My hand’s over my mouth

November 9th, 2007

I just heard on CNNj about the latest Obama “hand over heart?” BULLSHIT.

My GAWD, is this the kind of STUPID SHIT the coming election is going to be about? Hillary’s boobs and Barack’s loyalty? I think I’ll just unplug the TV for the next year and fire up iTunes instead.

“A people gets….”

Higher Education in Japan Today…Here’s what it sounds like

November 5th, 2007

Just in case you were wondering, I made some recordings this afternoon after my third-period class.

Outside the Humanities Building (468 KB MP3).

Inside a first-floor classroom inside the Annex opposite Hum (616 KB MP3).

Second-floor classroom inside the Annex (728 KB MP3)

Outside again, further away than first recording! (276 KB MP3)

And the absolute worst: outside the first-floor doors of the Annex facing the main Hum. Bldg. (264 KB MP3).

Only the last recording even comes close to giving you an idea of what it has been like here today. (It’s been bad since the beginning of second semester, but today seemed the worst yet.) I have no idea how they expect us to teach…or the students to learn anything…if no one can hear what anyone else is saying.

Utter idiocy reigns!

Update: Things were much better yesterday during the morning while I was preparing in the office during first period and teaching my EAP class during second. It got a little bit noisier after lunch, but didn’t really interfere with my third period class. Keeping fingers crossed!

She’s BACK!!!

November 2nd, 2007

And she’s whack!

Doing NASTY thingses with her handses, my Preciousesssss! (gollum)

And giving the Paulians no quarter! (Except as in “drawn and ~ed”!)


Water + Board = Torture

November 2nd, 2007

Especially in the context of cinematic “entertainment” featuring just postpubescent males running around half-nekkid and saying things like “Surf’s up, dudes!”

I’m sorry, you can consider me weak if you want, but all it would take is the mere threat of being made to watch something like that and I’d blab every secret I’ve ever heard IN MY LIFE.

But seriously…whoTF first had the bright (read: half-witted numbskull) idea that ANYONE would ever want to watch a surfer movie?

OK…seriously seriously this time: how can there be any fucking question about waterboarding NOT being torture?

I haven’t really been listening to the news much the last week or two. On CNN, Lou Dobbs has just become so extreme that it’s not even fun anymore listening to him rant and rave. (He bitches about media bias…but then turns around and does the same thing.) I fell asleep in front of the TV after dinner last night and woke up around 1:00; couldn’t find anything interesting on any of the other channels so I decided to see what was on CNN that time of morning…and landed smack dab in the middle of Dubya flogging his limp 9-11 thang in the speech at the Heritage Center or whereverTF it was; said “To Hell with this” and went to bed.

So…this morning was basically the first I’d heard of this newest torture controversy. The thing that caught my ear, though, was some COMPLETELY STUPID BITCH—who was part of the guest panel on the show but whose name I didn’t get—going on about how waterboarding wasn’t torture because it didn’t leave any permanent damage. I didn’t really know what “waterboarding” was until I looked it up, but as soon as I did I wanted to call in and suggest that if it wasn’t torture, then she shouldn’t mind having it done to her and she should volunteer to have it done to prove her point.

Sheesh. How stupid can people get?

Axiom: A people gets the government it deserves.

The U.S. Government appears to include a fairly high number of idiots.

Conclusion: ….

Oops, time to take my BP and afternoon pills!

From 3 to 8

October 23rd, 2007

Pills in the morning.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to blather on about this sort of thing much more.

But it’s a bit of a pain having to gollum down eight largish pills when heretofore I’ve just had to manage one big one and two small ones.

I know firsthand that Japanese dentistry is less advanced than American. The pharmaceuticals industry seems to be behind as well: larger pills with lower dosages, packaged in little push-out tab sheets. (They seem not to have heard of pill bottles yet.) Oh well.

