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Browsing Posts published in March, 2008

Going postal

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I was at first a bit impressed, but now just frustrated with the Japanese postal service. Here’s what happened.

I got a package delivered earlier today when I was still at work. It’s actually for Steve, who will be in Japan tomorrow. So they left me a notice of failed delivery, since I guess they need someone to sign for it. This is despite the fact that my apartment has special locked boxes for large packages. Anyway, Japan Post does have a nice system to schedule redelivery, either via phone or the web. Usually this works fine, but I’m planning on being away all day tomorrow, and I’m going to meet Steve later in the afternoon after he arrives. I wasn’t sure if the package would arrive in the morning before I left (the earliest time slot is 9AM-12), so I figured I could just pick it up. Why? Because I live right across from a post office. I’m not exaggerating. It is literally across the street. I can see it from my balcony, and I could probably break a window with a rock if I wanted.

As soon as I got home, I used the web form and told them I’d pick up the package at the post office across the street. I then noticed that the pickup window is open 24/7, which is quite impressive. I just went over to see if I could get it, and apparently I can’t. My package is being held at a different post office, about 15 or 20 minutes away by bicycle. The worker there said that if I requested it to be sent to this post office, it might not arrive until the afternoon. So now I’m going to try and re-use the web form to have it re-delivered to my apartment in the morning. Hopefully it will get here before I have to leave…

I don’t understand a thing about postal zoning, let alone Japanese postal zoning, but my own naive logic would say that a package would be left at the post office closest to the delivery address. It’s not like this is a small branch or anything. It’s huge and has a 24 hour counter. Oh well.

Saturday introspective

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Overall today was pretty normal but it was fun. Started off the day going to I Love Pizza with Brian for the lunch tabehoudai. Hadn’t been there in a long time. I think this is by far the best pizza I’ve had in Japan, ever. It’s even good by American standards, but it’s hard to compare anything to the great St. Louis style thin crust. Anyway, we destroyed a medium and 2 large pizzas while they played some terrible movie on the iMac. I think it was like Badnews Bears Part 2: The Bears Go To Japan and Fight the Yakuza. Something like that. It was awful, but I only turned my head to glance a few times as I ate inhuman amounts of pizza.

After that did some weekend private lesson action at Denny’s. Then checked out Tsutaya and Book Off over near there, followed by Game City Monopoly. I hadn’t played that in a while either, so it was fun. Hit a pretty decent jackpot so have some medals in the bank. Had a Goi school party later at night, so that was fun. I was assigned to buy flowers for a teacher who is leaving, so I found a florist over near Skylark. I was pretty amazed at how many flower shops there are on the straight ride from my apartment to the station. I never really paid attention to them before, but there are at least 3, and they were open past 7PM. Strange.

The party was at Kim-chan, which has awesome chijimi and yakiniku. Note to self: do not go to a sweet Korean restaurant less than 6 hours after decimating a pizza tabehoudai. You will not be able to eat much. Oh well, it was still fun. It’s also kind of nice to know that I did a good job at something, and was able to make some kind of an impression. I won’t go into detail but apparently some students at my old school still think fairly highly of me. That’s good right? Had a conversation about staying in Japan and stuff, which reflected pretty well on my current situation. I think I want to stay here, but I don’t exactly know why. If I can find a good job here, then I’ll stay, but if not, should I head back home? I think I’d be happy either here or the US. Originally one of the main reasons I came to Japan instead of moving immediately into an office cubicle was to see more interesting stuff, live a bit more. I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job at that. Not sure what I’m doing to do from here though. Is it selfish of me to be holding out for a job I actually enjoy at my age?

I also had a student recently tell me the difference between Japanese people and another foreigner he knew was that the other guy has fun with his job, and most Japanese people don’t. I didn’t push too much of my own opinion on the student, but why in the world should you be doing a job if you don’t enjoy it? I can see sometimes that of course you have to work to live, but if you have some cushion and the time and resources to look for a new job, why wouldn’t you try to do something you actually like? At this point as I search for a new job, the absolute most important requirement is that it should be something I think I’ll like. Salary and hours don’t matter so much if you enjoy what you’re doing, because you’d probably be willing to do it for free (not that money’s not an incentive). So I see tons of BS job postings for assistant teachers, headhunter, executive search consultant (exact same as headhunter), etc here in Japan, and think those would only be a far last resort. I’m fairly confident I can find something more interesting, it just might take a bit of time. It’s really easy to find a job, but it’s extremely difficult to find a job you actually want to do.

That was my deep rant for the night. I need to sleep.

AEON Soundtrack

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I’m working a few days this and next week at Chiba AEON, where Blanchard works. It’s kind of fun to work at a school like this again, just for a few days. Plus I already know most of the staff and stuff at Chiba school, so it’s easy to get down to business.

Speaking of business.

This afternoon after my first class I was standing in the lobby talking to students and realized that the music playing over the speakers as background music was It’s Business Time by Flight of the Conchords. Yeah. It was playing on the radio. In Japan. Is it even really a real song, like for the radio? Pretty awesome though. I thought at first that maybe someone had their iPod hooked up to the speaker, but nope – it was directly from the satellite radio thing that all the AEON schools use. I then had the song stuck in my head all day. Oooh.

Wow. You may remember me telling you about the ridiculous Mega sandwiches that McDonald’s Japan served up for a limited time. I also blogged about it, and still have regular hits from Google Image Search for that post. Anyway, apparently McDonald’s wasn’t satisfied with it’s last raid on Japanese hearts, and is now preparing another wave of attack. But they’re not just coming with their same old mega artery clogger strategies; they’ve got some new firepower this time around.

Behold, the next wave in McDonald’s Japan’s tactics to sink this island nation:

メガマフィン、メガマック、メガてりやき - Mega Muffin, Mega Mac, Mega Teriyaki

Yeah that’s right. 3 sandwiches all coming out for a limited time soon. The press release page is here all in Japanese. The official Mega Mac site is supposed to be updated tomorrow. Let me summarize the press release a bit for you. First, this purple text is a semi-translated version of the headlines at the top.

New McDonald’s Campaign
– Morning, day, and night –
Mega Happiness all day –
Limited time only, from 4/4/08 (Fri) to 5/8 (Thu)
Morning (Mega Muffin), Day (Mega Mac), Night (Mega Teriyaki)
The Dream Team of 3 Megas!
~ A new Mega in the morning, and the Mega Mac finally joins the regular menu ~


Mega Happiness (メガな幸せ)?! Are we joining a cult? This sounds horrifying. Yet somehow drawing. So basically they are offering different Mega sandwiches depending on the time of day, probably with the hope that someone will be so fat and retarded that they’ll eat Mega burgers for every meal of the day, which I believe is exactly what turned the Gremlins from furry baby monsters into the huge creepy monsters singing New York New York. And since these regular but sporadic Mega Mac assaults can only do so much, they’ve also decided to add the normal Mega Mac to the regular menu after this whole campaign is over. It will probably never go away.

The bad boy that started it all, the Mega Mac is like a double Big Mac, with 4 beef patties. The Mega Teriyaki, which came out in the 2nd wave of Mega in June 2007, is two pork patties covered in teriyaki sauce. The new weaponry this time around, the Mega Muffin, is the Egg McMuffin on crack. It’s two pork patties, an egg, and bacon on an English muffin. Sure it’s not as horrible as it could have been (more egg, hash browns, patties of butter, babies), but this has got to be almost comparable to that thing Burger King tried to pull off years ago, the Ultimate Omelette Sandwich or whatever.

I love the part in the press release where they go on about this stupid campaign: This time, we’re not only reviving the Mega Mac and Mega Teriyaki, but to answer the many requests to “be able to eat Mega anytime,” we are debuting the Mega Muffin in the breakfast hours. What people are requesting these beasts? Average retail price for the Mega Muffin is 290, Mega Mac is 380, and Mega Teriyaki is 360. That’s just the sandwich, not the set. The US dollar has dropped to about 1 to 100 yen, so the conversion’s pretty self-explanatory.

I guess these aren’t quite as deadly as the Mega Tamago I ate, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be eating any of these regardless.

Crazy old woman

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I was sitting in the Dotour coffee shop this evening eating a sandwich and flipping through a rirekisho-writing guide, and I notice this old lady had sat down across from me. She had some crazy hair going on. At first it just looked like a bun, only much larger. After looking up the second time, I realized there was far too much nasty gray hair to be just a bun. It was more like a Marge Simpson beehive that had fallen backwards on its own weight, rotted, and turned into cobwebs. The size of the hair was most definitely bigger than her head, giving her an Aliens-like silhouette. So big deal, old woman with a crazy hairdo.

A few minutes later, she starts cackling to herself. I have no idea what was happening. This was not a kindly old woman chuckle. It was an evil witch cackle. She was sitting completely alone, not reading anything, no cell phone out, nothing funny in the coffee shop to have prompted her laughing. The only things on her table were tea, toast, and an ashtray. I guess she remembered something funny? Or she was completely insane. A few minutes later, she starts doing it again, while just kind of staring forward as if listening to an invisible comedian. This random laughing happened for the next 5 or 10 minutes before I finally left. At one point I almost laughed myself, but decided it was best to keep quiet for fear of A) her putting a hex on me, since she looked like she could have had a witch license or B) there actually being an imaginary friend, who would proceed to beat me up for being insensitive to his disability.

Then to top things off, I was at the grocery store right after and saw giant tongue man again! I almost bumped right into him and was about one breath short of accidentally screaming “HOLYCRAPYOUHAVEAMASSIVEFREAKYTONGUEDUDE!” and embarrassing both him and I in the middle of the produce aisle.

Lion-O

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Old people are always complaining about the fashion and style of younger people. I guess I’m slowly becoming one of those old people, since such fashions and styles are increasingly annoying me. OK, that’s a lie – things like that have always annoyed me, but I didn’t have a reason to blog about them much before. I walk down the street and think to myself how mind-numbingly awful that girl’s hat is, how gyaru yamanba fashion needs to stay dead, how ugly girls with a lot of make-up and fake tans are still ugly, and how men shouldn’t ever wear pants that tight. I guess a lot of this has to do with me being in Japan, where fashion seems to be multiplied by a factor of 100, usually for the worse.

You may have heard me mention Chickenheads in the past, which is the term* for the young Japanese/Asian hairstyle that is so popular these days. It’s easily recognizable by its volume, usually brown or orange color, resemblance to a cartoon character’s hair, and the DB-ish life form hanging under it. The officially documented scientific makeup of a Chickenhead hairstyle is 15% hair, 75% hair wax or spray, and the remaining 10% being a combination of cigarette smoke, sweat, tears, small woodland creatures, and man-juice. I did a Google Image Search for “asian hairstyle” and found some examples on the first page. Rather than pollute my server with more Chickenhead pictures than absolutely necessary, here’s a link to another blog with a whole bunch of them. And here’s another page with even sadder examples.

The Chickenhead style is often used in conjunction with the Asian mullet and/or long, pointy haircicles down the side disguised as sideburns, even though upon closer inspection it’s obvious that they’re not connected to the sides of the face. I didn’t have a name for these dangling scrotums of hair, but let’s call them fakeburns from now on.

This was actually supposed to be just a quick picture post, but I got on a bit of a rant. Today I’m here to show you a picture of a slightly more rare Japanese hairstyle, called the mane or Lion-O**. It’s a distant cousin of the Chickenhead, a more horrible and evolved form. It requires many more years of hair-growing and about 20 times the amount of bad dye and product to correctly form this forest of follicles. As the name(s) imply, it can look like a lion’s mane, surrounding the entire head and even flowing down the back, as seen in today’s ridiculous example that I saw at Tsudanuma station:

津田沼駅でのライオン・オー

* I might have created this term. I don’t remember, and it doesn’t matter. Please spread.
** Usage copyright 2008 TheLeong.com

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