Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Lewis pointed out that I spelled Humorous wrong, in PostHumerous.

And is taken (earlier this month)!

I may actually have to set up my own server afterall. Crying 2

Dave pointed out that the British spelling of Humourous was still available. Happy

Work Life IV

It was POURING rain this morning. My feet and ankles were soaked from rain (not puddles) just carrying my garbage out, because they stuck out from under the umbrella.

It's one of those days.

Also, I just realized that I forgot to bring new hot cocoa mix with me. I like to mix it in with my coffee, instead of creamer or sugar. As I was getting ready this morning, I even thought to myself "You should put that in your bag, not just next to it." I didn't.

Anyway, I got to work, and the English teacher apologized.

It seems that today is finals here at my visiting school. Tomorrow is finals at my base school. So, no classes today. She was supposed to tell me last week, but didn't. I'm not sure why she didn't call or e-mail, but I understand how hectic and crazy busy it gets (especially before finals).

I could take nenkyu and go home (and I have a bunch of nenkyu that I won't use before it expires at the end of next month), but I already have my computer set up....

If I had brought my cocoa, I'd sip coffee and study kanji all day. Hmm.

UPDATE: I brought cocoa last week!
But, you understand how hectic and crazy busy it gets (especially before finals)...right?

So, I'm sipping my coffee and studying the kanji, and MAN! How much did I skip last time around? 圭 is a kanji made up of the kanji for soil, doubled. It has the keyword "Squared Jewel", but the primitive meaning of ivy.
As a primitive, we shall use this character to mean ivy, that
creepy vegetation that covers the surface of the ground to
form a sort of “second” ground that can get somewhat tricky
to walk on without tripping.
That mnemonic, about ivy being a second ground....that's really handy! And I MISSED it when I was in this part of the book before!

I wonder what I'm missing this time through.


I need a good "first post" on PostHumerous (aka MemoCheer).

This one may be too sweet.

This one may be too sour.

I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Something weird is going on with the previous post, and I can't isolate the error. It renders the same in IE and Firefox.

Computers. Meh.

Unfortunately, I'm at work (between classes at the moment), so I don't have time to fix it now.


UPDATE: Found The Problem

Blogger now prepends
<div style="clear:both;"></div>
before the message body of each post.

This moves the message body below the sidebar.

It's not editable in the template, so there's no way to turn it off.

UPDATE: 5 days...

...and still no fix. Not Amused

UPDATE: Unbelievable

It's getting worse all the time.

Last week, Blogger was XHTML 1.0 Strict compliant. The DIV insertions around post bodies breaks that.

And now they've inserted "location.href=..." to commend links. This is ANOTHER violation.

It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion, except instead of a train wrecking, it's Blogger going stupid. Blogger is going stupid right in front of me, slowly and surely.

Do you know how upsetting this is?

A WEEK ago, I would have said that they were the BEST blogging system out there. One week, what a difference it has made (and not for the better).

UPDATE: Temporary fix

Text still doesn't wrap around the sidebar, but it gets rid of the ugly whitespace.

Apparently, all these problems stem from adding picture-insertion abilities to Blogger. Except, the picture-insertions worked fine when you used the "Hello" application, and they're using the EXACT SAME METHOD now, just server-side.

There isn't a stick big enough for me to beat all the people that need it so, so badly.

Here's an idea: those that NEED it can add DIV insertions around the post bodies IN THE TEMPLATE, and those that don't, won't have to. I still can't figure out why either of the new 'fixes' are needed, at all, for anything.


The whole thing stems from the way they were formatting LEFT and RIGHT alignment on pictures. Well, now we can disable that in our settings. Voilà!

This is why I still use Blogger. Something breaks (and it broke because they were adding new features), and they fix it.

Of course, at this level, I wouldn't pay for Blogger. But it's definitely worth the current price.

Post Secret

So, Thomas linked to Post Secret on one of his Friday Fundays.

I like this idea, but this site is really depressing. Where's the cheer?

