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Rants and Raves

Note that this collection of rants dates back years. For a somewhat more recent blog, my livejournal is at:

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September 5th

Okay, busy busy busy, yeah, I know. How I found the few minutes to do this, I'll never know.

Well, my friend Dave came over from Canada on his bi-annual visit Japan. We looked around Tokyo and Yokohama and saw lots of interesting things, drank interesting drinks, and realized we were in Tokyo just by the prices of things (i.e. see melons picture, left)

Next, my digital camera had a kind of...accident. You see, I reached into my bag, and upon pulling out my hat, my camera decided it would like to come out as well, much to my surprise. Before I was fully aware of the camera's intentions, it came crashing down onto the cement below (5 feet or so from above the ground). It landed dead flat, chipped the dial on top, but forced the batteries *into* the inners of the camera.
It has since been fixed, though, after a seemingly endless time of waiting for a phone call, that is.

Look, "Smap" cola! What is "Smap" cola? Noone *really* knows. One thing that everyone agrees on, though, it that it tastes pretty...well...awful. Imagine a can of Dr Pepper, but instead of the unique Dr Pepper taste, replace it with some bizarre grape flavour, and leave an aftertaste akin to a mix of Pepto Bismol and Prune Juice, and there you have it. Smap also happens to be a music band here in Japan, though they seem to be following popularity instead of being a driving force in the music industry any more.

Finally, it is still hot...hot enough that I continue to drink plenty of liquids at astonishing rates. The coolers in the office/my room/my new place are tiding me over the summer, at least. If it weren't for those things (and drinking lots of water/tea), I'd probably be dead now. Best of all, I learned about certain types of aircons (as they are known) that flood the room with negative ions and make you feel a lot more comfortable. Now, and this is where it gets confusing, this technology is knows as "Minus ion", pronounced "ma-ee-na-su ee-on". However, when pronounced at a native speed, it sounds a heck of a lot like "ma-ee-na-su yo-n" (Minus 4). The confusing part is that there is also a drink called "Minus 4", which comes in Orange and Grapefruit flavours. Summer confuses me...

No, I don't know why I have pictures of soft drink cans, either. Oh yes, before I forget, I *believe* you can not get root beer in Japan except at import shops. Can anyone prove me wrong? I haven't seen any anywhere, come to think of it.

August 2nd

Yeah, I know, it's been too long since my last update. First, let me say how hot is has been...It's hot...Too hot. I'm literally melting away here. Canadians aren't meant to experience such weather, I'm sure. Well, the actual temperature isn't so bad, but the humidity...oh, the humidity.

On a sidenote, there hasn't been too much rain recently, either.

Also, I get to have the amazing honour of filling out home insurance forms for the place where I will be living soon enough. It's much closer to work, and I don't need to take those crowded trains any more! Anyways, these forms are horribly confusing to me (as they would be to anyone who is not familiar with insurance forms...let alone in another language), but I like the pretty pictures.
Next, I should be a little more careful when using my cell phone. I know they are incredibly useful, and I would be lost in Japan without mine, but using it too much comes...at a hefty price.
Let's just say that is about 3 times what I usually pay per month, but no worries; I was talking with a few folks at work whose phone bill is more than double what mine was. Well, at least I feel a little better now. Anyways, it's understandable considering just how busy I have been lately combined with phoning people to take care of details which would make me less busy. Did that make sense? Anyways, the quick tip for making your phone bills low is to have people call you, because (at least with J-Phone) you are only charged for calls you make, not the calls you receive.

Of course, my phone doesn't cost so much since it isn't jam-packed with extra features like the FOMA Docomo cell phones (video conferencing...yowza!), but the costs can add up, nonetheless.

Oh, I managed to go see some fireworks recently. I liked the fireworks and all, and I even got to dress in traditional Japanese style, though apparantely the entire rest of Kanagawa prefecture had the same idea about going to the fireworks as well. It was sort of like one big morning rush-hour train, but with pretty fireworks to distract me from the density of people.

You see, there are these "Fireworks festivals" across Japan this time of year, where people from all around come to see..well, the fireworks, I assume. This was my first time seeing one in the Kanto region, though. I had only ever been to the fireworks festivals in Suwa city (Nagano) before. I still can't figure out why I can smell the lake whenever I'm there...

July 7th

I'm back...sort of. It's been action-week here in Yokohama the past while.

First off, it was national safety week this week (July 1st-7th), so we had to be extra-careful not to do something which was considered "unsafe", or something. Yeah, I'm confused, too.

Next, I got to help out some Koreans at work. You see, these Korean engineers were sent here to to do some presentation and setup of some demo system. However, all those in charge to attend the meeting (except me) kind-of...left early without telling anyone, and hence I now had 4 Korean engineers who couldn't speak Japanese nor English, and a Japanese-Korean Translator, whom I *could* understand. Needless to say, they were upset at first, but after many hours of staying with them to make sure everything was setup correctly, I assisted them in finding a hotel for the night and got to avoid the chaos of screaming the next morning between them and the people that should have been there last night in the first place. Anyways, the Korean guys said they would send me something once they got back to Korea. That was nice of them.

