madness in the metropolis 

« September 2001 | Main | November 2001 »

Who you callin' a weirdo?

Apparently my work nickname is weirdo... but I'm quite happy with that, seeing as certain people in this office got landed with, for example, "The Perv" and "Gimp". Weirdo will do nicely. (via

Posted by chris at 05:28 PM | Permalink


There is one specific resident of New York I would like to "decentralize" over to, say, Tokyo on a more permanent basis, but that's another story.

Posted by chris at 12:15 PM | Permalink

In Defense Of Cities

In Defense Of Cities - an interesting (if disappointingly short) article on why the Internet model of decentralization isn't appropriate for cities.

One thing, though: the author says, "New York is big because over time more people came than left, because millions of uncoordinated actors decided independently to move to New York." Shouldn't that be "millions of unemployed actors"?

Posted by chris at 12:11 PM | Permalink

The mainstream of our days is in the style

For some reason, Japanese SUV drivers are unable to finish their designs without allowing the marketing department to scrawl all over the spare tyre covers. Hence this proliferation of appallingly twee, cloyingly sentimental Japlish exhorting the joys of the great outdoors and the importance of living in harmony with nature. Obviously the irony of having these slogans adorning the backs of over-sized, petrol-chugging monstrosities which never venture off tarmac is lost somewhere in translation.

I'm off to "TAKE A GRIP OF STEERING!" - I suggest you do the same.

Posted by chris at 11:37 AM | Permalink

Ishihara: "Chinese live like animals"

Christ, this man is an imbecile. Worse, he's a dangerously popular imbecile whose thinly-veiled racism is misinterpreted by a large proportion of the general public as patriotism.

Some renegade right-wing isolationist? Nope - he's the mayor of a city of 12 million people, of which I am one: Tokyo. Welcome to the real face of Japanese populist politics.

Posted by chris at 11:05 AM | Permalink

Miscellaneous weekendage

Yawn - a fairly blog-free weekend draws to an end. Things happened, for sure, but I neglected to tell you about them. You're probably over it already, though, yes? Thought so.

A quick summary would probably have to include a newly-hunted-down bar, a quick lesson in how not to play blackjack for money, an intensive media-binge to catch up with the rest of the world, cellphone e-mail tennis with Wednesday Addams whilst cycling the streets of Shinjuku, the first Kanji SITE update in something like seven months, a Japanese lesson where I discovered that maybe I do speak the language a little better than I thought, and a rather bad movie. All good stuff.

Apart from the movie. How was your weekend?

Posted by chris at 01:19 AM | Permalink

Worried noises

I always get nervous when I see members of the personnel department measuring things. They sidle into my corner of the office armed with a long tape, make worried noises, measure a patch of wall, make more worried noises, and leave without any attempt to explain what's going on. We can't be moving again, can we?

Posted by chris at 10:45 AM | Permalink


Cool - I'm off to raid the stationery cupboard for practice ammo. Can't wait to try the John Woo double-handed method. (via madorangefools)

Posted by chris at 11:06 AM | Permalink

Mobile Media Japan blog

Just happened across Mobile Media Japan, a blog covering the Japanese wireless Internet industry. I have an i-mode keitai myself, which I'm dimly aware that I don't use to its full potential; the resource page has some good guides to the various English-language services, though, so I can see my currently modest bills rocketing upwards in the near future. No plans to buy one of the new 3G phones yet, though - tempting though the maximum transfer speeds of 384Kbps (walking) and 2Mbps (loafing) are...

Posted by chris at 11:23 AM | Permalink

Think about this the next time you order rice in a Japanese restaurant

Um, I'm not sure exactly why, but the program currently on TV appears to be a documentary on a rice-making factory whose unique kneading process requires the workers (lardy 40 yr-olds to a man) to be naked from the waist up... eeeeuw. It's times like this I'm glad I don't pay my license fee - I can't wait for them to come and confiscate the set.

Posted by chris at 02:04 AM | Permalink

A dab at life

I really ought to get around to updating the Japlish section of the site... The neglected state of the page certainly isn't for want of material; it's more to do with my being a lazy tyke. I have a palm pilot memo practically bursting with great little tidbits like "relaxing in the nature / having a fine time with friends / you must be a dab at life" and "THINK POTATO" but it's a case of the mind being willing, the flesh being weak, and late-night TV being terrifyingly watchable after a day spent bathed in the glow of my office PC.

