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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Big Brother Is Watching You In Space

There's probably a bit of a creep factor here, but odds are that if you are an astronaut/cosmonaut, you already know that every little thing you do up in space, is being recorded.

Meet the JEM Internal Ball Camera, aka Int-Ball, a camera placed aboard a spacecraft, that can move around thanks to the really remote control system down on Earth.

"Beep... moving Int-Ball to go and checkout Astronaut Carly..., er the sleeping arrangements of Astronaut Jenkins... Int-Ball indicates her blankie has slipped off."

What's the matter, Dave? ... Big Brother is watching You.

I'm not actually creepy, even though it appears as though I think that way. I just want you to know I think this way because we need to be aware that even the most innocent thing can be turned into something evil... just like how Einstein's E=mc2 helped usher in atomic weaponry.

You'll notice I didn't say he invented it.

Launched on June 4, 2017, the U.S. Dragon ship met and delivered the Int-Ball to Japan's experiment module "Kibo" aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Here's what the Int-Ball can do:
  • The camera can move autonomously in floating space and record still and moving images under remote control on Earth at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center;
  • The recorded images and videos can be checked in real-time by flight controllers and researchers on Earth, and sent back (a real up-load) to the crew in space;
Features:
  • The camera adopts existing drone technology and its exterior and inner structures were all manufactured by 3D-printing;
  • The Int-Ball weighs 1kg (2.2lbs), has a diameter of 15cm, and has 12 propellers;
  • Looks a lot like BB8.
So... WTF good is the Int-Ball?

Excellent question - glad you asked.

JAXA says that since astronauts currently spend about 10% of their work day actually taking photos, Int-Ball will save the astronauts time allowing them either 10% more time to goof off or, more than likely, give them more time to do real science-y stuff that I suppose astronauts do. Why don't I know what they do? I know they do experiments, monitor the experiments, and stuff like that... I would guess they secretly deploy spyware satellites for such covert operations like MLB (Major League Baseball).



Fact checking... I swear this is on the JAXA website:
  • Enabling flight controllers and researchers on the ground to check the crew's work from the same viewpoint as the crew. The effective cooperative work between in space and on the ground will contribute to maximized results of "Kibo" utilization experiments.
The ground crew and their slide rulers will doublecheck the work of the astronauts. Imagine if that had happened on Apollo 13... oh wait, it did. Nevermind.

Wanna see the Int-Ball in action? C'mon... ya gotta... you've read this far...






By the way... when I first heard of Int-Ball, I thought about Happy Fun Ball... a "commercial" from a 1991 episode of SNL (Saturday Night Live)... of course I was in Japan at the time, but I did see it on a special edition of SNL and their "commercials".  You can see a "blurry" version of Happy Fun Ball HERE, as apparently this was in the days before HD... or even SD... or even D.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Beats me how I can remember "Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball" but can't recall what I had for dinner on Tuesday. Ugh... I hope it wasn't Happy Fun Ball.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Japanese Security Is A Dalek Away


Just as The Simpsons long ago lampooned the iconic Star Trek television series with the immortal line: “Again with the Klingons?”, so too might you utter something similar with news that Japan’s train stations may soon have a new robot system to help passengers.


 To be built by the East Japan Railways (JR East), the new JRE Robotics Station isn’t a train station run by robots who help you purchase a ticket.

No, rather JE East’s plan for its coming one year soon JRE Robotics Station is to have each large hub contain a team of robots with four different classifications.

1) Yes, there will be a robot squad that will help travelers find their way around a train station.  Okay… that could be helpful - but even myself, with no sense of direction of Japanese language ability, and in the days before APPS and the Internet… I somehow found my way from point A to Point G, Q, C, E1 and to my destination of Point B. Hmm, so maybe this might come in handy.
The good news is that the plan is for these robots to have multiple-language capabilities… so yeah, Japanese (because even they get confused in these subterranean labyrinths), English, and then your guess is as good as mine… probably not Mandarin, in case Chinese boats and aircraft keep stepping over the international borders and that leads to another Japan-Sino war… why give them help in getting to the Diet or to the Palace to assassinate royalty? Maybe just Cantonese then… kidding.
We already have such devices in our large shopping malls in North America… they are called maps… all visual like an Ikea instruction manual for a GRÖNKULLA (which translates from Danish to English as “Green Gables”, which is a nod to Canadian book Anne of Green Gables, but also Ikea’s version of a tabletop sink.

2) Red caps - self-piloting robots that will help carry a traveler's bags. In the bad old days, this was a job relegated to Black men wearing ‘red caps’ at the local train station. Now, anyone can be one. Even you, Robbie the Robot! And they don’t need a tip!
JR East says that while these types of robots CAN carry luggage, their primary function is to provide support to passengers with physical disabilities. Hey… that’s kindda cool.

3) Cleaning ‘bots… I’m guessing that some human beings are going to lose their jobs. For the most part, every train station in Japan that I’ve walked across seems clean. Yeah, things get messy after someone jumps in front of a train, or poops all over the platform, but crews are often there to clean-up and hand out a pack of tissues before the guy has even pulled up his pants.
But, I suppose having a team of robots in a constant state of movement cleaning up after passengers isn’t a bad thing.
I can just imagine a robot eyeing me as I stand at Harajuku station eating my octopus on a bamboo stick (takoyaki)… waiting to see if I’m going to accidentally drop a tentacle, carelessly discard the skewer on the platform, or need a wipe (aka a small pack of tissue).

4) Security ‘droid. Not quite up to par with a conical killer Dalek, the concept drawings for the security robots have them looking kind of pear-like… which, for a conceptual drawing is probably a good thing. See image at very top.
“Excuse me, Security ‘Bot 47, but a man touched me right here.”
“In your hard drive?”
As you can see from the drawing, the security bot has spotted someone acting suspiciously… perhaps it was the tight perm, 9-1/2 fingers and tattoos that ultimately tipped it off…

While I don’t think we could expect to see a reverse scene of Will Smith chasing down a would-be purse-snatching robot, JR East says these security robots would be able to detect shoplifters. If it’s anything like what exists in Canada and the U.S., the security robot will immediately detect any Latinos or Blacks as they enter a station-located ramen house and will casually follow them around as they make their food choice, eat their food, pay for their food and even go to the washroom until such time as they leave the restaurant and then it’s someone else’s problem. Man… I gotta stop watching W. Kamau Bell’s United Shades of America on CNN.

Okay, just having fun… it is supposed to detect shoplifters, but honestly, if shops have a security system whereby all products with QR codes or bar codes are NOT scanned before the exit of a shop, the theft alarm sounds off. I’m pretty sure that system would cost lest than a JR robot security guard.

But, if they are going to make one, do not let the security robot sit in a rocking chair. Seinfeld fans know what I mean.

Not just limited to train stations, JR East says these JR robots could work other JR things as well… like its hotels or shopping malls. So, yeah… kiss your jobs good bye if you are in the security industry. Time to start learning “robot care and repair.”

Bonsai (yeah… I meant the tiny tree),
Andrew Joseph
PS: Any bets on when the first robot gets “pushed” onto a train track by drunken Japanese business men in a work-related team-building exercise?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sexism And The Japanese Actress

The above image may be many things:

1) incredibly sexist;
2) taken out of context and done with everyone's permission;
3) why so many people wanted to be a movie director.

The drop-dead sexy woman in the above photo is Japanese actress Mizuni Kumi (surname first), one of the country’s earliest scream queens, appearing in a multitude of flicks for Toho in the 1960s-70s.

Born on January 1, 1937 as Igarasho Maya (surname first ) —and I’m betting she’s still hot—in Sanjo, Niigata-ken. she changed her name in 1958.

While the the director in the photo above obviously has no problem in directing young starlets, what is equally impressive is that Mizumi did not react to this overtly non-professional behavior, leading me to believe it was a comedic outtake.

But it’s Japan… so who the fug knows.

Me? I love her eyes. The eyes are the gateway to the soul… and as far as starlet eyes go… you could swim in hers to infinity and beyond.

I know you think I’m full of it, but, while I have no doubt I am full of it, not when it comes to the eyes.

Here’s Mizuni from the same movie… er… but in a color promotional shot… because everyone surrounding her knew she could sell a crappy movie.
Dig those shoes!

