freakishly large, giant-mutant-hands*; I can hold the bag in the palm of my hand and reach up and squeeze the top open with my thumb and pinky, while my other hand spoons out the sweet, sweet cocoa.

But this is JAPAN! What the heck do my co-workers do?

*Seriously, what's with my hands? Are they really that big? I mean, I can press both shift keys down simultaneously with one hand fairly easily, but is that so unusual? Or is being in Japan coloring my perception of size?

[Work] Are You F@(%?

Two of my 2nd grade girls just asked me "Are you f@(%?"

Now, I know the word, but I'm trying to not teach my students foul language (this year). Plus, I wasn't exactly sure what they were asking. Do you f@(%? (I've been getting asked that a lot of late)

I expressed bewilderment, and dodged the question. Temporarily, it turns out.

They two caught up with me between classes, and asked the same question. They even spelled f@(% for me. I said I still didn't understand. Are you? It didn't make any sense, and I wasn't going to work out the grammar for them.

So they resorted to Japanese. Are you hentai? THAT I understand.

I asked them, "Do you mean to say, 'are you perverted?'" (and thereby taught them the word 'perverted', which I'm sure will come back to haunt me soon)

They giggled, and said yes, and then ran off. Apparently, they weren't asking =ME= the question, they just wanted some help with their English.

I wonder whom the question is for...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

[Work] An Eternal Golden Braid

At one point, I was asked what my favorite "thing" is (book, movie, etc), and I said it was "Gödel, Escher, Bach", a truly fantastic book. It's difficult to describe what it's about (everything).

Just now, one of my co-workers came up and said "I saw your book!" She showed me the newspaper article, something on science books, and there it was: the Japanese edition of GEB.


[Work] Cocoa

So, I've been buying cocoa mix to take to work, because I like to use cocoa instead of sugar in my coffee. Also, I was kind of hoping that the taste would catch on around the office, and they would start buying the cocoa out of the office fund that I have to pay into.

Well, this has been going on for about a year, and I'd pretty much given up hope of anyone else buying it (although, everyone else USES it). Until last week...

We ran out of instant coffee, which was a bit frustrating to me, as I had brought in a new bag of cocoa and had nothing to mix it with. I couldn't drink plain cocoa... or could I? No, no I couldn't.

Luckily for me, one of the other teachers came in and saw my predicament. Now, a widely known 'secret' is that everyone in Japan can actually speak a little English. This particular teacher hadn't spoken to me before, but it still didn't surprise me when she told me, in English, where the instant coffee was stored.

Where is the instant coffee stored, you ask? In the cupboard with the cocoa, of course!

How long have they been buying cocoa? Well, it's hard to tell, since they've never had to use theirs, since I kept bringing in new bags whenever the old one went empty. All this time, and I never knew.

But that's not why I'm writing today.

I just got out of my first class, and wanted to have a cup of coffee (since there wasn't time beforehand). Not much left in the pot, but enough for one cup maybe. But...where is my cocoa?

I =know= I bought a new bag last week. It can't be gone already, and yet it is nowhere to be found. Had someone taken it? That seems to happen sometimes, but not very often. Had someone put it away with the other cocoa? I check, but there are no open bags in the cupboard.

And then, I spotted something...on the table was a new bag of 'cocoa', specifically some kind of 'healthy' Black Soybean Cocoa. Unable to find my regular cocoa, but still wanting a cup of coffee, I grabbed a couple spoonfuls and... by the time my lost cocoa ordeal was done, someone else had come and taken the last bit of coffee in the pot.*

I see. It's going to be one of those days.

And, if you're wondering how Black Soybean Cocoa tastes, well, you might be surprised, assuming you've suffered some sort of critical brain damage. Otherwise, it tastes exactly how you'd think it would. Maybe a little worse.

UPDATE: My god...what have I done?

Well, remember two hours ago when I was talking about the Black Soybean Cocoa? Well, it was a nearly full bag then. Now, it's empty.

It's not even lunchtime yet. At this rate, they can probably go through two or three bags a day.

*I was reminded of the "Terry's World" commercial for Reebok**. Remember that? "You kill the joe, you make some mo'!" I need Terry Tate for my office.

**I had a better link to all the videos, and deleted it a few days ago because I didn't think I'd ever need it! D'OH!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

[Image] CAPTCHA pwns j00!

[Puzzle] The Puzzle Boat

Now THIS is a puzzle! Or many, actually.

You get puzzles like:
Hokey Pokey
Where: Disgruntled Lobsterman

You put the left one in. You take the right one out. That's what it's all about.

(+ these vowels, in random order: long i, short i, long e, short e, schwa, ou)

Abbreviated genre that includes Hugo Gemsback and Edwin Abbott (5, hyph.)
Championer of a cause (11, 2 wds)
Flashy outfit with an extreme cut, padded shoulders, and a thigh-length jacket (8, 2 wds)
"Help"-ful phrase derived from French for "help me" (6)
Like some sexy boots (9, hyph.)
Metal Health band (9, 2 wds)
Nonalcoholic malt concoction (8, 2 wds)
Short and pudgy in stature (8, hyph.)
Small bedtime illuminator (10, 2 wds)
Weapon designed to immobilize (7, 2 wds)
Here's a general hint from the site:
"With these puzzles, you are typically going to be looking for a word or short phrase as your answer. You may want to look at first letters, or use numbers to find a specific character in a word or phrase."
So this puzzle's answer is a word or short phrase. And it's one of the easier ones. ^_^

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

[Link] Bored?

Here's a list of things to do.

[Link] Will You Be Ready?

Are you prepared? Do you know what to do in case of a robot uprising?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

[Work] Kancho

(also see this site for more kancho grief)

I have been kancho-ed.

