“Tachishon” -What we shouldn’t be teaching our kids

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Comic relief, Life in general, Politics, Rants and Raves

 

I have been in Japan for nearly 20 years now, and still, not a day goes by where something doesn’t shock or amaze me.  And today is no different.  But before I go into my rant over the event that shocked and amazed me, I will need to give a bit of some background info into the culture of child raising in Japan.

 

In Japan, there is this weird and frankly very disgusting culture of urinating in public.  Of course, many people here find it to be a lewd and completely repulsive habit, but at the same time it has been accepted as social norm in this country.  As a matter of fact, many parents even go as far as encouraging (yes…ENCOURAGING) young boys to pee in public.  When little Taro wants to go pee, usually the mother (yes MOTHER…keeping it real) who would escort the boy to a nearby bush, wall, or ally -or even sometimes right out in the open for everyone to see, pull down his pants, and encourage him to pee shamelessly while others watch.  Go ahead Taro, mommy’s too tired (and lazy) to take you to a restroom and teach you the proper place to urinate.  Fast forward 30 years, and now this young boy is a middle aged man who thinks it’s okay pee anywhere he sees fit, like a stray dog marking his territory, because that is what he was taught to do.

 

A few years back, I remember reading this story about a man who had urinated in the same elevator at train station EVERY DAY for nearly six months.  He had caused over one million yen (or ten thousand US dollars) damage to the elevator after it corroded beyond repair.  Can you imagine having to use that elevator and the unbearable stench it must have created?  The funny part is that he had the nerve to dispute the cost of the repairs in court, siting that many of the urine-damaged parts should have been recycled.   If I were the judge, I would have given him some jail time in addition to several months of community service for being a public menace.

 

You may be thinking that this is an extreme case, and perhaps it is, but I can also testify that urination in public is a regular occurrence.  If you don’t believe me, I would be happy to escort you to the ally next to my grandmother’s house which was apparently a favorite peeing venue for those who would drink at nearby pubs and bars, and wanted to quickly relieve themselves outdoors.  Fortunately, those pubs and bars have gone away over the years, but the rancid odor from past patrons still exists.  And on any given night in Shinjuku or Shibuya, its almost a certainty that you will see a drunk or perhaps sober man urinating in public somewhere.

 

So by now you are probably wondering what this event is that’s got me up in arms.  Well, tonight as I was walking home from work, and hiking up the long flight of stairs leading up to our neighborhood Shinto Shrine, I heard an election campaign van for Masako Shirai, a local assembly person for the Japan Communist Party (I kid you not -this is real), blaring her name and campaign slogans from the loud speakers on the top of van.  Not knowing why this van was even parked there, I was initially pretty irritated that this woman would make such a racket in #1. an otherwise very quiet and uneventful neighborhood, especially so late in the evening, and #2. parked right in front of a Shinto Shrine.  I am not a religious person, but I do take offense to those who disrespect a sacred site such as this.  A lot of people take that Shrine pretty seriously and to disgrace it with noisy campaign rhetoric spewing from loud speakers is pretty deplorable and disrespectful.

 

As I got to the top of the stairs, I spotted the van immediately and walked towards it.  I wanted to tell the people who were campaigning in that spot to move to a different location because they were obviously disturbing the peace.  The loud speakers were really that loud.  But as I got closer to van, I immediately noticed that no one was in it.  The repetitive campaign slogan and the calling out of Masako Shirai’s name was on tape which was infinitely looping. Arg!  What a major annoyance and no one to complain to about it, I thought to myself.  I looked around the van, and at first it appeared to be completely abandoned despite it running with all of its lights on, and the loud speaker going.

 

As I came around to the other side of the van, that’s when I spotted HIM.  A small little man who appeared to be in his 60’s or 70’s wearing a Masako Shirai campaign jacket facing away from me and towards a pile of leaves in front of the Shrine.  It was quite obvious what he was doing, so I waited until he was finished.

 

As he finished up and pulled up his pants, he turned around and spotted me standing next to the campaign van.  I glared at him in anger, and before I even said a word, he began apologizing profusely.  I pointed to the Shrine, and explained to him that little kids play in the very spot he just urinated on.  I also told him that he was repulsive and that a man his age, wearing a campaign jacket, and driving a campaign van that endorsed a public official should be ashamed of himself.  I then pointed to a life sized picture of Masako Shirai that was plastered on a large sign on top of the van, highlighted by no less than 10 spot lights, and asked the man, do you think she would approve of you defacing my neighborhood and a religious monument.  He bowed deeply and again apologized profusely.  I then told him never to come to this neighborhood again EVER, or I will write a very lengthy letter to Ms. Shirai  and perhaps her opponent, about his actions tonight.

 

He crawled into his van sped off quickly in shame.    I didn’t want to be so hard, but I was genuinely irritated that this man would drive into my neighborhood and just pull down his pants and pee -disrespecting our local landmark which is respected by many of the residents in our neighborhood.  I hope it teaches him that we are not his toilet and to think carefully the next time he has the urge to relieve himself in a place other than a toilet.

Annoyances

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Comic relief, Life in general, Rants and Raves

A brief caveat on myself and on the contents of this post before you read:

I am NOT a people hater, but I do hate it people do things that make absolutely no sense at all.  So if you agree with me so far, keep reading and see if you are still with me at the end of my rant.

In Japan almost everyone and their mothers have lunch between the hours of 11AM and 1PM, so almost every restaurant you go to during these 2 hours  are jammed packed full of people.  Often times, you are told that there will be a wait to get a seat. The wait can be anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes just to be seated.  This doesn’t even take in account for the time it takes to get the attention of  a waiter or waitress to take your order…or the time it takes for your order to be prepared and delivered…or the time it takes for you to eat your food.  And then, you have to wait to pay for your food, because in most cases you cannot pay through your waiter or waitress, and you have to stand in line  with people who like to squabble over who should pay the bill at the cash register.   Not fun, especially when you usually only have an hour to spend for lunch.  So logically, the best thing to do is avoid going to any restaurant during these hours, which I normally do.

McDonald’s does a very peculiar thing these days.   By the way, I would not recommend going to any McDonald’s in Japan during the hours of 11AM to 2PM if you are even slightly in a bad mood, or it’ll only serve to make your mood even worse!  Having said this, in my own defense I was not in a really bad mood today, and I did go after 2Pm, but they still  managed to annoy me none the less.

You see,  in Japan, McDonald’s has this “brilliant” idea of making almost everything on their menus cheaper during peak lunch hours  (between 11AM to 2PM), which has got to be absolutely THE single worst idea in the history of fast food restaurant management because it only pours fuel on the overcrowding situation.

