Monday, 26 September 2005

stupid f*cking blogger has just eaten my post.

i know i should write these things out in word first.

i know, i know...

Monday, 19 September 2005

Back in the saddle

So we’re back to the blogging this week after a hiatus last week as I was too drained, mentally and physically, after England’s fine series victory in the Ashes. My how that final Monday was tense, especially when McGrath took two wickets in two balls (poor Bell) and almost then had Pietersen. But more worrying for me as I sat listening at my computer, was that passage of play just after lunch when Pietersen decided to go after Lee and started smacking him for fours and sixes, over the heads of the retreating fielders – my heart was in my mouth and whilst it was exciting to listen to, part of me was saying ‘you don’t need to do this, take it easy’ etc, but he wasn’t listening to me anyway, thankfully I suppose, in the end. So anyway, this little green stretch of the Arakawa riverbank will always now remain a part of England (but don’t tell the locals) and in the not too distant future I will be out there with Marcus, boring him to death with re-enactments of the final day’s play from the Oval.

Apparently some other news happened as well, but didn’t really catch too much of it to be honest. The election came and went and, as I am sure you are now fully aware, The Kool Kid Koizumi astounded the nation, and probably himself as well, by romping to a landslide victory, increasing his majority to... a bigger one than before, crushing the DPJ as one would a slow moving cockroach and making his New Komeito (I think) coalition partners just a little jumpy as he doesn’t really need them quite as much as he did before.

However two stories did come out of it that I will share. The first was a little pre-election gem from a chap named Konoike. He was one of the original LDP (Kool Kid’s party) rebels who voted against the Kool Kid in the upper house election, thereby precipitating the election by forcing Koizumi’s hand. As we all know then Kid was not in the least bit happy about this and so kicked the 37 out of the party and crossed them off his new year’s card list – a fate worse than losing someone’s business card in this country. A bunch of these oldest of old farts, including Konoike, then set up the new New People’s Party of Japan (Splitters!) in an attempt not to loose his very lucrative money-spinning venture, otherwise known as his seat. But then, about a week before the election, with all the opinion polls showing the Kool Kid with a very healthy lead, Konoike began to get a little antsy so went to the LDP chairman and said, well, if it appears that the will of the people was that postal reform was ok, well, he, having no principles, morals or most importantly scruples, would quite happily rejoin the LDP and support the Kid in whatever krazy schemes he could cook up. Well isn’t that jolly magnanimous of Mr Konoike?

I am not sure what the upshot of that all was. I sincerely hope that the Kid told Konoike to bugger off. Given Koizumi’s record, and the fact that he kicked the lot of them out of the party to start with, I think there is hope. But then again I am not stupid or na├»ve enough to really believe that and suspect that back room back scratching has been indulged in the Konike will soon find himself Minister of Postal Reform, or something.

The other thing that came up is a follow up to something reported by this very blog a week or two back. I mentioned that members of the SDF risking their necks in Iraq had been criminally left without recourse to vote, well it seems that a top judge in Japan actually reads this blog and thought he’d do something about it (and Judge, please leave a comment, it’d nice to have something highbrow on the comments page for a change). I’m not sure of the in’s and out’s of this one as I haven’t been able to get much paper reading done recently, but I can confirm that after a campaign of sustained pressure by Arakawa Riverview, the Judge confirmed that it was indeed, and literally, criminal that the SDF couldn’t vote and ordered, firstly, that the govt make some symbolic attempt at compensating the troops by giving them 10,000yen each (that’s fifty quid), and secondly, that the govt take its forefinger out of its collective arsehole and do something about this so it had better not happen again.

Nice to know that blogs can make a difference.

So what else? Well, golf playing brother had a birthday, as I am no doubt everyone is now aware, as did Curly Joe Smyth. I am still waiting to see if Curly responds to the birthday wishes we sent to him, but strangely I have heard nothing back from the record company as yet.

Yours truly also had a birthday last week and in doing so reached the ripe old age of 33. This has a certain resonance as it was at the very tender and green behind the ears age of 23 that I first pitched up on the shores of Japan, though that was in the April following the birthday so a little way to go before we have the anniversary. Indeed about that time will be Marcus’ first birthday, which seems auspicious – actually next year will be chock full of anniversaries as it will my ten years in Japan, tens years since the Guru and I got together and also, sychronicitously (he says, trying to make up a new word), our fifth wedding anniversary. Oh, and we’ll have birthdays as well, but don’t go expecting that anyone else’s will get a mention. Anyway, for my birthday I bought an Ipod, which is sooo cool I can’t imagine how I ever coped without one before. The problem with it is that this poor NEC laptop is in no way capable of dealing with it. First up it is still running windows 98, which it does quite happily, thank you, but Ipods are way too cool and modern for that and will only run on 2000 or xp. Now I have disks for 2000 that I could install, but I figured that I’d bring my xp’d work computer home first, install everything on there first to see how it works and then do the same on the NEC (as I did with the digicamera software, very sensible option). So I did this and everything worked jolly well (though note to Apple, if you are a foreigner living in Japan, you can’t register with the Apple network as foreigners don’t have kanji names, one of the required fields. Doh!) so now I have copied a whole bunch of cds onto the itunes thing and have already used up about 1.5gb’s of space. The problem here is that the NEC is so old that it only has 8gb’s of disc space in total, so if I install itunes put a third of my cd collection into it, I’ll overload the computer and meltdown will ensue.

