Tuesday, June 30, 2009

(Maybe) only in Tokyo

... and even then it was rather surprising.

Before the start of my improv. comedy workshop this evening (I emphasis the before part to give the story credulity) one of the other participants told us how he had left his ipod touch at a bar the proceeding week. This bar transpired to be a well known seedy hangout in Shibuya (the details of exactly what he was doing there were rather glossed over) and he left his ipod on a table right in the centre of this bustling joint. The following morning, he called the bar and asked in resigned tones whether they happened to have seen said ipod and if so, whether it was still visible to them. Not only did the bar have it safe but he found on collecting it that they'd recharged it for him overnight.

If it had been a bicycle, it would totally have gone.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Have discovered my desk lamp has a touch sensitive button to switch it on. Touch on. Touch brighter on. Touch off. Touch On. Touch more on. Touch off. Touch on. Touch off. Touch...


... for when you know you could do better.

Doujinshi are the manga equivalent of fan fiction. They are self-published manga (although sometimes novels) from amateurs writing new stories based on their favourite official manga / anime series.

But what about copyright? (I cried upon hearing about this). Isn't it completely illegal to profit from characters you didn't create?

Oh it is, I was assured. But people turn a blind eye.

A blind eye? I looked around the convention centre I was standing in (so can you, it's the above picture). It was a huge barn of a room, normally consisting of three separate halls but whose partitions had been removed to create this gigantic space. People milled everywhere, browsing and queuing by the booths of their favourite doujinshi artists. 8000 circles were here today (A "circle" is a somewhat misleading name for a doujinshi publisher, normally just one or two people). That's quite some "blind eye". Oh, and did I mention that this was a small event? The one in May has 22,000 circles and was split over two days. The one in August will be split over three.

Doujinshi events such as this one are also not the only places to buy the fanfic manga. Normal manga stores also stock it, the self-published works sitting alongside the latest official manga books. However, doujinshi is generally considered to have a positive influence on official sales, adding to the interest in a series and prolonging its life. Providing the doujinshi writers aren't obviously making huge profits (most roughly break even), the copyright holders ignore the legal ramifications of such publications.

It makes logical sense... but it's still kinda weird. Remember the arguments over the Harry Potter Lexicon? We did, over lunch, our bags packed full with our purchases. Admittedly, the lexicon probably would have made considerably more cash than the manga, but you still can't imagine this sliding under the radar in the USA or Europe.

I should probably add a word regarding the usual theme of doujinshi. It is, of course, a way for fans to explore story lines not covered in the series. Sometimes, it is obvious why such ideas were not ... look, the fast majority are pornographic, okay? But really, it's all about the art. THE ART. Yes. Anyway ... this being so and given these are, after all, graphic novels (you know, pictures) it's a little surprising to find young children taken to these events. But there they were, big brown eyes fixed on the posters. But then, the education system in Japan always was known for its early intense training.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hello, you have cat ears

Tokyo Dome; home field of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team and host to a myriad of other events from martial arts to monster truck races. However, it wasn't the sports that drew me there this afternoon but rather the surrounded shops. I was looking for a "Jump Store", outlet for the manga line "Shonen Jump" who produce the Prince of Tennis series. (Apologies to non-TeniPuri fan readers. This post is going to have a certain theme.) The location of this store rather depended on my understanding of the manga's Japanese web-pages so it was with uncertain footsteps that I approached the outdoor mall, looking up at the giant egg of the Dome rising in front of me. As I wondering whether I had the right place, I saw sauntering towards me in full regular attire:

Oh hello Fuji and Eiji.

That'd be a 'yes' then. Reaching the main open square, I found myself surrounded by anime characters. Ninjas, pirates, people whose parentage clearly included a feline, girls in frilly dresses and (most importantly from my perspective) tennis players.

It's all true! I knew it! Seigaku, I had to find you eventually.

It was around this point that I realised I'd forgotten my camera. [Brief pause in our story to allow for the necessary cursing that cannot be blogged.]

