Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Japanese Candid Camera

Ok, this is not normally something I do here on my blog, but there's this quite hilarious candid camera episode from the show "Bakushou Panic Face" that they show here on the TBS channel (recently the changed the name to "Bakushou Powerful Face" for some reason though). The stuff in there is a bit hit-and-miss, but this is a classic one that is too good to be missed out just because you can't understand Japanese so I have quickly subtitled it (I did it quickly and pretty rough, but it should help you get the gist of it).

Just so proper credit is given where it's due, I found it here at youtube in the Japanese version and then slapped on subtitles here...

Monday, May 30, 2011

So... What was it you did exactly?

Eerily accurate...
One common problem in our little company has often been the unclarity of responsibilities and who's supposed to do exactly what. When hiring, the company often does away with such petty things as job descriptions and instead goes for general broad strokes, hoping that the small stuff will settle itself eventually.

However, recently it reached the boiling point with too much confusion on who actually is supposed to do what. In a normal company it usually would have been handled by HR working to sort out what is needed and then make sure that the tasks and responsibilities are distributed accordingly.

Our HR decided to take a little different route though and sent out a communication to everyone to list up what exactly it is their departments do, compile this in one document and then distribute back to everyone thinking that everything would have been solved. Now, this didn't take into account that some of the more vague stuff that no one really wanted to do was left untouched and ended up not being included in any job description. This also gave the people who claimed it's "not their job" ammunition since they could now formally state "it's not in my job description so we shouldn't do this!". Leaving some stuff to go very ripe until it reaches the point that it's so "stinky" that someone feels the need to clear it out just to get rid of it bothering everyone. 

Sometimes I really feel that I'm working in some form of Bizarro office...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Too soon...?

New and better products
We have an annual trade show exhibition coming up later on in the summer and it's a pretty big event and one of the largest annual events of the year which we really need to participate in. 

Preparations for this has been ongoing for quite a long time and has caused us a bit of a headache since we really don't have anything new to show this year and felt a bit worried that it would reflect badly on us just showing the same 'ol stuff while our competitors show off all the newest and much more fancy stuff. So we have struggled with a theme for our booth in the exhibition for quite some time and discussed numerous ideas which in the end all turned out to be crap and we had almost given up on doing anything interesting. 

Then we had the earthquake and all the disruptions that came with it and in a recent meeting we had a little brainstorming and decided that we would dedicate some focus in our booth on the disaster and show our support to Japan and our Japanese customers in this difficult time. 

At the end of the meeting everyone felt quite satisfied and a bit relieved that we had found our theme for this year and I threw out "So yeah, I guess the bad news is that 20,000 people died and many many more lost everything they own, but hey, on the positive side we finally got that theme sorted out, huh?". The room all of a sudden got completely silent and people started to nervously look around before some smiles and muffled laughter was heard. I felt I had to clarify and followed up with "Hey, it's called "black humour" you know?". This caused some additional minor confusion and one of my colleagues who actually was familiar with the concept explained to the others how it's something that foreigner likes and it's a joke that's not really a joke but actually is a joke.

After the explanation a little more laughter and nodding broke out in the room followed by mumblings of "Ah, "black humour", now I understand". If someone actually kept track of the stuff I get away with just because I'm a "foreigner" it would probably create some form of national outrage... 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

100 Followers, thank you!

I just noticed that I had recently received my 100th follower signed up! I'm only doing the blog for fun, but there is of course no point if no one's reading it. It's also always hard to measure how well the blog is received, comments is of course one way, the hardcore page views another but I've also always looked at the followers and have probably at least once checked out each and every one of you (or at least as much as the blogger profile allowed me to).

So just a short post/note to say thank you for reading! Please don't feel
Intimidated and drop an e-mail or comment if there's anything you want me to discuss. Thank you!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
(yeah! That's right! I wrote this from my paddy, how about that!?)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Obama bobble heads, ABC Store and earthquakes

Obama with good friend God-Jesus
I have wondered a bit on what is required to be able to claim that I'm "an earthquake survivor"... Granted, there only were 5 or so deaths due to the quake in some capacity in the metropolitan Tokyo region, out of about 10 million or something, Mrs. Sunshine and Baby Sunshine can claim a little more than that since Chiba prefecture actually claimed 20 or so deaths and has a smaller population (don't ask me the details since I'll just embarrass myself with my lack of knowledge of my local area, but I guess maybe about 5 million or so).