So, I want to make a similar (but perhaps, opposite) site, where people can mail in and share their joy and wisdom. But...what to call it?

It's got to be short, easy to remember. PostSecret has the perfect name for what it is: short, to the point. It's a good pattern (medium+content).

So, if the medium is sent material, what word should I use? Note? Message? Memo?

I like the word memo (a short note, or brief unsigned communication). Memo is good. But what to follow it with?

MemoWisdom? MemoTruth? MemoSanity? MemoJoy?

Right now I'm leaning mostly toward MemoJoy, but I think MemoWisdom would encompass a wider range of content.

Right now I'm MemoStumped. Sigh


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cain and Abel

So, I'm going back through the Remembering The Kanji book, and I get to #61 Stubborn (beginning+head):
The root of all stubbornness goes back to the beginning, with two brothers each stubbornly defending his own way of life and asking their God to bless it favorably. Abel stuck to agriculture, Cain to animal-raising...
Now, I'm not a Christian, but even I can immediately spot what's wrong with this.

Their jobs are reversed.
Genesis 4, verse 2
2: And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
This is a big deal. In Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Cain complains that the reason Abel was favored was because God was a carnivore. Cain is the vegetarian.

This is out of the 4th edition of Heisig's book (the 1st is ©1977); it boggles my mind that his hasn't been corrected.

Anonymous Comments Disabled

"Well, I believe I speak for everyone when I say anonymous commenters can go fornicate themselves with an iron stick."
Anonymous commenting is no longer allowed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Phoenix Goes to Tokyo Part III

Phoenix Goes To The Station

So, I was taking the over-night bus to Tokyo, because it was cheaper, right? This entailed having a friend take me to the station on Sunday night. I don't know anyone who isn't super-busy right now, so we ended up going fairly close to my departure time, but we still had time for coffee at Mr. Donut.

No time to buy snacks for the ride, but that's OK, there's a store right next to the station. No time to eat, but that's OK because there is a mini-McDonalds right there in the store.

She drops me off, and I'm thinking "I'm set."

Well, of course, the store is closed. It's got to be after 9 at this point. That's fine, no snacks for me, no worries. I'll probably (hopefully) just sleep anyway.

Also, the McDonalds is closed. That's fine, no food for me, I'll just have a big breakfast in Tokyo. That'll be more fun anyway.

I walk back to the station and sit in the waiting area. There's still quite a lot of time before the bus leaves, so I play some games on my keitai. It's not the most bored I've ever been...

I have to use the restroom, but the one at the station is pretty bad. Eventually, though, I gotta go, and when you gotta go you gotta go. And the bathroom is now closed and locked! WHAT? ...that's fine, no break for me, no worries. I'll just...I don't know, tie a knot in it for now.

Meanwhile, it's getting close to departure time, and I'm the only one there. That can't be right, can it? Am I the only one heading out on the overnight bus from Takefu?

I take my ticket to the attendant to ask where I should stand for the bus, and he looks at it and calls another attendant over. They both look at it and look at me and give a sort-of nervous chuckle.

Then they pull out a map.

The overnight bus (the ticket for which I purchased at this very station) does not come to this station. It comes to the highway interchange. They show me on the map. Here's where we are (lots of streets). Here's where the bus comes (other side of the map, across a river, almost no streets).

As they start to give me directions, I point out the time on my ticket. 6 minutes from now, my bus will be leaving.

Well, that certainly made them spring into action! They grab me and run me out the front door into a waiting taxi. They give the driver instructions in Japanese, and hardly before I realize what has happened, we're off.

The driver is going 80. In a 40. I love him.

Despite the awesome driver, we don't get to the interchange for 10 minutes. However, there are still buses there, so I pay the $20 (so much for the bus being cheaper, that's practically the entire margin right there), and leap out of the taxi.

I run up to one of the drivers and show him my ticket. Is it possible that my bus is still here?

No, this is Japan, and the buses in Japan RUN ON TIME. My bus is long gone, but the driver spoke with another man (someone who was apparently in authority), and they took pity on me. They gave me a new seat on a different bus, and off we went.