Before I go on, I must correct myself to avoid any misunderstandings.  McDonald’s didn’t make their menus cheaper during peak hours, but rather they made their menu’s more expensive during non-peak hours.  For example, once upon a time, not too long ago,  a Filet-O-Fish Set (Filet-O-Fish w/ medium fries and a medium-sized soft drink) was 490 yen (about $5.60USD) no matter what time of the day you went.  Now, you can get a Filet-O-Fish Set for that price only during peak hours.  If you’re even 1 nano second late, then you pay the “normal” price of 590 yen ($6.70)… except that 590yen is their new inflated price.

So, what’s the result of McDonald’s fabulous idea of lowering normalizing the prices of their menus during peak hours?  Well for starters, you get an overcrowded restaurant where you absolutely cannot…I repeat CANNOT get a table in some areas.  Since there are no real loitering laws (or at least none being actively enforced) you get people who buy one small cup of coffee and stay in the restaurant for fricken’ hours -sometimes taking up two tables (one for themselves and the other for their bags, briefcase, laptop bag, or whatever.  Today I saw just that – a man with an empty Styrofoam McDonald’s coffee cup in front of him, completely fast asleep while people carrying trays of food aimlessly look for a place to sit and eat their lunch.

Secondly, you get a lopsided business model.  Ideally, you would want a steady stream of customers all day long, and not just a peak/dead situation which I normally see at these restaurants.  Except, McDonald’s seems to encourage this which makes no sense!  If you know that the majority of your customers consistently come to your restaurant between certain hours of the day because of the robotic way everyone was programmed to do things at the same time everyday when they where children, wouldn’t it be smarter to raise prices (if you’re going to raise prices at all) during those hours?  Wouldn’t it also make sense to encourage people to come during  hours, which are normally are dead by lowering the menu prices during those times?  Am I missing something?  Do I not make sense?

One other annoyance that I’ve had is with the smoking policies that some of these restaurants have.  Most American-based companies such as McDonald’s, Denny’s, or Starbucks (although Starbucks isn’t really a restaurant) are pretty good about segregating their smoking and non-smoking areas.  One exception is Subway.  They are HORRIBLE at  with separating smokers from non-smokers.  A non-smoking table can literally be right next to a smoking table.  Apparently, the Subway restaurant managers are unaware that smoke can travel through the air and annoy a non-smoker sitting at a table 2 feet away.

Hey, I get that most of the Subways are really just big sandwich “stands”, and aren’t really restaurant per se, but if I were a manager of small sandwich shop with limited seating, and I had any business sense, or common sense which these managers seem to greatly lack,  I would realize that the last thing I would want is someone sitting in my restaurant sitting there for 2 hours smoking a cigarette and taking up valuable space.  I would want people to sit down, eat their sandwich as fast as humanly possible and get the hell out, so that my next customer can sit down, eat their sandwich as fast as humanly possible, and get the hell out.

What Japanese restaurant managers need to realize is that  restaurants are there for consuming food and drinks, not taking an afternoon snooze, …or having a long cigarette drag,… or making it into your own private office, …or having a geeky little game fests with your geeky little gamer friends.  It’s annoying!!!  Stop encouraging it with your business models that MAKE NO SENSE!!  And for the people who like to loiter, have some decency and respect for other people who have to share that space by not annoying them!


Japanese Sex Dolls

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Comic relief, Life in general, Politics, Rants and Raves



About a year ago, I posted a YouTube video on Facebook about an IT engineer in Japan who collected VERY elaborately made, yet very creepy  sex dolls.  He went on to tell the Reuters reporter that he collected these dolls because, in a nut shell (and I’m paraphrasing here) he doesn’t trust human women because they can cheat on you and betray you, whereas the dolls were his possession,  and will forever remain loyal.


Recently, I sent this link to The Young Turks,  a progressive political commentary show on the  internet, You Tube, and radio, of which I am a big fan and a proud member of.   And to my amazement, they did a short commentary on it, and pretty much expressed the same thoughts that I did (funny but extremely creepy).



Within the segment, Cenk Uygur, the host of the show,  posed a few questions and comments about the dolls and about Japanese society in general, and I thought I would address the questions and comments on my site.  Now please note that my answer are my opinions are based on my 14 years of living in Japan and also having grown up within this culture, and may not be 100% accurate, but I am confident that most of it is.


Question:  Why are they making the dolls look so young? Why are the dolls so small (referring to its relatively disproportionate height to weight ratio):

Answer: The simple answer to this is because they are in fact modeled after teen aged and in some cases pre-teen girls.  As sick as it may sound, the whole Lolita fetishism is a HUGE industry in Japan.  A classic example of this are the Maid Cafe’s in the Akihabara district (electronics district) in Tokyo where the waitresses (who are usually very young, or very young looking women) dressed up in classic French maid uniforms. They serve and entertain their customers, in a cutesy non-sexual way.   From the moment that they enter the cafe’s, the customer is greeted by a maid or a group of maids with a very orchestrated and synchronized “Welcome home master,” greeting.  The customers are mostly socially dysfunctional men, usually referred to as Otaku’s, or nerds (like the man in the YouTube video) who have a hard time attracting women or fear having a relationship with real women.  When these maids are asked how old they are, regardless of their real age, they will usually say that the are between the ages of 13 to 17 to further satisfy the customer’s fetish for younger women.  And in some cafe’s, the maids will even perform a brief dance and song routine upon request.  And after any request from the customer, the maids are required to answer “yes dear master”, in their usual cutesy high pitched cartoon-like voice.


The fascination with younger women, or what is more commonly referred to as the Lolita complex, or Lolicon for short is very prevalent in the Japanese porn and manga (comic book) industry, where the comic book characters or adult film actresses can often be seen in a Japanese high school girl’s uniform.  In some extreme cases, some of the adult films feature extraordinarily petite women (of legal age) whom are dressed in elementary school children attire and perform as if they are children being molested by male adults.


But the really creepy and somewhat disturbing part of all of this is that for some of the really hard-core mentally unbalanced and socially dysfunctional men out there, this isn’t enough.  And of course with child pornography being illegal here, the Japanese have found a way to satisfy these men without breaking the laws through Japanese animation or hentai anime, where the stars of these animated adult films are typically unnaturally well-endowed animated teen aged or pre-teen girls.  And since they are only illustrations, and Japanese laws don’t really examine the psychological ramifications, or the implications that these films pose on these men, it’s all perfectly legal not to mention a great money maker.

Going to back to the original question, as to why they look you and disproportional.  Well,  having a $6000 dollar sex doll modeled after a woman in her early to mid-20’s, with the proportions of an average Japanese woman of that age (which is roughly 5’2″ and 110llbs) just won’t cut it for these guys, because in this industry it’s all about getting it look as young it can look without it being infantile.


The flip side to all of this is that there is a side of the Japanese sexual fetish industry that caters to men who have fantasies about not just older women, but married older women. But that’s a whole another story.


Comment:  People aren’t having human interaction (in Japan).   They’re not having sex anymore.

