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Archive for December, 2005

Gravity Well Dec 27

I have come to the rather unsettling conclusion that I must have developed some type of gravity well, or have had certain molecules replaced with dark matter.  Now I am a not a small sized person, however I don’t think I reached the size of a planetary body capable of generating gravity waves on an inter stellar scale either.  (quiet all you people with the cheap screens.).

How did I arrive at this point.  Well over the last month there has been trouble on the pavements.  The girl with mobile has been written about, as well as the old ladies, however its now just about everybody.  The pavements around were I live are for the most part exceedingly wide (which balances the bits which are exceedingly narrow).  Given how wide there are you would expect easy navigation and plenty of room to pass.  This however is not the case, what happens instead is that when approaching another pedestrian for passing I will pick a course that lets me pass with a meter clear on either the left or right.  With me so far?

What will happen is that said pedestrian will then start to vear gently into this path on a collision course.  Logically a change in direction is required to pass on the opposite side and its clear that the person is front has found a new tragectory.  However the course correction then seems to result in the forward pedestrian gently veering from pervios heading to new heading and again imminent collision.

Okay the easist thing would be to just walk patiently behind, except I have long western legs, and a London pace.  Adapting to the dawdle is like stepping through mollasses.  On one occasion I had to perform 3 adjustments before I could overtake, which was getting hard as I was laughing so much.  Since the people in front have no idea that I am actually goto pass some unseen force must be in action.  Therefore I have to work on the gravity well/dark matter hypothosis.

I new my brain was a black hole, I just didn’t realise it was exhibiting all the features of one!

Time for a Watch? Dec 26

Those of you who know me will know that I hardly ever ever ever wear a watch.  Its odd because I own a number of watches, (well 2 sport and 2 dress, and a third really dressy, just cannot remember where that one is suspect New Zealand).  Why I don’t wear them is sometimes a mystery, and when I do wear one, it comes off the wrist very quickly, like right now its sitting on the desk.

I suspect a couple of reasons are that the get in the way when working on computers, (feeble excuse), but I do seem to be very hard on watches when I do wear them.  I can scratch one in hours, hence why I never invested in Tag Haur, it would just make you cry to wear a $2000 watch and scratch it the first day.  Scratch resistant you say,  would you lend me yours to prove it?  My latest Kahuna literally went to pieces in Santorini and is now back together thanks to super glue.  I rather like it as its very light.  That could be the second reason is that the weight of a watch is annoying and with the arthritic problems I had in the last few years this has not helped either (hence the non heavy watch).

But I strong suspect its because after years of being in the UK I found I just didn’t need one.  My mobile phone provided a fine fill in for the odd occasion that time keeping was required.  Why check you watch to see if the bus is running on time, because you know it never will be.  The watch is only going to tell you that you have been waiting for 40minutes in the freezing rain.  Without a watch this 40minutes becomes a indeterminate amount of time somewhere in the region of late to mildly annoying, whereas if I had been checking every five minutes I would be accurately aware of just how late I was and how high my blood pressure was getting.

Same thing with the tubes/underground.  When you arrive at the station you are politely advised by the overhead signs that the next train will be in 3 minutes, following by another 5 minutes after that.  No amount of watch wearing is going to make it arrive any faster.  Boring meetings, do you really want to know just how bored you are?  Airport Queues, chill out and just move along with the crowd, remember once they have your luggauge they really do prefer to get you on the plane.

As you may see, not having a personal time keeping device constantly telling you just how late/boring/behind/inefficient etc etc things are you can actually cruise through London with a smile on your face that is guaranteed to annoy any die hard dour Londoner, (how dare someone be happy in the middle of a grey winter day).  I am not saying that its a cure, but its a very good survival trick.  How to avoid missing planes/inter city trains.  Well I have missed a flight to Ireland, but thats because the tube was delayed for an hour,  (no watch, so who cared, even when watching you plane take off from the outside).  The trick is to work out roughly how long it will take you to get from A to B, and in the normal screw up factor, work backwards from departure time and your on the ball.  Trust me it does work.

Adapting to Tokyo this little survival tactic is not proving as quite as effective, not that it failing, just that its not really necessary.  For example I have discovered that if I catch the 8:18am train from Shirokanedai (my station) it will take me all the way to work without having to change trains.  If the catch the next one at 8:22 I have to get off at Shirokane-Takanawa, then wait 2 minutes for the next train to take me to work.  Ironically this would have been the 8:24 at my home station, so I could have just waited on the platform.  The fact that these trains leave at exactly the time specified, and I mean right on the dot, no mucking around leave on time I am slowly finding that I really do need to be a bit more accurate with my time keeping. While I am very good at guessing within 10-15 minute periods I get a little hazy at the 2min mark.  As everything is so incredibily efficient, on time and reliable in this city you really do need to be on the ball.

Odd that country which revolutionised the digital watch is actually tempting me back to wearing one.  Who knows what next, I’ll be carrying my mobile phone around with me all the time.  oh, maybet I could use that as a watch?

