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February 27, 2003

If you still love micro$oft

Alan emailed me this this morning from the other part of the house. It isn't even just funny any more. Microsoft is just a technological terrorist. Opera Press Release: Opera releases ""Bork"" edition"

Posted by jason at 07:22 PM

February 26, 2003


I'm finally gone. Atsuko's taking me to the airport now. Had a couple of hours of work to do here at FUN to try and finish things off... done as best I could. Out to a nepalese place tonight with Alan and Yuko. Spending the money I'd saved for a hotel to treat them, since they're letting me stay on the floor. That is a totally great use of money. Better than paying for a hotel. Thanks Alan! See y'all. And thanks SO VERY much to Larry and Atsuko for inviting me over for a wooly and wonderful time. And thanks to Hillel, Lehan, Bob, Caroline and Satoko over at FUN for making it a great experience."

Posted by jason at 09:23 PM

February 25, 2003

A paucity of prose...

Not too much to talk about today... unless you want to hear about techy stuff. Been doing laundry and packing, and looking for odds and ends. And thanks to my great amazing travel agent (Robin who works at distinguishedtravel. If you want his contact info, just let me know), I changed my flight, and I'm going to Tokyo at 1:35pm tomorrow, arriving at 3:00pm. Unlike most travel agents, Robin never sleeps. And unlike web pages, he responds to normal Jason requests, like ""Robin, can I go earlier or something?"" And even when he gets it straight and I screw it up, he fixes things with out a hitch. Thanks Robin. I'll have time to spend with Alan and Yuko. And say bye to japan without having to rush. See you when I get back!"

Posted by jason at 11:46 PM

February 23, 2003

Hakodate beer review and boats

Hakodate beer review. With new pictures. Saturday. I'm a bit shocked. Hakodate has not only got a really good microbrewery, it has three. I'm drinking ""Hakodate Beer"" brand at the moment as I sit in the factory brew pub on the harbour downtown. The beer is ""Two Hearts"". Their valentines day brew. Only in Japan would such a beer be a bitter dark ale, almost a stout. It is a bit thin for me, as a lover of Russian Imperial Stout, but it is ideal as a summer dark, and probably more than enough for the average palate. THey have other regular brews: a weizen, alt, ale and a kolsch. I don't know what a kolsch is, but I'll look it up. I bet it is a bitter, since it has the caption, ""Enjoy its bitter and clear taste."" Versus the alt: ""Enjoy its rich and bitter taste."" They sound like imperative statements to me. And who am i to not follow orders to the letter? I'll bring home some of this, as it comes in neat, though all too small, cans. Actually they have 125mil and 3 litre sizes. If you don't already know, most of Japanese beer comes in 1 million and a half sizes from 125 mil up to 4 litres, in 250 mil increments. Just finished a wonderful ""set dinner"" of broiled Hokke (fish). When I walked by the fish market on the way down, I saw this fish for sale eve rwhere, but I don't know what the english name is. Generic Delicious Fish. Finishing off another beer too. The weizen. That's wheat beer for you unlettered in the art of zymurgy. More fruit and yeasty zip than regular beer. Also usually cloudy. THough this one seems partially filtered. I think it is the wheat proteins that make it white. Dave? Am I right? Hats off to larry (an a bonus for anyone who got the del shannon ref) for the use of an iPod. And apologies to Bernie. He and I talked about carrying music around, and I said that I didn't like having music on when walking. I was wrong. The celtic guitar music in my earphones almost completely washes out the Whitney Huston drone. Almost but not enough.. Need something more acoustically dense... Ramones: Cretin Hop. It is 4pm. I left my place at about 12:30, and walked all the way down here. Took a bit over 2 hours, about 10-12k I'm told. I was too lazy to wait for the bus, and too confused, and I did want to walk all the way down here once. Kenny and I made it half way down here a couple of weeks ago, before larry caught up with us in his SUV. I have not spent as much time down here as I thought I would. Skiing with larry ate up saturdays wonderfully. But I did make it down here a couple of times. Perhaps four. I'd probably live down here in the summer if I was in Hakodate. The old part of town is definitely big enough to keep one occupied. And if I had to have a car to live in Hokkaido at all, I'd rather be down here, and drive out than the reverse. Today's goal is shopping. The weeks' goal is to read some chapters I'm to be editing for the handbook joel and I are working on. And to get a couple of conference proposals in for the AoIR conference this coming october. Prolly do that tomorrow, that is today in terms of when I update this journal. Gak. I just remembered that I'm having trouble sending email to hotmail, fis, chass and kmdi. Though I sincerely doubt that anyone from these domains are reading my blog, aside from KAT! and Julia (sometimes juliaD). But I've talked to them enough on IMs. A big ""Hi!"" to EvaB. I finally connected with her on iChat this week. Oh, This Weizen is definitely the best glass of beer I have ever had in Japan. Bar none. The only thing that would make it better would be if it was naturally carbonated, and if it was bigger. Love to you all to whom that wouldn't be an embarassing statement to make, and a profoundly respectful ""best wishes"" to the rest of you. And we know who you all are. At least in a general statistical sense. it is now 4:17 pm, and the waiter has taken my plate and glass, and left me with a hot glass of green tea. Sweet."

