False Starts

Posted: September 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Update | Comments Off on False Starts

I hope that whenever someone gets a tattoo they consider their decision well thought out, but my hopes are slightly dashed when I see things like this.

bullet hole tattoos

Don’t be alarmed, I can assure you, these colors don’t bleed.

(Beyond the initial bleeding, of course, and the simulated bleeding, but I hear that’s normal.)

Your future 90 year old body is calling from the moon, and it wants to remind you that tattoos are permanent.

Have you ever been merrily typing along, while looking at something else, and then realized that your hands had slipped to the left and you just wrote a whole bunch of gibberish?

I got turtles, and got rid of turtles, all in the span of three weeks.

I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that I’m not a turtle person.

As a side note, pets should typically never be impulse purchases. And I quote, “Oh, turtles would be fun!”


I was brainstorming this week and decided that none of these ideas really deserved to become a full post.

Tattoos, keyboard finger placement, turtles?

Diagnosis: Slightly Boooooring.


Posted: September 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Japan | Comments Off on Xenophobia

The other day, while we were on the second floor of the gym, an older woman started talking to us.

We were cooling off on one of the jiggle machines (pictured below), which are admittedly fun, and often quite hilarious.

Butt Jiggle Machine

The following conversation took place in Japanese.

Woman: [rattled mumblings, as the jiggle machine rendered her nigh unintelligible]

Me: I’m sorry, what was that?

Woman: [slows her machine down] Good afternoon, you must be tired.

Me: Ah, Good Afternoon! You must be be tired.

(You must be tired is a polite way to acknowledge that someone has been working hard)

Woman: [gesturing at the two of us] Where are you from?

Me: Oh, we’re from America.

Woman: When are you going back?

Me: [gesturing to my friend] Uhh…well, he’s going back in October.

Woman: He is going back to stay in America?

Me: Er…no, he’ll be back after a few days.

Woman: [looking at my friend] Don’t bring the influenza back.

Me: Oh, well, I’m sure he will be very careful…

Woman: Good, we don’t need influenza here, its bad! Take care!

Me: Thanks…you take care too!

This conversation, while amusing, is a good example of the slight xenophobia, and sometimes irrational behavior, of older Japanese folks. But really, tell me that some of us couldn’t have the same conversation with our grandmothers about something similar.

Not America, we love immigrants, right?

Incidentally, influenza, specifically H1N1, has been in the city for weeks now. So, there isn’t anything for us to bring back that isn’t already here. But if there is a breakout, we had better keep an eye on the foreign population, because Japanese people never travel overseas.

Except my boss, and colleagues….and thousands upon thousands of other Japanese people.

And this is the first thing you get when you google image search xenophobia.


Being Serious is Hard – Part 2

Posted: September 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Japan, Personal | Comments Off on Being Serious is Hard – Part 2

I was thinking today on what I wrote in “Being Serious is Hard – Part 1”. If we look beyond the obvious proofing errors and terrible writing style, I think there were some valuable keys to unlocking the psyche that is Zeus Thaber. (please pardon the awesome pseudonym.)

I have found the following things to be true:

1.  Sometimes I really can’t be serious when the situation calls for it. There is an element of my personality that gets stuck in lighthearted mode. It can often take a jump start from a ‘beyond normal circumstances’ moment to push me into seriousness.

2.  By putting up this affective barrier, I am being a selfish person. Not only am I denying those around me from experiencing the whole spectrum of my character, but I am also denying myself from experiencing the same in others.

While I am having to be more serious these days, perhaps I shouldn’t see it as such a bad thing. I recall writing in a draft of the first post that, “the pressure of this seriousness weighs on my heart like a load of lead bricks.”

First, we should all note how terribly melodramatic that sounds. Which is probably why it didn’t make it into what we will affectionately refer to as a ‘final draft’. Though it might also be important to note that I really did feel like that. It was a genuine toss up between posting it here or on myspace, right after the posts about how ‘my parents don’t understand me’, how ‘I can’t stop giggling in class’ and ‘omg, LOL!1!!, you have to take this personality quiz!’.

But I have digressed.

I think all of the seriousness floating around felt like a load of bricks for the same reason that the bar feels heavy the first time a person goes to the gym. They aren’t used to being able to deal with that much weight. So, metaphorically speaking, my lighthearted muscles are overdeveloped, and my serious muscles are languishing as a result.

So, I wondered about myself juxtaposed against the people that are habitually serious, and if it means that all the responsibility rests with me?

I say it doesn’t. It was a ridiculous assumption to assume that it did. What responsibility does rest with me is in successfully maintaining a balance between lightheartedness and seriousness. And more importantly, being able to discern when a situation calls for one or the other. Anyone else’s perceivable lack of balance should be my last concern.

Ok, that’s all.

Being Serious is Hard – Part 1

Posted: September 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Japan, Personal | Comments Off on Being Serious is Hard – Part 1

And in this case, I’m being very serious.

