Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Break Out The Fire and Brimstone, It's Holy Roller Time!

Sometimes I worry about the USA.

Politicians like this will lead our country to hell in a handbasket.

Although I do agree with her on one thing. The concept of separation of church and state IS a lie.

Let me clarify.

A leader who manipulates the populace with religiously-loaded terms like "evil" to gain backing for a war that nobody really wants? Where's your separation of church and state?

Politicians moving to create a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, with the only basis for it being some vague Judeo-Christian reference to homosexuality being "bad" in Leviticus or Deuteronomy or one of those Old Testament books? Where's your separation of church and state? (I wonder if any of these lawmakers bothered to read the line in the New Testament that says "Love thy neighbor". Ya know, some guy going by the name of Jesus said that.)

People like Representative Harris getting in to politics and rising to a level where she can wield clout over national lawmaking, and come out and make ass-eyed statements like this? I ask you again, where is your separation of church and state?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Bad Case Of The Blahs

I've been back in Japan for about a week.

My jet lag is not getting any better.

I have neither the desire nor the motivation to get out and do anything.

This weekend has been absolutely gorgeous, and I'm just sitting around the house, not really doing anything.

Work? Meh.

After work? Meh.

Weekends? Meh.

I feel like my soul is still trying to catch up with my body, and it's somewhere over the Pacific now.

I hope I get over these blahs soon.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Signs of Life

Two days back in Japan.

Went to work yesterday. Not that I needed to, mind you. I have three days off before I have to be back to work. I was just too tired to head out on a trip anywhere, and I needed to return a couple things anyway.

But today?

Since it's my last day off, I decided to get out and do...something.

Wouldn't ya know it. The weather was crap.

Ah well.

I drove out into the hills in Noboribetsu, then drove over Orofure Pass, which is supposed to be beautiful on a clear day.

I saw the insides of rainclouds.

Then it was down into Otaki, where I had a kinoko-don (translation: tempura mushrooms on rice) for lunch. Apparently, you can pick all kinds of mushrooms in the mountains in Otaki.

I also saw the one million dollar rest area there.

Quite a few years back, when the Japanese economy was booming, the government gave the yen equivalent of one million dollars to every city, town, and village in the country. I've heard of some places that put that money to good use, but most places just built some hideous new building or built a tunnel...or something.

Public works projects. Gotta love 'em!

Anyway, Otaki had put their money into making a one million dollar rest area. That's how they advertise it on the sign out front.

It is sparkling clean inside, and there's a baby grand piano in the foyer that plays classical music automatically.

Impressive? Yes. Necessary? Hmmm....

After the one million dollar potty break, I hit the road again. I considered turning off to the west and checking out Kutchan, but I decided against it, opting instead to travel out to Lake Shikotsu and hit a hot spring there.

Marukoma Hot Springs.

This was a very cool place to visit. The baths were all great, but the best one was the outdoor bath. The water level changes with the level of the lake, and since it had been raining recently, the water came up to my chest. A stand-up outdoor bath? Cooool.

Then it was back home for me. Gotta get back into work mode for tomorrow.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Want To Be A Superhero

So I designed a superhero...

I really hope "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" gets released on DVD soon.

I love this show.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The San Diego Chronicles - Day 18: TJ

Czar and I went to Tijuana.

Nothing happened.

No really.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The San Diego Chronicles - Day 13: Comics, Guitars, and Cajun Food

Today we had a free afternoon, so I headed out with three of my students to show them around San Diego.

First we caught a bus out toward Balboa Avenue and The Comic Shop. A couple of my students are BIG comic fans, and I thought it might be fun for them to see an American comic book store.

It was. They were practically drooling over the figures and English-translated manga.

Then we caught a bus straight downtown, because one of the other students wanted to take a look at guitars, and I'd seen a guitar shop downtown while I'd been slumming around there a few days before.

We got off the bus and were waiting at the crosswalk when...


An explosion, followed by something wet hitting my foot.


It took a few minutes for it to sink in, but some psychopathic butthead (and other choice words) had decided to get pissed off about something and throw a glass bottle into the road. Which had explosively shattered and sent pieces of glass and god-knows-what-kind-of liquid onto my foot.

Once I actually figured out what was going on, I was livid.

My students were freaked out by the whole thing.

We headed over to the fountain in front of Horton Plaza so I could clean off my feet. One of the students had actually gotten cut by the glass, but she said she was okay.

(fill in appropriate obscenities directed toward bottle thrower here)

We walked over to the guitar and checked out the stuff on display, and then wandered around the Gaslight District for a while. A hat shop, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, a Hawaiian souvenir shop, etc etc.

