Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rules Rule

I have a certain take on rules. In practice, it's probably not much different than how most Americans regard rules, but I think that depending on the outcome of my choices, my viewpoint is a much different than my esteemed countrymen.

Again, as with most Americans, I tend to follow rules so long as they when the need suits me, and to ignore rules that are pointless or inconvenient. Rules are for other people.

Breaking Rules

When I encounter a rule that is pointless or inconvenient, I do a quick risk assessment to determine the following criteria:

  • What are the chances of me getting caught?
  • If I get got, what are the potential followup inconveniences?

    This takes about 2 seconds, and it works because I'm not a (complete) retard.

    One thing to remember here is that I (generally) live my life by the "Do unto others" golden rule, so I don't really need to factor in "harm to others" or "possibilities of someone coming after me to kick my ass". I don't take things that aren't mine, and I don't fuck other people over. Of course, there is the odd exception when one someone else puts us in a position where we have no choice but to do something cruel, but like I always say: While we should never revel in cruelty, we must acknowledge that some people need a good dose of it from time to time.

    I digress.

    The biggest difference between my outlook and most other peoples' outlook is that I acknowledge my own personal accountability if I get caught being bad. If I get dinged for speeding, the cop is not being an asshole, he's doing his job. Some might say the cop is being a prick for pulling me over for going 3 miles over the speedlimit, I say "Well, I was going 3 miles over the speed limit." Stuff like that pisses me off, but I can only be mad at myself.

    As I've mentioned in a lot of other posts, many aspects Japanese peoples' viewpoints "in general" is a complete 180 of how I do business, and rules are one of these areas. And when I say anything about "Japanese" in this post, just pretend I wrote "in general" after it. Also, I'm not saying in this post that the Japanese never break rules -- quite the contrary -- but I think their motives and "risk assessment" are based on totally different things, which I might talk about some other time.

    Japanese society is very ordered. The Japanese educational system encourages uniformity, and deviation from the norm is punished by shunning and bullying at all levels. While it breeds a very compliant society indeed, it also breeds an incredibly inflexible and uncreative one. I get someone in my office at work almost every day asking for guidance on some trivial matter, and if I have a few minutes or I'm feeling saucey, I get a kick out of asking them what their opinion is on an official matter that they could possibly be held accountable for. Unlike Americans, they won't tell me their opinion or say what a bunch of retards their co-workers are. Instead, they'll maneuver the conversation to try and get me to say what my opinion is, which they'll repeat back to me (expecting me to say "yes") and then leave, so they can tell everyone in their office what the "official" opinion is. This process can sometimes bring people on the verge of tears, depending on how persistent I am in being a pain. A couple weeks ago I kept pushing a woman I work with for her opinion on something and she squatted down on the ground and put her face between her knees. It was a little awkward. (This is an extreme case -- she's a little nutty.)

    In Japan, the fact that a rule is a rule is, in and of itself, a reason to enforce it, where in the USA, people who unquestionably enforce rules are ridiculed. In the USA if we encounter a rule that we think is stupid at, say, a store or a gym and we question the worker about it, they will either laugh it off and let you do whatever you want, or they'll say "Look man, I don't make the rules and I don't wanna get fired, so just do it OK?" In Japan, if you question a rule, the person will simply say, "It's a rule", and that's that. If you tell them it's a stupid rule, they'll simply repeat themselves. Here, the value of a rule isn't determined by what the rule is "ruling". The value of the rule lies in the fact that it's a rule, which is good enough.

    I'd like to mention that I don't fight rules here, I just comply, because if a rule is written it will be enforced with a last dying breath. I always get a kick out of other roundeye who come here and try and talk their way around rules though, and listen to them talk about how stupid the store clerk or gym attendent was for simply repeating "It's a rule" over and over again.

    A good example of how this mentality is both good and bad here in Japan is in how Japanese people deal with cross-walks. Jaywalking in Japan is almost unheard, and if you do it, people you don't know will gasp audibly, and your Japanese friends will "mention it to you."