Posted by jason at 01:19 AM

February 21, 2003

What I did on my summer holiday...

Not that much. It was a burner of day. Ripping up floor tiles and laying down ethernet cables. Then lifing them back up and taking them out. And back, and forth... ""Thirty years with my head in a dirty oven. This is marriage?"" Was installing a highspeed wireless network for St Larry and crew. Finally got it figured out in the end. It is tough when you can't go and ask the networking guys how things are set up, cause they don't want to tell you, cause then you might know that it is borked. But we finally worked out a compromise, larry and I, that bypassed the networking guys. Remind me to tell you about them some day. They all sit in a room on the third floor, and they have slippers on. And they came to work in suits, but they took their jackets off, though not their ties. And they work for a big company that contracted them out to the university. And they're scared that if they let anyone do anything that something might break and they'd be thrown down a deep dark hole. But they seem like nice guys. Anyway, nothing much more useful done, as it took all day. What happened to the funding proposals and the conference proposals I'm to write? Not much. That'll be all next week, or larry's toast. And so am I. Luckily I got to chat with yuka for a good bit, then Julia (sometimes JuliaD), and Simsim. Simsim did a great job redesigning her blog, by the way. Tomorrow I'm going shopping. And I hope that that's going to be a great event. Pray for me."

Posted by jason at 03:20 AM

February 19, 2003

Walking Iddybiddy Puppy

Went out for a walk with Caroline (not sure of the spelling), a part time instructor here, who's taking care of IddyBitty while Lehan (a prof here) is in germany. The dog: I made 4 short movies. Actually the same movies. The first two have a 2 second delay, and not too good music. small (1.7 megs, 2 second delay) large (2.1 megs, 2 second delay) Better music, longer delay between pictures small (3 megs, 3 second delay) large (3.4 megs, 3 second delay)"

Posted by jason at 07:56 PM

February 18, 2003

Yuka knows the craziest things...

You must check out this story about the Lion Cut that someone... well, read it and tell me if I'm wrong."

Posted by jason at 10:51 PM


This is just for yuka... I had to hide my camera and set it to autoshoot to catch this miraculous shiba inu!"

Posted by jason at 09:24 PM

Fire and Ice

I had the luxury of spending most of my free online time over the past two days using iChat to talk with Yuka, so my posts have been brief. Chatting with Yuka is much more interesting than filling my blog up with information regarding what I've been up to... and anyone of you who've met Yuka will indeed agree. Larry was so busy with marking, that he actually snuck into his office so that he'd not have to deal with me, camped out in the student area. I was happily working away chatting with yuka, and Simsim and JuliaD, checking out Sarah's blog, and learning about kameshibai from Bob Seberry (another of the FUN crew) who had been in New Zealand exploring kameshibai in a maori context. (Check out http://kameshibai.com for info on what they are.) I had a thought that KAT! and Mudsey could perhaps teach students kameshibai via flash as part of their next summer duties. Today I got a package from her as well, via Larry and Atsuko. It was a belated Valentine's Day box of maple sugar candy. Sweetness personified. With her permission I shared at with some of the faculty on the 5th floor (the Communication Department). Some of Atsuko's students were lucky enough to partake. Unless I got it wrong, women buy men valentines presents. That works for me. Guys have no excuse for leaving presents for one day of the year. They should be at it more often. Well, in that's from a hetronormative perspective. Suffice it to say that the partner in a long term relationship who is responsible for keeping everything stable and sailing forward should be deluged with a myriad of presents. And the partner most in need of steering should be doing the presenting. Did I mention that none of the roads are salted or sanded here? Perhaps not. But that was what I was thinking of as I slipped and slid my way up to FUN this morning. I've seen more cars adrift on the roads than anywhere else except in the midst of a blizzard. Well, though the do scrape the worst of the snow off the roads and some of the sidewalks, they by no means create a safe environment. I've found that trying to walk across intersections to be the worse, due to the black ice that looks just like asphalt. But walking up to FUN is no fun matter either. The daytime sun is hot, and the sidewalk is black... so everything melts. That is until the sun goes down and every thing turns to ice. Some of the sidewalks are worse. You walk through slush when the sun is up, then all the bicycle tracks and footsteps turn to ice. Hakkodate must have the most sure footed octogenarians on the planet. I certainly see enough older folks about to know that they don't all stay indoors for the winter, or go to Guam. I thought of taking some pictures, but I slipped and fell while trying. Not really. I'm a sure footed semi-octogenarian myself. The strange thing is that in a country that is so organized in certain contexts, others seem to slip so spectacularly between the cracks. I think this is just central planning at it's best, and not much of a cultural comment on Japan. The rules are made in Tokyo where the snow and ice never stay long enough to get around to dealing with. It is, however, a comment on globalization, and the inability of someone far away to ever be able to have even a slight sense of knowing what's really going on elsewhere. Hillel's meeting with the networking police soon, and will probably be getting me access to the server outside of the FUN firewall, so that I can replicate all my work setting up stuff (PhP, MySQL, Perl, OJS, MoveableType, PhPNuke) that I've done with larry's server. A bit repetitive, but that's how things seem to work around here. I hope that they will decide that I'm not qualified, and choose to set it up for me. Today is Feburary 18th, and I'm heading home in 10 days. I'm going shopping this Saturday, down town. Early in the morning. So that I can see the fish markets. Perhaps I'll be able to get Atsuko to take me tea shopping, as I need someone to help me to get the best stuff."

