Friday, March 30, 2012

Introducing: Baby Salaryman

Love me and I will be benevolent
Well, if you're wondering why posting has been sporadic at best, I can finally reveal one of the big reasons for my mind being elsewhere... Presenting Baby Salaryman, born to bring balance to the force that is the Salaryman family!

I intend to mold his personality into that of the God from the old testament, all powerful but petty and quick to anger. The only will he will bend to is that of my own, he will be the Salaryman to end all Salarymen and will bring about the renewal of Japan. I will not pressure him though. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

No!!! Not the Asswipes!

Surprisingly informative
The other day I took care of toddler Sunshine for most of the day as Mrs. Sunshine was away doing some fun stuff leaving me alone with an out of control 2 year old (however, as the tables are turned most of the time I found it hard to argue too much...). Me and toddler Sunshine usually have plenty of fun together though as we can do all the stuff that Mrs. Sunshine doesn't want us to do. The episode where I made her taste some coca cola and she spit it out with an expression of confusion and disgust comes to mind.

Apart from some pants being put on the wrong way, she was in a pretty good state when Mrs. Sunshine returned with the mother-in-law who had driven her home and wanted to say hi to the grandchild. I could give good answers to all the standard questions like "Did she eat her dinner?", "Did she poo any?" and such. However, on this particular day we were out of the wet hand tissues that we use to wipe her hands with after dinner and when Mrs. Sunshine asked about it the conversation went something like this:

Mrs. Sunshine: (happy that everything had gone seemingly event free) Oh, did you find the wet tissues to wipe her hands with, I noticed that the package on the table had run out?
Salaryman: (also in a good mood) No, but I just one of the asswipes instead!
Mrs. Sunshine: (shocked) You used the asswipes?
Salaryman: (still in a good mood and somewhat expected this reaction) Well yeah, it's the same thing with water based moist tissue paper after all.
Mrs. Sunshine: (still in shock) Yeah, I know, but they're meant to wipe her butt not her mouth!
Salaryman: (still upbeat) Don't worry, I don't think the ones I used for her hands had been used before, might be good to use them on the other end once in a while to mix things up!
Mrs. Sunshine: (relenting) Fine, as long as she was a good girl...

Grandmother Sunshine had listened in on the conversation in the background and also went through the five stages of grief pretty quickly, but was still shaking her head and went to check on toddler Sunshine to make sure that the asswipes had not given her any lasting scars. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The importance of framing it correctly

Yes, I find her highly annoying
The other day, I had taken little toddler Sunshine with me to the local playground for her to romp about and run free, and perhaps more importantly, give Mrs. Sunshine a little breather from the destructive capabilities of a toddler closing in on two years.

This time, there were no other kids in the park, so I let her run free while I amused myself with bouncing the big blue ball with funny characters on it. But after a little while, two girls about 5 year old or so also came to the park to play. They immediately became targets for toddler Sunshine as she approached them and tried to communicate with them in her no-language gibberish. The kids apparently found toddler Sunshine amusing as they indulged her and played with her, lending her their crayon set (yes, it ended in tears from toddler Sunshine when she realized she had to give it back). As I'm more of a mother hen than a chicken-hawk, I hovered a bit in the distance and just restrained toddler Sunshine when she got out of line.

After about ten minutes or so though the girls started whispering with each other while throwing me worried glances and after gathering up some courage they straight up asked me "Toddler Sunshine's dad, you're not Japanese, are you?!", seemingly a bit worried about this turn of events. "No, I'm not Japanese, I'm from a country called Sweden, but my mom is Japanese so I'm half-Japanese" I replied back, trying to keep International relations on a friendly level. This was met with disbelief "How can you be only half-Japanese?!". Realizing that things were starting to get confusing for their little brains, I did my best to put it in an appropriate frame of reference to them. "Do you know the tv-star Becky?" ("Becky" is a half-British-Japanese celebrity in Japan that seem to be quite the hit among younger kids) I threw out and got back a cautious "yes...?". "Well, she's also half-Japanese just like me!" and with those magic words the atmosphere changed from hesitation to a more enthusiastic question of "Wow, are you also on tv?!" to which I decided to not give an over complicate answer and instead went with "No, it seems to be a lot of work, doesn't it? I come here to the park to play with toddler Sunshine instead, it's more fun".

As I took toddler Sunshine under the arm to bring her home for the feeding the girls enthusiastically waved me good-bye and asked me to bring toddler Sunshine to play some other time. As much as I loathe Becky, she did serve a purpose on this occasion in helping me frame the situation but she probably only serves as a suitable framing device for ages six and under...  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My deep dark secret...

Sounds like he did very likely
Many of us carry around big dark secrets that never gets revealed. I too have a dark secret that very few people know about... Mrs Sunshine is one of the few people who knows but most of my family and close friends have no idea... As I'm doing this blog anonymously I thought I should just get it off my chest and reveal it here to my readers.

I cannot burp... It doesn't matter what I eat or drink, I still won't burp, ever. I can't remember ever having burped properly. What happens instead is that I feel a pressure building up in my stomach and travelling up towards my mouth. What I do when this happens is to lean my head backward and open my mouth. Instead of a burp, what comes out is a long sound that sounds like I would imagine a herbivore dinosaur's mating call would sound like, and it usually lasts for several seconds. After letting it out I feel a bit better.

