Simple Fare

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Sometimes, after a long day on the road and a few beers, Japanese comfort food just seems more appealing than anything else. This photo was taken at a robata-yaki shop in Kochi that we found late at night after checking into the hotel.
Yes, the fish are eaten whole. On a related note, the kitty ate two whole frogs next to a rice paddy today. The vet later told me that frogs are potentially bad because they have a lot of parasites. Maybe I should cook them next time.

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Went for a roadtrip with Nam (GF) and Merin (little sis) to Shikoku over the weekend, kitten in tow. I will post some photos later, after I get a chance to edit. The point of this post is to tell you that there may be a god. In return for saving Yoda the kitten, god may have allowed us to live and not become road butter.
Basically, I drove for the whole trip the way I usually do – fast. Life is too short for Japanese speed limits (Sometimes 80 KPH max. on the highway, but usually 60. 1 mile = approximately 1.6 kilometers, but only in the northern hemisphere, after which it rotates clockwise or something. You do the math.). Anyway. Driving down a curvy mountain road parallel to the Yoshino River, past Oboke gorge, I notice a funny sound from the left side of the car. And on the next curve, I almost slide into the guardrail with my heavier-than-usual load in the car. Oh. That doesn’t feel right.
I pull over on the opposite side of the road where there is a wide space and get out to find that the left rear tire is flatter than hell, and hot to the touch. Damn. It’s the hottest day of the year so far, so in the twenty minutes it takes to get the spare out of the overloaded trunk and switch it with the flat, I am soaked in sweat. Beads of it run down my face and into the corners of my mouth. And I take a closer look at the flat tire and I break out in a different kind of sweat.
You see, my car (Nissan Silvia) is getting very old by Japanese standards. It is a favorite among drifters who race mountain roads because of its superb chain-driven engine, highly customizable configuration, and rear wheel drive. It kicks ass and takes names of more expensive cars all day. However, it is old (I continue to drive it because a good friend gave it to me before he died of cancer a few years back. Also, I would never bend to the Japanese tradition of junking a car just because it’s old. My veteran Silvia will take your new bimbobox’s lunch money and make it cry all day, every day). The car has settled in such a way that the wheels developed a negative camber. Don’t ask me to elaborate on the technical details, cause I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about and I’ll make shit up. Practically, his means that the tires wear out faster on the inside edge tha they do on the outside edge. Meaning, unless you specifically inspect the inside edges, they look perfectly fine. I hadn’t inspected the inside edges for a year, and was just thinking about getting new tires (I like the shine of new tires anyway). When I saw the inside edge of the tire after I took it off, I broke out in a cold sweat. There was much steel beltage showing through. Thinking of all the 180s on asphalt, donuts in parking lots, and high-speed driving I’ve done in the past year (a lot less than I used to , but still…), I realized that a harmless flat that caused zero damage was one of the best possible ends to this scenario.
I drove slowly to the nearest Autobacs on the spare. It was 60 kilos away. Replaced the worn tires with the new Diazza series from Dunlop as they were out of the cheapie Autobacs brand. It was Dunlops or Yokohamas, but I find low- to mid-end Yokos to be overrated, and the Diazzas just came out last year. If I wanted to put serious money into the car, I’d go for Toyos, but I’m not into all that. If I get serious about it, I’ll jinx my good luck with Silvia, and it would break my heart to see this daily reminder of my good friend on a junk heap.
Could someone good at math proof this formula for me, please:
Kindness to kitten/N =/> Good car mojo(x+20r)

Babagump

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I have no idea what this store is… I could have read the signs on the door, but it just felt better to keep it a mystery. Maybe there’s a receptionist inside mumbling about shrimp gumbo, shrimp stew, shrimp burger…

Kitten Update: I need your advice

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The cat is permanently blind in one eye. The eyedrops received at the first trip to the vet worked for his right eye, which is now normal, but the left eyeball has burst like a rotting grape. Eeew. Poor Yoda (now his official name since we are very unlikely to find a home for him with someone else) is in pain when his eye needs to get flushed with sodium wash. We have to hold his little kitty paws as he mews in pain. Absolutely heartbreaking I tell you. At this point I have stopped hating society as a whole for abandoning this little baby (the vet says he was a month old when we found him), and have merely become indifferent. I was so intent on hating, it was probably giving me an ulcer. Which I found kind of self-defeating. Even though this latest Osaka pervert bullshit with my sister drove me to the edge again. Man, fuck civilization. Whatever, I just need to let it go. Like it says in the song Nada Cambia, it’s like hating necrophiliacs for fucking the dead. Indeed. If I ever find the pervert lurking around my sister’s place, I’ll pummel him into bloody meat and feed his eyes to the kitten. But I’ll be indifferent about it (think of a kung-fu movie showdown scene set to Debussy).
Well, I have to concentrate my thinking on the kitten now. What do I do with him? I really do not have the time to keep him, because he needs to go to the vet all the time. We can’t give him away in this condition… Today I spoke to the vet, and we discussed euthanasia as an option… But the cat is doing so much better than when we found him! The problem is, the eye infection could spread to his brain at any time, which the vet did not discuss in great detail, but I suspect will end much like Alzheimer’s. I guess I am in a moral paradox between putting Yoda out of his misery quickly, or letting him live a possibly painful existence. Shit. Well, for the meantime we will be thinking about this… No reason to rush at this point. The vet says that if the busted eyeball seals itself and stops leaking vitreous humor, the cat will have a better chance of survival. Shit, even if he suevives I’m gonna have to leave him in Japan when I leave in a year or so… I’ll have saved him only to abandon him again. Maybe at that time somebody will take him, though. Goddamn what am I thinking? I’m not even supposed to have him in my house now… BOY, LIFE REALLY SUCKS!
I hold the life of a kitten in my hands. Ultimately, it is my decision. But I would appreciate any guidance or feedback you have for me in the comments below. Is it better to put him down humanely, or give him a chance at life, however painful it may be?

Goblin Nation

Yesterday reaffirmed my contempt for the Japanese police.
My little sister, who lives in Sakai (Osaka), got home from teaching her morning classes at noon. There was a strange guy lurking around the stairs of her apartment building who set alarm bells ringing off in her head, so she hurriedly rode the elevator up to the 7th floor. She looked down the staircase once to see if he had followed her that way, but there was no sign of him. Just before she got to her door, she turned around to find the guy standing right behind her! Startled, she took a swing at him and started yelling at the top of her lungs, very likely saving herself from harm. The perp was frightened off.
How easy it is to relate this all now. When she called me right after it happened, everything was a blur. She had just locked herself in her apartment, so I told her to call the cops immediately (110 is the Japanese equivalent of 911). I gave my manager a heads-up and took the day off, ran to my car, picked up my girlfriend at the house, and headed for Osaka. It took a couple hours to get to her place. The cops were already gone when we got there, having concluded their “investigation” and telling my sister to call them if she “ever sees the guy again.” Need I point out what a fucking joke this is.
It’s ironic that a week after I write a post about gun control, I find myself wishing I could give her a piece to pack around the last week she will be in that apartment. I guess an ASP baton will have to do. My sister came back with us last night and will be here over the weekend.
Anyway, posting here may be light for a while because I’m playing mental D&D. Killing goblins and all that.