Idiot Test

My results:

I am 12% Idiot.
Friggin Genius

I am not annoying at all. In fact most people come to me for advice. Of course they annoy the hell out of me. But what can I do? I am smarter than most people.

OK, I call bullshit on this test overall because I can be hugely annoying when I get in my groove. It was fun thinking about the answers, though.
WARNING! SPOILER BELOW! (Take the test first!):
Can’t help but wonder about the “asking a third time” question. N/A because you shouldn’t have to ask more than once, right? Or is that a trick?

Google Kills Goose, Finds No Egg

Do the 50 invites bug anybody else, or is it just me? Why 50? Why not 100? Why not 36,687.02? I know… Why not a google of invitations? The number seems not to matter so much after, say, 10 or so. It might have meant something when they were exclusive enough to trade for sexual favors (remember all the wankers who offered invitations only if you first clicked a sponsor’s link/voted for their blog/left a haiku in the comments?), but now they just feel like a nagging responsibility! And they must be fucking like rabbits in there! Go ahead, send a few and see how long it takes for the ones you used to be replaced! Uh-oh. They may have heard me… Help! They’re ganging up on me! URRRGHL… can’t… get… them…. off! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
*Note from editor: If (you just logged on to the Internet for the first time and) you’d like an invite, please leave a sexual favor in the comments.

Wherein nature’s fury becomes relevant

In an official document today, I used the following reason for changing a parts supplier:
“Supplier’s factory destroyed by typhoon.”
The situation described isn’t funny; I just never imagined someday writing those words.
The day of the typhoon, I drove right by that factory. That area got completely washed out when the river overflowed; if I had been there just an hour later my car would have suffered the same fate as the many others that had to be pulled out of rice paddies and sinkholes in the weeks to follow.
Note: If you are interested, my Typhoon Tokage blog posts are archived here, and the liveblogging from my keitai during evacuation is here.

Adam’s Mullet

The other day, Adam saw a school of fat mullet under a bridge near my house, so we decided to try and catch them with the only bait I had around, pickled grubs.
*Note to self: Mullet could give a shit about pickled grubs. Idiot.
The stupid fish were ignoring the bait, so we decided to use a big seabass lure as a yo-yo rig (illegal in our home state of California). I felt kind of bad about snagging them since we weren’t keeping them, but Adam, being an inherently bad person, had no such compunctions:
MulletMania Magazine Photo Contest Winner:
Mullets are ugly up close:
You kiss your mother with that mouth?
All in all, it was good fun.

R.I.P. to Asian Jungle Punk

The London-based Asian Dub Foundation used to be one of my favorite bands. They brought out 3 solid albums over the space of 7 years, each with its own distinct flavor and brilliance, and their live shows were among the most powerful I have ever seen. Their energy on stage was simply infectious, completely void of any commercial or “trying too hard” vibes that ruin most concerts. When asked to describe their music, they replied, “Asian Jungle Punk.” That was pretty much the coolest thing I had ever heard in a band interview, and a fitting description, as well.
So you know how all good things come to an end, right?
Two main things went wrong after their third album: They lost their frontman Deeder and replaced him with two completely annoying twats (who need to split their predecessor’s lyrics between the two of them in order to match the pace of his songs), and they got ridiculously political, with a decidedly anti-American streak.
In fact, the last time I saw them (at Osaka’s Mother Hall), for their 4th album tour, they started chanting “Fuck Bush” in between songs and basically derided the US as the Great Satan, which was an unpleasant slap in the face, especially for someone who really likes their music and could ignore their politics up until that point (also, it was kind of odd that their own country’s leader (a certain T. Blair) and role in Iraq got a total pass during the Bushfucking, but whatever – like I said, the new guys are twats and didn’t seem very bright anyway).
Even though the fourth album had a couple of good tracks and the instrumental side of the band still kicked ass, the performance I witnessed that night forced me to admit the inevitable: ADF was dying. Barring serious changes, the band would spiral deeper and deeper into the sea of sucktitude, carrying everything with them. It was just a matter of time until my fears were confirmed…
Last month, they released a new album called Tank. “Tank,” as in, M1 Abrams in Iraq… I did not buy it because I really hate paying for an album just to confirm that it does indeed suck as badly as you thought. However, I came upon the torrent for it last weekend and burned it to CD after downloading. I am basically writing this post in case there are other long-time Asian Dub Foundation fans out there debating whether to buy the new album (1.) in memory of what once was a Fucking Great Band, or (2.) in hopes there might be one or two redeeming tracks. To be rather blunt:
(1.) DO NOT.

