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Sunday, May 24, 2015

First Japanese Immigrant In Canada

Being a curious sort, I often ask myself questions when trying to come up with what I perceive to be original content for this blog.

Sometimes I can find original content, and then other times, when it's obvious someone else has done some foot work already, I like to do my own take on it with my own questions and answers.

So, I asked myself... just who might the very first Japanese immigrant to Canada be? And, as luck would have, someone already figured that out for me/us.

That would be the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre (http://centre.nikkeiplace.org/japanese-canadian-timeline/), a webiste I have no doubt got its data right.

The article is in the link above, but I'm going to write a version here anyway... maybe not adding to the color of the original (like I said  - well done), but just because this blog writer likes to pretend he is creating his own Encyclopedia Japonica. 

The very first immigrant to Canada  would have to have been by today's standards an illegal alien.

Nagano Manzo (surname first), touched down on Canadian soil in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada in May of 1877 as a 22-year-old.

I'm unsure how he would even have heard of Canada, considering the visitors to Japan in the days before were not generally part of the Canadian navy.

Born in 1855 in Nagasaki, as a 17-year-old, Nagano worked as an apprentice carpenter in Japan - a popular profession for him as an adult, as by the 1860s Japan had only recently opened up its borders after a self-imposed global exile for 250 years - as Japan realized that it's cities looked pretty damn old-fashioned relative to the rest of the world.

Urban renewal was huge in 1870s Japan.

Along with urban renewal, Japan sought to build larger sea vessels for it's own navy.... and while it is unclear if Nagano was involved in any sort of ship building, he did perform carpentry work repairing and retrofitting boats...I would assume he was involved in performing work on larger craft - even those belonging to the foreign visitors to Japan.

Why? Because he somehow got it in his head that one day he would travel to Canada, and so stowed away on a British vessel leaving Yokohama. He must have known that the British ship was making a port of call in BC. 

Again... why the hell would he want to go to Canada? There is nothing wrong with Canada, of course. It's my home and native land... but what sold him on stowing away to come to Canada? That's what I would like to know.

It is always possible that after meeting some of the sailors on a British vessel, he might have learned about Canada that way, seeing as how Canada was still a part of the British Commonwealth Then (and now).

Aside from stowing away, I also read that Nagano paid for his passage by stoking that ship's furnace to produce steam.

My guess is that he did stow away, but was caught and paid for his safe passage by stoking the ship's furnace. But that's a leap on my account.

Once in Canada, rather than wield a hammer, he instead opted for a rod (sort of), and became a fisherman - or at least a guy working on a fishing vessel, fishing for salmon along the Fraser River.

After three years of that, Nagano shifted gears and moved to Vancouver, loading timber onto outbound sea vessels.

Perhaps filled with wanderlust, or perhaps being homesick, Nagano left Canada and returned to Japan in 1884 - where he got married - it was probably all arranged... but then left to work in Shanghai, China before heading back to North America again where he eventually ended up in Seattle with his own tobacco and restaurant business.  

You have to love Nagano's ability to try different things... I don't know if he was good at these things... I mean... he was an apprentice carpenter in Japan... and being an apprentice anything in Japan can sometimes mean you spend 10 years without actually touching the tools of your would-be trade... implying he might not have even actually hammered a nail in Japan... even though I'm sure he could...

By 1892, Nagano was once again back in Canada, this time in the city of Victoria, B.C., where he ran a small hotel (probably a bed and breakfast style) and a store - probably located at the foot of the hotel.
December 1910 in the Nagano home in Victoria, BC. (Front L-R): Seki Nagano (daughter), Manzo Nagano; Tayoko Nagano (wife); (Standing L-R) sons George Tatsuo Nagano, and Frank Teruma Nagano. You'll notice I didn't place the surname first - because these folks are Canadian now! (Image from Japanese Canadian National Museum).
Either because he was unable to focus, or because all the previous business ventures failed, Nagano eventually performed other odd jobs, including exporting salted salmon to Japan, and eventually a landowner in BC.