Posted by chris at 09:02 PM | Permalink

Web design goodness

Mmm, more theory of Web design goodness, again via

Posted by chris at 08:47 PM | Permalink

A good fight is always worth the wait

Remember the kung-fu stickmen? Or the Korean Bruce Lee line-drawing kung-fu movie? This beats them both hands down: an interactive kung-fu remixer that lets you edit your own Bruce Lee tribute movie. It's almost as if the gods of the Internet are *ordering* me not to get any work done this coming week... (via bwg)

Posted by chris at 11:42 PM | Permalink


Oh, man - so *this* is what a hangover feels like... *now* I remember. Gak.

Posted by chris at 12:48 PM | Permalink

6am shambles

6am, freshly returned from Blue in Minami Aoyama, on the occasion of Richard and Minako's wedding party. Smashed. Absolutely trolleyed. I have a Japanese lesson tomorrow, too, at 2pm, and I know even now that I'm not going to be up to it. But then again, I got plenty of nihongo practice in tonight at the bar, so I guess I've made up for it already. Sort of. Ach. Drunk and tired = bed.

Excellent evening, though. Vague memories of meeting a girl called Kate who works for Disney here in Tokyo, enforcing the global company's standards onto the Japanese operation - she described herself as part of "the Mickey Police", which I fear speaks volumes for Disney's corporate ethic.

Bleaugh, caught myself using the word "ethic" in the singular form - I *must* be pissed.

Posted by chris at 06:11 AM | Permalink

Keep shovelling

Phew - e-mail mountain reduced to 222 messages (59 unread). Nearly there now.

Posted by chris at 04:55 PM | Permalink

Corkscrew sold separately

Spotted as I was stumbling home from a bar last night (alcohol in great enough quantities heals all ills, it seems): a vending machine selling beer (nothing strange there), small bottles of sake (again, not uncommon) and... full-size bottles of red wine - excellent. Sometimes I get the distinct notion that I could live in this city without actually buying anything from a human ever again.

Posted by chris at 04:54 PM | Permalink


Thought-provoking presentation from Matt of on Rulespace, an interpretation of some of the concepts of information architecture. (via

Posted by chris at 05:12 PM | Permalink

Religion's ace, isn't it?

I wish I were in a better mood, really I do; in the meantime you'll have to put up with my blogging this kind of thing: Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Osama bin Laden - Can you tell the difference? Amazing and terribly depressing by turn. (via mswoo)

I'm going outside to sit on the roof.

Posted by chris at 12:36 PM | Permalink

Postcard from Faizabad

Postcard from Faizabad, courtesy of The Economist Cities Guide.

Posted by chris at 11:24 AM | Permalink admin

Oh for god's sake. I can see this switchover (now *I* have to tell *them* every time I update) is going to get on my wick very very quickly indeed. Bah.

Posted by chris at 10:47 AM | Permalink

Can yer tell what it is yet?

My god. Rolf Harris has an official Web site.

Please don't ask what I was doing there. Please just don't.

Posted by chris at 01:22 AM | Permalink

Down, boy

Hmmm. A boyfriend training pack... give your boyfriend points for good behaviour, deduct them for bad... it strikes me that if a guy had thought this up for "training" girlfriends there would have been immediate and outraged invective, but because it's the other way round we just chuckle indulgently. Bunch of arse either way. (via

And anyway, as Bethany pointed out, in our case it would have to be a "wellhelivesinjapanandI'minnewyorkandwell it'scomplicatedandreallymodernanderuhwhatever training pack". There might not be much of a market for that one, but I personally could definitely do with a how-to manual.

Posted by chris at 03:28 PM | Permalink


breeeeeeeathe.... breeeeeathe.... calm, calm, calm....

Got in to the office this morning, turned on PC, tapped in network password, hit enter key, nearly fell over with shock.

A freaking cockroach, dead on his back, collapsed on my keyboard between the F12 and the PrintScreen key. Only a little one, mind, about 15mm long, and clearly very dead indeed, but still. AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!

