All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In Search

delicious breakfast

i'm not sure if it's something i miss about japan or just something to do with growing older, but i'm in search of more quietness in my life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Justice is Served!!

YES! i defy you, microsoft lackey!!
as always, dear reader, thank you for your kind support.

(ps, curly, you are a gentleman and a scholar.)

Picture 3

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


today, in an effort to entertain myself, i logged on to yahoo answers and starting buzzing around solving people's problems. this is a wonderful pastime for me, as i'm a bit of a wise ass and enjoy spreading my wit around.

well, this girl had a question that went something like "AHHHHHHHH! PLEASE HELP ME! MY COMPUTER KEEPS FREEZING!!!" the situation, in brief, is that her pc is as rank with viruses as that meatloaf your roommate has had in the refrigerator since last february. she can't even turn the damn thing off. it freezes completely and to "resolve" the problem, she unplugs it and reboots. she also reported that it made loud noises. yeesh! she's clearly on the edge of a breakdown and had nowhere to turn.

so i gave her the only bit of advice i knew would actually help her. i said (and i quote):

jeez, why torture yourself?
just get a mac.

i thought this response was brilliantly clever, undeniably true, and pretty funny to boot.

only a couple minutes later, i got an email saying that i had been reported for abuse, my answer had been removed, and i lost credibility points on my profile.

for saying she should get a mac?!

i can't figure out what i did that violates the yahoo terms of service or the answers community guidelines.

did i...
*vent, rant, or use hate speech?
*chat or otherwise violate the question-answer format?
*say something mean or obscene?
*exploit the community (via spam or such)?
*cheat (to give myself unearned points)?
*violate the law?
*behave maliciously?
*post things that are incomprehensible or in a different language? (by the by, this is a bit exclusionist of them, isn't it??)
*do harm??

i did not do any of these things.

i don't think slamming pc's counts as a racial slur, and that was a pretty gentle slam anyway. i didn't even post a picture of a naked woman licking a mac! (though it wouldn't be hard to get one, i'm sure.)

if she had logged on and said that orange juice gave her canker sores and i told her to try apple juice instead (because of the lower acidity, obviously), i'd have been commended for a very reasonable solution. she's having problems with a product so i suggested a superior product.

and some sniveling, beady-eyed, little microsoft lackey out there saw it and got pissed off and flagged my comment.

it was pretty mean of him to report me just because we have a difference of opinion. it was even a bit malicious. and it did me harm -- it lowered my credibility and raised my blood pressure (downright dangerous, given my delicate condition).

what a prick.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pretending to Be Well

Today I went in to work. This is one of the curses of teaching -- I actually care (a great deal) about my kids and what they're doing/thinking/learning. Therefore, even when my head is pounding and my lymph nodes are swollen, I can't spend too many days sitting at home not knowing what's happening at school.

I just wanted to check in with them, make sure they had gotten everything they needed out of last week, make sure they were ready for what's coming next, etc.

Well, we got into a discussion about Native American cultures. The basic idea I wanted them to get out of the reading was the image of time as a cycle -- everything repeats, everything decays and is renewed.

In an attempt to juxtapose that with our Western Civ concept that time is linear -- a constant parade towards *insert your personal philosophy here* -- I asked them how Europeans thought about time.

A girl in the third row raised her hand:

"Don't they have, like, really long lunch breaks?"



It kind of reminded me of this infamous youtube video.


(On a side note, I just realized I'm using capital letters. I don't know why. Hmm...)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Revolution of Updates

in my on-going quest to make my on-line presence as agreeable as possible, i've finally updated my flickr page with all my photos from my california road trip. click the pic below for a link or check out the sidebar where you can find all my flickr accounts!

s.d. zoo

Saturday, September 15, 2007

O No, No, No -- The Mono Chronicles V

last night i made the hideous mistake of having people over to my apartment.

i was feeling a bit better and my best friend liz (who got married last spring and moved far, far away) was in town with her hubby and their brand new labrador puppy. i didn't feel up to going out, but i invited them to come over and bring the little fur ball.

as they were on their way, not one, but two other friends from high school who never, ever call decided quite separately to give me a jingle and invite me out. i declined but -- feeling a bit guilty about never calling them either -- i told them liz was on her way to my place and they were welcome to drop by.

foolish, foolish me.

things i didn't account for:

  • as none of these people had seen each other in ages, there were hours (literally hours) of current events to catch up on.

