Jul. 15th, 2011 12:19 pm
tigsara03: (Default)
I have a new roommate:


His name is Pirate, and in acquiring him, I have officially joined the elusive collection of folks (mostly gaijin, I suspect) within Japan who keep pets in non-pet apartments. But let's face it, if only people in pet-friendly apartments had pets, there would likely be something on the order of 500 pets in the country, and by my calculations, 95% of those would be snooty dachshunds.

Pirate is of another breed of pet entirely. He was rescued in Nagoya (a city a few hours north of Kyoto) by an English teacher who discovered him on the side of the road, covered in blood after being hit by a car. She scooped him up and took him to a vet, who had to do extensive surgery on his face that required several months to recover from, if I'm remembering the story right. Now, as you can see, he has a permanently pirate-like expression (ARRGGHH!!), plus an eye and an ear that don't work. ;(Hence his name.)
Unfortunately, she, too, lived in a no-pet apartment, and thus was forced to bring him down to Shiga Prefecture, where he was delivered into the hands of the Japan Cat Network, and then, eventually...me. :)

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It's weird that the Tohoku earthquake (and follow-up problems thereafter) has gotten me MORE on track. I've gotten in touch with people I haven't talked to in YEARS, and now...look! I'm even back on Dreamwidth posting my first entry since OCTOBER! ^^;

For anyone out there who's wondering: Japan is NOT about to break into little pieces and disintegrate into the Pacific. Nor is it likely to stop using nuclear energy--I'm pretty sure no country's government is quite that evolved just yet.

On the other hand...Japan *may* be about to fly into a panic about contaminated food, depending on whether you count the situation as "about to" or "already." Since the quake, Japanese people have flocked to the supermarkets to snatch up emergency supplies...which would be fine, except that this panic (taking place in parts of Japan that are really not in any danger) has caused shortages for those who actually NEED that supplies. *facepalm* The Japanese government is trying to get them to stop. I say, give it a week, and everyone will calm down.

In related news, PM Kan said that people should stop buying spinach and milk from Fukushima, due to rising radiation levels. Good to know. ...That is, it's good to know that both spinach and milk can be so immediately affected by radiation, 'cause I sure as hell had never thought about that before. Guess I'll have to pay more attention to where my groceries come from.

Kyoto, at approximately 600km from the epicenter of the earthquake, is pretty much in the clear unless the nuclear power plant melts down, kicks up another earthquake, and forces Fuji to erupt. People are already back to their daily routines, save the small addition of dropping a few thousand yen in the box of the corner collectors (who are like, on every corner) on the way to or from work...or both. One thing I gotta say for the Japanese: they really know how to take care of their own. I kinda feel like the only person in this country who's not worried about the survivors up there bouncing back from this thing. The Japanese are very, very good at being generous--most of all for domestic disasters. (The animals who've lost their homes in this are a different rant story entirely.)

And in case anyone's wondering, my coworker and I actually felt the earthquake from our office on the 7th floor...which is crazy. That's like being able to feel a San Francisco earthquake in LA. Crazy, crazy stuff.

tigsara03: (Beauty & the Beast)
I biked down a road this afternoon that I had not explored yet this last year, despite the fact that it leads right away from my house. Upon that road, I found a series of shops, cafes, and restaurants that fully surprised me in both variety and appeal. After treating myself to some Thai food for lunch (yes. Thai food. RIGHT down the road from my place, and I had no idea. >_<), I went 2 shops down and had a piece of cheese cake in a branch store of the AMAZING Papa Jon's cheese cake shop. While there, I noticed that they had a contest going--the age old "Guess How Many Jelly Beans are in the Jar," no less. While waiting for my cake to arrive, I picked up the entry ticket and flipped over the back to discover this: 