I set off around the mall, trying to take in everything while not being run through by a samurai. I can only presume this wasn't an entirely regular Saturday at the Dome, but I've still no idea what everyone was doing. Also, it IS Japan, so ...

Just then I heard loud screaming coming from above me. Was the anime really a huge cover for a Dome take-over? Ah no, it's just the GIANT ROLLER COASTER that wraps around the mall. Of course. Further inspection revealed a log flume, a merry-go-round, a big wheel and one of those things that drops you like 800 feet. There was also an attraction that was linked with Philip Pullman's "The Golden Compass". I was tempted to try it but couldn't guarantee that it didn't end on that roller coaster.

After locating my store, I dropped down at a picnic table to have a drink and take in the scenery. While sipping my coke, I observed Gakuto and Oshitari coming towards me, hand in hand.

Well, it was only what we had all suspected anyway.

They headed towards a group of their Hyoutei tennis team counterparts where Ootori (wearing platform heels for added height) and Hiyoshi were also cuddling close.

That was more surprising.

Shishido stooped to take their photograph before waving the rest of his group into a pile for a joint picture. I watched Hyoutei, a few random members of Rikkai and a lost Ryoma try and arrange themselves into acceptable poses. Ryoma's significant bust was posing a problem for his 12 year old boy image. Gakuto tried to flatten it with his hands. After the shutter clicked, Shishido abandoned the group to run towards a pirate with a huge sword. Well, it was no wonder Ootori was out of the picture. Behind him, Oshitari was trying on Ootori's platform boots.

By this stage I had choked on my coke and bubbles were coming out of my nose. I headed out, mulling over the question of whether to return and buy a Seigaku jacket from the Jump Store. They are pretty expensive but pretty damn awesome. Oh, the dilemma.

My watch doesn't tell time

"I'd like an iphone," one of my Japanese friends was saying at coffee this morning. "but I don't want a contract with softbank."

A unsurprising statement, once you realise that 'softbank' is a Japanese mobile phone provider. Around the globe, people have bemoaned the fact that Apple have chosen to lock themselves into particular telecommunications companies. It was a common gripe and I didn't pay much attention until:

"Though it doesn't have a built in electronic ticket like my current phone."

You what?

It transpires that, in addition to 5-10 MP cameras, Japanese phones also contain an electronic ticket that can be credited for purchases. By waving your phone over a reader, you can pay for bus, train, taxi rides and even groceries. It also stores your e-ticket flight information so you can collect your boarding pass without digging through your overstuffed hand luggage to find the elusive sheet of paper that you might not even have remembered to print out. (I know it's not just me, I've seen you all in the queue doing the same. ALL OF YOU).

It's maybe no wonder, therefore, that the Japanese seem obsessed with their phones. Step onto the metro and 80% of the carriage will be staring at the screens on their flip handsets (the other 20%, in case you were wondering, are playing on their Nintendo DS). Oddly though, I've never seen anyone actually make a call. Perhaps, like the watch in Spy Kids 2, Japanese phones don't make calls.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The cat cafe

Meet Momo. Momo is an orange (or rather, as his name suggests 'peach') coloured cat who spends his day being admired by a stream of visitors who stroke, play and feed him treats. He is a resident in one of Tokyo's cat cafes; places where pet-starved customers can pay by the hour to cuddle a feline and have a mug of hot coco. The novelty of this idea made it onto the BBC news at the start of the year but I was surprised by how many of these cafes actually exist.

The one we visited this evening was in Kichijo-ji (for those who know about such places) and cost about $10 for an hour. Before entering, we had to wash our hands and naturally, it was a perfect opportunity for a bit of shoe removal. We then stepped into a room best described as a cat emporium. Toys, beds, shelves, cat trees and (for reasons I didn't fully appreciate) manga, filled the room from floor to ceiling. Lolling about over these furnishings were approximately a dozen kitty cats. Some were keen to play with one of the many toys you could pick up while others preferred to doze while their ears were gently scratched. The only exception to this peaceful setting came when one of my friends opened the window to shout to a person below which caused a beeline of cats towards this new and exciting 20 foot drop. The window was, fortunately, closed in time.

