Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Halloween's coming.
Halloween's coming.
Ghosts and goblins too...

It happened again... I was talking to M the other night right before bed. We were ready to go to sleep, just nonchalantly standing in front of each other about a foot apart when suddenly I felt a chill sweep by my arms and the front of my body. Do you know how you feel a chill and get goose bumps when you suddenly see something really gross or scary? Well, that's exactly what I felt, but I didn't see or hear anything. It just happened.

"Woah! I just got a chill, as if a really cold wind blew in front of me," I said rubbing my forearms.

M's eyes shot up in alarm. "I just felt the same thing, too. Did something or someone walk between us?"

I felt the hair on the nape of my neck stand on end. We both jumped into bed and pulled the covers over our head.

I think I like Thanksgiving better...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Testing, testing

I went back to the original layout to test something out. Something strange is happening, and I'm wondering if it's this new fangled Xanga module layout thingy. Please bear with me.

In the meantime, here is the first senru poem my ather published in a local LA Japanese newspaper called the Kashu Mainichi back in 1938.


Idle talk
listens without a word
to idle talk

The poem reflects one of the first things he learned about composing senryu--just copying someone else's diciton or technique is a waste of effort and time, just as repeating someone else's idle talk--without adding anything to it--is still idle talk... at least, that's how he explained it to me.

1:10, 6.11 mi.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Text Appeal

I was away from Xanga for quite a while. I mean, I would post every so often, when I had the time and was in the mood, but I it was just post and split--go back to work or to J-dorama or whatever. But I've been back now for about that past couple of weeks and I began to realize that Xanga has changed quite a bit. The new layout with modules makes it easier to set up a nice looking page, so I asked about a week ago if I should give my site a face lift. But to a man--and woman, of course--everyone said that my site was fine he way it was.

Sammy: Personally, I think your site is fine. It's like a trusted brand name, so no reason to change!

Whonose: Don't change the look, I like the way this looks, stylish and minimalist!

the greatest pip: i've always liked the look of your site.

Okay, I get the picture. Actually, I've always liked the way my site looks. Duh! I guess that's why I designed it that way. Images are nice, and so are colors, but to me a blog is a journal and a journal is a journal is a journal. It is for me, textual in nature and the best way to present text is black print on a white background. This reminds me of a story.

On the front of the store, there hung a huge sign that said "Coffee". There was neither a store name, nor a catchy phrase. On a white background in black, simply COFFEE, that was all. It was also tilted a little bit upward to boot, so it looked just like a letter of challenge facing the sky.

Why anyone would go to the trouble of putting up such a sign was beyond me. The position of the sign was way too high for people walking on the street to catch a glimpse of, and the letters were too big as well. That I notice the sign was due to nothing more than the lucky coincidence of looking up meaninglessly at the sky from the the window of the car per chance at that moment.

We were on the road home from an outing, and were dead tired. My friend who had his hand on the wheel yawned every twenty seconds, and his girlfriend was fast asleep next to him. The ashtray was full, and from the car stereo flowed a Temptations' song about the difference in temperature between February and May.

"Coffee," I read out loud.

"Coffee?" my friend said.

"There was a sign that had Coffee written on it"

"Signs like that are everywhere."

"But on a sign as big as six tatami mats, it simply had Coffee written on it, and it was facing toward the sky," I objected.

"Bomber repellent," he said after a yawn. "It's something like the mark of the Red Cross. No one would do something like bomb a coffee shop. Am I wrong?"

"I guess not," I said.

So text--as Murakami Haruki suggests in his short story "Coffee"--is open to interpretation. Even something as mundane as a sign with the single word "coffee" can be interpreted subjectively by anyone. I mean, bomber repellant? Hahahahahah. But the key here for me is what identifies text as text: Black letters on a white background.

But back to the original point. I couldn't help myself. I still had to try the new module based Xanga layout. Everyone else seemed to have such cool looking sites, and I didn't want to be left out, missing the bus, marginalized. So this is what I came up with!

Black text on white background...