New Gym – Tattoo Policy Dec 19

Ran into an interesting issue yesterday.  Have decided that its just to cold at night to go running, like so cold you head hurts from the temperature, so after a little investigation the best priced gym (that I could find) was the one by work tube station.  Actually there was not much in really, there was the Shirokanedai Spa fairly close to the tube at home, (but in the opposite direction) and one by work.  One at home had twice the joining fee, but slightly cheaper monthly payments.  One at work had lower joining fee, but higher monthly payments.  Take two years into consideration and they both broke even.  Go figure.

Since we have had mild success with actually attending a gym which is close to work that was the deciding factor.  Gym itself appears to be very nice, will have more details after session today.  Then again considering its costing twice what i paid in London it should be nice.  Joining up did not cause to many problems, except for one small would it even cross you mind section.  You are not allowed to have tatoo’s unless approved by management!  Now generally on a day to day basis people are completely unaware that I have a tattoo, (picked up in Amsterdam, long story, but lets just say alot of thought had gone into it).  

Good thing about flipper and his location on the left ankle is that really no-one sees it.  However the gym would like me to put a white plaster over it when I go swimming (if more likely – found another rule that you have to wear swimming cap!), and they will happily provide said white plaster.  I am going to take a fairly confident long shot that its all tied up with gang affliations and yakuza.  (the give away was the next rule about gang affliations.  Even so, flipper has to go!

Interesting global point of view lesson here.  While our western culture seems to have gone ballistic with celebrity inspired/endorsed tattoo’s and everyone is getting one, in other cultures they are not as socially acceptable.  Most would argue who cares we won’t be living in Japan, but life does not provide a navigational map advising were we will each be in 5 years time, and the japanese culture is not the only one that may have issues with ‘body art’  

Before going and getting the lastest awe inspiring tatoo across some part of your body, it might be worth thinking where you could be in the future.  Maybe trying to get a gym membership?

Wet Winter? Dec 13

One of those little constants in my life has been that Winter is always cold and wet. After a few winters in the UK this was slightly amended to cold wet and gray. Actually I don’t think I’ve every seen so much gray before, we are talking like not seeing sunshine for weeks on end. Someone did kindly point out that this is very good for aging or lack of it as no sun exposure to make wrinkles. Valid, but why else did they invent sunscreen? And it was still wet, oh how I miss the "its no use having an umbrella cos gravity doesn’t apply rain". This is the rain that comes down around you umbrella and magically reverses direction upwards and soaks you.

Tokyo has turned that all on it head. We certainly have cold, like very cold and I am sure if I ventured outside of Tokyo there would be snow all over the place! However there is nothing resembling rain. Actually stunning blue skies and bright sunshine, delightful. Whats not so crash hot is just how incredibly dry it is. All the wind of Sibera dumps its snow on the west side of the island so by the time it hits Tokyo is bone dry. Its compulsory to have hand cream on your desk bone dry. I’ve ended up with a very bad case of chapped hands dry. Two weeks of intensive hand cream/moisturiser have finally got it healing.

Still better than the rain. Which I am assured by everyone will be here with the rainy season of which there are 3. Yippee

My Brother the Engineer Dec 06

Whoops its been a while since I wrote to the log, things have started to get a little busy for me, which is a very good thing.  The big news is that I am going home for the New Year to see family.  Really looking forward to it.  Have been advised that I will be picked up from the airport, driven home and presented with Lamb on the spit.  My mouth is watering already.  Anyway the family news is that my Dad is back in hospital getting his knee reconstruction done.  This is actually a really great thing as it will give him more mobility.  While it took a while for them to get around to it, suddenly it was all on.  Here are the two versions of email from home.

Hi
I’ve just been talking to your Dad.  I left him at Waikato Hospital this morning in the same day surgical unit, when a registrar came to look at him.  I think he went to theatre about 2 o’clock.  He had a spinal anaesthetic.  He’s just eaten his tea and is quite comfortable because the spinal is still working but there is a morphine pump all set up for when his bottom half wakes up.  He is in a room on his own at present so hopes to get a reasonable nights sleep.  So its all good
Luv Mum

And from my brother

Dad had his knee done yesterday – all is to spec.

The dust is backing up. Dec 04

One of my favourite new ‘toys’ went on strike the other day.  Actually its not really a toy, but rather a high tech house hold appliance.  I nicked name it Goosey Lucy, why, not a clue.  Anyway Lucy is actually a roomba discovery robotic vacum cleaner.  I am serious here.  This one get raves reviews from those that have them, and given that I have a smallish appartment, wooden floors in sounded like a great idea.

The vacum cleaner I brought over from the UK was not going to cut the mustard as the voltage was all off, and even at half power not alot of dust was being relocated so another appliance went on to the shopping list. (the collection has grown as practically nothing from the UK will work here, computer being one exception).  When it comes to household chores there are some I completely detest, and vacuming is sitting in prime position at the top of the list.  (follow closely by oven cleaning, but hey no oven!)  A robotic vacum cleaner sounded like the solution to all my problems.