For people unable to keep their own pets due to space restrictions or for visitors like me missing their own cats, it was a fantastic and fun way to spend a bit of time. On a side note, I was one of the only people there with an actual camera, everyone else simply used their cell phones for photos. An examination of my office mate's phone revealed the answer; it contained a 5 megapixel camera. This, I should add, was an old model. Apparently the new version has 10 MP.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm British. I know how to queue.

"Ok. Leave this to me. I'm British. I know how to queue."

However, today I discovered that had Arthur Dent been in a line in Japan rather than Vogon, his disorderly behaviour would have cause Trillian and no doubt himself, Zaphod, Ford and Marvin to be fed to the ravenous bug-blatter beast of Traal. (The demise of last one on that list probably coming as a relief to all concerned).

I was standing at the end of a line of people at the bus shelter when the vehicle in question rolled up and stopped just in front of me. Its front and rear doors swung open and people poured out of the second door. I looked at the front entrance to the bus, open and inviting mere feet away. Then I turned to view the queue of people in front of me. No one moved. Were they all waiting for a different number? I couldn't see from my position whether multiple buses used this stop.  I hesitated, debating whether to move. Was it really likely that all these people were waiting for the bus to pull forward three feet to the front of the line?

Yes. Yes they were.

A minute later, the bus doors swung shut and the bus inched forward to where it stopped again and people began embarking. I blinked. No matter how good the British are at queuing, there is no way a group of people would wait just because the bus had pulled up at the back of the queue rather than at its front. There is also no way the bus driver would give a hoot whether he had stopped at exactly the right place or be prepared to stop twice, meters apart, to give the exiting passengers room to disembark before letting new people on. It was an awe-inspiring example of orderly efficiency and I was deeply glad I had not moved for fear of confirming what everyone in that line probably suspected of me anyway.

This calm patience even extends to the trains which can be painfully over-packed. Although I've yet to experience 'pushers' (people employed to push people into the carriages to ensure as many can travel as possible), a train trip last weekend saw me pinned upright in the middle of a carriage by the people stuffed in around me. Yet, no one yelled or cursed (except me, and then only silently) or even looked particularly harassed. In a nation where everyone bows rather than make physical contact, it is amazing that such crowded conditions don't cause aneurysms. A similarly packed London tube carriage causes at least half the occupants to require psychiatric counseling.

So sorry Arthur. You thought you could queue but, quite frankly, you can't. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hello Facebook, what's your problem?

Hello Facebook, we clearly needed to talk this weekend.

Despite my best efforts, I saw no obvious reason why you decided to stop importing my blog. You claimed you were still paying attention and watching the RSS feed. Yet, the feed contained two new posts and you? You contained none.

Why was this, Facebook? Did the RSS feed make you an offer you just had to refuse? Do you perhaps hate tennis and were revolted by the idea of importing a note about such a horrific game? Or conversely, have you been glued to Wimbledon and are disgusted by my stated lack of skill? If so, Facebook, this is a problem we need to address because I'm playing again next Wednesday.

I understand, really I do, that some jobs get a little dull. You might well have felt that your time is better spent deciding whether '42' really is the ideal number of friends. I don't know, you largely talk through other people's words. But seriously Facebook, we have to make this work. I'm not cool with stopping and restarting your import settings every time I blog. It kind of defies the point of the auto-import feature, don't you think?

I'm glad we had this time together. I feel we have something special, Facebook, and I want to make it work. Just you and me and my two hundred friends you keep me in touch with.

So let's see if you can manage this post. Check, retrieve, post. It's that simple.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Toiletator 2

The ドリンクバー (quite literally "drink bar") in many Japanese restaurants is a great system in which you pay one low price (about $2-3) and get unlimited access to the soda fountain, tea (in its many varieties) and coffee. Unfortunately, such a freely flowing supply of liquids can only lead to one result:

"Excuse me," I stammer out my request. "Where are the bathrooms?"

