Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Better photos than mine

This guy's a professional photographer in Tokyo. He's got some really cool and artsy photos on his site, but the ones I'm interested in are some of life around Japan. Specifically, the ubiquitous vending machines, where Ana and I have dropped countless hundred yen coins for Frog Style, and warning signs up around Tokyo. (via OctopusDropKick)

And for photos only slightly better than mine, my friend Damien has a new photo site up, taken with his cooler-than-Ana's camera he just bought, much to our jealousy. I vow that one day, I shall own a better one than him.

A rollercoaster of emotions over technology

One week and counting til I move the the new place. And no internet there. Actually, no internet here, either. The account for our apartment's internet is in the name of some guy who's back in the States now. He evidently was getting charged by the company, even though we've been paying the bills. So he cancelled it. Funny thing is, I'm using the internet right now, and the modem's sitting unplugged in a bag waiting for the people to pick it up. Which makes me wonder if that modem ever worked for me, or just for the guy who had the cable plugged into it. Maybe I've been mooching off of someone else in this building and didn't even know it. Oops. Ain't technology grand?

Speaking of technology, I was getting pestered by emails from a friend begging me to sign up for some friends network based around people's SMS on their cell phone's. I kept wondering why they were so adamant that I sign up, so I did. Then I got a couple emails from others who said I'd been sending them that same type of email to join the same network. Long story short, if you get this kind of email, it's not me, and don't sign up. If anything, click on the link and at the very bottom in tiny print is a link to block it. Do that. I've never had a service so brazenly use my MSN contact list to push their product on other people. I've contacted them, let's see if something gets done.

New Pics

New pictures posted. Evidently, I thought I'd posted these photos from January and then realized I hadn't. So here you go. I haven't really been doing much worth photographing lately, so there probably won't be any added for a couple weeks.

A small maintenance note, now that I've got 30+albums up stretching over the past year, it's now time to start some spring cleaning. I'm going to delete all the albums from 2004, at least up until my Kyoto trip. So if you haven't seen them, you have a few days til they're gone for good, or at least until I return and subject you to a 10,000 photo slideshow/torture session.

Monday, February 21, 2005


I just got back tonight from seeing Alexander, the overblown saga brought to you by the guy with as big an ego (at least) as Alexander the Great himself, Oliver Stone. Overall it was OK, and fairly accurate historically, at least more so than Troy. The whole homosexuality thing was played up for shock value, I guess. He says he didn't, but I'll bet Stone couldn't come up with anything to be controversial about, so he has all the soldiers cheering about dancing boys and the "pretty army." I guess it's good for all the homophobic American boys who've seen it to realize that you can like other men and still be a military hard-ass. It's just too bad Stone had to play it up to sell more tickets.

The military tactics from that age are interesting to me, and they were pretty accurate as far as I could tell, but the accuracy was ruined by the crappy cinematography. Many movies use shaky camerawork and rapid cuts to heighten the sense of urgency, but what was used here was ridiculous. I couldn't keep track of what was going on, and several times I started to get motion sickness and a headache. The war elephants were interesting, although I don't think a huge elephant would rear up against a horse like that.

I know it's been out a while back home, and everyone's probably forgotten about it by now, but if you're interested in learning more about Alexander the Great, a history professor from Idaho has a really informative and easy-to-read site. Another page with a great map of Alexander's conquests was created by a few highschoolers (if only I made things as cool back then). I like watching historical movies, especially the more accurate ones, and knowing a bit about the history makes it all the more enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Weirdness & Random

Today was a really dreary and bleak day. It was cold and rainy, not to mention the fact that I'm near broke a week before payday. So today didn't involve doing much other than sitting in front of the computer surfing and watching strange anime. But lucky for you all, I did find some interesting stuff out there. One site is OctopusDropKick, a graphic design/CG page with a special emphasis on Japan and lots of japanese sites (though it does seem to have gone down in the past 15 minutes, but that's probably just me).

I'm also a little sore from kendo last night. I still show up at the beginner (read: little kids) class, since I don't have the cash to shell out for armor and all that gear yet. So I did the warmup with the kids, which made the parents laugh a lot. It's good to know that, if nothing else, I provide comic relief for these people. But I've been trying to keep up a daily workout routine, and I can actually feel myself getting into shape, rather than the blob that I usually am. Someday I'll be in really good shape and I'll try this out. Until then, I'll just have to stick with pushups.

Friday, February 04, 2005

All your base are belong to us

Just got a new shirt, I'll try to get a pic of it up. A bunny silhouette says: "All the accidents that happen wake up!" Almost on par with my "No F*cking" T-shirt. I'm planning a special photo album just for the strange English pics I find.

...after writing this post, I realized how lame it was. Oh, well, not all of them will win me a Pulitzer.


Hey all, just a quick update to let you know the news. I got the apartment, which I'm very pleased about. My coworker Tracy is going to move in, and I'll get her stuff when she leaves. So that all is looking very good. Another piece of news that many of you may not be aware of, I'm currently looking at changing jobs when my contract comes up for renewal.

I interviewed with a company that places native English speakers as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in public junior high schools to help with English education. I've thought long and hard about it. Nova is one of the highest-paying employers in this field, although they do make some of that back in apartment rentals and other ways to bilk us gullible and helpless teachers out of our hard-earned yen. Nova also is very much a vacation-type of school. You can change the days you work with other people and work it out so you have several days off in a month to go travelling somewhere or do something. It's very convenient. But lots of teachers complain about how unteacherlike the company is, how we're not really teachers, etc. You have to take the good with the bad. And I've decided that I would rather be in a more teacherlike environment. I've also realized that I'm nowhere close to learning Japanese in a useful capacity, as I found out when I went to the realtor and I had to have her write notes of what she wanted to tell me so I could have someone else translate for me. Working for Interac in public schools should put me more into the culture and the language than working for Nova.

There are some good points about Nova: it pays quite a bit (compared to other Enlgish schools), you can swap your vacation days around, and you don't really have to even think to teach lessons.

There are also some bad points: you're essentially encouraged not to have anything to do with Japanese culture in any way. You're prohibited from socializing with students (a fireable offense), the Japanese staff is randomly swapped around every few months, partly so that we won't get to know them, and the workdays are timed such that you have to work when any of your Japanese friends are off or there are any interesting holidays to see.

This doesn't mean it's bad overall, it just means that it's not for me. Ana loves it there, despite the problems, and I do quite enjoy interacting with the students. Like any teaching job, the students are what make or break the job, more so than the company. If I remember, I'll try to dig up a link to the English-language newspaper that had an interesting article on the treatment of EFL teachers. Some people (at smaller schools, I think) were fired and the reasons given were that they clicked their pens, didn't eat all of their lunch, or some other laughable reason. Nova by far isn't the worst, but it isn't the best for me.