Category Archives: Random

Settling Back in, Without Mercy

We made it back from the in-laws despite more rain, several random complete traffic stops on the expressway, and a temperamental navigator (a computer this time).

Once we got back, we got comfortable quickly. Maybe too quickly.

We were late starting out and that put us into the “u-turn rush” which wasn’t that bad, except the traffic came to complete stops several times during the trip. We still don’t understand why as there were no accidents.

As we got near home, our navigation system decided that we’d ignored her one time too many and she stopped giving us notifications.

Once we got home, we all fell into our usual chairs and routines and relaxed to the point that all of a sudden it was time to go to bed and we hadn’t actually eaten supper.

Tomorrow we’re back to our full regular routines. Maybe we’ll manage to unpack eventually.

Fish and Visiting

A short one today in honor of our short visit to the in-laws.

Although, we’ve had a short visit we are, all of us, ready to be home.

Our oldest has club starting back up, our youngest has Junior Leader activities, and She Who Must Be Obeyed has work.

In my case, I’m ready to continue doing nothing as I’m now in my actual official vacation, but doing nothing in my own way. Although being at the in-laws is mostly relaxing, it comes with lots of extra people and chairs that don’t fit.

By day five it’s time to move on.

Lazy Vacation Day

I decided not to visit the dead because it was raining. I was that kind of lazy day.

Because it was raining I skipped the annual visit to the family grave. This is usually something I enjoy doing because it’s an interesting ritual and I often run into former students (visiting, not in the graves).

However, even though it was unseasonably cool, the rain made the trip seem less interesting so I opted to stay home and do absolutely nothing. Even She Who Must Be Obeyed and her mother cut the trip short.

Other than that, not much happened to day. Which means it was a good vacation day but not a good day to write about.

Cool Fools at the Beach

I do not know if they were cool or if they were fools.

We woke up to a torrential rain storm that went on quite a while. After it settled down to just basic torrents we went to a nearby city to do some shopping.

The rivers along the route were swollen muddy messes and they’d created a halo of muddy water along the coast. The areas where the rivers met the Japan Sea looked like boiling mud.

Despite that, dozens of people determined to enjoy their vacations, darn it, were swimming in the mud at various commercial swimming areas.

In another area several people were surfing in waves of mud. This was kind of cool, except the mud waves seemed to breaking rather close to the shore. About the time they got stood up they had to jump off.

Complicating matter even more, it was unseasonably cool today after the rain.

Although I admire their determination, I still can’t decide if the beach goers were cool or if they were fools.

I guess I have to embrace the power of “and”.

Randomness, Curses, and Music

We avoided the rain but it is clear that we are cursed after music festivals. Or at least I am.

Today our oldest took part in a prefectural music contest. They’d barely squeaked in as they’d received a silver award in the contest last Saturday. Usually only “Gold” awards move on, but if there aren’t enough “Gold” awards, the best of the silver awards move on. (I think nine bands usually move on.)

There was a lot of pressure as the past couple years our oldest’s school has moved on to the regional contest, which is one step (ish) away from the national contest.

Because our oldest’s school played next to last, we waited for the results. On a side note, the organizers have the “trade generator” system down pat. By the time we left the auditorium, only ten minutes after our oldest finished, there was already a CD of their performance available for sale. They also appeared on video to advertise the DVD that is for sale.

The announcements came whilst most of the parents stood outside the auditorium (the actual band members had filled the hall). We could, though, hear the announcement of the results. The funniest moment happened at the beginning when they announced that the judges had already gone home and therefore could not be punished for their decisions. Something like that. (The judges had actually already gone home, though.)

Our oldest’s band got another silver award but the school where I work received a “Gold” award and will be moving on. Therefore today was kind of bittersweet.

After that we went home and, once again, everyone was in the mood for soft serve ice cream. Once again, though, we couldn’t find any. I blame myself.

Waiting for the Storm

Typhoon 5 (aka Noru) is coming and I’m waiting for it to start messing with my head.

Because it appears that it may be a direct hit, I’m waiting for air pressure changes to start triggering headaches. This happened a couple years ago and both my youngest and I had reactions. It wasn’t a full migraine, it was more of a constant annoying pain, like a sinus headache or a hangover you can’t shake.

The other worry is that the storm will interfere with our oldest’s music contest. Granted, this is a minor thing, although we’re all worried that we’ll get either soaked, trapped, or soaked and trapped by the weather. (I’ve been fooled by the eye of a storm before, and I ended up spending a long time in a train station.)

