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I get annoyed with overly hyperbolic emails. Not from friends or anything (although maybe I would if one of my friends sent an overly hyperbolic email?) but from companies trying to hook you with their latest ‘crazy!’ deal.

I’m growing my hair, and it’s at an annoying stage. Too short to do anything with, and too long to be short.

Also, I’m driving out to the airport tonight. Let’s hope everyone’s got their insurance up to date!

This is something:

Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

It really do.

I’m pleased that statements like this exist.

When Lauren, Ruth & I lived in the old Queenslander on top of the hill in Balmoral, Ruth told us about a fear she had – if she was the last person to leave the house, she couldn’t look  back at the house, because what if she saw a face in one of the windows? As soon as I heard this, I became afraid of the same thing. One day I was home by myself and I left to do some shopping. I looked back at my window and saw a face! and my heart nearly stopped, but then I realised it was just a poster on my wall. I still get a creepy feeling when I think about it, but I think it’s because I secretly like feeling a little bit scared. It’s kind of thrilling. I think that’s why I like horror movies, and why I retain what I am aware is a completely irrational fear of zombies. 28 Days Later really is an awesome movie.

So anyway, I tried explaining this fear of a face in the window to Mike one night, and he didn’t get it at all. It was just not an issue. If there was a face in the window, what did that mean anyway?

I think logical reasoning only works when people choose to be logical and reasonable. That doesn’t happen very often. A lot of the time, I think people even know that they’re not being logical or reasonable. That’s frustrating, but it’s the way people operate, and what can you do about it. Nothing, that’s what. Defeatism is depressing, but it’s good for people who want to be lazy.

 

Following thoughts to their logical conclusions

The Kodama Shinkansen never seems to be the fastest way to get anywhere, but for Hakone, it is. Except that it only takes you as far as Odawara, then you need to change to the Hakone Tozan line.

In any case, that’s what we’ll be doing today. It’s New Year’s Eve, and there are so many people rushing around the shops here, buying boxes of mochi and other NYE foodstuffs. Our hotel has several ‘New Year’s Events’. Today, there are New Year’s Noodles in the bar/restaurant, and tonight there’ll be a countdown. Mike recommended we go to Yokohama for NYE. A lot of people in Japan stay up all night 31 December and visit temples, where bells are rung 108 times at midnight. Then they’ll make their way to somewhere they can see the first sunrise of the year, called hatsuhinode.

Our  hotel room here in Tokyo is on the 30th floor (again). We’ve got a pretty good view out the window in our room, but we have to keep the blinds down because Tim is afraid of heights. I’m going to open them while he’s not in the room so I can take a photo.

Our hotel is pretty close to Tokyo station, which is kind of the reason we booked it (for shinkansen travel), but also, there is a shopping arcade under the station which has an upmarket department store and a whole heap of shops for toys and branded characters (eg. NHK’s characters incl. Domo-kun, some anime princessy show that looks a bit like a remastered version of Sailor Moon, rilakkuma…). It was so crowded yesterday afternoon. I’m hoping the crowds might calm down a bit before we go, because everything takes so much longer when there are so many people in the same place.

Autumn leaves (momiji)

Sakura

We saw snow through the windows of the train yesterday, but there’s no snow in Tokyo. Japan doesn’t seem to be able to decide what season it wants to be in, because I’ve seen both momiji and sakura. It’s still winter, however, so mostly there’s just bare trees.

 

Day 1: Namba Walk, Okonomiyaki, Shinsekai, Tsutenkaku Tower…

Yesterday, Erin & Mayu took us to an okonomiyaki restaurant for lunch. Erin said there’s another place not far away that is a modern interpretation of okonomiyaki, and has lots of different options, but it was good to visit a traditional okonomiyaki place. The tables here had hotplates set in the middle, and the okonomiyaki was cooked in front of us by the same woman who served our drinks. On a side note, to ask for cold water, you say to the waiter/server ‘ohiya’, which Erin told us literally translates as ‘cold’.

The okonomiyaki was delicious. Tim had his with cheese, Mayu & I had mochi with ours, and Erin ordered a Hiroshima-style. I had only had mochi as a sweet (mostly with red bean paste inside) and I wasn’t sure what it would taste like savoury-style, but it was excellent. The best thing about mochi is the texture. It’s chewy and stretchy and weird, and doesn’t really have much of a flavour on its own.

