Racing airplanes on the long bridge to KIX.
Silvia’s birth certificate.
Even though I’ve lived here on Awaji Island for nearly five years, I was registered at my friend’s house in Nara until last month. Basically, there was no reason to change my address officially until this year, when the immigration laws got stricter, plus I fucking hate having to tell the government where I live just on principle…
Just one of the many pains in the ass involves re-registering my car out here (in Kobe, actually), and in order to do that, I need a shakoshomei, which is proof that you have an approved place to park. If you live in a house, this might be your driveway or garage, but if you rent an apartment, like I do, you have to provide proof that you are renting a space somewhere.
This is an incredibly irritating process that takes a trip down to the local police station at least twice, once to apply and once to pick up the actual document, which is issued after an inspector goes to visit the parking space you have specified in the application (you actually have to provide two maps, one of the parking space in relation to your home, and another, more detailed map of the parking area with dimensions, etc. Most people hand-draw this stuff, but I, uber-nerd, did the work in Illustrator – may post it later so you can come egg my Silvia).
Anyway, after this long, drawn out process had gotten to its final stage, I was ready to pick up the document late last week. Before work, I went to the police station (cue: oh happy day) with my trusty hanko (personal seal used in place of signature) only to be told that the guy in charge wasn’t in. The fact that just speaking to the police in Japan – about just about anything, really – always puts me in the foulest of moods, only compounded my irritation at being brushed off because the designated desk jockey (and public fucking servant I might add) decided to make a run for the bento shop during normal operating hours. Whatever. I decided to jump through all the hoops when I decided to make the move out here official, so I sucked it up and went to work.
I didn’t have time to go again until yesterday. I walked into the police station all pimped out in my spiffy work uniform (complete with nametag; this is a Japanese white-collar job, thankyouverymuch) and requested service at the desk. This time, the balding desk sergeant in charge was there (oh joy), fat ass parked firmly in a seat with a bead cushion draped over it. He looks over my approval forms, sees they’re all in order, then announces to no one in general, “the window for processing shakoshomei is from 3 to 5 PM, please come back then.”
Me: “fuck, as in what the?”
Cop: “3 to 5”
Me: “But there ain’t nobody else here now! C’mon! ”
Cop: “Morning hours are reserved for driver’s license-related issues only – COME BACK BETWEEN 3 AND 5!”
Me: “THERE AIN’T NOBODY ELSE HERE – c’mon, cut me a break already. Pleeeeeease. Pretty please with azuki on the top.”
Cop: “Ungh.” (loosely translated: “wutevaaaa”)
Grrrrr. So I had to take off work early and got back to the police station just before 5. As I approach the desk sergeant, who I swear has not moved a single fucking inch since I last saw him several hours before and is now half-heartedly playing with pencils and rubber bands, looks up at me, then glances at the clock, gathers the approval papers again and says, “hehheh, you made it just in time.”
And as he stamps my hanko in the logbook and gives me the magic papers, he replies “I wouldn’t have minded if you came in a little later. I’m here until 7:00 anyway.”
I bit down on my lower lip, hard, and concentrated on quietly exiting the building.
As a good friend once put it, “why are cops such fucking cunts?”
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)
This is a wired remote controller for my Sony head unit installed in one of Silvia’s 2-DIN slots. I specifically bought this toy because it had been around for at least 10 years and I thought it would be dropped in favor of a new model. Bingo! I was right and the new ones are wireless, though less 80’s-looking and hence worthless in my opinion. I think I may be one of three people in the universe who can change the settings for the subwoofer output’s high pass filter one-handed in the dark without looking at the display. Now somebody give me A GODDAMN COOKIE.
My Silvia still runs smooth after 150,000 kilos. That’s quite a distance for a four-banger, and is a testament to the design of the SR-20DE engine. The engine is chain driven and my mechanic tells me he sees them pass the 200k mark in other cars (Nissan Primera, etc.). The thing is, I’m not just puttin’ around all the time. I put serious (but loving) strain on that car and she comes through every time. So I reciprocate by keeping her pretty. This, in fact, is cause for ribbing from my buddies (when they see me bust out the tire wax) and also causes Nam to get quite angry (note I specifically did not say jealous).
On Saturday, I was awakened by Kohei (the guy who gave me a Devo hat when I was like ten) who had the nerve to call me at ONE THIRTY in the afternoon. As I groped to find the ringing cellmonster around the gap between futon and tatami, my arm brushed against the wet spot on my pillow (I admit, sometimes the whole pillow is a giant wet spot. That’s when it’s time to flip it over.). Somehow, the saliva rub woke me up almost instantly, and it was act-like-you-weren’t-sleeping talkfest time. You know that feeling, when your tongue moves two steps faster than your brain…. But I Digress Heinously.
