Monday, February 25, 2008

Eh...? I'm not sure that this is a good idea, really...

Today after an entertaining day at the office cold calling companies, I did as I often do on my way home from the company and passed by the local supermarket to buy some groceries and stuff that I need for my lair. That's neither particularly funny and/or unusual. Sometimes they have a small "event booth" set-up in the supermarket handing out food samples of something that the manufacturers has tricked the poor supermarket into pushing.

Now, those of my readers who follow the news in Japan know of the recent scandal with Chinese manufactured deep-frozen "gyouza" that contained pesticide (which I earlier promised not to talk about, but hey, this is different!) and which put quite a scare in the consumers here in Japan. Today the sample event booth was serving gyoza and in the time I spent in the supermarket I saw the poor guy trying to offer samples to at least 10 people of which everyone declined... I don't know, but maybe the timing wasn't the best?
Me? Yeah, I declined too, pesticide isn't really my thing...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ok, this really isn't funny, but still...

This might be crossing the line of bad taste a little bit, but during a recent discussion between me, Luke and The Boy regarding the differences between Dwarves, midgets and how pygmies fit into the picture. As you obviously understand, this triggered some research to clarify things so we could move on with our lives.

On the topic of pygmies, this interesting fact was revealed from Wikipedia:
"During the Congo Civil War, Pygmies were hunted down like game animals and eaten. Both sides of the war regarded them as "subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical powers. UN human rights activists reported in 2003 that rebels had carried out acts of cannibalism. Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, has asked the UN Security Council to recognise cannibalism as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide"

I would like to take this opportunity to strongly oppose hunting pygmies for their flesh, even if it happens to confer magical powers!

I guess the world of consulting is not that strange after all when put in comparison with other things happening in the world...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's all about selling the product!

Recently I've been brutally dragged from my comfortable existence on the beach to assist the company in activities that are called "business development" here in the consulting world, in the normal corporate world it would be called "sales activities", but since consulting is a bit like the world behind the mirror compared to the ordinary corporate enviroment, things are sometimes labeled differently for reasons I have yet failed to understand. In my previous company, sales activities were performed by the sales department and was seen as the most "blue collar" job inside the corporate structure (no shadow over salesmen though, I always enjoyed working with them) but in the exciting high powered world of consulting, the selling is performed by the top level people and most of the younger people rarely has to bother with this.

Now, I've been recruited for some "business development" activites since I'm in between projects at the moment. The exciting job that lies ahead of me is a combination of cold calling and telemarketing in trying to get some companies to meet with us so we can do our pitch. I received some interesting directions on how to position my pitch which can be summarized as in below:

Pitch: "We are the leading company in consulting for industry X"
Truth: I have no experience in this particular industry and the collective experience in the office is minor to say the least

Pitch: "We have a number of exciting opportunities that we would like to discuss with you"
Truth: To the best of my knowledge, we have NO opportunies to offer although we could always discuss just for the fun of it

With the instructions I have received for the pitch, I'm pretty certain I can get a number of companies to agree to meet with us, the problem will be when they realize that we don't have anything to offer at the moment... A second meeting will be hard to arrange...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stuffed deer or human-sized Ultraman?

Again, coming back to an earlier subject regarding Ikebukuro Babylon, I thought I could also help you visualize my dilemma here. I obviously want to have the stuffed deer, it would look great in my living room, but the human-sized Ultraman doll is also very attractive, but it would feel a bit too much to get both... Then there's also that stuffed bear I got my eye on... Oh, all the choices one must make...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ok, that's fine, but where do I heat my chocolate covered razor blades?

This amusing photograph I took a bit earlier in a food booth in central Tokyo, it was used to keep some chocolate cookies warm. Ok, so I know what to buy to keep my chocolate cookies, french fries and nikku-man warm, but where do I keep my chocolate covered razor blades or chinese manufactured deep-frozen gyoza (ok, I'm not gonna talk about that, check out some other peoples blogs, I'm sure they're talking plenty about that)?

(I assume that this is due to the machine in question being made in the US with the insane amount of stupid law-suits going on there and such, but since I don't have a label called "American Oddities" I'll just put this under "General Stuff"...)

Getting it from all directions

Yes, it's that season again which I talked about way back earlier and some of you people who has been following this blog might remember it, it's the time for the "360 Degrees Feedback". The good 'ol time to settle old grievances and live out your revenge fantasies through pen and paper through writing anonymous comments and rating of your colleagues.

Thankfully, I got pretty good ratings and nice comments from most of the people I've worked with leading up to a pretty nice bonus coming up in the near future which never hurts. However, I did get some interesting comments that I would like to share with you:
"Using more buzz phrases" - I'm not really sure on what this means, since I am pretty allergic to buzz words I assume this person meant that I should use more buzz words, for which purpose I'm not really certain...
"Tends to be a kind of stereotype" - I like this one too, not sure I know exactly what type of stereotype I tend to be...
Hopefully people have now gotten all their petty grievances and revenge fantasies out of their systems and we can soldier on in the high powered world of consulting!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Am I supposed to... ... ... eat... that?

