Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm special

Via Matthew Yglesias at The Atlantic, the NYT has a report on the commonality of surnames in the US released by the Census Bureau. In addition to discussing the dramatic rise in Hispanic surnames from the 1990 census, they have a field you can use to look up your own surname. 'Eades' didn't make it into the top 5,000, but the alternate 'Eads' make 3682, up from 4803 in the 1990 census. 'Eades' turns out to be ranked #6,396 in between 'Shaner' and 'Ribeiro'.

The whole list can be found in an Excel document here (ZIP file). Incidentally, 'Featherson' is the
least common, coming in at #65,536. Sayaka's last name, 'Kosuge' (小菅), isn't even on there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The return of Julian

My good friend from Manchester, Julian, came back for a 2-week visit with his girlfriend, and he graced his humble old stomping ground Hiratsuka with a couple of passes through the drinking establishments with yours truly.

His first time out, last Thursday, ended in typical (read: bad) form for any night out drinking - three of us slumped in a karaoke booth wailing away at hair metal music until 2:30am, with a 6:30am alarm to get to work.

Friday saw me somewhat loopy and extremely exhausted doing quiz games with 15-year-olds, and getting to bed early so I could be in some semblance of shape for the big meet-up on Saturday night.

Saturday saw the whole gang getting back together, complete with all available SO's and heading out to the nearest cheap izakaya. After that, it was a run to ye olde bar Sad Cafe, a place where Ju left a large portion of each month's salary, and then back to the old, back-alley karaoke bar. This place is really dodgy, in the more-or-less red-light district and right next to a cheap, seedy-looking love hotel. Utandamura, baby! I managed to hold it together that night, Sayaka and I winding down around 3:30am while the karaoke raged on.

It was good to see Ju again, he's always the life of whatever party you invite him to. He might end up back here, but not teaching English. I think he does enjoy his current job as a tree surgeon (basically a sap who climbs 150ft into the air and lops of tree limbs while trying not to lose any of his own). He doesn't seem to be getting much intellectual stimulation, not surprising considering his co-workers being rural yokels whose idea of a holiday is driving to the next town over and drinking. I don't know what he's got planned, I doubt he knows either, but his lady will be headed back next year, which will be good for him.

Julian heads off Friday, so I doubt I'll get to see him before he goes. Such is life, I guess. He's always talking about a motorbike trip somewhere, I'll have to try to get to Europe one of these days to do it.

School lunch

One of the things about teaching in elementary school is that you have to eat lunch with the kids. Usually it's not that bad - they ask questions if they're bold enough, and since you get the same questions over and over again, it's not bad Japanese practice (what? You thought they'd ask in English?). The food is average school food. Well, average for Japan. Quality is about what you'd find anywhere in the US, but the type of food you get is completely different. I'd thought the worst was the cold slab of squid covered in some tasteless 'sauce.' Then Monday happened.

I try to be adventurous, but some stuff you just can't choke down. And being from Indiana, I just have a revulsion for certain things. Like fish. Now, I love fish, but I prefer my fish cut up and easily eaten, without the difficult things like bones, tails, and heads. But Monday's lunch was whole fried fish, each about six inches long. And I mean whole - I don't think the thing was gutted, even. The idea of eating whatever said fish had lined up to be expelled while doing it's fishy business doesn't exactly appeal to me. And, because I'm a grown-up, the kids had decided I need extra nourishment and gave me two of the little buggers.

Fortunately, the lunch also included a hot dog bun-shaped roll, conveniently sliced down the center. The first-graders I was dining with tucked in, and after poking my fish for a bit, I stuffed one into the bread and bit down on the head. It'd been fried thoroughly so the bones weren't too bad, though the spinal column gave me some trouble. I chowed down, trying to avoid looking into the ever-shrinking cross section of the half-fish. I was starting to worry when I got to the entrails, and didn't look at all. Eventually I noticed a change in the flavor and glanced down. My stomach churned and I showed it to the little kid next to me, who'd been staring throughout the meal at my giant, freakishly blue eyes. "Oh, you're lucky, you got the pregnant one," he exclaimed (well, something to that effect, anyway).

And thus ended my appetite, looking at a fishbelly full of little white eggs. Yuck.