Picture 040126_0028~01.jpg “Attention Customers:
In order to prevent skipping out on a restaurant bill.
We strictly prohibit leaving before paying the bill.

See. Now I’m not convinced that this sign would be considered much of a walk-out deterrent in a US restaurant.

The beauty of Japan is that telling people it’s forbidden to shoplift or a very naughty thing to kill people and steal their money, is still considered the ultimate argument to freeze halt any dishonest plan in the making.

Update: Bigger version here

As you can tell, I’m having a lot of fun playing with colors and my page template…

I eventually came to terms with reality, depressing though it might be: black-all-over, with hues of neon blue here and there, is only really cool for insecure teenagers who like to listen to depressingly bad goth music and took for the safest route in terms of noncommittal fashion decisions. Furthermore, it made it literally painful to read my already laborious ranting.

Beside, white is the new black.

It was high time for a change.

Hence, the current “experimental” aspect of my site… I’m in the process of finalizing a palette of subtle pastel tones that accurately reflect my impeccable tastes and preferably match my delicate complexion. Lots need to be done in terms of harmonizing the code, so bear with me and the many weird visual glitches in the meantime.

And by the way, since I was at it, I decided to try and give a crap about how bad the css looked on certain browsers and platforms that we won’t name so as not to bring any more shame on Microsoft. Thanks to some research and the experience of other users dealing with MS inept support of common Web Standards. I was able to topically disable unsupported css depending on browsers.

Now the page looks ok (or not any worse) on every platforms and browsers I could put my hands on (which means IE, Mozilla and Safari on Windoze and OS X: I’m not the kind of guy who’s gonna go check if his page supports Opera, WebTV and Hitachi Microwaves Oven)… Need I say it definitely looks its best on real browsers.

This interesting text points out the increasingly frequent habit with major media outlets of turning provable facts into mere “quotations” coming from the mouth of political opponents… For example, the fact that the US budget has gone from massively in excess less than four years ago to one of the biggest deficit in US history, is no longer a fact backed by hard cold official numbers: It is a “charge” made by political opponents:

The forecast comes as Democrats campaigning to run against President Bush charge that he has turned a surplus into a deficit.

The all too common story of how newspapers can distort objective information under the dubious pretense of “keeping viewpoints balanced”.

If you were to eat ramen in a trendy Japanese restaurant in Greenwich Village, should you slurp your noodles in?

Should you adopt Japanese ramen-eating customs or conform to geography-based local ones that say you are not supposed to make loud slurping noise when eating?

Maybe I should cut down on cough medicine for today.

When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to do later in life. My definite answer – that is, before I figured how fun it was to tell grown-ups that I’d love to become an international drug dealer, hit-man or dictator in a small African country… my answer used to be that I’d love to become an official Lego set designer (Master Builders it seems they are called).

Whatever the hell that meant: maybe the guy who designs new models to be displayed on lego boxes in supermarket every year and make these ubiquitous construction booklet that go with each box… or the one who decides whether to introduce glowing red bricks or black sliding bricks in next season’s Lego collection…

Yea, that sounded like a job I could handle.

Anyway, even my innocent and stupid young self could barely believe there were actual people paid to design and/or build Lego stuff, somewhere in an imaginary world where swimming pools come filled with lego bricks and you just need to fill a form to receive three hundred new 3 by 1 yellow bricks the next day…

Well… apparently, such a job does exists…

Keitai PictureOnly one thing harder than writing in Japanese: writing a letter in Japanese!

What with the weird structures, required formal expressions and the three thousand rules to follow lest a major cultural faux-pas be made…

I mean, for all I know, I probably misspelled half the kanjis resulting in my letter addressing yutaka’s parents as “most honorable silaginoids” or something like that… So how could I be worrying about the overall level of politeness of my writing.

Talking about that, a Google query for “mispelled” returns an alarming number of matches… and don’t get me started on “inteligent” in personal ads…

‘been thinking about getting a new tattoo lately… just as if I did not have enough trouble here as it is with my less than significant piece of body-art (ok, not really troubles, merely occasionally annoyances)… nonetheless, I think I want a new one.
tattoos are oddly addictive.

I was thinking about it, when I read a fellow japanese blogger’s entry on the topic: Barcode tattoos. Too bad it’s now tied with some cheesy teenage TV show, it had some appeal. but I think I’d rather go in more artistic directions…

Anyway, I need some more time to think about it. We don’t want to go for short-lived long-regretted ideas: I’m not planning to get “F.u.c.k. B.u.s.h.” tattooed on my knuckles any day soon, tempting though it may be.

I think I want an Irezumi… I have seen some pretty awesome ones.

And by the way, when I said tattoos get you “troubles” in Japan, I am quite serious. And I don’t just mean dirty look by uptight people in the street and overall job discrimination: mine is safely hidden from any non-intimate observer and does not really interfere with my daily life. beside, ever since my blue hair days, I’m way used to little old ladies instinctively clutching to their purse a little harder when walking past me.
No, I’m talking about stupid but concrete little things, like public baths and swimming pools that will often refuse entrance to any tattoo-bearer.

Public baths access might not seem like a big deal, but in Japan, it is a big deal: people go there all the time, it’s both health, relaxation, community and entertainment all combined in one. It sucks to be excluded from one of the most typical Japanese cultural element for such a stupid reason.

Even more infuriating was to get kicked out of my gym when the management came to learn that… horror of horrors… I had a tattoo (how they came to know this, though, is an interesting question, as it definitely doesn’t show when I’m merely exercising).

Oh, and what’s the deal with these? well, the short story is that tattoo in Japan means Yakuza… and since Yakuzas apparently dream of taking over public baths and fitness clubs all over japan, barring tattoos is a good way of keeping them away.

Now, how could a pale ass like mine be, even indirectly, implied to be a yakuza remains a complete mystery, more of a stupid joke actually.

Received some university documents by mail today. They were sent using two-day delivery postal service on the 29th of December. two weeks ago.

Late? Not exactly.

See, whoever wrote the address (for some reason, they did not use printed label) omitted a full line. The ward (ku), as well as choume, chiban and block numbers were all missing.
The result was an address going directly from building name and apartment number to zip code and prefecture. It would be the US equivalent of filling in apt #, zip code and a city the size of New York on an envelope and send it away.

Oh yea, and did I mention that, last week, the label with our names and apt number fell off the mailbox. (Note to self: got to take care of that, ya lazy bum)

And yet, this morning, a polite japanese postal worker rung my door, asked me if that weird gaijin name on the package was mine, handed it over and left without so much as pointing out how much of a freaking miracle this delivery was.

I am just amazed