There have been minor attempts in the past, but all have failed or missed. I've never suffered the horror of a successful kancho. Until today.

My ichi-nensei boys are always trying to kancho each other. Between classes, one student was really picking on another, smaller classmate. I decided to step in and put a stop to it by pretending to go and kancho the bully. I put my hands together in kancho position and advanced.

The larger boy, seeing me approach, immediately dropped to the floor (a kancho-proof location) and slid backwards away from me, laughing. I kept advancing, and he backed out of the classroom and down the hallway. This happened to take us past the other ichi-nensei classrooms.

Well, one of the boys in the other classroom saw me and though "Oh, Phoenix is kancho-ing now? That means Phoenix is kancho-able!" (for the record, I wasn't kancho-ing, and I wasn't going to. The threat was enough to stop the bullying, which is all I wanted)

Well, this other boy tells his friends and they spread the word and SUDDENLY a dozen ichi-nensei boys come pouring out of the classrooms into the hallway, like Agent Smith in the Burly Brawl scene.

Each one had their hands in kancho position.

Now, the way this scene played out is hard to picture if you weren't there. Try and imagine around twenty 12-year-old boys trying to stick their fingers up your ass. Now, try and picture the horrible realization that this is REALLY HAPPENING.

They came from...every direction. Simultaneously, as if by silent signal. I managed to stop the first few by grabbing their kancho-ready fingers, and I used their bodies to keep a few more at bay, but one got through.

OOP! I was kancho-ed, successfully! I mean, dead-on accurate aim.

I spun around to catch the perpetrator, but that only opened me to more attacks. OOP! OOP! Two more got through.

I don't know if you are familiar with the anime Naruto (said anime has also popularized the kancho around the world), but the main character can duplicate his body and be in many places at once. It was like being attacked by him. Wherever I turned, he was behind me. OOP! OOP! OOP!

Previously, I thought I was un-kancho-able. I'm much bigger than my students. Of course, if you've played "Shadow of the Colossus" (and you should), you know that size matters not.

I was kancho-ed so many times, I lost count. And THEN I had to teach class for an hour. To some of these same students.

I need a pillow for my chair...

[Challenge] Escapa!

I made it to 18 and a half seconds.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

[NaNoWriMo] NoMo

It's already a week into November, and I haven't worked on my NaNoWriMo for this year yet. I've been too busy as of late. It's test season here in Japan, and while some OTHER ALTs get time off right now (because they have no classes to teach), *I* get to work extra hard and even stay late after school marking papers. Because I'm *SPECIAL*.

Not that I'm bitter in any way.

The lack of novel-writing time this year is especially hard to take, as a full plot complete with fleshed out characters dropped into my lap the other day. I was hanging out in Fukui, waiting for K to finish having dinner (Japan has a strict drinking-and-driving rule [the legal limit here is 0.0], so she needed me to pick her up), and while I was driving around it all just ... flowed into my head. I had to stop at a combini and buy a pen to write it down.

When I say complete, I mean complete. It's like someone was in my head, telling me the story. Sometimes I would ask questions (why are they doing this? What happened here?) and the answers came immediately. It was actually too much to write down, so a lot of my notes are just keywords.

...maybe I can write it at night. After I get home from work at 9pm. Instead of sleeping.

[Me] No Content

I apologize for the lack of actual content recently. If you've noticed that a lot of my posts are simply quotes of something or links to something or short comments about something, it's because I'm really busy at the moment. I don't have time to plan my posts or compose them the way I'd like. I promise, I'm not just slacking off and having fun. If I were having fun, I'd be telling everyone about it! ^_^

[Bash] Fire is Hot

"There's this sign at the bottom of the stairway that is bothering me. It says 'floors are slippery when wet.' Well, no s***! You put the f***ing sign up when the floors are wet to alert people they are wet and therefore slippery. Putting up that sign is like getting rid of the fire alarms and putting up signs that say FIRE IS HOT."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

[Puzzle] Eat the Pie

Eat the pie in 15 bites.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

[Me] Spammers Must Die

I had to turn on word verification, because the amount of spam was becomming overwhelming. I'm very sorry. :'-(

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

[Me] Missed Opportunity

Phoen!x: Do you read Penny Arcade?
Dave: every couple weeks I go catch up
Phoen!x: They're from Spokane.
Phoen!x: Whenever they mention Merlyn's, I get nostalgic. ^_^
Dave: are they really?
Phoen!x: Yeah.
Phoen!x: Anyway, do you know the Penny Arcade Remix Project?
Dave: i haven't heard of that
Phoen!x: JETs here in Japan white out the words and give the strips to their students.
Phoen!x: The students fill them in with new words. ^_^
Phoen!x: Sometimes quite amusing.
Dave: hahahaha
Dave: that's awesome
Phoen!x: But they don't look good, because the colors don't photocopy well on cheap paper.
Phoen!x: So, today I sent them e-mails asking if they'd make a couple strips without colors
Phoen!x: for us JETs. ^_^
Dave: cool
Phoen!x: We'll see how cool.
Phoen!x: They could just ignore me.
Dave: yeah, they could
Dave: but as a fellow Spokanite, perhaps you'll have a bit more pull
Phoen!x: Ah
Phoen!x: I didn't mention that part.
Phoen!x: :(
Phoen!x: If I sent another e-mail, would that be too stalker-ish?
Dave: probably. or at least "oh, yeah, by the way, I'm from Spokane, too, if that makes you more inclined to help me out" would probably sound a little weird
Phoen!x: I could have mentioned how their infrequent references to Spokane remind me of home, and were a comfort to me, living abroad in a foreign land.
Phoen!x: That would have been smart.
Dave: It's too bad you're such a dumbass.

