Sunday, April 19, 2009

The perils of working in Japan

I've had a pretty easy time of it here in Japan. It's not hard work, and I've had mostly positive experiences. A huge part of that is that I'm still single and thus avoid all the complications that go along with family life. Like, you know, the death of an unborn child. I don't know what I would have done in this situation, but I do know some of the people involved (not the main person, however), and I used to work for the company. I can't believe this would happen. Well, actually I can. This is how Nova was, and how many smaller companies act. Foreigners are a very vulnerable population, as we are at the mercy of our employers much of the time. Japan has very strict employment rules, so even a small slight can cause huge delays and potentially a non-renewal of your visa. I hope I never have to suffer what this guy has suffered through.

Go read.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

L/km or, I'm not crazy after all!

A while ago, I was having a friendly debate with someone who always has to be right. Being the same type of person, I wasn't giving up, either. We were talking somewhere about gas mileage in cars, and I mentioned my car in high school/college. It was an old BMW with a little computer thingy on the dash that would show different types of data like the temperature, time, average speed and gas consumption. Being American, I stuck a pencil in the little hole and changed the settings from metric to US standard, something I had to do every time the battery got disconnected (or ran out of power, something I often did by leaving the headlights on).

Gas consumption fascinated me, mostly because I always got lower than the rating, and also because the metric gas consumption was listed in liters per kilometer (or 100 km, I can't quite recall). Now, this guy, let's call him M, said that was a stupid thing and couldn't possibly be right. We appealed to his French co-worker who said they measure it in km/L. I was quickly voted down and that was that.

Today I came across this story about a typo on Fox News, and lo and behold, in comments some Australians remarked how mileage in their country is measured in L/100 km, and how it makes perfect sense if you want to figure out how much is needed to go a certain distance. I'd surmise this would be useful going to the Moon or across the Outback, but not so much in suburban America.

Sadly, I won't get to lord this over M. One night he drunkenly berated me for disliking the black vans that drive around waking me up in the morning, telling me I have no rights in this country. Not hanging out with him again.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Money in, money out

I just got my hefty tax return from the government, which will allow me to pay off my shopping spree from being home. And on a whim I bought some tickets to Australia, so this summer I'll be going to visit Ana and Damien in Brisbane, with a stopover in Singapore to see a couple friends there.

So far, I'll leave Japan on July 24th, stay in singapore a couple days, then up to Kuala Lumpur, fly out on the 29th to Brisbane. I'll stay there until the 11th or 12th, then fly back to KL, stay there a day or so, over to Singapore and back to Japan on the 17th. I got the Japan-Singapore leg through ANA, and the KL-Brisbane flight is through budget carrier AirAsia. I've flown them several times before, but only on short hops around Malaysia and over to Borneo. The short trips are nice, but I wonder how they'll hold up on a 7 hr flight.

Of course, there's the small matter of getting from Singapore to KL. I'll have to look at another AirAsia hop, which would be short and moderately priced, or a $10 bus ride that isn't bad, but wastes about 9hrs all told. I also just realized that Singapore won't allow me to take alcohol through, so if my friends want anything, they're gonna have to find another supplier.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Things to do with your free time

Make the largest LEGO ship ever. That's quite impressive. It's a 6.6m model of the Imperial Japanese Navy battleship Yamato, the largest battleship ever built. The original fired her guns only a couple times in battle, then was sunk, killing nearly all of her 2,700 crew. It's got kind of a cult following in Japan, as some sort of symbol of big dreams that suddenly go ker-plooey.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Reason #6,835 I'm glad I don't live in the US Texas

Some lawmaker in Texas thinks Asian names are too difficult and suggested they take new names to make it easier on the ignoramuses who think everyone in America is a white Christian. I especially loved this part:

“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Yes, "your citizens", because people with slanty eyes can't possibly be Americans.