Japan – The Strange Country


The author got too much flak for drawing little squinty eyes (with his own little squinty eyes), so he pulled the English version. Those people were missing the point, really. The artwork (infographics) tells most of the story even if you don’t understand Japanese.

What Mina Thinks of Bangkok (Daddy Concurs)

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Quite predictably, the long car ride to and from Bangkok was not appreciated by either baby, which they were quite vocal about. This was a kind of test run; do we really want to unleash these two on a plane full of innocents for the cumulative nineteen or so hours it takes to get back to Cali (w/one stopover)? The answer might just be children’s cold medicine…
Mina’s birth abroad has been duly reported, and her passport is in the works. Legally, she’s not a citizen exactly but has all the same rights as a citizen when she gets the passport. Say what? Yeah, it’s kind of a funny thing (though not half as funny as finding out that there is a Thai way of counting months for the Chinese zodiac and that Mina is a Tiger like me instead of an Ox because she was born in December) that way. I asked the vice consul to explain better what a non-citizen who bears all the rights (and responsibilities) of a citizen is, but even she didn’t know, so hey, that’s some pedantic shit right there.
Bangkok was hot and muggy as ever, and it was a relief to get back home. It’s hotter here, but it’s kind of a clean heat – Bangkok pollution just has a way of working itself into every pore and just making you sticky and gross. Plus, the scourge of mosquitoes in our room was epic. They attacked Max and I until Nam and I just got fed up with it and turned on all the lights and went medieval on their asses. It was like a Tarantino scene because I kept having to use various tools to get at these mosquitoes hiding in different places – a rolled-up newspaper to bat one off the ceiling, and a pillow to smash on in a headboard groove. One even got inside Mina’s portable framed mosquito net and bit her cheek, which woke her up, too.
Itchy, screaming babies at 3 in the morning sucks hard. So getting payback against the insect kingdom in general felt really good, and after we devoted twenty minutes to smashing every bug in the room, we fell asleep again and had no more problems. Up until that though, I’ve never seen mosquitoes so voracious. We had the AC and two floor fans pointed at Max and the bastards were still getting through to torture him.

We Against the World

I have a master’s class to teach this morning, then our whole family + nanny are off to Bangkok. We have an appointment tomorrow morning at the embassy’s ACS building to report Mina’s birth abroad and apply for a passport. The problem? There are 100,000 demonstrators trying to get noticed at high profile venues such as, say, in the front of the US embassy. So I’m in my crowd-dodging mode and have hardened my forearms just in case.
I would have waited for the demonstrators to go home, but last year it took them months just to give up their hold on the airport, and we really need this passport now.

ippon demo ninjin

Max is a little less enthused by this than I am, but I found the greatest song for learning counting (and introducing the concept of counters) in Japanese this week:

It’s just a great song, really. I hereby declare this a Cosmic Buddha reunion number.
There was apparently some fluff about this song being switched to the A-side when the album was repressed, so they repressed again as it originally was, on the B-side. The thing is, it seems this song was originally (released in 1975) not very popular and the A-side song that became a hit, when compared now, sounds really boring: ?????????.
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Language notes:
Max will turn two on April 18, and right now the majority of what he speaks is Thai, followed by English, and then just a bit of Japanese. Some people worried about it being a problem for him, but I think they basically underestimate the learning capacity of children.
So far, there’s been no problems and his Thai pronunciation is already much better than mine. The nanny is careful to speak mostly standard Thai around the babies, so that’s covered as well (otherwise they’d basically be learning to speak Laotian – we are in an area (Issan or NE region) very close to Laos regarding language and culture as well as geography).