Future Spirits

Taro’s aunts called from Horyuji to say they were harvesting this year’s plums from the ancient trees in their front yard and to ask if I wanted to come pick up the resulting umeshu in seven or eight years.
Um, yes.
I can think of many stupider reasons I’ve heard for visiting Japan.

Bottled Water

In general, bottled water from France is expensive and disgusting.
Funny, it doesn’t taste nearly as bad drinking it when you’re in France. Maybe they save the good stuff for domestic consumption and export the lower grades. After all, that’s what Japan does with, say, solar panels (I’ve seen the sorting bins at the factory so I know this to be true; Grade A stays in Japan, Grade B is exported to America, and anything below that is shipped everywhere else.).
The worst tasting bottled water, in my opinion, is evian. And of course, evian spelled backwards is naive.
That is as far as I can bear to think today, thank you.

Red Mystery Beetle

Anybody know offhand what this bad boy is?

(click on image to enlarge)
I found him crawling on my car last month. When I tried to touch him, he flew off into the wind.
UPDATE #1: I’ve put in an inquiry to What’s That Bug. They say they are swamped, but maybe something will work out.
UPDATE #2: Whats That Bug wrote back:

Hi Justin,
We believe this beauty is one of the Cerambycid Longhorns, though we are not positive, and we have no idea of the species. The list of specimens that could use Eric Eaton’s assistance is growing and we are not sure when he will return from collecting in West Virginia. How large was this beetle?

To which I replied:

Hi, thanks for the quick reply. The beetle was approximately one inch in length. I will continue to try and find additional information here in Japan, and will update you if anything comes to light.

I’m really impressed with the dedication of the authors of the Whats That Bug site – go check them out as our correspondence is posted there as well, and they may update there when their resident beetle expert returns. Meanwhile, if any of you can help with the identification, I’d be grateful.
I wonder if this is the Eric to whom they refer. Wow!
MYSTERY SOLVED!: T harnessed his ancient Oriental powers of deduction and came up with what looks like the correct answer. This longhorn beetle is commonly known in Japan as a ?????? (benikamikiri); Latin name: Purpuricenus (Sternoplistes) temminckii.

Parking Inspector Assault #2

This time it happened in Okayama, the home of Momotaro (the chldren’s story character, not the kaitenzushi chain): Man busted for biting parking inspector
Now I’m just waiting for the first BIG story to hit. You know, “Man Drags Parking Inspector 2 Kilometers, Claims He Thought It Was Rat,” or, “Angry Ninjutsu Student Disembowels Parking Inspector,” something like that. Followed by a critical review of how revenues collected from third-party ticket collections aren’t reaching the projects they were intended for, how parking inspectors are ticketing innocent cars because they work on an underhand commission from their employers, and how it’s STILL FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND A PARKING SPACE ANYWHERE IN THE CITY.
Let’s all guess how many politician’s relatives started companies in the past six months that bid on the ticketing work…
Related Links:
The first assault on an inspector (flying knee kick of death)
Wherein I predicted violence unto parking inspectors (Truth be told, I was kinda looking forward to it… It’s all fun unil someone’s eye gets poked out.)

Butcher Standard

That video I posted yesterday is stuck in my head. On one hand, it’s been positively liberating having that tune on my lips all day. Delivery truck cuts me off on the way to work? Hey yo, fuck the shit. Cleaning lady wants to sweep out the stall next to mine while I’m dropping a load? Shit the fuck. The air conditioner in our ferroconcrete office breaks down for the third time this month, on the hottest day so far this year, and we can’t have it fixed because it requires tearing out part of the ceiling which is a safety hazard during work hours? FUCK THE FUCKING SHIT.
On the other hand, too many fucks and shits makes me sound like a Canadian rock star. So instead of emulating, I will instead try to use the power of link. Watch this blog closely.

Never called on a long solo

Dave just sent in this article regarding the King of Thailand’s love of jazz. (I hereby refuse to use CNN’s pathetically retarded titles as links anymore.)
No denying the king seems really cool, but it must be pretty damn hard for him to get an honest opinion of his music.
Nam was in Bangkok this weekend and she said there were more yellow shirts than Ojibagaeri (it’s a Tenrikyo thing, baby) in August.