    "I aaah noticed you Jaywalked back there."
    "Not to common over here..."

    That's Japanese for, "Ix-nay on the aywalking-jay, assface."

    The result? Fewer people get nailed by oncoming traffic, right?


    When Japanese people cross the street, they don't look both ways, because it doesn't really fit into their reality that a car would come out of nowhere and flatten them. The crosswalk light is green, after all, so the traffic light must be red. Rules are rules.

    Another thing that's common is, because of a rule's intrinsic value, the spirit of a rule is totally ignored and it is followed to the letter. Recently, it was decreed that all bicyclists in this area will wear helmets. So now there are a bunch of people riding around with either construction worker hardhats or full-on motorcycle helmets (which is really funny). Rule's aren't interpreted, and if you're not careful directing your Japanese coworkers, pandemonium will ensue. (Japanese people also take this to an extreme by playing dumb, and do things that would get you screamed at in the USA. That doesn't work here though, because after all, you didn't specify the rule well enough, so it's not their fault, it's your fault.)

    The reason I thought about this today is because I had a conversation with a Japanese lawyer about name-changing after marriage. Does she have to change her name? Can she keep her name in Japan for Japanese things (it's way easier socially) and be my last name in the states? And what I got was a little bit more like a Monty Python skit. I was getting a kick out of it at first, but in the end it was a frustrating experience. It went something like this:

    "Can she keep her last name here but have my last name in the USA?"

    "In Japan, one of you must change your name. Those are the rules."

    "OK, what if we don't? What if she keeps her last name here but when we go to the states someday she takes on my last name there?"

    "Oh I see, you want to change your name to her last name then."

    "No, I'm not changing my last name."

    "We Japanese change our last name."

    "Well this is kind've different, given my status here."

    "Ok, so she'll have your last name here in Japan."

    "No, no one is going to change their name. She's going to keep her last name here and I'm going to keep mine."


    "One of you must change your last name."

    "What if we don't? What are the penalties? Do they check?"

    "...So you will take her last name?"

    The whole time he was illustrating his points using circles and boxes on a piece of paper, just for clarity. It's like playing those old text based games, where you're telling it to do something really really simple but, since it's not within the 4 or 5 choices possible, it simply doesn't work. That's how I feel a lot of times in Japan.

    As I said before, I don't like telling the people here that the rule they are steadfastly defending is retarded, I get a kick out of reactions I see when I tell them that I will be violating a rule that they themselves are not accountable for enforcing. Many people here can't really wrap their minds around the fact that an unenforced rule is not really a rule.

    Obsessive adherence to rules, whether they be social or written, make Japan great, but at the same time cripple it. An insistence to cling to rules or values because it's what "should" be done because everyone else is doing it and because that's how it's always be done. It's one of the dualities that makes living here so interesting and frustrating.
  • Monday, March 19, 2007

    ...Time to clear the Air...

    Ever since I stopped working in Afghanistan, I've continued supplying the company I worked for with fresh bodies for the grinder.

    Just kiddin' about the grinder part. But seriously, I enjoy hooking people up with the company -- they're an amazing group of guys who have somehow managed to run a contracting company with integrity and a solid reputation, and I like introducing them to solid guys I know who don't mind a little bullshit for a 6 figure salary.

    Right now I'm trying to hook up another friend of mine, and we talked about some of the dangers involved. I told him a little about my token carbomb experience, which I briefly wrote about here after it happened.

    Today at work I decided to google the names of one of the guys that I knew who got killed, and I found an article that had me somewhat incredulous, linked here. The story was written last Christmas, which one would think would give everyone time to reflect and maybe get their facts straight. I'd like to go ahead and point out some aspects of it that I found silly or just not true. I'm not trying to be disrespectful or rude, I just want to set the record straight on a few key points. This is one of those times where I can honestly say I was there, before, during, and after, and know some background on the situation. I know some of the key members of the story and I know a lot of the facts (or factual errors) contained within. It awoke some of my sleeping demons, and I've never really written about it but I think about it all the time.

    Ok, let's dive in.