[Project] Comics

I'd like make a comic about working on the JET program. I think that last week's adventure about:
  1. Not getting paid
  2. Getting my vacation days taken away
  3. Being asked to work overtime
...would make a good strip. Just one thing after another, and when you think it can't get worse, of course it does.

You know, when I was a kid, my mom used to tell me that I had "Charlie Brown Syndrome". Things go bad for me, in big ways, frequently. Of course, this is the same mom who left me behind, locked out of the house while she and the rest of the family AND THE NEIGHBORS all went to Reno for a quick vacation, when I was 12. So, some of this is her fault.

Not that I'm complaining. Whom else has such stories to tell? "The Time My Roommate Tried To Kill Me" is probably my favorite. I mean, sure the police were involved, and I hid at my brother's for three days, but you have to look back and laugh. ^_^ Said roommate and I are still friends, and it's not like he succeeded in killing me. It was more of a threat. And it makes a great story. ^_^

I wonder if that comes across to people whom don't know me... It's hard to convey tone in text, but when I describe these incidents, I'm not trying to get pity or sympathy, I just want to tell an interesting or funny story. I try to emphasize the ridiculous or extreme, and exaggerate things for comic effect. For example, it wasn't that they forgot to pay me, and then took my vacation days away, and then asked me if I would mind working overtime, all in a row. Those events were spread out over two days, and happened in a different order.

Anyway, I think incidents like this would make a nice comic, something I can put online and leave for future JETs to read and ponder. Something like ESID, for example.

The problem is, I have absolutely no artistic ability. I look at webcomics like Penny Arcade and Mac Hall, and I know I can't do anything like that. So it's intimidating. I don't know if a megatokyo-style "stick figure rant" would be effective enough, but that's about the limit of my drawing skill.

Sigh. How come no one has made a software solution for this yet? Something geared STRICTLY toward comic creation? Draw your characters once, and save them. Or better yet, design your characters once, and save them. Easy character creation; choose features, colors, etc. Automatically generates different views for different angles. Pre-built facial expressions, postures, gestures... Making a strip becomes as simple as:
  1. Choose background
  2. Choose characters and positions
  3. Input witty banter
You could even do things like render to different styles. Sketch, line drawing, water-color, etc... You know, it's a real shame that someone with a DEGREE in computer science isn't going to follow up on this.

Sigh, again. I have too many projects.

[Nerd] Humor

(from Bash)
<EventHorizon> is it just me or does our prof wear sweaters alot?
<swtaarrs> that's a sweatshirt
<EventHorizon> yeah
<EventHorizon> i think sweatshirt extends sweater though
<EventHorizon> so its still an instance
<DroolingSheep> no it doesn't sweaters suck
<swtaarrs> you're an instance of stupid
<EventHorizon> ur an instance of ur mom
<ChixLoveUnix> I implemented your mom last night.
<EventHorizon> i extended ur mom so bad she threw an exception
<EventHorizon> or something
<swtaarrs> if your mom were a collection class, her insert method would be public

[Quiz] BBC Citizenship Test

Can you pass a citizenship test?
I scored 11/14.

[Game] Death in Sakkara

Death in Sakkara: An Egyptian Adventure
Looks promising so far... A new episode every week (for four weeks). Reminds me of Indiana Jones.

[Link] The Hacker Diet

The Hacker's Diet®

How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition

By John Walker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Hacker's Diet is a book written by John Walker, founder of Autodesk. It is a diet book, despite John Walker having nothing to do with medicine or nutrition in his professional life. As he writes, it "is a diet book by somebody who spent most of his life fat."

Walker describes the diet as approaching weight loss "as an engineering problem," and claims that his approach enabled him to reduce his weight from 215 pounds to 145 pounds in a year, and keep it stable afterwards.

The diet is a fairly straightforward calorie counting approach, combined with exercises derived from the Royal Canadian Air Force 5BX exercise program.

[Work] Cherry Boy

I had lunch with the 3rd-graders today (America=9th-graders). One of the students at my table was quite excited to practice his English with me, even though his ability was very limited. But he really tried.

Of course, eventually, the questions turned personal. He (and the crowd gathered around him) asked me if I was "cherry boy" (America=virgin).

Now, I was conflicted. A previous question had brought up my age, so I wanted to say to him "Are you serious? I'm 31! What do YOU think?"

On the other hand, I don't want to encourage promiscuous behavior in my students. So I wanted to say "Are you serious? I'm ONLY 31! Of COURSE I'm still cherry boy!"

Coincidentally, lunch ended right when I opened my mouth to answer. I was quite literally saved by the bell.

I wonder what I would have said....

Mom, if you're reading this, I just want you to know, OF COURSE I'm still a virgin. ^_^

Monday, October 31, 2005

[OCD] If You're Obsessive-Compulsive And You Know It...

...clap your hands! And keep clapping them until you get it right!

Someone moved my hashi again this week. They weren't were I left them last week. It's still not as bad as the wet-toothbrush incident.

But the realization that I, of course, still remember the position my hashi were left in from last Wednesday positively paled in comparison to what I did today.

I rearranged the milk bottles in the fridge.

Every school lunch, we get these small bottles of milk (actual glass bottles, like America used to have). We often have some left over, and they go in the teacher's refrigerator. But, since we have so many left, often some are lost to spoilage. Since I like having milk in my coffee, I decided to do what I could to minimize the damage.

All perfectly logical, right?

Well, the effect was that I arranged the milk bottles in perfect lines, with near expiration dates in the front and far expiration dates in the back (or on a lower shelf), with said expiration dates rotated to the front for easy viewing.

