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.

My high school dean was right

Link found somewhere (just before my browser crashed):
20 Questions to a Better Personality
You are a WRDL–Wacky Rational Destructive Leader. This makes you a Enemy of the State.
You are charismatic and winning and a very dangerous enemy. You favor justice over compassion, and would almost rather see your opponent fail than you succeed.
You impact the lives of those around you more than any other personality. People remember your name and respect you. You are a tremendous amount of fun to be around and astonishing to watch. You are generally abstinent in your habits, and you like things tidy and ordered.
When picking teams, it is smartest for others to pick yours.
Of the 80601 people who have taken this quiz since tracking began (8/17/2004), 1.5 % are this type.

Mongolian Mustard-seed Antagonism

I’m back, after a five-day stretch being tortured by Koga ninjas in their secret lair under Lake Biwa. Fortunately, I survived by using my wits and took them all out with my killer combos:
whooping peony-blossom punch
explosive hawk flip
double star thrust
laughing taoist penetration
invincible eagle wall
resplendent sage knee
yellow emperor’s secret charge
burning fox-woman defense
abominable goldfish jab
unfathomable secret scratch
venerable sky elbow
illusory scorpion technique
fire of the eunuch penetration
innocent willow heel
When you’re time comes, will your kung fu be good enough?

The Other, Other White Meat

Go check out the Evil Sandmich’s continued writings on his adventures in Japanese cuisine last year: LINK

One morning they had a little hit of ketchup with the Japanese omelet (which I never got tired of, the omelet or the ketchup) and I was as happy as a brain eating zombie (I was quite tired and didn’t realize it, but my wife said that I was sucking the contents out of the packet). I got the definite impression that the Japanese don’t make a habit of coating their food with anything (ketchup, BBQ sauce, gravy, or even wasabi).

The relative lack of condiments is something you get used to, or if you’re a condiment/spice/topping addict, deal with by carrying around your own. Actually, condiments are a lot more prevalent than they were in years past. It used to be damn near impossible to get ketchup with your fries – at McDonalds!
Japanese Condiment Factoid o’ the Day: Up until about five years ago it was common for restaurants (even large chain or “family” restaurants) to refill partially depleted Tabasco bottles – with soy sauce! The resulting mix looked like uranium sludge, and tasted about the same (and no, it wasn’t that the Tabasco was just old, either). I assume this vile dilution was carried out by the restaurants as a cost-savings measure, but I have no proof – maybe it was a ploy by the Tabasco distributors to create a more “localized” flavor for the Japanese market (and if Tabasco adds an “Oriental Pepper Sauce” to their lineup, you will know where they got the idea).

Also on the beef night, I had something for the first time during the trip – raw squid. Now I don’t mind the cooked kind, and the flavor didn’t bother me, but the texture…. The most polite way of putting it is, imagine if a stranger hocked up a big, thick, mildly fishy loogey and put it in the fridge, and the next night you accidentally dined on it.

Raw squid is best when it’s very fresh and is called “ika sashimi”; even when refrigerated, it starts degrading rapidly and after a short time becomes what I usually refer to as “bait.”
Also, the phrase “mildly fishy” never fails to evoke terrifying memories of a certain teacher I had in junior high who had recently immigrated from Germany. Her impressive bust and fondness for wearing tight, short-sleeve summer dresses was set off by the fact she had the hairiest armpits I’ve seen in my entire life, which dripped sweat in the summer when she raised her arms to write on the blackboard. Just thought I’d share that.

To add insult to injury, they were served in a bowl with cold, greenish noodles that were about the same texture as the fish (sans eyes of course). I hesitantly ate my ‘snot noodles’, but I couldn’t bring myself to choke down the fish snot sitting at the bottom of the bowl, it makes my stomach light just thinking about it.

Heh. Damn, this brings back memories from when I first came to Japan. Yep, there were some “delicacies” that I wouldn’t touch with a stick back then, although I got used to most of them quickly. There are a few things I still don’t like, but there isn’t much I haven’t tried or given a fair shake, even the stuff mentioned in the story below:
Some years ago, I took some clients from the US out for dinner, and one of them, was adamant about trying every “strange” dish possible.
Thus challenged, I ordered accordingly. I have to admit that he seemed to be genuinely enjoying everything that came until I pulled the trump card and told him the next dish was a specialty of the house, and I bet he couldn’t tell what it was:
CLIENT (pleasantly surprised): “Mmm, it’s creamy.”
ME (factually): “Yes, and it’s white, too.”
CLIENT (savoring a larger bite): “It’s kind of sweet.”
ME: “Dude! Your mouth is full of COD SPERM!”
What can I say? I am here to serve.

Fishing Log

Here I will post what we, as a collective, have caught on Awaji up until now, and maybe it will turn into its own updated page.
A baby kawahagi (trigger fish). Caught on gokai (bloodworms). Sumoto port.
Torafugu (pufferfish), caught on squid. Yura.
Small bass, caught on squid. Fugu point.
Small snapper, caught on gokai. Takenokuchi.
A bera (wrasse), on squid. Yura.
Gashira (aka kasago, I suspect, or rockfish in English), caught on squid. Sumoto port.
Not pictured: Sea bass (suzuki), aji (jack mackerel), trout, largemouth bass, small jack, and a marine eel (or poisonous sea snake, according to the locals).
This gallery will expand over time, and hopefully better pictures will replace the fuzzy ones currently on display.

Don’t Be Evil

This is an interesting read: Scraping and ad-stripping Google’s results
I liken it to a brave little ant picking a fight with an elephant. You applaud the little guy’s tenacity, but keep expecting to see a huge foot stomping down any second.
I tried a few searches and the results of Scroogle/Google seem identical… But that said, I can’t stop using Google.
To be honest, I don’t even want to try. I like GMail. I like Blogger. I have always thought fond of the company because I beta tested their iMode site way back in the day and they sent me Google T-shirts in return for bug reports. And, of course, I use Google for searches every single day (can you say “Home Page”). So it is with mixed feelings that I read the dirt on them here, some of which is unimportant to me, much of which is biased, but all of which makes for interesting reading.