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(no subject) [May. 2nd, 2010|01:29 am]
[Current Location |34.838794, 138.128118]
[mood |recumbent]
[music |Spoon - I Turn My Camera On]

Yeah, it's kind of like that.

In other news, I've been living in Japan for eight months now. It's a great place to be, a lot of aspects I like more than the states, and of course the opposite is true.

Good points: there is no puritanism about alcohol (or sex, even though they are more conservative; they aren't embarrassed about it). You can drink a beer on the train home after work (and they sell it in the station), or anywhere else you want. Of course, using any drugs other than caffeine/alcohol/tobacco is 100% unacceptable both socially and legally, but that doesn't really affect me; I just find it weird.

You don't get abused by security when trying to travel. There's a great rail network. Delivery is always overnight and mailing things is very, very cheap (a few dollars for a box, twenty dollars to ship a heavy checked-bag size luggage).

Everyone is treated like a responsible adult who can be trusted. You can leave your stuff unattended. You can go to a movie theater and get a nice drink in an actual glass. Actually you can pretty much do anything you want; people will think "he must have a reason" instead of "he must be an idiot".

There are a lot of small businesses, shops, restaurants. People care about food more.

I work in a restaurant; I'm the only English-speaking foreigner I know who isn't teaching. I really like it. Tonight I burned my hand pretty well; first time I've done that since I started. A rite of passage then - you work in a restaurant, you get burned, no escaping it. Feels better already though. A good friend of mine who's a chef told me soy sauce works quite well on burns. I'd heard that before and not particularly believed it, but on his word I gave it a try a while back and damn if it isn't fantastic!

The place is brand new and it turns out I'm the only person beside the owner who can cook, so I was on the stove by the first day. Far quicker start than most people get in this business!

So, I'm lucky and life is great. There are some photos here, although there should be more. I recommend the panoramas. This one is also pretty. This is where my wife works (keen observers will see it's only the parking lot of where she works, close enough. The red VW is our neighbor's, they are very popular here).

I haven't quite published this yet, but I'm planning to make a print of it at "full size" which is about seven feet wide. Maybe even two of them - the first is to give to the group that was performing, but I think there's a nice spot in my house for one, too. It was taken at a cherry blossom festival way up in the mountains north of where I live.

Edit: Oh, I almost forgot! This is our car! 1997 Suzuki Wagon R. It's a kei car, a class of vehicles under a certain size, with 660cc or smaller engines producing <65 horsepower. In other words, it's small... it's a microvan. Tons of headroom though, more than any full-size car or minivan I've been in. Also: 40 MPG. We love the cute little thing.
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(no subject) [Aug. 18th, 2009|11:01 pm]
[music |ELO - Don't Bring Me Down]

My dad can believe it's not butter.

Posting this is what I'm doing right now instead of packing. My flight for Japan leaves in 31 hours!
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(no subject) [Jul. 26th, 2009|02:32 am]
[music |B-Dash - Smells Like Teen Spirit]

Lines that made people laugh their damn minds out tonight:

> I'm gonna put you in the oven.

My name is not Anne Frank.

> Alucard is an original vampire.

Oh, he's an OG? An OV - that kind of sounds like a tampon. Actually... I bet tampons are vampire hors d'oeurves.
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you're lonely rolling star / saa mae wo muite yukou [Jul. 19th, 2009|05:55 pm]
[music |Placebo - Pure Morning (1998)]

I'm moving to Japan on August 20 (Sally leaves on the first)! We're going to a little town called Kanaya, in Shimada city, Shizuoka prefecture. Mt. Fuji is in Shizuoka; we're about halfway between Tokyo and Osaka (exactly halfway if you go by train transit times instead of distance).

Sally got accepted into the JET Program this year, as an assistant English teacher. She was actually put on the B list, but we got the call a little over a month ago offering her a spot, just when we were starting to assume it wouldn't happen and were forgetting about it :) It took weeks more to find out where the heck we'd be placed or what grades she'll be teaching; she got assigned to Kanaya (Senior) High School.

Overview of the general area - we live near the red train station on the left marked Higiri.
Closeup of Sally's school - zoom out to see the context.

I found a photo taken from the hills south of town, looking down on our neighborhood. You can see Kanaya High School (it's labelled); our house is somewhere further back and to the right. Check out the tea! 40% of the green tea in Japan is grown in Shizuoka prefecture, and there are many square miles of tea fields directly surrounding our place. Our neighbors have some in their yard.


