Friday, June 27, 2008

Oil Companies: Exploring New Ways to Annoy People

Explain this one to me:

I have credit card from an oil company.
(I probably shouldn't say the name, but I guess I could say the initials: B.P.)

The credit card gives a 5% rebate on gas purchased at B.P. stations.

Gas prices suck (and I'm surprisingly cheap) so I decided to use said credit card.

There are no B.P. stations in Seattle but there is AM/PM, which is owned by B.P.

I like AM/PM because:
  1. their gas is always the least expensive in the area
  2. they remind me of Japan
  3. it's easy to spell
So, I went to AM/PM.

AM/PM only takes cash or debit card.

Which means that, basically, I can get a great rebate when I use a credit card at a place... that doesn't take credit cards.

Somewhere an oil executive is laughing.

That's it. I'm switching to a different kind fuel...

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin - 1937 - 2008

(From Yahoo News)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian George Carlin, a counter-culture hero famed for his routines about drugs, dirty words and the demise of humanity, died of heart failure at a Los Angeles-area hospital on Sunday. He was 71.

[...] His comedic sensibility revolved around a central theme: humanity is a cursed, doomed species.

[...] Carlin told Playboy in 2005 that he looked forward to an afterlife where he could watch the decline of civilization on a "heavenly CNN."

Here's one of his few safe-for-work routines (but still one of my favorites), "Baseball and Football":

Rest in peace.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008


As if I didn't already have enough distractions,

I had to find this site.

Here are three quick ones that made me laugh out loud...

song chart memes

song chart memes

song chart memes

Hat-tip for Bob Harris for the site
(and for ruining my chances of getting outside today).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Lone Wooter

So, I just got back from the gym. (Not that anyone would notice.)

I went thinking I was going to do one of the 20-minute "Express Strength" classes that they have on Monday nights. After that, I'd knock out a few chapters of the new David Sedaris book while cranking out a couple a' miles on one of their stationary bikes. (I've gotta get it shape. Before you know it, it'll be bikini season. I think, here in Seattle, that falls on August 23rd. From noon to 5:30.)

Anyway, it turns out, today's not Monday. It's Wednesday. Group cycling night. (I really need to look at my calendar more.) So, I group-cycled.

Well, I wanted exercise, I got it. And now I'm exhausted so I guess it worked.

Three things:
  1. My instructor kinda looked like Courtney Love. (Less in her "People vs. Larry Flynt" stage and more in her "People vs. Courtney Love" stage.) Not that that's bad or anything but it just wasn't what I'd expected for an aerobics instructor. I think she chose this look to fool people into taking her class. "How hard can it be?" you think, "Look at her. She looks like Courtney Love." She then proceeds to kick your ass.
  2. Aerobics instructors are allowed to make a lot of noise. It's their job. Also, I realize that, in a large class, sometimes the people exercising get really into it and will offer up a "woot" or a "yahoo" of their own. But, when only one person keeps doing it in a class of 8, otherwise silent, people, it's a little weird. At one point, I swear she trying to call a pig.
  3. Is it just me, or did they pick all of the wrong songs from the 80's to make into techno remixes?

Speaking of re-cut trailers...

A classic.

(From Chocolate Cake City)

About Damn Time!

AFI has finally recognized Back to the Future, which landed the 10th spot for sci-fi in the AFI’s 10 Top 10 Special which aired last night on CBS.

Check out the AFI link to catch the original "Back to the Future" teaser trailer. (Pre-really cool door and flux-capacitor sound effects.)

"How far ya going?"
"About 30 years..."

Oh, Marty.

