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Browsing Posts published in December, 2008

Well, here we are at the final day of 2008. It’s 7:30AM and I’ve been awake for the past 3 hours because of jet lag, which is terrible because in about 27 hours I leave on a plane back to Japan where I’m sure reverse jet lag is going to really screw me up.

It’s been a good trip home. Got back into St. Louis on Christmas Day, and had the big family dinner. After that I spent the week mostly relaxing around my parents house, going shopping here and there, visiting some friends, etc. It seems like the older I get the more satisfied I am with just staying in the house when I come back to visit. I don’t feel the need to go out and “see the town” every night. It’s not that it’s not great to see people, but especially when I’m jet lagged, I see nothing wrong with staying at home and falling asleep before 10. I hate to think that part of that has to do with becoming old. After all, I have passed the quarter of a century mark, meaning that I only have a few more hundreds of years to live. Oops, I mean less than that.

So how was everyone’s 08? For me…I guess it was normal? It wasn’t an especially bad year, but I can’t say that it was an amazingly great year either. Just a normal year. It’s not like I’m depressed or anything, but I’m not the kind of guy to say “wow that was such a great year! omglololowtf”. 2008 was just a normal year, which in my book is a good thing. I went to China, finally started working full-time again, soon thereafter decided that working as a Japanese salaryman wasn’t exactly for me, and thus even figured out the next step in life. I’m looking forward to 2009 as a year I finally start working a job where I can both dedicate myself to work and actually get paid for it at the same time. It may very well be a first for me.

So that was just a short post to close out the year. Thanks everyone for all your help, etc over the past 12 months. I’m looking forward to a great 2009 and hope everyone has the same. I’ll also hopefully be traveling a lot more in the coming year, so if you’re living in the US and have been crying your eyes out every night for the past year or two hoping that you’d see me again, we might be able to arrange that. Happy New Year everyone!

.003 years left til senility

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Time for some random “statistics” that no one will really find interesting, I’m just writing this to kill time on the monorail.

  • Approximate time I’ll get home tonight:9:45PM
  • Hours until flight to US: about 19.5
  • Current packing completion rate: 0.0%
  • Estimated sleep time tonight: 0 hours
  • Current age: 24.997
  • Favorite food: St. Louis style pizza

The end.

America here I come. Hells yes.

Winding down December

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As strange as it seems, December and 2008 are just about over. I’ll be heading back to the US on Christmas for a week, staying in St. Louis to see the fam and plan new job* related stuff. Hard to believe the year’s this far along. Thank god I’ve only got 3 more days of work this month.

Last weekend we had a bonenkai (忘年会), the year-end party that Japanese people like to do. It literally means “party to forget the year,” probably because most Japanese people hate their lives so much they have to drink copious amounts of alcohol to forget how painful the past 12 months have been, only to get drunk in January at their new years parties to begin the cycle anew**. Our was a lot of fun though, with 25 people racking up a 100,000 yen bill (about a grand in USD) at the first party, followed by all-night karaoke. Here’s a pic I stole from Andy’s Facebook of the survivors who made it for McDonald’s breakfast at 5AM on Sunday morning:

survivors who made it to 5AM McDonalds breakfast

Since I decided to write a blog at about 1:30AM again when I should have been asleep at 11, here’s just a quick rundown of what I need to do/will do before leaving for the US on Christmas Day.

Fri 12/19 – work, then department’s bonenkai
Sat 12/20 – sleep, x-mas shopping, Goi school bonenkai, maybe karaoke with Chiba school
Sun 12/21 – x-mas shopping for real
Mon 12/22 – work, get home late, then sleeeeep because Tuesday’s…
Tue 12/23 – another BS holiday, “The Emperors Birthday!” shopping and packing.
Wed 12/24 – work, stay up all night packing
Thu 12/25 – try and scam the airline counter girl into giving me a free upgrade since it’s my birthday (25 on 25!), fly, get home and eat way good food, sleep for 2 days

*It’s pretty fishy, haHA!
**Just kidding; the Japanese don’t really drink to forget the year. They do it because they’re a nation of alcoholics.

Levar Burton

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I don’t read books. OK that’s not totally true, but I was thinking just now about how I very rarely read books these days. I used to read a lot of books, but now I can’t remember the last time I actually read a full one from start to finish, excluding textbooks or other study materials like the ones I used for JLPT a few weeks ago. It might have been as long ago as the spring, maaaaybe the early summer, when I went to the Chiba library last. I’m not including comic books or magazines in this either, although I read a lot of those, in both English and Japanese.

So I don’t read books, but I still read a lot. About 90% of what I read now is on a computer screen, either being news, personal and professional blogs, or other stuff you read online that is of another genre altogether. I live by Google Reader, and on average probably read at least 50 articles or entries a day. Sure a lot of them are short, but it adds up! I skim the headlines of around 4 or 500 entries a day, judging by the “unread item count” that Reader shows me whenever I log on. I go through everything fairly quickly, read or star the entries that most interest me, then mark everything else as read, allowing me to keep track of what’s new the next time I get on. (Am I using Reader wrong? Is there a way to mark stuff as not new, but not read?)

