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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Surnames For Houses?

I have no idea if this is just a one off, or even if this is something that is in Japan... but here's a photo showing the name of the family in the house - as opposed to a house number. 

I realize that "Tanaka" is a Japanese name, but that doesn't mean this photo can't be from another country like Australia, for example.
In the past, a family surname would denote what clan you were from, and could mean the difference between friend or foe.

People in Japan often refer to themselves first by their surname (family name): "Watashi-wa Tanaka-desu"... which translates to "I am Tanaka."

That sorta stuff doesn't work with me, seeing as how my surname also easily translates to a first name... but I do like the idea of a surname being used in place of a house number.

I doubt something like this would ever catch on, however.

Without even going into the privacy issues most societies have, in Japan, there sure are a lot of Tanaka's. And Suzuki's... Holy crap, Suzuki is the western equivalent of Smith and/or Jones, or the Chinese Lee.

It's bad enough in a small village of say 20,000 people in Japan where there could easily be 100 people with the surname of Tanaka (for example)... cut add in the fact that in many a place outside of the larger cities, street signs denoting what street, road or avenue you are approaching are not in use.

The streets HAVE names... it's just not denoted as such (usually) with a marker like a street sign.

Imagine being a postal worker having to deliver mail.

"Let's see... I have to deliver this letter to Ryoichi Tanaka at 47 Ishidori Street in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken.

"Hmmm... there's a postal code of 327... so I know it's in THIS part of Ohtawara... I really wish I had memorized all of those streets on the map they give us during our initiation... okay... Ishidori Street is a couple of roads over from the post office... good... now thank goodness houses have street numbers on them... waitamninute... they don't anymore....

"They have family names on them... now which Tanaka house is it... is this one? Or maybe it's the one across the street... or the one further down the street... or the one further down the street across the street...  this job sucks."

And that's why having a family surname on a house instead of a house number will never catch on in Japan.

By the way... just by looking at the finish on the wood panels of the house, we know that this is not your common ordinary house in Japan. That is a spectacular finish...

Unlike this blog,
Andrew Joseph

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tokyo's Triangle House


Here’s an article that originally appeared in the architectural website magazine HOUZ (www.houz.com.au), written by Kawakami Junko with photography by Tanigawa Hiroshi  (both surname first).

The article is about a tiny house built in the shape of a wedge or triangle, set in the sprawl of Tokyo.

I think it's a very cool house. It was designed by Japanese architect Mizuishi Kota of Miszushi Architect Atelier (https://www.houzz.com.au/pro/miz_aa) with structural design created by Ken Nagasaki Engineering Network (http://www.nagasaka.com/). 

I have an eye for architecture.

It doesn't mean I know a damn thing about architecture—because I don't. However, my eye does know what I like.

What's cool about it, is that it has a building footprint of a mere 29.1 square meters

If you click on the blue link below, it will take you to the website to read the well-written article.

If you click on the image below, you will be taken to a gallery of the photos of the triangle house.


Kanpai
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, August 17, 2017

All's Quiet On The Eastern Front

With North Korea daring anyone to call it a wet kitty cat, Japan has decided to play nice-nice realizing that the communist country also possesses a retaliatory power of having an itchy trigger finger pointed upwards at Guam.

It's subtle... but on the anniversary of Japan's unofficially surrender to end WWII, no Japanese politician visited the controversial Yasakune Shrine in Tokyo.

The Shrine has a dedicated area to veterans to wars, and while there's nothing wrong with that, per se, the temple shrine's memorial houses memorials to a fair number of Japanese soldiers who were not only accused of war crimes during WWII, but were actually convicted of war crimes.

So... whenever a Japanese politician goes and prays to anyone or generally at the shrine, the former enemies of Japan stand up and criticize the politician and eh country of being insensitive louts.

Some of you might say - come on... it's been 70 bloody years... enough already with picking on poor Japan for being a bunch of dicks during WWII.

Sure... you could say that.

