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
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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.