Saturday, October 23, 2004

Sunday October 24, 10:18 a.m.

Cool and sunny today. Perfect autumn weather. Still have the noxious aftertaste of garlic in my mouth. At our quake-disturbed curry dinner last night, I ordered the garlic naan. I just love the stuff in my cooking but boy, do I pay for it afterwards. My mouth is a WMD right now and only time will dissipate it.

Now that the light of day has come upon the area, the Great Niigata Earthquake's damage can be seen in much starker detail. Niigata is a rural prefecture so structures and people are more widely spaced out. However, the damage there is still considerable when compared to the big quake in Kobe back in 1995. Major roads look like they've had whole sections gouged out with a giant scoop. Electric poles are tilted like Towers of Pisa and houses have collapsed. Many areas are without power or water. Right now, 15 have died (mostly the elderly and children) and over 700 have been injured. The messages are still pouring into NHK-3 asking about the welfare of loved ones in the area.

As for my (considering the events in Niigata) fortunately uneventful life today, I'll be heading out to Omotesando once more to pick up a couple of more pumpkins for the carving at the juku on Tuesday. I'll probably pick up some candy as well for Trick or Treat. I was a bit disappointed that the bunch of us couldn't head out to the Kua'Aina hamburger joint down the street for lunch yesterday due to time so I may still indulge before I get all the shopping done.

So far, so good. My ADSL seems to be in working order. I gave it a little test via JibJab, that website that's gotten a lot of fame recently for producing those hilarious Bush-Kerry cartoons. I checked both cartoons out and they streamed in nicely. The only glitch is that I can't seem to register with my provider but since I can now travel throughout the Net, I don't particularly care too much.
Saturday October 23, 11:00 p.m.

This has been the season of discontent in Japan this year. We've been getting pummeled by typhoons and now tonight Niigata Prefecture got rocked three times by a Shindo 6 or M6.8. Either way you put it, it's a strong quake. I was out with three of the current students at my school for dinner at an Indian restaurant in Tokyo after they helped me pick up stuff for the Halloween party. Midway through our dinner, things starting shaking a bit with the lamps swaying and the wind chimes sounding off. One of the kids accurately pegged it at a Shindo 3 in the Big Sushi and we thought it was just one more of those little hiccups we get from time to time. However, when I got home and turned on the TV, I found out that things were a lot more serious 200 km away. Since then, we've been getting aftershocks even here. Just about every channel has been focused on the quake since it came about around 6 p.m. and NHK-3 has set up its own message board for loved ones all over the country to ask for their families and friends who are in the affected area to call in if possible.

One thing, far, there have been 3 deaths and several injuries with reports of collapsed roads, blackouts and warped roads. However, when you compare what kind of damage a Shindo 6 could wreak in other countries, Japan is always well prepared...or as much as a nation can be when a quake hits.

Well, I did get that LAN board and trepidatiously set everything up so I'm actually back online at home again. Still, I've been having trouble registering my newest computer addition...I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Friday October 22, 2:15 p.m.

Nice, sunny day today after all that Typhoon Tokage hubbub. It did get pretty intense on Wednesday night but it was briefer than its predecessor. My timing was good; I was able to get home an hour before the subways were shut down by the storm. However, this typhoon managed to do more damage and take more life than the other one. Anderson Cooper did his usual tabloid best by saying that there could be another one on the way. For your information, the 24th typhoon is heading west and won't affect us at all.

Japan's love-in with US baseball is over for the season now that the Bosox managed to pull off the greatest playoff comeback in Major League history. As a true Libran, I'm of two minds about the Yankees losing. It's a pity that Matsui won't be going ahead into the World Series but I'm not too sorry to see that the Yankees fans won't be gloating obnoxiously...who's your daddy now? Mind you, the Boston fans certainly weren't too patrician in their celebrations out in the street. Goes to show that hooliganism isn't a purely European phenomenon. Over here, the Japanese press didn't mention anything about the record that the Red Sox pulled off...just that despite Matsui's herculean efforts, the Yankees couldn't do it.

The Teacher got me those Speedos today. Luckily, they weren't those "barely there" thongs but some rather regular looking trunks. However, they still look pretty tight. I may yet look like Mr. Incredible in the trailer where he's struggling to put on his belt.

Went off to get my haircut at the usual place yesterday. I also had a bit of a taste of reality of salon life there. My regular stylist was doing her usual banter with me when Imentioned something and she just replied with some completely different response. Goes to show that all that banter is not really heartfelt.