It started out as a good idea, and I took it too far. I'm reminded of a West Wing quote, which I shall paraphrase:
Josiah Bartlet: You know that line you're not supposed to cross?
C.J. Cregg: I'm coming up to it?
Josiah Bartlet: No, no. Look behind you.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

[Quote] Dave's Not Here, Man.

Dave: oh, right, it's sunday and you were called into work.
Dave: well, if it makes you feel better, James gave me this coming week off. actually, i'm not sure how that'd make *you* feel better, but it makes me feel pretty good

Friday, October 28, 2005

[Work] You Tell Me This NOW?

Today is Saturday. It is around 11:15AM. My supervisor just called.

It seems that we have school tomorrow, on Sunday, and everyone forgot to tell me. Again.

Of course, I won't have any classes; it's a 'test-return' day. And I won't have lunch, since they stopped ordering me obento boxes because I wasn't eating enough out of them. So, basically, tomorrow is a come-to-work-and-sit-at-your-desk-ALL-day day.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

[Project] Aha, So It's True!

  1. Go to
  2. Type in:
    IMDb Bill Pullman
  3. Press "I'm Feeling Lucky"

[FYI] Yamakishi

(or, Why It Takes Me Two Hours To Go To The Store)
  • If you're a new supermarket cashier, you might want to remember your physics lessons from school when filling the grocery basket. For example, if you put ALL the very heavy things on one side, and all the very light things on the other, it might tip over when picked up. This is especially bad if you've simply set flat items on top, because they will spill out all over the floor. On the other hand, it will look like the customer is at fault, so you can just ignore the resulting mess and start checking out the next person.
  • If you manage a store that sells kerosene, and you sell said kerosene at a pump outside, and you have a button to press to call an attendant out to pump the kerosene, and you have at least THREE signs pointing to this button, it MIGHT be a good idea to make sure the button actually works.
  • If you drive a black car, and the sun has set, you MIGHT want to turn your headlights on so other drivers can see you. This way, you don't almost T-Bone someone in their tiny little yellow-plate because they went through the intersection you were stealthily approaching.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

[Work] It's a Supervisor Thing (long)

I realize I forgot to mention another adventure at work this past week.

Last Friday, I took a vacation day. There were no classes for me that day at my visiting school, due to a sports meet (my visiting school has only ~60 students). So, they asked me to take a vacation day.

Of course, they could have just given me the day off, but that would be crazy. So forget that. However, I'm not too bitter because:
  1. Last year, I only took 6 days off.
  2. I start with a (theoretical) maximum of 20 days off a year.
  3. That left me with 14 days.
  4. Up to 12 vacation days carry over to the next year.
  5. That brought this year's total up to a (highly theoretical) maximum of 32 potential days off.
So, what's one day? No big deal, right?

Sigh. You foolish fooly fools! Of COURSE it would be a big deal!

This was my first vacation day this contract year. And instead of letting me (or forcing me to) do the paperwork myself, they gave it to my supervisor.
At this point, I should point out that I absolutely adore my supervisor. When I was robbed last year, she took me to the police station to file the incident report. When I fell into the rice field, she took me to make the apologies to the field owner. So, she's been there for me, is what I'm saying. AND, she's a joy to work with. She brings such an infectious energy to the lessons, the kids go über-genki. It's fantastic.
So, anyway, this week rolls around and my supervisor tells me that she needs my hanko.

We have a rule in the JET program, and that is NEVER GIVE YOUR HANKO TO ANYONE. This is an important rule. The paperwork she needed my hanko for was my old vacation forms from last year.

Last year, when I only used 6 vacation days, so I had 14 left. Minus Friday. 13 left.

Here's a summary:

Vacation days left: 31Vacation days left: 13

Can you spot the mistake here?

They took away 18 days of vacation time! More than TWO WEEKS! More than HALF of my vacation days remaining!

And just a reminder, this is also the same week that they:
  • Forgot to pay me
  • Asked me to work overtime
It's almost as if there were some pattern to it...

But that's not the part that bothered me. A mistake in the paperwork? Easily corrected. Right?


What bothered me is what happened when I pointed it out to my supervisor: she wouldn't accept the correction. She tried to convince me that it was correct.

Now, having carefully read and re-read my contract several times (due to prior incidents), I *KNEW* what it said.

First tactic: Point out the mistake. Explain how many days I should have.

Result: Unacceptable. There has been no mistake. I've looked in the (Japanese version*) contract.

*There are two versions to my contract. I've only read the English version, she's only read the Japanese version. I wonder if some things have been lost in translation.

Second tactic: State the obvious. This vacation day count was from my previous contract period.

Result: She corrected me. Our vacation days start in January.

Third tactic: State the obvious AGAIN. Well, YOUR vacation days start in January. *I* came here in July. If I could take 20 days off a year, starting in July and then starting AGAIN in January, I could have 40 days off my first contract period. Does that sound right?

Result: She consulted the contract, and eventually (after much time and argumentdiscussion) agreed that my vacation time is per contract year, which starts in July. YES! But she only bumped it up to 20 days, and not 32. NO!

Fourth tactic: Go to the contract. Up to 12 unused vacation days carry over to the next contract period. I had MORE THAN 12 vacation days left. I have 20 NEW vacation days for this contract period, plus the 12 that I was allowed to carry over. That's 32. It really is. I swear.

Result: Much much contract referring. Telling me that it wasn't in there. When I went to pages with the number 12 on them (in Arabic numerals, thankfully, since I couldn't read through all the kanji), pages that she had previously skimmed past, she assured me that THAT clause only referred to second and third year ALTs. Not to me.

