29 March 2008
28 March 2008
I still don't feel 100% and that probably is coloring the way I see things too... Well, maybe in a couple of weeks I'll have a better feel for it.
It occurs to me that in a couple of years, maybe ten or so, the main Japanese export is going to be confused, rich Japanese tourists, going to various countries and getting more and more confused, only to return to Japan with suitcases full of overpriced, airport chocolate and one or two stories that ignore the most interesting parts of the trip. One of the teachers on our trip said that he expected Japan to become sort of like Asia's Switzerland. Lots of money, lots of passiveness.
I don't know about that. For me, Asia is anchored in Japan because I am anchored in Japan and my first experience with anything Asian was in Japan. But with the growth of China and with China gobbling up resources all over, what will be left of Japan... It's something to consider, I suppose, but not for me to solve.
Now, I am enjoying the wireless Internets and staying close to the toilet. Some people think there is no god. I say, I went 12 hours on a bus without a toilet, and didn't have to poop in a plastic bag. Richard Dawkins, you don't know shit about nothing.
27 March 2008
I also left my suitcase at the station as the person who sold me the ticket promised to watch it. Cost/ benefit. I could lose all my cheap clothes and my suitcase, but most likely it will be there when I get back, well-protected.
I think the other thing that I learn as I travel is to worry less and not expect the worst. The trust thing. Some people are out to get you, but most are out to eat dinner and get dinner for their families. So if you are kind and careful, everything will work out.
My presentations went worse than I thought they should have, but I learned a lot about myself as a presenter and some of the things I need to improve. I didn't really know my audience or my time frame and that made it hard to prepare. I think at least one woman got something out of one of my talks.
And I think I might (might) have landed a real professorship at a real Japanese university starting in the next couple of years. Not holding my breath, but I think my networking, uh, network that I have built over the last two and half years may finally be paying off. More on that later.
Internet is much smoother in Thailand. I could talk to my wife, whom I miss. Soon, very, very soon.
25 March 2008
Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.
You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!
Barack Obama, yeah.
What the fuck is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?
Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
What the fuck?! That ain’t no fuckin’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the fuck outta here.
You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.
I mean, it’s pretty big if a Black…
Wow, Barack! The nigga’s name is Barack. Barack? Nigga named Barack Obama. What the fuck, man?! Is he serious? That ain’t his fuckin’ name. Ima tell this nigga when I see him, “Stop that bullshit. Stop that bullshit” [laughs] “That ain’t your fuckin’ name.” Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack.
So you’re not following the race. You can’t vote right?
24 March 2008
I am just about ready for the conference to start. I think I came about one day too early as I have already seen everything there is to see in Vientiane, watched CNN through ten or eleven loops. Walked everywhere. Eaten at a ton of different places. There's really nothing left for me to do. I wish I could find a place where the wireless Internet service I paid for will work too, but it's been down since I got here.
I miss my wife and baby.
23 March 2008
Walked around all day. Just walked and walked and walked. It was wonderful. I saw so many things. Took pictures which are loading now and will be up later, maybe but probably not. The Internets don't hum in my room at all. Only on the street. Which I suppose is good for all of us.
One shot from Bangkok is up now.
22 March 2008
I am now settled in the right hotel, in the right place. This hotel is much nicer than the other one, although there is still no Internet access. I think I will be able to go now to a cafe that has WiFi and if you are reading this and all my other entries then I have succeeded. If not, well then I have failed.
Vientiane is a nice place although very, very touristy. Lots of white people running around. I was able to sit out and drink some very good cappuccino though, so I am happy about that. Everything you could possibly need is here. I think I am going to be able to get a bus back to Bangkok too, one that will get me back in time to catch my flight, at least in theory. We'll see though. I don't want to get stuck for another day in Bangkok and have to spend a bunch of money to change my flight. We'll see what happens.
Other than that, I suppose I should be working a little more on my presentations, but I am lazy and am going to go sight-seeing instead. See what there is to see.
I think I'm starting to feel tired now.
21 March 2008
20 March 2008
Now, green curry on the street.
(PS I have been writing on my laptop and so when I get a chance to transfer that stuff onto my flash and onto the site, look for back postings as I will post them at the date and time I wrote them.)
On the plane, I am surrounded by old Japanese men who will not respect my space. I hate that. Respect my space!