Had a (laughing - the bastard) colleague scoop it up and throw it away - I can't even touch the damn things through tissues. And yes, I can laugh at myself about it, and it's ridiculous really, a grown man of 26 (oops - nearly typed 25 there) vs a dead 15mm insect - but that's the bloody point. That's what a phobia *is*, for god's sake. And I'd rather be petrified of something tangible like roaches than suffer from, for example, keraunothnetaphobia (fear of the fall of man-made objects).

Fear of the fall of man-made cockroaches... let's not even go there, please.

Posted by chris at 11:38 AM | Permalink

Haruki Murakami NY Times feature

A Japanese Writer Analyzes Terrorists and Their Victims - NY Times article interviewing novelist Haruki Murakami. His perspective is all the more interesting given his recent book, Underground, a series of interviews with the victims and perpetrators of the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack. More Murakami:

(You need to register to use the NY Times site, but I think it's well worth it. Initial link via

Posted by chris at 09:08 PM | Permalink


Troubleshooting colleagues' Excel skillset deficiencies: not at all sexy.

Troubleshooting colleagues' Excel skillset deficiencies in Japanese: mildly sexy.

Posted by chris at 06:00 PM | Permalink

Do, or do not. There is no try.

Yoda I am, yes, mmmm. Which Star Wars character are you would you check, mmm? (via blast!blog)

Posted by chris at 04:00 PM | Permalink


Spotted while I was cycling to the (24hr) post office the other night: middle-aged Japanese guy, polished bald head, slippers, purple velvet dressing gown, nothing visible underneath, black aviator shades, walking down the street carrying a convenience store bag of groceries. At midnight.

We *foreigners* are supposed to be strange? Kettle, this is pot - do you read? Your status appears to be black. Please copy, over.

Posted by chris at 01:09 PM | Permalink

Dime bar?

I got home a few days ago to find a post office non-delivery slip waiting for me, telling me that there was a parcel from a "G. BENNGY" waiting for me at the Takadanobaba depot. It didn't take much for me to work out who it was from, but the thought of some Japanese postal worker getting BENNGY from BENNET made me chuckle anyway. The parcel turned out to be emergency birthday British chocolate supplies from George - Drifters, Boosts and Dime bars. (Dime bar? Dime? Bar? I can't be the only person who remembers those ads, surely?) Yum. The fridge sidebar has been duly updated - domo domo, Benngy-san...

Posted by chris at 11:00 AM | Permalink

Get your war on

more good satire: get your war on (via

Posted by chris at 10:40 AM | Permalink

Did I miss anything?

I let my kidnapping victim go in the end; put her on a plane back to New York on Sunday. Well, we were having to change our location every couple of days, we were cringing every time a police car drove past, the Feds were bound to get involved sooner or later, I didn't have enough newspapers to do one of those cut-and-paste ransom notes... and she only had until Monday off work. So it had to end eventually.

The past week or so was an attempt to decant all of Japan into a single ten-day period, and I think we pretty much got it right. We had the nighttime views over Tokyo's vast urban sprawl, the Bladerunner-esque narrow neon-throbbing backstreets of Kabukicho, the future-according-to-Sony building, the gnomicly translated shrine fortunes, the mockthentic British pubs, the Harajuku Hang, the Sanrio-soaked toy shops, the Yoyogi Park exhibitionists, the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, the cooler-than-thou-and-thou-and-thou hipster bars, the revolving sushi, the eight-storey Tower Records, the 39th floor cocktail lounge, the bullet trains, the ryokan-and-yukata experience, the hillside temples at dusk, the postmodern architecture, the torrential rain, the zen rock gardens, the 16th century castle, the discreet geisha tea houses, the yakiniku, the wild deer in the streets, the hordes of yellow-capped schoolchildren who want to practise their English on you, the tour groups of identically clad pensioners crowding around their flag-bearing rapid-fire guides, the bamboo groves, the ultraprecisely landscaped gardens, the stepping stones to make sure you slow down and appreciate the view at the exactly preordained spot, the New York-style fusion restaurant minus all traces of New York attitude, the quirky dark-as-the-bottom-of-a-well-at-midnight rock bars that sit a total of nine people if you all breathe in at the same time, the world's fastest elevator, the fearsome massage chairs, the modern art, the roller coasters, the ferris wheels, the Chinatown, the eighty-boutiques-in-one-building buildings, the Tokyo Bay island built out of reclaimed land, the packs of scenery photographers all taking the same shot, the artificial beach, the burnt orange smogsets, the ferrets, the surreal arcade games, the taiko drumming, the print club sticker machines, the seven-storey second-hand record store, the japlish t-shirts, the bustle and pulse of life in one of the most intense cities on Earth.

