Thursday, February 24, 2005

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Your Japanese Study of the Day

横好き【よこずき】(n) being crazy about something, but not be good at it
("yokozuki")

蟷螂の斧【とうろうのおの】courageous but doomed resistance
("tourou no ono": praying mantis's axe)

屍蝋【しろう】(n) adipocere, grave wax (greying of the body fats of a corpse which rests in a moist but airless place)
("shirou". Who says I don't diversify?)

酒池肉林【しゅちにくりん】(n) sumptuous feast, debauch
("Shuu Chi Niku Rin" - Alcohol Pond Flesh Forest)

竜頭蛇尾【りゅうとうだび】(n) a strong beginning and a weak ending, an anticlimax
("Ryuu Tou Dabi" - Dragon's Head, Snake's Tale)

無芸大食【むげいたいしょく】(n) lacking the talent to do anything but eat
("Mu Gei Tai Shoku" - No Skill Big Eat)

Aren't you glad you know me? You would never have learned these otherwise.

So I have just been informed that Jose Canseco attributes all of his success to steroids. He was like some sort of hero, he was there with Nolan Ryan and Ricky Hendricks was it? The fast black guy who played for the A's? That's the second time today I have been thrown back to the age of 10. I have a Jose Canseco baseball card. I wonder if that just means that most of the good players use steroids? I guess maybe nothing matters.

On a side note, Bill Braskey. Do you know Bill Braskey? Bill Braskey was so tough that when he died (and that's a story too long to tell in itself) they performed an autopsy (naturally) and in his stomach all they found were rusty nails. Why, he was such a badass that he once punched a hole in a cow just to see who was coming up the road! The Braskey Family crest, if I saw it right, is a barracuda - eating Neil Armstrong.

I remember one time, Bill told me to put my coat on and that we were going out drinking. I was 12 at the time, and he (silencing my parents' objections with half a threat of a vague scowl) led me out to a small field and pulled out two folding chairs. We sat there for 11 years and eventually someone built a bar around us. They opened for business, and Bill had a shot of whiskey - he got one for me, too. Then he stood up, stretched, and torched the bar to the ground. "But Bill!" I yelled, above the roar of the flames. "Why?!"

"Kid," he told me, "I always leave a place the way I found it."

Whats your favorite queen song?

I like One Vision, with Hammer to Fall, Radio Ga-ga, and Tie Your Mother Down vying for the spot.

So I got to work today, booted up my computer, and what do I see? "HARD DISK FAILURE." Oh joy, says I, it's a good thing everything I've done at work in Japan is on that hard disk. I panicked briefly (isn't it cool that panic becomes panicked with a k? I have always liked that) and then restarted the computer. It worked fine.

Lesson learned? Back up my shit. Yeah, really probably should. I will. Sure. Sigh. Baka.

Apparently there is a word for someone whose kanji writing abilities have atrophied due to over-reliance on word processors - ワープロ馬鹿. Waapurobaka. I like that.

I am still aching all over from my circa hour of vaguely strenuous karate two days ago. Methinks me has slid too far, unacceptable. The only thing for it is to do pushups on my punching knuckles until my hands fall off, and then work on kicks. Deshou?

Watched Resident Evil 2 last night, or "Biohazard 2" as the series is known in Japan. It was not bad, but I liked the first one.

I am writing my report for this month and am not sure what to write about. I have thrown in a description of the changes in web design since I was last into it, basically a rundown of CSS and how it differs from pre-CSS canonical HTML, but I suspect my boss will roll her eyes and cut that whole bit out. I have talked about how I had to type up 50 pages of legal mumbojumbo and mentioned that he wants me to translate it and that I doubt that I can but that I will ganbaru, but I neglected to mention my irritation that he didnt just ask the company for a digitized version because I refuse to believe they dont have this crap on file. Or for that matter my irritation that he isnt having that company's highly-paid and doubtless qualified japanese translator translate this. But I digress, it is learning experience, sigh.

I need more violence in my life. More and more I feel this desire for open physical conflict creeping up on me. Verbal sparring gets so old. I think karate came just in time. I want a real blokey circle of friends where we hit each other really hard from time to time for no particular reason. And don't talk about it.

I am deathly afraid that this computer will somehow shut itself off or I will otherwise lose what I am writing. I just kinda have blogger open and I turn to it now and again to update. So in that sense, this is not a regular stream-of-conciousness, it's more of an elapsed-time series of snapshots. I suppose the humor of the situation is that it's not much different from standard fare, is it? Loosely disconnected, vaguely irritating, you know you love it.

So the gang is leaving. Pat is going to Osaka, Jay to America, Drew and Jeff to Kochi...I say gang, but it really isn't one, is it? We've all just split into tiny groups that don't mingle. Or maybe there is mingling going on and nobody told me, egad. Who knows, I am happy. I will miss you guys. Pat especially, who is going to cook our extravagent dinners now? For the record Pat I really respect what you are doing.