I couldn't sleep the entire ride. Why did I have coffee at Mr. Donut right before getting on the overnight bus? I had a long ride to ponder that question.

And I still had to use the restroom.

Strange Moments

So, I missed a call (because I forgot and left my phone in vibrate mode after school was over) from my fellow Asahian, Lewis. When I called him back, the signal was weak, so I could barely hear what he was saying. But, instead of admitting it, I tried to continue talking while walking to the part of the house with stronger signals.

That part happens to be near the upstairs balcony window. The window is open (because it's crazy-hot right now), and a gentle breeze is blowing the curtains.

As the curtain billows up, I catch a brief glimpse of outside. Of a man outside. Of a man standing outside my 2nd story window. Looking at me.

Did I just see what I thought I saw?

As I'm struggling to continue the phone conversation (and, really, I should call Lewis back and explain what happened, and also ask what we talked about, as I really can't recall, since my mind was on other things [I just hope I didn't sound too much like a loony {more than I normally do}]), I peek out the window again. Who is this man outside my open window, looking in my direction?

It's my landlord!

Earlier, I had pointed out to him that the wood support under the balcony had fallen out, and he was out there looking at it. He just happened to be standing in a spot where looking at the balcony lined him up to also look at the window.

So, quite the relief! This time...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Phoenix Takes A Dive

So, I get off work on Monday, and the sun is still out, so I decide to bike to Yamakishi for grocery shopping.

Well, as much as I like riding my bike, I wasn't too keen on going the direct route there. You see, there are no sidewalks on the major road (since there aren't any houses either, just endless rice fields). I've biked there on the shoulder before but the cars come awfully close.

So, I turn off when the sidewalk ends. The road is elevated a few feet up, with flooded rice fields on either side. There's no sidewalk here, either, but there's no traffic whizzing by me at 70km/h either. I still try to keep as close to the left side as I can. I'm scanning to my right, looking for a road that will cut through the rice fields. There are dirt paths, but I'm not keen chancing them, as I've run into dead-ends that way.

Well, something suddenly feels a bit off with my front tire. I bring my focus back, and OFF it is! Off the road, I mean.

You know how they say that, when facing imminent danger, time slows down? It's absolutely true. I had time to have the following thoughts as the wheel rolled over the edge:



Can I turn in time? No! I'd have to turn so sharp, that I'd just fall over the edge anyway! [swearword]!



[fword]! [swearword]! [SWEARWORD]!!

At that point, the front wheel completely lost contact with the Earth, and I began the long, long descent into the flooded field. With time going as slow as it was, I had a lot of time to think about what was happening. A lot of that thought was "AAAAAHHHH!" but I also thought "Is my camera going to get wet?" I meant my phone, but I actually thought 'camera'. Weird.

Luckily, I managed to land somewhat exclusively on my left and back, somehow sparing my keitai from drowning. The perverse thing is, as I hit the water, the first thought I had was how much fun it would be to go swimming. Go figure.

Anyway, I got up, and tossed my bike back up to the road, and climbed out myself. I surveyed the damage. I had clearly left an impression on the rice field. I SHOULD have tried to repair the damage before I climbed out of the field to begin with, as I couldn't bring myself to climb back in to re-align the plants. Hindsight is always 20/20.

So, what do I do now? Can't go to Yamakishi like this, I'll have to go back home. On my bike. Covered in mud. ::sigh::

As I'm riding back, I run into a few of my students. I manage to pantomime what had happened, and they laugh at my predicament. "Hazukashii," they say. Indeed.

When I get home, I rinse myself off as well as I can with the hose. Inside, as I'm undressing in the entryway, I realize: if my neighbors are still standing outside (which they likely are), they can still sort of see me through the glass in my front door. At least, they can see what I'm doing. Hazukashii.

I take a shower, and try to rinse off my muddy clothes again before attempting to run them through the washer (in the end, I ran them through three times, and they're still dirty. I'll probably have to go clothes shopping this weekend, with my non-extant money).