Being a man of many talents, and perhaps because he was such an old hand at being Canadian, Nagano was well-respected within the burgeoning Japanese community in BC.

By 1922 and still living in Victoria—though weak from tuberculosis, Nagano lost damn near everything after a fire ripped throough his property.

Sad, and realizing that this sort of thing would never happen in Japan, Nagano left Canada and returned to the land of the rising sun to reunite with his family.

I would assume his parents might have been dead, but he might have had some siblings or cousins... I mean this guy hadn't really been to Japan since what... 1892? That's 30 years!

After being away for three years while I was in Japan, I didn't see most of my friends ever again... which is fine, actually. Sometimes people change (me), and sometimes people don't (them).

Nagano eventually did in Japan at the age of 68.

You might be wondering what the hell that image of a mountain is doing up above... well, that is Mount Manzo Nagano situated about 400 kilometers northwest of Vancouver, near where Japanese Canadians helped pioneer the commercial fishing industry along the Pacific coast. 

Nagano still has descendents living in Canada today.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph


     
 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Can Using Chopsticks Prevent Diabetes?

Here's my examination of a story I saw first at OZY, written by Melissa Pandika and published on May 16, 2015... Original article HERE.

First off... if you look at the headline, No it can not. Secondly, if you look at the photo, it's not that type of chopsticks, though if you play it fast enough and often enough you might be able to expend a few calories. (Image from davidrubinstein.net).

For those of you too lazy to read the other article and then come back to read my review, I'll provide an overview within. 

Researches think that using chopsticks could affect your chances of developing diabetes... and seeing as how, after decades of sugary abuse I am now diabetic enough to require daily pills (not insulin needles), I tend to pay a bit more attention to such stuff (even weird stuff like this) ... not for myself, but to pass the warnings on to others. But is it weird?

As we age, our bodies ability to produce insulin can weaken. Ergo (I think I am using that word correctly), the more stress you put your body through to create insulin in your body throughout your life can have an outcome whereby your body no longer produces enough insulin to keep you healthy.

The signs were there for me for a while... I had elevated blood sugar levels five years ago, and switched from Coca-Cola to Coke Zero and saw decent results...

But, like I said, I was also getting older... and now I could no longer eat a 2-lb bag of peanut M&Ms as I used to like to pick up on the weekends at a bulk shop, without getting sleepy. That should have been clue enough, but it wasn't... not until I felt dizzy and tired all the time... and then holy crap, along with other signs my body was breaking down, I finally got tested again, and whoo, were those blood sugar levels high.

Being a sweet guy wasn't all it's cracked up to be. So... Metformin for me, twice a day... and a knowledge that I shouldn't overdo it with anything sweet.

So... my wake-up call involves meds - yours need not. Let it be a blog.

Ugh... don't make me run! I'm full of chocolate! Just watch the first 15 seconds...



But... it's not just candy and cola... there's the regular fruits and veggies we eat... things that turn sugary in our system as we digest them...

Anyhow, the article talks about how people who use chopsticks to eat their food, because of the way the implements are utilized, that only small chunks of food can make it into our mouth, which means that after chewing, will is easier to digest.

Results garnered by scientists at the National University of Singapore and the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (Singapore, too) compared eaters who used chopsticks, hands and spoons when eating the same foods.

The results?

Chopstick users had a lower glycemic response. That means their blood sugar levels rose at a slower rate than the hand or spoon users.

The basic idea behind that is that those smaller bits of food capable of being picked up by chopsticks (and yes... I have actually picked up a steak with a pair and then gnawed off a large chunk of healthy red meat)... is that smaller foods are easier for the body to digest.

The end hypothesis is that since chopsticks users have slower glycemic rates, it actually means could have a reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Crap... all I had to do was drink my Coca-Cola and at my M&Ms with chopsticks.

Like I said... it doesn't mean you can't develop diabetes, but it can help reduce the risk of you getting it... that's something worth noting... especially if there is a risk of developing diabetes thanks to a family history.

It is also a reduced risk for obesity and heart disease.

Granted this study was based on a very small sample size of a mere 11 eaters.

