Jenna and the Magic Mushroom

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Family and Friends

It was pretty funny…well it wasn’t funny when it first happened;  I nealry fell apart with worry and anguish.  There is a fairly large patch of little brown mushrooms growing wild in my back yard. I noticed them  about a week and half ago but I didn’t think too much of them until yesterday.
I let my dogs, Jenna and Princess out into the yard yesterday.  My dogs are well trained and know not to pick things off of the ground and eat them.  But for some reason, these little mushrooms grabbed Jenna’s attention.  She ran over and licked (not ate) one of them and immediatly kneeled to the ground and stopped moving as if she was in pain.  My heart nearly stopped.  I immediately rushed towards her to see of she was ok.  She was still conscious, but she couldn’t stand up.  I picked her up and rushed her into the house.  I wanted to take her to the vet, but it was already late in the evening and their office was closed.  There are no such things (that I know of) as 24 hour emergency pet hospitals in Japan, at not near me, so all I could do is hope that she survives to the next day.  I wasn’t sure if I should try to feed her or not or to even give her water.  I took a chance and just tried to give her some water in the hopes that maybe it may dilute the poison.  She stood up slowly and took a long drink.  I momentarily felt relieved that she was well enough to stand on all fours and drink water, but then, she kneeled back to the ground again and sighed.

An unknown species of LBM (little brown mushroom) that possibly contains psilocibyn or psilocin, a strong hallucinogen.
I picked her head up into my hands and looked into her eyes.  I was bit puzzled and a bit humored at the same time because she looked to be drunk.  Her eyes weren’t tracking right.  Normally I would have thought this was funny, but it could have been a very bad sign, so it made me worry even more.  I immediately got on my PC and started looking for the same species of mushrooms on the internet to get an idea of what she licked, and what it was doing to her.
First few sites I hit, scared the hell out of me.  I found a couple of breeds of mushroom that looked remarkably similar to the ones in my yard, especially to someone who has no clue about mushrooms, like me. .  When I read their properties, I nearly died.  One read “highly poisonous, completely destroys liver within 24 to 36 and can to lead to death without immediate treatment.”  The symptoms included violent vomiting within the first 30 minutes to an hour after consumption. I looked over at Jenna who was just looking at me dazed but otherwise pretty healthy.  She hadn’t vomited, so I figured that this had to be a different species.  As I read on, the article described the mushroom as being up to 4 to 6 inches in diameter.  I sighed with relief because the mushrooms in my yard were quite small (the largest being only about 2cm in diameter)..
I surfed the web for two hours doing research on mushrooms.  I think I now have enough knowledge in my head to be a certified mushroom expert.  By then, it was getting pretty late and I hadn’t fed  Princess yet.  I thought that maybe it wouldn’t be too wise to give Jenna anything and that she probably wouldn’t eat anything anyways.  But I can tell Princess was extremely hungry at this point. She was giving me the evil eye and wasn’t giving a care in the world that her sister may be dead in a matter of a few hours. 
I started to prepare dinner for Princess.  The dogs know when I am making them dinner because of the clanging sound that their metal water dish makes.  They usually both run to the kitchen and sit and wait for me to set their food on the floor. When I turned around to set Princess’s food on the floor, surprisingly Jenna was there too.  She was laying flat on her stomach and still looked dazed, but she was expressing interest in eating.  Usually, when dogs are really sick, they won’t eat.  Its usually as sign of a problem and that they should be taken to a vet.  But if they have an appetite, it usually means that they’ll be okay.
I was relieved to see that she was hungry, but I wasn’t sure if I should feed her.  Again, I took a chance a gave her some fresh raw beef, and she scarfed it down like there’s no tomorrow.  This nearly brought tears to my eyes because, I now knew she was going to be ok. I went ahead and fed her as I normally did, and she at it with a very healthy appetite.  As a matter of fact, I think her appetite was a lot better than normal so I gave her more than she normally gets.  After five hours, she hadn’t vomited, so I knew it wasn’t the fatal breed of mushrooms, and it definalely was not doing any damage to her liver.
I did some more research on “mildly” poisonous mushrooms and finally found what she might have eaten (licked).  Its a breed of mushroom that contains a very potent hallucinogen that is a derivative of LSD.  So bascally, Jenna was stoned.  She couldn’t stand because she was dizzy from being high, and her stronger than normal appetite was a case of he munchies. By the way, I found this breed of mushroom, not on a botany or even a mycology site, but a hippie psycheleic site on how to cultivate “magic shrooms.”  Apparently this breed of mushroom is illegal in Japan, so I have no idea where they came from. It did say somewhere that these mushrooms can grow wild,  but maybe my neighbors or landlord planted them.
This morning, other than a slight LSD hangover, Jenna was back to her old self.  She still walked like she was drunk, but it was a big improvement from last night.  And now, she is totally normal.  She jumped up on my lap when I came home and gave me a lick on my cheek…dumb dog! 

