Yoshi Ikuzo – Precursor to Japanese Hip-hop (yo yo)

He’s kind of the Grandmaster Flash of Japan, except he didn’t contribute anything to turntablism and he raps in the Tohoku (instead of Bronx) vernacular. Also, he includes kamishibai (link) in his lyrics, which I’m pretty sure Grandmaster Flash did not. He sure does have a Furious Five, though. Or maybe Fifteen..

Still in broken PC limbo

The homebrew LCD hack didn’t work, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. My backyard repair dude rewired and replaced one old broken set of fluorescent tubes with old working (?) ones with some brilliant desoldering/resoldering skills and only charged me 80 baht, and I managed to get the monitor back together again without even having extra screws left over afterward, but it was all for naught. Sometimes you jess gotta say SHEEEEIT Clay Davis style. SHEEEEEIT!
Anyway, I’ll get around to taking new photos of Max the Destroyer and posting them from my laptop I guess; sorry it’s taking so long but I’m busy, busy, busy, and hate downloading photos to anything but my redundant archives (main PC) first.

Nikkeis from South America paid to leave Japan (and not come back to work ever again)

I’ve really been out of the loop, but this was a really interesting read: Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home
Even though the dumbass running the program can’t keep his racist views in check, I basically can’t see how having this choice is a completely bad thing. Sure, it’s insulting if you want to think of it like that, but hell – I know a lot of people who have needed to beg, borrow, or steal money to buy a ticket home when everything went wrong. And pride is a luxury for practical people.

Biggest Fall Yet

Yesterday, when we were walking back from seeing the only horse in the area (name: Happy), Max stepped on a piece of wood, lost his balance, and fell forward onto the street. I saw the moment of impact and saw him turn his head and arch his back at the last minute (good boy!) but when I picked him up, his mouth was filled with blood. Nam handed me a cloth diaper (which we only use as baby rags now) and I was able to clean up some blood and determine that he’d cut open his bottom lip with his tooth. He was crying a bit, but kind of stopped in shock as he tasted that sour metallic taste for the first time. The pungent smell of it made my heart race, too. We walked home quickly and cleaned him up in the shower. It’s swelled up a bit today, but it should be OK. He doesn’t seem to feel it.
I just can’t get his expression out of my mind, that moment when he looked at me not knowing what was happening, in pain but not really sure what was wrong. I’m pretty sure, in that moment, I could have, say, lifted a bus, or fought off a bear to help him. And Nam, who I saw brought to tears when he first started moving around and getting little boo boos, was totally solid.
So, any bears feel like screwing around with us?

Working Around Planned Obsolescence

All of the PCs I’m using at home are ones I brought over from Japan in 2006 so they are all either very well-used or broken now. My main laptop is a Latitude x300 which was manufactured about 150 computer years ago*, and the screen hinge broke so it’s held open with a bent metal ruler I jam in the gap between the large-sized battery and the main body every time I use it. All 3 desktop PCs failed in some way or another so I broke them down into parts to create a super franken PC which would have kicked serious ass about five years ago but is now just kinda OK.
I’m not complaining about this state of affairs – it’s just something that comes with the territory when spending so much on baby consumables and hospital stays and barriers and sterilizers and car seats, etc. – but it is kind of funny to think about how much has changed the past couple years. I basically traded money for happiness and never looked back; life is great in that regard. I guess what I’m trying to say though, is that I really appreciate living in a place where I can try and save money in creative DIY ways.
Case in point: I brought two LCD monitors over when I came, a Mitsubishi and an Iiyama, chosen at the time of purchase (early 2005?) for cost performance and 100 – 240 volt capability out of the box (all of the electronics I bought between 2005 and 2006 were “world voltage” and NTSC/PAL compatible). The Mitsu (typically) broke first, something wrong with the control unit. It’s basically a brick since the cost for real repairs is more than the cost to buy a new one, and the back room soldering repair dudes with burnt fingertips and flux in their hair were unable to fix it. So it sat in my work area gathering dust for about ten months. The Iiyama is a cheap piece of shit Nam was using until the Mitsu broke (and her desktop PC broke at about the same time, so we just starting sharing the aforementioned franken PC)**. The fluorescent bulb(s?) burnt out, so half the screen is dark. After doing some research on the net, I decided that the bulbs themselves were probably interchangeable if I could get to them, since they were both sourced at around the same time and are used in the same size monitor (4:3 res 17″).
So I took both of the monitors apart last night and was able to remove the bulb assemblies (2 assemblies per monitor, 2 bulbs per assembly). The wiring is a bit different, but I think it can be figured out by one of the back shop soldering pros. So the the next step is to take the assemblies down to my favorite shop run by an old man who wears magnifying glasses. I’ll tell him what I want and he should be able to figure out how to rewire the Mitsu bulbs to the Iiyama assembly after desoldering them all. I predict the work will cost a few dollars, which most Thais would consider expensive but which I’m totally willing to pay as long as its done right. Now, if he gets the wiring right and if I can get the monitor back together correctly (there were a couple of tricky ribbon PCB connectors in a tight space I might need to make a special tool to close shut), and it all works correctly and safely and all – I’ll be really happy. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be forced to buy a new, bigger, shinier monitor. So I guess that’s OK too. It’s just that driving a 38 year old car and using ancient PCs and teaching (not this term, admittedly) in a 40 year old building with warped wooden floors and uncleanable black boards puts one in a strange state of mind sometimes, where the idea of new is viewed as wasteful and godammit, why the hell should I buy new shoes when the holes in these aren’t even that bad yet?
I guess what I really wanted to say is that the new photos of Max I was going to post are trapped on my monitor-less desktop PC, and will be posted as soon as functionality is restored.
*6 human years. I love this little notebook and think it’s one of the best designed systems, ever, just really old now of course.
**A completely unrelated piece of trivia interesting only to me is that the Iiyama is either an OEM piece of shit made by NEC or the Chinese company that put it and its sister NEC model together felt that having only slightly tweaked control buttons was a big enough differentiation between the two.

Oh My Rice

I just happened to be looking at Thai used car sites for some missing pieces to the Crown, and I happened upon one of the riciest piece of riceriffic gohan I’ve ever seen (can you say bad aero kit?). It’s apparently a Crown one year older than mine, which puts it in an earlier series. You’d never be able to tell, though, except maybe from the rear – there’s hardly anything original left on the whole car:
There’s actually a few good things about this car. First of all, the 1JZ(?) stuffed in the engine bay looks hawt. Second, although I didn’t include it, there’s also a photo on the site showing a sunroof, which I assume wasn’t a Toyota factory option in 1970. Third, I like the idea that this car can seemingly be operated with a serious lack of pedals.
Come to think of it, there’s another great thing about this car: The price. It’s selling for 220,000 baht, which at today’s exchange rate is 6,437.46 US. The owner must have put about five times that into matching red parts alone. Dammit, if only I’d had this car in high school – I could have been the king of Little Saigon!