The people at the drugist’s where I got the prescription filled last night were nice enough. It all came to a little more than I would have liked (¥7,600 for one week’s worth), but the monthly estimate based on that cost was well enough under the limit I had set myself for considering getting hooked into the national health insurance program. (In other words, the monthly premium I would have to pay…around 5 man or ¥50,000.) As long as my monthly medical expenditures stay below that level, it makes little sense for me to join. (I know, I know, the unexpected stuff, blah blah blah. Screw worrying about that. Future eventualities is why I have a savings account. Something comes up I can’t pay for, I’ll buy a tombstone.) Anyway, there’s still a 30% deductible EVEN WITH the insurance. Call me cheap if you will, but I’d rather pay ¥30,400 than ¥59,120 for THE SAME DAMNED THING.

I just hope that none of the braintrusts in the U.S. government get the stupid idea of using the Japanese insurance system as a model for one in the States. Here it’s essentially a second income tax, based on your previous year’s income. (So people have to plan and save ahead when they retire. And people whose employment situation changes suddenly…are shit out of luck. The way they handle this and the prefectural and municipal income taxes really makes no sense whatsoever.)

Anyway…didn’t mean to get into all that. I don’t know if it’s the weird sleep pattern of the last few nights or the extra 0.1 mg of Catapres in my system today, but I’m having a hard time staying awake this morning. At least it’s a work-at-home day today. (I’ve been reorganizing student pages on the class wiki—which of course most of you can’t access—since about 5:00 this morning.) Oh well…back to it!

(Took a break there before posting this to check out my meds on Wikipedia….Oh dear…one of the side-effects listed for one of them—affection 1 in 1,000—was gynecomastia! Looks like I’m going to have to stop joking about my manboobs as well….)

So…let’s catch up, shall we?

October 20th, 2007

OK…here’s a bit of an update, in case you’re interested.

On September 18 (while still back in the States), I went in to the optometrist’s connected to the Lens Crafters at a nearby mall to have my eyes checked and get a new pair of glasses made. I didn’t return to the States last year and so it had been about three years since my last exam. As part of the exam they did a retinal scan…and discovered that I had several burst blood vessels in my eyes. The main causes of this, I was told, are diabetes or high blood pressure…usually dangerously high. The optometrist was concerned enough to call and make an appointment for me at an eye clinic attached to a local hospital the next morning.

I was understandably concerned about it, but before heading to the appointment the next day, I went up to my aunt and uncle’s to check my BP using one of those little portable meters a lot of people seem to have these days. The first few times we tried to get a reading, the machine errorred out on us. When we finally did get a reading, they were concerned enough that my uncle took me to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. In their “triage” office there, they tried using a machine to measure my BP but got errors, just like we had. Finally they did it manually…and it was even higher than the reading we’d gotten: 239/145.

At the time, I didn’t really know that much about hypertension. (I know a hell of a LOT more now.) They took me back into a room and hooked me up to an EKG, took some blood, gave me a few pills to swallow and started an IV of a drug supposed to bring my pressure down. It came down some while I was there, but then went back up when the doctor came in and said he wanted to admit me for observation.

I told him the details of my situation, how I was only visiting, didn’t have health insurance in the States, needed to do things before leaving for Japan again. Obviously he’s not used to having people say no to him, because he then turned into a complete ass. I asked if he couldn’t prescribe enough of something to at least get me back over here. He said that since I was refusing his medical advice, he couldn’t in good conscience prescribe anything for me. And then pretty much turned and walked out. The nurse said she’d bring some forms for me to sign to discharge myself; the gist, when I read them, was that I was leaving against their advice and if I had a stroke or died, it was my own fault. (This was emphasized in handwriting: YOU COULD DIE.)

At the time, I kinda respected the doctor for not wheedling me into letting them admit me. And when the nurse brought the forms for me to sign, he had gone ahead and written me a prescription for the drug they had given me orally…which I thought was a nice gesture at the time.

Of course, when I took it to be filled, I found out he had given me only 10 tablets…one to be taken twice a day. Only five days worth, in other words. And it eventually turned out that I actually needed to take two tablets every six hours, along with another combo pill once a day, to get my pressure down to normal. So he really didn’t help me out that much. When I talked to my friend who’s a former RN and now works for CIGNA, she told me he should at least have recommended a local GP for me to see and who could have prescribed something to get me back over here in one piece.

