Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Battle of Yuletide Gulch

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And lo, there was a cold front, yet like those from the ancient times of Kraan, that swept up all in its blinding white path. It did run itself in majestic waves, like a furious otter of Nordic cold, over the seas and oceans and spent its wrath like a sailor in a foreign port on mighty Kyushu, slumbering in her bed of frozen soils and solid puddles of wet. Yea verily did the white powder come down upon them all in great abundance, covering ice encrusted drive way, school and graveyard alike in the frozen water that falls from the sky like the ashes of angles as they are burned by the devils that, naught being in the sight of Adam, defeated them.

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Our hero, slumped in his throne, resting before the end of year excess period, was called on once more to don his battle coat of fur lined wonder and set forth once more into the barren wilderness to hunt down and slay the mighty Squiggoth beasts that are called forth from their tumescent slumber by the wake of the powdery signal. Yet did the heat of their footfalls melt the snow around them.

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A Squiggoth, yesterday.

Our hero called forth his mighty powers, yet again they were delivered unto him in spurious abundance.

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Powers! And well chuffed he was when they were unto him delivered!

And with all his might and power did in fact smite the Squiggoth in all their hideous glory. See! Look how they burn in agony with the power of the blows of out Hero!

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Squiggoth burn in the angry glare of the base elder gods. Yesterday.

And there was much rejoicing on the night of our Hero’s triumphant victory over the snow storm from the brutal plains of Leng and its Squiggoth hordes.

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Yahoo and hooray for the prowess of the Hero and his magnificant manner!

Yea verily was there drinking of Meade and the wearing of silly hats and masks by all.

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And yet the next day was also set aside for a sumptuous commemorative feast. The table was laid with all the trappings and gilding of import and joy. Our Hero sat and feasted with his comrades, assured they would all pass into the halls of the warriors after his epic defeat of the hordes. Thus was liquid imbibed and solids consumed.

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Yea, where they all eventually rendered incapable of doing anything save the worshipping of their tiny fish gods.

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Thus was it at an end, our Hero sat back on his throne and his eyes rested upon his domain, once more at peace. The villagers relaxed, asured in the knowledge the benevolent gaze of their Hero and protector would forever more ensure the safety of them and their progeny.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Rolf Harris has managed to paint a portrait of the Queen that looks entirely like Rolf Harris...

This is divine comedy...click now!




Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Overt Political Content - consider this warning

The other day while finishing my latest post I clicked on one of the links that flash up as being 'recently updated' from the blogger update page. I surfed on over to read the well penned yet somewhat bizzare musings of the gentleman who writes under the name of X-Marine. Heres the page

You can view the full chain of discussion here if you really want to

I engaged with him and another person in the comments section of one of his postings and it evolved into a small debate among a few concerned individuals. This posting is a repost of my latest additions to the argument chain by way of just being neighbourly and in the spirit of discussion and debate, the reasons behind this are contained in the post itself.

This is a discussion of overtly political nature

As this page is more of a personal diary and a solution to obnoxious group emailings while I am away overseas and rarely gets into political writing I thought a warning might be required to let the regular readers who have no interest in the subject matter avoid this post altogether and move down to check out the latest photos. It begins thus:

Yes, rightly so, cheers XMarine for sponsoring this discussion. I only realized when I posted my last comments that you have moderation turned on, so you have to read them all and it’s good to see you’re open to debate even if the religious zeal you put into your writing freaks me right out. Instead of promising to keep it quick I will post this reply in full on my blog as well, which you can post the link to instead of the full text if you don’t have the time to continue moderating the discussion. We can pick things up in the comments section on my page if anyone else is willing. Here is the link,


Fair enough if you think that a particular kind of university education has infused my or others mind with anti-American sentiment under the guise of “open-mindedness”. I have just as much a view point that your military indoctrination during your period of armed service has artificially emboldened you with a gung-ho nationalistic pride that allows you to deny basic human rights abuses and a foreign policy doctrine that encourages an endless war on terror.

Why not embrace America over Iraq on this issue? I’ll take it you mean agreeing with America’s decision to invade Iraq.

1. If the United States government possessed any true care and fore-thought for the wellbeing of the Iraqi people, as is implied in their statements of wishing to bring freedom and democracy into the country, then surely they would have allowed for the easing of post Gulf War 1 sanctions to allow medical aid into Iraq for those that desperately needed it at the time.

2. It has been proven time and again that the political administration in the U.S. did manipulate pre-war information to exaggerate the threat posed by the Iraqi regime to justify going to war. In reference to your recent posting, I don’t feel deceived because I never believed what they were saying in the first place. See point five.