I'm sure there's a few things we missed out - but we had to leave something for next time, didn't we?

Posted by chris at 12:00 AM | Permalink

Outlook Not-so-express

A quick tour of my various Outlook Express identities and inboxes yields the following unpleasant metaphorical realisation: I am standing in the middle of a room, surrounded on all sides by a pile of 576 e-mails (215 unread) armed with a filing cabinet, shovel, fountain pen and incinerator. (Just a normal incinerator. Not a fountain incinerator. That would be silly... but also rather useful... hmm...)

I'd like to come up with something witty and apposite to describe my sense of dread, but I think a simple "Oh, shit" is going to have to suffice.

And I haven't even thought about checking my web mail accounts yet.

Oh, shit.

Posted by chris at 08:19 PM | Permalink

Curse my metal body

Click here to find out what robot you really are

Posted by chris at 07:48 PM | Permalink

Screaming Japanese schoolgirls

I'm back, and I'm about to tell you all about it.

But first I wanted to point you towards the Screaming Japanese Schoolgirls Overturn Greenspan's Bus article on the front page of this week's Onion, because it made me laugh so hard I nearly fell off my chair. Again.

Posted by chris at 07:09 PM | Permalink

Back from Kyoto

Back from Kyoto, blissed out and just in time for the Tokyo weather to brighten up for the weekend. Kyoto was ace, better than I remember it being last time, though there are a couple of particularly obvious reasons why that might be. (The company, for one.) I'll fill in the gaps later.

So, I'm still alive, my visitor's still alive and being held hostage; it's been a great week for exploring the Stockholm Syndrome. Big thanks to everyone who posted greetings of the birthday variety, arigatou gozaimashita and I'll be in touch with you all soon. Priorities elsewhere at the moment, unsurprisingly.

Okay, the sun is shining and it's a beautiful lounge-in-the-park kind of day. Heh: a song which I think might be Mr E's Beautiful Blues by the Eels has just come on my playlist, which I'm going to take as a positive omen - goddamn right it's a beautiful day...

Posted by chris at 12:33 PM | Permalink


Oh, yeah - and it's my birthday tomorrow. I know it's the kind of thing you're meant to make sneaky references to in your blog for weeks and weeks beforehand, touting your Amazon wishlist (mentioning no names), but... er... not my style, in as much as I even *have* a style.

Besides, don't do wishlists.

Posted by chris at 12:01 PM | Permalink

Best fortune

Oh, yeah, it would have made sense to mention this earlier, wouldn't it?

I'm on holiday for the next week or so. I've kidnapped a fellow blogger and am holding her ransom in Tokyo. I haven't released a set of demands, as I don't want to give her back yet. The last few days have been spent wandering round Tokyo going "ooooh!" "aaaaah" and "eeeeeh?" as I use her stay as an excuse to revisit a load of my favourite places.

Stuff so far: Shinjuku neon, Bladerunner views, TMG building, Tokyo International Forum, Ginza, a hunt for Godzilla, Sony building, Formula 1 cars, plastic sushi, repro Flash Gordon tin stamps, thunder god, rain god, best fortune, pagoda, golden flying turd building, British pub, Minx, EnBar, Freak Bridge, crepes, ace t-shirts ("lord it over"), art postcards, hairy mannequins, katana posturing, seven floors of character goods goodness, Meiji Jingu Shrine and the biggest torii gate in Japan, Yoyogi Park, dub hippies, hilarious discombobulated dancing (Bill Gates on a potent acid / mushroom mix vs. minimalist Karate Kid crane style), sneaky trash-disposing three-year-old, capoeira at dusk, Elvis museum, candlelit pond, pizza, wine, friends, bar, booze, chattage, sleep.

