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Site News Videos

Cockroach Reanimation at 2k views

My most popular YouTube vid, by far, is Cockroach Reanimation with Electro-stimulation, which just passed over 200,000 views. The viewing demographic is overwhelmingly 13-17 year old boys who like to point out that the cockroach “isn’t actually coming to life, it’s something about electrical impulses and nerves and something scientific-er than that, (insert insult of choice).”

I have mixed feelings about this vid – it’s brought out all the little Mr. Wizards and smartasses and even one scary guy who requested electrocution of bigger things – but in the end, it’s nice to have a kind of popular YouTube upload that I made with a $1 electronic device and a dead/reanimated (just kidding, kids!) insect:

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Chillin' Oh, baby!

Kaiju vs. Ronin

I keep telling Max that Ultraman is a poser compared to the Master, but for some reason, he chooses kaiju over Kurosawa every single time.

Categories
Exploits

What’s going on (May 2011 edition)

So we went to Koh Samet for a few days with a bunch of my coworkers and some of their families. It was awesome, but I feel the need to write about what’s been happening around here before moving onto editing the trip photos and video.

Max and Mina started school on May 18. Max is now going to the demonstration school at the old Maha Sarakham University campus, very close to the Rajabhat University where I work, because his old school shut down at the end of the last term. Mina is going to a nursery school very close to Nam’s office, at the new¬†Maha Sarakham University campus. Both of them were having a hard time the first week, but Mina seems to enjoy going now. Max has separation issues and still cries some mornings. Today it was very hard. Since they are the same issues I had when I was little, I end up spending most of the day wondering if he’s happy or not, and whether he will remember how he feels now when he grows up… I still remember holding onto my dad’s gold chain as hard as I could and crying my head off as a teacher tried to pry me away – then wondering 30 minutes later, as the tears dried, why I had felt so sad before. Anyway, watching your kids being unhappy has got to be one of the hardest things to face. I only take consolation in our after action reports when I pick him up from school and he says he had fun playing with his friends and doing art, dancing, eating paste, etc.

As I write this, my head is starting to hurt. Nam took me to Mahasarakham hospital today, where I had three warts from my head, one from my face, and several skin tags from my chest, back, and neck removed. The ones on my head were large and required excision, as well as four, two, and three stitches, respectively. There is probably a big enough area on my head unaffected enough to be able to lie face up on a pillow tonight. Stitches are scheduled to come out in a week, and the doctor told me not to try removing them myself, but I probably wouldn’t try anyway since I can’t see them (although being told not to try kind of makes it tempting — actually, maybe the doctor’s busy next week and doesn’t want to do it, so laid a reverse psychology trap…).

The decision to send Mina to school at one and a half years old was kind of forced on us. We lost Max’s beloved nanny back in March, when her husband cheated on her and she went suicidal. We looked after her as best we could, and started looking for another nanny. Long story short, it is hard to find good help these days. We make an effort to take care of our help and still… It’s just really hard. So we started looking at school as an alternative to Mina being watched at home by people we couldn’t trust 100%. Guess what, we would never leave her with someone we don’t trust. So she is going to school, and seems to be loving it now that she’s in the groove. She is the most precocious child her age we’ve ever seen, and that is why we worry about Max more than Mina at school.

My stream of consciousness is now being interrupted by burning sensations where my scalp is stitched up.

There was one sight at Koh Samet that really made a strong impression on us… We went on a snorkeling tour on a speedboat, and on the way back to our resort, stopped at a fish farm. It didn’t appear to be a commercial farming operation, rather it seemed to exist as a tourist attraction. There were many tour company boats docking up next to it at any given time (I never saw if we paid an entrance fee or not, I have a feeling each tour company pays and that part of our payment for the tour went toward that). The farm consisted of neighboring fish pens arranged in a grid; pens were square and consisted of a net suspended from steel frames tied to blue plastic 55 gallon drums upon which wooden catwalks were laid — the catwalks were approximately one foot in width. Nam carried Mina, and Max insisted on walking by himself to check out each pen of fish, so I held his hand and let him walk in front of me. Imagine my surprise as we slowly proceeded (LOOK, DADDY! FISHIES!!) past pens of barramundi, snapper, clownfish, pomfret, gouramis, jacks, and a sad-looking giant grouper and eventually came upon an open pen of sharks! Two zebra sharks and two leopard sharks, four or five feet long, swimming in never-ending circles and chomping on bait the tourists were throwing in! This being the biggest attraction, people were passing each other on the narrow catwalks and the entire structure was bobbing up and down from the shifting weight — I am SURE somebody has fallen in there before. I guess nobody’s gotten bitten, though, because the fact that the shark pen is uncovered just blew our minds. Max thought it was cool as hell, though (I did, too, but for different reasons — it was like hearing about renting RPGs and buying cows to shoot in Cambodia or something).