(I know meltdown will ensure as today, at the Guru’s behest, we installed our snazzy new(ish) Canon photo printer as the main printer for the computer, finally replacing the stalwart Epson we got from Dave when we came back to Japan. Anyway, to install I had to hook up the external cd-rom drive, which even without a disk in, made the computer crash 4 times before it decided that it did recognise the drive (have we met? Were you at the Finkelstein’s bar mitzvah?) and then twice more before it would accept the data from the cd-rom (f*cking thing)).

So at the moment it all works (ipod, itunes on work computer, home computer with new printer) – so, bets please, gentlemen, for what will go wrong first...

PS hope you like the small changes I’ve been trying to make to the blog – still can’t manage to get the photo to stop tiling across the title, any not too technical suggestions gladly received

Tuesday, 13 September 2005

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssssss!

Cricket's coming home.

Fantastic, the Ashes are back where they belong.

(now I'm off to bed)

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

Birthday update

Oops! Almost forgot, and what with all that has be written in the comments sections over the last few weeks. How silly of me.

So anyway, I hope you will all join me wishing a very happy birthday to the true troubador of country music, yup, "Curly" Joe Smyth of the exceptional Sawyer Brown is 47 today.

Have a great day Curly!

Monday, 5 September 2005

The first hundred days

Now in Japan there is a special ceremony/celebration after one’s offspring has attained the age of 100 days. Quite why someone decided on the age of 100 days, I am not sure, but there must be a special reason buried in the depths of Japanese culture somewhere. Anyway, Sunday just gone, we decided we’d better get in on the action, so invited Japanese parentals and brothers over.

Now, a moment of honesty. The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that last Sunday was not the 100th day anniversary of Marcus’ birth, it was something like the 130th day. This was because yours truly, on being asked by the Guru when the 100th day after Marcus’ birth was, had a moment of not-able-to-count-itis and managed to work out the 100th day after 4 months rather than the usual, and let’s face it more accurate, three months or so. And the great thing was neither of us noticed it until Wednesday last week, when the Guru mused upon it and realised my error.

Still, we were not to be deterred and with family already invited, there wasn’t too much we could do about it anyway. The main focus of the 100 days celebration is food. Now remembering what the Guru told me, the party is an attempt to kick start the youngster into eating real food for the first, or something. So, as you can see from the photos below, special food was bought in – this consisted of a whole baked fish, red rice (rice with azuki beans), nimono (vegetables braised in soya sauce), special pickles and sushi (which isn’t that special apparently). Marcus was, of course, the guest of honour, and tradition has it that the oldest member of the family present must pretend to feed to newest member of the family. The Guru’s father tried this though did seem a little unsure of what he was meant to do (he wasn’t the only one) and after a few tentative attempts of holding a bit of fish in Marcus’ direction, was content to declare it open season on the rest of the nosh.

And that, really, was about it. There were a few more photos, general family chitchat and a pleasant lunchtime was had by all. The odd thing, from my point of view, was that this was all conducted without the introduction of any alcohol – not the done thing for children’s celebrations apparently, and also the Japanese side of the family are not great drinkers. Not the sort of thing that would happen in Blighty, mind, must get Marcus to see how it’s done as quickly as possible, lest he get the wrong idea.



Marcus' celebration food
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.




Food for all the family
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.




Marcus gets to grips
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.




The happy family
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.




The happy family and photographer
Originally uploaded by tokyobogue.


Other stuff

Election fever is approaching Japan. I wrote somewhere before about the hideousness of Japanese electioneering vans that cruise the streets and assault the eardrums and I’m glad to say that this election is not letting us down. Luckily I have been paying very little attention to what has been going on, although I have caught a bit in the newspaper and on the telly and can, therefore, report that there really isn’t a lot new going on. I suspect that this really could be quite a pivotal election in Japan’s postwar history and that textbooks may well be written about it for a good long time, but it all seems just a trifle dull. Now this is probably as I am not Japanese and my language ability is not good enough to follow everything first hand, but all the same, there doesn’t seem to be any characters for people to root for (except perhaps the cool mayor of Nagano, who has formed a new party to fight Koizumi’s LDP, but even then I saw his party commercial on TV the other night and it was woefully amateurish). But it will all be over by next week, so hopefully something interesting will happen.

Actually one thing I did see about it that got my goat (such as it is) was that the Japanese Self Defence Force (SDF) chappies currently stationed in Samawah (I think), Iraq have been told they are not allowed to vote, which is a nice kick in the balls for them. Apparently when a Japanese goes abroad they have to register they are going and inform the authorities 3 months before an election where they will be in order for them to be classed as an overseas voter. For the SDF guys this is tricky as they have only been in Iraq for two months so are ineligible to be classed as overseas so must return to their registered domicile in Japan to vote – which of course they cannot do. Ooops. And is anyone going to make an exception for these few hundred souls braving their lives for their country? Of course not, rules are rules and are there for a reason.

Apparently the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Dept. are worried about a possible yakuza turf war as one of the head bosses has recently retired (not permanently, actually retired to his beach villa near the Japan sea coast) and because Japan is a much more civilised country than, say, anywhere else in the world, the MPD had a top level meeting at (and I love this) one of the Yamaguchi crime syndicate’s registered Tokyo offices for a chat over coffee. You’ll be glad to know that gangstering is a solid career path these days, with a section on the census forms (which gang, position within it, salary etc) and a generally positive, can-do attitude with the police. Weird.