Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Whenever I save my journal, it says "Microsoft Word is Saving Japan"

Here's my latest.

28 Sep, 2138
My apartment

Gaaaaah! I just spent the past couple hours getting my characters set up juuuust right to beat this dragon that keeps killing me in FF5…I assumed it was an optional battle, but refused to run away from the challenge (it’s easier than deciphering the damn Japanese townpeoplespeak!). So I fiiiinally hooked on to a system whereby I keep two characters alive and protecting each other and do about 100 hitpoints every round to a monster with 20,000 hitpoints. Basically, I fought it for over an hour, and then? Then it just ran away. Then I stumbled upon it again and it had full health.

Fucking dragons.

Aaaaanyway! It’s been a while since I’ve given a “Here’s what it’s like in Japan, the exotic far-away place where I’m staying” update. Today my bosses drove me out to Nanyo (that’s South Yo, for the non-speakers) (Iyo is the old name of Ehime, the prefecture in which I stay, and so now the regions of Ehime are Nanyo (southyo), Chuuyo (central yo) and, you guessed it, Tooyo (Ha! It’s East yo!)). Niihama is in Tooyo, so we had about an hour and a half drive to get where we were going. Once there, we went to a history museum, which was pretty swank. It basically covered the history of Ehime prefecture from pre-stone age to last week. Lot of cool little displays. No pictures allowed, so sorry ya’ll.

That actually gives me a segue (is that how you spell that word? “Seg-way”?) into the coming month’s festivities. The last room in the museum was devoted to contemporary local culture. Now, apparently in Japan, local culture is like a big deal. Example, Niihama is known for its copper mine, now dead, and for the copper products it exports, which it now doesn’t. But 50 years ago, when you went to Niihama, you got something made out of Niihama copper. Saijo, the town bording Niihama to the West, is famous for its water. When you are in Saijo, you fill a bottle with water which gushes out of any number of drink-me holes in any number of walls or statues in Saijo. Oshima Island is famous for its salt (when you are there, you have to try its salt ice cream, which is amazing) and for its granite (you might as well pick up a tombstone for the kids, right?). Etc and so on – always there’s something you “have to try” in any given town, which is really kind of cool. It gives you an impetus to travel around – a lot of times, the specialty product in any given town isn’t really available in other towns, even other towns in Ehime. So it’s in your interest to travel to Oshima if you want to try the ice cream. I really really like that. It means when I go sight-seeing with my bosses, every town we stop in there’s something small worth buying (and usually eating on the spot). Isn’t that kind of cool?

But anyway, on to this display in this museum. It was focused on festivals – each town (or at least each general area? I’m sure not EVERY town…) has a festival every year, some of which are famous. Niihama has a taiko festival which is famous across Japan, or so they say. A taiko is a Japanese drum – but this ain’t your gramma’s taiko. The taiko gets built into a gigantic wooden float, which weighs like over a thousand pounds, I believe, though that could be wrong. Anyway they’re huge, and a few people ride in this float while a few dozen carry it on their shoulders and dance all over Niihama for 3 days. While drinking heavily. With the money that they get from people. Who give it to them for fighting with other floats. Tell me that doesn’t sound like fun? My company is making me participate, too, so if I get crushed under a float I can just sue ‘em. :-D

But yeah, I’ll be sure to send pictures.

And it looks like I’m going to graduate from kendo practice with 8 year olds to kendo practice with real people. I’ll be going to the 6am workouts before work, where I’ll likely just get brutalized. I’m gonna look into buying some armor this weekend, though. That’ll be fun. I’ve always wanted my own set. Then I can get dismantled in style. J Won’t that be fun?

Oh, if anyone ever for whatever reason wants to call me, I have the official way to dial my cell phone from the states: 01181 90 1175 9071. Around 8 or 9am your time is the best time, but around 4pm should also work (I should juuust be getting up). But God help you if you call me at 4pm on Friday or Saturday afternoon (for you) as that will be Saturday or Sunday morning (for me) and I have not by any means taken to waking up at 5am on weekends. So call me Friday or Saturday night, around 11. I know when my mom calls it costs her like 30 cents a minute, that varies based on what service provider you use, but on the bright side it’d be free for me. :-D

Ha, so at some point this summer, as I recall, Jon referred to me as an oaf. I found that rather funny, as I’d never been an oaf before – an oaf is big and clumsy, kind of dumb. I told him he was crazy, but he pointed out that I was bigger than he was and said that he had no problem calling me an oaf. I was just amused then, but now in Japan, afraid, it’s the sad truth. I’m twice the size of a normal man, I read slower than a drunk 3 year old, I’m incapable of saying anything interesting due to lack of vocabulary, and I’m constantly getting stuck in chairs under tables or making noise in a quiet room as I hit my head on a beam or falling over as I try to take off my too-western work shoes to enter any building. But rather than decide to work hard to become more graceful I’ve decided to get mad at Jon for jinxing me. Yeah, that’s it. Rat bastard.

How’s this for a wicked cool kanji?

It means “Black Horse”, read “Ri” or “Rei.” I wouldn’t be so amused except that my last name means “(of the) White Horse” (which is a paltry 白場, read “shiroba.”). Basically, it means my family name’s antithesis has an old, rare kanji. If I ever turn on the family I’m getting this tattoo. :-D

Ack, I just accidentally cleaned my entire apartment from top to bottom, tidied and threw out most of the crap I had laying around, swept, dusted, etc etc etc. Then I read the first few sections of Oxen of the Sun. What a productive evening. Too bad it’s now 135, and I am getting up at 6. That’s cool, though, 4 hours is a wonderful amount of sleep for me – no joke, I always feel great. As long as I don’t do it too often.

Dan, you need to do everything in your power to develop a functional understanding of Finnegans Wake. I have this vague theory that makes FW into chapter 13.5 of U, right between Nausica and Oxen. Also, I discovered my old notes about how to overcome Joyce – as I am interested in starting writing, maybe I’ll outline my few vague ideas here. I really like reading old notebooks, cuz they’re kind of strung out the way this is. So I’ll see an idea introduced on one page, and then kind of brought up again later 2 pages later as a sort of synthesis of the original idea and the intervening pages. It’s really kinda cool to watch an idea develop like that.

But what the fuck am I doing writing, I need to sleep!!

How wonderful to have a spotless apartment. I’ve been cleaning, but it’s good to really just get into all the cracks. There’s a big vacuum cleaner tucked into one of the bazillion storage spaces, but I bought a cheap broom. Now, I hate sweeping, but it’s kinda nice to be able to just get every square inch.

Good Odd, listen to me, I’m talking about cleaning. Now I’m Martha Stewart without the jailtime…or money. Well, whatever. By the way, did you like “Good Odd”? I thought that was clever, though in fairness it originated as a typo.

But right, bed. And comment on this, damn you.

Hey, I'm probably only going to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep tonight, and not because I'm staying up to clean!

I'm commenting, I'm commenting!

I don't really have any comments yet, though! I've been too distracted trying to get my copy of Windows to display Japanese characters than to actually read this blog entry. :-P

Right now any Japanese characters show up as "?". My Mac handles it just fine, but we all know how I feel about that Mac at this point.

Anyways, I'm one reboot away from reading your blog!

You should be used to getting your ass kicked by middle schoolers

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