Mrs Sunshine found out the hard way at one point some time into our relationship as I tried to do this discreetly but she heard the sound. "Are you ok and what's that sound?" she asked with concern in her voice making me reveal my secret to her. Now she has gotten used to it coming from me from time to time, sometimes she giggles, but I think that's just her defence mechanism.

Sometimes I worry that I might have passed on this blessing and curse to Toddler Sunshine. It's a heavy burden to carry...

Monday, March 5, 2012

The security guard frightens me...

I don't feel safer...
We have our own security guard that watches over us in the office, truth to be told I'm not sure whether he is actually an employee of the company or if he's there outsourced by some security company on a more or less permanent basis (probably the latter).

As most security guards in Japan, he's an elderly man, a little less fragile looking than most, but still in no way intimidating anyway you look at it. The only problem is that he creeps me out immensely... And for some unknown reason he has taken an interest and apparent liking to me, learning my name and  never failing to come and look at me with a leery creepy looking smile. Sometimes he sneaks up on me and I don't notice him until he's basically upon me and can't run away quickly enough and have to listen to some story before I can escape.

I have no idea why he creeps me out so much, but I always end up feeling dirty after running into him and hearing the "Hello Mr. Salaryman, how are things?" seeing that leery grin on his face... I feel slightly dirty and sexually harassed without any substantial reason for it, I guess I just have to put up with it even though I have contemplated calling security, but that would just give him a reason to come around more often...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The thing I hate the most about Japan... The one Yen coins...

Squeeze a bunch of one yen coins and you still end up with nada
There are quite a few things I dislike about Japan and even a few things that I would say I hate about living here. But the thing I hate the most, without any competition, about Japan is the one yen coins... The fact using the Japanese yen means a lot more zeroes than shopping in the Euro countries or the US dollar is ok, it's a bit inconvenient, particularly in business when the figures can get quite high and it gets confusing to try and keep in mind the word for "hundreds of millions", "trillions" and what not, but it's ok. Not everywhere can be the same.

But I hate the one yen coin with a vengeance... One yen is basically worthless. If you collect 120 pieces of them you can theoretically buy a coke in a vending machine, assuming you first change them into actual usable money such as ten yen coins (but the bank would laugh at you and probably charge you a counting and administrative fee at a cost of 1.5 yen per yen). But one yen in itself is worth about $0.01 USD... I would be perfectly fine with all prices rounded to the nearest five, I would even be fine with it being rounded up, as long as we could get rid of those useless one yen coins.

One yen coins are never usable in vending machines and for me, having these coin is for one purpose and one purpose only; to keep me from getting more one yen coins in change... That's the only tangible value that a one yen coin holds for me. If I go shopping something and it ends up to, say, 1,853 JPY, If I have three yen coins in spare change I can save myself from getting any one yen coins in change. I can go through significant time scavenging my wallet for any lost coins and get seriously annoyed when I have to take them in change. Sometimes they have those collection boxes for Tohoku, UNICEF or some other charity, but giving 4 yen in coins feels beyond cheap.

I've always wondered what the manufacturing cost (including labour and raw materialof making one one yen coin is, but I have the feeling that it's around ... ... ... one yen or so... If there's any petition to get rid of those annoying little coins, let me know and I'll gladly sign up for it!     

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bizarro Tokyo: Osaka

Like this, but with escalators

From the outside, Japan might seem the same wherever in the country you go, but there are cultural differences across the different regions in Japan.

One of the more well known is the straightforward and direct to the point Kansai culture (compared to the more vague and avoidance of getting to any point at all costs Tokyo-culture). Back in the good 'ol days the emperor and/or shogunate nested in Tokyo with the court, entertaining themselves with Nou theatre and other boring stuff, poor as dirt, but enjoying being the highest social class. Meanwhile, back in Kansai, the merchants reigned, lowest on the social ladder but loaded with cash and access to Kabuki theatre, booze and women of ill repute.
I guess I don't have to mention that I prefer the Kansai style...

When getting off the shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka, the first sign that things are not completely right is the escalators... For some reason, Osaka and Kyoto people have taken to standing on the right side of the escalator with walkers passing by on the left while the opposite goes for Tokyo and the rest of civilised Japan. On the shinkansen Shin-Osaka station chaos reigns supreme on the escalators though as the Tokyoites are coming in to try and bargain with the sly business savvy Osaka merchants. The people coming from Tokyo and the people returning home can easily be identified by which side on the escalator they stand on.

Sometimes I take some minor pleasure in standing the right side in Osaka knowing that I adapt to the odd local customs and melt in more than most Tokyoites.

At one point I tried to find out why Osaka people chose to stand on the right side of escalators and the answer I got was that they hold their valuables in their right hand and are afraid that people might steal it or bump into it and accidentally ruin it. But as this was told to me by a Tokyoite I have some doubt about the truth fullness of this. Still, now you know on which side of the escalator you should stand on, great, huh? 
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