Pretty pathetic, don't you think? *sigh* Let me know what you think.

1:10; 5.53 mi.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I'm Hungry

But it's 4 AM and if I ate anything right now, it would go straight to my waist. I've been hovering around the 160 lbs. mark for the past three weekends. M--bless her heart--bought four (4) bags of Doritos last weekend: BBQ Cheddar, Fiery Habanero, Buffalo and Cool Ranch. Okay, actually, I told her that since I lost weight, it would be a nice reward to eat some Doritos while I watched the UCLA game. But four bags? I've been munching all week, a little at a time.

Of course, it's not her fault that I have no... self... control... Ugh. I need someone to tape my mouth shut. Where is Sister Angela Maureen when you need her?

1:20; 6.81 mi.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

English for Japanese

Yesterday, I wrote about interpreting for Musubichan--protected post: Whonose, you are on my protected list. (If you re a regular reader and a subscriber, leave me a message telling me you want to be added. I think you have to be a Xanga member.)--but I moved the comment here.

I had the chance to hone my interpreting skills. Musubichan had not watched Heroes last season, so we watched a few episodes. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles so I am doing simultaneous translation for three hours straight on Friday and Sunday. I love my wife, but I swear, I am exhausted. Watching TV was not so relaxing.

Well, KENSHIRO commented:

I don't understand -- perhaps I haven't been reading your blog long enough, or I've missed a detail somewhere (probably the latter), but does M understand English? I don't understand why you had to interpret Heroes.

This is a perfectly legitimate comment, I think. Firstly, Kenshiro has been a reader for quite a while--Thanks for being so loyal. So perhaps you may have missed a detail, but then, maybe I haven't really written about it as it is rarely germaine to my ramblings. Anyway, Musubichan's English is not very good. She tries hard and she can comprehend much more than she used to. But TV shows and movies can be difficult to understand. They speak at regular speed and do not wait for the listener to respond. So I end up interpretting.

Now this has nothing to do with M's intelligence or effort. I'm not sure what it is, but many Japanese are simply unable to master English. I know a ton of them. My mother never really mastered English. Nor did most of my relatives who came to the US after they became adults. Of course, this is not for all Japanese. Most Japanese who have gone to school in the US have mastered a level of English, but I've known more than a couple of graduate students who could understand English in their respective fields but significantly less--speaking or listening--in conversations that deviate from their speciatly.

M didn't go to a college in the US and her first extended stay in the US was after she married me, and she was already 40. I don't know what it is. I can't explain it. I know a lot of people who go to foreign lands and master the language to a degree, but for some reason, English for Japanese is a tough nut to crack.

Anybody have a familiar experience? Or know the reason for this?

Keep on keepin' on--this is also from yesterday's protected post

Of course, I also ran some--about 15 miles altogether. A few months ago, I would have thought, Forget it! I'm too busy. But not now. Getting and staying in shape has become a priority, so I make it a point to make time. It is more like eating now, a necessity of life. No matter how busy I am, I have to exercise. It is no longer, I'm too busy, I don't have the time. You make the time, as it is an investment in my future... and my waist line.

0:40, 3.37 mi.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Weekend roundup

The weekend was very busy. Every year, faculty must submit an individual Annual Report: What classes did you teach; Number of enrollment; What did you publish; What service did you provide; et cetera, et cetera. Well, I got my report back with a response from the new dean, who by all accounts is a good person. But my feedback was less that sparkling. She reminded me that I should pay heed to details such as student evaluations... Huh? Her comment suggested I don't them, which is patently false. I found out that the department failed to forward them, and now I look bad. And of course, I teach a significant number of courses, but my research and service is "modest". So, at the recommendation of the Chair, I wrote a... well, not a rebuttal, but a description of the state in which I find myself--over-worked. Of course, I couldn't write that. I don't want to sound whiny, and I don't want to complain, because I'm not. I love to teach and I love my students--well, most of them, anyway. And I don't mind the work. But the sheer volume I wade through on a daily basis might explain my "modest" productivity elsewhere. I don't need any violins playing in the background, but I don't want people thinking I'm a slacker either.

