Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just one more and then I'm gonna quit...

Ok, I couldn't resist it! I bought another God-Jesus to my collection and although one function God-Jesus Fortune Telling Robot is theoretically enough I just can't resist buying one when I see them going for peanuts sums at Japanese auction sites. I will try to not buy any more, but can't make any promises... But I have a feeling that I have to start giving these away as gifts soon...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

No! That is NOT how you use an umbrella!

Yesterday it was one of those rare winter days here in Tokyo where it actually snowed a bit, and not the wet rain mixed snow, real white snow although it melted pretty quickly on the ground and hardly any traces could be found today in central Tokyo even though the cold remains. This usually happens only on one or two days during the Tokyo winter.

Now, there is one thing the irritates me immensly about Tokyo people when it's snowing... A lot of people, I'd even go so far as to say most, use an umbrella when it's snowing! That is not how it is supposed to be used! Now, I know for a fact that this is not a countrywide issue, I've been in other parts of Japan during the cold of winter and seen how people there live through some light snow without umbrellas or other protective equipment. But Tokyo people just doesn't seem to understand when and how an umbrella should be used. As long as you can brush the snow off yourself, you're fine.

I'm not sure on how to approach this problem, what I am trying to do is educate the people I met and some of the people in the office I strongly suspect of using an umbrella in the snow (even though they denied it). Help create awareness, this is a problem!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It is the decision of the council...

In a company like ours, there are a number of important decisions that must be made at certain points during the day, one of the more important decisions is lunch. Not only must a certain cuisine and specific restaurant be decided upon, there must also be concensus on when to go and whom to invite to come. This is not as an easy task as it might first seem since some places are more suitable for smaller groups and if too many people tag along it might not be physically possible to fit in.

The core lunch council consists of me, the Boy and Luke as the chairman and the discussion is usually initiated through IM around 30min before lunchtime since it can take a great while to come to a decision agreeable with all parties.

Personally I'm usually quite open to most ideas while the Boy requires portions suitably large to satisfy his abnormal hunger and in addition he rarely accept the cost to exceed 1000 yen, furthermore he also refuses to eat cuisine from the same geographical area twice in a row, never mind that there are different dishes within "Italian food".
Then we have Luke who is pretty picky on which places meets his standard on quality which means that the decision process can take significant time to make everyone somewhat in agreement. Also, to further complicate things we also sometimes have one or more guests participating in the decision process, either invited or self-invited. The phrase "I veto that" is pretty commonly used even though no one formally has a right to veto anything. But when the council has come to a decision it is irreversible and problems can occur if the restaurant in question is full and no contingency plan has been put in place...

The second important council that exists is the "Konbini Council" (or the convenience store council) which usually convene over IM sometime post lunch and the objective of that council is mostly to decide on a time to go out and by a snack between lunch and finishing hours. The general timing is sometime between 15:00 - 16:00 and often initiated by the Boy, Luke or the Texan but is much more ad hoc since it's not a guaranteed daily event even if it occurs most days. One alarming tendency recently has been by some parties to ignore the councils decision for a departure time, shaking the whole system to its core.

Then, for both these events, there's the ultimate offense, the unforgiveable; the thing you just don't do! You never ditch a member of the council and go without them unless you have their explicit approval to do so due to some specific circumstances. The intra-office politics can sometimes be difficult to navigate, but I think that I have done a good job so far in leading the council discussions and issuing announcements and declarations as necessary!

Sense of impending doom...

Our lovely little company is on the verge of some major changes now in the relatively close future of which I really cannot elaborate further on, but it has led to a sense of impending doom now across the company, gone are the days of playful laughter, now replaced by a climate of fear and worry.

Where it before used to be lively discussions and laughter there is now mostly an omnious silence in the office. It feels a bit like we're under siege, Mr. Chin Jnr. is spacing out at an even more frequent pace than usual and the administration people are all serious faces all day long. At least it finally seems like the nightmare project is over for me and I can once again start to relax, go for lunches and go home at decent hours.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

So... is this how you're going to play the game?

I earlier talked a bit about my attitude towards blogging and how I'm not particularly involved in the community of bloggers that seems to exist to some extens and been going about my blog the more lone wolf style. There seems to be some kind of thing going around among bloggers which they called "tagging someone" which is basically some form of chain-letter thing. I've been exposed to this earlier and declined to participate in that little game, but thought I could do an exception this time since I recently was tagged by Auberginefleur. So this time I will play along.

The rules seem to be as follow:
(1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So here goes, eight random facts about myself:
1. I'm an old goth/electrohead and not ashamed of it
2. I recently rewatched the old movie Man bites Dog and was surprised that it's still a great movie, but still a punch in the stomach
3. My mobile phone straps are different regional variants of Hello Kitty
4. I never really got into He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
5. My first pre-puberty crush was on the Smurfette
6. It amazes me how many people search for "french boobs" in google and find this page
7. I'm actually not looking forward that much to the new Mad Max movie
8. I've never been in a gang but always wanted to try it

And I tag the following people (couldn't be bothered with 8):

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One of us is crazy...

First I should apologize for the lack of updates here, the latest project was pretty rough with plenty of late work and although I'm sure there was plenty of comedy involved, a lot of pain was also present and I have yet been able to sort out the comedy from the pain, given some time I'm sure I will.

Recently I spent some time in the waiting room in a psychiatric clinic which is somewhat of an event in itself. First of all I should say that I don't feel that mental diseases are particularly funny in themselves and mental diseases are diseases in the same way as physical diseases and most can be helped through medication and does not need to be chronic in any way.

