Saturday, October 25, 2008

Japanese Tug-of-War

Tis a slow day... sigh. Anyway, apparently this is how Japanese people play tug-of-war. Enjoy!

Little red horsies

Hey, look what showed up at work 2 days ago! Forgive the quality of the photos as they were taken with the camera phone.

Also, the other day I was pretty close to buying a '95 Skyline GT-R, but we decided against it because of a nice puddle of oil dripping from the engine. I will have one soon enough though.

Ridiculous rates!

OMG, seriously has anyone been keeping track of the exchange rates lately? My job has me looking at them frequently lately, so I'm probably more up to date than most, but I'm sure you all realize the turmoil the stock market and financial districts across the country, as well as the world for that matter are doing. The UK, Ireland, and other countries around Europe have been pulling similar "socialist" acts as the US bank bailout, but all attempts to save the sinking ship that is the world economy seem like a bucket brigade for a 5-alarm fire. I've recently found that I have one friend who lost their job as a direct result of this, with very little warning and no severance of any kind.

I personally don't really think the bailout was that good of an idea and wouldn't mind those to blame for the whole deal to writhe in the filth of their own makings (e.g.: the people who loaned beyond their means and the banks that goaded them into it), but that's easy to say from way over here on the other side of the world. From here though, it didn't look like the bailout was very popular on that side of the pond either, signaled by the fact that it took 2 times for it to pass. My favorite report on the whole thing came from our friend Jon Stewart over at the Daily Show, with a series he calls "Clusterf#@k to the Poor House":

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Anyway, over here we have an entirely different problem - the Japanese Yen is probably the only currency in the world that wasn't hit hard by the bank fallout, probably since Japanese banks went through a similar crisis about 7 years ago and are already on the way out of the whole mess. While currencies around the world are dropping like a tactical nuke on Iraq, Japan's Yen remains the financially robust stalwart that is weathering the storm - the beacon from the lighthouse shining over these rocky financial times if you will. The problem is not only that the US Dollar, Euro and all currencies tied to them are falling around the world including the British Pound, Canadian Dollars, NZ Dollars and Australian Dollars which I've been watching, but also that many people around the world are buying Yen because of the security they provide, which drive the price even higher. What do you get then? Well you get 93.9yen to the USD when the rates were at 107 just a month ago, or 127yen to the Euro which was at 160, or 150yen to the Pound which was at 200. That is a full 33% increase on the value of the Yen related to the Pound, meaning that if for example you wanted to buy something from Japan that costs 2million yen you will now have to pay 13,333Pounds instead of the 10,000 price of a month ago.

In short this means that I as an exporter currently have a large uphill battle in front of me and am pretty much forced to weather the storm. Shit. Worldwide recession? I think it's a possibility.

Now of course the flip side of this is that it would be a great time to send money home... if I had any to spare. Damn moving fees.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Doug picks

I would like to take this time out of my recently busy schedule to give you guys a few choice selections from the recent Doug recipe book - I am of course speaking of the drink menu as I have been stocking up the bar as of late. Besides the fact that I have a counter just screaming to be bar space, the idea is that a finely mixed drink should be easier on the gut than beer... let's hope it works.

Anyway here's two of my recent drinks of choice:

lime - 1 full
sugar - 2 tablespoons
pinga - 1 or 2 shots (depending on how frisky you feel)

This one is the national drink of Brazil introduced to me by - you guessed it - the capoeira crowd. It's both refreshing and packs a punch, and is highly recommended if you can find yourself some pinga, which is basically Brazilian rum. This is not to be confused with penga, which means something entirely different in Spanish/Portuguese... if you put a penga in your drinks then you've had too many and will never ever ever be making me a drink. Ever. So, a common brand of pinga is Cachaca, but in this case common may be a relative term. If you can't find you some pinga there are rum and vodka variations, but it's not quite the same. I was also recommended to use cane sugar if possible since it dissolves easier and more resembles the sugar used in Brazil.

