Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Moving The Office

My office is moving. A couple kilometers away. But all the staff in the building, along with all their computers, large-screen televisions, and whatnot, are all going. All at once.

I won't be sorry to leave the dilapidated, cramped structure where I've been working for Pioneer during the past year and a half, but I don't have high hopes for the next place being much more spacious. At least I won't have to worry about it falling down if a significant earthquake struck. I'm not sure I've ever been in a building in such a state of poor maintenance, let alone worked in one. I was shocked when I first started working there.

In preparation for the move, decades of old equipment, furniture, and everything else are piling up in the trash collection area. This morning when I arrived, the trash bay was so full of rubbish they had barricaded it off with the ubiquitous black and yellow striped safety poles so that people wouldn't add even more and obstruct the driveway. The bins for styrofoam, cardboard, and assorted circuit boards were full literally to overflowing. I only wish I lived closer to the office so I could cart more of the good stuff home. Unfortunate to see all those great pieces of electronics and office furniture going to the recycling center where they will probably not be reused.

Hopefully there will be more activity around the new building. We are currently a 15 minute walk from the nearest train station, and Kamata Station is nothing big to start with. On the other hand, it has been nice to get out into some of the less packed parts of Tokyo City. It's never crowded there (unlike near my apartment in Shinjuku) and people are friendlier. Once I got harro'ed at from a couple of high school kids as they rode past on their bikes.

Another time, when I was walking back to the office after a trip to the convenience store two blocks away, I passed two elementary school girls who were chatting on the side of the street. One was facing away from me as I walked by and I saw the one who was facing me tap the other on the shoulder. Their giggles reddened my ears as I walked out of range. Apparently they don't see too many balding, bearded & mustachioed white guys in those parts.

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Minty Fresh Bird Breath

On my balconies I'm growing two types of mint. I've got a spearmint plant in a good sized planter that I received —along with my plum tree— from David when he was forced by his landlady to close his rooftop garden. That has always done well, although the mint leaves are not super tasty. Last summer I bought a small black mint at a farmers' market in Yoyogi Park, and coaxed it along through the rest of the hot months when it became infested with some sort of aphid-like pest. During the early spring the black mint took off and was doing quite well indeed.

When I stepped out onto the balcony to water my plants this morning I noticed that many of the branches had partially bitten off leaves! Even some main stems were truncated. Nothing other than a bird could have gotten up here to the 6th floor and done that kind of damage. I've since moved it to the back of the balcony, out of reach of the railing, and will hope that will keep the herbivores away. At least they didn't attack my baby zucchini plants. (knock on wood)

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Monday, April 16, 2007

More Classical

Had a pretty good weekend. Saw a different friend play violin in an orchestra up in Saitama. Totenfeier (Mahler), Prelude & Good Friday Spell from Parsifal (Wagner), Requiem in D-minor K. 626 (Mozart), Requiem (Faure). Quite enjoyable, especially with the chorus joining in for the two requiems. The Mozart actually sounded familiar- I wonder if that was one of the pieces we sang at Bowdoin?

This also reminded me that I wanted to mention this movie which I saw with Minako the better part of a year ago. It was dark and moody, but quite interesting. I'm not sure if I've ever seen any other Armenian films.

I also did some minor gardening on my balcony, moving zucchini seedlings, putting parsley seed in the sprouting trays, and moving permanently potted plants to bigger digs. Hopefully my first attempts at reviving potting soil will work out. My main fertilizer is some bagged worm castings. I still need to locate some actual manure worms to raise on my balcony. I'll give the bait shops one more try before I am forced to go looking online.

The last notable event of the weekend was a trip we took to Popeye (warning: animation heavy page). Definitely the best beer bar I've been to in Japan. It doesn't come close to the Sunset Grill, naturally, but their selection is far bigger than your typical bar in the US, let alone the one or two light lagers most places here stock. My favorites were from Baird. They make good beer. I plan to go back soon. If only they weren't halfway across the city center.