Izu

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Travel Blog

I am in Izu right now. I can’t write much today though. This hotel is suppose have internet connection in the rooms (or at least that’s the way its sounded in their brochure), but they don’t. Instead, they have one computer in the lobby, which would be okay, but it on the front desk so it makes it difficult to spend more than just a few minutes.

Its raining pretty hard today, so my plains to take the dogs out are ruined. I have to stay in just watch TV I guess….gee…I could have done this at home .

Anyways, that’s it for now.

Changes at work

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Work Related

Last week, there was buzzing around the office that the MD (managing director) was going to make some big organizational changes.  It was quite frightening for all of us because that usually means that someone might lose their job, or be moved somewhere where they don’t want to be.  Being brand new, I was a bit concerned, because I have yet to prove any of my abilities, so I was very dispenceable.
The MD was suppose to make the official announcement last Friday, but he went home early leaving all of us wondering what our fates will be.  I figured that the worst that could happen to me is that I lose my leadership rights.  Although I hoped that that would not happen, it wouldn’t be a huge deal if it did.  The best that could happen, would be if there was no changes to my role or responsibilities, but since I manage the core of the whole IT department, I knew that that would be highly unlikely.
Yesterday, (Monday), I was expecting to be trapped in long meetings regarding the organizational change, or perhaps a very short one with my manager depending on how good or bad this turns out to be.  Funny thing is, that my manager, who usually comes to greet me with a desk full of work or the day’s meeting schedule, didn’t come to my desk as he usually does.  I didn’t think too much of it; figured he was busy, and would stop by later. 
I notice there was a lot of buzzing amongst the people on the server team, so I went over to see what the commotion was about.  Gotoh, the most senior member of the team (or the whole IT department, I should say), was leading the little impromptu meeting.  Gotoh was the acting team manager before I replaced him.  The other team members seemed to be listening to him with intent, as if he were planning a mutiny or something (which I was hoping and praying they weren’t). 
The other members seemed to be very concerned, asking serious questions about their future responsibilities and who would take over what.  I was extremely puzzled.  Why were they asking this??  As far as I was concerned every should be doing what they’ve been doing.  What’s all this talk about responsibility change, and why are they talking to Gotoh about this?
As I got in deeper with the discussion, I notice this wasn’t a discussion about the team’s responsibilities, but a discussion about Gotoh’s and my responsibilities.  I reluctanly asked “whats this all about?  I take it this has something to do with the organizational change?”
Gotoh turns to me and said, “Didn’t you read the email from HR this morning?  The changes had been announced.”  But before I could turn to head back to my desk to read my email, Gotoh stops me and says “Can we talk privately?”  I hesitated a bit, but accepted his invitation.
We went into a conference room and we started discussing the changes.  He drew a map of the new organizational structure on the white board.  I immediate noticed that in the slot were my manager is suppose to be, Gotoh wrote his name.  I was really surprised. “As of today, this is the new structure.  Your role will not change, but you will be expected to manage the team a bit more, and do less technical work. I don’t like managing people so I am really counting on you.”
He said something else but I was still in shock, so I didn’t hear much of it.  “What happened to Colin? (my manager)” I asked. 
“He has been moved to a different department to manage a project.”  In the past, companies usually did this actively phase out an employee.  Instead of firing them, management would give them a very mundane but tedious work so that eventually they’d get sick of the work and leave on they’re own.  It saves the manager from going through the hassle of going through HR and getting approval from the department of labor when firing an employee.