So the staff in the operating room today were really excited to have a foreigner to practice English on, and it was funny and surreal all wrapped into one as I listened to the molam tunes playing through a portable radio and smelled my flesh being cauterized while being asked if I “wanted more drug” or not (oh hell yes!). It reminded me of the time I got hit by a car on my scooter in Japan in the dead of winter, flew over the handle bars into a snowy rice field and banged my head hard enough to crack my helmet, then after a long ambulance ride and wait on a cold gurney, being told a one-word prognosis by the doctor: “Lobotomy.” Shit, I wish I’d had a video camera for that one…

——–

A picture’s worth a thousand words update:
Somebody’s photo of the fish farm
Somebody else’s photo of one of the sharks

Categories
Music Site News

STP

Linking to that STP video in my last post got me to thinking…

  • How could their music videos have been so bad when their recorded live sessions were so good?
  • Their first two albums were so good, the diminishing returns that followed could be forgiven (unlike Pearl Jam, who never learned how to stop making bad albums)
  • I first heard them 18 years ago? Really?? Damn I feel old… Max will feel about them like I felt about the Beatles! (He won’t really like them for another 18 years?)
  • One of my favorite thing about Wikipedia is that it teaches me new (mostly useless) stuff about things I’ve liked/used for years. For example: “…the band’s name was inspired by a carving in an ancient temple that depicts a man in a small flying ship, a reference to ancient aliens.” (Cosmic Buddha’s article will someday read: “…the band’s name was inspired by a chalkboard explanation of Greater and Lesser Vehicles by the head of their Japanese exchange program in a horribly humid classroom in Tenri, Japan.” Yes, this website and domain name were originally used for our band; live band sessions ended but playing on the internet sessions didn’t.)
Categories
Our New Thai House Photos

Woke up this morning, smiled at the rising sun…

…but only two little birds were right outside our doorstep. On a tall plant next to the stairs leading up to our front porch:

Categories
Japanese Society/Culture

Whoring in Japan

A commenter on a post I wrote last year has summarized what it’s like to be professionally serviced in Japan, complete with typical prices and the phrase, “moistened antibiotic towelette.”

How to pay for sexy sexual sex in Tobita Shinchi, Japan.

//////////////

Note: I take no responsibility if you get frowned at, beaten, robbed, ganked, or infected with Jap ghetto cooties because you go somewhere you shouldn’t.

That is all.

Categories
Japanese Society/Culture Web

Water Business

I thought some translator was having fun when I saw a reference to “JR East Water Business Company” on this photo of a vending machine employing a facial recognition system.

As it turns out, it was somebody in a higher position having fun with katakana English:

JR East Water Business Company

(Many Japanese literally translate mizushobai — hostess bars, kyabakura [cabaret clubs], sunakku [err, snacks], etc. — as “water business.” Japanerds seem to prefer the term “water trade.” Of course, there’s no reason to break down this particular word and the Japanese that do it usually do it to show that they know some English…)

Categories
Oh, baby!

a seed

Max, in twenty years will you remember when daddy told you that chicken pox causes you to see Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes in black in white? Because it was actually a PAL to NTSC-J conversion problem. I hooked up your DVD player to an old brownscreen set we brought from Japan (that Auntie Merin gave us) that’s been sitting unused in our bedroom forever. We moved you there to be under the new cooler, since it eats comparatively little juice and is running all day to keep you from sweating…

Sorry ’bout that.

It is kinda funny, though (at least funnier than my other idea, which was to tell you you were turning into a dog).

Love,
daddy

Categories
Food Photos

hey, taro.

I am very busy just now, as you might tell from my lack of activity here. I will free up again in a week or so. In the meantime, I present you with taro:

Categories
Exploits Food Oh, baby!

