Thursday, September 30, 2004



onight is the first presidential debate. I'm almost afraid to watch it. I feel like I will be sitting in front of some crossroads waiting for a train wreck to happen. Will Kerry be run over by the Bush Express? I believe that Kerry is far more intelligent than Bush. There is absolutely no doubt of that. Unfortunately, while intelligence is crucial, it is not the only criteria for leadership. There is something to be said for charisma. Kennedy was charismatic. So was Reagan. And Clinton

Is Bush charismatic? Hahahahahahahhahaha. Like a tortoise. But Kerry's charisma resembles the over-confident hare, and I have problems with that as well. I think that Nader should have been invited to the debates. I wonder why the Bush people didn't push for it. With Nader on TV, he might steal more Democrats into his camp, thereby ensuring a Bush victory in November.

No, wait, I guess it would look bad for one candidate if the other two seemed smarter, vastly so.

Anyway, I'll be back with my thoughts later....

Wednesday, September 29, 2004



he remnants of hurricane Jeanne blew through my area yesterday. At times, the rain came down heavily, and the wind almost blew the umbrella out of my hands. When I got home, I checked all our windows and found that a number of them don't close completely. I was wondering why I had felt a draft lately. The strong winds of Jeanne allowed me to pinpoint exactly which windows need my attention. Ah, the pleasures of home ownership.

Speaking of drafts, I was reading enygma's site and read that he brother received a letter from Selective Service informing him that he must register. For those of you who don't know, Selective Service is an agency of the government in charge of keeping tabs on all eligible to serve in the military so they can--as they state in their mission--"provide manpower to the armed forces in an emergency." So if you are male, a US citizen or permanent resident, and between 18 to 26, you must register to let them know that all information about you is current. This way, if the military deems it necessary to increase their force to combat enemies in places such as, say, Iraq, they will know where you are and compel you to serve through instruments such as, say, THE DRAFT.

Back in 1973, I had to register with Selective Service as well, for the Vietnam War. Back then, draftees were selected by birthdays. Old men in business suits would choose 365 calandar dates randomly, and those born on the first days chosen wre drafted to serve in Vietnam. My birthdate was in the 200s and I was not drafted. There were other ways to get deferments back then. All those with physical or mental disabilities did not have to serve. Usually an only son didn't have to serve. Also, college students could receive a deferment, but if you graduated at 22, you were again eligible until you turned 26. However, while disabilities should still a valid reason for not serving, the other reasons will likely no longer be applicable. The nuclear family in the US has shrunk significantly and there are many "only sons" so they will not likely receive special treatment. College is definitely no longer a reason to keep you from serving. So all you guys who are reading this right now should know that you will have to register.

Now, the administration claims that there is no plan to reinstate the draft. But registering for Selective Service stopped right after I registered. I was the last year eligible for the draft, and no one has had to register for the last thirty years. So Selective Service has again begun contacting all eligible men for... what? A "just in case" scenario? Well, the government could have used that reason during the cold war.

  • Iran takes US hostages at the US embassy in Tehran. That was a direct strike on the US government. People in Iran were coming together in their defiance against the US. But the Carter administration did not reinstate Selective Service.
  • The USSR invades Afghanistan. Certainly, that was scary. The Soviets invading a country right next to all the oil fields? Talk about a threat to our national interest. But again Carter did not reinstate Selective Service.
  • USSR shoots down a Korean Airlines passenger jet. Man, that was like a direct attack on civilians and Korea was our ally. Tension was very high back then, but Reagan did not reinstate Selective Service.
  • Muslim terrorists bring down a PanAm flight over Scottland, and US intelligence traced the plot back to Libya and Reagan decides to retaliate. Sound like a situation in which we may need extra men to go to war? But again, Selective Service was not reinstated.

So what's going on? Why is it being reinstated now. We have an elite military that is head and shoulders above the world, but for whatever reason, it cannot take care of business in Iraq. Over 1000 Americans have been killed in Iraq. Sadly, as President Bush insists that things are going as expected, more US soldiers are dying in Iraq and more Iraqis and other Muslims are rising up. If the war was going as expected, I would have expected better: fewer soliders dying and fewer uprisings. So I'm not sure how Bush defines expectations. But if more soldiers dying is the expected course of the war, then the reinstatement of Selective Service should be a red flag for every male between 18 and 26 in the United States.

I have my own opinion about the war that I will talk about in the future. But for now, I want to make sure everyone thinks about Selective Service and its natural connection to the draft. Are you between 18 and 26? Are you willing to go to Iraq and fight? Do you want to leave your parents or wives or children to convert Iraq into a country that reflects our version of peace and freedom? Do you have a brother or son between 18 and 26? Do you want them to fight the fight in Iraq?

It is my hope that no one will have to go unwillingly, but I'm willing to bet that if Bush wins in November, he will consider it a referendum on his administration and be emboldened to take whatever steps necessary to fulfill his visions. Since part of that vision is to create a democratic and terrorist-free Iraq, it will likely take more men. Of course, if that is his position, next would be a democratic and nuclear-free North Korea and he would definitely need more troops for that.

So really, what do you think? Is it okay for our government to compel us to fight in Iraq?


MattBlue just commented that you already have to register with Selective Service. Is this true? Of course, I have no reason to doubt what he says, making my argument above pretty moot. Does that mean all of you have registered? I'd like to hear from some of you older guys, like Sammy and Vlade, as well. Are you registered? After the Vietnam war, I could have sworn that no one registered for Selective Service. But I could just be another misinformed liberal nut....

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

If it's Tuesday...


ife goes on. Two classes today, and nothing special really happened. Lately, I've been so exhausted that I don't even have any good topics to write about. Me, no topic... Nothing to talk about... No, wait. I do have something. (Don't you hate bloggers to simply write as they're thinking? How pathetic is that?)

Anyway, my stepson returned to Japan on Sunday. He had to go back because he came here on a tourist visa and it was up. Why is he here as a tourist? Well, he first came here as M's dependent but he didn't like it here. He said he didn't like how open America was. When he would go somewhere in public--to school, riding a bus, shopping--he would freak out when someone would strike up a conversation with him. He could answer well enough and he is polite. But he would try to end the conversation as soon as possible because he hated talking to strangers. He likes the Japanese way in which strangers ignore each other--at least when they are not drinking.

Those of you who've been to Japan know that waiters at restaurants will never act friendly. They are basically robotic: Welcome. May I take you order? Here is your check. In a restaurant I have never been to, I will often as the waiter who they think is good. In the US, he or she will respond happily, giving suggestions either way. But try that in Japan. The waiter will act as if he was being interrogated and act flustered and confused. A stranger asking his opinion? Ridiculous. Unheard of. That's why vending machines are so popular in Japan. The less contact between stangers, the better.

And this is the world my stepson prefers.

Unfortunately, he found out that a world of perfect strangers is also a world where empathy and assistance is rare as well. For two years, he lived comfortably with his brother--who is married with three kids of his own--and worked saving his money. But when his brother found himself struggling to make ends meet and ended up living with his father-in-law, my stepson suddenly had to live on his own... and found out how difficult life could be. He learned that he actually had to pay for electricity, gas and *shudder* water (he did not give any money to his brother), what a hassle it was to do housework (he always ate out), and what a chore it was to take care of himself (his sister-in-law did his laundry). So when he could no longer endure the insults of reality, he naturally cried out to the only person who would help him unconditionally. No, not me, M.

Sadly for him, he had thrown away his chance to live with us as a dependent. As a 23 year-old adult, he must now come here "on his own." So he is applying for an F-1 student visa, the application I helped him fill out. I try to be as understanding as I can, and will be his financial guarantor while he is here going to school, paying for his tuition and his living expenses. And thanks to all of you out there, I think I will put a little more effort into the "parenting" thing.

I deal with my students all the time. They are about the same age as my stepson, and so I treat him like I treat them--as an adult. Maybe that was my problem. My expectations were too high. My students are college students, so they are already motivated to do well. Indeed, since I teach advanced Japanese, the hardest level, my students are more motivated and focused than most. So I have it kinda easy, in a way. But I can't have the same expectations from my stepson.

So, anyway, he is in Japan and waiting for he interview. I hope he will do well and get his visa. Then he can come and go to the community college in our area. Hopefully, he will find his way, become motivated, excel in whatever field he chooses...

...and grow up.

Monday, September 27, 2004



re we created to withstand whatever God throws our way? Are we made to endure the insults of man and nature? These are the questions men and women probably ask when they feel overworked and overlooked. And probably just before they die of overwork. In Japanese, this phenomenon is called karoshi (ka-roh-shi), todays Japanese word.

