August 30, 2009

Procedures Must Be Followed

When one is sore, lost, all alone and in the rain in Tokyo at 3:00AM and one finds a vending machine that sells Ultraman Soda, one can certainly be forgiven for deciding to sample said soda. However, while there are things that one feels one simply MUST do, there is a procedure to follow.

BEFORE saying in an ultra-deep Baltan type voice "BAH!!! HA!! HA!! YOU ARE DEFEATED!!NOW I SHALL CONSUME YOU ULTRAMAN!!! it is highly adviseable that you check to confirm that you are in fact all alone....and not actually scaring the locals. 

Just...you know...sayin'.

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August 29, 2009

2 Days Left

As Japan Battens down for the incoming typhoon, I spent the day in Ofuna and Akihabara. It's the first time I've spent an extended time just browsng in Akihabara since I arrived except to vist Gamers or go to the Cyber cafe. With a budget of only 90 bucks there was a lot of longing and little buying but I ambled through lots of places, ate some curry and was interviewd for a commercial.

Kotobukyia in Electric Town has  several staff members who speak good English and as I was , it seems, the first person they approached with a camera who did not flee, they interviwed me and filmed me gleefully and apreciatively interacting with their staff...in English. I also talked to the interviewer and a fellow staffer about various fannish things ranging from Endless 8, to the difference between Super Robots and Mechs...They were perplexed that I liked Lucky Star as it is "old" and they couldnt see how I could possibly "get it". I pointed out that I'd seen many of the old shows it referenced. The two were also quite surprised that I liked Spice+Wolf , which they both seemed to regard very highly. I ended up with the first volume of the light novel, the translation of which which will be one of my two projects over the next few months.

Kotobukyia is a truly awesome shop with a huge and ever changing display of models, figures and whatnot. They get something of a short shrift as they are literally in the Shadow of Gamers and they dont have their own TV show...but inside they do have things like this.

 I returned to the apt and am now at the cybercafe in Narimasu where I banged out my summer homework...a "What I did on my sumer vacation" E-mail to my instructor. Now I must try to catch a train or I'll have a two stop walk.

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August 28, 2009

One of THOSE Headlines

Drudge may actually provide some perspective in his link to this story which reads...

BEST & MONTH RALLY FOR STOCKS SINCE 1933.

Well yay! I mean that's a pretty impres.....wait......1933...

...oh...

...fudge.

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August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy 1932-2009

 I just learned about the Senators passing. I started to write something but after a quick look around I scrapped my post when I realized that I could not improve in any way on this post by Steven Den Beste, which I will quote in full....

I don't think there's ever been an issue on which I agreed with Ted Kennedy. But I do believe he loved this country, and tried to serve it to the best of his ability, and tried to change it for the better.

I believe he was misguided, but I don't believe he was evil. I think he was a patriot.

We should all remember that we can deeply disagree with our fellow citizens without hating them.

Sincerest condolances to the family and friends of the Senator.

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August 25, 2009

Blog Problems and Observations

I still can't post pictures on the blog and I'm still befuddled by the banner images.

Possibly related, Playlist dot coms audio channels are blocked in Japan. A little banner comes up and says "some songs are blocked do to copyright in your country" and none of the playlists will play at all. Oddly...the new video channel is not blocked.

I broke the camera I had with me today.

I probably won't post much until I'm back in the states since I can't post pics anyway.

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August 21, 2009

Worrisome Rumble

Very mild tremor this morning.

Now all the cats seem to have left.

So....any readers in Tokyo notice anything wierd about the cats?

Update page is off...I can't post pics yet, I suspect weirdness with this I-cafes set up.

 

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August 20, 2009

Trainline Bumble

Today I got on the train to go to Ikebukaro...then got off and ambled over to the local train that was going the other way.

I got off in a place called Narimasu. Stopping in a fast food joint, I ordered something that appeared to be called "beef egg StrangeKanji rice Big". I was presented with a bowl of scallions and beef on a bed of rice with a rwa egg on the side. I was presented with a tool...presumably to use with the egg. I ASSUME the thing is to avoid an ungodly mess with the egg...The exact method to be used with this device is unknown to me, but I was able to narrow the possibilities by eliminating one technique that produced a demonstrably ungodly mess.