Answer: Yes and no.  Japanese people are having sex, but they are not procreating.  Currently, the Japanese demographics is a somewhat of inverted pyramid, where there are more people over the age of 60, than there are under the age of 20.  My take on this is that it’s because Japanese government is corrupt.  The economy is extremely poor at the moment and yet the prices for goods and services have not receded at all.  On top of this, the cost of having a child in Japan is astronomical.  Just to have a child in Japan is at least $10,000USD.  The national health insurance will pay about $3500 of it, but the other $6500 needs to be paid out of the pocket.  And this is just for birthing expenses;  any further medical expenses, the upbringing costs are of course paid out of the pocket.  And of course, the government will give some tax breaks for any additional dependents you have, but it’s really minimal and hardly covers the additional living expenses.   So in my opinion, in order to turn the demographic pyramid back to the way it should be, the government should be encouraging population by giving real breaks to people with families so that they can afford it, and create a real economic stimulus package to give viable financial incentives to those who want children but feel that they cannot afford it.


Of course there are other factors involved in lack of population growth.  One serious one that I can think of is that the work hours in Japan are way too long, and people people don’t get enough time to spend with their families.  I think Japan should be more like France and regulate work hours better and allow for people to spend more time with their families so that they can  procreate.


As for sex in Japan, there is no shortage of it.  I think that the Japanese society does a really good job of encouraging people to have healthy, fun, and safe sex.  A good example of this is making it easier to access contraceptives, which can be embarrassing to some (especially in Japan where people tend to be very modest about their intimate  behavior in public places) by selling condoms in vending machines which are sometimes located on the outside of some drug stores.  In the Harajuku district in Tokyo, there is even a shop called Condomania that exclusively sells all makes and models of condoms.


Another example of Japan’s progressive attitude towards encouraging sex, are Love Hotels, which are hotels that cater specifically to those who want to have sex with their partners in a very sanitary and discrete environment.  The rooms can be rented for a reasonable price ranging from as a little as $15 to $100+ depending on the size of the room, length of the stay, and the level of elegance.  Rooms can be rented for only 2 to3 hours, or for the entire night, and they are meticulously cleaned and maintain to ensure cleanliness and make sure that diseases aren’t transmitted from using the facilities.  In many of these hotels, you are provided with 1 or 2 complimentary condoms, clean sheets, clean bath towels, complimentary coffee or tea, and an assortment of toiletries like mouth wash and shampoo, etc.  Some of these hotels even have automated clerks so maximize user privacy.   Some of the more upscaled ones offer a lot more services like an in room jacuzzi bath, and a theme based atmosphere (example: a romantic theme with hearts and flowers, or an S&M theme with leather and whips.


So as far as sex is concerned, there is plenty of it going on.  Prostitution is not legal in Japan, but there are a lot of places that operate covert prostitution operation, under the cloak of bath houses, or massage parlors.  And although many of these places are obviously running prostitution ring, the law usually doesn’t bother shutting them down unless they’re fronting a much more serious law breaking operation like drugs or illegal aliens.

Excuse Me for Embarassing You, but…

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Comic relief, Life in general, Rants and Raves, Techie Stuff

Lately,  I’ve noticed that I have become so much like Saito-san.  For those who don’t know who Saito-san, which is probably the majority of you, she is a comic book character in Japan and a sort of a modern day vigilante who has zero tolerance for minor injustices that occur on a daily basis.  For example, if Saito-san were to see somebody throw a cigarette away on the sidewalk (which happens all the freakin’ time in Japan, and totally irks me) she would grab that person and politely ask them to dispose of it properly.   Of course, being a comic book, this usually does not go well, and leads to Saito-san either irritating or angering the perpetrator, which in turn, leads to her getting into a verbal or sometimes physical scuffle.  Hence, as you can see below, which is the cover of one of the many books in comic book series, that Saito-san is wearing a bandage on her face -no doubt a result from a confrontation that turned physical.

This comic book was aired on prime time TV in Japan as a live-action mini series last year, and it starred Arisa Mizuki, who in my opinion was perfect for the role and did and excellent job playing the part.

I’ve always considering myself as a law abiding citizen, and I am totally for following the rules of society.  For example, it really annoys me to see people who smoke in areas where it’s clearly designated a non-smoking area (yes, in Japan it still happens…and quite frequently), or even worse, see  perfectly healthy people parking their cars in handicap parking areas and act as if its totally okay.

Up until recently, I, like the rest of the Japanese society, use to ignore the society’s daily injustices and just simply go about my business.  But lately I’ve changed.  I have become pretty intolerant to the crap that people pull and then claim ignorance when confronted about it. And frankly, I have become very vocal about.  I think it was perhaps the accident I had a few months ago where I was hit by a hit and run motorcycle rider, who was eventually caught.  The whole experience of going to the police station and filing the reports, and the time I had to walk home and fear that I would get hit again, taught me that although the justice system is by no means perfect in any way (especially in Japan), but if you abide by it, it usually will work.

Now before I go further with this, I guess I should explain that  as convenient as they may be, I cannot stand mobile phones!!! And if I had a choice, I would not carry one.  However, in our day in age, and being  in Japan, they have become somewhat of a necessity.  But I rarely use mine.  I only use it for it’s original intended purpose and that is to make contact with another person, when either they or I am in a remote location, and I have no other means to communicate with them.

Mobile phone usage has gotten so out of hand in Japan, and  you’ll probably think I am exaggerating or out right lying when I write this, but I kid you not.  There are actually offline meetings (usually people from social networking sites such as Mixi, Facebook, or MySpace) where a group of people, who share the same interest meet at a cafe or restaurant, sit at the same table, and text message each other.  The don’t speak to each other verbally, they just sit there and text each other.  How STUPID is that?  That is such a big misuse of technology that it’s completely ridiculous!!  And it’s this kind of misuse that leads me to believe that society would be SOOOO much better without the existence of these things.  All that have done, is contributed to a society of people who are afraid to interact verbally, more ruder society, and a very dumbed down society.  Now, those who don’t know me or have never met me are probably thinking that I am one those people who aren’t too tech savvy and anti-technology.  This is quite the contrary.  I am an IT consultant and have been in the IT field for nearly 13 years now.  I LOVE new technology, but like anything else over use or misuse of technology is never good.  And I strongly believe that text messaging someone sitting across the table from you is a gross misuse of technology and those people should not be allowed to have it.  Technology exists to make life convenient for use, not to use it everywhere, anywhere, and anytime  just because WE CAN.

Now, all of this leads up to my point of the day.  In Japan, most train and bus companies have set up a small areas called the courtesy area or courtesy seats on the trains and buses, where you must turn off the power to your cell phones.   On the rest of the train or bus, you are allowed to do everything else (texting, web surfing, play games, etc) other than use them to talk to people verbally.  The purpose for the courtesy seats are to allow the elderly, disabled, or pregnant to have priority to use these seats over others. In 2006, train companies took it a step further, and banned all usage of mobiles in these areas, after a study showed that the radio waves emitted from some mobiles disrupted the rhythm some artificial pacemakers.  And to make this point VERY clear, and dispose of any doubt as to where the courtesy seats are located, train companies have put stickers in these areas clearly stating that mobiles need to be shut off.