That said, the waiting room in a psychiatric clinic is pretty interesting when looking at the clientel and the behaviour in there, I should also add that this obviously was an outpatient clinic so whatever problems these people were suffering were of a nature where they can function outside in the society at large. A number of interesting characters were present though:

First we had the almost normal people who are sitting and waiting and only look a bit nervous, suddenly looking in one direction due to a sound or something that drew their attention.

Then we had the lady that every five minutes approached the staff and asked if her name had been called, profusely apologizing when they told her that "no, not yet" only to ask again five minutes later.

Then there was also the lady who in a very aggressive and loud voice asked the staff when it was her turn and that she didn't want to wait even though a large number of people were before her.

There was also the guy with a baby cart, without any baby in it, just a couple of books, but hey, who am I to judge, it might be convenient.

Then there's the numerous people who just look sad and stare down at the floor, avoiding carefully to look at any of the other people present. Sometimes rocking gently back and forth.

Also we had the guy who kept talking loudly to himself and regularly spitting in a cup.

As a common theme for most people in the clinic, when their name is called the most common behaviour is a loud screaming of "HAI!" (in this context, meaning, "here") and running quickly to the doctor's office in obvious fear that 2 seconds stalling would mean they lose their turn.

Then we had me of course, and I probably made an equally entertaining and interesting participant, sitting playing Puyopuyo on my new mobile phone and struggling to beat level 7 and almost getting annoyed when my name got called and I had to cancel my game...
All in all, I can think of more stimulating places to spend an hour in the afternoon in, but you can hardly say it's boring at least!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Yeah, that's probably stress

My latest and greatest project is soon culminating and things are pretty busy, but Ms. A has come through strong and is now helping me pull the busload that this project consists of. We've reached the "sit together in a smelly closed room eating gaylord powerbars while working" that we also hit in Paris...

I think that one of the illustrations that best shows my state of mind is this stressed penguin that I now can send with my sparkling new mobile phone. Click it to see the great animation!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Let's go somewhere nice today

There's one restaurant I pass by every day on my way to and from work that always fascinates me. I have yet to see how it looks inside, but what you can see in the picture is the yellow sign where it says in Japanese "Here you can drink from lunchtime". I find this strategy pretty interesting, since I'm a marketing guy this triggers the professional nerve in me. With that type of marketing, what are the goals and objectives of this restaurant? What type of customers is this restaurant hoping to attract?


Also, generally, any place in Japan that serves food (excluding fast food chains) also serve alcoholic drinks from the moment they're open, so there's a significant difference here for a restaurant that uses this type of marketing. The text on the sign also implies that it's a good place to sit and drink in from lunchtime, not only have one beer...

What puzzles me even more is that this place seem to still be in business since quite a few years back, so it seems like they are doing something right. Perhaps there is a huge untapped market of people out there that wants to drink from lunchtime and the owner of this establishment is one of the few who has figured this out?

I really should go there and have some drinks at lunch at some point to assess the market opportunity!

There can be only One!

video

Working now during the 2nd and 3rd when most of the Japanese people as well as people in my lovely company, are either out fighting over the sales going on all over the place, or sitting at home under their kotatsu and eating mochi, me, the Boy, Dr. Y and New Girl (yet to be fully introduced) were toiling away in the office like a normal day. However, since the Boy and Dr. Y basically are finished with their current project Dr. Y had brought his Wii into the office to keep them entertained now during the calm.

It was impossible to not get pulled into some of the gaming that went on and the 2008 Mario Party Office Championships were held. I played my game strategic, both in the boardgame section and in the mini-games and managed to, without much effort, take home the title. My colleagues at least acknowledged my superiority and I think I gained a great deal of respect today! Please see the video of my victory dance! It did take a bit of time away from the horrible project I'm working on at the moment, but with the title secured I can say it was worth it and I'll compensate by getting stuff done tomorrow!

Last year I also crushed the opposition in Wii Sports (Tennis, Bowling, Golf as well as Baseball) and I still sometimes remind the Boy about the beating he received in Def Jam:Icon last year, as well as the harsh taunts he had to endure in-game.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hey guys, how've you been?

You know how it is when you meet old friends you haven't seen in many years, sometimes it's just like nothing ever happened and time has stood still and you can talk and have fun just like you had earlier, but sometimes when you meet old friends you realize that you've grown apart in different directions and really don't have anything in common anymore and it just ends up being awkward and uncomfortable.

Recently I met two friends that I've know for many many years and we used to be best buddies but in the last years we haven't really interacted much at all. We hung out for an evening, my friends Alien and Predator, who had also brought along their new friend called "Predalien" whom they apparently hang out with all the time nowadays.

I expected to have lots of fun with them, just like we used to have, but the whole evening turned out pretty awkard and they were not at all as I remembered them. Alien was in many ways similar to before, but it just felt like his act has been getting a bit old and he just did the same stuff he's always done without changing at all, but it was Predator who dissapointed me the most. He used to be a pretty smart big guy, but this time he just behaved pretty stupid. He really changed a lot from when I first met him.
Then, this guy, Predalien I had heard so much about turned out to be a real idiot, loud, ugly and not particularly special at all and I felt even a bit annoyed that they brought him along since he just ruined things for me.
But it makes me think, maybe I should get back in touch with Robocop too and see how he's been doing? He never dissapointed me before...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sorry, we're closed

Well, it's that day of the year now... On the 1st of January Tokyo turns into a ghost town, everything is closed and people are hardly moving about outside, too busy eating their osechi food and munching down those mocchis. Tomorrow will almost be the same, although some department stores will start their sales so there will be a little more action but not much.

Since my lovely company is a bit special, we're one of the few corporate entities that actually are open for business on the 2nd and 3rd of January and it will feel a bit strange going to the office since noone else is working...
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