Long story short, sometime during the last few years they opened up one of those little urgent care clinics in the village. So at the advice of a cousin who knows a woman who works there, I called the first thing the next morning and got an appointment to see one of the doctors there. I went in, the doctor listened to my story and prescribed enough of the one medicine I was already taking and gave me enough samples of the combo one (basically Diopan (sp?) and another drug) to do me the rest of my trip and two weeks over here. I’ve already got a doctor over here and we’re currently watching my acclimation to the meds and doing some further tests.

It’s been weird getting used to taking medicine like this every day. (I’ll be on an eight-hour cycle once I switch over to the Japanese meds this week. Different dosages in the tablets available here, is why.) And the pills aren’t without their side effects: mostly dry mouth, minor loss of appetite, and a bit of intestinal stuff I won’t go into. But not too much of a price to pay, I suppose, to avoid blowing a gasket upstairs.

Anyway…I guess I’m lucky I didn’t have a stroke or major bleed in my eyes. The CIGNA friend figures my pressure was probably high for more than a year or so. And that’s perfectly possible, since I didn’t have my pressure or anything else checked for quite a while.

The worst aspect of all this was not knowing that I was in trouble. So now I know firsthand why they call it “the silent killer”…you really don’t feel it…at least, nothing specific you can put a finger on.

It’s still a bit early to say I dodged the bullet completely. Let’s turn the pistol into a shotgun and say instead that I appear to have dodged a large part of the buckshot.

Rumors to the contrary…

October 15th, 2007

NOTwithstanding…I haven’t died or anything…yet.

Will try to post a proper update tomorrow.

Till then!

Ms Adams has been asking

September 14th, 2007

How much does it cost links on your blog (Blogroll)?

Obviously “Ms Adams” is not a native speaker of English, or she doesn’t bother to proofread what she puts into her spambot, silly bitch. Presumably she wants to know how much it would cost her to have me place links to her site on this blog.

My answer: Darlin’, all the money in the world wouldn’t be enough for you.


The Persistence of Being…Plus ça change….

September 9th, 2007

I would wax poetic and quote Eliot…but the hour is too late (or early) and the connection too slow to be conducive to surf-n-search. Let this suffice then: something about returning to a place and knowing it for the first time.

No great changes to report, and yet many things are subtly altered. The ersatz eclairs from The Red Brick Oven no longer taste like they did before, like the ones from the old Tipton’s bakery. (The chocolate cake and the cream filling seem the same, but there’s something wrong with the icing—too sweet, perhaps, too much sugar? Someone has left, I guess, and someone not learned the secret aright.) And the sauce on the footlongs at the Freezette is different, too, too-big chunks of onion, not right, not right. But at least the milkshakes are still great.

The house still stands, no major deterioration or damage since last time. The only thing that didn’t work when I got in was the telephone, and a call from my aunt and uncles solved that the next morning. (The woman I’d talked to from Japan had reactivated my account, but forgotten to put through the part of the order that took the line off “vacation”.)

Some neighbors have changed, and there was a lot more trash in the yard than before, but all in all, things don’t seem too bad. The willow has died, and the dark cherry seems about to join it, but the grape vines are still alive and there’s a new elm come up by the deck. (Its days are numbered, it has no place in my plans.)

Wasps and mud daubers on the front porch and probably mosquitoes in the water standing on the plastic I put down in the pond hole to keep down the weeds. Some of the edges of the hole have collapsed, taking the edging stones in with them, but other than poking some holes in the plastic to let the water out, I don’t think I’ll do anything on the future pond this year—no point until I’m really ready to finish the thing.

Granny’s “pineys” (peonies, to the rest of the world) have all died out, and Mom’s easter lilies are gone as well, only with my cattails in the pot under the corner roof drain (I forget what you call those! Get the idea?), but the new four-o’clocks by the alley side of the house seem to be flourishing. The wild grapes along that side had run amok with no one to cut them back for two years, but I’ve already fixed that problem by cutting their stems at the ground; once they’ve dried out a bit more, I’ll put and cut them down.