As you can see by the sticker above, you can’t claim ignorance.  It’s written in both Japanese AND English, so even the foreigner’s can’t claim that they didn’t know what the sign says, and there’s also a very easy to understand illustration for those who claim that they can’t read.

And for those who will claim that they didn’t see the sign because it’s too small, or that they saw the sign but didn’t know where the courtesy seat were, the train companies went all out and completely marked the whole section in yellow highlights, and made the handles and bars yellow as well.  On TOP OF THAT, there is a periodical verbal announcement saying that the mobiles need to be shut off in these areas. So there is no mistaking and no excuse for it.  So does it still happen?   OH yes…and then some.

As you can see below, an elderly woman has total disregard for the signs that are clearly and boldly posted around her and uses a cell phone for having a conversation which is against policy on any part of the train.

Now, I’d say about 80% of the general public are pretty good about respecting the rules, and they at least put their mobiles away while in this area.  About 15% will ignore or as impossible it may seem, claim not to have seen the signs and will use it for texting, but not for talking.  And if you point out the signs to them (which in my opinion, shouldn’t be necessary), 100% of the time, they will put the phone away.  The other 5% which I rarely hear about but does occur frequently enough to be an issue is comprised of those who will either have full conversations and/or text message or do other activities on the cell phone, AND absolutely refuse to put their mobiles away EVEN when told to do so.  I even heard on the news once about a person (like me) who asked one of these crumbs to shut off their mobiles, not once, but several times.  The perpetrator refused to do it, and it became physical confrontation.  The vigilante guy actually took this guy down.   And although I don’t condone any violent acts, this guy deserves a lot praise for standing up for what’s right.   It’s this type of complete disregard for the rules of society that really make me angry and the guy got what he deserved.

So for the last week or so, I have been sitting in these courtesy seats on purpose, just to see how may people and what kind of people ignore the rules.  I found that during the hour that I spend on the train I see an average of at least three people violate the mobile phone rules per day and about 70% of them are women. When asked to turn them off, 100% of them did.  One guy whom I confronted about this, was so embarassed, I mean face turned 3 shades of red type embarrassed about being confronted about this, that he actually apologized profusely.  But then, apparently he couldn’t bare to be in the same train with me so he, with his face still red, scuffled off to another car.  It was as if I caught him looking at porn sites on his mobile (or maybe he was) with his pants down.  But, I guess it was probably more due to the fact that it took a non-Japanese looking guy like me to point out that he’s being uncourteous near the courteous seats.   Now the thing is, if he knew it was wrong, then why do it in the first place?  He could have sat in a area where mobiles are allowed and do the porn surfing without breaking the rules, and save himself from embarassment.

Anyways, I don’t mean to be a complete hard on about rules, but really none of these rules are hard to follow.  It’s not a huge sacrafice to properly dispose of a cigarette,  or use a mobile in another part of the train, or smoke in a designated smoking area…etc. So why not do it?

Rev. Wiley Drake -Another Nut Falls Out of the Looney Bin

Author: mirai  //  Category: Comic relief, Life in general, Rants and Raves

As a part of my daily ritual or reading the morning news, and listening to various commentaries on current events, I came across a very disturbing video (or audio, since it was just an audio clip) of Rev. Wiley Drake, a Southern Baptist kook, who is an independent who actually was on the presidential ticket running for Vice President in the 2008 election.  What disturbs me about this guy as not the fact that he thinks he’s righteous in everything he does regardless of how crooked it is, or the fact that he “thinks” all of his actions aside from pissing and taking a shit everyday is what God told him to do,  but the fact that he is actually “praying” for people’s death, more specifically and quite notably President Obama’s death.  See link(s) below to hear what I am going on about:

Click here if you can’t see the embedded video above.

Normally, I wouldn’t waste my time writing about trivial idiots such as this, since the southern part of the United States are full of them (keeping it real here), and the majority are just insignificant trailer park living, farm animal loving, cousin marrying, inbreds with IQ’s less than 30.  But for this guy to be in a public speaking profession and speaking to hundreds if not thousands of followers who actually believe the crap that spews out of his mouth, is really scary.  He claims that all he is doing is praying that Obama dies, but in actuality he is rallying up his followers to take action.  You see, not only did he pray from Obama’s death but he also admittedly prayed for the deaths of IRS employees, AU leaders, and more recently, Dr. George Tiller. The reason why I say “significantly”, is because as we all know, Tiller was recently gunned down by another radical right winged loon job by the name of Scott Roeder.

Now, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Roeder was encouraged by the teachings of Wiley.  As a matter of fact it’s probably unlikely, but who knows.  But my point is. that these radicals are easily manipulated, because they usually come from uneducated backgrounds, and are easily impressed upon by “the teachings of the Lord”.  Cenk Uygur nailed it right on the head when said (and I am paraphrasing)

…how could the 9-11 guys possibly think they could go to heaven, but when we (the right winged radicals) pray to kill people obviously we’ll be going to heaven…

Total hypocrisy at it’s finest.But the one thing that gets me, and it almost comical about this guy, is HOW he relinquishes all ties and responsibilities from encourages that his fellow kooks do by saying

…I am not saying anything, I am only repeating the words of God…that’s what God said, brother don’t get mad at me, get mad at God…

Oh by the way, all of the bad things I did in my life, well it wasn’t me, the devil made me do it so it wasn’t my fault…  Geez what a complete idiot!!  I can’t believe tha ANYONE would listen to this man!  He is bona fide mental case.  And not only that, he is what I would consider dangerous, because as sad as it sounds, he is in a position where he could manipulate or entise less educated people to commit acts of murder by instilling fear into them.

So my imprecatory prayer is that he is watched very very heavily by the CIA, FBI, or secret service or whomever, AND that this man’s word’s go virual all over the internet and gets exposed for what it really is, which is not a demand for a better life as he probably thinks in his sick and twisted way, but a rally to commit murder on the innocent, and those in power.  But since I am an agnostic, I’m not sure if it will do any good.

Consolidating My Pets

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Comic relief, Life in general, Rants and Raves

Having too much of something is never a good thing.  So in order to rid  myself of my unnecessaries, I’ve decided to consolidate my pet peeves…yes you read correctly, pet peeves.  You see, I have no less than eight really aggrivating pet peeves.  They are:

  • Bad drivers
  • People who obsessively and or excessively use their cell phones (texting or otherwise)
  • Smokers, or people who feel it’s their god given right to be able smoke anytime anywhere
  • people who lean up against me on public transportaion
  • indecisive people
  • extremely anal people
  • women who put on makeup on the train, bus, car, or anywhere they’re not suppose to

I do have plenty more, but lately I’ve felt that keeping track of all of them has gotten to be quite a hassle.  So, instead of trying to keep them a straight, Ive decided to come to terms with myself an reduce them.  And so, I am happy to announce that I have now only one -that’s right ONE pet peeve.

