Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I have a poem in the Tin Lustre Mobile. The link to the poem is handily located in my list at the left.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Spent a great Monday and Tuesday with my friend and coworker, Steve, on Mount Koya or Koya-san as it is referred to here. So close to Osaka (a few hours South by train), I continue to be inspired by the many beautiful places I've visited in Japan. I won't attempt to recreate many of the other descriptions of that place, which can be found you know where.

We wondered if we would be able to get there, departing for our adventure knowing that a typhoon was fast approaching. I heard some word-of-mouth news from someone in the office that trains from Kyoto had been cancelled. In fact, while we were walking to the train station, it began to sprinkle and the sky was well bruised, indicating more impressive damage would be forthcoming. I had an umbrella and it was raining steadily by the time our train left.

Raining solidly amid gusting winds, we reached our destination and were a short ride from the center of town, where we would negotiate lodgings in a temple. Smoking outside the station and contemplating our plan of action, I quickly realized how ineffective my umbrella would be and decided to purchase a rain poncho to keep my clothes dry.

At the tourist information center, we had no trouble finding a place to stay. There aren't many tourists on Monday, especially when a typhoon is brewing. I expected to have to sleep in some kind of medieval Japanese dungeon or something, but the lodgings were typical for a Japanese inn. After eating some lunch and resting a bit, we decided to take advantage of what appeared to be a pause in the nasty weather.

Our destination was the famous cemetery and a hike through the surrounding mountains. The gentleman at the entrance of the cemetery suggested that it wouldn't be safe to continue. The storm had increased to a higher pitch than anything I had yet witnessed in Japan, and we paused to reconsider the continuation of our adventure. We had invested too much energy to turn back, and decided to venture forth despite the warnings. We looked at it as a challenge. It was that or go back to our temple and drink beer in our room for the rest of the rainy day, which wasn't too appealing. Aside from that, everything is closed on Mondays, except for the convenience store, which really didn't offer too much in the way of entertainment.

The cemetery was impressive. It was a little intimidating to walk along the deserted stone paths, strewn with the giant fallen limbs of the cedar and pine trees that surrounded the cemetery, but eventually, it seemed that the storm died and we could walk in a slight drizzle without the fear of getting knocked senseless by a falling branch. Perhaps the mountains were protecting us from the wind. Perhaps Buddha was smiling on us.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Finally finished this e-book, Geek (PDF), if you feel inclined to take a look.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

It doesn't bother me that Japanese people ignore me. In a city as inundated with English teachers from abroad as it is with convenience stores, fast food restaurants and language schools, I'm not exactly an unusual sight these days. Anyway, I believe they think it's polite to ignore me, and that's acceptable. I stopped worrying long ago that not everyone could recognize my greatness, even if I was brimming with it. It is much easier to get something accomplished when I don't have to worry about my approval rating, which has, at various times, been a distraction.

What does bother me, and really only as a curiosity, is that other foreigners (mostly of the male variety) don't notice me, don't acknowledge me when we pass in a shop, on the street or subway. We ignore each other or, at least, they ignore me. Perhaps, I have misguided perceptions about the aura that surrounds me, but I generally try to make eye-contact when I see someone like me. My gaze is rarely returned. Sometimes, our eyes meet, but the other person usually continues on seemingly unaffected or simply looks back toward the ground. I suppose, as with the Japanese, it's fairly common to see foreigners in random places and that's, as I mentioned above, nothing special in itself. Still, Japan is not our native country and we share the common experience of being here out of our element. I expect friendly human accord.

I was much more naive about it when I first arrived here, assuming others like myself would greet, say hello, nod or otherwise acknowledge me, but I guess people are really just the same anywhere you go. They only care about themselves.

I still haven't gotten over it and, after two years slanging English, I'm still conducting my informal eye-contact experiments wherever my adventures lead me. Recently, while watching a couple of foreign dudes chat up some lovely Japanese lasses on the train, I settled on a theory about why it occurs. They know I know they're just here to steal Japanese women, especially susceptible, I hear, to our blue-eyed variety. It's that or they just love raw fish.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

In the past few weeks, I've received some unusual e-mail. E-mail that would suggest I am luckier than I otherwise consider myself, depending upon how you look at it. I've included excerpts from the unusual messages, which I suspect as being from terrorist sources, which is serious, although I could just be paranoid. You decide...
It is my pleasure to write you after much considerations I can not be able to see you face to face at first. Being the first son of my father late prince mathew Konan from Zulu in republic of South Africa. My father was a limited liability cocoa and gold merchant in South Africa before his untimely death. After his business trip to Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire, to negociate on a cocoa business a week after he came mother by unknown assassins . which my mother died , instantly, but my father died after five days in hospital on that faithful afternoon. I didn't know that my father was going to leave me after I had lost my mother . But before he gave up the ghost , it was as if he know he was going to die . He my father,may his soul rest in perfect peace ) disclose to me that he deposited $ 18.5 ( eighteen million five hundred thousand dollars ) in security and safe deposit company in Abidjan , Cote d'Ivoire.

That the money was meant for his cocoa business he wanted to invest in Abidjan , Cote d'Ivoire through, according to my father he deposited the money in a trunk box, but declared it as ivory , and family belonging for the security reasons. He single handed me the key of the box and certificate of deposit and agreement certificate , and instructed me to seek for a foreign assistant who will help me to move it out from the security and safe deposit company for a life time investment abroad . Now , I have succeeded in locating the security and safe deposit company here in Abidjan , Cote d'Ivoire and also I confirmed the item with most honest and confidentiality. Now I am soliciting for your assistance to help me lift this money out from Abidjan to your account abroad so that we should invest it in any lucrative business in your country , strictly in your advice , because this is my only hope in life.

