Random Osaka Car Photos

A double winner!
Check out the plate holder – made of a special reflective material that prevents highway cameras from getting a shot of the number plate – that is, uh, assuming there is one.
It’s art, dude!
In front of the fourtwenty head shop in Amemura. Note the classic Osaka parking job – sometimes you need a can opener to get out.

True Grit

The guy I work across from, Angry Hiro, spent the whole day teaching a particularly inept vendor a lesson by yelling at them on the phone for ten hours straight. I am currently trying to recall the funniest combinations of “dumbass,” “dipshit,” and “fuckhead,” and spent most of the day cracking up with my coworkers. Angry Hiro even used our amusement to belittle them, holding up the receiver and yelling shit like, “Do you hear that? They’re laughing at YOU! ASSHOLES!” In between bouts, he was popping these little white pills like mad and wiping sweat off his brow with this gaudy brown-and-black checkered hanky embossed with a Chanel logo.
When I asked him what the pills were for, he barked, quite proudly, “ulcer!”
It is a testament to the twisted state of corporate life to realize that I can respect that. Dumbass.

Shopping Alert

If you are a techno gadget freak, this is not news to you but I’m posting this for all other forms of life in Japan:
I bought two last week because everyone is predicting the prices will rise again soon… I bought a new high performance 17″ Mitsu for 1/2 the sticker price (at an online store I use often – PC Success), and it’s kicking ass for all the games I play. I also got a 17″ Iiyama for Nam, who spends many hours every day working on her doctoral thesis – this should help prevent eye strain. Our old CRT’s are out in my hallway, doing what they do best – taking up space! An unexpected bonus of switching from CRT to LCD was that it opened up a huge (albeit dusty) space on my desk (which I actually already filled up with stacks of CDs, assorted phone bills, food wrappers, etc., but that’s another story).
I opted for the Mitsubishi and the IIyama because these two companies along with BENQ are the only ones that use a 100-240V power supply, which is what I will need to use them in Thailand when we move. I’m only writing about this because I actually went to Osaka to compare product catalog specs to actual rating labels on the floor models a couple weeks ago, and I thought I’d save someone else the trouble since I’ve seen this question asked elsewhere.
To give you an idea of how cheap LCD monitors really are in Japan right now, I just saw offers for some 19″ models under the 30,000 mark – wow! I remember when 15 inchers were twice that price – not so long ago. I’m glad I waited so long to get ours.

Endangered Specieswatch: The Humpbacked Obachan

I am too respectful to post a pic, but believe me, I have surreptitiously photographed several. Yes, Concerned Reader, it is true: The Humpbacked Obachan is on the verge of becoming an endangered species. On my island, at least. And seeing how Awajishima is basically a giant, floating retirement community for aoriika longliners and graying mobsters alike, I am an eminent expert on, for lack of a better term, old people.
The subject in question, humpticulous spinstrisis, or, “Humpy” for short, is, simply, an ancient, stooped-over (sometimes more than 90 degrees!) lady (some of who sport humps on their backs – duh!). And I say “lady” in the female sense of the word, because some of them, quite frankly, are not nice people at all:
My first encounter with a Humpy was at the giant ishibutai tomb in Asuka Mura, where I first lived in Japan, at my second cousin’s church (long story). I thought this old woman was stooped over looking for dropped coins or something, so I went over to help her. After a few minutes, an ancient croak emitted from her direction, “just what in the hell are you doing?” I suddenly realized my mistake and was greatly embarassed, but intrigued by this person who was spending her declining years staring down at the dirt, and decided to do more research.
My research method was simple: Go to where old people gather, and observe. This explains my numerous visits to gateball tournaments, Nodoka-mura, and inner-city public housing complexes on “big trash” day. Some of my findings over the years:
– As can be inferred from the above, almost all humpies are female.
– Humpies are generally highly regarded in Japanese society, although this just might be the age factor. In Japan, as elsewhere, age = respect.
– I suspect advanced Humptosity is at least partially caused by osteoporosis, although it wouldn’t surprise me to see similar posture in, say, game company employees.
– In speaking with several Humpies, I found out that the condition itself does not cause a lot of pain, but it’s hard not to be able to sleep on your back (They all tend to sleep in chairs or propped up on cusions.).
– Humpies hibernate in winter.
– More humpies are spotted taking out the trash than in any other situation.
In the course of four years of observation of the Humpy colony on my island, I have been able to distinguish 1,796 (!) individuals (population has since declined to a current approximated level of 1,450). Most have been unresponsive to my questions, and several brooms have been raised in defensive positions. A radio tagging effort has been unsuccessful. Still, my research continues, because the fact of the matter is that Humpy population should be growing, not rapidly declining as they are now. Also, Humpies don’t really have a voice in the blogosphere for some reason.