So anyway, I spent the entire weekend working on this response. I wrote it once and it did sound whiny and perhaps a bit rambling and unfocused. So I rewrote it like a paper, then restructured it like a presentation--bullet points and even a pie chart! I'm so proud of myself :) But this two page document--more like four pages double spaced--consumed my entire weekend...


Hahahha. Nah. It did take up a big chunk--like 14 hours? But I did have time to watch my beloved UCLA Bruins stick it to Cal. 30-21. This season has been crazy. Div. II Appalachian State knocks off Michigan, Stanford upset $C and Vandy knocks out South Carolina. Even Notre Dame--that perenial powerhouse--can't buy a victory... okay, they do have one victory, against... against... against... ucla. This has been an incredibly frustrating season for UCLA fans. I mean, we are good enough to beat Cal, a very good team--certainly better than Notre Dame--but we lose to the otherwise winless Irish. Go figure...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Staying within yourself

There are times when you know you should not try to overreach. No, I don't mean to say that one shouldn't try new things. I am all for challenging yourself. But there are times when you must realize you limitations.

Currently, I am teaching a buttload of classes, but I need to do research. My career depends on it. So I need to make time--stay away from Xanga (its not as though I've been spending a lot of time here anyway), turn off the TV (this would actually be big deal), no more football (blasphemy!). Since teaching fewer classes is not really an option for me, I need to cut time elsewhere. It is sad that I will ultimately deny myself leisure time, but I suppose that is the life of an academic coolie--I used this word in class the other day and was shocked that most of the class did not know what it meant! Can you imagine that?

But anyway, I need to realize my limitations and stay within the bounds of what I am able to do. I was reminded of this when I went to the Facebook of a Xanga acquaintance --I found out only recently (like yesterday) that SJ now lives near me and occupies the same campus as I do! Dude, and you don't even try to contact me?!? I found this out when I visited his Facebook. But I was even more surprised at his ability to wield an aritistic mouse. There is a Facebook app called Gaffiti that I have on my page where I have drawn a self-portrait of sorts. As you can see, it is quite rudimentary, but I was proud nonetheless that I could even draw a straigh line... well sorta.

But before I patted myself on the back, I should have seen what others can do. And apparently they can do a lot. Take SJ. When I went to his page, I saw this rendition of himself. Oh man! He doesn't only draw himself, he draws himself drawing himself wih Graffiti! And even that drawing of himself drawn by the caricature of himself that SJ drew is better than mine. (I think I'm getting confused.) Okay, I give up. I mean, I know this is not a competition, but you win. Okay? Oh by the way, I just borrowed your picture to make a point. Hope you don't mind.

* Actually, I already got permission.

0:53, 4.37

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Everything I think about these days seems to be related to aging. Even the things I don't want to think about are age related. Like my memory. I used to drop gingko biloba regularly but stopped this past summer as I had concluded that it didn't really help me--I would forget to do what M told me to do, or I would not be able locate my baseball cap. What I hadn't counted on was that, perhaps, the gingko biloba was actually working and my powers of memory was actually worse.

I was on Facebook, poking around the RBJ group and noticed someone I thought I might know on Xanga. As she--and most of us--prefer to remain anonymous, I thought I recognized through her location history. But I wasn't sure. I thought I'd friend her but decided to confirm her identity first. I wouldn't want her to think I'm a stalker...

Onigiriman: Hi, Are you Enygma? I'm Onigiriman. :) Of course, you may already know that. :P

Enygma: Yes.
Wait, when we messaged each other several months ago, did you think I was a complete stranger?

Oooops! (@_@;)

Oh brother. She's right of course; she did message me. And I did NOT think she was a complete stranger back then. But for the moment, I had forgotten. I guess, had I bothered to think about it, maybe look in my inbox for previous mesages, I would have saved myself the embarrassment. But nooooooo. I decided to confirm as to save both of us some embarrassment, but ended up just embarrassing myself.