Posted by jason at 09:00 PM

February 17, 2003

Steve is da Mann

Steve's got a new article ou in First Monday about Cyborg logs which he is conceptualizing as predating blogs. I feel responsible for telling him about blogs, but really it is not my fault. He'd have found them anyway sooner or later. Thanks to JuliaD for pointing me to the link."

Posted by jason at 10:16 PM

February 16, 2003

Size is important.

I just had to show you this. A nice pesto pasta with a myriad of veggies and flash fried pork. All cooked in a single 4"" pan. The wine was pretty good too. And yes, this is my entire kitchen. Well, there is a fridge and a microwave. I'm chatting with yuka in iChat, and she wanted to know how I could cook it in the small bowl... so: I had to cook fast. First cook the meat in pesto and olive oil. Put the results in bowl #1. And cover it with the chopping board. Then cook veggies in the same pan/sauce, and dump it in bowl #2, covered with a plate. Then pasta. The put pasta on plate, and reheat the veggies and pork, and voila."

Posted by jason at 07:54 PM


Here's an uncontextualized picture ken lecturing. It was a great little show of his stuff, organized by larry at the last minute. The term is over, but 6 students, and the same number of faculty stuck around on a Friday afternoon to hear him talkk about his work. T'was fun."

Posted by jason at 12:12 AM

February 15, 2003

Snow Massage

Snow Massage. Dr. Chau is going to hate me. Whether, she reads this or not. I think that today, I undid the past couple of years of chiropractic therapy, let alone a few millennia of special evolution. Today I went snowboarding for the first time ever at Greenpia Onuma, just across the lake Onuma valley from Nanai, where I went skiing for the first time in only 20 years. THAT was an unqualified success, and a triumph of experience over whatever experience should triumph over. Yes, snowboarding should be illegal for over 40s. I have no bones left. I'm not just jellied protoplasm on toast. And anything that still resembles a muscle is as tight and stiff as the recently jellied bones. From human to ameba in 4 hours or less. My calves are as hard as diamonds. Walking is not an option. My feet feel like they were on loan to the Russian ballet, ridden hard and put away wet by the most prima of ballerinas. My knees. They're in good shape. Somehow falling on your knees is not a painful thing when snowboarding. I think that this is due to the need to pray for deliverance from the spirit of bravado that led you down the path to consider snowboarding in the first place. Arms, elbows, wrists, fingers all struck hard surfaces with the intensity of a cannibal with a meat tenderize mallet. My butt hurts. We can leave it at that. My lower spine, however, cannot be left as is. It needs remedial therapy. It was wacked, but good. Upper back? I'm not sure if it was the whiplash from smashing the back of my head into the snow, or if it was merely the tension and fear now permanently lodged therein. The fear of snowboarding. Of course I loved snowboarding. Once I figured out that you will die if you try to treat a snowboard like skiis, and that it is easier on a steep fast hill than on a slow one, things got both easier and less painful. When you fall at high speeds you tend to slide on your butt or well padded stomach. When you fall at slow speeds... like almost standing, you fall like someone who tries to walk with their feet tied to a big flat piece of wood. You fall flat on your: face, back, butt. All damage was done on the easiest hill. The flying cartwheels that I did down the main intermediate hill were mere technical faux pas. Not even a memory. So, as Larry and Ayaka mastered Ayaka's fear of skiing on the easier hill, I moved up to the intermediate. And larry even got the opportunity for a run down the difficult hills. There are no pictures, of course. I was wise enough to realize, before the fact, that no camera, let alone a mother's child, would survive this experience. So the camera stayed in the car, surviving to bring you this wonderful picture of Ayaka cutting onions. Oh, I did forget to mention that the hills were filled with classes of high school students, all in matching outfits, learning to ski and snowboard. The hills were dotted with hundreds of kids in various states of disrepair. The obstacle course they themselves created merely added to the joy and confusion. As I write, we have two nice bottle ofchianti open, and larry's cooking up a pasta storm. Ayaka's on her gameboy, having finished her cooking chores. Larry certainly has 'italian' figured out in a way that is pretty amazing. I have never seen that much garlic in my life. I wish I knew how to cook like that. And before I go, I have to learn how to make a proper italian salad. I was stuffed to exploding... especially since wine is a bit cheaper here than in Canada. Though the quality is not