A colleague of mine is off to a conference giving a paper and so I was asked to cover one of her courses. I, of course, being the eager, younger, and most importantly junior colleague, was happy to accept. So this week I am saddled with extra work. Not just the lecture course for second year Japanese, but the homework that comes with it. Naturally, I am still responsible for my other four classes--Literary Japanese, Readings in Modern Japanese, Japanese Literature in Translation, and the Proseminar. I wonder what the the dean is thinking? Does he not see a discrepancy between departments where the workload is double in one compared to the other? Does he view the situation as equitable?

Oh, well. Complaining gets boring, ranting becomes tedious. Anything I say here will amount to nothing, and it doesn't even satisfy anymore. There was a time when writing about these issues gave me a measure of relief, but recently it does not happen. So ultimately, it is a waste of time.

I think I will work on another joke. Eechim's was pretty bad... hahahaha, but funny nonetheless. Ikerton sent one too and it was kinda cute, but just bad enough to keep protected. I will post it soon, so be on the watch of joke alerts. Swinging Sam will be coming soon, but I need a female volunteer to do the voice. Any takers? Hahahahha.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A PG Story


have placed limitations on some jokes because I don't think the I should make sexual content available to underaged people. I know that young ones know what's what. I knew what was what when I was 16 so I figure it must be even younger now. But as an *ahem* educator, I feel the need to draw the line. Free speech is great, but only when tempered with common sense and responsibility, although I admittedly have little of both.

But here's a cute anecdote from my youth when I worked at the sweet shop in J-town in the early to mid 1970s.


My boss was really cool. She was older than me by about a dozen years, but she would talk to me as an equal and treated me like a member of the family. Indeed, after working there for about 6 months, many thought we were brother and sister, the way we interacted.

Once, the confectioners were talking dirty in the back room and teasing me about what kind of woman I like and they were threatening to start a pool on when I lost--or will lose--my virginity. I, of course, played along with them. I tried to be coy and said "Oh my virgin ears."

I didn't know my boss was standing behind me, but she grabbed me and stuck her finger in my ear.

The confectioners were cracking up, screaming to each other, "We shoulda bet on today!"

But I think they were laughing more at my red face.

But my boss also had her embarrassing moment. Once I went with her and her girlfriend for afternoon coffee--yeah, she would take me with her pretty often, I was so spoiled. Her friend, Dot, had just gotten married to a pharmiscist and she was talking about her experience of helping her new husband at the pharmacy.

"Hey, you guys. You should see the the condoms they sell now."

Me, I had no idea about condoms and was perked up my ears to hear of the possible options available to young men like me.

"Uh-huh," Dot continued, " They come in all sizes. Medium, large. The extra large are huge."

I wonder what size I would wear? I thought myself.

"And they have these condoms with ribs and bumps on them. And all kinds of colors: red, blue, green, yellow."

I was speechless.

"Yeah," my boss spoke up, "I figure that one of these days, they'll come out with flavors."

Dot and I froze with our eyes wide and jaws dropped. (OOO;)


After an appropriate and respectful amount of silence, we began laughing and could not stop for about 5 minutes.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

TV Time

Special thanks...

... to aznquarter and Jason for Bookmarking me at RBJ. I've added you to my RBJ Tomodachi list above on the comment page and in the left column on the main page... as if that meant anything, hahahahaha! But thanx to these two I find myself keeping pace with SleepingCutie on the RBJ Top 40. Man, the O-girl is one popular chick! She just skyrocketed up the list, caught me, tweaked my ass, and passed me in the blink of an eye. But I suppose that should not be surprising. A close-to-fifty geezer should know better than to compare himself with a young, nubile, Asian chick.

Anyway, if you have an RBJ account, let me know so I can Bookmark you as well. And, um, if any of you guys have an RBJ account and want to bookmark me, please feel free to, er, do so? Heheheehhehe. m(_ v _)m

Anyway, my post. Today is Saturday and I should be watching College Football--and I will, of course--but my baby Bruins have a bye week and are hopefully taking care of their injuries to prepare themselves for the meat of the Pac-10 schedule. While I will monitor some of the games today, I will be doing mostly work--grading hell!--with an occasional break for...


h, the weekend. The time to relax and unwind after a stressful week... NOT! I always have too much work. There are simply not enough hours in a day and days in a week. But it is the time that I get to watch TV. I give myself a few hours to watch all the programs I recorded over the week, since I don't have the time to watch them normally. I recorded "Lost" and "Law and Order". I thought I had set the VCR to record "CSI", but I screwed up somhow and missed the season premiere. Aaargh! I meant to record CSY: NYC as well, but forgot. Did anyone see it? Anyone got an opinion?

Actually, I snuck in a viewing of "Law and Order" already. It was the season premiere and I just couldn't wait. This meant that I had to grade quizzes on the train to school on Thursday, but no matter. I'm sure everyone got the same grade no matter where I graded them, right? Hehehehe. I had to see what they'd do with Dennis Farina. But it was not a big deal. In fact, he doesn't seem to fit the part. I get a sense that the end of Law and Order is drawing near...

Oh yeah, another show that should be starting soon is Enterprise--it hasn't started yet, has it? Anyway, I have the hots for T'pal, played by Jolene Blalock... Man, I can't watch Enterprise with M anymore because I'm afraid she'll see me stare a little bit too hard, drool just a little bit too much. She gets so jealous over the silliest things... okay, maybe it's not so silly...

Todays Japanese word

Okay, here's the next word for you guys: sukebe (skeh-beh) na-adj. Yesterday, I referred to this terms as meaning perverted. But strictly speaking it means lewd, lascivious or... uh, perverted. I'm not sure about current TV standards, but this word used to be censored back in my day, much like the word "horny" was in the US, so I've always viewed these two words as close equivalents. In Japanese, the word is seen as a synonym for iyarashii, an i-adjective (iyarashii, iyasahikunai, iyarashikatta). It also means disagreeable, offensive, nasty, disgusting, i.e. something that evokes a strong sense of unpleasantness. As such, men use the term sukebe in other contexts. For example, when someone places an extraordinarily high bet in a poker game in the hopes that everyone will fold, the person who doesn't fold, who calls the bet--or the bluff--can be referred to as sukebe, even though there is no sexual connotation. As for pronunciation, be sure to avoid the dipthong that most non-natives apply to words ending in "e". The pronunciation is skeh-beh, not skeh-bay. It would be like pronounding the name Fred, without the "d"; don't pronounce it "fray". Also, this is a term used exclusively by men. While women use it, they use rarely with really really close friends (neer in public), and only to mock someone or as an extreme insult. Many non-natives (read: Americans) reared in free speech often use words such as this in Japanese carelessly, perhaps thinking they are impervious to its effects in Japan. While most will laugh with the person using it, they will also likely think how unrefined and vulgar the woman is. It is much like the Japanese using the word "fuck" or giving the finger indiscriminantly, thinking that they too are impervious to criticism as they are not Americans. I don't want any of you to be viewed as idiots, so please use the word wisely. I explain it here, not so much for you to use, but to recognize it when you hear it. That, too, is an important part of language learning.

Of course, I used it yesterday because anyone who wants to read stupid dirty jokes are lewd, lascivious, and perverted. Hehehhehe. I wonder what that make me, the person telling it? Oh, yeah, RachelsMommy seems to know...

"You are one sick mo'fo...haha."

Can I take that as a compliment?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Various Asians II


esterday, I spoke to the issue of affirmative action. And just so everyone knows, it is only my opinion. I am no policy maker, thank God. I don't even speak for some Asians, like Japanese Americans. Indeed, there are some strong Asian voices against affrimative action, like Michelle Malkin. And that is too bad, as I think we all need to speak together in one loud voice.

I am no liberal nut. I am far from it. I was even a registered Republican once--okay, who threw that egg! But I am now an Independent who leans left on social issues and right on economic ones--what the hell is Bush doing to our national debt? Every traditional Republican, certainly every fiscal conservative, would agree that a large debt is bad and we need to get rid of the man responsible for creating it. Billions of dollars for a war against a country with no WMD? Bad intelligence? Wasn't there a document confirming that Hussein had an atomic bomb project going on? Does that mean the Bush administration was deceived by phony documents? Kinda like Dan Rather?

I digress. I will talk about this election later... Back to affirmative action.

Now, many Asians who oppose affirmative action see it as a manifestation of weakness. that through affirmative action, we are getting a hand out, a crutch to lean on. But that is not the point. The hard reality is that the playing field is not level. We all would enjoy succeeding on our own merits, but the truth is we cannot. It is a pipe dream. Some whites may feel that they have been disadvantaged by affirmative action, that they have had occasion to be refused, rejected or otherwise denied a spot in school or a position at work. But the reality is that many minorities alre aso refused, rejected and denied, but not occasionally, but on a regular basis.