I must admitt it’s pretty brilliant one, because it consolidates my long list of previous pet peeves into a  single, easy to track, and easy to remember pet peeve.  I no longer have to struggle to remember the others, or write them down,  prioritize them, or categorize them.  Nor do I have to worry about misplacing them or forgetting them, because my new pet peeve incudes all the past pet peeves I’ve had.

So on this day, I am proud to announce my new and only pet peeve:

STUPID PEOPLE

A Big Mean Man in Designer Jeans Made My Day!

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Comic relief, Life in general, Rants and Raves, Work Related

Today I had a very interesting commute. But the really intersting part of the commute actually started during my morning commute yesterday. Allow me to explain:

Call me anal, but I have somewhat of a routine -or more like a religious ritual per se, that I follow every morning to ensure that I arrive  to work on-time, and as efficiently and as comfortably as possible. This requires that I get up at precisely 5:50am every morning, and make all of the necessary preparations so that I can be out of the house, and on my way by no later than 6:30am.

From there, I board the 6:40 bus, so that I can be at the train station to catch the 6:57 train, and in time to transfer to the 7:10 train at the next station, which is the terminal station for this particular train line.  And all of this is done  so that I could get a good seat on the 7:10 train by the nearest exit, so that upon arrival at my stop, I can deboard quickly and sprint through Azabu Juban station like OJ Simpson did so well in the 1970’s Hertz rent-a-car commercials, but didn’t do so well from the LAPD, just so that I can meet the 7:48 train that takes me to the station near my office.  If I miss any one of these key points, then I am doomed to suffer the consequences of having to stand for nearly 40 minutes on  a very overcrowded train, or being late, which would effectively ruin my whole commute thereby ruining my whole day.  Well, yesterday my whole routine was nearly ruined by a big mean man.

Everything was going pretty smoothly until the point where I had to transfer over to my 7:10 train.   You see, in order to board the 7:10 train, you basically have to queue up in one of three clearly marked and color coded lines on the platform floor: the right line, the center line, or the left line.  The reason for three lines is to improve throughput when boarding.  Wider bandwidth means more people can board in less time.  But not all lines are created equal.  Although only for a very brief period of time, the first person in the center line usually has first pick of seating on the train. After that, it’s all out war, and it becomes a came of musical chairs. Whenver I can, I usually choose the seat nearest to the exit, otherwise when I get to my stop, it takes time to get to the exit to deboard.  Get it all wrong, and you would literally have to stand in a very long line, reminiscent of the Soviet era bread lines, just to get off of the train platform, and out of the station exit.

Well, yesterday as I deboarded the first of my three-train commute, only to noticed a rather big figure straddling the right and center lines for the 7:10 train.  As I got closer to the rather wide but stubby figure, I tried to figure out whether it was a man or a woman.  At first glance, I though it was a woman because it had long “dyed” brown hair tied neatly into a pony tail.  It was very tanned as if it had dumped a bucket of tanning lotion on itself, and stayed under a tanning lamp serveral hours longer than any dermatologist would dare recommend.  But the the thing that made me confuse it’s gender the most, was the fact that it was wearing multiple ear rings on both ears and dark blue designer jeans with little pictures of dragons and flowers embroidered on it.  But as the portly figure turned its rather large and tanned head, I immediately noticed that it was a man.  And despite being somewhat indoors on a cloudy day, without as much as ray of light penetrating the train platform, he was wearing mirrored sunglasses.  Perhaps he had stayed on in the sun so long that he thought the sun shined indoors as well.  Or maybe he needed them to distiguish his camoflauge back backpack from the station platform floor.  Whatever the reason, by the expression on his face, he  seemed to already be in a bad mood.

As other passengers started queuing up, I very politely ask the tanned gentleman which line he was standing in.  He looked up from his cell phone in which he seemed to be deeply concentrating on, and gave me a very angry glare through his Brett “the hitman” Hart sunglasses.  And out of the blue, he give me a nudge with his big stubby arms and said, what’s it to you?

I was of course a bit surprised, but I stayed calm and responded, well you seem  to straddling two lines here, and I want to know which line you’re in.  Clearly but unnecessarily irritated, he then pulled his earphones out of his ears, and gave me an even angrier glare.  He then points to the poor innocient person to the left to him and says, I am standing next to him and have been standing next to him.  Does that make you happy?  He then puts his earphones back in his ear and continued his deep concentration on his cell phone.

Now I could have cut my losses and just left it at that, but I wasn’t going to let this guy intimidate me.  Just because he was wider than me and the majority of the Japanese population, and wore the same designer jeans that Brooke Shields wore during the early 80’s, didn’t give him the right to stand in two lines.  So I decided to have another go at him.

Clearly you’re standing in both the right and center lines, which is clearly not too fair to me or the person behind you in the right line.  I really think you should straighten yourself out, I said to him.  Again, he gives me the evil glare, and pulls out one of his earphones.  Obviously he was seriously annoyed at this point.  I was mentally preparing myself just in case he decided to get violent.

You are such a pest!  he responded.  He moved over to the right line effectively cutting in front of the person who had been standing there.  THERE!  Does that make you happy?  Now leave me alone! 

I felt that I had won the battle, but at the same time I also felt that I did the person in the next line a disfavor.  After all, he did line up properly.  So I felt a bit bad about that.  Am I being a bit too anal about this whole line thing?  Perhaps, but I also think its the principal of the whole situation.  Most Japanese people avoid all confrontation and conflicts as much as possible, and for the most part so do I.   In most cases, when they are annoyed or have been served misjustice, they’ll just give you a very emotionless and neutral look, or at most give you a very uneffective tisk tisk.  Very rarely will they speak out about it, and as a result guys like Mr. Jordache Look will take advantage of this and just muscle their way around at their expense.  So this was no longer about me getting my place in line, …so that I could get my seat by the exit, …so that I could exit the train quicker, …so that I don’t get trapped in a long line at the next station just to get off of the train platform, …so that I could catch my next train, …so that I could get to work on-time, …so that I could have a nice and efficient commute, …so that I could have a nicer day.  No, it wasn’t about that at all.  It was  more to do with telling this guy that he can’t push me around and get his way, and so I had effectively accomplished my goal and I had won.

And today, my efforts from yesterday’s commute had genuinely paid off.  I underwent my usual rituals and stood in line for the 7:10 train.  I also was able to conveniently be first in the center line as always.  And as I stood in line, I looked around to see if Mr. Jordache Look was around.  And just when I thought we wasn’t going to show his tanned and chubby face, out of the corner of my eye, I see his stout body park himself to the left of me.  And out of politeness and consideration, I scooted myslef over to the right a bit so that he could better accomodated his large figure in the line better.  Several seconds later I felt the large and nearly crushing embrace as Mr. Jordache Look wrapped his large hairy arms ,and huge dimply hand and stubby fat stubby fingers around my shoulder and said,  I am really sorry about yesterday man.  I was having a bad morning.  No hard feelings right?  I looked up as his dark round face wearing the same mirrored sunglasses her wore yesterday.  He had a big wide smile with the pearliest and whitest teeth I had ever seen.  No problem man, no hard feelings, I said.

