Monday, 3 August 2015

Goddamnit, and Incredible Fireworks

So the Edogawa fireworks display is really big.  I don't know if it's the biggest in Japan, or whether it has any particular accolades in terms of size or variety, but just shy of a million and a half people view it yearly.  As such, it's a pretty big deal, and a large number of fireworks are thrown into the air for the occasion.

This year I wasn't in England and I had some time off from rugby so I decided to go along.

It's worth remembering that the Summer here is particularly warm, with the humidity also being a factor.

The result is that it gets unbearably hot during midday.

In order to secure a good spot to see the show it was necessary to go relatively early.  It began at 7.15, so we decided to head down around two o' clock, throw down a tarpaulin and sit under an umbrella.

Firstly, the place wasn't nearly as crowded as I was lead to believe it would be at this time.  With two people you could probably arrive around four thirty or five and still find space to sit down.  Whether it's always this easy is up for debate, but on the Chiba half of the river (the show is half paid for by the tokyo side of the river, and half by the chiba side) seating is a fairly simple affair.

The umbrella wasn't see-through, it was entirely opaque.  I still got burnt.  I have no idea how, but it happened.  It also wasn't big enough for my whole body (I need to get a fishing umbrella!) so I draped towels over my legs, making a kind of lean-to against the umbrella.

Long story short, it was hot.  It was too hot.  I do not recommend going before four P.M. for the simple fact that you will melt.  It was the hottest I have ever been while not playing sports, and it felt like I was going to die.  It was horrible.  Really, soul crushingly horrible.

As a caveat I'm the kind of person that would rather be too cold than too hot, so maybe it was just me.  There were a few intrepid locals sitting out in the sun, covered with only T-shirts, drinking beer.  Insane.  They weren't even sunburnt by the end of the day.  They must be made of radiators and zinc oxide.

Anyway, aside from nearly dying, I also fashioned a makeshift tripod.  Basically, there's no way to shoot long exposures without something to balance the camera on, that's why we have tripods.

None of my photographs are very good when you stop and look at them, but they hold up to a cursory glance for reasons that I'll explain later - but even getting these results took a bit of crafting.

I cut a slot into one big cardboard box and put a smaller one inside it at an angle, giving a fairly stable triangle.  I then taped it, cut wedges into the top, put towels over them and finally plopped the cameras on top.  It's good enough for video, the wobble is barely perceptible there, but for stills it's an entirely different story.

Before I get to the pictures, this boat sailed straight into this clearly marked area ignoring the obvious hazard, got caught up in some kind of net (dozens of fish made a bid for freedom when the propeller snagged) and burnt out their engine.  Seconds after this picture a big puff of black smoke emitted from the rear and lots of shouting happened.  I flitted between wanting to die from heat stroke and laughing at these idiots being hauled out of the net by a couple of other boats.  The women on the front did not move one iota the whole time.

When you're on the water, look out for buoys, people.

Anyway, onto the pictures.

It was a pretty day.  After my near death exposure experience there was a nice sunset.

There are only two pictures in landscape today, I learned something pretty quickly about which orientation suits fireworks the best.  Especially individual fireworks.

This is an odd one in that it's the only 100mm+ picture that wasn't a total mess.  Obviously the more zoomed in you are the more stable the platform needs to be, but I didn't realise quite how stable.  Cardboard doesn't cut it most of the time.

This is the other landscape.  It's also the only picture with more than one firework going off in the same frame.  If I had a tripod I could have taken a dozen pictures and overlayed them which can give a cool look with lots of simultaneous colours.

If you don't like this style of picture you can probably close the page now.

This is one of my favourites because it looks like a UFO.

This is another one of my favourites because it looks like a flower.

There was a lot of smoke in the air after only a few volleys which meant pictures often came out with the smoke effects you see here.  The top left of the flower at around 11 o' clock is hazy, residue from a past explosion.  There are also artifacts from reflected light lower down.  I could erase them but it's not really a true image then.

Not that 'true,' means anything in this digital age.

This is a bit earlier or later than the others, it shows the orange afterglow or initial explosion rather than the colours.

This is probably my favourite, just because of the mix of colours and the layers, central bright with a petal texture looking outwards.  Just like a flower.

 So if you enlarge any of these pictures and look at the lines of light, you'll notice that they wobble, they're not perfectly straight.  This is where a good base come in handy, it stops that tiny amount of shake and keeps every line looking pristine.  Or at least as it would look in real life.