Osaka Stories (part 1 of ???)

NOTE FROM SITE OWNER: It has come to my attention that the link to this page has recently been included in several blog spams. I am in no way related to the spammer and have no idea why he is including my link in his spam. I do apologize for any inconvenience it has caused you. For background info on this situation, please see the comments to this post, below.
Before I took my current job, my girlfriend and I were living in the slums of Osaka (Nishinari-ku), one of the few places in Japan where it’s genuinely dangerous to walk alone at night, and often remembered for the riots that occurred there in semi-recent times (spurred by the police beating a day laborer to death, no less).
We lived in an apartment smaller than I can even try describing in western terms, and the view from our single window consisted of the Hanshin expressway, and truck horns blared long into the night. Living with another person in such a cramped space is actually quite bonding if you get along well (and let’s be honest, if it’s all you can afford, you tend to make do somehow). The biggest joke was the name of the apartment complex: “Beverly Hills.” It was written in this ultra-tacky katakana lettering across the top of the building, a testament to that immediately recognizable design trend around the world that, in half-heartedly emulating gild and glitz, positively screams, “GHETTO!”
We liked the vibe of that area because there was never a dull moment; on any given day you might see people brawling in the middle of the street with cars whizzing by both ways, or police on foot pursuit of a shoplifter in a Keystone Cop-like sequence complete with whistle-blowing action and the command to “Stop! We are POLICE!” (arguably the best reason not to stop, but…). My all-time favorite memory from our hood, however, was the time when a group of local toughs were hanging out on the curb, passing around a monster bottle of cheap sake while randomly shooting roman candles off at passing cars – and then beating the shit out of anyone who stopped to complain. They actually made one guy hand over money and apologize for the grave transgression of – I swear, this was the exact phrase – “hitting and ruining their precious fireworks with his shitty car.” (hmm? That last part might be better expressed in a movie than in writing – I think Takeshi, for one, could pull it off. Tarantino would go overboard on props like a +2 damage wakizashi with sharkskin scabbard and Iridium Edo inlay, and other directors of the “pearl licker persuasion” would have Chow Yun or, heaven forbid, Jet Li acting the part of “Japanese Salaryman Pulled Suddenly from Car, Slapped.” Y’all might get away with taking absolutely heinous liberties with the memoirs of a certain (AHEM!) Chinese (AHEM!) geisha, but not so with mine.)
Yeah, good old Nishinari-ku (the “-ku” suffix is literally translated as “ward”). So many memories – we actually lived in an area called Tamade. Tamade is famous for pachinko because the kanji for tama means “balls” and de means “to come out,” so this is an auspiciously named area (Whether this area was named specifically for pachinko in the modern era, or if the “balls coming out” is a reference to some strange Meiji era sexual practice involving love beads, I do not know*. I am guessing it’s the former since much of the area burnt down during the war) for it. There were a lot of elderly pachipro in those parlors, and sometimes they would give up really surprising tricks of the trade if they took a liking to you. Nam was once able to buy a ticket back to Thailand with a night’s winnings after an old guy tipped her off to a “sleeper.” Another guy showed me how to jackpot a certain type of machine with a keitai, but I never worked up the nerve to try it – for some reason I always equated getting caught at cheating with that ball-peen hammer scene in Casino.
*although this might help explain “Pearl Jam”