I like that "peace" is a valediction that we all through around. Egad I misspelled throw. That is the second time in two days I have used through when I meant throw. I think this might be hell. But yeah, what a good word to use in parting. I like it especially cuz it was never particularly cool in my school so when I started using it in college it meant something and still does, its just not "seeya." It is a wish for peace. How simple and how...I dunno, its almost elegant.

So I am crawling around Facebook, and I just ran a search on Edison High School, which is where I would have gone had I not moved in fourth grade. I saw a few people I recognized, nobody I really liked or remembered for more than an instant. And then the last name was Geoff Young, a kid who used to live down the street from me. My parents didnt like him much cuz he was always a bit odd, but in retrospect he was one of the more interesting people I knew when I was a kid. That and he kinda got me into video games, I feel like I owe him. He lived with his mom in a broken down house around the corner, and now attends Rutgers apparently. I'm glad he got out of Berlin Heights, Ohio. It almost makes me feel nostalgic, like I have lost something. I didn't message him, but maybe I will at some point in the future. I hung with him, Leslie Freeman, the Gilbert boys and the Close girls until I moved at the end of fourth grade. And David Costello. David and the Gilberts I suspect grew up to be Berlin Heights residents, and the Close girls are Bible-belles who no doubt are deliberating how much of a sin it is that their boyfriend kissed them with tongue, though I liked them a lot as kids. But Geoff and Leslie were different. They were bigger than that town, even as 10 year olds. Nobody liked them and it wasn't that they didn't like people (contempt has always been my flaw, not the flaw of those I surround myself with), but rather that they didn't fit. I wonder what happened to Leslie? I bet she and geoff dated. I still remember when mario 3 came out, marvelling at the graphics at Zach Gilbert's house, Leslie asking the all-important "Does zero count as a life?" Telling Geoff how I saw Terminator with my uncle but he made me close my eyes for the scene with the guy and the girl and Geoff was like "oooh, they were probably doing you-know-what" but I wasn't-really-sure-what-though-I-had-some-idea and basil was all like "what what" but I cooly changed the subject.

Boy, all these years I have felt empty, like I came from nowhere going nowhere, but maybe that's not true. Maybe I will drop Geoff a line. I hope he didn't turn into a douchebag asshole and all my newfound childhood ideals are dashed. Maybe I won't drop Geoff a line.

That's enough of an update for now.

What's Bruce Lee got that I aint got?

Other than roguish good looks, martial arts skills and philosophical balance?

I started Karate last night. I think I will stay with it. I want to beat you all up. The teacher is sort of oldish and grizzled, he reminded me of an affectionate pirate captain or a drill sergeant on his day off. He needed an eyepatch and a pipe.

I finished typing up all those pages of contracts that my boss wanted me to type up, and, as expected, he asked me to translate them. Joy. On the plus side its only 50 pages. I suspect the other half is waiting for me when I am finished. Which I don't foresee, but I suppose anything is possible.

Learned all sorts of vocab in Japanese this morning. Would cite example but have forgotten it all. So it goes.

Someone fix me I feel off.

At the arcade the other day (and I may have already written this I dont remember) I got my ass handed to me in tekken by someone who was so badass he proceeded to take my tekken card. I forgot it in the machine when I got up and when I went back for it he was just like "Nai, yo." ("It's not here, chump.") I guess that's fair.

For those not in the know, tekken 5 machines have these slots where you put your card in and it saves your data, and you earn money when you win and you can use that to buy equipment on the internet for your character. Each card has 500 fights on it. I had about 400 left on mine. So that's a bummer. The card costs 5 bucks, so I gotta get a new one but cant afford it this month. Bummer.

Music has started giving me headaches. I am done with music.

Yeah whatever.

I am really tired. No matter what time I go to bed I wake up tired. Guess I better start taking my vitamins more religiously, eh mum?

God I am so glad I am done entering that data. 50 pages of legal jargon is, quite frankly, a bitch to type. And each page seems to have a different format so I had to keep adjusting the spacing and whatnot. Fuck me, that was obnoxious. Now for the hard part. Sigh.

Do I sound tired?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Quiet Daily Japanese Study

One line per day. I pick my words and phrases from stuff I read. I memorize one noun, verb, adjective, misc, and proverb every day. I actually remember most of them. Most. A few weak points. But I'd say I'm doing okay. I have everything on this list from "impact (衝撃)" to "subtle(微妙な)" to "cheeky/audacious(生意気な)". Sukoshi zutsu as they say. I am feeling kind of good about the ol' Japanese, I think my skill level has reached a new plateau. Which means I am going to have a burst of vocab memorization.

