TheLeong.com

a website by a Leong

Browsing Posts published in January, 2009

Mr. Popo Strikes Back

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Over a year ago I got stopped by a plainclothes police officer outside of Chiba station because my bike looked “suspicious.” The guy was real cool and didn’t even ask for ID. He just wanted to check some stuff out because I never use the built-in lock on my bike and I guess that looks weird to them. Well hey guess what? I got stopped again today for the exact same reason.

I was over at the Tsutaya near my apartment renting a DVD, and headed out to get on my old lady bike and go home. It was windy, cold, and raining, and it didn’t help at all when I got approached by 2 cops when I was getting ready to ride away. One was in plainclothes, the other was in the usual Japanese cop outfit complete with neon-yellow security vest. Just like last year they were both really nice, not hassling me or anything, but they wanted to ask me a few questions. The built-in lock that all Japanese old lady bikes (ママチャリ) have as standard-issue looks super weak, so I never use it. Instead, I have a wire lock that I usually string through my rear tire and seat. I also have a fairly new seat on my bike, which I guess makes it stand out also. Here’s a picture of the two locks on my bike for reference:

locks on my mama bike
The little black ring with the thin metal inside near the middle of the bike is the built-in lock.
The big blue thing is my real lock.

At first I think they wanted to make sure I hadn’t had my seat stolen by kids before, because that seems to be a growing problem in the area. Plainclothes guy asked me why I don’t use the built-in lock, and I told him pretty straight up that “it looks cheap and I don’t trust it.” He laughed a little bit and admitted that “yeah, to be honest those locks are pretty useless.” After that, partially as a formality, they wanted to check my bike registration number to make sure everything was clear. They looked at the number on my little orange sticker and called it in. We waited for a few minutes in the rain (they had let me open my umbrella at least) until the office called the plainclothes’ cell phone back. “OK, so you’re Mr. Aoyagi?” “Uhhhhh, no that’s not right.” So that was weird. I didn’t freak out or anything because I knew I bought this bike and registered everything properly. I told them they must have made a mistake, and he checked again. Yep, the guy at the station had checked the wrong number. So another check later and I was of course fine, 10 or 15 minutes down the drain for the whole encounter but that was it.

After the name Aoyagi popped up at first, I could tell the cop was a little surprised when I told him my name was Leong, because we had been speaking Japanese the whole time and I don’t really think he expected me to have a foreign name. Even with that, the cop or his partner (who had wandered off to look at other bikes at some point) never hassled me or made things difficult. No checks of my Gaijin Card or other IDs, nothing. I hear so many stories of foreigners getting hassled by cops during random ID checks or something, but with my few run-ins with the police I can’t say I’ve ever experienced any kind of discrimination, etc. Always makes me wonder what gets some people so worked up.

Oh nine

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It’s almost the end of January and I haven’t written a blog since 2008. So, uh…Happy New Year? Haha. The past 25 days have been pretty busy, but like a lot of days over the past few months, they’ve been busy with nothing. Just filler I guess. I won’t bother writing all the little details, mainly because I don’t remember most of them. I will write though, just because I feel like it.

I left the US early in the morning on January 1. My trip to the US was really awesome but way too short. The flight from StL to Dallas, then from there to Narita, was pretty uneventful. I seem to remember being annoyed at a group of guys, either Korean or Chinese, who were sitting around my area on the plane. They each had a giant suitcase as carry-on, and were wondering why all their stuff wouldn’t fit in the overhead bins. Gee, I wonder. Then also the old dude sitting next to me and blocking my access to the aisle must have been some kind of robot, because I’m pretty sure he didn’t use the bathroom the entire 13 hour long flight. Even after meals and drinks, when a lot of people would get up and at least walk around, he sat there continuing to watch the crappy airplane movies. That was a annoying because I always feel slightly bad about waking someone up to get out of my seat on a plane. But hey, I had to go.

Got back to Japan on the afternoon of the 2nd local time. Went to bed at a fairly normal time, but after that for the next half a week I had pretty bad jetlag, which was terrible since work started on Monday. I lived through it though. Was pretty tired at my department’s New Years dinner though, since we went to some Italian restaurant that was trying to give the worst service in the history of the planet. We were literally the only customers in the restaurant, but a normal meal took about 4 hours. Not that it was a super fancy, supposed-to-be-way-long dinner, they were just mega slow. The food was honestly pretty good, but not worth giving up an entire night. Let’s see… any other work-related stuff over this month? Well we got a new guy in the office, and I directed the recording of a CD to go along with a new textbook. That was kind of cool. I’ll be wrapping up at this job on Monday the 2nd, so time is ticking down.

I was in Kumamoto all last week doing part 2 of the course I did in November. Much of the same, although Brian went along this time to work as well. It was raining and stuff most of the week, so we didn’t do any sightseeing or anything, but we did go out with the students the first night which was pretty fun. Kumamoto ramen is really good. Went to a place last minute called こだいこ (Kodaiko) which may have been the best ramen I’ve ever had. Also had awesome Mexican food, which is unexpected but was a great find. Headed back on Friday night, since Derek was in Tokyo and we had a big Yakiniku Summit Battle on Saturday night at 風風亭 (Fuufuutei) in Shibuya. 2500 yen for 2 hours of unlimited Korean BBQ is pretty hard to pass up. We were all pretty much in a food coma afterwards and just walked around in the cold for a few hours. I did see about 5 flakes of snow, but I guess that’s about all Tokyo got last night.

Oh! I also finally broke down and got a sweet TV. Since the last one I had was like a 25″ old school one that was broken (broadcast antenna didn’t work anymore) from when I was working in Goi, I figured it was time to just splurge and get a real nice one. I got a big Sharp Aquos, the one I’d been looking at for a while, at Yodobashi on sale plus 20% in points (store credit). Really good deal, and I’m happy with it. For how much I watch TV, this was a good investment I think.

So yeah, like I mentioned up above, I’ll be wrapping up stuff at my current job in a week and a day. Then I’ll be kicking it high gear into the new gig, developing a new company and trying to make it a success. I think it’s a lot more of what I want to do for a living (not permament, just for now), and the freedom is something I need. I’ll be doing a lot of work from home, here in Japan, for now and we’ll see how it goes. I’m pretty excited about it. Oh, and by the way in case you handful of readers haven’t noticed over the past few months, I’m being a lot more vague about my work and stuff here on the blog. It’s not like I’m scared of who is reading this exactly, but I’ve come to learn that a lot more people read this blog than I always imagine. Sure I realized from the beginning that I’m posting this on the web, accessable to anyone, but I kind of always thought that only a few of my close friends will read this when they’re bored, when I post something funny, or when I make them look at it. But every now and then I’ll hear about someone outside of those parameters reading it, and everyone it’s still weird. I remember a while back a friend of a friend who I’d never met was like “Oh, we’ve never met? I think it’s just because I read your blog.” Straaange. Either way. I’ll still be keeping it real, just not as out in the open as I may have been before. I don’t think it’s that much of a change. If you know me in person then you probably know the details to fill everything out down to the last detail. It’s not that my life is that interesting anyway.

This post is pretty poorly organized because I just sat down for 15 or 20 minutes and let my brain puke onto the keyboard. Good night!

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