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Jan. 1st, 2013 | 10:03 am

Back in Canada, for a rather different New Year's than last year. I was up all night going to an ex-pat New Year's Party hosted by my guest house company last time, watching the big Tokyo TV special with all the J-pop stars and then walking off to visit a shrine to ask for blessings (GAWD I wish those photos had turned out. There was a dude who brought his new kitten to the shrine for blessings. KITTEN! KITTYKITTYKITTY!) followed by a trip to the top of a nearby skyscraper/mall's observation deck to watch the first sunrise of the new year.

This year, I went back to an older tradition, which SOUNDS less cool, but I kinda missed it. I forget how or when it started, but one year I was feeling gloomy/pensive so I slunk out of the house to do the countdown outside in the cold under the stars. And... I kind of liked it out there. Looking up at the moon, the big dipper, Orion, listening to the sound of all my neighbour's parties drifting out into the stillness, hearing the stillness occasionally broken by a tipsy reveller stumbling on to a porch somewhere and shouting a New Year greeting across the lake, shouting it back for the heck of it....

It's been my personal tradition ever since, which kinda puzzles my parents, I think. But it's just kinda nice to meet the New Year one on one.

2013 seems nice. Kinda cold and quiet at first, but they all are. Really pretty, though. I hope we get along.

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Sep. 14th, 2012 | 07:25 am

Today (tomorrow back on the other side of the dateline) my first professionally published short story is coming out from Daily Science Fiction! 


The story will go out first this Friday, the 14th, via e-mail to their subscriber list (if you want to get to read the story in your inbox before the rest of the web gets the privilege, an e-mail subscription is free), then it will go up on the website itself to be viewed by the rest of the world on the following week, the 21st. At the end of the month they collect all the stories into a kindle digest, so if you feel an uncontrollable urge to purchase some pixels, that's where and when.

I am excited and terrified in equal parts. I fear the facebook.

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Aug. 10th, 2012 | 11:41 am


Why is it, lately, tech support people keep telling me to do things I've already done?

I've been having a string of bad computer luck, lately, so I've been spending a lot of time going back and forth on e-mails with various tech support people and forums. And I am an OLD PRO at talking to tech support, now, I can call tech support like a BOSS, I have the lines down, I know what questions they're going to ask me, so I pre-empt wherever I can. But sometimes it doesn't WORK.

"Hi! (statement of problem) I have already rebooted, powercycled my modem and router, done a virus and malware scan, followed this this and this procedure laid out by your website, done that finicky little thing in cmd that somebody asked me to do the last time I wrote in with a similar kind of issue, and tried this solution suggested by teh googles. What should I try next?"

"Have you tried powercycling your modem?"

"...Yes. Yes I have."

"Try doing a virus scan."

"...Please redirect my ticket to someone who can read."

(*sigh*) I've never actually said that (though oooooh, I came close on that second last ticket to blizzard). I know tech support is a thankless yucky task and the vast vast majority of computer problems ARE solved by things like "turning it on and off." But, but, it's RIGHT THERE! In the original post! If they'd just read it through, it would save both of us time, frustration, and wasted effort!


Back to another round of e-mails and support forums...

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(no subject)

Jul. 7th, 2012 | 11:24 pm

There is a particular Japanese bird. I haven't seen it, but I hear it every morning on the way to work.

It goes "COOO! COOO!.. Coo coo! COOO COOO!... Coo coo!" It sounds kinda like a pigeon beatboxing.

I just heard it again during my rewatch of first episode of Sailor Moon S, about ten minutes in, as Rei is leaving her family shrine going all "maybe my horrifying prophetic vision was nothing after all," which, come on, babe, you should know better by now, but yeah, there's that darn bird in the background. Anybody know beatbox pigeon's actual name? This is BUGGING me now!

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At least it's not one of the nuclear holocaust ones?

Mar. 5th, 2012 | 10:19 am

Cell phone vigilante jams loud phone calls on the bus.

....Holy crap.

Holy CRAP.

Guys. It's The Murderer. This news story... it's Ray Bradbury's short story The Murderer.