Fifth tactic: Stare in bemusement.

Result: After a while she remembered that I am, in fact, a second year ALT.

BUT, she wasn't giving up just yet! She actually asked me:
"Well, are you planning on even using them? Last year, you only used six. What difference does it make?"
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Even KNOWING about the mistake, and KNOWING the correction to make, she was still resisting. What did she think I was going to do, try and take an entire month off?

All vacation requests have to be approved. Even during August, a month of NO CLASSES, I was allowed to take 5 days off. So, no month's vacation for me.

It's got to be a supervisor thing. Try and wring out the most amount of work with the least amount of reward.

Final tactic: "I'm not necessarily planning to take any more days off this year than last year*, but the ALT guidelines tell us to always be accurate in our paperwork."

*Actually, I am planning on trying to take the breaks off.

Result: Ah...the power of guidelines. Even potentially made-up ones.

Finally, the paperwork was corrected, and I felt OK putting my stamp on it. Time elapsed: maybe an hour. Maybe two. Maybe more? I lost track.

The underlying problem is that, because I have not taken very many vacation days (seven, total, since I arrived one year and three months ago), and because I've done the paperwork myself in the past, my supervisor is unfamiliar with the procedures. This is bad, because they will have a new ALT next year, and I don't want them to have to go through all of these same problems over again.

The only solution is to take more time off. I don't really want to, but I will, for my successor's sake.

For KEN ALTs: At last year's MYC, some KENs expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that CHO ALTs (like myself) get 20 vacation days instead of 10 (or 12 or whatever you guys get). Please keep in mind:
  • You probably get to ACTUALLY USE all 10 of your vacation days
  • You likely get all or part of the school breaks off
I don't know how many more times I can hear KENs complain about vacation days before I totally lose it.

[Wishlist] STF University Apparel

T-Shirt and Hoody. ^_^

[Random] Take Off Every Sig

This message has been automatically encrypted using ROT-26.
[Slashdot .sig of Jim Hall (2985)]

[Work] We Will Rock You

So, I'm walking to my last class of the day with the JTE, and when we get to the third floor, we can hear a bunch of people don't the Stomp-Stomp-Clap of Queen's We Will Rock You.

Now, the music room is on the second floor.... where was this coming from? I couldn't spot the source, but it was getting louder as we walked down the hall. Loud enough that I was beginning to worry that it might interfere with our lesson.

Until I got to class 1-B, or as I like to call them, The Genki Class (or the SUPER GENKI class, or the No Need for a Warm-up class; when they stand up and say [read: shout] the greeting, the JTE and I literally have to plug our ears, they get so loud {if only they would use their incredible powers for good}). Virtually every student in my class had joined in and was Stomp-Stomp-Clapping in unison.

Some days, I just really, really love my job. ^_^

[Question] Orkut

Does anyone I know have an Orkut account?

[Link] Drepung Loseling Photos

My friend George, political refugee from America (who also goes by the name Samten), fled to Asia and took along his camera. He sought refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha at the Drepung Loseling Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Southern India. Here are some photos from his experience there.

Do you want to see how a Tibetan Buddhist prayer hall gets built? See how things are done on another side of the world. ^_^ Drepung Loseling Photos (look in sidebar)

[Link] Get Your War On

M: Is Operation Iraqi Freedom the most expensive botched American thing ever?

W: The only thing that could've been more botched would be if America had landed on the moon using a rocket that only flew one way - with a crew of 130,000 astronauts who then killed 10,000 innocent moon men. We botched this motherf***er like botching was going out of style. This thing was so f***in' botched, I'm surprised the name of the war wasn't misspelled.

M: I wonder if historians will refer to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a manifestation of the Botch Doctrine?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

[Image] Penny Arcade on Blogging

Really, quite accurate. (click for bigger)

[Nostalgia] Hey, Hey, 16k

for n=0 to 2
those were the days
next n

[Image] I Swear To God

I looked down at FireFox and what did I see?

Monday, October 24, 2005

[Work] I'm Not Making This Up

For those of you whose jobs are not as ... interesting as mine, here is a conversation from my workplace (abridged):
My Supervisor: Phoenix-sensei, we're sorry we forgot to pay you last week. Maybe you'll get paid today!
Me: (thinking "Maybe? It's 5 Days overdue. I'm close to living on 'hurricane chow' my predecessor left me... yeah, MAYBE they'll pay my contractually agreed upon salary, and MAYBE I can eat tonight and MAYBE I can buy some heating oil...") Yeah, that would be nice.
My Supervisor: Also, we're going to have a LOT of English tests to mark. Do you mind staying late after work to help?
Me: ...
To recap:
  1. They're not paying me, AND
  2. They're asking me to work unpaid overtime.
Of course, "unpaid" is redundant...

UPDATE: Swung by the bank on my way home from work today (and left work actually AT 4:15PM, because hey, if you're not going to pay me...well, I'll do the job you're not paying me for, but no extra!) and THERE WAS MONEY IN MY ACCOUNT! And I looked upon the money. And it was GOOD.

"There's a monster in my pants, and it does a HAPPY dance...

[Random] Global Rich List


I am in the top 5.53% richest people in the world.

There are 5,668,198,529 people poorer than I.

I'm the 331,801,471 richest person on earth!

[Work] No Need to Pay Me

So, it's 5:33PM and I'm sitting at my desk, at work. With nothing to do. I'd like to go home, and I could do that, since my work day officially ends at 4:15PM. I'd also like to go to the store and get groceries, since I have virtually nothing left to eat in my house save for a packet of marshmallows and some dry cereal (no milk). Unfortunately, I cannot do that.

Apparently, my employers no longer feel the need to pay me for my services.

