Green Benefits

One of the benefits of working next to an R&D laboratory at an electronics manufacturer is that the guys are always playing around with cold lasers and soldering irons and other manly tools of self-destruction. The lab is also the coolest place in the building as the stupid Cool Biz rules don’t apply in there – the huge industrial coolers keep it nice and icy. We all make it a point to walk through there several times a day.
The mad scientists next door are currently developing next-gen hydroponics systems for some project or another. They are testing these systems next to our office windows and on the roof with tomato, eggplant, and cucumber plants, and they obviously are onto something because the yield of these plants is unbelievable. I’ve been supplementing my grocery store and produce stand purchases with what I score at work for the past month or so, and I’m very grateful what with large tomatoes going for a dollar at most Japanese supermarkets.
In work terms, I’m afraid this translates to me commenting that the hydro systems seem to need a bit more tweaking – maybe for, say, energy efficiency! – and that more “testing” is needed. I think I’m going to have to suggest new plants as well, because I’m all cucumbered out.

Crystal Cove

Just some quick news from back home: Crystal Cove State Park has reopened!
Crystal Cove is one of my favorite places back home. It’s been a long decade plus away, and one of the things I miss most about OC is the endless coastline (Curiously, in that decade, our area became quite famous because of a stupid TV program. People never used to know where Orange County was and now they’re all like, “oh you’re from the OC? I watch that all the time!” I. Cannot. Relate.)
Here’s a recent LA Times writeup: LINK
(need a login?)

Miami Vice Theme Song

Speaking of movies, apparently Michael Mann decided he wanted “nothing to do with the TV series” and hence did not use Jan Hammer’s original masterpiece in the new Miami Vice movie. Apparently there’s no Phil Collins or Glen Frey either.
Nothing to do with the original series, eh? That means no Daytona, no Testarossa, not even a Bren Ten! Hmm… I think it’s safe to say, the new movie won’t even come close to touching the Perfect Scene:

The Fast and the Very, Very Okotta: Hick Drifter in Tokyo

Even though my masochistic hobby of watching horribly shitty movies is fairly wide known, I am still fairly ashamed to say that I sat through the entirety of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift this past weekend. It is was basically the antichrist of cinema and has since burned a hole through both my eyes and the hard drive it was stored on.
I will not rip apart the movie point-by-point, because it’s a waste of time. The only things worth mentioning are that:

  1. Somebody didn’t do their homework on drifting… (surprise!) I’ll go so far as to say somebody didn’t even bother to watch Initial D.
  2. Worst representation of Japanese culture/language since Rising Sun (this in itself makes it a must-see, but only if you can do so in a way that doesn’t allow the studio to recover any of the reportedly $100+ million it spent making it – YOHOHO beeyatches!)
  3. Justin Lin reportedly fought to make big changes in this movie, removing typical Asian stereotypes (such as height jokes on the train, and kung-fooey temple scenes) and the like – in the end, I wish he had just concentrated on making a better movie. The whiteboy protagonist is truly a hick piece of trailer park shit who fearlessly wades through endless pools of Japanese teenage tits & ass, beats the yakuza on multiple fronts, and becomes the fucking drift king of Tokyo, for chrissakes. (I am ashamed to say that I hated this character of the Hick Drifter so much, it kinda made me miss Vin Diesel.) YO JUSTIN! YOU ARE REPRESENTING THE NAME, BITCH! STOP FUCKING IT UP! (I saw Annapolis too, fool. That’s 2 strikes.)

Eating the Gift of the Magi

I can’t say much about the Hongshuai Soy Sauce scheme involving production of “soy sauce” from human hair and medical waste, except that the perpetrators should be force fed their own product via beer bong.

The journalists then found the amino acid syrup manufacturer (a bioengineering company) in Hubei province. When asking how the amino acid syrup (or powder) was generated, the manufacturer replied that the powder was generated from human hair. Because the human hair was gathered from salon, barbershop and hospitals around the country, it was unhygienic and mixed with condom, used hospital cottons, used menstrual cycle pad, used syringe, etc. After filtered by the workers, the hair would then cut small for being processed into amino acid syrup.

China, where’s your Kikkoman love?
On a more serious tip, it says a lot about the assholes who perpetrate this kind of shit, and even more about the really evil assholes who let them get away with it; any chance they’re related to the marketers of fake milk powder for babies, which killed several infants and was allowed to continue by the city government for the better part of a year?