I don't really like the colour of this one, but it's nice to have context in the form of some housing in the distance below.

The same with this one, the colours are bad but at least there is a wonky horizon, so the firework has a little more context.

 This is another of my favourites, it's super blurred (artistic effect, if anyone asks) but it's a nice colour.  If only all the pieces would come together every time!

 I like the colours here, I like how the horizon is almost straight, and I like the light pollution coming from the city.  It just doesn't grab me for some reason.  Taking 'dem pictures is hard.

This isn't a sharp picture, nor does it have interesting colours, but it's probably my favourite.  Have I already said that?  Either way, I'll probably make it my phone background at some point.

This last one I've chopped up to make it look like some strange sea creature.  Or a bizarre cell.  Or an artists rendition of a crazy quantum experiment.  Or one of those plasma balls.

I would also mention that the wind was in our faces, meaning we were absolutely pelted with the detritus from the explosions.  We were covered in soot, charred paper and big lumps of cardboard by the end of it.  It might be worth bringing something with a peak to cover your eyes, even if only a marginal improvement over your hands.  It definitely added excitement to proceedings because it's pitch black directly in front of you and it's hard to see when you're about to be clocked upside the head.

Hopefully some of that will show through in the video.

That's it.  I got quite a few shots I like, and one or two that will go into the 'keepers,' collection, which is a rare thing indeed for a single outing (for me at least)!

I also shot some video, it's taking a while to edit but I'll put it up here when it's done.

Oh, and some film too.  That'll be done in a month or so.  Exciting.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The One Man Bicycle Band

So a few years ago, when I came to Japan for the first time, I recorded a video of a man who rode around on his bicycle performing a solo concert.  He made a lot of the equipment himself, customising it so that it fits onto his bike.

This is the original video:

I saw him again recently!  Doing the same thing in the same park, still as energetic as he was before.

I made a video:

Unfortunately the cicadas are incredibly loud and I was using the microphone built into the camera, not something conducive to good sound quality but until I become a millionaire, it'll have to do!

Monday, 13 July 2015

The Grimmest Brothers

Story time:

I was tasked with writing up a speech for one of my students to recite during an upcoming speech contest.  Unlike other competitions I've been involved in, this one is purely a recital, the students don't need to write anything; which means I have to write everything.

I found a book of tales from the library and asked the student which tale they liked the best, they responded with the elves and so I edited the story, turning it into a two minute speech.  It's a terrible edit primarily because it's so heavy handed.  There's not a lot you can do when the original text is four or more minutes long, except slash great swathes and hope no one notices.

I also tried to change as few words as possible, but it was necessary in several spots, which sound incredibly rough to my ears when I listen back to it.  The recording is entirely for research purposes, I needed to check to see whether it came in under the time limit, and to see if it sounded strange when spoken aloud.  There are a few times when I sound drunk, right at the beginning for example I say cut out like I've never seen a 't,' before.

Anyway, we'll see if the student likes it, I might end up making an entirely new story!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

More S.P.A.M. Please

So no one has figured out how to stop spam.  This is self evident if you've ever tried using an e-mail address, but it's also readily apparent when you look through the comments of a personal blog.

In this case I receive few enough comments that I can simply accept them manually, sifting through the spam and hatemail (surprisingly rare, considering this is the internet) to accept the comments that a human probably wrote; the rest is relegated to digital oblivion.  I try not to delete the stupid comments from faceless members of the chinese propoganda ministry (yes, that's actually happened) whose sole job is to trawl the internet for blogs like this one and counter any point raised about china, but it can be hard to let the counter points filter through.  The hope is that these comments are self evidently beyond a joke - but if you read more than a handful of comments in your lifetime you will see that people are fucking stupid.

For example.  Or how about this.  Or this.  One of those is definitely real, the other two are extrapolations, the end result of the actual stupidity in the human race, taken to logical ends.  Whether all of them are real or not, in my books they're all winners.


Anyway, the reason I bring up spam and stupidity on the internet is because the war for our eyeballs is evidently hotting up.  My e-mail inbox has been filling at an increasing rate, and this humble blog (with a sum total f'all readership) has started creaking under the weight of comments waiting to be approved.

Comments like:

This way if you are a family person, you get to allocate more time to your loved ones,
especially if you are a parent. Most would obviously avoid
real estate investment prospects like a bubonic plague. This is because people want to know they can trust the person that is in charge
of helping them to close the biggest financial deal of their lives.