But, I don’t think this was the case with my manager.  There is a legitiment department where work has been neglected for a long period of time.  My manager was doing some of the work, but became difficult for him to do that work, manage the people, and manage the budget at the same time.  So, the MD decided to dedicate him to doing only that work.  He seems to be quite happy about it.
Later yesterday, Gotoh and I got together again to discuss further changes.  We sat in the company caffeteria without our notebooks, and he started to write out the names of the people on my teams.  There is one person named Beau, an Australian guy from NSW, who pretty much owns his own team. But the funny thing is, he is the only person on his team.  He has been asking management for another member for a while, but we are quite short as it is, so we weren’t able to give him anyone.
Beau is basically in charge of automating the mass distribution of computers and software.  His role is very high profile, meaning that a lot projects depend on him to finish his work.  Unfortunately, he has been a huge bottle-neck and slowing down everything.  Occassionally, I would walk back into the lab, to see his progress, and he’d on his cell phone talking to friends.  Sometimes, the conversation would last serveral minutes to an hour.  Since I don’t manage him, there’s nothing I could really do or say.  I had made a few suggestions to Colin in the past to watch him more carefully, but it would be impossible to get a babysitter in there to watch him.
He’s a very nice guy, but he works extremely slowly which is pretty much pissing everyone off.  Gotoh and Beau are enemies.  Gotoh thinks that Beau is the main reason why our company is not moving as quickly as it should be with the projects.  I can’t help to agree with him, based on what I have seen. 
As we progessed down the list of people, Gotoh eventually got to Beau.  He too a long pause and rubbed his eyes as if just the thought of Beau pained him.  He then looked at me said, “This guy is difficult.”  Again a long pause. And again, he spoke, “I don’t have any confidence that he can finish this project.”
I interrupted him, “Why don’t you replace him with someone who can work quicker?”  I said.  He then gives me a long silent stare, and again he spoke, “It’s gotten much more serious than that.  He will be replaced, and I need your help to find the right person to replace him.  But as soon as that person is up to speed, Beau will probably be terminated.”
Those words hit me like a bolt of lightening.  It impacted me as if he were telling me that I was being terminated.  I totally agreed that Beau should be moved off of the project, but to fire him was going a bit out of my comfort zone.  Luckily this wasn’t my responsibility;  I basically needed to provide a guy to replace him and get that guy up to speed as quickly as possible. 
This morning, the MD called me into his office, which made me a bit nervous. He sat me down to discuss the fate of Beau.  I totally didn’t understand why he wanted to talk to me about this, I am not Beau’s manager.  But I listened anyways.
“Goto tells me that you will be handling all of the personnel work for him” he said.  This was true, and it was a part of my responsibility to handle the people on my teams, but Beau was not on any of my teams. He continued, “You know what the ojective is right;  you need to get someone in with Beau and transfer knowlege as quickly as possible so that we can relieve him of his responsiblities.” Hmmm…okay.  I got you there.  I am to provide him with a guy to take away his job, but we already discussed this. “So, you need to make it clear to Beau that he needs train the other guys as quickly as possible, but of course don’t let him catch on that we are planning to replace him.”  Wait a minute, hold the phone dude. This is where you are losing me.  I AM NOT BEAU’S MANAGER!  Why am I suppose to tell him this?  He then went off on a tagent and said,  “I know you are new here and we have big expectations from you. You need to make your presence known to your staff…you understand?”  It finally hit me at what he was getting at but I had to confirm.
“Are you telling me that I am now managing Beau?” I asked relectuantly.
“YES, so go and start this process as soon as possible”

to be continued…

My Childhood

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Family and Friends, Life in general