Now, the total time from the accident through the clean-up was probably an hour. So, it's only around 7pm, SO, I go back to the school. My supervisor is likely still at work.

She is, and after I explain to her what happened (and she explains to our co-workers [and they all have a good laugh]), we go track down the owner of the rice field. We start at the point of impact. You can clearly see at least two plants out of alignment, but also out of reach. There's no way to get to them without climbing into the water.

My supervisor spots a man working in another rice field and runs out to ask him about the field I...deflowered. He happens to know the owner, and the owner happens to live quite nearby. My supervisor drives us over and we ring the doorbell.

The moment of truth approaches.

How will the owner take the news? Will there be demands of reparations? I don't know how much damage I did, but I know how much money I don't have (any). Will a simple apology be enough?

As we wait for the door to open, I mentally practice what few Japanese apologies I know. I don't think any are strong enough for this situation.

Suddenly, a side door opens, and the owner steps out, very casually. There's a young Japanese woman and a tall pale foreigner on his doorstep, he completely couldn't care less.

My SUPER supervisor explains the tragedy that has unfolded this day. She tries to estimate how much damage was done. I look downcast and remorseful to the best of my ability.

The owner waits patiently for her to finish, and when she does, he says, in the universal language of gestures: "Meh." He continues in Japanese: "No worries."

I love this man.

I still stammer out an apology as best I can, and we get out of there.

"You're very lucky," my supervisor says. No kidding. (Of course, if I were truly lucky, I wouldn't have gone over the edge at all....)

And I still have to go grocery shopping. Not Amused

Phoenix is a dirty, dirty man.

The long awaited extra pictures:

As you can see, I really left an impression.

Not that I'm trying to excuse it, but THERE IS NO CURB! It just goes Road -> Cliff.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tip: Handy Tools

Again, Windows only I'm afraid. Just wait until OS X is available for x86 architecture.

ClipX: A tiny free clipboard manager. So, if you happen to accidentally copy something new to the clipboard when you had something important there, it's not lost. Also has handy plugins, and an SDK for you programmer types. Hasn't been updated since the day I turned 30, but hasn't really needed to.

More later.

The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia

The Oracle says: Lila Vlavianos has a Bacon number of 4.

Lila Vlavianos was in Choke, The (2005) with Wonder Russell
Wonder Russell was in Mozart and the Whale (2005) with Sheila (I) Kelley
Sheila (I) Kelley was in Singles (1992) with Kyra Sedgwick
Kyra Sedgwick was in Woodsman, The (2004) with Kevin Bacon

Flag Trivia

So, I got an e-mail about American Flag trivia, and it had some mistakes in it, so I started composing a reply (because I hate hate HATE inaccuracy), and that prompted me to do some fact-checking (because I hate hate HATE *HATE* inaccuracy in my own work).

Long story short, I probably spent four hours on this e-mail. Towards the end, I was probably having too much fun going off on unrelated tangents, but anyway. For a moment, I even considered making a post here about it. There are lots of things about the American flag that most Americans don't know.

But, I decided that most Americans don't care, either. So, I just sent the e-mail.

And...Yahoo had logged me out. I spent so much time writing the e-mail, that I was logged out. And the message was gone. The message that I paid FOUR HOURS OF MY LIFE FOR was gone.

You really can't begin to understand the effort it is taking me to keep this post family-friendly right now.

Now, if you are timed out on Gmail (for example), YOUR MESSAGE IS STILL THERE. You see:
Your connection to Gmail has expired. Please log in again.
in a pop-up window. Click OK and YOUR MESSAGE IS STILL THERE. If you've logged in as another user, you see:
Your Gmail account has been signed out.
This may have happened automatically because another user signed in from the same browser.

If you were composing a message, you can copy and paste the text of the message into another application, such as a text editor. When you're done, click Sign out to sign back in and finish composing your message.

This may be the end of Yahoo for me. I don't mean that I will stop using my Yahoo accounts (I will stop using my Yahoo accounts), but I mean, if YOU use a Yahoo account, I may not write to you anymore. If you want a Gmail account, I'll send you an invite.