Ok, complaining about airplane food is like kicking someone when they're already down, but the "food" that we got served on our plane back home from Ho Chi Minh city really deserves a special mention. I'm not a professional jet-setter, but I've flown quite a lot and at one point or other flown with most larger international airlines and the food usually ranges from "edible" to "pretty disgusting" but the so called breakfast that we received now takes the prize.

I have heard horror stories about smaller national airlines in developing countries and food served on those planes earlier, but that's a slightly different league, this is an International airline that charges market prices and this is what they served... Is this something that you would even serve your worst enemy?!

The adventures of a foreign salaryman in Tokyo in Ho Chi Minh City

As some people might have figured out from my previous post, yours truly has been on a brief but great little vacation in Vietnam the last couple of days. In accordance with the plan, me and Ms. Sunshine packed our bags and took the plane to Ho Chi Minh City where we managed to get warmth, sunshine and I also managed to squeeze in a couple of beers at lunch as well. As an interesting side-note, Ms. Sunshine managed to be mistaken for Singaporean (3 times), Korean (1 time) as well as Vietnamese (at least 1 time) and of course, also a couple of correct guesses as well.

Not only did we ignorantly manage to squeeze this trip in just at Chinese New Year (the glorious "year of the mouse" now in 2008, thank God-Jesus that I'm a dragon and not a whimpy animal) which in the socialist country of Vietnam seem to conveniently have been combined with the celebration of the 40 year anniversary of ousting the americans from the country and establishing the country in the current form. It actually felt a bit nostalgic to see so many yellow stars and yellow hammer and sickle against a red backdrop. They just don't make countries like that anymore. Chinese new year in Vietnam seem to be mainly celebrated through communist posters and flags (more often than not featuring women with machine guns) as well as corny mouse statues of which an estimated 34.4% are unauthorized Mickey Mouse rip-offs.

But it was a very interesting country to visit with great food and a different atmosphere compared to neighboring countries Thailand and China, at least the little we managed to see this time. Now I'm back in Tokyo in the cold to take it easy and recover a bit more before getting back into the high powered world of consulting.

Friday, February 8, 2008

It's cold, dark and miserable and I'm gonna get out of here!

As you might have seen from my previous posts, Japan is currently pretty cold and miserable and I need a break to recharge my batteries a little bit. Which is exactly what I will be doing from tomorrow! I'm flying out of Japan for a little while to enjoy a little warmth, beer at lunch time and some quality time with Ms. Sunshine. The picture shows the outline of the hotel we will be staying at!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

You too?

Going back to an earlier subject, this morning too Tokyo experienced snowing and quite a lot of it. I woke up next to the always wonderful Ms. Sunshine and I prepared to go out to get us some breakfast and the following exchange took place:

Ms. Sunshine: Wow, it's really snowing a lot, good that I brought my umbrella!
Mr. Salaryman: (Hesitating for one moment, but letting it slide) yeah, I'll go and get us breakfast now.
Ms. Sunshine: Great, do you have an umbrella?
Mr. Salaryman: (Unable to keep silent) No, you see, I don't think you really need an umbrella when it's snowing...
Ms. Sunshine: Really, but what do you do when you get it on your jacket?
Mr. Salaryman: Well, I brush it off?
Ms. Sunshine: But what if you get it in your hair?
Mr. Salaryman: Well, I brush it off too...
Ms. Sunshine: Oh, well if you're ok with that...

I can't really hold it against her, after all she's a Tokyo girl but personally I will refuse to use an umbrella when it's snowing!

Ikebukuro Babylon

On my way to and from the station in the morning there's one building I pass by that I always found really fascinating, it's placed just in the borderline from where the nightlife area stops and the resedential area begins. It's the building in the picture and it's been closed the whole time I've lived in the area and from the looks of it it hasn't been used for many many years.

From the looks of it, it used to host a number of snack bars (or so-called hostess bars) but probably due to being placed too far away from the main drinking area the building and its clubs never really did good business and the place closed down. I like the whole tackiness and aura of decadence of the building and the architects surely deserve a prize of some kind for this effort.

However, just recently they opened up the bottom floor for a garage sale, selling out some of the furniture and other stuff that probably has been used to decorate the clubs it once hosted and the stuff in there is pretty fascinating. Among the more interesting stuff was one fully sized stuffed deer, one bear and several smaller alligators. The utter tackiness and bad taste of it all really appeals to me, surely this must've been the Babylon of Ikebukuro in it's heyday.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Question: Are We Not Chuman? Answer: We Are Manpanzees!

Recently yours truly has been on the beach after the horrible project that ran through the holidays, but sitting in the office without much work to do doesn’t really mean that there are not plenty of things to think about. At the moment the main thing occupying my mind is which word is most suitable; “Manpanzee”, “Chuman” or “Humanzee”. This still requires some thought from my side, but I am now leaning towards “Manpanzee” since that seems most appropriate. I do strongly suspect that several people in my general area have a Manpanzee heritage but are ashamed of it and keep it secret due to the risk of the social stigma associated with a monkey parent.

With my mind pretty occupied with things like the above and Japan still cold as Viking hell I do feel that I’m currently running on an empty tank, however counter-measures has been put in place and an intensive session of warmth, sunshine and Ms. Sunshine will probably set me straight again in just a little bit.

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