My parents were divorced when I was around 4 or 5 years old, so I don’t have too many memories of my father.  I do remember that we lived on a military base near Monterey.  I also seem to recall not being able to speak much English.  During those days, I spent a great deal of time in Japan, so I had forgotten a lot of my English.  We (my mother and me) lived with my grandparents in Tokyo.  Back then, foriegners were pretty rare, even in Tokyo, so I got a lot of finger pointing and stares from people, and I was pretty famous amongst the neighbors.  At the time I didn’t understand why.  I knew I was different, but I didn’t understand what the differences were.
We lived in Japan for what seems to be an eternity, but in reality, it was only six months.  I still, to this day don’t know why we were here.  But now that I reflect back, I assume its because my parents’ marriage wasn’t going too well, and my mother was seriously considering moving back to Japan.  Then again, this was during the time of the Vietnam war, so it could be that my father was deployed during this whole six month time we were in Japan, and my mother simply didn’t want to be alone in the States.  She was only 23 years old so it could be that she was homesick. I still have my old passport from those days and I have visa extention stamps all over it.  I think my mother was having a hard time keeping me in the country because I was an American citizen.  Probably, back then, it would have been difficult to get a Japanese passport or even a permanant residency card since I was already a declared American.

My mother carrying me when I was a small baby.  This was taken at a park near my house in Tokyo.  My mother was such a kogal.
But even stranger, I also recall my father being in Japan too.  I remember even seeing pictures of me as a child, playing in the snow with my father in front of my grandparents’ house.  Shortly after that picture was taken, we moved back to the States.
Although it was so long ago, and I was so young, I remember how much I hated being back in the States.  I couldn’t speak a word of English back then.  I recall being able to understand what people were saying, but couldn’t respond.   I even remember my father being VERY angry about not being able to talk to me, and yelling at my mother for not speaking to me in English more.  I still have a vivid image of him flipping me off, and of me crying after that.  I think that image haunted me for a long time because, from that day forward, I totally distrused him.  i would never go anywhere with him without my mother. My mother would say, “why don’t you and your father go to the park together”, and I would start crying even though the park was my favorite place to go.   I was even afraid to be in the same room with him unless my mother was there.  I recall being happier when he was at work, and being very timid and afraid when he came home.
It didn’t take long for me to pick up English.  The neighborhood kids on the base came by a lot and that helped a lot.  But when I started pre-school and even kindergarten, my mother had to be in class with me for a while because I still was not up to par with the other children, and so I would absolutely refuse to say a word unless she was there.

This was taken shortly after we moved back to the States. Me withmy best friend Robert. I am the short kid
I’m not too sure of the details of my parents’ divorce, but I do know it happened quite quickly.  Basically my mother and I left while my father was away at work, and moved to Salinas (a nearby city with a large community of Mexican migrant workers).  There were quite a lot of Mexican kids in the apartment complex where we lived. Many of them didn’t speak any English at all, but somehow we were all able to communicate in an odd mixure of broken English and Spanish.  So at one time in my existence, I did speak pretty good Spanish.  I can’t speak a word of of it now, but occassionally when I am watching TV or near Spanish speaking people, I would hear some familar phrases, especially when its a situation where child is talking to his or her parent(s).

Me at my 5th birthday with the neighborhood children.
Stangely, our next door neighbor were Japanese family from Osaka.  It was a young couple in their 30’s and they had a five year old daughter named Reiko.  She was probably my very first girlfriend ever.  Since her parents spoke very little English, she had to be their interpretter.  Besides my mother, she was the only other J/E bilingual person I ever knew, so we were in an instant item.  She use to come over to my house and I use to go over to her place a lot as well.  Her mom use to read us Japanese children’s books which use to piss off the other kids because we were the only ones who could understand it. And we use to speak in Japanese when we didn’t want anyone else to understand what we were saying. It was like having our own little world all to ourselves.
Reiko’s father was probably there on business, and eventually they had to go back to Japan.  It was the saddest day in both of our lives when they moved away.  Reiko was so sad that she had locked herself in her bedroom and refused to see anyone.  I remember I spent literally the whole day and sat in front of her front door and cried and begged her mother to let me see her, but she couldn’t do anything either.  Before they left the next day, Reiko’s mother came over and thanked my mother for being a good neighbor (typical Japanese stuff) and she gave us some gifts.  I was so sad because I thought Reiko had stopped liking me, but her mother explained that Reiko liked me so much that she didn’t want to say goodbye.  Apparently it took them all night to get her out of her room. I remember seeing her waive goodbye as she climb into her father’s car.  I never did get to see her again after that.  All I have is an old fading picutre of her standing in front of a Chistmas tree at my birthday party. I occasionally wonder where she is and what she’s doing.