This Phoenix is a Sad Phoenix. Crying 2

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Old Joke with Nerd Twist

Monday, June 6th 2005

Saw him in the evening and he was acting really strangely. I went shopping in the afternoon with the girls and I did turn up a bit late so thought it might be that.

The bar was really crowded and loud so I suggested we go somewhere quieter to talk. He was still very subdued and distracted so I suggested we go somewhere nice to eat.

All through dinner he just didn't seem himself; he hardly laughed and didn't seem to be paying any attention to me or to what I was saying.

I just knew that something was wrong. He dropped me back home and I wondered if he was going to come in; he hesitated but followed.

I asked him again if there was something the matter but he just half shook his head and turned the television on. After about 10 minutes of Silence, I said I was going upstairs to bed.

I put my arms around him and told him that I loved him deeply.

He just gave a sigh and a sad sort of smile. He didn't follow me up but later he did, and I was surprised when we made love.

He still seemed distant and a bit cold, and I started to think that he was going to leave me and that he had found someone else. I cried myself to sleep.

Monday, June 6th 2005

Apple switched to Intel.

Absolutely gutted.

Got a shag though.

Who Is Phoen!x?

Woke up this morning and found this conversation on my computer:
[04:21] Becca: who all is here??
[04:21] *** Auto-response sent to Group Conversation: I am currently away from the computer.
[04:22] Becca: who is Phoen!x?
[04:22] *** krivasliva has left the conversation.
[04:22] *** Yabita kun has left the conversation.
[04:24] *** Becca has left the conversation.
Being unable to contain my curiousity, I clicked on Info button and saw:

My Stats

Marital Status
You can plainly see how helpful that was. My question is, who is Joe Oppegaard? And who is Becca? How did I get invited to a group chat without being on one of these people's contact list? Or, am I on their contact list? Why?

If only my messenger wasn't set to auto-respond with an away message, I might have had the entire conversation on my computer when I woke up.
Wouldn't THAT be fun. Devil 3

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

TIP: Spyware

How to keep Windows running smoothly (compared to other Windows, not compared to OS X or Linux).

The Holy Trinity (if you don't have these, get them now):

Ad-Aware: Click Download (on the right-hand side, last time I checked) not Purchase (at the bottom). This was the first quality anti-malware program.

Spybot (Search & Destroy): In my opinion, now better than Ad-Aware (although I do run both). Also, ONLY free, no pay version (although you can donate), so no lame attempts to get you to click Purchase.

SpywareBlaster: Another quality freeware program, this one isn't like the previous two. SpywareBlaster prevents (among other things) some (many) spyware programs from using browser exploits to install themselves on your system.

While we're on the subject, switch to Firefox. The only 100% effective way to prevent IE browser exploits is to abstain from using the IE browser.

Additionally, there's also Microsoft's Antispyware (beta). It's still a bit slow and cumbersome ('s from Microsoft), so I don't use it, but every little bit helps.

Also, make sure you have a firewall running. Windows comes with a firewall, turn it on. Alternatively, you can use a separate firewall, like Zone Alarm. I think Zone Alarm is probably the best firewall program at the moment (but it's not perfect), although I cannot recommend the cheesy "free" (crippled) version. If you want free, just use the Windows one.

Finally, make sure you are using a good Anti-Virus program. Norton AV used to be my top pick, and if you hunt you may still be able to find it bundled with Norton System Works (which I still recommend, but that's Off-Topic) free after rebate. At the moment, though, I think Norton AV has grown bloated and slow, so I currently recommend Grisoft's AVG. Get the free version, the engine is the same as the pay version. Yes, it will run every night and you can't change that (except the time), but it will also update every night, and it's FAST (compared to Norton) and caught several viruses that Norton missed on my computer (both with latest updates).

Friday, June 03, 2005

Phoenix Goes to Tokyo Part II

Phoenix Starts Packing

Here's a question for you: What should I take with me to Tokyo? My laptop? My camera? My camcorder?