Over a three day period, a baseline glycemic level was taken from each via a blood sample.

Next, each was randomly chosen to eat a bowl of rice with a stated eating method (chopsticks, hands, spoon).

Thanks to electrodes hooked up to their cheeks (on their face), the researchers were able to measure the number of mouthfuls required to finish each bowl of rice, as well as how many chews they performed before swallowing each mouthful, and even how long it took each to complete a mouthful.

If you are like me, you probably do not chew (masticate) your food enough before swallowing.

I don't recall the exact number (I'm sure it varies), but it was something like 30 times of chewing per mouthful before swallowing.

I'm probably at around four... unless it's the wife's cooking, in which case I have to soften it up a bit more before choking it down. Kidding... she's a decent cook - and I'm gluttonous... which is why I am no longer as svelte as I appear in the photographs scattered throughout the entirety of this blog.

Anyhow, those researchers would then take blood samples again after the meal - over the next two hours  - all done via an annoying pin prick - to test each of the subject's glycemic levels.

According to the published results in the December Journal of Physiology & Behavior, chopsticks had a lower glycemic rate by about 13%.

You should note that there was no great difference between the glycemnic rates of chopsticks and fingers, or between fingers and spoons.

Wait... what? chopsticks and fingers - equal?
Fingers and spoons - equal?

If that's the case, ergo (and I think I am using that word incorrectly here) spoons should equal chopsticks... and all things should be equal.

So... I'm confused...

Maybe that's an error in the original article...

If anyone wants to read the original article (link above) and tell me what it is I am not seeing regarding the results above... I'm a political scientist (well.... on university paper anyway), not a physiology researcher. Okay... I'm just a curious guy with a blog asking questions and offering clarity... or in this case regretting ever starting this particular blog considering I'm not finding clarity.

Man... the number of times I read an article on-line and walk away with more questions than answers boggles the mind... it's an on-line article... so it's not like anyone needs to be worried about article length restrictions! That rowing across the Pacific article from a few days ago... not one article elsewhere on the 'Net mentioned when she was scheduled to depart Japan! Not one! I found it on the rower's personal website! Plus there were multiple versions of the rowboat's weight. It shouldn't need to be exact, but differences of 50 kilograms is a bit much.

And this one... presenting so-called facts but not questioning the results? I guess that's my job. The pay sucks at my job. I do this for free... though I'd rather do it for freebies.

Okay... rant over...

Now... chopsticks users' mouthfuls were about half (nearly 50%) of those eating with fingers or spoons.

They also took 30% fewer chews per mouthful than spoons and finger users.

To me that implies the chopstick users aren't chewing as much as they should: 50% less in the mouth, but only 30% less chewing. Shouldn't it be 50% less chewing?

In my mind it should, but the chopsticks users simply aren't chewing as much... I think it's all in the head... not much food in the mouth, therefore you think you need not chew a long time... and in this case, they aren't chewing as much as they should in direct proportion to what they put in their mouth via chopsticks.

The implication is that if they did, perhaps the body would not have to work as hard to digest the food.

So... in that case... it's not just how you eat your food, it's how you chew it that affects how your body digests the food. That is something to consider the next time you (I'm talking to you, Rob) grab a burger and take one big bite followed immediately by two little bites.

I've watched my friend Rob eat a burger many a time over the years. Always one big big two little bites.

I'm no proper biter either, but I mix up my bite routine.

I call the big one bitey. You Simpsons monorail fans know what I mean.

Anyhow... 11 people tested over three days. Not a large enough sample size.

Does it matter HOW fast one eats with their chopsticks, spoon or fingers - relative to digestion rates of turning foods into sugars? How much should one chew a mouthful of food before swallowing? Does the number of chews differ depending on the consistency of the food density—do you need to perform 28 chews on a banana bite and the same for a steak?

Did the size of the test consumer's hand matter? IE, larger hands could pinch together a larger finger full of rice to  shove into their gaping maw.  It should, shouldn't it?

Do different varieties of rice have differing glycemic levels - what about how it is cooked?