So to make it, you first slice off the ends of the lime and cut the rest into 4 or eight pieces, then place into a glass or mixer. Slap the sugar on top, then mash with a big spoon or whatever blunt object you have handy to make a sweet and sour concoction... I find that a wooden dough roller I have works best. Pour the pinga in on top, fill the rest of the glass with ice and mix. If you made it properly it'll be more sour than sweet - delish.

Surfer on Acid
Malibu Coconut Rum
Pineapple juice
...all in equal amounts.

I forget where I learned about this one, but I tried it once and loved it - don't worry about how nasty it sounds, it's actually pretty sweet and really good. Technically it's supposed to be a shot, but I usually just expand the doses and make a drink out of it. How could you not want to try a drink called "Surfer on Acid" at least once???

Usually about a double shot of all three ingredients in the mixer with a bunch of ice does it for me... shake and pour, clickity clack.

Some other things I've messed with that are tolerable are Tequila Sunrise with pineapple juice in place of orange juice - I call it Tequila Before Sunrise - and I'm currently trying what is apparently known as a "Jaeger Orange", which is basically a glass of good 'ole OJ with a shot of Jaeger poured over top. Not half bad I guess.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

2 interesting Maryland statistics

Yep, just learned two:

1) We are the most educated state in the Union, woot!! 13.65 years of education is the average for adults, yeah baby. In your face Minnesota!! ;P Hmm, I wonder if they count me as 16 or 16.5 years considering I took 4.5 years to get a 4-year degree, not including time spent abroad.

2) Starbucks:Wal*Mart ratio - 3.8. Now this one I'm not sure what to make of. On the one hand I don't really like Wal*Mart, so less of them can be seen as a rather good thing. Simply walking into the Wal*Mart in Germantown gives me the creeps now, and I don't exactly appreciate the smell I was greeted by last time I found myself there.

On the other hand, I don't really drink coffee or caffienated drinks in general for that matter very much, so Starbucks doesn't really do it that much for me either. I guess if I had to choose between the two I would take the smell of Starbucks coffee and products over the average Wal*Mart, and I would say that I'm probably at least 3.8 times as likely to step foot inside a Starbucks as I am a Wal*Mart.

On the 3rd hand (???), I've heard that they both have rather interesting business strategies... Wal*Mart has revolutionized the business of inventory and delivery as well as subsequently changing the face of the retail world as a whole, and is king of "streamlining" their business... sometimes at the expense of their employees, and often to the benefit of Chinese businesses/factories. Starbucks supposedly has an interesting management program and is supposed to have quite a high satisfaction level for employees... if you believe my hippie friend Jeff who (used to?) work there (hi Jeff!).

And finally on the 4th hand, they are both big corporations and thus I hate them both, because I'm white and this is apparently what I am supposed to do.

If you would like to know my new fountain of useless statistical wonderment, you can follow this magical link... oh yeah, and they're pretty sure they know who's going to be President come January as well.

McCain for Lizard King

Ok, I haven't seen the latest Presidential debate or even read anything about it yet as I just got home, but the first thing I saw about it was this! Mike, I hope you got those Photochopping skills ready, because this gem of a beut is just screaming "Somebody play with me!" LOL

Original found here.

Modern Pirates

For those of you not in the know, there is a slowly burgeoning faction of modern piracy, and I'm not talking about mp3s or downloaded media. No, I'm talking "Yarr harr, yo ho!", good 'ol 18th century buccaneering on the open seas Blackbeard stuff, although this time around instead of the Carribean, Somalia and the Red Sea are becoming the central focal point. This is much due to the fact that Somalia has pretty much been without a central government for the last few years and thus doesn't regulate its seas like all the goody-good countries do.

Anyway, I ran across an article on the Scurvy Dog phenomenon on a blog I check out every so now and then and thought I'd share. It appears that this guy thinks that things are really starting to pick up and people are starting to rekindle the old pirate society trends of yore. I for one am all for it, as long as it doesn't directly affect me in any way, shape or form. Go pirates!

