One Month Later

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

Its been just over a month since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami shook Japan and claimed over 13,000 lives (and counting.)   Although almost everything is back to normal in terms of transportation and electricity, life in Japan has changed quite a bit since.  The Japanese government is claiming that they have removed and destroyed contaminated crops and livestock, people are very cautious about buying anything produced in the northern areas of Honshu (the main island) due to the spreading of the radiation.

Supplies are slowly returning to the stores; it’s still a bit difficult to find 2 liter bottles of water in my area because people are still hoarding despite the number of messages from the government and ad councils telling people to be more considerate and only but what they need.  My local liquor store always seem to be in supply of water because they have a 2 bottle per family per day limit, which is very smart, although they must have a hard time controlling that.  If people have the strong desire to hoard, they’ll find some way to do it despite the local policies and restrictions.

Electricity has been on constantly in my area (knock wood), but that could easily change when the summer heat hits and people start using more electricity to cool their homes.  I conscientiously try to limit my use of power around the house.  I even contemplated shutting down this blog server, but decided to keep it up and running because it has been a very effective means of communicating to my family, friends, and relatives who read it.    Internet has been the only reliable means of communication during times like this, as mobile networks and land lines tend to easily get flooded by people frantically trying to get through to people in earthquake stricken areas.  As long as electricity stays up, I should be able to communicate to the outside.

As for the radiation, so far it has only effected us a minimal level.  As I mentioned earlier, people are being more cautious about where their food comes from and not drinking from tap water whenever possible.  The Japanese government is now saying that the power plants could take several months to a year to deactivate, which means that it could (probably will) continue to spew harmful radiation into the ocean and atmosphere.    Although thoughts of permanently leaving Japan has crossed my mind, it is a lot easier said than done, because I am so deep rooted here.  It would take take a lot of time and effort for me to relocate elsewhere….time and effort that I am not quite ready to commit just yet.

It’ll be a very long time before we are fully recovered.

Hayashi Racing at Fuji Speedway

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Cars and Racing, Family and Friends, Life in general, Techie Stuff, Travel Blog

We spent a day at Fuji Speedway yesterday. My cousin and took their course license seminar to get our course license so that we could participate in track events.

We ran 3 cars:

My Integra Type R turbo
My cousin’s Alfa Romeo 155
and the team car, a Rover Mini Cooper

All three cars performed really well.  Since it was my first time running a Fuji, I didn’t get any good lap times, but I was able to muscle my way past some Ferrari’s on the front straight.   I was able to get up to about 230km/h on the straight, but lifted (mainly out of fear of not being able to stop at turn 1, which is tight hairpin-like turn.)  You get it wrong and you end up in the dirt or the tire barriers.

The Integra performed well because the weather was very cold, but unfortunately I came away with no reverse gear. I suspect that one of the motor mounts took a dump, because the shifter didn’t feel right.  Also, the rubber bushing on the transmission mount looked really suspect.  I initially lost fifth gear too, but was able to get it back by fiddling with it during the drive home.

The Alfa also came away with no brakes.  I noticed that he had some really bad grooves on both of his front rotors.  Fuji is definitely not a forgiving track for a car with bad brakes or a missing fifth gear so we both wound up retiring early.  My cousin was battling with it all the way home, using the clutch and side brake to slow the car down in traffic, while I had to get pushed into parking spaces due to a still missing reverse gear.

The Mini came away flawlessly.   We all agreed that the 17 year old British gal would come away from it limping and we might have to have it towed home, but she out did  both the Integra and Alfa.  And surprisingly,  although slow on the straights, the Mini was really nimble and quick on the corners.   The braking was also really good, and was able to slow down from 160km/h to 60km/h in less than 100 meters, where most cars needed 200 meters or more.

So for now the Integra will rest quietly in the garage until I can muster up enough cash for some new motor mounts, and some energy to install them without the help of a professional.  And perhaps a new engine damper in order too, so that I don’t keep breaking mounts.  Overall, I came away from the event quite happy, but very sore and tired.  My cousin has a race event at Tsukuba circuit next weekend, so I might go up to watch.