 Did the testees (testes) do anything but eat a bowl of rice three times a day? Did they sit and watch TV, or walk around, or perform business activities?

Does the time if day affect the way the body processes foods?

How big was the bowl of rice the test subjects had to eat? What if you took large mouthfuls of rice, but the bowl consisted of a mere three mouthfuls... would that affect the results against a bowl consisting of four large mouthfuls?

What is a mouthful? I have a bigger mouth than my friend Alice, and perhaps I have more dexterity in using chopsticks than her, but perhaps I chew my food longer (I don't. I have my own toilet bowl of evidence).

Men versus women? Does the sex matter? Yes it does to me, but I meant as far as test results?

Who knows? All I know is that apparently using chopsticks might have something to do with lowering your risk of developing diabetes... even if the evidence provided to support this concept seemed flawed in the OZY magazine article.

I like OZY and the brainy articles they provide. Like I said... maybe I missed something in the original OZY article... maybe the data does make sense... but maybe I also wanted more information, rather than just a teaser.

I hate half-assed answers. If you can't satisfy my curiosity, why bother piquing it at all?

So... can chopstick use prevent diabetes? Maybe. Maybe not. Eleven effing people tested? How is that a study?

Somewhere a study in scarlet - and who doesn't enjoy shopping for Holmes?
Andrew Joseph


Friday, May 22, 2015

Noboko And Andrew: And Colin Makes Three

After what I perceived to be a successful night of fun and revelry over at Noboko's parent's house bonding with my prospective father-in-law over rice wine, beer, whiskey and singing… not me, man, I don't know the words… I have the spins back at Colin's apartment in Kuroiso.

It's fine… I'm drunk, but I'm never out of control.

I'm beaver out of control. Well, almost never, to be fair, as there was a couple of times here in Japan that I've been so drunk I've puked my lungs out and acted like an ass.

Twice from imbedding Flaming Blue Lamborghini's procured at the 4C bar in my hometown of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, and the other during some drunken revelry with other AETs (assistant English teachers) in Kobe, I think, where I awoke in a taxidermy diorama of a forest scene complete with a deer standing atop me… somehow I broke in… I recall trying to get in, but not actually getting in or what I was doing while I was in there… I hope I didn't defile Bambi. No, there was no female AET named Bambi. Unfortunately.

This past evening with Noboko and her parents was really just an evening with her dad.

The plan was to imprint myself upon his psyche... to let him know I would be a good husband for his beautiful daughter.

Usually in Japanese parties, things that are said or promised, are taken care of. Conversely, things that are insulting or stupid are ignored, chalked up to poor drunken revelry.

It's because I am not sick from foreign karma and am not passed out under a forest dweller, that I am sure I didn't say or do anything stupid.

I simply drank a lot of booze.

The Japanese always referred to me as a 'hebi durinka (heavy drinker)' because I could drink more than anyone else at any given party and not fall over with red booze-soaked skin, and always seem peppy and smiley the next morning with nary a hangover.

Never had a hangover…  for people who saw me in the morning… smiling… it certainly helped spread in Japan the legend that is me. Ha! Of all the things to be famous for, eh? Although… since I didn't do anything stupid while drunk, the legend fades quickly.

I'm up the next morning at 8AM, because I hear Colin quietly moving around… he's hardly a lithe cat… so I grab a shower, drinking most of the water coming out of the showerhead, and have a bowl of Corn Flakes with him.

"You were snoring pretty loudly last night," he says.

"Sorry."

"How the hell do you ever have any woman spend a night with you when you snore like that?"

"What, like a jet plane with asthma? The key is to not go to sleep. Ba-dum-bum."

Yes, I have sleep apnea, and do now wear a C-Pap machine… if you stop breathing at night, get a sleep test and please do not be afraid to get this machine. I get six hours or less of sleep a night and I do not feel tired and I don't even yawn.

"So," begins Colin, "everything seems to have gone well last night…"

"Yeah…  I was sitting beside him - we had our arms around each other while we… oh god… I think we sang Love Me Tender (Elvis) together."

