OK, just one more…

Why stop when I’m on a roll?

Meet Dudley Hiibel. He’s a 59 year old cowboy who owns a small ranch outside of Winnemucca, Nevada. He lives a simple life, but he’s his own man. You probably never would have heard of Dudley Hiibel if it weren’t for his belief in the U.S. Constitution.
One balmy May evening back in 2000, Dudley was standing around minding his own business when all of a sudden, a policeman pulled-up and demanded that Dudley produce his ID. Dudley, having done nothing wrong, declined. He was arrested and charged with “failure to cooperate” for refusing to show ID on demand. And it’s all on video.
On the 22nd of March 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Dudley and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show “the papers” whenever a cop demands them.

Eeeenteresting, no? I haven’t read it all yet. Go see for yourself, I’m busy working:
Beware of Big Brother’s spies – they’re everywhere!

CSS Zen Garden / Hangame Japan

Now that I have a legion of troopers aspiring to find the One True Way for their site design, I present a Scroll of Knowledge:
Hurry up and click already.
For the troops on furlough, I present the best and most addictive free game site in all of Japan. I’m talking original MMPORG (if you now what that abbreviation means, you are a fucking nerd. like me.), card games like poker and hanafuda, mah-jong, pachinko, etc. etc. etc.:
I think the parent company is one of the biggie Korean portal sites like Daum. John and his wife got me hooked on Korean hanafuda (called “Go Stop”) last year on Daum, but I couldn’t play because in order to sign up, you pretty much must emit kimchi stench from your pores and hate American GIs (even though they are the only reason that crazy Kim motherfucker and his starving hordes aren’t gnawing off your arms after a massive artillery barrage). I guess what I’m trying to say is, you need a Korean citizen’s ID# to sign up for that shit and I don’t have one and can’t be bothered to research faking one. So I looked around for approximately 1.4672 hours and although I found many free hanafuda games online, they all suxx0r3d compared to the Daum Go Stop game.
Then I found the Japanese HANGAME site. It rocks. I played more hanafuda this week than CS. Oh. My. God. Don’t worry, I’ll make up for it tonight. Gotta try out those newly powered-up Beretta Elites that Steam made it a point to tweak.
If you read this whole post and understood every reference that was made, you are a pathetic game-otaku webhead geek. Join my HANGAME group after signup. My handles are “cyberdogma” and “cosmicbuddha”. Very original, I know. STFU.
Oh, if you care to learn about hanafuda, look at this pathetic nerd’s site:
That is all for today. I have been pretending to be working on the new export regulation checklist since this morning and I need a break before I turn in some half-ass initial draft. It’s only hours before I will go home, yell “wooo, it’s Fridaaaaay!” at the cats that are sitting on my street, unlock my door, sit on the sofa, then wonder how the hell I slept so long when I wake up 48 hours later.

Look wot I can do!

Wow. I just wrote the PERFECT POST here and lost it when I accidentally closed the browser window. Hooray for me!
No, I will not attempt to recreate it. That would be like trying to top my harshest drinking record (16 Spirytus shots) – maybe possible, but not without great suffering.
Speaking of Spirytus, I just found out from the distributor’s site that the shit isn’t really meant for drinking as-is (as if we didn’t know before):

Poland is a big, world producer of spirit obtained by the fermentation of grain or potatoes. The purification of the spirit is made by rectification in modern automated plants. Spirit obtained in this way is of an ideal purity; it is natural and serves as the basis of Polish vodka, world famous for their high quality. It is sought by consumers in order to make home made infusions of fruits and for healing purposes.

Me and Bill should be veritable doctors by now judging from all the “healing” we’ve practiced over the years.
Although the site lists the existence of a sissy brother (151 proof), I’ve only ever seen the real deal – 96% alcohol, baby. Why the fuck would they want to copy Ronrico with that half-percentage point 151 proof figure anyway? For those in the know, there can be no substitute. Spirytus separates the men from the boys, everytime.

