Thursday, September 22, 2005

Getting Tsilly at Tsubohachi

Tsubohachi is the Misawa branch of a Japan-wide franchise. The food is fresh and good and the drinks strong. It is one of our favorite places to eat. So along with Midori-san and Sakura-san we had dinner there last night.

The highlight of the evening was Sakura-san taking off her pants. At the table. Now, mind you, you filthy buggers, she was wearing bike shorts. Poor Sakura-san has a drinking problem, hence the removal of the pants. Most of the drink ended up on her, instead of in her. It's a big problem when you spill instead of sip. She was soaked! So off came her wet trousers. She handled the whole situation with good humor, except for the first instant when it registered that the drink had spilled. At that point, I thought she was going to cry.

In the room next to us, was a very large and VERY LOUD group of Japanese and Americans. I think the Americans were getting ready to deploy and were having one last hurrah, perhaps with some JASDAF folks. Anyway, random bits of conversation:

"Hey Mister Fluent, you need to translate!"
"Translate? But I'm not drunk yet!"

"What? Oh, it's vagina...girl parts...uuuuummm slang...snatch. Snatch!"
"Yeah, you know that part of the girl--that part, down there--what's it in Nihongo?"

"m-a-n-k-o" Here, the Japanese man actually spelled it out, because this is a pretty naughty word, offensive along the lines of the way "c-u-n-t" is in English.

"I love cigarettes!"

"You a bahdass! Bahdass samurai! Ha Ha ha!"

"Muzzafockah? Muzzafockah means?"
"DUDE! If someone calls YOU a motherfucker, you hit them! In the face!"

We went back to our meal.

Sakura-san and Midori-san ordered a deep-fried flounder, then argued over who should eat the head, which is (purportedly) the best part. I thought Chris was going to pass out, he has a hard time when dinner things still have the head on. I wasn't too happy having that poor old flounder staring me down, but at that point, the flounder was past caring.

From the party next door:

"You wanna whiskey too? What kind? Me? Any kind! WHISKEYWHISKEYWHISKEY!"

"I'm from NYC--What! You've been there!"
"Biggu Apperu!"
"What? It IS just like Tokyo, isn't it!"

We left Tsubohachi and the room full of very drunk Gaijin and Nihonjin and went to Komaki Onsen for a good soak. There's something to be said for hot springs, and that's AHHHHHHH.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

WTF2: Delicious Cooked by the Thunder

This week, instead of a Food WTF? we have a Sartorial WTF?
Check out the front of this great long-sleeve tee-shirt I scored for 7 bucks today at the local flea market:
I think "burned deliciously" is supposed to be a translation for "grilled". Maybe. Who knows?

I also had a kimono lesson. Actually, it was more of an obi lesson. I'm so dense that it has been decided I will start from zero. So today, I learned to tie a basic knot. My homework assignment was to go home and tie ten good knots. As crazy as it sounds, this is sound schooling. Everything builds from the basic knot. And I did tie my ten good knots, but with my own particular interpretation:
I am in the tatami room, practicing my knots with various obijime (cords). I ran out of room around my waist after the fourth knot, so I tied them 'round my legs. You can see part of the shoji screens over the window, as well as a bit of one of my uchikake (wedding robes) and you can see my box of practice stuff, too.

September is traditionally tsukimi (moon-viewing) season. The Japanese are mad for the moon. People have moon-viewing parties, which are basically a picnic in the dark. There is also a religious element to tsukimi. There are special foods associated with this traditional activity (of course!). So tonight is the full moon and of course it is raining here in Misawa. However, I still bought a tsukimi dango, a traditional Japanese sweet made from pounded rice. It is made to look like a pale full moon and is almost too pretty to eat. Almost. In a few minutes, I am going to brew some tea and sit and enjoy my mochi. If it wasn't raining, I'd go out on the balcony and look at the moon and eat my mochi and drink my tea.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Boot Cut, Bell Bottom, or Flare?


Last night, for the first time in my life, I saw an Aurora. And I am not talking about the car made by Oldsmobile.

At first, I figured it was glare or halos from the megawatt security lighting but as we drove though one of the darker areas of the neighborhood, I thought perhaps it was unusual and rare lenticulular clouds, illuminated by the full moon.

The phenonmenon looked like spindles (my first association) but also coccoons, or ghosts or angels, hovering in the sky.