Now where did I stash that gingko?

1:30, 7.26

Friday, October 19, 2007


It's been a while since I've really posted more than a post or two. I am really surprised how much Xanga has changed! What is going on here. I was visiting some sites and noticed that many of them looked quite different. Then I realized that there's this "Theme" thing that helps design the Xanga site. The look of my site hasn't changed in quite a while. Indeed, it's been your basic white page with black letters since... forever. So maybe I should change. But there's something that bugs me about changing just for the sake of changing.

Anyone have any opinion? Should I change the look of my site?

BTW: There's also a protected post too...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Still exercising

I realize that I haven't been posting. I get the feeling that I just don't have that much to say these days. Is it me? Is it my life? Actually, these are essentially the same, aren't they. In any event, as I stated over a month ago--that would be exactly two posts ago--I am trying to bring my energy level back up by exercising.

I wrote previously that I have lost almost ten pounds. Well, I've stopped lifting weights as that doesn't allow me to loss the weight that quickly. I know, I know. Lifting weights to tone the body is good, but watching the numbers on the scale go down is quite motivating, so I've stopped. When I started on the health kick, I weighed a hefty 178 pounds--pretty chunky for 5'6". Yes, I'm short. They don't call me Mr. Miyagi for nothing. It was the most I had ever weighed in my life. I had reached 175 before, but that was virtually with no muscles. Not that I have a lot of muscles now, but about 15 years ago I had never worked out with weights, had done little manual labor in my life, and was a pretty sorry (read: blubbery) sight.

After working out on the treadmill last Friday, I got on the scales and was gratified to see that I had broken 160 pounds. Yes, the meter read: 159.5! Woo hoo! Of course, it was right after running for 90 minutes, and predictably I was back above 160 the next day--162 to be exact--but it felt good nonetheless.

0:30, 2.43

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Early Halloween...

I leave campus a little after 7 PM most days, take the Metro train to the last stop on the Orange line and walk home from the station around 8 PM. I used to take a short cut that went past a parking structure, then beneath an overpass that finally led to a small community of townhouses that is just across the street from where I live. But about ten months ago, I began to notice the unmistakably pungent odor of piss as I walked beneath the overpass. A few days later, I saw a dirty sock on the path. I casually looked around and then up, and dangling from the three-foot vertical space between the overpass and the concrete buttress, was a filthy, moldy-looking blanket.

From all appearances, somebody was sleeping up there. It kinda freaked me out. Perhaps it was just a harmless homeless person, but the thought that someone could be up there looking down at me and any other passers-by was unsettling. So I started taking the normal route home along the main road on the north side of the station.

But last week Wednesday, I decided to take the short cut again. I don't know, it just struck me as the thing to do. So I went past the parking structure, beneath the underpass and was almost through the townhouse community. I turned the corner before crossing the street to my house, when suddenly I felt someone kick my heels from behind.

Bump, bump.

What the... and for a moment, I thought Musubichan had been waiting for me at the station, shadowed me on my way home and tried to scare me. The fraction of a second it took me to come up with that scenario and then whirl around wasn't long enough for me realize that she had never before waited at the station for me unannounced. But even if I had realized that, it would not have prepared me for what I saw.

No one.

What?!? I looked around and there was not a soul. There are invariably three or four other commuters who use the same shortcut from the station, but there were none that night. So I looked at me feet. Maybe I stepped on something that flung up and hit the back of my shoes, but again there was nothing. Oh man. I stood at the corner waiting for a couple of cars to pass before I crossed the street. Whatever it was, will it kick me again, sending me forward in front of the oncoming cars? I stepped away from the curb and looked back at the area I felt my heels being kicked. I was starting to get paranoid. When the cars drove by, I ran across the street and practically dove into the safety of my own home.

I still don't know what happened that night. I have tried to think of a variety of reasons as to why I might have felt something bumping my heels, but I can't come up with a reasonable explanation. Can you?

1:30, 7.25