I know they can already hear me coming. I hesitate. Could I wait? Did I really have to go? I reflected on the pot of tea, the two tall glasses of a luminous green Fanta and the extra cup of water I'd used to wash them down with. No, I'd brought this upon myself and it was time to face the music. If only I'd known how true that statement was going to be.

However, upon entering the cubicle I frowned. The toilet looked ... normal. Your basic plain white porcelain bowl.

Could this be heaven?

I sat.

No. Damn thing is still heated.

It was then that I noticed the electronic panel mounted on the wall beside me. Evidently, one small toilet can no longer be expected to hold all the essential options for the full evacuating experience. It was time to resort to digital screens. In assessing the choices available to me, I noted that in this extreme version of the toilet attraction, the normal bidet functions had gone. Instead, you had not one but THREE versions of the tsunami jets. These new variations (I deduced from the diagrams) allowed you to choose at exactly which angle you'd like to be blasted off the toilet seat. Would you prefer to smack your head against the rear wall or a direction aimed more towards anal penetration? More power required? Not a problem, just click the button on the bottom right.

Don't look at the screen. You're only here for one reason. Focus!

Then the flushing tune began. What had triggered it? Did it just start the sound effects when it judged it appropriate? Was it a hint that I should hurry and get the hell out? How on earth did I get it to stop? A hasty look around revealed the presence of a small speaker system below the tsunami ride screen. It had a single button on it. It was desperate times. I pressed it. The noise mercifully stopped.

I took a sigh of relief and managed to exhale 60% of the air in my lungs before the flushing music started up again.


It appeared the noise maker was controlled by a motion sensor. Wave your hands and conduct your way through the first toilet-flush concerto! The drawback I seemed to have discovered was that, unless you stayed ABSOLUTELY STILL, you were going to trigger that sensor. I tried not moving. This presented the obvious problems.

Enough! I was leaving. Then I realised there was no obvious way to flush the toilet. No flusher, no auto-sensor... Maybe this was actually a toilet-simulator and not the real thing after all. At this stage, that would be... unfortunate. Finally, I spotted the smallest button of all, situated on the top of the control screen. I had escaped.

Next time, I'm bringing a trowel and digging a hole.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


"Oh, you're a southpaw!"

And with that comment, my day was made.

According to wikipedia, left-handers in many sports are referred to as 'southpaws' but the only place I had heard it used was in the Prince of Tennis Japanese anime series. Well hey, it was just like walking into the show! Apart from the small point that I was completely talentless at tennis. This was unfortunate since, at that moment, I was standing in the tennis court at the Astronomical Observatory preparing to begin a doubles match. What was perhaps deeply unfortunate was that this had been all my idea.

I had assured my competitors that I was a beginner. Repeatedly. Revolving through as many words as I could for low-level / just learning / no obvious potential / bad / seriously bad / awful / terrible / downright crap. They had assured me they understood and they were no better themselves. I was unconvinced.

My complete disbelieve in my coworkers comes not from a view that they are all lying swines, but rather from the cultural difference surrounding good manners. Japan is a very polite society and I've been doing my best not to inadvertently cause grievous offense (although as a foreigner, I'd almost certainly be forgiven). Shoes, for instance, are removed at most opportunities: before you enter a house, at the door of many restaurants and even before walking into someone's office. Chopsticks, meanwhile, should not be used to stab food, no matter how desperate you become. You should also always understate you own abilities when talking to other people.

So when my new friends told me that they were all beginners too, I was preparing myself for anything between vaguely-competent to a Grand Slam title. Fortunately for me (and even more so for their sanity) it transpired that the level was the lower end of that. We had a couple of good players and then rest of us just wanted some practice. With the old telescope dome rising behind the tree lined court, it really wasn't a bad way to spend a Thursday evening.

"15 love!"