But obviously the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. show that just because the U.S. Civil War ended some 150 years ago, people are still pretty touchy about those statues of Confederate war veterans (not to mention that whole neo-nazi, white supremacist stuff that you hopefully have read in other legit and fake news media).

Anyhow... since North Korea is willing to go nuclear on Guam... and the United States and Japan want North Korea ally China to try and talk North Korea out of doing anything "crazy"... Japan is playing nice-nice and not causing any troubles over any just-for-political-show.

Japan doesn't want to upset North Korea, South Korea or China with any prayer to any war criminals.

There are other countries who would be upset at Japan if it did that, but for our nuclear detente purposes those three countries will suffice.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Image found at https://newearth.media/sacred-place-of-peace/  

 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Uh, What About Dana/Guam?

On Tuesday, August 15, Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) and U.S. president Donald Trump agreed that they would continue to cooperate with each other to strongly urge North Korea allies China and Russia (okay… allies is incorrect… they are more likely to work with North Korea than any other country) to NOT continue on with that country’s threat to launch nuclear missiles at Guam.

Trump and Abe also agreed on mutual cooperation to deal with a possible North Korean missile launch that might travel over Japan toward waters off Guam.

Uh… but what about Guam?

Guam is fugged. Most people on the planet have no idea where Guam is, so who cares, right? Can I get a far right?    

“It’s not near me, so screw them foreigners.”

Uh, those foreigners are American citizens.


If things are confusing, let me muddy the waters by giving you a teenager girl version from the 1970s…  because I think girls talked normally then.

What About Dana? 

Starring:
  • US: Michelle
  • Japan: Lisa
  • North Korea: Jeanie
  • China: Monica
  • Russia: Rachel
  • South Korea: Hortense
  • Guam: Dana
  • Canada: Porsche
  • India: Pippa
  • special guest: Alana, as the Israel.
Clap-clap-clap-clap.


In last weeks episode:
Lisa and Michelle aren’t talking to Jeanie, so Lisa and Michelle tell Monica and Rachel to tell Jeanie that she’s a bitch and that they hate her, and that if Jeanie continues to talk smack about Lisa and Michelle’s friend Dana, they will tell everyone that Jeanie once slept with Brad. 

Oooooooooh!


Clap-clap-clap-clap.

"We should take out North Korea, I mean Jeanie, before she… uh… Hey Lisa, what good is Jeanie to us?"

"Well, Michelle, Jeanie can get us some good kimchi, she has those crappy Hyundai cars… oh… and I hear they give Convenience?"

"Actually, Jeanie doesn’t give us any of those things, so yeah… no biggie… but Jeanie’s twin sister Hortense, I mean South Korea… they are kindda like in the way… if you hit Jeanie, Hortense is going to feel it, too!"

"Shut up Porsche! Nobody cares what you think! Besides… who cares if Hortense gets taken out… it’s Hortense."

"Uh… they give us the kimchi, Hyundai’s and Convenience."

"Shut up Porsche! We can get Convenience from Pippa, right."

"Uh… yeah?"

"That was rhetorical, Porsche! Shut-up! Screw Hortense!"

"Well, Michelle... besides the fallout of Hortense from beating up Jeanie, there’s also the fact that there will be some sort of fallout with Monica."

"Ooooh… Monica kindda scares me. Yeah… she’s smart and hot and all that, but when she gets wound up, she’s one tough bitch."

"Are you still here, Porsche? Hey Lisa... how could taking out Jeanie affect Monica?"

"Oh Michelle, you crack me up! Well… most of the products you have in your house were made by people working under China… I mean  Monica. Plus…. who knows… that might also have an affect on the Jews."

"The Jews… who’s that?"

"Uh… Alana? Sure… Alana."

"How will this affect the Alana?"

"Well, if Jeanie takes out Dana because Monica and Rachel are too stupid to do what they are told, and then if you and I—Michelle and Lisa—retaliate and take out Jeanie, the fallout will not only hit Hortense, but it will also hit Monica… it could mean that all those restaurants owned by Monica could be affected… which would tick off the Alana."

"So what? Who cares about what ticks off the Alana?"