While I would really like to blame the month of September, as this was when I started noticing the serious-ing of things, I’m pretty sure that seriousness, realistically speaking, has been around far longer than that.

Please, don’t get me wrong, I think can be serious when the situation calls for it (or so I say). Admittedly, there are some people could probably argue that I’m lying to myself. There might be a seed of truth there.

Yes, there are things that demand my attention, my ‘serious’ attention. I’m not talking about global hunger, war, nuclear proliferation, or whatever. But things on which my attitude has an impact, things that reside on a personal level. These issues can be heavy problems, but frankly I’d rather err on the side of lightheartedness than taking them to the terribly serious extreme that others seem to find so immediately necessary.

How can the antonym of serious be lighthearted and the antonym of lighthearted be miserable?

For me being lighthearted is being unfettered. I think being truly serious with someone is probably one of the most direct forms of interpersonal intimacy. Is it understandable that when things start to get serious, I start to feel a little trapped (tell me that isn’t a sign of some relational defect). For example, when someone wants to talk to me about a serious matter, it makes me uncomfortable that I feel obligated to, even if I don’t feel close enough to them for something like this to happen.

If my over-lightheartedness, or a certain level of superficiality, are not valid behavior practices, then what about the serious ones? Does all the responsibility rest with me?

or maybe we balance each other out.


More later.

Travel Weary

Posted: September 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Family, Japan, Travel | Comments Off on Travel Weary

This has been one zany summer.


In the effort not to be the “says he writes on the internets, but only has 4 posts about how busy he is and that he’ll update more later” guy, I’ve decided to churn out some content. Honest ridiculous content. It seems fitting, what with the new (awesome) web address and all.


For the record, I’ve been back in Japan for about a month. Los Angeles is a distant, and from what I recall, delicious memory.


However, my return to the land of the rising sun not only signaled the continuance of the cold reality that has become my 9 to 5, but also the beginning of a two-week long family vacation.


And I’ll be the first to tell you, nothing makes you feel like a mix between the ages of 25 and 15 years old, quite like a family vacation.

Envision the following conversation in your mind:


Ticket Counter Saleswoman: (In Japanese) Good afternoon, how may I help  you?


Me: (In Japanese) Uhh…Good Afternoon, I’d like to buy 4 bullet train tickets to Kyoto  from Tokyo. For tomorrow.


TCS: Ok, thats 4 adult tickets for Kyoto leaving tomorrow? What time would you like to  leave?


Dad: What is she saying?


Me: She asked what time we would like to leave tomorrow.


Mom: Make sure that it’s early.


Me: (In Japanese) Er…what time is the first bullet train?


TCS: (checks her computer) That would be 7:40 in the morning.


Me: (In Japanese) Perfect, we’ll take 4 tickets. My family has the tourist rail pass, but I  will need to pay for mine separately.


Mom: Be sure to tell her we have the rail passes.


Me: I know Mom, I just did. (In Japanese) And all the seats can be together?


TCS: That shouldn’t be a problem, let me just find a spot on the train. (she checks her  screen again, quickly tapping through the various train menus)


Dad: Make sure the seats are all together.


Adam: I know, I just did.

*“just finished a 13 hour flight, and 22 some hours of total travel” sigh*


Dad: Don’t get an attitude with me, I just need to know what she’s saying.


Me: I’m not, just tired, that’s all.


TCS: (looking up) Ok, I found 4 seats all together. Will you be paying for the 4th ticket  with cash or credit?


Mom: Don’t forget that you have to pay for your ticket.


Me: (In Japanese) I know. (switching back to English) er… I know, Mom!


Me: (In Japanese) Cash is fine.


Mom: Tell her we’ll use cash…


Now, take that conversation, and multiply it by 50. I guess I should have seen it coming, such is the name of the family travel game, some sort of karmatic punishment for being the most proficient Japanese speaker in the family. Silly me.


As a result of my experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that being a tour guide would be the worst job ever. Especially in this context, when I would get the inevitable, “Where is [insert any place here]?” to which I would reply in what I hope was the least sassiest tone possible, “I don’t know, I’ve never been here before.”


I have to give the family credit though, it was a pretty hustley bustley first week. We walked everywhere, and for three jet-lagged midwesterners who are used to driving places that makes for pretty grumpy results. And all in all they did pretty well.


That was the downside.


I know this isn’t a travel blog, but check out the upside. (as always, click to big size them)



The famous Golden Temple, Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺).


Kinkaku-ji Asian Family

My family, you can see Mom and Dad in the middle, with my 9 uncles on the sides.



(Ok, not my family, but I think taking pictures of strangers posing for another photo is hilarious, and I suppose, by default slightly weird.)




Part of Miyajima Island (宮島), taken from our Japan Rail Ferry. (The funny part was how they announced the next stop just like they do on JR trains. What they should have said was, “Next up, the only island this boat has ever, and will ever go to”.)

Pickpocket Deer


Pick-pocketing Deer! (掏摸シカ!)


All right, that is all for now.


Perhaps we’ll see some more content later.