Miwa Otori

If you drive down route 169 from Nara toward the city of Sakurai you will see a huge black “o-tori” that stands at the entrance of a parking area for Miwa shrine (Miwa-jinja or Miwa-myojin in Japanese).
This is the largest o-tori in Japan and the jinja is located at the base of a mountain. There is an ancient cedar tree there that a white snake (actually a reincarnation of the myojin) is reincarnated in. But you might not find many references to it on the web because the animistic details of the shrine might not have been written about much in English. And the history of this shrine, one of the oldest, is sometimes debated because of the different branches of shinto (and varying beliefs) that have appeared since then.

Sony Obelisk

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.

Running Strong

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).

Classical Thai Dance

Right now I’m sipping lemon chu-hi at Bill’s Bar and going through my photos from the Thai dance exhibition Nam participated in last week. Pictured here is a Japanese girl who is quite skilled and actually teaches others classical Thai dance. The dance group is comprised of both Japanese and Thai girls, and they perform all around Japan.
I am waiting for the new Nikon D70 DSLR to be released and push down the price of the Canon Digital Rebel so I can buy a digicam that works better in low-light situations than my Coolpix 4500. I love the 4500 but it sucks for night/low-light pics. The Canon apparently does quite well. Hell, if the D70 looks good I might eventually go for that… I don’t know if I can wait for the next generation cameras to come out. After all, the waiting game tends to get tedious for me and with each product cycle my patience wears a bit thinner.
I like photography a lot, but I often wonder if I should spend more time on technique. I think I could really get into it but I worry that it would affect the fun I have now. It’s rewarding to be in the middle of learning the basics and still produce results I’m satisfied with, say once every 200 shots or so. Digital cameras are so liberating for me. I erase at least half of the photos I take before they ever leave the camera, and I don’t think anything of it. If I were using film, I know I wouldn’t take a lot of the shots I experiment with now because of cost.
Why is this so important to me at 3AM? Everyone else here in the bar is wasted or borderline comatose… Time to go now that the police running the sobriety checkpoints have packed up for the night.

Gyudon Pics

At the request of a certain hominid (and I suspect a fellow chowhound), I present borrowed gyudon pics.
Here we have the gyudon (center), miso soup (right), pickled cabbage (left), and a cup of hot green tea in the blue cup. This is a set meal that was available at Yoshinoya stores in Japan for about 600 yen until the American cows went apeshit or whatever. Basically the only thing missing from this photo is the raw egg. Not very photogenic, I guess.
First of all, whoever took this photo has to work on their color management because the red ginger looks like shredded carrots. Shame, shame. Please take better photos for me to borrow next time! Ah, well, at least your heart is in the right place… I never even thought of taking pictures at Yoshinoya because I was too busy stuffing my face. This photo was taken at a Yoshinoya in the US. Even without the telltale English text on the placemat and napkin, you can tell by the styrofoam bowl which is used even for “for here” orders in the states. Not as elegant as the Japanese bowls, but somewhat comforting in its assumed sterility. American portions are larger than their Japanese counterparts of course. Also, from the beginning, the American stores have featured a Chicken Teriyaki Bowl and Combo Bowls with oth chicken and beef, items that the Japanese stores still do not feature to this day.
It’s past midnight, and my stomach is rumbling from remembering this stuff.