"Yeah… where is the writer going with this? Was that just s stupid joke about Jews liking Chinese food? And Koreans and convenience stores?"

"That's so racist!"


"It's okay, it's the 1970s!"

"And who the heck is Brad?"


Tune in next week when Jeanie gets asked on a date by time-traveling special guest Dennis Rodman. Will she shave up to her knees or all the way up? Tune in next week to find out. 

Shut-up Porsche,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Jeanie might do kimchi, but she’s better known for putting coal in Monica’s stocking, if you know what I mean…. some US$1-billion-worth in 2015 alone.
PPS: I have had a huuuuge crush on Dana Delaney since I first saw her on Magnum PI. The photo below is her in he TV show China Beach... which is just a coincidence... or would have been had she got the role of China:

  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Art of Cool Or Otaku

I’m a complicated man, and no one understands him, not even women.

Sometimes I sit here and wonder just how the heck I managed to survive Japan… and then there’s times when i will actually try and figure that out for real.

I was going to write a book review on the Stonebridge Press book Tokyo Geek’s Guide by author Gianni Simone. I will… just not now.

I’m not even close to being cool. And despite my advancing age, I never was cool, either.

Or at least no one ever thought I was.

I’ve met a lot of geeks and nerds in my time… in fact, I used to call myself the King of the Nerds.

Why I could be a nerd or a geek:
  • Played the accordion;
  • Taught piano and clarinet;
  • Played video games;
  • Lived in my parent’s basement for my early 20s, and again early 30s;
  • Like Star Trek;
  • Like Star Wars;
  • Played (Advanced) Dungeon’s & Dragons;
  • Painted my own lead models for D&D;
  • Collected comic books and could recite data if pressed upon;
  • Was short and wore glasses;
  • Was ugly and my mother dressed me funny;
  • Was nearly two-years younger than everyone else in every grade through high school;
  • Could have caught fire in the high school cafeteria and no one would have noticed;
  • Held onto my virginity until I was nearly 26;
  • Not by choice.

Why I might not be a nerd or a geek:
  • Taught piano and clarinet (what's wrong with that? Who's against culture?;
  • I enjoy and played a plethora of sports - and while I was often picked last for a new sport because I was the small kid, that was only the first time;
  • Taped a string to a quarter and fished extra credits on video game machines;
  • I had posters up in my room—not comic book related, but Sports Illustrated Swimsuit-related, car posters, and more;
  • Built my own car models… okay, that might be nerdy, but I also had a subscription to Hot Rod magazine. Along with having a subscription to Model Railroader, I also had one for Cosmopolitan and the Hockey News - all at the same time about 10 years ago, only getting my ice time still now;
  • Got contact lenses and wore sunglasses all the time in high school. Everyone thought they were photogrey lenses;
  • Wore contact lenses with UV protection that glowed purple under black light giving me a conversation starter with strippers;
  • Was a metrosexual before the term came into use, ensuring my hairband on my near butt-length pony tail always matched my dress shirt color; 
  • Was on fire in Japan, and a lot of women noticed, and were willing to put me under a blanket;
  • It may have taken a long while before I could find some woman weird enough to allow me to lose my virginity, but at least I lasted over 40 minutes that first time… and then I got better and better, and slept with about 30 women while in Japan. I got by on word-of-mouth. Of course, that stuff ain’t happening now;
  • Not by choice. 
I’ll be honest - or rather I'll continue to be honest... 

When I went to Japan, I thought I was a nerd… or a geek… which ever one was destined to not make as much money as the other…

In Japan, I realized that my version of nerdienss was less nerdy than others who were as shy as I used to be, less athletic than myself (for the most part), and more bookworm-like than myself.

It was like many people on JET were booksmart, as opposed to world-smart.

Book smart doesn’t mean you communicate, but it might mean you have read up on how to communicate.

I was borderline booksmart and borderline street smart… and while that could have meant epic failure in Japan, it also meant I could be whomever I wanted to be in Japan.

I decided I would not be shy. I decided I was a winner. I decided I could be a leader. I decided I was that guy that women wanted. I decided I would pretend to be cool.