Feel free to surf to my website; Eco pret 0

Or like this:


While the festival and its artists may be curated by
ICP and Psychopathic Records, both parties are selfless enough to not make the
Gathering exclusive to Psychopathic Records. And by the time he was eleven, he
had convinced the Cash Money label to take him on, even if it was just for odd jobs around
the office. If you are looking for a strong competitive college dance team, look into these
schools and see what they have to offer.

my website Nekfeu

Or even like this:

 Other economy changes include lower level availability clash of clans hack apk Dark Elixir
Drills (Town Hall level 7 for the first, Town Hall level 8 for the second), increased capacity for Dark Elixir Drills
of all levels, and an additional level for Gold Mines and Elixir Collectors (12).

Be certain that you know the rating of any video game before letting kids play it.
It is easy to hire an i - Phone developer or an Android developer today and making useful and quality applications are so much easier today.

To highlight the volumes I'm talking about, these were all sent within the last hour.  Or at least I received them in the last hour.  Considering how bad some of these services are at timely posting, they could have been sent last month for all I know.

It's really interesting to see the demographics they're going for, even if google translate is letting them down somewhat in the execution.  Home owners/potential buyers, psychopaths and gaming people.  I would love it if there were a correlation between the people who read this and the spammers, i.e. they've done their market research (an automated bot has determined the readership) and have targeted appropriately, but it's pretty unlikely.  I suppose that means the internet at large consists of mentally unstable people, game players and home owners.  Only those three groups though.

In case you were wondering what spam stands for, it's:


Only somewhat because the messages aren't intelligible.
I think the processing is converting the message from Mandarin or one of the Indian dialects into English.
They are very much automated.
And even though this is a comments section, it's still a mail of sorts.  I guess.

Anyway, let it be known that the second coming of spam is happening, and it'll be big news in a few weeks when there's a slow news day.  The battle for your eyeballs is hotting up!

And for the love of dog don't click on any of the links that the spammers are advertising.  Christ, just don't do it.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

From a Failure, to a Success

 So my melons are obviously the butt of jokes around the world at this point, but at least I have one other plant that works.

Anyone want a spider plant?  I could probably cut some off and send you one.  For a fee.

I hear spider plant growing is a lucrative business.  I have enough for at least the beginning of the enterprise, but the ramp up to production scales will take a while longer.  Your order will be with you within the year.

Interestingly I think the plant is seeding, which I didn't know they did.  Strawberries are similar in that they seed and send off runners and you can buy packets of strawberry seeds, but I've never encountered a packet of spider plant seeds.  Anyway, they dry out and open up, usually facing upwards so you have to dislodge them with a stiff breeze or by accidentally brushing up against them, which is a pretty good way to ensure decent dispersion.

And on an entirely unrelated note, here is an enormous butterfly that has no reference for scale which is a shame, because it was a palms width or so and jet black.  This was taken with my phone camera so the quality is, well, evident.

Anyway, that's about it for now.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Oh Noes.

The end of the melons is nigh.

This is the current state of the melons.  There's not much left.  I'm desperately clinging to the hope that there will be one tiny, miniscule protomelon so I can say I'm a farmer, but it's not looking likely.

There's nothing else left in the WORLD!

I don't think it's over watering because there are holes in the bottom of the bag and the soil isn't saturated, not to mention that the damn things grew like wildfire up until last week.  Damnit!


Thursday, 25 June 2015

All Of Them!

From this:

To this:

For some reason they're far more green in this picture than they are in real life, where they're mostly black with hints of dust.
They're all dead.  Super, duper wicked dead.  My great melon owning dream is over!  Noooooo!
I can't believe they all bit it so quickly.
Basically, I've either sprinkled radioactive waste among the roots, the blackfly invasion, or some unbeknownst disease has ravaged them.  You can take your pick as to which it might be.
They went from being healthy to dead in about three days which has to be some kind of world record, and due to the quickness I can't see it being anything other than disease.  They were dying before the insects really took hold and I haven't even obtained the shipment of bomb grade plutonium from my Saudi contact yet.
Anyway, this years dream is done (I'm still watering them in hopes of some last minute resurgence that yields a single fruit, tennis ball sized) so it's onto planning next years fruitdeavour.  Definitely strawberries, but I also need a big ticket item to get the farming business underway.  Something that has the shock value of a 1,000kg pumpkin but isn't completely lame.
Ideas welcome.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Music, Ranked

So I was watching James Bond last night.  I don't know why, but I wanted to re-see Skyfall (the latest bond movie, and a superb one at that) so I had it on in the background while I made some dopey stuff on the computer and I realised that the soundtrack to that movie, specifically the theme tune, is also brilliant.

