died in the wool ______

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Office observation 4/27/2005

I've been away from my blog for awhile it seems. I've lots the blog itch a little bit, mainly because I haven't had anything that seems worth telling my able-to-count-on-one-hand readership.

I did get a new supervisor, which is good. The old one was a crazy christian guy that swore like a sailor and was angry at everybody because of company policy making him retire at age 60. The new guy is from Kyoto, laid back gregarious, fun to work with.

Golden Week is coming up, and I usually take that time to go to the states to see friends and family. This year though, I have a release to do just before the holiday, and prices are sky high after that, so I'm going to Taiwan for a little bit.

I've always thought I should go visit somewhere 'china-ish' for a long time. I studied Chinese in high school, and I've always wanted to see how well I could handle myself over there. Shanghai would be cool, and I was even thinking about Hong Kong or Macau, but the opportunity to go to Taiwan opened up, and so off I go.

The interesting thing about Golden Week is that they are just a few scattered national holidays that don't really consist of a whole week of vacation. May 2nd is not actually holiday, but my company is forcing everyone to take paid vacation on that day. The thing is, people don't take work off to do things, so I think that most employees appreciate being forced to take a holiday because that means it's ok.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

Running in Tokyo

I long ago gave up running in Japan. Why you ask? Japan is not a very navagable country. Streets are not organized, not logically connected, and are narrow. This makes the streets which ARE navagable crammed with cars at all days and times of the week. One would think the countryside would be better, but the streets are just as narrow, and while they do have the not (as) crowded factor going for them, if a car does come the street, you will be pushed off into the standing water and mud of a rice field.

I talked about this with a very good friend of mine from Minneapolis yesterday on sunday. We went to the same elementary and junior high schools, and are kind of like surrogate brothers, but I digress. We also both ran in high school and both have lived in Japan for awhile, so he can relate and testify to the impossibility.

We talked about this while doing hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. Hanami is a huge thing here, but I have just never gotten into it. This year, however, perhaps the weather or my location it does seem pretty amazing. My department on Friday went to, of all places, Yasukuni shrine for hanami, it being where war dead (including war criminals from world war II) are buried. With my friend on Sunday, however, we were at a great park outside of the imperial palace. On Sunday, there was the sakura fubuki, or the cherry blossom blizzard, when all of the petals start blowing off the trees. It really is quite a site.

To get to the park we had to walk around the perimeter of the palace, which many foreign people say is a good place to run in the city. I often disagree pointing out the huge road and its ensuing pollution.

With the nice weather recently, I've taken to walking home from work. My office, near Tokyo station, is located right next to the imperial palace. From Nijubashimae station you can walk down Hibiya Street until you get to Hibiya Park. If you cut diagonally through Hibiya Park, you will end up near Kasumigaseki train station. If you turn right, following the Chiyoda line, you'll walk up a very wide but uncrowded street with a great view of the Diet building. I know this part of the walk, but what I found was a really cool and pretty shortcut, and more importantly a potential running path. As you walk up the hill you find a free way interchange that is more or less underground that the selfish bureaucrats built for themselves right by the Diet. I used to turn left down Roppongi Street, but there is a more narrow street that goes down by Prime Minister's residence that's very quiet and beautiful. The prime ministers house has a very minimalistic grove of bamboo planted outside of it (not to mention the massive building; it really is nice)You then go underneath the uphill approach to Hie Shrine (or is it Sanno Shrine?). You will be right in front of Akasaka street which is the street that goes back to my place!

So despite years of thinking running is impossible in Japan, I may have found a route that rather than being choked with cars, is littered with green(well, Hibiya Park and the Palace grounds anyway), and the Imperial palace is a great hub; it reminds me of running around the lakes of Minneapolis.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Retro Chic

Riding the subway to the Muji Flagship store in Yurakucho yesterday, I saw some kid wearing The Pump tennis shoes, a Jurrasic Park wallet, and about 4 tamagochi's hanging from his neck.

This is odd. Kids are always decked out in the Ultraman/Power Ranger-esque character paraphanalia, especially the shoes, and Tamagochi went the way of the those bronzed snow queens years ago. Even one of my Japanese friends thought it was bizarre, especially with kids who always need to keep up with their schoolmates on the latest gadget. Hmm.

Plus THE PUMP tennis shoes? The ones whose air bladder burst all the time because kids were a little too rough with them (or some mean kid stuck a pin in them and popped them)? In the US this would be salvation army material, but here, one could pay top dollar for this kind of retro americana.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool, Beeb style

speghetti growers

This is a great story looking at a BBC April Fools Joke about Spaghetti Plants. Aparrently, pasta wasn't the ubiquitous staple it is today in 1950's Britain. My favorite parts are about frost impairing spaghetti growth.

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