pacific rim pretentiousness 

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Gold, eh?

Well, I finally accepted that I wasn't going to find anyone who'd taped the Olympic men's hockey final. So I pulled my head out of the self-imposed sand (and let me tell you, imposing sand upon yourself is pretty dashed difficult in this wired day and age) and exposed myself to the result, fearing the worst... only to find myself whooping out loud and, I dare say, pumping my fist emphatically in the air a couple of times. I hate sports bars but... even so... man, I wish I'd been in Montreal for that one.

It was also good to see a Brit finish in the medals in the slalom, of all things - I definitely didn't see that one coming. I suppose that's got to be the best result since way before even the Bell Brothers in the 80's, whose training regimen I seem to remember involved crouching on car roofs and being driven across disused airfields at high speeds, which to my mind should really have been a sport in its own right.

So GBR finished 18th, then, ahead of such luminaries as the Czech Republic, Sweden and even... Japan. The Japanese media have been pretty scathing about their athlete's performances after the glory of the Nagano Games four years ago, but I think some kind of reality check was inevitable after such a great performance last time, what with the home advantage and so on. It occurs to me that in order to climb up the medals table and compete with the Estonias and Hollands of this world (yes, that's right, the Netherlands, famous for their harsh winters and mountainous environs) we need to specialize in a single sport. All we need is curling made a compulsory part of the National Curriculum and we could be better than, ooh, Spain within a decade or so.

Posted by chris at 11:12 PM | Permalink


How do you eat yours?

I think I may have said this before, but one of the best things about doing web design jobs for friends is that you can neatly avoid any embarrassing discussions over payment by simply having them mail you chocolate every now and then. And on that note, a huge thanks to George for the Drifters and Cadbury's Creme Eggs. Mmmmm.

Posted by chris at 10:58 PM | Permalink


Pizza weirdness

Beware Pizza Hut Japan's newest addition to their menu: The Garlic Kingdom. Next month, the Fungi Fiefdom. Thank you very much, I'm here all week.

Posted by chris at 10:44 PM | Permalink


gung-ho godzilla groupie

New left-hand sidebar - decided it was about time I got around to rotating it again. Also I really ought to update the reading list... and the browsing... and the clubbing... oh, the whole damn sidebar, really.

The problem is that I've recently discovered the joys of PHP in concert with MySQL, and I theenk I'll probably be re-doing the entire site to take advantage of this in the near future. So, stuck between two horses at the moment. It hasn't really taken me that long to not finish How to Be Good, I swear.

Posted by chris at 09:46 PM | Permalink


Dem bones

And while we're on the subject of Olympic disciplines, I was heartened to see that the official title of the men's skeleton event, at least according to the results graphics at the bottom of my TV screen during the various heats, was not "Men's Skeleton" but in fact the much more excellent "Skeleton Men".

Anybody else want to join me in lobbying the IOC to get "Attack of the" added to the front of that in time for the Turin 2006 games?

(And I should at least thank the IOC for reminding me, indirectly, about this excellent Onion story, too.)

Posted by chris at 03:04 PM | Permalink


We can dance if we want to; We can leave your friends behind

Figure skating... I know that it refers to the fact that the music is the same for all competitors, and that they have to perform a predetermined sequence of moves, but even so... "Compulsory Dance" always struck me as an odd name for a sporting event. When the Athens 2004 games come round, I'll be looking out for the Generally Ambivalent Synchronized Swimming Duets and the Oh-it's-alright-you-don't-really-have-to-if-you-don't-feel-like-it Mixed Doubles Badminton.

Posted by chris at 11:47 PM | Permalink


Let's play bowling

I love finding random japlish-bearing receipts in pairs of trousers I haven't worn for ages; this one's from a ten-pin bowling alley, on the occasion of Raju's birthday last month:

Do you like bowling? Let's play bowling. Breaking down the pins and get hot communication.

There was certainly a lot of breaking down the pins going on, but I don't remember getting much hot communication. Possibly that happened while I was in the bathroom - at the same time as the launching of every Zig for great justice, no doubt.

Posted by chris at 09:06 PM | Permalink


You've got britpop

That's frustrating - about 25 seconds into What Do I Do Now by Sleeper, there's an effect which sounds exactly like Outlook Express's "new mail" chime. I'm sort of attuned to it now, but what with that and the AIM "opening door" creak about 40 seconds into Basement Jaxx's Crazy Girl, it was a mildly unsettling morning.