1. My laptop.
Initially, I thought: there's absolutely no reason to bring this. It's just one more thing to lug around that I probably won't use anyway, so why risk breaking or losing it? Then I thought: on the other hand, for those long hours traveling there and back, I could be watching movies on it. That's what I did on the plane ride here (actually, the guy next to me on the plane also brought his laptop, so we were pretty much set the whole trip). Hmm. Right now: against.

2. My camera.
Initially, I thought: I want to take pictures of Tokyo and post them on my blog! Then I thought: on the other hand, I want to take pictures so I can look over them later and reminisce. Right now: for.

3. My camcorder.
Initially, I thought: With my camera, what the heck do I need my camcorder for? Then I thought: on the other hand, during JET orientation in Tokyo, there was a FANTASTIC speech (the theme was "JET-lag" which was a euphemism for "hung-over"). Who gave that speech? Was it Hew Oliphant? I wish I could remember. Someone from CLAIR I think. Anyway, I would have really REALLY liked to have gotten that on record. What if there is another speech like that? Doubtful, considering how many other long (boring) speechs there were to sit through. Right now: on the fence.

Choices, choices.

Is there anything else important I'm forgetting?

Phoenix Goes to Tokyo Part I

Phoenix Buys a Ticket

Warning: This post is long and boring, and only of interest to me, personally, and only because I so rarely go out-and-about solely by myself that each time is an adventure.

I needed to buy my train ticket to the JET conference in Tokyo next week, but having not traveled much (yet) and possessing basically no skill in Japanese at all, I asked my supervisor for help. She said "Ask your friend in Takefu", who told me to ask the teacher at my visiting school, who told me to just go by myself.

Thank you, everyone.

My supervisor did call and reserve my bus ticket to Tokyo, but couldn't reserve my train ticket back over the phone. I could at least plan my route though (thank you Hyperdia). Japan, being largely a cash-based society, doesn't have a big demand for online-enabled purchasing. Thus I had to physically travel to the train station to pay for the ticket.

No worries, though, I've been to the station before, right?

When I got there, I remembered an important detail: There is no parking. Anywhere. That's another fun fact about Japan. There are more cars than there are public places to park them. That's fine, I parked at a nearby mall. I'll have to pay when I leave, but I shouldn't be too long.
Sidetrip: As I'm walking to the station, a bus pulls up, the door opens, and a man dashes out and runs into the station. The bus waits patiently, with its door open, bored driver just sitting there. As I'm staring at the bus, an occupant spots me and starts waving frantically. Some high-school girl, it looks like, but it's hard to see through the window, and I'm pretty far away, and I don't have my glasses on. Out of curiosity, I look around to see at whom she is waving, and...there's no one. At least, no high school kids or anyone waving back at the bus. Odd.

I look back and as soon as she spots me, she starts waving again, even more frantically. ??? She's waving at me? Who could it be? Is it a former student of mine? She doesn't look familiar, but window+distance-glasses(*poor recall)=???

She can't be waving at me. I'm not from this town. Unless she thinks I'm someone else. Unable to resist, I look again, and this time she waves and points me out to the girl seated behind her, who also starts waving at me. I don't recognize either of them, but by now I'm through the entrance to the station, and the bus is hidden from view. For a moment, I'm tempted to go back and walk up to the bus. I know if I don't, it's going to nag at me for days. Who was that?

Now, bear in mind that I have poor memory for people I don't see often. I mean, I can recognize their face, or remember their name, but rarely both at the same time. Unfortunately for me, I see the majority of my students only once a week. So I see 300+ other students before I see them again. It's difficult to remember everyone, and when I do remember, it's usually the wrong person (for example, I keep confusing two sisters with each other at one of my schools, even though they are in different grades).

