Sunday, November 08, 2009

Windows 7 Burger? How sad Microsoft...

Proving once again that microsoft is desperate beyond desperation, they were promoting windows 7 by selling 7 patty whoopers at bk here in japan.
They were disgusting and a waste of food. Wait, sort of like how windows is a waste of your hardware resources.

Crazy break dancing 8 year olds in Shibuya.

Tokyopians take Halloween seriously

Wel at least in the party sense. Not much trick o treating though. No complaints from me.

Shibuya music festival

So I walk out of my place to find that the street is blocked and they have some strange music festival going on in front of 109. Life in Shibuya is never boring. Having a bout of warm weather nownjn Tokyo. It's a comfortable 18 degrees. So I'm jogging out in yoyogi park yesterday when I start to think about the recent discovery channel program I watched on the great coral reefs. The narrator kept on talking about the corals being the best architects in earth. I couldnt help but to be offended at the obtusivness of that statement. I mean architecting implies intelligent design. Something which I doubt can be attributed to these primitive invertabrae. It no more intelligent than how sunflower seeds arrange themselves in a pattern to obrain maximum density given a surface area. That made me to think about intelligence. If an organism, like a machine will predictably follow a set of preprogrammed behaviours, whether in cellular or silicon based code, is it really intelligent? If not then is the only thing that's sets humans apart is our complexity and potential for random behaviour? Is there truely such a thing as random? Or just consequences resulting in outputs from a complex system we call a brain being fed psuedo random inputs?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Windows 7 burger

Begin forwarded message:

From: Dave <>
Date: 2009年11月4日 16:14:28JST
To: Blogger <>
Subject: Windows 7 burger

Proving once again that microsoft is desperate beyond desperation, they were promoting windows 7 by selling 7 patty whoopers at bk here in japan.
They were disgusting and a waste of food. Wait, sort of like how windows is a waste of your hardware resources.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hokkaido, Day 3

Today we started from Ashikawa, and made the 300km run to Abashiri, which is on the north face of Hokkaido. On the way, we passed through the famous National Park, which is the largest in Japan. Breath taking views, and long straight roads that seem to dissappear into the distance. Farms and large open fields on either side. The smell of cow patties. It was amazing how much Hokkaido reminds me of Canada. Especially cities like Rubeshibe and Kitame look exactly like Brampton, and Sapporo could very well be Toronto. The agriculture is the same, with corn, and other types of cold weather crops, cows, large open horizons. On the way up as it was getting dark, I happened to see 2 deer crossing the road in front of me. I braked and made to pull out my camera, but a car behind me sped on, and frightened them into the bushes before I could take a picture. Later on, a pair of foxes were in the middle of the road, which once again forced me to stop suddenly. They aren't joking about the wild life here, you can actually see them on a regular basis. Weather is hot during the day, (dry heat, lots of sun) and cool during the night. Perfect riding weather. Though I would say that 15 degrees is a little too cool to do any speeds in excess of 70kph. Tomorrow to the big lake with a middle island. Can't wait!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Someone mentioned 9/11 in another thread, and it gots me to thinking, hey, yeah, those were fracked up times man, fracked up.

So post your impressions of the day, if you were there. This is NOT a conspiracy theory hash thread. We all know that Bush was in the kahoots anyway. ;0)

I want to hear your accounts of the day if you were there.

My story.
I was working in the vicinity, and my birthday had been the day before. I was smashed, and hung over. My boss had a habit of calling me if I was so much as 1 minute late, so walking in at 10 past 9 was not going to be fun. I come out of whitehall station, only too see what looks like confetti sprinkling from the sky. "those silly americans, its probably flag day, columbus day, or the yankees won the world series again" I discount the phenomenon and run to the office. I slip under the cover of the cubicles to mine, and pop up my head.

2 seconds later, boss pops his head out of the his window office. 'SHIT', I'm busted, I think. "Hey, did you hear? A plane crashed into the World Trade Center!"

First thought in my mind -- "YESS! he didn't notice that I was late!!" Second thought in my mind -- "another one of those stupid crop dusting farmers who lost control of his plane again?" Third thought in my mind -- "heeeey wait a second, there ain't no farms in lower manhatten! wtf?"

Check Yahoo (google wasn't as dominant back then, and was still the place to go for news.) Web site server no response. WTF the internet is down?!?!?

oooooooooh donkey doodles, this is something serious.

