Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Future Parking

3 posts, 3 days! The world is ending!!

Last night I mentioned the sweet parking we have out here, and when I woke up this morning, checked digg, I ran across this video...


Very cool stuff. But at the same time I have to go ::yawn:: since apparently we've been living in the future over here in Japan for awhile, haha. No but really cool stuff. My favorite part - check out that video at 1 minute in. Then check out my old robotics project:

Its that good ol SICK laser rangefinder! I hear they cost thousands of dollars, but are SUPER accurate. For the maze solving robot project a little later in the class we actually had to rely on the accuracy of the laser rangefinder, because the tachometer and odometer readings the robot made for itself were not accurate enough. But thats usually how it goes - utilize the most expensive portion the most, heh.

Hmm... programming robots like that was fun. Gotta build a GUNDAM next!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Wonders of Driving

What?! Two posts in two days?! Who's hijacked my blog???

Tonight we went out for Yakiniku (Korean Barbecue) and MAAAAAN it was de-LISCH as usual. But rather than that, I decided 'hey, how bout I be designated driver tonight?' I have my international license, I'd driven a couple times when I was in Niigata before. So, I did.

Hoooooly cow! It felt so good to drive again! Oh the freedom a car gives you. I gotta be careful not to get too used to it though, cause if I look at the price tag that would come along with a car in Japan, it probably wouldn't take me very long to consider other options of travel. But maaaaan was it nice to drive.

The whole wron-err, left side of the road thing is still very awkward, but I've been riding as a passenger a few dozen times already, so I'm somewhat getting used to it. Backing up onto a street is rather difficult though. Its one thing to just concentrate on everything being opposite when driving, but its another to think opposite and backwards at the same time while backing up. However I won't have to worry about seeing behind me thanks to the camera in back which displays on the GPS in front.

I love Japan.

More than the wro-left side of the road thing though, it was the narrower streets that make me a bit nervous still. That said, the cars are smaller too, so that helps (except the company car seems larger than others I've seen for some reason). Anyways, now I can finally run some errands during lunch if I ever need to, or drive home/come back after the trains for server maintenance, or whatever. Still, I really need to get onto getting my motorcycle license and a motorcycle. Cheaper gas, cheaper insurance, and no need to rent a parking spot. Sounds good to me.

While on the cars subject, there's a parking garage that's gotta be 10 stories tall near my house, and its not the 10 story tall parking garage you're thinking of. Here's a hint - its only 1 car length long, and this is how it works.

Oh and one last Twins thing that I gotta mention - Danny Valencia!! Whats goin on man!?!?? Goes 4 for 5 today, putting him at 14 hits in 4 days?!!? How does that happen!?... I LIKE IT!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Finally, A Few Updates

Blog? Oh, Blog! Right, I have a blog. Video gaaaaaames ::shakes fist:: this time, you've bested my blogging time, for the last time... in a long time... so well!! (Harvey Korman as Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles? :D ). Ok, time for a post. Its been a few weeks since the last, and I've ran across a bunch of cool/funny stuff I've been wanting to post about, but for now I'll just give a few updates.

In case you've been wondering whats been doing such a good job at pulling me away from my blog, this:

Mobile Suit Gundam Battlefield Record UC 0081. Its only been released in Japan so far, so how convenient for me. :) That said, all the menus are in English for some reason... so also convenient. Yay. The game itself is almost like you playing through the story in an actual Gundam anime, so it thoroughly rocks my socks off. I picked this up used for approx $12 too, what a steal!

In other news, I have a clothes dresser! There was much rejoicing! ::yaay:: I no longer have (clean) clothes strewn across the floor anymore! Everything's tucked away nice and tidy. The dresser is 7 drawers high, and the scary part - I filled it up. Yeesh. Every time I've moved/gone abroad I shed a little bit of dead-weight in stuff/clothes I don't really use, but even after the 8 times I've moved in college (including studying abroad) I still wind up bringing stuff that I later find out I didn't need. To be fair, this time I don't really have a time limit here, so it was more of a permanent move. But at the same time, its amazing how *not* the end of the world it was to live off of several shirts and a few pairs of jeans. What am I doing with all this other stuff? Haha.