Cool is a relative term.

Does being king of the nerds make one cool? Not when I was king. Maybe it does if I was kind now… but I’m not, so I have no idea what cool is now.

I don’t think anyone knows what cool is… it’s part of the mystique of being cool.

If you think you are cool and do things that will accentuate that coolness, then you are a poser.

I’m sure we have all been posers at some point in time.

I can recall wearing one watch on each hand as a way to start a new trend.

I also took my long shorts, and rolled up one “sleeve” as a fashion statement. 

Those two things were me trying to hard. Poser.

I grew my hair, had my ear pierced, bought some fashionable clothing featuring teal (new in 1992), red silk and purple and blue silk shirts. Matching hairbands. Sunglasses.

That last paragraph might have been me trying too hard, but I wasn’t, in this case. I went with what I liked… and at that time in Japan, I stood out in a good way.

How many guys in Japan - foreigner or Japanese would wear vertically striped blue, black and purple jeans? I might have been the only person in the country with pants like that… and as wild as it sounds, it’s cool enough to be worn today. Of course… I don’t know what cool is… but I know what I can wear and can’t wear. I might still be ugly, but my mother no longer dresses me funny.

I found that in Japan, it was easy to become someone I wasn’t previously.

I never said: Hey, today I’m going to be different.

There were no role models for me to follow in Japan. Holy crap… they guys who stood out in Japan were the rockabilly guys in Tokyo’s Ueno Park…

What enabled me to succeed where others did not and have not, is a confluence of things.

The average Japanese person was and isn’t a nerd or a geek. They like nerdy things, to be sure, but they also like things they perceive of as cool.

Anyone can wear a suit and tie to the office. But can you wear a blue silk shirt with purple threads, a red silk jacket, red and blue and white paisley tie, black raw silk pants—all of the above designed by me and manufactured over night in a tailor shop in Thailand, make sure my hair band matches the shirt, wear some 1950s Rayban sunglasses… or… better yet, instead of the raw pants, I could wear the striped jeans…

The point was I stood out in a room visually.

I was also able to stand out in a room full of Japanese or foreigners because I wasn’t the typical white American guy. Sounds stupid when I write it out… but for once, I appear to have had an exotic look that made me stand out.

My voice.

It’s deep, and resonates off walls to shake a woman’s blouse… but here’s the kicker… I’m loud, without being completely obnoxious. I mean I have a powerful voice. I can be heard if I wish to be heard… a complete 180° shift from what things were like for me pre-Japan. It helps me coach kids sports nowadays.

My look.
I don’t mean my clothes, rather the fact that I am smiling - not like an idiot, but rather like someone who is glad to see you - because odds are I am, even if I don’t know it yet. You’d be surprised at how easy it was for people (not just women) to approach me, because I didn’t look like a scary gaijin.

I’m not a toothy smiler, more of a wide grinner whose eyes light up when he sees you (or wants to see you). I come across as genuine.

You might think this is a whole lotta Andrew ego jacking, but it’s not. I cam across this stuff while in thought.

I never thought I was anything special while in Japan. I still don’t.

But others do… so maybe I was… and so I write these things not as pieces to brag about, but to demonstrate that I am someone who can give advice because he can offer advice.

I’m not saying you’ll meet a woman if you stop being ugly. I never stopped.

But you can be more than the sum of your own individual parts.

Looks will only get a person so far anyways. Sometimes a lack of personality, or a flaw within he personality… a lack of fashion, nose hairs never trimmed, food in the teeth, a poor haircut, in ability to read people and determine what type of tone they need to hear to put them at ease…

yeah… did I mention that you need to be able to read people? I can talk about myself until the cows come home, but I’d much rather hear about you.

I’m suggesting that when it comes to being popular in geeky Japan, sometimes you don’t have to be geeky, because not everyone in Japan is geekly.

That whole Otaku thing is fine. People seem to think that all of Japan is frickin’ weird.

It’s not. Some people are… and the western media picks up on the weirdness to shows it to everyone, and suddenly we all think Japan is like that.

