August 21, 2006

Disturbing Golf Course/Cemetery

During one of my longest rides in Hokkaido (from Kussahro Lake, inland, to seaside Utoro), I passed a huge cemetery. In one direction, the cemetery stretched on, seemingly endless.

But when I turned 180 degrees around, there was a putt-putt golf course. This photo doesn't really do it justice:

A very weird juxtaposition, especially for a culture where, for almost a week every August, business grinds to a halt so that family members can return to their familial homes to appease the returning spirits of their ancestors. If someone built a golf course next to my eternal resting place, I think I'd be doing some serious, serious haunting.

Posted by pmk at 7:00 AM | Comments (1)

August 20, 2006

Clifford Metro Card!

Clifford the Big Red Dog says: "Hold large items that you are carrying in front of you. Woof!"

This subway card was 5,000 yen and I held off buying one for weeks, even though I love Clifford, because I often lose these things before I have a chance to use up all their value. But I finally gave in.

They had a series of metro cards and posters using Sesame Street characters recently, so maybe there is more Clifford to come?

Clifford Metro Card!

Posted by pmk at 4:04 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2006

Panda Girl

This weird panda girl was gracing the cover of a random magazine at our local grocery store. I love that her facial expression clearly says "I can't believe they dressed me up as a pseudo-panda".

Panda Girl

Posted by pmk at 7:42 AM | Comments (3)

August 14, 2006

Hermit versus Mountain of People

Today's Japanese lesson is: hermit versus moutain of people.

You learn the characters for mountain (山) and person (人) pretty early when you start studying Kanji, the ridiculously-complicated-imported-from-China system of Japanese ideograms. Even though they are basic characters, though, you can still have some linguistic fun with them.

For example, if you combine the two characters, you get 山人, read "yamabito". It means hermit, although the literal translation of "mountain person" comes pretty close too.

Ironically, though, if you reverse the characters, you get the exact opposite of a hermit. 人山, read hitoyama, means "a mountain of people".

And for those of you (Hello Porto) wondering why the character for person is read "bito" in one word and "hito" in the other, it's likely because "yamahito" is hard to say. The "hi" naturally progressed towards the bi-labial plosive "bi" sound. Japanese is full of these sorts of slight shifts in pronunciation.

Posted by pmk at 5:21 AM | Comments (1)

August 12, 2006

karaoke rocking

Brad and Jennifer from San Francisco rock out to It Takes Two.

karaoke rocking

Posted by pmk at 7:53 AM | Comments (1)

August 9, 2006

Engrish Rules!

An agrodolce of a cock anyone? A menu excerpt from our local Italian joint.

engrish from salvatore in hiroo

Posted by pmk at 2:57 AM | Comments (0)

August 7, 2006

We Handle the Geeky Stuff

We Also Walk Dogs got a passing mention in a recent AP story about MoveOn that's been picked up in a few places:

"We're a virtual organization," says Pariser, a Maine resident who, like others, works out of his home. Tom Matzzie is the man in Washington. A Chicago-based firm, We Also Walk Dogs, handles the geeky stuff.

Go Dog Walkers!

Posted by pmk at 10:53 PM | Comments (1)

August 3, 2006

Richard Dennis is Back!

Almost 3 years ago to the day, I wrote about a hilarious threat I had received concerning A fellow by the name of Richard Dennis got all blustery and threatened to sue me since he was "a US company, who have the rights to this domain.". After a bit of netsleuthing, I found out that the guy was actually a backpacker from the UK.

Incredibly, the same guy emailed me again today:


How's is going ?

I see you recently renewed the domain, but you done seem to
be using this site.

Do you have any plans for it ?

Would you consider selling it ?



So I dashed off this reply:


When I saw your message, I was sure your name rang a bell. Sure
enough, you're the same Richard Dennis who made some ridiculous legal
threats about a few years ago! Kudos for the persistance,
but minus 10,000 points for a total lack of tact and style.

Until August, 2009 Richard!


From Richard's site, emphasis mine:

Posted by pmk at 12:19 AM | Comments (2)

August 2, 2006

Computer "Security" for the QVC Crowd


My father-in-law recently returned from Hong Kong with this ridiculous little gadget. It's called "Databreaker" and it can Stop! Hackers! In! Their! Tracks!

You plug this little beauty into the wall and plug your monitor into the three-prong electrical jack on its tender underbelly. You also plug the Ethernet cable from your broadband modem/router/whatever into it. Finally, you hook your computer's network jack up to the remaining jack.

Now, everytime your monitor goes to standby, this device will notice the drop in current and electrically disonnect your computer from the nasty, nasty Internet, thereby protecting you from evil hackers.

Of course, if you're vulnerable to attack, you're going to get nailed as soon as you turn the computer back on by the gazillions of automated worms that constantly scan the 'net for potential targets. And, to top it all off, you can get the exact same amount of dubious security for free by just having your system go into standby mode, instead of just blanking the screen.

So, all in all, more security snake oil. But I'm sure folks will snap them up anyway -- watch for the Databreaker on a television shopping channel near you!

Posted by pmk at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)

August 1, 2006

Gigantic Hokkaido Hotel Restaurant

Gigantic Hokkaido Hotel Restaurant

After riding by miles of nothing, we came across this hotel with its attached, gigantic restaurant. This picture doesn't really do it justice. It was mammoth and entirely empty, despite the fact that it was getting on towards dinner time. Is it ever full?

Posted by pmk at 6:43 PM | Comments (0)