Think about it. While there may be a disproportionate number of Asians in college, how many Asians are in the corporate boardroom? You all know that there are tons of Asian Americans working as engineers and lower to mid level administrators at many companies. But they rarely reach upper management. So much for that college degree. How many are policy makers representing regions not heavily populated by Asians like Hawaii or the west coast. People simply tend to vote for people who look like them superficially. If I see an Asian representative or senator from ANY east coast state--one who is voted in because he is an American of like mind not "like skin"--I will begin to rethink my position on affirmative action. But I will not hold my breath.

Ideally, we should be colorblind. We should learn to see beyond the superfical differences from the time we are young. But that simply is not the reality, and so makes affirmative action a necessity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Various Asians


y comments area for yesterday's post became a mini-forum concerning an Asian woman who obviously leans to the right. Michelle Malkin opposes affirmative action and has recently published a book that supports the policy of racial profiling against Arab/Muslim Americans using, and defends the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Well, I cannot agree with her, of course. I am for affirmative action for minorities, including Asians, as I do not think that mere numbers--especially those that simply reflect the demographics of a population--should be a criteria in determining eligibility for affirmative action. Affirmative action, as I understand it, aims to provide an avenue for those who have been disadvantaged into areas where they have been previously denied entrance. The most accessible example is education. I touched on this subject earlier concerning basketball. Some have suggested that whites on basketball teams are the minority and therefore deserve more credit, respect, whatever. I say, hogwash. I can't buy it. That would be tantamount to suggesting that whites are athletically inferior.

Is that true? How do we know this? Is there a physiological difference between races? Do blacks have better jumping muscles? If that's true, then the next step is to say that blacks have attributes that are superior, like dancing or rhythm. The only proof people have suggested are the numbers. Just look, they might suggest, there are simpy more and better black athletes.

Does that mean, then, that if there are more whites in another arena of society, say politics, for instance, does that mean that whites are politically more savvy? That they have more intelligence?

Numbers do not prove shit. There are disproportionately more Asians in college than any single ethnic group, but what the heck does that prove? That they are smarter? Hardly. It may reflect more determination, more drive. It may also suggest more opportunity. But it does NOT prove that we have reached some kind of equality in society where everyone is color blind and we all play on a level playing field.

We Asians have faced various forms of discrimination. Some overt, some covert. But experience it, we have. And so we continue to need the opportunities like affirmative action. It has nothing to do with getting a hand out. It is about being fair. About getting the opportunities to exapand and participate and contribute in society as equals. That day has not yet come.

But I swear, I pray that I will see that day come before I die.

Postscript: Don't get me wrong. I know that there are many righteous people of all colors out there. Since I am in education, I am surrounded by those who are truly color blind. But these enlightened people are too few in number.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Dealing with it


think my relationship with my stepson is difficult because we are both "adults." Kids, little ones, I have no problems with because, well, they are kids. I have no expectations. But a 23 year old kid is, to varying degrees, an adult. We all mature at different speeds, as a few of you so astutely pointed out. But still, there should be a modicum of expectations, I believe.

Some of these expectations would include appreciation, empathy, courtesy, the willingness to say "thank you" or "sorry". These are qualities one can manifest without the benefit of being an adult. And yet...

Well, I said that yesterday's post was the last post about him, and it was. This is more about me and how I need to learn to deal with new situations, different situations. It is petty of me to expect him to meet my standards, we are all different... is how M would frame the argument. But in my opinion, that is the easy way out. How do we as humans change, mature, evolve without standards to strive for? I'm pretty sure that if I didn't set standards for myself--standards which are based on the socio-cultural expectations of the society in which I live--I would be pretty content to quit work, and watch TV all day as I ate potato chips and drank beer. No, I think we need standards. My problem is that I don't know how to set them for him without sounding like a jerk.

Many of my students think I am mean and/or unsympathetic. I had a student once who would do what I told her--grad school, scholarships, etc.--but she would also at times get pissed off, telling me that I was just too good at pushing her buttons, often in a way that is--as she put it--"irritatingly motivating." I think she meant a couple of things. First, I often understand the problems students face. I myself was not a great students. I was a jerk off who hated to study and constantly had shifting priorities as I went to school: Study for test or go on a date. Do homework or go get a beer with buddies... Hmmm... these were truly hard choices. Second, I will confront them with these issues, forcing them to accept the consequences of their choices. Want to go out and drink? Go ahead, I tell them. But don't expect sympathy from me. Have to work to go to school? So did I. But I made the hard choice. I worked as little as possible to maximize study time. This sometimes meant that I couldn't afford a stupid 25-cent cup of coffee at North Campus, but that's the choice I made. If my students feel the need to make more money, then that is okay with me. But if it affects their study time, they should expect to get a grade that will likely reflect the amount of time they put in. They are responsible for their input (study time) so they should be responsible for the output (grades). I tell them, in all honesty, that I respect their choices, as I had been forced to make similar choices when I was a student. But they will get no special treatment from me, especially since that would be unfair to those students who make different choices, like studying more but making other sacrifices.

Now, this may sound tough but fair... maybe. I often trip over my own personality as I try to get my message across. I can be wry and sarcastic, sometimes bitingly so, often exposing my short temper. As a result, some students will tell me point blank that I'm mean. But these same students, I think, are able to reach the core of what I am trying to convey, even as they pluck the burrs of my sarcasm from their delicate skins. Unfortunately, this approach is unsuccessful with a few students and a disaster at home. I am characterized as cold and mean-spirited, charges that make me wonder, sometimes, how the heck I got myself into this situation...

Then I remember. I love my wife, despite her sharp charges when she protects her cubs, as all mothers will.

Anyway, the point is that perhaps much of the problem stems from me. I have a personality flaw. I am too sarcastic, perhaps, and am certainly short-tempered. As such, I have to learn to deal with the situation, to deal with my own shortcomings before I rag too much on my stepson...

Now, this may seem either pretensious or disingenuous--take your pick--but you should all keep in mind that this is my Xanga. While I set down a "true" accounting of the situation, it is a version seen from my eyes only, and is likely slanted (no pun intended). Certainly, anyone who speaks with M will get an entirely different picture. Ah, but no matter...

Monday, September 20, 2004

Taking care of your own needs


ometimes I get so frustrated. I don't mean to put my frustrations on anyone specifically. God knows that I am not the perfect human being. Indeed, I am far from it. *shudder* So I don't mean to single out my stepson. I suppose he is a reflection of many of today's youth, those who live and reach adulthood in a world where becoming independent is increaingly difficult. School tuition is exhorbitant. Housing is outrageous. Jobs are hard to come by.

And yet, I hope that most of the young people today at least try to become independent. My stepson at least tried--I'll give him that--although it ended up costing me to help bail him out of his situation.

Anyway, I am, as many of you know, a third generation Japanese American. But in many ways, I am second generation. My mother was from Japan, and my father was born in Idaho but raised in Japan, making him officially a nisei but for all intents and purposes, an issei. I'm not sure if being Japanese has anything to do with it--the Japanese, as with many East Asian cultures, traditionally do not frown on the large nuclear family where it is not unusual to see three generations living under one roof--but my parents, God love 'em, always told me that there was no need for me to leave the house.

So I sandbagged it for a long time, and lived at home for quite a while rent free... until I was 27-28? Geez, it's embarrassing to admit this now, but it didn't seem so bad back then. I worked part-time and full-time during various stretches of my youth, so I usually took care of my own needs. I always ate out, I paid for college or got scholarships. I bought my own car--from my mother--and of course paid for gas and insurance. Certainly, no one paid for my immediate needs since I was 16--soap, shampoo, toothpaste, underwear. I always did my laundry at a nearby coin laundry. I had no medical insurance, so I took care of my medical and dental bills out of pocket. So except for rent, I took care of myself, although rent is a pretty big expense that many of my friends were paying... Oh well, I guess I don't have that much on my stepson. I, too, am the product of parents who coddled me by allowing me to stay home.

But--and you knew there was a "but" coming--I also did my own work. Perhaps this was done out of necessity. My parents were de facto issei, and so could never fill out a college application form, write a statement of purpose, or complete my 1040 tax returns. I never thought of asking them for their help. And it forced me to read carefully, write precisely and act on my own initiative to complete those things that I wanted and needed to do. I even remember filling out my applicaiton to a private high school when I was 14, and proofreading with an old, worn-out Webster's dictionary. So it bothers me to see someone who is seemingly unmotivated, who will fill out an application only when told to, who cannot look into the things he needs to know and do--visas, photos, medical requirements--on his own. Of course, I suspect he wants to do it; he just doesn't know that he has to, or how to, because he has never had to. Mommy has always done it for him.

