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Report From Japan - 26MY00

Well, I have no idea if this one will ever make it to the internet, because it's the first one I'm typing on my new (to me) computer. One would think that would make it easier to send etc., but to get the phone line and internet connection required for access to the net from Japan costs enough to make me rather disinterested in the whole prospect. So I'll have to save this report on a floppy disk and then dress up like a Japanese University student (did you ever see that James Bond film where we're supposed to believe Sean Connery looks Asian?) and look inconspicuous at the computer lab. Anyway, maybe you will get this issue a bit late... Sue me.

In this issue, you will learn about lots of new stuff. In addition to this computer, I am now the proud owner of a trash-picked roadmonkey of a bicycle, a digital camera, a big umbrella (and hopefully a sandwich of some sort any minute). I'll also be telling you about a crash, my surfing skills, the city of Kobe, my international recording artistry, and my ride around the lake.

But first, these exciting briefs...

Euan Action Figure now comes complete with girlfriend doll - Erin. I would have no better luck explaining it than I would understanding it. Carl Segan once tried to explain how creatures from a 2 dimensional world would describe ours to their families. Whatever. All I can say is that, he went out with a bottle of whisky and came back with a beautiful Canadian woman (but don't worry - he hasn't curbed his Canadian jokes any.) Although in reality they are a decent-looking couple, I thought it would be appropriate to show you this picture. If they behave, I'll post a nice one in the future.

The rice fields have been flooded. Ever since I got here, I've little more than noticed the rice fields. Since September, they've pretty much just been empty fields. But toward the end of last month, farmers have been flooding, plowing and planting. Now they are all mirror-like ponds with little green seedlings poking out. It's interesting to watch the old farmers in traditional farming attire working in the fields. At night, a chorus of frogs share their enthusiasm about the new ponds with reckless abandon.

I have arranged to teach a couple of Brazilian dudes on Thursday and Friday nights. They'll be giving me about 20 bucks an hour each for 4 hours a week (160 bucks to skip two nights of videos - pretty good deal). I half suspect something will go wrong with the plan logistically, but cross your dictionaries for me.

Rounding off eight months here, I'm thinking about what's next. My contract ends on September 26th. After that, I'm hoping YOU will have a plan for me. Do you? I have tried e-assaulting those who do the hiring in Antarctica for another go at that, but so far so bad. I am also on the roster for United Nations peace keeping missions, but no one is ever selected from that. Can you get me to South America? It's the only continent I haven't lived on.

And now back to the program...

Last night (and as usual there's no sense in guessing when that might have actually been since I'm writing this over an indiscriminate period) I was riding my speedy bicycle home from work. Nights are usually better than days for traffic safety and such. The squirrely behavior of the less qualified pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists - and there are heaps of the squirrely types - is less prominent after dark. Well, to keep this as short as it should be - SLAM! The poor high school student must have thought he was hit by a car (or a wall). When he darted out in front of me like, well, a squirrel, there was no time for me to do anything but brace for impact. His bike and mine were handlebar to handlebar like a couple of antlered tigers (yes I know but I had to hint at the speed aspect). He had just blindly popped out of his school's invisible parking lot and figured it was OK to not expect a bike where bikes are supposed to be. My front wheel just about snapped in half, and my tire naturally exploded. My little headlight shattered and the kid hit the cement like a side of beef. Five minutes of him drifting between apparent unconsciousness and whimpering was all it took before I had decided where I would bury the body. Luckily for both of us, he opted not to die, and instead apologized a few times in English and wobbled/rode his bike into the distance. Oh yeah - my huge body is fine less one mildly bruised left index finger. And jokes aside - I DID feel bad for the guy (and made sure all his limbs and neck worked before he left).

The first week of May is called Golden Week here and most people have the whole time off. I did some shift swaps and arranged for four days. I went up to Tokyo to visit a Japanese friend I hadn't seen in 11 years. It was kind of like the movie Killing Zoe, except we didn't rob a bank where my local prostitute/girlfriend happened to work days. We went surfing in the prefecture of Chiba. He brought his girlfriend, and she brought her beautiful friend who spoke as much English as I speak Japanese (zero), and who is unknowingly now engaged to me. It was kind of like Point Break but we didn't rob any banks wearing rubber masks of ex-presidents. It was May 3rd when we got to the beach and we sat around the hotel room playing Hello Kitty Jenga and watching live coverage of the kid who hijacked a bus at knife point, and killed a woman in the process. The police were pretty dumbfounded and impotent about the whole thing, but the news helicopter followed along and provided a good view of everything. It was like Speed, but there were no bombs - well almost no bombs. The police used tear gas in the end. Also in Tokyo, I visited a zoo were I decided my new favorite animal is the White Mantled Black Colobus, because it moves as if it doesn't "believe in" gravity. I saw some homeless people wake up from park benches and sweep up the area. I visited the "Electric Town" part of Tokyo where I haggled obnoxiously with a salesman who eventually took a few percent off the price of the digital camera. It was used and didn't come with a couple cords which I have around the apartment anyway. The one thing I do wish it came with is the software in English, but you can bet I'll scam that from the internet and the next episode should include some images.

Well it's a bit after the fact to tell you about my new bicycle when you already read that I almost stabbed some kid to death with it last night. But I'm still pretty excited about it. I found it in a garbage pile and spent a few days working on it. I got in quite good shape and rode it around Japan's largest lake. It was a fun ride (10 hours), and I got to see a monkey close up, and I almost ran over a snake. There were tunnels and mountains to the north and farms on the west. On the south side we (Sheri came and just to make me feel like a wimp she rode a grandmomma bike) rode across a 2 or 3 Km long bridge and saw a place where people were bungie jumping with no bungie. Instead they used a big net like at a circus. I think I might try that later if it's not too expensive. Anyway the bike and the ride were a lot of fun, and if I can find some parts for my "new" bike I might try it again. But higher priorities include the climbing of Mt. Fuji, rowing to Take-Shima (an island), and free diving.

I use this computer for recording stuff - like the sounds of frogs. Then I manipulate the sounds and mix them. My current project includes samples from the theme to the movie Marty, and a song sung by Brad Pitt. Maybe I shall one day become so clever as to figure out how to send tunes as mp3s. In the meantime be on the look out for my upcoming album in record stores near you. Or you can check out the website for my old band - Witefish - at http://.earthlink.net/~gboas/.htm

Kobe was a cool day trip. I got a part I needed for this computer, went on a ferrous wheel, checked out Japan's high-tech sporting goods industry (Sheri bought a tent), drank a guarana - the world's best soft drink, and saw 3 live bands at a venue called Chicken George. We were hoping for jazz, but we got J-hardrock and J-heavy blues. The good news is I recorded for about two and a half hours before a roadie busted me with my microphone. I denied having used it, and made the Jedi Mind Trick Face.

Staff: The tape. Give it to us!
Me: [with an inconspicuous wave of the hand] There is no tape.
Staff: [In Japanese to the roadie] There is no tape.
[The roadie smiled and nodded.]
Staff: OK. Move along.

It worked.

So what else do you want to know?



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