So yeah, I guess I'm a little more "great pacific earthquake survivor" than I'm an 9/11 survivor (although technically I did survive 9/11 too, being in Tokyo at the time and having just about a safe distance).

But now we have finally finished the rebuilding in the Salaryman household after the damages we suffered during the quake. My computer actually crashed down into the floor but is strangely enough working fine with no urgent need to be replaced, but we had bought a Obama bobble-head doll during our honeymoon in Hawaii. This bobble head was half-jokingly referred to as our "earthquake barometer" since we always checked if his head was moving when we suspected an earthquake.

At the time of the big quake, he did his job very well, so well in fact that he fell down from the top of the bookshelf that we had put him on and broke his neck... Mrs. Sunshine tried to restore him, but it provide futile as the broken neck ruined the bobble-ness and any effectiveness as earthquake barometer...

However, as it turned out, the ABC Store (who seem to have a monopoly like hold of the Honolulu convenience and tourist shop market based on our honeymoon there) actually not only does mail order services, they also had the bobble head available for purchase! So now we have restored the order. If Obama's head is moving, then there likely is an earthquake. If he falls down and breaks his neck, it's a really big earthquake. Maybe we should recommend this to the Japanese Meteorological Agency who monitors the earthquakes in Japan?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Did I just fart or do you know something I don't?

The only way to prevent it!
One of the big misconceptions of Japan that seems extraordinary hard to set straight is the belief that some Japanese people wear those face-masks due to pollution. This is obviously wrong since Tokyo has comparatively good air quality compared to other cities of similar size.

The reason for wearing the face masks are either people having a bit of a cold hoping that the mask can prevent them from spreading it further (very unlikely btw, but anyway) or due to strong sensitivity to pollen or other airborne allergic agent. Granted, during the worst 1H1N swine flu scare, a lot of people took to wearing the masks in hope of getting some protection from it and for a while they were completely cleared out all across Tokyo and the factories were working hard to keep up with the extremely increased demand. Never mind that no studies has shown any actual reduction in infection risk due to the simple masks used in Japan. 

Mrs. Sunshine wears them when she has a cold and moving outside in crowded areas although I have never used them unless in situations when more or less forced to (such as visiting a hospital in work during the 1H1N scare and it was enforced). I'm ok with other people using it but don't really see the point personally.

However, today I noticed a person that upped the stakes considerably... One guy on the train wore a full air filtration mask (you know, basically like a gas mask but without the eye cover). My first initial thought was "he must be a bit crazy" quickly followed by "does he know something I don't?!" and then back again to "No, he must just be a bit crazy scared of radiation or something". We'll see if this is a trend or an isolated case, on one side the face masks are getting a bit old so maybe the filtration masks can be a way to get the speculation on why the Japanese wear them going again?

(On a separate note, the sales rep with the pregnant wife came over to my desk today, beaming with joy and proudly exclaimed to me that he was now the father of a healthy baby girl. I told him congratulations and asked him to "show me picture" (which I actually am not particularly eager to see since all newborn look like monkeys) and refrained to mention how proud I am of my iPad 2 and given the choice, would chose the iPad over his daughter in a heartbeat)

Monday, May 23, 2011

She's so adorable...

She's adorable even when she's bad!
Yesterday me and my two Sunshine's had lunch at a family restaurant  (the "Italian" chain Saizeriya if you must know, not the greatest food but baby friendly and decent price). We ate our stuff and Baby Sunshine ate her can of "codfish with vegetables in cream sauce" from Kewpie and was a good enough baby.

As we had finished up and I went to pay the bill at the cashier I started to hear a baby crying... Loud enough to easily be heard across the pretty large restaurant, as the crying never seemed to stop I started to get a little annoyed and was thinking "what an annoying baby, the parents should make sure she doesn't disturb everyone like this" and then I looked towards them and realized that it actually was Baby Sunshine who had started acting up and in an instant my mind switched to thinking "oh, poor little baby, but she's so adorable even when she's crying..." with glazed over eyes and a stupid smile until the cashier asked me if I wanted to pay...