    Mr. Owens' predecessor was killed in an al-Qaeda bomb attack in 2004. In May, a DynCorp police trainer was killed in a suicide bomb attack while sitting behind armored plating in an SUV identical to the one Mr. Owens uses to transport his boss.

  • The attack was a suicide bomber

    According to this article, the bomber was not a suicide bomber. One of their names is Mohammed Haider, who was responsible for orchestrating the attack. He drove up to the side of the building, jumped out of the car, ran down the street, and blew up the car.

  • He was not sitting inside an armored car.

    None of the excursions we used at the time were up-armored. His predecessor, who is mentioned below and who we nicknamed "Tactical Steve" because he was always decked out in highspeed gear, was standing outside when it happened.


    Retired Army Brig. Gen. Herbert Lloyd, whom Mr. Owens guards as DynCorp's top commander in Afghanistan, refers to the company's mission as "God's work." Whenever he sits down to eat inside one of DynCorp's communal mess halls, he bows his head in silent prayer while his staff members either bow their own heads or sit silently.

    This is completely true. Herb Lloyd was the project manager of our get up and insisted on being called "The General", which none of us would. I always got a kick out of him because he was so obese that he couldn't even close his body armor. His front plate was constantly at a 45 degree angle and he was unable to fasten the velcro straps. After almost getting whacked, he would run around waving his arms talking about God and Jesus, sometimes to the Nepalese workers, who weren't Christians and couldn't understand English hardly at all. No one liked Mr Lloyd. He wanted to be treated like a King, and didn't like people from our company because we didn't show enough reverence. Funny though, he would never talk to us, he would just call our boss and tell him that we were disrespectful and lazy because we wouldn't hop to our feet when he walked in the room. Anytime we were working on something he would come in and demand to know what we were doing, then call our boss and bitch about something.

    Here's my favorite quote:

    "I loved John Deuley (Tactical Steve). We were really close. ... I don't think there was anything we could've done to prevent that [attack]. I really believe that," Gen. Lloyd said.

    This is ridiculous. Check out this picture of the bomb site, that my friend took from the top of the building:

    As you can see, there's about 12 feet between the crater (the giant pothole) and the building. There were no barriers, and people moved back and forth through that street unopposed. One of the reasons we were not there when the bomb went off is because we knew it was going to get hit. We knew that from day one. We avoided that house at all costs. Based on common sense and a basic understanding of "soft targets" and which of our compounds was the most likey to get hit we avoided that house like the plague.

    Another DynCorp executive back in Texas, Richard Cashon, is named in the widows' suit as another "agent" of what they allege is the company's lax decision-making on security. Although neither he nor Gen. Lloyd are listed as defendants, both are accused of putting financial concerns ahead of the lives of their employees and not taking even minimal precautions, such as parking company vehicles to block the street and serve as deterrent barriers, to protect the staff from attack.

    Ya think? Just look at the picture. There was a huge sliding blue metal door into the compound. They never found it.

    The suit also suggests that DynCorp had taunted al-Qaeda into attacking by choosing a house formerly used by its leader, Osama bin Laden, as the DynHouse headquarters.

    This was the big fucking joke. People yucked this one up a lot. "This here was Oosama Beiin Laaahden's hayuss! He done planned naain wuun wuun heyurr!!" But they didn't hit that house because Osama lived there. They hit it because they could. Fortunately, the kitchen was under renovations, or it would have been a complete bloodbath. Coincidence that they hit it at 5:30pm? I think not. That was the height of dinner. The place had been cased, but lucky for us AQ was about a week off from killing 50+ people. (We ate at a different compound anyway.) If the house we stayed at just down the road had been hit at the exact time, I would be hamburger meat right now, because we were outside on the street the instant the bomb went off.

    DynCorp, which was a contractor to the State Department and therefore a representative of the U.S. government, could not simply block streets or install machine-gun posts without the host government's approval, Mr. Cashon said.

    The day after the attack, huge jersey barriers blocked off the streets around all the compounds with three armed guards manning the checkpoints at all times. Didn't seem to take too much time then.