It is now three days past payday, and still no sign of a check. Of course, I have direct-deposit, but that's not the point. The point is that nothing has been directly-deposited. Currently, I have around $300 in the bank, and my auto-withdraw bills should take between $200 and $300 of that in the next few days. So, I'm afraid to take any out, lest I be caught short. Unlike my employers, I DO pay my debts.

Understand that this whole thing comes as quite a shock to me. For that last 13 months, I have been paid on or before the 21st. It is now the 24th. I may be repeating myself, but that's from the trauma of the situation.

I'm so hungry right now.

I might risk taking out $10 (or whatever the smallest withdrawal is), so I can eat tonight. Of course, I did have school lunch today, so I'm not starving. But still. Dinner would be nice.

It's the little things you take for granted, that you don't miss until they're gone.

I'm waiting for my supervisor to get out of the weekly teacher meeting (that I, as a non-Japanese, do not have to sit through [it's good to be the king]). Not that there's anything she can do tonight, but at least she will be aware of the situation. In fact, I could just leave her a note, but why? So I can rush home to my unheated room and sit in the cold, hungry? Yeah, that sounds like a treat.

No, I think I'll just wait for her here in this nice, warm office, with it's flowing cups of coffee and ... well, basically there's just the coffee. I'm sure she'll be out soon anyway.

Any minute now....

Any minute...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

[Link] Japanese Resources

Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji" preview PDF can be found here. Also helpful are JFC (Japanese Flash Cards) and JWPce (Japanese Word Processor, but I use it to edit my flashcard lists for JFC). They can be found here. Finally, get the Heisig kanji list for JFC from here.

For Japanese games, there are two main options (my reviews of these two can be found here):

1) Project: LRNJ (aka, Slime Forrest Adventure). It can be found here.
2) KiCL (aka, Knuckles in China Land). It can be found here, and my Heisig kanji list for that program used to be there too. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I had to personally log in to the file host once a month or they would delete my account. If I find a stable file host, I'll repost it. In the meantime, there are other lists you can download from the KiCL site that you may like better, especially if you don't go the Heisig route.

I made a forum to kind of organize my Japanese resources (located here). Unfortunately, I haven't had time to spread the word about it, so it's pretty much just my own resources so far. ^_^

Please, God, make me a stone.

I'm a leaf on the wind. Watch how...

[Link] One Movie a Day

(warning, may contain spoilers)

Exactly what it sounds like, only more interesting. A mix of new and old. I wish I had this kind of free time.

It's a good idea. I wish I had thought of doing something like this when I watched Heat and True Romance (which I watched because they were on everyone's list of movies with the best lines). So disappointing.

In other movie news, Serenity is not coming to Japan. I know it's coming out on DVD in a few months, but I really would have liked to watch it on the big screen.

Lastly, Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is out, and also not coming to Japan. I'm not surprised, considering the number of English-specific puns in the three short films. This one I can wait for the DVD, but it's already on my must-buy list. ^_^

[Me] Cold-ass Cold (part 2)

Last update (3 days ago): 18 degrees.
Todays update: 12 degrees.

And getting colder...

This Phoenix is a COLD Phoenix.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

[NaNoWriMo] It's Coming!

National Novel Writing Month is November! Only a week and a half away!

I hope you are all ready. ^_^

[Quiz] Libertarian

You are a

Social Liberal
(73% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(63% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

(From Dan's blog.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

[Me] Cold-ass Cold

Recently, I talked about how everyone switched from short sleeves to long sleeves. I pondered the reasoning, as it was still sweaty-hot.

Well, that was NINE DAYS AGO. Now, I'm seriously considering breaking out the kerosene heater for my room. I noticed that I was reluctant to leave the warm confines of my bed this morning. I wasn't particularly sleepy, but I kept hitting snooze... just to stay under the cozy comforter a little longer.

It was 18 degrees, which isn't really that cold, but it feels a lot colder than it was last week.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

[Me] So, I'm Crazy (long)

Now, a lot of you already knew this. I know that the voices have been saying it for years. Well, now I know it, too.

I'm completely nuts.

The evidence (a collection of which has been building up for quite some time) that tipped me off to my malady happened in my school's bathroom, a few minutes ago.

I went in to the stall, and knew that no one had used it since I had used it this morning. The reason I knew was because the toilet paper had been torn in a certain way. The way I had torn it when I put it on the roll in the morning.

Now, some may (but won't) say that I simply remembered that the toilet paper had been torn in a certain way. Fools! The question should be: Why did I tear it that way to begin with?

I started thinking, and I realized that I do this more often that I admit (even to myself). For example, the other day, my landlord came into my (his) house while I was at work. He turned on the stairway light at the bottom of the stairs, went upstairs, turned off the light, looked in my room, and went back down again.

How do I know this?

Well, I knew he had been there before I even got to the door. The front garden had been neatly trimmed (it was long overdue, but he told me not to mess with it, so I didn't, not even to pull the obvious weeds). So, fine, he'd been there.

Then, I get to the front door, and it is unlocked. He does this quite often, either forgetting to re-lock the door, or locking it incorrectly (eg, locking the door when it's not completely closed). At least he remembers to leave the front light on now.

So, I go inside, and when I get to the stairway to go up to the second floor, I notice that the light switches have been reversed. How do I know? How can I be sure I remember correctly? Well, actually, I keep the switches in a certain position. I like to be able to turn on the light from upstairs by flipping the switch downward, because it's easier to do that with an armload of stuff (dirty dishes, bags of rubbish, laundry, etc). The downstairs switch is side to side, so there's no beneficial position for that one, so why not use the beneficial position for the upstairs one?