I'm not currently able to find any pictures of it, but it was really cool. I have a lame drawing that can't even begin to capture how mysterious, suprising and lovely the aurora was. The sketch is good for a laugh, though.

Perhaps the aurora resulted from residual activity from the huge solar flare (an X17 class) that happened last week (September 7, 05). This flare disrupted a lot of electronic communications and was the fourth most powerful one recorded since the time records have been kept. Reports are that aurora phenomena, which are generally limited to the northern climes, were occuring in the deep south, in places like Texas and Arizona.

Or perhaps it was just a random occurrence and I was in the right place at the right time.

Friday, September 16, 2005

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...No, It's a Bird.

I was supposed to start a pottery class today, but when I got to the Center, there was no signage and apparently no pottery class. My last interaction with the staff there was frustrating, so I didn't even bother to inquire. So, no pottery class. Bummer.

However, we did have a mini-adventure of sorts: We stopped home briefly before the class, to drop off and pick up stuff. I was poking around downstairs, when suddenly Chris, who had been upstairs, comes bolting down, looking a little freaked out. "There's a BIRD up in the den!"

"A bird?"

"A bird! It must have gotten in when we left the window open for Genji (our cat) to go out on the balcony."

That's odd. The window wasn't open very far. Japanese windows have roller screens that you raise and lower and we leave the screen open just enough so that Genji can squeeze out onto the balcony. See? The window is about six feet tall and the opening is on the bottom! Given the configuration of the balcony's solid rails, the way the window works and just the general layout of my yard and house, to have a bird get in was really rather strange. I couldn't even begin to imagine how such a situation might have come about. I thought the cat might have had something to do with it, but more on that later.

From the way Chris was acting, I thought the bird had to be a vulture. A evil, undead, flesh-eating Zombie Vulture. And us with no silver bullets. Oh, wait, that's werewolves. Anyway, then I got real worried it might be one of the huge ravens that inhabit Misawa. One of those would give me pause. I'd take the Zombie Vulture over the Misawa Ravens any day--the ravens are enormous, smart and always look like they are ready to swoop down and peck out my eyes. But I soon found out the bird was a scrawny, wren/jay-looking thing, not very pretty and made even less attractive by the fact it shat all over the den. I chased The Butt-Ugly Bird around for a few minutes, then finally went and got a towel. I opened the screen all the way and proceeded to flail at the miserable creature. I finally covered it with the towel and dumped it outside, where it flapped around for a moment, scaring the crap out of the cat, who beat a hasty retreat to the far end of the balcony, puffed up and terrified. At that point, I concluded that my frightened, fat, ball-less, declawed cat could have not possibly caught that bird. The homely bird flew off, apparently none the worse for its misadventure.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dammit, Jim! I'm a Doctor, not a Sysadmin...

In addition to running a server farm, I am now also running a field hospital.

Today, I removed Oyala's stitches! At my desk! This is by far the strangest "and other duties as assigned" task I have ever done at any of my jobs.

Oyala had four stitches at the base of his neck, from a biopsy done last week. The collar of his shirt kept irritating the wound. Oyala couldn't reach the area himself, and he knew the guys in his office would literally SLAP the band-aid on if he asked them for assistance, so he asked me to do it. It's been our morning routine since last Tuesday.

So today, the stitches on the healed cut were bugging him and he didn't want to go back the hospital, for fear the butcher that got his pound of flesh last week would find something else to dig out. Oyala asked me to take the stitches out, given that I wouldn't purposely hurt him and that I'm pretty handy. The fact that I was completely unfazed by "Hey, Jodi, if you have some time this morning, how about giving me a hand and taking out my stitches?" probably had something to do with it, too.

I'm like, "Oyala, you need a hemastat and suture scissors!" Blank stares. "Forceps, you need forceps. And scissors. I can't just untie the stitches!" Off Oyala went to find some tools. Part of me was hoping he wouldn't be able to find anything. While he was looking, I Googled on how to remove stitches and found a reference page aimed toward home-care nursing. I figured I should read some instructions, in the unlikely event that Oyala came back with tools that might actually be able to be used to remove stitches.

Guess what? Oyala came back with scissors and forceps. I have no idea where the forceps came from, but you know, don't look a gift horse in the mouth (or in the toolbox or whatever). The scissors looked pretty skanky, I think the lan/wan guys use 'em to cut CAT5 cables. Now I was gonna use the nasty things to cut suture knots.