3. The aims of the American Political administration have always been suspect and range from shoring up the declining dollar as we’ve already discussed to furthering American geo-political dominance in the post-cold war era and ensuring the massive U.S. military industrial complex, and all their rich buddies who run it, have a reason to continue to churn out expensive weapons.

4. Because the use of nuclear industry byproducts as armaments is just so plain wrong. It was wrong the first time around, it was wrong in the Balkans and its wrong now.

5. I’ll let the cat out of the bag now by saying I don’t fully believe the official explanation behind the September 11 attacks. I realize that by saying this I am probably opening myself up to a whole new line of argument from you. I’m sure you have your thoughts on the subject and I’m sure they’re valid, but I dare say I have a radically different viewpoint on those events than you. However they underpin most of my position regarding what we’re talking about and it’s important that you see where I’m coming from. Yes I consider that there is significant evidence that throws into reasonable doubt the official explanation of the attacks on 9/11 and suggests some pretty sinister motives employed by those behind them. No I don’t believe in holographic planes or under-wing missile pods. This is a whole topic in itself, which is why I am more than willing to discuss it under a post my page, which is mostly personal and non-political, hence the link.

Which side of history do I stand on? The right side or the wrong side? I feel it’s a bit more complicated than a right side and a wrong side. Star Wars has a right side and a wrong side, it was also penned by a stoner film student who turned it into a great business model, got other people to direct his next two star wars films while he in turn focused on the franchising and marketing departments and earned some nice cash while millions wallowed in new age Californian religious beliefs wrapped up in a 70’s design fiesta.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love star wars, but the way you merge it with international relations, historical content and Christianity at the same time just bamboozles me. I’m not so sure a fusion of literary and historical lines of argument is the best way to push forward in these already confused times.

I'm kidding, I dont take your Jedi rant that seriously, however I can but hope my gentle prod will push you to new heights of republican confusion and inanity as evidenced by your recent jovial writings about Christian Jedi Knights. I’ll comment about that on the other page though…

Hello Eric,
Nice gauntlet,

Just looking to put a name to the comment, simply to establish if the person is serious enough about their intentions to take some accountability and possibly respond instead of disappearing into the world wide web, is hardly tyrannical labeling. You’ve taken the time to join up even, instead of posting a follow up with a name, which is cool. The reason I had a go was my work has a board online because we are spread out over a wide geographic area and sometimes we get people jumping on (or we did until we fixed it, we’re new at this), saying things anonymously and then just disappearing again. I suppose it kind of spills over from that. Anyway T.C., it’s good to see you care.

If on the other hand you still want to view it as left wing tyranny, (which historically occurs as does right wing tyranny), by joining and becoming one of the ‘named’ category as opposed to the ‘anonymous’ category I would like to thank you for conforming to my labeling system without too much fuss, your co-operation with the powers that be is appreciated, here’s your barcode tattoo, grey overalls shaved head and welcome my son, welcome to the machine etc etc etc…

On with the show,

I tried to make a case that all American Christians were members of the KKK? Woah there! Let me clear this up a bit. I pointed out that saying all American Christians were members of the KKK was as ridiculous as saying all Muslims were extreme fundamentalists. Of course it is ridiculous, pure folly if you’d like, to suggest all American Christians are members of the KKK. As ridiculous as saying all members of Islam are fundamentalists, which I inferred from your statement thus:

No, the current enemy is Islam in case you haven't been paying attention.

By Islam I understood you to mean all people of Islamic faith as being included along with Islamic doctrines, moderate or fundamentalist. So please rest assured Eric, I do not believe all American Christians are members of the KKK. Let’s break it down for further clarity

Now you want to simply lump them all into one homogenous group?

Meaning that I thought you were suggesting all Islamic people followed the more extreme fundamentalist doctrine.

That’s like saying all Christians in America are members of the Ku Klux Klan

An example I came up with to provide an image of another group with religious underpinnings that takes its beliefs to an extreme level. This extreme level would of course not be practiced by other American Christians, just as fundamentalist Islam is not practiced by all Muslims. I hope that clears things up for you.

The extremists control the religion and dictate its actions? Hardly, a group of extremists take on board a religious based war against the injustices they see being perpetrated on their own people by western superpowers, they then employ many of the tactics taught to them by said western superpowers during the cold war to turn around and give what they see as being justified payback against the double standards practiced by western governments in their dealings with the middle east.

True, their numbers are growing rapidly now, although this could be argued as being more as a result of American foreign policy post 9/11, you know, that whole “invading Iraq and killing lots of people” business.

