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Late and Out

Can’t be bothered today, even though this is post 1195.

I had noisy students who wanted to study a different class and even when I offered them a choice “finish this then you can study anything” they chose to play and talk. Some of them didn’t even study the other class

Some of them finished the work and then to study. Some didn’t work at all. . Others ran out of time whilst they waited for their friends to finish.

Eventually I finished and came home.

 

 

Images of the Fall

I had intended to review a notebook today, but then something happened and I can’t decide if it means I’m psychic or clumsy.

For the past couple months I’ve noticed a lot of people trip as they walked down the sidewalk. This gave me images of me tripping and falling, which is something that used to happen at least once every year–it’s also a tradition that I scuff new shoes on some structural oddity on the road–but I realized, as I watched the suffering of others, that for the past few years I hadn’t fallen down or even had an embarrassing trip. However, the image of it happening has been stuck in my head.

Today it became more than an image. Of course, six bottles of collectible ink were involved.

After doing my “work” for the day, I headed down to Tokyo to go to Takashimaya department store in Nihonbashi to acquire some ink for some customers. I proceeded, with no trouble at all, to the fifth floor and actually found a clerk quite easily. (Note: I should have realized this was an omen so one strike against psychic.) I can tell that the staff are now used to dealing with ink hoarders as the clerk didn’t blink when I requested a couple bottles of flavors and she instantly told me which ones were sold out. (Note: I take credit for all this. Long story.)

I stuffed the ink into my book bag, much to the chagrin of the checkout clerk who wanted to give me a carry bag. She seemed especially concerned when I was forced to shove the package down with some force to get it past some of the crap I carry.

After completing the transaction, I headed back downstairs and out Takashimaya’s impressive front entrance. However, as I turned in the direction of the crosswalk, I discovered that Takashimaya’s entrance is not level with the sidewalk when I rolled my ankle on the raised step.

What happened next was an odd hop, a loss of balance, a flop to my hands one elbow and knees, a loud slap, and a surprising amount of pain. After I recovered I shifted to a seated position on the sidewalk to reset my nerves. I told the concerned on-lookers I was okay. (Note: as everyone who’s rolled an ankle knows, you don’t feel the real pain until later.)

After that, I went to one of the best liquor stores in the world where for a couple hundred yen I was able to sample a couple expensive bottles of bourbon. (Note: I count this a trip to a medical clinic.)

Luckily, the ink was intact. My instincts caused me to fall in a way that protected the bag, hence the inexplicably injured elbow. This instinct came from my father who used to say as he was carrying his cameras across slippery sidewalks:  “If I fall, grab the camera, not me”.

Of course, if I’d listened to the checkout clerk and placed the ink in a Takashimaya carry bag, I’d now have a broken glass collection and six highly decorated small boxes, so that’s one strike against clumsy. (Although I suspect my instincts would have changed my landing style in that case.)

My ankle is okay, albeit a little sore. I do have those odd scuffs on my elbow and knee where the fall drew blood without damaging my clothes. (What evil is this?)

Now, though, I’m afraid to carry the ink to the post office.

 

Fun Up Stairs and Surprises Down

I didn’t get way up stairs today, so I don’t know if there was a third pen show, but the two I visited were pretty good, mostly thanks to a surprise.

Today I visited the 8th Annual World Fountain Pen Exhibition at Maruzen Books down in Tokyo. Because it was a Friday, I wasn’t expecting much. As always, the things I most wanted to see were all huddled into a tiny space next to the exit at one end of the ground floor.

I was especially pleased to see Euro-Box on hand as it was fun to look over the large selection of vintage pens. A Nakaya staffer was there tuning and fixing pens as were staff from Ohashido and Eboya.

Eizo Fujii from Euro-Box (left) watches over four displays full of vintage pens. The pen maker from Ohashido consults with a client at the back, near the exit.

The pen master from Ohashido works on a client’s pen.

The pen mistress from Nakaya (I forgot her name and she usually keeps it secret anyway by hiding her name tag) checks the smoothness of a nib at the Nakaya tables. (Note: She doesn’t like pictures, so I’m only running this because you can’t see her face clearly.)

I drooled over a couple pens but managed to walk away with my finances intact. Mostly.

Some of the Ohasahido pens. That orange and black pen second from the left is calling me. My wallet is sending a different message. (I also like the three to the right.)

