Sunday, October 31, 2004
Jennifer, Lara, Shane and I along with a good number of other folks hiked up and down Myoko-yama just yesterday, halloween-een. It was one of the better hikes i've done here and aside from it raining on the last hour of our 7 hiking, it was perfect. The typhoon last week brough a sprinkling of snow to the top of the mountain and from the summit we had a great panoramic view on a grey yet clear day. It was what I imagine perfect Christmas weather to be. I can't wait to get back to the US and get myself some real hiking boots though. My hand-me down Nike boots are just a pain to hike in.
After the fabulous trek we headed back to Nagano for one of the most fabulous pizza bonanzas ever. This guy Peter, one of the longest staying foreign residents in Nagano has established his little bistro where he whipped out tens of pizzas to an eagerly awaiting crowd. Imagine 40 people shoved in a dorm room and eating pizza 'till they puke and you have the general idea. I did 9 plus a little salad and some pasta. I could have made ten, but really who needs that. Shane likewise equalled my 9 and the friendly rivalry shall continue until the next pizza bash.
On a side note, pizza here costs about $30for a pizza-hut multi topping pizza. Compare that with the ad in the Toons for 4 medium pizzas for $14.44 from Home Team Pizza in Ames.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
What do you think reader(s)? Are you with me?
Monday, October 25, 2004
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Jennifer had a better show. When the quake hit, it really set things to swaying and in fact started jiggling all of our liquor stash on the shelf. She ran into the kitchen to support the stuff just as the quake was ending. We're on the sixth floor which really accentuates the shaking. Even the little quakes get the lamp swinging.
I also ran a half marathon race yesterday. I tend to think of it in terms of a big fat race, but realistically there were some mitigating factors. 1. I ran the first ten kilometers in a leisurely 56 minutes, which works out to about a 9 minute per mile pace and ran the second 11 kilometers in 46 minutes which is about 6:45 per mile. I was always told that negative splits are the way to go when running a race. Had I been in shape and run the pace that we used to run in practice, it would have worked out to about 1:31 rather than 1:42. I guess that tells me that I should train more ( which I don't really, my other hobbies tend not to rip holes in my feet and give me a case of "runners runs" for 12 hours after the event). Maybe when I get back to the states I'll be more interested in late fall races, Living History Farms for example, but unless I get someone to drag me back into it, it's unlikely in Japan.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
I dislike George Bush for the following, well articulated (?) reasons:
1. The federal deficit is a goddamn nightmare. It will bite me and my generation in the ass just as it's going to hit my parents generation when social security runs dry in the next couple of years. According to the IMF, the US deficit is reaching levels where this body would chastise smaller governments and send in little IMF spies to keep the govermnet from doing stupid stuff. Here's a quote from the NY Times
The dangers, according to the report, are that the United States' voracious appetite for borrowing could push up global interest rates and thus slow down global investment and economic growth.
"Higher borrowing costs abroad would mean that the adverse effects of U.S. fiscal deficits would spill over into global investment and output," the report said.
Bush can point out the fact that the weak dollar resulting from his fiscal policies will strengthen exports, but that's a short term effect only. Long term, like when I get back to the country, will be a little less cool.
2. Bush and co. misled the American public about the war in Iraq. They didn't check their intelligence, they didn't have intelligence in some cases, and they relied on questionable sources (Chalabi anyone?).
3. Once on the ground Bush and the US military screwed the pooch, let Iraq get way the hell out of hand and then refused to admit failure by sending in the forces needed. I'm not a genius, but honestly, i saw this shit coming a year off. Regardless of the human rights abuses Saddam Hussein perpetrated against his citizenry, at least they weren't being blown up by pissed off mujahedeen on a regular basis. Iraquis are not so different from the rest of the world, they prefer the devil they know to the one with "Foreign Occupier" written on his face.
4. The Bush campaign have used scare tactics to reinforce it's hold on the American psyche. The War on Terror is a great damn catchphrase isn't it, makes you a little afeared that another turban clad crazy will blow your house in suburban middle america out of existence. Cheney himself said that the US would not be safe in the hands of another president. That's odd, they told Iraquis that they'd be more safe under US control too, what about those soldiers getting blown up every day? Are they more safe under a Bush Whitehouse.
5. Bush is crap on the environment. He vetoed the Kyoto protocol, which while not the finest piece of international legislation could have at least served to give alternative energy technologies (of which i am an ardent supporter) a kick in the pants.
6. Bush favors the death penalty and opposes abortion and stem cell research. In one case he wants to play God, "Thou shalt not kill... unless you're government sanctioned in Texas". While in the other he leaves the fate of unwanted pregnancies and mothers in trouble in the "hands of the Lord". Talk about a waffling line on life.
7. Bush is strongly connected to Consevative Christian groups and is likewise opposed to gay marriage. I am in favor of love in all its forms and I'm not comfortable putting a definition on what is good love or bad love.
8. Bush and Republicans in general did not renew the Assault Weapons Ban. Super, that's one thing that I"ve been missing out on here in Japan, my assault weapons and gun toting fellow citizens.