I need a longer playlist.

Posted by chris at 08:53 PM | Permalink


Walk without rhythm and we won't attract the worm

I wish my monitor wouldn't shake so much during large earthquakes - what with that and the desk vibrating, it becomes almost impossible to use the mouse when I'm playing Dune 2000. The glasses by the sink are rattling, my CD collection is shuffling inexorably closer to the edge of the shelf, and there's me in the middle of it, trying to hold the desk steady and muttering "Must... control... desert... armies...". Priority check, please.

That's why PlayStation controllers are more suited to gaming during earthquakes - two hands, no solid surface needed. And if you have the dual-shock vibrating version, you might not even notice the quake in the first place, allowing for fewer distractions during those crucial sneak-up-behind-the-enemy-and-garotte-them-where-they-stand moves in Metal Gear Solid 2.

Posted by chris at 08:20 PM | Permalink


How to get your British driving license converted to a Japanese one

How to get your British driving license converted to a Japanese one:

1) Find the official Web page which tells you that you need to take your original license, passport, gaijin card and 3,000 yen to your nearest driving license examination center.
2) Decide that you'd probably better phone ahead to check, just in case.
3) Phone ahead, only to be told that in fact you also need a translation of your existing license courtesy of the Japan Automobile Federation. And no, they don't know where the nearest JAF counter is.
4) Phone the JAF, who tell you that their nearest branch is buried deep in the center of Tokyo, far from any significant population centre.
5) Go to the JAF office at 9am the next day and pay 3,000 yen (£16) to get "Expiry Date: April 2045" translated into Japanese.
6) Marvel at the fact that even in the austere offices of the Japan Automobile Federation, they insist on playing the kind of lame soft-rock dirge that Jeremy Clarkson and the rest of the Top Gear crew would no doubt approve of.
7) The next day (because the driving license center is only open from 8:30 to 10:00am) go to the driving license center, which turns out to be a ten-storey behemoth building packed to the gills with distressed-looking people clutching unnecessarily complicated forms being directed from counter to counter in some kind of bizarre bureaucratic homage to Kafka's The Trial and the works of M.C. Escher.
8) Present all the above documents and feel very proud of yourself, for about five minutes.
9) Start to have doubts when the clerk begins to mutter to herself worriedly under her breath whilst thumbing your passport and, you are fairly certain, also starts sweating lightly.
10) Have the clerk talk solidly at you in frantic but ultra-polite (and therefore largely impenetrable) Japanese for five minutes.
11) Ask her to explain, simply, what the problem is.
12) Endure another five minutes of largely confusing monologue, despite frequent attempts to get her to stop using keigo (honorific language usually reserved for addressing 13th-century feudal lords and emperors).
13) Work out eventually, with the help of an intricately-devised timeline charting your movements into and out of Japan over the last four years, that there is problem because your passport was issued at the British Embassy in Tokyo in 1998 and you have only spent a total of 53 days in the UK since then. Apparently this is "not enough".
14) Learn that that they need to be able to prove that you have spent at least 90 days in the UK since the issuance of your driving license (in September 1993, i.e. nearly nine years ago) in order to be convinced that you are an experienced driver.
15) Remember that you still have your previous (now invalid) passport at home. Ask if bringing it tomorrow will be satisfactory.
16) Patiently endure another three-minute answer, which passes you by in a babbling daze until you recognise the final word: "kamoshiremasen", lit. "maybe".
17) Give up, thank the clerk profusely, go to work, get a friend to phone and confirm that they need your previous passport. Wince in sympathy as your friend is subjected to a high pitched, rapid-fire ten-minute explanation, with their initially faintly unbelieving look slowly becoming etched into a pained rictus as they wait for the woman on the other end of the line to pause for breath so they can hang up.
18) Console friend.
19) Confirm that they need to prove you have spent ninety days in the UK since 1993. Reason that this shouldn't be too difficult; they need only quiz you on your encyclopedic knowledge of The Fast Show in order to have their fears allayed.
20) Return the next morning with two passports, your UK driving license, a Japanese translation of the crucial "Expiry Date" clause, your Alien Registration Card, a 2.4x3cm photograph of yourself, 4200 yen and a timeline you yourself have helpfully sketched on the back of an envelope, precisely detailing every foreign trip you have taken since April 1995.
21) Endure sinking feeling as the clerk takes twenty minutes to decipher your timeline and passport before calling you over to the counter.
22) Start to massage your temples in disbelief as she explains that, since there is no exit stamp in your passport from your trip to the US over the summer of '95, nor a re-entry stamp to the UK for that trip, nor re-entry stamps for either of your week-long trips to Hungary in October 1996 and April 1997, that she is only willing to believe that you spent a total of 73 days in the UK between 1995 and 1998, namely the two and a half months between the issuance of your passport and the date of your first trip abroad on that passport.
23) Point out (to no avail) that UK immigration do not stamp your passport on re-entry to the UK if you are a UK citizen.
24) Point out (to no avail) that entering Hungary a second time necessitates leaving Hungary first.
25) Point out (to no avail) that having a Japanese work visa issued in London in November 1997 virtually guarantees your having spent three consective months in the UK prior to that, as the alternative would be spending more than four months in Hungary. The clerk will be unable to take on trust the awfulness of this hypothetical situation.
26) Breathe a sigh of relief as she agrees that she can combine the 73 UK days on your first passport with the 21, 17 and 5-day UK trips on your second passport for a grand total of 126 proven days in the UK since 1995.
27) Do a double-take as she issues you with the relevant paperwork, along with an extra piece of paper explaining that you are only being issued with a "biginners license" (sic.) because you cannot prove that you have spent 90 consecutive days in the UK since 1993. This, obviously, makes all the difference between your being an experienced driver or not.
28) Resist the temptation to regale the clerk with ribald tales of how you misspent your late-teen years bombing down Hertfordshire country lanes in a succession of high-powered family cars in a late attempt to impress upon her the depth of your driving experience.
28) Take the form from Counter 1 to Counter 0 (which you find, of course, located next to Counter 1) to pay the 4200 yen fee.
29) Take the form and receipt to Counter 7 for an eye examination which involves sticking your head up against a pair of goggles set into somthing resembling an automated Brighton Pier optical illusion peep show machine as envisaged by Terry Gilliam.
30) Move on to Counter 8 to take an oral test administered by a very bored-looking civil servant. Civil Servant: "Do you speak Japanese?" You: "Yes, a little" CS: "A little's all you need, son. Off you go."
31) Have the form stamped at Counter 9.
32) Have your photo taken at Counter 10.
33) Proceed to the fourth floor to collect your actual driving license. Marvel at the sheer number of middle-aged gentlemen waiting for licenses and speculate about how many are re-qualifying as a result of drink-driving or similar convictions.
34) Examine your numbered ticket carefully before proceeding to the collection desk. Decide that, seeing as the queue counter is on 504 and you have ticket number 63,014, you might as well come back later. Much later.
35) Come back later; collect license. Worry about where on earth you're going to find a set of Japanese provisional plates - but that's another story entirely...