Although it wasn’t that busy, there was still a lot of energy on the ground floor. However, because there wasn’t much to see other than temptation and temporary joy followed by fits of remorse, I headed downstairs into the mausoleum where it was dark and silent.

However, as soon as I arrived in the mausoleum, I saw a large collection of store exclusive inks. I quickly bought one of each. This was a big surprise as 1) I expected any ink they had to have sold out the first day and 2) they were older versions in the old style bottles. I quickly bought one of each, gambling I’d be able to sell them.

Because of that find, I was in a much better mood in the mausoleum. I looked around at a few of the displays and talked to the LAMY rep about the cap on my LAMY 2000. (He says it’s fine; I says it’s barely fine.) I saw the anniversary edition LAMY 2000 black amber, which is neither black nor amber, but is cooler looking than I expected it be.

I also found my scribblings from last  year in a sample notebook in the darkest corner of the mausoleum. Something about that struck me as funny and I left in a good mood.

I was in such a good mood that I completely forgot to check out what events were happening on the third floor.

I still think it would be cool if they squeezed a nibmeister in next to the Nakaya or Ohashido tables. It would also be nice if they allowed pictures in the mausoleum.

But I left in a good mood, so none of that bothered me much this year.

 

 

Field Notes Snowblind–End of Book Review

One of the joys of a Field Notes subscription is you get a variety of notebook styles as the designers unleash their madness and their visions on the notebooks.

One of the horrors of a Field Notes subscription is you get a variety of notebook styles as the designers unleash their madness and their visions on the notebooks.

In the case of the Snowblind, you have a cover gimmick in desperate need of better paper. It’s more of a toy than a notebook, but even as a toy it has its advantages.

The paper in the Snowblind is 60#T paper that looks great with its light gray grid. However, it bleeds almost every ink that touches it. This doesn’t bother me as much as it probably bothers other fountain pen users, but it is noticeable. The paper feels excellent with ballpoint pens and gel pens, though.

The main gimmick of the Snowblind is the cover. It is a white cover treated with photocromatic blue ink. Once the notebook is exposed to sunlight it quickly turns blue. After you step back indoors, it quickly turns white again.

The Snowblind inside.

The Snowblind in sunlight. You can see some scuff marks near the spine.

It’s even possible to make patterns by putting items on the cover and removing them in sunlight. The effect, for a few seconds, is like one of Man Ray’s photograms.

Part of the annoyance of the Snowblind, though, is the effects of the change fade too quickly. It’s like pointing a flashlight at your little sister’s eyes to see her pupils get really small. (Oh, like you didn’t.) The effect lasts only as long as the flashlight is pointed at her eyes.

The gimmick is cool, or at least serves as a conversation starter, because nothing attracts people more than forcing them to stand in the sun whilst you hold your fingers over your notebook and say “Look now! Look now, quick!”.

That said, even in its white form, the cover looks good. I especially like the white staples holding it together. Also, the cover is durable.

It’s a good looking edition that I think people would be a good introduction to the Field Notes world for those who’ve yet to discover it. This is especially true if they like ballpoint pens.

In fact, the Snowblind is the kind of Field Notes edition you hand out as gifts as you probably never intend to finish them. It looks great and is kind of a fun toy, a few seconds at a time.

This may have been part of the diabolical plan: create a limited edition that subscribers will be in a hurry to give away.

Matters of Geez and Gosh and Justice

Warning: This post contains a great deal of profane language.

Watching Fixer Upper, where everyone’s reaction to their newly renovated home is “Oh my gosh” has me thinking about Boy Scout camp and matters of justice.

When I was at a Boy Scout camp about a thousand years ago–I think it was the now defunct O. A. Greager Scout Ranch in Western Colorado–there were a lot of rules involving earning feathers that would help your patrol, and eventually your troop, earn rewards, albeit usually in the form of more feathers.

One of the rules I had a hard time accepting was that “gosh” was acceptable as an expression of surprise/disgust, but “geez” was not. Uttering “gosh” would elicit no reaction, but uttering “geez” was treated as if the speaker had said “shit” or “fuck”.

The logic, as I understood it, was that “gosh” was far enough away from “God” that it did not count as a swear word. (Saying “God” in reaction to something earned demerits.) “Geez”, however, was considered too close to “Jesus” and therefore counted as taking the Lord’s name in vain and earned demerits.

My reaction to this logic was “That’s bullshit.”

