Some of my colleagues are on a company ski trip to Hokkaido. I guess it’s an allowed day off on this fine Monday, because they keep bombarding my keitai with pics of white slopes and messages like, “having fun?,” and, “gambatte kudasai!”
G-man, at least, is for some reason being nice and sending non-ski related Engrish-esque findings up in Hokkaido, so I thought I’d post them here:
Um, I guess if you make them, they will come.
There’s a bestiality joke in there somewhere.
Meanwhile, to all of you bastards skiing today: God Will Punish You! A pox on you! A thousand years of morning exercises and pointless safety certification meetings await!

Sumoto River Construction Update

One of the berms they built on the river yesterday partially collapsed, leaving a tracked crane stranded out on the water. I was driving by and saw as it happened. Now I have seen a lot of things swallowed by the river – houses, rice fields, even a brand new 350z, but a crane? That would be something new.
But the owner of the crane wasn’t ready to give up on it yet. He sent his men out on a boat, and they probed the sunken area of the berm with bamboo poles. It appeared the road had sunk around half a meter into the river. One man got off the boat and into the driver’s compartment of the crane. He started the engine, then revved the hell out of it in long, angry bursts. Diesel smoke hung over the river like a scene from some nameless Vietnam war movie. And then the crane lurched forward!
To other cars passing by, it must have seemed like the crane was driving over water – a sort of Frying Dutchman, trying to round the Cape of Sumoto in a Kubota crane. In fact, the sight of it almost caused an accident – there were sounds of tires screeching on the main road, but no sound of impact.
Today, on my bus ride to work, I saw fish upriver of the construction zone for the first time since the big typhoon two years ago! They looked and acted like carp, but experience tells me they are mullet, even if all of their pathways to the ocean seem blocked by all the spill barriers and earthen berms put up by the construction crews.
Before the big typhoon and the flooding, the river was filled with all kinds of fish, both fresh and salt water (and the mullet, which can live in either). Crabs, too. And they used to raise unagi in there, as well… I hope it all returns someday. Right now it is so muddy from the construction that I doubt anything but the hardiest fish can live in there.
You know, I really am going to have to take my camera out there sometime before they finish up. It is quite amazing how they have channelized the river so far.

Exchanging Dollars in Thailand

This is just a short topic I wanted to write down for future reference.
Anything older than the very newest US dollars can be a real pain in the ass to exchange in Thailand.
– I was flat out refused at one major bank and two exchange booths trying to exchange $100 bills.
– One bank had a note written on the window saying that US currency from 1990, 1993, 1996, and 2002 of any denomination, could not be accepted. (I suppose we have Kim “supernote” Jong Il to thank for that.)
– To determine if a note is real or counterfeit, the following procedure is used by the cashier:
1. Hold the bill up to ceiling light and squint at it for a while.
2. Straighten out the bill against the edge of the counter; reversely, if bill is new, crumple it up a bit and mumble something about it being “too old” or “too new.”
3. Call over the next cashier and let them squint at it against the ceiling light for a while.
4. Pass it under a UV lamp (presumably in case “COUNTERFEIT” has been stamped across it with lemon juice).
5. Call over the manager. He will take the bill and executively squint at it against the ceiling light for a while.
6. Test it with a counterfeit detecting pen.
7. Collectively squint at the bill against the ceiling light with every staff member in the bank, up to and including the branch president, and his pet poodle. Pretend you all know little details to look for like the booger in Andrew Jackson’s nose, etc., and have a little powwow about it.
8. Once you have cleared the first bill, start from step one to check any additional ones.