I look out the window. I don't now why, as my view points the other way and I can't even see the towers. then I hear a loud reverberating Booooooooooong! The kind of sound that those garbage trucks make when they drive over those metal plates they cover holes in the road with in manhattan. Oh my, I wonder if that was just a very very heavy truck running over those plates outside. (later on, I deduced that it was the second plane hitting)

Security announcement comes on over the PA. Evacuate the building. News from the floor (they have CNN and all the news channels continuously on) Word is that america is under attack.

WTF! Gets me the heck outta here! I'm thinking.

We leave the building... and stand around outside. Security likes to think that they have everything under control, but lets face it, there is no authority in chaotic times. More confetty falling from the sky outside, drifting down like large chunks of snow. I pick one up. Its obviously a piece of drywall this time, larger than the first ones I saw in the morning. I put it in my pocket.

We wait for around 15 min. Security then calls us to return to the building. (likely they realized that inside at least we would be safe from falling debris)

A couple buddies and I say, to heck with that! We want to see the damage! I mean, this is NEWS. We head over to the Battery tunnel, we see the two large black smoldering holes in the towers, a sight now emblazoned in the worlds consciousness. We stare for a while, and just wonder how many dead. And how the heck where those firefighters going to put out a fire that high. Do sprinklers even work if a plane were to crash through the water pipes? I pondered these questions as we just stood in awe. (I'm an engineer after all) At this point, we were still sure that somehow things would get sorted out. I mean, this is AAAmerica! Fuck Yeah! They will think of something. Right? So with that mental reassurance, we decided to get a camera and video cam from my friends apartment, who lived in battery park, whose building had its power out. Against all of the security guards protests, we proceed up 30 flights of stairs, in the dark (rather fun actually in retrospect) got the camera stuff, and went back down to the vantage point from batter park, and started filming. I started commentating on the video CNN style. We were walking closer and closer to the buildings. NYPD were trying to marshall people back, but they didn't have enough officers to keep an eye on everyone, it was easy to get around them. So here we are, walking up Rector street towards the towers, when well, you know,

So in the next 2 seconds the following happened: First thought in my mind -- "holy shit! Wow! My god, this is really happening!!" Second thought in my mind -- "Oh SHIT! its going to flatten us!" Third thought in my mind -- "ooooh phew, it looks like its just falling straight down... no worries" Forth thought in my mind -- "Wait.... but what about the... Oh donkey doodles! the debris cloud! the debris cloud! Run!"

The girl with us faints, the weight of the situation is too much for her, and she is unable to run, me and my buddy we haul her up on our shoulders and hussle back as fast as we could, every couple seconds or so, I turn around and snap a picture with my disposable camera.

First thought in my mind after we start running: -- where they heck can we go? Jump in the river? hmm...But drying out my socks and shoes... and we could drown. Bad idea.

Thankfully the cloud dissapates a bit after we turn the corner, and head for one of the office buildings beside the South Ferry subway, we duck into the lobby. the dust cloud covers us like white funeral ashes in some buddist ceremony.

The rest is history. I never saw the second building fall, we were taking refuge in the lobby of the building, and the final picture I took that day was of me and my self fashioned face mask filter, made out of panty hose that I bought at the newstand smoke shop in the basement of the lobby.

I still have that little piece of drywall today.


Saturday, July 11, 2009


Sometimes you really appreiciate how much of an open society japan is.

This was among one of the funnier displays at condomania in harajuku.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The projects

These are the projects in Yokohama. Goverment housing. Not too shabby,
there were very friendly Vietnamese and Japanese shops in the area.

Portable "rentogen" machine

Otherwise known as x-Ray
One of these was used as part of the free medical checkup that we were
helping out with as part of charity work

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the kindness of strangers

it was pouring rain today, and as I was just returning from climbing in nishi nippori, I had no umbrella. As I exited the station at the 109 exit, the rain was insane. Fortunately there was a girl who was kind enough to offer to share her umbrella with me. She turns out to be a reggae dancer and performs at the clubs in shibuya. Quite fit, but I must say her fashion was very kitch. (as to be expected I guess) Wearing a gold sequined beanie and some fashionable black tank top, she was quite fetching. Should have gotten her number. Bah, shes was way to young for me anyway.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The number 60 says I WIN

There were exactly 60 of the ETC model that we wanted and I got the
last one!!!!
(the separate antennae model)
The people behind us had to settle for the handlebar card reader.