as good on average, Larry helped me find some stuff that turned out to be really good. Just for comparison, you can get bottles of french wine here for 300 yen. That's about $3.60 canadian. I got a couple of bottles of Rhone valley stuff for $7 which looks drinkable. Just need to try it out... tonight perhaps. There was a wonderful package waiting for me when I got back to the Davies-Noguchi household. It was a large box from professor Yoshiko Akamatsu at Notre Dame Seishin University. Yoshiko's a friend of yuka and mine, originally through LM Montgomery conferences. Yuka had told me that Yoshiko was reading my journal, and had invited me to visit her. Okayama is pretty far from Hokkaido though, and it wasn't really possible this trip. But she sent me this wonderful package full of oranges and mandarins and kiwii from her garden, as well as some ""Shinchan"" candy, which I may never open, but add to my great shinchancollection. I must open the other package, which seems to be chocolate hena dolls. I'll have to take it up to the university to get some professional help in setting this up, you just have to see it... It was a great surprise, and an even greater breakfast!"

Posted by jason at 11:57 PM

February 13, 2003


It is a winter wonderland like I've not seen in decades, so I thought I'd share: night snow, bright snow, white snow. (sorry, the images are a bit big)"

Posted by jason at 10:15 PM

Hokkaido Nights have seen Queer Sites

kawaii, animals, and strange pictures abound... at least on my web site. Here's a page for Yuka, that I think I blogged about already, but it is updated. The first image is for Salmon, and her ilk. The next few are for Rochelle, if she's reading this blog. And for Rochelle if she is not. Then dogs and cats for Yuka... with a Ken+cat at the end. That's it for now folks. Well, just a second, as I upload more pictures."

Posted by jason at 10:04 PM

February 11, 2003

Camping with Kenny.

I've been going camping with Kenny for almost 20 years. Most always to Algonquin Park, sometimes to my mom and larz' place at Eagle Lakes. Sometimes even with our partners, though Yuka and Angela have supreme good taste and usually prefer that we go off on our own. Well, it has gone too far. We're sitting in my apartment in Hokkaido, Japan. And we realized it was back to our old camping lifestyle. Which means sitting around, making coffee by the fire. Hanging the bear bags. Foraging for firewood. Making stupid comments to one another from our sleeping bags in the dark. This morning, we're drinking 'Blendy Coffee' from bowls, eating Hokkaido camembert with baguette, and oranges. Ken looks supremely relaxed. Or asleep. Last night we went out to an isakaya (Japanese pub/eating place) and had this strange stuff in a pot. I forget what it was called. But chicken, leeks, fish, shellfish, cabbage, mushrooms. Plus a big plate of yakitori and other yakiStuff (yaki == BBQ). (see previous entry for picture.) Yesterday we went up to the university, and Larry gave Ken the tour while I played (skip to next paragraph if you don't want compspeak) with the bits of Redhat/Linux 8.0 that are totally wacked. It has changed a lot since system 7.2, and some of the tools I'm used to using aren't there, like linuxconf. And some don't work, like the firewall setting tools!!! So, the frigging firewall's up, and I can't use the tools I'm used to to reset it. Can't even find tripwire!!!! Luckily, Hillel brought professor Nakauye to visit. He's from Mukogawa Women's University's Department of English. And we talked about MOOs, Blogs, and Slashdotty things. It turns out that he's teaching unix tools to students as tools of learning and reflection. Teaching text editors (not word processors), grep functions and FTP. To English majors. So very cool. Anyway, he wants to get involved with some of our projects, and was helpful when Hillel went off to a meeting with the system admins about getting them to support some of our projects. Kenny had brought some of his strange distractors. Like his ""Listen to the Paper"" activity. You'd know about it if the doof would get a web site up. That an some of his other acoustic ecology projects. Larry and Hillel are interested in adopting the ideas for some of their projects. I was expecting them to find kenny's stuff interesting. Today's a national holiday... though about what, I don't know. It's 9:45am, and kenny and I will soon head downtown, probably walking the 6k, if bus service is too slow. Not wanting to pay 2000 yen for a cab. I am so cheap. Then we'll hook up with larry this afternoon, and perhaps go out for a bite. Who knows. I may even find an internationally able phone, and give yuka a call!!! If it wasn't for instant messaging on the computer, I'd have had no contact with her at all. Sad. But the trip's 40% over, and a lot has been accomplished. Enough to consider the trip both a success and worthwhile."