Luckily, the storm is losing strength and appears to be changing direction which means we will mostly get wet. Unfortunately, that will be followed by heat and humidity.

Queasy Rider

For some reason I’ve been thinking about motorcycles lately.

My father always had a motorcycle, there’s even a picture of me when I was little on one of his cycles. He also went through a biker phase that morphed into a different style of biking but technically never ended and we had at least two motorcycles at our house. He had a dirt bike and cruiser (complete with fairing and detachable saddle bags) and one of my favorite moments was riding on the Kawasaki (probably a Kawasaki) with him to Denver where I got my allergy tests to eventually be mostly cured of my allergies.

Despite this, I only drove a motorcycle once. Dad, out of the blue (i.e. for reasons I don’t remember) taught me how to ride. (We were in our house which means it had to be in the early 80s which meant I was at least 14 or 15). After I mastered the “down one up whatever” shifting nonsense on the dirt bike (a Honda I think), I rode down a dirt road near our house and actually had a great time. (I didn’t ride enough to get confident/stupid.)

After I returned to our house I got off the bike and never drove a bike again.

Although that was a great moment, I never had the desire to drive a motorcycle again. Maybe if I’d driven one earlier things might have been different, but at university one of my friends had a nasty motorcycle accident that put his leg in a cage and that pretty much eliminated any interest I had in driving a motorcycle. Another friend recently pointed out, whilst questioning why anyone would want to ride a motorcycle, that every motorcycle rider he knew had an “accident story.”

That pretty much explains why I’ll probably never own a motorcycle.

Music and Bolt and Hunting for Soft Serve

Today we wandered down to a music contest starring our oldest and her band, er, her band club. The adventure ended with ice cream and disappointment.

The contest featured dozens of high school bands each with 10 minutes to perform before they were rushed off for pictures and waiting. There were lots of rules, mainly no pictures or video in the concert hall unless you buy it from the professionals.

Our oldest’s band did well (and will be moving on the next part of the contest) although I felt it was not their best performance of the song.

After their turn, I took the opportunity to bolt for home as our oldest wouldn’t be performing again.

On the way home I decided I needed some soft serve ice cream. In fact I was craving it. I even passed better, more expensive variations of ice cream because was in the mood for soft serve. I went for the cheapest only to discover that particular McDonald’s branch didn’t sell ice cream. Then I went to a different restaurant where I got a big cup and a little bit of ice cream for a substantial price.

It was tasty, but it was a disappointment.

Later, She Who Must Be Obeyed and our youngest came home. It turns out they had also been craving soft serve, but they’d found a better version. I broke at least one commandment involving coveting at that point and committed ice cream adultery in my heart.

However, because our oldest is moving on, I’ll have the chance on Tuesday to get real soft serve.

Of course, I’ll probably be craving something else at that point. I hope I’ll be able to find it.

Mistaken Not Wrong

As near as I can tell, as I was writing yesterday’s post, events were happening that, on first glance, appear to invalidate everything I wrote. However, as you will see, I may have been mistaken, but I was not wrong.

Two Facebook groups related to pens and stationery split into different factions.

In once case, the problem appears to have been related to the personality of one of the moderators. I personally had a strange message from him that may have been a result of the moderator being a non-native speaker of English rather than someone giving attitude. I had just joined the group and am now a member of a different group. I guess.

In another case, a group that had gathered to worship a particular brand of notebook, split over matters of style/taste.

One part of the group objected to the constant sell/trade posts even though the group was designated as a buy/sell group.

In another case, some one apparently posted pictures of an every day carry set that included pens, notebooks, and a firearm. This person then claims to have been subject to abuse from those who get queasy at the site of firearms.

Comments to the posts were stopped and then the firearm related posts were deleted and, as near as I can tell, such posts are permanently banned.

(Note: I never saw the posts, so this is what I’ve been able to gather from reactions to the banning. If anyone has more accurate information, please let me know and I’ll post another update.)

At about the same time, the group was changed from buy/sell to club.

In the former case, I’ve not been in the group long enough to know all the details, therefore I feel I have not been proven wrong.

The second group split over capitalism and firearms, not pens and stationery. Therefore I am still not wrong.

Pen People Are Not Like Knife People

I’m pretty sure today’s post will be less coherent than usual because there are a few mysteries of life I’ve been trying to solve for quite long time and I’m not sure if I’ve worked them all out:

1) Why do Japanese cellphone providers suck so bad at providing decent texting services?

2) Why do all great and popular pen makers make such crappy converters?