No, no, it's not that bad. I was able to choose my own seat and chose the aisle seat so that I can stretch out my legs, at least a little bit. Before we took off, there was this ridiculous video about, you guessed it, the safety of JAL airplanes. You know you are riding on a Japanese airline when there is a five minute presentation on the test that the plane inspectors must take before they can become plane inspectors. Safety, if you have not been told, is more important than just about anything. I am happy to get out of Japan again.
The EEE PC has earned itself on this trip so far. Like it. Love it. Well, don't like the battery so much. The battery isn't so hot. Why is it that companies always say that a battery will last like 50% longer than I ever experience. Am I using it wrong? We'll see if it works when I do the presentations on it.
19 March 2008
18 March 2008
I am going to meet a friend of my Internet friend Scott Hodge, a guy whose family works with people in the sex industry in Bangkok. We're going to have lunch on Thursday. I'm sure I'll come back with plenty of thoughts.
And then on to Laos where I will give this presentation and two others.
Got another good haircut.
Yoko is going to Kochi while I am in Laos. This makes less stress for Stephen and Yoko. And maybe baby too. Because while I am in Laos and Yoko is in Kochi, the baby will hang out in the closet, where she likes it.
On Dan's recommendation, just watched all of Curb Your Enthusiasm's sixth season. It was fantastic.
Should be working on my presentations.
And I am not.
Went running and thought about a lot of stuff.
17 March 2008
16 March 2008
I am in the city for a bit of a 'going away' party for my good friend E who is now returning to the Americas, where he is originally from. In Japan, you have a lot of this: Foreigners coming and going and coming. You're always saying goodbye to someone. Because of my marriage to my wife who is primarily Japanese, I don't get as much of a chance to hang out with the foreigners. And E is probably the last that I will be really good friends with in Niigata, although I'm sure to meet more foreigners at my new job. And I'm sure to be good friends with some of them.
The Bose in-ear headphones are great, but they are uncomfortable sometimes.
15 March 2008
14 March 2008
Prostitution. It's illegal. I don't really care one way or the other but it got me thinking about the logic of this: pornography is legal. Pornography happens when one person pays two other people to have sex. Doesn't this seems a bit silly? Why don't all the would be prostitutes set up porno companies? Then they can sell parts in porn movies, not sex.
I burnt my flatbread.
My trip to Laos, which briefly looked to be avoiding 12 hours on the train, is still going to happen with the train ride I think. I mean, what's the worst that can happen. Plus, I may be able to bounce over to Cambodia or Vietnam, depending on prices and time.
I successfully put the baby on the bed without waking her up.
Finally, let's help this meme get some legs. Pennsylvania=North Carolina. They are the same. They are the same.
11 March 2008
10 March 2008
08 March 2008
07 March 2008
Living in Shibata is very nice in that we can walk pretty much anywhere we need to. The supermarket, the train station. The home store. So last night, I walked home from my class at the community center here that I have had for a year now, but now I can walk home from it. So I started walking home, and when passing a street, I noticed that I was very close to the old Shibata Castle, which was lit up, reflecting in the moat with four (I counted them) swans. I walked around it.
- The scholarship that I am competing for doesn't automatically include a stipend. It's available, but limited, meaning more competition, less likelihood.
- That said, I got another exasperated e-mail from the Department asking ('URGENTLY') for my transcripts.
- One presentation is at 90%, one is at 84% and one is at 13%
- I have been told that a taxi from the border of Thailand to Laos is only ¥1000.
- I can see the mountains from my seat here.
04 March 2008
02 March 2008
01 March 2008
But a witless cynic is someone devoid of insight who claims to be able to mine humour in holding Japan up to Western standards and finding it lacking. This kind of person is a keen online aggregator of stories about sexual inadequacy or amusing spelling errors in Japan. A reasonably sane person should be done with this stage in the first six months.
We are currently recommending that you be considered for an ORSAS award (full scholarship and stipend) by the University. We have had 12 or so (applications) in the School of Education alone, which we have recommended 4 (yours being 1). There are 18 in total available throughout the whole of the University, beyond that I do not know.
One more rung up the ladder.
Look. You want a complete break from all the things I've been doing in the last eight years, then Obama is your guy. All the progress we're making in Iraq, our several trillion dollar investment just thrown away! I hear in the e-mails he's an Islam, too, and I have also heard that we are fighting the Islams and other extremists all over the world. Seems to me, electing one of them would be sort of like letting them win.'
Yes, we wouldn't want to throw away all the good things that have happened in the last eight years. We wouldn't want to have a complete disaster of a Presidency. Certainly not.