Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oyster Omelette Orneriness

Bad choices are a fact of life.

Even when logic and common sense all pointed towards staying away from 5-day old takeaway oyster omelette with chicken rice, something in my fat-head brain caved and ... hello sick day.

At the time, justifications for eating 5-day old oyster omelette included:
  • religion - belief (or rather delusion) that iron stomach can and will withstand all variants of e coli;
  • relationships - ultimate trust in man-made machines over nature e.g. freezing power of refrigerators, zapping power of microwaves;
  • love - love for chicken rice;
  • laziness - could not be bothered going downstairs to buy bacteria-free lunch.

Wonder how long it will be before I can eat oysters again. Finding bits of oyster stuck in teeth 7 hours after eating the darn things does not help with the rehabilitation process.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscars 2009 - Best Presenters

I'm probably more than slightly biased when it comes to anything 30 Rock/Tina Fey, but the comedic talents of the two SNL alumni comes through quite clearly in their presentation of 'best screenplay' at this year's Oscars.

Pain,Pain Go Away ...

... come again NEVER.

There is still the outstanding question as as to whether I am in fact soft or super hardcore.

Before I give you the answer to what is seemingly an obvious question with an obvious answer, let me just say that:

a) I'm still in a lot of pain
b) I woke up on the weekend with my arm stuck in the air (dunno what I was celebrating). It felt very freakish and took a bit of effort (and a lot of pain) to pry the deviant locked arm back to the mother ship.
c) I'm still in a lot of pain.
d) pain, pain, pain, pain, pain - my middle name should be Payne.

The x-rays suggest that there is no fracture, but rather bone and tendon bruising. After hearing scary and social sports-limiting stories about misdiagnoses and low-quality x-rays, I am now contemplating seeing a shoulder specialist. With April long weekend holidays coming up (minus the Anzac holiday which has mysteriously disappeared into the ether) I want the shoulder to be in a state healthy enough to swing a golf club.

Although this might be good excuse not to play golf ... but how can you go pass Barnbougle after the last experience. Not to mention the scallop & curry pies.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hypotheticals ...

Hypotheticals ...

the subject matter of table conversations of late, prompted by Gregan's random request to come up with a few good hypothetical questions. My pitiful attempts included:
  • "Marry, boff, kill" hypothetical - i.e. pick 3 names and then assign a name to each.
  • If you had to choose a friend to eat, who would it be and which part would you Cannibal Lector first.
  • Which one would you pick to watch out of: ping pong show in Thailand or sex show in Amsterdam.
Hard hitting as you can see.

I'm not certain that the answers that we give to a hypothetical situation, devoid of context, circumstance etc. necessarily reflects what we would actually do.

For example, in the documentary Steal a Pencil For Me (my Thursday night nigel viewing) - a documentary about a forbidden love affair in a Nazi concentration camp - the protagonist Jack Polak was begged by his sister and his good friend on several occasions to spare the bread that Jack had been safe-keeping. Jack's sister was dying. Jack's good friend's son was also dying. The bread was their ticket to survival. The small piece of bread may/may not have saved one or any of them.

Jack said no to his sister. His sister ends up dying.
Jack said no to his friend. His friend and his friend's son are Holocaust survivors.

In the documentary, Jack recounts this story with deep anguish, guilt and tears. You can't help but grieve with/for him. What an excruciating position to be in - not just his bread dilemma but the entire Jewish ordeal in WW2. The 'Final Solution' was so heinous, so inconceiveable, so heartbreaking, so morally deflating, so tragic.

Approximately 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. That is still 800,000 more than the entire population of Victoria.

Jack and his forbidden lover Ina Soep were transported to a transit concentration (rather than a death) camp called Westerbork. Anne Frank was also at Westerbork before she was transported to Auschwitz. Every Tuesday for 2 years, a cargo train of 1,000 Jews left Westerbork bound for the death camps Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibór, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt. Jack would help with loading fellow Jews on the train. He loaded his own parents on the train.

95% of the people that pass through Westerbork died.

Maybe I will watch a less traumatic doco next Thursday. Although there is actually an uplifting and heartwarming pulse that runs through Steal a Pencil For Me. You see, sometimes love does conquer all ...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Schwarzenegger Super Cows

Documentaries are my idiot-box viewing of choice these days. Most recently, I watched (twice in one day) a doco about steroids: Bigger, Stronger, Faster*. Highly recommended if only to marvel at Schwarzenegger Super Cow (aka Belgian Blue cattle):

Blessed with double muscle via the operation of a mutated gene that suppresses the operation of Myostatin, the Schwarzenegger Super Cow makes its twitchy appearance mid-way through the doco. Not entirely sure about the relevance of the 'monster cow'. I suspect it may have been to illustrate the effects of steroids over-dosing, hence the term Schwarzenegger Super Cow.

