Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Project Management...

Currently me and my team are working on a project for a company that is as close as Omni Consumer Products as any other existing company, granted, its field of biz is considerably smaller than OCP, but anyway...

We have now been working on this project for a couple of months and are actually getting in the stages of finalizing our final presentation, that is all well and good you might think... There is only one tiny little problem and that is that no contract has been signed as of yet, the legal machinery in the U.S. head-office of this giant company has yet to digest or produce a contract that is signable by both parties. This makes it extremely amusing in a scary sort of way since my company's management anyway decided that it would be a good idea to start this project even though the "client" has yet to officially give the go ahead. This has lead to plenty of amusement and stress on the actual project team part...

We are actually going ahead in doing a project without an official client, that might make us feel good about ourself if it was a volunteer project of some kind that might benefit any charity organization or similar without financial means to utilize a company such as the one I work for. But a company of almost OCP-ish dimensions like the one we are currently doing volunteer work for hardly needs that...

Too tired and annoyed to elaborate more on this now, but I can promise that I will come back to this subject! I'll laugh about it in a month or so I guess?

Tokyo is at least starting to warm up a little, so I guess that's the good news (for me at least).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Winter in Tokyo...

I really do hate the winter in Tokyo... Ok, to be completely straight, it's not that cold really, it can go below 0C degrees during the night, but that is quite unusual. It can snow, but this is also quite rare and hasn't happened so far this year and it anyway melts as soon as it hits the ground. During winter the sky is blue and the sun is often shining unlike the summer months when you rarely see a blue sky at all, more kinda foggy and grey...

The problem here in Japan in winter is that the houses are not built to keep warmth in... It's not very nice to come home after a relatively cold day (say 7C degrees for the sake of it), open the door and feel that it's colder inside than outside... Ok, sure, there are heating devices here in Japan, but electricity is extremely expensive and it's nothing you want to keep going while you're at work, it would just cost too much...

One day I came home after buying some groceries on the way home from work, opening the refrigerator to put the stuff in there and realizing that it feels warm inside the refrigerator... The 8C degrees inside there was warmer than the temperature inside the room...

Ok, it's kinda cozy when lying in bed with plenty of blankets so the cold can be kept away, but you don't want to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom... From experience I can tell you that a cold toilet-seat wake you up!

But it's soon March and things will start to warm up at least!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Prestigious work

In the company I work in now recruiting is done almost exclusively from the top universities. We have several Yale, Harvard, Berkley, Northwestern, Toudai etc. graduates among our staff, including several with Master's degrees and also people with a Ph. D. degree. The relevant people graduated with honors, needless to say.

This means, of course, that the discussions held inside the company maintain a very high level, probably at a completely different level compared to companies that recruit less selectively.

Let me give you an example of how a conversation can be, please note that this is a real example from today's work. The conversation was held via Instant Messenger.

Mr. Salaryman said: Which urinouar do you choose in the bathroom if both are available?
MJ said:hahaha
MJ said:i guess the closer one
MJ said:usually
Mr. Salaryman said:What's your rationale for this decision?
MJ said:im not sure
MJ said:then i can monitor the doorway
Mr. Salaryman said:I have thought quite hard about this and I actually changed from the furthest one to the one closer to the doorway
MJ said:yeah
MJ said:that one's better
MJ said:you'd know if someone was lookin at you
Mr. Salaryman said:The drawback is that people coming in to use the booths orurinouar needs to pass behind me
MJ said:true
MJ said:but let me ask you this
Mr. Salaryman said:Yeah, but I feel that that is compensated by the fact that you stay somewhat hidden
MJ said:what about when you use a stall
MJ said:and imagine, if you will
MJ said:that there are 3
MJ said:instead of 2
Mr. Salaryman said:At the moment I don't play favourites, but if there were three I would not go into the middle one
Mr. Salaryman said:unless absolutely necessary
MJ said:true
MJ said:i would never go in the middle one either
MJ said:yet
MJ said:a lot of people appreciate it
MJ said:why
Mr. Salaryman said:Yeah, you don't wanna be boxed in by people doing theirthing both to the left and right of you...
MJ said:hahahahaha
MJ said:i wouldn't go in because i always hear that it's the most popular seat in the bathrooms
MJ said:i think like over 45% choose the middle seat
Mr. Salaryman said:That's just plain sick, I don't believe those statistics
Mr. Salaryman said:Do you have a source?
MJ said:hahahahaa
MJ said:no this is legit
MJ said:i learnt it in my psych class
Mr. Salaryman said:Yeah, Psychopath class maybe
MJ said:hahaha
MJ said:psych classes can be dumb, i wont lie to you
MJ said:but they do have interesting stats
Mr. Salaryman said:What would the rationale for ppl chosing the middle booth be, pray to tell?
MJ said:apparently they feel more concealed