Now it's just waiting in line for the signing up paper work. I was number 72 in line and my buddy was 71. If he got the last one I would have mugged him for it.

Japan midnight vigil for ETCs

It's 630am and we are number 70 out of the current 150 people lining
up and out of the parking garage of the saitama naps in hopes to get
one of these coveted ETC devices which allow you to pay tolls auto
magically on highways. The government has an insane campaign which
allows you to spend just 1000 yen to rise as far as you like, and in
response, what was once the benign etc device sold out and went on
backorder immediately across the country. The manufacturer can't keep
up with orders so stores across the country must ration their sparse
inventories. To make things worse, naps is offering an additional
discount for the in device from the regular 45000 and 28000 for the 2
types to 22000 and 11000 for this June campaign. Sounds great right?
Well unfortunately the catch is that they have a total of around 1200
devices to spread over the 11 stores in japan. Each store gets around
100 devices and in the span over 4 campaign days you have people
lining up all night. We got here at 2am to find 60+ people camped
already. What is amazing is that despite the sign that says that there
are already 100 people past a certain point there is a line that
continued outside for another hundred. What are those people waiting
for? Hoping against all hope that some of us will leave? Only in japan.

Monday, June 08, 2009

12800yen charger

So I forgot my iPhone cable at work on Friday, and this was left with a very hoer battery life device and a lot of high use requirements. Mid Saturday the phone was running on red. So I pick up over at yamada denki a 500yen USB to iPod adaptor, which should theoretically allow my phone to charge. Plug it into the mac, and at first things seem to be working, but shortly after it seems the charging stops. After spending a phoneless sat and half of Sunday switching cables, powered hubs and sources it seemed like nothing was going to revive my dead phone. So over to apple I go thinking I'd give in and get another charge cable. After adding up the code of the plug, the cable, and a dock it turn out to be just 4000 more to get a full stereo radio alarm dock. Apple wins.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The mechanized magic of japan

Gundam launch tube? Or parking garage?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Angels and Demons

Sometimes I just get flashes of filbert like comic strips flash through my head. This is the most recent one that I just came up with. Two computer geeks are talking at the office. "you up for watching the new movie?" "is that the new mathematical thriller? The sequel to the Pythagoras Code? "no, that was Angles and Demons" "ah, nah, I don't like movies where the sine's are all tangential and incongruent" Drum roll

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On the coast of shigoku

One of those rare times during this trip where it wasn't raining. I just got back after 4 days of riding and 1500km.

I went through the longest tunnel, and crossed the worlds longest bridge span, spent a grand total of 16000yen for 3 nights stay at inns, and ate Italian food in Kyoto, and Brazilian in Nagoya. Paid over 15000 in tolls and went a top speed of 165kph.

No reservations whatsoever.

Please do not ride the toilet

Quite possibly the funniest public sign in japan. I crapped myself
laughing. Thankfully I was on said toilet.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Total spontaneity

I made a snap decision and jumped onto a boat heading for Shikoku. For those who don't know that's the smallest of the Japanese main islands, with the others being kanto, kyushuu and Hokkaido in the north. Given the prospect of 5 days holiday thanks to golden week, and everyone else being away on their own trips spending 5 days on my bike sounded like a great idea. So like all other things, there is a ferry that will take you straight there on a overnight trip, and even bring your bike or car if you want. The ship is moored at the end of the island beside daiba, and it has a big ramp so that bikes and cars can just drive up. Very organized. There are free area rooms which basically have communal areas with a pillow and blanket. Breakout areas with many vending machines sell everything from instant noodles to beer. They even have a microwave so you can cook your food. They even have an ofuro. Basically it's a cruise without the nice room or a restaurant or a swimming pool. We continue on into the pacific ocean now, with full cell phone coverage heading for the tropical island of Shikoku. My ducati awaits me the deck below.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thank you India

Delhi belly. The ever feared special form of extreme diarhea that only Indian bacteria can give struck me hard yesterday. I seriously though I was going to die. My stomach was twisting with cramped and pain while any attempt at going to the bathroom was resulting in just liquid

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wholly shut

So I'm reminded of how you have to watch out in developing countries when the currency exchange guy at the airport tries to rip me off 400 rules by substituting 100 bill instead of 500 bill. I went back and pointed out this fact after I has already bought a prepaid taxi ticket for 215 rupees and that would not be possible unless he gave me 1 more 100 bill than he was supposed to because the amount that I took out was 9200 rupees. He was partially acting confused and not knowing what is going on but eventually gave me back the remaining 400 that he owed me. This isn't japan anymore that is for sure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spicy India