Mini and 155 in front of Mt. Fuji

Mini and 155 in front of Mt. Fuji

The team stopping for a bite

a conbini run

Front entrance

Ferrari

old school GTR

Elige

Porsche GT3

a Civic Type R

red Elige

Impreza STI

a GTR R35 Pace car

a GTR R35 pace car

the Teg and the 155

The Teg and the 155

Mini

The three racers

The Teg and the H3

155 on the front straight

Mini on the front straight

911 on a trailer

Roadster carnage

Twin Elige’s

A silver Teg

The Teg, Mini and the 155

The Teg and the Mini

The Teg and the Mini

The mini

The team

My Integra

Mini on the front

Alfa vs. Mini

The paddock

The video of my first run:

Another Year Another Birthday

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

Today was my birthday. I’ve gone from being just old to being really old. And to add insult to injury I had to give a presentation (twice) to our clients and their clients. But it went as well as expected so I can’t complain too much.

Having said all this, aside from putting on a bit of weight (since high school), I don’t think I look too bad for my age. As a matter of  fact, I was mistaken for being a twenty-something just a couple of weeks ago, and the last time I was in the States, I was carded while buying some wine coolers, so I guess I can’t be aging too badly. I still have all of my hair, and it hasn’t turned gray yet. As a matter of fact, I tend to believe that I have more hair on my head now, than I did in high school.

As for future goals, for now it’s just to continue to do what I’ve been doing for the past year, and to keep my head above water during these hard economic times.

New Updates

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

WordPress came out with their second update in the last two weeks.  The latest one is point upgrade to 2.7, so it has some new features as well as a new interface.  At first glance, I wasn’t too pleased that WordPress changed everything around again, but when I got a good look at what they’ve done, I was pretty please.  Now I can get around to where I want to be a lot more quickly and with fewer click.

As for me, I took the Mini out for a ride yesterday afternoon.  It was the first time I drove it out of Yokohama since we got it last spring.  This is due to street legality issues we had before, since it is mostly a race car.  But we managed to get it to pass regulation and get it registered, so it’s street legal (barely) now.  I liked the way it perfomed.  For what it is, it drove quite nicely.  I think the decibal level did attract some attention, but it’s definitely not as bad as my cousin’s Alfa, which I can hear coming fro blocks away.

Next is the Integra.  It needs a bigger fuel pump which my mom will be bringing from the States this week.  I also need to swap out the exhaust and the brakes, but that will come later.  Everything else has been quite.  I’m looking forward to next weekend.  Seeing the relatives is always a pleasure.

December again

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

Yes it’s December again. I think I’ve been starting my entries the same way every year. It may partially due to the fact that December is my favorite month, but probably more due to the lack of having anything else to write.

It’s been getting a bit colder in Japan lately, but not cold enough to snow. I’m hoping that it does snow this year. We got some snow earlier this year but it wasn’t too substantial.

Tomorrow I planto go to Tokyo to visit my grandmother. Apperantly, she hasn’t been feeling too well, so I just want to make sure that she’s okay.

On a sad note, seems like Honda is leaving Formula 1…again. Not too sure if is a financial decision, with F1 becoming increasingly expensive to finance even for the companies with big budgets, or if it’s because their poor performance. But either way, it’s quite disappointing news. But on the other hand, I was really happy that Lewis Hamilton this past season so it’ll be easier to give my full support next season. But I do hope that Honda returns to F1 in the not so distant future.

Finally, with gas prices returning back to the already expensive norm, Hayashi Racing can probably resume plans to get the Mini Cooper up to spec for some up coming races. I’m also preparing the Integra as well by installing a better fuel pump this winter. Hopefully I can finally get around to upgrading the brakes and cooling system as well.

Endurance Race at Motegi

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

Last Sunday, I went to Motegi to watch my cousin compete in a 12 hour endurance race.  It was quite interesting to see the different cars compete.  There were cars that were quite obviously highly modified, and others that seemed close to stock.

My personal favorites were an orange Mini Cooper, a Honda Beat with a nostalic 1970’s John Player’s Special Formula1 livery, and Le Man’sinsh modified S2000 with no windshield.  My cousin raced  what looked to be a moderately modified Alfa Romeo 155 V6 from the garage he uses.  He ran two one hour legs.  We are looking to compete sometime next year using Bloody Mari.  I’m not sure if we have the car or the manpower to do a full 12 hour run, so we might start off with something shorter, like a 3 hour run.  If the car survives, and we survive, we might go for a longer race, providing that we can find some more drivers.

Here are some picures from the weekend:

Happy New Years! 2008

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

Yet another year has gone by.  So many things happened in 2007, it was indeed an amazing year:

  • new house
  • new job
  • new family

I couldn’t ask for anything better.   With renewed talks of starting a real working family business with my cousins, 2008 promises to be even better.  Hopefully talks don’t stall like they did last year.  I will also do my best to keep these talks alive (this is my new years resolution). 