I don't know the words, except for the first two lines…. so what the hell was I singing along to… 

"What time is it… let's see… 9-ish… is it too early to call Noboko?" I ask not wanting to hear any answer except 'go ahead'.

"It's Japan… it's never too early or too late to call anyone on the phone."

I call up Noboko… I let it ring the requisite 27 times per Japanese custom before assuming they can't hear it, and let it ring an additional 20 times - counting in my head) before hanging up…

As I am about to replace the receiver on the handset…

"Moshi-moshi."

Noboko!

"Moshi-moshi, yourself, beautiful. Kyo-wa, o-genki desu-ka? (How are you today?)"

"Genki… How are you?"

"Genki-desu. "

"Really? You drank a lot."

"I've had more," I say, not quite bragging. "How's things with you dad? Is he still alive?"

"(giggle)"

When she laughs, lines around her eyes scrunch up. I can almost hear it over the phone wires…

"He really likes you, you know."

"I know. I mean… I know now. He said he liked me."

"No… he has always liked you," Noboko explains. "He has said you are a funny, handsome man."

"Not smart, huh?"

"No. (giggle)."

Despite picturing her giggling into a hand, I know she's not kidding.

Until people get to know me better, they assume the comedian in me isn't smart… and perhaps I'm not as book smart as some people, though I function better in any situation than most people. Pick a situation, I'll work well within it. I'll learn. I'll adapt. I'll do it quickly.

It's why my time in Japan was less problematic for me than for others.

You'll have noticed a theme for me in Japan (and outside)… I'm only ever screwed up over women. Everything else… it's a piece of key lime pie.

"Did he say anything about you and me?"

"No… and even if he did, I wouldn't pay any attention to it because he was very drunk."

The me of 2015 realizes that that sounds like he did say something. I have no idea if 1993 me knew that or if he chose to ignore it. Why ruin the moment? Why poke the bear? Why ask why?

Perhaps he didn't say anything and I'm misinterpreting her English translation.

Sometimes  I think that despite all of my bravado, it might merely be false… and that I am still that very same shy little boy… afraid to find out the truth.

"Shall I come over and we can go for a drive? Does Colin want to join us?"

I don't want Colin to join us, because I'm selfish (and honest), but I owe Colin big time for letting me crash at his place here in Kuroiso (Noboko's hometown).

"Hey Colin, Noboko wants to know if you want to join us on a car ride somewhere?"

He looks at me funny… like he knows that he would be a spare wheel…

"It's cool, buddy. Let's go for a drive… I'll buy us lunch… we can just chill…"

He shrugs his shoulders "Sure."

Bastard. But I'm glad he's joined us. No I'm not. Yes… I am.

So… it's another four or five hours of casual, lighthearted fun as Noboko and Colin team up to give me the gears (razz me), as he-wonders-why-she-is-with-me, and she-also-wonders-the-same type of stuff… 

A guy could get an inferiority complex if I didn't have a large ego.

Of course… Japan and ego's…  it has a way of taking you down.

We go to a nice restaurant - allowing me a chance to buy Colin a nice meal… it's actually near his place, and we notice a couple of nice bars nearby… so maybe Colin and I can go there one evening…

We hang out in a park, walking around the trees and hills… Colin and Noboko love it, but admittedly I'm a firm believer that man has advanced for a reason… to live in luxury with a bowl of pork rinds and a Coke while planted on a soft, comfy couch watching a baseball game on TV while reading a comic book. Nature can suck it. I have no desire to 'rough it' while 'getting back to nature'.

Oh yeah.. Noboko should be there too with the pork rinds… sans clothes, doing things unasked for but appreciated.

I like to multi-task.

By the time it's 3PM, Noboko announces it's time for her to head back home and she drives us back…

Nothing more was mentioned about us. Nothing bad, certainly, but also nothing good.

I might not show it, but the lack of progress stresses me out like you wouldn't believe.

I'm a patient guy… and was even asked to be patient by Noboko a few months ago to allow her to figure out what she was going to do about us.