底、憧れる、緩い、ぼんやり、単刀直入
衝撃、応援する、深い、一瞬、一生懸命
初恋、確保する、美味な、のんびり、桑原桑原
無罪、対話する、生意気な、むかむか、悪事千里
不精髭、企画する、如才ない、極めて、暗中模索
説得力、抱える、斬新な、でたらめ、一喜一憂
交流、設ける、心地よい、過去、無我夢中
印象、乱す、しつこい、きちんと、五里霧中
先進国、笑い出す、微妙な、不正な、異口同音
食い意地、食い違う、悪縁の、わざと、傍若無人
行事、否定する、特定の、ひととき、一球入魂
移動、写す、真剣な、いらいら、古今東西
花嫁・花婿、交換する、幸運な、漠然と、温故知新
圧力、相半ばする、無駄な、明らかに、運否天賦
分解、解決する、憂鬱な、もどかしい、無芸大食
挑戦、捗る、見苦しい、めきめき、以心伝心
試験、合格する、悲しい、一方的、蟷螂之斧
風潮、分担する、あいまいな、一気に、竜頭蛇尾

Any questions?

My only real problem is actually using all this stuff. I recognize it if I hear it spoken slowly and I have a second or two to think about it, but I never really use any of these words. That was the plus side of Japanese class, they make you use the same damn words over and over until you are sick of them, but they stick. Chalk one up for Noda-sensei, whoda thunk. Though 3x as much vocab and kanji would have been nice.

So Hunter S Thompson offed himself yesterday. I saw that and I was really kinda like...Oh. Still I rather liked him, he is proof that you can be successful even if your greatest aspiration is to be a clever loser. Wonder why he shot himself. 67. Probably still clever. Probably still a loser. Inspires me to go ahead and finish Hells Angels already, I really enjoyed it while I was reading it, wonder why I put it aside? I wonder how Johnny Depp is taking it?

Friday, February 18, 2005

And after what seemed like a vague eternity, he arose...

Yeah so I am more or less back together with my body now. I had to spend a few hours in a hospital, get a blood test, get an IV for a few hours, bleeeh. I had some sort of stomach bug, everyone talked real fast to Ayako the first time I went and to Fujita-san when I went back with her, and the general consensus was "just drink your medicine. I can't believe you went out for yakiniku." Right now I still feel kinda shakey and weak, especially my arms but thats just cuz I had needles in them, and that gives me the willies. That stupid IV, my left arm just feels nauseous, if that makes any sense.

But yeah, I spent about a week in bed with a fever around 102-103 for a few days which eventually dropped down to about 99-100ish with diarrhea and terrible stomach pains every time I so much as thought about food. After about 4 days of this I got sick of my apartment and dragged ayako out to eat Yakiniku (uh, meat you cook at the table, really greasy and delicious) and got much sicker. Been a fun ride. Just feel kinda blah.

Ayako came over every day to feed me and make sure I wasnt dead and to keep me company, so that was cool. It would be terrible to be sick in that shithole apartment with nobody, just alone with the shitholeness of the place, one with it as it were. So I appreciated that much. I watched a lot of movies. I am still trying to figure out if Azumi was worth seeing. It was so bad in so many ways and yet I kind of liked it? I guess Hideo Kojima had a cameo as one of the thousands of scuzzy villagers she slaughters at the end, shoulda kept my eyes open.

Got back to work and everyone is real nice and welcoming but I got me a lot of work to do. The website stuff I was working on took a turn for the rancidly busy as they need an english version of some sort up by next month. The original plan was new design for japanese version -> update japanese information with all original stuff -> translate that, my own work, into an english version. Now the plan is, update and translate old page ASAP, then continue with original plan.

On top of that, my one boss has like the bylaws or certification procedures or something for the office in Columbus. It's like 100 pages of legal jargon with bad grammar and apparently all they have is a hard copy. He tried to scan it in OCR but it came out 90% gibberish so the long and short of it is that in addition to the web work I have 100+ pages of text to typ up. I can't believe how shit the grammar and spelling is, cuz it is the English version. I have this gnawing fear he is going to ask me to translate it. The worst part is, they SURELY have this data somewhere in Columbus on disk, it is practically inconceiveable that they dont have it, its like all the rules for the way the whole company works, and this is a big fucking company. I suspect he just lost that and doesnt want to lose face by asking for another one. That kinda irritates me but at the same time its not hard just time consuming and I gotta be here anyway so its all good. But if he asks me to translate I'll be upset.

Alexander the Great is playing here, dunno for how much longre. I kinda wanna go see it - Colin Farrel as a big gay Alexander sounds like 3 hours of fun. But movie theater is 20 bucks a pop, that's a bit steep. I am actually broke for this month, but I got some cash yesterday for teaching english and get some tomorrow for giving a speech so I should be able to stumble across the finish line.

I also bought Final Fantasy 8 (in Japanese, of course) for 1800 yen and the entire series "X" (manga, not anime) for 1000 yen. I like to live dangerously. I also like that I can read comic books and play video games in Japanese, albeit slowly. I should really get on the Dragon Quest games, but even the old ones are really expensive, like upwards of 40 bucks for PS1 titles.