Ode to Yoshi-Gyu

I have been depressed since this weekend when Nam and I walked past a Yoshinoya (ex-purveyor of gyudon, or “beef bowls”) and saw:
A. A notice on the door informing people that gyudon was no longer being served
B. A gaudy yellow banner proclaiming their new product: Karedon (curry bowl)
C. Not a single goddamn customer sitting at the counters, even though it was lunchtime
This particular branch was in Nara but I saw three more on the way and in Osaka later, that were suffering the same fate. I wonder if Yoshinoya will get on the butadon (pork bowl) bandwagon or not. Then again, who cares? I miss my gyudon, even if I’m not eating rice right now. I guess the next best thing to eating it would be to relive eating it, so without further ado, I present:
Cosmic Buddha’s Ten Steps to Nirvana (AKA The One True Way to eat Yoshinoya gyudon):
1. Order a “nami” (regular size). The reason for this is the perfect topping:rice ratio that is not shared with the larger-sized orders. It is also the best value, something I know is very important to students.
2. Order a nama tamago (raw egg). This will likely be brought out before the gyudon, so get it ready. Add some shichimi togarashi (crushed red chili flakes) and shoyu (soy sauce) into the bowl that the egg is served in, then mix for approximately 10 seconds with chopsticks.
3. When the gyudon comes out, dump some beni shoga (red ginger condiment) toward the edge of the bowl.
4. With your chopsticks, make a conical depression in the center of the mounded topping all the way down to the rice.
5. Pour the prepared egg mixture in the depression. Wait 5-10 seconds to allow some absorption into the rice layer.
6. Raise the steaming bowl of beefy goodness to your lips and shovel as much into your maw as humanly possible.
7. Repeat step 5.
Note: If you are an Asian (or in my case, Asian-looking) man, making loud lip-smacking sounds is both encouraged and expected within this context. But then again, if you had to be told that, you probably won’t be comfortable doing it anyway.
8. Slurp down some tea.
9. Repeat steps 5 though 8 until finished with your meal.
10. Make the obligatory Groan and Sigh of Contentment, and if you are over the age of 35, pick your teeth openly and with complete disregard to other customers.

Fuka Fuka

This is the first photo I have ever posted to this blog that was not taken with my phone. Merin sent me this one. She spotted it when the girls went shopping after our nice luinch at Chedi Luang. The venue? Namba Parks, of course.
Merin’s phone is equipped with a camera that treads with muddy boots all over my once very modern Hitachi phone. The time for an upgrade has come. I can smell it in the air. Next month, I think. My incentive for waiting, of course, is the spring lineup from AU that will surely feature a model that can keep me happy for another long, long year.
Hell, in another year cellphones will eliminate a few more product categories if all follows the inevitable path to consolidation. I predict that cellphones will be marketed to replace IC recorders, lightweight mpeg video cameras, and universal remotes. The technology is already most of the way there and the manufacturers are definitely weighing customer demand for these features against higher price.

Daikon Flowers

Chedi Luang is a new Thai restaurant in Kita Horie that we visited (We: Me, Bill, Nam, Merin, and Nam’s kohai Dao) on the weekend. Good food and interesting presentation. We ate more than our fill of curries, fish/meat dishes, and more exotic fare. It broke down to about 2,500 yen per person ordering a la carte, which I declare a damn good deal for Japan. The girl who runs it danced with Nam at the event in Mihara a couple weeks ago. She also works part time as a masseuse (masseusesse?) and I have no idea why I am writing about that.
Go. Eat. Make like a Thai and be happy!

Random Yoshida Links

The links that can be found by ego-Googling are sometimes surprising. I hunted down the site of another Justin Yoshida last month! I left a message in his guestbook, but haven’t gotten word back yet. What do you know? He plays CS, just like me. Heh.
This guy must actually be me, from an alternate universe or something. Maybe the metaphysic membrane between our realities was temporarily ripped and he somehow fell through. It should be interesting if we hook up sometime – he apparently lives in Hawaii so it’s conceivable I might make the effort someday. If he’s not hiding from me, that is. I can be weird sometimes, maybe he thinks I’m a maniac or something. Come to think of it, the thought of another Justin Yoshida is kind of scary. What if he goes aggro and kills a bunch of people or something? It might reflect poorly on me, you know. Twenty years from now when I’m introducing myself to people they might say, “Yoshida… Aren’t you the guy who blew up a tour bus full of Chinese tourists and sold their remains as humuhumunukunukuapuaa pudding at Hanauma Bay?”
Wow. Got lost in dreamland there for a second. Anyway. ego-Googling results. Right. Dozo:
Yoshida Records
Some featured artists: ADELE LIPUMA, SIW MALMKVIST, ZZAJ (this last one is a springoff of ZWAN, I suspect)
Yoshida Auto
These native Osakans will ship cars to Ireland, Mauritus, and Chile for you.
Nami Yoshida, Illustrator
Her first picture book is on sale.