Here are the other rankings for Sci-fi:
10. Back to the Future (1985)
9. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
7. Alien (1979)
6. Blade Runner (1982)
5. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
3. E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982)
2. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
And here are a few of the other 10 lists...
10. The Ten Commandments (1956)
9. Reds (1981)
8. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
7. All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)
6. Titanic (1997)
5. Spartacus (1960)
4. Gone With The Wind (1939)
3. Schindler’s List (1993)
2. Ben-Hur (1959)
1. Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)

10. The Usual Suspects (1995)
9. Dial M For Murder (1954)
8. Blue Velvet (1986)
7. North By Northwest (1959)
6. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
5. The Third Man (1949)
4. Laura (1944)
3. Rear Window (1954)
2. Chinatown (1974)
1. Vertigo (1958)

10. Finding Nemo (2003)
9. Cinderella (1950)
8. Shrek (2001)
7. Beauty And The Beast (1991)
6. Toy Story (1995)
5. Fantasia (1940)
4. The Lion King (1993)
3. Bambi (1942)
2. Pinocchio (1940)
1. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1938)

10. Big (1988)
9. The Thief Of Bagdad (1924)
8. Groundhog Day (1993)
7. Harvey (1950)
6. Field of Dreams (1989)
5. Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
4. King Kong (1933)
3. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
2. The Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
So, what do you think of the rankings (he asks, as if somebody is actually reading this)?

What's missing? What shouldn't have made it?

Personally, I was surprised there was no "Raiders of the Lost Ark". (Perhaps some "Crystal Skull" blowback?) Still, it's nice to see that some of my other favorites were on there: "Usual Suspects", "Lord of the Rings" and "Groundhog's Day" (although I consider that more comedy than fantasy).

Oh, and of course, "Sleepless in Seattle", which ranked 10th in Romantic Comedy. Which is weird because I thought it was a horror film...


Made you a Mix Tape

Does this mean we're dating?

UPDATE: Unfortunately, you can't wear it.

That article makes me feel old.

(Too close to reality) UPDATE:
The big gap in this post is where a playable cassette tape used to be. Sadly, much like books on tape, Mixwit is no more.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I am one ugly Asian

Over at the University of St Andrews, they seem to have more free time than I do. So they've created a "face transformer" and named it (quite appropriately for this website) Face... of the FUTURE!

So, strictly for the sake of research, I uploaded my profile picture (which I had originally taken with my cell phone after the Hair/Makeup staff did a particularly bad wig alteration) and here are some of the results.

First, East-Asian Doc:

That expression looks like the one people give in martial arts films right after taking a kick to the face.

Two other nationalities available include Afro-Caribbean and West Indian:

I like how West Indian Doc turned out.

How about Japanese?

Or some classical portraits of Doc (El Greco and Botticelli):

The cool thing about the last one is that it also gave me the body of a Degas. (End obscure Robert Downey, Jr. reference.)

Now, how about "Doc: The Early Years"?

Baby Doc is somewhat disturbing but the other ones are pretty cool.

I also really like the old Doc (who looks similar to Ape-Man Doc):

Finally, drunk Doc:

Also known as "The Nolt".

It takes a few seconds for each transformation but, once you've done them all, you can cycle through them which I found way more fun than I'd care to admit.


One of the cool things about being a "full-time author" is that you can pretty much set your own schedule. You can write when you want, eat when you want, sleep when you want and you can bathe whenever. (Or not at all, for that matter.)

Occasionally, you might even write something.

Unfortunately, this freedom is also one of the worst parts of being a full-time author. And it was really tough for me the first few months after I returned from Japan. Aside from the reverse-culture shock and the crushing depression, I also had a lot of trouble transitioning from the rigidity of a Japanese lifestyle ("Matto-san, here is your schedule for the next 8 months. Please be punctual. Endure!") to basically that of the unemployed. ("Today, I think I will try to make toast using only sunlight and willpower.")

I found that the best way to explain this to people (with jobs) was through the following analogy:

In high school, I was on swim team and we used to train 6 days a week in an Olympic-sized pool with lanes. At first, I couldn't go very fast and I always seemed to drift into oncoming traffic. But, the more I swam, the more comfortable I became. I got used to where the lane lines should be in my field of vision. I learned how to breathe. I also learned how to take advantage of being able to flip-turn and push off of the wall every 25 meters. Eventually, I reached a point where I could swim for hours with no problem. That's what Japan was like.

