Category Archives: Life and Stuff

Necessary But Not as Planned

Today’s plans were much different than what happened, but what happened was necessary.

The plan was to sort the posts from this bit of blather into something resembling a book and then to work on the final exam for high school second year students.

Instead, because, well, because, I ended up organizing and reorganizing emergency kits and even managed to assemble a get-home bag to take to the school where I work. This started because I’ve been wanting to do this for some time and because I had a bag tucked away in a drawer and I suddenly decided to dig it out of its storage place. That’s when plans changed.

Once the bag was out of the drawer it started a cascade of cleaning and organizing. The bag had stuff in it, but a lot of it was old and needed to be updated. This is the good news, as it means that six years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami it hasn’t been needed.

Of course, a lot of it was crap, too. A shocking amount of it fell under the “at the time seemed like a good idea” concept. Also, the bag had originally been organized as a “get home from Tokyo during a disaster” bag and that meant it had a lot of fire-making and cooking related items that I most likely won’t need to walk home the seven miles from work.

Instead, I decided to turn it into a large first aid kit with a few emergency items, including flashlights, water, and multi-tools.

This required lots more extra work than I thought it would and led to me reassembling first aid kits for other bags. It also led to a couple trips to the internet to order replacements for things.

Somewhere in there I sharpened a couple knives and figured out in which order I’m going to eat the outdated emergency food.


The Law of Diminishing Electronic Returns

No matter how you look at it, despite a lot of energy spent on my part, today was a wasted day.

I set about trying to figure out how to upgrade an old Android tablet and get a writing program working on Linux. The results were mixed.

The Linux project actually went well, eventually, and then it didn’t. I finally figure out how to install WINE, which in classic Linux tradition stands for the tautological “WINE Is Not an Emulator” (This makes more sense when you realize that Linux is actually GNU/Linux and that GNU stands for “GNU is not Unix.)

WINE lets me run Windows programs on Linux. After some tinkering I got the writing program running. The problem is that although I could open a new project, I couldn’t open the old one. After much fiddling and restarting, I finally gave up and checked to see if things were working as they should on Windows.

They were, with no trouble at all, and that means I have to decide if I want to spend more energy on making things work or if I should just give up and try a different program.

This is representative of my only problem with Linux: although it’s free, it represents a new hobby. You have to decide you want to understand it and have to want to work with it. Even the easy to use distributions such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint are great right up until something goes wrong and you have to learn how to learn how to fix it. For example, I started using it at work back in 2006 and liked it a lot. Then the school where I work got a new printer that wasn’t compatible with Linux. I never did manage to make things work and gave up on Linux for a while.

As for the tablet, once She Who Must Be Obeyed and I remembered the PIN (long story almost resulting in divorce, sort of) I was able to get things working. The trouble is, the plan to root it and install new software hit the snag that 1) the tablet is made by an obscure Indonesian manufacturer which means 2) most information about it is in Indonesian which means 3) I’m not sure what’s compatible with it.

At this point, I’m trying to decide if trashing it might not be more worthwhile than playing with it. I already have enough hobbies, Linux, for example.

On the other hand, if I’m just going to throw it out, I might as well see how badly I can ruin it before I do. That might be kind of fun.

Playing with Old Stuff

After last week’s adventure with an old computer, I thought that today I’d play with more old stuff.

Electronics tend to gather the way old, unread books do. They represent the triumph of hope over schedule. I intend to read the books, someday, and I tend to use/modify the old electronics but there are other things in the way, usually other books and other electronics. And other hobbies.

First I messed with the old computer for a while, and managed to avoid swearing at anything. Tomorrow, though, I’ll try to make some software work on it and I suspect our girls will learn some new words.

I also decided to play with an old tablet computer that I bought for She Who Must Be Obeyed a few years ago. My plan was to win her over the same way I won her over to digital cameras: introduce a cheap but useful one into her life and let her see the benefits. It turned out, though, to be a bad choice. The tablet was cheap and proved to be hard to use and she didn’t use it more than a couple days before abandoning it.

I kept it with plans to jailbreak it as a way to practice jailbreaking such things. Instead, it’s waited in a drawer for a long time. I’ll play with it tomorrow and see if it’s worth playing with more. If I can remember the pass code.

There’s also another tablet that I might get to play with, too. After the initial failure I bought a better one but it was barely taken out of the box. In fact, I think our oldest used it the most after we took her tablet away.

I’ll need to learn the pass code to that one, too.  I’ll have to ask our oldest about that.



Reaching the Mark of the Beast

Today, in my lifestyle change/diet I reached the day that is the mark of the beast: Day 666.

I probably should have celebrated with a huge round of self-indulgence with my motto being “eat what thou wilt” but instead I’ve been in a phase where it’s time to rethink and retool what I’ve been doing.

I dropped a lot of weight and then put a bunch back on, but still remain well below where I started. That said, I’m still above where I’d like to be but seem to have settled into some kind of equilibrium where I bounce on either side of a certain weight.