Oh right, I really shouldn't be admiring telescopes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reputed to as a good taste

"Chocolate Chip Melon Pan is reputed to as a good taste"

Well, that was the best recommendation I had received so far in this supermarket, so I picked up the packet and dropped it into my basket. Shopping for food is non-trivial when you can't read the packaging. Is something already cooked? If not, how does one go about correcting this? If you get it wrong, do you die or live to try again? Raiding the chilled cabinets has become a favourite past-time since food in there is often bite-sized and clearly ready to be devoured. My favourite from there are onigiri; rice balls wrapped in seaweed with a surprise such as plum or salmon in the center. Admittedly, it would be less of a surprise if I could actually read the label, but as it is it's just as if my Mum made them for my lunchbox.

Eating out in Japan is much more communal than in the west. Dishes are designed to be shared and often some self-assembly is required. Yesterday, I had "shabu-shabu" where a pot of boiling water sits in the centre of the table and you add meat, vegetables and sometimes noodles to cook. Earlier in the week, I went to a similar set-up but where the central cooking technique was a grill over hot charcoals. Even where no cooking is required (such as with sushi), dishes tend to be shared rather than each person having their individual portion.

Growing up with a younger sibling who, once he hit his teens, ate everything in sight, made the concept of such free division of food was rather worrying. However, starvation at such meals would be a surprising occurrence and is more likely to be linked with an inability to fish for food with chopsticks than the (normally huge) quantity available. It also solves a common dilemma I had in the USA whereby I'd eat slightly too much of my meal to make it worth asking for a take-home box, and thereby be forced to finish the entire plate rather than waste the great food. Oddly, the concept that I might bring the food up again never occurred to me as wasting it.

Tomorrow's task: find way from new apartment to department. Shame there isn't a button for that, really.

The toiletator

It is not often while ensconced on the loo one feels the need to whip out a camera. Indeed, with the exception of very specific circles, such behaviour is normally discouraged by composers of the future family album. Yet, judging from my friend's photographs, I was not alone in doing just that in Japan.

Like my apartment, Japanese toilets are covered with buttons. In truth, to be confronted with options at all in such a situation is a little alarming. My understanding of Kanji (Chinese characters also used in Japanese) is almost non-existent so my comprehension of the choices available came from the diagrams beside each button and these did little to belay my fears. Firstly there is the "heated seat" option. Personally, I find it downright disconcerting to sit down on a pre-warmed surface, but I have been assured that it is a fantastic feature in winter when you are using public restrooms at a freezing train station. The next option is the "music note". Possibly the most benign of the selections, this makes a flushing noise to discretely cover any ... uh ... other noises that might be occurring. Quite why such things would shock other people in a restroom is unclear, but modesty is important, I can understand this. Next follow three buttons seemingly connected with a bidet-like function of different jet strengths. First button shows a diagram of a small stream of water hitting a pair of buttocks. The next button along show the same rear cheeks being splashed with more water lines. The last image, however, shows an entire person being physically lifted off the toilet to sit, suspended, on a powerful tsunami emitting from the toilet bowl below. No, I did not press it. No, I am not going to.

Naturally, all this makes any visit to the bathroom a far more harrowing experience than one is previously used to. Inevitably though, the situation is likely to arise as it did last night while I was at a very nice sushi restaurant in Choufu. Cautiously, I excused myself from the table and padded my way over to the restrooms (my shoes had been disguarded at the restaurant door). Once inside the bathroom, I slipped on a pair of the slippers that were arranged by the door and entered a cubicle (post will stay PG rated, incase anyone was worried). The toilet stood before me, lid down and covered with buttons.

Don't panic. The secret is just not to touch any of the buttons.

I turned and locked the door before revolving back around to find that the loo seat had lifted upwards while my back was turned.

Well hello.

It knows I'm here.

It took a lot not to run. Even more to reveal more sensitive regions to the terminator-like object in front of me. I did not dawdle. I am contemplating the possibility of never using the bathroom again.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Japan, Futurama's got nothing on you

Everything you ever heard about Japan? All true. ALL of it. You have got to see my new apartment. And if I ever come across my camera again, you will.

