Friday, 27 April 2012

Spot the logic.... or not...

I posted before about  one of the universities that I teach at cutting the semester by two weeks to save power.  Very shortsighted if education is supposed to lead to a smarter country.  Bad planning and passing the buck, but at least from a bean counter's point of view logical.

At a different university (which incidently hasn't increased my pitiful pay despite having published a book and got a masters  but I digress)  I was recently passed an academic calendar for the year.

Evidently there is no correlation between education and intelligence.  I already knew that, but the calendar is defining proof.

The university powers that be are closing the university for two weeks ---- in the MIDDLE of the semester to save power.  A week at the end of June and a week at the beginning of July.  It's not even hot then. They aren't  cutting classes when the aircon will be being used the most....   I cannot find the logic.... and I've looked, hard. And asking why never yields sensible answers .... this was the same university that scolded me for throwing rubbish in the rubbish bin.

Public holidays for the year have been cancelled ... thanks a lot... and teachers will work on public holidays in lieu so that classes aren't lost.

Thankfully I teach at this uni once a week only, and it will be the first to be dumped given the chance.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Life in Japan, a slide show

I have finally managed to compress this enough to upload. Last time I was at home I was asked to give a presentation on Life in Japan...I can't claim it's representative of other people's lives or perspectives but here it is...

Life in Japan

Keiba lunch

The other day after wandering through Sarue Onishi park we went in search of something to eat. Kinshicho has several Thai restaurants, and not having had a Thai curry for much too long, it seemed like a great idea.  Wandering wandering trying to find  a little one I'd been to several years ago we walked past a place whose food made Hiro's eyes light up - a window with displays of soba, curry soba, tonkatsu (deep fried, crumbed pork, katsudon (deep fried crumbed pork with egg), kaki fry (deep fried oyster) and other such delectables.... I don't mind katsudon - twice a year or so - and it wasn't a chain... so in we went. Upon entering it was clear that the target market was the keiba crowd - people that spend their day at the TAB (horse racing betting place) around the corner.
Try as it might, the Japan Racing Association has not managed to cultivate a genteel image of racing. Horses are more likely to be eaten here than to be pets or companions.   Rather than Spring and Autumn racing carnivals, Ascot and Flemington, champagne breakfasts,  fashion of the field, coiffure and millinery, the image is of  slightly dodgy, shabbily dressed, cigarette smoking men shuffling along with a folded form guide under their arm; a wander through the JRA betting halls confirms it... if I could manage an interest in either horseracing or gambling, I just might fit in.

Horse races live

Manga for in between races
Staples - a "peace" ashtray, toothpicks, pepper and chili powder.
A hidey hole for the condiments
Soy, furikake, tonkatsu sauce, chili flakes
Hot tea
Haute cuisine, curry udon, pickles, 
Books to peruse 
Katsudon, soup and daikon pickles
(Katsujuu actually)
Betting forms on the window sill
Studying the form guide
Out front
The place next door advertising that they have a broadcast of
the horse racing, obviously an attraction.
The Kinshicho horse racing betting  place  - JRA Wins
(or not win as might more likely be the case).

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hanami 2012

Cherry blossom season is almost at an end.  The blossoms  explode into colour almost overnight, and within two weeks they are gone. I haven't done much hanami-ing this year but here are some pictures.

Sarue Onishi Park thanks
Asukayama - not just sakura
Omiya, Sonic city
Petals in Shinjuku gyoen


Shinjuku gyoen - it has a big variety of sakura types

Koshu Kaido (Route 20) Shinjuku

Petals in Shinjuku gyoen

Shinjuku gyoen

Shinjuku gyoen

Shinjuku gyoen

NTT Docomo tower, Shinjuku gyoen

Shinjuku gyoen

Shinjuku gyoen

Hanami, shinjuku and translations

I was in Shinjuku gyoen yesterday.  It has always been an alcohol free zone, but this year it's being enforced rigorously with bag searches....There has been complaint about it the Japanese media as they usually turn a blind eye to it.   The English and Japanese alchohol restriction signs at the park didn't exactly match.  It reminded me of Dad's story of being in a German youth hostel in the 1960s where a translated sign in English stated "Guests must get up before 8", the German original was "Guests must not get up before 5"....

Bag searches underway.

The bottom line in Japanese reads that  alcohol is available at the restaurants
in the garden. It's not translated.
"Beer, sake, spirirs .... and more.... " are prohibited in English.
It seems like Japanese don't need to have it spelled out what alcohol actually is...
Somehow it seems improbable that a foreigner would stand there
arguing that the sign doesn't say "Bundy" so it must be OK...

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Saturday, 7 April 2012

The resurrection of Manners Posters.

Today out and about in Tokyo I had reason to recall this poster - the first of the 2011 subway manners posters.  This is a cat, being a cat, being oblivious in its self indulgence.


A similar reminder to people not to be thoughtless in the amount of room they take up.

This  man below however is a totally different kettle of fish. He is not a self indulgent cat, or a newspaper absorbed salaryman rather he is the proverbial dog in the manger - a "wanna-be" bull terrier, but actually a totally pathetic, small minded, lame individual. 
He very intentionally edged along and spread his legs as wide as he could so Hiro couldn't sit next to me, and refused to budge.

This is the face of someone who knows
they have been a jerk.

 I shifted to the other side to try and take his photo with the ipad.  He is actively averting his gaze.  Note he is taking up three spaces, and note  he is one man.  I looked at him and laughed, and smiled and chuckled and wondered 

The subway posters are designed to raise awareness, working on the assumption that people would be thoughtful if they remembered to be aware; I don't think any manners sign would help him.

before the blossoms

I cycled in to Ueno on Monday. The cherry blossoms were just about to come out.
Camellia in Yanaka
Shinobazu Pond
If my memory is right, Oshima Sakura -
a different species from most of the sakura in Tokyo.
Shugetsu sakura
Super organised around Ueno Park -
Recycling - burnable, non burnable, pet bottles & cans, bottles, vinyl plastic,
styrofoam and cardboard / paper.
Along the lake

Blossoms at the park entrance
Thanks to the sponsors
Plum blossoms in Ueno Park
Blossoms just starting to appear, lights all up in preparation
for hanami.
A year round reminder of hanami.
For an up to date look at the flowers and how much they change in a week, take a look at Rurousha's blog