  • God's Work

  • Funny how God and Money are mutually inexclusive. Before I went to work in Afghanistan, my dad asked me if I was doing it to serve patriotism or whatever. I chuckled and said, "No, it's all about the money." Anyone who says any differently is delusional. Let's see how many people apply for work in Afghanistan or the middle east for $30k a year. Oh wait, they do. They're called "service members".

    Everyone who works for a contracting company knows the score. Some people do it because they want to look cool, some people want some adventure, but in the end, it all comes down to money. It's all about money. The companies want money. The employees want money. I figured as long as there was money to get, I may as well get it while the gettin' was good, and I got my small slice of the pie, but it's nowhere near what these companies are making.

    I don't think that Herb Lloyd is a bad man. I'm sure he was deeply affected by the deaths of those involved, because he is a person and because he acted like a complete loon for a while after the blast -- I can't say I'd act any differently. But that article is blowing some serious smoke, and I found it a little bit tough to swallow. I don't know if the families of those killed got their money in the suits they filed against the company, but there is no doubt in my mind or the minds of anyone I worked with that it could have and should have been avoided. We knew from day one that it was not a matter of if, but a matter of when, and if we were thinking that than policy makers must have been thinking the same thing.

    John picked me up from the airport after I'd flown on a mission somewhere, I think to Jalalabad, the day before the bomb. I sometimes think about him running his mouth up in the front seat, joking about this and that, all of us completely oblivious that he would be blown in half the next day. I think about all he left behind (three children), and other people I've known who have died prematurely for whatever reason when I kiss my girl good night and thank my lucky stars that I was just down the street and not at the blast site -- it seems disrespectful not to.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    ...are you asking me for a CHALLENGE?!?!?

    Today I got this question from someone about UFC/MMA:

    I got to thinking after watching Hughes wrestling /
    boxing / jiujitsu style of fighting and how prevalent
    that is within the UFC, what happened to all the Bruce
    Lee type dudes?

    This is a stupid, but serious question, but doesn't
    the dominance of someone like Hughes with that type of
    style just go to prove that all those flashy strikes
    and jumping around and that kind of shit may look good
    in the movies, but are really just a waste of time on
    the street?

    Seriously, has there been some pure martial artist
    (Karate, Kung-Fu, Shaolin Monkiness) that has done
    well in one of these tourneys?

    That, my friend, is a wonderful question.

    Notice how whenever you're watching UFC or Pride or any MMA bout, you will never ever see this:

    If Mister Miyagi was a master of karate and could kick anyone's ass, wouldn't he dominate any MMA competition?

    Why is it that so many people you meet who claim to be a "black belt" in a martial art are about are about as warrior-like as a labradoodle and you feel you could probably take 'em?

    I think as a lot of people who grew up watching the karate kid are probably wondering what's up with all this.

    Traditional Martial Arts (TMA) like aikido, taekwondo, etc, are just that -- traditional -- and things based on and emphasizing tradition and form above all else are rarely all that practical. Failure of something to adapt and evolve in an ever changing world is a good way to get passed up, and fighting styles are no different. TMA folks aren't doing it for the practicality of it, they're doing it for the tradition of it, and die-hard practitioners of TMAs, when asked about practicality against other forms, will likely dismiss other forms as being "impure" or argue why their arts are so much more practical by explaining how they would counter this and that or utilize pressure points and death strikes.

    By coincidence, in the gym locker room today, I overheard a conversation between someone asking an aikido guy what the difference between jiujitsu and aikido was. According to the Aikido guy, a US Army officer, Aikido was much more practical for soldiers because in a combat situation, it is much more useful to break someone's neck than to roll around with them on the ground.

    One reason TMA practitioners will give for their suspicious absence in MMA tournaments is that their art is "too lethal" and that they don't want to kill their opponent.

    Nothing says "I'm gonna let you break my neck" like this picture:

    Check out this vid to see him pwning with strikes and grappling.