Islam is not completely silent. Muslim organizations readily condemn terrorist attacks and preach a pacifist or neutral stance. Yes, there are radical clerics who preach the virtues of Jihad, but there are those who also condemn it.

Yes in the past Islamic religion has been matched alongside an aggressive political force set to invade and take over other territories. To balance it out however, there have been just as many counter invasions of the Middle East launched from Europe over the course of the past few thousand years. The crossroads we stand at now is whether or not we continue to blindly follow down the same path, a path that has far more serious consequences considering the weapons with which modern battles are fought, or whether we are able to open up dialogues and courses of action which can diffuse this constant ebb and flow of hostility between the east and the west.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

White mounds

We got more snow this morning. The hills are dusted white and an icy northern wind is rattling the doors in the corridors. Slate grey and light violet clouds have covered everything. I was pummeled by gusts of icy slush on the way to school. Novelty ensues and I become joyous with leaping cold.

Other things, children, leapt all over me last Thursday and left me with a marvelous cold that saw me on the couch all weekend watching movies in a subdued, rather sick, manner. Still not the greatest now.

It’s now time for this years bitch about kerosene heaters. Why do they have to be on the whole time? I am now convinced that the Japanese are actually reptiles incapable of regulating their own internal temperature. Land of extremes.

Recently I asked Hiroshi why, when leaving the staff room, he walks out and around in an arc towards the staircase, while I walk in a straight line. I knew it was because he was moving around to the right hand side to go up, and to avoid people coming down, but the way he automatically did it without thinking, even when there was only the two of us present on the stairwell, seemed worthwhile to bring to his attention. We spent the next ten minutes discussing with the class issues regarding cultural staircase practice. As someone has recently pointed out here, teaching English is sometimes not the primary reason for my employment here.


Monday, December 05, 2005


We got our first snow this morning.

The hills are dusted white and an icy northern wind is rattling the doors in the corridors. Slate grey and light violet clouds have covered everything. I was pummeled by gusts of icy slush on the way to school. Novelty ensues and I become joyous with leaping cold.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Look at that Zippy!

Oh my friends and family, vidi this lovely rainbow...

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Back of the apartment at noon today during a spell in the rain. Only there for four minutes or so. Opportunity knocks, get the camera.

Photos from a city

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Recently I have spent much more time in Fukuoka City than I did last year, so I thought it might be a good idea to take the camera in one day and see what presented itself. Yesterday was spent looking in shops at all manner of items and having lunch in exotic places, in the cold.

Possibly the only good shot of the day I missed was annoyingly my own fault for being to slow with the camera. We were crossing the road when the air above us started to split open. Fukuoka Airport is in an urban area to the left of the central city and the incoming flight path for landing aircraft runs right over Tenjin. I should have been quicker when I heard the noise, but when I turned a JAL Boeing 747-400 appeared from behind a building and lumbered its way over us at a low level landing approach altitude. Very impressive.

I remember when I used to have hardly any photos at all. Now I have simply gigs of images sitting here. I have 4.35 gigabytes of still images. Its double that if you take the backups on the secondary hard drive into account. It was good to read that Maxell will soon be releasing holographic storage media. A few more years at this rate and I’ll require it.

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Yes it’s me. That’s what I look like now, or rather looked like yesterday, but there’s not much difference between the moment of then when I was trying not to make a silly face in front of the camera, the moment of now when I’m writing this and eating anin tofu, and I dare say that in the moment of later on, when you read this, I will still bear a remarkable similarity to the image above. This next image is of a tree that stands in a park, near the hotel I stay at. Its surrounded by buildings on all sides which provides shelter from the wind, which explains why it maintains its golden foliage. It looked rather nice with the morning light behind it shining through, and it came out well in the photo. One was pleased with the result when it came up on the monitor back home

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This is the only dog that wanted to play with Fumiko all day. I leant down and said “Hey doggy” and he looked right into the camera. Perfect.

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This is the Acros Building. It is part city hall and part function centre. Personally I think that the mix of natural components into architectural urban design is rather good and should be undertaken far more often. The headline photo is of course taken from the observatory at the top of the structure. Just for the sake of reference, it’s because we sat at the top for a while that I know about the flight paths for aircraft into the airport.

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The walk up to the top through the gardens seems quiet and removed from the rest of the city. There were very few people there. Waterfalls and ponds dot the pathways and now in early winter some of the trees have stunning colors. Used the color selection feature again in this composition to bring out and highlight the vivid red of the foliage. The full color shot looks good also, but between the two this is the better.