I had some waterless disinfectant in my bag, so I disinfected the scissors, forceps and my hands as best I could. Got some kleenex in case of hemorraging and Oyala sat down in my Aeron chair, took a deep breath (me too) aaaaaaand away we went. With the forceps in the non-dominant hand, gently lift the knot, use the scissors to cut as close to the skin as possible and then gently remove the suture. Repeat. It took less than ten minutes and was a complete success, with only one wince-inducing moment.

A sutureless Oyala applied some antibiotic ointment to the area, I pasted a band-aid on it for him, and he went on his merry way.

...And what did YOU do today at work?

Monday, September 05, 2005

File Under WTF?

Here is a drink I purchased from a vending machine, mostly due to the WTF? factor. A lot of Japanese food/drink/packaging has the WTF? factor, which compels me to buy it simply because it is so bizarre.
As far as I can tell, this "yogurt drink" has a couple of health benefits. Take your pick:

1. Drink it and become impregnated with a giant mutant peanut. BONUS! As the pregnancy progresses, you will also turn into an amorphous blob, sprout a third eye and horns!* This is clearly shown on the front of the can.

2. Drink it and get amoebic dysentery (FREE!) as clearly shown on the front of the can. BONUS! Drink it NOW and you can choose from four, that's right, FOUR kinds of amoebic dysentery. Pick from the amoebas pictured on the back of the can.

Actual Factual:

1. It is a yogurt drink.
2. It is supposed to improve intestinal health by boosting the good bacteria in your guts.
3. It is low-calorie and is pretty nutritious.
4. It tastes decent but looks like really watery semen, so watch out for giant mutant peanuts.

*NOTE: Some of my guy friends claim this happened to their wives during pregancy, even WITHOUT the WTF? yogurt drink.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Woke up at 1:30am, following a decent-sized earthquake. I was up for good at that point and figured I might as well try to make use of the time. Went for a run (more honestly--a waddle) at 5:15 am, got home and inside just as the skies opened up. Got out the "todo" list and got to work. Housework, that is.

Took a break at 9:00am to take Sakura-san and Midori-san to Misawa-Eki. They're taking the train down to visit relatives during the long weekend.

Ran a few errands, and stopped and got fresh, warm donuts from a local bakery, completely obliterating any benefit I received from my morning exercise.

Then, more housework.

I finally got around to installing the nifty USB 2.0 drive Kelly gave me for a Christmas gift. It's a sleek little silver number, Japanese-made. It took a little longer to install than I expected. I am not really referring to the 9 months since Christmas, so QUIET YOU, I mean the actual installation time. The delay was due to the discovery that I had to go to the store and get compressed air to do some serious cleaning, for when I opened the case of my long-suffering machine, I discovered about three inches of that weird, fuzzy glarf that accumulates in computers. I am amazed my machine didn't burst into flame. I blew out all the glarf, added a USB 2.0 controller card and closed it up. Booted up, no prob, hooked up the drive, found it was named "Squinch" and I laughed like crazy. What the hell is so funny, you may well ask? What the hell is a squinch, you may well ask? Aside from being one of my favorite words, a squinch is an architechtural device that transitions an area of space from a polygonal base to a circular dome. That's a picture of one. At work, I post a word of the week, and "Squinch" had been one of them, just before the holidays. I had also mentioned it was one of my favorite words, too. Pretty clever of Kelly to give me a Squinch for Christmas.

Reviewing that last sentence, I realize it sounds a bit dirty, like something guys would say "Ya see her over there? I'd squinch that."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Look, Same Crappy Content

This is a rollover from my previous website, hissyknit. The only thing that anyone really looked at was the blog, which was (and continues to be) unbelievably lame. My friends and family do utilize the blog to check in on me and in some instances to waste time and bandwith at work (MOM), so I figured I should best keep one running.

Blogger seemed like a good solution. The way to really solve my gripes about my (former) site would be to set up my own webserver. Despite Kelly's best efforts to convince me to do so, it is not going to happen.

I am safe and happy and doing well. There are so many others who are not. If you can help, please donate to any of the Katrina Relief Funds. The American Red Cross is a good place to start. Do be careful of scam relief sites, which have popped up all over the web.