  • since liz was coming from so far away, the catching up wouldn't begin until after 9 p.m. (my mono-rific bedtime is more like 8.)

  • the delightful combination of a brand new (not quite house-trained) puppy and my spoiled only-child cat would result in hissing and barking galore.

  • the hissing and barking would elevate liz's stress level through the roof, which would lead to shouting and flailing of hands.

  • all noise, stress, and general commotion would make my head pound like a conga.

  • by the time the last straggler cleared out, it would be well past midnight and i probably wouldn't feel like washing a pile of dishes or running to the grocery to replenish my foodstuffs.

  • though i feel like the walking dead, i don't actually look too bad, so all of this would go unnoticed by my guests, who weren't sure why i needed a whole week off of work.

ben does not like puppies.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's Not Just Me -- The Mono Chronicles IV

i'm not the only one who hates when i'm sick. today i got this one-line email from a student in my first hour...

"are you almost better? 'cuz we're not getting anything done and i hate the sub."

unfortunately, the doctor thinks i need to take next week off too. yeah, brilliant.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nabe, Stew of the Gods -- The Mono Chronicles III

in the midst of my very boring week of sickdom, i've been trying to come up with things to write about and i've been getting a little inspiration. what you're about to read is my first official comissioned piece of writing. i'm expecting payment in full by the weekend, adam.


The Gaijin's Guide to Nabe

as the winter season approaches, you're probably asking yourself: what am i going to cook that's warm and hearty and will fill my dinner guests' tummies with culinary glee? unless you live in japan. then you're asking yourself: how the hell do i make nabe?

well, relax and settle in because you're about to be trained in the delicate art of this traditional japanese stew.

you will need:

a nabe pot (this is a heavy ceramic or cast iron pot with a lid. if you don't have one, run to the saty and buy one. if you don't have one or live in japan, you can use a heavy sauce pan as long as you keep the heat LOW. or you can order one from
a gas burner (a portable burner that can be placed in the center of your dining table is ideal. otherwise, you can do it on a gas stove, but NOT an electric stove. if you don't have a gas stove, call a friend who does.)
broth (in japan, there are a few varieties of nabe broth but basically your options are a salty seafood broth, which has shrimp or crab on the package, a creamy soy milk broth, or a kimuchi broth, which is spicy and usually in a red package. if you're not in japan, you might find these broths in a very good foreign food market OR if you live in nowheresville like me, you can actually use chicken broth as a substitute for the seafood kind. it's not perfect, but it'll do the job.)
meat (seafood is best. i like to combine crab and shrimp. you can also throw in chicken or, if you're in japan, look for white meatballs at the grocery. they're a sort of chicken sausage -- very yummy.)
veggies & such (cabbage is a must. beyond that, throw in whatever appeals to you. i, because i'm a gaijin, throw in a lot of gaijin things like onions/scallions, corn, broccoli, and even sweet potatoes. tofu's another good addition and clearly more japanesey. i'm allergic to mushrooms, so i don't use them, but you may if you want to.)

all right, now that you've gathered your supplies, let's get cookin'. you might want to turn on a little music. i like something kind of chill, but you can choose whatever inspires you. just keep in mind that the flavor of the music is likely to end up in the stew, so avoid anything too violent or depressing. (don't believe me? read "like water for chocolate".)


step one: put some broth in your pot and turn the heat on medium (or low if you're not using a proper nabe pot). i say "some" broth because you don't want to use it all at once. you'll need to add more later. i typically start with half the broth and add the rest as needed throughout the evening. (note the unopened package at my elbow. if you're in the big jp, that's what you're looking for in the shop.)