I ended up making a second jaunt into downtown Tokyo after my initial trip to see Jazz Buddy. The sole reason was not to disappoint that current student who'd wanted me to come down to her Harajuku cafe. I did so and had a good chocolate croissant and coffee. Walking through Harajuku and Omotesando on a Thursday night was pretty pleasant. It was not nearly as crazed as it is on Friday nights or on the weekends with all those swarming kids in their costumes. Still, it was jaunty enough. I ended up walking all the way down to Shibuya since I didn't have any pressing issues at home and did my usual visit to Tower. I picked up one magazine, my only concession to pop culture during my period of austerity spending. Also, I sacrificed a bit on my dieting with a purchase of a doner kebab at a truck which was parked conveniently outside the store. Then again, it isn't too much of a sacrifice since 60% of the dish is shredded cabbage. Good to keep me regular.

Well, had my visit to the City Hall to start the ball running on my alien card renewal. I left my photos and signatures. Now I just have to wait about 10 days to pick up the new card.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Wednesday October 20, 12:14 p.m.

Been a while. We're on the cusp of another typhoon here. There's been a steady rain in Tokyo since yesterday morning and the winds ought to be picking up by tonight. As luck as would have it, I have my regular lessons later today so heading home ought to be "interesting". My first omen came from the subway traffic control centre which announced that my line may be shutting down if the waves of the rivers start lapping over 2 m (I live on the portion of the line that's outside).

Hopefully, Typhoon Tokage ("Lizard") will be out of the area by morning tomorrow. I've already had to cancel a couple of errands since I would like to lessen the amount of time I'm outside. I'm staving off my trip to the city hall for my new gaijin card to Friday and the same goes with my other outing to the sports club. So, it's just Kinkos, The Hawaiian and The OL...although there may be a slight possibility that the latter person may just leave a message cancelling her class due to the coming storm. Also, I "have" to drop in on a current student's workplace in Harajuku since I did promise to see her at her bakery. I did say that I would visit her on Thursday night but I'd forgotten that I have that appointment for my haircut then. So, throwing fate and common sense to the wind, I'll be trying to squeeze in that drop-in between lessons. As for the trip home, I may end up having to use an expensive taxi to get home. Grrrr...

My birthday passed by without too much fanfare. I did get a few well-wishes and cards from various people here and abroad but otherwise, I just treated myself to a hearty dinner at the neighbourhood tonkatsu eatery and to some cake that The Teacher so kindly gave me last week. But I think I am starting to look like I'm into middle age. I looked into the reflective surfaces alongside the escalators at Shinjuku Station...not too good.

Skippy actually contacted me after a number of days to say that she couldn't use her computer due to some defects which would explain her supposed "cold shoulder" to my invitation for Thanksgiving. She did dangle the possibility of catching "Collateral" on Halloween. Speaking of which, Tom Cruise actually got a bit more personal with the fans here when he arrived yesterday to promote the movie. He did his usual handshaking at the arrivals section of Narita with tons of women but he also threw out the first pitch (badly...that was about the most outside ball I've ever seen) at a local baseball game and he did a round of gladhanding at Fuji-TV. His smile was plastered on his face just like makeup.

The Halloween festivities are proceeding as usual. I've got my posse ready for pumpkin pickup on Saturday afternoon. I actually have a full day off then since the kids have canned their lessons, but instead of moving up the time, I'll use the free morning to look for some stuff for The Anime King and my brother and then see if I can accessorize for my costume. Plus, I have to get a couple of pumpkins for my juku classes next week. And most importantly, I've gotta pick up a LAN board in Akihabara; I found out the hard way that without it, my ADSL is dead in the water. I was definitely not one to be approached between 9:30 and 10 p.m. on Monday. I was a core of bad temper amongst tentacles of wiring and cables.

Let's see...we've had a heat wave and family-related massacres this year. And now, we've got bears attacking the rural folk. It seems like not a day has gone by without at least one report of a bruin mauling someone on a rocky lane somewhere. I'm not quite sure if this is truly the epidemic the media's painting it out to be...the usual thing is that one station picks up on one incident and everyone else dogpiles on it.

The Doctor actually sent me an English article on somewhat fading popstar Hikaru Utada. It's the first substantial article I've read on the singer and it was interesting to hear some of her thoughts on the fame that she's accrued over the past 5 years. It doesn't look like she's been particularly wowing everyone lately except for her diehard fans. Perhaps she may end up a bit like her predecessor, Namie Amuro. Amuro is still out there releasing music but that's about it...she's just out there. I also saw Dreams Come True on the morning TV promoting their new Xmas single and announcing the fact that they're now 15 years in the business. Again, they're always welcome but the roar of the nation is long gone.