The Worst Kind of Hater: A Self Hater

Author: mirai  //  Category: Comic relief, Life in general, Rants and Raves

The last presidential election truly changed me as a person, also my views on the world. Prior to the election, I was a registered republican, and had been for the last 19 years or so. I also considered myself a conservative, athough over the years, my views have moved over to the left a bit. I guess I can thank “W” for making me see the error of my ways. Nowadays, my views are a bit more independant. I share left and right side values.

Shamefully, I even admitt to even being a regular viewer of Rush Limbaugh’s conservative commentary program which aired weekly on a syndicated television network during the early 90’s during the Clinton era. Although I didn’t agree with a 100% percent of everything he said, at the time I knew where he was coming from, and my views where in line with what he preached. Nowadays, everything that spews out of his mouth sounds like absolute rubbish. Now, having said that, I still hold a lot of conservative values, but I feel that the conservatism of the pre-“W” era is a lot different from what it is today. It has gotten a lot more extreme and almost (do I dare say) “radical”. Right winged conservatives seem more hateful and intolerant of anyone other than Christians (or white Christians) without even knowing about what other religions such as Muslim is all about. They seem to be more racist. It seems that a lot more hatred and anger comes from the right. Most of all, they seem to be less intelligent. And so I feel that I can no longer relate to those who are on that side of the spectrum and longer. That’s why I am now an independant. The “cool” party.

Lately, I have been getting my news from multiple sources, so that I can see multiple points of views of the same issues. My main news source is CNN, because they seemed to be the most neutral when it comes to politics. I know that many would argue that CNN is very leftist, and I tend to agree to a certain degree. However, CNN in my opinion is far less left than Foxnews is right. Foxnews is the most rightist news channel I have ever seen, but it is a source, hence I do watch it to get a contrast to news that I get from CNN.

In addtion to reading the news, I often listen to various commentators or commentary type programs on YouTube. My personal favorite is called The Young Turks, which is a left winged commentary program hosted by Cenk Uygur . I watch it mostly for its entertainment value because it is quite hilarious. And in the midths of trying to find a good right wing commentary program, I totally missed and ran into Michelle Malkin’s YouTube page instead.

For those who aren’t too familar with Michelle Malkin, she is a blogger, author, journalist (<-I use this term very loosly), and a regular contributor to Foxnews. She’s an Asian-American of Filipino decent. Both of her parents were born and raised in the Philippines, and went to the States to attend school. And according to her Wikipedia page, she attendend a University, and worked as columnist for various newpapers across the country.

Now, you’d think that a person of her ethinical and educational background, she would be all for civil rights, ethnic equatlity, and generally doing what’s right. Or a the very least, not to be such a raging bitch on national TV. I was wrong. Ironically, despite have immigrant parents and attending a university in which she classifies as being “radically left-wing”, she is extreme right right winged. So much so, that in her book, In Defense of Internment: The Case for ‘Racial Profiling’ in World War II and the War on Terror, as the title suggests, she is in favor of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. She argues that with the intelligence gathered at the time, the American government was right in the racial profiling of thousands of Americans, and throwing them in concentration camps. Many of these Americans have been in the States for several generations, and had no ties to their Japanese ancestors in Japan. But due to ethinic profiling, many lost their properties and businesses, and were subject to living life as prisoners of war.

But that’s all ancient history right? It was okay back then but it’s not okay now right? All is gone and forgotten, and no Asian American would conceive of the thout of racial profiling …right? WRONG! During the democratic nominee for president campaign in 2007, apparently Hilary Clinton ran into fund raising issues with members of the Asian American community. In her statement to Foxnews, Malkin stated,

…I’m just sick of my fellow Asian-Americans playing the race card here, when in fact there is a very good reason we should be questioning dishwashers giving maximum amounts of money; people who can’t even speak English, don’t know who Hilary Clinton is, or simply cannot be found…

So, in other words, if you are Asian American dishwasher, and donating a lot of money to a presidential campaign, you should be questioned, because a typical Asian American Dishwasher is poor, can’t speak English, and don’t know who the presidnetial candidates are. Sound like racial profiling to you? It certainly does to me. It also stinks of racism, and in this case self hate. I mean come on Malkin! You are a part of the group people you are cutting down! Look in the mirror! You’re Asian! Why even go there? In fact, her comments were so utterly diabolical, that Keith Olberman of MSNBC named her the worst person in the world….TWICE!!!! Here is one of the two broadcasts:

Finally, I don’t particulary agree with everything Malik Zulu Shabazz (chairman of the Black Panther Party) or what he or his groupd stands for, but he really knew what buttons to press to expose the true Michelle Malkin in this video. Pay very close attention to what Malkin says, because it’s quite ironic that a woman of her ethnicity and the political party that she belongs to, would be saying something like this:

For those who missed it, let me quote some of the insanity coming out of this woman’s mouth.

“…Mr. Shabazz, you and your so-called party -how many members you have? 15? have made a career out of stoking racial demogoguery…”

She then went on to say

“…You should be a ashamed of yourself for profiting off of your racial poison..”

Um…don’t the republicans do that? And uh…are you a republican? Profiting off of racial poison?? Talk about calling a kettle black!

It’s women like this who really make me sick because it’s one thing to complete lose sight of who you are and where you come from, but it’s another to make a career of continually stepping on the very people that made you. Her parent’s must utterly humilated to have a daughter who hates them for what the are, and ashamed of what she is. Being half Asian myself, I know that if I didn’t anything like what she had made of life of doing, not only would I cast shame my family, but I would totally be an embarassment to everyone in my country. I can only assume that it’s the same for her.

If you want to know more about Michelle Malkin, and more about the utter nonsense she stands for, go to her blog site.

Another Rant About McDonald’s

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Comic relief, Rants and Raves

About once a week, or once every two weeks,  I go down to McDonald’s in the basement floor of the building I work in to buy a medium container of fries and a small vanilla milk shake.  Yeah I know, not too healthy or nutritious but it’s an occassional craving I get, and a stress reliever.  Anyways, it seems that everytime I go down there, the service gets increasingly worse.   Today was no exception. 

Today, I was helped by a young woman who looked to be in her early twenties.  She seemed to be  attempting a new customer service speed record,  because she was really working quickly.  With me being a person who lacks in the patience area, I saw this as a good thing, until I actually got to the counter.

I ordered my usual, a small vanilla milk shake, and medium french fries.  Now before I go any further, let me explain how the McDonald’s  in Japan operates, in comparison to the rest of the world (or at least from my experience). The employees are trained to do everything by the book.  No exceptions, no improvising. You could almost guarantee that each burger, each filet-o-fish, each container of french fires that rolls of their assembly line is exactly the same as the one before it. The amount of lettuce -the same, the amount of cheese -the same, the amount of mayonaise -all exactly the same down to the last nanogram, and all well documented in their operations manual.