I guess being a father carries with it some form of mental disturbance, but I'm ok with that.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Are you an Otaku?

"Otaku is Beautiful" indeed
This post is basically me setting the scene for a discussion about the role of the otaku guys and gals during the earthquake and tsunami disaster, but getting it all in one post might  be a little too much so I'll start with the basics on the otaku first.

So the first question that might come up is "what is an otaku?". There is a common misconception here that those sweaty dudes that hangs around Akihabara (and always calls it "Akiba", never the full name of "Akihabara) enjoys maid cafes and watch cartoon rape porn are the only type of otaku. 

This is not the case, being an "otaku" is more about having one's life revolving around a certain interest or hobby and dedicating most of the available time and money on the topic of interest. The actual topic of fixation can be basically anything from dieting, fashion, AKB48, rape porn, AKB48 rape porn, music, model trains etc. etc. I'm not completely sure here, but I would think that being a paid professional on the subject in question kinda disqualifies you from the otaku label as it's no longer just an interest or hobby.

Basically, "otaku" is not a slur or insulting in principle, but since investing the amount of time, money and effort into a single subject is borderline obsessive it usually means that the otaku is not "normal" from most perspectives. 

To help you do a quick diagnosis of someone you believe might be an otaku but you're not completely sure, I have here devised a formula for you to apply to people you suspect of being otaku:

Amount of free time spent on subject
(<20% 1, ±40% 2, >60% 3, ALL available time 10)
Amount of disposable income spent on subject
(<20% 1, ±40% 2, >60% 3, deliberately cut down all other costs to spend all money on hobby 10)
Percent of friends similarly into subject
(<20% 1, ±40% 2, >60% 3, Could NEVER be friends with someone not into subject 10)
Family situation
(has a girlfriend but not living together 1, single living alone 2, lives with mother to save money to spend on hobby 3, has wife and kids, not divorced -10)

A result of <8 would show that the person is not an Otaku
A result of 9-12 shows that the person is a borderline Otaku and might cross the line
A result of over 12 gives a fullblown Otaku

So there you have it! Now you can investigate the people around you. Generally I have nothing against otaku's in general, but I do find these "Akiba" type of otaku extremely creepy...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ok, now I have the iPad2, now what?

Ok, yesterday the iPad 2 came in the mail and it's a sexy little thing indeed! I've already scoured the web for lists of recommended apps and downloaded quite a few already and spent most of the night yesterday and the day today playing with it and trying to figure out cool stuff to do with it.

So now I have a bunch of games, all the regular stuff like Skype, E-book/Comic reader and a few photo editing apps as well as some more "boring but useful" stuff like currency converter, weather news, train information and current electricity capacity in Tokyo.

So yeah, what should I get? Some more fun photo editing app would be nice to have and any other useful and fun stuff. Also, if there's any recommendations for stuff that Mrs. Sunshine might like? Hit me!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It could be any day now... tense and nervous waiting for the call isn't it?

Today, as I was passing by the sales reps part of the office on my way to get a drink from the vending machine, one of the younger guys I don't know that well was in the office. I know that his wife is expecting so in order to mingle a bit with the people I stopped by to do some small chat. It went something like this:

Mr. Salaryman: Hey, how's it going with the pregnancy, are you a daddy yet?

Young Rep: (smiling nervously and fiddling) No, but the due date is today...

Mr. Salaryman: (patronizing smile) Oh, so you could get the call any minute now

Young Rep: (nervously looking at his watch) Yeah... it could be soon...

Mr. Salaryman: (even more patronizing) Haha, yeah, you must be nervous and excited, I know exactly how it feels

Young Rep: (looks like he's expecting some advice) You do?

Mr. Salaryman: (starting to walk away) Yeah, I'm supposed to get the iPad2 I ordered really really soon, could even be today but could be a little later so I'm feeling exactly like you

Young Rep: (manages to look both annoyed and nervous the same time, mumbling) I'm going to be a father you know...