    So what is it about the grappling/wrestling and kick boxing that makes these guys so much better than the Masters of Aikido? Why is it that any state-level high school wrestler could own a most taekwondo blackbelts? Why am I confident that as a lowly BJJ blue belt, I could easy submit any of the aikido blackbelts that work out at the gym on base? The answer is pretty simple:


    Combat sports like kickboxing and grappling all have that in common. While TMA practitioners are working on their katas and moves that only work if the person does what they want them to do, grapplers and kickboxers are sparring. Three times a week when I train, at some point during the "sparring" session, I will go for at least 6 minutes at 100% of my abilities to try and submit the other guy, and he is trying to do the same thing to me. Sparring is exhausting and conditions a person physically, while getting them used to up close and personal one-on-one competition where losing sucks and often times hurts like a bitch. Imagine only dry-firing a gun because you can't bare the possibility of hurting someone by firing off a round -- once you DO fire the gun at a target, you'll never hit it like you expected. The staunch TMA practitioner's inability to spar at 100% is the very thing that prevents them from being effective at their art in a "real" situation against a highschool wrestler or in an MMA competition. Ironic, isn't it? Sparring is also what keeps a lot of people out of grappling, because they don't really like the up close and personal aspect of it, nor do they like the prospect of being humbled over... and over... and over... again. Starting a combat sport that involves sparring is a tough road, and it's understandable if people don't want to stick with it.

    I'm not knocking TMA -- they teach poise, confidence, and discipline to young people, make them stronger and teach them how to punch and kick. But as the Gracies showed the world through their Gracie Challenges, when it comes time to put up or shut up, grappling was far more practical, and as tournaments like UFC emmerged, styles evolved requiring a combination of striking and grappling, all of which have the common theme of sparring.

    When I heard the aikido guy advertising his style's ability to "snap an opponent's neck" and move on, I really got a kick out of it. Even as a practitioner of aikido he's living in Hollywood, and probably imagines himself flowing through buildings in the Sunni triangle snapping necks Stephen Segal style. In that way I think some TMAs give people a false sense of confidence because they're not forced to put their skills on the line every single day by sparring, which result in very humbling experiences every time you train. To each his own though. Watching these guys in their aikido costumes with their smug, "pure" TMA demeanor makes the odd victory of mine on the thankless road of struggle, conditioning, and humbling losses all the more sweet. Their delusion makes me stronger.

    Thanks for reading.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Vatos Locos for Pan-American Citizenship?

    I love living abroad.

    To read about one nation's insanity is one thing; to experience it is another. And while Japan isn't the only whack place in the world, I can certainly appreciate it and get a good laugh out of it when Leaders of Nations say outrageous shit, especially about immigration laws.

    Ok, as always, I'm going to talk in terms of comparisons. The way I see immigration laws, which differs from other peoples' view I'm sure, is similar to how I view the rules of someone else's house. (Notice that I didn't say "cultural rules", which I go out of my way to flagrantly violate on the regular.) Maybe at my house I put my feet up on the table, but maybe at Brando's house it's not allowed. I respect that. Maybe at Brando's house it's acceptable not to flush after dropping deuce, but maybe at my house it's a rule to flush and swab any skidmarks. He (generally) respects that. When I go over to Brando's house, I don't demand that he change the rules of his house to suit either my rules or my whims, because I am a guest and because I am not a contributor to his household. Nor do I make demands, verbal or written, about what his house rules should be. If I violate or ignore Brando's household rules, I will likely receive a warning or, worst case scenario, I will be persona non grata'd from Brandostan. If I do not like the rules of Brandostan or think that Madam President Wife is unreasonable, I am free to leave, and will likely be shown to the door.

    As someone who lives abroad, has weathered the immigration law circus, and sees what happens to people when you don't, I feel like I have a pretty good spot on the old soap box de moral highground on which to speak. In any case, I saw a really funny quote in this article in yahoo news, which said the following:

    Deportation is a sore issue in Guatemala, and Bush's host bluntly told him, "The Guatemalan people would have preferred a more clear and positive response — no more deportations."

    He said it bluntly, did he. Look out.