Their employees follow a strict protocol that must be followed to the letter.  Everything is well scripted and correographed -no ad-libs allowed.   For example, and many people may have missed this, but when employees at a Japanese McDonald’s serve you your meal on the little brown trays,  you’ll see that they have maticulously arranged it so that the “M” logo or the “golden arches” are either facing up or facing towards you, and that each food item is arranged in their own proper location on the tray.  A coinidence?  I think not.

Now, I’m personally not too particular about the way my food is arranged on my tray, or if my cold drink is too close to my hot fries, but I do appreciate quick service…but only if it’s done right. 

So going back to my McDonald’s experience today, the young lady took my money which I happily paid for.  Being in such a rush that she was in, she failed to ask me if my food was here or to go, which was a HUGE breach of standard operating procedures in any fast food restaurant. I know, because I use to work in one.   So without knowing whether I would be staying or going, she loaded my shake and fries in a very staggard and unorderly fashion onto a tray, without the golden arches on my milk shake cup facing towards me, and the container of hot fries touching the cup of frozen milk shake causing a heat exchange between the two food items and exponentially degrading their quality by every ticking second.   Now,  people who know me know that I am not this anal and frankly don’t give a rats ass about how my food is arraged or if they are touching each other or not.  However, again being the impatient person that I am, I do care about efficiency.  You see, I wanted my food to go, and she never asked.  She just assumed that I was staying and started loading my food onto a tray.

Half way through her hastened work, I interrupted her, and informed her that I wanted everything to go.  Apparently, my utterly rude and untimely request ruined her day, because she let out a huge sigh, and grabbed a paper bag from underneath the counter and shoved my fries in it.  She then turned to me and asked if I was going to be drinking my shake immediately.  I assumed that she asked this so that she can decide whether or not to put the shake into another paper bag.  So, trying to be considerate to her (so that I wouldn’t waste too much more of her valuable time and not ruin what was left of her day which I had already ruined)  and trying to be green too (so as to not use too many paper bags), I told her yes.  

Now this is where it goes weird.  I don’t consider myself a clean or a neat freak, but I prefer that items that ultimately go into my mouth remain as free from human contact, and as sterile as possible.  I don’t know.   Maybe it’s just me; call me weird..I don’t care.   So when the young lady did what she did next, not only did it puzzle me, but it just through up some alarm bells  in my head.

After I told her that I would be drinking my shake immediately, she pulled out a straw from underneath the counter where she got the paper bag,  proceeded to ripped the paper container off of the straw, and pulled it out of the container with her bare hands, of which just several seconds earlier, those very  same hands were typing in my order on the cash register and handling my money as well as other people’s money -people who may be sick or diseased or whatever, and god only know where else those hand may have been.  Again, maybe I am being completely anal about this.  Since she is serving food, she’s probably required to scrub her hands at least 50 times a day, but at the very least,  I know she didn’t scrub before touching my straw.  Her hands may be a lot cleaner than mine, and I may have more germs and micro organisms living on my hands than she does, but the point is, that they are my germs and  micro organisms and so I know that won’t make me sick or kill me.  Also, I seem to recall from my fast food serving days, that employees who worked the registers were not allowed to handle food.  And if we absolutely needed to, we needed to scrub up before doing it.  Yet, this lady was handling food and working the register.  Hmmm…

None the less,  I interrupted her unorthodox food serving methods once again, and did the most outrageous, rudest, out right dispiteous thing anyone could do in a situation like this. I  asked for another straw -an unopened one. 

If my earlier request to have my food to go ruined her day, then this request probably ruined her entire year.  She threw the opend straw aside, grabbed another bag from the usual stash of goodies underneath the counter, and shoved my shake and an unopened straw inside the bag.  She then, very ironically handed both bags to me very politely with a smile on her face and thanked me.  I couldn’t help but think that she had gone absolutely mad at this point.   Utterly confused and dumbfounded at this point, I looked around to see if anyone else was surprised by her as I was, but oddly enough -no one was.  I guess that makes me the mad one.

After my little ordeal with the mad woman at McDonald’s, I returned to by desk to enjoy my weekly snack, only to find that by then, my fries had gone cold and my shake was no longer a shake but a loose and runny coffee creamer.  Now I know how Latreasa Goodman must have felt.

Last Week

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Cars and Racing, Comic relief, Life in general, Rants and Raves

Last week was a pretty intense week for me.  A lot events took place; some expected while others took me by completely surprise.

GO!Mini 2009 Four Hour Endurance Race at Tsukuba Circuit

Our team participated in our very first race (as a team) in our team owned race car, a 1992 Rover Mini Cooper.  The race was basically an all out test of driver and machine endurance.  The  cars were divided into three classes:

  • G1 class – non tuned cars (in other word Mini’s with mostly factory parts and very little modification) or Mini’s with engines that are 1000cc or smaller. 
  • G2 class – lightly tuned cars (or cars with minor mechanical modifications such as third party exhausts, suspensions, carburators)
  • G3 class – heavily modified cars (turbos or superchargers, over-bored pistons and or stroker kits, dog box transmissions or sequential gear boxes, etc)

Our car was in the G2 class because of the third party exhaust, suspension, and carburator. We’ve also lighten the car significantly by completely gutting out the interior and leaving just the essencials, which amounts to be just the  steering wheel, gauges, driver’s seat, and of course the safety equipment.

Since this was our very first race ever in the Mini, we set the hurdle pretty low as to what our expectations were.  Basically all we really wanted to do is:

  1. Finish the race without mishaps, crashes, or major mechanical issues.
  2. Be able to drive the Mini home (as opposed to having to get it towed back home due to #1)
  3. Most importantly, to have fun which is what our team is all about.

Fortunately, not only were we able to meet these goals but we also managed to get the second fastest lap time in our class, and it was only 1 second short of the fastest lap for our class, and just 5 seconds short of the fastest lap for all classes.  Furthermore, we placed 6th out of eight cars in our class, and 19th out of 24 cars in the entire race.   Had it not been for the fact that we lost the clutch during the beginning stages of the race and had only third gear to work with for the majority of the race,  and the fact we were a bit disorganized with the pit operations (refueling and tire changes), I honestly believe we could have been in the top 10 if not the top 5.  We definately have a very competitive car that is faster than the majority of the field that raced last Sunday, so we are all pretty motivated raise the hurdle a bit, and to do better in the next race.

As far as the clutch go, it mysterously started working again AFTER the race.   With my little knowledge of the Rover A series engine, I suspect that there may be some air in the clutch lines, and the master or slave cylinders got hotter, it caused the air to expand causing the clutch to fail.  As the components cooled, the air bubble went away hence the clutch started working again (sigh)…type to bleed the system I guess.

Hit and Run!