Mr. Salaryman: (walking away, humming a merry tune to myself)

But I never got the call today, so I guess the delivery date for my iPad2 won't be until tomorrow... The rep I have no clue about since I have to focus on the pad!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Put your lips around my nude crunky balls!

Ok, generally this is not the place to go for funky misuse of English here in Japan, not that I at times can find it quite entertaining but most of it just slips by as background noise these days as I've grown used to abuse of the English language here in Japan.

However, today I found this box of chocolate promising "Crunky nude balls" inside. But I didn't buy it for myself, usually when I find some bizarre type of snack that seems disgusting or have some really really odd flavour combination that I myself would never eat, but I still want to see and hear someone's reaction when eating it, I give it to Strap-on Girl and watch as she eats it and gives her comment. As the Japanese girl she is, more than often it's "Hey, this is pretty good, you really should try it!". Obviously she knows that it's a running joke from my side, but she's a sport and plays along as she's not as sensitive as me.

However, today I left this box of nude balls on her desk with a note saying "Here you go, try putting Salaryman's crunky nude balls in your mouth, I'm sure you'll like it". Thinking about it, that's actually borderline sexual harrassment if it wasn't for A) Her mind is so clean that she probably don't get the real filthiness B) She knows that I have a peculiar sense of humour (compared to the rest of the office) and humours me in my little jokes.

I have yet to put any nude balls in my mouth, but hey, when she opens it I might try some, the actual content does seem reasonably tasty! Somehow I have a feeling that it would be hard to market this product outside of Japan though...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Let's join a cult!

During golden week I had a small BBQ party over at the Salaryman house with a bunch of old Japanese friends I don't see that often anymore since most of has have started families and everyone getting together is difficult to puzzle in. It was a "family fun" type of event with plenty of small kids running around the place and making a general mess and nuisance.

But one of my friends, a lady who was a former colleague a few years back and with whom I have maintained a friendship turned out to have found a new interest in "spirituality". She knows that I'm quite uninterested in that type of stuff and kept it quite limited to me directly apart from showing me the great amulet she had bought that would adsorb and protect her from radiation but I think that my reply of "Wow... that's really amazing... but I'm fine thanks, now I'm just gonna go get me another beer, I've heard that that protects me against radiation too" signaled that I wasn't too interested in hearing about it.

But every time she was left alone with another of my friends around the BBQ grill she launched into explanations on how you could learn to see people's aura and stuff like that, to much confusion of my friends with limited interest in things spiritual. She also mentioned that she had started to take "spiritual development" classes to the modest sum of over 1 million JPY (~$10,000). I can tell for sure that someone is experiencing a lot of development for that sum of money, but more likely the scammers holding the course than the person taking the lessons... But hey, to each their own, she's still a nice person and a good friend and it seemed to be quite benevolent in nature at least.

On a related note, the other day I talked to a colleague of mine, "The Doctor" who has a quite long academic career behind him before he went into business. As he showed me an article that he had co-written related to a therapy we were looking into. He seemed to get a little nostalgic and drifted off a bit as he explained "And I wrote this with this guy... really nice guy and very dedicated to the research... but then he got caught up in some form of cult and just up and left... Hmmm... this was about the same time as the whole Aum deal... I wonder what he's doing now... (changing to a sad frown)".

At this point, I have no real inclination to join any form of cult, but if I did change my mind the Romasophie movement would be my cult of choice!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Economic Alcoholic

(It seems like Blogger had some problems earlier and that all the comments on my previous Apple-loving post got deleted, sorry about that, it wasn't me!)

Readjusting back to work after the Golden Weeks hasn't been easy and combining that with a particularly energetic Baby Sunshine who likes to go up and play (and loudly exclaiming this from her little crib) at the early morning, I feel lacking a bit of energy to do any of those hilarious and profound posts that I have in my head until I've caught up a bit more with sleep and being back to work.