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Again, I was playing with color selection. I zoomed in and sampled Fumi’s skin tone and then zoomed out to take the shot. The camera also found the same tones in the fur around her jacket and in some of the leaves behind her. Combine that with the sudden beam of light that shot out from behind a cloud and you have one of the best shots of the day.

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This is a Christmas tree, maybe eight to ten meters high silhouetted alongside some of the architecture in the Canal City shopping complex behind the Hyatt Hotel. Very large well maintained shopping centre, thronging with people and tasty food. I am afraid to bring my mother to places like this as she would probably feel the need to set up camp somewhere along the river like a mobile infantry shopping battalion until every bargain was exposed, or until she ran out of financial ammunition.

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This is the gigantic Mitsukoshi department store in evening twilight. I like this one because the light is timed just right. You can still make out the shape of the exterior of the building and get the details of its construction, yet the interior lights are bright enough to give an idea of the internal layout, especially the ten floors worth of escalators. This building is linked via underground shopping arcades to perhaps four or five other department stores and shopping complexes of equal or greater size. Again, afraid to ever bring my mother here for fear of losing her, or at least having to come back the next day and collect her exhausted frame from the floor of yet another clothes store that designs for middle aged ladies who dress impeccably, appreciate fur and are the same physical size, or lack thereof, that she maintains.

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I spent a good deal of time checking out camera equipment as I want to buy either a decent digital SLR still camera, or a good video camera before I leave Japan. This was the most exorbitant accessory that we were presented with during the day. Cannon’s enormous EOS Digital EF600mm Telephoto lens. It was very impressive. On special at only 1,100,000 yen, or around 12 thousand NZD. Included is Fumikos hand to give an idea of scale.

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Also had a look at the brand new Cannon XLH HDV camera that has been released. You could happily shoot an amazing looking feature film with it. The leap in picture quality over the old XL1 and 2 DV cameras is jaw dropping. They had an XL1 linked up to one monitor and a new XLH on another. Wow. A scoop at a mere 946,000 yen. I may be shopping at the end of a price range slightly out of alignment with my own yearly earnings at this stage.

We did find one bargain during the day. In Yodobashi Camera a salesman sat on top of a ladder in the middle of the mp3 player showroom floor. He was yelling into a megaphone and trying to sell a bunch of Creative Zen 5gb mp3 players, the newer baby brother to my 20gb player. Only the orange color on offer and he had a stack of maybe 7 or 8 units on special, reduced from 25,000 yen to15,000 yen. Major saving. Fumiko had decided earlier on in the day she wanted to buy one, she liked orange so she pounced over and bought one, at the same time as an Australian lady also picked one up. We went upstairs and sat in massage chairs for maybe twenty five minutes and when we came back down the rest of the stock had been sold. Just as well Fumiko didn’t wait to think it over.

Friday, December 02, 2005

This week

This week has been shrouded in a pleasant all pervading gloom of constant moody clouds and rain showers. It’s getting colder and my black jacket has awoken from summer hibernation and now encases me with its wide array of interesting smell and textures.

This week’s creative writing capitol has been expended mostly on the discussion on global politics I have been maintaining with Josh and MC Masterchef over on the SagaJet forums. It’s good to practice to have open discussion about a topic; it puts your own beliefs and ideas about a subject to the test, exposes you to the viewpoints that you have not considered, hones your argumentative tactics, keeps ones writing up to scratch and is a good way to get to know about other people and their opinions. It’s kind of like playtime at school but for big kids. And I get paid to sit their and write about it. Yeah!

I try to refrain from mentioning political stuff here, as the purpose of this page was always to document my adventures in foreign lands, however, as we go into the transition period of next year it will not only record that and beyond, but serve as a potential example of writing ability for any jobs I will apply for. I also intend to send the full manuscript (which I have) to publishing houses, just to see what happens.

Aside from that, most of this week has been taken up by the elementary school classes which have replaced my regular junior high schedule due to exams taking place this week. I have taken over full lesson planning for two out of three schools and have recently acquired resources that make communication with the Japanese teachers much easier and thus my job much less frustrating.

Tonight I will travel to the city again to see my rather nice Fumiko and have dinner. Now, I sit, behind my desk, waiting for the clock to hit 4:05 and them I am out of here. I will disappear faster than the popes fart this afternoon. I’ve just had enough of work for one week. I resorted to stealing kids pencil cases in class this afternoon to alleviate the amazing boredom that can result from your job being to teach the most basic aspects of a language that you’ve spoken your whole life.