Afterwards I got back on the train and went, via 3 transfers, to  what appears to be the very end of the Tobu line, a farming community called Ogose. I got off and made a perfect turon of myself as I went from shrine to shrine and, not having brought my Kanji dictionary today, followed the mile markers that helpfully indicated that several "things" were 0.6, 1.2, 3.1 and 6.8 kilometers away. One Bhuddist temple, one Shinto shrine and a senic overlook later I began hiking up a huge array of steps...that ended in more steps and arrived at what appeared to be a very modern tomb...and a trail off to the side marked with a sign that said "Kanji Kanji Mountain Up 5.4 KM"....so I decided to hike up to the top of Kanji Kanji mountain. (I THINK the name of the mountain is actually Kuro). Anyway, a couple of hours, 2 senic overlooks,  a bit of washed out trail that required using cypress roots like a ladder and some precarious rocks later...I was at the bright orange marker at the top of the mountain. Which by the way is covered in a cypress forest that doesn't afford much of a view from the very top. But I took the last pic my battery would allow of the marker at the top of Kanji Kanji mountain. Anyway,,,realizing I was not going DOWN the root ladder I chose one of other 2 paths from the top.

Thats where I found the orb weavers...BIG orb weavers. At least in Mirkwood the giant spiders stay off the path, in Japan they use the path as their casting area...and my camera with a dead battery. The cypress forest was wierd. I'm from the US South so cypress means swamp, but here they grow like pine trees. Their branches are arrainged different and they have really really interesting acoustics. The light wood creaks in the breeze and sounds like the sound effect of creaking timbers in an old wooden ship.

Anyway, despite spiders and some bits of the trail being washed out,  I got down without mishap (unless one counts rolling/sliding part of the way). I arrived at the station just before dark and made my way back to Narimasu where I found a cybercafe...but no USB port that will fit my oddball camera widget. I`ll post the pics later in an update.

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August 18, 2009

Blegging 4 Halp

I thought I might have solved my aformentioned money problem on this vacation.

But my cunning plan resulted in me being in possession of possibly the most useless item in all of Japan.

A Western Union Money Order.

Does ANYONE out there know where a black and yellow money order can be cashed? (Preferably in the Tokyo area)

In return...

Fundage aside, things are good....

...except for the fact that even on this side of the Pacific, the malevolent creatures that eat one sock at a time are lurking about the dryers.

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone but Western Union is just not spoken in Japan. There USED to be Western Union services through Suruga Bank but no more. No one I talked to in the banking district would deal with the thing. Anyhoo...no Roman albums or Super Robot Wars game for Ken. Oh well.

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August 16, 2009

An Exceedingly Weird Sea Story

Eaglespeak has been covering the mystery of the MV Arctic Sea for several days now.

Cliffs Notes version: The Moter Vessel Arctic Sea, a Maltese ship with a Russian crew was siezed by pirates posing as marine police in the...BALTIC SEA. After transiting into the Atlantic all the vessels transponders wee shut off...no one knows where the ship is. Though there have been at least 2 reported sightings one just last night, both are a bit sketchy at best.

See here here and here. There is a bit of analysis at Information Dissemination here.

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Oddly, I am in Agreement with Tsukasa on This Matter

Comiket!!? Are you NUTS!?

Comeket 76, day 3. The line from hell, 300,000 people being herded into the God Emperor of huckster rooms. I arrived around 8:30 AM expecting a monumental line, but nothing prepared me for this.

Note that this is not the line...this is the line to get in the line.

The brochure (~20 bucks at Gamers) says that photos of cosplayers are not allowed except at a prepared event nor are any photos allowed of the interior. As often happens, the English rules are wrong. No photos are allowed at all. I took these before a very corpulent gentleman threatened to relieve me of my camera.This long picture of the Tokyo Big Sight does not do justice to the size of the structure.

After only about 2 and a half hours I made it to the east wing and went through every one of the 6 bays, each footnall field sized. I started to leave  having had my fill of huckster rooms and I was still a bit weak from the bug I was getting over....but I knew I could not face any of my friends if I did not make the trek from the east wing to the west wing.

So I wandered over and found myself in a river of humanity moving irresistably forward...er,up....no,over...no, I mean down...around...aiee! up again. There was a brief respite at an outdoor exibition area where some photos of cosplayers are allowed if permission is obtained. Given the language barrier and the somewhat confusing setup, I begged off and reentered the flow of fandom as it poured like a cataract  down the stairs into the exibition hall below. From a hundred fifty feet up the view of the west wing atrium looked like nothing so much as footage of the great animal migrations of the Serengeti.

Although I think it's a bit smaller, the west wing is even more impressive than the east in some respects as there are quite a few very elaborate displays.

One thing I saw that was mildly amusing was that there are now a number of comfort pillows for girls. Also, in contrast to most of their male counterparts, the female doujin artists tended to be impeccably dressed and made up as they hocked their slashy fare.

I'm not likely to go back, at least until I am very proficient in Kanji. Finding anything in that sea of dealers is challenging for the locals let alone someone who can't read the map. OTOH, the place opened at 10 AM and I was out by 1:30...That’s less than some waits I've had at the DMV so the staff certainly did a fine job with a third of a million people.