Even if they assumed “Geez” was spelled “Jeez” it was still farther away from “Jesus” than “Gosh” was to “God” as the latter required fewer letter substitutions. However, the Scout Master at the time insisted that it was different because “Gosh” didn’t lead to “God” whereas “Geez” could easity lead to “Geezus H. Christ”.

My argument was that “Geez” was not “Jesus”. Only “Geezus” was “Jesus”. (These are the kinds of things that seem important to you right after you’ve earned demerits for saying “Geez”.)

Eventually we all got used to the arbitrary rules. I mean, geez, they were still bullshit, but we got used to the fuckers and no more demerits were earned, at least not by me, and at least not for swearing.

Write Notepads & Co. Pocket Notebook: End of Book Review

Like most of my purchases over the past couple years, I don’t remember where I heard about the Write Notepads Pocket Notebooks. I vaguely remember making the order, but that’s about it.

That said, however it happened, I’m glad I learned about them.

The Pocket Notebooks are 3-3/4” x 5-1/2” and are perfect bound with 100-pound cover stock. Inside are 64 pages of 70-pound paper stock. (I know, I know; you were told there would be no math.) I chose the Variety Pack which came with one lined, one blank and one graph paper notebook. The three notebooks came in a box made from a single piece of folded card stock. They are made in Baltimore, Maryland.

The complete package, including fancy box and the card with the school code.

The complete package, including fancy box and the card with the school code.

Note: As an incentive, for each notebook you buy, a notebook is donated to a Baltimore City public school to help an aspiring writer. Inside the package you receive is a code that helps you identify which school received the donation.

I started with the graph paper version and used it as my food and exercise journal as this allows me to use it quickly with a lot of different pens. Although it is perfect bound, I managed to fit it in my Old Church Works Quad cover.

The paper had a bit of tooth to it, but every pen I used on it, including fountain pens, gel inks pens and ballpoint pens, worked with little trouble. There was very little feathering. A couple of my wetter inks showed through and a couple bled through to the back side of the page, but I usually had to try to break the paper to get it to bleed.

One of the few inks that bled through.

One of the few inks that bled through.

Places where ink didn't bleed through.

Places where ink didn’t bleed through, but you can still see it. This is more normal.

Although I appreciate how good the Pocket Notebooks look, I’m not sure the perfect binding is necessary. The notebook doesn’t lay flat unless you force it to, and it makes it slightly harder to fit into a cover. That said, the perfect binding is what sets it apart and keeps it from being just another Field Notes notebook clone.

Also, although the box is a nice touch, and is well made, I’m not sure it’s necessary. It stores three notebooks well, but it doesn’t seem as if it would be useful for long term storage. With my system it would merely end up as a box in a box.

With or without the box, the Pocket Notebooks are on my list of notebooks to restock once my current supply is gone. (That may take a long time, though.)

Crazy Japan Times Facebook Invasion: Summer Olympics 2016 Day Four

Another day, another dollar: A

Another day, another free post: C-

Yellow card system in Judo: A

Judo referee waving hand over head to overturn previous ruling: A

Cross Country Equestrian: A

Using “equestrian” instead of “horseback riding”: C

Calling it “Cross Country Horseback Riding”: A

Dressage: B

Changing name to “horse kata” instead of “dressage”: A+

Unnecessary French: C-

Equestrian terms that sound dirty but probably aren’t:  impulsion (schwung).

German terms that sound dirty but probably aren’t: A-

Most painfully British name perfect for horseback riding: William Fox-Pitt

William Fox-Pit overcoming brain damage and double vision last December: A

Double vision: C-

Double Vision: B+

Feeling down’n’dirty, feeling kinda mean: D

Having a chorus that sounds as if it’s from a different style song: C

Looking up old song to see it the former’s true: A-

Foreigner: B

Being a foreigner: Most days: A- THOSE days: F-

THOSE days in general: F

Calling ping pong “table tennis”: C

Best sword fighting (fencing) term: Duck Stop

Ibtihaj Muhammad: A

Replay reviews in sword fighting: B-

Adding blood squibs to sword fighting uniform to denote hits: A

Beheading loser: B-

Game of Thrones: A-

Watching the Olympics with US television commercials for the first time in years: F

Japan winning men’s all-around in gymnastics: A

Gymnastics: A

Men’s floor routine: A for no music.

Women’s floor routine: C- for requiring music.