Off to Kyoto tomorrow - expect infrequent updates.

Posted by chris at 11:57 AM | Permalink

Brad? Who's Brad?

Do I know anyone called Brad in Shimo-Kitazawa? No? Why do I have a crumpled piece of paper bearing those words and a mobile phone number among my latest piles of discarded wallet lint?

*no* recollection.

Posted by chris at 02:53 AM | Permalink

Onion: U.S. Urges Bin Laden to Form Nation It Can Attack

A Shattered Nation Longs To Care About Stupid Bullshit Again - This week's Onion is, again, spot on.

Posted by chris at 04:36 PM | Permalink


trivial update: the right-hand sidebar has had a diversify section added, to more fully reflect the fingers in which I have pies. I mean, the pies in which I have... oh, screw it. I liked it better the first way.

Posted by chris at 02:12 AM | Permalink

I've fallen and I can't be bothered to get up

heh - no, I haven't fallen off my chair; that's me being subsumed by the huge sentient pile of laundry next to my desk.

Posted by chris at 11:55 PM | Permalink


Hmmm. I had something which felt like it belonged in a Haruki Murakami novel happen to me last night... I tried shrugging the weird feeling off, but it's lingering despite my best efforts. It's nothing major, just utterly perplexing.

I took the bike out for a ride last night, just up the road to my local ramen joint. I decided to take the long way back... a heck of a long way, actually - detoured down through the skyscraper district of West Shinjuku and then further south into Yoyogi. I was just exploring, really, threading through traffic and veering off down side streets, building up my mental map of the area at a far faster rate than walking allows. Nothing out of the ordinary, just cycling along, minding my own business, not cutting anyone up, sticking mainly to the streets, only pavementing when absolutely necessary, front and rear lights switched on, not going too fast.

On one stretch of pavement, I squeezed between two pedestrians, an office lady on the left and a salariman in a dark suit (surprise) on the right. It didn't take much squeezing, actually - they weren't in a pair or anything, one was moving faster than the other and there was enough space to get through without my giving it much thought. Sure, it might be a little unnerving to have a cyclist suddenly appear past your left elbow, but that's about it - I wasn't even going at much more than a brisk walking pace myself. I passed them and thought nothing of it - until about twenty seconds later.

I heard something behind me, so glanced back over my shoulder... to see a guy in a dark suit, running along about ten meters behind me. Probably running for a train - we were both heading toward Yoyogi Station, after all. I looked forward again, but something was already nagging at me. There was something odd about the way he had been running... so I glanced back again and, sure enough, he wasn't just running for a train, he was running for his *life* - absolutely full steam, legs pounding, arms pumping, literally sprinting... but that wasn't even the strangest thing. I sped up slightly and checked again... yes, there was no doubt; it was a fairly wide sidewalk, but he wasn't aiming to get past me... he was aiming... straight *for* me. For *me*.

Oh, shit.

I arrived at a number of conclusions fairly quickly:

  1. He hadn't tried to attract my attention
  2. He wasn't trying to return something I'd dropped
  3. He wasn't trying to overtake me
  4. He was trying to catch me
  5. It was unlikely that he'd want to make friends with me once he'd caught me - no-one wants to befriend random strangers on mountain bikes *that* badly, surely
  6. He was either pissed (British English) and racing me in a moment of drunken madness, or he was pissed (American English) and he wanted to catch me and beat the shit out of me
Had I clipped him without realising it or offended him somehow? Was it even the same guy I had just passed? Either way, I wasn't about to hang around to find out. I changed gear and sped up again, drawing away from him quite easily. I glanced back - still there, still powering after me. What the hell?

I was comfortably ahead of him, and he wasn't gaining any more. The possibility of just stringing him along for a while occurred to me, as did getting far enough ahead to stop and get a good look back, as did shouting back "ore no koto desu ka?" ("is it something to do with me?"), any of which would have made for a better story than what I actually did, which was pop onto the road, accelerate again and get the hell out of there. I bombed past the station entrance, shot left through the Yamanote Line tunnel, glancing back again as I did so - no sign of him - screeched left out of the tunnel and only calmed down when I was safely heading back north past the DoCoMo tower.