Here's an excerpt and the full article:
These similarities have led to something closer to a modern pirate society, which in turn has led social institutions to emerge in modern pirate crews. For instance, Somali pirate crews have adopted a system for dividing booty similar to that of Blackbeard and his contemporaries. They’ve also adopted a system of social insurance as their predecessors did.
And finally,


Monday, October 13, 2008

New clothes

Totally random thought, but I was just thinking of how great it feels when you put on new clothes. They're all nice and fluffy and stuff usually, just how the designer envisioned them. Shirts are the best, but pants are good for this too. Due to the fact that I apparently have shorter legs than the average designer expects I wind up cutting jeans - try and find any pair of jeans/pants/etc. with a length of less than 30" and you will usually find a waist size of ridiculous proportions, such as 26" or 28" or so. Being as I am not a Barbie or Ken doll and have bone mass along to go with a tad of recently collected meat, this is rather unrealistic... hell, that was unrealistic even back when I was in middle school.

Anyway the point is that freshly cut jeans are the shit, and they, along with just about every other fabric of clothing start to loose their fluffiness with time. Maybe it's the detergent I use or something, who knows. Lately I've been tossing some downy in with the load, and I just picked up some of that Fabreeze spray stuff too.

Long story short, I like that new clothes feel and am desperate to maintain it so I am not forced to constantly buy more.

Trash blows

Hey all,

In case you hadn't noticed by the posting time, my schedule is right back to it's pre-Japan levels now that I live 5 mins. from work and don't really have to show til like 10 or so... loving this place!

So just got paid for the first time in what feels like a good long while... after the move and splurging on a trip to Vietnam coupled with a month off work my savings were definitely hurting, but now things look to be back on track.

Now here it is 1:30am and I'm stuffing trash into these little yellow bags to stuff on the curb... stupid. I thought I'd mentioned trash in this country before, but it's totally frickin ridiculous. When you move into a new place, they give you a trash schedule, and you'd have to see this thing to believe it. Take this place for example: Mondays and Thursdays are your standard combustable garbage.

Which day is recyclables you ask? Well that would depend... if you mean newspapers and magazines then that's on Wednesdays, but then of course glass bottles are on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, alternating with cans which are on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday. Oh and don't throw your plastic bottles out with the glass ones - those get tossed with metals on the 1st and 3rd Fridays. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I'm actually sorta pissed right now though, because last time I was all happy to put stuff out after checking the schedule to make sure I was getting the right day and all. Then after work I come home and find the trash still right where I left it with a big gash through the side of it! I do what any man would do when something is broken - read the manual for the first time ever - and find that oooh, you have to throw your trash out in their special frickin yellow and pink bags or else "they don't know what to do with it." What the hell is that? I mean it's not rocket science here, you take a bag and throw it in a truck, easy-peasy Japanesey (and I can say that). I refuse to believe that they are that moronic that they can't figure out what to do with a bag because of it's (lack of) color - just look at the stupidly complicated schedule that you guys came up with, and if it's bottle day *and you have bottles*, regardless of what bag they're in you throw them in with the other bottles. Same with trash. Simple.

You know I love this place, but sometimes it can be frustrating dealing with people that follow the rules to the letter without giving a second thought to what the rules actually mean and why they might have been put in place... and sometimes more importantly, when you can bend the rules and still get the same damn results.

I also remember the subject of trash separation coming up with a Japanese friend - he was shocked when he visited the states and found that we only separate into trash and "recylables", and concluded that Americans were not capable of dealing with the Japanese system if it were proposed in the US. I agreed that it would never work, but of course told him that it's not that we're not capable, it's just that separating to that extent is far too annoying and ridiculous for any sane person to agree it's worth while. That's what we hire trash guys for, right? Why don't they just do their frickin jobs? Sheesh.