So I started listening to the themes from all the bond movies.  I found a surprising number that are pretty good.  I say surprising because movie music isn't usually my kind of thing, then again I can't stand almost any kind of music.


So in at number ten, in a surprise twist of expectations:

Duran Duran and A View to a Kill

The music is garbage, but THE HAIR, man.  The hair.  Holy guacamolee.  That is some hair right there.  And also the special effects are something else.  It's not even a bond theme tune, not really.  They drop the iconic sound in right at the end but that's about it.  And those CG/video effects.  Wow.

P.S. This is not the James Bond intro (no shit, Sherlock) which is actually decent enough as old Jimmy Bond openings go.  Creepadelic is how I would describe it.  The above video has the aforementioned wicked CG though, so it's the one that gets in.

Number Nine:

I don't think this is a widely respected Bond song, but I don't mind it.  It's certainly better than the smoking crater that is the Duran Duran song.  Wowzers.


I can't really explain why I like this one, I guess it's the fact that it's almost music!

That's not being fair, it is music, and it's alright.  It helps that the singer has some attitude and works well with the saxophone or whatever does the little flourish after the 'goldfinger,' line.


Number Seven:

This one is definitely not Diamonds Are Forever.  That is some hot rubbish. The CG and editing almost pushed it onto the list, but it's a pretty naff song.

It's also not Live and Let Die.  Paul McCartney.  What in the world were they thinking.  He has an unbroken record of making pants music.  DECADES without a good song.  Good job.  It's the most frustrating song I've heard in a really long time because it almost, almost, bursts into a frantic paced topsy turvey alternate reality James Bond theme tune, but then doesn't.

Number Seven is actually:

I don't think I've ever seen Golden Gun, but if this theme music is anything to go by it'll be stupid.  The music is sub par, but I like the lyrics.  I don't know.  Moving on!

Number the Sixth:

She's got a voice.  It's not for everyone, but if you have an ear for it, she's great.  Nuff said.

The Fifth One:

The iconic Jimmy film from when I was a kid, and the film responsible for dragging the franchise into relevance for a modern generation.

As with number seven, the singer has a voice, but this one is more palatable.  It also has a nice ramp to it, she doesn't jump straight into glass shattering territory from the start, giving you a chance to readjust the volume before she starts in earnest.

Also spawned the most overrated game to ever grace a console.

The Fourth:

Obviously this isn't the intro, but the music is the same.

I really like this song.  As a song it's something slightly different, it doesn't have the soaring 'High's,' (TM) Copyright Shirley Bassey, but her voice is just so James Bond.  It's such a great pairing!

The Third:

THIS IS THE CONTROVERSIAL ONE.  This is the one where you throw the computer out of the window, hunt me down and bean me with a copy of this track burned onto a CD (because who buys CD's anymore?  Nerds, that's who).

As a preface, I think the computery voiced bits are dumb as shit, and the short voiced overlay (what's an audio overlay?) are stupid and pathetic, but they fit the theme of the movie so I get why they did it.


Die another day.  It's a pop song.  I get that.  I know it's not really a James Bond affair, but that's that.  There's no accounting for taste I guess.

The Third Degree:

Ok damn, this might actually be the controversial one.  Goddamnit.  So I also really, really, really like this as a song.  Whereas D.A.D. (that acronym) has nothing to do with Bond (hence the stupid voiceovers (oh, I guess a voiceover is an audio overlay) to tenuously link the music to the film), this one still sounds like Jimmy to me.  It's just so good.

It's good.

The Runner Up:

Ok crap, I miscounted and I actually have eleven entries.

So the joint number two's are:

The singer has a brilliant voice (something they're pretty consistent with in regards to bonds) and I'll be damned if the design team hasn't kept pace with modern aesthetics and tastes.  That intro is faaaaantastic.  It's still trippy Bond, but it's modern at the same time.  I'd love to work making something like that.  Then again I'd never keep up with the 'drinking,' required.  They're obviously super high on 'drinking,' when they come up with these things that I wonder if their 'livers,' are able to take all the 'alcohol.'

I could totally colour balance the final cut though?  Actually the room would probably be too smoky from all the 'drink,' to actually get anything done.