     "Then  I got the idea of the portable diathermy machine. I rented one, took
  it  on  the  bus  going  home that night. There sat all the tired commuters with
  their wrist radios, talking to their wives, saying, 'Now I'm at Forty-third, now
  I am at Forty-fourth, here I am at Forty-ninth, now turning at Sixty-first.' One
  husband  cursing,  'Well,  get  out of that bar, damn it, and get home and get
  dinner  started,  I'm at Seventieth!' And the transit system radio playing 'Tales
  from  the Vienna Woods,' a canary singing words about a first-rate wheat cereal.
  Then  I  switched  on my diathermy! Static! Interference! All wives cut off from
  husbands  grousing  about  a  hard  day at the office. All husbands cut off from
  wives  who  had  just  seen  their  children  break a window! The 'Vienna Woods'
  chopped down, the canary mangled! Silence! A terrible, unexpected silence. The
  bus  inhabitants  faced  with  having to converse with each other. Panic! Sheer,
  animal panic!"

Leaving aside for the moment how douchey or not douchey the real guy doing this may have been.... Dude. We are genuinely, OFFICIALLY living in a Science Fiction dystopia. I... don't know how to feel about that....

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Struggles of the Naturally Nocturnal

Jan. 21st, 2012 | 06:01 pm
mood: awake

Brain: It is three am. THREE. AY. EM. We need to SLEEP, dammit.

Body: But we can't sleep! We need to stand watch and guard the herds against saber-toothed tigers!

Brain: For the hundred millionth time, we have no herds. Not one single herd. Nary a herd. We have never had a herd, we never WILL have a herd.

Body: ...We COULD...

Brain: NOT in the middle of Tokyo. Where there are also, I might add, NO SABRE-TOOTHED TIGERS.


Brain: I do! Actually! That's my job! I'm the brain! I know things! Like how I know that you're some bizarre buried evolutionary impulse that is thousands of years behind the times and has only ever served to stop us from keeping a sensible sleep schedule! Now GO TO SLEEP!

Body: Don't wanna. I'm hungry.

Brain: You're... Well TOO BLOODY BAD. You're not going to find anything to eat at three am.

Tokyo: Actually, there's a 24-hour discount bento place right around the corner. You could get take out.

Brain: That's...

Tokyo: Or the 24-hour convenience store across the street has deli stuff. And the 24-hour hyakuen shop has instant curry and noodles and stuff...

Brain: It's not...

Body: Ooo, curry...

Tokyo: Or there's a 24-hour soba restaurant just down the road. Or you could go to the 24-hour supermarket and get groceries...


Body: Maybe while we're out getting food we can find a herd to guard!


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So, um, yes! The pack of wild tanuki finally released me...

Jan. 14th, 2012 | 12:11 am

Okay, okay, so I wasn't actually adopted by a pack of tanuki. Although I was kinda adopted for a night by a roving pack of Japanese senior citizens a couple of weeks ago who bought me pocky and grape soda and made me come to karaoke with them, does that count? But yeah, apparently posting every week was excessively ambitious. Old habits die very hard. But I am going to try to do better.

So! My first post from Tokyo! What am I going to talk about tonight? Ueno zoo? The temples in Asakusa? Yoyogi park and the Meiji Jingu Shrine? Akibahara electric town?

All of them, eventually, I hope. But not tonight.

Tonight, I am going to write about public baths.

Good sweet merciful MURGATROYD do I love the public bath.

If there is a heaven, and I get to go there, there had better be a sentou. Seriously.

See, the thing is, my guest house, while it is a very nice guest house and the price is right, has only a shower stall, no bathtub. A minor disappointment, if that. More troublesome is the fact that the bathroom. Is. Not. Heated. This will not be a problem in the summer months, when I imagine we will all be sweltering and trying to peel out of our skin, but in the winter, it means every shower ends with a mad scramble to dive out of the shower stall and into my clothes quickly enough that I won't freeze to death en route.

Thankfully, across the street is a sentou, public bath house. And it is warm. Good God, glorious, glorious WARMTH. I can't afford to go every night, but I consider it more than worth it to treat myself once a week just for the chance to be wet and naked and WARM. One of the Japanese ladies there was asking me something about "poka poka" a few trips ago. I had no idea what that meant at the time. She was making vague gestures in the vicinity of her chest; I wondered if she was saying something about my boobs. Well, she still could have been, I guess, but it turns out "poka poka" means something like "a feeling of warmth throughout your body." So now that I've looked that up, yes, wholehearted agreement, ma'am. Poka poka. F*#^ing A.