The first thing that struck me as interesting while lining up to board the plane was that the call for general boarding came way to soon after first class and business class passengers. The reason I discovered was that there as no first class and business class travelers ok this flight. A rare occurance I noted. Even on the emptiest of international flights there has always been some business class travellers. Well I guess not on air India flights to Delhi I suppose. The next thing I noticed was when I stepped on board, I was immediately hit with a smell of spice and curry. Not all that unpleasant, but interesting. Also interestig was the seats in the center row which was 5 seats across where coloured red and orange like curry. My taste buds could sense the culinary onslaught which will be the next couple of days. I just hope that India itself will be as forgiving on my digestive tract as this plane, mild spicy, but not unpleasant.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm Ducatista now

So, after 4 years of hemming and hawing I finally closed the deal on a Ducati. The GT1000, a sensible yet powerful bike, with understated beauty and a classic look. I'm come to realize that we pick motorcycles much like we pick our women. I don't like flashy girls, and thus a sleek sports bike isn't for me. My old KTM was a little too uncomfortable, and although she gave me lots of exciting rides, I've come to miss the comfortable, casual cruise of a standard bike with sensible ergonomics. Similarly, I don't like the large presence of Harley's. So draw your own conclusions there. My GT1000 has a strong and feisty heart, simple and air-cooled, has a beautiful purr, and has plenty of excitement when I want it. Just like my ideal girl. Bucking beauty. Shortly after I got here though, I discovered the joy of the 'Ducati Neutral'. For those of you who know, bear with me while I explain to the non-bikers (heck non-Ducatista out there), the ducati neutral is when the light indicates that the bike is in neutral gear, but it really isn't. Apparently this is common in Ducati's. So I parked outside a cafe on a nice and sunny day, had my coffee and relaxed and enjoyed the bohemian lifestyle of Tokyo, geared up, and made the mistake (which I'll never again) of starting the bike while standing beside it, without pulling the clutch. To my horror she jumps and lurches forward, and I catch her in time before she topples herself onto her side. Thanks to the servo-starter on Ducati's, the starter motor continued to turn and turn, trying to jump the engine into starting while I was holding onto her for dear life with my left hand on the left handlebar, and my leg holding her up and keeping her from falling down. As my left hand was busy holding her back I couldn't let go to pull the clutch in, thankfully in the 2 seconds that it all happened, I remained calm, and cool, and managed to hit the kill switch on the right side, before she managed to break free from my grip or burn out her starter motor. After 5 seconds, of calming my nerves, and a breath of relief after I checked her for any obvious damage, I slowly rode away, hoping that this was as close to an accident that I would ever come with her... given that she would be very costly to repair thanks to her Italian heritage. The only casualty was that I managed to loosen the left mirror stalk, and a little bit of pride. (and perhaps did the starter motor no favours as well) Ducati really really needs to fix this electronic hiccup. But after that, I am always sure to start the bike while sitting on her, and with the clutch pulled. Polishing her pipes for 3 hours. Somehow I managed to get some melted goop on her chrome pipes. I was certain that somebody had delibertely slobbered some gum or plastic goop on her while I left her parked in shibuya, but I can't be sure. Anyway, turns out that melted plastic is the WORSE nightmare for chrome pipes. In the past with the KTM, I would have scraped away with my fine grit sanding sponge, but now that the pipes are shiny and chrome, adding swirly scratches struck me as not doing my beauty justice. So I researched and researched on the internet. Apparently (I haven't tried) easy-off oven cleaner works, but to my chagrin, no easy-off is to be found in japan. So thankfully my co-worker who owns a Harley had some good advice. Some goopy solution used for cleaning pans was my salvation. Unfortunately salvation never comes easy. Even with soaking the stain in the solution painted onto the pipes for 1hour, it took a sum total of 3 hours of labour intensive scrubbing with alumninum foil for the stain to finally come off. At the end of the ordeal, I was quite totally shacked and exhausted. The only upside of the whole thing was that I was able to use the term 'I was downstairs cleaning her pipes for 3 hours' in a legitimate fashion. My advice is never ever ever get anything plastic touching your pipes when hot.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Starting to get some air!