Introducing Haruka

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

Born November 27th, 2007.  She’s the best thing since sliced bread!

A New Year and a new opportunity

Author: mirai  //  Category: Family and Friends

This year, I spent my new years where I spend my new years every year, at my grandmother’s house.  And as usual there were plenty of people, food, and fun.  There were new addtions: my cousin’s Tsugu’s new wife and a child on its way, my cousin Ryo’s second son, and my cousin Kanan’s new look and her new boyfriend.  There we also some substractions: my cousin Hide, and his girlfriend.  Unfortunaltely, due to family issues, and a business scandle, Hide wasn’t invited to this year’s reunion, and he probably won’t be invited back for a while….but that’s a different story.

Tsugu was the story of the year.  He had been nortorious for having girlfriends at least 10 years or younger than him (he’ll be 34 this year by the way) and they have all been airheads.  When I heard that he had a shotgun wedding last year, I immediately thought that his new wife would be one of those really stupid airheaded girls that he had picked in some club in Shibuya.  But on the contrary, she turned out to be quite nice.  Although I don’t know her exact age, she is probably the same as Tsugu.

The new year rang in on quite a strange note.  My uncle called me, Ryo, and Tsugu to the dining room table with quite a serious look on his face.  Previously, my mom, aunt and uncle had been having a loud conversation about the family business.  I could hear only bits and pieces of the conversation, and my uncle mentioning something about possibly expanding his business to the States by buying some Starbucks frnachises.

My cousin Ryo and I approached the dining table and sat down.  The first words out my uncle’s mouth was, “how would you like to go into business with me?”  Ryo and I had the same exact thought in our heads.  We both were not seasoned business people like my uncle, so we were thinking “what do you want us to do.”

Just to give an idea of what my uncle is about, he is a bit eccentric just like my mother and aunt.  It must have ran in the family.  But as far as business ventures are concerned, he is a complete genious, not to mention very wealthy, and has owned or owns several successful businesses throughout Tokyo and Yokohama.  It has always been my dream to match his success, or just come close.

The idea of going into business with my uncle was was a facinating one.  Its an almost guaranteed success, and a road to wealth.  But just when my dreams of financial freedom was being realized, my uncle throws a huge wrench into the works. “Give me some ideas of what kind of business you’d like to do.  If it sounds feesible, I will fund everything up to a million dollars.” 

For most people, this is a dream come true.  A rich relative willing to slap down a million dollars on an idea or a dream. But my mind as well as Ryo’s mind came to a complete blank.  I could not think of anything I wanted to do.  I didn’t have any ideas for a new business.  Maybe this was partially because of fear of failing or maybe the fear of loosing a million dollars.  But I don’t think my uncle was too particularly concerned over loss; he was more concerned over succeeding and what we need to do to succeed.

Between all of us, we thought of several ideas from buying a Starbucks franchise in Atlanta to starting a sushi restaurant in Manhattan.  None of them flew with my uncle.  He saw them all as potential failures or something that won’t make the kind of money he’s use to. “C’mon is that all you can come up with?  When I was your age I had tons of ideas and no money.  I could only wish for the opportunity I am giving you.”

He was right.  What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I come up with anything?  Most people could only drean of this; its being handed to me on a silver platter and I don’t know what to do.  

After a lengthy discussion, we realized that we weren’t going to come up with anything that night, so my uncle has given us six months to decide.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to come up with something within that time.