Of course, the point of the director squeezing Mizuni's boob is based on the fact that she is supposed to be a robot... devoid of emotion...and to prove the point, she did not react at all when the director squeezed her boob.

At least that's his excuse, and he is sticking with it.

I know... I know... not much info on Mizuni or even what movies she was in. I just liked the photo at the top and below. 

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Monday, July 17, 2017

Discworld Novels Translated To Japanese

I'm re-reading the Discworld series of books for perhaps the third or fourth time right now, beginning with the book pictured above.

Discworld is a series of Fantasy-Comedy books written by Terry Pratchett, an author who recently passed away in 2015, but one of the funniest writers I have ever come across - in the same vein as Douglas Adams of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy fame.

There are 41 Discworld books... and sadly I have only read 33 of them (Going Postal was the last new book I read)...  but on the plus side, it gives me great joy to know I have more Pratchett to enjoy one day soon.

So... looking for a blog topic today (yesterday, actually), I wondered... hey, do the Japanese know about this fantastic comedic fantasy book series?

Sortta.

Above is a Japanese-language version of the first book of the Discworld series, entitled The Colour Of Magic.

If I saw this cover on a book, I might not purchase it. But in Japan... I suppose it could work.

Sadly, I was not impressed with the western version of the book cover either - so I suppose the Japanese version is a perfect representation.

This is an early version of the western version of The Colour Of Magic, and is what I'm reading now...
I took a look on the Japanese Amazon website (HERE), and found that there are quite a few Japanese translated Discworld books.

If you go there to purchase, let me point out that I believe there are two books there that are NOT part of the Discworld series... Johnny & The Dead, and one written by Pratchett and comic book writer and author Neil Gaiman called Good Omens (a very, funny book that actually got me interested in trying the Discworld novels).

So... for those so inclined to read a Discworld book in Japanese, now you know it can be done.

For the rest of us... well... like I said.... 41 books, plus a dozen more of so of other novels.

While I believe I actually write in a manner similar to Douglas Adams - as far as the wackiness goes... oh the non-Japanese stories I could amuse you with... if I was writing a fantasy series, it would be a lot like Terry Pratchett's stuff... but since he did it first, and did it best, I won't even try.

As far as Douglas Adams goes... I was writing like him before I read his stuff... so at least I don't feel like I'm ripping him off.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Birth Of A Nation - Okay, It's An Island

A few years ago, I wrote about a new island being formed in Japanese waters thanks to some heavy volcanic activity. Or... if I didn't... I probably meant too. Whatever.

Anyhow, there's a new island in Japan's waters...

About 620 miles (1000 kilometers) south of Tokyo, there WAS a tiny volcanic island called Nishinoshima (西之島, "western island) ... formed by underwater volcanic activity.

It had formed back in 1973.

It was essentially just the volcanic lava from the cone of a volcano that had its base way down in the Pacific Ocean... about 1.86 miles (three kilometers) in actual height with a circumference of 58.4 miles (94 kilometers) at its widest point (the base).

Nishinoshima, circa 1978. Image from Wikipedia and is Copyright © National Land Image Information (Color Aerial Photographs), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.


Those numbers are all estimates, by the way. What they do offer, is a glimpse at just how huge volcanoes are. For the record, Mt. Everest is 8.848 kilometers tall.

Nishinoshima, however, is the newest name for the island... as it was originally known as Rosario Island by the Spanish sailors who discovered it back in 1702.

The Japanese re-named it Nishinoshima in 1904. 

And everything was stable until Rosario Island/Nishinoshima erupted again in 1973, covering all that was of the old island with new lava, creating a new shape over the old landscape, building a larger island.

It remained that way until 2013 when in November... incredibly close to the volcanic island of Nishinoshima - in fact still below the watery surface, MORE explosive volcanic activity was going on.

Spewing lava up and around it, this new island vomited up enough lava that it grew to some 82 feet (25 meters) above the sea level by the end of the month.

While no official name was given to this new volcano-formed isle beside Nishinoshima, the Japanse media dubbed it atarashii shima (新しい島), which translates to "new island"... which means that the Japanese media really lacks a decent imagination. 

One month later, with the volcanic activity still going on, this new island (atarashii shima) merged itself with Nishinoshima creating a larger conjoined Nishinoshima island.

Since the eruptions began in 2013, scientists claim that some 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools of lava are being ejected every single day.

While not safe for humans, obviously, as nature has found a way, the new larger Nishinoshima is becoming a fertile area, as birds in the area continue to poop on it, and, believe it or not, vomit on it...

If you know what's in bird poop and bird vomit you are a more knowledgeable person than my self, but I imaging it contains grass seed or seeds from berries... and while not every thing crapped up turns into a floral bouquet, it is enough to begin the greening of the new Nishinoshima isle.

That's how islands are formed, at any rate.

Take a look at the incredible video montage below... showing the explosive force of the new volcano... and how, at around the 50-second mark you can see just how close the volcano is to old Nishinoshima island... while there is a gap of footage between November 26-December 1 when it is obvious the two isles are now joined... it is an awesome diary.

By January 12, 2014, the newly formed part of Nishinoshima is actually larger than the older section.

While the accompanying music can be a bit grating after a minute--I turned the volume off, I can assure you there is no need for volume... just sit back and watch an island be born and reborn.

The eruptions are still going on as of this date, 2017.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
Photo at the very top is from July 2016, taken by a drone. Image is from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan website (http://www.gsi.go.jp/gyoumu/gyoumu41000.html)
 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Stop Looking At Me

One of the things I hate about writing a blog that looks back at my time in Japan, is that it forces me to look at both the good times and the bad.

The bad times are almost always (as far as I can tell) related to my relationships with women.

I have always been forthright in this blog in explaining that I was a virgin for 25_ years of life until I arrived in Japan.

While that situation was over with before a month had passed, I soon developed a more suave persona that enabled me to date some 50 women, sleep with nearly 30 of them, and have one girlfriend, one secret girlfriend, and one fiance… without cheating on anyone.

And all that within 36 months (three years) living in what was essentially a rural city where the name Ohtawara-shi quite literally translates into big-rice-field-field city.

Yup… the city so rural they had to add “field” in there twice.

I say all that, but the women weren’t the typical farmer’s daughters of pre-1950s jokes.

Sure the city I was in was surrounded by rice fields and 7-11s (not as much of an exaggeration as I might be purporting), but the people there were, for the most part merely suburbanites—educated, funny, friendly, and honest folk.

I mentioned “the bad” when it comes to recalling my past… my past with women.

Not every woman I dated in Japan was Japanese. 

Not quite by design (because I never made plans), the majority of the women I dated and slept with were women on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, posted in my prefecture (province) as well as outside it.

My first true love—naturally the woman I first slept with—was in the confusing habit of breaking up with me and wanting to get back to me… something that happened over and over again… and I can quite honestly say I have no idea why she did one and then the other…

I can tell you why I kept allowing her back into my life…

When you’ve been without someone since, well, forever, you tend to clutch at straws… afraid that if real love could pass you buy for so long, once you find it you better hold onto it.

I had always assumed she had some sort of mental health issue… but now I’m not so sure if that was the problem…  

Dropped like yesterday’s garbage on the roadside—even though other women came and went, so to speak—when that first woman wanted to come back into my life, I was perfectly happy to allow her to do so.

I may be dumb but I'm not a dweeb
I'm just a sucker with no self esteem

That’s a line from The Offspring and their song Self Esteem.

Video

Everytime I hear that song, it feels like they wrote it about me.

I knew even back then in 1990-1991 that I was that sucker with no self-esteem…. something no one else would have guessed about me by the way I comported myself.

Well.. Maybe Matthew knew when he carried me home from the bar a few times dead drunk and bawling my eyes out. 

I let her back in because I was always afraid, deep down inside that if I didn’t, I might never find love again.

In my second year on the JET Programme, when that AET and I decided to simply be friends-with-benefits, rather than just enjoy the sex I would spend my free time wondering:

1) how do I get her back with me full-time, and;
2) what is wrong with me that she would want sex but not me?

Sure.. during my stay in Japan I certainly had sex just for sex’s sake… the old in-and-out for a few hours and MSG and learned how to achieve the male multiple orgasm before it became a thing…

but I obsessed about why I was just being used and using for sex… I didn’t care… I just wanted to be loved.

That was Ashley, in case none of you have read any of the 3,600+ blog I have written in the past.

Don't you want somebody to love
Don't you need somebody to love
Wouldn't you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love, love

That’s the Jefferson Airplane and their song Somebody To Love.

The opening stanza of that song resonates in my head:
When the truth is found
To be lies
And all the joy
Within you dies

No… it’s okay.. I’m fine. I’m a realist.

While just being friends, I met a Japanese woman who liked to be tied up. This naughty young woman—just Junko, please—was pliable, smart, funny, stupidly sexy… like first-week involved in American porn star sexy… and, it seems like she had a mental health issue…

She dropped out of university to spend every waking moment of the day following me… watching me from her car parked in the parking lot of whatever junior high school I was working at that week.

She wasn’t jealous.. she was perfectly willing to have any woman I want join us for sex—bound or unbound—as long as she, Junko, was there with me.

Obsession. Clavin Klein never made a perfume that smelled like Junko’s obsession. Junko just smelled of sex. Hells… Ashley came over one night… and could smell it permeating throughout my apartment.

While I always applauded Junko’s offer of an FFM or FFFM or an FFFFM or whatever the heck I could get, I never pushed it… I can tell you that when it comes to more than one woman at a time, it’s best if the guy just kindda gets out of the way for a while.

Junko was not jealous of any woman—because if you had seen her, no guy in his right mind would want to leaver her behind.

I saw her on Monday, twas my lucky bun day
You know what I mean.
I love her each weekday, each velvety cheek day
You know what I mean.

That’s Spinal Tap’s Big Bottoms. Junko didn’t have a big bottom, but she did have a more typical western butt than the flatter typical Japanese butt.

Anyhow… because Junko was constantly spying on me, as soon as Ashley would leave, she run up the stairs and knock at my door and away we’d go at it all night long. She didn’t care that I had just finished with Ashley or with whomever… Junko just wanted to sleep with me.

We weren’t boyfriend-girlfriend. We never actually went out on a date… for dinner… she never wanted to.

Was she embarrassed to be seen with me? Was it me, not her? Was it her, not me?

The sex was intense and frequent and endless. I worked during the day,  and was consensually sexually assaulted through the evening and night… not getting any sleep. 

I know… poor Andrew… the porno-hot Japanese chick only wants to have sex…

yeah… but have you ever had sex for 10 hours in a row? More on weekends? No sleep… just sex…  a fellow can start to hallucinate… and get raw… dehydrated… have rope burns… lose creativity in the sack and with the written word… 

I had to call in my bosses for help… to have her taken away to get some professional help.

I adored being adored… but this was obsession, not adoration. Why would I want anyone to drop out of university to follow me around like I was in the Grateful Dead?

Now nobody’s boy toy, I went to sleep for a couple of days while my wang got back to wanting to be touched by anyone other than Junko.

Not wanting to be in any sort of relationship, I spent the next 6-10 months trying not to be involved in any sort of relationship that could last longer than a weekend of sex.

I figured nobody wanted me for who I was… they just knew i was reasonably good at the whole sex thing for whatever reason. No, no, no… after you. For free… that male multiple orgasm thing changed my life… I could orgasm all I want without the wet finish.

Too much information? Sure whatever. You want to hammer a guy for talking about what he did 25 years ago?

I wasn’t looking for love. I wasn’t looking for Miss Right… just Miss Rightnow. i wasn’t even looking for that.

I put myself in a position for it to happen - visiting a bar I liked to frequent… a place where the Japanese locals realized I could be found…

But why were all these Japanese women approaching me in the bar… introducing themselves… sitting down…. getting me up and dragging me outside to my place…

Junko… that’s why.

Living in a small city of 50,000 people, when something occurs like a foreign teacher having to get rid of a Japanese woman because she was obsessed with him—well… people want to know why.

Hey… I’m just an average guy… I have a good sense of humor and intelligence… I smile and treat everyone properly or at least do my best to try to.

There’s nothing special about me. I know that… it’s why I attract weirdness. I’m weird.

Then again… when I first saw Noboko… the new Japanese teacher of English (JTE) at one of  my schools… I fell in love with her immediately. I  mean, I looked at her… audibly sucked a short intake of air in via my mouth and probably burned a hole through her blouse as I stared at her for what seemed like years but was only seconds.

I might be weird… I might even be a freak… but I’m not a creep.  

After an introduction to her by the senior JTE I did, where Noboko was cordial but serious looking… I went back to my desk and picked up a pen and wrote her a haiku in as much time as it took you to read:

Her beautiful eyes
Seem to hypnotize my soul
Capturing my heart.

Noboko had captured my heart (I admit that later on with someone esle, I had my soul captured).

I had fallen head-over-heels in love for the first time.

I'm in love for the first time
Don't you know it's gonna last
It's a love that lasts forever
It's a love that had no past

Those are lines from The Beatles song Don’t Let Me Down

Of course it’s just a song. I might have  had everyone fooled in Japan with my self confidence… so much so that Noboko didn’t want anything to do with me because I looked like one of THOSE guys… a playah.

I don’t think I was. I never led any one on… I never asked them for sex… hell… even after 2 and a half years in Japan, I still had not actually asked anyone out on a date. Oh-fer what… 49?

Noboko thought my haiku was nice… and even though I told her it was for her, she wasn’t impressed by me.

She listened to rumors.. that I had got some Japanese woman pregnant and wouldn’t take any responsibility.

If I had got some woman pregnant, you can bet you a$$ I would have stepped up in any way possible.

But of course… there were more than a few foreign guys in my city… apparently 1.8m, 175lb, brown-skinned, blackhair me was mistaken for some 6-3, skinny white guy from Oceania.

Still not convinced, her junior high school students managed to convince her that I was a good guy. I have no idea why they went to bat for me, but they did.

She told me she was curious… why would tweenagers think that Andrew was the guy for her?

Awesome sex aside - and not on that first date… to create separation between everyone else who was just in it for the sex (including me)… we were a great match…

She was also the first woman I had asked out in Japan. The only one, it turns out.

Virgo.  If you believe in such things, Noboko was a Virgo… born on the 15th of September. I’ve chased a lot of rabbits down holes, and the Virgo women have been the most intense.

Here… let me tell you about Virgo (from HERE -
http://www.astrology-zodiac-signs.com/compatibility/virgo/
) :

Virgo and Scorpio can make an incredible couple, exciting and full of energy, with an interesting sex life. However, if they give in to their individual darkness, this is a couple that can become pretty depressing for both of them, as well as those around them ...  

And that’s exactly what Noboko and I were…

The individual darkness came about when I couldn’t convince her to disobey her father and to not only tell him you love me, but that he.. Andrew wants to marry his daughter and live happily ever after.

While Noboko fancied herself a princess as in the Disney flick Arabian Nights, I was relegated to Aladin, the so-called diamond-in-the-rough. Which was fine… I was doing all sorts of nasty things to a princess… so whatever…

But Noboko’s daddy issues… being in love with me, but being unable to follow her hart for fear of upsetting daddy…  I lost her.

I was alone again… had my heart ripped out… thrown asunder… it’s okay… I spent the next five years indulging myself in fulfilling sex, sculpting my body into something better and bigger, growing my hair long again, only sleeping with women involved in Toronto’s underground world of sex because I could.

And I was happy as a pig in sh!t.

Since then, I’ve been in a few relationships - even got married and have a kid…

Everyone as perfect as the one before… everyone thinking I’m not as good as I think I am… everybody’s looking for something.  

And I keep coming up as second-best.

Am I second best or have I just always looked awry? I’ve hardly ever looked… and those few time that I have… I’ve found some aloe for that burn.

So… when time after time, when every perfect woman seems imperfect, when does it become less about their imperfections, and more about your own imperfections.

And this is why I hate looking back at my time in Japan… despite it only being a three-year volatile period in my life, it makes me think about all the other years in between to where I am now.

It’s no longer where did I fug up… I’m at the point where it’s, what’s wrong with me?

But you know what? I don’t even want to know anymore

I’ve given up trying to figure out why things are the way they are - I’d go crazy if I continued to futz over the past here in the present.

Some say I got a bad attitude,
But that don't change the way I feel about you,
If you think all this might be bringing me down,
Look again cause I ain't wearin' no frown!

Lyrics to Everything About You by Ugly Kid Joe

Okay… let’s end this with I am The Walrus by The Beatles and King Lear by William Shakespeare:
Lennon: I am the eggman
(Gloucester: Now, good sir, what are you?)
Lennon: They are the eggmen
(Edgar: A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows)
Lennon: I am the Walrus

goo goo good job goo goo goo good job
Goo goo goo joob g'goo goo goo joob goo goo

Of course the Walrus is from Alice and Wonderland.

No wonder it’s my favorite book… just like everything…

it’s all just stuff and nonsense,
him

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Most Accurate Clocks In The World

After reading a story on England’s Big Ben tower clock, I tried to figure out just what the biggest clock in Japan was/is.

Did you know that at work you probably should never type into your computer’s search engine the words “biggest clock” because Auto-Correct can do strange things to get you into trouble with IT?

Instead, I decided to see if I could find anything about Japanese clocks - on the home computer.  After spending hours with Alice down the rabbit hole, I decided I should look up stuff about those timepieces.

Granted this isn’t the latest news around—it coming from 2015… but if Albert Einstein has taught me anything, it is that "time is only relevant to the observer."

That’s why it can be midnight where I am, and 5PM the next day where you are.

Let's say its 5PM  right now (It's 5PM right now) (Thank-you).

If you look at the sun right now, since it is eight minutes old (provided it's not cloudy where you are), the actual sun you think you are seeing at 5PM doesn’t actually hit your face until 5:08PM. That means that if the sun, in its own observable time blew up a millisecond past 5:01PM YOUR time, you wouldn’t know about it until 5:09PM.

Time is a man-made concept anyways… so whatever. Einstein... I understand.

Which is a perfect segue into how a team from the University of Tokyo, led by professor Katori Hidetoshi (surname first), has built clocks so accurate, that they can keep time accurate to the point where they will only lose about one second every 16 billion years.

These are cryogenic optical lattice clocks… and apparently are so precise that current technology can’t measure them.

Which leads me to wonder then: So how the fug do you know it loses one second of time every 16 billion years?

How do you measure something like that, but say that it is impossible to measure?

Guess what… that statement of one-second per 16 billion years is an accuracy that is, in reality, an estimate made by the researchers.

The two cryogenic optical lattice clocks made by the University of Tokyo.
The clock uses lasers that trap strontium atoms. The vibrational frequency of the atoms are measured, apparently using them like "the atomic pendulum”.

Okay… I did my best, but I don’t understand what that means without a better frame of reference. 

Let’s see… the current best way we have of measuring an exact time (again, it’s a made up concept ergo any measurement of it is both correct and incorrect at the same time) is via atomic clocks.

Apparently the faster a clock ticks, the more precise it is.

In an atomic clock, the “pendulum” is the radiation which excites the transmission between two atomic states of different energy.

Nope… that didn’t really clear things up. Sorry… I tried.

The Tokyo clock is comprised of a very delicate system that, like in the old days of computer technology where the computer was as large as a mouse but had less computing power of a standard iphone… it operates optimally at around -180C (-292F)… which means it’s going to be a real bugger of a time to determine anything, except that it’s time to stop being so anal about time measurement.

The cold temperature is required to reduce the impact of the surrounding electromagnetic waves, which helps the clock’s accuracy.

“Hey John… what time does your new Japanese Seiko watch say it is?
“John… John… John?
“Crap. He’s dead. Time of death at… I can’t read it because the watch glass has iced over.”


Anyhow…

It was only after the University of Tokyo researchers connected the two cryogenic optical lattice clocks, and let them run together for a month… well, since the difference between the two clocks was sooooooo tiny, and actually impossible to measure by today’s equipment, the researchers best-guessed that the two clocks would develop a one-second difference after 16 billion years.

That’s right… too tiny to measure, so the Japanese scientists GUESSED the time lag, and guessed what it would be over 16 billion years.

A guess… that is as inaccurate as knowing what time it is.

Here’s what else the articles I read failed to provide: An EXPLANATION as to why one of the clocks would develop a lag at all? 

Shouldn’t BOTH clocks have the same rate of time decay if all things are being equal… and they should be equal, meaning that all of the cryogenic optical lattice clocks are being built exactly the same… ergo the cryogenic optical lattice clocks are the most accurate clock.

But if the cryogenic optical lattice clocks have different rates of decay, then every single cryogenic optical lattice clock would have a different time loss over similar periods of time.

Measurable, and therefore more “real” in telling time, is the old-school cesium atom clock, used to define "one second", which can develop a one second error every 30 million years. Apparently this is something human beings can actually measure.

Now… although I can’t see a practical time-measuring use for the cryogenic optical lattice clocks, those one-percenters who know, believe that the technology could be applied to satellite-based global positioning systems and communications networks, while also serving as a foundation for various precision technologies.

That’s great… what are we using now for these things? Something right… so will using cryogenic optical lattice clock technology make things like GPS more accurate?

According to the University of Tokyo research team who have created the world’s most accurate clocks based on a guesstimate, they hope that the 47 people on this planet who are really into such things instead of more interesting things like practicing procreation, will examine their research and that “Through improved precision, we hold high hopes for accelerated discussions on redefinition of the 'second’.”

Now just hold on a minute! Just how inaccurate are such things as our GPS and wristwatch now?

Like Albert Einstein said:

Time is an illusion.

And I am out of it.
Andrew Joseph
PS: per the image above of Groucho Marx, Marxism is the worst thing I ever heard of.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Resting, Not Nesting

After a vociferous chat with a fellow Canadian who is also Brown, I argued that immigrants to Canada should actually assimilate into Canadian culture (and there is one, no matter what people like to crap-on about)...

My feelings are that when immigrants come to Canada, it is because they wanted to do so because they felt that Canada offered them certain socio-economic advantages that they could not achieve in their former home country.

So… if that’s true, why not actually embrace the country that has those great advantages - those advantages that are so effing important that you’d leave a country for it?

Keep your religion, but why not actually try and fit in?

Canada was long ago called the world's-best melting pot because we were home to so many immigrants from so many different cultures… but the truth is, Canada is no effin’ melting pot.

It’s the uncooked cuisine where all the ingredients are tossed into a bowl, but aren't mixed together.

It's like an untossed salad. While I have heard that some people actually eat salads, I still wonder why there's such a push-back from people actually becoming—heart and soul—Canadian.

Ask anyone person in Canada just what they are, and each will stupidly say they are Italian, or they are Scottish or Polish or German or Indian or Ethiopian or whatever… not a single damn Canadian in the bunch.

People here talk about how “in my country, we really enjoy food” as though no one in any other country enjoys food. How effing ignorant is that?

Canadians enjoy food, and not just pemmican and beaver burgers.

I have no problems with people coming in with, and maintaining, whatever religion they like - whatever makes you happy - be happy.

But the thing that irks me, is the cluster-fug of people of one culture feeling they need to live in the same community.

Granted the roots of a Chinatown, first appearing in San Francisco were born of racism… keep’em all together, and don’t allow them to leave those borders of the city—that really happened in San Francisco, by the way.

But it still doesn’t explain why there’s pockets of such communities in Toronto that are known as Chinatown, Little India, Greektown.

When my folks arrived in Toronto, we lived right downtown in the Bloor and Yonge area. After moving to new developments in Malton, a part of Mississauga, they left after two years because all of a sudden all the other people of India and Pakistan moved in.

It’s like they thought this was a safe area, let’s all move in together.

I get it… but my parents thought… you know what… we left India for England and then Canada because India wasn’t hep enough to raise a child and afford him some of the best opportunities in the world.

If they wanted to be surrounded by other Indians et al, they would have stayed in India.

They came to Canada for the adventure of it. It wasn't to make Canada into a smaller version of the country they left. Hell… we all became Canadian citizens - all of us - as soon as we were legally able to do so.

We embraced it all. Often as the only minority family in the area we lived in.

Am I sad that I am not in touch with my India(n) heritage? No. Not one bit. You can't miss what you don't know.

I have my own Canadian heritage.

What’s wrong with that?

I ain’t no hyphen-Canadian. I’m just Andrew, a citizen of Canada.

Of course this article will elicit such wonderful comments from people claiming I can’t be a Canadian because I’m not White, but then again, I bet I know more about Canadian history than damn near 99% of the people in Canada.

I know more about Canadian history with regards to political, aviation, hockey, baseball, basketball, lacrosse and maybe track and field than most people in this country… the same for Canadian television history… and that’s just talking about “history”. I’m weak on my CFL (Canadian Football League), but my best friend’s dad player for the Hamilton Ti-cats.

I’ve driven across Canada and met the people - both coasts - and look forward to one day visiting our three Territories.

I coach soccer, baseball and hockey. Played roadhockey, sandlot baseball, shot hoops at the school yard, can snowshoe, paddle a canoe and a kayak… and yeah… I have eaten pemmican, moose, snake and buffalo. I’ve even gone fishing with a Mohawk chief, personally met a few Prime Ministers, flown in a Lear Jet with a provincial Minister of the Environment, carried a coffin with the Federal Minister of Finance. I even wrote for one of the top newspapers in North America in the Toronto Star.

I’m just saying, I might not look like the typical Canadian from 60 years ago, but I’ve done more things as the original Voyageurs did to more than qualify as a Canadian.

People who say Canada lacks a culture are too stuck in their own former-home culture.

I had previously written about 3,000 words on why I hate hyphen-Canadians, and explaining why I think that people who say Canada doesn’t have a culture are stupid.

I wrote about how I wish people would actually relinquish most of their culture to become more Canadian…

That’s what Canadian culture is… a mix of people who come from different cultures, who create a more homogeneous culture… something similar to what Star Trek wants… a people of Earth.

But… I decided I was too angry, so I put it aside.

It was all meant as a lead-in to my actual topic.

We all know that there are places in our city (yours and mine, more than likely) called Little India, Chinatown, Greektown, and stuff like that.

While it was so-named because that was where people of a like-background set up roots (except for the Chinatown in San Fransisco… where the Chinese were forced to remain within the boundaries of Chinatown, and were not allowed to leave), nowadays, we all know it as a place where we can get foods and other goods of that particular culture.

So why, outside of Japan, is there no huge hubbub of a hub for Japanese? Where the J-town?

I’m sure many a community can claim to have a J-town, but I bet they are tiny areas… and spread out a bit…

I know that most of the restaurants that sell Japanese food aren’t owned and operated by Japanese folk—usually Korean or Chinese.

I don’t have the Japanese palette to be able to discern if my sushi was made by Korean, Chinese or legitimate Japanese hands (that was sarcasm there folks), but it does irk me a bit.

Then again… why the fug is Japanese food so damned expensive everywhere but in Japan?

For $30 (and that’s weak, Canadian dollars), I can get a meal for myself, wife and tweenaged boy… and a second one the next day from the leftovers!

For $60 I can get a Japanese meal for the three of us—no leftovers—and damned if I’m not hungry still, willing to eat those bland, white styrofoam-like noodles that come with the tempura. I have no idea if I’m supposed to eat them or not, but I haven’t died yet, so what the heck.

Can’t someone in Toronto set-up a cheap noodle shop? Can’t I get pork kontatsu and Bulldog sauce (made from real bulldogs) (I’m kidding. It’s synthetic bulldog)? How about yakitori? Why should that cost me $10? It’s half that in Japan.

It’s just chicken bits on a skewer with a magic sauce brushed on it and barbecued over over a grill upon hot coals.

Oh yeah… the ingredients are fresh… as opposed to all the rotten ingredients I get in my Ethiopian food. Not. The Japanese restaurants will tell you the fish is fresh… sure… I’m betting it’s still refrigerated or frozen at some point in time.

These Japanese restaurants may think they are catering to Canadians of Japanese decent, but they aren’t. It's mostly Canadians... I don't know how many people outside of Japan could tell you if the food they are eating is legitimately fresh or not.

How many Japanese actually live in Canada?

Well, and I know this is still six-year-old information, but in 2011, the entire population of Canada consisted of an immigrant pool of 20.6%, meaning one in five people were an immigrant.

As of 2011, 25,805 Japanese lived in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.

The largest groups of Japanese live in British Columbia: 12,355 - 48% - it’s the province closest to Japan; Ontario: 8,015 - 31%; and Alberta with 2,940 people or 11%. That’s 90% of all Japanese immigrants in those three provinces.

The only part of Canada lacking a Japanese person is the territory of Nunavut. Hey - who wants to be No. 1?

Anyhow… small numbers, right? I’m always surprised when I find a full-blown Japanese-born family living in Toronto. Actually, I’ll let you know when that happens.

While yes, the Japanese did move to… well… basically Vancouver as early as 1877 until 1927… I would bet that Japanese stopped moving to Canada when its fascist government ideals starting poking up at around that time…

And for those poor souls who were Canadians of Japanese decent living in Canada when WWII broke out against the US in December of 1941… they were sent to internment camps as horrible, I am sure, as what Americans of Japanese decent were facing.

Yeah… fug you very much, Canada. People have moved on past that humiliation, I believe. Mostly.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that while local economies have tried to create such nomenclature as J-town and Little India, these things aren’t as big as a Chinatown or Greektown because when these immigrants came over, they didn’t feel the need to congregate so much.

The India Indians do… but that’s only to live. They tend to congregate in certain parts of the province... not my neck of the woods, though... I’m still the only minority on the street after 44 years. Really. Okay, my Fillipino buddies moved out 10 years ago.

But… there is a J-town in Toronto, but unlike other cultures, they don’t live where they work.

Okay… I have no way of knowing that… maybe some do… but they didn’t grow up there… they didn’t go to school there… where’s the Buddhist temples? Where are the Shinto shrines? There aren’t any…

But there are all these restaurants and shops:

Yup… in Toronto, it’s on Dundas Street between University Avenue and Yonge Street, the world’s longest street, and for about 300 meters (985 feet), you can kill a day trying to be Japanese.

That’s just less than 9x the length of my backyard. Or a little over 4x the size of my house property.

Maybe you could spend a few hours in Little Tokyo or J-Town or whatever the heck it is.

The Japanese, when they leave Japan, don’t nest together as much as people from other cultures do.

Hmm… if I ever find a family of Japanese people in Toronto, I’ll ask them why, or if I am even correct in my “nesting assumption.”

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wanna Go For A Slide?

For those of you who watch the History Channel or Discovery Channel or speciality television like that, you may have come across various programs regarding Japan’s so-called Atlantis… possible submerged man-made structures from 4,000 years ago, or maybe they are just strangely-formed natural confluences of rock.

That site is located off the shores of Yonaguni-jima (Yonaguni Island), the westernmost island claimed by Japan some 108 kilometers (67 miles) away from Taiwan… which is why Taiwan also lays claim to, as does China, because… well, it’s China. It still wants Taiwan back.

Lost to the spoils of war
Back in the 15th century, Yonaguni-jima was incorporated into the Ryūkyū Kingdom, and that whole culture and chain of islands was annexed by Japan in 1889.

For those of us who have read Japanese history books, you may have come across such archaic terms for Japanese places such as Lewchew, Luchu and Loochoo… I’ve seen those in newspaper accounts from that era, for example.

It sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?

 The Ryūkyū Ōkoku (琉球王国, Ryūkyū Kingdom) consisted of Okinawa, Amani Islands ( part of Kagoshim) and Sakishima Islands (near Taiwan).

Despite having been a part of Japan for about 150 years, ask anyone from these islands what they are, and they’ll describe themselves as Okinawan or Yoniguni first, Japanese second.

Anyhow… this blog isn’t about the structure under the waters off Yoniguni Island.

This is about that ridiculous structure at the very top of this article.Well... not that one, but one almost identical to it. This one is from Tokyo... the one I am talking about is...

the infamous Yoniguni slide.

It’s not the largest in the world, or even Japan and probably not even in all of the Ryukun isles… I just thought it was such an odd thing to find on such a remote island.

It’s made of metal rollers, the kind you might see on the older more standard conveyor system used to transport goods at a manufacturing facility.

It looks like it was made for Japanese bums… and by that I mean, not too wide, but in reality it is made for kids.

Kids… kids who don’t mind propelling themselves down rolling cylinders around corners at near breakneck speeds, where to me the greatest dangers are… getting one’s skin or leg hair caught between the rollers, or even dumber, burning the crap out of one’s legs owing to the fact that the rider wore shorts, and the fact that it’s stupidly hot and sunny that day.

As you have guessed, such infernal torture devices that could only have come from some sick Japanese version of the Marquis Desaad, and do exist in limited quantity, but not that limited, around various parts of Japan where I assume kids haven’t learned how to play with a ball… or a rock… anything that would actually seem less dangerous than this.

Or… consequently… if kids only knew how dangerous slides like the one in Yoniguni actually are, they might want to use it more  - win-win-loss…  win because they are outside and not playing video games… win because the city has found a use for that old conveyor system from that factory that went out of business years ago… and loss because it’s a flesh and hair grabbing monstrosity that would cripple tiny children who get their fingers stuck between the rollers or burn the flesh off them.

I never once mentioned butts getting bruised, but that’s because you kindda need to have a some meat on your butt to get a bruise… those flat, stereotypical Japanese butts just might break. So there’s that too.

The photos above were taken from my television screen via the show Expedition Unknown, which I watch hoping to find answers, but leave mostly disappointed that we don’t get to see things to its conclusion.

I know that’s not the fault of the host who seems like fun guy you’d want to hang with and eat a plate of nachos and either a wobbly pop or a Coke… because how the heck do you figure out the history and current location of the Ark of the Covenant, for example, in a one hour show that is in reality only 48 minutes long, and thanks to the recaps after every commercial might only be about 36 minutes long…

Still… if not for this show I’d never have learned that there were such nefarious torture devices as the Yoniguni slide.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: The headline is a wordplay on the Smashing Pumpkins song: Zero, that contains the line: wanna go for a ride?  The video below was created by a fan, as all original version swere taken off YouTube... but you can find the original on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/184938937
If you want a full circle, co-founder and lead guitarist of the Smashing Pumpkins is James Yoshinobu Iha (井葉吉伸 Iha Yoshinobu - surname first). No... I didn't know that, but wondered if this was the case 25 years ago when I first came across the group...   

  

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Great Eight And Counting

This blog article is sort of a look at writing, writing about Japan, and why it's important to educate rather than to just provide snippets of data to support one thing or another. It's also why I tend to provide "too much information".

I personally hate newspaper articles, magazine stories and blogs that fail to address all of my questions. Really... it's just W51H: who, what, where, when, why and how.

Those are the tenants of good journalism, and something I find lacking quite often in the rush to present as many stories as possible without actually presenting more than glorified headlines.... and no, I'm not talking about Twitter, because responsible writers and journalists use Twitter to point back at a more complete article or story.  

Speaking of social media...

It’s a good thing I have so many wonderful contacts on LinkedIn. It was thanks to them and it that I figured out why they were wishing me a happy work anniversary.

Well, on this day, eight years ago in 2009, I published my very first Japan—It’s A Wonderful Rife blog… sort of…

Back then it was just called It’s A Wonderful Rife (no Japan), though it was, of course, all about Japan. I think I changed it up about a year later, as I figured having the word Japan in the headline would make it more likely to be found by an internet search engine.

When I started, I thought the only way to build an audience was to present good material. If you blog it, they shall come.

Uh… sorta.

Then I realized as of February of 2011, that if I publish a blog everyday, Google might think I am all right and would, because I was presenting new material, place me high on the list of page searches or people looking for material about Japan.

Maybe they did that… but then it all gets superseded by people purchasing SEO placement at the top of the search engine page… some deserve their rank, but a quick perusal of their blog or website will point fingers at just who bought their way to the top.

This blog is hardly near the top of any search engine. My Pioneers of Aviation blog is… especially if you search for aviation pioneers or pioneers of aviation… but that’s a specialist blog best enjoyed by about 40 people from around the world.

Japan—It’s A Wonderful Rife is also a specialist blog, but one that has more people interested in it because - well, people are interested in Japan far more than they are about biplanes and dirigibles.

I originally started Japan—It’s A Wonderful Rife on July 11, 2009 as a ways to showcase the 90 old stories I had written for various JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme AET (assistant English teacher) newsletters… where I published one, sometimes multiple adventures of myself in Japan. It was going to be 90 blog posts and done. Really. In my head I figured some book publisher would see it and want to collect it into a book and I'd be richer than JK Rowling.

Ha... I knew that was never going to happen (the latter part of it, I mean). I've been one of the few literary agents in Canada... and why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free... an old adage I first heard at a strip club - one of several I would frequent on a weekly basis after leaving Japan. Oh, the stories I could tell you about that time of my life!

Even the most mundane activity of where my friends and I sat at a strip joint could be a full-fledged chapter... I think I've figured out how to make anything interesting. I once had to write 2,500 words on corrugated (cardboard)... so yeah... 

And, it was never "pervert's row" at the foot of the stage(s).  

Oh yeah... Japan—It's A Wonderful Rife

It was not me whining about how different and sucky Japan was, rather it was me poking fun at myself and actually all the other foreigners in Japan who would go on about how sucky it was that Japan was so different.

Dudes (and dudettes)… Japan being different is why most people became interested in going to work and live in Japan in the first place.

Me? I had a different reason… while I didn’t even want to go, the initial reason I even contemplated it was because I wanted to lose my virginity. You can read my first blog HERE, entitled House of the Rising Son, because it was a nice play on words of the old Animal's rock song House of the Rising Sun, (like my blog title is a play on words of the old Frank Capra movie It's A Wonderful Life).   

Anyhow, because I never know what I’m going to write about, let alone how I’m going to write it until I actually physically write it, I can’t claim to say that it was my plan to be self-deprecating in my blog writing… but that’s what it was/is/will be.

By the way, I used to hand-write every single blog for the first two years, and then type it out on the computer - it was a way for me to write on the subway, or in my car as I sat in a parking lot decompressing and digesting at lunch.  

It’s funny, though, the one time out of nearly 3,700 blogs that I really wasn’t self-deprecating, people called me an ego-maniac. Figures.

I would write my basically 100% true life Rife stories—maybe add a bit of background color, but hardly need to exaggerate… and come off looking every bit the scared little boy I was…

Nothing like brutal self-honesty... which I think is something most blogs lack. Good or bad, I present myself and my situations as they were, because that's the whole point of writing about yourself, isn't it?

One blog writer I respect 100%, even if I don't always agree with his opinions, is Mike Rogers' Marketing Japan blog... who lays it out there for people to see, and doesn't give a crap what anyone thinks about him. I secretly believe he likes that I like him, however.

My weak spot - and perhaps it's ego - is that I do care what people say about me.

To my credit and detriment, when I write about a Japanese topic, I rarely pick sides... and try to present as many angles of both sides of an argument as possible in the hopes you, the reader, will come to your own conclusion.

I'd rather teach people and let them formulate their own opinions, than preach my own.

In my opinion (ha), I believe the reader is smart enough to learn without being told what to learn. 


Rare was the time I lamented how Japanese culture was inferior to my own. If I did, I regret it.

Everyone’s culture is their own… and the only inferiority there is from people who don’t get that people are different, but inherently the exact same.

That’s what this blog has always striven to show.

While people around the world might show it in different ways, there is still that love of country, family, distaste of job - everybody loves - everybody hates... regardless of where one is born or where one grows up or where one lives.

Yes, sometimes Japan does things in ways that seem ass-backwards to myself and others… but it’s not for me to ridicule… it’s just the way things are.We can have a laugh at it, if we want, but we should never say a country or its people are stupid for doing things in that way.

Do we understand why they do things that way? Aye, there's the rub... and probably a fascinating story to boot.

When I write about the differences in Japanese culture from my own, it was actually more about me lamenting the fact that I didn’t UNDERSTAND the Japanese culture enough… and because I’m who I am, that lack of understanding frequently contributed to whatever mess I managed to get myself into over there in the first place.

The stories don’t have to be written with anger about Japan, rather if I choose to show anger, it’s because of my own inability to circumnavigate the situation.

Whether that was in how to travel from one place to another; how to marry a woman; being unable to figure out why Japan’s counting system is so complex; or even how come everyone knows exactly what I’m doing and who I’m doing…Japan was a wonderful rife.

I spent about five years writing about the near day-to-day life of my time in Japan. With the exception of a few specific topics, I would bet you could actually transpose those adventures into plenty of different parts of the world.

I was just a weirdness magnet. Stuff happens. I see the humor in it all, and I think most readers here do, too.

Weird, interesting and mostly fun stuff found its way to me all the time. I think you have to have your eyes open, too.

It’s so funny… I read blogs about other people in Japan and it’s just one crap storm after another for them. They’re angry and upset almost all of the time.

While most of my articles nowadays revolve on placing a unique spin on news items or researching a bit of Japaneseness, occasionally I revisit old wounds, … er stories and situations surrounding myself, taking a more or less mature outlook to provide a new peek at old things.

That will continue…

As usual, for those that do so, I appreciate the articles and topic leads you provide. As you have seen, I often utilize them. When I don’t, it’s because I’m usually busy with something else (work, blog, sports coaching or life), and then when I have a moment of clarity, chances are good that I’ve forgotten your lead.

Sorry. It’s never a snub.

So… eight years on, and who knows how many more to go.

It’s been a real challenge to write a blog every day for six straight years, too… it’s turned me a bit OCD… as I have to publish once a day now.

No… there’s no real reason, except that I like to write about stuff I know little about so I have a reason for learning new stuff.

One of the mantras I developed upon arriving in Japan was: if you didn’t learn anything new today, you wasted the day.

I continued that mantra through to this day… and this blog and others and just a real curiosity about people and things… well… regardless of how I feel on somedays, I haven’t wasted the day.

Thanks to you people for helping ensure I don’t waste the day.

Somewhere, it’s still a wonderful rife,
Andrew "He knows he won" Joseph
PS: The photo above is of Kristine S., a beautiful young American woman of half-Japanese decent I met pretty much my first evening in Japan - a woman with whom I shared my first Rife adventure with (HERE)... a woman who saved my life that first evening in Japan... a woman I should have tried harder to hit on... and a woman who a few years ago told me she would have slept with me in Japan... a woman who traveled 500 km to use my Ohtawara-shi apartment as a base while she sight-saw... a woman who found me to be too disgustingly sick when she visited to do no more for me than to give me oral... medicine. Sorry... button got stuck.
She was also a woman who, when AETs met for a JET meeting, would hang around with my girlfriend or ex-girlfriend... and would never tell me what the fug they were talking about as I was never allowed to be near them or bother them on such occasions.
Such situations invariable lent itself to me getting extremely drunk. You never want your girlfriend to talk about anything with the woman you want to sleep with. Even if it had nothing to do with you/me. It probably didn't... it was probably a Kristine ploy to mindfug me even if she could mind me fugging... aw, whatever... you know what I mean. 
Anyhow... see what I mean about how weird stuff follows me around? There was that great story about the women, and then there's the story about me getting hammered - but how did I get hammered? I entered a sake drinking contest, winning, found someone's camera in the men's room, took pictures of myself with their camera (no... not of the upper body), broke into a hotel diorama exhibit, passed out, woke up to find myself in a forest, didn't have a hangover, and discovered that even though I did such naughty things, it was still a wonderful rife.
Hee... I just thought about the camera owner... who, when he got his camera back, took his film to be developed, and when he went to pick up the photos, the girls at the shop always open up the envelope of photos and pick out one or two to make sure that they belong to the photographer... I can see them pulling out one of those candid shots of myself, and he wondering what the hell had happened as the photo shop women giggled behind raised hand over the mouth.
Okay... long over due, but to that camera owner... I'm sorry I was such a dick.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Time Waster Blog

Okay... I've just finished six hours behind the computer screen doing an article for work, had a two-hour baseball practice to run, and went to Ikea to buy new bedsheets.

I'm tired.

So I'm copping out and just giving you this absolutley wonderful photo I took showing (okay, I haven't actually gone into the archives and found a suitable photo or even scanned it ... hang on... okay...

Here's a photo of Noboko and myself at my friend Colin McKay's apartment in Kuroiso-shi, Tochigi-ken.

No... that's not a bag of weed in front of me. I spent the last six months in Japan getting high by sniffing Noboko's apple-blossom scented hair.

I'm wearing my Tokyo Disneyland Donald Duck shirt... I love DD... I'm also wearing my famous Gorilla Biscuit brand jeans that are striped blue, black and purple (a brand I know nothing about, except those were the best damn jeans ever. Anyone ever see a pair of these jeans elsewhere?), and my still working Seiko wristwatch that I purchased in the Bahamas.

The photo was taken in September of 1993, over one month after I left Japan and the JET Programme after a three-year stay, and is of course of my return trip to try and convince Noboko she should marry me even though it would destroy her father.

You can see she is in love with me in this photo. I can see it. I really can.

You can also see the stress in the form of a pimple under her lower lip - stress probably because she knows she will never defy her father for me any more than she already has in dating, screwing and loving me.. and she has no idea how to not completely destroy me.

As it turns out, there was never any way her eventual rejection of me wasn't going to destroy me and set me on a path of epic self-destruction for the next five or six years.

Maybe we'll discuss things further tomorrow. It kindda depresses me every time I write about it... and while I though it would be cool to write about this photo, it turns out that glancing back into time with these photos just ends up as being one cosmic mindfug of one rejection after another.

It's not you, it's me,
Andrew Joseph
PS: The top photo is me at the Ohtawara Board of Education Office - making a face as I know the boss is trying to secretly take a picture of me. At least I hope I'm making a face. Buddha only knows what I do with my face when I'm writing.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Last Train: A Tokyo Mystery - A Book Review

I like to read.

Over the decades, I have enjoyed reading novels based on science-fiction (the classic authors like Asimov and Bradbury), fantasy (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson or the Tolkien stuff), and some stuff an old girlfriend suggested I read come to mind) and comedy, though admittedly very few authors have managed to amuse me in a novel—Douglas Adams and Samuel Clemons aka Mark Twain. Horror? I’ve read all the greats, but nothing has come close to being horrific in my mind, even if entertaining…. and yes, I’ve read all the Stephen King stuff, and Clive Barker tales, as well as all the classic stuff of Dracula, Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, The Invisible Man, the Island of Dr. Moreau… many times…

But what gets me off today more than any other genre, is a good detective novel.

I got my first taste of the detective novel from reading Two-Minute Mysteries by Donald J. Sobol (my son actually bought the same book from school - and I showed him MY copy bought 40 years previous), and The Hardy Boys… starting at book #50 and then getting all the others, including the Detective Handbook.

While I do prefer period pieces, such as Victorian era Sherlock Holmes, or Hugh Corbett in the 13th century and Ma’at of the 15th century BC, and, of course Brother Cadfael in the 12th century, pretty any detective story will do it for me. Look up those italicized names if you want a great read.

And so, it was with great anticipation when Smith Publicity offered to send my a copy of The Last Train: A Tokyo Mystery written by Michael Pronko and published by Raked Gravel Press on May 31, 2017.

Folks… I know I’m a pretty positive person, but what a great book! It’s what people call a page-turner… where you can’t put the book down and need to keep going even if it means you are only going to get four hours of sleep... which is what I did for a few nights.

The star of novel is Japanese detective Hiroshi Shimizu (surname last - only because that's how it is written in the book) investigates boring old white collar crime in Tokyo.

He's the typical down-and-out detective - lost his significant other who has left him, has a boring job, has a crappy office and a bare-bones apartment that still has the missus-smell about it.

He's not a happy camper... but he is good at his job.

As a former policeman living and working in the U.S., Hiroshi has experience in following the money to solve crimes - quite literally the boring accounting and or financial statements.

But, it's his familiarity with dealing with Americans that gets him the nod to come and help out his former mentor Takamatsu to come and help solve the death of an American businessman who appears to have either jumped in front of a Tokyo subway train, or been thrown in front of it.