On Tuesday evening, on my way home from work, I took the usual course that I always take to go home.  The course takes me down a dark and narrow road with only one very darkly lit  street lamp, that allowed very limited vision.  On top of that, since it was raining a bit the field of view was even more darker than usual.

The dark and narrow road is usually only used by nearby residents, and serves as somewhat of a short cut for local commuters who live in the area.  Other than that, the road is rarely used by non-locals because of its narrowness.  As I was walking home, I walked towards the left side of the road.  In the distance, I heard a motor bike approaching quickly from behind me.  I didn’t bother to look back because local people on motorbikes and scooters use this road quite often, and often drive faster that should be legally allowed.  As the noise from the 2 stroke engine grew closer, I started to move more to my left expecting the bike to pass me on my right.  Just at that moment, BOOM! the bike hits me dead on from behind at about 40km/hr, sending me down to the ground shoulder first to the wet pavement below.

The next thing I knew I was on the ground face down.  I didn’t feel too much pain, but I was in disbelief that this guy could not avoid hitting me.  I heard some scaping sounds as if someone was scaping a metal stick onto asphalt about a meter ahead of me.  I laid there for about 10 seconds or so, expecting the  rider to ask me if I was okay, but all I heard were more scraping sounds.  I finally looked up to notice that the rider had his  scooter on its wheels again, as he was inspecting for damages from the hit to the asphalt.   I felt a surge of anger and rage go through my body at the fact that he was more concerned over the damages to his scooter than about the person he just struck.

Suddenly a mad surge of adrenaline kicked in, propelling me to my feet as if Ihad loaded springs underneath me.  With very little disregard to who this punk was that ran into me, I grabbed him by his coat and lunged a pretty good punch to his face (just as a greeting to let him know of my existence, which he seemed to have forgotten.)  As he turned towards me holding his cheek from from the pain of the punch, I was able to get my very first look at the perpetrator’s face.  And to my surprise, it was a young boy, maybe in his late teens or early 20’s at the most.  But at this point, his age really didn’t concern me.  This guy hit the wrong person, and I was going to let him know of that fact.  My first initial reaction was to beat this guy to a pulp, not for just hitting me, but for showing absolutely no concern that he just hit a human being with a motor vehicle and could have seriously injured me.  In my neighborhood, I am a relatively young guy as most of the neighbors are either at or beyond retirement age.  Had it been them and not me, they could have sustain even more serious injuries or even worse.  

I seriously wanted to hurt this guy, but I had to stand back and think for a moment, especially about my family and my career. The wrong move could end it all for me, and it just wasn’t worth throwing it all away for this snot-nosed brat.  I regained my composure and said, “You had better have a driver’s license”, to which he had no response.   I walked up to him and I repeated, “take out your driver’s license NOW!”.  Still silence.   By this point he was very squeemish and looked as if he wanted to cry.  He adjusted himself on his scooter.  I then realized that he probably didn’t have a license and he was pretty close to being a flight case.  I quickly scanned his attributes and his bike, in case he decided to take off.

I then said “I get it, you don’t have one do you?”, he flinched big time as if I had read his deepest darkest secret from his the darkest corner of his mind. His hand extended towards the keys in the ignition. “You better not run!  You run, and what is now just a traffic accident, will become a felony.”   He finally spoke, “I’m not going to run.” 

By now, I just wanted to get his details so that I knew where to send the cleaning bill for my suit. So I demanded that he give me his phone number and address.  He continued to stare at me like a deer in headlights, obviously very frightened, and made no effort to exchange details. “Look, if you don’t give me your details, I will call the police.  What do you want to do?” I demanded.  He looked troubled, as if he were caught in the middle of an argument over morality between the symbolic devil and angel that sat on his shoulders.   He may have not come to a decision, but I already knew that he was a flight case at this point, and continued to make mental notes about everything I could about him, with the very little time I had left. 

He was about my height, maybe slightly taller and was somewhat heavy set.  He was young, perhaps a student, and had a very weak demeanor and personality.  His face was relatively roundish and had narrow eyes.  He was wearing a black bikers helmet that resembled a batter’s helmet without the ear protection which are commonly used by scooter riders in Japan.

His bike was a white 50cc motor scooter with black trim and a silverish emblem on the front.  On the step (where his feet were) was a clear plastic shopping back.  I couldn’t fully identify the contents other than what looked to be a small tangerine inside, which told me that he went to the local supermaket (as opposed to a convenience store such as 7-11 where they don’t sell tangerines) which should be a good clue as to where he goes shopping.  There are only three supermakets in the immediate area and not all three use clear shopping bags.  I also got his license plate number which I won’t publish here, but the bike is registered in our district so, he probably lives nearby.  All of this info was reported to the Kanagawa police department.  It seems that the police love hit and run accidents because as I was giving my account of the event, three different offiicers vigorously and eagerly took notes using three different laptops, making sure that not a single drop of detail was missed.  The police report wound  up being about 3 pages long and written in the most eloquent Japanese I have ever read. 

After the adrenaline wore off the pain did start to set in abit.  As a requirement for the police report, I had to go to the hospital and get examined.  The bill came to about $400 because it was so late at night and I had to be admitted to the emergency room.  Another hefty bill that will be handed to the perpetrator when they find him.  I also found that he tore my suit pants, so I will need to get a new suit as well.  This suit was relatively cheap, but still cost about $500.

I checked online on what the penalty for hit and run in Japan is.  Normally first time offenders will get released on probation unless they have a history of other similar crimes.   However, hit and run coupled with driving  without a license, carries a 2 year jail sentence plus a fine, and of course any damages.  I feel bad for the kid now, he might have just ruined his life over a really bad decision.

Full Circle In My Career

My very first IT job was with Citibank Tokyo now known as Citigroup.  That was nearly 12 years ago.  I was with Citi for nearly four years before I left for greener pastures.  The job wasn’t too bad and the people were really cool.   I had a few reasons for leaving but I think the primary reason was that their sandbox-like infrastructure made it very difficult for junior level IT engineers like I was at the time ,to expand their knowledge and further their careers.  Hence, I moved on.

Unless you’ve been livng on Mars for the last 5 months or so, you’d know that the world economy is not exactly peachy keen at the moment, and one of the hardest struck companies is Citi.  They have laid off tens of thousands of employees globally in the last few months.  It’s one thing to see the numbers on the news, but to actually go onsight and see with my own eyes, was a sobering experience, as the floor that I am on normally can seat about 200 to 300 people, only has about 20-30 people left.

As an IT consultant, we often get called in during times like this.  When large corporations like Citi lay off their employees, the work doesn’t magically disappear along with them.  It usually gets outsourced or they call in guys like me to do the work until my contract runs out or until they can afford to hire full time people again.  So starting this week, I am back at the roots of my IT career.  Ironically, I am working for the people who once use to work for  me way back when.  It’s all good though, because these people I regard as my friends.  They are going to even throw a welcome back party in my honor next week. (laughs)