English at the bottom reads: IN A NUTSHELL: *Closets guesses win. *Winners will be notified by email or telephone by 10/10/31 (all prizes awarded). *Personal information is safe. *I knew a Swedish girl who chewed a strawberry one thousand times. *Good luck!
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tigsara03: (Default)
I went into the Junkudo bookstore downtown yesterday, wholly expecting not to buy anything, as books in Japan (in particular, the English ones imported from abroad) are so horrendously expensive. It was, in fact, in search of a present for someone else that I wandered in. After finding--and deciding against--what I had come for, I thought, "What the hell. I'll just go up to the foreign books section and see what they've got." Something, perhaps the overwhelming task of sifting through all the new covers of Twlight and Harry Potter in an attempt to find something worthwhile, drew me away from the SF/Fantasy section and toward the rack of "new comers" to the store. Quite unusually, it took me less than a minute to slip something off of the shelf and open it up to have a look. Even more unusually, I found myself strangely captivated by the first few pages--of the preface, no less--so much that it didn't even occur to me to put the book back. What I had found was The Forest for the Trees, by Betsy Lerner (the new and revised edition that, according to her website, actually isn't supposed to come out for 4 more days, *ahem*). Lerner is an editor-turned-agent with enough years in the business to produce a book, not on how to write, per se, but on how to overcome the demons that dance around a budding writer's manuscript with scary pitchforks and foul language enough to scare us newbies off. I find her style both comforting and informative, like reading an e-mail from a professional friend who gets you, and I look forward to getting to the latter half of the book where she talks about how to approach the publishing market... Needless to say, despite the ¥2,016 (priced at a cheaper $16US, of course) sticker on the back cover of the book, I went ahead and bought it.

I consider myself an extremely picky reader (a fact that I am both proud of and limited by, in turn). There are a handful of books, and only a handful, that I have picked up and thought, "...I shall keep this forever, for it is AWESOME." Stacked up neatly, side-by-side in the Holy Handful are Susan Kay's Phantom (an almost unbearably compelling story), Carol Berg's Transformation (a world where no character goes wasted), and Catherynne M. Valente's In the Night Garden (most vivid and inventive description EVER). Not only are these three well removed from each other in style and theme, even as they all more or less fall into the "fantasy" genre, but they're not hugely well-known, either. The only really obvious thing they have in common is that they're all written in first person, though each in very different ways, even then.

(Don't judge the middle book by its awful, AWFUL cover art...the story has nothing to do with lime green bat wings, nor is it even remotely as smutty as the misrepresented main character appears.)

The so-called "classics" (Frankenstein, Catcher in the Rye, and Fahrenheit 451, to name a few) have been known to send me into an annoying rant on literary syllabi filled with works of assumed greatness that's really nothing more than whiny schquible. (Yes. Schquible.) Indeed, the only fellow among the "greats" that I can think of who wrote something I absolutely loved is Hemmingway. I read The Sun Also Rises (in high school, no less, where a plethora of blegh bookage is so imfamously forced upon the uninterested and/or lacking in life experience) and remember thinking, "...Why am I loving this book so much?" For lack of a better reason to explain my confusion, it...doesn't really have a plot. Something just struck me about it, and though I remember little of the book itself, the feeling of enjoyment it instilled in me while I read it has stayed with me since I turned the last page.

(...I would insert another pic here, but the version of TSAR that I read just had a plain, orange cover with the title of the book on it. ^^;)

All of this has often made me wonder...am I missing something? Or bound to miss something? I'm not so concerned about actually not liking the classics themselves as I am about what it says about my brain. Show me a writer who's been truly successful in his craft, and I'll show you someone who inevitably loves the classics. He/she will tell you how much they've loved reading since they first picked up a book, how they read through the entire XYZ-genre section in their local library before they hit the 6th grade (especially if they happen to be a genre writer), how they devoured the assignments their English teachers presented to them with ravenous gusto, and how they're on their upteenth copy of A Tale of Two Cities 'cause, damn it all, they just can't seem to stop reading the thing down to a pathetic, shattered spine of a book. Most writers (...and editors...and agents...), too, love regurgitating that old line about how "you can't be a writer if you're not a reader." By no means am I disputing that, of course--I do believe it's absolutely necessary for writers to read, and read a lot. Reading generates ideas, helps hone the craft, allows for an escape from both this world and the ones writers themselves create for a breath of ink-tastic and papery air. It's not at all that I don't get the appeal of reading. I love to read. I just don't love to read everything.