Anyways, today we had a visitor from the US, who was ever so gracious enough to piggy back some precious, precious GOLD that I can't find here. Man I <3 Airborne. I've read mixed reviews about the stuff online, but whether there's more placenta placebo (oops) affect or whatever going on or not, I don't really care, cause it works awesome for me. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I take one of those babies dissolved in water and thats the end of that. :D

Thank you Kim!!!

Phinally, a phunny story. On my way home today I stopped at the department store/supermarket/everything store, Itoyokado, to get a 2L pitcher so I can start making my own tea. I figure rather than buying 2 liters of tea for $1.50, I'll make my own from tea packs which comes to approx 80 cents for 13 liters. Hmm, 6 cents a liter vs 75 cents a liter... tough choice there.

Anyways, there was no one manning the register when I was ready to check out so I caught someones attention (in Japanese) to check out. He rang me up, asked me if I had my point card (in Japanese) and I said I said I did, handing it to him (in Japanese). I wondered how many points I had built up by now, so I asked him if/how I could find that out (in Japanese). He then points out that on the bottom of my receipt it tells me... but as he's doing this he first asks if I can understand Japanese. I politely say that I can, and he finishes explaining the system to me. But in the back of my head I'm thinking... "DUDE! I've been talking to you in Japanese this whole time! I even asked you a rather complicated question, 'How do I find out how many points I've saved up?' in Japanese!! Seriously man? Why would I be asking if I couldn't understand!?"


This is definitely one of those things we studied about before in my Japanese class. I specifically remember one article we read about "Stop treating me like an animal!", where a foreigner was complaining about how he was treated where people took his picture w/out asking, didn't think he could understand Japanese, etc. Perhaps I'm just optimistic, but I kind of welcome the... different treatment I would get here, since my existence alone over here is special. I'm just your average 6'3" white dude with German ancestry in the US, but over here I'm a GIANT (seriously ran across a lady today that barely cleared my stomach) with interesting blonde/brown hair, and mysteriously blue eyes. Plus my Japanese is often followed by double takes, man that never gets old.

Anyways, with my little incident here I can imagine how foreigners would be annoyed, but I couldn't help but just laugh about it. I talked to that dude in Japanese the whole time and he still wasn't sure if I could speak it or not, hah!

Lastly, GO TWINS!! Man they DESTROYED the Royals today, 19-1. Mauer goes 5 for 5 with 7 RBIs??? BEAST! And whats up with these Grand Slams? Two games in a row?? Plus in true Twins fashion some guys from the farm are comin up and show stopping. Valencia, Repko, Butera? Keep it up! Plus Delmon Young is at like, .330!!?!? (about time!) I smell a nice streak coming up (nope, not jinxing), even though its started with the Orioles and the Royals, but you need to whoop up on some bottom feeders to get some momentum some times (sorry for any Orioles or Royals fans out there). The one thing I do find funny/scary... we streaked at the end of last year after Morneau went down too... hmm... I'm sticking with the 'gotta step up our game since we lost our trump card' reason.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

TV, Random, and Green Coke

Right now I'm watching Predator... on TV Tokyo... in Japan. It's Wednesday Theater at 9, and I'm lucky enough to catch this masterpiece with good ol Schwarzenegger himself.


Actually the occasional movie they show on TV here is always interesting. Never thought I'd be watching Predator or Journey to the Center of the Earth, etc in Japan, on TV for that matter. I can switch the soundtrack to English too, which helps, but the Japanese dub is always worth a good laugh. I guess theres a new Predator remake or somethin comin out? So that must be why this is on right now.

Alright, on to a couple random things I've run across lately...

One Hour From USA!

...your guess is as good as mine. I *think* this place is a dry cleaner, or some kind of cleaner since theres a sign on the building that says "Cleaning". But where does "One Hour From USA" come into the picture? One hour cleaning sure but... USA? Is America well known for high quality dry cleaning or something...?


Found this guy at a shoe store. I'm not sure what it was about this, but this sign that says "Recommend!!" cracks me up for some reason. I guess it kind of sounds like they're saying "Recommend these shoes to others!!" as in the command form of the verb. But if I were asked what would be better they could put "Recommendation!" or "We Recommend!" but... that still seems odd to me... Whatever, I love it. Keep up the good work guys.

And finally, next in my interesting series of drinks from Japan, Green Cola!