I did peek back around the corner one last time. If I could see them without the waving, maybe I would remember their faces...but they saw me immediately and started waving again. Hmm. You know, they probably weren't even former students. They were probably just thinking "Hey! Look at that crazy gaijin! Why does he keep staring at us? Those crazy gaijin!":end-sidetrip.
Anyway, it turns out that no one at that station speaks English. At all. I know this, because after I purchased my bus ticket (fairly easy, after I explained [in only 5 minutes] that the ticket was already reserved and I was just here to pay for it), I tried to ask about the train ticket, and they called every employee there, until I was surrounded by a crowd of Japanese-speakers, all cheerfully trying to help me in Japanese. Not slow, simple Japanese, rapid-fire Japanese.
Sidetrip II:Today at school, we had hambagu for lunch.
Inner-sidetrip:Hambagu is closer to meatloaf than hamburger, but it is patty-shaped and made of meat, so there you go (hambaagaa is hamburger, if you're curious) Actually, hambagu started out as a hamburger without the bun, and parallel-evolutioned into something like meatloaf:end-inner-sidetrip.
There was either a shortage or a surplus, as us teachers got 1.5 hambagu each. Or, most of us did. One teacher was only going to get 1 hambagu. Now, I usually don't finish my lunch (even more so recently; it's too much food!), so the cleaning-lady (also the lunch-lady) asked me if I wanted my hambagu today. Or, she tried to ask me. She said something rapid-fire in Japanese, and I didn't understand it at all. In addition to my lack of Japanese skill, she also has a thick Fukui-ben accent, so it may have been a combination of things, but I think mainly it was the fact that she explained the situation for two minutes in Japanese, and then asked some complicated three-part question, none of which I understood. Anyway, she tried to say something else, but I still didn't understand. Eventually, she took me to the lunch-room and showed me the plates. She held up one of the 1.5 plates and the 1.0 plate, and said "which?" (and that's simple enough for me to understand).

Now, there's an OFFICE full of people, and while they all had helpful advice, not ONE of them said "Phoenix-sensei! Hambagu...suki desu ka?" (Phoenix! you like?) Simple simple simple.:end-sidetrip II
A similar thing was happening at the station: everyone was speaking in long, complicated Japanese, and I clearly didn't understand any of it.

Secretly, some of them DID know English. For some reason, in Japan, it's apparently not a popular thing to be able to speak English well, but there were at least THREE employees that understood some. How do I know? They were talking TO EACH OTHER in English, not six feet from me. So, it's safe to assume that the Japanese think us crazy gaijins are all completely deaf. Eventually, one did write the word "What?" in English on my itinerary.

I held up my bus ticket. "Itsuka, Takefu kara Tokyo made" (On the 5th, from Takefu to Tokyo). I held up my train itinerary. "Yoka, Ueno kara Takefu made" (On the eighth, from Ueno [in Tokyo] to Takefu). Simple, yes?

The "Ah"s and "Oh"s and "Naruhodo"s went out through my circle of helpers, followed shortly by chuckles. Grinning, the helpful "What?"-writer explained to me that I was at the wrong station, and I needed to go to the JR station, on the other side of the mall. "Those crazy gaijin," I'm sure they laughed after I left, "so wacky."

At the JR-station, apparently, they're used to crazy gaijin. I was in and out of there in about three minutes (and that includes standing in line). The lady behind the counter used either simple Japanese or simple English, and both were quite easy to understand. She glanced at my itinerary (written in English, by the way), matched it with the train schedules on the computer, asked me a few questions (smoking or non-smoking?), and bam. Just like that I was handing over almost the last of my food-money for the month and she was handing me my tickets. It probably took longer for you to read it just now than it did for me in person.

If I had known it would be THIS easy, I would have started traveling earlier! (That is a lie, of course. I still don't have any money with which to travel. But, I would have started resenting my lack of travel-funds sooner)

One obstacle down...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

NJ: Star Wars

I read Slashdot, and because of the recent (hopefully final) Star Wars movie, I've started to wade through articles and opinions both for and against. With that in mind, my thoughts:

The original trilogy was a glorious space opera that set the bar high for all fantasy/sci-fi movies that followed.

The Special Editions and prequels were utter rubbish, and if you can't immediately see that, then you aren't capable of understanding WHY.

So there's no need to try to explain. The end.