I'm kinda a bit over all these super rich sports stars using the 'young and stupid' excuse to justify their stupidity, including A.Rod's not-so-shocking admission about his steroids abuse in 2001-2003.

A.Rod was born in 1975. He would have been 26-28 during the Schwarzenegger Super Cow years. It's a bit far fetched to say that 26-28 is young. Stupid: yes. Greedy: yes. Weak: yes. Cheater: yes. This guy is getting paid $27.5 mil a year to be all these things.

And yes, I'm the pleb that feeds the machine since I own an A.Rod shirt - I feel so dirty. Actually I just haven't returned it to it's owner. I vow to either burn it, write "sux" next to A.Rod, change 'A.Rod' to 'MAR ode', or wear it only to bed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I have found 2 people that need to sign up to G.H.A - Guitar Hero Anonymous - post haste.

Step 1: no guitar hero activity after 4.30am.

Step 2: no repeated attempts at every song on 'expert' level.

Step 3: know when to cut your losses when you have failed @ 9% four times in a row.

Step 4: when you need alcohol to fuel GH performance, it is time to stop.

Step 5: when you need to resort to the customised songs (aka craphouse old school mobile polyphonic tunes) just because you have exhausted all the real songs, it is time to stop.

Step 6: when you feel like you need a cortisone shot to relieve the spasm in your fingers and arms, it is time to stop.

Step 7: when the host (me) is blogging about your GH-addiction, it is time to stop.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Mona Lisa's X-Ray Hand

What was meant to be a 20 minutes physio visit has taken a long, protracted detour (or in the language of the Amazing Race, I have been slapped with a "Yield" card).

Presently at a radiologist, evidently the same one Mona Lisa uses. The x-rays will hopefully show whether I have a fracture in in my left shoulder.

Should the potential fracture turn out to be an actual fracture, I will hereby announce my official hardcoreness and up the whinging/whining to make up for the lack of whinging/whining so far.

I will also have to make up a super hardcore story to go with the fracture.

If it turns out to be a lowly bruise, well I would be back where I have always been:


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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Forest Jihad? What the what?

Fox News, renown for its conservative political advocacy, has been reported in the SMH with this to say about the Victorian bushfires:

"The Fox News service talked about "forest jihad", warning that terrorists would see the potential of using fires as a "highly effective weapon and simple tool of a holy war"."

What creative journalism. Certainly very appropriate coming from a broadcaster whose trademarks slogan is "Fair & Balanced".

Even Mr Men is getting in on the fun ...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Big Fish, Big Tank

Inescapable re-introduction into the doldrums of non-holiday life has officially begun.
It hurts!
Sitting on your ass for 8 hours is surprisingly very tiring. A vending machine that spits out toasty drinks would go part way to addressing this lethargy.

Lethargy or not, gotta make sure I'm going with the general flow and swim, swim, swimmingly along:

The tank featured above is called the "Coast of Chile" and the marine life (excluding the great black shark) include: sardines, Japanese anchovy and Perjerrey.

Keynesian economics is making a big comeback as a result of all these government driven stimulus packages . John Maynard Keynes was my economist of choice during HSC days. Admittedly I only had a choice of 3 and freakonomics wasn't around in those days. Who would have though that Keynesian theory would be applied in my life time. Actually who would have thought any economics theory is applicable in the real world - that 'ceteris parabis' phrase always gets in the way.

The theory behind the stimulus package according to my basic 2 unit economics understanding is this:

Goverment pumps in dollars (e.g. investing in infrastructure, education etc) --> this leads to an increase in aggregate demand (total spending in the economy) --> initial injection of funds will also have a multiplier effect, i.e. even greater increase in output relative to the initial injection of funds --> overall increase in economic activity and reduction of unemployment and deflation.

Government spending (stimulus package) is particularly needed in times of weak economic activity because the components that make up total income (macro) - consumption and investment - are, by virtue of the recession non-existent. Moreover, prices and wages (natural market forces) are "sticky" and therefore will not restore the market to equilibrium.