once your broth starts simmering, you want to add the cabbage. cabbage is the staple of this stew; you should keep plenty of it in the pot at all times. this is a good opportunity to throw in your onions or scallions too. i also add the sweet potatoes at this point, as they cook very slowly and need all the time they can get to be perfect. the same is true for carrots, if you happen to be a carrot person.


next, add your meats, keeping cooking time in mind. chicken and/or meatballs take significantly longer than seafood, so add them first. you may even want to put the lid on for a few minutes to give the chicken a head-start before you add the seafood (especially if you're using the meatballs, which are thick and cook slowly). if your shrimp turns pink almost instantly, turn the heat down! they'll be tough and rubbery if you overcook them! this dish is all about patience.


your other veggies and tofu can go in once the meat (especially the chicken) is well started. these things will just need to get hot, so they go quick. also, the yellow rolls in the photo are egg, which can be found pre-cooked in japan. otherwise, you can scramble your own eggs separately and add them if you so desire. once you have everything neatly arranged, put the lid on and walk away. entertain your guests with a rousing round of "would you rather" or invent your own embarrassing party game. (i have lots of suggestions for this if you need some creative help.)

keep an eye on your nabe pot to make sure it stays at a simmer, but avoid taking off the lid -- you'll let out all that yummy steam. if it threatens to boil over, turn the heat down ever so slightly.


once your guests are sick of playing games or some snarky comment has sucked the fun out of the room (typically about ten mintues), revive the party by taking the lid off of your masterpiece. expect a chorus of "ooo's" and "ahhh's".

serve up the goods in small bowls, keeping most of the broth in the pot. when everyone has their first serving, refresh the pot by adding more of all your favorite ingredients. replace the lid and let the party continue. nabe is the meal that keeps on giving -- as it gets low, simply keep adding and cooking throughout the evening. (this is why the portable burner works best; it's most convenient to have the stew cooking right on the table as you eat.) i usually poll my guests: "who wants more shrimp? more crab? egg?" etc. but don't ask them about the cabbage. just keep adding cabbage like i told you to.

like all japanese food, nabe goes well with sake and should be washed down with generous amounts of the delicious brew to ensure that the evening is a smashing success.



nabe also comes out better if you wear a really cool shirt while you make it, like this "soul-stirring music" raven tee i picked up for a mere 7,000 yen at born free. yeah, i know, i got ripped off. (note: that web page is the actual born free shop in a-square where i bought the raven tee. the internet is magical, isn't it?)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rigor Bortis -- The Mono Chronicles II

most people would consider two paid weeks off of work a real treat, but this is only my second day of being stranded at home with mono, and i'm already bored silly. i can't do anything but stay in bed and watch old episodes of "the office". about 11 o'clock this morning, i couldn't stand lying around anymore, so i got up and shaved my legs. immediately afterwards i had to lie back down because i felt light-headed and shakey. quite a removal from the daily six-hour long stand-up routine that is my job.

at any rate, being sick at home reminded me of the time i got sick in japan. everybody gets sick in japan at some point. our gaijin blood just can't handle those ninja bacteria, and we all spend too much time drinking and working and not enough time sleeping or eating. most foreigners have only themselves to blame when they come down with some strange asian malady, but i have someone else to blame. i blame dom.


samurai bar in kyoto, where we did lots of drinking and only a little sleeping.

it all started when one of dom's childhood mates came to visit. they decided to live on the wild side a bit, so they took off to thailand for a few days of drinking booze, getting cheap massages, and playing "penis or no penis?" with the locals.

when they returned, dom called me at work and in his most pitiful voice told me that they'd gotten food poisoning from some dodgey restaurant and had both been heaving since they got on the plane. they were back at his place, but they were both exhausted, dehydrated, and feeling very ill.

well, i'm a good friend, so when i finished my shift, i stopped at the 99 shop and picked up some crackers and soda for the little travellers. i hung out at dom's for a while, listened to all their tales of misadventure, and made sure they were comfortably tucked in for the night.

next morning at work, dom was out sick. strange, i thought, since food poisoning is usually pretty short-lived.