Posted by chris at 04:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


rm -rf hair

Fans of open-source hairdressing will no doubt be glad to hear that there's an emporium in Akabane called "Unix The Supermodel Hair Salon". I can't believe that having several thousand people working on your 'do simultaneously is a good idea, though.

Posted by chris at 10:52 PM | Permalink


Cough hack splutter

Cough cough hack splutter cough hack... man, that *hurt*.

I'm extremely bad at being sick. I don't do it very often, don't get very much practice, can't cope with it when it happens. I become grumpy, acerbic, and even more self-centered than usual - not the kind of person, in short, who's fun to be around. I wish I had the strength of character to put up with it without saying a word, but the thing about feeling miserable is that you tend to act... well, miserable. Der.

Anyway. Since last Thursday I've had the flu. Take one cough that feels like it's trying to rattle your liver up to street level, add a nose which swings back and forth between "completely blocked" and "niagara falls" with all the nervous energy of a ADD case study whose Ritalin has run out, throw in a few twisted back muscles, heat until sweaty even in a well air-conditioned room and deprive of sleep for up to 72 hours at a time, and you have a rough idea of my physical state over the last few days.

Still, there's far too many good things coming up to look forward to for me to have time to wallow around feeling crappy. So screw being ill. Sod it. I'll pretend that I'm fighting fit, and any pathogens who think otherwise can just bugger off. The recovery starts now.

*Hack*

Well, maybe tomorrow.

Posted by chris at 04:38 PM | Permalink


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