Now being rather good at self justification for aquiring new toys the list ran as following.
        –  I need a new vacum cleaner  – and some a bloody expensive over here.
        –  Detest vacuming.
        –  Current vacum cleaner lives in closet and takes up storage space, and a replacement one would as well.
        –  How often do you vacum under your bed and I have a raised one!,

Reasons for Lucy Goosey.
        –  Replacement Vacum cleaner
        –  Will live happily under the sofa on charging station.
        –  Will zip under the bed easily
        –  Meant to be great on wooden floors.
        –  Automatic – Horay.

End result is obviously Lucy taking up residence under the sofa and me getting more storage space as old vacum took a nose dive into the rubbish skip.  Well let me tell you after making sure the floor are reasonably clear (which is great reason for picking up after ones self) I walk out of the appartment and turn Lucy loose.  On arrive home the floors are spotless and Goosey is snoozing under the sofa on her charging station.  (did I mention she has a remote control as well, I don’t even have to climb under the sofa to press the start button.).

Making a short story longer, Lucy managed to find the cable of a power transformer the other day and tried to digest it.  I got home to find her sulking in the middle of the floor with a Sony power cable wrapped in her innards, and a soft red light warning me of her temper.  After free the brush and returning her to her hidy hole I thought nothing more of it.  Unfortunately the next day when I set her off to efficiently keep my house dust free, her normal dulcent tones were decidely croaky.  Her little sweepy brushes had stopped there sweepy business.  After checking everything I was lucky to remember that I had kept the warrenty card.  Last night she returned back to home for repair.

In the meantime the dust is backing up something cronic and it going to be back to manual sweeping.  So Lucy, get well soon and I miss you.  When you arrive back I promise I won’t leave Sony power transformers on the floor.  The bloody irony here is that the transformer is actually a 240v only and is destined for the dustbin.  

(Update in 2007, is that Lucy is still going really strong, her battery may need replacing after two years of dedicated service).  I did have to get a small normal vacum cleaner for extra ordinary cleaning, but Lucy still rocks and has been joined by Scooby do!)

Short Changed Dec 01

I forgot to send write something yesterday, whoops.  Meant to clean the bathroom as well, but ended up on the phone to London for a few hours.  Anyway todays topic is something that I have been meaning to write about but others things crept ahead of the list.  It has all to do with currency and sex!  (got you attention there).

How many of you have coin jars, you know what I mean, the jar that you empty all the coins out into when you wallet is getting to heavy?  I’ve had one of some sort all the time, it also seems to aquire alot of foreign currency as well.  The UK’s love of having prices £2.99 or similar means you are forever getting handed 1 and 2 penny coins, and they are just to much effort to do anything with.  Didn’t help when the company stopped the vending machines from taking them as well, as that was always a useful outlet for them.  May take you a forklift to get 50p worth of coins to the machine for your coke, but think of all the calories you burnt lugging that metal so you could have you sugar ladened drink (and don’t even start me on what Diet Coke does to you, I am still frightened from being told).

So back the coins, well after moving to London I needed another coin jar, actually it ended up being a water bottle with its top cut off.  Odd I know, but once started it seems wrong to change it.  Naturally it started getting filled up until one ill advised one night stand which resulted in me trying to figure out where the hell my coin jar was two days later.  I had to reach the conclusion that my ‘friend’ had decided to take a little reminder of me.  What really made me giggle about this was that I had actually raided said jar for practically all it decent coinage (10p and above) just a few days earlier.  Said companion probably saw a sprinkle of silver on the top and thought it was treasure time.  Instead it was basicaly a very heavy cointainer of 1p coins.  Sometime I absolutely adore karma.

(oh after that little incident I aquired another coin jar – water bottle, yep – and when I left London it yielded a very respectable £130 )

So now that we have dealt with the sex part the main point of this blog was that in Japan you routinely walk around with about \10,000 of folding notes in your wallet.  I was slightly perplexed to see in the shops products on sale for \237, but figured some type of rounding system was in action.  Imagine the shock when the bill was added up and I was handed back my change included \1 coins.  This was going to require a very very very large coin jar.  Yet some how I have not aquired one, and not for lack of suitable water bottles being around.  I have in a small box from Syria a few \10 coins, and I’m actually going to do something very odd and that load them back into the wallet.

I don’t know why it works over here, but everyone gives the closet change they can, all the way down to the last yen. Or if thats not possilble sort out the small stuff.  Perhaps it because you are given time to rummage around in your wallet to try and find suitable coins to give, with no withering looks from the clerk.  After a while you get completely used to searching for small change and don’t just empty it out into the coin water bottle.  End result is that all the coins seem to stay in circulation and waterbottles get recycled!

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