Sumoto River Update – Explosion of Turtles and Mullet

The view out of the bus window this morning was unusually interesting. A huge crane pontoon was working in conjunction with a tugboat to maneuver a trash barge (used to transport river silt dredged from the river bottom) next to it. The crane operater was very skilled and the men working under the huge yellow arm completely trusted him. He had a soft touch and you couldn’t even hear the metal scoop as it grabbed the side of the barge – why is heavy machinery so fascinating to me? I think in another life, I was a dumptruck driver who ran a freelance backhoe operation on weekends.
Anyway, the Sumoto River is once again teeming with mullet fry, something I haven’t seen since the hurricane caused the big flood a couple of years ago. Also, I counted seventeen turtles on the way to work. Seventeen! That’s probably more than I’ve seen in total over the past five years! The were mostly small ones, about the size of the palm of your hand. I like to think that these are offspring of the big daddy I released upstream a couple years ago.
One more interesting thing regarding the mullet: When the big ones come upriver this time of year, they start looking quite moldy and beat-up. I don’t know why this is, at first I thought they were spawning and dying off like salmon, but this is not the case. Maybe they are molting. In any case, the skin under their scales is white, and they start losing scales in large patches. This gives them the appearance of white koi! I’ve overheard a few people in the past few weeks talking about or pointing out the “schools of koi” in the river! This is funny as hell, especially since my little brother and I used to think the same thing and tried to catch them with koi bait – unsuccessfully – for months! It wasn’t until we saw them schooling in clearer water that we could tell the difference; they really do look like carp in the water. When viewed out of water, they look a lot different, their face is squared and they are have a distinctively prehistoric look to them.

Gandalf Bridge: A Farewell to G-Man Fam

G-man is transferring to Osaka this week, so we spent a great part of this past 3 day weekend hanging out and contemplating our lives and times on this great island/origin of the Japanese archipelago (according to the Kojiki).
One of the places we decided to visit for the last time was the Gandalf Bridge. Even though I am not leaving for another four months or so, I doubt I will visit it alone because it is right near G-man’s house, which is up on a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Gandalf Bridge got its name from the hordes of Shelob-sized arachnids that spin webs across its railings, necessitating a stick, aka magic wand, with which to clear a path. The Gandalf Bridge is one of the narrow, steel platform bridges you see spanning over the Awaji-Naruto Highway every ten miles or so. I have never seen anyone besides me and G-man using these bridges during my entire stay on the island.
I think they exist to allow road maintenance crews pass over, but not the crews for the highway itself – the crews that service the roads on either side of the highway. However, the roads on either side of the highway, for the most part, are totally overgrown with vines and seem unmaintained, so maybe my theory is just shit. Either way, Gandalf Bridge is a fucking cool spot to chill and drink beers. It beats the hell out of getting into fights with Japanese rednecks in the Lawson’s parking lot or slowly rotting to death in front of the TV, which seem to be the primary pastimes around here.
You can sit on the bridge for hours, watching cars pass both ways underneath you. If you are an asshole, or maybe in junior high, you can pee on the cars both ways, too. I suppose if you were a sicko, you could crap on them, too. We just chill, tho.
It was sad. The end of an era for G-man. No more Island of Salary for him. For me, I got a few more months. I guess it won’t be all that bad. Hey, I started out doing my time here alone – I can finish it that way, too. Good luck in Osaka, G-man. Good luck, G-man’s fam.
– This article was brought to you by the Association of Fam = Family for President.

Big Stuff Done

We have successfully moved to our new webhost, Dreamhost. Our old host, iPowerweb, was cheap but there was way too much downtime, we were running out of room for all the sites we host, and their customer service was horrible… Anyway, with some coupon codes I found on the web, this Dreamhost account ended up being cheaper for two years than if I had renewed for another single year at iPower! So, I’m happy. Thanks to Gen Kanai for recommending Dreamhost. Shell access totally kicks ass!
Unfortunately, I do not have time to tweak the looks of my site all at once, so changes will come gradually (starting with my blogroll, I guess). This blog may change colors every time you see it for the next few months are so, which is annoying, I know, but bear with me.

Upgrade to Movable Type 3.3b1

That’s right, we’re running beta software, baby! The MT upgrade took longer than it should have because of a weird FTP glitch that prevented all the necessary files from being transferred to the server; it was driving me crazy trying to figure it out, but it all worked out in the end.
I have to say, waiting this long to upgrade had its merits – it’s been like riding around in a new car for the past half hour. So many new gadgets and features I had no idea I needed until I tried them! I may have even found an alternative hack for my sidebar photos.
Anyway, we can’t get too settled here yet; the move to a new webhost is still coming. Soon. Ah, it’s nice to know I at least got this tempermental software to work once, though!