..random

Mina shook her head in serious disagreement 17 times in a row yesterday – I was asking about people she loves; apparently she just hates everyone, because by the time I got to the end I had run out of people she knows by name and had started naming animals.

Max just told his mother to leave him alone and go be with daddy.

I got an e-mail from a distant relative in Kyushu who runs a beauty salon that T, Adam, Inaba and I visited 12 (?) years ago when we went to visit my cousins Kana and Aya in Saga Prefecture (Saga was where my grandfather on my dad’s side grew up, and is the Northeast Thailand of Japan – the locals move out to work shitty jobs in the big city, and the only people moving in are either going back to work on their family’s farm, or to get away from people in general.) Anyway, when we visited the salon, they just happened to be shooting a commercial to be aired on a local TV station, so we got to be in it while getting haircuts and shouting the name of the store – “HEADS!” – at the camera.

So the owner of that shop is either a distant cousin or uncle (which makes him close enough to kill for under Sackett law), and he emailed me out of the blue yesterday. He’s recently into sansevieria plants (AKA mother in law’s tongue), which are not so popular in Japan, so he’s coming this June to check out some of the farms and collectors here in Thailand. Maybe we will hook up.

Max had to take an entrance exam for a nearby preschool yesterday (his current school, which he loves going to now, is closing at the end of March). They test out the little kids by giving them various little tasks and challenges like drawing, puzzles, logic games, motor skills testing, simple questions, etc. Max would not enter the room without mommy, but aced all of the tests. He apparently did some of them twice, by choice, because they gave him too much time to complete them. Sounds scarily familiar.

Nam thought up a brilliant substitute for tenkasu today: Rice Krispies!

This was sufficiently genius for me to acknowledge that I am truly lucky to have married her… For the ten thousandth time or so.

ūüėČ

Categories
Exploits Moblogging (Android) Old Blog Entries (archives) Photos

Night Beer Hiking in Downtown Chiang Mai

Exactly one month ago, our family took a trip to Chiang Mai by way of daddy, Max, Mina, and the nanny hitching a ride with mommy on a business trip. Our driver was fast and polite, and since there are typically no seat belts in a Thai commuter van, we decided to leave the baby seats behind. This made for a very smooth and uneventful ride, just the way I like it.

I’ve written about other parts of the trip already, but I didn’t get around to posting (blurry) photos of one of the highlights, an impromptu night stroll from the center of downtown to our hotel. We went out as a group for dinner and to check out the night market, which was a big tourist trap / disappointment. By that time, we had joined up with Daisuke and some of his and Nam’s students… Dai had expressed a longing to drink on the grounds at Wat Chedi Luang, at the very center of town, because it was beautifully lit up at night and temples make such excellent chill out spots.

So Dai and I got dropped off at the main gate, and everybody else went back to the hotel in the van. So began our journey.

Wat Chedi Luang, former home of the Emerald Buddha

Since the front and side gates were already closed, we had to walk all the way around to find a rear way in. We found it, and weaved through various building to get to the chedi (stupa).

Apparently, UNESCO and some overeager Japanese meddlers did an awesome job of rebuilding these ruins IN THE WRONG ANCIENT STYLE!!

Unfortunately, the temple grounds were full of monks and followers walking around and looking at the illuminated stupa, just like us. We could have had beers while hidden in the shadows, but having other people around kind of killed the appeal of it. Instead, we decided to walk back to the hotel by walking out to the ring road (Chiang Mai has an inner and outer ring road, one running clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, just like Osaka’s nakakanjo and sotokanjo, but not elevated), and following it back. We made several stops at historic sites along the way, roughly fulfilling one of the main to-dos for visitors to CM: Visiting many temples.

A temple on the side of the road, name unknown. I lit joss sticks and felt very spiritual, and then some loud foreign tourists came, so we left.
Some government office with statues of unknown dudes. Oddly, there was an older Thai couple sleeping under the statue.

After leaving the heart of the historical district, we came upon the first 7-11 and eventually instated the two beer rule: Two cans of Leo per person at every 7-11 passed

We ended up at an outdoor futsal stadium with two fields. Daisuke played in the minor soccer league in Japan, so he wanted to watch for a while. I had several beers and a pork bau from a cart outside the 7-11, so I didn’t care. It started getting chilly, though, so I got up and stood watching the khao tom store across the street for ten minutes. There was a deaf guy waiting on the tables who would bring out food to the customers and communicate with them by pointing at the menu and writing things down on the pad, but the cook insisted on shouting at him when orders were ready, very loudly, twice for everything. It made for some fairly hilarious happenings which would suck to relate in writing.