Came back from motocross today, today was my fifth time. No spills. I'm getting the hang of the course. Since they remade the course this jan, it has been faster and easier as there are less straight up and down jumps, just a run of tabletops and mogul like straights. Today was the second time I brought my KTM 450 onto the track and I'm starting to get used to it's handling characteristics now. Riding bikes is like learning a new sport, you have to get to the point where you are comfortable enough not to be afraid but you only get that way by falling a couple of times. Sort of like iceskating or snowboarding. I started getting the hang of the sliding turn now, which is imperative to offroad biking. For those who ride in the street. Losing the rear end ( losing either end for that matter) can be scary and usually ends in a lot of hurt. On dirt though, losing the rear us the best way to navigate a turn at speed. The other key skill is keeping you weight on the pegs and not on the seat whenever you are running straight over bumps or going over jumps. Sitting is bad as it puts your weight rearward and if going up a jump, will probably result in you fliping backwards and losing the bike. I was surprised how much like jumping a snowboard it was. You have to use your legs to absorb the initial uphill climb and then stand up when you lift off. It's a great feeling. And easie to do than on a snowboard, because on snow, fear during the approach usually makes you check off too much speed. Anyway ridingbback on the highest was no gun on my KTM. The wind was gusty and I felt like I was going to be blown over. After riding the tall enduro all day, getting back on the smr was weird. I noticed that it has a tendancy to oversteer quite a bit and I felt a lot less control than than on the dirt bike. Not to mention the smr has a very weak low rpm torque and has the tendancy to stall unless I give it plenty of initial gas off the clutch. Completely the opposite with the grunty dirt bike. Time to nap now way too tired Djc out

Monday, March 09, 2009

With 60,000円, I'd be happy too

This is a $600 stamp. Yep. Why would you need a $600 stamp you ask? Well, in Japan, administrative fees for the government are paid via stamps. Aptly named stamp fees. Any of you who have had to deal with the DMV in japan will be familiar with the system. Basically, in order to make things efficient, in government offices, you go from counter to counter, each counter fulfilling a part of the bureaucratic process, very much like a assembly line. Inevitably, part of the process will be a visit to the cashier window, where you buy the stamps that will cover the fees for the bureaucratic service for which you are applying to. This particular process, is a apartment purchase. (not mine, but a friends) for that particular process, taking ownership of property requires a ¥60000 stamp. Would really really suck if you lost this stamp.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ducati Monster 696 Test Ride

So after reading copious amounts of web reviews on the Ducati GT1000 i decide to see if I could get some riding time on it. So on a sunny Sunday I give the Ducati dealer at Nerima a call and ask him if I could test ride the GT1000 in my bad japanese. He probably didn't understand 'テストライド’ so he just answered to the affirmative. 40min later I arrive only to find out that the GT1000 they have there was not available for test riding, only for gazing. What I could test ride was the 1098, the monster or the hypermotard. After expressing my dismay at the fact that they expect people to buy a bike without even being able to ride it, I settled on taking the 696 for a spin, just so that I wouldn't feel like I left empty handed. At first glance, the new monster doesn't do it for me. The looks are compact, and remind me of a bike with too much tank and not enough dash. The short stunted rear end made any promise of a comfy ride for a pillion impossible. The plasticky feel of the fuel tank made the who affair feel cheap. As I am a camera guy, the best analogy I could give is the bike was like a nikon D40 compared to the sturdy heavier and more solid D3, which would be the GT1000. Static impressions aside, once underway, the first funny thing was that when I kicked it into gear and was trying to pull out into the road, the engine just rev'ed without moving as I let the clutch out. I thought that I had mistakenly left the bike in neutral or something. I kick the shifter again to make sure that I was actually in gear and try again... nothing, just engine revs. What the hell? Turns out that engagement point of the clutch is insanely far out, close to the top end of the clutch handle extension. What's worse, the dealer said that the handle was not adjustable on the 696. Lame. I suppose it is something you can get used to, but coming from a KTM690 where the clutch is a DREAM with progressive engagement through almost the entire play of the clutch handle (supermotos need this apparently to have fine clutch control rear wheel sliding turns). Bad clutch aside, the bike was surprisingly fun to ride, when compared to others in this range and seat ergos, for instance, the CBR600, which had more of a gaspy feel in the low end rpms. The monster pulled smooth with that ducati thumpy feel with lots of torque in the low gears, and the posture was actually a lot more comfortable once underway when compared to sitting still. Being more low to the ground and forward pitched, it encourages bad behaviour and a little bit of speeding, and probably wouldn't be too great to hop around town when compared to a more sit up bike. That being said, the engine was quite addictive and its a bike where revving the engine while stopped at the lights is just hypnotic. Strangly enough, more so than the harley davidsons that I've tried (thanks to japanese regulations). I only got a chance to open up a little (80kph) on a longer stretch of the road, (sadly middle of tokyo streets is not a good place for testriding bikes) but when you do ask for power the 696 lump does deliver it with urgency, not the crazy urgency of my KTM, but more controlled and full. I think it has a lot to do with the forward posture that makes you feel a lot more in control in high acceleration, plus the fact that the KTM given its dirtbike ancestry has a very light flywheel and primary drivetrain, so much so that it has problems at low rpms keeping itself from stalling without proper clutch control. Conclusions: Great bike for speeding around town and weekend blasts. I'm not a fan of the build quality, nor the clutch though, but the engine is a fun lump, so if you are considering a 600ish cc bike that is light with excellent handling but a strong pull and acceleration when you want it. The Monster 696 is a good choice.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Harley's Euro Racer - Sportster XR1200 Test ride