Okay, this is the end of my ranting. He goes back to Japan next week, hopefully to interview successfully to get his F-1 visa. He will be staying with his relatives for the next couple of months as he waits for his visa; so yesterday, I was out shopping for gifts for him to take back... while he remained at home, sleeping in his room past noon...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sleepy Sunday


utside, the sky was azure, the air was crisp. In the distance, kids squealed as they played with their friends in front of their homes. On the coffee table was Sunday's Washington Post ready to be read; on the TV was a football game. Except for the fact that the Redskins lost to the Jints at the Meadowlands--with seven turn overs, that's to be expected--it was a perfect autumn Sunday...

Wait, I need to rephrase that. It would have been a perfect autumn Sunday if I didn't have a quiz to grade, another to create. But that is the life I chose. So its not big deal. But I also have a stepson who is 23 going on an undetermined age.

I don't mean to rant, and if you don't want to read a whiny post, then stop now. I try to be as patient as I can, but it is really frustrating at times, and Xanga is my only outlet...

Anyway, he can do nothing unless told, and he pouts if he needs to do things unexpectedly--like write a brief statement on why he wants to attend a local community college. He also has to complete an application online for a student F-1 visa. I am privileged to answer his questions--like how to how to enter a line break--or to check his work after completing a page, as I try to do my own work. I could fill it out for him--indeed, it would be faster, and M actually expected me to do it--but I suggested he do it himself. He is going to school for his own good. Shouldn't he fill out his own applications? For school? For visas? How many of you had your mommy or daddy fill out applications for you AFTER you turned 18... or 17... or 16? Okay, his community college application was in English, so I helped him. I can live with that. But the visa application is from the US Embassy in Tokyo. The instructions are in JAPANESE. But of course, M claims that it would be horrific if there was an error in the application thereby preventing him from coming to study. It would be horrific because we already know that he can't survive by himself in Japan. But he is too old to come to the US as a dependent, although that is only an official, bureacratic description, not based on actual circumstances...

Ah, motherly love, Japanese style.

Anyway, he has finally finished, and I think I'm developing an ulcer...

But there is good news! My boys in blue won yesterday. What a game. I thought I was gonna die. The offense is pretty good, but the defense totally sucks. The ending was outrageous. UCLA leads 37-31 but the Huskies are marching down a short field. 6 seconds left, 4th and to-close-for-comfort for a touchdown. Paus completes one to number 10 (3 seconds) at the five yard-line. No. 10 spins around in an attempt to dive for a touchdown (2 seconds), two, three, five Bruins grab him (1 second), they tackle him at the 2 yard line even as he stretches his arm out in a futile attempt to reach the goal line (0 seconds). Game over. Whew! If I had a bad heart, I would have keeled over.

Yes, I love good news...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Final: UCLA 37 Washington 31

vs. Washington. The Bruins beat Illinois last week, and they beat them pretty soundly. Is this cause for optimism? Not quite. The offense DID look like they were clicking, and they limited themselves to only one turnover. However, Illinois is not Okie State, and certainly will not be confused with any of the major powerhouses of the Big 10. Indeed, Illinois has not won a game against Div I teams since 2002. So while a win is a win is a win, I must temper my enthusiasm. Especially since the next game is with a Pac-10 team UW. We also play them at their house, and Husky stadium is one noisy, rowdy, and scary place.

Further, the team has the ability to play the option. That is a style of running the ball in which the quarterback runs and then has the option to keep it, hand it off or pitch it outside. A good defenese can stop the option, but the Bruins do not have a good defense. It's not necessarily bad, but it is very young up front and that is worrisome. There are also two wild card factors: quarterback Casey Paus and wide receiver coach Steve Axman.

Casey Paus is the younger brother of former Bruin quarterback Cory Paus. Cory was the starter for three seasons but many fans took their frustrations out on his weak arm and the DUI conviction he failed to tell the coach about. When he was exposed, he was not penalized while others were. Charges of favoritism supposedly split the team. He graduated with ill feelings for the team and school.

Steve Axman was the offensive coordinator last year. The vaunted West Coast offense--as envisioned by Coach Dorrell--never came to pass. Axman was the scape goat.

We'll see what happens...

Friday, September 17, 2004

Sleepless in Virginia


ecently, I've been having problems sleeping. Getting to sleep isn't the problem. It's staying asleep. I can fall asleep virtually anywhere: the train home, in front of the TV as I watch MSNBC, in front of the computer, sitting on the can... okay, maybe you didn't need to know that...

And, of course, I can sleep in bed. But I usually wake up in four hours. Take last night. I get home after a night of drinking--a student of mine was doing a fund raiser to run a marathon for AIDS/HIV--I came home late with my sons in tow (Chipmunk was a pretty drunk and sick puppy). I watched a little TV to unwind from taking care of the sick canine and I finally hit the sack at 5AM... but my eyes pop open at 9:30. I would have liked to sleep until at least 11--I can live with 6 hours of sleep--but no go. Indeed, I have slept for at least six hours only once since I came back from LA and the funeral. May be its the UV rays...

Now, I guess a lot of it has to do with the stress I've been under recently, but I read somewhere that sleep--specifically REM sleep and dreaming--allows us to deal with stress to a significant degree. Apparently, our dreams are often representative ways of dealing with whatever issues we may have, thereby allowing us relax a bit. But if I can't sleep I can't dream, so stress levels remain high. Since stress levels remain high, I can't sleep and can't dream. This is more than just a vicious circle--its ugly, pathetic, and a bit more than a little scary...

So I have decided to try something unique. I'm going to bed before 1AM tonight. Hopefully, I'll sleep until it grows bright outside, maybe 7 or 8 AM. Now that would be great. And if I wake up at 5 or 6AM, at least I'll have my long morning again and accomplish more than I usually do in a day. Actually, this just might be the ticket. Man, maybe I'll even get back to exercising. I haven't run since I've been back from LA either, and that might have something to do with it as well. And maybe death just has a way of screwing with your mind, your outlook, your attitude.

Anyway, I'd like to thank those of you who read this site, and especially those who comment regularly. Your words are often the highlight of my day. It seems like I have been ranting quite a bit lately, and not on social issues, but on personal matters that you probably don't even want or need to read. So thanks for putting up with me. I've been trying to pull myself together but I don't feel very successful...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Waking up early


re-discovered something today: If you wake up early, you have ample time to do the things you need to do. Okay, I know what you're probably thinking. Wow! Big deal. What a revelation. When did you figure that one out Einstein. Admit it. That's what you were thinking. Am I right, or am I right?

Well, sorry guys. I'm a night person. It seems that as far back as I can remember, I have always functioned better at night. I studied at night, into the wee hours of the morning. I wrote the bulk of my dissertation between 11PM and 5AM. I like to run at night. I like to watch TV at night. I am ravenous around 3:35AM. Seriously...

So all my classes are scheduled for the afternoon. I grade papers and prepare for class in the dim hours of early morning, go to sleep anytime between 4AM to 7AM, depending on how busy I am. Then I wake up around 10AM, shower and go to school. On a good night, I will get 6 hours of sleep, which I got three days ago. I think that was my first 6-hour sleep in about a month. You who visit regularly know that besides my schedule, I am having issues beyond just work and the stress is not helping me get to sleep or stay asleep. Even when I can sleep in--like on a Sunday--I'm up by 11AM...

Anyway, my lawyer left me a message yesterday, telling me to come in at 8:30 this morning. I go to sleep around 5AM, get up at just before 7, splash some water on my face, brush my teeth and go. The lawyer--actually she's a paralegal--has me sign papers that need to be submitted to Immigration and I also submit my affidavit swearing it would be a hardship if M was removed from the US. Yes, that is the language the court documents say: M is under removal procedures. I know, kinda scary.

When I think I'm finished, the paralegal tells me that M also needs to take a medical examination. What? Again? *sigh* I wish she'd told me earlier. I'm busy enough as it is. Well, she gives me a list of doctors approved by the INS. I get home, call to make an appointment at the closest medical facility and the receptionist tells me that they could see me today, like right now. Well, I'm dragging M out the door. Let's get this thing over with. During the exam, the doctor, who was actually a physician's assistant--have you noticed that actual doctors and lawyers are too important to do the mundane, routine jobs these days?--tells us as she's drawing blood that M needs to get an X-ray for her lungs to check for TB. Great. One more thing to do. But she tells us that we can go without an appointment. So after the examination, we drop by a radiologist that happens to be on the way home. We go in, fill out the appropriate forms, M steps in, steps out, the radiologist assures us that the x-ray will be sent to the doctor's office in two days, wham, bam, thank you ma'am, and we're gone.

Whew... what a morning. We see our lawyer, M gets a medical exam and she gets a chest x-ray. We get home and to my surprise it's not even noon yet! Can I get this much done before I even think about going to school? Damn, this waking-up-early thing might have something to it...