I actually know the name of this song.  It's called 'know my name,' and it's by a dude.  A dude with one of those 'voices,' (TM) Copyright.  It's all boulders and gravel.  Anyway, talking about slickness of production, this one goes right to the top of the list with Skyfall and Quantum of Solace.  They've really upped their intro level for the recent films, although I do wonder if I'll look back in twenty years and see all the obvious signs of old CG.


This is THE James Bond theme tune.  It's the one that started it all, and it is iconic in a way that none of the others are.  You could listen to some of the others as part of a normal playlist (not the Duran Duran one, you couldn't listen to it outside of a prison environment) and not feel it was out of place, but this one is so Bond, so unbelievably James Bond that it isn't really a suitable piece of music for any other occasion.  It goes a bit weird and bongo drum at the end, then turns full wackjob when it turns into a west indian folk song.  Weird.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Farmer Sam

So I didn't play this weekend.  I had a slight strain of the calf over the week from the last game, so they rested me for this match.

My right knee has been bunk for months which, when strapped, is unbalancing my gait and putting additional stress on all kinds of interesting places in my body, resulting in small strains and minor stress all around the shop.

Something unexpected came of it:

I was promoted to groundskeeper for the game, bringing me back to watering mums garden.

One of the new arrivals this year, Pat.

When the teams were playing I was relegated to ball boy, only in charge of one ball at a time.  No more.

Trying to roll up 50 metres of hose, a three man operation.  I managed to cut myself quite handily on an old rusty connector.  Tetanus hoooooo!

After I cut my hand I had to tape it up.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Music? What?

So I'm making a music CD (welcome to the year 2000 I guess?) for the third year (year 9 ish?) classes I teach.  They have a five minute period before the class where they finish up homework, ask questions and generally potter about in English.  During this time they listen to English language music, so far it's been all Queen.  I've nothing against queen, they have some great songs and it's not a terrible introduction to music outside of Japan.  The problem is that they've heard all the songs already, not to mention that Queen is adored here and is subseuently cut into every third commercial and every fifth TV program.

As such, I feel it is my duty to introduce some easy to understand English langauge songs.  Remember, the only music available to anyone in Japan is this.  Or this.

They are the only options.  No other music exists.  This is not hyperbole, they don't have any other music.  Sometimes, rarely, those over one hundred years old will listen to enka, but that's not fashionable for any other demographic.

The problem is simple.  If you've only ever listened to one type of music for your whole life, all your peers know only that music, and your parents and elders know only that kind of music, there's no way in hell that you're going to like anything other than that.  It would be like introducing orangina to a drought bound tribe in the deepest deserts of Tanzania, they wouldn't know what to do with it and would immediately reject it.

As such, this is not a mission to enlighten the students, even marginally, no.  It's a mission to give me something interesting to listen to that has a tenuous link to the English language.  That means no swearing and lyrics that are mostly audible.

To pre-empt the comments and e-mails about how awful my taste in music is, I will say this:  I don't know music.  I literally searched online for songs for foreign language students, and these are what came up.

ALL SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME.  New stuff and old stuff.  Bizarre stuff is particularly appreciated, as long as there's a viable amount of English involved.  I would love to jazz out to some Mars Volta before class, but they're Spanish (?) so no can do.

Anyway, my list so far:

Michael Jackson -> Smooth Criminal, Heal the World

Jackson 5    ->  ABC

Phil Collins  ->  Dancing in the Air Tonight (if this one gets by the censors (by censors I mean the Japanese English teacher) I will be ecstatic)

The Police  ->  Every Breath You Take  (I don't know why this was on that website, the owner must have been high when she added this one)

Pharrel Williams  ->  Happy  (the theme of a 'dumb fun,' Summer animated movie, I quite like the song)

David Bowier  ->  Ground Control to Major Tom  (this one is mine, an inspired pull from the memory banks, if I say so myself)

REM  ->  Man on the Moon  (never heard of it)

Frank Sinatra ->  Fly Me to the Moon, My Way

The White Stripes -> Seven Nation Army

Travis  ->  Sing

Amy Winehouse  ->  Rehab  (This one is the wildcard, designed to throw the censors off and make them think they've done their job when they inevitably eliminate it, thereby allowing others to pass)

Coldplay  ->  The Scientist

Bare Nakes Ladies  ->  If I had a Million Dollars  (added for the name of the band alone)

And that's the list so far.  There's nothing particularly interesting on there, and only a couple of 'new,' songs, so any suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Buying Power

So people buy stuff with money all the time.  Some very rich people buy other people with money, and this happens all the time too.