It is very stimulating to have the privilige to work with well educated people.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The unsung Japanese cuisine

There are many things that are good about living in Japan and the food is definately one of the best. Regardless of whether you are a connoisseur who prefers the more exotic tastes like "sashimi" (raw fish) and natto (if you don't know, you don't want to know) or the type that more prefer something that goes well with a cold beer, there are plenty of good stuff for you to find here.

However, there is a darker side of Japanese cooking as well... On one side you have the Shabu-shabu, sushi, yakitori chicken and other dishes that creates delight wherever they go, on the other side there is a dark side which tell tales of cross-cooking gone terribly wrong and mayonnaise abuse way out of hand...

Tokyo is a big city, my lovely company has the office in one of the busiest parts of Tokyo with all types of food available at my fingertips. I can have real Indian curry one day and good mexican food the next. But in the outskirts, just in the pheripheral vision, there are horrors lurking...

Imagine a thing such as an american style pizza, so far so good, right? However, imagine that the crust no longer is a ordinary crust; it now is a thin layer of bread around a sausage that wraps itself around the pizza... Imagine that the tomato sauce is gone, instead replaced with a tartar sauce... Imagine a topping of smoked salmon and on top of it all large amount of mayonnaise sprayed over... If you're anything like me, you're already breaking out in a cold sweat. If you feel that you cannot take any more, I urge you to stop reading now, because the worst is yet to come... The name of the pizza is... "Gorgeous Salmon"...

This, my friend, is something that can keep me up late at night, huddling in my bed while the wind blows cold outside with sirens somewhere in the distance... What went wrong? Who thought this out? Who buys this? Who eats this?

Thank god they still have normal pizzas here, I'll order one of those instead!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Better start blogging...

So... now I'm suffering from "first post anxiety"... I need to write something interesting that people can relate to, something exciting with a human element to make you; the reader, feel as if you're connecting with me...

Nah, that just doesn't do it for me! I will instead use this space to give you the overview on what's going on here, or what will happen here.

So, why have I started a blog?
Well, there are some bizarre things going on in my work especially, stories which might amuse the casual blog reader. Also, since this is Japan, there are plenty of other stories of wonder and horror that will take you on a rollercoaster of feelings! You will hear "feel-good" stories that will put a smile on your face and a spring in your step, you will hear stories that seem to be taken straight out of a H.P. Lovecraft story that will make you afraid of the dark and anything in between those two! All true of course!

So, who is this guy that promises all this excitement?
Well, I'm a guy in the early 30's working and living in Tokyo since quite a few years back now, currently I'm working in a smaller size consulting company from which the bulk of these stories of wonder and joy probably will come since it is far from a "normal" office. The fun never ends!

I do speak Japanese, have many Japanese friends and generally love the country and the people of Japan, but like anywhere else, there's always things you dislike. But this will not be a "Japan-bashing" blog in case anyone thought so, but I guess that some of the absurdities that I experience while living here will come out as well.

I will try to keep this blog updated almost daily, at least that's what I'm thinking now but you never know... Anyway, this feels like a decent first post! Hope to see you here again!
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