Information time! I learned recently that Yokohama and Vancouver are sister cities (probably being both harbour cities and all). Of course, according to this list, Whistler, B.C. is also a sister-city to Karuizawa (a place in northern Nagano).

There have been contests recently regarding this fact, with the grand prize being a trip to Vancouver. Too bad all I ever won was some tissues and chocolate.

Next, I went to an engagement party recently. Without spoiling too much and revealing information which some might not want knows, it was a load of fun, and lots of eating, singing, and partying. We even got to go to a karaoke place that was so-so in quality, though the design of the place was just freaky.

Finally, I went to a talk about Vancouver and "Canada" with my fiancee's parents. To be fair, the Japanese translator did a much better job conveying the messages than the original speaker did in English. Man, was that guy gloomy. On his "photo tour" of Vancouver, he showed the homeless people and drug users in downtown, followed by a bunch of pictures of his friends and local drunks. Oh well, at least everyone got to learn about "Kanada", and "Bankuubaa". (Canada and Vancouver...I just felt like writing the Japanese "Katakana" pronounciation of it for laughs)

June 21st

Weddings in Japan are Expensive

There, I just had to say that. Despite the fact weddings in Japan are 3 to 4 times the cost the price of an equivalent one in North America (I am a little skewed too, since I am talking about a wedding in Tokyo/Yokohama), some things you just can't take for granted anymore. For instance, 1 chair for 1 person at the wedding reception is 1000yen ($12 or $13 Cdn). No, that is not dinner or snacks or plates or *anything*...that is just the chair...for one party...for one guest...and it's not even this chair

So, what's up lately? Insanity, I tell you. First off, I had a wonderful italian meal recently, but, being me, I just *had* to try the insane hot sauce they provided for me. For those interested, it was Amazon Pepper Hot Sauce. I had the "Extremely Hot" habanero sauce and felt my face melting away as I was eating. Isn't that something? Next, I have been introduced to "Goma-chan". You see, "Goma-chan" is a little stuffed seal that, recently, Japanese children and adults alike have picked up on...for some reason. But will anything *ever* really replace Domo-kun?

It's still the rainy season here. Yes, it drowns out the vast quantities of smokers on the way to work, but being flooded still sucks. Oh, and to ensure (for readers of lesser English ability) that there is no misunderstanding on this "sucks" word:

[In the Englinsh-Japanese Dictionary, the other example they give is "K-Mart Sucks!"]

Speaking of "defining things for those who don't know", why oh why is this country in a total uproar over the World Cup? There are police lined up in Yokohama at night as if we were in a police state here. Perhaps it is because I am from Canada, and we don't really place value on the World Cup as a whole since soccer is not anywhere near a "national" sport. I can follow the game easily enough, but I can't understand some truly devoted fan attitudes that I have seen. Today, in my mailbox, just under half the mail was about the World Cup. I guess "not doing work" is bad, but "not doing work because of the World Cup" is okay.

And now, a quick comment on music that bugs me...Minimoni. Ergh. Not too long ago, they came onto the music scene with their song "Jan ken pyon", which was a whole song about the game "Paper, Rock, Scissors" sung by 3 Japanese girls and 1 American/American-Japanese/I'm not sure girl. Even if you hated the song, at least you could say it was "novel" for it's time. Fine. Then came along the song "Minimoni Telephone de Rin! Rin!" This was just silly. It was about phones (ringing phones). After a quickly-died-down hype, all was well...until recently. Now, we have the "Ain!" song done in tandum with "Baka Tonosama", a famous Japanese comedian. The song wouldn't be so bad except for...well...the music (?) There are constant breaks of all of the singers going "Ain!" at the same time, and it is really grating on the ears. What has the music industry come to?

Still working on the whole wedding (planning and all). It would be nice if somehow, all the preparations were magically decided for us. In tandum with work, I hardly have any mental power left to decide the details. That and deciding who should come is fun as well, considering most of the folks I know now live all across Japan.

And speaking of living, it seems Hitachi can provide apartments for married couples at ridiculously low-prices (read : 1/4 of normal costs), *and* it is in Totsuka, so I can walk to work. What a sweet deal. I hope I can get it. Oh, and for educational purposes, the Japanese word for Company housing is "Shataku".

Finally, this page (well, aaroninjapan.com) has been getting 20,000 page hits a day on average. Wonderful, though there are some (namely, 2) out there that have nothing better to do than harass me about how my site "offends" them on frequent occasions. Well, to you two, I have updated my mail filter, and your IP has been banned. Too bad for you. I hate to be the bully, but at the same time I shouldn't have to come home and see my mail box littered with derogatory, racist mail.

See the other rants:
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