Next month I dont think I will be going anywhere, so I will have a little room to breathe in my wallet. That will be a welcome change, I have basically been running on empty since Christmas, yet always pulling out enough to spend on something fun.

I don't actually know what kind of medicine I have been taking or what they IV'd me full of at the hospital, that's probably kind of one of those bad ideas, but maybe more in the okay-bad category than, say, letting a sleazy looking indian with a french accent give me an IV at the club. Right?

Movies I watched and liked enough to remember watching from my movie binge this weekend: Versus, Azumi, Porco Rosso, Ocean's 11 (why is that so damn fun?), Chocolat (which irritated me tremendously but I have to confess to secretly kind of enjoying watching it for all its flag-waving crappiness), uhhh, and a bunch more I think.

Things I am reading: Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8), a sort of travelogue about crossword puzzles; Ulysses (dunno why I even put it, I cant beat Penelope, she kicks the shit out of me every time I open the book); The Power of Myth (Joseph Campbell, hippy fodder but new thoughts); X (manga about...? So far it's just got a couple of kakkoii guys who dont talk just hate and a really girly girl but there are overtones of a plot, which would explain the other 17 volumes sitting under my table). I think maybe that's all. Was reading Naruto, but there are so many volumes of that I will never finish it, and 1 wasnt great enough to really get a grip on me so I switched to X.

Music of late? Uh...early Jurassic 5, many thanks to Jackie, and Sarah sent me a CD of a band called FrouFrou which is interesting, I suspect I may like it. I heard the new Jack Johnson at the record store and it sounds just about perfect, like Jack Johnson got into my head and figured out exactly what a perfect Jack Johnson disc should sound like and then followed my advice and made it. Thanks Jack. I shoulda bought that instead of Final Fantasy 8. Coldplay is getting some play as well.

Am starting to get a tad worried about housing next year. Zach, Matt, the three of us gotta talk and figure something out. Oh and then there is Turner who doesnt know yet if he will be at OSU, stupid "caring about the future" and "considering all the options." I could always live in my car. I'd have to get a car. But it's quite doable at OSU, and would be a realy buddhist experience, detachment from worldly possesions and whatnot. Of course I would just end up at your house playing playstation more often than not, but ya know, the rent would be cheap. For me. Cuz I wouldn't pay any. Shower at Larkins. Spend a lot of time at the library.

I tell ya, guys, I miss the student life. I miss saying "ah, fuck it" and not going to class if I don't feel like brushing my teeth. I miss columbus, my friends. I like it here but how can you ever feel a home when there's a deadline counting down? Eh, I guess there always is no matter where you go. I guess then that Niihama just doesn't feel like home, it's starting to feel like a working vacation with all work and no vacation and oh yeah pollution. But you have to give it to me, I have gone almost the entire winter before succumbing to this mood, so I think I'll be okay. Once summer hits and the typical weekend activity is a 3 day beach party I think maybe I will turn around. I think most of all I miss a world of English - my mind kind of switches off here and yet is always on, I am always hearing someone talking just too fast to understand but always catching about 45% of the content and left wondering about the rest.

It takes so damn long to learn a language. I need to study more and more carefully, use more flash cards. If you are wondering why I am writing this instead of doing work, fuck you. I typed in 10 pages of documentation and translated and updated 8 web pages. If that doesn't sound like a lot, shove it, I'm ahead of schedule. I also had a meeting this morning -

Nissen has a pamphlet and I guess they make a new one every few years, just company information and such that they use whenever they need to introduce the company. The guy from the company that makes them came for a sitdown with the head honchos and since I am designing the home page they brought me down to participate. I understood about 85% of what they were saying and in fact had key ideas about the new design that the bosses would have 30 minutes later, so I feel like I am in on the ground floor. They want to integrate brochure and website and come up with a universal Nissen style sheet of sorts. I'm going to be on the ground floor of this, giving input and designing things. I am going to try to get them to get me a better computer and a registered version of Dreamweaver, but first I need to blow their socks off with my productivity. Which has been good.

I received a big box of swedish fish from sarah this week, that made being sick seem not so bad. I do love swedish fish. I let my boss try one and she feinted it was so good then came to and demanded I pour some on a dish for her. If I were Sweden I would so keep them all to myself.

Anyway, I wanted to write a long entry, but this will have to do. I am gonna get a jump start on monday's page-typing, maybe I can finish this project a few days early and impress the hell out of my boss's boss's boss for whom I am doing this. That could prove to be a good idea.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I am dying

Blah. I am out of touch and may be for a few days more, my body is throwing a mutiny. I'll update when I hang the ringleaders and curtail the rum rations for the rest. Right now i just want to end my suffering. I have not been to work in days and actually miss it.