Although there are certain goods and services that seem to 'swim' in a different direction, e.g.:
- Short hair cuts
- Soup
- Prostitutes (high end to be precise)
- Evangelical churches
- Cocoa
- Home vaults
- Taser Guns
- People who purchase luxury cars while I'm in Japan - you know who you are ...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Farewell Japan

On packed Jet-frills flight.

Destination: Sydney.

Holidays always feel so short lived.

I have my hotel slippers, a chicken-o nigiri and Splash (the movie) which should just about get me through the next 8 hours.

Farewell splendid Japan.

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Osaka Fun

Today's agenda consisted of:
  • Suntory Museum
  • Kaiyukan Aquarium

Suntory Museum was a mild disappointment - no Bill Murray, nor whiskey caskets. The building itself was quite impressive. As a precursor to the aquarium, we also treated ourselves to an IMAX movie - Deep Sea. Tell you what, 3D movies are hard-going on your eyes. Most of us managed to catch a few winks during the show.

The aquarium was very impressive. Interesting fact: the total quantity of glass in the aquarium outweighs the world's annual output by a factor of 1.5. The place was massive and the variety of marine life was extraordinary.

Tried my luck on a 200 yen anpanman machine. It must have been my lucky day because I scored the JACKPOT!

We also browsed around in Bic Camera and guess who I saw on TV...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Last Stop: Osaka

We made a pit stop at Matsumoto Castle, in city of Matsumoto. The 600 yen entry fee convinced us to skimp on cultural enlightenment and eat some Mos Burger instead.

A few shinkansens later, we arrived in (rainy) Osaka.

We checked into Dotonbori Hotel, conveniently located in the middle of Namba and also near a restaurant called "the sex machine".

We then made a bee line to the all-you-can-eat sushi place we found last year. Food babies all around ... *belch*

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sayonara Shiga Kogen and Snow

We begin our journey back to convict land via Osaka. We are currently on a bus (not a genki bus) that is gently meandering down the mountain towards Nagano Station.

We spent the day riding at another mountain - Yokoteyama - home of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics Alpine Course. Yokoteyama is situated on the other side of the main mountain but remains part of Shiga Kogen.

The landscape and scenary at Yokoteyama was breathtaking. It was almost as if someone splashed a gargantuan bucket of thick white paint and then froze time and physics at the point of impact. The trees looked like cauliflowers, and the buildings looked like replicas from Krypton (in the Christopher Reeves version of Superman and assuming that there are buildings on Krypton).

It was simply spectacular ... despite the malodorous chemical fumes (mixture of egg and fart) that radiated from the onsens. At first I thought it was our heavy breakfast (someone did eat THREE eggs that morning), but when it stuck around like a bad smell (heh), the blame quickly shifted to non-human causes.

Minutes away from Nagano Station now ...

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Random Photos - An Assortment

We are totally doing the dodgy and watching the Federer vs. Nadal match online in the lobby of the hotel (internet only available in the lobby). Let's hope this place has no data cap ...

Some choice photos of Shiga Kogen below:

Some choice photos of the snow monkeys at Yamanouchi Town (at the bottom of the moutain) below. "Cleats" were optional shoe accessories. Good for traction, no good for white shoes or jeans (they created a Pro Heart effect on the back of jeans).

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Ureshii Times

It was ureshii times on the mountain today. What seemed like buckets of dry snow followed us around (at times aggressively) the entire day. To illustrate the point, there was enough volume and force behind the snowflakes to achieve the improbable: travel up my small nostrils. Bearing in mind my small Asian nostrils and the fact that I was wearing a face mask, the equation is as follows:
lodging of snow in nose = downpour

It was sch-weeeeeeet (not the nose bit).

Japan continues to serve up warm and gracious hospitality, courtesy of the many ladies that cook, clean, serve, cater for us. I have such affection for these ladies, and parting is that much harder when they are constantly smiling & bowing at you.

We have had very good dinners @ Shiga Kogen. Red Lantern ishaisakaya has been our local hangout on Night 2 and Night 4. Night 2 put a massive dent in the wallet (and number of brain cells). There was probably one too many sakes and shōchūs - no good when there is a shortage of water in the room.

Brekkie is served in the cafeteria in our hotel. The half poached egg with Japanese soy sauce is totemo oishii - just like how mom used to cool them but without the soy sauce and in a cute bowl.

Last day in Shiga Kogen tomorrow.

Photos of People in Lots of Snow

Just to prove that I'm not fibbing about the buckets, photos of Dougie, Vicky and Glenn in the midst of a winter wonderland.

Heading out into the white abyss now ...