Which is not to say that I'm obsessive-compulsive about it. I mean, it's not like I will be unable to go to bed without checking the switch five times to make sure it's in the "proper" position. But, when it's reversed, I usually try to remember to switch it back at my earliest convenience.

Anyway. That's how I know he turned the stairway light on for one trip, either up or down, but not the other. So, how do I know it was up and not down?

Because it's darker at the bottom of the stairs. The way the windows are placed, the bottom is in shadow, and the top is in light. It's normal instinct to turn the light on where it's dark, and leave it off where it's light.

Finally, how do I know he looked in my bedroom? The door was open. I leave the door closed (at this time; during other parts of the year I leave it open) because it's getting fairly cold, and I like to trap the heat generated by my computer. It does warm the room a degree or two.

So, does this make me crazy or observant? At first, I thought I was just observant, but we took a poll, and the voices outvoted me. :-(

Anyway, back to the toilet paper (where we came in). Why did I tear it that way? At the time, I certainly wasn't thinking "Aha! If I tear it this way, and it's still torn this way later, I'll know that no one has used this stall (or at least, that they didn't use any toilet paper {ew!})." It was completely unconscious. Or was it?

If I were, in fact, completely unaware of tearing it that way, how and why did I remember later? If I were truly unaware, I would think that someone else had torn it.

So, I think I'm subconsciously leaving clues to myself. You've been here. Someone else has been there.

And if THAT's not crazy, I don't know what is.

[Me] Adventures in Colorblindness

So, I'm at work right now. It's around 5:30pm. I just noticed a few minutes ago that I have a huge stain on the crotch of my slacks.

Ok, not directly on the crotch, but in the crotchal area. Well, by my right pocket. (Is that how you spell 'crotchal'?) Anyway.

I have to wonder, how long has it been there? Did I drop some food on my lap at lunch? Did I spill my coffee this morning? Or did it happen WEEKS AGO, and NO ONE HAS TOLD ME??

I only barely noticed today. To me, it's a slightly darker spot, and it's along a fold, so it's hard to spot (it looks a bit like I was hiding a piece of greasy bacon in my pocket, which I hope wasn't the case, because that would mean that the voices have come back). However, I have no doubt that a non-colorblind person could see it much easier than I.

I'm led to this conclusion by an incident that took place in my last class today. One of the girl students near the front row pointed at my crotch and laughed (well, no change there). Then she whispered something to her friend, who refused to look in my direction. So, apparently, everyone else could see it except for me. Like, the color red.

Speaking of red, do I turn red with embarrassment? This is not entirely off-topic, but since I can't see red, I can't really tell. In stories, they always describe being "hot with embarrassment", and I don't get that feeling. Is it euphemistic? Does "hot" refer to the color? I don't know. The next time you see me embarrassed, point it out to me so I know.

Anyway, now I'm wondering: How long can I continue to wear these slacks with this stain on them? They're fairly new; I can't afford to replace them so soon.

And for that matter, what other stains can I get away with? How many stains before someone says something? This is Japan; I can probably push the envelope pretty far. I've half a mind to go home and bust out the mustard and go to town, but I probably won't. At least, not until I can afford to buy new slacks. ^_^

[Followup] IQ

Well, it doesn't look like anyone else is going to take the IQ test (cowards!).

For the record, I scored 140, but I only count it as 139, because I guessed on #36. Of course, I guessed on #39 also, but that one I got wrong. My logic was faulty on #37, so I missed that one also. Soooo close....

The maximum possible score was "Above 145"

Next time, I'll have to do the tests at ^_^

Thursday, October 13, 2005

[Question] How many colors are in a rainbow?

Seriously, how many?

When I was asked how many colors I see in a rainbow, instead of telling the truth (three; I'm fracking COLORBLIND), I used the Roy G. Biv method (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet), and said seven.

This was not the correct answer, and it very nearly threw off the entire lesson (hint to JTEs: If you require a specific answer from your ALT, TELL THEM BEFORE CLASS!). The teacher eventually 'corrected' me and said that Americans see six and Japanese see seven.

Six? Really?

I asked a few Americans I know and I got answers ranging from (these are direct quotes) "Roy G Biv" to "that nevre gets old" (I admit, I didn't understand all of the responses).

So, how many colors do YOU see in a rainbow?

[Me] Birthday

So, today is the anniversary of my birth, and instead of celebrating, all I want to do is go back to bed.

It's also my sister Katrina's birthday. This same sister recently made an appearance in a Rolling Stone article. We're so proud.

[News] Inconceivable!

William Goldman has started collaborating on a musical version of The Princess Bride.

Also, check out the Princess Bride version of The Lord of The Rings.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

[Spokane] I'm so proud...

Spokane deputies face discipline for prank car chase.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Welcome to the Internet

No one here likes you.


  1. Go to
  2. Take test.
  3. Come back and post score.
Show off how smart you really are. ^_^

This particular test uses a different standard deviation than I'm used to, and my score was a bit lower than I expected, but it may just be the low ceiling of this test.

Monday, October 10, 2005

[Me] Weightloss

Say what you will about the benefits of proper diet and exercise, but Friday morning I weighed 188 pounds and this morning I weighed 181 pounds.

So, three cheers for disease, I guess. :-(

I'm still not sure I'm 100% better. I'm half tempted to take the rest of the day off and go home to bed. Of course, I could just stay here and sleep in the teacher's room...

[Work] Short-sleeves

Last week was the magical changeover when all the students switch to their Winter uniforms and all the teachers go back to wearing long-sleeve shirts.

Except for me, because I don't have the Japanese psychic ability to just know things that have never been spoken to me, ever.