Blah.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Mythology

Ten minutes to write before lunch. Am studying.

Was.

Made chicken last night, it was so good. I fried it. I made batter by mixing flour, an egg, and, get this, pineapple juice from a can of pineapple slices. Then I cut the chicken into little pieces (not quite little enough, more later) and dipped them in, then dipped them into a mess of flour, coconut and spices.

Then I fried them in my wok.

The only part that didn’t go so well: The outside cooked crazy fast, I think because the head was on too high. Some of the pieces were still raw on the inside despite being charred black on the outside, but I ate them anyway. Next time, lower heat and much more thinly sliced chicken. The taste, though, was soooooo good. If I hadn’t been in such a rush to get things dipped slapped cooked taken out whoops forgot to cook etc, I wanted also to dip some pineapple slices in the coconut mix and fry those up as well. Next time I will be sure to have an assistant, two hands weren’t enough. And maybe some sort of sauce? Although they really didn’t need one, they were kinda sweet but not overwhelmingly so. Maybe just over a bowl of rice. With some veggies on the side.

Anyway what else is new?

A book I am working on just now is “The Power of Myth” which is an interview of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers. Some of it is irritating as fuck, “hippy fodder” as Jackie referred to it, but some of it is damn interesting.

I actually wrote a few pages of impressions about the myth stuff but its all in the form of barely-formulated half-notions referring to fragments masquerading as pieces of ideas. If I come up with something to write, Ill write it later.

Website is being a bitch. The IE/Mozilla distinctions are tearing me apart. I want to make a pretty page for Mozilla but I guess I am just gonna make an ugly page for IE. That’s a damn shame. I am learning a lot though – every day I come in here, I can do all the stuff it had taken me up to the day before to learn to do, and probably before lunch. Now it’s a question of efficiency. I had a great idea to use java to split the CSS into Mozilla and IE halves, but if I am gonna work something like that in there I had better be around next year and the year after to make the updates necessary. If not this page will date worse than…than…I dunno, the pimply nerd in high school?

Anyway I’m out. Shit to do.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Basil's livejournal

My brother can be odd, but he writes some of most beautiful things. Just ignore any spelling and punctuation errors, I am thinking he is unconcerned with such trivialities.

Basil's livejournal:
"don't surrender

Run away with me somewhere
Where they only speak French,
It's a hundred degrees,
And when it rains - you get wet.
I never asked for anything more,
than to be your friend,
But it all amounts to nothing,
If we surrender in the end.

That's why i'm singing don't surrender
And become like all those strangers.
That's why I'm singing don't surrender
And give up everything you are
That's why I'm singing don't surrender
Don't surrender, you're too good
You represent my aspirations on this earth

May the love that you would feel,
And the climes that you would see,
And all that you would be,
Never bring you to your knees.
And may you never take the easy road,
Even in the dark,
When shadows block your eyes,
Just follow your heart.

And may the miseries of tomorrow,
when subtracted from their joys,
Leave you with a sum
far greater than zero,
I promise when the black holes, that surround us,
try to suck us in,
I won't let you surrender
The things that you'd hold onto

That's why i'm singing don't surrender
To become like all those strangers.
That's why I'm singing don't surrender
And give up everything you are
That's why I'm singing don't surrender
Don't surrender, you're too good
You represent my aspirations on this earth. "

Monday, February 07, 2005

Up to now

Here is the product of the past week of labor. Note it is far from complete, and the format still needs a bit of touching up - but I finally have something I can display.

Tada!

Any comments and any feedback - especially from those of you gifted and/or experienced in web design - are more than welcome. Pat, as you can see I opted away from frames and jumped on the div wagon. It allows a lot of flexibility, but the biggest problem I run into is browser compatability. In a sense this website will be self-updating long after I leave, as various features I embedded will become active with new versions of ie.

For instance, those of you using ie 6 don't get to see my cool menus change on mouseover - that, apparently, is reserved for firefoxers. Your loss.

I am making this on a 400mhz hunk of scrap metal with no software. I downloaded dreamweaver but the license is about to expire. I would renew it but frankly all I am using is the text-editor to hand-script my code (I am sooooo 1337!) so I can delete it and get on with notepad. The real problem I have is image editing - I am limited to MS Paint for all image work here, which is why the top banners look shit and why you don't see much in the way of other pictures.

Now, don't judge the appearance yet, because it is amazing how much it will change when I throw in a horizontal line here and a pretty photo there. I guess I'm just trying to show ya'll what i've been up to for the past couple days. The real bulk of the work is in www.ichimiya.co.jp/nissen/new/scripts/nissen.css although that is a real mess right now.

One thing I would like to steal from the original page are the sideways text graphics on every section, but I would like to make new shiney ones more in line with my own aesthetic sensibilities. What I am hoping is, they will see what magnificant work I can do and decide to throw me a new computer with all sorts of cool specs. Har har.

