died in the wool ______

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will -Stephen Mackenna-

Thursday, December 30, 2004


I bought some morbier the other day at Yamaya . I haven't had cheese since I worked in a wine and cheese shop in Boston really, so it was nice to have some again. I forgot how the soft the rind is. I also love the ash layer in the middle. I also forgot that the cheese is made from a night milking and a day milking. Tasty stuff.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A *concert*? yikes!

This is so otaku it actually made me snicker. Then why do I still want to go and, as the article says 'relive all those memories'?

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Monday, December 27, 2004

my neighborly mafia or tonari no yakuza

So my neighbors are in yakuza. They are like one of those things I always here about (molesters on the train, all the bizarre cultural stuff that comes out of Japan that I just never see). I've had quite a few run ins with them (all without conflict). My first rememberence of the Mafia next door is them talking on the balcony, badgering a pachinko parlor owner for money over the phone. Now, why he would be on the balcony lecturing some guy about how he had better come up with the money or something might happen to the wife of the guy on the other end, to share with the whole apartment complex, is beyond me. Interesting to me, they have to be nice to me. I already feel a bit of immunity from them because I'm a foreigner, so I am not the target of most of their schemeing. But no, the reason they have to be nice to me, is because the whole apartment KNOWS that they are Yakuza, and if there is any disturbances at all, we will boot them out in a Tokyo minute. One of the lackeys seems to have taken to being nice to me. He dresses straight from the countryside (less overalls, more gaudy quasi brand name track suits), and he always comments on my piano playing. How sweet. One of the other lackeys, whose short sleeve shirts expose the body tatoo typical of yakuza, is less cordial and more business-like with me, but more out of fear it seems than anything. When one of his 'customers' came to my door complaining that my neighbors owed them money, I told them I wanted nothing to do with it and to keep me out of it. Hasn't come back again, and neighborhood has been quiet. Even their boss is friendly. While I was sitting out on my balcony, I saw them hanging some laundry on their's. When he asked if I was American, I asked him if he'd been, and in a hilarious mixture of using the English words 'mafia' and 'immigration' he told me that they won't let him leave. Now if they would stop double parking in the garage downstaris they might just be the perfect neighbor.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Finally somebody who understands me! How many times have I been the designated driver even in cities where I don't even live? Some quotes. Read drunkards:

"When I hear people saying that they had the best weekend ever but they can't remember anything because they were so drunk, that does not equate for me."

"A disgusting scene of dribbling, puking, staggering creatures which I find repellent and I want no part of."

I guess I never thought this was exclusive to Japan, but I hate this thought pattern among drinkers that you can't have fun without alcohol. How it runs peoples lives. This Irish girl that replaced me in Nobeoka was like 'I always thought my friends were so wierd that would come out to drink and not drink anything. ?!?!? Why? What is so fun about getting drinking and getting drunk? Are you so insecure and unable to make you need alcohol to lower your inhibitions? rhetorical question.

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You know maybe I've been here too long, but I always thought that strange uses of English were limited to Japanese. Alas, I do remember a German friend of mine when I was living in DC say 'password (w is pronounced 'V' of course) over the phone to his father.

I guess I just never thought in English would be 'in vogue' in Europe. Japanese people are en masse always trying to speak more English, but I always assumed that Europeans in general would never do such a thing.

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Friday, December 10, 2004

how to lie with statistics

I saw this , and my heart sunk. Mpls population is not this white I thought to myself. We are tons more diverse than this. Then I realized that this web site did the same trick that I always do: Including the metropolitan area in the city numbers to make it seem larger than it really is. I always say Mpls is 3 million, but the city itself, excluding suburbs and st. paul, is only a little less than 400,000. To make us sound larger, we always talk about the metro area.

Now, after finding some census statistics It makes much more sense. It reminds me that, yes, I was a minority at my high school, Yes half of my elementary school class was Hmong. That's better.