So here I am, it's 1:30AM and my eyes are wide open. I think I'll try to wake up early again, but I should try to get to sleep a little earlier, as well. This lack of sleep is getting to me.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Senryu Topic for September:

It's amazing how three lines of verse can express so many different emotions. I had never really appreciated poetry in the past, but I'm beginning to see what all the fuss is about. I think it's because I had never attempted to write poetry myself. I have your site to thank for creating the opportunity.--SammyStorm

Whee~! Thank you for providing such a great outlet to test our creativity. I agree with SammyStorm, I wasn't the biggest poetry buff, but with each month, I come to appreciate the power of the written word more and more. --SunJun

These contests are fun, even if I don't win anything! Can't wait for the next one. ^^ --SleepingCutie


'm glad some of you enjoy the senryu. It makes it all worthwhile. Really. And I hope everyone had a chance to read last month's senryu I posted yesterday. The entry is a bit long, mostly because of my comments. But you can skip my comments and just read the poems. They are much better and worth reading.

Anyway, I was trying to figure out what would be a good topic、And I was reading some of my fathers verses from 2001. There were a number that had the word bokujo 牧場 which means "cattle ranch", and I presume that was the topic. As you can see, when he sees cattle, he can only thing of food.

A plate of beef
formerly the free grazers
of a ranch.

With life so fragile,
how can cattle still grow fat
on a ranch

Hahahahhaa... now I know where I get it from.

Anyway, taking these verses as my inspiration, this month's topic is beef. I know there are many who are vegetarians or who don't eat read meat. Well, your verse can reflect your life-style choice. But like the above poems, I think it might be fun to try to come up with a light or amuzing verse, something that might be reflect our everyday issues with beef...

As before, please make one submission only--are you reading this Vixen?--and submit it to this post--there is a link on the main page in the left column. Subscribers only, please.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Senryu Tsubame

川柳つばめ吟社: August


ith every kai (meeting) we have, the poems get better and better. I am having a hell of a time choosing the best ones. Some poems that would have easily made the top six a few meetings ago no longer rank. I am completely impressed with you guys. But then, I think the readers that come here are pretty special. Most are pretty serious students or people who, like me, love to read and write. I hope that didn't sound too arrogant...

A reminder of the rankings: the best eight poems are chosen and given a rank. The rankings in Japanese are: 天 ten (heaven), 地 chi (earth), 人 jin (man) and 五客 gokyaku (five guests--honorable mentions). However, since there were so few submissions, I will limit the honorable mentions to three 三客. The following are this month's ranking. The other poems are listed in order of receipt.

August's topic was waiting.

Stomach in tight knots,
white corsage in trembling hands,
Waiting at her door

by SunJun

First impression: Prom night! Technical foul: None Poet's Remark: At first, I was going to write about my experience at the airport, but someone beat me to it. Then I remembered one of the most anxious waits in my lifetime... Comments: Nicely done! Who can forget the nervousness of a first date or that great high school event, the senior prom. The verse captures the moment of picking up his date and those few moments of waiting at the door, so long and yet too short. The corsage is a great image to use, as it guides the reader perfectly. If I had one thing to say, it would be that I would have switched the first and last lines. The stomach in knots would have been the emtional and physical summary of the previous images. Still, good job.

little foot pressing
nine months' anticipationi
wish you were here

by msbLiSs

First impression: Pregnant Technical foul: None Poet's Remark: double entendre since my due date is the 18th with no sign of contractions in place and since john had to leave to start law school on friday. he won't be able to catch the birth unless the baby's born on a random weekend when he tries to fly in. Comments: First things first: Congratulations. Hope you and your baby are doing well. As for your poem, you do, as usual, a good job of conveying both sides of the topic. No one can argue the happy anticipation of an impending birth, but you also suggest the discomfort of waiting as well by providing a specific moment: the foot pressing against your stomach. The tension between the good and bad sides of waiting is done well. Good job.

Eyes up and butt down,
staring at the master's hand,
when will the treat fall?

by SammyStorm

First impression: Down boy! Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: Comments: Incredible! This is the first poem ever submitted by a dog! While senryu is a view of humaninty, I suppose the view from man's best friend can lend in interesting perspective. The verse is suggestive of man's control over domestic animals, especially as reflected in hi ability to make a dog wait patiently and politely. The dog, sitting down but looking up expectantly, waits for the "master" to provide the treat. The interesting thing is that not only does the man know and exert his dominance, the dog--by waiting obediently--manifests his acceptance of this relationship. What a poem. Good boy!

dinner is ready
clothes folded, a cup of tea....
And I wait for him

by eechim

First impression: Domesticity. Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: since getting married less than a year ago, I find waiting involves, waiting for my husband to come home each evening....i cherish it xoxo Comments: This is pretty nice, simple but effective senryu. The speaker is waiting for her boyfriend/husband at home. The imagery is very loving--of course, this may be due to my male sensibilities--with a woman patiently waiting for her man. The waiting as an expression of affection is manifested in the domestic chores expressed: the laundry is done and dinner is ready. I bet my father would have enjoyed this poem.

Flat bag jumps to life
peer through glass, drumming fingers...
microwave popcorn!

by RachelsMommy

First impression: Impatient! Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: Impatience with the 21st century is that? More, more, more- Fun stuff./Once a month is not enough/for writing senryu (just practicing the format there. I assumed senryu is a two syllable word, was I correct?) Comments: This is pretty good for a first attempt. Indeed, it is light and imagistic and, of course, about FOOD! But seriously, it is a really good expression of modern life. Not only is the microwave popcorn representative of our current lives, that fact that one would wait impatiently--drumming our fingers--for, what? Something that will be ready in 2 minutes? Ah, waiting is something we modern people can no longer tolerate! Hahahahah, Nice verse.

Waiting after school
Mommy forgot me again
Guess I'll walk home

by imahima

First impression: How sad. Technical foul: Read comment. Poet's Remark: Yeah, she really did forget me all the time. Once she forgot to pick me and my sister up from sleep-away camp. Her best friend remembered us that evening (pick-up time was in the morning) and came to get us before our mother even remembered! I feel like I spent half my childhood waiting for her to come get me from somewhere! Ahhh...I love her but damn is she a space-cadet sometimes! Comments: The poem is relatively simple, but moving at the same time. The image of a little girl waiting to be picked up is cute but a bit sad, particularly since we know that the girl believes that she was forgotten by her mother. Technically speaking, it would have been better to express the idea that the parent forgot the girl through physical images rather than a mental expression. Indeed, the only image we have is of a little girl and a school. But the Pathos evoked by a small child waiting futily for her parent and ulitmately walking home was just too powerful an image for me to ignore.

Life is torn to shreds.
Defacing my wrists with cuts,
time awaits death's kiss.

by XanthochromeSum

First impression: Kinda dark. Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: TEXT Comments: Waiting for death is one thing. But waiting for a death at one's own hand is perhaps too dark for a senryu, which is supposed to be a snapshot of a moment in time rather than an expression one's dark thoughts. What happened? Lets get back to your previous style...

Stares across the room
Numbers scrawled on body parts
Hands itch on first ring.

by bane_vixen

First impression: How suggestive! Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: Waiting is the hardest when something you want is right in front of you, like you miss the first ring of a call from that gorgeous guy that just seems too perfect to be true (you know it's him via caller ID) and as you wait for the second ring the 0.5 seconds seem to stretch into a minute. hehe Comments: Perhaps too broad. Stares across room refers, I believe, making first contact with someone that you find hot. Then after getting to him/her, you scratch a phone number on the palm of your hand or wrist, so you won't forget. Then, your hands begin to itch as you wait impatiently for the phone call, presumably on a subsequent day. Yes, I think the moment is

Glancing at my watch
Terminally waiting for
Her late flight to land.

by cgran

First impression: Airport 2004! Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: Typically I get a little overzealous when picking up my girlfriend and end up at the airport a half hour to hour early? Hope you enjoyed the bad pun! Comments: Yes, it was a bad pun. But your sentiment is right on. We wait at airports for loved ones, and when the flight is late, it seems as thought we are waiting forever--or terminally, as you put it *gag*... Oh well, you did try, and it wasn't a bad attempt. Just stay away from the puns. You could use kakeotoba--one word with two meanings--but that's pretty hard to accomplish in English. Come by the office for a lesson...

Waiting and yearning,
When shall I see you again?
Time can be so cruel.

by ekin

First impression: Separation anxiety Technical foul: None. Comments: A nice exression of waiting, but as I have mentioned elsewhere, senryu should be a snapshot of a moment in time. There are no concrete images for the reader to visualize. Next time, consider concrete images that represent the sentiments you want to express.