Oh...and for the person who asked (you know who you are)...I'm  6 foot one and weigh over 270 pounds. I could not have gotten out. Thus there is no way Tsukasa could have POSSIBLY made it back once she got in the wrong line. So no...it was not contrived. (Sheesh!)

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August 13, 2009

Missing Komiket

I've been laid up sick the last 2 days so I am begging off the first day of Komiket 76. I dearly wanted to see the opening ceremonies but it would be downright rude to bring such gifts as coughs, aches and post nasal drip to 300,000 other fans.

This is the last Komeket before the censorship/doujinshi crackdown this October, so this may be the end of an era. Therefore IF I'm feeling better I'll  go tomorrow or Sunday. However, I understand from the brochure that photos are highly restricted..

I'll be buying a bike this weekend. Then heading farther afield.

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August 11, 2009

Facinating

Saw this a few minutes ago and thought I'd share. I THINK the language is simplified Mandarin. I have little doubt what the subject is.

  • 最奇怪的地方莫過於巧合太多… Kirk隨便被丟到一顆行星上居然就碰到了兩個關鍵人物
  • 這個我雖然不想多題, 但是… Spock果然還是只能由Nimoy來演啊啊啊! 有些角度雖然很刻意的表達出兩人的相似度, 但是感覺就是不對… 尤其是他講”Fascinating”這個字的時候
  • Spock x Uhura還是有點不能接受
  • Kirk在小林丸的表現太痞… 雖然大家都知道他是作弊過關, 但我覺得他沒必要表現得一付”我就是在作弊!”的樣子…
  • Kirk從一個(幾乎被踢走的)學員一下子就升上校了? 我沒搞清楚, 但是他在酒吧打架之前有唸過星艦學院嗎?
  • Sulu跟Uhura這兩個角色仍然是不好發揮. Uhura是完全的轉型了, Sulu則是只剩劍撃那幕比較亮眼… 還有我不是很能接受他一開始時不會開船 - 他女兒日後坐上Ent:B時也沒有這麼手忙腳亂啊啊啊
  • JJA不知道是不是科洛弗檔案拍太爽, 在ST中也用了很多手持攝影機的拍攝方式(某些部份我覺得沒必要); 在IMAX大銀幕上真的會有點頭昏…
  • ............. 
  • .............
  •  

    Chekov 的wicktor wicktor讓我腹肌痠痛… 這部片有意無意的也對前作有相當程度的致敬. 放蟲的那段明顯是來自Wrath of Khan, 第一個redshirt(默哀), Kirk的藥物過敏(遞上老花眼鏡), Green alien sex(!), “I’m a doctor, not a…”, 片尾派克的制服出自電影第一集, Sulu那句”fencing”讓人想起”The Naked Time”, 星艦跟巨大的羅慕倫戰艦迎頭相撞etc etc. 真正的fan應該會看得很高興… 如果他們可以無視”正史”的話 (這兩者應該不是互不相容的吧… 我自稱trekkie也不會從n個月前就開始酸這部片)

    Then again, I could be wrong.

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    Another quick note

    I'm at N-Cafe in Akihabara, avoiding the "pushers".

    The guest house is excellent. It's spartan but quite clean, has US/UK style toilets, is a very short walk from a train station that's only 15 minutes from Ikebukaro, has US/UK style toilets, has a coin operated dryer that is a laundromat model meaning that it REALLY dries your clothes fast! A big surprise...all rooms come with kitchenettes. It has a roof that is accessable for tenants. It is devoid of holes in inappropriate places. It has US/UK style toilets and it is made out of reinforced concrete, (which, I should note, does not burn easily). If I had a laptop I'd have high speed internet. All this and US/UK style toilets for more than a hundred less than either place I stayed in previously. The only demerit I can come up with is mind numbingly minor: Instead of a regular futon it has a western style bed that doesn't fold and therefore takes up a large swath of the tiny room...a necessity with its tiled floor. Yes kids, the fact that it has a bed is what I'm reduced to complaining about!.Now put away the tiny violins and make a note of the company. If you want to stay in That thar'ole Jaypan for 3 weeks or more one of these is hard to beat.

    I'll post pics of the trip later, I managed to choose a computer that doesn't have an accessable USB port.

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    Arrived- Am Alive

    I'm on a coin operated computer so this will be brief.

    I arrived yesterday but only a little bit ago did I get situated in my guest house. It is really quite nice.

    Flooding and mudslides from Typhoon Etau closed the Narita Express and caused delay on the other lines sufficient to keep me from ariving at my guest house during office hours. I ended up spending the night at a hotel in Ueno that is equipped with a very comprehensive and somewhat ill-thought out fire protection system. Around 5 AM I woke up and noted that we had encountered some moderately heavy heavy seas. I woke completely up and sat bolt upright when I realized I was not actually on a boat.