Shimada and the bordering cities add up to about 500,000 people; a 30 minute train ride to the northeast takes you to Shizuoka city with a population of 800k; and one to the southwest goes to Hamamatsu for another 800k. So while we almost live in the countryside, there's plenty of cities around. Our place is teacher's housing, meaning the rent, utilities, and internet service all add up to $400 a month or less! And this is for a two-story, two-bedroom townhouse, with a living room downstairs.

Granted, the kitchen actually has no counter, but I'll figure something out.

The initial contract is one year; we plan to stay all three years they offer unless something totally weird happens. Sometimes you can stay another two years, which we'll figure out when it's time.

Let me tell you, it's weird having a one-way plane ticket to Japan.
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The enchanting wizard of rhythm [Jul. 16th, 2009|01:37 pm]
[music |Prids - Shadow and Shadow]

We're moving to Japan next month!

I have some major not-posting momentum built up. Years of not posting. That builds on itself until I feel like it's very bad juju to break the silence; like waking a sleepwalker. I'm not sure what's so bad about doing that (I've sleptwalked, somebody should've put me to bed), but in terms of my analogy for this, it probably involves something happening to souls. And it's bad.

But really I think the problem is that I can't tolerate my past self. I'm grateful he got me to where I am, I mean, but I don't want to talk to him personally. If I go back and read old entries I always think I sound like an idiot. I've become very careful to not do that, otherwise the whole LJ concept would never have worked for me.

With such a big gap though, I hardly need to read them; since old me invariably sucks for me, it's some serious baggage even if I don't look at it. It's the elephant in the room. (More like the elephant in my psyche.) So the options are stay quiet, or talk and get rid of it or ignore it. I'll just ignore it; willpower to the rescue. I wouldn't assume he's very good, but I'm sure my past self is not nearly as bad to anyone else as he is to me, so he may as well stay. Otherwise what is LJ for? I suspect the act of preserving all of that may possess more wisdom than I do - I know I don't have much - so I should go with the flow.

Not to mention, anyone I trust who's reading old LJ stuff in this day and age understands that things from years ago don't fully count. You can never stand in the same river twice; the person who was has flowed on. The records are there but they aren't alive any more - but they're still good for what they are. I understand that, so I'll relax and apply it to myself.

So anyway, we're moving to Japan. When I say "we" now it means my wife, Sally, and me. I got married last month; next month we move. We only found out with about 9 weeks' notice. Busy times.

I think while I'm there it's possible I'll have that combination of nothing-to-do intermixed with lots-going-on which makes for LJ entries. Too little of either and you can't write about anything.

Plus there's some serious motivation in the realm of keeping in touch with people. Everybody I actually know is going to be 7k miles away - I'm used to three thousand miles, but at least that's still in North America, and it's not everybody at once, just subsets. I'd like to still talk to them! Another bonus is having some people to kick my ass (metaphorically, from seven thousand miles away) if I don't work on photography there, and post it. Which is good; I should keep a high profile so that it's obvious when I get lazy.

I'm pulling the trigger on this entry before I back out; more about Japan later.

Ok, that's pretty weird.
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Personally, I dream of electric *anything*. [Sep. 7th, 2004|02:22 am]
[mood |happy]
[music |Soul Coughing - Soundtrack to Mary]

By the way, I'm back from the trip.

You wouldn't have noticed the past day though, because my power went out for 22 hours.  Stupid hurricanes.
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Taiwan! [Jul. 3rd, 2004|04:26 am]
[mood |super]
[music |Better than Ezra - Extra Ordinary]

I'm in Taiwan. I think I forgot to mention it before I left. I'm like that.

Want to see pictures?

Read more...Collapse )

So yeah, my girlfriend's father lives here, and we came to stay for a month :) How the heck lucky am I?! Only started a few days ago, so I have lots and lots of time left. There will be lots and lots of pictures.

I mentioned how I'm the huge linguistic dunce of the whole place, but that's not the bad part. Ever thought about what it would be like to be completely illiterate? I am! I can't read a traffic sign. I can't do anything. It's freaking strange. I really, really like to read, too - not just books, but I read everything I see, everywhere I go. The fact that I can't here is what gets me most.

Oh well. I never had a good foreign language class. Maybe I am capable of learning these things. I kind of feel like finding out. If I'm lucky, I still will by the time I get home. Learning a language is one of the only things I can imagine that would actually make me feel accomplished.