So, today, I am the ONLY teacher at school still wearing short sleeves. And before my first class, I was already getting questions about how I could put up with the cold.

The cold? It's the SAME AS LAST WEEK. What has changed over this weekend?

I don't know.

Actually, the teacher that asked me provided the prompt that I must have come from a town with colder weather. So, I told her that my town has the same weather as here, but that my family is from the mountains, where it is much colder, so this is all still warm to me. ^_^ It's not entirely untrue.

[Me] Random

So, one of the things you probably never think about is how, after spending three days sick in bed, it feels really strange wearing clothes again.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

[Godstuff] Evolution

There's a thread over on Fazed about evolution.

There is a LOT of ignorance over there, but here are some highlights (for children!):
From: cwryn
Date: 10/6/05 @ 2:42 PM

Proof vs. no Proof. It is like playing poker against someone with imaginary cards. No matter what you have, the guy with imaginary cards can say his hand is better. But no matter how much he says so, he can't prove it to the other player. As long as the player with imaginary cards sticks to his guns and says that his "cards" are better, the player with real cards will not be able to convince him that imaginary cards don't count. That you need to have real cards to prove what your hand is.

Of course, the argument from the guy with the imaginary cards is "No, they are real. You just need to have faith and believe."

From: dontwakeme
Date: 10/6/05 @ 4:53 PM 49

"It just seems pathetic to be so insecure about your biological superiority, to a group of feces-flinging, rouge-buttocked monkeys, that you have to make up fairy tales. Like we came from Adam and Eve...yeah, leaving the Earth in the hands of two naked teenagers. That's a real intelligent design....

...And the reason there is no real debate, is that intelligent design isn't real science. It's the equivalent of saying that the thermos keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, because it's a god. It's so willfully ignorant you might as well worship the U.S. Mail. It came again! Praise, Jesus!"

From: dontwakeme
Date: 10/6/05 @ 5:03 PM 53

"Even though there's a debate, in schools, and government, about this, there is no debate among scientists. Evolution... is supported by the entire scientific community. Intelligent design is supported by guys in line to see "The Dukes of Hazzard."
Those previous two came from Bill Maher's New Rules for August 19th, 2005.

From: cwryn
Date: 10/6/05 @ 5:50 PM 60

Modern evolutionary fact was once only theory. Over time though, proof for this theory has been dug from the earth and decoded from our DNA.
Some Proof for evolution includes:
- Fossils of early humans that share characteristics of both Humans and Chimpanzees.
- Fossils of alternative human species that are now extinct. Among them were Neanderthals and Hobbits (Yes i know, hobbits, do your research before flaming me they lived on an indonesian island and were ~3 feet tall)
- Human DNA is 96% identical to that of Chimpanzees.
To put this into perspective, the number of genetic differences between humans and chimps is approximately 60 times less than that seen between human and mouse and about 10 times less than between the mouse and rat. On the other hand, the number of genetic differences between a human and a chimp is about 10 times more than between any two humans.
(More or less we are closer related to Chimpanzees than mice are to rats.)

From: wanderingjew
Date: 10/6/05 @ 9:23 PM 85

Jesus dies on the cross and goes to hell. Satan comes up to him and says, "For dying for all the sins of man, your punishment will be for your followers commit atrocities in your name, and your teachings bastardized into the exact opposite of what you taught."

Jesus says, "Boy, that sure sucks. Good thing they'll stop when I get out of here in a few days, right?"

Satan replies, "Yeah, man. Sure. Whatever."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

[Followup] Dirty Pictures

OK, so we all remember the picture of me covered in mud, right? And how I gave the OK to Belinda about using it in the town newsletter?

Well, I never heard back from her. I didn't even know if she got my OK before whatever deadline she had.

Until now.

I'm sitting at work, and the secretary asks me something in Japanese that I didn't quite catch. She's smiling. "What's that?" She repeats it, something about....a rice field...

They used the picture.

Update: This conversation has now taken place at both of my schools. Probably 5 times so far. ^_^


Here's the cover of our town newsletter. It's like a little magazine.

Here's a full shot of the article (or at least, a full shot of the part I'm in. ^_^).

Finally, here's a close-up of the dirty picture itself.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

[Thought] What Is Wrong With Microsoft

If you go here, to an official Microsoft support page, you can download the "enum.exe" package.

The link they send you to is for a file 86.2kb in size. It is a Win32 Cabinet self-extractor.

Inside the cabinet file is another file named 'enum.exe', so you can't extract it to the same directory without first renaming the original. This file is 29kb in size. It is a WinZip self-extractor. We've gone from 86.2kb to 29kb and we're still at the same point (a self-extracting file). Bloat and overhead more than doubled the filesize.

Inside the WinZip file is YET ANOTHER file named 'enum.exe'. I kid you not.

This is the actual file we need. It is 6.5kb in size. The final file is less than 1/13th the size of the original download.

You'd think they could have just let us download that file directly.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

[Wishlist] Ecosphere

I know it's old news, but I still want one. Now, if only the big one didn't cost nearly $500....

[Walken] Trivial Psychic

(transcript) (ytmnd)

Female Employee: Are you alright?

Ed Glosser: [ pause ] Your daughter is at home with the housekeeper..

Female Employee: Yes?

Ed Glosser: The housekeeper is making toast...

Female Employee: Yes?

Ed Glosser: It's not popping up...

Female Employee: And? Is there a fire?

Ed Glosser: It's burning! The toast is burning!

Female Employee: [ panicking ] Yeah?

Ed Glosser: The housekeeper's annoyed.. she has to scrape the burned parts off..

Female Employee: That's it?

Ed Glosser: It's not too late! You can call her.. and save the toast!