 

The lobby of our hotel is on the 22nd floor of the building and has a chapel in it. It has a glass roof and the other end of the chapel is on the outside of the building. The architectural concept is designed to imitate Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace (Austria), which you can’t really see from inside the building.

Our room is on the 30th floor and has pretty decent views across Osaka city, though not as good as the views from Tsutenkaku Tower, where Mayu & Erin took us yesterday. The elevator to get to the top of the tower has glass sides, and so Tim experienced some vertigo and didn’t enjoy it as much as we did.

There is a huge network of underground malls/walkways in Osaka. When we leave our hotel, we can take escalators down to the Namba Walk, which connects to the subway system, without ever stepping outside.

It’s a strange feeling walking around in the underground malls and not seeing any other Caucasian faces anywhere. In Tokyo, there was an obvious mix of Japanese and foreigners. Here, that is less apparent. I don’t know where the other tourists are, which is actually kind of nice. It also seems like less people speak English here. We’re getting better at interpreting questions without knowing what exactly is being said. It’s getting easier to pick up the Japanese that I do know out of all that I don’t, whereas before it seemed like an uninterpretable staccato. It helps that people are so friendly here.

 

Somebody set up us the bomb!

Osaka is freezing. That’s not a complaint, just an observation.

Tim is watching Mission:Impossible 2, which has been dubbed in Japanese. They do a pretty good job of syncing the voices & lip movements of the actors. I guess they would have a lot of experience in that, because everything here that’s not Japanese is dubbed. They made the Aussie guy in MI2 have an Australian accent, which is pretty impressive and also funny in Japanese.

The ads here are hilarious and make no sense. Then again, I don’t know how much sense our ads would make if you didn’t speak English. But also, sometimes it’s difficult to tell what’s an ad and what’s just a documentary. There was an ad earlier that seemed to just be someone interviewing old Japanese men in onsen (Japanese baths). Now Tim tells me that was actually a program, not an ad.

Tomorrow we will be meeting up with Mayumi & Erin at lunch time. I hope I’ll be able to sleep through tonight and not wake up and be discombobulated.

The joke from my Christmas cracker yesterday was the best:

Q. What do you call a donkey with three legs?
A. A monkey.

I did a google search, and I think the punchline is supposed to be ‘A wonkey’, which would make more sense than the version I got.

Did you know:

When the Space Invaders game was released in Japan, it was so popular that it created a coin shortage.

Probably going to see some of these guys soon.

Catching the slow train

Tim told me that Learner drivers aren’t speed limited in Queensland. So, once we cross the border from NSW to QLD, I can drive as much as I like! It was going to be irritating, driving to Brisbane and not being able to share the driving time because of the 80 speed limit for learners in NSW.

This morning, an old man that I’ve seen before but don’t remember where or why, came into the bank and gave me a brochure about what’s on for New Year’s Eve at The Star. He said, “it’s a special party, only bank people are invited.” Then he said, “If you’re thinking about going, you’d better find a rich fella first!” I had a look, and it doesn’t even seem like it’s that pricey. The most expensive option is only $320.

I’m really tired and I have to get up relatively early tomorrow. The relative part is because it’s my day off, and I’ll be getting up even earlier than I would if I actually had work. I need to get everything organised for Friday, because we’ll be leaving at 5am for Brisbane. I can’t wait to see everyone again. I feel like it’s been ages since I saw Mum, Lauren & Nathan when really it’s only been a couple of months. It has been a while since I’ve seen Dad, though. Also, Rosie. But I can’t visit her because she said she’d get too upset.

I am falling asleeeeeeep…….. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sometimes I know things

This post is going to be a copy-pasta job. I know this is cheating, but it’s either this or no posts. Maybe some more posts later, but my track record for the moment isn’t too hot.

So anyway, I wrote this back when I was being vegetarian – so, when I had a reason to know about it. I was getting tired of vegans hijacking the vegetarian forums, and saying things like, ‘milk is murder!’ and telling us we were not trying hard enough – if we were truly committed to the cause, we’d be full vegans rather than half-hearted vegetarians.