But at a recent stop to the local liquor store I couldn't resist snapping a shot of one of the Japanese available hard liquor types. For this tetra pack of almost 2 litres (1800ml to be picky) with an alcohol content of 35 percent you pay less than $10 USD... Coming from Sweden where alcoholic beverages are taxed according to alcoholic content (the higher alcohol % the higher the cost) and you have to pay $20 USD for a 700ml of a really crappy vodka of 40% alcohol, this feels mind boggling.

I'm sure that this Japanese liquor tastes like poison, but hey, if you're an alcoholic strapped for cash, you should move to Japan! Anyone actually tasted this stuff?!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I Love Apple!

I have never been a particularly huge Apple fan in my life. I had an iPod I liked and used and I recently ordered an iPad I'm still waiting for, but I went for the iPad before any Android tablets more for simplicity and because I know the stuff than hardcore brand loyalty.

The other day, I decided to send in my much used (~4 years or so) iPod for service to have the battery changed as battery time was getting pretty bad in the last months, requiring me to recharge the thing every day. The iPod in question was bought before any "iPod touch" models came into the market and by today's labels I guess it should be called an "iPod classic 80gb". Since I just ordered an iPad, I feel happy with an iPod geared towards music and not apps and was hoping that a battery change might bring a few more years of use for my old iPod, even though the 80Gb limit started to hurt a little.

Just two days later after sending it in, I received a package back in the mail and found a completely new iPod in there. Then I checked the attached letter saying "there were other problems apart from the battery that we could not fix, instead we send you a new replacement product". The iPod was of a significantly newer version and also has 120Gb memory and is considerably thinner than the one I sent in.

Thank you very much Apple! That's how you treat a customer and I'll be sure to send this one in very soon and be really pissed off if I don't get the same type of service!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's all about Power!

Now we're approaching two full months from the devastating quake and tsunami and with the aftershocks easing up considerably the last few weeks, people here in Tokyo have gotten back to their old routine. The weather has also, up to today, been quite comfortable with little need for air conditioner or heaters. So even though the actual electric supply problem with limited volumes remain, I think that a lot of people have just forgotten about it and gotten back to their old routine.

However, today was an abnormally hot day, quite humid and up to 27 degrees Celsius during the day making people turn up the air conditioner for the first time in many months... One of my latest obsessions has been to follow the usage of power online through the yahoo page (here) with data from TEPCO showing the percentage of available power used almost live (there's one hour lag or so on the data) and today I slowly saw how the percentage started to rise up during the day, creeping up to almost 90% during the afternoon... Earlier in the day, the forecast for the week also showed a projected level of over 100% later in the week...

...I think we're going to see more power outages as the real summer heat comes in over Tokyo but I still can't shake the doubt that if they only closed down all the pachinko parlors, turned off the vending machines and hi-tech toilet seats that 50% of the power could be freed up for use in other critical places such as hospitals, elderly homes and our bedroom during night...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A War of Cultures - Bakabon vs. Hitler

I have a beard (if you look in the upper left corner and in the logo, you get the image) and has had it basically since I was 18 or 20 something. I just really don't feel comfortable without it since it's part of my face by now, I do keep it pretty trimmed though since I'm a Salaryman and can't go around looking too shabby. However, once in a while, usually around the time I have a week of vacation, giving it just enough time to grow out again by the time I go back to work, I do shave it off for the benefit of Mrs. Sunshine.

As I was shaving it at the beginning of golden week, just for fun I left me a mightly handsome toothbrush moustache in place and sought out Mrs. Sunshine for her opinion on this change of image. Obviously the image I thought I would evoke was that of a certain failed Austrian painter but as she saw me and had finished laughing she said "shave it off, now, you look like Bakabon's dad!" (educational segment; Tensai Bakabon is a pretty famous Japanese comic manga and anime).

So what she saw was something like this...
...while I thought I would evoke an image like this...That's a difference in frame of references for you! Technically though, I think that Bakabon's dad actually doesn't have a fine toothbrush moustasche, I think it's actually his nosehair that is extending out his nose but can't say I'm too sure about that. But in hindsight, I guess it's better that she saw a beloved comic character and not one of the most horrible people this century.