Posted by jason at 08:29 PM

Kenny in Hokkaido...

Well, kenny's here, and it seems as if he's not sent angela enough pictures. So here's some. kenny and the hot pot. kenny at breakfast. kenny with some art similar to his. kenny walking up to the old town meeting hall..."

Posted by jason at 08:24 PM

February 09, 2003

"Chairs, Animals and Skiing."

No time to tell you want I was doing. Only time to show you. I went skiing on Saturday with Larry and Hillel. My first time in 20 years, and I was scared. It took only one run to get the technique back. There was also an interesting event with chairs. Hillel didn't like me sitting on the student chair all day, and thought I whould have a professor's chair. But the admin said no. They thought I might spill coffee on it. So I got a researcher's chair. I'll spill coffee on it for them. The day before, Larry took me for a tour around town, and we saw some animals. I took pictures for yuka. Kenny's here now. I'll get a picture up, when he stops spinning out."

Posted by jason at 08:49 PM

February 06, 2003

Kawaii page...

I put up this small kawaii or cute stuff page for Yuka. Note larry's gozilla firewire hub."

Posted by jason at 08:32 PM

Japan has people!

Will it ever change? I'm at larry's office. It is sunny and snowing outside. Still playing with MySQL, MoveableType and now SlashCode. He wants it all... But I have revenge... first of all I put up a small web site: FUN (Future University) with Larry. And second, I'm making him download Linux 8.0 and install it on his dell server with only my words of encouragement, while I blog and eat green apple Mentos. Cooked for myself last night. First time I've had the chance since I was here... so, it was yakisoba! (Fried soba) with green peppers, garlic chives and bokchoi. And larry lent me a Python DVD. Oh, and someone, aka Yuka, said that I didn't have enough pictures of people on the site. So here's Larry and his daughter Ayaka, and Atsuko. "

Posted by jason at 01:17 AM

February 05, 2003

Walking to school

I talked to Yuka!!!!!!! It was a great adventure. I can't call overseas from Larry's office, or from his Cell phone. I can't stay awake late enough to call from larry's house. Yuka's email was down, so we couldn't email. So. I got on AIM, ICQ and MOO looking for help. Rhonna agreed to call yuka, and give her my number and ask her to call now. Funny thing is that Rhonna's in Norway. So, Japan > Norway > Canada. That's a good tech moment. Yuka called... and aside from the great mushy bits I'm not going to tell you about, it turned out that the wireless network at home had borked. Nothing left to do but disconnect it, and reconfigure the place as wired. You try that from the other side of the planet. Yuka, who usually refuses to touch wires, did a great job of rewiring everything, and testing connections. We then switched to AIM. Got my pretty photo id... and now I'm an official visiting d00d. Got some office space too. Though I don't think I'll use it much. Larry's got a better place... now that he's letting me clean it up. I feel like typical Jason. Walk in and start rearranging things. We actually ripped up the drop floor yesterday and dragged up more ethernet and power cables from under the floor. Then I stole one of his computers... It's called blowfish. A nice g4 tower. When he wasn't looking I erased all the hard drives. Well, he was looking. I just can't handle it when someone has 160 gigs of hard drive space. Spending the day installing mysql, and installing moveable type. Got pretty far along, but I need to print out the 300 page manual for mysql. Ick. I'd rather leave this for people like emma who get a kick out of it. But I'm here, and the only one at the univ who's going to do it. So here we go. Not much trouble, but I'd rather infinitely postpone the honour. Luckily, I'm keep detailed notes of everything I'm putting where, so it is not a problem for me to knock off now, and come back tomorrow. i won't be lost. Going to spend the evening reviewing poems for theharrow.com figuring out which one's we're going to publish... Anyway, here are some pictures of FUN. Here are nine views leading up to Future University. Compared to the historical environs from where I start. The mountain in the distance, by the sea, is mount Hakodate, and the oldest part of the town is down there. There's nothing behind the university, except parkland. House Fields and Mountains Vista 1 Vista 2 Vista 3 University 1 University 2 University 3 University 4"