Then we headed back to Old Town, and the students headed home, while I headed out to eat some dinner.

At New Orleans Creole Cafe.

Jambalaya and beer straight outta Louisiana. Abita Beer.

Damn, Cajun food is good.

Plus, you get Mardi Gras beads when you pay. I wonder if those work outside of New Orleans and outside of Mardi Gras.

"Hey! Show me your (edited for content)!"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The San Diego Chronicles - Day 12: Coronado

Today, Denise took us out to Coronado.

But, before I talk about that, I have to say something.


While the students were in class today, I walked over to a restaurant near the International House to get some breakfast. Usually I have a bowl of cereal (and watch some "Angel" on TV) before I catch my bus, but today I felt like trying to get some biscuits and gravy, or chicken-fried steak, or an omelet...some kind of greasy spoon 'merican breakfast that I can't get back in Japan.

So as I was being shown to my table, I got stuck behind a family who had small children in...

Is THAT a stroller?

Looked like some sort of new munchkin-warfare tool.

A baby stroller, by JEEP.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have just left acceptable reality. Please fasten your saftey belts and return your seats and trays to their upright positions. This is gonna be a bumpy ride.

Rant over.

So Denise took us out to Coronado. We took the ferry across the bay. Nice little ride. Got to see the USS Midway from the bay, which was nice (even though it was the second time we had done it). We walked to the nearest bus stop and caught the bus to...

...the beach (with Point Loma off in the distance)! Which was right next to...

...the Hotel del Coronado, aka "The Del".

This hotel has been used in several films, probably the most famous of which is "Some Like It Hot". (Which, by the way, is a great film, and the last line..."Well, nobody's perfect." Classic.)

We just hung out there for a while, goofing around on the beach and taking a look around the Del. The sand on the beach was really fine, and it felt good to walk around barefoot in it.

We caught the bus back, and then the students all took off for home. I walked on over to Fred's Mexican Cafe to join up with Kadie, a teacher at the International House, and her boyfriend Ryan. Kadie had invited me to come along so we could talk about life in Hokkaido, as Ryan and her were interested in possibly coming over here to teach for a while. So we talked over margaritas. Mmmm, tequila.

I had to book it back on over to the International House after a bit, because I'd been invited to come out to a Japanese restaurant with some of the IH staff. A chaperone for a group of Russian students was leaving soon, and she wanted to eat some Japanese food before she left. I came along for the ride.

Not bad stuff, really. Expensive, but tasty, and the shabu-shabu gives me bragging rights with my students. Mwa ha ha.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The San Diego Chronicles - Day 11: Gumbo and Gambit

Well, Gambit wasn't actually in it, but...

We had a free afternoon today, so I cruised on downtown after all the students finished their classes. I wanted to get away from them for a while anyway.

First thing? Get my hands (and taste buds) on my first batch of Cajun food since leaving the States back in 2000. I did some Internet searching and found the Sixth Avenue Bistro.

Mmm, Cajun food. I had myself a Fat Tire beer (on tap) and some shrimp and sausage gumbo.

It eats away at your wallet and adds a little around the waist, but the food available in San Diego is DAMN good.

Then it was on over to Horton Plaza to catch X-Men: The Last Stand.

I love those X-Men movies, but this one was a little sub-par. The bar had been set pretty damn high with the last one, and this one didn't match up. It was your basic action fare. Not that that's a bad thing, but it just wasn't the same quality.

I was mildly disappointed, but I had a good time watching it. Wolverine was cool as always, and they had the "Fastball Special" in it, which was a nice touch.

I still wish the Ragin' Cajun had been in it, though.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The San Diego Chronicles - Day 10: Misadventures Downtown

Today we hit downtown for the first time as a group, with Thomas in the lead. (The girls in the group are really starting to become...fond of Thomas.)

The tour included a few of the more interesting spots in the Gaslight District and shopping at Horton Plaza.

I like the malls in San Diego. All the ones I've seen so far are open-air, a bit of a change from Columbia Center. I guess when your city is known for having some of the best weather in the U.S., you can get away with having open air malls.

We also swung by the Hard Rock Cafe downtown. I didn't buy anything there, since I already picked up a t-shirt in TJ.

That night for dinner, I headed over to City Delicatessen, a New York-style deli near my place. Good food, good beer, damn good onion rings. I am definitely enjoying San Diego.

I am noticing that the students are getting to be a bit more on edge, and there might be some group in-fighting. Crap. I'm gonna have to deal with this soon.