*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Friday, 30 September 2011

'Ware-ware Nihonjin'-tte kankei-nai, kisama!

I am the paragon of 'internationalization': the cliché of my Japanese alma mater, the JET programme.

I made a traffic error* on the way to school this morning by bike, and had a charming conversation with the driver who almost clipped me.  I was nominally in the wrong#, but I didn't feel apologetic when:
- I saw it was a BMW (please...)
- the tool pulled over and started yelling out of his window (but would never have had the balls to get out)
- given the car and the feudalism in this country, you know he's a doctor or lawyer (corrupt, incompetent as he's never studied since he got into his university, expects a hand-job from strangers)

Still, I was nominally in the wrong, so I was happy to ignore him and continue on my way, until he said just what you'd expect that type to say:
Nihon-dakara... (This is Japan, so...)
Could I be expected to help myself?  No, I didn't think so either:
Hai-hai-hai, 'ware-ware Nihonjin'-tte kankei-nai, kisama!  (Whatever.  This has nothing to do with Japan, asshat).
I didn't waste my time to see his reaction, but I'll bet he hasn't had anyone tell him what he is for twenty years.  Do him good.

*That is to say, I jumped the light, while a car rocketed through the intersection at twice the posted limit after approaching the same intersection blind from behind a hill.
#Most Japanese cyclists do the same.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The 'two solitudes': 'international school' edition.

Well, maybe three solitudes: Japanese staff, foreign staff and kikokushijo (帰国子女) staff, who have the toughest row to hoe.  It gets even more complicated when you get into other castes: halfu, and Japanese staff (usually female) married to foreigners.  It's not important to consider the foreign staff married to Japanese (usually foreign men to Japanese women), because the foreign and local staff don't exclude them: that's a Japanese specialty kept for their own...
No, the picture has nothing to do with the school where I work, which shall remain secret.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Monday, 12 September 2011

Folding Fixed Gear?

So let's say you want a folding fixed gear.  What are your options?  Well, so far as I know, only one is made stock.  Why would you trouble yourself?
- taking on transit and travel
- keeping it safe inside at home, work and play, without a heavy and unreliable lock
- fewer parts to buy or maintain
- the pleasure of fixed riding

You could take a Dahon Mu Uno and have the rear wheel rebuilt and some brakes put on*, but I don't think the quality is worth the trouble, especially as it is too small for me, a 6'er.
You could just buy the Montague Boston, which is ready to ride as a fixed, though it does not fold small, and fenders would be a PITA.**  Two sizes, so not too small.

You could do something with a Brompton or a Moulton, but if you have the money for one of those conversions, you pay people to do it for you, not read blogs for information.  You could deal with Bike Friday's execrable website, and negotiate with them for a build, but that's a pain, isn't it?  Last I heard you're looking at about $1200US for the fixie, which is not terrible, but Bike Friday's prices always seem about 20% higher than makes any sense.  BF does have many sizes, which is ideal.

Friday, 9 September 2011

She goes to eleven

There is an expression, 八文目, in Japanese which denotes the right amount to eat: eight-tenths of full.  Tonight I was reminded of one of the main チャームポイントof my native-wife: she has no self-control - she goes to eleven.

No shower bicycle commuting. %$#@!

If you have a shower at work, you're gold.  All you need to do is keep some toiletries and clothing at work, and decide how you'll get your change of clothing back and forth.  Leave your lock at work too, with one key on your key chain, and one hidden somewhere.

The rest of us are not so lucky, and are stuck with a modified 'Navy shower'.  Since none of these are ideal, I'll explain methods later, you are best off making sure you won't be too filthy in the first place.
- keep hair to a minimum, because it stinks, which means shaving or clipping... throughout
- shower in the morning before your ride, as overnight sweat on top of riding will be hard to be rid of
- you cannot ride at any speed and decently wear the same clothing all day
- cycling wear is designed for its purpose: find a place it will dry for the ride home

Not a true 'Navy shower', but a course of wet-towel/dry-towel usually does the job.  Pay special attention to noisome spots.  If you do not have a convenient water source, do as soldiers in the desert and use over-sized baby wipes, but anything under 40x60cm is useless, and you'll need several.  Some of the cycling-specific ones may be better, but those in Japan are not wet enough.  Use a spray bottle of water to augment.  If you do not find cycling-specific ones, look for those for bed-bound patients...  A camping-shower (bag and hose on a hook) might work, but it has to be somewhere drainage's not a problem.

Having a place to keep some clothing at work is key.  For getting it back and forth, here are a few hints:
- keep some belts and shoes at work
- pants last more than one wearing
- have bags for the bike
- or take clothes in/back on days you do not ride
- be certain you will have everything for an outfit, to avoid embarrassment

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Yeah Gaijin-Rage!

I had... not my first... over the top Gaijin-Rage, last night.  Where else?  Why else?  On the train, reacting to some dick's %$#@ed behaviour.  This Gaijin-Rage was unique, because it was 'out of body'.  It happened on its own and so without any of my own volition that I was as much a spectator as the locals. I had been riding the train after three beer for a few stops, standing among the drunks who had not bathed since the night before, as is the custom despite sleeping without air-conditioning in the awful humidity.  I wasn't in a mood to take $#!+, and I might add that I do not give $#!+ to anyone myself, because I'm not a dick.  Even if I were a dick I would avoid giving it to someone larger than me, and better at fighting: from a 'salaryman's' perspective that is most any Gaijin (white, 6' and Canadian, unlike the picture).