In my defense, though, this is my first webpage in about 10 years. I may just start over, I have a few new ideas based on seeing other websites.

Have I told you guys how much I like working with html and css and whatnot? Makes me wish I had stuck with computer programming in high school cuz c++ and whatnot is exponentially more complex and exciting. But it's a lot like learning a language - html and css are really simple sets of grammatical rules. You want to set the background color of the cell of a table that you have your mouse over? That's like wanting to describe an active verb with an adverb, you have to know where it goes, what its scope is, whether or not the way you phrase it will spill over into other contents, etc.

In the end, I think, web design is a search for ultimate simplicity. Ironically, the more simply you learn to code, the more complex the product can become. If you keep everything clear, clean, and short, if you code efficiently, then it is really easy to keep track of things, know when and how to use them, etc. This is like what shelley said poetry does for language - you define new terms, perpetually attain new levels of abstraction. It's glorious brilliant magnificant, a good webpage written by a master is like kyoto station, a pillar holding up the future.

With the advent of css all of this became so much more clear - like, for example, if you look at the code for my blog, a lot of it is really simple, with the complexity carried in the css behind it.

I am getting all excited over something so silly as html and webdesign, why am I not studying programming? If I can feel like a minor deity after creating something whose sole function is aesthetic, imagine the empowerment of creating something functional, writing programs that do what you want them to do. I am not even any good at webpage design, though my skills double every minute I work on this. Were I to start over I think I would do away with tables entirely, the whole page would be so much more simple. I have picked out a way to do it in CSS, too - but this is my rough draft.

After I make nissen's page, I am going to make the internship page, and that will be gorgeous. I am envisioning a symphony of dark tones, sometimes blended and sometimes forced together. It will be a self-portrait, every division and every border reflecting the soul that creates it, every fusion of text and image a potent testamonial to the phoenix of creation.

I do enjoy grandiosity.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Holy crap

Everybody go to Kyoto and marvel at Kyoto Station. It is beyond words how cool it is.

The highlight is the courtyard type area that has a 10 story shopping center built in. There is one giant staircase up the side of the 10-story building (with escalators of course) and it's all open air and staring out on to kyoto or the station or the courtyard, just gorgeous, magnificant, majestic in every direction. The building - hell the whole station, sort of - grows around this giant staircase. That somewhere in the world a major city would allow and fund such a magnificant structure leaves me with the faint but distinct hope that perhaps not all is lost.

So yeah, travel with Ayako this weekend. Went to kyoto and osaka. More details later, but a quick rundown now that I am done salivating over the best building in the world.

Friday Night: leave by ferry. have one chuuhai and a sip of sake and am out like a light, whats up with that?

Saturday: Arrive in Osaka, bum around the trainlines getting to the Strawberry Field. Go strawberry picking. Eat more than should be possible. Ayako was like "Ooooh I can't eat any more, I ate too much..." as we were limping our way to the door. I get to the exit and turn to her and she's not there - I look back and she's devouring yet another handful, still complaining about how she ate too much.

From there, hop the train to kyoto. It amazes me that Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka - the three biggest cities in Western Japan and so probably also top 15 in the world - are all about half an hour apart by train. Isn't that odd? Like slow, regular train, you can go from the center of Osaka to the center of Kyoto in 25 mins for 5 bucks. Weird.

Kyoto, Kiyomizudera. This is "the" temple, as far as Japan goes. It's on this huge hill, so you take a bus to the base and walk up and there is about a km of streetvendors and souveniere shops with all sorts of goodies. The temple itself was really pretty. It's OLD, shit in Japan is so damn old. In the states, a "vintage" location was build what, 1800? In Japan, they're like "Yeah, this isn't the original...The original burned down and this was rebuilt in 1450...sorry..." Madness.

But yeah there were some old fuckin' building at Kiyomizudera, and a glorious view of Kyoto. Kyoto is all nestled between mountains, it's like sitting in a big forested crater. And the water at Kiyomizudera was cool, it means "clear water temple" and has some famous water that's...clear. I drank it and it actually was really really good. More watery than normal water. Does that make sense?

Went to hotel, dropped off souvenieres, went to fancy restaurant. Spent 30 bucks each on magnificant tofu dinner, really good. Went to climb kyoto tower, but we were too late. Oh well. Went to hotel, was so tired I crashed like a 747 into a trade center. (ooooh and the audience groans)

Sunday, breakfast, kinkakuji. Kinkakuji is a big temple in the middle of a pond, and the whole thing is covered in shining bright gold with a phoenix statue on top. It was beautiful.

Bought sweets. Zakuramochi are mochi (rice cakes) wrapped in cherry tree leaves, ooooooooh good. So I bought one, ate it, bought two more for the road. The old lady laughed with delight at my gluttounous american oafishness. Ayako shook her head but was secretly glad I bought two so that she could have one as well.