Quiet through the room
When will her eyes see me here
Staring into them?

by Link_Strife

First impression: Anticipation... Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: There you go. Served up from the depths of my soul. Waiting isn't as bad as the reason one must wait. Comments: Good first attempt. It is nice expression of your aniticpation of a meeting. The room is vague--perhaps a restaurant, or even a classroom--but it is a place where you are supposed to meet her, and hopefully, just stare into her eyes. Pretty romantic. Now if only there were more imagery. Or better yet, an image that would convey the actual senitments you want to express. Perhaps, an image of you glancing at the seat she's supposed to sit in, or occasional glances at a mirror to see if you have the right look...

spring always returns
so as to not waste its breath,
the bear still slumbers...

by crotchety_old_man

First impression: Nature boy! Technical foul: None Poet's Remark: rereading my senryu... how important is it to reveal the specific image in the first verse (vs the last verse like in mine)...? Comments: Funny poem. To answer your poem, the specific image can be put anywhere, as different positioning gives different effects. The image first will set up the vers. The image at the end is to provide a sense of surprise or contradiction, a kind of naruhodo (Oh, I see...) moment. Perhaps your first line and last line should have been switched: bear is still hibernating suggesting winter is still here, but then you provide a spring image--warm sun strikes blossoms--thereby suggesting a lazy bear, a reflection of on of our most human of foibles.

Fidgeting students
feel knowedge drain from their ears--
The exam room wait

by LaMangust

First impression: The ear? the EAR?!? Technical foul: None Poet's Remark: Comments: This is pretty funny too, although the diction could have been better thought out. Exam room sounds more like a hospital room so I was confused--only momentarily mind you. But I love the sentiment. I know it happened to me when I was a student, and I know the sentiment still exists as I see students waiting impatiently for my quiz so they can write in before they forget the kanji/vocab they had just crammed into their head.

Usually ignored,
Until made significant,
A watched clock ticking.

by whonose

First impression: Tick tock. Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: We usually ignore the ticking of the clock, merely regarding it as background noise, until we're waiting for something and then all we can do is look at it. Comments: Indeed, when we anticipate something, time seems to slow down, and we can't keep our eyes off the clock. This is universal, it would seem to me, and seems to strike at the essence of waiting. But I seem to miss a sense of the moment. What are you waiting for? Anything in particular? Even a hint at what you're waiting for would have made this a better senryu.

mouse clicked here and the
restaring at the monitor
still no new e-mail

by dawn_1o9

First impression: Waiting for e-mail? Technical foul: None Poet's Remark: here's my first try at Senryu... (don't laugh :P) Comments: Okay, Dawn, not bad for a first try. Certainly, you got the syllable count right, which is better than many first timers. You also did weel to convey a sense of waiting. Woo hoo! The poem also tells me how much time you must spend on your computer. Waiting for an e-mail? Wow... That's like waiting outside for the postman for a letter--something most people may not do. It might have been more interesting had you used AIM, because you know the other person is online and you are waiting, perhaps cruising on the internet as you wait... Still, a good verse. I expect you to continue to participate :)

My stomach's fierce growl
Gets louder as it sizzles
COOK! Damn, BBQ!

by simply_marie

First impression: Gurgle, gurgle Technical foul: None, sorta. Poet's Remark: I'm still a senryu virgin. Comments: Well, it looks like you just popped your cherry, now doesn't it... Anyway, as you probably knew, anything about food will always get close scrutiny from me. Indeed, this was what I felt yesterday as we had our Labor Day BBQ--Rain was forcasted for Monday, so we did it on Sunday. Your verse captures perfectly the moment of cooking. The only problem might be the last line: Short verbal interjections might suggest frustration at the cooking process as much as to "waiting." But still, an acceptable senryu... for a virgin... hehehehehhe.

waiting for tony
feeling excited yet shy.
i know i'm in love

by SweetLilV

First impression: Alright, everyone all together now: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: Comments: The feelings you manifest when you're waiting for your boyfriend--is there a reason why you typed his name in small caps?--is interesting. Not only is there anticipation, but the sense of being excited and shy spells out a realization of your feelings for him: L-O-V-E. This is a pretty good senryu... except--and you knew it was coming--that the inclusion of you boyfriends name makes the verse obscure. I know your boyfriends name, but someone else would not, and so poem becomes less universal and too personal. Of course, I'm sure most people would presume it was your boyfriend, unless you were 6 years old and waiting for a bowl of sugar-frosted flakes....

-_- 0_o 0_0;
=) =P =D =O,
<_< >_> >_< !

English translation:Frustrated... Huh? Shock!;Happy. Tounge-smile. Yeah! Whoa!,Look left... Look right... Doh!

by fyzle

First impression: Woah... Technical foul: Where do I even begin? Poet's Remark: rhyming - It ends with rhyming couplet. symmetrical - Each line is 12 characters long, including spaces. symbolic - It is made out of symbols. haiku - It follows the 5,7,5 syllable format. The poem encapsulates the moment in time when you encounter an especially difficult, perhaps even impossible, puzzle, (A mathematical proof was my inspiration.) and suddenly think you've solved it, only to realize that you did not. It may have other interpretations, such as seeing something shocking, then learning to enjoy it, then hoping no one noticed you, and finally - getting caught. Or perhaps you've spotted that oh-so-desireable item in the shop window, but it's way out of your price range. However, you see the price drop once, then twice, and finally cave in and purchase it, you are happy with your purchase, until you learn that you have no money left over for food. Then you beg people for money, only to realize that begging is a sucky way to make money. There are a ton of different interpretations... feel free to post your own. (Ok, perhaps this isn't strictly senryu... but keep an open mind.)Comments: Whew, what a comment. I'm not even sure I understand all of it. But I will say that it's an amusing approach to senryu, and I should make up a special category for X-treme imagination... NOT! Hehehehehe. Anyway, I am pleased that anyone would go to such lengths to dreate a senryu, and I appreciate your effort, humor and imagination. The only problem is that senryu is based on human verbal language--without it, we could not count the syllables--and I can't count the syllables in your poem as there is not yet a prescribed way of reading your text... Next time, let's try English, okay?

Their lips locked, hips glued
Male hands roam past her backside
I wait for his call.

by bane_vixen

First impression: How sensual. Technical foul: None. Comments: Again, your poem fails to focus on a moment. Waiting for a call suggests and event that occured long after the locked lips, glued hips and roaming hand--Um, are you speaking from personal experience? If the the last line was something like: "I wait for a squeeze" or somthing like that, it would have been funny and perhaps a reflection of the anticipation or dread of the male hand by a women...

Heart pouding, palms dank,
Finally the flag is raised.
Here's my chance to shine.

by Momo5

First impression: An Olymipic moment. Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: I'm trying to express the nerve-wracking anticipation you feel before competing a beam routine. (You know, the 4-inch wide and 5-foot high one?) The judges keep you waiting alone, staring at the beam, until they raise their little green flag and you can begin. Sometimes as long as 10 minutes. There's nothing in the world that I find more excruciating to wait for than that flag!! And wow, senryu are so much harder to write than I thought. Comments: Holy, moly. For those of you who don't know, Momo5 is a gymanast at the school I teach. Yeah guys, that's right. I have actually have athletes taking Japanese, although most of them take the film class. Anyway, the verse does a good job of conveying your feelings at the moment before your event... but if I didn't know you were you, then I might be lost as to what you were refering to. A flag? Well, I would have guessed a race of some sort, certainly some kind of competition--maybe an eating contest? Oh well, there I go again... food, food, food. Anyway, next time try to compose a verse that conveys the situaiton without having to explain it. It should be self-explanatory... But a good attempt for another first-timer.

Time ticks by slowly
Eyes glued to the chat window:
When will he respond?

by SleepingCutie

First impression: Right. Technical foul: None Poet's Remark: DUNNO what if you can tell my senryu... but this feel when am waiting a reply while chatting with someone I care for deeply. And there is some sort of anticipation and longing that accompanies waiting, eh?=")" from>Comments: Good. This is exactly what I was thinking when I read someone else's poem about waiting for someone while on the computer. Perhaps there might have been a better way to express the slow passage of time rather than to say it outright: cruising the Internet, longer than a misic file to download. But regardless, I like the concept. I have often waited for someone--not a girlffriend, mind you--to answer on AIM. I have learned it is best to ignore it, and continue whatever I was doing. Better make someone wait rather than to wait. hehehehehhe.

Sitting in my seat,
My heart beating in my throat
As test scores are shown.

by onigiri

First impression: Students dread! Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: meh, i was gonna try to write another one, but i dunnoe when the deadline is and i'm too lazy too look. >__> i tried to be detailed, but its oh-so hard. WHOO~! i'm a second-timerr! XD Comments: Not bad, second-timer. I think your poem does a good job of expressing the woes of a student anxious to get her grade. There is one thing that pazzles me. Are test grades shown publicly where you go to school? Or are they posted on a bulletin board with your student number or something? That part was a bit confusing, and if you cleared that up, it would have improve the poem. Keep tryiing. Think about how a person who knows nothing about you would read your poem. It might help you be clearer.