My mother, and me at age 11.

The last time I saw my father was at my high school graduation ceremony.  My mother had invited him to my graduation.  I was very reluctant to see him because in the several years leading up to that point, he had never made an effort to come visit or even contact me.  It had always been my mother who contacted him.  I remember when I was 15, my mother calling him once and asking him if he wanted to talk to me.  Her next words were “of course he speaks English!” she then passed the phone to me.  At the time, I really didn’t what to say to him.  He was a complete stranger to me, and I was extremely shy as it was. I spoke to him very briefly.  He asked me to come and live with him for a while. Of course I refused.  I already had a life in California and I didn’t want to leave it for someone who I didn’t know too well.
A few months later, I remember my mother pressuring me to write him.    I wound up writing a half page letter to him addressing him by his first name, since I really didn’t know what to call him.  Apparently, this didn’t set well with him.  He sent back a half page letter telling me how my mind was poisoned by mother, and that I am never to address him by his first name ever again.  I was to call him “sir” or “father”.  That was the last time I ever wrote him. He wasn’t going to get that kind of respect from me that easily.
When he came to my high school graduation ceremony, it made me feel very akward.  He congratulated me and gave me a hug, which was really weird.  I introduced him to my group of friends who knew how I felt about my father, and they kind of gave him an odd look.  I told him that I would talk to him later.
The next day, my mother, father and myself  met at a local diner for breakfast.  I really didn’t have much to say.  He asked me what my plans were.  Apparently, he didn’t know that I was panning to go to college.  He said that when he graduated high school, he had no plans for the rest of his life.  I then said something like, “We are VERY different…you and me”, and things went absolutely silent.
Later, he promised that he would pay some of my way through college (buy books whatever).  I told him that that would be really helpful, otherwise I would have to work my way through college which would make things really tough.  He said that we wanted me to concentrate on my studies and not have to worry about paying for rent or food.  I was beginning to think that maybe be was more decent than I was giving him credit for.  So taking his word for it, I decided not to sign up for a work program that I had planned on doing….bad mistake.
It turns out, to this day, I never heard from him again.  From time to time, my mother says that she tries to contact him, but she hasn’t spoken to him in almost 10 years now. During my 20’s, I expressed deep hatred and anger over him.  I even wished him dead on several occasions.  Among my relatives, its been a big taboo to discuss anything about my father in front of me, because everyone knows how angry I am at him.  My grandmother occassionally brings up the subject reluctantly, knowing that I don’t like talking about him, and that the conversation usually end in me saying “I hope he’s dead!”, but she reminds me that he is my father and I should get to kow who his before judging him.
Back during my sophomre year in college, I met a half Somoan half Japanese lady.  She’s about 10 years older than me and she had gone through the same things with he father that I had gone through with my father.  She told me that when she was in here 20’s, she hated her father and never wanted to see him ever again.  But over the years, she had been wondering about him and eventuallly contacted him.  She eventually made up with him.  Back then, she told me that when I am  her age, I will start to wonder about my father.  I told her that that would never happen because he had betrayed me and cause me unnecessary hardache in my life.  I had never asked him for anything, and he had promised so much.
Here I am now, ten years later, and I must admit, there is something within me that is wondering where he is and what he’s doing.  Its not so much that I want him in my life, but more that I want to learn more about myself and what my anncestry is.  My mother once told me that my father’s father has a very colorful background and was a very intelligent man.  My father even has brothers who are doctors and what nots.  Makes me wonder why my father turned out to be such a moron….

There are so many things about me and my personality that I have figured out over the years.  So much of my personality I had inherited from my mother, but there are traits that still remain a mystery.  My mom often tells me that I get it from my father.  Its comments like those that make me curious about meeting this guy.  But then again, I cant’t help to think that if I do take the effort in looking for him, that I am going to find something that I don’t like, or pehaps he will turn me away again.  I have also accespted a life without him and have been pretty happy without him, so why introduce headaches into my otherwise peaceful existence.  I know my time is limited.  If am going to find him, it will need to be within the next few years….