So in my last article I posted about the nightster, which was quite a fun bike to ride. On this post I will address the other bike that u test rode on that day, which was the new harley euro inspired racer, the XR1200. On the surface it looks a little funny the front end is clearly harley but the back side looks like a clumsy tail of a giant duck or a yamaha from the 80's. The engne is sort of cool with its sand blasted finish, but the cool ends there. This bike suffers from serious identity crisis. As made apparant by it's dual analog tach with tiny digital speedo tacked on to the side of it. It can't decide whether of not it wants to be cool cruiser or racer and achieves neither in a horrible tangle of sheet metal lookng steel and plastic. The posture is more forward than most harleys, even the other sportsters in the line, made pronounced by the very far back placed pegs and controls. Like other harleys though the controls are hard to find if you are used to the ergonomically sound german or Italian or Japanese racers. The engine is not mistakenly harley as it pulls with crazy acceleration, but the handling while more nimble than a sportster due to posture, still feels luke you are driving a tractor. The controls are clunky and the clutch heavy and with the weight of the bike, the engine has to work hard, and the feeling is that it is generally inferior to any given standard bike, save maybe for the sound of the lump. (the cool vibes are gone as well ) In conclusion, this bike tried to achieve 2 different things, and manages to achieve neither.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Harley Nightster XL1200N reviewed

I never would have guessed it three years ago when I started riding bikes that I would have thought of harley davidson bikes as anything more than an armchair on wheels for fat Americans. Most of them are. But on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I decided to ride out to machida where there was a large harley shop and give them a spin. As I walked into the vast store, I felt as out of place as a deer in a walmart. The large and ugly touring models glared at me like large elephants sizing me up and deciding whether or not to squash me. I gravitated around the cooler models like the blacked out nightrod and the new 'racer' xr1200. A salesman finally came over and asked if I had amy questions. I breifly thought to ask why harleys looked so damn ugly, but held my tongue and asked to tryout a the sportster instead. Out of the HD lineup the sportster nightster is the coolest of the bunch. Blacked out metal and none of the goddam chrome bits that make the bikes look dated. Also the sportster is actually a pretty bike, if you discount all the wires that hang off the engine. Since I didn't know the roads around there the guy offered to ride along with me which turned to be a good idea as I could free my mind to just the bike and not looking fir the directions every intersection. So the first thing that I notice is how the mid mount pegs seems to get in the way of my feet when you want to move around while stopped. Very irritatingly so. And in true HD style the pegs don't pivot in any sort of sane way, so if you are backing up, good chance you can hurt your shins as the peg plows 250kgs worth of bike into snapping your ankle in two. The next thing that I noticed is how difficult it is to move a 250kg bike around at low speed. It is akin to riding a reluctant donkey, you sort of have to coax it into turning, without dumping you off. Once you start running at speed though, things change, and the free spinning engine and smooth throttle is really a pleasant change from the abrupt and jerky on/off performance of my KTM supermoto. It feels like you are riding a Cadillac, smooth acceleration, and terrible braking. In fact the brake performance (or lack thereof) is what keeps you riding at legal and safe speeds, for fear of not being able to stop the freight train if perchance a small child were to dart onto the road. So what is the upside? Well, riding at such muted speeds, you really start to relax, and begin to enjoy the environment around you. The world seems to open up and your take in sights and sounds as you sit there in the comfortable seat, listening and feeling that lump of an engine jiggling below you like a caged animal in its rubber and steel prison. Its quite addictive. In fact, I started to really enjoy revving the engine just to get the noise while stopped at a railroad crossing. On my regular bike, I would have been exceedingly annoyed at the wait. Instead, once you really 'get it' then riding takes on a whole different experience. The low seat height also adds to the laid back feeling. On the negative side, due to Japanese regulations, the Nightsters side mounted nameplate is replaced with a traditional one, and the pipes are not the cool slash cut ones that Mr Davidson insisted on, and instead is the muffled regular shaped ones that other Sportsters in the range share. They are also baffled to meet the max decibel level of 97db that bikes must adhere to here in Japan, which means that the idle speed 'potato' is replaced with a soft purr. That was the biggest disappointment of them all, though not the fault of HD. All in all, after my ride, I think I finally understand what HD is all about, and I ceased to see these bikes as twisted tangles of wires and ungainly lumps of hard steel welded together badly, and instead a chill bike with attitude in a class of its own. As with all other things American, the difference between 'junk' and 'character' is a story, an attitude and some first hand experience.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2 degrees