Back in the 1990s, before the Internet, what did we (the average person) know about Japan? Lost WWII, attacked Pearl Harbor, got the crap blown out of it by an atomic bomb (or two)… lost of geisha who are prostitutes (they aren’t and there aren’t a lot of geisha, period.)

Godzilla, Gamera, ninja and samurai swords… what else did we know… blue suits, glasses, Moe haircuts and no sense of humor.

I had one friend who seriously believed that Japanese women had a sideways-sitting vagina. I don’t know where he heard that one…. probably some bad joke he took for reality.

Aside from the vagina thing, that was what I knew about Japan, which is to say - nothing.
The thing is… a lot of women will wear a kimono, but usually only on special occasions. There are not a lot of geisha about. I saw two in three years, I think. They are artisans, not prostitutes. Paid companions, sure, but paid to entertain with poetry, music, dance, and yes, company… but no sex. Some will, but that’s just human nature and not the profession.

The Japanese men do wear pin striped navy blue suits, have Moe haircuts and glasses and can have no sense of humor… until they get to know you and after a beer. Conversation lubrication.

In Japan… I stood out like a sore thumb… except in a good way. I was tallish, had a darker complexion than the average foreigner and Japanese…. was sorta smart, and sorta hip and sorta nerdy, and a out-there dresser without being outlandish.

I had flair. I never said that of myself, but I think now it’s an appropriate descriptor.

I had long, neat hair. I dressed kinnda funky odd, smiled like I know ya, could talk about any subject as long as it was in English, could ask the right questions to avoid having to talk about myself all the time.

i was also safe. I was well-known in my city and I believe well-respected. No one crossed the street to avoid me. People always bowed and called me sensei (teacher).

I treated everyone like they were my friend, which is to say with respect.  Most people do - that's a given. I'm just stating that it is important to consider.

The fact is... there's no manna of the gods drink for everyone to take to suddenly become popular with whatever sex you are attracted to.

Japan is just like every other place in the world. You want someone? You have to try and capture their attention, hold it, and then spend the rest of your life continuing to not only hold it, but to continue to impress. It ain't easy.

Just a public service message for someone.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph




  




Monday, August 14, 2017

Japan Takes Aim In Guam

With all the hot air blowing between North Korea and the United States over who has the biggest missile, poor Guam is currently in the cross-hairs.

As we all know, North Korea has said it would attack Guam with nuclear missises if the United States were to continue with its threats in response to North Korea's threats.

If you remember the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s, you are old. But seriously, this posturing between communism and capitalism is old news.

I've long been a believer that it is all just what it sounds like - threats.

I've never believed that any one country wants to serve the first blow, because that would immediately follow with a counter-attack that would ensure MAD (mutual assured destruction).

Back in university, I argued with my political science professors who had written various books on the subject that I believed a nuclear war between superpowers would never come into being.

Maybe I'm naive. But I would like to think that even a crazy dictator knows he is going to get his country bombed out of existence if he or she should level the first blow.

Who wants that?

Guam, as you know is a U.S. protectorate. It's people get to vote in U.S. elections, and are considered to be citizens of the U.S.

I've not been to Guam, though I was across the waters in Saipan and could see the lovely country when I visited the area some 25 years ago with my buddy Jimmy Jive Dalton. If it's ANYTHING like Saipan, Guam is a fantastic place.

I am sure the people there are worried about the North Korean missile threat.

American allies are, too.

That doesn't mean they believe a third world war is imminent - just that they need to take actions to show that they won't back down. In the cold war game, showing weakness just emboldens the enemy.

Obviously there is concern, as even China has come out and told the U.S. and North Korea to chillax.

That was smart of China. Having two hotheads with tiny penises trying to out macho each other is worrying... but again... I have faith that MAD is something everyone knows no one will walk away from unscathed.

U.S. ally, Japan, has become involved in the Guam affair now.

In four Japan prefectures: Shimane, Hiroshima, Ehime and Kochi, the nation has deployed surface-to-air Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptor defense systems, meant to take out any such missile fired in the region of Guam.