    I sometimes think it's a shame that our leaders aren't really allowed to make outrageous statements in response to other outrageous statements. Here's what "Bush's host" is saying:

    People from our country who violate your immigration laws are not subject to your immigration laws, and become your problem when you catch them. Quit sending them back.

    I mean, think about that for a second. Imagine if the neighbors' kids kept sneaking over to your house to fuck around on your lawn, and when you brought them back home, the parents said "Stop bringing them back." Now I understand that deportees have kids and whatnot, but the last time I checked, having kids wasn't an amnesty box for violating the law. To me, intentionally manipulating the sympathy of the American law system by having a couple kids once you get here makes the crime even more grievous. Bull. Shit. They say it's cruel to deport them away from their kids? They say their kids can't be deported because they're citizens and shouldn't be without parents? OK then -- your kids, your problem. Don't prey upon our sympathies and feelings towards children, which you obviously lack. Your kids are dual citizens and can come back whenever, but you can't. Enjoy your plane ride home.

    Another thing I got a kick out of in the article was the last line, which said this:

    Mayan priests had decided to purify the sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after Bush's visit, and Bush decided to purify the sacred achaeological site with an FAE to eliminate "bad priests" after his visit.

    I made up the second half of that quote.

    This line is a gem too, from an article about Bush's visit to Me-hee-ko:

    Calderon has ridiculed the fence — a mix of physical and high-tech barriers — and likens it to the Berlin Wall.

    Get el realo.

    I guess history isn't required curriculum during the fast track to become the President of Mexico. "Well, let's see, can I make a holocaust reference here? Hm, no. Oh, I know, the Berlin Wall. That's a good one."

    Again, if Outrageous yet Practical Outburst Man were President, he might say:

    Hey Calderon -- you don't like us building a wall on our sovereign nation's soil? Too bad. If we want to build a giant chocolate sculpture of Fernando Cortez sodomizing Montezuma right there on I-5, we'll fucking do it. It's not the responsibility of the US to take care of Mexican citizens. That's your job. And to show you the irony of the whole situation, we'll build the wall using guest-worker Mexicans, guest pass expired upon completion of the wall. It should be a pretty good bargain at $.30 an hour. You wanna play the "who's the biggest asshole" game? We'll play. We're Americans. We invented that game.

    What an awful thing to say. I'm sure glad Outrageous yet Practical Outburst man isn't President.

    Listen up, folks. I'm all about migrant workers. I'm all about guest worker programs. If Americans feel that they are too good to do certain jobs, fuck 'em, someone else who values employment will do it, and do it well. But it's not a damn free-for-all, and while laws are a pain in the ass, they prevent chaos and abuse of the system. Again, I've experienced and am looking forward to years of the "Immigration Visa Game", and while I don't enjoy it, I do it. If nothing else, it keeps me eligible for international employment, which is something I would never ever give up.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Fish and Jesus

    I don't consider myself the jealous type. If someone has something, whether it be an item or ability, I know myself well enough to know whether or not I can attain it or not, and if I can, I go for it. I'm not like those fools on American Idol who get up on stage and imitate Hellen Keller a capella, fully expecting to be selected. I don't work out and train hard and tell people that I'm going to be a world champion, because I know I'm not putting in the time and I don't have the right mind set. I'm a realist. Either way, sometimes it takes a little persistance on my part, but I can usually land something I want once I think I can.

    Still, for all my efforts, there are two things that, no matter how hard I try or think about, I will never be able to figure out.

    Fish and Jesus.

    More specifically, seafood and religious faith.


    I'm jealous of people who can put fish (with the exception of tuna - raw tuna pwns) in their mouth and consume it without experiencing something not unlike an electric shock of nausea blast through their body, followed by aftershocks of revulsion. People seem to dig on fish a lot, especially on an island nation. Every where I go, people are eating almost every type of sea creature imaginable, sometimes live, often raw, and they think I'm some sort of freak for not eating it. It's funny how people can't seem to understand it, as if they don't find any food unappetizing. "Why don't you like fish?" they ask. "Because it's fucking nasty," I reply, and they say "No it's not."