Spoke too soon. It's fricken freezing today. Global warming has really fuched ip the weather.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

22 degrees

Either it's an Indian spring or global warming cause it's downright warm today in Tokyo. Winter is over in mid february! So the weather reports predicted 16 degrees, but by some freak chance we got 22 instead. It feels like we skipped spring and went straight to summer. Time to dust off my motorbike which incidentally was only stowed away for less than a month since January 17th !

High class Japanese food

Rotabata dinner. The chef sits behind the counter in a little cooking space and never leaves. All the food is in front of you, and is cooked as you choose them

Warm valentines day

It's twelve am here on valentines day and it's 17 degrees. Insanely warm. gotta love Tokyoま。

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Today I refilled my karma bank

( please forgive the back picture apparantly the iPhones camera sucks donkey rocks for subjects closer than 2 feet ) So yesterday I got on the morning bus only to find that I had no money except for 10000 bills which the bus driver apologetically told me that he couldn't change. So I had a total of 60 yen in my suica card 140 short of the required 200yen fare. The driver half out of kindness and the other half out of the desire to stop me from holding up the line just told me that it was fine and to just pay back the rest next time. I managed to stammer a 'thank you' in Japanese and offered what small change I had. I sat down on the bus confounded at the level of trust and kindness that he showed, indeed he probably broke procedure in doing so. Upon deeper introspection I suspect that the rule of being on time with his bus schedule was more important to him than a mere 160 yen he would pay out of his own pocket. Anyway today while walking to the bus stop I decided to pay the driver back ( who knows if it was the same driver) to be honest a good part of me was thinking to just rack up the gain as good fortune and profit. But thankfully, some part of me still felt the urge to return the kindness. Now that I have, I realize that I have not been completely dessecated of humanity of the moral and ethical optimism and goodness that I once, nay, that we all once possessed before working at a über capitalist corporate bank drained most of it out of us. Turned us into dried out husks of zombie like money and greed driven vampires willing to sacrifice so much for gain. Of course, I generalize unfairly. It is mostly those of us at the bottom half of the ladder that burn those midnight hours and turn away friends and other healthy Human interactions for the firm. Those of us who like Dr Frankenstein, working away obsessed with our creation that we end up losing what we are trying to achieve. Maybe it's just me. But today, I am human again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

So into the iPhone void I go

For those of you who know me, you will know that I'm rarely an early adopted to anything. My previous experience withbthe windows mobile operating system and the ipaq before that, and the palm pilot before that had all but taught me that PDAs were not practical to all but the most disciplined or geeky. That's one of the reasons why I held off getting an iPhone for so long. I'm a pretty big apple fan ever since the 3rd generation iPod,so it was very surprising for those around me when it took me a fill year before getting an iPhone. Now that the jump has been made it will stand to see of after a month of use will I still feel as positive about my little new toy. Pros Among things that work a he'll of a lot better than you might think, is the typing on the keyboard. Once you get over the fact that there is no tactile response to your keupresses you soon realize that the error correcting algorithm is pretty darned good. I'm fact I'm typing now ok it and I am getting close to blackberry speeds. But better than the blackberry the iPhone seems to correct 90% of my words without fail. I'm sure I'll have more to say about the iPhone as days go on. For now I'd have to say that my experience is an 8/10.