3) Why do pen people get along so well when knife people don’t?

The first two are mysteries that will never be solved (it will be easier to prove God’s existence than to explain number two), so instead I’ll focus on the last. One of the things I’ve noticed about the pen community is how friendly it is. At its worst, it’s nowhere close to the anger that can build in the knife community.

The pen community has some disagreements, but there are no angry rants or personal attacks from people who like handmade notebooks against people who say they like trendy notebooks (and vice versa). People who don’t like Nakaya fountain pens will get stern looks (if in person) and some discussion from Nakaya fans (if in a forum), but neither side will start hurling invective or ad hominem attacks. People who like Montblancs will get stern looks (if in person) and some discussion from every other pen addict (if in a forum), but even people not interested in buying a Montblanc can appreciate how well made they are and how attractive some of them can be.

By contrast, there seem to be gangs supporting every brand of knife produced. If you criticize a Bark River Gunny Hunter (which is a terrific knife) you will be attacked by dozens of BR fanboys who will call you lots of interesting names, provide you with a detailed list of your personal failings, and suggest you perform extremely difficult sexual acts. If you fail to show proper reverence to a Hinderer XM-18, you quickly learn that you are unworthy because you are not an operator so shut up.  In one case, a popular knife and gear podcaster who gave a popular knife a terrible review was directly challenged on his podcast by the owner of the knife company.

For example, if I say I’m not interested in The Well-Appointed Desk and Skylab LetterpressCol-o-Ring Ink Testing Books I’ll be met with a couple lists of their benefits rather than something like this:

Pen Community: Your and idiot.
Me: No, they look awesome, it’s just that I live in Japan and can find many similar things.
Pen Community: WTF does Japan no about stationery? Your and idiot.
Me: No, it’s just that the shipping would be too expensive.
Pen Community: You don’t make notebooks do you? BOOM mic drop.
Me: In my free time, yes.
Pen Community: Well you must suck at it.
Me: Well, yes I do, that’s why I don’t sell them. They’re just for personal use.
Pen Community: Your and Nazi.

I’m not sure why this is, but I think some of it stems from the fact that knives, in their various forms, are seen as a primal tool whereas pens are not. Yes there are cave drawings here and there, but to my knowledge we’ve never found a pen in an ancient archaeological dig (note: my office/variety room does not count as a dig even though digging is often involved to find things) but early knives are found all the time. A fountain pen can help earn you some money, but it’s not a survival tool and no one recommends you include one in all your survival kits. (Even though you totally could.)

Because of this, there’s a level of machismo and posing in the knife community that doesn’t exist in the pen community. There are no backyard pen users, but there do seem to be an awful lot of backyard commandos.

In the knife community you’ll quickly learn what knife is carried by Special Forces soldiers or DEVGRU and if you are not at least a member of the Army Compartmented Element (if it exists) then your opinion is garbage if you don’t like the knives. You are not an operator and therefore cannot disagree so shut up. You may only like the knives or GTFO.

You also learn, quite quickly, that you are not a knife maker if you criticize knives from popular makers. If you are a knife maker then, clearly, you suck at it to hold such an opinion so no one will ever buy your knives which have never been carried in combat anyway so they must suck. A similar happening in the pen community might be:

Me: Wow, why do Sailor, Pilot, and Platinum make great pens but crappy converters?
Pen Community: Your and idiot. Do you make converters?
Me: No.
Pen Community: Than your and Nazi so shutup.

In the pen community, perhaps because it is smaller, the disagreements are friendlier. If a popular YouTuber seems underwhelmed by Nakayas for being little more than a cartridge/converter pen (and remember, all converters are crap), Nakaya fans will at least hear them out before killing them with knives, er, sorry, wrong forum, offering a defense of Nakayas. (Verbally, not violently.)

I know people who don’t understand why cheap Bic pens or slightly more expensive gel ink pens are not enough for anyone (heck, even the Pen Addict himself used to express that opinion) but they are not as vitriolic as people who don’t understand why someone would pay $300 for a handmade knife when they could get a Victorinox Swiss Army knife (complete with toothpick, corkscrew and knobby hook thing) for around $30.

(Note: My solution is to get both.)

The closest we’ve seen to this level of vitriol in the pen community is some issues between an economist and a fountain pen forum moderator over Montblanc related news and exposes of questionable products (such as this and this) from other sources.

There are a couple smaller knife fora that are a real treat because they have moderators who crack down on personal attacks. They are more like the pen community, so I frequent those.