Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Short Circuit review

I also forgot to mention that last night I watched the fine film Short Circuit (John Badham, 1986). Jeff received it recently from his folks. That's some fine cinema. Retro-futuristic high tech comedy with a good message, way over the top in true 1980's style. It even has shots of CJ-5's and CJ-7's in action! Not to mention what must have been on of the earliest cinematic appearances of an Apple. I believe it was a Macintosh Plus, shown with its distinctive Apple carton, but it's not on screen for long. Check it out, you might enjoy hearing: "your mother was a snowblower!" for the first time since elementary school. Or maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic for my youth.

Typhoon outside of Tokyo

Came home early from work– left at 7pm– due to "Banyan," typhoon #7 ("台風7号" in Japanese). It's not uncommon for these hurricane-like storms to interrupt train service due to high winds and flooding, so most of the folks at work left before the typhoon could strand them far from home. Fortunately the storm ended up heading out to sea and just dealt us some rain.

Had lunch with Ken, Peter, and two co-workers at Bob's Lounge, Ken's favorite bar. It's an interesting place, run by Bob, a middle-aged Japanese man with a penchant for Texas and cowboy hats. During the day they serve an average curry spiced at an unsual 30 different grades. In the evening they provide conversational English teachers for those interested in improving their language skills.

After having my workstation (Intel 3 ghz Dell, Windows XP) taken away to be shipped off to a customer last week, I was excited to receive a replacement machine (2.5 ghz beige box, Windows 2000) today. Anything's better than the elderly device I was using before and after the XP machine (SPARC 500 mhz, Solaris 9). Although I don't like using Windows, the Solaris windowing environment is exaspertating, and the hardware was way too slow. Also since all the other developers are using Windows, it only makes sense for me to be on the same page as them.

I'm feeling a bit ill today. Had a sore throat on Sunday and Monday, but that's gone away this evening, to be replaced with a general tiredness and malaise. Signing off for an early bedtime tonight.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Still Hot

Left work early at 8pm today. I really wish they wouldn't turn off the air conditioning at the office at 7pm, especially when most of the staff are still working. I bought a desk fan to try and deal with it, but today I had it on high even before they turned the A/C off.

At the supermarket I was tempted by the wonderful smell of the peaches, but, deterred by the price ($4/ea.), went for a nice looking asian pear ($2/ea.) instead. You folks in the US wouldn't believe what watermelons go for in this country. Next time I spot a square one, I'll post the photo on my site.

It had begun raining lightly when I left the supermarket, but I kept my umbrella stowed and let the rain cool me off.

Listening to the NPR news over the internet now, about the innocent Brazilian murdered by the police on the train in London. While discussing the world over dinner on Sunday with an international group of friends (Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Hong Kong), and American) we all got quite depressed, feeling powerless. What does Bush think he's doing?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Earthquake In Tokyo

Everything's fine here today, but Saturday when I was about to set off for my futsal game an hour outside of the city, the earthquake struck, shutting down all the trains and subways. I was in the basement level of Ueno station at the time, and when I first noticed a vibration, I thought it was just a train passing. Instead of stopping though, it grew stronger, eventually becoming strong enough to make the lights sway.

After the quake stopped, the station staff made announcements telling us there had been a strong earthquake in Tokyo and that as a result, all the trains were stopped for safety checks. No passengers were allowed inside the ticket gates, and the stations quickly became jammed with huge crowds of people whose plans had been interrupted. The lines for the buses grew huge, and all the taxis were full of passengers, running without their normal "in service" or "occupied" lights- no doubt raking in the cash. If the earthquake had hit during a weekday, there really would have been chaos. Tokyoites wholly depend on the trains and subways to travel.

After waiting for 30 minutes or so, the situation hadn't improved. The announcements still had no estimated time for resumption of service. For safety, they had to check all the tracks and stations for damage. Outside Ueno station everyone was milling about, some with suitcases, others in yukata, postponing plans on their cell phones.

I decided to hoof it home, an excuse to see a new side of the city. I had walked home from Ueno once before, but this time I had no map on hand, and had to make do with the ones I encountered on the street corners. It took me about three hours, snaking through quiet neighborhoods, past kids setting off fireworks in empty streets. Fortunately it was a cool night, good for walking, but I was still beat when I got home. Thankfully nothing was damaged there (although the elevator was out-of-order) but it made me want to get my earthquake kit in order, that's for sure. Last weekend I saw that cool, crank-powered radio/flashlight for sale in Yokohama...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hot Summer Days

The heat is on. I'm sweating it out at my desk in my room, all the windows and doors open. Fortunately we're high up so we get some breeze. We have an A/C unit, but it seems extravagant to use that to cool the whole apartment. I'll survive.

In other news, my long hours continue at work, as does my frisbee and occasional hike. I went down to Yokohama on Saturday with Minako, and we enjoyed the nice ocean breeze of the harbor as well as the more Western style of the city.

I'm having some more troubles with my website, but I hope to have some new pictures (and more blog posts) soon.

Stay cool.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Work Dream

I had a dream on Saturday night. I was wandering through some part of what was supposed to be Tokyo, but looked more like what I imagine Rome looks like. Minako was there, and so was my co-worker, Peter. The streets were crowded with big bookcases crammed with things to buy. As Peter had already bought something, and was trundling it through the street on a cart, I was afraid he was going to knock one of the shelves over.

One in particular looked precarious, so I went over to point it out to him, but ended up knocking it over myself. As all the items in it cascaded to the floor, the shop clerk came out and accosted me. Minako was coming over to help smooth things over when I managed, in stuttering Japanese, to communicate that I lived in Tokyo.

At this the clerk's attitude cleared right up and he sent us on our way.


After I woke up I realized that I had meant to refer to the district I live in, Takadanobaba, but instead had told the clerk I lived in "Kikaku," which means "planning" in Japanese, and is the name of one of the parts of my project at work. I thinking I'm spending too many hours on the job.