Ok, that's about that. I'll be making a more literate update at some point. Just wanted to get some pictures out there.
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Looking like a hot date, bangin' like an 808 [Jun. 3rd, 2004|04:24 pm]
[mood |done]
[music |Beck - Hollywood Freaks]

Yeesh. I spent four hours this morning being abused by the state department. Getting a passport is HARD.

How hard? This photo says a lot:

Notice anything strange?

I got there at 8:30 in the morning today. I waited in line for about twenty minutes before one of the clerks asked me if I already had pictures. I said no, I need you to take them for me. She said: "Not with that blue! They won't accept them! They want everything to look as natural as possible. You need a different hair color."

She recommended using spray-in temporary hair dye. I said ok, sure. I thought "This is unacceptable." It's just bad, awful, and horrible. So I went home, got out my camera, flash, tripod, etc. Took my own picture, changed my hair to brown, put a little set of them together, burned it on a CD, and drove down to the mall. Got them printed - this was the only easy part. It cost 37 cents! With tax! And took less than a minute.

Go back, wait in line, when I get up there the lady's happy to see me again. She asked how I did it, or if it was an old picture, and I said "Yeah, I just did the spray like you said." Honestly she seemed quite nice, like she was trying to help me beat the system, but the very last freaking thing I'm going to do is walk into the passport office and talk about altering my ID photo in any way. At least not when I'm actually trying to get a passport and fast!

THEN the money came out, as you can see in the picture. I had to run all over hell to get doctored brown-hair photos, and I had to pay $173 to be allowed to do it. Suuure, I could have checked my (expired) passport two months ago and renewed it then to save the express fee, but that's just not my style. Screw you cheapskate do-gooders who get things done early. I LIKE deadlines.

Well the application is in the mail, and as long as they don't have any objections to the provided materials, heh heh, I'll have a new and valid passport by the 16th.

So, basically, I can fuckin' improvise. I get things done. I want a boy scout badge.

In case you'd like to see, here's the source photo with brown hair. It's pretty weird:

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Mojo weedwhacker cuttin' space. [Mar. 13th, 2004|02:38 pm]
[mood |good morning]
[music |ZZ Top - La Grange]

I had a dream the night before last, that I was in this store in the mall. I walked into the back room, and it had all these hallways with some other people in them; I kept walking from one room to another, back deeper into this store. Finally, in the last room, there was a nurse and two hospital beds - Satan was sleeping on one and God was on another.

It rather disturbed me that God was in the hospital, and like, the universe was adrift in uncertainty due to his absence or something, so I was taking it badly. I begged him to make me forget that I had ever seen this, so I wouldn't know the horrible truth of the world...

So he turned me into a squirrel. I instantly went from that room, to being a squirrel on a big leafy tree, and for the rest of the dream - which was a while - I just watched myself and other squirrels run around the tree, chasing each other, you know, like squirrels do. And I did forget (until I woke up)... for the rest of the dream I didn't have any thoughts or motives or anything. It was completely silent of language or ideas. I really was a squirrel.

One of the cooler dreams I've had in a long time.

In other news, my friend Jimmy was briefly in town two days ago, and we had lunch. He moved to Reno a couple of years ago. It's cold and dry there and he lives in the mountains where they have no air pressure. This is him saying: "Ah, Florida!"

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LA Trip, Part I [Feb. 8th, 2004|05:36 am]
[mood |memories!]
[music |Santana - Do You Like The Way (Featuring Lauryn Hill & Cee-L]

Ok, so transm1ssion has pointed out that, to my shame, I haven't posted pictures from my new years trip to Los Angeles. Thank you Alex! January, as a whole, was a very low energy month. It was virtually sucking it out of me. But no more excuses, here are some pictures instead! I hope you enjoy them at least 1/8th as much (or more) as I do, which would be a whole lot.

I should write more actual text about the trip, but come on, it's 5:29am. I wanted to get this done. I think the pictures are pretty decent though, they tell a story... which is something I'm not always (or at least, consistently and dependably) as good at.

Suffice it to say that I went to see Sally, and Sally I saw. I love her so much. She's the best person I've ever met. I can't believe we get to go to Taiwan this summer. That would be more than cool as it is, but with her? Oooh.

There are almost 3mb of pictures, so I split this into two posts. It's still a big fat download. I'm sorry, I haven't used a dialup connection since 1997 (seriously) and I can no longer even think of that concept. If you do use one and it's going apoplectic over my image tags, just go to to get a very easy to digest text index. Thanks for looking!

Please see the last consecutive journal entry for part II.

So here are the pictures, and there are tons of them.Collapse )
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