I’ve partly sabotaged my progress by eating too much too late. She Who Must Be Obeyed has been in an odd late cooking phase for a while and it’s not unusual to have supper well after 9:00 p.m. (I know what you’re thinking and I’ve tried it and it resulted in less than positive reactions.) Moderation needs to be my theme for late night meals. The late meals has also thrown off my sleeping schedule, which hasn’t helped much either.

As for the actual diet, I’ve added in more carbohydrates for lunch, which is something I’d almost completely cut out during the best phases of the plan. I’ve also added in more processed sweets which I’d also mostly cut out.

My evening exercise has been spotty lately as well.

At this point, I’ve dug out the food journals from the time when I lost the most weight and have been comparing them to recent trends. I want to get back on the track I was on in those first few months and then see if I can find equilibrium a lot lower than what I’m at now. I’ve decided on a new weigh-in schedule of Sunday (the official starting day) and Thursday. I remain shocked at how much my weight can very over a few days and see no reason to keep scaring myself and/or building up false hope.


Other Kinds of Notebooks and Other Kinds of Stuff

I set out to do some prewriting about notebooks for this bit of blather, but distracted myself by installing a new operating system on my notebook computer.

That was not my intent, but after a few technical snags trying to install it into a partition, I finally said a few choice swear words, I finally decided to just to do a full install. That took a lot of time, and a few heavy sighs, but i’m pleased that it’s all working now.

However, as I approached the end of the install, She Who Must Be Obeyed decided it was time to Summer-ize our apartment, which is what we’d reserved the day to do before SWMBO started doing something else.

Summer-izing involves swapping the heater for the fans and hiding away the winter blankets. This requires clearing out the space in front of the variety room variety closet, removing stuff, putting stuff back, and swapping out dehumidifiers. Then everything has to be put back.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have any extra dehumidifiers and SWMBO had to run get some. This left the variety room looking like something out of a TV show about hoarders. Eventually we got everything swapped and restored, and even threw away an old suitcase that hadn’t held up well under long term storage.

The house is summer-ized now. Which of course means that tonight is unseasonably cold.

Double Feature With Popcorn Meals

Today I got the chance to see a double feature which is something I don’t think I’ve done since the Jimmy Carter administration.

I was able to do this thanks to a day with no classes falling on the first day of the month. Most Japanese theater chains offer discounts on the first of every month. Prices drop from around $18 to around $11. Since both Logan and Guardians of the Galaxy, Part 2 were showing at convenient times, I decided to see both back to back.

(Note: Since I am technically under house arrest on days off according to the rules of the company I work for then, officially, I was doing research on local entertainment facilities and will write about them in the future. Really.)

For complicated reasons I’ll mention in a minute, I had to choose a theater chain I’d never been to before. This had me worried about the popcorn. As I’ve mentioned in the past, part of my critique of a movie includes the quality of the popcorn served by the theater.

The morning started with Logan which, although it is a great movie, is not a particularly good breakfast movie. That said, the only actual flaw with the movie was the popcorn. I don’t blame this on the theater though as I chose poorly. My Hokkaido butter and soy sauce choice turned out to be some kind of dry spice and not something buttery. Luckily, this didn’t ruin the movie for me. Also, since this served as my breakfast, I was hungry enough to finish it all.

The only other flaw was people.  When I chose my seat via the chain’s website, I chose the exact center of the theater, which put me far away from the nearest person. However, five minutes before the movie started, in a large theater with only a dozen people in it, a guy sat down in the seat immediately to my left. Right as the lights went down for the trailers, a second guy sat in the seat immediately to my right. My space was suddenly reduced and the popcorn wasn’t that good.

Luckily, the theater has terrific seats with adequate space and armrests so that it was still comfortable if a bit unnerving. Also, the movie was terrific and I barely noticed the company.

For the second half of the double feature, I chose regular salted popcorn as my lunch. (Note: this theater chain’s biggest weakness is they don’t have an actual butter-like substance dispenser.) This turned out to be a good choice, though, as the popcorn was good.

No one sat next to me, which surprised me, as it was a much smaller theater. However, it’s been hard to find subtitled versions of Guardians of the Galaxy, Part 2–my usual theater didn’t offer any at all–which tells me there must not be much demand for English with Japanese subtitles. As such, there were only a few of us in the theater.

Luckily, it was another terrific movie. In fact, these were the best major studio movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Unlike the original Guardians of the Galaxy, which I liked despite a weak third act, I may actually remember events from Part 2.

Tomorrow, though, it’s back to regularly scheduled work.

Productively Lazy and Sluggish

I didn’t do much today, but I did get a lot done. More specifically I didn’t move much.

Although I spent most of the day at the computer, I was working on things that involved pens and paper but didn’t involve the actual computer. Instead the computer provided background noise and images for me whilst I worked on other things.

At one point I had my laptop set up on my desk in front of my regular computer so that I could work on a computer but not disturb old episodes of MythBusters. (Note: it is interesting to see the early seasons before they became popular. They had trouble getting stuff to use in their mythbusting. Then, they had an episode where they got the FBI to close off a highway and blow up a truck and you could tell they’d arrived.)

Somewhere in there, stuff got done, although there were a few odd computer issues. They weren’t that bad, though, so not much swearing was involved. Just a lot of angry sighing.