Kohei was coming down to Kobe from Nagoya with New Companion in Tow. Still dazed, I said let’s meet up, so Nam and I got in the car after a 30 min. cosmetic application sesh… Actually I played CS while brushing my teeth (although I had applied to Asahi-net for the switch from A to B Flets the night before, I didn’t try Hikari out until Sunday night because It Takes Time for the change to be noted – and I was too lazy to take the end of the Cat 5 cable from the ADSL modem to the ONU and try it out right then.) and was on a roll with 15 kills and no deaths but got distracted because the toothpasty foam in my mouth started getting too minty; it felt like the Doublemint twins were grinding stiletto heels into my tongue…. Sorry, digression problems.
In short, we met up in Kobe. I proposed Harborland as a meeting place, as the flowerbusheep at Canal Gardens are my favorite Kobe meeting point (will explain flowerbusheep later – Maybe). It’s really funny when people get up close to look at the flowers on the face and it suddenly starts baaaaing (Willow, you iiidiiiiiot!). That’s exactly what Pat, Ko’s new girl, did. Heh heh. We walked around looking for signs of the Kobe Matsuri which was supposed to run on Friday through Sunday, but found that the middle day was the odd one out and there were no signs of festivities either at Harborland or Motomachi (There were live parade broadcasts on TV the next day, though – it looks more like the Rose Parade Without Floats and Just a Marching Samba Team than a matsuri, though). So we walked around and shopped. Ko went aggro and got the look I’ve seen in my dad’s eyes before when he wants to buy a specific thing for my mom that she doesn’t really want to buy (at the time, at least – no woman can suppress the urge to buy – anything – for very long) but will concede to buying just to get the crazed “buying fever” out of his brains. Well, that day Kohei was for some reason convinced that Pat needed walking shoes. I know this sounds innocent, but it breaks one of the basic tenets by which all men should lead their lives and that is, Never Choose Shoes for Women. Yes, he chose to walk the dangerous route and basically steamrolled her to buy a pair of shoes, which I must say, were pretty darned Fugly (explanation necessary?). In fact they were Beeg, but that’s another story and I’m starting to scare you with my new language (New Sandovenese subvariant). Digressing you say? Me?
We had a nice day. Tonkatsu moundage for dinner after finding that all restaurants on the second and third floor were overflowing with people and/or yakiniku smoke. On the way home, Nam and I decided to go on an impromptu trip and I went straight instead of turning left for the 4Km suspension bridge (2600 yen toll one way!) for the island. We went to Himeiji. I had left Baby (Vaio U3 and Air ‘H PHS card) at home since I’d not charged her (bought another car cig lighter inverter at Autobacs on lunch break today to avoid this problem in future), and because of this, discovered the secret Himeiji night culture.
It seems that people in Himeiji do not sleep. This became evident after finding video rental stores, clothing shops, liquor stores (that sold imported cigarettes – Marlboro Mediums! – by the carton, something I’ve never seen here), and a big-name electronics store open at midnight, with signs indicating they were open until “26:00” (the electronics store was only open util 25:00). Weird. But Cool. After the semi-long but pleasant drive, I was on cruise control. I browsed through used rental videos and CDs that were for sale, and spent a few thousand yennage. Cool. Someone please tell me why the hell I felt compelled to purchase “Number one with a Bullet” for 300 yen. Got a soft spot for Lando Dee Williams, I guess (props to Lileks for that one).
I had intended to fold down all the seats in the van to make a bed (cool loaner car, Kataoka san!). The van model by the way, is a Bongo Friendee (Mazda). I have an uncle of Chinese descent who we call Uncle Bongie, so this car is of special interest to me, but perhaps not to you, but this is my blog, so I can rant incessantly and all you can do is close your browser window, LOSER! (sorry! -Ed). Anyway, I wanted to sleep in the car and in fact had – by myself – the day after I took my Silvia in for shaken after getting loaded at Bill’s. However, I soon remembered that girls like sheets and blankets and stuff, so we stayed at a hotel after driving by the local Kenkoland (got directions at the video store; “turn right at the JA building intersection” – but went a totally different route and found both the JA building and Kenkoland by accident) and pronouncing it even less desirable than roughing it in the van. Oh, I forgot. We had ramen somewhere along the way, and found out Himeiji has kick ass ramen at 2 in the morning. Nam got a regular sized chashu-men and it had more pork than any chashu-men I have ever seen, I mean like 20 slices (albeit the thin stuff, not fatbelly). We ordered it with the tonkotsu (there was also shoyu and miso or something like that) stock, ichiban koi (of four levels of richness for the soup, nam ordered Thick and I ordered Mud). But heavenly mud this was. It was the best ramen I had since we were down in Kyushu visiting Japan Noobie Adam. I might add that I ordered extra garlic and it was chunky, funky, and there was a good heaping tablespoon of it in a mound on my noodles. Ambrosia.
We came home yesterday after going to Himeiji Castle. On the way home, we saw a large warehouse type building that looked possibly like a Costco, so I took the exit (Kakogawa). It was pachinko. Pretty damn big, too. The parking lot was so huge, there were guys on motorized carts that would ferry you from your car to the entrance of Gaia Pachinko Heaven or whatever the hell it was. I will make the next part quick and to the point: I lost a lot, and Nam won wnough to buy one or two tickets back to Thailand, depending on the season. On the way home, she bought me dinner (Awaji Beef). Good Weekend it was.