Just look at the Japanese whaling industry, a veritable case study in corruption and scandal that dates back decades, and apparently the doctrine FIFA has used to conduct business for some time now.  Namely, the liberal use of briefcases and envelopes stuffed with wonga, mainstays of Japanese corruption scandals, found their way to the FIFA trials too.

The following is shamelessely stolen from a website called Deadspin, an american sports site that has suddenly taken an interest in football now that they have a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the world (by destroying Sepp Blatter). 

This is taken from court proceedings:

At one point, WARNER also directed Co-Conspirator #14 to fly to Paris, France and accept a briefcase containing bundles of U.S. currency in $10,000 stacks in a hotel room from Co-Conspirator #15, a high­ ranking South African bid committee official. Hours after arriving in Paris, Co-Conspirator #14 boarded a return flight and carried the briefcase back to Trinidad and Tobago, where Co­ Conspirator #14 provided it to WARNER.

And this tidbit showing that envelopes aren't only fashionably in heist movies:

... certain CFU officials, including an official of one of the member associations of a United States territory (“Official #1”), went to the appointed conference room, as directed by the defendant JACK WARNER. The officials were instructed by CFU staff members in the room to enter the room one at a time. Inside the room, CFU staff handed each official an envelope bearing the name of the member association that he represented. Inside each envelope was $40,000 in United States currency.

Prior to entering the conference room, Official #1 was advised that he must enter alone, and could not be accompanied by any other officials from his delegation. Upon receiving his envelope, Official #1 was directed by CFU staff to open it while in the conference room. Official #1 was further instructed not to discuss the payment with anyone.

It's absolutely crazy that people still use briefcases and envelopes to transfer massive wads of cash.  I thought the current trend was backpacks and shoes boxes.  Never trust hollywood, they always lie, their special effects are BS and their grasp of current money trafficking techniques is lacking.

I didn't bother writing about the election because everyone seemed to think it was a foregone conclusion (which, as it turned out, it was) but these new happenings are too funny to overlook.  When he eventually swans off into the sunset (no one actually thinks he's going to prison right?) his will his replacement automatically be the Jordanian prince who was running against him, or will they stage new elections?

In what world would you have thought that a middle eastern prince would be the least corrupt choice in a vote of two?

The Earth is a topsy turvy place.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Earthquake Magnitude: Wow

So the other day a magnitude 8.5 earthquake hit off the coast of Tokyo.  By off the coast, I mean a bloody long way away.

Take a look at this map:

It shows what I would consider to be a 'normal,' earthquake, whatever normal means in the context of the earth trying to undress itself.  You can see the key on the bottom, the epicentre was miles and miles away from land, but the effect were still somewhat apparent.  I don't remember this one, which means it was probably too small for humans to notice.  (I'm incredibly sensitive to earthquakes.  For whatever reason I'm always the first person to notice them in a room.)

Now compare the above with the earthquake that happened the other day:

Something of a difference.  The epicentre was once again bloody miles away, but it shook the whole country an awful lot.  I was in one of the yellow zones, making it about a 5.2 where I was.  Let me tell you, a 5.2 is pretty big (these scales are logarithmic) and quite interesting on the fourth floor.  I can only imagine what one of those is like when you're a hundred storeys up.  Then again, any building that size will have a counterweight or massive shock absorbers, so I doubt they'd rock and roll as much as I might imagine.  A lot more than when a big lorry goes past your house though.
The thing this image doesn't convey is how long they last.  I've found that the bigger shakes last longer, and this one was upwards of a minute and a half.  It started relatively small but conitnued for a while, building to a crescendo before shaking a small amount for a while.  I've found that if a small shake lasts for a while, it usually means there's a lot more coming your way.  I've not come across any that start abruptly, they always seem to lead into it.
If you're wondering, the worst part is when the ground goes up and down.  There's no stomach turning feeling like that you might experience in a plane, it just kind of jostles a bit.  The reason that's the worst though, is because I can't imagine many materials being designed to withstand variable forces both laterally and vertically, it's not a typical building requirement.  If you get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, the ground can move vertically by metres, hence the formation of waves that cause tsunamis.  I don't think this particular episode caused any tsunamis, but I'm not exactly Mr. Ear To The Ground in that regard.  Now that I think about it, I'm not that in any regard.
If you're wondering where I got this information from, it's this website:
You can get information about quakes in Japan, as they happen, from this site.  They keep records too, so if you hear about an earthquake in Japan you can check it out and see where was affected and how big it was.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Check These Out

Check 'em.