Tomorrow is another exam day and part of that will be spent watching movies as I attempt a double feature of sorts.

Girls at the Bar

We met our oldest at a bar. Our youngest was already with us. There were a lot of children around us already.

We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary tonight (even though it was actually yesterday) by taking our girls to yakitori (chicken kebab) restaurant that is actually a bar, but is popular enough that families like to go.

The tell that it’s supposed to be a bar is that it has short stools rather than comfortable chairs (or even uncomfortable chairs with backs). In fact, as a bar it’s pretty bad too, as you can’t get comfortable with a few beers. It seems like a place you’re supposed to grab a snack and a drink on your way home from a different bar.

We went early, with our youngest, but our oldest was at club practice and she joined us after we’d already stuffed our faces full of chicken, pork, and fried potatoes.

This did not stop us from eating more when our oldest arrived.

It also did not stop us from eating cheese and drinking wine after we got home.

The restaurant/bar was pretty good, but it’s pricier than the alternatives. This means that next year we’ll take the girls to a different bar.

A-Holes of Various Types and Income

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the biggest assholes at an elementary school sports day are the parents of the first graders. They are young, fast, and everything is still new and they will get those photos/videos at all costs.

To make matters worse, they bring along grandparents who are just as deadly because they’ve reached the age where they just don’t care.

Today was especially bad. There was even a judging controversy.

Today was our youngest’s last sports day in elementary school which meant she had a lot to do which meant I had a lot of pictures to take. As a rule, She Who Must Be Obeyed takes video and I take still pictures. We have battle plan of sorts that involves finding out approximately where our youngest will be at any given moment. I always set up my tripod at the back of the  zone of tarps. This lets me get good camera angles and puts me standing behind a zone where people usually sit.

In general, most parents are fairly well behaved. Not today. Today there were a lot of assholes around.

The tarp zone, which is usually one solid zone of tarps, had lots of small dirt gaps of several inches. This meant that any gap was a free zone where people could stand and the people behind could be damned.

None of these people care about anything but pictures of children. Even the cameraless woman in the center.

Luckily, I only was interested in a few events, but even those were complicated by women who brought parasols to protect their skin from the sun.

A pair of female assholes who probably won’t get skin cancer.

I can forgive all this, though, because, as a parent, I understand the urge to get as many pictures as possible.

The next level of asshole is the professional asshole who gets to roam around the field taking pictures where ever he wants and always manages to get in the way.

This asshole blocked several shots (our youngest is behind him). The bright side is, I know the best camera angles.

However, even I can forgive that. Sort of.

What I can’t forgive, is the asshole mother in the designated photo section. She had kid in her arms but no camera. She was up against the rope when she should have been toward the back. She was talking to her friend and kept bumping into me as I tried to take shots.

I kept my cool, but I asked She Who Must Be Obeyed what “Take a picture or get the fuck out” was in Japanese but she rather vehemently refused to translate for me.

To make matters worse, there was a judging controversy. Going into the final event–the big ball race–our youngest’s team was behind but was in striking distance of victory.

In the race, all members of each of the two teams help pass a large inflated ball down the line to a final resting place. I noticed right away that the teams seemed to be operating under different rules.

When the white team dropped the ball, they had to bring it back to the place it had touched the ground and start from there. The red team, though, was allowed to pick the ball up from where it had stopped and continue from there. I thought it might be a delusion created by my own parental bias, but it turned out an asshole was involved.

The red team won two races in a row and secured the overall victory. However, the judges for the white team had misunderstood the rules. Because part of each team is little kids who are shorter than the ball, they are allowed to roll the ball rather than try to keep it in the air. The asshole judge, however, insisted they move a “dropped” ball back and start from the drop point it had started rolling.

Next year’s sports day will be our youngest’s first in junior high school. There usually aren’t many assholes there, but we’ll see.



Watching Bad Movies Vicariously

The day started with a spinach, bacon and cheese omelet (because today was Mother’s Day) and went down hill after that.

On days I get lazy I seek out old movies or television and keep that on in the background whilst I pretend to attempt other things.

Today, though, I binged watched the guys at Red Letter Media review B-movies with titles such as Xtro, Samurai Cop, and KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. In most cases cases the worst videos are destroyed.

After hearing about RLM after their excellent reviews of the Star Wars prequels–reviews that involve Pizza Rolls, dead wives and a hooker chained in the basement–I started following their videos.

They can be wacky and loud and they tend to prefer movies with lots of gore and beheadings, but I’m a big fan of their Best of the Worst series. They pick a theme–action movies, Christmas horror, robots, ninjas–and watch and review three movies. They also have a variation called Wheel of the Worst that involves a spinning wheel and videos that are not movies.

The YouTube videos focus on their reactions before, during and after the films, and include longer reviews/analyses of them. As you watch you kind of feel like a participant in a group of friends who are watching a bad movie, but without actually having to watch the bad movie.

Note: at one point there were a couple women who joined them in the viewings and reviews, but they have mysteriously disappeared which, given the types of movies these guys watch, could be considered suspicious. 

In the end, one video is chose best of the worst and one video is destroyed for being the worst of the worst.

It’s not very productive, but it is a lot of fun.