A lot of Japanese people AND gaijin are surprised to find out I like the sentou. "Aren't you embarrassed? Most foreigners are too embarrassed to go." "Aren't you scared? I could never be naked in front of other people like that." I... don't see the trouble, honestly. It... well, it takes two people to be embarrassed, doesn't it? One person to do something embarrassing, and another person to witness it AS an embarrassing act. No one else in the sentou thinks being naked in the baths is weird or shameful, so why would I? Context is everything, right?

I was honestly much more worried and embarrassed about everything besides nudity. Being naked is easy. Anyone can take their clothes off. But figuring out the complicated protocol of who gets to sit next to the cool water tap so you don't boil, and for how long, THAT has taken me multiple trips to figure out. (As near as I can figure out, nobody's allowed to just ASK for a turn in the good spot, but if someone looks at all overheated, you should ask them if they are hot and immediately offer it to them, and if you're lucky enough to get that seat you have a duty to use your hands to swish the cooler water over to the other bathers. WEEKS it has taken me to parse this. Nobody details this kind of stuff in the travel guides.) I've been petrified of committing some horrible breach of manners. Fortunately, little old ladies keep popping over to correct me and show me the proper way to do things (though I still had to figure out stuff like the cool spot etiquette thing myself)

Mmm. A seated shower in a heated room. Hot water that never runs out. A jacuzzi that doesn't smell like chlorine. No clingy sticky bathing suit to get between you and the water. And today I did laundry, so I brought a fresh change of clothes. Nothing beats getting clean and warm and then putting on fresh clean clothes. I'm still all comfy and glowy. Poka poka. The folks who are too scared to strip don't know what they're missing.

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Let's blow this continent-sized popsicle stand

Nov. 3rd, 2011 | 03:22 pm

This journal's about to see some more activity, hopefully, along with a slight shift in focus. Instead of posting some random pop culture related thing and then forgetting about it for months on end, I'm going to try to post at least every week, maybe more. Why?

Because I'm about to get on a plane to Japan.



So, yeah, I decided to get out of the basement and go out and do things, and naturally decided to do it in the most drastic way possible; a six month working holiday visa. I've been freaking out for weeks, but right this second I'm bizarrely calm. Possibly I used up the last of the good panic last night when I thought I'd lost the camera my dad gave me for the trip. Possibly it's just the sleep deprivation fogging it out, since I didn't finish packing and other last minute errands 'til four am. I may just not have the energy left for freaking out. If that's the case, I should start panicking again once this Caramel Creme Brulee Frappuccino kicks in fully. (Starbucks wants to kill me, but at least it wants me to die happy.)

All righty, I should grab a sandwich at Tim Horton's just in case we don't get properly fed on this flight. If all goes well, I should be logging in again at the hotel. If all does not go well, I get horribly lost in the Tokyo subway and wind up going feral and being adopted by a pack of tanuki. We'll see.

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We shall miss you, Diana Wynne Jones.

Mar. 26th, 2011 | 07:09 pm

I found out from bookblather 's lj, and read further on the author's official website. Diana Wynne Jones died today.

When I was a kid, I used to binge read. I would find a book I liked, and then I would promptly sign out every single other book the author had ever written from the library. I would then read them back to back to back, reading in the halls absently dodging passing classmates, reading in class with a book tucked in my binder, reading in bed with my lamp muffle under a blanket to dim the light (causing one very small but memorable fire), reading until I was staggering around in a daze with a literary hangover.

Diana Wynne Jones was one of my first great book binges. If it had been any other drug but books it would have ended with me waking up in a hotel in some strange country with a headache and no idea how I'd got there. As it was I woke up in my own home with a head full of strange countries and no idea how I'd got back.

Castle in the Air. Howl's Moving Castle. Charmed Life. The Nine Lives of Christopher Chant. Dogsbody. The Homeward Bounders. On  and on and on.

Diana Wynne Jones is dead.


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Safe behind Pseudonyms again

Jul. 9th, 2010 | 01:36 pm

PHEW. Blizzard just backed down on RealID.

Thank heavens someone at Blizzard was astute enough to look at THE INTERNET EXPLODING and figure "Hey, um, maybe we SHOULDN'T force our users to violate the first rule every child being schooled in basic Internet safety is ever taught."

Always nice to get a win. Granted, we probably didn't persuade them on moral grounds or convince them of the danger, but rather just overwhelmed them with the sheer force of "Angry Nerds are ANGRY and when they are ANGRY they are slightly less likely to give us money," but hey, it works.

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