Anyway where I’ve been trying to get to after the previous 2 paragraphs of mental diarrhea is this: is not reading books bad? Sure I’m reading stuff, but what benefits do bound stacks of paper have versus images on a computer screen? I suppose I don’t read novels so much, either on paper or digitally. I don’t read things that are that long. Wait – maybe that’s what the difference is. Has my attention span shrunk so much by technology that I’d rather stare at stuff on my screen* than flip through pieces of paper? Digital stuff is so much more convenient and portable. And I know there are a lot of pretentious uppities out there who will say I’m less intelligent for not reading books, but these are the same people who read goth novels with no real value other than to look emo and boring at Starbucks. No thanks.

Just some random thoughts. I think I’m going to try and read more in ’09. Maybe that will be my resolution of sorts. But right now I need to get some sleeeeep. Get to da choppa!

*like you are doing at this very moment

JLPT 2008 Carnivale Extravaganza

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On Sunday I went totally unprepared head-first into Level 1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam (日本語能力試験 1級), the same exam I took Level 2 0f a year ago and somehow miraculously passed. OK, that was a lie – I actually did study, but only for a week and a half so I might as well have not even tried. From the beginning I wasn’t planning to pass Level 1 this year, so it’s all good. It was at least a good thing to try it to see how much I can improve between now and next time. Starting in 2009 they’re offering the test in both summer and winter here in Japan, as opposed to only in the winter like they’ve done up to now. So now I have two chances to take it next year, and I think I can do it in ’09. But we’ll see. Just like last year, it was kind of fun getting back into studying. I’ve been living here so long but almost never actually study. Sure, you learn stuff by exposure, but sitting down with a textbook is definitely a better way to learn.

And now that I’ve (re)learned that lesson, I will forget about it until next test time.

Just like last year, being in a flood of other foreigners is always a painful experience. I’m pretty much always complaining about the other foreigners around here, but when you bring a whole bunch of them together in one place you really see the cream of the crop. I suppose I should instead say the cream of the crap, because wow. Since I don’t want this entry to be longer than necessary, let’s just do a quick summary of some of the many things that irked me between sessions of getting pounded by a ridiculously difficult Japanese exam:

  • On the train (yes, that early into the game) there was a group of about 6 foreigners on one side of the car. Just by a quick guess, I’d say there were a few Chinese, a South American, an Italian, and some other generic sleazy looking guy. They were calling their Japanese teacher on the phone attempting jokes and just being obnoxious. I’m sure their Japanese teacher is annoyed enough by having to teach these scabes in class (at some kind of language school?), let alone getting a phone call at 8AM on a Sunday.
  • The mass flood of foreigners (90% Asian) from the train station to the test site, which was about 15 minutes on foot this time. Also slow-walking women are always a pain when they block the entire sidewalk.
  • Several groups of foreigners “practicing” by “speaking” Japanese to each other during the breaks. I put “speaking” in quotes because they must have been Level 4 or so and thus can barely make sentences. Foreigners unnecessarily speaking Japanese to each other bothers me enough already.
  • In the test room: the chick next to me looked like a young, Korean version of Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Gross.
  • In the test room: the middle-aged Chinese guy sitting directly in front of me smelled like an antique store. I don’t know how else to describe it. I think it was his puffy coat, which must have been stored in an ooooooold dresser for about 5000 years. And his back was less than a foot away from my nose.
  • Korean guy outside who started speaking to me in Korean. I replied in Japanese saying I wasn’t Korean, and that I was American. He kept going in Korean. I got my phone out to ignore him, and he reverted to staring at me as if waiting for me to finish so I could resume “conversation.”
  • On the way out, the Korean guy from before saw me and made eye contact, waiting for me to say something to him. I did not.

OK so the bullet points didn’t help shorten the length of this entry. But yeah just wanted to share those tidbits of complaint with you. This year saw a sharp decrease in the appearance of Asian chicks with emo glasses, but there was unfortunately a large influx of Asian chicks wearing Ugg Boots, which is by far worse.

+100 HP? BS!

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This morning when I got to my office building I headed into the convenience store in the lobby to pick up a snack (breakfast) and a drink, as I do pretty much every day. Today I saw that they were selling the Final Fantasy Potion drink, this time promoting the Dissidia game that I’ll probably never get to play.

They’d sold that drink a few times in the past, for various FF promotions, but I never got around to trying it. Well this morning I did, and it is awful. Haha, seriously. They could have just put Sprite or Coke in a Final Fantasy-branded can and it would sell just as well over here I’m sure. Instead they tried to make some kind of funky energy drink that just tasted like watered down Red Bull or something. Every time I took a sip I made some goofy, twisted face. Is that how you replenish HP?

ファイナルファンタシー ポーション・ドリンク

I just read all the info on that Wikipedia site (the one I linked to above), and I guess the black can of Potion I had today was “bittersweet muscat” flavored, while the also available white cans are grapefruit. I don’t think I’m going to bother spending 200 yen on a can of grapefruit potion, since there’s no way it’s going to be good.

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