Nijojo - Nijo Castle, the kyoto castle experience. Enormous enormous enormous palace, all one story japanese style. There was the "Nightengale Floor" which the Shogun had installed to warn of skulking skulkers. It squeaks when you walk on it. Enormous grounds, big fortifications, just kind of overwhelmingly a military leader/royal-ish oaf's palace/castle.

Then it was cold and getting late and we went to Osaka to meet Ayako's best friend Takako. She seems cool enough. Oh, before we left Kyoto we at at this really fantastic chinese restaurant looking out onto the 10-story stairway. Chinese food in American and Chinese Food in Japan are fundamentally different experiences. In japan, Chinese food is good. It is classy and expensive. It tastes nothing like American chinese food. It is delicious. Anyway we were so absorbed in our food we took too long and had to ask Takako to meet us at Umeda instead of Nanba, so she relocated. That made me happy, I hate it when people say "yeah, that's my best friend" but then the friend wouldn't do something so simple as go from Namba to Umeda for them, 4 mins by subway. And yet that kind of shit happens all the time, right, so I am happy Ayako's best friend is a good friend.

We went out for ice cream, I had a kiwi parfait, it was good. Then we went to the NamcoLand building, where there was a massive chocolate store on the third floor which Ayako had been raving about for 3 weeks. So takako said her goodbyes and me and ayako went up. At the base of the escalator to the chocolate store, though, was a rack of Tekken 5 machines. I told ayako to have fun and watched some masters tear each other up. I joined in eventually but simply could not stand against this guy's lei, he was sooo good. And Lei is slow - but the positions he uses are fuckin' hard to stop, especially with Steve who is still weak low, though admittedly much better than before. I must have dropped a thousand yen facing him and by the end was winning 2 out of 5 but never beat him all out. Curses. But my tekken got about 100% better just from that. Dan and Jon, I am gonna mess you up so bad your respective characters wouldn't recognize you.

After that, bummed around. Went to Snoopy store. Snoopy as cultural phenomenon among Japanese girls. Yadda yadda yadda. Went back to Arcade, took some pictures (print club), I played another round of tekken and won (go me), we went to the "Gyoza Corral" which is also in Namco land and is like 10 different Gyoza restaurants offering all manner of gyoza. That was real good.

Then we went to the ferry. Ayako got mad at me for punching the subway and made me promise to stop punching things. Boo.

On the ferry we ate our various treasures (as we'd been buying little treats all weekend) and went to bed. I woke up in Toyo, showered, and Ayako drove me to work. And here I sit.

I said I would "write more later" but I think I wrote just about all of it now. Pictures when I have them.

Oh yeah - when we got to Osaka, there was a live band playing in the street. That's why I like Osaka. I couldn't picture it in Kyoto.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The wheel has turned

The constant video game I have going on in the back of my head has shifted gears at least from metal gear to final fantasy. I have realized that the favorite final fantasy games of myself and several of my closest friends are not chosen at random - rather, each of us shares the flaws of our favorite character, which I find interesting.

For example, to use myself, I like 9, I identify with the sort of offhand laziness of Zidane. But also with his more positive traits, I like his "You don't need a reason to help people." But then, I also have sort of a Laguna thing from 8...hmm.

Another friend loves 8 and is an obvious analog to squall, but not entirely, as he also has quite a bit of Yuna in him. I would suspect X2 may be up towards the top of his favorite FF list.

Yet another, whose favorite is 7, is constantly overcome with rage and identity problems, many of which deal with his inability to live up to the image he had of himself in the dreams of his youth.

Yet another, who I think loves 10, quite obviously sees himself as a prodigy in his art thrown into a world where his skills are kind of underappreciated except in select crowds that have sadly little to do with his day to day quests.

Anyway, I don't think any of my friends molded their identities based on these characters - rather, I think they found in these games expressions of solidarity, the idea that there's a name for whatever it is they got, cloud or squall or whatever. I wouldn't imply they are limited to these characters, either - obviously, they're constantly changing while even the character's changes are scripted, but how interesting that the members of my closest college circle each seem to have an affinity for one of these games.

It all makes me suddenly really enthusiastic for 12.

The downside of all of this is that it's such a boys club. I wish girls got into these games more, they're great.

Anyway now I just want to buy an airship and go on adventures.

That's today's musing.

BBC NEWS | Americas | State of the Union: Key quotes

BBC NEWS | Americas | State of the Union: Key quotes: "We will pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy - and chief among them is freedom from fear...

Our country is still the target of terrorists who want to kill many, and intimidate us all "

I love it.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The International AIMFart

How odd. AIM briefly died and as the whole world tried to log back on I sat here...also...trying to get back on. That was odd.