Bad experience: A trip to the country house

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

Last Friday, I took a drive out to the Chiba penninsula to stay at our country house for a couple of days.  I hadn’t been out there in over a year so it was about time to take a trip there.
When we arrived, I noticed that the motion sensored porch light didn’t come on when I pulled up to the driveway, but I figure that maybe one of my cousins must have just turned it off by accident when they used it last.  The area has no street lamps and the nearby houses are pretty dimly lit so the inside of the house was pitch black.  I tried to turn on the light, but none of them worked. The circuit breaker must of been shut off, which is something that shouldn’t be shut off. I managed to find a lighter on the counter near the front entrance inside the house so I used it as a torch and seached for the circuit breaker.
After about 15 minutes of fumbling around the dark house, I managed to locate it in the bathroom.  I noticed that the main switch was on but the secondary switch was off, which meant that someone must have shut it off (even they weren’t suppose to).  I turned the switch on and all of the light came on.  I then remembered something I wished I hadn’t thought of.  Oh my god! The refrigerator!!
I ran to the refrigerator hoping that whoever was stupid enough to shut off all of the power in the house, had an ounce of sense to have remove everything from the refrigerator before doing so.  But, no such luck
When I open the refrigerator door, I felt I had just open a lid on a science experiment gone horribly wrong.  The smell of rotting food pierced my eyes, nose, and brain.  There were living organisms thriving on the bits of food that had been neglected for several months through the hot summer heat and humidity.  I thought about just pretending like I had not seen anything, and just head back home.  But then I thought about my poor grandmother having to have to deal with the cleaning.  I was also tired from the long drive, and I had my own food that I had bought that was going to need refrigeration soon. *Sigh*  time to get to work.
Needless to say, it was a complete nightmare.  Mold and mildew everywhere, even in the tiniest spaces and cracks needed to be removed or it could cause a health problems.  Some of the items I found was appaling!  Any person with even the smallest grain of common sense would have thrown some of the stuff I found away before leaving. Even with the refrigerator running, they should have never been left there.
Some of the item I found were:

  • 2 cartons of milk (both dated April; one opened, the other unopened)
  • Some kind of fruit (thoroughly covered in mold)
  • Some kind of vegetable (that had partially disintegrated into a foul smelling brown liquid)
  • A bag of mochi (soaking in the brown liquid)
  • Sauces and seasonings (in various stages of fermentation)
  • Open cans of sodas and other drinks
  • Something in a plastic container (no longer identifiable because it was covered in mold)
  • a bar of butter ( in surprisingly good shape)
  • And other things that had disintergated into a pool of moldy liquid on the shelves of the refrigerater

I threw everyhing away (obviously) whether they were opened or not. It took two and half hours to thoroughly clean and disinfect the refrigerator to a satifisfactory level.  Not very cool considering the fact that I was already very tired from work and the long drive, and just wanted to relax when I got there.
Over the next day, I found a few other aggrevating things that the inconsiderate slob, who used the house last failed to take care of before he left.

  • Almost every single trash can in the house was full of tissue paper.
  • The bath area had dead insects everywhere and the drains were clogged with long black hair (possibly female)
  • The bedroom I slept in (which was the cleanest bedroom) had the same long black hair on the pillows and sheets.
  • The other bedrooms were pretty messy but I didn’t even bother with them.
  • The outside patio had residue from used firecrackers all over it, and some in a plastic bag that was tossed on the lawn.
  • The remote control for the living room TV was found underneath the sofa.
  • I had to rewash all of the dishes and utensils because they looked suspiciously unwashed. 
  • Someone installed a cable TV receiver that didn’t work (which pissed me off because I thought I’d be able to watch cable!)

On top of all that, I had a pretty severe allergy attack while I was there.  I though it was just my overactive immune system not agreeing with the overgrown and neglected plants and grass in the backyard, but the odd thing is that I felt better when I was outside.  It took me a while to figure it out , but I was reacting to something on the living room sofa.
And to add insult to injury, when I got back to Yokohama, I noticed that I had a lot of insect bite marks on my arms and all down my back. Aside from being in the shower, I always had a shirt on, so I didn’t know what could have possibly bit me.  This morning I noticed that both dogs where scratching uncontrollably.  When I checked them, they were infested with tons of ticks!  I was so mad!!  The poor dogs must have been miserable.  I am positive that they got it from that house, because they have never gotten that many ticks or flees while they’re in Yokohama.
Although I desperately wanted to blame this on my cousin Tsugu (one of the two other people who have keys to that house aside from my grandmother), having lived with Tsugu in the past, I know he wouldn’t have tolerated that kind of mess.  Also, all of the circumstancial evidence ( the cartons of milks, the used fireworks, the tons of tissue paper in trash cans -both my cousin and his son have constant nasel problems, and the long black hair in the drains and beds) strongly indicated it was probably more than likely to be my cousin Ryo, his wife, and kid. He has the other key to house and visits the house more often than anyone else.  Ryo has this “I don’t care about anything” kind of attitude which has slowly rubbed off on his wife over the years, and its really showing through the way they raise their son.  Its pretty sad considering that they just had another kid last month.  But that’s none of my business.  All I care about is that house, because its a really nice house and I don’t want to see it torn apart and neglected by a bunch of careless people who want to use it like a toilet.  I was planning on spending more time out there, but I’m not too sure now.
Anyways, the next time I see everyone they are ALL going to hear it from me.