When I bought this I was expecting some form of Green Tea flavor Coke. But when I took a sip, it tasted somewhat peculiarly similar to Coke... Actually the Green doesn't stand for 'green tea' but for the 'eco' kind of green. Apparently I'm going to save the environment by drinking environment friendly coca-cola. Well, whatever floats your boat.

But the part I was disappointed about the most - it wasn't even green :(

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Physical Exam, in Japan!

Today I went and got my yearly physical, something I have to do for my health insurance... or somethin. Basically, I got to experience a physical exam for the first time in Japan, and it was an interesting experience, with plenty of 'oh yea, I'm in Japan' moments.

Turns out the clinic my appointment was at is on the way to the station, so that was convenient. When I got to the receptionist, I handed them a couple forms I filled out before hand, my insurance card, and they gave me a number, a folder with all the tests I would have, and also a cup. I grabbed my stuff and headed to the floor below for the exam.

When I got down there I handed them my little folder, and they directed me to the bathroom for the urine sample. Actually while on the subject of bathrooms, there's one thing I've finally realized about Japanese bathrooms. Auto sinks, auto dryers, auto toilets and bidets aside, the toilets themselves (as opposed to urinals) are like, 100% enclosed. Like the walls around the toilet go to the floor, as if the toilet is in its own little room. This difference has come up at lunch a couple times, and naturally to Japanese people they can't quite understand how open the public toilets are in the US. Yet... now that I think about it, urinals at public restrooms in Japan (like at a park) are pretty much completely visible from outside, as in they're not really tucked around a wall or anything. I feel like theres a conflict of privacy going on here...

Anyways, back to my exam, when I got to he main exam waiting room, I noticed everyone else had changed into exam tops and bottoms... Maybe I didn't fit so they didn't offer? When she told me to go down stairs she said I was fine in the clothes I was in so... whatever.

First on the list was my weight and height. And in beautiful Japanese form, the machine for this was completely automatic. I took off my shoes, emptied my pockets and stood on the scale with the height measurement. The lady pressed a button, the machine came down, rested on my head, and printed a piece of paper with my height and weight. Why have I not seen anything like this in the US?! That was WAAAY faster!! In fact now that I think about it... I don't think I've even seen a digital scale for a physical in the US either! Yeesh. Then after that she took my blood pressure (with another automated machine), it printed out the result, she complimented me on my Japanese, and I sat down on a couch in the middle of the room.

Here again was beautiful Japanese efficiency - there were a dozen or so people, all with their own numbers waiting. The entire room was lined up with different 'stations' and we all basically moved from one room to the other depending on which tests we had. Brilliant!

Next up for me was a chest X-ray. After I finished with that, the lady complimented me on my Japanese, and I went to wait for the next station - testing my eyes and hearing. The eye test was looking through a microscope type instrument and reading the direction that the letter "E" was facing. I gotta say it was interesting doing an eye exam in Japanese. I had to think a little bit more than usual. The hearing test was done in a soundproof 1 person booth. She put some headphones on and I pushed a button when I heard any noise. When I was done she complicated me on my Japanese and I went to wait for the next station.

Finally I met an actually doctor and all he did was feel my throat a bit, and listened to my breathing a bit. On my way out I heard them talking about how surprised they were of my Japanese. Yes, every single person I met was surprised at my Japanese, haha. Not that this is a bad thing, who doesn't like compliments? I definitely can see a day where I get tired of it though, haha. I just gotta keep it from getting to my head - I'm definitely lacking in my kanji (chinese characters).

So yea, had my first physical in Japan, it was super automated and incredibly efficient, and every single person complimented me on my Japanese. Also, I didn't have to do any blood work, so no needles! YES!!! Man I was sweatin bullets about that.

Oh also random thing on the way home today. There was this little kid, maybe 8, who fell asleep on the bench. The train came and he still didn't wake up. There's only one train he could ride from the platform he was on, so I went to wake him up. I shook his shoulder and said, "Ooii! Densha kita yo!" which means "Hey! The train is here!" Of course he woke up startled, but he was ten times more startled when he looked at who woke him up. Then he thanked me but kinda mumbled a little bit probably because he was shy/startled/didn't know if I could understand him. Man I can't image how surprised he was to see my SUPER FOREIGNER face staring at him, hahaha.