    Oh, ok, thanks. You're right. It's not nasty after all. Fuggin-A, load me up a plate, I'm gonna dig in.

    I once tried to use a little analogy to explain what it's like for me. A person challenged me and my fish disorder, and I said, "Do you like eating human shit?" "Of course not," they cried, "That's digusting!" I said, "Same thing," but they gave me a horrified look and said, "No it's not. Shit's gross. You can't eat that." I sighed and sulked, explaining to them how cockroaches and shrimp were basically the same thing, but they ignored me while they wolfed down vile bottom-feeder after vile-bottom feeder, carefully deturding each one before consumption.

    I've tried to "acquire a taste" for fish. I tried when I was a student in Japan for the first time, so that I wouldn't offend my host mother by refusing to eat her cooking. "It's important to respect other cultures' food," I was always told. Being the complete bitch that she was, she of course served me some form of sea mucous my first night there, and I subsequently offended her by not eating it. (I also pissed her off (unintentionally) when I tried to tell her that I didn't like the food, and I told her that her cooking sucked. Language barrier + Sea food = disaster for me.)

    I lived in Monterey, CA for almost two years, a mile or so from cannery row. I lived in Hawaii. I live on an island now. What better places to square my taste buds away? But no dice. I've tried. It's. Still. Fucking. Gross. I'm sorry to all you and your fish-eating friends out there. I can't do it. I don't expect you to stop eating fish, I just expect you to not look at me like I'm a pedophile when I tell you I don't monj on sea creatures, that's all.


    I was watching UFC yesterday. Good show. But one thing that struck me was all the fighters praising God and Jesus after they won. This makes me a little jealous, because I don't really feel that important to any dieties. I don't have a Gunny in the Sky making sure I've got chow and clean linen. These guys, though. They feel like the creator of the universe helped them win. This amazes me. They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Supreme Being, in charge of everything, took a little break from running Time and Space and the universe and creation and photosynthesis and everything, and hooked them up with the Dubya. The best part is that even if they lose, they don't really lose, because God is still hooking them up with something. The Creator still took time out of his busy schedule to show them something. To teach them a lesson. To make them stronger. Or to punish them for doing a line of coke off a strippers ass during the last UFC post-party. Or whatever. God works in strange ways, ya hurrd meh? Still, even if you lose, you win, because you have a personal relationship with the Gee Oh Dee. It's like they're trolling for attention from the grand sysadmin who created the innernets, and getting all excited when their IP gets banned because just because they were acknowledged.

    A lot of people pity me for my lack of faith, but it just doesn't jive with the way I think. It's similar to the whole fish thing in that I could ask you to acquire a taste for mud or lint or rabbit pellets, but try as you might, you probably wouldn't ever really enjoy eating them, let alone devote your existence to them. It would be cool to experience God and religion and stuff like that -- not in the sense of "I wish God would speak to me" -- but that it would be pretty cool to be under the impression that I was so awesome and special, that the creator of the universe was hooking me up with the skills to beat the dogshit out of someone else. So before anyone reading this writes anything about "just having faith," save your breath, because I'll respond simply by telling you to get over yourself and learn to enjoy eating birdpoop. Both are silly ideas to their intended audience, though I'd venture to say that religion has led to more human deaths than birdpoop has.

    So there you have it. Fish and Jesus. Two things that are beyond my comprehension and will never be a part of my life, and that until the day I die, people will pity me and treat me like a savage for not embracing. I might have the last laugh though, when we meet up in hell, and you tell me bout how you got to the Pearly Gates and found them guarded by this guy instead of who you'd hoped for.

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    Phone Phun

    Here's a little general update -- make things light and apolitical and try to stay on the topic of Japan.

    I love having a camera phone in Japan, because the cameras are pretty good quality (if you use em right) and more importantly, if I see something funny, I can take a picture of it.