So patient I think I need a doctor… no, a nurse,
Andrew Joseph 

  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Want To Slap A Stranger? Only In Japan. Pity

You have to see it to believe it.

Click HERE.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Driving Japan's $60-billion Packaging Industry


JAPAN – Valued at US$59.4 billion annually, Japan’s packaging technology sector is being challenged by the demands of a new consumer demographic landscape and the need for increasingly competitive brand product differentiation, according to the latest market report by EP Resources Pte Ltd - Zen & The Technology of Japanese Package Design 2012-14.

I'm scattering pages from the report throughout the blog...

This report examines the motivation behind the drivers of Japanese packaging technology with an in-depth study into the influence of Japanese culture on consumer expectations, the impact of the changing retail sector and how the world's strictest environmental and Circular Economy regulations have driven the packaging industry to innovate.


Many of the solutions developed by Japanese industry in response are relevant in Western markets where packaging and brand owners are starting to encounter similar challenges of changing demographics, sustainability and increased regulatory regimens.

According to the report, Zen & The Technology of Japanese Package Design 2012-14, more than a quarter of the population is now aged over 65 and, coupled with Japan’s declining birth rate, packaging has used Universal Design (UD) solutions to solve the problems of accessibility and address the needs of the changing market dynamic: easy-to-read, easy-to-open, easy-to-use and easy-to-close packs address the problems of aging - failing eyesight, arthritis, etc – and the ultimate impact of having a corresponding increase in the number of single-person households that demand single portion ready-meal packs.

With Circular Economy legislation in force for more than 20 years, and with householders required to deconstruct packaging into separate materials, Japan’s industry has embraced the Zero Waste strategy. By developing easy-to-separate packaging while reducing exposure under Japan’s Extended Producer Responsibility regulations, packaging has been light-weighted below anything seen in other markets. As a result, Japan has achieved the highest recycling rates in the world:
  • Recycled paper utilization = 63.8%
  • Paper packaging recovery = 44.2%
  • Corrugated cardboard recovery = 98.4%
  • PET bottles = 85.0%
  • Mixed plastics = 80.0%
  • Steel can = 90.8%
  • Aluminum can= 94.7%
Zen & The Technology of Japanese Package Design 2012-14 explores, with charts and examples of packaging in the marketplace, the technical innovations prompted by the need for compliance that have resulted in significantly higher value packaging that less materials to deliver more value. Quite literally, Less is More.


Along with the rest of the country, the packaging industry suffered massive losses in the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that affected the east coast. During the emergency relief, some every day packaging actually impeded efforts, while other formats were found to have contributed significantly by having surprising secondary uses in emergency situations. This report analyses the role of packaging in disaster and emergency relief situations and offers solutions suggested by the Japanese experience.

This 202-page report examines all key packaging end-use markets - including food, beverage, spirits, confectionery, cosmetics, personal care, household, pharmaceutical, medical, electronics, industrial and logistics – and all packaging materials, types and formats.


Fully illustrated with more than 200 photographs of the latest packaging technologies and solutions introduced in the Japanese market between 2012 and 2014 by more than 110 Japanese packaging manufacturers, design agencies and brand owners, Zen & The Technology of Japanese Package Design 2012-14 provides real-life market examples and case studies of how the Japanese packaging industry has responded to the changing market dynamic.

The report's author is Stuart Hoggard, has had more than 20 years involvement with the Japanese packaging industry as journalist, publisher and consultant. He is chief executive officer and publisher of the daily news service www.packwebasia.com. Co-author Trina Tan Ker Wei is managing editor of the monthly packaging industry newsletter, Packaging Business Insight Asia http://packwebasia.com/packaging-newsletter


Priced at US$595 this report, Zen & The Technology of Japanese Package Design 2012-14 is available directly from the publisher: http://packwebasia.com/packaging-books/32-general/996-japanese-packaging-design


Key Topics Covered:

- Japan packaging industry data:
  • Volumes for paper, plastic, metal and glass packaging from 2008 – 2013.
  • Values for paper, plastic, metal and glass packaging from 2008 – 2013.
- Japanese environmental packaging legislation:
  • Circular Economy;
  • Front-of-pipe and End-of-pipe compliance;
  • Extended Producer Responsibility.
- Demographic Trends:
  • Household sizes and compositions;
  • Aging population;
  • Youth market and young adults;
  • Mature consumers.
- Universal Design for packaging

- Retail market demands on packaging

- Influence of Culture, Religion and History on packaging design
  • Shinto and Zen Buddhism: the cultural roots;
  • Edo Period: The Golden Era;
  • Furoshiki: Japan’s 16th Century Packaging;
  • Wood-block prints: Japan’s first commercial art form.
- Calligraphy and Typography graphics in contemporary packaging design

- The Cult of Kawaii: being cute sells

- Packaging for Disasters: Great Eastern Japan Earthquake 2011


Orders for this beautiful-looking report can be placed via e-mail at media@epresources.net

While I am unable to purchase a copy myself, I would gladly accept one gratis for review purposes, of course.

Packing it in,
Andrew Joseph


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Too Shy To Call A Waiter? There's An App For That!

People assume I'm loud and boorish, and perhaps I am - but I am actually shy… so you can't judge a blog writer by his blogs.

Knowing that there are many, many shy people out there - some who are too shy to call a waiter/server over… well, like the blog title says, there's an App for that.

What's a guy supposed to do? Do I click my fingers annoyingly? Gawd, no. Do I raise my hand like I want to tell my Grade 2 teacher that I want to use the washroom? Do I clear my throat like I'm choking on a chicken bone in my steak? Do I tray and talk to them with a "Hi" as they scamper in other directions helping everyone else? Do I simply stare at them with my deep brown eyes - penetrating their soul… screaming internally… until I make eye contact and then give the raised chin nod?

And what if you are in Japan?

All the guess work is now taken out of one's imagination and is handled by a new App called Suimasen Daiko, which translates to "Excuse Me Agent"… which sounds impolite, but what the heck, you aren't actually audibly saying anything… your phone is.

Tap a button on the App, and your phone will belt out: "すいませ~~~ん!” (Suimasen - excuse me).

Does it come in a man's voice or is it just that annoying fake high-pitched subservient Japanese female voice?

It comes in both.

In fact, there is also an ikemen voice… a more cool voice, and by that I mean young adult cool-voice mode, so you youths don't have to sound like an adult. Ikemen is a Japanese term used to ascribe 'cool, good-looking guys'.

Should that not be sufficient, you could also use a bell or a buzzer button on the App to draw attention to yourself and your desire for some ketchup to put on your rice.

As for volume controls… just to avoid things getting out of hand by annoying teenagers and drunken Japanese business men, the Suimasen Daiko App wisely comes with three scene settings, such as 'quiet cafe' or 'noisy izakaya'. An izakaya is a Japanese drinking establishment that serves food with your drinks… different from the western bars that serve stale peanuts and pickled eggs with your beer in a dank establishment. The dank… the dank.
Which one is the cool ikemen one? Would a ikemen actually wear a bolo tie (I have one, but haven't worn it since the '80s back when I also purchased a pair of diamondback rattlesnake cowboy boots - don't ask), a cheesy mustache and that hat - what's up with that hat? Pure cheese, man. Would an ikemen wear a bow tie and a tux with white lapels - that's a three-piece suit on the right!? Aren't they out of style?
Suimasen Daikō is from Little Light, Inc., and is available on iTunes.

If you visit the iTunes site, you'll see where I lifted the graphics above… note how the 'human' image is a ventriloquist's dummy… speaking for you with your words in a different voice.

Creepy, but effective.

A-B-C-gurgle-gurgle-gurgle-D-E,
Andrew Joseph

Ichiro Ties The Babe

Sorry, not a sex-related blog, but a baseball one. I know, I know… I like both, but for those non-baseball fans out there, just close your eyes and think of all the dirty little things you can come with from the headline… who says this blog can't facilitate one-handed reading?