Relentless pursuit
One million resumes sent
money dwindling

by sekura81

First impression: Technical foul: None. Poet's Remark: I actually composed that on my way home on the fwy, trust me, not the smartest thinig to do! Comments: Indeed, you should keep your eyes on the road! Anyway, I'm sure that many jobless people can relate to job searches where one's saving's account dwindles as she desparately sends out resume after resume. Perhaps the lines could have been a little more cohesive; as is they sound a bit disjointed. Maybe you just happend to hit a couple of bumps in the road back as you were thinking of the poem. hehehehehe.


Waiting as a topic ellicited a variety of expressions. the most successful ones above, often showed two sides of waiting. SunJun and msbLiSs presented the joyous side of the prom and childbirth, as well as its drawbacks--waiting nervously for a prom date and uncomfortably with a belly ful of baby. Sam's verse provided us the unique view of master and servant--or in his case, master and dog. There is something intriguing about seeing both sides of this relationship in one shot: the dominant master withholding a treat and the expectant dog accepting his role obediently as he remains seated. Eechim's senryu was touching, a picture of a wife who truly loves her husband and is willing to fulfill her "traditional" role of waiting--perhaps a bit old-fashioned for many how might read my site, maybe even sentimental, but such sentiments exist nonetheless and it was expressed very well. RachelsMommy did a fine job of expressing modern man's waning patience, even for a two-minute microwave popcorn. All these poems were exceptional. I can't wait to read more!

I try to ignore
the buzz of the dentist's drill
with old magazines

by onigiriman

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Final: UCLA 35 Illinois 17

vs. Illinois. The Bruins lost to Okie State last week in a game they could have won had they held onto the ball. Well, maybe they would have won. It's impossible to know what would have happened, but they did have two crucial turnovers in the red-zone--that's the area within the 20-yard line... Illinois is not as good as OSU but they have an experienced offensive line and if last weeks game is any indicaiton, the Bruins will again have their butts handed to them. This is what happens when you recruit poorly and end up having the entire starting defensive line graduate at the same time.

But today, more importantly, is the third anniversary of the day that changed our lives. Virtually everything we do today is affected by the events of 9/11. It takes longer to get on a plane now. There are fewer public trash cans. We are more suspicious of strange packages and different people. And it is sad...

Anyway, there is little I can add to the conversation. Almost everything worth saying has already been said by better people than me. So allow me to play a re-run. Below is a slightly editted version of an entry from last year...



hree years ago on this day, many people died at the hands of a group of desperate people--people who shared similar traits to the suicide kamikaze of WWII. I don't mean to "revise" the image of kamikaze as a group of people desperately battling the cultural encroachment by and hegemony of the West; nor do I intend to equate the attacks of kamikaze pilots on military targets with terrorists on non-military ones. But I do believe that desperate people resort to extreme measures to accomplish their goals. It is frightening and more than a little sad...

On a lighter note on this solemn day, I would like to tell you that there seems to be an affinity between disasters and me sitting on the can. As I mentioned earlier this week (last year), I was sitting down, doing my business when the '89 SF earthquake hit, and fearing my body would be discovered under undignified circumstances. Well, two years ago on 9/11, I was again reading the newspaper in my favorite place when Musubi-chan pounded on the door to hand me the telephone receiver--damn, these cordless phones! It was my sister and she was screaming at me.

"Oh my God. It's horrible!"

"Huh? Calm down, what's up?" I said, half jokingly.

"Haven't you heard? You're ALWAYS on the toilet. A plane crashed into the World Trade Center."

I was frozen in horror because my sister worked right across the street from the WTC. But I immediately calmed down as I remembered that she just happend to be in LA taking care of our ill mother.

"God, Onigiriman." (No, she doesn't really call me this.) "There was a crash at the Pentagon, too. Didn't you hear? Isn't your school near the Pentagon? Do you LIVE in the bathroom?!?"


I don't mean to make light of today's significance. But this is pretty much how it unfolded for me that day. It is now a standing joke in our house that I spend far too much time in my special room, and whenever I'm there, there's always the possibility of a disaster. M yaps about my time there, and my sister always tells me she's glad we have extra bathrooms. Whenever they start talking like this, I grab the most recent issue of SI or Newsweek and head to the... uh, you-know-where.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Fashion boners


o, no, no, not that kind of boner. A boner as in blunder or faux pas. SweetLilV posted an entry recently about seeing a woman with the price tag of her shoes still on the shoe as she wore them. It made me think of some of the fashion boners I have committed in my day.

I have always been aware of my looks. In my early years, I was often told that I was cute and adorable by the adults around me--my students may stop laughing now... In first grade, I remember once being chased by the girls. Of course, they were probably just trying to beat me up. However, in my formative years--oh, I guess from 4th to 9th grade--I had developed a complex. After a few well-timed comments by some of the "cool" kids in class, I was forever exiled into the dreaded margins of society, the one reserved for dorks. After being told how poorly I played basketball--Man, you suck. Why do you have to be on our team.--or how ugly I dressed, I was absolutely convinced that I was one of the dorkiest kids ever born.

I didn't help my own cause, either. One day I noticed the other kids glancing at me from the corner of their eyes, some of them pointing at me in that subtle-but-not-too-subtle way. As I wondered what they were thinking, I realized that I didn't have a shirt pocket. The private school I went to required uniforms: white short-sleeve shirt and salt-and-pepper corduroy pants. The navy bow tie was the cherry on top. We were not so rich and my mother made my shirts--although when I think about it now, it was quite a luxury to have custom-made shirts. Be that as it may, I was embarassed to realize I had no shirt pocket. No wonder they were snickering at me. How uncool to have a shirt that had no pocket. I went home upset ready to tell my mother about my horrendous day, of being singled out for a shirt SHE made. I stomped into my bedroom and unbuttoned the shirt I was going to show her, this pocketless piece of work. But as I took it off, I realized that the shirt DID have a pocket. It just happened to be on the inside of the shirt?!? Wait, the seams, the collar... Oh no! I screamed internally as I looked at myself in the mirror. I had been wearing my shirt inside-out the whole day! At that moment, I felt like the king of the dorks, the dorkiest dork, just call me Your Dorkness... Why didn't anyone tell me? Why didn't even the teacher tap me on the shoulder and tell me to redress myself? *sigh*

Well, my attention to fashion hasn't changed much over the years. Last year, on a cool spring day, I went to class. I taught bungo from 12:30, then headed to my next class, Advanced Japanese at 2:00. Upon entering the classroom, some of my students started laughing, asking me if I was trying to make a fashion statement. Huh? What are you talking about? I asked, puzzled at their remarks.

Why are you wearing your sweater inside out?

Memories of the pocketless shirt fiasco flooded back, filling me with embarrassment. I thought that I should say, Yeah, it's a fashion statement. But that would be too obvious an attempt to hide my faux pas. Instead, I should laugh it off, telling them I was testing them, seeing how fast they would catch on. But that would sound narcissistic and, truthfully, rather pathetic. So I resigned myself to the reality that it honesty is the best policy. These kids aren't stupid, and I shouldn't treat them as if they were. This train of thought, of course, occurs to me in about 1.5 seconds--isn't it amazing how fast the mind works when you're embarrassed?

Uh, *gulp* thanks for telling me. I'm such a dork.

I smile sheepishly, take off my sweater and turn it rightside-in, as they giggle and laugh at the sight of their sensei redressing himself. One student who was also in the bungo class said that he had noticed it in the other class, but wasn't sure if he should mention it... Great, the whole freakin' world knows I'm a dork, now. I thought I had left that behind me in grade school, but I guess once a dork always a dork.

And earlier today, a student, fuafuahamu, comes to my office and leafs through an old notebook of mine, one that I used when I was an undergraduate at UCLA. It was my bungo notes. I had rewritten the text and marked all the classical conjugations for each predicate. Fuafuahamu laughs as she peruses my work:

Sensei, your such a dork!

And the magic continues...

RBJ Tomodachi:
I haven't been going to RBJ that often these days, as I am busy enough as usual, but it's nice to know that some of the people over there come to visit me from time to time. Thanks to hyojin and the California College Kid for bookmarking me at the Rice Bowl Journals. I've added you guys to my RBJ Tomodachi List above on the comment page and on the left column of the main page..