    First and foremost, I have an announcement -- I'm engaged. :) I aksed the girl you may have seen on here from time to time to marry me and she said yes. It was one of those cool question poppings where you know the answer before you aks it, but women like doing things by the rules. So I did. She's definitely the cat's meow, and we have a special thing going. We are also probably the only two people on the planet willing to put up with each other's shit, which is a most rare find and a beautiful thing. We'll get murred April 23rd, and have a ceremony in January over here.

    So I'll start my photo montage by doing what I do best, which is to piss her off.

    Item 1: Kotatsu-mania

    Here's a little picture I took of us chilling in the kotatsu cuz Japanese apartments don't have central heating and they're cold as hell.

    She insists she looks horrible, but I think she looks super duper.

    Item 2: Deepressing Coffee

    Japanese people like to combine English words to make up new words which native speakers cannot understand. This confuses them a lot because they think they're being helpful, but we have no idea what they're saying. It's called gairaigo, literally "outside come language" (外来語). These clever word combos can be pretty funny, like the following coffee that I bought:

    It sounds like some kind've Eye-tralian mental condition, but no, it's just "Deep Espresso". Not too bad tasting, either.

    Item 3: I LOVE that movie !!

    While I was ring shopping, I saw an advertisement for a ring called the "Trilogy Ring", which is three diamonds on one ring representing different stuff. I got a big kick out of it so surreptitiously snapped of a picture, because you're not supposed to take pictures of the rings.

    It reminded me of my most favoritest trirogy ever.

    Item 4: I love THAT movie, too!

    Memento is one of my favorite movies, so I bought a copy for the aforementioned future missez and demanded she watch and enjoy it too, which she did. Here's the Japanese cover:

    Notice anything weird?

    Yeah, me neither.

    Gay Pearce is a dreamboat.

    Item 5: Gnarly Soft Drinks

    Here's how things work in Japan:

    An all you can drink "drink bar" is a buffet of drinks.

    A buffet a "schmorgasbord".

    Schmorgasbord comes from the word smörgåsbord.

    The word smörgåsbord is from Sweden.

    Vikings are from Sweden.


    The first time I saw "Drink Viking", I laughed for about 10 minutes just picturing a huge viking serving drinks to Japanese people. No one else saw the humor.

    Interestingly enough, I've found a rare picture of a real Soft Drink Viking, but he doesn't serve drinks, he serves people. With....them....Drinks I mean.

    He's Norwegian, see. That's why it works.

    Item 6: Physical Graffiti

    Everyone loves the "F" word. Non-native English speakers everywhere recognize it. When I was playing blackjack in a Chinese hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, every time someone yelled "fuck" the Chinese dealers would laugh hysterically and say, "haha! Fuck! haha!" It's taken on a life of its own as a word, and English learners are constantly trying to improve their usage of it, which leads to some really funny usage.

    I've always been fascinated by graffiti, and love reading it wherever I go. I like to see what people say when they're pruposefully being naughty or sitting on the juan. The Japanese, ever industrious, have shown a knack for very succinct styles of graffiti using the linguistic object of their affection, as seen below.

    She's 5'7 by the way, so you can see how tall it is. I think it's funny that some Japanese youth saw the need to write that word in such huge letters in a VERY crowded area -- about 100 meters from Nakano station. Nakano ward is the most densely populated area, so an insane amount of people walk by it every day. I'll have to see how long it stays there.

    Item 7: Think of Waterfalls

    Wanna go peepee but you're experiencing some stage fright? Have no fear, the Japanese have an answer for you. Some toilets are equipped with a sound system to make the sound of a stream, to assist you in overcoming your urinary disfunctions. Oh, I'm sorry, it's a Stream Melody.

    And PRESS the push-button, mkay? Don't, uuh, pull it. It's not a pull-button.

    Item 8: Fuji, the fickle mistress

    Since I'm always bitching about Mt Fuji hiding whenever I'm near her, I thought I'd post a little pic I snapped off when I was down there helping some folks out a couple weeks ago.

    OK, more after this weekend. It's going to be a kick ass weekend -- literally. I'm going to a Ninja restaurant on Saturday and K-1 on Sunday. I have my shirt all picked out.