So these are my melons.  Check 'em.
The ones closest to the camera don't look particularly healthy, for some reason those ones really do not like the wind, whereas the ones further away have adapted by just spreading to the floor.
Since this picture was taken (two days ago) they've filled in the spaces between themselves, attempting to kill each other to try and steal all the light.  I'm of two minds with regards to this.  Firstly, I shouldn't have planted two plants per bag but the girlfriend threatened to murder me on account of 'wasting soil,' so the compromise was putting two plants in.  I don't think either of us realised just how rampant they could get.  Let's just hope they'll be okay as long as I feed them a ton and give them all the water.
Secondly the competition is probably a good thing at early stages, but now they need to get as big as possible to give me enormous melons, so the competition for space and light probably isn't a good thing now.
I honestly don't know how many melons or of what size to expect.  Or even if I should expect melons at all, considering they haven't even flowered yet.
I wonder whether I should cut a hole on either side of the current big square, in order to ensure all the roots are getting at least some water.  I feel like it's a waste to just keep watering the exposed middle square, as a lot of the roots will just be hanging around in completely dry soil on either side.
I assume feeding the centre is okay, because that's where the greatest concentration of roots will be.
But really, who can tell in this economy?

Monday, 25 May 2015

Broken Nose Woes

I don't think I've broken my nose again, but it's extremely sore.

We had a warmup match against one of the teams in our league this weekend.  I played in the first half which we lost, 7-0.  We won the match 21-7 but both teams fielded two discrete sets of players, essentially making it two separate games.

In the first half we could not hold onto the ball, we just kicked it.  It was like a compulsion or an illness, none of our team would dare to hold on to the damned thing for more than six seconds without kicking it, which meant we had zero possession.  Considering we had the far worse kicking game it also meant we were pinned back in our half for almost the entire half.  We defended for thirty minutes and only ended up seven points down, which is a positive thing I suppose.

I got the ball twice.  Once I was smashed, but managed to hold on and only lose a meter or two which is okay I guess.  The second time I made a half break, got the off-load and we made another few metres.

And then kicked the ball away.  Obviously.

I made a couple of tackles.  I nailed one guy, forcing him to knock on.  The second was a covering tackle on our line, making up for someone who missed an inside tackle.  Unfortunately I only got him round the legs, he passed onto someone else and that was their seven points.  I'm sure I'm going to be blamed for that come training tomorrow.  'You're a foreigner, why didn't you stop the try?  And while we're on the subject, why didn't you score eight thousand points by yourself in this team sport?'

Anyway, I digress.

It was a pointless exercise for all involved in the first half, but a decent run for those involved in the second.

Hopefully roles will be reversed next weekend, we have another warmup match to look forward to.  It'll be interesting to see who features where, and if I feature at all.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Well I Never

So I came into work today, found out the schedule has been changed (the schedule is only a rough guideline, designed to show how the day should not be run, as opposed to how it should actually be run.  At least I think it's designed this way because we've not had a single day run to the schedule yet this year) and decided to immediately take a laptop from the communal area (gross) and do something productive with it.  "Productive."

Anyway, I turned it on to find out that it had fifty updates to install.  This being Windows, it couldn't do any of them while the computer was on, and it could only install them at a comparable rate to the deposition of glaciers, super fast basically.

So I waited half an hour before it stopped updating, then it turned off.  I was puzzled by this as windows either updates before the OS starts, or after you've asked it nicely to turn off.

So basically someone yesterday saw that it had weeks worth of updates to do, said fuck that, closed the lid on it and put it away.  Someone elses problem now!

Selfish bastards.  You have to remember that although Japanese people spend on average 23 hours a day at work, they're not actually working.  They're super, duper, inefficient, they hang around work until the boss leaves trying their hardest to pretend they're working while actually talking about nonsense and bollocks.

Anyway, how dare they assume their clothes surfing (always delete your web history) is more important than my writing (about nothing to do with schoolwork)!  Once again, bastards.

The moral of this story is not to use communal PC's, not just because of the diseases you'll likely catch.

On a much less interesting note, I've figured out that I'm lactose intolerant, which means I can't drink milk.  Some people have it so badly that they can't even eat cheese, but you'd know if that ever happened to me because I'd have built myself a rocket and flown myself into the sun.