Now for the point where I give Bush his dues. He is strong of will. Even when the analysis, opinion and in some cases the facts are against him, he holds fast to his convictions. This is good if you're a comic book hero, a revival preacher in a pickle or if you're infallible. I don't think that Bush is any of those (not even the revival preacher).
Bush is not afraid of adversity. He sticks to his guns. Commendable, but only if you are never wrong.
Bush projects earthyness. I really think that, other things being equal, I would prefer to drink a Budweiser with Bush than with Kerry. However, i would rather drink a nice Sam Adams any day.
Bush is heartfelt and honest. I really think that he believes he's doing the right thing every day. The trouble is that, like many others, I don't think he's doing the right thing.
As for Kerry. I like what he has to say. I like that he seems to be a cautious and patient person. I like that he changes his mind. I'm not even put off by the way he may have changed his mind about the Iraq war. I've certainly had mixed feelings. I think that if put in danger or in a tough situation, he would have the strength and resolve to get through it. (Think politics in general, the threat of excommunication and well, that whole Swift Boat thing for starters) Kerry at least has pro-environmental leanings. Kerry advocates fiscal responsibility. We'll see how that goes, but at least he's thinking about it. Kerry, like Bush, seems earnest and determined on the things that are important to him.
One last note before I conclude my longest post ever. Edwards seems like a nice guy. Cheney is, in all likelihood, devil spawn.
Monday, October 18, 2004
I have two other comments on this matter:
1. Why doesn't Alf backstab his father? By voting for Kerry from China Alf could add his sentiments to those of the millions of sane people who will not vote for George Bush while his abstaining father would be caught unawares. They don't call it a "secret ballot" for nothing. Plus such a vote would serve as insurance in case Alf's father decides to doublecross him. Simple game theory's all it is, ya gotta vote.
2. I still don't see why anyone is interested in voting for Bush to begin with. I can only imagine (based on my experience with a frustrated Alf) what sort of "swears" must have come out during the discussion.
As for me, I would honestly vote for Mickey Mouse if he were the only opponent to Bush.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Friday, October 15, 2004
Of course rather than independently verifying it with him, i've decided to post it for all of my tens of readers to individually harass that stupid lazy hypocrite (more things come to mind, I know that his mom reads this website)
Anyway, i would like all of you to collectively overload his inbox with a flood of indignant emails. Is Wisconsin not a swing state y'all? The NY Times info-graphic says that it is!
Please, hassle Alf at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Japan has some interesting ways of making a person feel good about oneself. For one, people are big into the compliments. It's like national policy to say that everything is; beautiful, wonderful, the best ever, the smartest, sooo good at Japanese. These comments are especially poured on if there is nothing close to reality about them. Just a look at Japanese TV will show you what I mean. Every program seems to be about complimenting someone on his cooking, courage, beautiful fashion or something. The mainstay of TV is made up of "variety shows" where a panel of famous or semi-famous people sit around with ridiculous haircuts and sample a wide variety of foods and drinks that are either prepared before or in the stage kitchen. At this time the panelists are all required to shout jokes at eachother and scream, "Suuuuugeeeei!" or the more gutteral surprise noise, "Arrrrruuuughhhh!?!" It's no wonder you can't get a straight answer out of people, it's their culture to sugarcoat and be amazed.
The second, and more personal way that Japan can make a fella feel good is in their clothing selection. While it's annoying and uncomfortable that none of the pants here can really accomodate a person with an actual ass, it is rather complimentary that an Average Joe like me is just TOO HUGE for Japanese brief style underwear. No way in hell that I can get comfortable in those things. It is possible that the discomfort arose principally from the Who-da-man strut that one gets upon discovering that he's the new "cock of the walk" as it were.
*TMI in this case stands for Too Much Information
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Monday, October 11, 2004
The second form of White House Fever is actually West Wing fever. Jennifer's been downloading last season's episodes and as per usual, I'm totally entranced. It's partly because it's so fricking good, but mostly because it's just like reading Tolkien, the show transports me to another world where there are real honest good guys and I definitely know who I want to win. I can imagine for a short hour what it might be like if there were someone in the White House fighting for what I believe in. Ahh, the sweet bliss of reverie.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
We had hoped to climb one of the mountains in the Japanese alps this weekend, Yarigatake, "The Matterhorn of Japan" but the stupid typhoon killed those hopes. I'm thinking that today we'll get out and do something, but i'm not sure what. Since becoming a working stiff at a real job the weekend has attained paramount importance to me. I feel pretty unfulfilled unless i get some outdoorsy stuff in on the weekend.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
After the canoe day, i got myself a bit of food poisoning and slept for about 12 hours the next day. The following day we took a 9 hour bus ride through jungle on the shittiest roads I've ever been on to get to the city of Puerto Princesa. From Puerto we took the road in the following picture to the tiny town of Sabang where the outlet of the world's longest underground river is. We were able to take a tour of only 1.5 kilometers of the total 20 kilometer length.