Yet, put me in the ocean and I felt like a beginner again. There was no structure. No walls to push off. I felt, quite literally, out to sea. That's what coming back to America felt like.

So, I slept. A lot.

A lot.

And I found that, when the sun wasn't setting at some ungodly hour (which is often the case here in Seattle), my body took to a natural sleep schedule. Of, course, I didn't realize it was natural and used to beat myself up for still wanting to nap in the middle of the afternoon despite a full-night's sleep but, hey... who knew?

Well, now, you do. And it's all thanks to The Boston Globe who have just published a great guide on how to nap.

Shame they didn't publish it a year ago.

UPDATE: I'm not sure what constitutes fair-use anymore - especially with AP getting all in a tizzy about bloggers lately - but here's the image from the site in case the link dies:

(Text by Jennifer Ackerman, graphic by Javier Zarracina)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Laughing with Buddha

While looking for a picture of my dad and me for this post, I came across one I took of my parents in the Chinatown district of Kobe:

I love that picture.

Happy Father's Day!

My Dad and Me in front of Todai-ji Temple, Nara

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Postcard of the Week!

Look what just arrived in my inbox:

Oh my god! That's so MY picture!

I am STOKED! ヾ(^∇^) <-- (This Japanese emoticon is the closest I could find to approximating how I feel right now.) Is it possible that I might actually get to see my name in print?? (Must... not... build... up... hope...)

Here's the original picture.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Two Things

1. What is up with this weather?? There's flooding in the midwest, Washington DC is hovering around 100 degrees and, here in Seattle?


Remember that week of 80
° weather?

Yeah, neither do I.

2. I made okonomiyaki tonight. I've been craving it ever since I wrote about it last week.

I even bought the good bacon.

Damn, it was tasty.

Moving Pictures!

Finally got around to starting up a You Tube account. (How perfectly 2006 of me.) I wanted to get some videos online right away so I figured I'd post some of the time-lapse work I did from my apartment on Alki Point.

Here's a nice chunk of a busy Saturday afternoon on Puget Sound...

Here's a cool sunset...

Finally, my favorite...

Check out the two storms converging at around :34 seconds. Man, the world is just awesome.

Boom de yada.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I'm not stalling...

I'm self-medicating!
Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

7 killed, 10 injured in Akihabara stabbing spree

Violent crime is so rare in Japan.

I remember when I first arrived there in 2003, a Japanese girl I was dating and I were walking through Osaka after dark and I cautiously followed her as she strolled, without hesitation, under an unlit bridge, something I would feel weird doing in the safest of neighborhoods here in the U.S.

It would take a while to get used to it but, once I did, I can say that I've never felt safer than I did during my time in Japan.

And, aside from the depressingly high number of suicides, it seemed like the worst crimes that were reported in the paper involved graffiti and vandalism.

So that's what makes stuff like this all the more shocking...

7 killed, 10 injured in Akihabara stabbing spree
(via The Japan Times Online)
"Seven people died and 10 others were injured after a man hit pedestrians with a truck and then stabbed passersby Sunday in broad daylight on a street in Tokyo's busy Akihabara district."

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Save the Clock Tower!

Oops. Too late.

AP: Large fire devours movie sets at Universal Studios

Officials say the iconic courthouse square from "Back to the Future," has been destroyed, and the famous clocktower that enabled star Michael J. Fox's character to time travel has been damaged.

Wow, this really depressed me.


Marty: What about all that talk about screwing up future events, the space-time continuum?
Doc: Well, I figured, what the hell.


Some slightly good news for Back to the Future fans. I just got off the phone with Universal and have confirmed that the Clock Tower used in the trilogy is still standing, after a huge fire broke out on the Universal Studios Backlot earlier today. The Courthouse square set surrounding the only slightly damaged Clock Tower is said to be completely destroyed. Universal’s New York Street is also said to be in ruins. Both Courthouse Square and the New York Street sets are again scheduled to be rebuilt.