Any other alternative would have made for a better punchline, sure, and I was insanely curious to know exactly what the hell was going on - I'm positive I didn't clip him or cut him up - but, to paraphrase The Matrix slightly, if Chris has the shit kicked out of him in Tokyo Tales, he gets hurt in real life too.

So, that's my Surreal Murakami Moment quota hopefully taken care of for the rest of the year. Though I wouldn't bet against getting home tonight to find amandressedinasheepcostumewhospeaksjustlikethis sitting on my sofa, just in case. What the hell did he want?

Posted by chris at 06:11 PM | Permalink

The Biggish One

Whoa - earthquake. It was quite a big one; must have lasted about a couple of minutes, which is one of the longest ones I've had. It must have been strong to have lasted so long, but the movement wasn't very great - a colleague who was standing next to me wouldn't believe anything was happening until I bade him sit down. That happens quite a lot - it's difficult to feel even medium-strength ones if you're on foot rather than seated, lying in bed or sprawled drunk in the gutter. (Actually, perhaps I should more fully examine why such a disproportionately large number of these earthquakes seem to happen when I *am* sprawled drunk in a gutter... can't be anything to do with the booze, surely? hmmm... anyway...)

Monitor wobbling, anglepoise lamp swinging, pot plant rustling... but only gently. So, eastern Tokyo still seems to be here but I can't vouch for the rest of Japan. Maybe I'll turn on the news when I get home to hear that we've lost Osaka.

The perpetual fear of waiting for the Big One.. is something I'll write about at a later date. Suffice to say that you don't really think about it much day to day. You feel a tremor occasionally and think, "Could this be it...? What if...?" and then the swaying subsides, you breathe out, and life continues.

And I'm not going to tempt fate and tell you what I really think of them. No. Definitely not. Absolutely not going to let slip that I quite enjoy the rather surreal sensation of having the ground, yes, the usually reliably, dependably, reassuringly solid ground, actually move under my feet. Not a chance. I know how Murphy's Law works.

Posted by chris at 05:47 PM | Permalink


Things I found myself thinking about while on the treadmill at the gym this evening:

  1. 45 minutes at 14 km/h is three-quarters of 14 km which is 7 km plus 3.5 km which is 10.5 km

  2. 10.5 km is... um... divide by eight and multiply by five... one and a bit... 2.5 over 8 is five sixteenths, which is one sixteenth more than a quarter... 0.25 plus...uhh... half of an eighth.. 12.5 percent... 0.0625? that and a quarter is.... 1.3....1...25, multiply that by five... oh, shit...

  3. 10.5 km is a long way

  4. I'll do 50 minutes, not 45. I can take it.

  5. I'll do 45 minutes if I survive the next two

  6. I could just stop after 15 minutes and no-one would be any the wiser, would they?

  7. I can't believe I only looked at the timer 45 seconds ago

  8. that guy really needs to wear looser-fitting shorts
You can read a little about why the hell I'm subjecting myself to this here.

Posted by chris at 12:19 AM | Permalink

Three and a half hours at twelve kilometers an hour

Note: The following post first appeared on [?]. Reproduced here with one edit for a since-expired link, and without original comments.

Boring! So damn boring! God, I remember why I let my gym membership lapse now. I need an MP3 player, preferably solid-state but with a huge amount of drum'n'bass and Richie Hawtin on it, *now*. Actually, I needed it earlier this evening, about 7:30 pm, when I started walking on the spot, then striding on the spot, then jogging half-heartedly on the spot, then finally really running on, surprise surprise, the damned spot, a state in which I remained for another 45 minutes: welcome to Treadmill Hell.

I have to remind myself why I'm doing this; it's because, of course, I'm insane. No, hang on, I'm sure that wasn't it.... which is undoubtedly why I need reminding every now and then. The whole point is that I want to do a marathon. Soon. Why? Because it's there, of course... oh, no, hang on - that's mountain climbing, isn't it? Yeah.