Thursday, September 09, 2004

In Memory


oday is my mother's birthday. She would have been 74. I used to think it was morbid of people to celebrate the birthday of someone who had died. Indeed, there is a proverb in Japanese--and probably came from China--that describes the futility of lamenting over something lost: 死んだ子の歳を数える (Counting the age of a dead child). The sense of the expression is close to "you can't cry over spilled milk" but with a much more darker edge to it. And yet, on September 9, I can't help but think of my mother.

My sister laughs, of course. Not because she thinks that it's wierd, for as much as I miss my mother, she misses her more. But she laughs because she would remind me of how often I had forgotten to send mom something, or even call her on her birthday. As a son, I pretty much sucked. This more or less exposes how much of a spoiled kid I was in many ways. These thoughts remind me of another sad expression: 孝行をしたい時分に親はなし、さればとて石に布団も着せられず (When one wants to be filial, the parents are gone. And of course, one cannot cover the grave stone with a blanket). This suggests that trying to keep your parent warm by covering her grave with a blanket is not an expression of filial piety, that it is too late to show your love with such a meaningless action.

Oh, how this phrase stings.

It rings of Confucianism--you should honor thy parents and we will make you feel guilty trying to convince you--but I'm not sure of it's source. Like many East Asian expressions, it probably was uttered in China and was transmitted to neighboring lands. But it is an oft used phrase in Japan. When it was spoken in a scene in the film "Tokyo Story" when the mother dies after her kids treated her poorly when she visited them in Tokyo, I said sarcastically, "How dramatic." My mother, however, told me that this expression was apt, that she had known others who felt this way. I didn't give much thought to her words back then, but it lingers in my consciousness, dogging me almost daily. As for the movie "Tokyo Story", I can no longer watch it, as it is the last movie I ever saw together with my mother...

Anyway, I thought I'd post a few senryu by my mother. My father was the senryu teacher, but everyone thought my mother was the wittier poet, something my father grudgingly admitted.

setsujitsu na
tanomi denwa e
ojiki wo shi
With an urgent favor,
I bow humbly
toward the telephone

mado kara no
keshiki mo fukumu
hoteru dai
The scenery
from the window included
-- Hotel rates

kousai no
hirosa hanawa no
kazu de shire
the breadth of one’s associations
revealed by the number
of floral wreaths

oshibana mo
aru shiawase na
hi no nikki
Even a pressed flower
becomes a diary entry
of a blissful day

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

When is an Onigiri a Musubi?


n response to Saturday's post, let me assure you that the rumors of my coma have been greatly exaggerated. I am most certainly NOT comatose. After the loss of my beloved Bruins, I am a bit hungover, but far from dead. Do not pull the plug on me!

I didn't mean to scare anyone--you guys know me, I always have my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. I just like to have a little fun, you know. Still, many of the comments were amusing.

mmh: for a while...i thought something happened...... -_-

whonose: For a second there. I was actually worried! Sheesh! Ah well I guess we wont be hearing from the Onigiriman for a while then...

PerfectSanjuro: Haha, I was worried there for a moment!

gyjcwang: wow...for a minute there I actually thought you went into a coma...heheh... What is a pet rock?

Hahahahah. Sorry guys, I just have to laugh. I hope I didn't scare any of you. Honestly. But I feel so loved from all your concern. hehehheheheh. Oh yeah, don't any of you guys know what a Pet Rock is? It was a gimmick gift, sorta like the bust with grass growing for hair. The Pet Rock was the perfect pet. It was very low maintenance. You could go on vacation and not worry about it. You don't have to feed it or bath it. You could kick it around and you would never hurt its feelings. Click on the photo to read more--not that you would want to, I suppose....

As many of you know, Musubichan is Japanese, but she has been studying her English very hard these past few years. But still...

Link_Strife: whoa, a third person perspective of the Riceball man. This is pretty awesome. You type just like him too, except your talking about him in the third person which he wouldn't do, but other than that you type just like him.

onigiri: for a minute there, i thought your wife actually went on your xanga account and typed this. well... to this very moment, half of me believes taht she did while the other half is wondering how i turned out to be such a gullible idiot.

gokingsgo: wow, hijacked xanga account!

iiSoNySoUnDii: I'm curious on who actually wrote this entry...was it really Onigiriman-san? And wow. At first I was worried that something terrible happened (i.e. heart attack). Thanks God. =D

Okay, let me set the record straight: I wrote the entry. Duh... But y'know, these comments are interesting. I didn't really think I had a "style" but if Linkstrife's comment is any indication, I must write in a way that is distinctive. Which of course doesn't meant that it's good; it's just recognizably different... which is a good thing, but that does not necessarily mean I'm a good writer, just differnt, but... I feel like I'm going in circles...

Which is just another bad habit I have, like watching football...

Eechim: lol, great post! pls give us more insight to the Ricemans bad habits.. *evil grin*

LittleREDSunbeam: Ahahahahahahahaha, awesome! Football sucks, basketball is way better. You should give him his least favorite food that isn't so expensive, just to see if he'd eat it. Muahahahahahahaha! I love this post.

jerjonji: fall brings out all kinds of odd behavior and football seems to bring out the oddest of all... my suggestion: clean around the pet rock, change the batteries in the remote frequently, feed him sausage and beer regularly and he'll recover around... thanksgivng day maybe? and you'll still be happily married...

Great, let's not everyone gang up on me, alright? Sheesh! Will someone give me a break?

cgran: Yay Football! (breaks into song) "Its the most wonderful time... of the year..." ;P

Finally, a man of like mind...

Monday, September 06, 2004

Happy Labors Day


an, I have way too much on my plate. No, no, no, I don't mean that I'm over eating from the BBQ--that was yesterday and I did eat too much, as usual. I'm talking about my life. Way too much work to do. Not that I want to complain or whine. But i do want to convey that I am sorry for not getting commenting on everyone's site. But I seriously have way too much to do.

  1. Work work work. School got me a new computer over the summer, but--ack!--I recently realized that all my material for classes uses a Japanese word processing program that works on Windows... 96 and 98 only! It will not work on XP. So what the heck am I supposed to do now?!? I just learned also that I can write vertically in Japanese (reading text) and horizontally in English (word list) on XP Word. This is sweet as this was the reason why I was using the Japanese WP in the first place... Actually, this is unsweet as I am trying desperately to reconfigure, redit and realign every file--virtually all the reading material in my language courses are self-generated, so I gotta fix all of these things pronto! This is, as you might imagine, time consuming....
  2. Greed Card: and update. Okay, I talked to the lawyer last week and he assured me that M doesn't have to go back to Japan. But in order to prevent this, I have to fill out a ton of forms. And I have to reapply for her premanent residency from zero. Since her card was conditional--fiance visa--there is no exception to the rule: She has lost her status and we have to begin all over again... crap! So I'm in the midst of filling out all these forms which I have to turn in to the lawyers tomorrow.
  3. The wayward son can't live in Japan because he has no means, and he can't llive in the US cuz he has no status, so he is trying to get into a community college. Guess who held his hand and helped him fill out the English forms and turn them in to the right office? Oh well, I did that on Friday and so I can leave that on the shelf until his I-20 (conditional admission) is ready in two weeks or so.
  4. So where does that leave me? Fat... no exercise, lots of stress. And I eat a lot without the stress. Can you imagine how much I eat now? Ugh. My love handles were on the verge of being beyond handles as it was... now they are, what? love balloons? Yuck... Need to find time to work out... even a little...
  5. Oh,yeah, there was that little matter of football Saturday, when I HAD to watch my games... even though UCLA lost :( But no major disappointment there. Expectations are low this year...

And so what did I do yesterday night with all this freakin' $hit to do? I watched "The Whole Nine Yards" for the first time. Man, I was really cracking up. I never realized how funny this movie was. I am not a "Friends" fan, so I usually stay away from flicks that star people from this program. But Mathew Perry was really funny. I'm not sure if the movie was really funny or if it was just a natural response to let go from all the pressure I feel currently... hmmm... you should also know that it's pretty tough to watch a movie as well, since I'm usually providing simultaneous translations to M. Oh yeah, "The Station Agent" was okay as was "Hellboy", "Badder Santa" and "Kill Bill 2". Am I getting blase? Tarantino is starting to bore me. While "Kill Bill" 1 & 2 were fun to watch, they don't come close to fascinating me like "Pulp Fiction" did. What did surprise me was "The Butterfly Effect". I'm not a Ashton Kutcher fan either--maybe I'm just against most TV stars on the big screen--but this movie had my mind working throughout. Much better than I had anticipated.

Again, thanks to Taku. "Friends" and "Ima dakara" are pretty good stress relievers. These songs allow me to recall a simpler time back in the mid 80s when perhaps the most stressful thing in my life was a final paper. Ha! That stuff is a piece of cake...

BTW: Yes, I am working on the senryu still. I'm about half way through... patience, little grasshoppers...