    Even given my limited Japanese I'm pretty confident of my ability to get by with basic requests and to comunicate. However, the phone takes away all pantomime from a conversation making breadth of vocabulary and listening comprehension even more important. For example..... The words Fire Escape, Jammed, Firedoor and Trapped would have been quite useful to know about 12 hours ago.

     

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    August 08, 2009

    Light Posting

    I'm off in 11 hours. Posting is going to be very light, though I'll try to post from Japan towards the end of next week.
    As compensation here is something to ponder....

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    At the Ship Shopping Bazzar

    Over at The Marine Forum there is a very large collection of pictures from the 2008 Euronavale, a European defense contractor convention with a naval focus.

    A few trends are visible, and others have commented upon some of them at length. The poster/photographer at MF was obviously drawn to the frontline ship offerings,  in the distance there seem to be a lot of OPVs and similar vessels.



    This is understandable as such vessels are the most important vessels in most navies, doing the sort of gunboat tasks that often are ignored by many but are absolutely vital.

    There are a lot of logistics and force projection vessels too, which ought to come as no surprise. There are many reasons for this, they are versatile vessels in everything short of a balls out war (The Boxing day Tsunami put the utility of such vessels in the spotlight)...and they can be useful auxiliaries in a major conflict as well.

    Submarines seem to be particularly well represented, particularly interesting are small relatively cheap costal units like the Andrasta shown above. There seem to be a lot of Air Independant Propulsion designs as well



    There are several export designs from US firms particularly LockMart which is not only offering yet another aegis equipped export version of their LCS (this time retaining the 57mm gun) but also an Aegis corvette that may be aimed at an Israeli requirement. Then there is this...

    ...The Chuck Norris of FACs...Yes...it appears to be a fast attack craft about 200-220 feet long that has a 5"62 caliber gun on its bow. This is an extreme example of what seems to be a mini trend, larger guns on surface vessels from corvettes on up. Even the French, are offering frigates with the US weapon.....

    ...and the Russians appear to be offering  100 and even 130mm guns on what appear to be some fairly small corvettes and frigates.


     ( the 3 furthest from the camera in the picture above). Such weapons are good for costal bombardment, but it may be that they are intended for close range antiship use as well. A few 100-130mm shells might well provde a mission kill on a corvette or smaller ship and lots more shells than missles can be carried.

    The natural predator of the small costal surface warship is an aircraft but SAMs might make this untenable in some circumstances. So the guns may be a hedge as well as being potentially usefull against small boat swarms,

    One other thing needs to be mentioned, though it is not a trend...behold the solar powered Offshore Patrol Vessel (with force projection capability!)


    Anyway...discuss.

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    Wauuugh!

    Today, while at ODU to meet with my Japanese tutor, I used the Bank of America ATM in Webb Center. I got my 30 dollars, and my receipt and the machine ejected my card. I stared at the receipt rather ruefully for a moment. The balance was smaller than it ought to have been...WAY smaller. My vacation check does not seem to have been deposited. I should get this cleared up tomorrow morning. After pondering this for one too many moments I reached for my card...which then disapeared into the machine.

    I tried to no avail to get the angry machine overlord to give me my card and then called BofA to find out how to go about getting it out, if that was possible on a Friday afternoon.
     It was not.
    You see, as a security feature, Bank of America ATM machines shred cards that aren't removed with sufficient alacrity.

    So I called the Credit Union and was presented with a phone tree which required my pin and account number...and was told by a robot that my account had been frozen...the robot then hung up on me.

    SO..I cancelled my tutor session...drove across town in Friday afternoon traffic to show my IDs and (thank GOD) get my account unfrozen. Of course I now am going overseas without any ATM card, and a payroll discrepency that can be charitably described as [expletives deleted by standards and practices]. Said discrepancy will most likely be resolved soon but without an ATM card I can't get at the money overseas, and the new ATM card won't arrive for a week or more...I leave Sunday morning.

    Of course I'm about to fly to Japan for 21 days....so it's very poor form to be griping...and I'm nowhere NEAR  the situation I was in last year when my apt burned down, but damn this is a big chunk of my funds.

    Oh well...there will be no fires, broken heels or dislocated hip on this trip.
    That is my itinerary and I am sticking to it!


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    August 07, 2009

    Wierdness

    There is banner oddness, but Pixy is on it, because Pixy is superhuman and is always awake...and upside down at the same time!

    UPDATE: Still can't do anything with the banners and I'll be offline for a while as my flight approaches, so, in lieu of actual current events commentary here is a topical banner just out of spite and to preserve honor.



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    August 02, 2009

    Mad Scramble

    Posting has been light. As compensation, here is the exact opposite of Möe...

    Art by S. Zenith Lee (Link NSFW...and dark)
    As usual the banality is below the fold.
    more...

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