Posted by jason at 03:08 AM

February 04, 2003

School Time

Went out for sushi last night with Larry & Atsuko (and chibi-chan, Aiya? Not sure how to spell it.). I can see why Atsuko wants to move out of a small town like Hakodate. There are some people who seem so un-self-aware that you wonder how they remember to breath. Then there are others who just dropped in to say hi, on their way between walking the Silk road alone and trying to culturally relocate Edward de Bono in a Japanese context. (Just pretend I said ""Between two interesting and wildly incommensurable things.) Aiya can hold her own against two parents who are chastising her simultaneously in Japanese and English, and is as fluently bilingual as any eight year old can be. She and I left the restaurant poking at each other and muttering ""Tsun! Tsun!"" Which is, of course, the sound that poking at someone with your index finger makes. She's very much at eight, what my niece Marie is at 12; an independent soul in Japan. And as with both, the question is how parent can nurture it. Foood: The sushi was excellent. Garish and noisy and family restaurant like. Line-ups, 6 shouting sushi chiefs in the middle, and a beltway of delicacies circling them. The shouting was as people requested special things. The sushi was like sashimi that had been mistakenly dropped on a few grains of rice. Ate mostly things I knew: squid, octopus, salmon, tuna, maguro (minced tuna belly, with green onions), crab, and cucumber (a favourite). Probably more, but we just kept piling up plates. And my gracious hosts entertained me with chat and stories. I don't usually feel that relaxed with people I've met so recently. But Larry and I have chatted so often, though usually for brief periods, online for the past couple of years, that it was easy to slip into casual. Atsuko, as mentioned, would be someone you could strike up a conversation with during an earthquake. Then larry and I went out to a coffee shop for some brewskis. I had 25 grams of blend B in 150 mil of water. Larry and 20 grams of B in 150 mil of water. It was about 50 (70) more for the extra, but I wanted a boost. Excellent coffee. If you don't know, in Japan, you pay premium for coffee, but that's really just a charge for the opportunity to have a quiet place to chat unmolested. Just like the extra charge for first class peace of mind when traveling, rather than standing all the way. And I got 5 full hours of sleep, getting up a 5:30. Going in to see larry's uniZoo in about an hour, after finishing some yoga, and more microwave rice. Today was fun. Forgot to take pictures, but I do have some of the university that I took yesterday when I walked by. Larry has more computer toys that I've ever seen anyone have. It is just insane. Every little toy and gadget. I fixed up some problems he was having with his previously unused iPod, getting 18 gigs of mp3s off a computer. I'm going to wipe this puter and set up moveable type and PHP nuke, and mysql on it. And maybe OJS (Not Orange Juice Simpson). It's a nice g4 mac. Then we'll drag in the Dell server from the other side of the firewall room, and set it up for MOOOOOing. It will take for ever to download and apply all the patches, but it should give me a list of what I need to do for Achieve when I get home. It's behind on some of its patches. Larry introduced me to one of his colleagues, and I met some staff, watched a pile of student presentations (some more tomorrow too) and then I got my picture taken and got a space in the visiting scholar's wing. I'll probably spend most of my time in Larry's office, because more of the hardware is there, but when I have to retire somewhere to write, I know I've got a private space. But the highlight was Atsuko's decision that we were going out for Ramen!!! I love ramen more than sushi. It is a Japanese adopted chinese dish of noodles. I've always heard that the best ramen was in Hokkaido. And it was really really wonderful. No shit. It was a great bowl of noodles. Probably the best since 1988 when I was in Yuka's home town... another special area for ramen. Figures that they're the two parts of japan that have had some of the most non-japanese contact during the shogunate."