Lend me an ear

TK is an older guy who works in my office. He’s married, with kids who have long grown up and moved away from the island for the usual reasons; the lack of local jobs, the hellish sameness of the Japanese countryside, etc. TK is the very epitome of salariman, a lifer, so surroundings don’t really matter that much to him – living out in the country is just an added bonus because he won’t have to move when he retires, and why should he? Life is good for him out here.
TK owns a house, and a small boat, and he goes fishing every weekend. There’s really not that much else to do on the island, anyway. Until a short time ago, TK had a dog that kept him company, which was great, because it was lonely after his kids moved away.
His boy, his pride and joy, is studying for a year in New Zealand, which TK is pretty sure is an island close to Australia (which is in turn an island close to England) where they have great flocks of fuzzy white sheep and rolling green hills – that’s what it looks like in the travel brochures, anyway. His daughter got married to a guy TK never really approved of and they moved away to the distant urban wasteland of Nagoya – they only come to visit once or twice a year now. During these visits, TK really tries to get along with his son in law, but can never shake the feeling that his not-really-kin’s greatest achievent in life was somehow getting TK’s daughter to marry him (in retrospect, he never should have let his wife talk him into sending their daughter off to college all those years ago).
TK’s dog was a Golden Retriever who had big floppy ears and a magnificent coat of honey-gold fur, and for that reason, he named her Honey way back when she was still a puppy, more than a decade ago.
One day not so long ago, TK came to work crying, a sight I was not ready to see, for he was one of the steadiest workers I have ever seen, one of the old guard who knows everything about his job, and generally, very comforting to have around. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, simply, “Honey has died.” I was secretly relieved, because from the way the old man looked, I’d thought it had been his wife… I conveyed my sympathies, but felt slightly awkward about seeing him cry at work over a dead pet. It just seemed out of character, and in a way I hated myself for pitying him, so I dropped the subject entirely. Out of sight, out of mind. Until today.
Today, TK suddenly announced he is going to get another puppy, and take it on his evening walks together on the same route he took Honey all these years. At first he was against the idea of replacing her, he explained, but something last night changed his mind.
Last night, he was walking through the same park next to his house that he has walked through every night for the last ten years when a police cruiser came around the street and shined the spotlight on him. Thinking it was a cop he knew from the neighborhood playing around, TK walked up to the car saying, “Hey, cut it out! Turn the light off!” Whereupon, a rookie cop TK didn’t know got out of the car, pulled out a nightstick, and told him to back off.
The cop made TK put his hands up in the air, and frisked him. “We’ve been looking for a peeping tom in the area,” he said, using a slight varation on the standard excuse cops use when they want to jack you in Japan. TK apologized and said he had thought the cop was another cop he knew, that he had made a mistake. The rookie wan’t having any of that, though.
“Why are you dressed in black, then?”
TK explained the black running suit was just his usual walking clothes, but the rookie wasn’t one to be fooled:
“What is this cord you had in your pocket?,” he demanded.
TK explained it was a leash for his dog.
“And where is your dog, then?”
TK explained, on the verge of tears, that his dog had recently died.
“Why do you still carry around the leash if your dog is dead, old man? Do you think I’m stupid? Fucking imaginary pet stories…”
By this point point, a crowd of neighbors had gathered around to watch what was happening, and several of them spoke up:
“Leave the old man alone!”
“TK is our neighbor; he walks around here every night!”
“Fuck off, pig!”
Embarassed, the rookie sheathed his baton and started muttering about peeping toms and perverts (and who knows, maybe Night Elves as well) they were on the lookout for, and got back in his car, and peeled off into the night.
The moral of this story is, never carry around a leash not attached to an actual dog at night in Japan while wearing black, lest you get beat down by a rookie cop. (Aesop, eat your heart out!)
As of this writing, TK has not yet decided what kind of puppy to get. I will suggest he gets one with big teeth to scare away peeping toms and Night Elves.

Just drive.

I can’t figure out if this is a joke or not.

“iLane[TM] consists of a powerful and small device that interacts directly with existing Bluetoothâ -enabled handheld devices and vehicle audio systems or headsets to read messages out loud and to listen to driver instructions. The presence of the driver is automatically detected by iLane[TM], which then assumes control to intelligently capture and manage inbound information as soon as it arrives on the driver’s wireless email device (e.g., BlackBerry).”

Please don’t encourage multitasking behind the wheel – aren’t there more than enough idiots on the road already?
(thx sen)

Oh My Technorati

Remember that rant about “Web 2.0” I wrote a few weeks back? That post resulted in angry geek hate mail (ooo, scawy), but today I stand vindicated: Who turned the trendportal firehose on Technorati’s front page?
My proposals for a new slogan up top to complement the groovalicious avatars and collegehumor color motif:

  1. Where Blogsearch Is Fun!
  2. Digg This, Bitches!
  3. Check out the Featured Bloggers, yo!

Update: I may have figured out the culprit – I believe it’s the same guy who applied a default Blogger template to Slate.