A late night khao tom (aka okayu aka congee) store

Eventually, we neared the ring road.

Mysterious CD-stars pasted to lamp posts and curbs. Somebody is air peeing.
Mysterious CD-stars pasted to lamp posts and curbs. Somebody is air peeing.

We passed an open jazz bar with too many skanky farangs hanging out, and resupplied at another 7-11.

More CD-stars. They might just be used as traffic reflectors, but the placement of some of them was off the road so they might be used to ward off dogs / cats / Christians.

We ended up on the ring road near a historic gate and in dire need of a place to pee, peed on it.

The only public restroom in downtown Chiang Mai

————————–

The rest of the night was fairly surreal. We had seafood noodles outside a car dealership. It was fairly late when I saw a red lantern way down a small street, and I was drawn to it. It turned out to be a Japanese¬†izakaya that was closing. They initially refused to serve us, but I begged¬†piteously¬†and an old Japanese man drinking outside shared his bottle with us.¬†He turned out to be just an average guy from Nagoya, who I¬†naturally¬†gave a lot of shit to even while partaking in his drink, just because I secretly look down on Nagoyans as a proud Osakan. The owner’s husband came around and he turned out to be an ex-coworker of Dai’s, so we extended our unwelcome at the closed bar even longer.

We eventually got home, but I don’t remember that part.

Categories
Japanese Society/Culture Old Blog Entries (archives) Videos

Tobita Shinchi Rap

I’ve been wanting to post this video for some time now, but forgot where I put the link. It is, quite simply, brilliant:

For those who don’t know, Tobita Shinchi is one of the historical red light districts in Osaka. Located in Nishinari-ku, the brothels operate to this day, largely unaffected by anti-prostitution laws and the police. It is the largest brothel district in Kansai.

The equivalent of madames stand in the genkan (entryways) of their homes and beckon passers-by to come in with clapping and hand gestures, ostensibly “for a meal” where they might just happen to “hit it off” with one of the young women living there. This is how they skirt around the law.

Comparisons are often made between Tobita and Amsterdam, but I have to say that the former is not geared toward tourism – it’s scary walking down the small streets at night, and foreigners that hang around there are usually not up to any good. The safest way to check it out is by car, behind tinted windows. This often elicits the flashiest performances by the madames trying to get business.

Categories
Society & Culture Videos

“Hayaku” Time Lapse Journey

Turn up the sound, sit back (for 8 minutes), and watch this:

I hate listening to Royksopp, but I like it used in videos.

This brought back a flood of Japan memories. It’s funny how my memory has become compartmentalized by country. I have a set of memories that affects things I do every day. They pop up when I’m driving, cooking, or buying something at the store. I remember doing the same thing in different settings years ago. I can remember details like what it smelled like that day or the looks on people’s faces*. For the most part, these memories are very private and I feel like an island – but then I remember I can talk to Nam about most of it, and I don’t feel so alone.

What about the babies? They are going to grow up knowing at least two very different lands and languages. That is just their starting point – I can only dream of what the future holds for them.

* As I was writing this, I flashed back to driving in Bordeaux almost 15 years ago in a rented Opel Vectra (turbo gasoil) and almost t-boning a young guy in an VW Golf because I went on the wrong green light. It was such a bad mistake, the guy would have been totally justified in getting angry about it, but he saw I had realized my mistake and instead just nodded and gestured in acknowledgment.
Categories
Japanese Society/Culture Old Blog Entries (archives)

Charismatic

Metropolis has a remembrance up about Charisma Man: Man of the Moment

click to see full size

I remember the first Charisma Man strip in the Alien; I might have even saved it somewhere. The strip was hilarious because it was just so apt. I had no idea that it was used as an insult outside of Japan, though.

Note: On the official site, it seems the merchandising has gotten out of hand. Space suits and condoms sounds more like Western Woman’s type of thing.

Categories
Japanese Society/Culture Old Blog Entries (archives) Videos

ATTENTION: All past/present students of Japanese language/culture

…there are still some things you need to learn.