Posted by jason at 03:52 AM

February 03, 2003

Hakodate apartment at 6am

I've been up for about four hours. Nothing new for me in Japan. The jetlag frog has me in its clutches. When I've been over in the past, I've always woken up early for the first couple of days. But usually I'm staying at my sister-in-law Yoshie's house. There I can creep out of the house, and grab a hot canned coffee or two from a 24 hour vending machine at the side of the road, and go for a walk. Usually, I'd go out among the rice fields, and stop at a shrine or temple, or just polk about the town. Once, I remember calling Yuka after I'd been out for 2.5 hours. I'd walked through town and up into the mountains, and I needed instructions regarding which bus to take to get home. Apartment pictures: hallway, bedroom 1, bedroom 2 Not this time. There's work to be done. I finished transcribing a couple of chapters of William of Newburgh's Historia Rerum Anglicarum that Ben needs to have so he can translate it for our vampire conference. UNFORTUNATELY, I didn't photocopy all the pages I needed. So I wrote an email to the always lovely and ever talented Mudsey to grab the book out of my office and to photocopy, and hopefully fax, the missing pages to Larry's office. Of course, I was watching TV, and saw the pictures of something streaming across the sky, accompanied by the words NASA and Texas, and bits and pieces of the Japanese from the announcers I could figure out. Strange feeling, as I was sitting alone in a bachelor apartment typing back in 1986, just before I moved to Japan for a year, with the radio on behind me, when I heard about the challenger disaster. My uncle was a senior engineer on the space shuttle program, responsible for the heat shield team, and he'd passed away the previous summer. So I've always had a special interest in the space shuttles, even though I find the whole space exploration thing a real problem. You probably don't care about my reminiscing about this. What about the cool apartment Larry and Atsuko (larry's partner) arranged for me. I've got a tiny apartment about 15 minutes on foot from Larry's house, and 25 minutes on foot from the university. Views one and two show the inside of the main room, and view three shows the entrance way. It is about three times larger than the one I had when I lived in Japan in the mid 80s. So it is luxury plus. TV. Washing machine. Japanese style bath. Everything looks brand new, and the heater keeps everything toasty. Only the main room is heated. The kitchette, bathroom and toilet are unheated... wise. Of course the toilet seat is heated. Larry took me out to a 100 yen store, and we picked up some necessities. Bowls, cups, glasses, chopsticks, cutlery, and the sort of foods you can get for 100 yen. Dried seaweed soups and stuff. I have some rice in the microwave as I type, and I'll probably sprinkle some soup mix over it, and that's breakfast! Nummy. It is friggen cold outside. Not like it has been in Toronto, but I want to go out and explore here, and just walk about. I know it will be a challenge today, but as soon as the sun's up, I'll head out, probably in the direction of the university, to see what I can see. Larry's going to call me this afternoon, and I'll probably go out with he and Atsuko for dinner. And tomorrow, I'll start in at his office, to see if I have some workspace. He told me that they've approved my internet access, so I'll be able to post these blogs in rapid succession, and get email sent out. What fun! Just got back from that ""little walk when the sun's up"" but it took about 5 hours. Didn't get lost. That would be too easy. Walked the 2.5 km up to the university. More on that when I recover. Then walked back. Then continued on downtown for another 3km. Looking for something to eat, on a Sunday at 10:30am besides eating from a 7-11. Ended up with KFC, which is better here than in Canada. Did some real shopping: carrots, peppers, satsuma (oranges), bokchoy, fresh noodles, bottle of wine. I can start eating civilized. Larry called me on his cell that he's loaned me to say we're going out for sushi tonight! And asked if I wanted to go to a snow festival. I need some sleep though. Got 3.5 hours to do it."

Posted by jason at 12:40 AM

Day Two: Saturday: Handea Tokyu Hotel.

Oops. Didn't need that 6am wake up call for the 7am shuttle bus to catch that 8:20am flight. It's a 2:20pm flight. Was looking at the return flight, not the outgoing one. I forgive myself in the name of laggedness. That was after getting to the hotel. Shared the bus from Narita airport to Handea airport (90 min) with an Austrian woman named Britta. She was with the 2012 winter olympic committee. Or 2010. She spent the entire trip, when not explaining the intricacies of olympic committees, alternating between trying to make her cellphone work in Japan and wedging a wad of swedish tobacco under her upper lip. I remember it as snuff, but she had another name for it. Just the thing for long journeys. I think I watched Spider Man 3 times last night. Made it worth the 1500 yen it cost to see it, but I just couldn't sleep, after not sleeping for the last however many hours it had been since I had last. Did get some down time between 11 and 3 local time. I think hotels are all about maximizing usage. I guess that's why I don't make an ideal guest. Had to have a shower and a bath. Watch a movie thrice (well, I think I saw it in sufficient fragments to count as merely two in total.). If I'm charged 1700 yen ($24) for breakfast, I might as well have three of them. Strangely enough, I did. A western one, then a Japanese one, then a fruit and salad one. Oh, four. After being so good, I had a plate of sausages and french fries (the Japanese version). [Pictures: hotel room, view from buffet, Mount Fuji from the hotel, out my hotel room window, Haneda Airport, Cyber Cafe 1, Cyber Cafe 2] It is now 8am. That is 6pm Canadian time. And I've got 3 more hours to poke about until checkout. Time to find an international telephone and let yuka know I've arrived safely. When I talked to Alan last night (he's in Tokyo) I asked him to email yuka to let her know I'd arrived. But still... can't call too often when abroad. Especially since I totally suck at remembering to send postcards. (Though if you want one, email me your snail mail addy!). Yuka! I called Yuka just now. And she got the email from Alan telling her that I arrived. Not too much has changed in Canada over the last 24 hours. She seemed to get a kick out of my observations on being back in Japan, for the first time since 1995. I'll get to the observations later on, but they're joyful and sympathetic observations... not the ""gee, they don't do it like this at home"" sort. Wow. I overheard a great conversation from some guys explaining how to get from the hotel to Akihabara (do a web search), the greatest electronics shopping district in Japan, and probably the world. Alan's promised to take me through his favorite haunts if I can get back down to Tokyo during my trip. This guy was explaining how he was able to get from here to Akihabara for 390 yen. Everyone else was paying 1200, so they gathered around to hear. Turned out that he was from the Cook Islands, and the other two were from the Philippines and Brazil respectively, in for a conference on Airline security. A real growth business. Don't know much about the Cook Islands, beyond what you get from high school geography, so it was a neat discussion on comparative cultures. They use New Zealand for all their foreign affairs, and all that. Then it was time for the bill. First time I've ever paid $291 for an evening's stay (though that included the luxury of a single beer, breakfast and a movie). No wonder people can't travel if it is not on business. But then again, I guess I AM on business. Not looking forward to next year's tax time, that's for sure. That's enough for today. I want to keep every day's post under 500 works, otherwise no one will bother to read them."