It's because I think I could. In fact, screw it, I know I could. I'm pretty sure I could do one tomorrow, actually, as long as by "do one" you meant shamble round the course at slightly faster than walking speed for just over five hours, stopping perhaps to vomit occasionally and asking those guys on the camera motorbikes for a lift.

But I'm not going to do that. No. Because that would be a half-arsed way of doing it, and there's little point in building yourself up psychologically for something like running a marathon, climbing a mountain or setting fire to your own house to claim it on the insurance, and then just scraping through it. If I'm going to commit arson and insurance fraud, metaphorically speaking, I damn well want the place razed to the ground and to stumble, blinking and coughing, out of the rubble with at least a minor (but convincing) case of smoke inhalation.

Here's the maths: one marathon = 26.2 miles / 42.2 km - call it 42 km for simplicity's sake. 42 km is the equivalent of:
a) 10 km/h for 4 hours 12 minutes
b) 10.5 km/h for 4 hours
c) 12 km/h for 3 hours 30 minutes
d) 14 km/h for 3 hours
and I reckon option (c) ought to be achievable. I'm already running at 14 km/h for 45 minutes without much problem - apart from the DAMN TEDIUM OF IT ALL, THAT IS... ahem - sorry. I need to get that up to at least an hour at the same kind of speed, three times a week. Then try for longer. And longer. The problem is that treadmills don't work so well for distance targets - you picks yer speed, and off you go. So I'll have to build up a ton of hourage, rather than mileage.

And that's it: three and a half hours of running at 12 km/h in, say, six month's time. Three and a half hours. One quarter of a flight from Tokyo to London. The period of time from arriving at the office to wondering where to go for lunch. Seven episodes of Blackadder or Fawlty Towers. Doesn't sound so bad when you put it like that, does it?

The only problem, apart from blisters, shin splints, ingrowing toenails, muscle cramps, inflamed tendons, dehydration, dizzyness and possible heart failure, the *only* problem apart from all that is the boredom of all the training. It's not much of a hobby, when you think about it. Running. Running for a bus is one thing - you have the thought, "oh shit oh shit oh shit shit shit I'm gonna miss the bus oh shit..." at the forefront of your mind, with either a "phew!" or a "crap!" appended, depending on how things turn out. It's hardly the dreaded wall, now, is it? But running for three or four hours against the better judgement of every sinew in your body? It's different. Difficult. A mental challenge. Which is, as I think I'm beginning to realise, why I'm going to do it.

I don't want to do this because I want another hobby; I'm not planning to do one because I want to end up the kind of person who runs marathons for fun, who flirts with the idea of moving on to triathlons and ultra-distance running, or who sits around discussing his personal best with other runners. Not at all. I want to be the kind of person who ran a marathon once because he wanted to see how hard it was, because he wanted the t-shirt - even if it was only so he could hide it at the back of his wardrobe. I want to do it precisely because I want to *prove* that I can do it.

Which is why I'm only going to do it once. Train for the next six months, do the damn thing, then stop. Never go near a treadmill again as long as I live. Stick to real-world cycling and the odd multi-gym contraption for exercise. Start fencing again. Develop other hare-brained schemes. Not boast about having run a marathon. Do other things. Prove other things.

And occasionally, just occasionally, I'll get the secret t-shirt out from the back of the wardrobe and wear it... but only when no-one else is around.

What's your secret t-shirt going to say?

Posted by chris at 07:05 PM | Permalink

May 2007
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    


Categories Archives Recent Entries

Syndicate this site (XML)



Gallery [at]


The Kanji SITE

Jeffrey's J-E Dictionary
Moji (Firefox plug-in)
Babel Fish Translation

Disperse peacefully

an englishman in osaka
arakawa riverview
boing boing
geisha asobi
gen kanai
hanzi smatter
joi ito
melissa havergal
metroblogging tokyo
ninja polymath blues
sushi zume
tokyo times
undercover in japan
[not blogs:]
tokyo clubs info
tokyo food page
tokyo art beat
superfuture tokyo
tokyo train routefinder
the japan times
japan today

Flash design by

[disable Flash banner?]

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from chris_san tagged with fbadge. Make your own badge here.

Hosted by


Powered by

Movable Type 3.2