Edited for context (originally a post on a forum)…

 

***

Most humans lack the enzyme to break down lactose. This makes most humans lactose intolerant, it’s just that there are varying levels of reactions to the lactose. Some people will feel really sick, something akin to a stomach bug, some people experience respiratory distress, some people have the lactose pass right through their system without them ever feeling an ill-effect.

We’re so obsessed nowadays with labeling ourselves as one thing or another. “I’m lactose intolerant so I can’t have dairy” or “I’m gluten intolerant, so I can’t have anything with gluten”. Actually, wheat is not a really positive thing for humans to eat either, if we’re going to get technical. Our bodies aren’t set up to break down wheat proteins, which is why there are more and more people showing gluten intolerances. Some people are affected more than others.

Basically, milk is not what’s bad for you. It’s what they DO to the milk that causes the problems. The milk that comes out of the cow is a healthy thing for humans to partake of. It contains not only lactose, but also the enzyme required to break down the lactose. Through the act of pasteurising the milk (which is required by law here in Australia) this enzyme is removed, and with it the ability to break down the lactose.

The reason that it’s illegal to sell un-pasteurised milk is because of problems that occur when cows are fed on grain rather than grass. Grain that has mould on it (a common occurrence in most large dairy farms that feed their cows on stored grain) can pass bacteria through the milk, and humans drinking that milk can get sick from it. They decided to, rather than solving the problem by not feeding the cattle grain in the first place, heat the milk to extreme temperatures and strip it of it’s natural composition. This meant that the bad bacteria and cultures were removed, but so were the necessary enzymes.

If you live on a farm, have a cow that eats fresh grass and other good things, and you milk that cow, then the milk you can drink from it is very nutritionally beneficial. The protein-to-carbohydrate ratio and vitamins and minerals, not to mention active white blood cells, are some of the reasons why milk has been such a big part of a lot of traditional diets for thousands of years.

I’m not saying that you can’t live without milk – of course you can. I’m just saying that some of the reasons put forward to condemn the product are a bit under-researched, facile and obnoxious.

The real problem is not the fact that people consume milk, and saying “milk is murder!!!!1!!one” is pretty much having the opposite effect I think those who say it intend. The problem is those aspects of the dairy industry that perpetuate the horrible treatment of cows and calves, and fail to give the public proper information about what they’re consuming and that there is another option. If we had the option of purchasing milk from cows left to graze the fields, feed their calves, and go through natural cycles of life, and without the pasteurisation, that would be a much better alternative to drinking milk from cows that have horrible things done to them.

A similar thing happened with chickens. I like eggs. It doesn’t mean I’m eating undeveloped chicken foetuses. For years and years we owned chickens that roamed our backyard and provided eggs on occasion scattered through the garden. There was no rooster around, so the eggs were unfertilised. The only reason I don’t still have my own chickens is because I live in the city now and there are rules about what sort of animals you can and can’t have in close proximity to other people. You have the choice here to buy free range, organic eggs, or the cage eggs which are cheaper but I will never buy personally. We should be given a similar choice with milk.

No, a vegan diet is not impossible, but neither is it the only humane way to sustain yourself.

 

Let’s go to the game

AFL is a stupid game because it has no shape of playground, and the whole game rests on free kicks. There’s really not much else going on, because everyone aims to get free kicks.

Still, the guys are much more beguiling to watch in AFL than in NRL. It’s like the difference between an antelope and a rhinoceros, where the antelope is an AFL and the rhino is an NRL.

Some CG eye candy

Since I received half of a new MacBook Pro from Timotei for my birthday (OH YAY), I’ve been going through the files stored on my portable hard drive.

There are a lot of pictures. When I’m on the web, StumbleUponing or whatever, and I find a picture I find aesthetically pleasing in some way, I save it. Consequently, I’ve got a whole heap of various folders full of pictures that I rarely get a chance to revisit.

Now that I’m deciding what to transfer to my MacBook Pro, so as to hopefully have a more logical file architecture than my previous computer, I get to go through all these images again. It’s fun! And here are some pretty CGI pics I’ve found over the last couple of years or so.
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All images are copyright (c) their respective owners. If you own any of these images, or know who does, feel free to email me  at copyright at casbot dot com dot au.