I won't be doing that again, I guess the toothbrush moustache has been ruined in the West by Hitler and by Bakabon's dad here in Japan.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"Now that the cats and dogs stay away, it's so much better!"

Ok, a real life photo here taken close to grandmother Sunshine's place back in Osaka! A long time ago I asked about the old myth of pet bottles and the effect in scaring off cats and dogs from peeing down the place (post here). However, this lady (somehow I can't picture that a man would do this) took it one step further!

This set-up is a lot more advanced than the questionable and simple use of pet bottles! It's bound to scare off cats, dogs and random people passing by. I just wonder if this lady really thought it through properly since this advanced "scare away cats and dogs" contraption seems to A) be a lot more annoying than the occasional peeing of animals and B) actually work even less than pet bottles since it provides the dogs something convenient to pee on and allow cats to crawl under.

...there's something refreshing about crazy people in the countryside!

Friday, May 6, 2011


Last year, I did a short post on the confusion that "Japanese-English" words can sometimes cause (something that big bro taught me is referred to as a "false friend" in language). However, I'm also quite fond of the Japanese-English abbreviations that are in common use here in Japan such as "CM" for TV "Commercial Message", "NG" for "No good" (and used as the opposite of OK), "AV" for "Audio and Video", "AV" for "Adult Video" and many others.

English purists might frown upon how the Japanese make these up and integrates them into the daily vocabulary but I find them quite handy and feel a bit handicapped when talking to a "real" foreigner and I have to make do without them.

Recently a new abbreviation has come into fashion: "DV" for "Domestic Violence" and I know try to use it as much as I possibly can since it's so much more fun than to say "kateinai bouryoku" (家族内暴力) or even "domestikku baiorensu". As Baby Sunshine has now gained a little more control of her appendages we are now often finding ourselves victims to Baby-on-Parent DV (BoPDV?) and using DV has saved us many seconds!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Home Security, for a price...

After the recent burglary that our little neighborhood experienced a few months ago (see here) and a rush among many of our neighbors to start using the services of one of the many home security companies here in Japan, we started to feel the pressure to do the same ourselves.

Not that I personally felt overly worried, but Mrs. Sunshine thought the whole thing was a bit scary and being one of the few houses without any form of security services would increase the risk our house ending up as a burglary target.

The two main players here in Japan are the market leader SECOM followed by Alsok (hey, I think at least, this is not backed by any statistics!) with some minor players like CSP. As the shrewd businessman that I am, I am very careful in picking which company to use and the main tool I use to determine this is through watching the commercials that they show on TV.

First, let's take a look at the runner-up, Alsok and their commercial featuring the olympic medal winner female wrestler whose name escapes me at the moment. This is probably the first time that she actually has worn make-up!

Then, we can see the commercial from SECOM. This one is a bit older though, the more recent ones feature the boy band SMAP:er Kimura Takuya (whom neighborhood blogger Corrinne's sister in law has very strong feelings about), but the newer ones are a bit harder to understand if you don't know Japanese so I think this one is representable enough.

As you can probably understand, the decision was easy and we went with SECOM. After a visit from their lady "Advisor" (read: sales rep, whom shockingly enough was one of the first people ever that Baby Sunshine didn't scream out in terror when first meeting her, not sure if that's good or bad though...). We basically went with their full plan, which without having electrified floor or hidden laser turrets, still felt pretty hi-tech and was asked as to whether we wanted to purchase the system or rent it. Purchasing the system would have amounted to a hefty 350,000 JPY (~$3,500 something) and I briefly managed to through the lady rep off guard when I told her that if we would purchase it, it would be among the most expensive things that we have in our house and that I would be afraid that the thieves would steal it.

We sealed the deal and one week later they would come over and install all the hi-tech equipment and we were told that they were extremely busy, so there would likely only be one person doing the job. Come the next weekend and four people from SECOM show up at our base of operations, later on joined by a security guard who came in without knocking (ok, the front door was open and a lot of stuff was moved in and out) casually hung out in our living room for a little while, telling one of his colleagues that was there that he came over because "I had nothing better to do and thought I could hang out here". I think someone had words with him because five minutes later he was gone as silently as he had joined the party.