a few hours later, i was sitting in a lesson with a ten-year old girl going over all the things you can do at the fair. "i want to ride the merry-go-round. what do you want to do at the fair?" "i want to eat cotton candy." etc. suddenly, i started feeling sort of... not right. sort of clammy and sweaty and... yucky. i stood up and excused myself in my shit japanese, then i made a beeline for the teachers' lounge. a couple of my esteemed colleagues were on their lunch break. i made some kind of gesture towards the door and said something like "kid... lesson... room 10..." before i high-tailed it to the women's room where i spewed and started to topple over. thank god for mikey, who is gay and therefore unafraid of following friends into the women's room to make sure they don't topple over into their own spew.

as you already know, food poisoning is not contagious. however, the wicked thai flu those boys brought home certainly was. i was a train-wreck for three days, and i can't begin to adequately describe the awkward technical difficulties involved in spewing into a japanese toilet. they simply were not designed for it. and unlike the boys, who got to enjoy their vacation before they got sick, i didn't even get a massage to balance the karma.

dom did bring me a box of chocolates shaped like orchids though. that helped a little.


dom and his mate doing celebratory shots of tequila once their stomachs had settled (several days later!)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Getting Sick -- The Mono Chronicles

o reader, i hate to make you worry, so i haven't been telling you everything that's been going on lately. it must be time to come clean.

ever since i returned from my fantastic california vacation, i've been feeling wretchedly under the weather. constant fatigue. achey muscles. lots and lots of headaches.

i nearly blacked out for no apparent reason one night a few weeks ago, so my mommy took me to the med station who sent me to the emergency room, where they stabbed me several times, gave me a cat scan, and told me nothing was wrong with me.

my regular doctor wasn't so sure, so she sent me to the radiology people who stabbed me and did an mri. the mri said there was nothing wrong with me.

but i haven't felt any better and the more tired i get, the harder it is to breathe, which is somewhat alarming and definitely qualifies as something wrong with me.

so i went to my regular doctor again. this time, she said it was just my asthma (darn that asthma) acting up, even though i was neither coughing nor wheezing. she put me on steroids and some other junk to fix it.

none of that junk helped so i called her office yesterday (saturday) and the on-duty guy told me to go to the emergency room. so back i went. this time they stabbed me and did a chest x-ray and told me i might have bronchitis and gave me antibiotics. then they said to come back if i still felt like crap today.

well, i did. in fact, i felt significantly worse today. so in hopes of that "third time's the charm" thing, i found myself back at the hospital today. they stabbed me in a way that made all previous stabs look like butterfly kisses, did a bunch of blood work, and when i literally had cottonballs taped to every available blood vessel, they finally figured out that i have mono.

i ask you, o people of the medical world, did it have to be that hard?


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

... And They're Back!

in the blink of an eye, my summer is over and i'm back in a 100 degree classroom with a bunch of sweaty teenagers trying to interest them in proper subject/verb agreement and explaining what words like "prosaic" and "phantasmagorical" mean.


the kids are completely insane, as always, so i'm sure i'll have plenty of good stories to tell you throughout the year. but who wants to talk about work? not me. not right now.

i'd rather talk about the fact that i'm watching the transformers movie. not the new one; the old one. ya know, the cartoon that came out 20 years ago? it's totally hot.

*humming 80s rock theme*

something about having two brothers who were only slightly older than me made me something of a tomboy as a child. i wasn't butch or anything, but i played with boys all the time, so i played with boys' toys... including, nay, especially transformers. i still think they're pretty sweet and i'd be lying if i told you soundwave wasn't sitting on my dashboard right at this moment. jealous? :-)

i must admit, i got a little nervous watching the movie today. i didn't know how they were going to defeat unicron once galvatron got a hold of the matrix... then of course, i forgot that hot rod turned into rodimus prime. that really turned the tide, eh?

o, you don't care.

you disappoint me yet again, starscream!

by the way, reader, here's a friendly reminder: the new season of the office starts in two weeks. i don't have a tv, so i'm going to have to figure out where i can watch it...




hey, what are you doing next thursday?