Anyway yeah. At work. Today I come up with the basic site design for the new site. I am kinda excited. www.ichimiya.co.jp/nissen is the old site, and I think I want to switch to a very simple frames page (yeah yeah, I know, but itll be cool!). I am spending today editing photographs and backgrounds to change it to a light grey background with blue text, and I am going to make a new main page.

I think this could work out well or it could just be hideous. We shall see, time will tell, cant count chickens before theyre hatched, dont put cart before horse, etc etc ad nauseum. I am reading an autobiography about cryptic crosswords. Jackie failed to make me gay so now she is trying to make me smart. Better luck this time, pal.

Today's 4-character compound is 一球入魂, which means "One Ball Insert Spirit." Apparently it comes from Baseball, and the idea is focussing on one thing with all your might. Sugoi!

Anyway, time to get to editing pictures. More later, most likely.

Testing Images



Thanks to Pat and Image Shack. Hey to the kendo club. And Basil.

akaramazov's Xanga Site

akaramazov's Xanga Site: "ASIMO"

I am only testing this new feature on Mozilla Firefox. I can highlight text and send it to my blog. I want to see how it looks, so I am highlighting Dan's blog and sending one word to mine.

Firefox rules. I downloaded an extension that gives me readings/meanings of kanji compounds on mouseover, I can turn it on on any website I am reading. How slick is that?

I am firefox savvy, and you should be too!

I didnt even get into tabbed browsing, RSS, or the just-as-coolly-titled Thunderbird mail program.

What is with Return of the Dragon? It's like Bruce Lee OD'd on the Three Stooges and shat out a masterpiece

Jackie tells me my blog has gone to shit in the past few weeks and perhaps it has. With all the time I have had laying around at work I just never really updated it. Well that’s not true; I had a few massive updates towards the beginning of the month. In the middle of the month I was studying to fill the time and not writing, and at the end of the month I was fucking busy with a capital fucking busy. Now however it is February which I always read in my head as feb brew arry and as a result I can spell it but in exchange for that admittedly useful power the whole month just seems fishy to me, like it’s not who it says it is. I just don’t trust it. But there you have it.

I have begun work at Nissen Chemical (日泉化学株式会社) and am in charge of making their web site. Well not exactly as they have one at www.ichimiya.co.jp/nissen but I am in charge of updating the whole thing so it looks fresher than a baby’s arse and then translating it into English. Here we go.

Downside is that they are making me use the same crap computer afterall which blows because it’s old and has trouble waking up in the morning. And it’s slow. So if I stick to HTML I should have no problem cuz that’s just using notepad really but if I make it pretty like I wanna I’d be using CSS and XHTML and Java this and ActiveX that and frankly this computer can’t handle it. That’s a shame.

My functional knowledge of web design is about 7 years old. The last time I really did anything with it was for ultima online when I was a kid, I made a website for my guild. I was 13 years old and the head of the Corsairs of Britannia, a scurvy lot of anti-pirates that never managed to actually get together once the game went from nerds wet-dream in development to PK Paradise. Ah the good old days. We all just kinda maintained our fascination with boats in the game but it was much easier to steal boats than to actually get together and raise money to buy boats to kill people who stole boats, so our lofty goals met with dismal demise. But hey I was 13.

And that means my functional knowledge is actually about 9 years old, wowsers. Anyway I thought I would freshen up and so I went to wikipedia and caught up on the last decade of web development. No wonder I hardly recognize HTML source anymore – HTML sort of died/got phased into XHTML which integrates CSS as an efficient alternative to the presentation markup initially done simultaneously with content in the old school HTML. Now, CSS is almost like a real program in its efficiency and externality. You design a class and then reference that and all customization can be taken care of externally. How slick is that?

So anyway, after an hour or two of reading I am once again an expert in web design…though I still lack even the remotest sense of universally pleasant aesthetics. But what will be will be. I am eager to pour my soul into this website, so I am standing facing forward boldly to see my final result, yet at the same time cringing wrapped in my futon with trepidation. I feel like I am about to give birth to a hideous genius. I wish only that I could empower my creation to destroy the world around him, which will surely reject him for all his splendor, in order to carve a more suitable environment for himself to flourish, but alas, that’s not due until XHTML 2.3.

At any rate, which as well all know means that the contents disregards the change of state over time, as any degree of change over any period of time (negative and nonreal exempted) is fine, I am working. But, I wanted to take a brief kyuukei (休憩) from my personal studies in order to relate to you all the wonders of my new (pre)occupation.

Also, there has been some talk of an internet-based reading of Finnegans Wake in the near-to-distant future. I would create a bulletin board of sorts and we would have drawn out discussions over a page or two per day. What say you? Anyone but Dan interested? Justin? Jackie?

And I leave you with these, and other mysteries not here revealed, to ponder for yourselves. Farewell, and god speed.

Oh yeah I need a roommate or two for fall. I am selective and wouldn’t want to live with all of you, but if you know of anyone you suspect may meet my high standards, please let me know.


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