Osaka’s Depressing Underground

I used to ride the Osaka subways to and from work every day and after a while you either get really good at blocking things out – crazy subway people, inane station announcements repeated twice in the key of nasal, irritating advertisements, the sharp tang of body odor, a full spectrum of distractions that bombard your already dulled senses – or you slowly become insane.
This is especially clear to me now, living out on Awajishima, which I like to describe as “a floating retirement community off the coast of Kobe.” Moving out to the country after living in Osaka for a couple years was a real relief, and I am reminded of this when I ride the subway a few times every year on business trips.
Yesterday I walked to my hotel through the underground area between the Osaka Hilton and Izumi-no-hiroba (directly under the Sonezaki East intersection up top) a couple times, once after my daytime meeting finished and once after dinner with clients. For those who have never been, it is an underground labyrinth of rundown shops, bank machines, and restaurants, all but a few of which are at varying levels of bankruptcy and disrepair. During rush hour, the passages are choked with rivers of people flowing in opposing directions and branching off into various pools and creeks, eventually seeping above ground or into the subway stations. It is a claustrophobic and unpleasant experience for most people, even for those who experience it every day, and everyone copes with it in different ways.
On the trains, some people use visual distractions like books or keitais, others escape to their own little worlds via headphone, and many simply adopt the “thousand yard stare” and can remain in a numbed stasis for their duration underground. On the early morning trains, most people usually try to sleep, especially if they are lucky enough to get a seat. Experienced riders learn to sleep while standing up, and subconciously monitor the station announcements for their stop.
But the grind of rush hour in the vast underground stations is an ultimate lesson in chaos and human endurance. Last night I found myself wondering, for the five thousandth time, why people choose to live like this – what compels people to shun the world above ground, the sunlight, the weather, the outside? The fluorescent lighting of the underground made everbody’s face look sallow and greasy, diseased even. Everybody’s eyes were just… dead. I began to think it would really be best for everyone if the city burned down once every 50 years, just so things could be started anew. Because the underground is undeniable proof that something is wrong, and wrong in a way that can never be fixed. Wouldn’t it be great if the city, as a whole, could simply cut its losses and start over.
Come to think of it, it’s happened before, hasn’t it?

Learning to Flush

This was a new one for me – a public toilet with no manual flushing mechanism at all. The pictured unit is a remote mounted on the wall. Stupid, stupid idea. For instance, what happens if the batteries run out? Technological “advances” like this just cause unneeded stress for the user.
Hey, I wonder if TOTO is looking for a toilet design consultant who can issue real-life testing reports in EN/JP (props to anyone who can effectively translate “blumpy,” “spatter effect,” and “logjam” into another language)… I was born to do that job.

Stroking my ego

You scored 93% Beginner, 86% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 72% Expert!
You have an extremely good understanding of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level commonly confused English words, getting at least 75% of each of these three levels’ questions correct. This is an exceptional score. Remember, these are commonly confused English words, which means most people don’t use them properly. You got an extremely respectable score.
(I might also add that 4 out of 5 doctors agree that I am king of the universe, and I cook a mean Kobe steak, too.)
Take the test:
The Commonly Confused Words Test

Les Quiz

You’re butch. You have little use for femininity
because frankly, it never got you anywhere.
Guys may find you intimidating, but once they
get to know you, you’re not so bad. You’re
empowered and sometimes stand up for women’s
and gay rights. If you own a motorcycle, you
probably also know how to strip it and perform
your own repairs. If something bugs you about
your house, fixing it is no problem. You may be
a little shy about decking, tile work,
electrical work, plumbing or hanging windows.
Once you figure out how to do it, there isn’t
much holding you back.

What is your Dyke Rating?
brought to you by Quizilla
Damn. I wanted to be a lesbian seagull.