Okay, for the rest of, grab your bat and balls and get ready for news that Japanese MLB ballplayer Suzuki Ichiro (surname first) has tied the immortal Babe Ruth for most career hits at 2,873.

That total still only has Ichiro—it still pisses men off that everyone allows him to apply his FIRST name on the back of his jersey like he was Cher or Madonna or some other one-name pop diva, but whatever—tiptoed for 42nd overall for career base hits (a total that consists of singles, doubles, triples and home runs only).

Okay… if you glance at the photo above, you can see that Ichiro actually had his first name on his jersey even while back in Japan when he started with the Orix Blue Wave. How could he do that?

Still in Japan in 1997 (he came over to North America in 2001), he was considered a modern-day Japanese Babe Ruth, wining three batting titles (winning seven in total before going abroad) and lead his team to a number of Championships.

On the back of his jersey was the extremely common Japanese surname of Suzki (bell-tree) - it's like Smith or Jones or Lee… anyhow… his manager Ogi Akira (surname first) felt that Ichiro was unique… and should be treated and marketed differently from the rest of the ball players… and so… they put his first name on his jersey.

He was no longer just another Suzuki - he was Ichiro… he was an individual…

… if you know anything about Japan, this is way out in left field… it's not done… and while Ichiro was initially embarrassed by the attention it drew to him, he didn't let it disturb his on-field game.

Although Suzuki didn't come over to North America's MLB (Major League Baseball) until he was 27, and he wasn't the hitting machine in Japan early in his career (according to the two first year Japanese ball cards I have of Suzuki with the Blue Wave), he hit MLB baseball like it was a game HE invented. 

On May 18, 2015, Suzuki tiptoed Ruth in the 5th inning of a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks (he also had a hit in the 3rd inning)… on the second pitch of the at-bat, he hit an 89-mph fastball from Rubby De La Rosa and sent it into left field for a single.

Here's what Suzuki said to Steve Wilaj of MLB.com:
"Obviously, when you think of Babe Ruth, he's a home run hitter," he said. "I never seen him play, and don't know too much about him. For me, I'm just such a different type of player. I like to get hits and use my legs to get different types of hits and obviously he's hitting home runs.
"So you can't really compare. Obviously, we happen to be on the same number [of hits] right now, but it's tough to compare the two because we're such different types of players."

Ichiro is just three hits away from tying Mel Ott for 41st on the all-time list.

How the hell can you not know much about Babe Ruth? The guy was a dominant left-handed pitcher before becoming the de facto power hitter in the deadball era and modern era…

Granted Ruth didn't have to face any Black pitchers during his career and most pitchers did not throw in the mid-90s (with a few exceptions)… but it is safe to say that with so many teams nowadays, it is also possible that talent is watered down a bit.

But, in Ichiro's defense, Ruth didn't have to worry about relief pitching either… meaning in later innings Ichiro could be assured of having to face a pitcher who was fresh and capable of pounding the ball with high heat.

In Ruth's defense… he was able to handle pitchers who threw illegal spit balls and such.

Different eras - both fantastic talents. Ruth still gets the nod in my book for simply not looking like an athlete.

So… Ichiro has 2,873 hits… and 3,000 hits is considered a shoo-in for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame (MLB)… but Ichiro did have 1,278 hips in the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) league.

That's 4,151 professional baseball hits… all-time MLB hits leader is the black-listed Pete Rose with 4,256.

But I understand… The NPB does have shorter fences, so knocking a ball over or onto a back wall is more difficult in the MLB.

Because Pete Rose is accused of gambling while managing a team - saying he never bet against his team - I think his banishment from baseball should be overturned - partially… MLB should recognize his accomplishments as a player, and should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as such, but should note that he was black listed for his gambling as a manager.

They should also stop the hate against Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Suzuki Ichiro - regardless if he plays another inning, should also be enshrined in the MLB baseball hall of fame. Anytime you can be mentioned in the same breath as George Herman Babe Ruth, you've earned it.

… provided it's not for most hot dogs consumed between innings…

Besides... we're talking about two parts of the world relating Ichiro to the Babe...

 Banzai!
Andrew Joseph