a little east of reality

Thursday, November 29, 2007

jr info guy

I wonder how long Super Nanny is going to leave him on the naughty chair...

Seriously, the only person who should work on top of a box is a street poet or comedian trying to get some attention in the middle of the park. The weirdest thing about this Japan Rail Info Guy was that I only ever saw one of him. Numerous JR Info Guys and Gals all through the Tokyo station, but he's the only model that came with a free display stand. Makes me grateful for my desk job.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

walking heads

I went walking my first night in Osaka. The Doutonbori Hotel, where I stayed my first two nights, is unremarkable inside but easy to spot when you're walking down its street. I felt again like Gulliver in Lilliput the moment I saw the bathroom - the bath was deeper than mine at home, but around half the length.

Just down the road from the hotel was another piece of exterior design I liked, this time on a restaurant. Click to see the see the larger version of the photos.

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do not pass up the rail pass

Day 1 in Japan, my luggage trolley and I made the short walk from Kansai International Airport (KIX) to the Japan Rail (JR) office where I picked up the glittering jewel in the crown of my japan trip preparation: the JR Rail Pass. If you ever go to Japan and are moving around from place to place, get the rail pass. Don't dither about it; just fork out the money and enjoy. I paid AUD645 for a 21-day pass and I had used the equivalent in (fast, comfortable, reserved seating) train travel before my trip was at its halfway point.

Rail pass tips: You cannot buy a JR Rail Pass in Japan, so think about it before you leave. And don't lose it, because you can't replace it in Japan either! Also, it is NOT worth paying the extra to get the 'green' pass. The small number of additional services it gives you over the 'ordinary' pass are minimal and unnecessary.

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three weeks in japan

And so it begins: a series of posts on the holiday I just took. I was going to say that I wish I'd had the time to blog this along the way while I was in Japan, but then I realised that would mean I was spending my holiday talking about my holiday, and that's just silly.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

bennelong time coming

So yes, we have a new government. Little Johnny not only lost the election, he also lost his own seat of Bennelong, so he wouldn't be in the new shadow government, even if he was planning to stay. After two elections watching in horror and wondering how Australia could be voting this government in again, I finally get to say goodbye to John Howard and his band of unmerry men (steal from the poor to give to the rich) and their terrible decisions on education, industrial relations, immigration and pretty much any other portfolio you could mention.

The Howard government is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn't nailed it to the perch it'd be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now history. It's off the twig...it's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!!

As for our new prime minister, Kevin Rudd (pictured here with Australia's first female deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard), we'll see. I like him so far, but I need to see some commitment to the promises they've made before I properly embrace him as the new leader.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

my week in a thousand words or less

It's been a busy few days since I got back from Japan. Wednesday I slept half the day away and then went to see the Free Rain production of Seven Year Itch. Of the three productions I've seen (Seven Year Itch, Pride & Prejudice and Hedda Gabler) this one had by far the best acting and direction. Their next production is The Secret Garden, a children's musical being done at the end of the school holidays in January. I love the book so I'll probably borrow someone's kid and go along.

Thursday I returned to work. I still haven't tackled the 200 emails waiting for me, because Thursday and Friday were both taken up by a training course in project management. Thursday night I went to see Drummer Boy and the Keyboard Kid perform at their school drama night. KK was amazing, though he performed the same piece he's been getting mileage out of for three months now...slacker. :) DB is going through a songwriting phase, and he's talented, but he sings in this weird American-sounding accent that distracts you from the song itself. Perhaps he's modelling his singing on some vocalist he likes, but I hope he gets over it soon. I don't want people to ignore his songs because he's making them sound affected and over-emotional. The boys were performing as opening acts to a school play called Bang Bang, You're Dead, an exploration of the mindset behind school shootings. I expected it, in spite of the provocative content, to be as lame as most school productions are, but it was actually pretty powerful. Also got to meet DB's new girlfriend. Interesting.

Friday night I went to the pub after work to meet Army Boy's girlfriend, who came up for the weekend from Melbourne. He mentions her a lot at work so it was good to put a face to the name. Her plane was delayed, so I only got ten minutes or so to suss her out, but she seems normal enough. Then I had to rush off to a baptism. I may or may not have mentioned that Gangsta Girl's boyfriend moved into my place a few months ago. Nice guy, quiet, plays a lot of xbox and ps3, good friends with DB (GG's brother) who is now often at my house. Anyway, he's been coming to church a lot with them, and while I was away he decided to get baptised. Sky had the brilliant idea of putting me on the program to sing, but I nixed that one as soon as I found out. It's been a long time since I sung in public and two days was not enough time to practice or organise someone to play piano. It would have sounded like crap, which I'm guessing wasn't quite the sound they were hoping for.

[Sky often has "brilliant ideas" of things other people should do (while she stays carefully out of the spotlight at all times). The last one was to ask a friend of ours (who dances, but is not a confident singer) to perform a singing telegram at some guy's farewell, in a maid costume Sky owns (I could ask, but chances are it would be TMI). And somehow she was honestly surprised when the girl said 'no'.]

Anyway, the baptism was nice. XB's folks drove three hours to come support him, which was good of them. Some parents feel strongly about their child joining a different church/religion to the one in which they were raised, and can be quite negative, but they were friendly and cheerful at the baptism, even though in conversation later it was clear have their own beliefs.

Saturday was election day. It was also the day to restore my home to cleanliness after three weeks of XB and Noddy doing the bachelor pad thing...not attractive. They (and by they I mean XB, as Noddy barely does dishes, let alone real housework) did "clean up" before I got back, but apparently nineteen-year-old boys can't see mould...terrible really, someone should plan a benefit.

Saturday evening I went to the first of many Christmas parties ~ can't believe it's that time of the year already ~ this one for the Relief Society (aka women over 18 at my church). What stood out most was the attention to detail: tiny tinsel garlands on the stems of the glasses, delicately cut out words ~ joy, faith, peace, love ~ in gold, red and green strewn across the table, the fruit punch flavoured with mint leaves, little bows on the back of each chair. Strangely we sung no carols, the only thing that disappointed me. Apart from that it was perfect: relaxed, good food, good conversation, nativity scenes appearing on a small screen framed to look like a manger tipped up on its side, a Christmas story or two.

Lastly, after the party, Sky and I visited Dobby (friend of Drummer Boy's that they took in a few months back) who had his appendix out this week. He's doing okay with the help of his new best friend: pain medication. As we walked through the halls of the hospital we happened upon a lone guy watching TV in a waiting area, just in time to find out we had a new government. A great end to a good day.

Sunday I went to church. The Primary kids liked the Japan-themed bendy pencils. I also showed them Japanese money and some other random stuff I brought back. And tonight I went to Sky & Rev's for dinner because clearly seeing me five days in a row just isn't enough for them.

And that was my week. How was yours?

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

pack light

...I told myself for the last month. And still I find myself in Japan with TOO MUCH STUFF. I spent the first two days bitching at myself over it, and then (when I checked out of the hotel I was in then) I solved the problem by packing a few days' stuff into my back pack and putting the rest in baggage storage while I flitted up to Tokyo. A hotel for my bag. :)

More later.