The front door looks like a bank safe. You slide the key card in the side of the lock mechanism and then turn a dial to get in. The apartment itself is small but with more buttons than an aeroplane; a super advanced aeroplane which has extra buttons on buttons because there's just that many. There's a button for circulating the air in the apartment every 24 hours (Tokyo is humid and mould can be a problem). There's a button for circulating the air in the bathroom when you take a shower and one to make it hot for drying clothes you have hung up in there. There's also an option to make that air cold... but I dunno why. Then there's the control for the general air conditioning in the apartment and another panel (complete, I think, with video) for talking to people at the front door while you consider letting them in.

The apartment is furnished so I have all the essentials; a bed, TV, internet, washing machine ... rice cooker. There is no shower curtain around the bath. Instead, bath and shower are separated off from the sink and toilet by a glass door so that whole area can get wet.

To be fair, this apartment is almost brand new, so it's perhaps not fair to say all of Tokyo is living like this. That said, it appears almost all cars (even older models) have built in GPS systems and features such as wing mirrors that automatically slide against the car when it is parked (to avoid getting clipped in narrow streets): Options usually available only on executive cars in Europe and the US.

Apartment trash, it transpires, is complicated. Is it recyclable? If so, separate it into bottles, cans and plastic and put in the appropriate bin. Okay, I'm used to that. Is it burnable?  I .... have no idea. Yet the answer depends on whether my garbage goes into a blue or brown bag. Perhaps I should try first on my gas stove :-\

Thursday, June 11, 2009


"Have you tried ramen?"

Images of PhDcomic strips with grad students hording packets of cheap instant noodles in their cupboards flash before my eyes.

"... no."

Somehow I didn't think that was the authentic deal.

"Well, I don't think you'll like it but ... it's something you should try."

Not the strongest of recommendations, I admit, but hey I'm game. Also, it turned out to be great. We went into a small cafe-sized place and were immediately confronted with a machine covered with buttons.

"The good thing about this," I was assured by my hosts. "Is that you don't need to speak Japanese to order."

True, but it does require you to have a certain nonchalance about what you'll be eating since I had no idea what any of the buttons said. I pushed a handful of coins into the machine, pressed a button and handed the resulting ticket to the waiter. The result was a steaming bowlful of noodles bathed in a broth with beef. It was very good and slurping is considered completely acceptable in Japan so eating it wasn't the usual headache such soups can be in the West. 

On the way back home I was almost mowed down by a pick-up truck which was reversing into the guest house drive. My frozen shock came not from the maneuver but from the vehicle informing me of its intent in a highly feminine voice somewhat at odds with the beefy worker behind the wheel.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hello, do you speak scribble?

"Eigo o hanashimasu ka?"
(Do you speak English?)

**blank look from innocent Japanese victim I've accosted**

Damn it, that sounded so much more fluent in my head. Well, if I start gabbling in English, they're likely to get the idea.

"I have no idea where I am. Seriously, completely lost. Am I even on this map I'm holding? Am I still in Japan? Yes, I must be because you look Japanese, but it's been hours since I've seen something familiar. Is there anything that resembles a Astronomical observatory around here?"

**Look of dawning comprehension appears on face of poor bystander. He looks at my map and points to a place about 5 inches off the side of it.**

"Arigatou!" I stammer and brace myself for a long walk.

Fortunately, where the USA has fire hydrants and the UK postboxes, Japan has drink vending machines. Hot or cold beverages in twenty different permutations, these machines are on every corner, complete with a recycling bin beside them for when you're done with the can. I revived on a mutant-sized can of Mountain Dew and trekked back home.

Upon arriving back at my desk, I discovered I'd been given a fan. It says "Truth" on it in Chinese characters.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How are you? Will you sign to that effect?

"Welcome to Tokyo!"

Excellent, I was desperate to stretch my legs.

"Please remain in your seats to allow the health inspectors to board."