A dog is barking outside and a train went through a little while ago. It’s quiet here. And almost 3:30 AM….


August 21st, 2007

Not too long ago the SpamCop ( service I funnel my spam-plagued ATT WorldNet account mail through underwent a major interface upgrade. Sender names and message titles that formerly displayed as gobbledy-gook (I could have logged in under Japanese but have always preferred to use the English-language version) now correctly render into Japanese or Chinese and Russian (or at least, Cyrillic). I always zapped these messages without a second thought, but now that I can read the subject lines, I see that some of them are kinda amusing.

Like the one I used for the title here. Transliterated, it’s panchira ni kakeru seishun. Panchira is one of those interesting four-mora words formed from the contraction & combination of two other words that Japanese abounds in, in this case the foreign loanword pan(tsu) “underwear (< pants, panties?)” and native chira(tto mieru) “to be briefly visible”. The whole phrase means (I think) something like “a youth (spent) betting on panty-peeks”.

I didn’t bother looking at the contents, of course, just zapped it along with everything else. My spam-processing efficiency since the upgrade has definitely decreased as I now take more time to chuckle over some of the titles….


August 21st, 2007

So…I was sitting here in front of the PowerBook working on some stuff when suddenly from behind me something revved up into full gear…

Tsuuuuuuuku-tsuku-booooooooshi-boshi-boshi! Wani-da! Wani-da! Wani-da! Oooooooooo!

Freaked me out for a second until I realized that one of the cicadas of the type know as—wait for it—Tsukutsukubôshi had landed on the screen outside and begun its serenade. They’re one of my favorites of all the different Japanese cicadas or semi (absolute fave will always be the Higurashi that sing in the evening and early morning, of course)…but I’d never seen one up this close…or at all, as a matter of fact.

So I jumped up and pulled the curtains apart slowly, looking for the little critter…. I’d always figured they looked just like other cicadas and thus was surprised to see it actually looked more like an overgrown fly. It was still singing and its abdomen was vibrating like crazy. It finished another cycle and then flew off into the garden.


I just hope one of the massive man-eating spiders that have shown up around here lately doesn’t get him!

Mr Dean asks…

August 20th, 2007

Where I read new articles?

Good question.

Here, of course. Sorry…I’ve been mainly occupied most of the last week or so with the office move (a snafu from day one, let me tell y’all), a little with figuring final grades for the semester (due at the end of the month), and with various side interests and living life in general.

I’ve got a slew of pix I want to post in some form or other, so hopefully I can put some of them up this week. Otherwise, nothing has really piqued my interest enough to blog about for a while now. I haven’t even gone to see any of the August festivities this year that usually made me want to delay my summer trip to the States, and I was thinking yesterday that if it hadn’t been for this move at uni, I could be home already.

Anyway, bear with me…I’ll get back on track eventually. This stuff comes in phases, as you probably know….

Annoying idiots

August 11th, 2007

I just found 77 comments waiting in the mod queue, all posted by “MOBY” and all saying this:

I can’t add your post to Digg. How I do this?

Very annoying.

But all deleted. :)

Morning Glory Report

August 7th, 2007

Nine blooms this morning! Six or so yesterday. Finally things are humming.

(Mainly the psycho semi cicadas!)

I’m dragging this morning…dreading going into the office to do more packing. Took yesterday off…had a bit of…trouble down below, shall we say.

Oh well. This, too, shall pass.

(I thought that a lot yesterday….)

Anybody notice the outage?

August 7th, 2007

I don’t know if anyone noticed…but the database server for the site was down again.

I hadn’t checked in much yesterday, so I didn’t notice until after midnight or so my time.

I fired off a rather pissed-off letter to Yahoo Support about it…using a draft of a longer complaint I started to write back on June 22…the last time this happened. I waited a while before sending back then…but not this time.

I’ve just spent the last hour looking around for another provider. We’ll see….