As I am awaiting anxiously to hear from you so that we can discuss the modalities of this transaction . I have mapped out for you 15% of the total fund which stands for your commission for presenting a foreign bank account where the money will be transferred to and more so you shall benefit 5% of the monthly total interest of the said venture.

Is "Zulu" a place? Heh. I'm not an expert. The grammar is particularly entertaining, although i don't expect perfection. This message now rests quietly in my Trash, gathering e-dust. If I help him move the money, will the assassins who killed his father on the above mentioned "faithful" day come after me? You're not laughing yet? Dare you mock my credibility, my vast influence? Read on...
I am Philip Kabali, Personal Assistant to President Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia. As you may know he has recently stepped down from power and is presently in assylum in Nigeria. The purpose of my letter is to ask if you can render the assistance requested and to bring to bear my present position and the very need for true and solicited help with respect to Ex President Taylor. View these websites (1, 2) carefully. Your assistance is needed in the sense that some funds derived from Diamond sales during his tenure needs to be transferred/moved from its present location to a place or an account that you may hopefully provide or arrange. The reason for this is that plans are underway to confiscate not only his known fixed assets but also liquid assets. I have been mandated to seek and find a reliable person, based overseas, that is disposed in helping to secure some or all of the funds in question. If you are that person, do respond to this letter.

Unfortunately, I am too busy these days to get involved. The incentive in this letter, none, wasn't as appealing, but I consider all proposals, especially when they include the best interests of our higher powers, as the next message reveals...
My condition is really deteriorating and is quite obvious that I may not live for long still keeping much faith in the Lord, My late husband was killed during ethnic-religious clashes between Muslims and Christians in Kano,the Northern part of Nigeria.

We had a son who was also killed in the same cold war. My late husband was very wealthy and after his death, I inherited all his business Entitlement and wealth. My personal physician told me that I may not live for more than six months.

Consequent upon this, I have therefore decided to commit the bulk of this my entitlement to The Lord's Charity and Mission work in America, Europe, Asian and the entire Globe.

This in no doubt is a big task in Africa where there is strigent monetary regulations . I selected your Church after visiting the website for this purpose and prayed over it.

I am willing to donate the sum of $10,400,000.000 (TEN MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND)US Dollars to Hiv-Aids Patients Rehabilitation and Other Health related cases and Church/Ministry for the development of evangelism and also as aids for the less privileged in your area abroad.

Yes, worshippers. Welcome to the church of Bob. I think this offer will help us get off the ground. Coming soon! Finally, the most telling message...
On a routine inspection I discovered a dormant domiciliary account with a BAL. Of 36,000,000 (Thirty Six Million USD) on further discreet investigation, I also discovered that the account holder has long since passed away (dead) leaving no beneficiary tothe account. The bank will approve this money to any foreigner because the former operator of the a/c is a foreigner and from Iraq in particular and I am certainly sure that he is dead, and nobody will come again for the claim of this money A foreigner can only claim this money with legal claims to theaccount Holder; therefore I need your cooperation in this transaction.

I will provide the necessary information needed in order to claim this money, But you will need to open an account where this can be transferred. If interested send your private Telephone No. And Fax number including full details of the account to be used for the Deposit I wish for utmost confidentiality in handling this transaction as my job and the future of my family would be jeopardized if it were breached.

I want to assure you that the transaction is without risk if due process is followed accordingly. Finally,I will give you 25% for your corporation.

25% for my "corporation?" I'm not sure if the Church of Bob qualifies as such, yet. Actually, we're not making any profit whatsoever, but if you are so inclined to further the righteous cause, personal checks are accepted.

Monday, June 07, 2004

I have a new poem at Sidereality. The link to the poem is handily located in my list at the left. Otherwise, follow this one and dig around for a while. You might find it interesting if you've never checked out any online literary magazines.

I also have a poem in a new magazine from India called Leaves, but you may have to purchase a copy of the magazine to read it. I'm sure they wouldn't mind your business!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I went to Tottori last week for a couple days with Paola, my roommate. A prefecture North of Osaka on The Japan Sea famous for, at least, the location of the Japanese desert. We rode a bus for about three hours in the morning to get there. I took pictures to prove my adventure. Although I don't have any pictures of the bus, I have some nice pictures of some Japanese students from Himeji who fearlessly introduced themselves to us amid bouts of tug-of-war.

I thought it was a beautiful place, and surprisingly deserted for an attraction, albeit a natural one, which was not a temple or an amusement park or something with more obvious return or souvenir value. Among the many possible activities to choose from, we could have ridden a camel or paid to just sit on one, neither of which we attempted. We did climb to the top of that massive dune in the picture and down to the beach on the other side. The water was blue, beautifully calm and brimming with a type of jellyfish neither of us had ever seen. The weather was spectacular on that, our first day, but rained us out of Dodge on the following day, although not until after we had climbed to a temple on Mt. Daisen in the pouring downpour.

Back in the big O now to continue the monotonous countdown to my departure. 16 working days, 29 days until I board a plane and 30 days until I can see Angela! Everything seems monotonous when you're waiting for a vacation. Every day is a new opportunity to recalculate the remaining moments left until Angela and me reunite in Rome. Unfortunately, the weather has been typically wet lately, and colder than you might expect for this time of year, although I don't mind working when the weather is bad. Paola, informed me that the rainy season started a few days ago so I guess I'm in for a few more nasty days before I leave.