But all in all, we're happy with the security now and even installed a lock on the inside of our bedroom door that probably would withstand a medium size dwarf going at it for a few minutes before breaking down (Mrs. Sunshine wanted it for security while I thought more of the convenience of stopping Baby Sunshine from wandering in at ... ... ... inconvenient times when she's a bit older). Perhaps a break-in to our house could be featured in the next Mission: Impossible movie?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The two shocking news of the day!

Today was a day with two very surprising and good news!

1. I found Swedish made pickled red beets in a store

2. Osama Bin Laden has been killed

...in that specific order.

I'm Swedish and not overly patriotic about it (as we Swedes tend to) but there's some stuff from the old country that I really need to keep my daily life going. Basically it's the Swedish "Knacke" hard bread and the pickled red beets. I can live happily without most of the stuff that Swedish expats long for: rotten herring, salty liquorice candy, blood sausage and stuff, but the two mentioned I really need to function normally.

The bread is eaten on a basically daily basis while the red beets are more used for cooking a few special dishes and as a side dish to others so it's more of a bi-weekly/monthly need as opposed to a daily need. Particularly the beets are basically required for the simple but delicious "left-overs" dish of pyttipanna made with left-over boiled potatoes, sausage and onion, pan fried together and eaten with a fried egg and the beets (and plenty of knacke of course!). As Mrs. Sunshine only has a rudimentary knowledge of Swedish, mostly related to baby vocabulary such as "poo", "fart", "puke" and "sleep" she refers to the dish as "German Potatoes" as a similar dish here in Japan is called. This usually triggers the evil eye of dissaprovement from my side and quickly has her change it to "Salaryman's Swedish German Potatoes", which is at least a minor improvement.

In my last shipment of food from Sweden I completely forgot to order the beets and putting in another order just for the beets felt a bit too much as it's a bit of a chore and the shipping fees are quite big. So I've done my best to make do without them, but earlier today as we were in our local "Kaldi Coffee" import foods shop, to my great surprise I found three cans on a shelf at a very reasonable price (I quickly snatched up all three of them!). Pretty amazing since I can't really imagine any Japanese people buying it and using it for any cooking.

This also reminds me of the time I had brought Mrs. Sunshine with me to Sweden and as we were doing some food shopping in a supermarket and effecient as I am, I thought that we should split up and get the stuff the needed of the shopping list. I asked her to get a few things and then quickly headed of to get some of the other stuff. As I came back, I saw Mrs. Sunshine standing at the same spot with nothing in the shopping cart and looking quite annoyed. As I asked her "what's wrong, couldn't you find the stuff?" I got a quite annoyed "how the hell am I supposed to know what's what in here? Nothing is written in any language that's understandable for normal people!" followed by some pointing at foodstuff in our immediate vicinity "rågbröd?! Köttbullar?!! Fullkornsmjöl??!! I don't know if this is even food!" (for you Swedes, you have to imagine these Swedish words pronounced in a mix of Japanese and English).

After that little frustrated outburst, we continued the rest of the shopping together, but she mumbled ""Mjölk"?! How am I supposed to know that that means "milk"?!" a few times...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Two Men working closely together! (Golden Week interlude)

Ok, you can see this as a short interlude before I charge up for the next real post. It's now again the "Golden Week" here in Japan but after having this blog for 4 years now, I'm running out of entertaining puns on that week, so instead I'll go for something completely different.

This commercial in many forms (but always with the basic concept of two guys, one in blue and one in red doing physical activities together and helping each other out with the magnificent catchcopy "FIGHT!" or "Faito!" as it becomes in Japanese. The commercial is for energy drink "Lipovitan D", one of the strongest and most long lived brands of energy drinks here in Japan.

Everytime I see this commercial I get into a minor argument with Mrs. Sunshine (a jokingly argument mind you) as I claim that the concept and commercials are explicitly gay and that the pair in the commercials must be meant to be gay (not the actors, they very well could be for all I know though) while she doesn't really see things as I see them.

I think it's obvious, you agree with me, right? I bet that energy drink gives them the energy to go at it all night long after a hard climb!
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