Posted by jason at 12:38 AM

February 01, 2003

Day one. Airborne

No idea what time it is, but we are just going over the international date line. SO, no matter what time it is, it is now tomorrow. We're at 37k feet, and it is -61 F. 4:37 from Tokyo. It is 3:36pm, 7:36 in Toronto, and some other time in Tokyo. And I wonder why I get confused. It would be nice if it was the same time everywhere. But then it would no doubt cause a large number of people to go insane. I'm sitting in seat 24A, and C. The lady who was in C ran away as soon as I arrived, with barely a nod. She's now in 23 D, E, and F. Plane's not filled, as you can guess. Mr 24 D (and only D for this sedentary gentleman) is on the way to meet his girlfriend in Thailand. But everyone else is stretched out and snoozing. Just finished watching the Bourne identity. Stupid movie. Watched Vin Desel in TripleX earlier. A less stupid movie. Strangely enough. Bourne recognized nothing beyond how cool and dangerous the CIA is. Fine. Be that way. Europe's just a place for us to play politics, right. Ugh. Triple X at least gets intertextually confused. Not merely is Vin a guy playing a superHero robinhood Xtreme sports hunk, who gets to pretend to be a spy, but he says that he learned his skills by playing video games. As Ben says, ""It's a rich tapestry."" Going to read an Anne Rice novel. It is a tradition. Back in 1989, I think, before flying to Japan with yuka, it would have been to meet her parents (first time for me), we stopped at the Coles bookstore (now part of the Chapters/Indigo hegemony) to get something to read for the trip. Yuka (seriously, it wasn't me) pointed towards two books: Interview with a Vampire, and The Vampire Lestat as something that we might both read on the flight. I'd never read, to my knowledge, any vampire stories then, and I was reticent, knowing the types of people who read that stuff. When I was in teacher's college Sue had traded me one of Rice's works of erotica as collateral for an Astronomy textbook. It was a very bad trade. I read one on the flight, and almost finished the second. Read them again in Japan, and got ""Queen of the Damned"" while I was over there as well. Rice isn't much of a writer. And the stories are pretty stupid. Actually, she writes like a late medieval writer... all about food and clothes and the luxuries of the rich and undead. Still, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read one more. Pretty much the same story about a bunch of queer vampires who fight over straight women. I know the term 'faghag' but I don't know the reverse term. At least Rice is more honest this time... Merrick's a witch from NewOrleans who manipulates the codpieces off the poor vampires to get what she wants. And what she wants is to be 'one of the boys': ""All my life I've been afraid of things, as a child and a woman must be. I like about it naturally. I fancied myself a witch and walked in the dark streets to punish myself for my doubts. But I knew what it meant to be afraid. And now, in this darkness, I fear nothing. You can't know a woman's vulnerability. You can't know the sense of power that belongs to me now."" Finally, a character who is not a frock-coated ponce crying over the mean twist of fate that has separated him from mankind with this 'dark gift'. But I'm sure that in the next novel she'll go back to focusing on her lamenting lads. The romantic period is so lame. And to be a romantic, period, for all eternity is just punishment. Oh, then the plane landed. I tried to call Alan to arrange dinner. And got no answer with all the various permutations I tried. Found out later that I'd written it down wrong again."

Posted by jason at 06:51 PM