In order to get a look inside the mind of the killer, we get to see things from the killer's point of view - what drives them... and in this case, author Pronko almost makes us feel completely sorry for the killer... almost makes us feel like the crime(s) are a justifiable homicide...

I say "almost" only because as any upstanding citizen of the planet Earth knows, revenge is never the answer.

Even though I lived in Japan for a few years and visited Tokyo many times, I can honestly say that I do not have a handle on all of the areas of that city or its people, but thanks to Pronko's style of writing, even those who know nothing of Tokyo can easily visualize the scenes where the book's action takes place.

It's not an over-bearing sense of descriptive writing either. Have you ever read a Stephen King book? That man can spend 10-pages describing the smell of blood or every nook and cranny in a room right down to the number of cobwebs, and while I'm sure many will agree that it gives you the perfect sense of ambiance, I say it slows down the pace of the book. And yes, I know that Stephen King is one of the greatest authors of our time... but to me, that's just needless padding of the book... when 700 pages could just as easily be 300 pages.

Me... I hate too much description. I love conversation in my books - it's engaging and keeps things moving.

We don't get that over-indulgent need for description with Pronko. It's just the right amount to inform, add color and keep the reader interested in turning the page.

Horoshi, Takamatsu and ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi team up to search through Tokyo's temples, corporate offices and industrial wastelands, and then into the seedier elements of the city's yakuza-run booze joints filled with sexy bar hostesses... looking for the next clue that will help them locate the mysterious killer.

But who is hunting whom?

Yup... the cops are hunting a killer who might also be hunting them. Why? Aye, there's the rub.

The Last Train: A Tokyo Mystery is a very well written book. It's a very well written detective book. And it's a very well written book about Japan and the ins-and-outs of some of the darker bits of Japan that you and I might have heard about but decorum prevented us (or maybe just me) from actually learning about first hand.

I've always tried to abide the saying that if you want trouble you can find - but as a police detective, Horoshi isn't afforded that luxury.

The Last Train: A Tokyo Mystery is a book well-worth the read. I'm going to read it again.

I am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series from Pronko. There is going to be one, right?

Apparently the next book is called Japan Hand, with the third in the series entitled Thai Girl in Tokyo.

From Raked Gravel Press (love the name!), buy a copy of The Last Train: A Tokyo Mystery, and settle back for an entertaining ride to the end of the line.

The paperback book is 333 pages long. The paper it is printed on is white, the font clean and large enough to read... though my only complaint is the plastic film on the cover that has picked up my oily fingerprints... not a cool thing when you are reading a detective novel.

If you would like more information, you can go over to: www.michaelpronko.com/raked-gravel-press.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
PS:
Yeah, yeah... I've read all the Shakespeare plays, all the so-called Penguin Classics books (The Once And Future King (King Arthur), Marco Polo, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Moby Dick, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Jayne Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Art of War, The Prince, The Little Prince, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and hundreds more - and that's just recently), classics like The Loved One, the 2001: Space Odyssey series, Ra series, Alice in Wonderland, Oz, Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Percy Jackson books - all of them, anything Star Trek, Discworld, Ty Cobb The Terrible Beauty, not to mention the stuff I read on Japan.... thousands of books, really... often one a week, usually one every two weeks because I spend a lot of time writing this blog and others. I have 35,000 comic books and I've read about 34,000 of them because some are doubles, and I'm reading them again because I can't afford to collect (read the collections of Uncle Scrooge by Carl Barks and then the ones by Don Rosa), 100s of Big Little Books, National Geographic, The Hockey News... heck I even had a subscription to Cosmopolitan for two years, and Model Railroader for a few. I have even been known to read the odd newspaper.
People... we need to read more, and to instill that love we have into our kids. My kid hates reading, which is a blow to me, but the trick is to find a book or series that will intrigue him.
I pity the home that lacks a bookcase filled with books. I know people like that. Their kids are as dumb as nails.
So... give a hoot, don't pollute their minds, and instead fill them with words of adventure and heroism and facts and figures. Buy a book and read to them, or better yet, allow them the privilege of reading themselves.
Above is an image from the great Twilight Zone television series - and episode entitled Time Enough At Last starring Burgess Meredith. It was one of the most horrific episodes I ever saw along with Nightmare at 20,000 feet (starring William Shatner, and later John Lithgow in the 80s movie... and hillariously reprised by both gentleman on the comedy tv show called Third Rock From the Sun). If you aren't sure who that is, he was in the first Rocky movie starring that bum Sylvester Stallone, but was more famous for his iconic portrayal of Batman nemesis The Penguin in the 1960s television series. Wak-wak-wak-wak!
BTW, Meredith also played a librarian in another Twilight Zone episode entitle The Obsolete Man. I hav also been know to watch television, as well as to read a book.
Don't worry about me: I also played and still coach sports, and played and taught music.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Robot Restaurant - Great Show, Big Boobs, And Robots

I am sure we could all come up with many reasons as to why yer old pal Andrew decided to post the above photograph, but I’ll never lie to you.

I did it because of the boobs.

The large and wonderful boobs on the Japanese women who work at the Robot Restaurant in the Kabukicho part of Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Even if the Robot Restaurant didn’t cost its owners ¥10-billion to construct, the boobs on these Japanese women would be worth the visit alone.

And there’s more visible in the background on the screen… which I admit lessens its sexiness, because it’s on a screen… and not live… in a photograph… okay… that’s how my mind works.

While the robots, and the wacky themed restaurant have quickly become typical Japanese stereotypes—because it’s true, the large-breasted Japanese woman blows stereotypes out of the water.

It’s a pity I had to be so crass in my depiction of those Japanese sweater puppets.

To be frank, I’m not a boob guy. Never have been, never will. So despite my seeming over eagerness in gushing over the fatty globules on those hard-working women at the Robot Restaurant, in reality I don’t give a rat’s butt.

Hey… waitaminute!!!!

Robot Restaurant cost ¥10-billion to construct?!

How much is that in real dollars—and this time, rather than the awesome plastic money from Canada, I’m talking about that easy-to-duplicate Yankee buck—what… US$88,330,000. And 41 cents?

Are you effing kidding me?

Let’s see… Robot Restaurant is a dinner theater experience… no, not that staid production of a dinner and a murder mystery (which I actually quite enjoy)… no… this has lasers, robotic monsters, and sexy, large breasted female dancers.

Yes, I will have fries with that shake.

What’s the whole thing about?

Well… there’s an ¥8,000 (US$70.68) per person entrance fee… which is 14x more than I ever paid as a young, single guy to get into a strip club on the fringes of Toronto… And I got to see real boobs… well… maybe not real boobs. Nevermind.

I'm pretty sure she's wearing a wig. On of the women or robot women at Robot Restaurant. It's probably better is she's a robot, right? Who's with me? Anyone? Bueller?  

I’m trying to get my head around the whole Robot Restaurant. It sure as hell isn’t a restaurant…

The meal fee is ¥1,000 (US $8.84) per person… which leads everyone here to hopefully realize that you aren’t going to the Robot Restaurant for the cuisine.

Holy crap… business hours are only 4PM-11PM, daily.

After seven hours of having your mind blown (apparently that’s all these big-boobed babes will do, because this is an otaku (nerd) bar.

It’s been around since 2012… and I apologize for not writing about it sooner, but I was busy.

By the way… I have scoured over hundreds if not almost a thousand photos of the women who work at the Robot Restaurant, and I can say that most of the women do not have big boobs… so it beats me where the hell this photo was taken… so while I known first hand, and many handfulls later that not all Japanese women have small chests.

I was merely hoping that the above image would have blown the stereotype out of the water… now I’m afraid it’s not even treading C-water.

Oh well… if you are in Japan, go and check out the Robot Restaurant, if not for the fine meal I am sure you will get for your US $8.84 (my lunch today cost me US$12), then at least for the ambiance.

Hey... since they have hot women with big boobs and robots firing lasers, would would make a great addition to this would be robots with big boobs... firing lasers.

I'm a nerd... but am I that big a nerd? I'll go! Who's buying?

Andrew “my cup runneth over” Joseph
PS: Perhaps I was fooled by an optical illusion of big boobs in the upper photo... let me look again... no, I'm ... uh... ... man... I just ruined everything by realizing I'm old enough to be their father, with a 50% chance I am or am not.