C. Buddha’s Top Ten Pet Peeves – Updated for 2005

1. People who test ringtones in public.
2. People who cut you off because you decided to drive “nice” today.
3. The phantom butt itch (in public – in private it’s scratchable).
4. Cheerful people on Monday mornings.
5. Cheerful people in general.
6. People.
7. The absence of napkins at many (most?) restaurants in Japan.
8. High society types from Tochigi who pronounce “Tochigi” differently than everyone else.
9. Computer-retarded Powerbook snobs.
10. Gossipy office harpies that spend lunchbreaks painting their faces like whores and have a cow over me “tapping” the copier when it gets jammed and won’t reset.

Suspense (killing you it must be)

I am in the middle of researching the most important subject I will ever post on – that’s right! – even more important than Japanese fish sausage, although if you are the astute type, you already suspect that Japanese fish sausage is somehow involved. You are correct.
Hint: No, I am not covering the 500-foot tall Hello Kitty statue made of squid rings and rapeseed flowers to be erected in Sumoto this weekend.
Also, I am NOT writing about the prime minister of Japan getting a handjob from the US ambassador to the chrysanthemum court in spite of beef imports continuing to be banned (the real reason for this is that Japanese like tough Aussie beef better; just ask any skank you feel up at GasPanic this weekend).

Desert Island

A team of sociologists have planned an experiment in isolation. They send an Englishman, a Frenchman and a Japanese man to a deserted island and arrange to come back and pick them up in a year’s time and see how they have adapted.
The sociologists leave, and the three men decide to split up the tasks amongst themselves.
“I’m an engineer” says the Englishman, “So I’ll handle building a shelter”.
He turns to the Frenchman and says: “You French are pretty good cooks so why don’t you handle the cooking?”
The Frenchman agrees, and the Englishman turns to the Japanese and says “That leaves you to organise the supplies”.
The Japanese man agrees and each man sets about his tasks.
A year passes, and the sociologists return to see how the men have coped.
They expect to find three desperate men, unhappy with having to live on the island, but instead find a huge wooden house with verandas and porches and balconies. The Englishman comes to greet them,and when they express their surprise about the house he just shrugs and says “Yeah well I had a Lot of raw materials so I kind of went to town and did the place up”.
The team are amazed and are shown inside to the kitchen where they’re greeted with the most amazing smell of delicious food.
The Frenchman sees their surprise and just shrugs “I had lots to work with” he says,”This island has loads of edible herbs and plants.”
The team sits down to eat and are about to start when one of them inquires about the Japanese man.
“Oh we don’t know what happened to him” explains the Englishman, he ran off into the woods to sort out the supplies and hasn’t been seen since”.
They all agree that they should try to find the man, and a search party is organised. They make it about 100 yards into the woods, when the Japanese man jumps out from behind a tree, stark naked with half a coconut on his head, and peacock feathers sticking out of his backside, and shouts…

….. “SUPPLIES!!!”
(profound thx to Osaka Bill – I spit ocha all over my laptop screen in front of my manager)

Playing with fire

I just reviewed a technical journal describing recent work-related accidents in our industry (electronics manufacturing) and came across an incident I coincidentally heard about from another source a few weeks ago. Last month, a manager at a (whatever) factory blew his stack at a worker who was welding together a steel support during factory expansion. He tore this guy a new asshole and made some threats, and told the worker to complete the job before he returned. The job wasn’t finished when he came back, so manager dude decides he’s gonna show the worker how to do the job right… Except he had no formal certification for welding (and thus no formal training on record). Perhaps you see where this is going.
His hair caught on fire. He was not, however, seriously injured. He was also not able to cover up the incident (apparently not for lack of trying; I wonder how he explained the wisps of smoke emanating from his head) and I am just guessing that his “overzealous micromanagement” was grounds for dismissal. Considering the materials he was working with, I think this lesson, if indeed learned, came relatively cheaply.