Forcing women to dance while men do sports: C

The Unforgiven Minutes

If you can keep from laughing when all about you
are panicking and it’s not your fault, you will be a decent human. 

This is especially true when your voice is needed.

Today one of my colleagues at the school where I work discovered a mistake on the listening section of the exam. Because it was part of a logic problem, the mistake effected more than one question and made it impossible for us to simply make corrections on the board.

Unfortunately, the mistake was discovered just 15 minutes before the exam started which limited the possible options.

It was decided that we should rerecord one line of the listening test–yes, it was one wrong name in one line that caused all this–and then quickly splice the line in and burn a new CD and then play that for the listening.

This meant my voice was needed which meant I had to do actual work. We got the key to the recording studio but two of us had our IDs and passwords rejected by the network, proving the exam was cursed. Eventually we were able to record the listening, but decided to warn the Powers What Are that the listening test had to be postponed.

(Note: all this could have been accomplished by having me do a live reading of the entire mistaken section of the exam and I would have except for “work” and “lazy”.

In the end, it all seemed to work out. My voice sounded awesome and one colleague proved to be an expert at splicing it in so that my voice sounded awesome seamlessly.

I felt sorry for the colleague in charge of the exam as I’ve been there when things went wrong and everyone was looking at me.

We’ll still tease him about it, but we’ll be more careful about the exams in the future…

The Problem With Health Checks

I had to break a woman’s heart and make her life more difficult. Oddly, we are neither dating nor married. Also oddly. I have to do what she tells me. Sort of.

I am approaching my annual mandatory health check (a by-product of being older than 40 and on the national health insurance) and it started with a positive email from the company I work for. Ms. Sigh (not her real name) told me it was time for my annual health check and after I told her “No barium” she told me my health check was at the end of June.

The problem is, as I told her, the end of June is one of the busiest times of the term and to go to health check I’d have to miss classes at the school where I work. Even worse, because I’d have to have camera shoved down my throat I’d be both irritable and hungry once I returned to work. (After getting the camera I’m not supposed to eat for a few hours.) Also, my voice would be hoarse and I’d be grumpier than normal.

Note: Ms. Sigh has no clue what happens during the health check and doesn’t understand that I’ll need a nap not a lesson plan once I’m finished.

Oddly, this same thing happened last year except the staff of the company I work for showed up at the school where I work and announced I’d have to do the health check and one of my colleagues could cover my classes. This led to exploding heads and lots of angry phone calls so I’m surprised they tried this again.

I don’t mind the health checks, but I can’t miss work, especially at the end of the term when we are preparing for final exams and i’ll be missing final classes.

As of now all I know is I will have a health check “someday”. Sigh.

Once More Into the Beerch

I didn’t start flirting until the guy they were with tried to dismiss us. That’s when beer fueled orneriness kicked in.

Today was my second visit to the Keyaki Beer Festival. This time I met up with a former colleague and a current colleague.

I got there early to get some food before I started drinking, but as it turned out, I ended up getting a beer from one of our Temporary Friends Forever who helped us get a seat the last time we went. As always, the crowd was great. When I was eating, a guy started talking to me in English and we had a nice chat.

Eventually the former colleague arrived and we began sampling various beers. I also became a kind of pusher for one of the places you could buy food: (“choriso”, hamburger steak and sliced Iberico pork steak.) The thick slice of bacon steak was also pretty good.

We tried something called “Pepper Porter” which turned out to be awesome and earned us the attention of a young couple who praised out choice. We found out he’s a cook at at wine bar and she’s a cook at a French restaurant. They eventually moved on, but that’s part of the reason even an introvert such as me likes the beer festival.

Another colleague arrived later, but by that time he had a lot of catching up to do. We would get beer, block the place from other people, and then move on to a different place. Unfortunately, because this was the last day of the festival, many of the best beers were running out along with some of the best food. The two of us who arrived early had a beer but by the time the second colleague arrived, the beer had run out.

Instead we got a different flavor and commandeered an empty section of table to use as a beer stand. That’s when me met a guy sitting with two women. We commented on all the samples he had in front of him and how few were in front of the ladies he was with.

At some point, as we chatted with the ladies, he more or less thanked us for playing and then dismissed us. That’s when beer kicked in and I started flirting with his two companions.

There was no where for it to go–as all three of us our married–but it did annoy the man who dismissed us. That made it kind of fun.