I don't have it particularly badly, just enough that if I drink a cup of milk then it hurts.  I found out when I started drinking hot chocolate supply drops with milk instead of water (infinitely nicer taste) and started feeling ill afterwards.  After a couple of months of devout testing (can't just drink one hot chocolate and declare an illness, you've got to have a method) I can attest to the fact that I only ever get these symptoms when drinking large amounts of milk.

Ijust hope it doesn't get worse and stop me eating cheese.  Oh man that would be the absolute worst thing ever.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Yo Yo, That's Not So Tough

So I have a facebook page full of absolute shit.  Adverts, pictures of people I don't know standing around drinking and the occasional child sitting there doing nothing.

Frankly, I don't care.

BUT, if your child can do this, then it's worth posting about on the internet.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Guess How Much

So for the past year I've been saving up all the one yen and five yen coins that have accumulated in my pockets.  They're the equivalent of one and two pence pieces, except even more useless if you can imagine such a thing.

As you can see there are a couple of 100 yen coins in there, but they'll be gone by the time I take it to the post office.

Anyway, here's the question, how much money is in there?

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Melonpocalypse

So I managed to grow on a few melons from seed, enough to fill a couple of bags of compost or soil or whatever it is.  Anyway, having grown the seeds on past the carrying capacity of their small pots, it came time to plant them in these bags and put them outside.  I waited for the right time; warm enough that it was not going to freeze again, and with good enough weather that they would get a decent start.

Yesterday was forecast to have slight wind, fair amounts of cloud and some rain, so I thought I may as well put them out at that time and let the plants get a taste for the outdors before any serious weather came into play.

Yesterday there was a mini-typhoon.  The weather news got it completely wrong (at least the weather news I subscribe to) and it was bloody wet and bloody windy.  The wet obviously isn't much of a problem, but the windy certainly was.  The small seedlings were blown about like comedy umbrellas, folding all over the place.  The upshot is that I don't know whether they've survived or not.  Even if they do survive they'll likely have PTSD and never regain their vigour.

On the plus side I hear that smaller fruit and veg tends to be tastier, so assuming something lives and bears fruit, they'll be the tastiest melons in the world.

I did keep the other germinated melons around just in case of emergency, so if it comes to wholesale change then I'll do what must be done.  Wholesale melonslaughter.  The downside to this plan is that I deliberately chose the strongest ones to put outside, so the only ones that are left are the pathetic weaklings that barely made it out of the ground.  Melongenics is a tough, tough business.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

I Can't Cook

So it's a well established fact that I can't cook, so I've been on the lookout for 'recipes.'

Where a recipe and a 'recipe,' differ is in the preparation.  A recipe requires tools (none of which I have), foodstuffs (none of which I can reasonably buy) and technique (something I will never possess).

A 'recipe,' requires the illusion of one, two or three of the above things.

Knowing this, I present to you my first 'recipe.'

So if anyone asks, they're hamburgers.  Or beefburgers or something.  I don't know.

The reason this is a 'recipe,' is simple - you don't need any specific ingredients (I just found whatever was in my fridge) or any particular skill.  You just buy mincemeat of whatever variety, chop up some vegetables (anything will do) and then mix them up.

Put them into roughly circular shapes, put them in your frying pan and cook for however long it takes to do.  Apparently you're supposed to let them settle for an hour, or put them in the fridge for a while, but I can't tell the difference either way.  Just eat the damned things.

It's taken decades to get to this point, so don't expect the next food update for a while.

On a side note, the melons are outside now (the ones that survived the cut, pun intended) so I'll get some pictures of those before they die off.

I've got a floor full of melon plants now, and I don't know what to do with them.  Urban garden graffiti?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Melon Dramatic

So the melons are coming along nicely.  They absolutely shot up at first, but have kind of levelled out now.  The second wave of growth is coming through.

A total of eleven have germinated, leaving six stuck in eternal slumber.  The roots are starting to poke through on a few of them, so I'll have to decide which ones to keep and which ones to guerilla plant in a park somewhere around here.

Playstation controller for scale.

The spider plants have completely stopped growing.  One of two things is responsible for this - I've been keeping the melons wet as is the way of melons apparently, and that is either too wet for the spiders, or the precipitous drop in temperature this week has stunted their growth.  Seriously, it was twenty degrees last week and now it's nine.  And raining.  What is up with that?

The next step is presumably planting them into something bigger.  These pots are designed to be planted whole, the roots grow through and they disintegrate.  I think another week or so should do it, what with the weather becoming warmer for good.  Probably.