Three days – a lifetime

  • Visited some cousins from the states I haven’t seen in years
  • Went out drinking with friends for the first time in months
  • Had some damn good yakitori, too (mmm, namagimo)
  • In the wee hours of the morning, rode three people on a motor scooter blasted out of our minds
  • Also, shit our pants when another scooter passed us with a cop car chasing him yelling, “STOP! We saw your face! You might as well stop!” over the bullhorn (Note to aspiring donut-nemeses: This tactic doesn’t seem to work so well as you might expect; you must put forth the effort to lie convincingly to escaping criminals)
  • Met up with the younger brother of a good friend from France who I hadn’t seen for a few years and fulfilled a promise I made to him long ago
  • Stayed out til dawn, and, upon exiting the bar, cursed God for inventing the sun, and specifically, direct sunlight in my eyes
  • Watched someone wake up not knowing where he was (this was hilarious because it happens to us all at some point in life, doesn’t it? Or if you can’t relate to that, maybe it just happens to good people.)
  • Extracted belongings on behalf of someone important to me from his ex-girlfriend
  • Managed to refrain from spitting in contempt at said party, although it was a close thing
  • Arranged a plan for safe return of abovementioned belongings – at minimum additional cost
  • Attended live house/instumental jam at new club in Osaka where a couple friends performed
  • Reaffirmed my sincere hatred for second-rate house DJs
  • Discovered they are selling Sasebo Burgers at select Family Mart convenience stores (quite pricey at 380 yen; tasty but not worth it)
  • Discovered the existence of a huge online Japanese society of sex doll-photographing perverts/shut-ins/true otakuzoku
  • Returned to my alma mater to convey an interest in student exchange on behalf of my wife’s university in Thailand
  • My attempt was belittled by someone I respect, but I have learned to bear these things with humility, y’all (and more importantly, the attempt itself will be remembered, which was my ultimate goal – I sacrificed the chicken to win the donkey, bitch!)
  • And yes, the above use of “bitch” is an honorific and purely figurative
  • A friend and and I visited the grave of our beloved demon dog, Sonic
  • True story – one time in the past when we visited Sonic’s grave, there was a whole, bloody pigeon’s wing right on top of it
  • There was not one today
  • But I got several mosquito bites behind the library, where I once had to take a crap during my sophomore year because I couldn’t make it to a toilet on time
  • True story – a friend who saw it named that crap Red Indian, for reasons I prefer not to disclose as it lacks class, which is what my tens of readers expect when they come here
  • The crap wasn’t there anymore
  • Saw a cute girl in short yellow shorts walking a huge dog with ENORMOUS balls that swayed in unison to the girl’s hips as they walked down the street together
  • The enormous balls were more disturbing than the girl was cute, so I implore all cuties of the world to choose their pets wisely, or at least neuter them
  • After that, I had several hours to kill, so I hooked up with a good pal in Nara, and we shared a pizza and saw half of a B-movie at his crib
  • Remember the cousins I spoke of in the first bulleted point of this entry? I met all their kids today – 7 in total, plus more cousins and and an aunt from L.A. to boot
  • It would make me feel bad to say why, but the whole three day affair ended on a sour note, and on the way home, I broke a land speed record fueled on pure rage

Doing my part…

…for world peace
Today I convinced several Japanese people that Canada can be properly referred to as Little America. A Taiwanese guy in the room snorted; I was gracious enough to ignore this and refrain from making a crack about “Little China.”
In other news, I may have met the worst candidate ever to work in Japan: He hates rice. He hates fish. He hates noodles. He explained that he had just been transferred to the Japan account from Switzerland, where food is apparently “awesome” and there are no communal baths “which are obviously for gays.” Bummer, dude.

Off-season Jack Bauer Love

I have a feeling I will be watching 24 long past the point of it jumping the shark; such is my love for J. Bauer, Esq., that I will probably watch every episode up to and including the one where Jack and Chloe are sent to the moon to prevent Tamil Tigers from detonating a Chinese nuke on the surface and dislodging enough moon dust to obscure the sun from the earth, which would start a new Ice Age.
It was much the same with the X-Files. I was one of the semi-dedicated who stuck with it until the movie came out, and I religiously watched every episode. I was in denial that it started sucking for quite a while. Maybe with some luck and more judicious tasering of ardorous salarymen by Chloe, 24 can last a while longer. Meanwhile, it is the long period before the next season starts, and it is good to know that others are keeping the dream alive:

“If Jack Bauer was in a room with Hitler, Stalin, and Nina Meyers, and he had a gun with 2 bullets, he’d shoot Nina twice.”
“If Jack Bauer’s gun jams, it’s because he wanted to beat you with it.”
“When life gave Jack Bauer lemons, he used them to kill terrorists. Jack Bauer fucking hates lemonade.”
“There are no such thing as lesbians, just women who never met Jack Bauer.”

Ad infinitum, here: Random Jack Bauer Facts