I suppose that, as much as I love writing, I just don't feel like I'm quite the "artist" that so many writers consider themselves to be. I'm proud of my writing and confident of its worth, but not so convinced that mine is a delicate voice tossed among a sea of tumultuous waves...or whatever the angsty voices of that "greater" time might've said of themselves. I wouldn't say I'm a square peg to a round hole, but I might say I'm a square peg to a rectangular one--I fit, but...it's pretty obvious I didn't come from the same factory as all them other pegs. I suppose there's no way to know what will come of this until I actually get out there into the publishing world and see if my writing itself reflects my "issues." No matter what I put out there, there will certainly be someone who doesn't like what I have to say...but here's hopin' there will also be someone who'll stick around to my last page is turned.
tigsara03: (Default)
First, read THIS.

Summary: Japan has a HUGE surplus of whale meat just sitting around in a freezer. The volume keeps building because not enough people want to buy it (for various reasons...most likely because it's just not that popular over here), so in their brilliance, the business dudes in charge of Whale Meat Mountain thought to themselves, "Hey, you know who we could give this to who won't have any chance to complain because the people who pay for their meals will totally JUMP at the chance to cut costs on anything? KIDS IN SCHOOL. It's BRILLIANT!" And the REAL punchline? There's enough mercury in that stuff to KILL THEM ALL.

Now, explain to me...how is it possible that a group of people can be SO stubborn that they would rather ENDANGER THEIR OWN CHILDREN than STOP DOING SOMETHING THEY'RE GETTING A LOT OF BAD PRESS ABOUT???

If you ask me, this seems to have become more of an issue of stubbornness (dare I say, akin to Japan's reluctance to apologize to Korea over the whole WWII thing?) than anything else. Japan DOESN'T rely on whales as a diet staple, it DOESN'T depend on the industry financially, and it certainly DOESN'T reap any brownie points in the eyes of the West for busting through Greenpeace rubber raft blockades to get to pods of whales/dolphins splashing around in the ocean. So why do they continue hunting whales, even if the only solution to the resulting meat surplus is feeding heavy metal to unsuspecting children?


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So I spent many, MANY hours today filling out an on-line application/resume/survey for a job...a job that does 10-year background checks on everything from criminal records (understandable) to employment history (duh) to place of residence (...um...ok). Seriously. Took me HOURS. Every time I thought I was done, I either realized that I'd forgotten a year or two of my life (that I then had to go back and input) OR a new section popped up for me to essentially cross-reference all my information. I'm more than happy to jump through all these hoops for the job, of course, but just looking at everything I've laid out for these people has got me thinking... I have been quite the busy bee for the last 10 years. O_O

Example: They had me lay out every place I'd stayed in for the last 10 years. I imagine, for most people who fill out this form, the result amounts to their parents' house where they grew up, maybe a dorm or two, and probably an apartment where they're currently living. Me? Ha, if only things were that easy. By the time I got down to the MOST RECENT dorm I'd lived in on a US campus (back in 2004), the program wouldn't give me any more "add entry" options. NOT counting all the times I've gone back home to live for a month or two between transfers to schools in exotic locations (that offered a more exotic treat for one's academic pallet) or jumps from city-to-city overseas, I count NINE different places I've lived (all considerably removed from each other) over the last 8 years. That's right. There was one year when I actually moved 3 times. @_@

Just thinking about it makes me tired. Is living in one place for years on end something that people actually *do*?

Hey, DW!

Sep. 7th, 2010 05:39 pm
tigsara03: (Default)

Here I am on yet ANOTHER online blog/internet journal/cyber diary of lifetime moments. Moved here from lj...we'll see if things go any better this time resisting the Facebook Code of Privacy Piracy. I WANT to believe that there will one day be an internet site that can offer genuine security to its members and NOT rifle through their every post in search of an opportunity to link it to somewhere else, but...well, yea. Seems like the internet is just determined to close that already-anorexic communication barrier and make it impossible to avoid people, no matter how many continents you might put between yourself and them or how many Skype calls you blatantly ignore.

At least DW's got one thing going for it... That is, it shares an acronym with one of my most beloved childhood cartoon characters. ^_^


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