You what? I guess in the wake of swine 'flu, Japan is being careful. I attempted to suppress images of probity-probes as men wearing surgical masks, robes and gloves starting strolling along the aisles of the plane. I tried hard not to sneeze. The passenger sitting next to me clearly had more of a guilty conscience however, and a conversation in rapid (although friendly) Japanese ensued and he was handed a thermometer. I confess that having your neighbour in the tin box that you've been sitting in for the last 13 hours admit illness that excites a response from people who look straight out of the movie "epidemic" does not make for entirely calm viewing. Fortunately, it appeared that his disease was not the disease they had been looking for and we signed health forms promising that we'd not had so much as a sniffle in the last few weeks. I now really needed to sneeze.

Japanese border control has nothing on America. Maybe they felt the health inspectors were enough to scare off future tourists. Everyone was friendly, they all spoke English and the only question I was asked at customs was how long was I staying for. I guess two large suitcases for one week would look a little odd passing through the 'nothing to declare' barrier... Nice, cheerful, calm. Okay, they win. I was freaked out.

To get out to where I was staying, I had to catch an express train into Tokyo, followed by a subway and then a bus. Probability of success? I was estimating about 2%. However, it honestly was the easiest thing in the world. The trains and buses all had electronic signs that told you in Japanese and English where the next stop was and the subways are colour coded.

Then I had dinner and discovered the restaurant had whole rack of different types of loose tea you could make up in your own individual tea pot. Also, that "はし (hashi)" means chopsticks. Hello Japan, we're rolling.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An ode to packing

Straight from the Alanis Morissette Lyric Generator. I think it's going to be a hit.

"I Think"

I think boxes are really a huge problem
I think duct tapes is too much on my mind
I think bubble wrap has got a lot to do with why the world sucks
But what can you do?

Like a cardboard rain, beating down on me
Like a a moving truck line, which won't let go of my brain
Like a cuboid ass, it is in my head
Blame it on packing
Blame it on packing
Blame it on packing

I think containers are gonna drive us all crazy
And breakables make me feel like a child
I think suitcases will eventually be the downfall of civilization
But what can you do? I said what can you do?

Like a cardboard rain, beating down on me
Like a a moving truck line, which won't let go of my brain
Like a cuboid ass, it is in my head
Blame it on packing
Blame it on packing
Blame it on packing

Like a cardboard rain, beating down on me
Like a cuboid smile, cruel and cold
Like a moving truck's ass, it is in my head
Blame it on packing
Blame it on packing
Blame it on packing

I think my favourite line is "I think bubble wrap has got a lot to do with why the world sucks". Moving trucks arrive tomorrow. It's going to be a long night....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Car Tales

You step out of your car, swing the door shut and then hit the button on your key chain to hear the reassuring "beeb beeb" of the locks swinging into place. Perhaps you double click that same button to hear a long "baaarb" of the car double locking itself. You glance back. Windows shut, sun roof down. Safe as houses.

So how long do you reckon it'd take someone to break in? Well, okay, there's a limit to what protection you could have against a sledgehammer. But such devices are unwieldy, make more noise than your car alarm and tend to look a little ... well, it's hard to pretend you're using one to drop little 5 year old Susie off at school.

Supposing now that you're the one contemplating the sledge hammer. Or perhaps one of your friends has helpfully suggested it because you've just locked your keys inside the car. There they are, sparkling up at you from the passenger seat.

Fortunately for you, you have AAA cover and one call later and there's a rescue mission underway. A man in a truck finally shows up and you bite your finger nails anxiously. Will he need to tow it to a garage? Will the door need to be broken? Is knocking out the window really the only way?

Or will it take 5 seconds, leave the car completely undamaged and you feeling pleased the keys are in your hand but somewhat disturbed by exactly how easy that was?

Apparently the trick involves a tool that looks like a wire coat hanger and one that looks like trowel for setting tiles.

(For the record, it was not me who locked my self out of my vehicle. Nope, I was the one helpfully suggesting the sledgehammer).