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that's why the jews left the USSR

I was just reading an article about the Ukrainian Election, and I was looking up some vocabulary that I was a little fuzzy on. I came up to a section in this referencetalking about Anti Religious activities. This might seem obvious, but we learn so much in the US about why Jews moved to US from Germany. They were isolated picked specifically for being Jewish. So many of them fled. But I have so many Jewish friends whose background is from former soviet republics. after reading this it all makes sense to me now. They weren't attacked for being Jewish, they were attacked simply for subscribing to a religion. This differs entirely from the German discrimination.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

mired in debt

This is a great article. I am a direct result of wealthy kids majoring in what they wanted to without thinking about the financial consequences. I do think it's important to major in something you're passionate about, but why does that necessarily conflict with a good salary? It doesn't have to. I majored in Japanese, and I'm making pretty good money right now. The best thing is, doing freelance on the side is also pretty good money. The best part is that I LIKE what I do. at least the Japanese part of it. I am mired in debt because of poor planning. My grandparents on both sides seemed to focus almost entirely on jobs with high return. My parents were a reaction to that. They decided to follow work that they could feel morally right about (or at least that's how I see it).

It's funny because I've had roommates who are one generation behind me. They're parents are doctors/lawyers etc, and think it's so 'cool' that my parents took the non-financial personally satisfying road. They can't see the reprecussions. They can't see what that road leads too:me. They're parents paid completely for a Harvard education (to major in film or something else that has potentially very low ability for financial independance) or any of many people I know who paid nothing for a small private liberal arts education. They're parents are paying for there health insurance when, after I graduated from College, had none.

Finding an occupation that is both morally and mentally satisfying, which fills the coffers as well. That would seem to be my goal.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

double blind invasive surgery?

So all talks of this miracle aside, is it customary of Western countries to demand double blind testing for most invasive surgeries of this kind? I personally have no problem with using aborted foetuses for regenerative therabpy. I just think it's funny that desperate pro life people with a little case of the NIMBY's go to China for this kind of therapy. 'They need to trim there population 'over here'' Like America is more of a real country. Whatever!

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green architecture....?

What does that even mean? This is a great article, but I wonder if, by the time that I get to doing something or working on projects like this, that environmental design, like modernism during its time, will be just a phase that we look back on historically. hmmm.


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Monday, December 06, 2004

China. Capitalism.

I think it's awful high minded for people in developed countries to think that all people working in factories hate their jobs. This is a perfect example. They work, they're happy. They're not stupid.

If you brought these girls to any other way of life they would probably have major adjustment problems. Many defectors from North Korea who move to the South cannot adjust to life there (the accent is different, they're discriminated against).

These factories pump out fabric to make my T-shirts, and it's because my standard of living in my country demands that t-shirt, they are able to leave the farm and work for a salary instead. They have a stable diet and a steady income. Whether that's an increase in a standard of living is argueable depending on your audience and whether they're post-capitalists or not (the most affluent people in the world)

I really dislike the fact that my standard of living demands the t-shirt for the fabric which is cotton laden with pesticides and fertilizers. I really do. But I think many people see factories in these coutries as being sources of evil when they are not. They are a source of opportunity. Certainly not perfect.

Capitalism is a necessary evil. It tends to excess when it's abused, just like any other system, but at least it employs people.

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Aging Society

There was a great article in today's IHT about aging society's around the world. About the problems we will face. It said that by 2050, people will be living to 100, 150 easy.

Now, with all that ahead of us, who would want to rush into a profession? All of us from the developed world are going to be living so long that, even if it takes until your 50 to become a recognized architect, you still have a very long time before you'll be finished. Even if you have to retire at an early 90, that's still a good 40 years of work. Ezra Vogel was just at a fortune speech we had, and he's still trucking or at least getting by. I don't think I would want anymore than that. Why not keep your youth for trying out other things?

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A moving castle?

Yes so I went to see Howl's Moving Castle this weekend. I don't really like anime, but I went to go see it anyway. It was suprisingly good. I wonder if it will be translated and be in the theaters like Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi was. Later this weekend, as i was walking through the many passages of Otemachi station walking towards Yurakucho, there was all the artwork of Studio Ghibli stuff on the walls.

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