If that sounds nice, well... it's actually more of a Japan-first thing.

Any North Korean missile fired at Guam could fly over Japan... and if any fail, they could be taken out by one of the Japanese defensive systems.

I suppose Japan could also do the same to any other missile fired at Guam, but I do know it is to be used IF there is a missile failure and it looks like it might hit Japan.

Sorry Guam.

Japan prime minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) tole media that his government will "do (its) utmost" to protect the lives and property of the Japanese people.

Japan's missile defense scheme employs Maritime Self-Defence Force Aegis destroyers to shoot down airborne missiles, and the PAC-3 system operated by the Air Self-Defence Force to counter missiles that evade Aegis interceptors.
As well, Japan has Aegis ships in the Sea of Japan, and is on 24-hour alert while sharing its information with the U.S.

The problem with North Korea taking out Guam, and the retaliatory counter-strike by the U.S on North Korea... well, besides all the dead people, is that nuclear fall-out would also affect a lot of other countries nearby, such as South Korea, China, and, of course, possibly Japan - depending on wind.

However, I still think it's all cold war rhetoric.

Somewhere keeping calm and carrying on,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, August 13, 2017

This Blog Is Killing Me

Recently, this blog was assailed by a troll who decided it was fun to send all sorts of disgusting and threatening comments to me. It lasted about four hours and then I suppose their penis fell off.

Yeah, the usual stuff, about me being gay or how stupid I am or how dumb I was because all my girl friends cheated on me while I screwed their father.  Or, how about the ones that suggested they would cut my throat with a boxcutter. Oh, and the ones that threatened my family. 

I had something like 126 comments that I kept and perhaps another 50 I stupidly deleted before I thought things out. The comments were from a named commentator, but you can bet it was made up. 

It was an Indian-sounding name - dot, not the feather - and used such anachronisms in the comments that made it sound like they were really struggling to write English… and yet, the comments were being thrown my way on every single blog about my past relationships at the rate of about three per minute.

I assume it was a ‘bot.

From India? Well, one of the comments used some slang that I had to look up - and it was an Indian slang. Where's the fun in insulting someone who doesn't care?

I don't care.

I just make note of your computer address and then track you down backwards. Simple. I have no idea why anyone would think they can get away with stuff like that on-line.

Everyone leaves a fingerprint somewhere.  

Still… the rush of comments and influx of activity on my blog all pointed to the U.S…. which isn’t to say that a guy from the U.S. who is of Indian-descent couldn’t hate my guts… I’m just saying the speed at which things were arriving was too fast. It's why I assume it was a roving 'bot.

It’s sad really. If I’m going to be threatened, I’d prefer it if it was at least grammatically correct. So many typing short cuts, it makes one look… well, uneducated. And then the actually writing and language used? Yup.

What’s actually sad is that I think I just slagged the uneducated. I didn't mean to. Just because one is uneducated doesn’t mean they are abusive or antagonistic or trollish.

So I apologize to the so-called uneducated. Like the American president says: “ I love the uneducated.“ Unh-huh. I mean mine in a way 180-degrees different from him.

I would also like to apologize to Fiona and Shrek, two trolls I like.

What I meant to say was stoopid is, as stoopid does.

I never responded once to any of the comments left… I just noted each as spam, which removes it from the active blog.

You can see what sort of stuff was sent - but be warned - there is NSFW language. Clicking on the image should make it larger, and thus more legible:



The idea is to get one all riled up, obviously… but the phone number and e-mail? And the name of : Sikandar Nirmal Singh… Riiiiight.

However... there is an Instagram account under that name… apparently with the notation of @ihatewesterntrash.

Hey! I’m western trash! Finally. Same person? Maybe. Maybe not. I need to look deeper.

See… not Brown enough for India, not white enough for Canada, not British enough because I’m Brown, not Japanese enough because I’m a gaijin outsider.

Ha. Welcome to my world. I’m sure quite number of you can relate on different levels, and even about different things.

The important thing to remember is… this type of stuff is the real minority. 

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph